Gaming News: Little Big Planet 2, Age of Conan Expansion Released, Humble Indie Bundle, Zynga set to leave Facebook?

Little Big Planet 2 will take user created content to the limits

The original Little Big Planet, a PS3 exclusive platform game, is deservedly one of the great hits of the current console generation. A brilliant little platformer, adorably animated and soothingly voiced by Stephen Fry, it seized the hearts and minds of a generation of gamers.

And now Media Molecule has announced the long awaited sequel. The first game was well known for the huge range of user created levels, and they’re planning to take this further. Players will be able to create levels that aren’t actually platform games (I’m not 100% sure what this means, but it implies being able to build other types of mini-games, as well as machinima, and general artistic presentations.)

Watch the trailer and feel your jaw drop at the possibilities (see, this is another awesome game trailer).

Humble Indie Bundle hits $1million, and more about Portal

The Humble Indie Bundle, a collection of 5 indie PC games, was envisaged as an experimental (as well as charitable venture) – punters could pick their own price for the collection of games which together would normally cost about $80. The DRM-free games included award winning and well reviewed games such as World of Goo (a personal favourite, I paid full price for mine and thought it was worth every penny), and part of the donation went to charity.

That deal is currently over, but in the meantime the bundle raised over $1 million dollars. And in recognition, some of those games have now gone open source which means that coders can make their own mods.

On the downside, being DRM-free means that there was also a lot of pirating action, an interesting statement when a donation of 1c would have bought it legitimately and many of the games have demos. (I suspect a lot of people pirate stuff just because they can, and don’t bother to play the games, listen to the music, or watch the films.)

If you want to try some other indie games, Steam also has an Indie Pack on sale at the moment (no charitable donation there though.) And if you don’t yet have a copy of Portal, they’re giving that away free as well on Mac or PC – see what all the fuss was about 2 years ago (or will be about, if you are a time traveller).

Or you could skip the actual game and just listen to the Portal Song here. Look at me still talking when there’s science to do. And lovers of aperture science will be excited to hear more about Portal 2 at the upcoming E3 convention.

Rise of the Godslayer Expansion Released for AoC

The first expansion for Age of Conan was released this week, a fact that was somewhat masked by the fact that a review was pulled from Eurogamer due to ‘not being high enough quality’. Eurogamer is rapidly getting a very bad reputation for MMO reviews, which is a shame because Kieron Gillen’s second Darkfall review is one of the finest pieces of game review writing available online.

If anyone wants to read the pulled review, a dodgy copy is available here.

And here’s a link to some legit reviews for comparison. One of the interesting sides to this expansion is that Funcom decided not to raise the level cap and instead to expand the game horizontally with alternate advancement levels.

In other expansion news, CCP has also announced a 1 week delay in EVE Online’s Tyrannis expansion, which is now due out on May 26th.

And if anyone had somehow escaped the blanket news coverage, yes you can now opt in for beta testing of Cataclysm. (Log in to battle.net and do obvious things with the beta profile settings tab – or if you need it spelled out for you, here’s a guide.)

Is Zynga feeling the pressure?

There is a lot of speculation at the moment that Zynga (makers of Farmville, Fishville, Mafia Wars, and other popular) Facebook timewasters is preparing to cut the umbilical cord.

Facebook is about to require online transactions to take place using facebook credits (a facebook currency from which the home team will take a handy cut) rather than allowing, as at present, applications to use their own currencies.

Zynga has been gathering email addresses so that they can contact players outside facebook, they’ve been pushing their own new portal, so maybe they’re going to try to pull away. Whether Zynga can survive without Facebook is another matter – it’ll be interesting to see how this one goes.

And another sign of growing discontent with Facebook is that mashable reports that an exodus is planned for May 31st. Has the massive portal gone a step too far?

… and the politics roundup …

And … yes. We have a coalition government, much to the great surprise of just about everybody. I mean, no one ever expects politicians to come to these sorts of sensible agreements, right?

There is a generally dazed feeling around, much as in the aftermath of a particularly glitzy and unexpected celebrity wedding. It’ll all end in divorce by Christmas, no doubt. (But I hope not because I put a fiver on them lasting the full term :) ).

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6 thoughts on “Gaming News: Little Big Planet 2, Age of Conan Expansion Released, Humble Indie Bundle, Zynga set to leave Facebook?

  1. Thanks for the linking to Kieron Gillen’s Darkfall review. I totally missed that one and I love the guy’s writing. Not only is RPS great but it turns out he’s also been writing my favourite Marvel comic series – Thor. Small world indeed!

  2. Kieron’s DF review was a tad annoying.

    It was a well-written objective review with some insights into his editorial role until it got to the score.

    4/10

    4/10 basically means do not buy this game ever.

    However the review was essentially saying the game was quite good if you like that sort of thing (he doesn’t).

    I think he gave it a 4 because he was, as he admitted, caught between journalistic integrity and backing up his writer. Ed gave it a 2 so he had to give it a bad mark or Ed would have looked a complete fraud.

    Reading between the lines he knew Ed didn’t do a proper job and put him in an impossible position:

    He says “If I ever actually find out conclusively that someone was lying in this matter, I will do everything I can to destroy them.”

    Now that’s clearly NOT aimed at Aventurine or Tasos (because Eurogamer had already done everything they can to destroy them).

    It was an adroit save from an untenable position but I really don’t think you can hold up Kieron’s review as a highlight of games journalism.

    It follows up unfair and unprofessional with less unfair but professional.

    More quotes from the review:

    “I feel I have to applaud Darkfall.”
    “The variety in the conflict … kept it as entertaining.”
    “I hope Darkfall grows and becomes a game which can take its charms and appeal to a wider audience”

    “4/10″

  3. I read what he was saying as that it wasn’t very good, but does fulfil many of its goals so if you like that sort of thing then you won’t care. Which I think is fair enough and would give me the information I needed to decide whether to try it or not. It’s hard to explain the experience of a hard PvP sandbox game to someone who has never tried one — you don’t want to totally put off anyone who might be interested, but at the same time it is quite harsh.

    Marks are misleading anyway, but if you’re forced to compare the game with WoW, Little Big Planet, Modern Warfare, and World of Goo then there’s a limit to how high you can score it, I think, without being totally misleading.

    And I agree, he knows fine well that Ed screwed up the original review. And probably didn’t even need to mention that here.

  4. Little Big Planet isn’t as big as you’d think: a lot of it’s success was being in a bundle pack around black friday when the ps3 finally took off. Compare it to the PSP port and Japanese sale figures for an example.

    Chances are the sequel is going to see a very sharp decline in numbers now that the system has matured some.

    • Interesting. To me, LBP was the first PS3 exclusive game that really got the column inches and caught my attention, they were certainly marketing the heck out of it.

      • Yeah it got a lot of press, and very good reviews, but I think Metal Gear Solid 4 was the first real system seller. User created content on consoles isn’t really new, but I don’t think the draw is that, usually a small amount of people bother, while most enjoy the main game like Halo 3’s forge.

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