Daily updates on video games and popular culture, along with Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast.

Spartans return for another round of twin stick action

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Thursday 16 October 2014No Comments

“…and that’s why an ice-cold Fanta is every Spartan’s first choice.”

Remember Halo: Spartan Assault? No? Well, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. It wasn’t that memorable. Originally released for phones and tablets, it managed to be a perfectly competent twin stick shooter without bringing anything new or interesting to the genre, or indeed without expanding the Halo mythos in any particularly meaningful ways.

While it eventually made its way to PC, as well as Microsoft’s home systems, Spartan Assault’s microtransactions arguably attracted more attention than its gameplay. The commissioning of a sequel could, therefore, be considered something of a surprise.

As reported by IGN, the House of Halo (otherwise known as 343 Industries) is preparing to unleash a new instalment dubbed Halo: Spartan Strike. This arcade action sequel will take place in New Mombasa during the same era as Halo 2.

Halo: Spartan Strike is due for release on PC, as well as Windows phones and tablets, on Friday 12 December. While a version for Xbox One is yet to be announced, don’t be surprised if one bobs up down the track.

Increasingly desperate misogynists target Sarkeesian… again

Posted by Erin Marcon On Wednesday 15 October 2014No Comments

A still from an episode of Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.

The creator of acclaimed web series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games has cancelled a public appearance following an anonymous threat.

Anita Sarkeesian was due to deliver a presentation at Utah State University, but elected to withdraw. According to the Standard Examiner and Kotaku, multiple university staff members received correspondence threatening “the deadliest school shooting in American History” if Sarkeesian’s appearance went ahead.

This is just the latest salvo in a seemingly relentless campaign of abuse and intimidation against Sarkeesian. While she is known to have shrugged off threats in the past, the prominent critic and feminist decided to withdraw from this engagement because local police declined to employ metal detectors or conduct pat downs. “To be clear,” she later wrote, “I didn’t cancel my USU talk because of terrorist threats, I canceled because I didn’t feel the security measures were adequate.”

Sarkeesian also revealed that one of the threats received claimed affiliation with Gamergate. This loose collective of largely anonymous industry observers claims to be lobbying for improved journalistic standards, but frequently devolves into misogynistic rhetoric.

The Black Panel commends Sarkeesian for her ongoing attempts to broaden the scope of the industry and make our hobby and art form more inclusive. We unequivocally condemn the ongoing threats and harassment that she and other prominent women in the industry are being forced to endure.

You can view the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series here.

Driveclub crashes on the starting grid

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Tuesday 14 October 2014No Comments

Ideal conditions for driving.

In this week’s episode of “Which game totally stuffed its online launch?” we have Sony’s arcade racer Driveclub. In what seems to be almost the norm with new games Driveclub has hit some massive speed bumps during its launch window, which has resulted in no online connectivity and a lack of available features. It has even caused the delay of the free PlayStation Plus version, with developers unwilling to add a host of new players until the dents have been beaten out.

According to Kotaku, irate players have asked Sony for a refund but have yet to receive a response. It seems that this is just another in a long line of botched game launches. It seems to be that gamers are being forced to accept this as the norm as opposed to a rare occurrence and it is starting to leave a bad taste in many mouths. Here’s hoping that developers can come up with a way to properly test these online features prior to launch so we can all finally put these frustrating issues behind us.

Wildstar holidays cancelled

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Monday 13 October 2014No Comments

Orange and Purple Goo Day will seemingly go ahead as planned.

The studio responsible for WildStar has revealed that some of the content planned for its fledgling sci-fi MMO has been yanked from the release schedule.

In a post on the game’s official forums, Kristen DeMeza of Carbine Studios explained the reasons behind the cancellation of the Halloween and Christmas themed events. “Now, holidays are great, but they’re not has important as making sure the live game is working well. We took the time we needed to fix things players were already experiencing – all of the departments – and that meant that the schedule changed to account for it.”

Themed holidays are kind of a big deal in online gaming circles and the absence of these highly anticipated events doesn’t always go down particularly well. Just ask Valve. As reported at the time by Kotaku, the developer was on the receiving end of a withering backlash from DOTA 2 fans following its decision to skip Halloween (or Diretide as it is known in-game).