Welcome to the hundred and twenty-third edition of RPGamer's Currents Column.
It has been a rather interesting month and this week was no exception. Mass Effect fans especially have a lot to discuss. Unfortunately, since I haven't started playing Mass Effect 3 I have steered cleared of much of the debate surrounding the ending. What I have been following lately is some news on the mobile games front. This issue is going to be a bit different in that regard. There are a few mobile game stories that I want to focus on here. I also want to introduce a new section in this issue called Reading List.
Every now and then I come across a really interesting article or interview that is well researched, well written, or provides an interesting point of view. Rather than simply trying to summarize that article, I'm instead going link you to the article and tell you why it is worth your time to read. If all goes well, I'll try a couple noteworthy articles each issue that I feel are worth your time.
Taking a look at Infinity Blade: Dungeons Will this be the first big budget Diablo-Clone on iOS?
In case you missed it a couple weeks ago, Epic Games unveiled the latest entry in their iOS exclusive series, Infinity Blade, at Apple's iPad press conference. Rather than making another Punch Out inspired fantasy RPG, this time Epic Games is trying their hand at a Diablo style dungeon-crawler. The basic story is that you are an apprentice weaponsmith sent out to various dungeons to collect the materials necessary necessary for your master to craft the titular Infinity Blade. The game is not on-rails like the previous Infinity Blade games and features exploration and weapon crafting. Aside from that not much else is known about the game.
After watching Epic's presentation at the press conference, I'm left with more than a few questions. First off, I want to know if there are any character classes in the game, and if so how many? Having multiple classes is an important staple of most dungeon-crawlers that let a player approach the game from different angles. Secondly, if there are multiple classes, will you be able to personalize them via cosmetic customization options? For example, being able to choose your gender, face, and skin tone. Finally, I want to know if there are any randomization elements in game. Randomization is a key component, to loot-based dungeons-crawlers. Randomized levels, enemies, and loot drops add much needed variety and longevity to a genre that has you returning to the same areas time and time again in order to satisfy your loot lust.
So I guess the real question is how seriously is Epic Games taking its first foray into loot-based dungeon-crawlers. How long has the game been in development and how much of that time was spent on refining the gameplay systems rather than just its visuals? Graphically, Infinity Blade: Dungeons looks great and I'm really interested to see how this kind of game plays on a tablet. We will just have to wait and see if this will turn out to be the iOS platform's first deep, high profile, and big budget dungeon-crawler. Then again it could end being a shallow yet pretty Diablo-clone/tech demo for the new iPad. Be sure to check out the trailer below and give me your thoughts on Infinity Blade: Dungeons in the comments.
Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition Coming to iPad this Summer The more hardcore RPGs on iOS the better!
In case you haven't heard, Overhaul Games, a studio made up of Ex-BioWare employees, is working on enhanced editions of PC RPG classics, Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2. The first Baldur's Gate is set to come out this summer for PC and iPad. The enhanced port will feature the Tales of the Sword Coast Expansion, will run an enhanced version of the Infinity Engine, and will also feature all new content in the form of a new adventure and party member.
According to a hands on impression from IGN, Overhaul Games had indicated that the game's menus and camera will be revised to better facilitate the iPad's touch interface. As of right now, Overhual Games is just showing that the game is up and running smoothly on the iPad and that all of the optimizations will be in before launch. I can see a classic point-and-click RPG like Baldur's Gate working well on an iPad and would love to have a deep RPG experience like this on the platform.
A quick roundup of some interesting things in the mobile games space. For when you need to game on the go.
Square Enix's latest iOS JRPG Chaos Rings II Out Now.
The sequel to Square Enix's popular and overpriced iOS game Chaos Rings was just released on March 15th. Unfortunately the game is not universal and you will have to buy the iPhone/iPod Touch version separately from the iPad version. The game is $17.99 for iPhone and $19.99 for the iPad. If the sticker shock hasn't already dissuaded you I have embedded the launch trailer below. It reminds me of PS2 era Square Enix JRPG; pretty, stylized, and melodramatic. Check it out. Let me know in the comments if you have picked up the game and what you think of it.
MASS EFFECT 3 DATAPAD Companion App.
This is a cool little iOS app that any Mass Effect fan should be interested in. It's called Mass Effect 3 DataPad. This App includes most of the Codex entries from all three Mass Effect games complete with voice overs. It also includes a twitter feed, a media gallery, and the app ties in to Mass Effect 3 via your EA Origin account. As you play ME3, your team mates send you email messages, and you can also increase your galactic readiness by playing a simple game that has you sending off teams to counter threats in the galaxy. All in all a fun and free app worth checking out. You can get the Mass Effect Data Pad App here. The App is free and universal.
Reading List: Well Worth Your Time Cozy up by the fireplace.
Introducing Quantic Dream's Kara
During GDC 2012, Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain, made a lot of waves with their tech demo Kara. The trailer shows off the birth of an android and just how far Quantic Dream's facial scanning tech has come since Heavy Rain. This Eurogamer article has in depth interview with Quantic Dream's David Cage on all things Kara and their next game project and is well worth a read.
GameIdustry Interview with Jeff Gerstman on CBSi acquisition of GiantBomb.
One of the most interesting news stories last week was the announcement that popular video game website GiantBomb.com had been acquired by CBS Interactive, the home of Gamespot.com. This interview from GameIndustry.biz goes into a lot of the reasons why GiantBomb decided to sell and why Jeff Gerstman, the Editor-in-Chief of GiantBomb, would want to ever work with Gamespot again after his very public layoff from the website in back 2007.
That's all for this week. It was nice to get to chat about some interesting developments in the iOS space. It took a while, but there are finally quite a few games worth getting RPGamers excited about. Personally, I love the idea of carrying around a big budget dungeon-crawler in my pocket with me everywhere I go. I also like that I'm going to get experience some classic RPGs that I may have missed otherwise. The better the mobile space for games becomes the more we all benefit.