With anticipation for Maxis’ new “Sim-Everything” – a game humbly entitled Spore – reaching new levels of absurd, EA has given gamers an interim fix in the form of the Spore Creature Creator.
It’s an editor that allows you to create your own creature out of a myriad of different parts, each with its own levels of customisation. It’s possible to create almost any kind of creature you can imagine, and the intertubes have disgorged many critters that most of us would never have thought of.

trogdor

Trogdor the Burninator

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cackw Kanes Wrath is a stand alone expansion but there is alot to offer. With the exsisting 3 factions GDI,Brotherhood of N.O.D. and the Alien scum race The Scin. There are now 2 extra side factions to coinside with each major faction.Each side faction specialises in certain areas much like Command and Conquer:Generals on PC .Example,The Black Hand of NOD specialise in flame so they are able to get a special napalm upgrade for their flame units . The introduction of mega units to each side is very much an awesome welcome to Kanes Wrath along with the new Control Stick (but i’ll get into that in a little bit).

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indy For those of you who don’t know, Lego Indiana Jones – The Original Adventures – is a game where all the characters, vehicles, and parts of the environments are made of every kids favourite building blocks – Lego.

A lot of us were first introduced to this concept with Lego – Star Wars, and the novel gameplay overlaid with the whole Lego thing provided a pleasant surprise to all but hardest of core gamers. I mean – we all love Lego right?

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grid Codemasters have a long list of reasonably well respected racing games. TOCA Touring Car Championship was released towards the end of 1997 and proved popular in territories like Australia where motorsports are very prolific. A number of sequels followed and the TOCA series was renamed V8 Supercars in Australia and New Zealand. 2006 saw Codemasters bring out TOCA Race Driver 3 which continued with the theme of ever expanding motorsports available to contest. Race Driver GRID is the evolution of the TOCA series, a mix between the arcade and simulation type racing games and is probably best described as a hybrid of the two.

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Update: We are now able to confirm the our earlier report, that EB Games will be purchasing the retail chain “The Gamesman“. ButtonMasher have it on good authority that the changeover at the retail level will happen on Monday 14 July, although it is unclear at this stage when the rebranding of stores will be occurring. Now would be an extremely good time to cash in any remaining Gamesman gift vouchers – there could be no guarantee that these will be valid at EB Games from 14 July onwards.

Also, the talk in the industry today is that The Gamesman’s online store (www.gamesman.co.nz) will remain open for business even after the acquisition of the retail stores. This will be of some relief to gamers who fear that this latest business takeover leaves little choice in the New Zealand gaming market from specialist stores. However this news will not be of any comfort to other competing webstores in New Zealand.

ButtonMasher has been told unofficially that New Zealand’s largest independent gaming store (“100% KIWI owned and managed”) is going to be bought out by retail giant EB Games. This follows the demise earlier this year of the GamesPlus stores, which were born from the failed Central Park Interactive.

First E“A” and now E“B”. Each engulfing smaller independent companies in their quest for global domination. While there remains a reasonable degree of competition from non-specialty stores, this latest news will basically mean that for most New Zealanders, a “gaming store” will become synonymous with “EB Games”. Will somebody please think of the children! (viz. future GTA gamers)

Our sources have been told that all 8 stores in Auckland, Tauranga, Palmerston North, Wellington, and Christchurch, will be rebranded and refitted as EB stores by late July. These centres all have current EB Games stores, but the official word (as presented to staff members) is that there will be no job losses. However as we all know, these can hardly be taken as reassurances. More than likely, EB stores will just not replace staff as they resign, and leave the downsizing until this has happened. And in areas where two stores are not justified, it is hard to see this not happening.

ButtonmMasher tip: Make sure that you cash in any remaining Gift Vouchers you might have.

mgs4 Metal Gear Solid 4 is perhaps the first PlayStation 3 exclusive title to really get people fired up. While games such as GT Prologue and Uncharted did cause a spark, they simply did not have as much of an impact. MGS4 brings a much loved PlayStation franchise to the more powerful PS3 hardware. The Metal Gear games have a certain stigma to them though.

Full of nuance, finicky control schemes and absolutely absurd storylines. It has very much fallen into the "love it or hate it" category. Most people who have played through MGS4 will say that those who did not like the previous Metal Gear games are unlikely to enjoy MGS4. I disagree. I have played the previous Metal Gear Solid games. Not more than three hours each…but I played them.

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P1020841At the Sony booze up I took the opportunity to abstain from alcohol (as usual) and play with some sacks that I have had my eyes on for quite some time. LittleBigPlanet already has a near cult following well before its release and after having a good sit down with it I can see that it is totally warranted and my lofty expectations are all not in vain.

The first part of our play time entailed completing some of the pre created levels. The code is fairly recent but a lot of the levels are missing so we only had the chance to play through 3 proper levels that will be appearing in the retail build of the game.

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When it was announced that New Zealand would receive the same edited version of the hit video game Grand Theft Auto IV that was destined for the Australian market, there was anger in the local gaming community. There has never been an official announcement by publisher Take-Two Interactive about the reasons behind this, but logic suggests it was because it would be easier to supply the “Australiasian” region with a single version of the game. So New Zealand, which does have an R18 rating, received a version of the game which was watered down to please the censors in neighbouring Australia, where the highest possible rating for a game is “MA15+”. Anything deemed unsuitable for this rating is effectively banned in Australia.

The lack of any official comment from Take-Two, or the game’s developer Rockstar, about their actions or detailing the changes made in this “special edition”, frustrated gamers who had waited anxiously for months to play this game. New Zealand laws prevented the sale of parallel imported “grey market” uncut games (any game of this nature must pass through the appropriate censorship bodies prior to being sold), but did not prevent individuals from importing “for personal use”. However the thought of waiting even longer for an unedited version from overseas was too much to bear for many.

One man who was not happy with situation was Stan Calif, founder and director of First Games. Stan was not only annoyed that New Zealand would be receiving an edited version of the game courtesy of Take-Two – he also thought it was more than a bit cheeky that New Zealanders would be paying “full price” for a cut-down game. He was determined to give Kiwis the right to buy the “uncut” version locally.

As ButtonMasher has previous reported, in order for the “original” GTA IV to be sold legally in New Zealand, it would have to be submitted to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) – a process that could take as long as 6-8 weeks. Any individual has the right to make this submission, although a significant fee of at least NZD$1400 (USD$1080) is payable. With First Games committed to selling games at below the recommended retail prices of $120, it would take a large number of games to recoup the costs.

Undeterred, Stan filed a submission to the OFLC in the week after the release of GTA IV. Had Stan been able to provide the OFLC with a list of differences between the two games, the entire process would almost certainly have been expedited, as an urgent application could be requested. When urgency is granted by the Chief Censor, a decision may take as few as 3 working days. However due to lack of co-operation from Take-Two, Stan was resigned to a 6-8 week wait before he could sell the game legally to New Zealand gamers.

Time was costing Stan money. Every day passed without classification was another day where his games sat unsold, while gamers that could wait no longer purchased edited copies from local retail outlets. It was an understandably anxious wait, and the worse case scenario probably never even entered Stan’s determined mind. Had the OFLC deemed any aspect of the game to be “objectionable” (likely to cause injury to the public good if it is made available to the public), the game would have been banned for sale in its current form in New Zealand. Worse still for New Zealand gamers – this would also ban subsequent “personal use” imports of the game from overseas.

This week Stan received word that the OFLC may be nearing a decision regarding classification, only 2 weeks after submission. Sleepless nights followed, as his excitement at the news of a possible early decision was tempered with nervousness about what decision would be made.

Today Stan’s efforts and perserverance were rewarded, when the OFLC gave the “uncut” version of GTA IV a classification of R18, paving the way for First Games to sell the game legally in New Zealand. An elated Stan told us:

“First Games are proud to be able to deliver GTA IV uncut to New Zealanders. We have been committed from the outset to provide Kiwi gamers with the freedom to purchase an unaltered version of GTA IV. After much hard work and expense we are now able to deliver GTA IV in the way that Rockstar originally intended”.

The “uncut” GTA IV is now available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 from www.firstgames.co.nz for the price of $99.50 and carries a NZ classification of R18 (contains violence, offense language, and sex scenes).