IVG Offer: FIFA 09

It’s been way too long since our last IVG Offer. So now that the calm has passed, its time for the storm. IVG Offer season begins with FIFA 09, but unfortunately, the offer is only for the PlayStation 3 version, since EA’s Xbox 360 distributors aren’t very co-operative when it comes to discounts.

Before I proceed with the offer, a brief introduction. IVG Offers are, to put it simply, bulk orders that IVG places on behalf of its members. Since we order in bulk, the people we order from (distributors or retailers) give us discounts, which we pass on to members. Members pre-order the game on our forums and we take payment a few days before the game’s release. The games usually reach us a day before or the same day they hit retail in Mumbai, and we courier them out ourselves via DTDC. In the past, we have had successful IVG Offers on Heavenly Sword, Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Burnout Paradise, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and Grand Theft Auto 4, and a not-so-successful offer on Metal Gear Solid 4 (but that wasn’t our fault).

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IVG Offers are back! Even Francky can barely contain himself

Hit the jump dor the the FIFA 09 offer details

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Review: Too Human

By now the saga of Too Human is the stuff of legends. Ten years in the making, and originally destined for the PS One, the game finally found its home on the Xbox 360. Let’s just say that the first installment in the trilogy probably should have been released during the PS One era to have gotten our full appreciation. As it stands today, its fun but it’s a bit of a mess.

Too Human’s story is a unique take on Norse mythology. The usual staple of Norse gods are present – Odin, Thor, Loki, etc., but gods in Too Human are essentially cybernetically-enhanced humans; in other words, a geek’s wet dream. The gods in Too Human are known as the Aesir (from Wikipedia : In Old Norse, æsir, is the term denoting the principal gods of the pantheon of Norse paganism. They include many of the major figures, such as Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. They are one of the two groups of gods, the other being the Vanir. In Norse mythology, the two are described as having waged war against one another in the Æsir-Vanir War‎, resulting in the unification of the two into a single tribe of gods). The Aesir are all part of the Aesir Corporation that looks after MidGard (Gasp!! a well known reference here) – the capital city of the human race.

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You play Baldur (not the most obvious choice of gods for an action hero since Baldur is the Norse God of light and beauty), one of the Aesir who has suffered a personal tragedy. You are tasked with tacking the increasing menace posed by a race of machines, which is attacking humans and sucking the blood and organs out of them.

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Ask John Doyle (Producer, Need For Speed)

Another year-end brings another chapter in the long-running Need For Speed series – the first name in racing games (whether you like it or not). And regardless of how previous instalments were received by critics and gamers, each new game brings renewed optimism. Is this the year that EA brings Need For Speed back to the front of the crowded pack of arcade racers?

Things are certainly shaping up well over at Black Box. Need For Speed: Undercover looks to bring back the intense car chases that made Most Wanted a fan favourite, and tying these frantic high-speed highway pursuits together is a gripping story featuring live action cutscenes with big-budget production values and an accomplished cast led by Maggie Q.

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We’re going to have the opportunity to sit down with John Doyle, who is a producer on the Need For Speed series, and put across some questions from the IndianVideoGamer Community regarding the upcoming Need For Speed: Undercover. So if there’s anything you’d like to know about the game – the gameplay, the story, the setting, the soundtrack, or anything else that’s on our mind, head over to our forums and post your questions for John. We will try our best to get all of your questions answered.

To post your questions for John Doyle, click here.

First-party Wii and DS games will be available in India

As the Nintendo Wii begins to quietly make its way into stores across India with ninja-like stealth in readiness for its September 30 launch date along with the DS Lite, we caught up with Mahesh Toshniwal of Samurai Games India Pvt Ltd, official distributors of the Wii and DS in India, to confirm to us the news that surfaced recently and to give us answers to some questions that many of you may have had on your minds.

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about Samurai India; its history and current operations?
Samurai introduced 8-bit Nintendo video games in India in 1987 and was instrumental in bringing Nintendo Home Video Games to India. Samurai is an authorised reseller of Active Boeki K. K. of Kobe, Japan, who is the distributor for Nintendo in South-East Asia, the Middle East and India. Incidentally, Active Boeki’s chief is an Indian from Ajmer – Mr Suresh K. Lal.

What is the release date for the Wii and DS in India?
Release date for Wii and DS Lite is 30th September, 2008.

How much will the Wii and DS be priced at?
The MRP for the Wii is Rs 19,990 and the DS Lite is priced at Rs 7,990 inclusive of all taxes.

Will the Wii come bundled with Wii Sports?
Yes, the Wii will come bundled with Wii Sports and with an original 220 Volts Nintendo AC adapter.

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Will you also bring Wii and DS first-party titles to India and what will be the price range for Wii and DS games?
Yes, we will bring first-party as well as licensee software to India and prices will depend on the individual titles.

What is the role of HCL in bringing the Wii and DS to India?
We have tied up with HCL to sell the Wii and DS through 20 stores across Mumbai and Delhi. Based on the success of the operation, these arrangements may change over time.

Will the Wii in India be PAL or NTSC-U/C?
The Wii will be NTSC.

Besides Nintendo, which publishers’ games will you distribute?
We have already tied up with a few publishers and negotiations with others are underway.*

Hit the jump for the rest of the interview

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FIFA Interactive World Cup returns for a new season

After a massively successful season last year, the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC), a tie-up between FIFA and Sony PlayStation, revolving around EA Sports’ popular FIFA franchise, is back for its fifth season, allowing FIFA 09 players from around the world to participate in this unique event via events around the world and online through their PlayStation 3 consoles.

This year’s FIWC kicks off with the European launch of FIFA 09 on October 3, and like last year, there will be an FIWC event in India, where you can test your skills against the best in the country in a bid to become one of the 32 finalists, who will head to the FIFA World Player Gala event to fight it out against the best in the world. The qualifiers kick off in New Zealand on October 25, and we’ll let you know when we have the confirmed dates and venues for India. Qualifying events will take place in 19 physical FIWC 09 Qualifier Events all over the world including Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Italy, South Africa and the US.

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And if you can’t make it to the qualifying events, worry not. You can also participate in the FIWC qualifiers from your living room, over the PlayStation Network on your PlayStation 3. The overall winner for this year’s event walks away with a cool USD 20,000 cash prize and an all new KIA ‘Soul’ to go with it. The runner up will take home USD 5,000, while the third-place finisher will be awarded USD 1,000.

Click here for more information on the FIFA Interactive World Cup, and if you think you’ve got what it takes, head over to PSN and download the FIFA 09 demo to get a head start on the competition.

Hit the jump for the full press release

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Dear EA, here’s how not to rip your loyal fans off

Konami today announced that it had secured a four-year licensing contract to the UEFA Champions League, and with it came a game trailer to celebrate the signing, indicating that the Champions League would be included in Konami’s upcoming Pro Evolution Soccer 2009.

For those who don’t know, the UEFA Champions League is Europe’s premier club football competition. Top clubs from around the continent compete in this annual tournament to be crowned European club champion. EA Sports had the license to the Champions League from the 2004-2005 season, up until last year, and Eidos and Take-Two had it before them.

The rumours of Konami securing the license had been doing the rounds for a couple of months and all that while there was a fear in the back of my mind that Konami would do the unthinkable – release Champions League as a separate game, just like EA Sports did. Today’s announcement, stating that the Champions League would be integrated into Pro Evolution Soccer 2009, has allayed those fears, but it makes one think – why didn’t EA do that when they had the license? Why didn’t they put the Champions League in their annual flagship FIFA titles, rather than milking it the way they did and forcing people to buy something that, frankly, didn’t offer anything new at all?

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Review: Ratchet & Clank: Quest For Booty

It came as a surprise to many when Sony announced at this years E3 conference that a new Ratchet and Clank (R&C) game was coming to the PlayStation 3 and that it would be available via the PSN store. It was later revealed that the game an episodic title, set somewhere between the events of the 2007’s Tools of Destruction (ToD) and 2009’s upcoming Ratchet game, which is revealed in the end credits. While it may not live up to the high standards of the earlier games in the series, Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty is a fine game that should not be missed by any of the series’ fans.

Quest for Booty picks up right after the events of ToD, with clank missing, abducted by the mysterious Zoni. Ratchet’s quest begins with him trying to find a mysterious pirate known as Darkwater, who is the only one who can lead him to the Zoni. The game begins with Ratchet and his female companion Talwyn invading some pirate ships, where he soon finds the secret about Captain Darkwater and his treasure. The story retains the usual humorous charm of the previous games, mainly due to some excellent writing and dialogue. Also, the game is set up in a way that players who haven’t played Tools of Destruction can get right into it without feeling lost.

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The newer, slimmer PlayStation 2 is finally here

Still going strong after eight years, India’s best-selling console, the PlayStation 2 is finally getting its long-awaited facelift and a slight price drop to go with it.

Launching just in time for the holiday season (Diwali), the new-look PS2 will sport a new dual-shade look, a sleeker design and a built-in AC Adapter. The PS2 also sees a mild price revision from the current Rs 6,990 to Rs 6,490, with a free game thrown in for good measure. And with PS2 games available for as low as Rs 499, Sony is looking to solidify the PS2’s position as India’s most preferred entry-level console.

Atindriya Bose, Country Manager for PlayStation in India:

“We are excited to introduce the new PlayStation 2 at an attractive and accessible price point for the Indian gamers. For a country like India where there are many gamers just starting on consoles, PS2 indeed plays an important role as the best entry level gaming console.”

With India being a PAL market and falling under the purview of SCEE, it will be interesting to see how soon this new PS2 makes its way to markets in Europe and America, where despite being overshadowed by the newer generation of consoles, the PS2 still enjoys robust sales.

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Hit the jump for the full press release.

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Of tyres, bots and the classic 90s

C:\> cd c&d

Very simply put, the above-mentioned DOS command was the beginning of my tryst with gaming. The game was Car & Driver, a racing game from Looking Glass Studios and published by EA. The system was a ‘revolutionary’ Pentium II-based PC, belonging to a friend. You see, I didn’t have a PC at the time, way back in 1995-96. Every weekend, I sunk my teeth into this game, amazed by the cars I saw, the tracks they plied on, and I still remember the fun I had racing the Ferrari F40. Consider that my prior gaming experience included Dangerous Dave, Paratrooper, Jump-jet and a certain Prince of Persia; all nice, especially PoP (how couldn’t it be), and hurriedly played during breaks in school. But C&D was a different thing altogether. I was absorbed by the game, mystified by the art of racing, and gaming was never the same again. That this game redefined the way I looked at computer gaming would be a gross understatement.

Yes, the roots of my interest in gaming were clearly in the PC, and it has remained that way for a very, very long time. Following months of C&D, one fine day, my friend called me saying, “You have to come and see this new game I’ve just got, it’s too good”. What could I do? Within minutes I was in front of his comp, about to be absorbed by something more amazing still. It was One Must Fall: 2097, developed by Diversions Entertainment, and published by Epic Megagames. No prizes for guessing where Epic has reached today.

Continue reading “Of tyres, bots and the classic 90s”

Nintendo Wii and DS set to launch to India

Nintendo, who left Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 shitfaced as it raced into the lead in the console race with the Wii, is finally showing India some love. TheANGRYPixel reports that the Wii is launching in India on September 30 and it will be distributed by Samurai-India, in association with HCL. There have been rumblings in the industry of the Wii launching in India some time this month. Rumours of HCL bringing the Wii to India surfaced a few months ago; then there were rumours of Nintendo bringing in the Wii through regional distributors.

So it looks like it’s a combination of the two and we hear that HCL will predominantly handle the Nintendo’s DS handheld, which will also release simultaneously. A price tag of Rs 19,990 may be a little steep for a console like the Wii, but it will also be interesting to see how the Wii, still largely unknown in these parts, is marketed here. The DS, however, seems more reasonably priced for a handheld (Rs 7,990) and will be looking to eat into a serious chunk of the sizeable PSP market in India.

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WipEout HD: Worth risking an epileptic attack

Ever since the hilarious rumour that WipEout HD was delayed for health reasons, people who didn’t previously care about the game, suddenly started taking an interest in it. With this PR nightmare on their hands, you would think that Sony would do everything in its power to securely lock away any existing playable code of the game and keep it away from the media. But that seems farthest from the truth, and the fact that I was allowed to play the game at length during my recent visit to the Milestone office, probably means that the reason for the delay is less sensational than is being reported.

But let’s for a moment assume that playing WipEout HD at 1080p and 60 frames per second with multi-flourescent-coloured objects blazing by at astonishing speeds does pose a health risk to those suffering from epilepsy (described in Wikipedia as a chronic neurological disorder that is characterised by recurrent unprovoked seizures due to abnormal, excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain). If I was someone suffering from epilepsy, I would gladly risk an epileptic attack, just so I could feel the rush of playing WipEout HD; it’s that good!

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EA Hyderabad is hiring

With gaming now become a viable career option in India, top names in the video game industry are looking at India as a future hub for quality video game development. And Electronic Arts has taken the lead, setting up a world class development studio in India, providing an opportunity for Indians to work with the best in the business.

Electronic Arts, or EA, is the world’s largest publisher of interactive entertainment. It is the company behind best-selling game franchises such as The Sims, FIFA and Need For Speed, which have now become household names. EA is also the first international publisher to set up base in India, first with its publishing business, and now with its new development studio in Hyderabad.

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Currently employing 200 people, EA Hyderabad aims to grow its workforce two-fold in the near future, providing opportunities to not only engineers and animators, but professionals from various industries. The Hyderabad studio’s operations vary from end-to-end game development for mobile devices, art and assets creation for PC and console platforms for EA’s worldwide studios, online services for EA’s best-selling The Sims games, and automation and manual game testing for PC and console platforms. This diversity in operations calls for employees with varying levels of expertise and experience.

We spoke to a few employees at EA Hyderabad to give us an insight into the studio’s operations and what it takes to work at EA.

Amit Gupta
Automation Engineer

I have a B-Tech in Computer Sciences. I worked at Wipro for two years before joining EA. For this job, academics don’t really matter if you have the experience. But for anyone looking to get into this field, the most important prerequisite is that he/she should be a gaming freak. An interest in gaming is a must, because a lot of my job involves playing games. My job requires me to create automation programs for game testing. So I am required to play the games, and analyse them so we can effectively create an automation program that works. So playing the game is a big part of it. If you do have an interest in gaming, EA is a dream company.

Krishna Chaitanya
Assistant Development Manager

Simply put, my job is project management. I work in the mobile division. Presently, I’m handling the Asia-Pacific region, where we overlook different games that have to be delivered to different mobile devices. Right from putting the game on the phones and getting them into the market is what we handle. We ensure that the game is suited to the various regions and different devices. Educational qualifications are not really a major criterion for a job like this. I myself studied mechanical engineering, and now I’m at EA; there’s no real link between the two. What is important is creativity and a passion for gaming.

Arun Kunchala
Assistant Development Manager

As Krishna said, there is no particular educational background required for this job. But yes, you need to be a gamer. As a project manager, you handle game development from scratch till the end; that is your game! I, however, deal more with future-tech – the latest technology, the latest gadgets like iPhone, etc. I do a lot of R&D, while Krishna is more into intensive project management. While he handles a thousand titles a month, I handle two or three. So for someone like me, it’s also very important to stay up-to-date with all the latest technology. You need to know the latest market trends, at the same time you need to figure how you’re going to adapt your games to that technology.

Abhishek Deshpande

Game Designer
I’ve studied BE, but there aren’t really any courses or degrees for what this job requires; that was self-learnt. I have designed about 20 international games across genres; two of them at EA. You acquire a lot of the knowledge required for this job by playing games; it gives you an understanding of how games work. There is also a lot of creativity involved; you should be able to visualise and have the passion for creating something new. Even if you have a simple object like a ball, there are thousands of ways in which you can weave gameplay around it. So a game designer should be able to come up with different possibilities and ideas. We visualise how a game should work.

Amol Samant
Engineering Manager

We cater to several projects for teams worldwide. My job involves managing programmers in our team, and also planning and managing the various projects of game development for the mobile division. We oversee game development from start to finish. I’ve been developing games on various platforms for the past eight years and that experience has definitely helped here at EA. Programmers in our team work on various parts of a game, ranging from artificial intelligence to physics. We also have people who work on optimisation for various devices, so the game engine is a very important part of that. We have some people focussed on developing the engine. Delivering the game to the customer is also handled by our team; we work on the delivery platforms that will allow the customer to get the game onto their mobile device. For our team, we hire both freshers and those with more experience, so there is a balance. We do hire a lot of freshers, mostly engineers. But we also hire people from other backgrounds if they have the aptitude for the job.

Next Page: Current job openings

He worked on Gears of War and Halo 3!

What do Gears of War and Halo 3 have in common besides being two of the biggest titles in the Xbox 360’s three-year history? Here’s what – Ranbir Kapoor, a Bollywood star on the rise, has worked as a game developer on both blockbuster titles, or at least that’s what his latest release will have us believe.

As part of a tie up between Microsoft and Yashraj Films, Gears of War and Halo 3 will appear prominently in the film Bachna Ae Haseeno, and Kapoor, who plays an Xbox 360 developer-slash-womaniser in the film, will be seen developing these two games.

To be fair to the makers of the film, the majority of people who will watch this film will have no idea what Gears of War and Halo 3 are, so to them this would seem like a perfectly good idea. But to the rest of us, there is so much wrong about this that I’m not even going to get into it. Suffice to say that Bollywood has a glowing track-record of blending reality with fantasy and mind-boggling ridiculousness, so this shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. And after hearing about the appearance of the Xbox 360 in a film based in 2050 (Love Story 2050), I think we’ll happily settle for this scenario.

Join the discussion on the IndianVideoGamer Community forums

IndianVideoGamer visits EA Hyderabad

India is expected to see huge growth in the video game industry in the coming years, not only in terms of game sales, but also with regards to video game development. While this has been acknowledged by several industry leaders, EA has been the first to make its move, first establishing its publishing business in India two-and-a-half years ago, and now with its new state-of-the-art development studio in Hyderabad.

EA opened the doors to its new studio to the media recently, and I was one of the handful of journalists invited by EA to see for ourselves what the team in Hyderabad was up to. Currently employing a little over 200 people, this studio contributes to various aspects of EA’s business, with its main focus being end-to-end development of games for mobile platforms.

While the mobile division at Hyderabad works closely with its counterparts in EA studios across the world, it is equipped to handle all development activities, right from development, to certification and distribution. Unlike game development on other platforms, for mobile platforms, the work doesn’t end at simply making the game work. Each mobile game that is developed at Hyderabad is customised to work with the multitude of different mobile devices varying in screen size, operating systems, controls, etc. The Hyderabad team is also responsible for localisation, ensuring that their game is tweaked for the various regions and the different service providers operating there.

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Welcome to IndianVideoGamer.com 3.0

Happy Independence Day and welcome to the new and improved IndianVideoGamer.com. Yes, this is the IVG 3.0 we’ve been teasing all this while. Some of you already knew about it, and some of you guessed it – this is the IndianVideoGamer blog.

When we started off in 2006, we always knew that this was coming somewhere down the line; it was only a matter of when. And now feels just about right. Exactly a year ago, on Independence Day, we moved IndianVideoGamer to our new servers and started from scratch. So August 15 seems like the right date to take the next step.

Forum members who have been around a while will know that we frequently cover gaming events and conduct interviews, previews, reviews and contests. We felt that a platform like this would be a better way to put this content across to the reader, who may miss it in the hundreds of threads that exist in the forums. The forums, however, will still remain the core of IVG. After all, fanboy wars on a blog just won’t cut it.

We would also like to use the blog for gaming news; particularly news that affects us in India. We’re constantly in touch with industry sources to keep you up to date with what’s happening with gaming in India. If you’re a game developer, distributor, or just someone who would like to bring some news to our attention, kindly contact us.

But IndianVideoGamer has always been about the community and we would love for the community to get involved with the blog as well. There are some brilliant writers among us, and we would love for our members to write for the blog as well. It could be anything from game demo impressions to opinion pieces. We will also look to our members to write reviews for us from time to time. We’re already off to a great start there, as you can see from keyofx’s review of Alone In The Dark.

Taking community integration a step further, forum members will now be able to use their forum IDs to post their comments on the blog. Also, each time a blog article is posted, a corresponding forum thread will be automatically created for the same, and all replies posted will show up both on the blog as well as the forums. Of course, this integration may not work flawlessly at first, but we will tweak it in the coming days to get it to work the way it should.

So bookmark us and watch this space for the latest in gaming in India.