Archive for July, 2008


It’s Alive…again!

The Prima Games staff has made it safely back from a fantastic San Diego Comic Con, lugging our video games and Wii Consoles, tired yet heroically through the airport back to our offices. Upon arrival back at my computer, I’ve found a cute little creature, well…robot to be exact, popping up on my screen.

After closer inspection, I realized my robot friend was a herald of awesomeness: the Prima Games Codes and Cheats Database is back online! Completely searchable with over 18,000 codes, cheats, glitches, easter eggs, and unlockables for over 1,500 of the most popular current and next-gen games on the biggest platforms.

Oh, and my little robot friend wanted me to remind you that they are 100% verified.

Robby and I invite you take a peek at the database and help yourself out with some tips from the people who know games.


the secret life of a strategy guide writer / 09

Last time: I braved the artic tundra in a quest to witness the warmth of Bioware’s ice palace up in Edmonton. This time, I travel to the wilds of North Carolina, and visit Cliff Bleszinski and the Epic Games crew, hard at work on Unreal Tournament 2004. Yes, this was before the Gears of War money flooded in.

Part 9: An Epic Office

Back when PC guides were black and white, I was sent to spend a couple of weeks with the good folks over at Epic Games in their North Carolina offices. This wasn’t the first Carolina I’d been to; I’d had to find a small hotel somewhere in South Carolina and interview the band P.O.D. about their love for Sega Rally. Don’t ask. Actually, do; that was for a magazine where celebrities were valued as highly as video games. It lasted seven issues. Go figure. Anyway, as exciting as the nearby waffle house had been, I wasn’t itching to get back to the Carolinas, but Epic’s office changed all of that. Partly because it was in the middle of the flattest backwoods around (but still within spittin’ distance of a Red Lobster), and I love my own backwoods at my Pacific Northwest Doombase, but mainly because Epic had amenities even EA would have been excited to show off.

Yes, they had a large black room decked out in foam, where they stuck ping-pong balls on actors and forced them to play-fight as if they’d been gibbed. And that was before you wandered around the developers’ office space. Back in 2003, everyone in the Epic office had one of those big CRT monitors with a SONY logo that weighed as much as Forrest Griffin’s head, and was just as difficult to hold onto. But Cliffy B (as he was known back then) had not one, but two of those brand-new 24-inch flatscreens, back when they cost $2,999 each. His office was pimptabulous, if you’re a fan of Optimus Prime and Dodge Vipers (in which a rode to a luncheon where we talked about Seanbaby). Although the office was shared with others, Epic had their own luxury level, with views across deciduous woodland, high ceilings, thick, executive wood doors, and (because I’d descended right in the middle of crunch time; a tendency that really leaves a developer wanting to string you up by your gaming thumbs) a mass of white DELL keyboards, a mess of chunky computers plus wiring, and great camaraderie.

Cliffy B’s office was Epic, is Epic — and after they changed gears and garnered giant success with Marcus Fenix’s excellent adventure — is probably festooned with giant plastic and metal versions of everything thick and sinewy that appeared in the game. I wouldn’t be surprised if Field Marshall Bleszinski now rides to work in a life-size Optimus Prime truck. He’s earned it.

Next time, Santa Monica calls, as I shake Naughty Dog off my leg.


Just finished: Nope, no finish in sight for me.

Currently: Touring the Wasteland and noting down interesting locations.

About to: Cross-reference items, going slightly doo-lally in the process.



Too Human: Runes and Charms

As a player who’s always trying to optimize my character, I find the equipment screen in Too Human to be extremely addictive. It seems I spend as much time sorting through my gear as I do smiting enemies. Not only is it fun to customize gear, but Silicon Knights has created a very deep yet intuitive interface. In fact, I think it’s the best equipment/inventory screens I’ve seen in a console game. The weapon and armor options are all quite self-explanatory, especially if you’ve played WoW or other RPGs. But runes and charms are somewhat unique and require some explanation to fully understand their power.

Runes: These items are sometimes dropped by enemies or obelisks. There are numerous types of runes, each capable of boosting your character’s stats in some way. But before equipping a rune, you must have an empty rune slot in one of your weapons or armor pieces. Sort through your equipped gear to see if you have one; it will say Empty Rune Slot in the window on the bottom right and show a hollow circle icon next to the square equipment icon. Once you’ve found an empty rune slot, press X to insert a rune. This brings up your rune inventory screen allowing you to fuse any rune to the selected piece of equipment. Runes can provide a variety of bonuses but try to focus on runes that boost either your weapon’s damage or your armor’s Total Armor value. These bonuses are stackable too, so don’t be afraid to apply identical bonuses to the same piece of equipment. For example, if you place one Total Armor +5% rune in all six pieces of armor, your Total Armor value is increased by 30%. But make your choice wisely. Once a rune is fused, it cannot be removed. So before applying powerful runes, make sure you’ll be using the selected piece of equipment for a significant duration. In the full-game, colored runes are available in the shops of Aesir, allowing your to customize the appearance of each piece of equipment. Colored runes can be applied to any piece and don’t take up a rune slot.

Charms: Charms are dropped exclusively in cyberspace. You can find a few by raiding the obelisks in the first cyberspace area in the demo; during Baldur’s flashback when he joins Freya at the World Tree. Although they look like runes, charms are like mini-quests, requiring you to perform a certain task and insert the appropriate runes in exchange for some type of offensive or defensive bonus. These are usually proc-based (random) bonuses, increasing the chance of inflicting certain types of damage or status effects on your victims and/or attackers. You can have up to two charms equipped at a time and one must be equipped before the requirements can be met. Once you’ve completed the requirements, press X while the charm is selected to insert the appropriate runes, matching the runic characters to the ones shown on the charm. Runes inserted into charms cannot be retrieved, thus their bonuses are lost. So avoid inserting runes you may want to use later. A completed charm must remain in one of the two equipment slots if you wish to take advantage of its reward.

So if you’re still hooked on demo, give it another run and make the most of the runes and charms in your inventory. For more info on runes, charms, and all other aspects of Too Human, check out our guide releasing next month.


the blame game and MMO addiction…

For a long time now I’ve stayed away from MMOs such as World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and the such. Not because I was afraid of getting addicted or anything, but because I blamed MMOs like WoW for ruining the lives of many people. I’d seen friends and familiy completely lose themselves in the game and become “that” person. If you’ve seen the “Make Love, Not Warcraft” South Park episode, then you know what I’m talking about. To make matters worse, I’d see headlines about kids that fell dead among a sea of HotPocket wrappers or people who would lose their jobs, relationships, etc. because they’d become more enamored with MMOs than with actual life. Or “irl” as MMO players like to call it. It made me sick.

Recently, I had a conversation with a life-long friend about WoW and guess what. He’s engaged, has a steady job, goes out with friends “irl”, and even retained all of his social skills while managing to level a few “toons” to Level 70. At first I was amazed that he’d even try WoW. He was never the gaming type to begin with. I joked with him that I was going to write a mock newspaper story (a’la The Onion) with a headline reading “MMO Player Maintains Relationship, Job, and Social Life: WoW Community is Outraged.” Then I heard about another friend who also plays Lord of the Rings Online (He even wrote about it here.), but didn’t become addicted to the point of installing a microwave next to his computer. 

So I got to thinkin’ that maybe I had it all wrong. You’ll never read a story in the newpaper about the Alexises and Marios of the world- the MMO players that can enjoy the game safely without having to keep empty bottles of Snapple nearby so that they don’t have actually get up and go to the restroom. You’ll never read a story in the newspaper (wait.. do they actually have print news anymore?) about a kid who has a maxed out character in WoW yet still gets good grades, got a scholarship and went on to succeed in college. It’s not going to happen.

I decided that placing the blame on MMOs made no more sense than blaming the hemp plant for people becoming drug addicts. Its dumb. How can anyone blame a plant, right? Its just a plant! At the end of the day it is we gamers that make the choice to log on and play for 18 hours straight or walk out of that door and enjoy the sun. It all boils down to choices. You can choose to lose yourself in MMOs, drugs, drinking, shopping too much, eating too much, etc. or you can choose to be responsible.

Needless to say, I don’t blame MMOs anymore. Hey, I even signed up for one. But I’ll be darned if I ever choose to stay home and “finish one more quest” rather than go out with my girlfriend or hang out with my brother. It just won’t happen.

With all that being said, I’ll take advantage of my soapbox and leave you all with the best gaming tip that Prima or I could ever provide: Game responsibly.


Way down south

And we’re off again. Representing Prima at the San Diego Comic Con for the second year in a row.

I attended for many years as a fan and a hopeful, crushed against the other fans in the rows of booths. Now being on the other side of the table it’s a different world. A good one. Now I can be nice to all the geeks and creatures that pass by, knowing how they’re in shock from either disinterested (or overwhelmed) talent that can barely scribble an autograph before growling for the next person in line or the desperate ballyhoo of the independent boothers trying to get them to buy something.

We’re not selling we just want to say “Hi, we’re here.” And as individuals we’re not famous, we are instead completely unknown, subverting our independent selves to the betterment of the company. And so I think of our area as an oasis, where they can approach without pressure or self-consciousness and talk about video games (Pokemon, mostly) or anime (if Lex happens to be at the booth) or comics (so I can dominate the conversation with fevered rants about the literary intention of the graphic novel).

No pressure. Stop by. We’re waiting.


Advertising in Games

In the late ‘80s, the movie Top Gun was released on video (VHS). Critics were upset because the video contained a commercial for Pepsi before the movie began. You may remember the F-14 Tomcat with the Pepsi bottle dispenser (it was a glass bottle as well). While the advertising may have been a problem for some, I did not mind it at all. In fact, I was glad for it because it allowed for the movie to be sold for a much cheaper price than other videos so I could afford to buy it. Before that time, videos were expensive and move people just rented them rather than pay the steep price for a single movie. By having Pepsi sponsor the video release, Paramount (I believe) was able to sell the video cheaper. It sold so well, that other videos dropped in price as well as studios realized that cheaper price means more sales as well as a greater profit.


The purpose of advertising is to sell a product. Companies pay media outlets to run or print their ads and that is where media makes a lot of their money. Television and radio shows are free (not counting some satellite and cable channels) because advertisers are footing the bill for you to watch and listen. Magazines and newspapers are about 60%-75% ads. Comic books used to be full of ads. When they dropped outside advertising, the cost of comic books went up. Therefore, according to this economic model, advertising makes media cheaper for the consumer.


Over the weekend my wife and I were watching Vantage Point (a great movie, by the way). Forrest Whittaker’s character uses a video camera during many scenes in the movie. Right away I noticed that from several different angles, I could see the Sony logo. I then remembered that the movie was by Columbia, a Sony Pictures studio. It is no coincidence that the video camera in the movie was a Sony. As you watch TV or movies, you will notice lots of product placements throughout.


Advertisements have been appearing in video games for a while as well. Atari used billboards in the arcade version of Pole Position, a racing game, to advertise their other games. So this is not new. What brought up the top of this blog was that I recently learned that some upcoming games will have dynamic advertising throughout. From what I have read, these might be billboards with real ads. If that were not enough, one of the goals is to destroy as many of these billboards as you can. Of course, if you are going to destroy a billboard, you will have to aim and look at it. This is taking in-game advertising a bit too far in my opinion, by rewarding players for looking at ads with points or achievements.


However, if the publishers of these games with advertising are including ads to make the game less expensive for the players rather than just pocketing the extra profits, I am willing to let it slide. Maybe advertising will make brand new next-gen games more affordable.





the secret life of a strategy guide writer / 08

Last time: I remembered the great days when visiting Rare involved retinal scans and Great British fry-ups. This time, I pack slightly too few pieces of clothing for a trip up to the Edmonton tundra, to visit the largest mall in the Galaxy. Oh, and Bioware’s Ice palace.

Part 8: Bio-hazards

You take a plane to Seattle. You take another plane to Vancouver, politely smile and waver your constitutional rights away at customs, then stagger to a prop-plane for a spot of tundra-skimming. Then it’s off to the white snow and frigid temperatures of Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Flying there was an interesting experience, as the landscape was pure white. Alas, there’s nothing that you’d call “hills” for hundreds of miles, so skiing was out of the question. I half-expected to spot Steve Buscemi’s mangled foot sticking out of a wood chipper while Peter Stormare gets shot in the leg by a pregnant Frances McDormand out on Moose Lake. But that was the hundreds of miles of white you peered at until your eyes go funny until you reach an approximation of civilization; Endmonton itself.

The place is nice enough, and features the world’s biggest Mall, if you want to take your mind off the -35 degree weather they were having when I sprinted from the taxi to the hotel that Bioware’s offices share, and immediately lost all sensation down the left side of my face. After warming up in the faux-British pub, I wandered through an interior atrium, and into Bioware’s lair. There’s a good deal of turquoise and wood if I remember correctly, and offices stretching around long corridors, interspersed with zones where groups of people work furiously on games; in my case, they were finishing up Jade Empire. The Bioware crew are what you call “dedicated.” Sleeping bags were spotted. One of the team had gout. You don’t get gout by putting in the bare minimum of hours, you know. There’s a great communal room where the latest video games are played, and the coldest pizzas are reheated and eaten. Except when buckets of Chinese are delivered.

I’ve never met a nicer bunch of folks before, and I’ve never had all the moisture in my face sucked out from the time I left my taxi to reaching my hotel. It was a trip full of firsts.

Next time, I step cautiously away from Cliff Bleszinski’s Transformer toy… action figure collection.

Just finished: Touring the Wasteland.

Currently: Touring the Wasteland and noting down interesting locations.

About to: Continue my tour of the Wasteland.



Fight Like a Champion

Juggling goblins!

Now that you know the basic combat moves of Too Human, let’s take a look at the featured class available in the demo: the Champion.

The Champion is the most balanced of the classes, equally adept at melee and ranged attacks. But the Champion’s specialty is aerial combat, capable of scoring as many as eight melee hits while flying through the air. To make the most of this skill, continually juggle targets by double tapping the right control stick in the direction of your enemy. While the target is airborne, jump (A button) and press the right control stick in the direction of the aloft enemy to perform an air slide attack. Continue holding the right stick in the direction of the enemy until it’s destroyed or until you return to the ground. But even upon landing you can jump up again and score more melee hits before the target falls. This is the best method for eliminating durable enemies like assault goblins and goblin leaders. When dealing with melee goblins, launch multiple targets into the air (with a hammer juggle or mine) and air slide each before they drop. Air slides function just like normal slide attacks, so while in the air move the right control stick in the direction of your enemies to make Baldur streak through the air, visiting each airborne target with a melee hit. Killing enemies in the air is one of the best ways to build-up the combo meter, thus allowing for more ruiners and battle cries; each requires a minimum of combo level 1 to activate.

When equipping your Champion’s melee weapon, stick with one-handed swords or hammers. While he’s capable of carrying other types, the Champion is most proficient with one-handed instruments, allowing for quicker strikes; essential during aerial combat. Consider equipping a hammer to take advantage of its multi-target juggle capability. When performing a juggle attack with any hammer, Baldur strikes the ground in front of him, creating a small shockwave radius that sends multiple targets into the air, helping prep air slide victims. Hammer juggles are also useful for escaping large swarms, allowing you to launch multiple enemies and retreat to a safer distance (and engage with guns) as they fly through the air. The Champion is also proficient with pistols. The low damage value associated with pistols is a bit misleading. By pressing the right and left triggers simultaneously you can fire two pistols at once, effectively doubling the damage output, often outperforming rifles of similar levels. However, pistols have a shorter range and lower ammo capacity than rifles, so take this into consideration when selecting a ranged weapon.

Each time your Champion levels-up, you’re awarded with 2-3 skill points. Promptly invest these points in you character’s skill tree for added bonuses and capabilities; press start and select Skills from the radial menu. At the beginning, you must invest a minimum of six skill points in the root skill (Unerring Strike) before you can drop additional points in the next three nodes. Of the three upper tier skills, Asgard’s Fury is the most beneficial, assuming you’ve become accustomed to aerial combat; the skill increases air melee damage. Beyond the first tier, you must choose a spider skill. Once a spider skill is chosen, the remaining nodes on the other two branches are locked. So study all the skills in each branch before choosing your spider. Spiders perform a variety of actions, but the Champion’s spiders either deploy mines (on the left and center branches) or a turret (on the right branch); press Y to deploy the spider. The Tree of Raining-Iron turret is one of the coolest spider abilities in the game, firing a barrage of bullets at all nearby enemies. Beyond the spider abilities, you can invest in battle cries and the sentient weapon capability. However, due to the length of the demo, you probably won’t be able to attain the skill points necessary to invest in these skills. In the full game skill points can also be applied to your chosen alignment: human or cybernetic.

So now that you know a little more about the Champion, fire-up the demo and give it another go. For more info on the Champion and all the other classes, check out our game guide releasing next month.


San Diego Comic Con Festivities

As E3 winds down, San Diego Comic Con approaches hot on its heels.  We here at Prima Games have some fantastic festivities planned:

First, of course, is our Halo Panel: Halo Wars and the Halo Universe.  This panel includes some of the biggest names from the Halo World: Joseph Staten (Bungie Team), Eric Nylund (author), Tobias Buckell (author), Graeme Devine and  Frank O’Connor (Halo Universe Writers), and Jon Goff and Corrinne Robinson (MacFarlane Toys).  Did we also mention the fantastic prizes that will be there.  Now, I can’t tell you what they will be, but I can tell you there are some from both the Halo Team and MacFarlane Toys and they’re amazing.

Study up for the gaming tournaments!

Study up for the gaming tournaments!

Then, there is our fantastic little booth.   We’ll be holding two gaming tournaments: Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Brothers Brawl. The prizes include copies of the games and we’re also giving away 2 Wiis.  Yes, count ’em…2.  Free.  Nintendo Wiis.

Meet some of the Prima Team (myself included.  I know fans…don’t crowd the booth…I’ll be there everyday…for you ~_^).  Living, breathing, gaming!  And what’s our favorite thing to do?  Give away:


Come get some Master Chief!

Come get some Master Chief!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Swag, and do we have a ton of it.  From posters (Halo 3 pictured above, Pokemon, Hellboy, etc) to Limited Edition Lithographs (Metal Gear Solid 4) to hint books, guides and more!  We’ll also be giving away about 1500 free eGuides–first come first serve!  We will be giving a lot away, so remember to visit us often.

So come visit us in the Random House section by the Hall B entrance.  Play some games, get some swag.  See you there!


NCAA Football 09 Offensive & Defensive Tips

Presenting 12 tips from our author team of the NCAA Football 09 Prima Official Game Guide:


Learn which types of run plays work best against each defensive front. For example, inside run plays are best to attack 3-4 defensive fronts. Outside run plays are usually more effective against the 4-3 defense.

Continue reading ‘NCAA Football 09 Offensive & Defensive Tips’

July 2008