Websites to Checkout

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Extra! Extra! Read all about it. Pixel Hunt goes to press!

As you all know gaming is serious business these days. With Magazines, TV shows, Books, Movies and even radio programs all sprouting news and “expertise”.  But when it comes to the subject where do you go for an honest opinion from some of Australia’s best game journos? Well Pixel Hunt of course.

For the last 16 issues, Pixel Hunt has been providing quality opinion and information to the gaming public in the form of an ezine (that is electronic magazine Dad, come on keep up). It has become known throughout the Australian gaming industry as a place where writers can give honest opinion without sticking to the traditional structure of most magazines and websites. Because of this Pixel Hunt has earned a reputation for highly entertaining and informative writing.

This respect and reputation has allowed the ezine to make the next step…… go to press. Pixel Hunt is now available by order in a sexy printed format so you no longer have to take your laptop to the loo when you are reading the publication.

This is what Editor Dylan Burns had to say about this massive step (taken from MCVpacific.com): From a marketing perspective, I think it’s important for people to be able to see and feel a physical product – to flick through and enjoy the awesome design work that (designer) Aaron has done. I’ve always seen Pixel Hunt as a cathartic platform for the who’s who of Australian games writing to let their hair down a little, allow themselves to scratch any writing itches and engage more closely with readers who follow them in various publications and across social networks. I’ve talked to some writers who see Pixel Hunt as a prestigious space to get published, as it’s a magazine (now) that is read by Australian games press. We aren’t dictated in any way by an owning publisher. We have complete freedom to print what we want.”

So there you have it folks a great publication has just become even greater. Pixel Hunt can be purchased here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/325924 and their main site is www.pixelhunt.com.au So please check them out and if you like what you see why not splash out and get yourself some quality gaming related reading material.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year in Review: Hewso Style

Ok it is that time of year again, the time when we all look back at what has happened and reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly. 2011 for me was a great year, a year where some big changes have occurred and some bigger surprises.  So to sum it up I thought I might share my thoughts on the year that was. What was good? What deserves to be forgotten? What you might have missed? These are the questions I will attempt to answer in my highly self-indulgent year in review.

What a year, I mean there is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about the amazing year video games had in 2011. From Skyrim to Batman, from Portal 2 to LA Noire some superlative games have been released this year and due to the sheer number of quality releases I am sure some gems will be missed. One of those gems is The Witcher 2. Released early in the year to little fanfare, The Witcher 2 was a master class in RPG storytelling and style. Great characters, amazing graphics (some of the best around) and a crushing difficulty made The Witcher 2 a game that no PC player should miss out on.  (If you want to read my full thoughts on the game click here - http://blackpanel.com.au/2011/06/20/the-witcher-2-assassins-of-kings-review/ )

Another game that you shouldn’t miss is Driver San Francisco. Everyone thought the Driver franchise was dead. The last two entries in the series were rubbish and no one had any real interest in returning to the world. So it was with some surprise that Ubisoft announced another entry in the series. What was an even bigger surprise was that it was really really good. A game of pure fun, Driver SF has one of the stupidest premises in a video game ever, you can body snatch any driver in the city, but it works so well you wish you had more time with it. The game it’s self would be more accurately described as a Movie Chase Scene Simulator than a racing game but don’t let that put you off it is a mountain of fun from start to finish. (Once again I was lucky enough to get this to review. The review can be found here - http://blackpanel.com.au/2011/09/27/driver-san-francisco-review/)

It wasn’t all roses in the gaming world this year, gamers the world over suffered their fair share of disappointments. Duke’s long awaited return was not worth waiting for, Blizzard let the release date slide on Diablo 3 again, Australia still doesn’t have an R18+ rating (though we are closer) and Mortal Kombat (Another quality game, Get it you won’t be disappointed) was refused classification in Australia. 

IMPORT MORTAL KOMBAT
But the single biggest disappointment for me this year was RAGE. RAGE was the long awaited new IP from shooter masters ID software (they made some small games, like Doom and Quake you might have heard of them) and unfortunately it seems that they are still stuck in the past. Shooters have come a long way since their last release and while RAGE is a solid game, it was severely lacking in areas that gamers take for granted these days leading to a mediocre experience. The worst part of the whole affair was the disdain that ID treated their PC fanbase. ATI video card users had an especially hard time in getting the game to even work. It took me 2 months, 2 patches and 4 Video Card Driver updates before I could play the game. This is just not acceptable in this day and age and I am sure ID will have a lot to do to make it up to its Hardcore PC community.
RAGE looks good, when you eventually get it running.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Join me for Movember


Join me, grow a mo and change the face of men’s health.

The humble mo is a misunderstood creature, for 11 months of the year mo’s are often thought of as nothing but a bad taste remnant of the 70’s. But for the month of Movember (formally known as November) mo’s are not only hip, stylish and desirable but indicate the wearer of said mo is a fine human philanthropist with the wellbeing of others on their mind.

For those that could never understand why during November half the male population was walking around with furry lip warmers, Movember is a charity event where men from all around the world grow moustaches and get sponsorship to raise money for Men’s health programs such as prostate cancer research and male depression.  I have been supporter of Movember for quite a few years and while contemplating which style of face caterpillar I would don this year. I wanted to do something a little bit more for the cause.

With this goal in mind, and knowing that my gaming brethren love to support a good cause, I set about organising the Australian Gaming Community Movember Team.  A group of games writers/players/developers who not only want to support a great cause but have no fear in showing a hairy upper lip to the world.


The Following is from the Movember Website


"Movember is about raising funds and awareness for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and male depression. Close to 3,300 men die of prostate cancer in Australia each year and one in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime. Many of these men do not seek help. 

I’d like to try and change those statistics. 

The more people I can get to join my team, the more lives we can impact. You can either grow a moustache as a Mo Bro, or join as a Mo Sista and help to recruit other Mo growers to the team. 

Once registered, the Movember team will send you all the information you need to raise funds and start growing as part of my Movember team."

So if you would like to join me and many others in raising some money you can join our facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/170839739664200/?notif_t=group_r2j) or join the team directly by visiting our team page on the Movember website: (https://www.movember.com/au/register/details/team_id/206020). The lovely ladies out there are more than welcome to join as a Mo Sista and help the fella’s raises their money and provide support during what is likely to be an itchy time.
So wear your mo proudly, whether it be the Magnum PI, the Merv Hughes or the Uncle Chop chop and change the face of mens health.

*This article was originally posted at www.blackpanel.com.au Check them out for all you gaming news/reviews and features. Great site!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Five Fast Human’s With You

I thought I would do another quick round up of what has been hitting my media intake for the last little while. There are some corkers and some shockers in this entry. You have been warned.
Too much man for anyone to take

 Fast Five is the latest entry in the bazillion dollar rev head franchise and it is the best one yet. Some have described it as Oceans 11 for motor heads and that is a pretty accurate description of what is going on here. All of the cast from the previous movies have made a return and they seem to slip back into their respective roles with ease. The biggest addition (and I mean big) to this movie is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a bounty hunter sent by the FBI to catch Paul Walker and Vin Diesel.  The Rock (and he is the candy ass whooping, smell what I'm cooking, “Rock” of old in this movie, not the fellow that did the abysmal The Tooth Fairy) and Vin bash manliness for the whole movie setting up a fight scene that didn’t disappoint. This movie has enough testosterone to make any 12 year old boy watching immediately go through puberty.

Basically the movie was a load big dumb fun, I had a grin on my face the whole time I was watching. Since Director Justin Lin took over the franchise with Tokyo Drift, each movie has been getting better and better, and with the enormous amount of money Fast 5 made at the box office it is safe to say that there is more Vin, Walker and Johnson coming our way in the near future.

I'm With You is the latest “effort” by funky rockers the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I use quotation marks as the album doesn’t seem to have had any effort put into it at all. All of the songs seem like half-finished leftovers and B-sides from Stadium Arcadium and there isn’t one exciting song on the whole album.

This fly must be attracted by how much the album stinks
I have been a fan of the chilli’s for pretty much my whole life. The first album I ever bought was Blood Sugar Sex Magic and I have purchased every album since. Needless to say I have never been this disappointed with a band I love. There is no magic anymore and if it wasn’t for Flea trying his hardest to carry the band (he is smashing the bass the whole album) I could have sworn that this was not the chilli’s but a band that resembles them. No band is ever beyond redemption but I think RHCP will find it hard to win back fans after this shocker of an album.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution was probably my most anticipated game of the year and boy it didn’t disappoint. Set as a prequel to the original Deus Ex (a game which many still consider to be the best game ever made, 11 years after its release) DE:HR tells the story of Adam Jensen, a security expert in the employ of a human augmentation company. Starting with Jensen becoming augmented, DE:HR takes players on a ride of stealth/action/adventuring gameplay that has rarely been done this well. The game tailors itself to the player, giving you the choice on how you want to approach any given situation. Want to sneak past the guards and go straight to the objective, sure. Want to hack the security system so the turrets and robots attack their own masters , not a problem. Want to punch a hole through a wall, break a guard’s neck and  shoot his squad mates down with an automatic shotgun, yep you can do that too.

Buy this game, you won't regret it
DE:HR is about choice, and with a story that simply outclasses just about any other game out there,  the choice to play DE:HR is a no brainer. I cannot see a better game coming out this year. If you have the slightest interest in gaming you owe it to yourself to get this game. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mythbusters. Gaming myths busted for those in older generation



Being an older gamer I thought I would put together a little guide for those well matured folk out there that are a little scared and confused about how a fat plumber with a mushroom addiction can not only be fun, but be one of the biggest entertainment phenomenon’s in human history.

Myth 1 – Playing games is for kids. 

If this doesn't say fun for everyone, nothing does.
Well technically this is true, it is for kids but (and there is always  a but) it is for adults too. Gaming is a genuine family pastime and something that even my really really old parents are now starting to enjoy. In this wonderful day and age instead of the family crowding around the Monopoly board, rolling dice, counting fake money and loosing pieces this can be done in front of the TV with with nothing more than a console and a controller. No more arguments over the rules, no more kids eating the pieces and no more cheating bankers. What can be bad about that?

Myth 2 – Playing games leads to an increase in violent tendencies.

For a gamer the reverse is the actually true. If you ever see a person at work who is loud, irritable, sweating and prone to bouts of Tourette’s syndrome this person may not be coming down from the latest designer drug or recovering from a late night session at the local but be a gamer who hasn’t gotten a chance to unleash his worries on an unsuspecting pirate/ninja/gangster. Therapeutic violence is something that everyone should get behind, after all who doesn’t feel better at the thought of unleashing some of that pent up tension on a virtual representation of the telly tubbies (ok that game doesn’t exist, but it should, instant bestseller).

Myth 3 – Games are only played but antisocial nerds in their parent’s basement.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In a recent survey that I just made up, 100% of sports stars used their first pay cheque to buy a gaming system.  But in all seriousness (not really) gaming is a wonderful social experience. With the success of multiplayer games like Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and Mario Kart people are increasingly enjoying their gaming time with others. Another recent discovery is gaming goes well with alcohol (as proven by the success of the Mana Bar) and alcohol goes well with friends. Drunken singstar sessions is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life, after all how can you say you know someone until you experience their drunken attempt to bring soul to Ke Shan. Yes the antisocial roleplayer does exist but everyone else is having too much fun playing Rock Band with their drunken mates to notice.

Myth 4 – Games will rot your mind.

If there is anything more incorrect than this statement I am yet to see it. Games make education fun, easy and exciting as well as offering life lessons not available anywhere else. For example, with the inevitability of the Zombie apocalypse where are people going to get survival training? Educational documentaries such as Dawn of the Dead and Army of Darkness will only get the potential Zombie survivor so far. Without the interaction given to people by video games how will people know how to use common household items to create weapons of undead destruction. 

Not only will video games assist your survival in this situation, they will teach you how to drive a million dollar sports car, build and manage a large scale army bent on planetary conquest, use a portal device to escape an evil AI contruct and the ins and outs of the economic structures within a large scale drug operation. All of these skills are essential for a rounded education experience and until the government realises this and Zombie kills 101 becomes a compulsory course in all high schools, video games are the only source of this vital knowledge.

So hopefully my guide has helped you folks in the blue rinse brigade understand this scary movement and to all the gamers reading this, I sincerely hope my article hasn’t made things worse for us. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Final Farewell for the Big Man

Losing your pet is always a hard thing for a family. Only other pet owners know what you go through when you lose a loving member of your household. I am going through this now having lost my Great Dane today, to what I can only assume was in relation to a tumour that had recently been diagnosed.

Sampson, was a loving member of my family, my wife and I bought him before we had children and really was always an important part of our life. From the first day we got him and he left a nasty package in the hallway (it wasn’t a small one either, the size of the dog = the size of the surprise)to me going crook at him last night for barking at someone walking past the house, his presence was always appreciated.

Now owning a Great Dane leads to unique problems like owning a snow shovel to pick up the poo, losing small children in holes he had dug and assuring the elderly neighbour that the dog sticking his head over the 6 foot fence was not standing on anything and he was just saying hello. 

I buried Sampson today at my In-Laws farm, which itself was a challenge. The size of the trench we had to dig to give the big fella a proper burial was enormous and took myself and my father in-law the better part of an hour to dig out. The hardest part was telling my son that Samps was no longer with us. My youngest (2) was too young to realise what had happened but my eldest (6) knew exactly what was going on. My wife was the person that had to tell him and I don’t envy what she had to do. Dealing with her own grief and telling a crying child that he couldn’t play with his puppy anymore is a task I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

In the end you have to look back at the fun, I know it is clich├ęd but really how else does one deal with grief.

I know that this blog post is self indulgent, but giving Big Stoopid a proper Eulogy is something I had to do. Every family member deserves a proper goodbye. So goodbye my mate you will be missed.

He was a lap dog.


R.I.P Sampson
5/1/2003 – 20/7/2011

Sunday, July 10, 2011

True Electric Worms

Time again for me to put some of the things I have seen, done, experienced down on a digital page for your perusal. It has been a little while since I have done one of these so I have a few things to write about.

First is Electric Mary.  Now for those that don’t know, Electric Mary is an Aussie rock band from Melbourne. They play old style rock, in fact the band slogan is “Rock and Roll served up the way it used to taste.” The band sticks true to this slogan with clear influences from classic bands like Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Motley Crue and even a little bit of AC/DC. I first became aware of this band when they supported Alice Cooper on his most recent tour. They played for about 45 minutes and kicked it the whole time. Massive guitar solo’s great vocals and blues rock riffs abounded and I was immediately in love. I promptly purchased their CD “Down to the Bone” and it has been in heavy rotation on my Ipod ever since.

That was 2 years ago now and I have been anticipating some new material ever since. Well on the 17/7/11 my wish will come true. “Long time coming” is the name of their new EP/DVD that brings 6 new tracks on the CD and 7 live performances on the DVD. Trust me if you like hard rock and want to support Aussie music you owe it to yourself to check these guys out. Their album can be bought on iTunes and the new EP can be pre-ordered here: http://www.waterfrontrecords.com/product/78102

Remakes are the current flame of Hollywood. Old movies are being remade daily saving viewers everywhere from any spark of originality. Most of these remakes have been worse than the original but with the release of a new version of the John Wayne classic, True Grit that trend has been busted. Starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and directed by the ever reliable Cohen brothers this remake is one worth watching. Telling the story of a young girl on a mission to track down her father’s killer, True Grit is one of the best westerns in recent times. Solid performances by Bridges and Damon, amazing cinematography and a breakout performance by Hailee Steinfield make this a movie that everyone should see.

Steam sales are event that no PC gamer ever wants to miss. Every six months Steam has massive reductions on almost all games with daily deals that simply cannot be ignored. These sales are on right now and for a measly $15 I managed to pick up 3 great games. The first being Command and Conquer 4, a game that, while different to the previous entries in the series, is more than worth the $6 I paid for it. The second game was Oblivion, a game that won so many “Game of the year” awards, that it became the standard that all fantasy RPG’s are held to, even to this day.  Yet even with all of this acclaim I have somehow missed playing it for the last 4 years but no longer. For a pauper’s price of $7 I got Oblivion and all of its expansions giving me about 100 hours of gameplay to look forward to.

The final game I picked up was a classic that has recently been remade. For $2 I got a game that contains over 86 weapons, advanced tactical turn based combat, hand drawn 2d graphics and most importantly small pink invertebrates. That’s right I picked up Worms (yes, I know how bad that sounds). For the two of you out there that have never played a Worms game it is simple. Think Tank Wars with Worms as the tanks and Sheep, Cows, Cement Donkeys and Holy Hand Grenades as weapons. The insane humour makes this a game that almost everyone will get a giggle out of and the gameplay is simple to lean yet difficult to master so there is a lot here to like and keep you playing, and at the cost of a can of coke I just couldn’t say no.

So that’s it for the entry, remember to comment below if you have anything to add or if you simply want to say hey and you can check out my Video game reviews at www.blackpanel.com.au . I am also now on Google+ so look me up if you are a member, I am the only Matthew Hewson on there at this point so I shouldn’t be too hard to find.


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