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  • Ludono

    My Golden Joystick Picks! What are yours? (Win an iPad)

    By Ludono

    Check out the Golden Joysticks HERE   *Voting in this enters you to win an iPad*   I just wanted to go through my picks for this years Golden Joystick because it's fun! I've been pretty bad about playing games this year so my picks are far from definitive.   Best Original Game   My Pick: Child of Light Runners Up: Broken Age, Shovel Knight   So many great games in this category, but sadly I've only played a few. However I went with Child of Light mainly because I'm playing it now and absolutely loving it. I considered Broken Age and Shovel Knight but having played neither I couldn't put my pick on them.   Most Wanted   My Pick: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Runners Up: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne   SUCH A HARD CATEGORY. Ultimately I picked Metal Gear V because it's probably my favourite franchise of all time, preceded only by Resident Evil. Rise of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted fall in the same boat of being action adventure games that I love, it'll be interesting to see which one comes out on top since Tomb Raider 2012 was better than Uncharted 3. Bloodborne is something I've been following with increased interest... but really, most of the games on here I'm looking forward to anyway.   Best Indie   My Pick: Broken Age Runners Up: Republique   I was able to give Broken Age some love here, because I really think it deserves a win. Had Republique not gone the iOS route I'd have likely played and picked that.   Best Visual Design   My Pick: Transistor Runners Up: Child of Light, Valiant Hearts   Child of Light is love to my eyes but despite not having played it I really dig Transistors style, and the art I've seen for it is just beautiful... I had to pick it. Valiant Hearts has a great art direction as well but sadly not enough to put it over the top for me.   Best Multiplayer   My Pick: Mario Kart 8 Runners Up: None...   Since CSGO wasn't on the list I had to pick the game that I had the second best multiplayer experience this year, Mario Kart!   Best Audio   My Pick: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Runners Up: Legend of Zelda ALBW, Transistor   I feel like this is a bit of a surprise for me but in terms of sheer audio quality it has to be Black Flag, not only because of the soundtrack which is full of shanties and upbeat pirate tunes but the environmental sounds as well, the crashing of waves, the creaking of your ship.... fantastic! My runners up were briefly considered because they both have wonderful soundtracks.   Best Gaming Moment   My Pick: The Last of Us Left Behind - The Kiss Runners Up: Titanfall - Calling in a Titan, Ground Zeroes - Rescuing Kojima   Bit of a spoiler filled category eh? But mine has to easily be the Last of Us Left Behind, that DLC was amazing and that single moment just convey more emotion than most games do in their entirety. Titanfall was neat in the beta because the Mechs were pretty cool and rescuing Kojima was just plain awesome.   Best Story Telling   My Pick: The Last of Us Left Behind Runners Up: Child of Light, Wolf Among Us   Last of Us again for obvious reasons, I shouldn't have to explain. Child of Light has really drawn me in and Wolf Among Us had a pretty cool story going on (Though admittedly I haven't finished it).   Best Online Game   My Pick: Realm Reborn   Moving on.   Best Handheld Game   My Pick: Link Between Worlds Runners Up: Pokemon X & Y, Bravely Default   Zelda is just so pure and fun, and is pretty much perfect in every way. Pokemon is fine, though I grew bored of it and didn't finish it and Bravely well.... I spent more time in the demo than the actual game but it really is quite good!   Best Mobile Game   My Pick: N/A   I skipped because I don't play mobile games. I might've given it to Republique had they included it on this list.   Gaming Platform of the Year   My Pick: PS4 Runner Up: Vita, 3DS   The PS4 has just had an EXPLOSIVE launch and the months thereafter. It's provided tons and tons of free games via PS Plus and is just about everything you would want from "next gen". the Handhelds have both really shone as well this past year having tons of really good exclusive games.   Studio of the Year   My Pick: Nintendo Runners Up: Media Molecule   Nintendo has been KILLING it this year with first party games, no other studio can top them! Media Molecule gets an honourable mention though for having the highest average metacritic score for any studio.   Innovation of the Year   My Pick: Dualshock 4   Not really an innovation (all the choices suck) but I really do like the DS4, probably one of the best controllers ever (right up there with the 360 controller).   Personality of the Year   Let's see.... #girlwood, #gamergate, Some British guy, Dude that abandoned Day Z, Occulus Guy, Luftrausers Guy, YOSHIDA SAN, No, and....some other British guy?   Yeah, YOSHIDA SAN wins this for me.   My Pick: Shuhei Yoshida   Game of the Year   While MGSV Proper will probably get GOTY when it comes out, Ground Zeroes wasn't enough to warrant it being GOTY. So this title goes to Zelda for me!   My Pick: Legend of Zelda Link Between Worlds     So now it's your turn! Go out and put in your votes (and enter to win an iPad Air!) and then report back here. Post away!
    • 15 comments
    • 2,783 views
  • Ludono

    Inside The Box - The Last of Us Survival Edition

    By Ludono

    Hi and welcome to yet another new blog series I've decided to start up. Inside The Box will focus on packaging and extras that come with various "editions" of games, though I won't limit myself to just games. Anything nerdy is fair game on this blog!     The inaugural post features one of the most highly anticipated games of this year, The Last of Us, specifically the Survival Edition of the game.   **Note: This is NOT a review of the game, only the packaging**     The Last of Us - Survival Edition   Release Date - June 14, 2013 Developer - Naughty Dog Platform(s) - PS3 Price - $79.99 Price Paid - $79.99 (Amazon) Retailer Exclusive - No   I decided to make an unboxing video for this!       To summarize the above video: - Collectors box/packaging - Steelbook case featuring Ellie/Joel - Sounds and Sights DLC - PSN Avatars and Theme - 170 Page Hardcover Artbook - Issue #1 of The Last of Us comic   The Last of Us Survival Edition is one of two different special editions, the other being the Gamestop exclusive Post-Pandemic Edition which substituted a 12 inch statue in place of the Artbook included with the Survival Edition.   This edition is available for $20 more than the standard edition, which seems fair for what you get with it. The box is much larger than I expected it to be, below is a comparison picture with a standard PS3 game.         The box everything comes in is large and looks like one of those promotional display boxes you'd see at Gamestop. That said, the artwork for the game is nice and I know I won't mind putting this box up for display on a shelf somewhere. However, a box this size might be the bane of those more space-conscious that myself.   The steelbook is simple yet elegant, with the added bonus of having artwork on the inside as well. The Artbook is definitely a premium book, more along the lines of the Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect artbooks rather than a small pack-in artbook most games get.   The DLC and PSN Avatars/Theme are a nice bonus, but definitely not worth any amount of money. Finally, the comic seems to be the afterthought of this edition, being more of a teaser than anything else, likely in the hopes of getting you to buy more issues of the comic as it comes out.     Overall you get your extra $20 worth out of this edition, though not much more than that.   Presentation - 9/10 Price/Value - 8/10 Extras - 7/10   Score - 8.0 / 10     Edit: The art book is available separately, albeit as a preorder (July 2) and at $40 MSRP ( $27 on Amazon)   What did you think of this type of review? More videos or more pictures in upcoming ones? What would you like to see next?
    • 12 comments
    • 2,887 views
  • Venom

    "Upcoming" Game Titles Revised for Accuracy

    By Venom

    This started out as a couple of dumb one-off jokes I made earlier today, but then I realized...why not go further with it? Why not make it a number of dumb jokes?   Why not indeed.   So, in today's post, I'll be talking about some upcoming video games that are taking way too long to come out. But not just that - I'll also be revising their names to more accurately portray their current state and poking a little fun at them along the way. I've got my poking stick set to "stun" and my jokes set to "kill," so let's get this thing on the road!   Agent Revised name: Undercover Agent This is literally the game's entire existence.   Do you remember Agent? No? No one does, so if you said yes, go sit in time out, Mr. or Ms. Pants on Fire. It was announced in 2009 or so, and since then there's been nothing - total radio silence. Suffice it to say, it appears Agent has gone deep undercover, so until Rockstar pulls him from active duty, he won't be seen in the public eye unless he's in disguise. Let's just hope Momma Agent doesn't get a letter saying he was KIA. Final Fantasy XV   Revised name: Final Fantasy 2015, At the Earliest Revised revised name: Pretty Boys with Sharpened Toys   At first they were going to call it Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which is a heck of a mouthful. Makes sense to shorten the title a bit, especially after it's completely failed to show up on store shelves since its announcement in 2006, right? But Squenix wasn't just shortening the name, they were telling us something. Something to do with 15...what does it mean? Well, I've deduced that it means 2015 is the absolute earliest we'll see this game on store shelves. So if they rename it to FFXVI, be prepared to wait another couple of years, at least.   The Last Guardian   revised name: The Last Guardian of the PS3's Legacy "Woof! I mean...meow! I mean...hold on, let me think about this."   Let's pretend for a moment that The Last Guardian is still coming to PS3, because that may be the only way for some of you to hold back the tears. Got rid of the sniffles yet? Good, let's move on. The Last Guardian has been "in development" for a while, being announced in 2009, and has always been slated to come out on PS3. Since it looks like the PS3's lifetime will expire before this game ever comes out, I've taken the liberty of crowning it the Guardian of the PS3's Legacy. Once every PS3 game that will ever be released has come out, ol' Trico will finally spread his wings and soar onto the system to secure the console's legacy with one final, amazing game. Unless it turns out to be terrible, like most games that stew in development hell for years, but let's just do what it takes to keep from crying and hope for the best. Beyond Good & Evil 2   Revised name: Beyond Good Graphics and Evil Executives 2 Still waiting.   BG&E was a fan favorite and a critical success, but it didn't really do well commercially, so fans were ecstatic when it was announced the game was getting a sequel in 2008. And yet now they've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. At this point, I'd like to think that by the time the game finally does come out it will have amazingly advanced graphics, probably powered by the Playstation 5, Xbox Two, and Wii U Me, and the developers will have finally found a way to convince the publishing bosses that the game will turn a profit. Prey 2   Revised name: A Longer Development Cycle than Prey, 2   Now with twice the prey!   Prey 2 was announced in 2011 or so, but they've been pretty quiet since Bethesda told everyone that it was being polished up to their standards. What standards those are, exactly, we'll never know, but it probably involves releasing it with a host of hilarious glitches. In any case, the original Prey took around 12 years to finally see the light of day, and while Prey 2 has only gotten a few years in, the complete lack of any new info points to the developers trying to match or exceed that cycle. I'm pretty sure at that point it stops being "development hell" and turns into "development hell frozen over."   Kingdom Hearts 3   Revised name: We Ran Out of Kingdom Hearts Spinoffs 3   I'm confused about those 3 things behind the logo too, Sora.   It finally happened. After so many long years, we finally have confirmation. It's what we all expected, all hoped, all secretly knew. And our waiting has paid off as Square Enix has revealed...that it has finally run out of Kingdom Hearts spinoffs.   Half-Life 3   Revised name: No-Life 3 While you wait, enjoy this mockup that took someone literally seconds to make.   Because people who are still going around looking for clues of this game's existence have no life. That, and the game itself doesn't have a life, since it doesn't exist. It's a double whammy of painful realization! Starcraft: Ghost   Revised name: Starcraft: Ghost I don't know if this is an actual screenshot. No one remembers what the game looks like.   Oh, wait.     Some of you may be saying that these are the same games I featured in a past article (welcome back, Señor or Señora Pantalones de Fuego) but I talked about them differently this time, so it makes it new. So nyah.   So what do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head with my revised names? Do you have a better name for any of these? Or do you not care either way and just want to sound off in the comments about something else? Whatever the case, head on down there and speak your mind!
    • 10 comments
    • 2,646 views
  • Royzoga

    Random Roy - EVO 2014 Summary

    By Royzoga

    I didn't think it would be possible to follow last years hype, last years upsets, and last years incredible matches. Well, I was wrong. I bring you again, the summary of Evolution Championship Series. Now if you're unfamiliar with what EVO is, basically the Olympics of fighting games. There's a medley of fighting games to be played ranging from Street Fighter to Super Smash Bros Melee. However, the roster is ever changing. Almost each year, the main 8 games played change up, allowing newer and fresher games to be showcased. And this year was definitely a crazy ride. Without much more intro, let's dive right in.     Ultra Street Fighter IV The series 6th year at EVO 1st. MD │ Louffy, who played as Rose, from France. 2nd. Bonchan, who played Sagat, from Japan. 3rd. RZR │ Fuudo (Winner of EVO 2011,) who played Fei Long, from Japan.   In quite possibly one of the biggest upsets of an entire generation, a huge portion of the favorites to win the tournament were eliminated before even the Semi-finals. It just goes to show you that even the changes they made for Ultra can really impact the level of competition.     Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 The series 4th year at EVO 1st. EG │ Justin Wong, who played using the team Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, from the USA. 2nd. GG │ NYChrisG, who played using the teams Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil, Magneto/Morrigan/Doctor Doom, from the USA. 3rd. RG │ Fillipino Champ, who played using the teams Magneto/Dormammu/Doctor Doom, Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix, Morrigan/Magneto/Doctor Doom, from the USA.   Finally, it happened again. Justin Wong returned as the Marvel champion. It's been too long since we've heard the crowds of viewers cheering his name and he definitely deserved this.     Super Smash Bros Melee The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. C9 │ Mang0 (Won EVO 2013), who played as Falco, Fox, from the USA. 2nd. CRS │ Hungrybox, who played as Jigglypuff, from the USA. 3rd. P4K.EMP │ Armada who played as Peach, Young Link, from Sweden.   Quite possibly one of the coolest things to see this year, not only because of the competition, but because of Nintendo's support. Before the finals began, it was nice to see Reggie on screen thank the players and such. At least after last years almost nightmare, it's nice to see the turn around. Smash is not done.     Killer Instinct The series 1st year at EVO 1st. KN.RM │ CDjr who played as Sadira, Jago, from the USA. 2nd. RG │ Rico Suave who played as Thunder, Fulgore, Glacius, Jago, Sabrewulf, from the USA. 3rd. EG │ Justin Wong who played as Sabrewulf, from the USA.   Straight up, I'm not a KI fan in the least bit. But watching the grand finals was pretty intense. Higher level play of most games can still almost always give you that tight feeling in your chest of, 'oh, that was freaking cool.'     Blazblue Chrono Phantasma The series 1st year at EVO. 1st. Garireo, who played as Litchi Faye-Ling, from Japan. 2nd. Dogura, who played as Azrael, from Japan. 3rd. BE.TSB │ Dora_Bang, whoa played as Bang, from Japan.   Quite possibly the most hype matches I've ever seen for this game. The commentators were fantastic, the players were outstanding and my heart was racing every single second.     King of Fighters XIII The series 3rd year at EVO 1st. Qanba │ Xiao Hai, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Kim, from China. 2nd MCZ │ Tokido, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Chin, from Japan. 3rd. LDA │ ET, who played as Clark/Mr. Karate/EX Iori, EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim, from Taiwan.   It's sad to see the hype for King of Fighters XIII dying off so early. It feels like it could still have a lot of life left in it, but with the past EVO champion, Reynald, unable to participate as well, some are skeptical to the future. Even the commentators felt weaker compared to last year. KoF XIV might be in the near future, but these players show case a series of beautifully executed combos and game knowledge.     Injustice: Gods Among Us The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. RG │ SonicFox, who played as Batgirl, from the USA. 2nd. AK │ Pig of the Hut, who played as Zod, from the USA. 3rd. IC │ Mit 88, who played as Deathstroke, Aquaman, from the USA.   Having the second fewest signups this year tells a great deal for the future of the game. I'm fairly certain that most people are getting excited for Mortal Kombat X at this point, but still. It's fun to see Batgirl deliver some butt whooping.     Tekken Tag Tournament 2 The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. Twitch │ JDCR, who played as Heihachi/Armour King, from South Korea. 2nd. Twitch.MCP │ Gen, who played as Bob/Leo, from Japan. 3rd. BE │ Ao, who played as Alisa/Miguel, from Japan.   Sadly, Tekken seems to be dying off a tad at EVO this year, seeing the fewest entries compared to the other games. However, in contrast to this, series director Katsushiro Harada displayed a new teaser trailer for Tekken 7. The Devil is returning, we just have to be patient. In the mean time, we can enjoy and get hype over one of the best Tekken games since the original Tekken Tag.     That concludes this years Evolution Championship Series main events. While this does not cover every single tournament that was played at EVO 2014, it does cover the top 8 most signed up for. Something else worth note, I felt that EVO seemed a lot more main stream this year. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. On the upside, sites like IGN and Kotaku posted coverage on it the entire weekend. it made following the events I missed a lot more convenient, not to mention archives of the grand finals matches. It was a tad sad however, to see so much advertising for things like Mountain Dew. I can understand them being a sponsor, but this is the sort of thing gamers made fun of Microsoft and Activision for with the whole Doritos and Mountain Dew giveaways. I just hope it doesn't evolve into something out of control for the future. Regardless, it was definitely one of the most hype years yet and I can't wait for next year. With games like Persona 4 Ultimax, Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and possibly a new patch for Ultra Street Fighter 4 to be out in time for EVO, there's gonna be a ton of new stuff to watch.   Hope you guys enjoyed my quick coverage of the event! If you enjoyed a particular video or game, leave a comment below. Same goes for disliking. Let's spread the love of the Fighting Game Community~♥
    • 12 comments
    • 2,921 views
  • iwx Leprechaun

    (The Return of) The Angry Leprechaun Rant: The Console War

    By iwx Leprechaun

    Alright kiddies, strap yourself in. The Angry Leprechaun has been dormant for too long, here is another attack at your eye balls, I suppose if you read this this out loud it's an attack on your ear holes as well, but that's not the point.   The console war, a vicious cycle. New consoles come out, people argue over which is better and cite various statistics, lather, rinse, repeat. I won't lie, I have been involved in the past of "Console War" hoopla and who won, lost, is in a rubber room in a straight jacket wearing a tin foil hat to keep the enemies from seeing his thoughts and simultaneously cooking his brain like a baked potato. Can be good fun and is ultimately futile. So why rant if ultimately I'm OK with it, you ask? Well first off, thank you for being polite and asking a good question, second don't interrupt me while I'm typing, it's rude, just let me get to the point on my own you impatient little... moving on.   Every single day, in various news outlets/sites/forums, I can't help but see a "Console X" has already won the "Console War". (Yeah, I like that, I'm putting quotes around that for the rest of the rant, because of how stupid it is. In fact, imagine me doing air quotes whenever you read it too. For fun you can do the air quotes yourself if you'd like. Go ahead, no one is watching you. Anyway...) Whenever I see this, I am overcome with a multitude of emotions, well maybe not a multitude, it's mostly just overbearing annoyance and rage.   Let's start with the fact that the 2 latest consoles have been out for just over 6 months. Their previous iterations have been around for over 7 years. You mean to tell me from 6 months of sales data, you are predicting that the white flag is waving? The fat lady is singing? Let's face it, you're an idiot. If I recall, the PS3 was off to a rocky start with it's high price tag. So you want to try telling me again that 6 months of sales figures declares a winner? Go jump off a cliff. The "Console War" isn't won with the console itself, it takes games too.   Bringing me to my next point, neither the Xbox One or PS4 is worth purchasing currently. I'm sure many are going to disagree with me here and frankly, I don't care. I have played the PS4 and I own an Xbox One currently and that is only because I won it in a costume contest on Amazon. The honest truth is neither console has games for it to be a fully justified purchase yet. I'm not saying there aren't fun games out there, there are, but not yet are there any that make me want to run out and spend a couple hundred dollars. This is why out of current gen consoles, I probably enjoy my Wii U the most, while the library is small, the quality of that library is excellent. (And I'm drooling thinking about X releasing, oooooooo yeah). They will be worth it, games will come, I will buy a PS4, but until they have some console sellers, the "Console War" is still going to be at a stalemate in my mind. OoLaLa Retired Robin, Would you look at dem gams?   Another thing I can't wrap my head around is, why is everyone so quick to decide a clear winner? This is one of the very few instances where I can say without a doubt, winning is a BAD thing. If there is a clear winner declared, sure be happy your console of choice is the "winner". Here's the thing, what if that "win" actually knocks the other console of of contention completely? Competition is the reason why I own a PS3, 360, Wii, WiiU, Xbox One (well technically Amazon is the reason for this). Competition is what drives innovation, what creates amazing games, what pushes these companies to be better than the other in an attempt to "win". As a gamer, you shouldn't want someone to win, you should want them to fight and win battles instead of the war. While the companies battle, we reap the benefits. The argument could be made that a single console means that all effort would be put into that console, I doubt it though.   In summation, stop declaring a winner. It makes you look like a moron and I hate you.
    • 7 comments
    • 3,099 views

Our community blogs

  1. 
    

     

    It's understandable when hardcore gamers take a look at the mobile gaming market and dismiss it as a breeding ground for casual games. After all, games such as "Angry Birds" and "Candy Crush Saga" rule the gaming charts on Android and iOS platforms. However, first impressions don't count for everything. Technological advances with the Nvidia Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragon boards continue to drive mobile gaming forward. 64-Bit Madness

    It's never been done before, but Apple has made the leap into 64-bit mobile processing with the iPhone 5s. CNET reports the 64-bit processor is joined by an upgrade of the iOS operating system — also 64-bit based.

    The main advantage of a 64-bit processor is the ability to process more data at a time, along with higher amounts of memory. The short-term impact is closer to a buzzword than a significant improvement, but once games start taking advantage of the extra capacity, mobile games are going to leap forward. Android Consoles

    Android games — on your television? No, no one wants you to hook up your smartphone with an HDMI cable to your TV. Instead, you use an Android console such as Gamestick or Ouya to get the same effect.

    Ouya was the first Android console, raising more than $8 million in support through Kickstarter. It acts as an entertainment system with access to all of the games on Google Play. While the games aren't meant to go toe to toe with current generation titles, having access to games on the big screen lets you enjoy them in a way your small smartphone screen simply cannot provide. IGN reports its current favorite Android console is the Gamestick. Second Screen

    You probably already check your instant messages and texts through your smartphone while you're playing a video game. What if your smartphone was an essential part of the gaming experience? If you download "Battlefield 4," the latest version of this squad-based military first-person shooter, you get the ability to use a tablet for commander features. It's the perfect venue for a full-scale battle map, and the touch-screen interface allows you to place drops and artillery with ease. The Games

    All the technology in the world means nothing if you aren't going to have the games to back it up. Video game history is littered with gaming consoles that were superior with technology but never delivered on third-party game promises. Both iOS and Android gaming selections are rife with casual games, but that doesn't mean truly incredible experiences aren't available on mobile phones. They're just harder to find.

    The "Infinity Blade" series is one that really exemplifies what's possible on the smartphone. This RPG series would look right at home on the PSP or DS, and as game developers get comfortable with 64-bit architecture, the games will continue to advance in complexity, graphics and gameplay.

  2. blog-0951039001381678734.jpgSonic Before the Sequel is a fan made game that aims to fill the story gap between Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel. It tells the story of how Sonic and Tails came to meet and how they ended up at Emerald Hill Zone together.

     

    In the beginning you play as Sonic who has just been warped to a distant land by his recently acquired Chaos Emeralds. This first level is called Hilltop Heights Zone and is heavily reminiscent of Sky Sanctuary Zone from Sonic & Knuckles. Right from the beginning it is clear that this game has been developed with a great love for the series.

     

    The gameplay is just as simple as in any other 2D Sonic game and the traits you associate with the originals, such as springs and ring boxes, are all present and correct. Collecting a life plays the same familiar tune but with a mesmerizing orchestral twist. Invincibility boxes also return and strangely seem to last a lot longer than in any other Sonic game.

     

    Graphically the game is just as beautiful as the original and the music for the first three Zones are excellent remixes of the theme for Green Hill Zone. Some impressive weather effects have also been thrown in, with a well animated shower of rain just a few minutes into the game.

     

    The most interesting level starring Sonic is Titanic Tower Zone. It has an upbeat disco soundtrack and features a night time cityscape. Throughout the level you find switches that turn off most of the lights, meaning you can only see Sonic and a few remaining lights on the platforms. During this time you have to navigate your way around the environment using only these small hints of light until you can find a switch to turn all the lights on again.

     

    Fortress Flow Zone is another noteworthy level for Sonic. Here Sonic is constantly stuck in a bubble and blown around all over the place by large fans. Mechanically it almost feels like Labyrinth Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but instead of being restricted by underwater currents you are pulled around by movement in the air. This is most noticeable during sections that see you trying to bypass spikes as you float inexorably in one direction.

     

    Some levels allow you to play as Tails who can fly and swim just the same as ever. Indeed, it“s only when you start to play as Tails, and utilise his flying ability, that you realise just how open ended the game is. There are many alternate routes to take and depending on where you go you will find completely different obstacles and Badniks. Some of the traps are really clever, with my favourite one being in Star Shores Zone. Here you will often come across little floating cotton balls with eyes, and if you touch one the screen will start to ripple and change colour as though Tails had just smoked something that he shouldn“t have.

     

    Lost Levels Zone, in which you play as Tails, is perhaps my favourite level, not least because it contains small turtle Badniks that squeal ”Hadoken“ as they fire blue flames at you. This level also features a wonderful soundtrack and contains a wide variety of scenery between it“s three Acts. The first Act is based on Mystic Cave Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the second Act is set in a jungle and the third Act seems to switch sporadically between icy and volcanic rock.

     

    The game also has some excellent boss battles. Sonic always fights Robotnik, whereas Tails fights a robotic minion instead. Sonic“s best boss battle has to be his final tussle with Robotnik which has two phases and takes much inspiration from his struggles towards the end of Sonic & Knuckles. The highlight for Tails takes place in a small loop where you have to avoid projectiles, kind of like the battle with Robotnik at the end of Casino Nights Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

     

    At the end of every third Act you are given access to a Special Stage. During these stages the screen chases you while you try to collect as many rings as possible in order to gain extra lives.

     

    The only complaints I have about the game are that the movement can be a little sluggish at times and there are some obvious glitches. These issues are far from major however, and never really impact on the game“s overall playability.

     

    There are an astonishing twelve Zones in total, most of which contain three Acts; this amounts to at least five hours of gameplay. If you are a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog you should definitely give this a try.

     

    Download it here: http://sites.google.com/site/sonicbts/

  3. Developer: Q-Games

    Publisher: Double Eleven

    Platform: PC (reviewed), PS Vita

    Release Date: August 26th, 2013 (PC)

     

    EDIT: Hey, there's a 50% off sale as of right now for a week! So....hey, if you're interested now is a great time to buy!

    ;)

     

    Sometimes, you just want to have a relaxing experience. Pixeljunk Monsters can bring that, or it can deliver the PAIN, straight to your doorstep....or desktop, rather, I suppose. Whatever your preference for difficulty in games, Pixeljunk Monsters, and with its new iteration of sorts being the "Ultimate" edition, may just be the perfect game for you if you enjoy a good tower defense title.

     

    Turning trees into equal-sized structures that fire various projectiles may not sound like exactly the most eco-friendly action to take to defend against hordes of monsters, but whatever, it works! This is a silly game about silly things, and thus you can play however you like. If you want to be the most hardcore defensive expert, you can feel free to do that and ace (or get a "rainbow") every level! Personally I struggled a lot on the base difficulty and considered dropping down to casual.....but I prevailed and got halfway through the second island!

    ^_^

     

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    If I had to give any complaints, I would justify that the price (at least, on Steam) is a little too much. $20 for a game that was originally $10 years ago seems a bit odd. The game is fantastic though, and the added content is.....well, decent. You get a new randomized level generator and online co-op which is not too shabby. I had trouble getting into a game but I didn't see very many people playing either, so I'd assume this game is best to play with a friend, either online or sitting next to each other.

     

    The amount of content in the game itself is pretty massive too I might add! With only three islands to play, you may be concerned, but let me rest those concerns aside because this game rips apart your pathetic hope and tosses the remains to the curb. As I said, even on normal difficulty I was being challenged quite a bit to get rainbows, which are needed to progress. The game does let you pick and choose which levels you want to try and tackle, so if you get stuck on a certain few you can just try and do the other available levels. I would estimate that there's easily a good 30+ levels in the game, and with each taking 20-40 minutes to finish the length of one playthrough is fairly long. The medal challenges, which require the player to complete specific levels while clearing certain conditions also help to add a lot to the potential amount of time you may spend on Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate. These are fun and unique, and really require you to wrack your brain for different ways of clearing an otherwise easy level.

     

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    All in all, Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate is never unfair to the player, and thus in my opinion and thus it's definitely worth a potential buy, for anyone really. Being a fan of tower defense type games helps a bit in me enjoying it, but this isn't hardcore in the slightest unless you make it be, and nor is it easy by any means unless you choose for it to be so. As the game has been out on PSN for years already at a cheaper price, I would say wait until a 50% or more sale to nab this. Even then, if you know you'd love it, this is not a bad choice to pick up at its usual price.

     

    Stop those evil monsters from kidnapping your pixel people, and contribute to global warming today!

    ;)

     

    I give this game a: 9/10

     

    Wait, what's that about a giveaway? That's right, you can win a copy right here! To be in for a chance to win, tell me what other Pixeljunk game(s) you'd like to see on Steam (hint: Eden is already on it!)! You can enter once per person until this Friday, October 5th when I'll end it sometime in the evening (PST).

     

    Good luck!

  4. Hello and welcome to yet another new blog series I've decided to start up. Inside The Box will focus on packaging and extras that come with various "editions" of games, though I won't limit myself to just games. Anything nerdy is fair game on this blog!

     

    For this entry I went with a limited edition console, the Wind Waker Wii U!

     

    **Note: This is NOT a review of the game, only the packaging**

     

    Nintendo Wii U Deluxe - Wind Waker HD Limited Edition

     

    Release Date - September 20, 2013

    Manufacturer - Nintendo

    Platform(s) - Wii U

    Price - $299.99

    Price Paid - $279.99 (Newegg)

    Retailer/Region Exclusive - US Only - Gamestop/Newegg Only

     

    7cw.jpg

     

    Included:

    - Packaged in Zelda Themed Wii U Box

    - Wind Waker HD Downloadable Game Voucher

    - Hyrule Historia Digital Copy Voucher

    - Black and Gold Embossed Wii U System (32GB Deluxe)

    -Standard Wii U Deluxe Components (HDMI, Power, Stand etc)

    My first venture into next-gen territory, and it's the Wii U! But not just any Wii U, the Wind Waker Limited Edition console! This is a limited run Wii U that's essentially a black Wii U Deluxe with gold embossing. It released on September 20, 2013 in the US.

     

    Has a Zelda themed Wii U package, which is nothing special really, but nevertheless increased the excitement when opening the box.

     

    This package comes with the system itself, all the usual assorted components etc, but this specific version also comes with downloadable vouchers for Wind Waker HD and Hyrule Historia on Wii U.

     

    I can't deny that I'm a bit disappointed that the copy of Wind Waker was a voucher and not a physical copy, especially since it'll take up a huge chunk of the default system memory. Hyrule Historia I originally passed on so it's nice to have a digital version as an added bonus, I don't particularly mind that being digital since I had passed on the physical originally anyway.

     

    For the price I paid for it, I am quite happy. I've been wanting a Wii U for a while now but the right price and deal hadn't come along just yet. This particular bundle was perfect, it was under $300 (10% off coupon from Newegg helped!) and even came with a game to boot! If you've been wanting a Wii U and love Zelda, then I'd suggest you pick this bundle up soon because I doubt it'll last long!

     

    Pictures of the system!

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    The Tablet, it's so nice!

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    The vouchers!

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    Presentation - 8/10

    Price/Value - 9/10

    Extras - 8/10

     

    Score - 8 / 10 *

     

    Great

     

    *Score rounded to nearest increment of .5

     

     

    What did you think of this type of review? Are any of you considering a Wii U?

  5. Attack on Game Podunk

     

    So a couple months ago I created a parody version of Attack on Titan as a birthday video for royzoga, it's full of inside jokes and people that no one other than the people in it would understand. So I decided to rework it and start anew, this time focusing on GP and it's members since Attack on Titan is watched by quite a few people here. I have no set criteria on how I structure the show, so I may parody an entire episode or use a few pieces of several as one episode. Either way, I hope to have them come out quickly and regularly. I hope you enjoy, and be sure to leave comments, feedback and any other suggestions you might have!

     

     

    Youtube (Probably Blocked)

     

    WAS IT WORTH THE WAIT?

  6. It is with deep regret that I must announce that Doug Charmin's world record holding Tamagotchi has passed away. Going by the name DORK, the beloved Tamagotchi pet held the world record for longest living digital pet in the Guiness Book of World Records. He was four days old. The death was captured in it's entirety during an interview with DORK's owner for a local news station. The details of the events that transpired can be read below.

     


     

    What started as a simple fluff interview turned to tragedy today after the digital keychain pet DORK, a Tamagotchi that held the world record for world's oldest living digital creature died in it's owner's arms. The pet's owner Doug was in the middle of explaining to reporters how he kept his pet alive for so long when DORK began to beep at him. Doug ignored the beeps, assuring us that DORK was only trying to get attention.

     

    As the interview went on, the beeps turned to boops and became more urgent in tone. Doug glanced down at his keychain and jumped out of his seat, seemingly startled by what he saw. While our cameras only managed a glimpse at the creature's screen, what we saw was disturbing. DORK had defecated in his feeding area and appeared to be sitting next to what could be described as an empty food bowl.

     

    Doug pulled the screen away from the cameras and began desperately pushing the buttons on his Tamagotchi. We can't say for sure what he was trying to accomplish because he has since stopped accepting interviews on his lawyer's advice, but after he finished pressing buttons, his pet DORK let out one last beep of desperation before he blipped out of existence.

     

    While the results of DORK's autopsy are not yet known, it is believed that his owner Doug will be facing charges for the apparent neglect that his pet DORK had received prior to it's death. The world record will now be passed onto a Mochi currently presiding in Spokane, Washington, but reports are coming in that the nameless Mochi generated from the Monster Rancher 2 disc is also on it's last legs. We'll have the latest information for you as soon as we receive it.

     

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  7. blog-0780179001374907693.jpgLet's just get three things straight before Kiwi digs down into the nitty-gritty of his impression. One - This is a beta, so anything Kiwi mentions here may be changed in the final version, much of it was even based on day 1 impressions of a beta. Two - If you liked Payday 1, this game is worth the purchase. Three- Kiwi may refer to the original Payday as "The Heist" as that was the sub title. With that out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks.

     

    The Good - Kiwi likes these bits, and so should you.

     

    The Heists - Kiwi's very first mission, Watchdogs, started with him and his crew sitting in a meat trailer that also happened to contain quite a few bags of coke. You can hear the Police shouting outside. We each pick up a bag, and not a moment too soon, the door gets shot down to pieces and we find ourselves facing what would, in real world, be half the police force, but in Payday land it's just a normal squad. We desperately scramble to a room that is the closest thing to safe that isn't covered in police. As a result, we realized we left half of the goods behind. Not only that, but the police had started to make off with some of our coke themselves, clearly planning to hand it over to their one percent overlords, who prefer Pepsi, for destruction or some other rich purpose. Situations like this are a frequent occurrence in Payday 2.

     

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    If you don't put a leash on your loot, it may decide to wander off.

     

    The heists in the original were quite fun in their design. Payday 2 shows all signs of turning up the dial for its major heists, based upon the two mutli-day heists that are currently in the beta. What occurs in later days can be affected by events in the previous stag, such as, say, a meth-splosion. But adding to that are a number of quick jobs, such as robbing a jewelry store, which can be done in a single 10 to 15 minute session, and gives the players any number of ways of bring home the bacon. These short one day jobs provide an excellent, relatively low risk alternative to the higher stake heists.

     

    The Team - Payday 2 comes back with a leveling system that has received a serious makeover. There are four skill trees you can take: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, and Ghost. The Mastermind is the one who controls the spice civilians and provides buffs for the team. The Enforcer suppresses the rights of the police with automatic fire, favors being tougher than what's going against him, and generally being the muscle of the group. The Technician brings some life to the party in the form of trip mines, which can be upgraded to double as shaped charges for blowing open doors and safes, turrets that are actually bullet hoses with no off switch, and great aptitude for handling the ever-jamming drills that are actually in league with the police. Finally the Ghost, master of stealth, lockpicks, and not getting shot, including an ability that causes enemies to focus on teammates rather then themselves, making them the best of friends.

     

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    Payday 2's level and loot system encourages teams to work together to figure out things such as the bag chain shown here.

     

    These myriad abilities are fun enough on their own, but it's when they work together coming in as a team. The skill trees are set as such that every member brings something to the team, even when technically out of their element. The Enforcer, for example, even in stealth missions where suppression and toughness aren't needed can be used to quickly take down a security guard with his increased melee power, and it's a rare mission where being able to hurl a sack full of loot across a street isn't useful. There's also no penalty for operating out of your field, so any well-organized team can make use of a man who isn't doing something at the time.

     

    The Sounds - The sound effects in Payday 1 were typically considered to be either average or sub-par. The same accusation can not be leveraged at this outing. Fire fights sound less like vague approximations of people shooting at each other and more going deaf because you're fighting in a confined metal space with automatic rifles like a dumb person. Your environment actually affects how things sound, which is a nice touch that Kiwi doesn't see nearly often enough. The music suits the action well, drawing in the typical inspiration for heisty shenanigans. The voice acting is roughly the same quality with some new voice actors, so your opinion on the voice acting can vary depending on how much you liked the original.

     

    The Thrill - If you found Payday: The Heist to be impossible on normal with a full crew, well this won't be for you. For those of you who love it when a plan comes together or the rush of just barely pulling through with half team in custody and one guy on the floor bleeding out, this is for you. The game's received a bump in difficulty for a number of reasons. One appreciated change is the decision to make the police less numerous overall, but tougher. So instead of a never ending legion of incompetent porcelain men, you get a never ending stream of mostly incompetent stone men. It makes for a much more engaging and less immersion breaking combat. Cops are also more liable to flank the player rather than the players being able to hold up in a corner of safety and shoot down a hallway. Overall, Payday 2 is much better at maintaining an exciting with intense experiences.

     

    The Bad - Genuine Issues with the game, that Kiwi can't just attribute to it being in beta.

     

    The Unlocks - It seems odd to list unlocks as an issue when Kiwi was praising the leveling/ability system, but there is a method to this madness. When you complete a mission, you can pick one out of 3 cards. You cannot see what the cards are until after one has been chosen. The cards fall into three categories: mask, weapon, and jokers. Kiwi has no clue what jokers do due to the random acquisition method, which, funnily enough, is what's bad about the system. The weapon modification system has a lot of fiddly bits for you to play with and discover to make the flashiest shooter, which is a plus, but your only source of weapon upgrades is this system which the player has no control over, easily leaving them with no actual options for their weapon of choice. In addition to this, the weapon upgrades are obscenely expensive while removal of an attachment is free. It cost the same price to reapply the same upgrade to the same weapon. Kiwi is personally fine with mask customization being this random and expensive. Although weapon tweaking is something that is expensive beyond the player's control, and can significantly impact gameplay which really bugs Kiwi. Also cosmetic things such as patterns and colors disappear when you use them so you can't re-do a mask after you customized it.

     

    2888ocm.jpg

    The player gets absolutely 0 indication of what they are getting until they flip the card over.

     

    Tying into this, is the fact that of the myriad options available to open things, many of them are locked off from new players. Many doors and safes have multiple ways to open them. You can place a drill on them (the most common way), find a key card (where applicable), shoot it open, pick the lock, blow it open with shaped charges, or use a saw. The last 3 are level locked*, requiring a decent investment into their respective skill trees, despite lock picking being the only viable way of silently doing it (as key cards are not always available).

     

    The AI - The team hasn't fixed some of the more noticeable AI bugs from the original, which is strange considering these changes are pretty obvious. Police still have an arbitrary turbo mode that looks absurd, but the hilarity of it ends when they use it to melee you (which has an animation but the animation is very fast and it hits before the animation plays) for 1/4th to half your health. Cops will just ignore objects like cars in the environment, instantly moving from beside something to on top of something. Also specials are less distinct now, so you can't pick out the major threats as easily. It becomes an even greater problem when a Bulldozer (who has gotten both a health buff and the obvious weak point removed) uses the nitrous oxide built into the suit.**

     

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    Specials, such as the Tasers shown here lack a standout look. They also never show up on the lower difficulty, so players won't learn to identify these enemies until they are in the wild, so to speak.

     

    Then we come to the civilians which nothing has been changed about them. They refuse to heed your angry armed man commands until they are finished whatever pointless drone task they are engaged in. Their reactions to the fights are either ignore it or valiantly sacrifice their useless poor personal lives to protect the servants of the one percent (the police, in case you weren't paying attention. This was an issue in the original game, but unlike that, the price for shooting a civilian is significant, and you will pay that price regardless of success (you get nothing for failing, so shooting a civilian in a failed mission takes money out of your pocket).

     

    The Soloist - Don't bother, it's nigh-impossible. You only get two bots (so you're down a person) and they can't carry loot. It is an exercise in frustration to complete anything beyond the absolute easiest missions in solo.

     

    The Beta - These are complaints or observations based upon features that will most likely

     

    The Safe house - In it's current state in the beta, there's not really anything to do there except a shooting gallery and looking at a pile of money on a counter. The tutorial bits really only show that you can press F on things, and doesn't do any job of demonstrating the stealth, loot, or any other new game mechanics. Brand new players might find a use, but those familiar with The Heist will find it unnecessary to them. There's mentions that it will be customizable, but even then, Kiwi's not seeing much reason to go into it. An option to use it as a between mission hub/chill out spot as the players do decide the next score would be Kiwi's favorite way of using it, but it does add another loading screen and a number of players won't particularly care about it.

     

    Crime.net - The current method for choosing missions is going to be Crime.net where jobs appear on a map of D.C. The actual job and the difficulty are determined randomly, as in the player must wait for a Hard Jewelry heist mission to pop up as opposed to just picking a Jewelry Store mission and setting it to hard. This does provide an answer to the problem Kiwi's had with groups in The Heist of well what do we do now? By encouraging players to be more spontaneous with their heist choices, but with the current number of missions in the beta, the issue is that there are both few options and we don't have much of a choice. This will definitely be less of an issue in release, but Kiwi has no idea much it will be resolved.

     

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    Difficulty modifiers (denoted on missions as orange stars), greatly increase the pay and XP you can get from a misison, but also lead to facing a tougher lot of enemies, such as these heavier SWAT units.

     

    So just to reiterate, Payday 2 is a great improvement in nearly every area, based upon the beta. It is a much more refined experience, with a less arcadey feel, and somewhat more realistic art style. The difficulty increase over The Heist will primarily be felt by groups playing without a full party since a full party will bring enough to the party to tip the scales. If you want a great co-op experience for you and 3 friends or are a fan of the original, you owe it to yourself to pick up Payday 2.

     

    Payday 2 is currently in a beta (though it's more of an early access demo) for those who bought the Career Criminal Edition (Priced at $50, $30 for a normal version) on PC. It is slated for an August 13 release date on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3

     

    *Some things anyone can lockpick but a good number of things can be picked only by the Ghost

     

    **The Bulldozer does not actually have any kind of thruster built into his suit, unless they are cleverly disguised.

  8. blog-0007732001374292430.pngIf you don't already know, Waiting for the Greenlight is a new series that focuses on games currently attempting to enter Steam by way of its Greenlight service. Similar to impressions, I give my overall thoughts on a game, and end with a simple rating (Green = Good to go, Yellow = Needs some work, Red = Too far gone to salvage). I hope you enjoy, and if you have any suggestions or games you want me to check out, don't hesitate to mention them!

     

    For the most part, platformers have traditionally tasked you with jumping up higher and higher, scaling seemingly never ending staircases toward whatever your ultimate goal may be. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but it is very uncommon to see a game built in complete opposition to such a tried and true formula.

     

    Penned as a down-scrolling platformer, Stirfire Studio's Freedom Fall has you attempting to escape a boobytrap infested tower by descending its many floors whilst dodging saw blades, lasers, giant mechanical sharks, and other deadly creations. On your journey you learn more about who you are and why you've been imprisoned, by way of messages scrawled on the prison wall.

     

    Who's telling you these things? A demented little girl of course, and one with some serious parent problems no less. While attempting to cover some rather unpleasant subject matter in this way could have easily gone awry, they actually come across as rather darkly humorous thanks to the fantastic writing. The writer almost seems to channel the soul of Portal's equally demented GLaDOS, striking a near perfect balance between ridiculing you and giving some less than subtle hints about what's next to come. I wasn't expecting much from the narrative, but it only became more engaging the further I got and was surprisingly well planned for a genre not particularly known for telling memorable stories.

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    Although falling down might sound a pretty simple proposition on paper, it isn't nearly so easy in practice. As previously mentioned you'll encounter hundreds of instruments of torture as you get further from your cell, and was it not for the ample checkpoints this would have been an excruciatingly difficult game. As it stands, it's still completely satisfying and never got too hard to put me into controller breaking frustration. Complementing this challenge are some stellar controls. They have a great weight to them that made it feel much more like I was controlling a person (albeit a very floaty one) than a mesh of pixels on the screen, and I was also happy to discover that it works with a controller right out of the box (though using a keyboard also worked surprisingly well).

     

    The upgrade system is one area that could use a little work, as right now it feels a somewhat tacked on. You collect bolts as you go and periodically come across workbenches that allow you to purchase different gliders to make traversal a bit easier. The problem is that I wound up collecting more than enough for all three well before the end, leaving me with little reason to seek out secret bolts or try the harder paths. Either more upgrades need to be added, or perhaps scrapping the bolt system as a whole and just giving you the gliders at specific points in the game would be a better option.

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    The artstyle is very pleasing to look at, falling somewhere between american cartoons and japanese anime. The half frame animations are a tad jarring at first, but it didn't take long for me to become accustomed to the effect. The music was the biggest surprise though, with an awesome assortment of guitar riffs, exotic rhythms, and subdued experimentation that is incredibly catchy and matches the overall feel of the world. The only thing I'd like to see improved are the death animations, or lack thereof. The extremely basic "splat" image that pops up just seems odd amidst the otherwise great graphics, and is also a bit uneventful and anticlimactic feeling. I'm not asking for something disgustingly gory, but I would have prefered something that is a bit more in line with the rest of the game and that doesn't make my character seem like a suddenly popped balloon.

     

    Freedom Fall isn't particularly long taking only around 2-3 hours to get through, so many might scoff at the $7.99 cost of admission, but price not considered I can easily recommend it. It does something I feel is unique in the realm of platformers, and manages to tell a simple but well written story to boot. The art style really appealed to me, and the music was an equal driving force toward what I hoped was my freedom. It has a couple rough edges, but even in its current state I think it has more than earned a place on steam, and is just a lot of fun to play.

     

    The Light is: Green

    Well designed and polished, there is ample reason to check this game out. There might be a handful of things to knickpick, but by and large it is ready to go on Steam. Definitely worth a look and your support in getting released!

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    In my previous blog entry I was discussing one of my townsfolk, Katt, and my efforts involved in forcing her to move out. The other night, as I entered someone's house in game, I saw here there and felt worried that she was building relationships. Well, today, she finally decided to move out! My absolute favorite part of all this is that she divorced herself completely from the abuse she suffered and instead gave me an arbitrary and potentially fabricated reason as to why she is doing so on July 23rd.

     

    My response when she asked if I wanted her to stay?

     

    "Who are you?"

     

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    ... And stay out! (Seriously, look at that atrocious umbrella.)

     

    On another note, I am currently writing a blog/essay about why Animal Crossing is "so good", or better, what makes it good. While I am sure that many people have heard various different reasons, I hope to present and tackle the subject with a different perspective altogether.

     

    Look for that sometime between this weekend and the next. Or not. I'm a busy person, but it will happen by and by.

  9. <my 2¢>

    I've been gaming for enough years to transition through several stages in my life where I have varying time available or vacillating interest in particular game genres.

     

    Old school JRPGs were my go to games in periods of my life with ample time. Devoting 60+ hours per RPG game was the price of admission and grinding through some levels was just how it was. The grind was unavoidable but I had the time and enjoyed the journey as well as the destination.

     

    More recently, I can squeeze in a few hours in between work, parenting, and social life, but picking up a 60+hr title can occupy close to two months of gaming for me. Consequently, I find myself drawn to closed worlds or linear tracks where I know I'll come out of a 15 hour experience having experienced the story and a fair quantity of game play.

     

    In the context of a game I purchase for a fixed price it seems to me we're at a stage in game development where the player should have the freedom to avoid grinding or skip all fetch quests and not be hindered in advancing through the game. Multi-player games presumably should start with a level playing field, but even there we've seen double XP bonuses and myriad of "pay-to-win" (or at least "pay-to-save-time") mechanisms where for some cash, you can save time and advanced more quickly.

     

    These mechanisms and many more within the creative vision of developers I think would broaden the fan base of many games by letting is control or scale some of the aspects of games. The rate experience is earned, gore level, AI tenacity, quantity/quality of loot dropped, travel speed, random encounter rate, and countless other game variables could all be sliders at the users control so we can scale aspects of the experience to suit our individual interests closer. Game statistics could even be captured showing the modifications people most preferred using and can be taken into account for future games.

     

    Naturally, the defaults would be the game as the developers originally envisioned, and I'd be fine with turning all/some of the trophies/achievements off for games once you start messing with some game systems.

     

    The long story in short is that I think we're at a development stage where allowing the user to scale aspects of the game would not be very difficult to implement and may open or enhance the experience for many gamers. I, for one, could go from 2-3 RPGs a year to 6-7. And, in games that aren't really resonating with me, rather then shelving them, I could tear through them and be part of the conversation at least and maybe contribute to the game's buzz.

     

    I'm sure some of these ideas have been implemented on smaller scale in PC gaming, and I don't want to come off like an entitled gamer, but rather, this is an easy means by which the gaming industry as a whole will get more of my money. Everybody wins :-)

     

    Cheers!

    </my 2¢>

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    Well, I'd like to try this out. Basically, I'll be giving my thoughts on 5 anime that I have seen, of varying qualities, and will present it in a casual, brief format. Nice and short, and easy to read! Just like math tests in 1st grade!

    :D

     

     

    Well, without further ado.....here is Volume 1 of Anime Quickies!

     

     

    Shiki

     

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    Sleep tight. Don't let the vampires bite.

     

    Shiki is quite the mixed bag for me. At one end, you have the GORGEOUS visuals and the great sound work (especially the opening and ending songs). The plot, while fairly predictable, has some memorable moments- episode 14 and the last few episodes come to mind. However, I just can't stand when something takes FOURTEEN episodes to engage me, the viewer. Yes, it actually took me that long to even care a bit for Shiki. It just didn't connect with me until then, and by then it was a little too late as I only liked one of the characters. I will say that the lovely art, fantastic music, and great second half are worth mentioning though, and for that, it might be worth a watch.

     

    Score: 7/10

     

     

     

     

    Psycho-Pass

     

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    Such imPECcable pecs!

     

    Psycho-Pass was a good show, if anything. It's not the greatest anime out there by far, but overall as a package I thought it was excellent. You take the good cop, bad cop scenario, and then throw in a utopia/dystopia problem, and it's all blended together with top-notch action and likeable characters, especially the villain. In fact, I'd say that each episode I was eagerly waiting for the next to come around. That's something I don't get to such an extent very often, so it was nice to be excited every week on the day a new episode came out. Production I.G. makes beautiful shows and Psycho-Pass is just the same, with quality art and catchy songs. Throw in the multiple amazing climaxes (yes, I just said that) and the plot twist even I didn't see coming, and you have a very satisfying anime, even if it won't be making many favorites lists.

     

    Score: 9/10

     

     

     

     

    Umineko no naku koro ni

     

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    Yay! Magic, faeries, butterflies, witches, and girls with revealing skirts! I mean, what else did you expect from the guy who made Higurashi?

     

    ....well, I had to get ranty somewhere in this I suppose.

     

    Umineko is the biggest dissapointment and utter waste of my life that I've ever experienced. There, I just said it. Never before have I had such low expectations after hearing mixed (good and bad) things about a series and then having my expectations dropped to the floor and kicked away by the hands of someone whose work I enjoyed. It's like they didn't even care about me, the consumer/viewer. I have no clue if the Umineko game(s) are like the anime, but this was seriously a sodding pile of garbage. The premise is great, I'll admit. The music- tolerable, good sometimes and bad others. That's about how far I'll compliment this show. The plot is a trainwreck with its passengers involving witches, magic, butterflies, "mystery", magic, and most importantly, magic. Umineko spends 26 episodes explaining why or why not magic is involved in the spooooooooky incident. I am 100% serious. The two central characters, Ms. Witch and Mr. ForgotHisNameOhWell argue and provide supposed evidence as to why they are right and the other person is wrong. Umineko reminds me of little arguements I had with my sister when I was younger, but having to spend about 10 hours listening to that on playback, over....and over.....and over....Not to mention though, that the worst part is in the ending I don't think they even ever decided on who was right. Worst ending I've ever seen, and worst anime by a mile that I've seen so far.

     

    Score: 2/10

     

     

     

     

    Btooom!

     

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    Is this you? No? Oh, sorry, it's this dweeb who does not look like a dweeb at all fellow!

     

    Something about bombs made me interested in this initially. Just kidding, actually I was on a rampage after watching Mirai Nikki, and really wanted another "survival game" anime. Luckily, this was airing at the time, so it was quick-fix of sorts. Not a quick fix though, mind you. As Btooom! was exactly what I wanted at the time- something to continue on my wants with some cheap entertainment, not fix something. There's nothing unpredictable in this anime really, but that's okay because the action is still present. In fact, I'd say the fantastic opening song and the action are maybe all that enticed me to watch Btooom! every week. It's short, sweet, and gets the job done. In fact, I think that might have been its downfall. With only 13 episodes, not much could be done to flesh out the characters or even the plot. In the end, you're satisfied, but not like you want to be. There's too much room for questions to come up such as "why didn't they explain everything more?", or "why is this a series about bombs and yet everyone seemingly is able to miraculously dodge explosives left and right?". Still though, I liked it for what it was and my impression of it has constantly declined as I think about it more. Thus, I say it's better just to not think about it much and say things like "BUT IT HAD COOL EXPLOSIONS! BOOOOOOOM!"

     

    Score: 6/10

     

     

     

     

    Attack on Titan

     

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    Only HALF? Wow, what has this world come to nowadays if kids only give up half of their potatoes to their elders? I say they should give up the full potato!

     

    Ever wonder why potatoes and the similar potato girl of Attack on Titan fame is plastered all across the depths of the internet? Well, you have episodes 3 and 4 of this anime to blame for that. Now, I'll say right off the bat that Attack on Titan has in my opinion the 2nd best first episode hook to draw you in that I've seen so far. It takes a lot to find something good to draw people in, and luckily, this show has really gathered a bunch of viewers. Sure, some of them are coming from the manga readers, but a good majority I'd say just gave it a random watch because they thought it sounded neat or their friend was raving about it. In this case, first impressions were absolutely key as to why it's so popular I would say. The first five episodes of AoT are extremely enjoyable in almost every way. However, every good thing has an equally bad side, and while I won't say the episodes following it were bad necessarily, I just didn't really care for them as much. I'll admit- my high opinion and general fanboy-ism is fading (see: DanganRonpa; even another currently airing anime has taken my attention fully). However, I still have hope that the second half will do something huge, never before done in anime, something that will actually make me want to keep watching. You have the fanbase and the strong production values already, Production I.G. You better not let those just all fade away! :/

     

    Current Score: 8/10

     

     

     

     

    I hope you liked this and it was a good read to you! Maybe you found an anime that seems interesting and my opinion will help you decide to watch it or not!

    ;)

  10. blog-0209593001369455621.jpg

    This... er, mini-review is based on the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game.

     

    So, what happens then you mix stealth, killing, tattoos, guns, stylized graphics, more killing, and clashing cultures? You get Mark of the Ninja, of course!

     

    Mark of the Ninja is another Klei Entertainment game, a company well known for their Shank games. This game, however, isn't a brawler but more of a stealth game... you are a ninja, after all! Does this new direction help this new IP, or does Klei's strengths lie elsewhere?

     

    Because I want to ruin my build up, Mark of the Ninja is a great game. This is mainly from the gameplay--it's remarkably well done. This game will throw you in a variety of situations, and give you countless tools to get past them. Will you want to distract the guards by turning out the lights, then sneak up from behind and kill them? Or... are you feeling more merciful, and simply pickpocket the key you need instead of murdering the man with it? Or even kill a guard, then drop his corpse on his friend's head and (understandably) terrify him? You can do all that and more in Mark of the Ninja.

     

    It's what make the game so much fun to play. There's never really a bad solution (even getting detected has its advantages), and figuring out what you like to do isn't a chore, but a rewarding process. However, whenever you get comfortable with your current tactics, the game changes it up, by adding new obstacles and mechanics. In that way Mark of the Ninja keeps it fresh and forces you to try new things... something many games can fail to do. Especially in the later stages, you'll have to think of some creative solutions to get past some of the daunting situations you're put in.

     

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    Also, the story is a cut above what most games of this genre offer. It all seems generic and bare-bones at first, but many events happen that subtly let you know that something bigger is going on... and its the subtle changes of tone and the optional scrolls you fin that really pull it all together. You're left with many questions, and some are answered, while others are left to your own imagination. The ending is also very well-done and leaves a powerful impression.

     

    The graphics aren't top-notch, but the graphical style allows Mark of the Ninja to stay mostly dark but yet makes it easy to pick all the details out. You'll easily be able to see what you can climb and grapple on, where the doors and vents are, and pretty much everything else you'll need to know. The graphics may not blow you away, but they are (perhaps more importantly) functional.

     

    So, this isn't a very long review, but I think I got my point across. Mark of the Ninja is awesome. If you're the least bit interested in Klei, stealth games, or ninjas, do yourself a favor and go buy this!

     

    I guess score wise, I'd give it... a 9/10, which is a Fantastic rating! Good going with this one, Klei!

     

    [Note: I played Mark of the Ninja as the May game for the Backloggery Game Club. If you want to see a more detailed (albeit spoiler-filled) report of my playthrough, check here!]

  11. May 4th was the Atlanta Regional for AGOT the Card Games. This was my first official Joust touranment and it went really well.

     

    Joust just means we play 1 v 1.

    They have another format called Melee in which you can play 3-6 players and it is a free for all.

     

    The deck I chose to play on that day was House Greyjoy. My theme was Winter/Choke. The point of my deck was to make it winter with the white raven card and choke my opponent out of their economy. In the game, you need gold to summon characters to attack. So my goal was to reduce their gold, hand size, location abilities thus choking them out of their resources.

     

    My Deck:

     

    House: Greyjoy

    Agenda: Kings of Winter

    Restricted: Kings of Winter

     

    Plots (7)

    Blockade

    Rise of the Kraken

    A Time for Ravens

    Take Them By Surprise

    Loyalty Money Can Buy

    The Winds of Winter

    Valar Morghulis

     

    Characters (30)

    2x Asha Greyjoy (WLL)

    1x Alannys Greyjoy (ODG)

    1x The Reader

    1x Maester Wendamyr

    1x Maester Murenmure

    1x Maester Kerwin

    1x Baelor Blacktyde

    1x Balon Greyjoy (KotS)

    1x The Sparr

    1x Wex Pyke

    1x Fishwhiskers

    1x Dagmer Cleftjaw

    1x Moqorro

    2x Newly Made Lord

    2x Kingsmoot Hopeful

    2x Carrion Bird

    3x Distinguished Boatswain

    3x Wintertime Marauders

    1x Sea Raiders

    3x Ice Fisherman

     

    Events (8)

    2x The Finger Dance

    3x Winter Reserves

    3x Risen from the Sea

    Locations (23)

    1x Longship Black Wind

    3x Gatehouse

    3x The Iron Mines

    3x The Iron Cliffs

    2x Scouting Vessel

    2x Longship Iron Victory

    1x Aeron“s Chambers

    1x River Blockade

    1x Street of Steel

    1x Flea Bottom

    2x Bloody Keep

    1x Street of Sisters

    1x River Row

    1x High Ground

     

    Attachment (5)

    3x Burned and Pillaged

    2x White Raven

    The regional attracted 20 players. A bit less than half of us were from the area, with most of the rest coming from Tennessee and Florida. Greyjoy was the most played house, with six players. Only one Baratheon, also TLV, though otherwise the houses were pretty evenly represented:

    6 Greyjoy, 5 Stark, 3 Lannister, 3 Targaryen, 2 Martell, 1 Baratheon.

     

    Matches Report:

    Game 1: vs. Shane, Greyjoy (House of Dream / Longship Iron Victory). Results: Loss

    This didn't start off well when my friend quickly told me that I had to face Shane who is a very good player. I knew this was a bad matchup for me from the get go when I saw him flip over the House Greyjoy card. I made some bad plays and didn't really optimize my turn correctly. I was able to make it winter but just could not overcome his ship characters. I also valar one turn to late and that pretty much gave him the game. I should have done it earlier when he had less saves and clear out his board. Instead I gave him a chance to get more saves onto the field and then valar wasn't as effective. Valar is where you kill everything on the board. He also got really lucky with his draws. He drew 5 out of the 6 cancels he ran in that deck and cancelled pretty much all my marshalling or important plays. It was an uphill battle soon and I just couldn't get pass him. I learned a few things from this match though.

     

    Game 2: vs. ????, Stark (No Agenda / Kindly Man). Results: Win.

    I never caught his name. Before we even started I was told this guy is another good player. So much for beginner's luck. Why am I facing so many good players already? This guy loss his first match and his friend goes "I think you'll go 4-1." Funny because that meant his friend took me as an auto win for the guy. It actually started off really well for me and he wasn't giving me much problem. One thing though was that making it winter helped him a lot. His restricted card is called Meera Reed. She is a beast. She can blank 2 cards if it is winter and only 1 card when it isn't. So me making it winter helped him blank to of my cards each turn. But somehow I withstand that and just pretty much took it to him and won the game. My winter resevers were big in helping me win. He misplayed as well. He could have blanked my winter reserve and discarded it but he didn't realize he could do that.

     

    Game 3: vs. Steven, Baratheon (The Long Voyage / Knight of Flower). Results: Win

    This was the type of deck that one worlds last year. So I was a little worried when I had to face it. Of course his first turn he summon two of the three best character he had and went to work on me. But I managed to have an excellent marshal to go toe to toe with him. We went back and forth and pretty much I had the upper hand the entire match. I was able to put him into a bad situation every turn thus making him have to make tough decision on what to do to maximize his chances. Soon he had to valar and I was able to save 3 of my big characters. It turns out that when he valar he did not kill his guys which he should have. So both his Knight of Flowers and Mellisandre stayed on the field and somehow won him the game. After the match, I thought about the match and realized he cheated by accident. So I called him over and asked him how come both Mellisandre and Knight of Flowers didn't die from that valar and he soon realized his mistake. So we went to the coordinator and had the result changed to my win.

     

    Game 4: vs. Jonathan, Targaryen (Knights of Hollow Hill / Burn). Results: Win.

    I think this game hurt him a lot when he played KOTHH. It doesn't let you have a set up turn so he was behind me in that from the start. Plus with me making it winter he couldn't really get his resources going. My wintertime marauders went to work and got rid of his land that help his deck work. From there it was a quick game. Early on I also was able to cancel his hatchling feast with my finger dance. The hatchling feast would have been able to decrease my guys strenght thus rendering them useless. By canceling that I was able to continue with my attack and take out his guys. He was never able to recover much to summon many characters onto the field. Maybe one or two a turn and that wasn't able to stop me.

     

    Game 5: vs. Tyler, Martell (No Agenda / Quentin Martell). Results: Win.

    To be honest I got lucky on this match. First turn we both play Take them by surprise. So the downside to this plot is that if you do not win initiative you lose your entire hand. Well both of us played the same exact plot meaning we got the same starting initiative. So it came down to a coin flip to see who would lose their entire hand and I called "dargon" for the coin flip. It landed on dragon and he had to discard his entire starting hand. But somehow he still managed to intrigue my hand for 3 cards making me down to 0 cards as well. But that was a mistake. That activated my agenda "Kings of Winter." This agenda say that when my opponent have equal to or more cards than my hand, I get to discard one card from their hand at random after the draw phase. Well we both draw 2 cards during the draw phase and so we have a total of 2 cards each. Meaning I get to discard one of his cards. Of course luck would have it, I managed to pull the better card he had both time and making sure he had 0 chance of winning. That was my quickest win of the day taking only 3 turn.

    Cut to top 8. 4th seed with record of 4-1.

     

    Game 6: vs. Nick, Greyjoy (The Long Voyage / Fury of the Kraken). Results: Loss.

    Another Greyjoy matchup for me and I knew this won't be easy. This guy went 3-2 during our preliminary putting him at the 5th seed to have the 4-5 matchup with me. I never was able to get my winter going to choke his resources. He got such a great starting hand. I also had a hunch that he had Fury of the Kraken (his restricted card) first turn as his plot. I should have gone with take them by surprise to win initiative and went first. I decided to use A time for raven to get my white raven to make it winter. He had a great marshalling and brought out a bunch of dudes before I could make it winter. He also brought out a couple of carrion bird that can get rid of my white raven. I never had a chance from the get go after making that mistake. He pretty much just summon more dudes every turn and took it to me. Of course I had to have another Greyjoy matchup in the knockout rounds when it mattered. Oh did I mention he ended up winning the tournament?

     

    My friends that came with me didn't make to the knockout round so we left after I loss. I saw they posted that I ended up 5th place after the tournament ended. So one spot from making it to top 4 and having a shot at ranking top 3 and getting a granite house greyjoy card as a prize.

     

    Overall I had a lot of fun with my deck. The tournament was awesome with great turnout. I really want to try more tournament and see if I can do as well as my first time in this one.

     

    I think if I was to use this deck again I would definitely change the plot blockade up. It can help me when I'm winning but when I'm losing it doens't really do much for me. I probably would add in another high ground to stand my army. Add in 3x Seasick to have the ability to cancel more triggered effects.

     

    Prizes I got:

     

    Deck Mat for making it to top 8

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    Valar Morghulis plot card for losing in top 8

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    Front and Back of Regional edition House cards - first 16 players that signed in got these because they didn't have enough for everyone.

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  12. blog-0745985001364506620.jpg

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    Developer: People Can Fly/Epic Games

    Publisher: Epic Games/Microsoft Studios

    Format: Xbox 360

    Release Date: 22/03/2013

     

    Gears of War Judgement is the fourth title set in the Gears universe, and takes place 30 days after the Locusts emerge from underground and try to take over the surface (colloquially known as E-Day). This time however the focus is put upon Baird, as he was the only one who really didn't get that much of a spotlight in Gears 3.

    In Judgement, Baird is still a lieutenant, and is leading a group called Kilo squad which is made up of himself, a much younger Cole, Onyx cadet Sofia Hendrik, and Garron Paduk, former major in the Union of Independent Republics (who the COG were fighting in the Pendulum Wars before the Locust arrived).

     

    Single Player/Campaign:

     

    The campaign starts off with Baird and the other members of Kilo squad being out on trial for disobeying orders. The orders they disobeyed are yet unclear and the game play is through flashbacks as the story unfolds through each members recollection. The story line is broken up into sections reminiscent of Arcade Mode in Gears 3. There are three stars in the corner of the screen that you have to fill up through killing Locusts and increase the speed of filling up the bar in the different ways you kill them such as an execution or gibing them (one hit kill). You also get penalised for each time you go 'down but not out'. Once you have completed a section you press up on the d-pad to continue where a summary screen comes up telling you how good/bad you have done.

     

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    The Declassified options do make the game more challenging!

     

    In each section there is a 'declassified' option which gives extra intel into the story and gives players an extra challenge. These challenges can be either having to complete the section in a certain time frame, only being able to use certain weapons, extra enemies to fight or certain objectives added. These certainly help to give the game more challenge and veteran Gears players will jump at the opportunity to complete these before they have unlocked the Insane difficulty (I know I did). They also help you accumulate stars quicker, the more stars you collect the more content you unlock which includes an extra mission set during Gears 3 where Baird reunites with Kilo squad.

     

    Overall the story feels a bit lacklustre. It is an enjoyable ride and veteran Gears players will enjoy Baird getting his own story, but it always seems to meander, staying on the same line & never deviating until you get to the rather disappointing boss fight against General Karn (Queen Mira must have had a plethora of generals). Every Gears game has had parts and locations where you felt that more in depth context could have been used and a bit of back story was needed. Instead the setting of the level was mainly a situational backdrop for the characters to get through. This feels like that all the way through which is disappointing. The arcade break up of each segment really doesn't help to engross you into the story either.

     

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    You'll learn more about these characters from the character select for multiplayer then from playing the campaign!

     

    When you collect enough stars you will unlock 'Aftermath' which is a little tidbit that explains what Cole, Baird & Carmine were doing while Marcus, Dom, Sam & Anya were trying to get to Azura. They meet up with the rest of Kilo squad & you find out what happens to the characters in Judgement after Halvo Bay. It's a fun short mission, but its more in the style of Gears 3. It can feel a bit odd and it does make you realise how better designed the amply was in 3. Case in point, the movement in Judgement is more "chunky" as it were. There's more of a delay coming out of a roadie run or a combat roll, whereas in 3 it was much smoother (ample's really hard to describe to someone who hasn't played it).

     

    The controls have changed for Judgement swell. You no longer use the d-pad for selecting your weapons as now you are relegated to only having two weapons instead of three. You switch weapons with Y and the grenade button has changed to LB and tac-com is now down on the d-pad. This does take some getting used to as I did keep throwing grenades away when trying to find out where my teamates were (this happened alot in multiplayer).

     

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    The multiplayer has always been a staple of the Gears franchise and has always had its own identity. However the new set up does dramatically change things up. As mentioned earlier the amount of weapons has changed & in multiplayer its changed more dramatically.

     

    Instead of the option of 2 weapons, you only get the choice of one with your snub pistol taking the other slot. This isn't too jarring as you can pick up weapons that players drop and ones spread about the map, but every Gears game has struggled to try and stop each match being a gnasher shotgun fest (hence why the sawed off was introduced in 3), but most matches I played had everyone running around with the gnasher. What also made this annoying is that the gnasher is very inconsistent in terms of power. Active reloads only happen in the campaign, but the gnasher can have you one shot killing someone one moment then having someone take 3+ shots up close the next. Its very frustrating and shouldn't have been an issue as it could have easily taken the patched version from 3. Also if you weren't a fan of the sawed-off in 3, then I've got bad news for you. It's back, and this time it has two bullets per clip instead of one.

     

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    Free-For-All is a great addition to the multiplayer! Does not make up for lack of modes though!

     

    There are only 4 modes in multiplayer: Overrun, Free-for-all, Domination and Team Death match. Overrun is a new feature where a team of COG have to defend certain positions against a team of locust. There are different classes on both sides and this is definitely the best thing about the game. Free-for-all is the first non team game in Gears and is frantic and fun. Domination takes away the uniqueness of the previous Annex mode, and does it more CoD style 3 bases to capture/defend. Team Death match has also had its identity taken away as its now just another run of the mill 1st team to so many points, compared to the (better in my opinion) mode in Gears 3.

     

    Overrun is definitely the best thing about the multiplayer. One of the reasons is because its the only mode where you can play as the Locust. For some reason you can no longer play as the Locust (farewell Theron Guard), this has a dramatic effect on the amount of characters to choose from. There are about 9 characters (10 if you pre-ordered), 4 of which are available from the start and the rest you have to unlock. Two of which are just re-skins of other characters, which is just lazy. I'm sure more characters are coming later but they've already been planned and could have easily been put into the game. You do get to customise your character with different skins that you can unlock or purchase.

    There are some good stuff in the game. You can pretty much jump from any platform now which can hep the dynamic of a match. Some of the new weapons are pretty neat, the spot and stim grenades are a great addition and give some variety to grenade tactics.

     

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    Overrun is definitely the most addictive of the multiplayer modes!

     

    Survivor mode is a new addition and is the replacement for Horde mode. Its a mixture of Overrun and horde. The structure is the same as Overrun, where you have to defend e-holes and then a generator if you fail to protect the e-holes. You have to try and survive for 10 waves, with each wave increasing the strength of the type of enemies. This is one where its best to work with your friends as you really need to play as a team as the computer is relentless. Its very challenging and I have yet to get to wave 10 (damn wretches).

     

    Overall I felt very disappointed in Judgement. The previous games have always had a lot of content and in comparison Judgement feels very thin. There's only 4 multiplayer maps, too few characters, and a sense that everything has been scaled back. There are some frame rate issues aswell if there is to much stuff on screen.

     

    The only thing that seems to have evolves from Gears 3 is the micro transactions. There are plenty of choices in weapon & character skins but about 75% of them require you to pay for them. I know its only cosmetic but with the lack of character choice its really aggravating, and the cost is ludicrous at 300 MS points for each character skin.

     

    The multiplayer has its own feel but has lost its identity by utilising and transforming 'Gears' own take on modes back into what thy are in COD or Halo. The multiplayer fights remind me of Halo where if players see each other they throw grenades and then shoot.

     

    The short development time the game had is blatantly obvious. If you're a big Gears fan chances are you've already got it and I“m fighting with/against you now. If you're not however I would recommend waiting for a price drop. This feels more like an expansion pack then a fully fledged game and is definitely not worth the full asking price!

     

    6/10

  13. blog-0240338001363836041.pngChances are that if you“re reading this post then you self identify as a “gameré. As gamers, we are happy to announce our adoration for the video game medium and share our interest (or obsession) with others. As a collective whole, we routinely raise massive amounts of money for charities through the likes of Child“s Play, indie bundles, and through donating to marathon game streams. There“s a lot of good that our community does for each other - but that“s not the image is projected to the world.

     

    Instead, gamers have been seen as man-children if they are male or just plain weird if they are female. Young gamers of either gender have often been picked on as geeks/dorks/dweebs/nerds or whatever else people saw fit to call those who took an interest in technological entertainment. While that type of bullying isn“t warranted, there are views of the gaming community which are based in some amount of fact. Negative connotations such as gamers being rude, elitist, or downright hateful are certainly not true of everyone, but there are definitely bad seeds who speak loudly enough to make this seem the case.

     

    How can we in the gaming community improve our image? Truth be told, it“s a hard mission considering the medium has been around for a few decades now, giving ample time for “outsidersé to formulate opinions. Interestingly, less people are truly considered outside the medium these days given the ample access to gaming media through phones, tablets, and websites. Still, they tend to view “gamersé as something else and, to be fair, gamers tend to have the same view of these “casualé players.

     

    UOIn4kV.jpg

     

    Regardless, it may be useful to draw from these similarities to help lessen the bias people have against gamers. Some people seem apt to rush to the conclusion that gamers must be anti-social. But what if you were to turn that perception on its head by speaking out to the enjoyment of social or casual video games? If a non-gamer were to realize their gaming intake also counts as games it might make them wonder. Many who play smartphone or Facebook games may not consider their entertainment as games, but it is definitely game-like.

     

    One of the biggest misconceptions of gamers is simply that we are a bunch of weirdos who have no ability to socialize or otherwise have a life. Sure, we may be more excited to spend a free night powering through a game rather than getting drunk, but all in all, it seems like the wiser choice. Is there a way to change this idea in people“s heads without forcing yourself to conform to stereotypical means of celebration?

     

    Well, maybe a little. Instead of immediately pulling out a handheld console and playing away during work or school breaks, why not try being social with others? Funnily, you may see that many of the non-gamers are the truly unsocial ones as they immediately focus all attention on smartphones or tablets. By simply extending a very simple social call to another human being you are appearing even more “normalé as they may be embarrassed by their technological dependence. Sure, still enjoy games in public, but let others know you can discuss things other than them too. Speaking about other geeky pursuits such as comics, anime, and certain TV shows might just do the trick considering they're in vogue.

     

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    What of the idea that gamers are mean-spirited, childish, or downright bigoted? This is one idea that has been spread due to news and social media and far extends the reaches of our community. And in some ways, even us ourselves are probably willing to agree with it. There“s no denying that many voices from within the community spout truly vile things to one another - and for more reason than simple trash talking.

     

    While it is not possible to stop some people from being cruel, it is possible to keep them from getting a pedestal from which to spout their vitriol. With most multiplayer video games having mute functions, make sure to mute annoying players (or voice chat entirely, if possible) when non-gaming relatives or friends are around. Truly, even we shouldn“t lend an ear to ridiculous hate speech. Instead of letting players get away with awful things in game try reporting them so they quit that behavior or at least are known to be avoided. As for journalists, make sure to not give a spotlight to these people which could then be carried on to general new sites.

     

    There are people out there who embody and confirm the stereotypes that some hold as to gamers and gaming culture. However, many more of us are intelligent individuals who are smart enough to not be completely awful, overindulgent beings. As long as we are a good group of folks then others will eventually come to see us as just another group of passionate fans, just like movie or TV show fans. As gaming furthers growth into new markets it will only help “normalizeé views toward gamers as well.

  14. If you believe Steven Spielberg then controllers are always getting in the way and Kinect is the only way to fully immerse yourself in a game. Now then, let's segue into reality for a moment and talk about when controls are too complex for their own good and ruin the enjoyment of games.

     

    To use a recent example of controls annoying me, I played Mass Effect 3 recently on the PC and it had multiple commands bound to the one button and gave me no way to change it. Look I understand there are only so much buttons on a controller, but the keyboard is covered in buttons, so you should be able to let me assign these commands as I please. Having sprint, take cover and roll all on the one button is just a pain in the ass. This has been a problem with PC games (mostly PC ports) for eons, just let me change these damn buttons so that when I want to take cover I don't end up rolling against a wall like a bloody idiot.

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    All the buttons you could ever need, and then another 20 for good measure.

     

    Another problem I have ran into with a few games (again mostly on PC) is really poor control layouts. I want controlling a game to feel like second nature, to be able to focus on what's going on in the game and not have to keep looking at my controller/keyboard trying to figure out how to do something. A big offender of this was ARMA 2, as someone who has played his fair share of shooters; this game confused the hell out of me. I think I spent more time reformatting all the controls than actually playing the game, I swear it is like someone vomited out the control scheme and they just ran with it.

     

    If we wanted to boil this down to its most basic form then, controls get in the way when they aren't intuitive, it is pretty much that simple. When the controls don't make sense or they frustrate you then they are getting in the way and ruining your enjoyment of the game.

     

    So what about motion controls? Right, if we let all those moans die down so I can talk, then I will say that motion controls have a lot of problems with them, the main one being that they don't really work. Motion controls have failed to dominate this generation (apart from the Wii I guess) both the Move and Kinect have been left to die (but they might make a comeback next generation). So can motion controls

    become a better way to control a game? The main problem I see is in the whole motion part of motion controls, for starters gamers are really lazy and also moving around isn't easier than just pushing a button, so they would get in the way. I don't want to write motion controls off entirely, as they can work sometimes, but for the majority of gaming I feel that they would be less effective than a simple button based controller.

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    Having to push 0 to aim? No wonder those ARMA devs were arrested

     

    So when do controllers get in the way? When you are really angry at a game and you want to throw something, then they end up lodged into a nearby wall. Seriously though, the majority of games have decent controls and I feel like for the most part it isn't an issue, but sometimes the control layout makes no sense or can't be changed to your preference (left-handed gamers for example) then it gets in the way and decreases your enjoyment of the game. That of course is the one thing a game should never do, because games are supposed to be all about enjoyment and when you get in the way of that, you have failed your job. Bloody game developers.

  15. I look back at 2012 as one of the strangest years of gaming for me. I graduated high school and went to college, and although I have ridiculous amounts of free time, I spend almost none of it on gaming. Especially since I have to budget myself, the amount of new games I get have drastically decreased. But worry not, as my Top 5 games this year are still extremely fantastic titles that I'm simply dying to talk about. Without further ado...

     

    My Top 5 Games Of 2012!

     

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    5. Spec Ops: The Line

     

    Oh Spec Ops. I heard great things about you, and I knew what you were about even before I played you. But even though I knew every trick you had up your sleeve, nothing could stop you from impressing me. It's rare that I would play through a game immediately after I beat it, but Spec Ops delivers. With unforgettable characters, astonishing setpieces, and enthusiastic intelligence, the game does all it can to provide an extremely powerful narrative that simply blew me away. The really small details stuck with me, especially regarding how your main character behaves during gameplay during the later stages of the game. It's the small details that reward players who are paying attention that make the game shine brightly. I can see myself playing this game long after the other games on this list. It's simply that good.

     

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    4. Lone Survivor

     

    Wow. Just... wow. I'm a very vocal Silent Hill enthusiast, so this year has been... mixed to say the least. Silent Hill HD Collection ended up being a bad collection of 2 classics, and Downpour was simply just awful. I loved the two titles, but their flaws were incredibly apparent, and it bummed me out that the series had lost its way. Then I played Lone Survivor. If anything could rekindle my love for a Silent Hill game, it was a completely unrelated indie game whose very existence is a love letter from a dead spouse. The game oozed style and charm, and when 16 bit graphics are scaring you much more than Japanese horror films, then you know you're doing something right. The atmosphere was tense, the journey was incredible, and the gameplay is... addicting. That's kind of bizarre considering that it's a survival horror game, but I can't put it down. I look forward to seeing its impact on the horror industry.

     

     

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    3. Rock Band Blitz

     

    Ahhhh, the token Rock Band entry. This should surprise absolutely nobody. With incredible Facebook integration, great tracklist (it grew on me after a while), complete compatibility for all Rock Band songs, and a still updating goal system, the game is perfect for a quick solo session. And it doesn't hurt that I'm pretty good at the game. AND THIS GAME EXPORTS TO ROCK BAND 3! Just more reason to get this game, because it's an incredible value and it's just really really fun. Harmonix really is a fantastic developer, and I'm excited for their future.

     

     

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    2. Kid Icarus: Uprising

     

    The controversial entry on my list. For me, anyway. If you followed me on Twitter, you know how much I moan about my grievances with Kid Icarus: Uprising. Or rather grievance: it's completely stupid plot. What angers me about this game is that it tries so hard to have a great plot, and the fact that it fails so miserably upsets me, especially since everything else about this game is fantastic. I know people are down on the controls, but I personally found them incredibly natural WITHOUT the dumb stand. With addicting gameplay, incredibly fun multiplayer, and tons of content, Kid Icarus: Uprising is the absolute BEST game to get a 3DS with. It'll last you a ton of time, and it's actually good, unlike Super Mario 3D Land and Kingdom Hearts 3D (which are both very mediocre in my book). Also this game has Pyrrhon. That guy is awesome.

     

    And my Game Of The Year IS...

    ...

    ...

    ...

     

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    Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward

     

    I can not tell you how much I thought this game was going to blow. I really enjoyed it's predecessor Nine Hours Nine Persons Nine Doors, and found it engaging all throughout except for the finale, which introduced psychic shenanigans that for me broke the realistic atmosphere the game tried so hard to make. Especially since I DETEST time travel stories (yes, I don't like Doctor Who), the curveball left a bad taste in my mouth. When it came time to play the sequel, I only had one request, to integrate the time space stuff throughout the story and have them weave into the exposition naturally. And did Virtue's Last Reward hit it out of the park. Although the To Be Continueds were detrimental to flow, the game handled my request beautifully. My other fear was that the original felt compact and definitive, so I thought a sequel would only try to make things BIGGER in order to outdo the original (ala Ghostbusters 2). With 24 endings (over the original's 6), fully voiced cast, 3D models, etc, I had good reason to fear this. And while the game is "sequely", the execution is done so well that I can't complain. And the twists, oh the twists blew my mind away in every conceivable level. When a game's story is keeping you up at 3 in the morning, you know something is done right. And this game is about the Prisoner's Dilemma. As someone who LOVES economics and is fascinated with game theory, this game's very core made my tremble with excitement. On the negative side, the cliffhanger ending was disappointing, and the save glitch (which I thankfully did not go through) and some of the puzzles can go die horribly. However, I left the game (which is about 3-4 times longer than the predecessor) with a huge smile on my face and sky high expectations for Zero Escape 3.

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    Continuing where I left off....

     

    Walking home with Yukiko and Chie.

     

    "You think Yukiko is cute" Alright lets establish my pervert status here right off the bat! "YES"

     

    Chie's English voice is kinda grating....thankfully I don't have anything better to compare it to.

     

    Dead Body! :o

     

    Aww my BFFs ditched me!

     

    Over-world map! And this catchy music again!

     

    Guess I'll head to Junes? They did have a pretty catch commercial.

     

    Of course, it's locked down...lets try the...flood plain?

     

    These trees look really cool for some reason...

     

    Nothing here either...

     

    Shopping district maybe?

     

    Well this is pretty lackluster so far, they're obviously trying to get me to go home...NEVER!

     

    Aww...immediately busted at school. Stupid Morooka telling me to go home.

     

    Farming land next to my house? Possible farming mini-game?

     

    OMG IT WAS THE TV REPORTER LADY.

     

    OMFG THIS JUNES COMMERCIAL.

     

    No one likes you Nanako, stop singing.

     

    Next day....

     

    Stupid trashcan kid again!

     

    Yukiko totally has some sort of secret shes hiding....

     

    Saki = New main character?

     

    "Laters!" ......Really?

     

    Midnight channel? Sounds like the Ring to me...

     

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    Lets pick up the pace a bit now...

     

    Told Chie and Yosuke I can go into TV's...they don't believe me at first D:

     

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    ^That sounds kind of dirty ^_^

     

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    Finally in the TV world!

     

    Meet a bear named Teddy (assuming he's the "Kuma" I heard about)

     

    He tells us about how people are getting thrown into the TV world, time to solve this case!

     

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    DUMBLEDORE!

     

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    PERSONA!

     

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    Finally started leveling up!

     

    Fought evil Yosuke

     

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    Aww Teddy

     

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    LOL

     

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    OMG WHAT IS THAT

     

    Fought Yosuke and Chie's shadow versions, they got their Personas. Then Yukiko disapeared and me Yosuke and Chie teamed up to find her. I was supposed to spend several days preparing but instead just jumped right into the TV on the second day. Teddy kept trying to make me only play a bit of the dungeon at once but I beat the entire dungeon in one go. EAT THAT TEDDY.

     

    Now with Yukiko saved we have a full team :D

     

    I opened a bunch more social links, joined the soccer club and the band, hung out with Marie, fused some Personas, did a few side quests and overall just enjoyed the game.

     

    Currently on the next rescue mission to save a badass biker named Kanji. Tune in next time!

     

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    blog-0233734001354841284.jpg

    But what do we charge for it?

     

    Free to play has taken the PC world by storm. Many games are now free to play, and with the introduction of the model, game companies are now left to decide what works best, and how they are going to bring in the money to keep the development studio open.

     

    So Essentially, Three models have emerged:
    • Free to play: with microtransactions/credits purchased to add content/vanity items.
    • Pay to play: A whole game with all features enabled. Usually DLC is not far behind.
    • Pay to Enter, pay more to actually enjoy. You buy the game inexpensively, then buy other content with microtransactions/credits. While this isn't really a model that is used much, some games have turned into this over time.

    Which method ends up being the best? You have games such as League of Legends, Tribes Ascend, Planetside 2, and more, that require no money to start, but as anyone who has completely enjoyed their experience in these realms can attest, you often end up spending more cash than if you had paid full retail. While originally free2play screamed low quality, with so many publishers attempting this method it has become more evident that low quality doesn't cut it. The only way to make money then, is to get your audience hooked, and entice them to actually shell out some cash.

     

    Pay to play, or what I like to call the standard model, is what many of us have done historically, all our lives; Buy a game off the shelf, you own it, and all the content in it is available. Until recently, this method was reliable. You bought it, you get the goods. Currently, and I'm looking at you EA, buying a game does not guarantee that you will get all the content made for the game you just spent $50-60 on. On the disc DLC ranks right up there with gum that turns your mouth black as one of the dirtiest tricks of all time. Which to be honest, is just a watering down of the pay to enjoy model that outlined above.

     

    Which do I prefer? Well, free2play is great, it's essentially a demo that allows you to actually buy-in once you have decided you like the game. That being said, there is something nice about purchasing a game and owning all the content, which free2play is not the best at achieving. Most free to play games will run you a few hundred dollars (thousands in some cases), or a metric ton of time invested to be able to enjoy all the content. What do you like best?
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    Ludono
    Latest Entry

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    Ai Yori Aoshi

     

    Lets start this entry off with a quaint little romance anime that aired 10 years ago, in 2002. A second season was also created after the first season proved popular, clocking in at a total on 37 episodes including the specials. It was originally based off a seinen manga by Kou Fumizuki that ran from 1998 to 2005. It also has several visual novel that were released on various platforms including PS2 and Windows 98.

    Fantastic OP (1:07 for the iconic theme)

    The story is basically a love story between two people who have come together after not seeing each other for many years. The entire series centers around their love story and unlike a lot of romance anime ACTUALLY HAS A CONCLUSIVE ENDING.

    This alone makes it a great show. Having watched both the anime, and having read the manga (I own all 17 volumes of the Tokyopop version) I really appreciate the differences between the two. Both manga and anime are fantastic!

    8/10

     

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    11Eyes

     

    Oh dear....THIS show. I watched this when it came out in October of 2009 thinking it was pretty cool. Soon, however, I realize it was actually quite terrible.

    I did not know at the time but it was actually based off a visual novel that was originally released in 2008 with an Xbox 360 port in 2009.

    The story reminded me of Silent Hill in a way, the main characters sister has been dead for several years when suddenly one day the sky darkens and the "Red Night" begins. Monsters and other creatures appear and the main character and his friends must survive until the Red Night ends. But soon after it starts again and the nightmare repeats itself. Terrible plot, absolutely unlikable characters, just an overall pretty bad package. The opening was pretty cool though!

     

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    I wish that fish would just eat eye-patch-kuns stupid face off.

  16. There are many ways to learn about music and to practice it! Cool music games are great for that. These are online games that can give you a great experience: Exploring music, while playing a game! Playing cool music games is a great chance to learn more about music and rhythm, to learn more about beats, notes and melodies, while having fun. So get your groove on!

     

    In my opinion, when combining music and playfulness, it could help become more accurate with sound and to improve your ear for sound differences and nuances. It could be helpful for those who want to practice playing any instrument and for those who love singing and want to become better. Of course it's also for those who just want to have fun and play!

     

    Here are some of the cool music games I really like:

     

    Cytus - A free online game. The music that is played in this game is "feeding" the main creature. The music is being converted from human feelings into music. This game has almost one hundred songs in many different variations. There are many music genres like pop, rock, jazz, drum and bass and much more! You play by following the scan line and by tapping on it when it's time, which is heard by the beat of the song. In some levels you must drag the line to the direction showed to match the sound! The game has an artistic touch and style that makes the experience even more interesting!

     

    Magic Piano is a really cool music game that is fun and easy. It's also a great practice to your sense of rhythm and beat. You use your fingers to tap on little bubbly dots that are synchronized with the melody. You hit those ones like you hit the piano keyboard and it feels as if you make the sound yourself. I recommend that for helping your piano skills and sense of rhythm get even better. There are many options of songs you can choose to play - from modern top hits to classical oldies.

     

    My singing monsters - A really cool and funny game features monsters and funny creatures that each has its own sound or special voice. Some of them just sing or utter a voice, some of them hit their heads for a drum-like sound, others play an instrument. Each type is very unique and is a part of the whole "orchestra" that you can create! In order for them to keep making cool music you must feed them, give them rest when needed, and generally, take care of them so they can keep the show on! The sound and look of those monsters is hilarious and you can add or change the assembly in many ways and varieties.

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    Developers: CD Projekt, Metropolis Software House

    Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive

    Platform: Xbox 360, PC

    Release Date: July 3, 2012 (out now)

    ESRB: M for Mature

     

    This review is based on the 360 version of the game

    Choice is a word that is starting to become thrown out loosely when describing the specifics of a game. Often times the choices the player gets to make are really meaningless and uninspiring. On top of that, games tend to give the player a very clear black and white description of what the decision entails. The Witcher 2 not only gives the player true choices that matter, but each decision requires careful thinking that can change the entire course of the game and the story.

    The Witcher 2 tells the story of a monster slayer named Geralt. While the story is a direct sequel to the first game, it is not required to play in order to understand and enjoy the story. The game starts off with the hero of the story being chained up in a prison. You soon discover that Geralt has been blamed for the death of a king that he did not kill. The story tells an interesting tale about proving his innocence and catching the one responsible, all while being entangled in a civil war between the Scoitels, which contain rebel elves and dwarves, and the humans who refuse to treat them as equals. Without spoiling too much of the story, at one point in the game near the end of the first chapter you are given two choices. The decision you make at this point completely changes the entire second chapter.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    “The combat is not only fun, it also looks awesome!â€

     

     

    Part of what makes a good story in a game are the character interaction and the conversations between them. The dialogue is a large part of the storytelling and you are in direct control of what Geralt says. Most of the time you are trying to get as much information out of people as possible by asking question, but occasionally you have optional choices that affect parts of the story and what characters think of you. While I would have liked to see more choices throughout the dialogues conversations, I really enjoyed the choices and detail you could get out of each conversation. Most of my problem of wanting more comes from the notion that I really enjoyed it, and it left me wanting more because it was so well done.

    When a game tries to create a world that feels alive and involving, graphics become that much more important. When it comes to the graphical aspect of this game, The Witcher 2 is easily the best looking game on the console I have seen. When it was first announced that the game would be receiving a port from the PC I was worried that the graphics would not translate. While they do not come close to what the PC can do I was very pleased with the results. Everything from fire shooting out of Geralts hands, the excellent character models to the gorgeous environments and backgrounds, the graphics are something to be applauded. There was a small issue I had with the graphics that did not take away from the experience but did create some minor annoyances. Often times when a character was shown during a conversation the clothes on the character would appear very blurry and required the model to load before it looked crisp and clear. While this may have been a limitation of the system it was a little but distracting. Sometime distractions can be good though. Not necessarily in this situation, but when it comes to the music, distractions can be good.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    “The graphics are absolutely stunning"

     

     

    One of the more challenging and often overlooked aspects of a game is the music and sound effects. In Role playing games where you spend many hours exploring areas and doing quests, the music is very important to the overall experience. The Witcher 2 does not disappoint in this area, and sports one of the best soundtracks I have heard in a while. Part of the challenge of creating music in a rich fantasy world is making each piece fit for each situation and area. The soundtrack would occasionally have me aimlessly walking around a city because I did not want to change my location because I was enjoying the soothing sounds too much. Getting lost in a rich new world is part of the joy of playing a role playing game and the music really helped me get lost in the world. While the music and story are superb you still need lots to do in order to enjoy the music and truly get trapped in its universe.

    When it comes to having things to do, The Witcher 2 will not disappoint. There is so much to do in this world that you can spends hours upon hours participating in fist fights, arm wrestling and even a version of dice poker that all allows you to make tons of money. One of the problems I had with the previous title was that money was very hard to come by. In The Witcher 2 money is still hard earned, but never felt like there was not enough ways to make money for buying crafting ingredients and armor. Another way to earn gold is by completing one of the several side quests. There are many side quests throughout the world and while it pales in comparison to games like Skyrim or Fallout, I never felt a need for more. The side quests were interesting and engaging, and had lots of unique stories to tell. The side quests never felt like a requirement in order to make enough money, or to gain more experience to grind your level, but rather felt like an extension of the game that helped make it that much more enjoyable. All of these factors are important and crucial to the game, but all of it would be almost meaningless if the game itself was not fun.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    “It would be unwise to get in Geralt“s faceâ€

     

     

    When it comes to role playing games the combat tends to take a back seat to the story and the characters. For the Witcher 2, this is not the case. While the combat may not be the best part of the game, it“s still a ton of fun and requires plenty of strategy and patience. The combat is a real time battle system that allows the player to almost slow down to a near halt as the player chooses different abilities and weapons while surveying the battlefield. Each battle requires the player to actually thing about each move and use any tools or abilities carefully as everything at your disposal is precious and important to your survival. The combat really shines in making you feel powerful when you fight with strategy and weak when you try to mash your way though. Most of the battles require you to be careful because one mistake can lead to your death. This leads to the next part of the gameplay, the leveling and skill system.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    The leveling system did a really good job giving the player a strong sense of progression. Upon leveling, the player can choose to level one of four branches. While you are limited to the training branch at first, eventually you unlock swordsmanship, alchemy and magic. Each area allows new abilities and upgrades for Geralt that add new tactical combat elements to the game. Leveling comes often and allows the player to enjoy adding new skills to your arsenal at a good pace that keeps the combat from ever feeling repetitive.

    If there was a major problem with this game it may be that it“s not for everyone. Honestly though, I find this to be a good thing. I don“t want my RPG“s streamlined in order to appeal to a mass crowd of gamers, and the developers refused to streamline anything. From the hilarious banter between Geralt and his friends, to the mature and often times very adult oriented situations, the Witcher 2 does not compromise what it is for anyone. The Witcher 2 is what it is, and if you are a fan of role playing games, and are interested in a story where your choices actually matter, then this may be the game you have been waiting many years for. I can not wait to have time to play through this game again in order to make new choices and discover all the different story arches and endings, because I truly had a great time with this game.

     

     

    Pros:

    - Outstanding visuals and music

     

    - Very involved and strategic combat

     

    - Choices that matter

     

    - Entertaining characters that often times make you laugh

     

    - Multiple endings and skill trees add plenty of replay value

     

    Cons:

     

    - Occasional graphical hitches

     

    - Eventually comes to an end

     

     

     

    Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10

    Amazing

     

    If you call your self a hardcore gamer or RPG fan, you must play this game!

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    Developer: indieszero

    Publisher: Square Enix

    Platform: Nintendo 3DS

    Release Date: July 3, 2012 (out now)

    ESRB: E10+ for Everyone 10 and older

     

    The Final Fantasy series has not only graced us with memorable characters and stories, but also breathtakingly beautiful music. Terra“s Theme, To Zanarkand, Aerith“s Theme, and The Man with the Machine Gun are just few of many. So, why not make a Final Fantasy rhythm game? And that“s just what Square-Enix did when they brought out Theatrhythm Final Fantasy. It doesn“t disappoint at all, either.

     

    Right off the bat, Theatrhythm asserts itself as a creative and unique sort of rhythm game. Not only will you be tapping and sliding your stylus to Final Fantasy tunes, but you“ll also be leveling up characters, honing their stats and abilities, and collecting items and collectables. In a broad sense, it“s an RPG/rhythm-game hybrid.

     

    There are three modes for you to play in: series, challenge, and Chaos Shrine. Series mode allows you to play five songs from a Final Fantasy title in a row. Challenge mode lets you choose a single song to play through. Both series and challenge modes have three difficulty settings: basic, expert, and ultimate. Basic is pretty, well… basic. Those familiar with rhythm games will have absolutely no problem perfecting all the songs in this mode. Expert is a lot more challenging than basic, but ultimate is where the real fun is. It“s so fast-paced and will get your adrenaline pumping. You have to be a real rhythm game master in order to 100% all the songs on ultimate – or get all critical on each song, if you want to push it up a notch. The only annoying thing is that expert and ultimate modes are not available from the start.

     

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    The third mode, Chaos Shrine, is where you“ll be spending a lot of your time if you“re interested in farming for rare items and shards (which are needed to unlock new characters). With Chaos Shrine, you receive “Dark Notesâ€, which consist of two songs. Every single Dark Note is randomly generated, so the amount of possible combinations for songs, scores, difficulty, bosses, and items is practically endless. The main problem I have with Chaos Shrine, however, is that there are only 20 songs (out of 70 or so that Theatrhythm has) that it uses. So, I hope you like hearing Fight with Seymour, Eternal Wind, and Mambo de Chocobo over and over again. Regardless, the random generation within Dark Notes still makes Chaos Shrine fun.

     

    The selection of songs chosen to be included in the base game of Theatrhythm is pretty nice. Most of the classics you know and love are in there ready to be played countless times. Of course, some of your favorites are probably missing and were made into DLC instead. Each song is only a dollar, but if you wanted all the ones currently available… it would be a little over $40 altogether. It“s a pretty steep price, but diehard Final Fantasy fans have had no trouble paying the money for all those songs. I“ve not bought any yet myself, but if I did have 40 bucks magically appear in my wallet right now, there might be a small chance I would put that towards some eShop cards to buy some sweet Theatrhythm tracks. And hey, with how much I“ve fallen in love with the game, it would be totally worth it.

     

    I also really enjoyed the wide variety of characters that are available to use. Not only are there 13 at your disposal right at the very beginning, but there“s another 13+ to unlock as you gather more shards throughout your playthrough. And they“re all so cute in Theatrhythm“s art style! Though I won“t spoil who you can get, I am somewhat disappointed Fran, Balthier, or Rikku weren“t implemented as playable characters. And as much as I dislike paid DLC, I would totally buy more characters to use in the game.

     

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    I briefly mentioned that Theatrhythm has collectables. The main one is an album to collect cards in (called CollectaCards). There are 81 unique CollectaCards, however, if you want a 100% complete album, you“ll need 10 of each. When you collect four of one card, it will turn into a holofoil. And with seven of one card, it will turn into a super shiny platinum. Thankfully, you get plenty of CollectaCards throughout the game whenever you finish a song (especially in Chaos Shrine), so the feat of completing your album isn“t as difficult as it sounds.

     

    There are also unlockable videos to watch in theatre mode and songs to listen to in the music player. That“s self-explanatory, though. The last mode in the museum is records. Records includes your total play time, total number of chains, character usage, and so on. There are also trophies for you to achieve. There are 64 total trophies, and some are quite difficult, so those are sure to keep any completionist busy for a while.

     

    There“s so much to keep you occupied and entertained in Theatrhythm that you“ll be playing for hours on end. The replayability is sky-high! Not to mention it“s perfect for playing in short bursts. Theatrhythm was one of the most delightful gaming experiences of the year for me, and still is, since I“m aiming to unlock and achieve as much as I can. The game has also helped me rekindle a love for Final Fantasy. Now I want to go and play the games I haven“t touched or finished, like Final Fantasy IX and Final Fantasy VI (oh, if only I had the time!).

     

    gallery_6_15_50431.jpg

     

    I“m sure I“ve made my point now about how much I love Theatrhythm. It“s a 100% must buy for any other Final Fantasy fans out there. And even if you don“t enjoy playing the main games in the series, but adore the music and you“re a fan of rhythm games, get it anyway! You“ll love it, I promise.

     


    Pros:

     

    + Mash-up of rhythm game and RPG aspects is unique, refreshing, and extraordinarily fun

    + More than 70 classic Final Fantasy songs to play, with over 40 to buy as DLC

    + Over 13 Final Fantasy characters to unlock, as well as other collectables

    + The chibi art style is adorable

     

    Cons:

     

    - Expert and ultimate modes for songs not available from the start

    - Chaos Shrine only uses 20 of Theatrhythm“s playable songs

     


     

    Overall: 9.5/10

    Fantastic

     

    Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a dream come true for Final Fantasy fans and rhythm game enthusiasts. If you“re either or both, there“s absolutely no reason not to pick this game up.

  19. blog-0563924001345901363.jpgWith the recent news of the The World Ends with You going to iOS (http://www.gamepodun...-a-sequel-r1213) I got to thinking. That game was incredible. It's the best use of the DS so far. It really might lose a lot going to the iOS. In fact, the DS...

     

    Then I realized that the DS may be the best system... ever. Not since the days of SNES vs Genesis has this position been coveted, but still - the DS has it all.

     

    So here's a guide. If you want to play a great game from pretty much any genre, the DS has you covered. And they're mostly dirt-cheap now, so you can hit up Amazon anytime you'd like something amazing for under $20.

     

    The DS has... the Best RPGs

    Chrono Trigger DS - the definitive edition of the best RPG of all time. Sure, some (including myself) prefer the old translation, and the added DS features aren't great, but they can't subtract from the core game which is, still, nearly perfect.

    The World Ends With You - an amazing action RPG that can't be done (correctly) anywhere else. A plot remniscient of the most mind-being anime, fashion, and all the anime that you can handle, with the most-fun battle system of the last ten years. Honestly, it's nearly perfect... especially if you play the omake chapter. Buy this game.

    Final Fantasy VI (GBA) - it's a GBA game, but it's the best Final Fantasy. If you want to play the best RPG traditional RPG ever, here's your chance.

     

    The DS has... the Best Rhythm Games

    Elite Beat Agents - even Nintendo Power gave this the rating of best DS game ever, and for a good reason. It's probably the best pure rhythm game ever - not the best party game, no, but the best game against doing things to a beat. You'll laugh, you'll dance, you'll cry. Bonus points for its prequel and sequel which didn't make it to the States.

     

    The DS has... the best adventure games.

    Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney (1-3) - the best adventure games released in the last ten years bring back what was fun about the genre - using tools to your advantage against a wacky cast of characters. The Phoenix Wright

    Trauma Center (1 and 2) - is this an adventure game? I don't know what to call it, really, but it's a blast to play. Sharp reflexes and an interesting-enough storyline amount to a great weekend of playtime. There's a Wii version, too, but it's not as fun.

     

    The DS has... the best action games.

    Mega Man Zero Collection - it's the best shape you've seen Megaman in ages, and Megaman isn't even playable. It's four games for the price of one, and each of them represent the peak of 2D platforming.

     

     

    Alright, fine, there was some hyperbole there. It doesn't have the best racing game (that's Mario Kart Double Dash on the Gamecube), the best party game (Rock Band), or the best hummingbird-based shooter (that's the 32X). Still, it's a mighty fine system... if nothing else, I hope I've showed you some games you've missed.

     

     

    Can you think of any system better deserving of best platform than the DS?

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    I“ve spent the past week and a half finally getting through The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or have seen me in the chat probably have an idea of my feelings on the game, but I“m going to put together my thoughts in a more focused manner than my unfiltered ramblings. That said, this isn“t aiming to be an article of any sort and isn“t heavily edited. There some heavy paragraphs here that you may want a hardhat for.

     

    If you just want to know what I thought of the game without the why, here it is: I hated the game and like almost nothing about it. I feel the only truly good aspect of the game is the art direction, which I loved from when it was first unveiled at E3. It“s always struck me as a 3D version of A Link to the Past. Unfortunately, it all amounts to makeup on a pig as far as I“m concerned. Those of you wanting to know why, settle in.

     

     

     

    Controls

     

    I“ll just get the whiny baby part out of the way first and say that I really do hate the control scheme and am entirely unimpressed by it. I always felt like I made the wrong decision in buying the Wii version of Twilight Princess, but I did expect something a little better from Skyward Sword and the Wii MotionPlus. Probably the biggest issue I have with the setup is that it seems to easily get confused and lose calibration. If this happens when you“re in first-person mode, it“s simple to fix by just pressing down on the d-pad. It happens a lot, though, and seems to have the most difficulty keeping centered when using the clawshot. If you lose calibration during a heated fight, things aren“t quite as simple and you could end up in a bad spot. With how many enemies, and bosses especially, rely on a certain type of attack to be made vulnerable, or damaged at all, it“s especially frustrating. I get that there are ways to recalibrate, but if technology really was 1:1 and was anywhere near what Nintendo touted it to be, it seems to me like the methods would just be a fail-safe and not as commonly needed as they are. I do think the game would work better on a traditional controller, but there would still be some issues, as Z-Targeting is still inadequate when dealing with large groups of enemies and auto-jumping can be clumsy as it“s still based entirely on angling.

     

    To be more specific, there are three types of controls that I found especially confusing. First off, the skydiving controls will always be a mystery to me. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they are supposed to work. Every time I think I have an inkling of how moving the remote is meant to move Link, I dive from another spot and everything is different. Maybe I“m really missing something here, but I could never get it to work for me. Secondly, the swimming controls are absolutely baffling, not in how they work, but in why they even exist. For the rest of the game, ground controls are handled exclusively by the analogue stick. If you go into water, you move around with the stick to get out. As soon as you go to swim, though, it becomes motion controlled for no real reason other than meeting some internal waggle quota Nintendo seems to have. My real issue with it is that it at no point is a good idea. Underwater controls never quite work out to begin with and adding the inaccuracy of motion control on top of that is just horrible. My third issue, and maybe it“s just something with how my setup works, is that I could never reliably get the thrust attack with the sword to work. I“d sit there nearly throwing my remote into my display and Link would just slash sideways. I had issues with horizontal and vertical strikes being mixed up, but it was never as inconsistent as getting the thrust to work.

     

    I“d also like to mention that I really dislike the stamina system. When I first saw that I could only run for a certain amount of time, I imagined there would be some race minigame where I“d have to manage fruit pickups or some vine puzzles that would be hard to traverse. None of those popped up, though, so it just stands as some sort of weird limiter to how fast you can go through the game.

     

    Hand-holding

     

    With the technology out of the way, I“m going to move into more legitimate complaints with the game. Probably the biggest issue I have with the game is that it treats you like an illiterate 8 year-old with ADHD. I have never played a game that made it so immensely hard for you to not know what“s going on. You“re usually told what to do multiple times through text and sometimes also shown where to go. The most absurd moments in the game come from instances where Fi, your helper, will explain something to you in a cutscene and then, right when you are about to regain control, come out to tell you what she just told you a few seconds ago. I“d have a lot less of an issue with this information overload if the text speed could be adjusted, but instead the game becomes bogged down with characters telling you the same thing multiple times. There is a good instance of this in the Sheikah Stones, stones that show you mildly cryptic videos of how to solve certain puzzles and sidequests, but they are pretty infrequent, so if you“ve gone back to one you“re probably fairly irritated with what you“re trying to do. Getting back to Fi, she“s pretty much as worthless as you would expect a helper to be. She“s given a lot of conversation options to give you hints, advice, enemy analysis, and such, but nothing she says is every particularly useful. That doesn“t stop her from bothering you with her lack of knowledge, though. It just seems like Nintendo really underestimates the intelligence of their target audience. Skydiving is probably the best reflection of this design philosophy, as not deploying your sailcloth to soften your landing as you get closer to ground results in frantic beeping and concludes with the sailcloth just opening automatically anyway. It“s like Nintendo was worried that player wouldn“t realize how warning bells work.

     

    A Story to Nowhere

     

    Alright, I“ve kept this pretty spoiler free so far, but this section deals with to story, so you may want to skip over this if you care. The game starts with an interesting premise, or at least the relationship between Link and Zelda is a new angle for the series to take, though it“s cliched in other mediums. Zelda starts out as a strong character, and though the game doesn“t do much with that, it“s nice to see that the game doesn“t start out with the damsel in distress. The real problem I have with the game is that after you leave Skyloft, the story manages to do nothing for the next 8 hours or so. You get told very clearly that Zelda has her part to play and that you have yours. Despite this, you go off chasing her through three dungeons and accomplish...nothing. Not a single thing. You get some items, sure, but those could have been gotten anywhere. You just chase after someone who doesn“t need protection by you. Then, after she leaves for the past, Link and the rest of the plot characters finally realize that what the hero has to do needs to actually happen. It“s not something you notice when you“re going through the game, but as soon as you hit the quest for the sacred flames, you realize that you“ve spent a third of the game doing nothing. Going back to Zelda, after you“re done chasing after her, she ducks out of the story for about a third of the game and then comes back in the last third to be the damsel in distress Link wanted all along. It“s really frustrating to see a good concept ruined.

     

    I“m conflicted on if I want to say that the story does a good job tying together Skyward Sword with the mythos of Zelda series, largely because I“m not fond of the whole idea of a Zelda timeline and Nintendo“s commitment to it that comes about the timeline being released and the story of this game. There“s definitely a lot of tie-ins to different games and I do like them as a long-time fan of the series. I think I have to concede that I“m so jaded by the game that I have a hard time looking at the tie-ins as more than just fan service. Realizing how something in Skyward Sword tied into another game were some of my favorite times I had when playing the game, though, so maybe I“m writing something that“s more cynical than I actually feel.

     

    And while I“m on the story, the Water Dragon is a jerk. Seriously. You come to his realm, complete the Ancient Cistern and get the Flame of Farore, but he never gives you his part of the Song of the Hero, despite knowing you“ll have to come back for it. Then, when you do come back, Master Sword in hand, he feels the need to test you, just to make extra sure. There“s no purpose for any of this other than padding out the game“s length. Dude“s a jerk.

     

    Dowsing: The Chicken or the Egg?

     

    One of the new features to Skyward Sword is dowsing, the ability to go into first-person view and use your sword to find where objects, usually plot items, are based on the beeping of the sword. It“s a feature I really don“t like, but I“m not sure to what degree. Mainly, I“m not sure if dowsing came about as a way to find these these various plot items or if dowsing was used as a justification for how many there are and not worry about using map design to funnel you to their location like in a traditional game. It really feels more like the later to me, as some of the collection aspects of this game make me think that the folks on the team spent a bit too much time playing Banjo-Kazooie. By the time your sword starts to get more useful dowsing abilities, you“re mostly done with the game, so it“s hard to even count that as a positive.

     

    An Anniversary of the Worst

     

    It“s pretty hard to miss all the 25th anniversary branding on the game. While all the fanservice in the story serves as a nice way to represent that heritage, the gameplay itself seems to celebrate the darker times in the series far too much. Of course, the game also manages to add its own spin. Starting off with something people have complained about since Ocarina of Time, Fi is probably the worst companion character in the series. I already went over how she has a lot to say, none of it useful, but what I“d left out until now is her personality. Fi is extremely robotic for whatever reason, and it“s a trait that just makes her all the more unbearable. Everything she is very dry and she constantly uses nonsensical percentages to assess your situation. There“s no emotional attachment to her because she has none herself, despite how hard the game tries to force it on at the end. Also something people have been complaining about since OoT, there“s a forced stealth segment in the game. This one happens near the end of the game and, to make things interesting, you also lose all of your items and have to reclaim them while sneaking around. I can“t imagine how the next installment will trump this. How about something OoT did well? Day and night exist in Skyward Sword, sure, but instead of cycling and adding a bit of life and depth to the world, day and night here are toggled by sleeping. People“s positions change, but you can“t ride your Loftwing, so the places you can visit at night are limited to Skyloft and two minor islands. It“s pretty hard to have a conversation about Wind Waker without sailing coming up. It“s pretty much acknowledged as boring at best, but that hasn“t stopped Nintendo from using it again. Skyward Sword“s spiritual homage comes in the form of flying. The long and short of it is that it“s every bit as boring as sailing, you“re defenseless when doing it for most of the game, and there are no travel songs to speed things up. Borrowing from something more recent, the four trials in this game are some weird amalgamation of the Vessel of Light segments from Twilight Princess and the Temple of the Ocean King from Phantom Hourglass. The game also thought paying tribute to Twilight Princess with an escort mission was a good idea. Plot-wise, the whole thing is justified by a robotic pack-mule being infatuated with Fi and wanting to land at a location before Link. Because of this, you have to protect little Romeo and go through a whole area, instead of just landing where you need to go. He can take a few hits, but save points and ammo are rare, so if you aren“t prepared, you may need to restock on arrows to take out all the long-ranged enemies. Should you choose to fight any with your sword, though, the robot will yell at you and cover half of your screen while you try and clear a path. I“d hate this section a lot more if the pathing weren“t so strict. There was a point where I had to go through a cave, but the robot lost sight of me. Upon exiting, he yelled at me that he couldn“t see me and I had to go get him, despite the fact that he was literally right across from me on a ledge I could just barely not reach with a jump.

     

    I don“t mean to make it seem like Skyward Sword does nothing original, because it does. It just also seemed to think one of the best ways to honor the Legend of Zelda series was to cram together all the worst parts in recent memory. It really gives the impression that Nintendo is beyond caring and goes their own way, regardless of the resulting product. It would almost be admirable if they didn“t decide to stick to their guns with the worst ideas possible.

     

     

     

    I suppose I could write more on why I don“t like Skyward Sword, but it would just be beating a dead horse. The simple truth of it is that it“s a game I forced myself through with much difficulty. At first I felt like there was something wrong with me and that the game would eventually click, since the game reviewed so favorably and is counted as a favorite among people. As I kept playing though, that“s a view I became less and less able to identify with. I can“t, in all honesty, say that I ever enjoyed myself while playing it. Any time I was close to, the game would throw in a segment that just renewed my hatred and made it all the stronger. I don“t want to seem like a jerk when I say that I hated the game. I“m not insulting anyone who loved the game at all, even though I don“t agree with that assessment at all. I“ve just come to the conclusion that, after 35 hours of playing, Skyward Sword did nothing for me. I just didn“t have fun with it, and as much as I hate the game, I am sad to say that I do.

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