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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 â”‚ Louffy, who played as Rose, from France.
2nd. Bonchan, who played Sagat, from Japan.
3rd. RZR â”‚ 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 â”‚ Justin Wong, who played using the team Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, from the USA.
2nd. GG â”‚ NYChrisG, who played using the teams Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil, Magneto/Morrigan/Doctor Doom, from the USA.
3rd. RG â”‚ 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 â”‚ Mang0 (Won EVO 2013), who played as Falco, Fox, from the USA.
2nd. CRS â”‚ Hungrybox, who played as Jigglypuff, from the USA.
3rd. P4K.EMP â”‚ 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 â”‚ CDjr who played as Sadira, Jago, from the USA.
2nd. RG â”‚ Rico Suave who played as Thunder, Fulgore, Glacius, Jago, Sabrewulf, from the USA.
3rd. EG â”‚ 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 â”‚ 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 â”‚ Xiao Hai, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Kim, from China.
2nd MCZ â”‚ Tokido, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Chin, from Japan.
3rd. LDA â”‚ 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 â”‚ SonicFox, who played as Batgirl, from the USA.
2nd. AK â”‚ Pig of the Hut, who played as Zod, from the USA.
3rd. IC â”‚ 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 â”‚ JDCR, who played as Heihachi/Armour King, from South Korea.
2nd. Twitch.MCP â”‚ Gen, who played as Bob/Leo, from Japan.
3rd. BE â”‚ 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~â™¥
While I do enjoy playing Magic The Gathering on my iPad and PS3, it seems good sportsmanship exhibited by other players rarely exists. I'd estimate that in 80-90% of the multiplayer games I'm in where it's obvious I will win the match, the other player will exit the game which causes a slow down waiting for the computer to take over for them.
I'm not sure where the lack of sportsmanship comes from. Anytime I know I'm going to lose, I give my opponent the satisfaction of finishing me off and completing the game. It's a real shame the game doesn't punish those who quit out.
Even worse than people who "quit out" is people who will take the maximum time for every move they make likely in an attempt to get you to quit once you lose patience. Magic 2015 definitely gives players way too much time to make moves.
Perhaps the anonymous nature of online interaction encourages rudeness...who knows...
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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?
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
Revised name: Starcraft: Ghost
I don't know if this is an actual screenshot. No one remembers what the game looks like.
Some of you may be saying that these are the same games I featured in a past article (welcome back, SeÃ±or or SeÃ±ora 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!
Talk about the next generation of consoles is heating up and everyone is wondering how the next one will be better than what we have now. While, previously, each new console generation has had improved graphical power over the previous ones, I don“t see this happening with the next generation; instead, I think it will be more focused on how we buy games and how games are made for these consoles.
A digital future is almost a certainty, but it is still too early for it to arrive in the next line of consoles. Too many people (me included) lack the internet speeds to download all of their games. With that said, Steam and other services have shown that downloading games is popular enough to be sustainable, so any smart console manufacturers are looking at including a service that allows consumers to download games straight onto their console. We have already seen this being done, but I think next generation will have a more complete library on offer and maybe even better pricing (we can dream right?)
Speaking of pricing, that is another thing that has to change. Consumers always want something for as cheap as their conscience allows, and, even though the pricing of games has gone down recently, it still isn“t a cheap hobby. In countries like Australia and New Zealand games cost between $80-90 USD and, there are, of course, plenty of other countries who get shafted on game pricing.
While I can understand the price differences in physical stores, where you have to send games to these countries, it is the price differences in online stores that I don“t understand; you aren“t paying extra to send games to other countries and you don“t have to print or package your games, so shouldn“t everyone be paying less for them? There are two main reasons I can think of: Customers are used to paying however much for their games and will pay the same amount online without too much fuss, the other reason is that publishers probably want to avoid upsetting brick and mortar stores too much considering that is where they sell most of their games.
In fact, why don“t we look at how much a game should cost? With gamers expecting more bang for their buck, developers are having to make their games look a million dollars, and that costs, well, a lot. There has been a rise in lower-cost gaming on the PC and mobile markets and, while these smaller games aren“t exactly taking over the console space at the moment, with things like OUYA, I can see other console manufacturers increasing their services like PSN and XBLA to embrace even more indie games in the future.
Of course, one of the biggest problems facing these smaller developers is getting noticed, since there isn“t really an easy way to find all these indie games except word-of-mouth, and that isn“t the most reliable method. If the next generation of consoles really wants to support indie developers, then it needs to help them out and make it easier for them to get noticed. If no one decides to write an article about you and none of the console manufactures promote your work, then it is incredibly easy to fall into the pit of obscurity, and that is not a fun place to be. Now, because I“m weird like that, I want to find more great games to play, and I think if the next line of consoles has a better method of showing off all the great games you can purchase on its store, then a lot more talented developers can get the recognition they deserve. Oh, and more money.
Alright, team, let“s huddle together and think about how the next generation could help us all play as a big group. Multiplayer has come a long way in a short amount of time, but, being the ambitious guy that I am, I think it can go even further. I don“t want to name names, but I think, if a certain company were to stop charging for the privilege of playing online, then I would be pretty happy. But this mystery company“s idea to provide headsets with their consoles is something I like (you guys all know how much I love to talk), and I would like to see a similar thing happen with more of the next line of consoles.
Another thing I want to see happen to all the future consoles is some way to stop all this abuse that happens online. Yes, that is a pipe dream. Stopping people from hating other people would take a lot of work and bullets. What I want is a better way to get these people off of multiplayer. They can go be abusive to the AI in campaign mode, but allowing these kinds of people onto multiplayer is keeping a lot of other, well-adjusted people off of the online space. This could be done with just a more effective reporting system, or having to make everyone sit down to an interview before being allowed to play online.
As a master of segues I think we should start talking about motion controls. While I am not the biggest fan of motion controllers (at the moment none of them seem to work better than an old fashioned controller), I could see companies making big improvements in the technology, to the point where they do start to become intuitive and don“t cause your avatars leg to twist around itself whenever you want to see what the bottom of your shoe looks like. What motion controls need is to get away from this all-or-nothing mentality. Having to choose between sitting in my chair with my controller or standing up breaking half my furniture just to throw a grenade is stupid. Give us the best of both worlds, with being able to add extra actions in by using gestures or voice commands. Instead of replacing the things we can do with a controller, why don“t you add to the things we can do with motion controllers?
Enough about the hypothetical, why don“t we start talking about something we know is coming. The OUYA is an interesting beast to talk about, since it isn“t trying to compete with the other consoles. Instead, it is trying to do its own thing and, whether or not it will succeed in that is up for debate, it is still interesting to talk about. Now, for those who don“t know the OUYA is a console that aims to bring the open market you see elsewhere to the console sphere. I am a little uneasy about putting money toward something that could easily not work, but it seems plenty of people have faith in it (or at least a lot of money on hand), and the OUYAs kickstarter raised a crisp $8,580,682.
While there have been a lot of skeptical articles flying around, it would seem the general public is fully behind it. That means it will probably get the support it needs from developers, and it would seem quite a few of developers are already getting behind the OUYA. I don“t think it will offer much competition to the bigger consoles out there, but I do think it will give smaller developers a chance to shine in the console market, and also help shake up the gaming world a little.
The other console that we can talk about is the Wii U and, unlike the OUYA, it seems Nintendo is looking to take the fight to Sony and Microsoft with their console. With the Wii U set to be more powerful than the current generation (pretty weird to have to say that a next generation console will be more powerful than the current generation, but then again the Wii exists), Nintendo definitely want to compete graphically with Sony and Microsoft. The interesting thing that Wii U brings to the table is that it has a screen in its controller. This works with the DS and 3DS, but I wonder how well it will work when the two screens are further apart. I personally rest the controller on my lap, and I“m not sure I would like to have to hold a controller up so I can look between the two screens quickly. I am obviously not a game developer and can only think of vague uses for the second screen, so I will have to wait until it launches to see if anyone aside from Nintendo can make good use of the second screen. The good news is that we have already seen some interesting things shown off.
Apart from the issue of whether or not developers do much with the second screen, there is the issue of its timing. The next generation of consoles is coming soon, but I think the Wii U will be on its own until Sony and Microsoft bring their own offerings to market, and that could either be a strength or a big weakness. The Wii U will be around during two generations and, unless the other consoles are just sitting around the corner, the Wii U might be stuck in the middle, meaning that it fails to keep up with the other next generation consoles. Considering how long this generation has lasted, having trouble keeping up in the beginning could lead to big trouble later on.
There are some advantages to launching early however. If the next consoles are close to being unveiled, then with the Wii U being early could mean that it has a stronger library and more time to work out the kinks by the time the other consoles show up. That would mean people are more likely to get or stick with a Wii U instead of getting something new when it is still trying to prove itself. While it is hard to predict what will happen, it will be interesting to see how the Wii U does.
It is always an exciting time when a new console generation is near and everyone is talking about what they want to happen. Of course all these possibilities are up to the manufacturers to make come true and I hope they don“t disappoint. Now I could talk about the next generation of consoles until they actually come out, but I think it I have said enough. Now it“s up to you to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below.
Earlier this month, I made a post about Loot Crate, a subscription based service that sends you a geek-based goodie box every month. While an interesting premise, there's easily doubt about if a crate is worth it... sure, you have a chance at winning a Mega Crate with very expensive stuff, but it's not the best idea to rely on getting that. Is it really worth setting up a subscription for a random box of stuff?
I got my box in today, and I'm, of course, going to share what I got! But first, some comments on my thoughts about the service before the package even arrived. Signing up was easy enough; packages were promised to be sent out on the 20th of the month, and sure enough, I got an e-mail on that day stating that the crate has been sent out with a tracking number to know where it is. I got my package today, on the 24th, so it didn't take long to get here at all, considering the 23rd was a Sunday.
I also got two other e-mails. The first was an incentive; upgrade your subscription from one month to three, or three months to six, and you get a free Yoshi keychain thrown into your box. The keychain is nice, but I doubt it alone is enough to pay out more money. The second was regarding their new Refer-A-Friend program; get four friends to sign up for Loot Crate, and you get a free month. It's a good idea, and a pretty great way to get more people to sign up.
Of course, none of this matters if the stuff inside is lame. Let's open the sucker up!
It's a pretty small box... small enough for my mailman to try and cram it into my apartment's tiny mail box. So, it's not the service's fault that it's a bit beat up.
Inside was a card, detailing the theme of the month and the main items I get. It's a nice touch. As for the items themselves:
It's not too bad. We love dice, so another d20 is always welcome. I collect gaming mint and candy tins, so there's another for the collection. My boyfriend collects pins, so he also got something for his colleciton. The sunglasses are neat, but I'll never wear them outside. Energy products are bad for your health. Mr T's great, and moustaches are... well, moustaches. The items seem to be worth over the base price of $13.37, but mileage definitely varies.
So, my final thoughts? I like the idea. I'm a bit of a packrat when it comes to gaming stuff, so I'm always happy to see new stuff. A few of these items are easy enough to find in stores, though, so it's not like you're getting awesome hard to find stuff. The featured item were the sunglasses, which were cool and I haven't seen around, but most of the items I've seen in one novelty store or another. However, the price is right, and the element of surprise is always fun... so if you have the cash to spare, it could very well be a good investment!
What are everyone else's thoughts about Loot Crate? Waste of money? Well worth it? Somewhere in between the two extremes? Let me know!
EDIT (September 28th)! I got an e-mail from Loot Crate today detailed their new surplus site, which sells some of their extra stock. It's nice if you wants something from a box but don't want the risk... right now all that's up are the 8-bit glasses in three colors, and you get two free pins with the purchase. Just thought it's a cool solution to the 'luck of the draw' problem.
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.
Thinking about slot players, most people picture some kind of uneducated, poor senior or a gambling addicted youngster, playing with the money he has earned in the coffee shop, or stolen from his parents.
However, they are way off the mark. Recently, a study conducted by researchers of the Oregon State University-Cascades found that the typical slot player is a female homeowner with at least college education, an annual household income of more than $55,000 and aged between 55 and 60 years old.
The Study divides slot players into four major groups: Bored gamblers, excitement gamblers, multipurpose gamblers and relaxation gamblers
The idea behind the study was to find out why people like playing at slot machines. A huge part of a casino's revenue comes actually from slot machines, but there is only very little research available, that explains why people are attracted to this form of gambling.
The study divides slot players into four categories:
Bored gamblers, who don't have anything to do and need distraction.
Excitement gamblers, who need an adrenaline kick.
Multipurpose gamblers, who want to have fun and win some money.
Relaxation gamblers, who consider slot machines as a way to meet other people and enjoy themselves.
Think about your purpose and choose your casino accordingly
Which group do you belong to? Answer that question and then choose your casino accordingly. The catch is, that there are huge differences between these four groups and many casinos address them differently.
Let's say you are part of group one, you are bored and want to get some distraction. It doesn't matter that much which slot game you play. For you it's more important that something is going on at all. Choose a casino where you sit close to the window so you can watch people. Or choose a lively casino, where things are happening.
If you consider yourself as part of the relaxation gambler group, you should watch out for these casinos as well. It's more likely, that you will get in touch with people and you will be able to socialize more and release stress
On the other hand, if you are an excitement gambler, it's all about the slot machine. Some games are progressive and have bigger payouts. That's not good for you. If you are looking for excitement and an adrenaline kick, it's better to play at a machine that pays off frequently.
The same is true for multipurpose gamblers. Those are mostly younger people, who play a certain game, because they like the theme or because it's more fun than others.
In the end, the study is calling on slot players, to find the casino and machines which meet their requirements best. Think about which group of player you belong to, and then go out there are find your perfect spot.
Pixel Reviews: Tiny Troopers (PC)
I'll admit- I've never played one of these war-strategy type games before. In fact, I'll also admit I've played very few strategy games. However, I can tell for the most part when I find a good one, a bad one, or one snugly in the middle of those two. This game is one of those that's both good and bad.
I'll start with the good. Firstly, the graphics are surprisingly good for an iOS to PC port. I was impressed with the bold colors of the environments and cute little soldiers models that waddle around firing mostly well animated bullets at the varying enemies. Going onto that next point, I'm glad Tiny Troopers has some variety to it, as otherwise I would probably not like the game as much. There are tanks that you almost need (in fact, you certainly do unless you get lucky) to buy special weapons for (I'll touch back on that later) to defeat, towers that need to be destroyed either from a long, LONG stream of bullets or those special weapons (again), the regular enemies of course, which are mostly easy unless they have armor in which case those special weapons certainly are useful for quickening your job, and finally, the machine gun trucks, again nearly impossible to defeat without those special weapons.
On another note, the music in the game is pretty good, and provides a nice "war" theme to it. The voices for your soldiers fit the game's style (cute but not too cute) very well. There's 30 missions (each of which take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to complete depending on how fast you are) in the game total, and a few extra modes that don't add much to the game itself but do provide some replayability. Speaking of replayability, there are a good amount of Steam achievements to unlock and each provides a unique form of play, whether it is failing the first mission of the game (which is hard to fail unless it's on purpose) to killing a certain number of enemies with a certain weapon. The game is chock full of good content-boosters like this, which is nice.
The gameplay itself is not too shabby. It involves you directing a squad of little soldiers around trying to accomplish each mission's objectives. These can range from the hard (rescuing some of your fellow soldiers from the enemy then getting them out of there) to the very easy ("survive"- literally all you need to do is find a good spot and fire away). They can be fun at times but also very annoying at others. For instance, on one of the escort/rescue missions, there was so many enemies and machine gun trucks that it was very hard to get all the way to the objective without constantly dying......of course, unless you had those special weapons I mentioned earlier.
Here's where the game does start to annoy me a little. You constantly are almost forced to buy these special weapons (grenades, rocket launchers, and airstrikes) to pass some missions, and if you're low on cash, then you actually have to grind some other missions to get enough cash to buy them. It's annoying and quite frankly, I'm not a big fan of it in this cute little strategy game that could have so much potential. However, it feels like the game is still an iOS title with this obvious "In-App Purchase" gimmick, even though it's on PC now. If it were the iOS version I was reviewing, I could understand this then and probably forgive the developers for having it in the game (as everyone knows IAPs are a great way to make money for developers needing cash), but this IS the PC version I played, and it just doesn't seem like it fits with the platform of choice.
In addition to that, the gameplay gets stale after a while, in my opinion. While the game has tons of fun moments right away, as you play more it seems to just fizzle out. Not much new is added, and when new things are added they aren't used well until the missions where you die a lot because you don't have special weapons because the game isn't interesting enough to entice you to grind more money to buy the weapons....and it all just ends up in a vicious circle I guess is a good way to put it. The game has so much potential but its flaws hold it back to the point of it not being that fun to play. Games in my opinion should be fun or interesting in some way, and while Tiny Troopers does have its fun moments, the dull, boring parts and the frustrating difficulty curve (unless you buy those special weapons) is a major turn-off.
There's one last thing I would like to point out about this game. If it ever received a co-op patch or a DLC that added in co-op, it would make this game so much better. Being able to strategize with a friend on a map or something would be even better. Please, if you read this review Kukouri Mobile Entertainment (the developers), consider adding in co-op. It would add some freshness to the game and might attract more players as well as make the game more fun to play.
Tiny Troopers is an interesting game at first sight but has its flaws that do end up bringing it down on my recommendations list. In my honest opinion, the game is good at its roots and does provide some entertainment but I feel like as you play more it just gets more frustrating. I really did try to like it, but only at the beginning of the game did I like it very much. Would I recommend it? If you are into war-strategy games or even maybe strategy games, a heisitant yes. It provides some fun moments and you might like it more than I did. The price ($10) is a tad high for its flaws to justify buying it full price, but if you are looking for something like it, perhaps consider buying it on a sale, or even better, buy it at full price to support the developers, Kukouri Mobile Entertainment. Speaking of which, I'd like to thank them for the review copy they provided.
I give this game a score of: 6.5/10
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.
â€œThe 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.
â€œThe 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.
â€œIt 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.
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.
- 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
- Occasional graphical hitches
- Eventually comes to an end
Overall Score: 9.0 out of 10
If you call your self a hardcore gamer or RPG fan, you must play this game!
When looking at a game based around a 'modern' movie makeover of an old television show, it might be a little hard to give it a chance. The Transformers movie trilogy certainly gave our Autobots and Decepticons a whole new look and feel, and one that not everyone may enjoy. However, regardless of what you think of the movies, as long as you like Transformers then Fall of Cybertron will be a blast to play through.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the sequel is 2010's War for Cybertron, which I have not played as of this writing. However, these games have something very interesting in common: They do not directly based on the modern movie trilogy's plot. Instead, the games take place before the Autobots came of Earth... War takes place during the beginning of the civil war on Cybertron, and Fall is about the Autobots' plight from the planet. It creates back story that hasn't really been elaborated on much, and provides Transformers fans with a fresh experience when they jump into the game.
None of this really matters if the gameplay doesn't stand up, however. Thankfully, Fall of Cybertron provides an easy to learn, yet challenging third person shooter experience. The game is cover-based, meaning that instead of runnin' and gunnin', you have to make careful considerations of where to go and how to best use the terrain to your advantage. It leads to slower, but more rewarding gameplay. In addition, the inclusion of a bunch of different primary and secondary weapons allows for a plethora of ways to dispatch your foes. Combine that fact with different difficulties, collectible blueprints for upgrading the weapons, audio logs to find to flesh out the world, and perks to buy to give yourself an advantage, there's plenty to dig into even after the story is complete.
Fall of Cybertron also makes you do more than just shoot enemies. There's a few other segments that break up the action, such as stealth sections and other generally less action based bits. Unfortunately, this is when the game trips up the most. Being stealthy is very difficult from some iffy controls (hint: stand a few inches away for the 'execute' command to pop up; it won't appear if you're right next to the target), and while driving around in a vehicle can be fun, trying to shoot down foes and maneuvering can be less than that. However, these sections are usually over quickly, and you can get back to the fun stuff.
Multiplayer is an aspect I didn't play very much of, but still seemed fun. You can choose between one of four classes to play when you enter a match, which have various weapons and perks. You can also level the classes up to unlock more options to play with. It didn't really seem extremely deep, but hidden weapons might become available at higher levels. The modes are standard multiplayer shooter fare, so as long as you enjoy the game, you'll likely enjoy the multiplayer as well... just don't expect anything mind-blowing in the department.
Is Transformers: Fall of Cybertron the game of the year? Probably not, but that doesn't make it a lot of fun to play. The gameplay is solid, and the setting and story gives players motivation to get to the end. While there are some chapters that can be frustrating, there's enough good to outweigh the bad. Transformers fans will come for the unique story, and stay for the action. If you're not a Transformers fan, you likely won't glean as much for the experience, but if you're looking for a good shooter to play, then Fall of Cybertron will be a good game to pick up and play.
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, wellâ€¦ 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.
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 â€œDark 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 availableâ€¦ 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.
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!).
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.
+ 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
- Expert and ultimate modes for songs not available from the start
- Chaos Shrine only uses 20 of Theatrhythm“s playable songs
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.
...Well, perhaps it's not quite a Christmas gift, but it can certainly feel like one!
Loot Crate is a site with a very interesting premise; pay a monthly fee (the base price is $13.37, clever), and near the end of the month, they send you a box. What's in the box? That's the fun part, you don't really know! You can get anything from video game swag, to geeky food items, even neat little electronics. One crate sent out a month is also the 'Mega Crate', which has a ton of neat stuff... you could get an iPod, a game console, or some really rare gaming swag. At even the base price, there's more than $15 dollars of goods inside, so you'll definitely get a good deal, and it adds the excitement of not knowing what you get!
The best part is that there are ways to lower the price. The first is to sign up for an extended subscription--The base price is a per month basis that can be cancelled at any time, but you can also sign up for three or six month periods to discount the price a bit. These can be cancelled at any time as well, so if you're confident that you'll enjoy what you'll get, it's a good idea to buy in bulk!
In addition, you can get coupons to lower the prices further... in fact, after talking to a coordinator for the site, he gave me a coupon to give out that lasts until September 20th: LOCKERGNOME gets you 10% you purchase; it basically takes care of shipping for you!
So, what do you think of Loot Crate? A great idea, or just a great way to clutter your living space with useless junk? Are you going to give it a try? Let me know!
When first released in 2001, the original Golden Sun with met with much success; critics and players praised the Game Boy Advance game alike. Camelot was prompt to release a sequel, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, which was the second half of the original's story, and offered even a different perspective on all that happened. Despite is being the 'end' of the story, however, some questions were left unanswered, and the possibility of a third game was highly likely. Fans clamored for it, but Camelot did not give them what they wanted. Years passed... and in 2010, over seven years after The Lost Age was released, the fans got the game they asked for... Golden Sun: Dark Dawn on the DS.
Being a huge Golden Sun myself, I bought the game and my rose tinted nostalgia glasses allowed me to enjoy every minute of it. However, looking back on the experience... a lot seemed off. If anything, it is the classic case of 'too little, too late'.
[NOTE: This post will have spoilers to the entire series in it, big or small. You've been warned!]
Dark Dawn takes place thirty years after the original and The Lost Age... and that might be the biggest problem with it. In thirty years, the original cast has grown older and had children... wait, that's only half true. Due to some odd plot event or another, the main characters of the games haven't really aged at all over the time elapsed, and even resident old-fogey Kraden still alive and kicking, most likely being over 100. However, while the old main characters are more than capable to traipse the world again, they instead allow their kids to go retrieve a magical feather. It makes sense in the scenario, but it's still disappointing to not be able to continue the quest with the original cast. This could have been rectified with being able to meet the characters, but the only ones you even see are Issac and Garet at the beginning of the game. Barely everyone else got a passing mention! It's unfortunate that fans don't really get any fanservice with seeing what their favorite characters are doing.
Another problem sprouts up when exploring the world... and it's how unfamiliar it is. Barely any of the towns will be recognizable to even those that played the first two games recently. It's explained with the plot point of the Golden Sun (the in-game event, not the game itself) caused the land to shift and caused ancient ruins and machines to be revealed, but it's really a poor excuse. Even so, why would all of the old towns change their names, or so many new ones be created? It's only been thirty years, after all. Camelot even rubs salt in the wound by making many of these places have 'ancient roots', suggesting that the places have been around for quite a while; it's easy to suggest that you simply couldn't get to them in the original two games, but when a good majority of the towns visited were 'inaccessible' before, it leads to the game feeling isolated from the games it's supposed to be a direct sequel of. It's great to have new places to explore, but it's not bad to have some familiarity, either!
Finally, there's how linear everything is. Instead of being able to explore the world at least somewhat on your own terms, you're completely railroaded the entire game... even when you get the ship. Where's the fun in that? It also leads to an issue if you miss a Djinn... you can't really go back to old places, so if you miss something, you're out of luck. The original and The Lost Age both had problems with railroading as well, but you were able to return to old areas and complete sidequests as least. Dark Dawn offers none of the sort.
Of course, it's not all bad. Dark Dawn's battle system is upgraded a bit with new Djinn, Summons, and Psynergy, giving each character a unique feel; in the GBA iterations the same element Adept had the same skills and practically same roles, but in the third game each character has something different they can do. The graphics look great, and so does the out of game artwork. Puzzles are never really obtuse, and the handy guide and books you can find in the world offer a good summary of the first two games. The plot itself, points above aside, is transparent enough, but offers a few interesting points to carry you through the game and to the cliffhanger ending. Unfortunately, it doesn't answer much of anything from The Lost Age, though.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn was a greatly anticipated game... that can leave fans very disappointed. It feels like you're exploring a brand new world wit ha fresh cast... until you realize that it's only thirty years later and the original cast is well enough off to be doing this 'world saving' themselves. Instead of answering questions, it leaves the player with more (Shadow Psynergy? Where'd that come from?), and the sudden cliffhanger ending will leave a bitter taste behind, especially since there's no whisperings for Golden Sun 4. Will we have to wait another seven years? If we do, hopefully Camelot will have learned its lesson from Dark Dawn.
So, you've heard my rant, let me ask... What do you think of Dark Dawn? Is it a great addition to the series, a terrible flop, or somewhere in between?
I'm a major comic book geek, and I'm just going to assume no-one reading this blog has found the time to read the truly excellent and slightly-nausea-inducing Marvel Zombies.
For those who don't know, Marvel Zombies chronicles an alternate Marvel comics reality where most of the superheroes we all know and love were turned into zombies and subsequently devoured most non-zombie members of their respective supporting casts. The twist placed upon this idea is that every zombiefied hero retains their mind and personality. The zombies are the main characters for the majority of the tale, excepting a brief interlude by Black Panther and some mutant followers of Magneto, but even they play backseat to the truly unique story where the flesh-eating monsters have personalities.
It's this concept, that of zombies having personalities and being the main characters, that intrigues me in terms of games. To my knowledge, there is only one video game currently in existence where the zombie is the main character (Stubbs the Zombie) and even then, it is not post-zombie-apocalypse. Rather, players cause said zombie apocalypse by raising their own personal army of undead followers as Stubbs.
I'm talking about something completely different in this post. Stubbs was not a game that took itself seriously (gas station robots basically banged cars to put gas in them (I kind of wish I was just making that up)). I'm talking about a game that takes place post zombie-apocalypse, staring sentient zombies as the main characters, hunting down and observing human survivors. Such a game could maybe be a bit of chore to play, admittedly, but could also be a very deep examination of the human race from the position of an outside observer.
Going back to comic books again, The Walking Dead (now also a hit show on cable) is an artfully done series about surviving a zombie wasteland. It forces the characters into truly unbelievable, horrific situations (the Governor and his gladiatorial zombie ring are a prime example(and I can't imagine the worst of his antics made it past the TV censors)) and puts the characters in horrible moral dilemas, where the cost of personal survival is made frighteningly clear. It's a gripping tale where you read with bated breath and often can only feel astounded at what it predicts we as a species are capable of doing in the name of survival.
Now, picture such a scenario, but from the view of an outsider, both in terms of local group and literal existence.
A game that forces human survivors to tackle tough dilemas as The Walking Dead does, but in which everything is being witnessed from the viewpoint of the beings ultimately responsible for the need to make those choices. And keep in mind, these zombie characters are sentient, fully self-aware. How would they react to what they see humans do simply to survive against them? How many would be able to live as they are, or with themselves, knowing they effectively drove their progenitors to such terrible lengths? What's more, how would these sentient zombies interact with the survivors in ways other than trying to eat them? Would a guilt-ridden survivor wander into the wilderness, planning to suicide-by-zombie, and encounter the sentient zombie player character? If so, what would that player zombie do? Kill the survivor? Maybe listen to their story, perhaps offer moral support or absolution, or offer only a quick end after hearing whatever tragedy that survivor has lived through or perhaps committed?
Just saying. Marvel Zombies proved that zombies can work as main characters, and we all know that zombie stories can serve as the environment in which we can ask hard questions about ourselves and our nature as a species. Now combine those two in game form.
Tell me that wouldn't be awesome, or at the very least, thought-provoking.
A word of warning: because I'm discussing the ending of a game, this will have a good deal of spoilers in it. So if you haven't played and beaten Deus Ex Human Revolution, and you don't want the story spoiled for you, don't read this.
Now, a lot of games that involve player choice and morality try and hit players with a really big, important decision at the end of the game. Mass Effect 2 made players choose between destroying the Collector base or leaving it intact and in the hands of the Illusive Man. inFamous asked whether or not you were willing to re-activate the Ray Sphere and potentially kill thousands of people to increase your own power.
These are all well and good, but there is one thing that ultimately holds them back: the choices are clearly defined as good and evil. The Illusive Man runs what is essentially a very science-centric terrorist organization, and he's asking you to give him a base full of highly advanced technology (Remember, this game takes place in 2187, and the technology in the base is considered advanced). The Ray Sphere causes a huge explosion and sucks the bio-electric energy out of any normal people caught in it the blast, transferring it to the activator and giving them superpowers (provided said activator has the proper genetic code), but Cole already has electrical superpowers by the time this choice is presented. What I'm saying is, there are clearly right and wrong options here, despite what your personal opinions on the nature of the choices might be. There is one that is clearly good, and one that is clearly evil.
Here is where the multiple endings for Human Revolution come in.
The final choice in Human Revolution asks players to effectively determine the future of the human race after a wide-spread hacking of human augmentations caused all those with augmentations (Save a few notable characters) to go insane and attack/kill those who weren't augmented.
In the final mission, if you tracked down all the trapped key story players, you'll have four distinct choices available, each favoring a different side of the overarching issue: human augmentation.
The four decisions available each represent the main viewpoint of either a specific individual or group.
David Sarif, founder of a biotech corporation and a firm believer in the potential of augmentations to improve the human condition, wants to blame a anti-augmentation group and ensure augmentation technology has free experimental reign.
Hugh Darrow, the originator of augmentation technology, and the man behind the augmentation-mind-hack, wants to reveal the entire truth of the situation (Illuminati conspirators were developing a augmentation-controlling kill-switch) to ensure people stop using augmentation technology altogether.
Bill Tagert, founder of an anti-augmentation movement and member of the Illuminati, suggests informing the public of a false contamination of nueropozyne (a drug used by those with augmentations to ensure the enhancements bond properly with their bodies) to ensure restrictive measures are placed on augmentation corporations, thus furthering the Illuminati's interests by restricting the availability of augmentation technology.
A final option is offered by the news AI Eliza Casan; to destroy the installation all the previously mentioned characters (including the player character) are on, and leave humanity at large to figure out the answer to the question augmentation poses.
While it seems like there are some obvious good and evil choices here (who would willingly side with the Illuminati?) there is an achievement that is earned once all four endings have been chosen. The first time I beat Human Revolution, I loaded up my just-before-the-moment-of-choice save file, and picked the other three (I went with Sarif's suggestion the first time around). The actual endings are monologues by the player character Adam Jensen, describing the mindset and reasons behind picking the choice the player made. As I saw all the remaining monologues, and listened to the reasoning behind them with an open mind, I realized something astounding.
There was no truly correct choice. All options had incumbent rights and wrongs to their arguments. Darrow's option was based on the idea that the powerful would manipulate technology to dominate and oppress the less-fortunate, as the Illuminati came so close to doing in the actual game. Tagert's option hinged on the idea that augmentations granted untold power to anyone who could access them, allowing them to defy the laws and orders of society and morality because of the power their enhancements would grant. Sarif's was motivated by the continual pursuit of enhancement of society and ourselves through technology, through the idea that augmentation technology could effectively lead to the perfection of the human race. Eliza's option was based around the idea that no one person has the right to determine the future of the human race, and that humanity is collectively capable of making wise, beneficial decisions on its own. The most important part is that the end results of the choices are never actually shown. Only hinted at. We see a cybernetic fetus in Sarif's ending; A removed, yet still functional, cybernetic arm in Darrow's; a group of people(clearly Illuminati) entering a room in Tagert's; a couple of triangles(the game's main symbol) floating up to the surface of the sea in Eliza's, symbolically indicating the player's death. As stated before, there is no correct choice, because through the lack of shown, overarching consequences, no choice can actually be defined as right or wrong, good or evil, based upon the ultimate outcome, because there is no ultimate outcome. The player is left to define what choices were right and wrong.
It is this, this perfect rationalization of all the four options and the removal of the ultimate end result, that makes the final choice of Human Revolution one of the best, if not the best endgame choice in the history of the medium. It asks players to actively think about their own motivations, and think about which option and underlying reasoning they truly agree with. It effectively removes right and wrong from the process of choice, and instead asks the player to choose a future for humanity based upon which choice seems the most reasonable, or which one most conforms to their own beliefs. It is the ultimate player choice, with the most important factor in the world hanging in the balance, and four options that fail to conform the titles of 'right' and 'wrong' and rather ask the player to examine his or her own beliefs and thoughts on where such a choice might take humanity.
To everyone who hasn't yet played Deus Ex Human Revolution, I have only this to say:
you are missing out on a fantastic game. One that has one of the greatest endgame moral dilemas of multiple endings, all of which you need to experience to truly understand the dilema itself (hey, that sounds like a good idea for another blog bit). I'm not denying that Human Revolution is a great, extremely fun game.
But I do have one thing to say, and that one thing ties directly into a potential problem with the forthcoming Dishonored.
Deus Ex Human Revolution touts its multiple gameplay styles and in-level approaches to objectives. You can shoot your way past everyone, sneak around and tranquilize a few key guards, smooth-talk your way to your objectives; the possibilities are really only limited by the augmentations you have chosen for Adam Jensen.
You earn experience points towards level-ups and new augmentations by taking out enemies and completing objectives. And it is here that Human Revolution breaks, not in the moment-to-moment gameplay, or overarching story, but in what it promised and ultimately failed to fully deliver on.
You can play stealthy or go guns blazing. You can kill every enemy you target, or shoot them with single-shot non-lethal weapons. These are the main differences between the clearly distinct and defined playstyles of Human Revolution. And one is far more rewarding in terms of experience points than the other. Playing it nonlethal and stealthily earns you three times a much experience per downed enemy and half to twice as much experience when accomplishing objectives if you remained undetected and didn't set off any sort of alarm. This is the system that breaks the overarching promise of Human Revolution. It says you can play any way you want, and you can. But one manner of play is clearly more beneficial to character progression than the other. Now, one might say that this is simply to reward those players who take their time and elect to follow a harder path. Heck, I said that to myself a few times, but now find that isn't justification. Human Revolution essentially handicaps the lethal-weapon favoring, guns-blazing players by limiting the experience they receive. Even if you play a lethal, stealthy game, you'd either need to make every single kill a headshot (and you'd need certain weapon attachments to be able to do this to enemies later in the game), or just kill three enemies as often as possible to be able to incur the same amount of experience as a stealthy non-lethal game.
Now, how does this fit into Dishonored, yet another game saying you can play however you see fit, and one that gives you all the tools and supernatural powers to do so?
The devil, as they say, is in the details. From what the developers have said within interviews, Dishonored is a game that can be beaten without killing a single enemy, even plot-crucial targets. Doing so would be feat, no doubt, and incurs an achievement/trophy, but it also does something else. Something far more potentially game-breaking in the grand scheme of promises than simple XP number-crunching.
According to the developers, depending on how many people you have killed by the time the finale rolls around (the game keeps track of the number of people you've killed, and what kind of game character they were (civilian, target, guard, ect)) the ending will vary wildly in tone and events based upon the number of corpses you've left in your wake.
Again, a case of favoring non-lethality and stealth (potentially stealth, but non-lethality to be sure) and rewarding such behavior, but with something far more important. They are rewarded literally with a better ending, as is my current understanding. The very end of the game is dependent on how many people the player has killed up until that point, and those who charge in, pistol roaring and sword carving a crimson path to their targets and vengeance, will be given an ending far worse than those who hid in the shadows and choked their targets out simply because of how they chose to play. Another game that, when the fine details are examined, turns out to not quite practice what it preaches.
Now, will this be the case at launch for Dishonored? I cannot say. I have nothing to do with its development. This ending-based-on-kills may very well change in the near two months to come before Dishonored is released to the eager masses, myself among them. Or it may remain as is, and we will simply have a much more compelling reason to try our hands at a manner of play some of us would otherwise not attempt. Or maybe I simply misinterpreted the words of the developers. Anything is possible at this juncture. But the fact remains, we cannot know for certain until the game is in our hands, and one of us has beaten it.
I don't intend to let this realization ruin Dishonored for me, nor did I mean to do so for anyone else, but the favoritism of certain playstyles in games that claim to have no set-in-stone path to completion certainly has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth.
It's no secret that I love Harmonix. I love their games, their community team, their philosophy on gaming, and their approach to the untried and risky instead of playing it safe and by the books. Every time I hear someone curse DLC as the worst thing to happen to gaming, I shake my head and think of Harmonix, which proved that DLC can be an extremely fundamental part of gaming. Unfortunately, these high standards will cause people to look at their latest title, Rock Band Blitz, and declare it as a Audiosurf/Frequency/Amplitude/Rock Bad Unplugged rip-off. At the surface, this statement is very true. You're hitting notes using a controller and switching between lanes in order to get as many points as you can. However when looking at gaming history, Rock Band Blitz would probably be seen as the first fully fledged Facebook game.
Make no mistake, this game is built for consoles, meant to be played on consoles, and Facebook isn't necessary to experience the balls out fun that Blitz has to offer. However, I STRONGLY encourage you to connect your Facebook account to the game to experience what it has to offer. If you're an antisocial individual that wants nothing to do with the social aspects of Facebook, just make an account, set it so nobody sees you, connect Blitz to it and just forget about it. Connecting your Facebook account allows you to attempt goals with friends, set up duels with friends and strangers to see who can get a higher score, set up a wishlist for DLC purchases, and track your ingame stats.There is definitely room for improvement, however. Anyone can join your goals and mooch off of your points, Score Wars aren't customizable, and you can't Score War with someone on a different console as of the time of writing. The cynic would ask why all of this information couldn't have been provided in game, which would definitely be a fair question. Some of the experience like setting up Score Wars, which could be done extremely awkwardly ingame, feels like it could have been plastered onto the game itself. However, at its core Rock Band Blitz was built as a game that uses Facebook as a foundation for its philosophy.This is made evident by the currency the game provides you after completing songs, which can be gained in large amounts after completing Facebook goals, setting up Score Wars, etc. How well Harmonix encourages you to use Facebook is beyond frightening, in less than a weekend I was already an admin in a 23 people Facebook group discussing the game and challenging one another. As one of our Rock Band regulars said
"Who would have thought that a single player game would bring a community based on a multi-player game closer than said multi-player game?"
Ironically, I would compare the Facebook integration to the use of guitar controllers in previous Guitar Hero titles, like Guitar Hero 3. You COULD play the game with the controller but playing on the guitar is a much more satisfying experience. It's ironic, because the gameplay in Blitz is nothing but satisfying. The game is fast paced, rewarding, and appealing as getting high scores to beat your friends and smashing goals is extraordinarily fun. I found myself going to sleep at 2 am and waking up 7 hours later just to get my Blitz fix. Unforunately, the game's problems become apparent with the gameplay. First off, this game is challenging. I never declare a game's challenge as a problem with the game unless it's well deserved (shoddy curves, improper pacing, unfair or fake difficulty, or lack of engagement), and the game's challenge feels contradictory to the audience it's trying to capture. Getting great scores is definitely not an easy task, and casuals who demand constant statements of them rocking will not be pleased with the reality of them sucking initially. The game does have a learning curve, but I feel that by the time casuals start getting good at the game, they would have already given up and gone to play something else. Another part of the gameplay that may seem off putting is the VAST amount of on screen information being thrown at you at all times. The game definitely does feel overwhelming to an onlooker as they see and endless sea of notes and only one lane to score them in. It's not a flaw, but it does feel a bit unsettling considering the audience the game is targeted towards. The game's menus share this characteristic, as every single menu is flowing with information. Seeing as there are multiple menus, each filled to the brim with text, this could definitely be seen as off-putting.
Another one of the game's issues would be navigating its song sorting. Gone are the days of filters, album sorting, and ratings (the latter which I used extensively). Setlists are strangely gone as well, however the time it takes between picking songs is extremely insignificant, which always leaves to fluid song choices. The songs themselves are in small to read font, which definitely is an issue when it comes to playing with other people at parties and anybody who is used to Rock Band 3's navigation will curse their muscle memory as they'll accidentally go to another menu. Lastly, the game also doesn't save the last song/sorting from your last play which is very disappointing considering I remember this being heavily requested to be patched in Rock Band 3, going to your last song choice could remind you of the goals you were doing, and there's a specific way I like to be greeted by songs. The game also features DRM out of all things, not allowing you to gain coins if you're not connected to the Internet. It definitely feels out of place, but you can still play the core game without problems if you lose your connection.
As for the 25 song list... it's very geared towards modern listeners, but they're an absolute BLAST to play on Blitz. With the exception of probably Shout and We Are Young, every song is extremely fun to play with their unique quirks to get you engaged in the game. My favorite part of the game is allowing every song to have different approaches for getting a high score. Different solutions towards the same problem allows for discussion outside the game, which is an excellent way to promote gaming culture as a whole. The variety of power-ups suits varying playstyles ranging from by the book people who take no risks in life to high rollers who would risk it all to win the big jackpot with a roll of the dice. Finding the style that suits you is extremely fun and the strategic elements can not be be missed.
As a whole, the game is a fantastic value and a fantastic package for its 15 dollar price tag. With the potential of infinite replay value thanks to DLC (I have over 700 hours in Rock Band 3), goals, Score Wars, etc as well as all of the songs being immediately playable in Rock Band 3, it's amazing how much value this title has. ESPECIALLY considering song downloads are usually 2 dollars each, even if the thought of Blitz repulses you, the amount of compatibility it has with Rock Band 3 is great. However, with the amazing friends I've made thanks to this game, I couldn't give it anything less than a glowing recommendation. It might even be better than Castle Crashers. MIGHT BE.
But seriously, We Are Young is awful.
I'm a long-time Assassin's Creed fan. I've stuck with the series from the very beginning, even when half the people who played it said it was too repetitive.
Then the sequel and a suave italian bad-ass came around, and everyone started paying attention and loving the new additions and protagonist. People loved Ezio so much, he's had three full games (counting Assassin's Creed 2) focused solely on his character. And, sadly, it's in his swan song title that he decides to get kinda weird.
Just to be clear, I love Ezio Auditore as a character. I think he's awesome, a bad-ass, and totally noble; basically the absolute paragon of human virtue and (coolness) if you can forgive the fact that he kills power-hungry, moral-less conspirators in his day job. And night job. Basically, his job is killing people. And that's alright. Because everyone he kills absolutely deserves it. It wasn't the constant killing of Templars that made him weird in Revelations. Rather, it was how he spent his off-duty hours, with Sofia Sartor.
As I said, I've invested in Ezio's story. I wanted as much as the next guy to see him maybe settle down and have a life, as he rightfully deserved, though I didn't figure it would happen, given that the only opportunities he ever had to do so were either killed (Christina) or only ever hinted at and never expanded upon meaningfully (Rosa).
But then Revelations rolled around, and Sofia was introduced. By rights, everything should have been peachy with that, but something felt off from the moment they started chatting idly in Sofia's bookstore and it became clear she was going to be the love interest that Ubisoft could not afford to kill off. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I eventually figured it out.
Ezio is nearly two decades older than Sofia. Seriously. Check the Assassin's Creed wiki. Their birth dates are on their pages there, I crunched the numbers, and Ezio has 17 years of seniority on Sofia.
Now, I'm not judging at all. Love is where you find it. But the fact remains that watching old-man Ezio flirt mildly with Sofia just left me feeling kind of weird, and maybe a bit dirty. Though, if the actual age difference didn't really matter, why was I so put off by this?
It's Ezio's beard.
That beard essentially makes the whole age-difference thing about a hundred times more pronounced.
Don't get me wrong; Ezio would still look older than Sofia, even without his beard, but he wouldn't look nearly as old if he could just be bothered to quickly drag one of the five bladed implements he has on him at all times over his face once every three weeks. Look up a picture of Ezio in Revelations, then picture him without his beard, and tell me that he wouldn't look about ten years younger at least if that shag wasn't there.
The fact that his romance with Sofia feels just a little weird, and that Ezio kind of seems like a dirty old man-cougar, can all be blamed solely on that beard.
Dead Space 2. It's a extremely disturbing, near-pants-wetting, exhilarating ride through a space station on a moon of Saturn that is full of space zombies that shrug off bullets. Anyone I know who's played it has loved it (including myself), but earlier today, as I watched a compilation of all of Isaac's hallucinatory scenes, I realized something astounding.
Now, for newcomers, or those who just haven't played it in a really long time, I'll provide a little context:
In the first Dead Space, Isaac was part of repair team sent to the USG Ishimura, a mining vessel that Isaac's girlfriend Nicole also happened to be serving on. As it turned out, the mining team had dug up an ancient artifact known as the Marker that induced crazyness and was the only thing holding back the Necromorphs buried deep under the surface of the planet Aegis 7. Isaac(silently) trudged through hell, eventually coming in contact with Nicole who helped him get the Marker back to the planet.
Then, a twist was revealed, in the form of a double-government-agent member of the team Isaac came with.
Not only was the Marker a man-made copy of an actual alien device, it had also been manipulating Isaac well before he even arrived on the Ishimura. Nicole had already killed herself in the initial Necromorph infestation, and Isaac had been following a Marker-induced phantasm for the entire game.
Now that we have the context of Dead Space 1 out of the way, some is needed for Dead Space 2.
Within it, we learn that Isaac is not only still suffering severely from the Marker hallucinations, but he has also been helping build new ones, and (this is the kicker) was the person who convinced Nicole to accept a position on the Ishimura in the first place.
All of this ultimately culminates in a series of shaky, jagged hallucinations induced by the Marker Isaac built, in which the Marker-susceptible parts of his mind essentially troll him with his feelings of guilt and terror about everything that happened in Dead Space 1. These hallucinations, from when Isaac finds out he was trying to shove a syringe into his own eye, to the ever-present bloody corpse of Nicole, make for some great moments of reserved fright. But they also serve a much deeper purpose.
In one of the final scare-hallucinations, Nicole's body grabs Isaac by the throat, throws him around a small room, then pins him to a wall and demands to know exactly what her memory means to him, and why he can't let her go. He explains that Nicole, even the memory of her, is the only thing that really matters to him whatsoever, and he can't let her go, or he has nothing left in life.
This scene, while touching, helps convey the main message of the hallucinations:
Isaac is essentially fighting his own experiences and emotions for a good portion of the game.
And this is why the hallucinations make Isaac one of the greatest video game characters ever.
They show the one part of games that is never really touched on much: the psychological effects that going through everything in any game must have, especially when dealing with horror titles. There are virtually no other titles I can think of that actually take the time to discuss the psychological effects and scars the experiences the player characters goes through leave on them. The only real example I can think of is the alluded psychosis/war crimes of Dark Sector protagonist Hayden Teno, and given that Dark Sector had about six or seven other sub-plots of past actions and motivations running rampant beneath the immediate story events, none of which were ever really resolved or even explained, and that Hayden doesn't seem to mind the in-the-now viral superpowers or triple-figure endgame body count, it almost doesn't count as an example.
Isaac Clarke fought through a broken-down spaceship full of space-zombies, followed around a hallucination of his dead girlfriend, then found out that she was actually dead, and potentially (the jury is still out as to whether or not this actually happened) fought off her necromorphed corpse after escaping Aegis 7.
If we were dealing with any other game protagonist, in the sequel, they'd shrug it off, and get on with the job of killing space-zombies. Maybe they'd be a bit quiet at the start, but that would be the extent of them showing they were bothered by what happened to them in the lat game.
But with Isaac, he doesn't shrug it off. He doesn't just get over it and do the job. The game starts in an sanitarium. That alone should give a bit of a clue as to how much the events of Dead Space 1 affected him. He's fighting these feelings of terror and trauma, but also of guilt. He pushed Nicole to accept the position on the Ishimura. He essentially is the reason she was on that ship when Necromorphs overran it. He is the person most responsible for her death, and we are told that through the hallucinations and Isaac's reactions to them. We are actually able to see and play through the manifestations of Isaac's fear, trauma, and guilt over the events of the previous game.
It is this that makes Isaac Clarke possibly the most realistic game character ever, in emotional terms. As I said, the number of games that give any indication of psychological problems on the part of protagonists due to the events of the actual game are slim to none. Isaac is the exception that proves the rule. We know for a fact in Dead Space 2 that everything he saw on the Ishimura haunts him, and we know he feels guilt over the fact that Nicole is dead because of him. We know exactly how damaged he is after the events of Dead Space, thanks to the hallucinations. These bring his underlying trauma and guilt to the surface through the Nicole-apparation's monologues, especially during the section where Isaac re-visits the Ishimura.
Now, not only do these clearly shown feelings make Isaac realistic, they also do the one thing that is the most important for any fictional character in any medium of entertainment: they humanize him. Sure, he speaks in Dead Space 2, he swears, cracks jokes, gets angry, but it is the underlying psychological damage that the hallucinations show us that really drive the humanization home. Here is a man suffering from the unimaginable things he's seen and done, from the space-zombies to having to live with the knowledge that he put the woman he loved on the ship where she died. The way the information that he has these emotional scars and feels that guilt is conveyed through the hallucinations, and such things are humanizing. We can understand them, rationalize them in the context of Isaac's character, even relate to them. Losing someone you loved or being put in nightmarish situations are things anyone can sympathize with, some of us even relate to.
Honestly, no-one will probably realize the characteral/humanizing implications of the emotions implied by Isaac's Marker-induced hallucinations the first time they play Dead Space 2. I played form start to finish four times, and only figured out all of this after seeing a video of the hallucinations, with no intervening gameplay, and recognizing what they meant about him mentally in the context of game characters, and even that was after multiple viewings of the video. But the fact remains that the hallucinations show us beyond a shadow of doubt that Isaac Clarke truly bears emotional scars and baggage from his past experiences, and this is something that virtually no other game series has ever shown as a part of their protagonist's development.
With 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?
I finished Resident Evil the other day, in an effort to expand my knowledge of the history of Survival Horror genre. I was hungry for more good horror games, especially considering I ran out Silent Hill games whose awesomeness are uncontested. Seeing as Resident Evil "started it all", I had high hopes of a horror classic that would have me as pumped for the genre as Silent Hill 2 did. However, knowing the background of Resident Evil, I was expecting an undisciplined sort of horror as compared to the strict rules that Silent Hill set for itself in order to play with the player's expectations. Even though Resident Evil did play with my expectations of its horror, it did so in a negative way, as the horror is practically nonexistent. Although the horrors are nonexistent, the game's ability to engage the player is phenomenal and the experience is unforgettable.
Taking Resident Evil seriously will only doom the player to frustration. The scares are nonexistent, the plot is a total disaster, the writing is atrocious, the voice acting is horrible, and the controls are some of the worst in any game I've ever played. Looking at the game now, I can't see how anyone can consider it a horror classic as the game is about as unscary as Dead Space (although Resident Evil doesn't seem to be trying as hard). However, after obtaining the first ink ribbons I realized that I was looking at the game in a frame of mind that would cause me to never enjoy it. The scares I were expecting were never coming. However, the gameplay for the perfect survival horror game was there, in a package of cheese instead of psychological thrills.
The ink ribbons represents a lot more than a stupid gimmick that prevents players from saving their game, something which I understood the second I picked them up. The framework that the ink ribbons crafted was ripe for scares, in a way that Silent Hill approached in a different way. Ascending the importance of both the scarce ammo and health restoration items, limiting saves was the best move that the original Resident Evil could have done. It made players strategize their attacks on the mansion, fear every encounter with the garden variety zombie, and contemplate every use of a save they have. Because if they screw up, they can't restore their save and try again. It led to the exploration conundrum: "Should I explore and run into enemies and scares to find more crucial items? Or should I press on and try to tough it out and play it safe as long as I can?" which is a favorite of mine in horror. Unfortunately, Resident Evil doesn't succeed 100% in this, as you're going to explore almost every room anyway, but it still does a heck of a job doing so.
Along with setting the framing device for the gameplay for one of my favorite game genres of all time, Resident Evil actually reminds me most of Luigi's Mansion of all things. Not just in face value, either. The main characters come across a mansion full of a colorful variety of monsters, environments, and areas to come back to and unlock, and there's many crevices to explore. The entire experience felt so much like Luigi's Mansion, that I dubbed Resident Evil "Luigi's Mansion, but replace the colorful cast of ghosts and charm with zombies, strict resource management, and plenty of cheese." Exploring the mansion was always rewarding and fun, and finding a new key filled me with excitement as I ran across the halls like a giggling school girl trying to find the new rooms I've unlocked. In addition to this, the main objective of Resident Evil was to have as much fun as you can, which Luigi's Mansion does extremely well (To be fair, Nintendo games are full of this).
As for the cheesiness... There's not much else to say. I mean, what else can you add on top of the infamous Jill Sandwich scene?! Every line of the game is written in ironic comedic gold, as if the localization team had only a vague idea of what humans were and used The Room as their thesis on human interaction. Every character has atrocious voice acting to accompany their hammy dialogue, which leads to several highly entertaining sequences especially involving the primary use of rope. Another hilarious exchange revolved around a missing character, who was found by the playable character in the middle of the game. The exchange went like:
"Holy cow, you're still alive!"
"We were looking all over for you, where have you been?"
"Be safe around here. Good bye" *leaves*
No mention of where they were going or why they were gone, just poof. It kinda makes sense at the end of the game, but the fact that no one bothered to think about it worries me. Interacting with the enviornment is also incredibly cryptic Ã la Zelda 2, as interacting with a locked door will tell you something along the lines of "A shield". Wait, what? A shield of what?
As for the environments and enemy designs, they're fantastic. Every room has different things to offer and all of the rooms are coherent in terms of "zombie riddled mansion that may or may not be evil". There's no random out of place snow area or a random rule breaking minigame. The logic that the environment sets is coherent and the depths that it goes to leads to very entertaining scenarios (like fighting a killer shark in a flooded basement or a plant that grew a mind of its own and conquered an entire shed). The player is almost always given several options to solve a particular boss, which was always fun trying to find the solution that fit you the best. Unfortunately, the extent of options did not spread to puzzles, which would have been neat to be given the option to solve a puzzle by shooting in addition to pushing blocks around.
At the end of the day, I can't help but love Resident Evil. I literally can not understand how anyone could have found it scary at any point in time, but the experience was too much of a mindblowing good time to not leave from it happy. I actually prefer it to the original Silent Hill (which I found relatively spooky, like a pretty alright piece of creepypasta), but comparing the two series leaves something to be desired. The two approaches horror in different ways, and while only one succeeds in being scary, I can't say the other doesn't succeed in being amusing in how it fails in an adorable way. Like a baby wearing a traffic cone on his head. You go "Awwww, babies aren't supposed to do that!" and keep a watchful eye on them so they don't try to stick the cone up their nose. Which looking at RE5 now, I'm afraid we're too late.
"Thirty Flights of Love"......now what exactly does that mean? I'm not too sure really, and I doubt any of you reading are either. I could truly care less actually! That's not what this is about.
....or is it?
Confusion, espionage, backstabbery (I hope that's a word), good-heists-gone-wrong; Any of these words or phrases could be used to describe this game, but I'll just use a basic one: adventure. This game is an adventure with cheeky, modern-looking Quake II engine graphics, catchy music, and a confusing story presented to you in a confusing way. That's all good though, as this is a game that relies on confusion and no dialogue or UI to present an interesting and even funny at times short story to the player.
As I said, this game really does go out of the way to be confusing. Honestly, it does! I even went back and played through with developer commentary on as I was curious to why the developers, Blendo Games, did some things, and it answered many of my questions which was nice. The game plays out to you with no instructions or tasks given to you at all. You basically just have to aimlessly find your way through the game, though it IS done in a linear manner, which solves any problems of not knowing where to go.
Not just the game's progression but also its story is confusing. At times you seem to be just about to accomplish something or are in serious trouble, but then it suddenly goes to another scene. It's a unique and interesting mechanic that is heavily used in the game, and works well. I personally liked it a lot, although some people may feel that without a definite conclusion to events the game's story is garbage.
I won't delve into any details of the game's story, but just know that it will surprise you and may get different emotions out of you....depending on how you take it. I personally sort of kidded around the whole game and that made it very enjoyable for me but I can see how someone may just think it's stupid if they take it seriously.
Graphics-wise, I have no clue at all how this game looks so good! It runs on the Quake II engine yet has moderately pretty graphics, so there must have been some extra modifications done to the engine I guess. Anyway, everything looks nice and crisp, and as with Blendo Games' last game like this, Gravity Bone, everything looks bright and colorful. The music is suave and fitting for such a game.
Overall, I'm sure that I can definitely recommend this game to someone, but it's definitely not for everyone. The $5 price point is a little high in my opinion, but if it were a bit lower I probably feel more positive about the game. That and the length are my only two major problems with it I think.
I give this game a: 7.5/10
It's a tough game to recommend because of how unique it is honestly. If you don't like short or weird games, you may want to stay away. However, if you want a nice little experience that may just make your day a little more joyful, get this! A sale may be best unless the price drops, but otherwise if you're willing to take a chance with it the game will reward you with a good time. It's entertaining and fun, and that's what games should be!
Thank you Brendon from Blendo Games not only for the review copy, but also for the two Steam copies to give away! Yes, that's right folks, you can have a chance to win a copy of this amusing and quirky game!
Entering is as follows:
-Leave any comment on this blog of any sort! Really, I want some! [+1 entry]
-Post this on Twitter (with a link to here please, if you want mention me at @drpixl). [+1 entry]
-Take a picture of yourself and another person (can be anyone) hugging OR crop someone else into a picture of you if you have nobody to hug. ( ) [+2 entries]
Make sure if you tweet about it or do the picture entry you post a link to it in your comment!
Enjoy, and good luck! This ends Wednesday, August 29th, 2012, at 4:00 P.M. PST.
Once again, thank you Brendon from Blendo Games for allowing me to do this awesome event!
This is a question I get asked a lot. Usually it“s concerning video games, but my answer has to do with games in and of themselves. Now I could go into a whole myriad of reasons as to why I like games, and video games especially (such as escapism and crafting a new personality), but I“m mainly going to talk about this one thing that all games in general have in common. That big thing all games have in common is interactivity, and through using that interactivity, the ability to create your own experiences.
Think about watching a movie, TV show, or viewing a piece of art (any form, be it a painting, drawing, or a comic). It is mainly a passive form of interaction. You can be immersed in the TV show, but you have no say as to what actually happens while the episode is actually on TV. Any other form of interaction with the TV show comes from outside means, such as voting, or creating content that the producers eventually use in the show. Games on the other hand, take that form of interaction one step further.
Who didn't have fun with this one?
While playing, you can create your own experience and memories, depending on what you play. You have direct influence on the game, while you play. For video games, the product is already complete and many events are scripted (everyone sees the same main events.), but you are still able to have some sort of say in how you experience the game. Some people will find one section more difficult than you did, for example. Some games even go as far as creating different scenarios or endings depending on the choices you make at certain intervals in the story. The level of interaction in gaming is much greater than in other forms of media. Just because you yell at the TV, doesn“t mean the character on screen is going to do what you want them to do. In a video game, you have control over that, although mistakes do happen. However, the strong level of interactivity doesn“t end with video games though.
Sports also have this ability and take it even further than video games do. For sports, the ground rules are set, but there aren“t really any scripted events. Each time you play the game, there“s always the possibility that something different may happen.
And last, but not least, games are simply fun!
One lazy evening, I decided to boot up my Steam copy of the visual novel Analogue: A Hate Story. It's a visual novel, so I could just watch the story unfold and be done with it, right? Well, that's partially true, but the story that I watched was not only intriguing, but one that'll stick with me as a well-presented and emotional tale.
To summarize, Analogue is the story of the space craft Mugunghwa, of more specifically, what happened after it lost contact with Earth. When you discover the ship, any sign of human life is long gone, and an AI greets you instead. After a bit of an intro, you can start accessing files and reading letters and correspondence from the now deceased crew members. The game, and the AI *Hyun-ae are quick to show you that something was... off about the lifestyle of those on the lost Mugungwa; culture had seemingly reverted to a time akin to medieval society, and any information from before that time was conveniently erased. You, the player, slowly uncover more about the secrets of the Mugungwa, and they aren't exactly happy...
Analogue does a great job of presenting a story in a unique way. Reading letters gives the story a very personal feel without forcing your character to the center of events, and the question of "what happened?" will keep you playing until the end. In addition, the two AIs, *Hyun-ae and *Mute, have very different personalities and give contrasting views on the events that occurred, providing an extra level of emotional touch, despite them only being computer programs. It's really impressive how the developers managed to make a story this powerful in such a fresh matter. We all know that medieval style societies were far from the greatest, but having the story in such an unusual setting and it spoon-fed through letters provides a unique touch to keep the player clicking.
That said, I feel the companionship that the game forces upon you with the AIs to be a bit out of whack. The game is quite short, a first playthrough taking only an hour or two, but any good end has the AI of your choice practically begging you to take them with you. It's implied that the game is played in real time, so why the sudden affection towards the character? It feels like it was tacked on, so that the developers could appease the crowd that is used to having their visual novels with 'love' options. It's a small thing, but it can be a bit odd when you go down one of the paths...
Seeing everything that Analogue has to offer would take about four or five hours, including getting the 'harem ending', as the game calls it. Despite this, however, it's well worth the ten dollars asked for, and it's even better if you catch the game on a Steam sale. If you like visual novels, or great stories, Analogue is worth a try.
Most of my gaming life, apart from a few games, has been dedicated to the console experience. Yes, I have enjoyed some great PC games, but I never got the full experience of being a PC gamer due to never taking the time or spending the money on a nice computer. Having just finished college, and with some time to spare, I thought now was the best time to finally build my own PC from scratch. Originally, I was really intimidated by the idea of building my own computer, but I found the internet to be a very helpful place for building noobs like myself.
Here are some of my thoughts during the different processes I went through when building my first computer.
The first step to building any PC of course is finding the right parts. This can be really intimidating if you are not sure what you are doing. There are so many different parts and choices to be made that if you are not sure of yourself you can find yourself buying parts that are not completely compatible. The first thing you need to do that I have learned from this process is figure out your overall budget for this project. For me, I set my budget at 600-700$ and thankfully made it around $640 after shipping and taxes. If you are having trouble picking out the right parts for your build do not be afraid to ask for help on forums or from friends.
Another key I found to finding the right parts is research. This may sound intimidating, but its really not. In fact, I rather enjoyed reading up on different video cards and processors to help me find the parts that I really wanted. I knew that with the budget I set I was not going to be able to build a super computer, but that was never my intention. My goal was to simply run new games on high settings, and I felt that with the parts that I have purchased this would easily be accomplished. Before you buy any part I would recommend you read up professional and non professional reviews to get a better understanding on how exactly it performs in action.
So by now you are probably dying to know what parts I have spent my precious hard earned money on. I wont bore you with some of the parts, so I will share the processor and video card that I chose.
SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express
This is the piece that really has me excited! I know this is not the highest end video card out there, in fact its no where near it, but from what I had read professionally, and from user reviews, this card should run the newest games at high settings. My only gaming experiences have come from laptops, so I was really excited to finally have a nice video card that I can actually turn shadows on with.
For my processor I chose:
Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W
I was a little concerned at first with only getting a dual core processor but after reading a lot about this dual core I learned that this will work great for what I need it to. Ideally I would have gotten a quad core processor but I was aiming for more of a budget build that I could upgrade later than the highest end build possible.
So now the hard part. Waiting. All of the parts were supposed to arrive in 3 days but those three days felt like much longer. I was a little nervous about messing something up while building this computer as I had no experience at all apart from adding ram and a wireless card to a desktop. Thank fully, there was lots of help on the internet, and i had been watching videos online that demonstrate how to add parts and connect wires.
The first part to building my first computer required choosing the right parts for my budget. While I waited for my parts to come in I spent a lot of time reading build advice and watching videos. While nothing looked to be overwhelmingly difficult from watching videos, I was still nervous. I was worried I would short circuit an important part or have a faulty component. When my computer finally arrived, I was mentally prepared to spend all day and night working on my soon to be gaming computer. Everything came a day earlier then anticipated so the anti static wristband I ordered from amazon would have to wait until my next build. I set up shop and unpacked all the pieces.
After unpacking everything I needed, it was time to get started. I set up my laptop on the table next to me so I could easily access the YouTube video that demonstrated specific building instructions. After I set out my case, I began planning everything out. The first thing I did was plug in the power supply unit, or what I now refer to as the PSU (see, I have built my own computer now so I know about and can use more computer lingo!). The PSU was easy to install and was very self explanatory.
The part I was most nervous about was the processor. This little square is expensive and any static charge from my body could ruin it. I carefully placed it where it belonged and breathed a sigh of relief. Now that I got that out of the way I was able to relax a little more and put the ram into the motherboard. This was very easy. After that I had no trouble mounting the DVD and hard drive. Now came the confusing part, mounting the motherboard. The case I had was completely different from the one used in the video demonstration so I had to figure things out a little bit. I won“t bore you with the details, but I eventually mounted it with ease and was ready to move on. I think after all was said and done this was probably the most stressful part for me.
The second hardest part for me was the connections. There were so many different wires that needed to be plugged in that if you are not sure what you are doing you can get a little overwhelmed. Thankfully, I had a good reference point, and if I ever was unsure of myself I could look it up. When I finally got everything hooked up it was time for the moment of truth! I hooked up an HDMI cable to my screen and hit the power switch. With my computer parts exposed, I stared at the guts of the computer, waiting for it to come to life. I was beyond excited as my case fan began to spin rapidly and my motherboard fan began to power on. The happiness stopped there as the motherboard fan stopped while the case fan continued to spin.
Disappointment would be a complete understatement. What could I have possible done wrong? I made sure everything was plugged in, and the only plug that was loose did not fit anywhere. I felt my heart drop to the bottom of my chest. I thought to myself, did I realy just set this whole thing up just to have a faulty motherboard? I tried not panic. Thankfully I knew of a local computer store where the guys working there know a lot about building computers. I explained to them what was happening, and they asked if I had both of the connections from the PSU to the motherboard. Long story short, turns out the extra plug was supposed to plug into the motherboard. The darn plug had eight parts but the slot that needed to be penetrated had only 4 pin holes. The plug actually separated, and there it was, the final step to building my computer.
â€œThe wiring setup. A complete mess at first. Do not panic it looks much better nowâ€
I started up the computer again, and this time there was complete life! The rest of the process was really easy. I simple had to insert the windows 7 CD and the rest was a cakewalk.
So there it is. If I could tell someone one thing looking to build their own computer for the first time it would be do not get too overwhelmed. When all was said and done it was not that difficult. That it not to say it was easy. A lot of time and patience goes into a project like this, but trust me when I say it was well worth it!
Now that there has been some time between when I finished my build and finally installing some new games to play I can happily say I am completely satisfied with the results. While my computer is not an extreme gaming computer I am maxing out Skyrim at max resolution with HD mods at 60 frames per second and can play demanding games like The Witcher 2 at a steady 50fps at very high settings. Now that I have finally built my own computer (something I have always wanted to do but never thought I could), I feel very confident in my abilities, and honestly, I feel pretty "bad ass".
Inevitably, there“s one major annual contest for game superiority between two rival publishers, EA and Activision. In all of the potential genres where the two companies could butt heads, the main battleground is the First-Person Shooter. While Activision continually releases new iterations to the Call of Duty franchise, EA mixes things up with the Medal of Honor and Battlefield franchises. If it was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 vs. Battlefield 3 last year, it“s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 vs. Medal of Honor: Warfighter this year. Or so everyone says. The truth, however, is that the contest between the two games really doesn“t offer grounds for comparison. Yes, both titles are modern military shooters, but each takes a vastly different approach to the subgenre of military FPSs than the other.
Starting with Black Ops 2, you can immediately see the familiar Call of Duty template; an epic, sweeping campaign, the ever-popular IW 3 engine, and the sacred cow of the entire series, multiplayer. With the latest in Activision“s venerable series, developer Treyarch has promised a better campaign by adding a moving narrative (no less penned by David Goyer) and new mission mechanics. For the first time in Call of Duty“s history, players will now make decisions that not only affect mission progression, but also affect the outcome of the plot. Making certain decisions via stand-alone Strike missions (battles that the player can direct or fight in at will) or key events in the story will determine what ending gamers see. It“s an interesting concept that is rarely explored in the largely-linear FPS genre.
Black Ops 2 is also set 13 years into the future, meaning future weapons and combat drones are the name of the game. Unlike Medal of Honor, Black Ops II is much more focused on the (potential) future conflict over rare earth elements. When evil-doer Raul Menendez takes control of the world“s combat drone tech, he uses it spark World War III between China and America. This is a massive conflict, engulfing entire continents in a global war for supremacy.
When it comes to multiplayer, Call of Duty also has a fundamentally different philosophy, and that is the philosophy of the lone wolf war hero. Seldom is team-work emphasized in multiplayer matches. It“s all about individual players hoofing it across maps to slaughter any targets standing in their way. Sure, there are killstreak awards that are available, but these are usually players for players who get the most kills. Call of Duty isn“t the kind of game that really caters to a strong team-based dynamic, and that“s perfectly fine. I enjoy that option just as much as I enjoy team-centric games like Battlefield.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter, on the other hand, is an entirely different animal. This is a grounded, authentic experience that places gamers in the shoes of contemporary special forces operators. While Warfighter features drone technology, we aren“t going to see UAV bombers or aircraft on the scale of Black Ops 2. No, Warfighter is all about the current War on Terror, albeit in a fictionalized manner. Tapping real-life scenarios, EA and Danger Close want to tell the story of what it“s like to be a Tier 1 operator fighting against the global threat of terrorism. This is a game focused on small-scale battles won by the elite scalpels of the military. Whereas Black Ops 2 seeks to instill awe with grandiose spectacles, Warfighter wants to grab players with an emotional look at how war affects soldiers, families, and everyone at home. To put it simply, Warfighter is a far more intimate experience than the Hollywood spectacle of Black Ops 2.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter also takes a different approach to multiplayer. While the 2010 Medal of Honor reboot mirrored the lone wolf philosophy of Call of Duty, Warfighter wants to bring team-work to the forefront. All players are inserted into two-man fireteams. With a battle buddy, players became lethal weapons and are offered bonuses such as faster respawns, added firepower, and bonus support actions that benefit your team-mate and combat buddy. It“s an ingenious system that organically encourages players to work together to accomplish objectives. Fighting alone is a less-than-stellar idea when you consider the advantages of working as a fireteam. Again, this is a drastically different approach to multiplayer than Call of Duty, and I love and appreciate Warfighter for that difference.
When you try and take sides in the war for FPS dominance, you“ll end up losing. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are both unique experiences in their own right, and to dismiss one or the other because the competitor is ”obviously the best“ is silly. Play and appreciate both games for their differences and unique approaches to the shooter genre. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor want to engross you in their unique worlds; you shouldn“t reject either of them just because the debate is there.