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  • Royzoga

    Random Roy - EVO 2014 Summary

    By Royzoga

    I didn't think it would be possible to follow last years hype, last years upsets, and last years incredible matches. Well, I was wrong. I bring you again, the summary of Evolution Championship Series. Now if you're unfamiliar with what EVO is, basically the Olympics of fighting games. There's a medley of fighting games to be played ranging from Street Fighter to Super Smash Bros Melee. However, the roster is ever changing. Almost each year, the main 8 games played change up, allowing newer and fresher games to be showcased. And this year was definitely a crazy ride. Without much more intro, let's dive right in.     Ultra Street Fighter IV The series 6th year at EVO 1st. MD │ Louffy, who played as Rose, from France. 2nd. Bonchan, who played Sagat, from Japan. 3rd. RZR │ Fuudo (Winner of EVO 2011,) who played Fei Long, from Japan.   In quite possibly one of the biggest upsets of an entire generation, a huge portion of the favorites to win the tournament were eliminated before even the Semi-finals. It just goes to show you that even the changes they made for Ultra can really impact the level of competition.     Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 The series 4th year at EVO 1st. EG │ Justin Wong, who played using the team Wolverine/Storm/Akuma, from the USA. 2nd. GG │ NYChrisG, who played using the teams Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil, Magneto/Morrigan/Doctor Doom, from the USA. 3rd. RG │ Fillipino Champ, who played using the teams Magneto/Dormammu/Doctor Doom, Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix, Morrigan/Magneto/Doctor Doom, from the USA.   Finally, it happened again. Justin Wong returned as the Marvel champion. It's been too long since we've heard the crowds of viewers cheering his name and he definitely deserved this.     Super Smash Bros Melee The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. C9 │ Mang0 (Won EVO 2013), who played as Falco, Fox, from the USA. 2nd. CRS │ Hungrybox, who played as Jigglypuff, from the USA. 3rd. P4K.EMP │ Armada who played as Peach, Young Link, from Sweden.   Quite possibly one of the coolest things to see this year, not only because of the competition, but because of Nintendo's support. Before the finals began, it was nice to see Reggie on screen thank the players and such. At least after last years almost nightmare, it's nice to see the turn around. Smash is not done.     Killer Instinct The series 1st year at EVO 1st. KN.RM │ CDjr who played as Sadira, Jago, from the USA. 2nd. RG │ Rico Suave who played as Thunder, Fulgore, Glacius, Jago, Sabrewulf, from the USA. 3rd. EG │ Justin Wong who played as Sabrewulf, from the USA.   Straight up, I'm not a KI fan in the least bit. But watching the grand finals was pretty intense. Higher level play of most games can still almost always give you that tight feeling in your chest of, 'oh, that was freaking cool.'     Blazblue Chrono Phantasma The series 1st year at EVO. 1st. Garireo, who played as Litchi Faye-Ling, from Japan. 2nd. Dogura, who played as Azrael, from Japan. 3rd. BE.TSB │ Dora_Bang, whoa played as Bang, from Japan.   Quite possibly the most hype matches I've ever seen for this game. The commentators were fantastic, the players were outstanding and my heart was racing every single second.     King of Fighters XIII The series 3rd year at EVO 1st. Qanba │ Xiao Hai, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Kim, from China. 2nd MCZ │ Tokido, who played as EX Iori/Mr Karate/Chin, from Japan. 3rd. LDA │ ET, who played as Clark/Mr. Karate/EX Iori, EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim, from Taiwan.   It's sad to see the hype for King of Fighters XIII dying off so early. It feels like it could still have a lot of life left in it, but with the past EVO champion, Reynald, unable to participate as well, some are skeptical to the future. Even the commentators felt weaker compared to last year. KoF XIV might be in the near future, but these players show case a series of beautifully executed combos and game knowledge.     Injustice: Gods Among Us The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. RG │ SonicFox, who played as Batgirl, from the USA. 2nd. AK │ Pig of the Hut, who played as Zod, from the USA. 3rd. IC │ Mit 88, who played as Deathstroke, Aquaman, from the USA.   Having the second fewest signups this year tells a great deal for the future of the game. I'm fairly certain that most people are getting excited for Mortal Kombat X at this point, but still. It's fun to see Batgirl deliver some butt whooping.     Tekken Tag Tournament 2 The series 2nd year at EVO 1st. Twitch │ JDCR, who played as Heihachi/Armour King, from South Korea. 2nd. Twitch.MCP │ Gen, who played as Bob/Leo, from Japan. 3rd. BE │ Ao, who played as Alisa/Miguel, from Japan.   Sadly, Tekken seems to be dying off a tad at EVO this year, seeing the fewest entries compared to the other games. However, in contrast to this, series director Katsushiro Harada displayed a new teaser trailer for Tekken 7. The Devil is returning, we just have to be patient. In the mean time, we can enjoy and get hype over one of the best Tekken games since the original Tekken Tag.     That concludes this years Evolution Championship Series main events. While this does not cover every single tournament that was played at EVO 2014, it does cover the top 8 most signed up for. Something else worth note, I felt that EVO seemed a lot more main stream this year. It makes me happy and sad at the same time. On the upside, sites like IGN and Kotaku posted coverage on it the entire weekend. it made following the events I missed a lot more convenient, not to mention archives of the grand finals matches. It was a tad sad however, to see so much advertising for things like Mountain Dew. I can understand them being a sponsor, but this is the sort of thing gamers made fun of Microsoft and Activision for with the whole Doritos and Mountain Dew giveaways. I just hope it doesn't evolve into something out of control for the future. Regardless, it was definitely one of the most hype years yet and I can't wait for next year. With games like Persona 4 Ultimax, Mortal Kombat X, Tekken 7, and possibly a new patch for Ultra Street Fighter 4 to be out in time for EVO, there's gonna be a ton of new stuff to watch.   Hope you guys enjoyed my quick coverage of the event! If you enjoyed a particular video or game, leave a comment below. Same goes for disliking. Let's spread the love of the Fighting Game Community~♥
    • 12 comments
    • 3,985 views
  • Kezins

    The Majority Of Magic 2015 Players Exhibit Poor Sportsmanship

    By Kezins

    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...  
    • 6 comments
    • 3,457 views
  • Ludono

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

    By Ludono

    Check out the Golden Joysticks HERE   *Voting in this enters you to win an iPad*   I just wanted to go through my picks for this years Golden Joystick because it's fun! I've been pretty bad about playing games this year so my picks are far from definitive.   Best Original Game   My Pick: Child of Light Runners Up: Broken Age, Shovel Knight   So many great games in this category, but sadly I've only played a few. However I went with Child of Light mainly because I'm playing it now and absolutely loving it. I considered Broken Age and Shovel Knight but having played neither I couldn't put my pick on them.   Most Wanted   My Pick: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Runners Up: Rise of the Tomb Raider, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne   SUCH A HARD CATEGORY. Ultimately I picked Metal Gear V because it's probably my favourite franchise of all time, preceded only by Resident Evil. Rise of the Tomb Raider and Uncharted fall in the same boat of being action adventure games that I love, it'll be interesting to see which one comes out on top since Tomb Raider 2012 was better than Uncharted 3. Bloodborne is something I've been following with increased interest... but really, most of the games on here I'm looking forward to anyway.   Best Indie   My Pick: Broken Age Runners Up: Republique   I was able to give Broken Age some love here, because I really think it deserves a win. Had Republique not gone the iOS route I'd have likely played and picked that.   Best Visual Design   My Pick: Transistor Runners Up: Child of Light, Valiant Hearts   Child of Light is love to my eyes but despite not having played it I really dig Transistors style, and the art I've seen for it is just beautiful... I had to pick it. Valiant Hearts has a great art direction as well but sadly not enough to put it over the top for me.   Best Multiplayer   My Pick: Mario Kart 8 Runners Up: None...   Since CSGO wasn't on the list I had to pick the game that I had the second best multiplayer experience this year, Mario Kart!   Best Audio   My Pick: Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag Runners Up: Legend of Zelda ALBW, Transistor   I feel like this is a bit of a surprise for me but in terms of sheer audio quality it has to be Black Flag, not only because of the soundtrack which is full of shanties and upbeat pirate tunes but the environmental sounds as well, the crashing of waves, the creaking of your ship.... fantastic! My runners up were briefly considered because they both have wonderful soundtracks.   Best Gaming Moment   My Pick: The Last of Us Left Behind - The Kiss Runners Up: Titanfall - Calling in a Titan, Ground Zeroes - Rescuing Kojima   Bit of a spoiler filled category eh? But mine has to easily be the Last of Us Left Behind, that DLC was amazing and that single moment just convey more emotion than most games do in their entirety. Titanfall was neat in the beta because the Mechs were pretty cool and rescuing Kojima was just plain awesome.   Best Story Telling   My Pick: The Last of Us Left Behind Runners Up: Child of Light, Wolf Among Us   Last of Us again for obvious reasons, I shouldn't have to explain. Child of Light has really drawn me in and Wolf Among Us had a pretty cool story going on (Though admittedly I haven't finished it).   Best Online Game   My Pick: Realm Reborn   Moving on.   Best Handheld Game   My Pick: Link Between Worlds Runners Up: Pokemon X & Y, Bravely Default   Zelda is just so pure and fun, and is pretty much perfect in every way. Pokemon is fine, though I grew bored of it and didn't finish it and Bravely well.... I spent more time in the demo than the actual game but it really is quite good!   Best Mobile Game   My Pick: N/A   I skipped because I don't play mobile games. I might've given it to Republique had they included it on this list.   Gaming Platform of the Year   My Pick: PS4 Runner Up: Vita, 3DS   The PS4 has just had an EXPLOSIVE launch and the months thereafter. It's provided tons and tons of free games via PS Plus and is just about everything you would want from "next gen". the Handhelds have both really shone as well this past year having tons of really good exclusive games.   Studio of the Year   My Pick: Nintendo Runners Up: Media Molecule   Nintendo has been KILLING it this year with first party games, no other studio can top them! Media Molecule gets an honourable mention though for having the highest average metacritic score for any studio.   Innovation of the Year   My Pick: Dualshock 4   Not really an innovation (all the choices suck) but I really do like the DS4, probably one of the best controllers ever (right up there with the 360 controller).   Personality of the Year   Let's see.... #girlwood, #gamergate, Some British guy, Dude that abandoned Day Z, Occulus Guy, Luftrausers Guy, YOSHIDA SAN, No, and....some other British guy?   Yeah, YOSHIDA SAN wins this for me.   My Pick: Shuhei Yoshida   Game of the Year   While MGSV Proper will probably get GOTY when it comes out, Ground Zeroes wasn't enough to warrant it being GOTY. So this title goes to Zelda for me!   My Pick: Legend of Zelda Link Between Worlds     So now it's your turn! Go out and put in your votes (and enter to win an iPad Air!) and then report back here. Post away!
    • 15 comments
    • 3,743 views
  • Ludono

    Inside The Box - The Last of Us Survival Edition

    By Ludono

    Hi and welcome to yet another new blog series I've decided to start up. Inside The Box will focus on packaging and extras that come with various "editions" of games, though I won't limit myself to just games. Anything nerdy is fair game on this blog!     The inaugural post features one of the most highly anticipated games of this year, The Last of Us, specifically the Survival Edition of the game.   **Note: This is NOT a review of the game, only the packaging**     The Last of Us - Survival Edition   Release Date - June 14, 2013 Developer - Naughty Dog Platform(s) - PS3 Price - $79.99 Price Paid - $79.99 (Amazon) Retailer Exclusive - No   I decided to make an unboxing video for this!       To summarize the above video: - Collectors box/packaging - Steelbook case featuring Ellie/Joel - Sounds and Sights DLC - PSN Avatars and Theme - 170 Page Hardcover Artbook - Issue #1 of The Last of Us comic   The Last of Us Survival Edition is one of two different special editions, the other being the Gamestop exclusive Post-Pandemic Edition which substituted a 12 inch statue in place of the Artbook included with the Survival Edition.   This edition is available for $20 more than the standard edition, which seems fair for what you get with it. The box is much larger than I expected it to be, below is a comparison picture with a standard PS3 game.         The box everything comes in is large and looks like one of those promotional display boxes you'd see at Gamestop. That said, the artwork for the game is nice and I know I won't mind putting this box up for display on a shelf somewhere. However, a box this size might be the bane of those more space-conscious that myself.   The steelbook is simple yet elegant, with the added bonus of having artwork on the inside as well. The Artbook is definitely a premium book, more along the lines of the Uncharted 2 or Mass Effect artbooks rather than a small pack-in artbook most games get.   The DLC and PSN Avatars/Theme are a nice bonus, but definitely not worth any amount of money. Finally, the comic seems to be the afterthought of this edition, being more of a teaser than anything else, likely in the hopes of getting you to buy more issues of the comic as it comes out.     Overall you get your extra $20 worth out of this edition, though not much more than that.   Presentation - 9/10 Price/Value - 8/10 Extras - 7/10   Score - 8.0 / 10     Edit: The art book is available separately, albeit as a preorder (July 2) and at $40 MSRP ( $27 on Amazon)   What did you think of this type of review? More videos or more pictures in upcoming ones? What would you like to see next?
    • 12 comments
    • 3,907 views
  • Venom

    "Upcoming" Game Titles Revised for Accuracy

    By Venom

    This started out as a couple of dumb one-off jokes I made earlier today, but then I realized...why not go further with it? Why not make it a number of dumb jokes?   Why not indeed.   So, in today's post, I'll be talking about some upcoming video games that are taking way too long to come out. But not just that - I'll also be revising their names to more accurately portray their current state and poking a little fun at them along the way. I've got my poking stick set to "stun" and my jokes set to "kill," so let's get this thing on the road!   Agent Revised name: Undercover Agent This is literally the game's entire existence.   Do you remember Agent? No? No one does, so if you said yes, go sit in time out, Mr. or Ms. Pants on Fire. It was announced in 2009 or so, and since then there's been nothing - total radio silence. Suffice it to say, it appears Agent has gone deep undercover, so until Rockstar pulls him from active duty, he won't be seen in the public eye unless he's in disguise. Let's just hope Momma Agent doesn't get a letter saying he was KIA. Final Fantasy XV   Revised name: Final Fantasy 2015, At the Earliest Revised revised name: Pretty Boys with Sharpened Toys   At first they were going to call it Final Fantasy Versus XIII, which is a heck of a mouthful. Makes sense to shorten the title a bit, especially after it's completely failed to show up on store shelves since its announcement in 2006, right? But Squenix wasn't just shortening the name, they were telling us something. Something to do with 15...what does it mean? Well, I've deduced that it means 2015 is the absolute earliest we'll see this game on store shelves. So if they rename it to FFXVI, be prepared to wait another couple of years, at least.   The Last Guardian   revised name: The Last Guardian of the PS3's Legacy "Woof! I mean...meow! I mean...hold on, let me think about this."   Let's pretend for a moment that The Last Guardian is still coming to PS3, because that may be the only way for some of you to hold back the tears. Got rid of the sniffles yet? Good, let's move on. The Last Guardian has been "in development" for a while, being announced in 2009, and has always been slated to come out on PS3. Since it looks like the PS3's lifetime will expire before this game ever comes out, I've taken the liberty of crowning it the Guardian of the PS3's Legacy. Once every PS3 game that will ever be released has come out, ol' Trico will finally spread his wings and soar onto the system to secure the console's legacy with one final, amazing game. Unless it turns out to be terrible, like most games that stew in development hell for years, but let's just do what it takes to keep from crying and hope for the best. Beyond Good & Evil 2   Revised name: Beyond Good Graphics and Evil Executives 2 Still waiting.   BG&E was a fan favorite and a critical success, but it didn't really do well commercially, so fans were ecstatic when it was announced the game was getting a sequel in 2008. And yet now they've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. At this point, I'd like to think that by the time the game finally does come out it will have amazingly advanced graphics, probably powered by the Playstation 5, Xbox Two, and Wii U Me, and the developers will have finally found a way to convince the publishing bosses that the game will turn a profit. Prey 2   Revised name: A Longer Development Cycle than Prey, 2   Now with twice the prey!   Prey 2 was announced in 2011 or so, but they've been pretty quiet since Bethesda told everyone that it was being polished up to their standards. What standards those are, exactly, we'll never know, but it probably involves releasing it with a host of hilarious glitches. In any case, the original Prey took around 12 years to finally see the light of day, and while Prey 2 has only gotten a few years in, the complete lack of any new info points to the developers trying to match or exceed that cycle. I'm pretty sure at that point it stops being "development hell" and turns into "development hell frozen over."   Kingdom Hearts 3   Revised name: We Ran Out of Kingdom Hearts Spinoffs 3   I'm confused about those 3 things behind the logo too, Sora.   It finally happened. After so many long years, we finally have confirmation. It's what we all expected, all hoped, all secretly knew. And our waiting has paid off as Square Enix has revealed...that it has finally run out of Kingdom Hearts spinoffs.   Half-Life 3   Revised name: No-Life 3 While you wait, enjoy this mockup that took someone literally seconds to make.   Because people who are still going around looking for clues of this game's existence have no life. That, and the game itself doesn't have a life, since it doesn't exist. It's a double whammy of painful realization! Starcraft: Ghost   Revised name: Starcraft: Ghost I don't know if this is an actual screenshot. No one remembers what the game looks like.   Oh, wait.     Some of you may be saying that these are the same games I featured in a past article (welcome back, Señor or Señora Pantalones de Fuego) but I talked about them differently this time, so it makes it new. So nyah.   So what do you think? Did I hit the nail on the head with my revised names? Do you have a better name for any of these? Or do you not care either way and just want to sound off in the comments about something else? Whatever the case, head on down there and speak your mind!
    • 10 comments
    • 3,542 views
 

5 Reasons Why I Love Fighting Games

The fighting game tournament EVO just finished recently, and with it, thoughts of fighting games sprung up. Fighting games are games you can almost always get into. In no particular order (except the last one), here are 5 reasons I love fighting games:   The characters       Most games have tons of characters, but with fighting games it“s even more pronounced, and that“s because many characters are playable. You can almost always find someone to play with, and the roster tends to grow with each new game. Seriously, Tekken started with 8 playable characters in the arcade, and now boasts over 40.         Variety       The growth of the video game industry made everything change. 2D fighters and 3D fighters offer different takes on the game. 2D fighters limit movement, but can really play with animations. Combos actually started as a glitch! 3D fighters offer a whole new range of movement, but tend to be slower in gameplay due to the more realistic movement portrayed. Soul Calibur“s movement has always felt smoother compared to Tekken“s.   You have hand-to-hand fighting games, weapons based fighters, and even wrestling, boxing and MMA games could fit in here. All of them offer different takes on fighting: Street Fighter and King Of Fighters are the 2D kings. The Marvel vs. Capcom series is the most renowned crossover, while Tekken and Soul Calibur refined 3D fighting.           The mechanics       The mechanics, or the engine of the game itself is how fighters differentiate themselves. How do the combos work? What can cancel into what? Once I finally figured out how some basic combos work out, I tried this in other fighting games, and found that basic combos (at least in 2D fighters) follow the same basic formula. A heavy attack can be canceled into a special move without interruption.   Street Fighter IV“s Focus attack has various uses, and Tekken has a very strong influence on juggling your opponent. My favorite two mechanics are the "C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!" from Killer Instinct, and the parry system introduced in Street Fighter III, which fuels another reason below, There are incredibly advanced combos in practice modes listed out for you now. The exact combo may not be practical, but it teaches the mechanics that many competitive players use. Figuring out the game works is like figuring out an intricate puzzle, and mastering that puzzle takes lots of practice. However, once you get into that, you just may fall into the…           Competitive spirit       In a fighting game, you are trying to prove that you are better than someone else, particularly by beating the crap out of him or her. The competitive spirit helps fuel me to learn the mechanics and analyze opponents. Knowing that I will go up against others who play the game, I need to know what combos work, what moves are worth using, and when to use them.   Competition has grown so much that local and international tournaments are held. It“s really cool to see that gaming has grown to become much more than a hobby. Along with tournaments, the internet has provided a way to garner information on different players and playing styles.   The unfortunate side effect of competition leads to emotions. Determination can lead to stubbornness, constant losses can lead to anger, and constant winning can lead to having no fun.       The Comeback       The comeback is one of the single greatest feelings you can achieve. It doesn“t even have to be in a video game, you could make a comeback in a sports match, a board game, or a race.   Just watch this video.   So what are your favorite fighting games, and why?

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

 

Why I'm Absolutely Stoked For Sleeping Dogs

I'll admit it; when I first heard of the newest entry to the True Crime series, I let out a groan. I thought to myself, "Another flawed open-world crime game? I think I'll pass." It wasn't until I got a better view of just how awesome True Crime: Hong Kong (renamed Sleeping Dogs) is that I realized I'd made a huge mistake in passing it off. Sleeping Dogs is a gritty, violent, mature open-world action that game that features a whole host of illicit activities, a deep melee system, and a truly impressive recreation of Hong Kong. What's not to like?     Sleeping Dogs follows Wei Shen, an undercover cop, as he infiltrates a triad to try and destroy it from the inside. To gain the triad's trust, Wei must do the gang's bidding and kill, steal, maim, intimidate, and dismantle Hong Kong's rival triads. How he does this is up to the player. Whether you want to shove people into fans or chop at enemy gangbangers with meat cleavers is up to you. United Front Games has implemented an extraordinary hand-to-hand combat system that allows Wei to utilize the latest in martial arts techniques. Using a simple scheme of Attack, Grapple, and Counter, Wei can disarm opponents and break every bone in their bodies. If karate-chopping isn't your thing, the undercover brother is also proficient with firearms, though I feel you'll be missing out on some of the greatest-looking melee combat to grace a video game. Wei can also use the environment to his advantage by throwing enemies onto sharp poles, grinding them in fans, or lighting them on fire (among other things). Yeah, Sleeping Dogs is bloody.   While Sleeping Dogs is all about brutal, graphic violence, there are plenty of other activities for Wei to partake in. He can run cockfights, race against street rivals, date women, and generally cause a ruckus about the city. What's really piqued my curiosity is how Wei's status as a cop will affect his reactions to life as triad member. Will he be rattled by difficult moral conundrums, be driven to bloodlust by killing, embrace his identity as a triad member, or become something inhuman? While UFG and publishers Square Enix haven't focused on Wei's development, morality and evolving Wei's character will likely be integral components of the experience. If UFG can pull it off, Sleeping Dogs may be the most compelling open-world crime drama to hit the markets in a long time.       Like many other gamers, I passed Sleeping Dogs off as another generic open-world game. After Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, it's hard for me to imagine playing another criminal underworld-driven title. But Sleeping Dogs has done the impossible. By crafting a complex, rewarding combat system and a thriving version of Hong Kong teeming with new experiences, UFG and Square Enix have gotten my attention. I can't wait until the mid-August release date hits; I'm really looking forward to experiencing Wei Shen's Machiavellian approach to justice. Look for Sleeping Dogs on August 14, 2012.     Still not convinced that the close quarters combat is awesome? Check out the trailer below!  

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

Spec Ops: The Line Review and GIVEAWAY

DISCLAIMER: As I wrote this review, I found it difficult to put into words the emotions I felt from playing Spec Ops: The Line. As such, prepare for a lot of anecdotal discussions and open-ended questions. While this may be a review, it's a broader introspective evaluation on the modern shooter and the player's role in said genre. Prepared? Then read on.   Developer: Yager Studios Publisher: 2K Games Release Date: June 26, 2012 (out now) Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC ESRB: M for Mature   This review is based on the PC version of Spec Ops: The Line.   "War is hell," said General William Tecumseh Sherman. It's a quote that modern shooters often toss about, but one which no video game has ever embraced the meaning of. Most developers glorify tearing hands, feet, and other limbs off of generic enemy soldiers with as much gore as humanly possible. Through the glorification of war in gaming, the meaning of life is cheapened with half a magazine of 5.56 ammo. In these war games, there are only heroes and villains, with the most morally-grey aspects of war reduced to cheap marketing tactics like Call of Duty's "No Russian" mission. Spec Ops: The Line has taken all of these tropes of the modern shooter and thrown them in my face with disturbing clarity. After playing, nay experiencing, Spec Ops, I may never play a shooter with the same mindless power fantasies ever again.       The premise behind Yager's cover-based third-person shooter is almost mind-boggling simple and generic. A US Army commander by the name of Colonel John Konrad has led the Damned 33rd Infantry Battalion into Dubai to evacuate the populace from history's largest sandstorm. Players, taking the role of Captain Martin Walker, are to investigate Konrad's whereabouts and, if necessary, save the Colonel and his men. Spec Ops even leads you to believe that this generic premise is indicative of the entire experience with the opening helicopter pursuit sequence. The sense of deja vu is undeniable; I've been here, shot helicopters down with a mi***un, and done this turret sequence so many times before. Once you get to the ground, however, Spec Ops mutates into one of this generation's most morally, mentally, and emotionally taxing shooters. At the games conclusion, I was left battered and bewildered by everything I had seen. The conclusion only serves to make the games unsettling events that much more horrific. As much as it may have impacted me, Spec Ops is first and foremost a game, so is it any fun to play?     To say Spec Ops is fun belies the game's contradictory, complicated nature. At every point during the campaign, I felt the juxtaposition of a shooter framework with a strong anti-war sentiment. In everything from the shooting to the graphic dialogue and horrific war crimes committed, I felt uncomfortable. Yager clearly intended this game to disturb and unsettle. Enjoyment and fun are not the words I would use to describe my experience with Spec Ops. I would describe my five-hour trip through hell as uncensored and raw, striking nerves the whole way through. Whether I was gunning down rogue American soldiers or deciding the fate of a CIA agent and a group of civilians, Spec Ops made it tough for me to want to continue playing. But I had to see it through. I had to see what shade of monster Walker was becoming.   While all of this may sound like I'm rambling, these thoughts are the predominant reason for my constant pursuit of Konrad and the truth. I had a hard time stomaching the thought of killing civilians and murdering countless US soldiers. While this may sound trite in lieu of "No Russian", believe me when I say the dead will haunt you throughout the campaign...and perhaps beyond. For every enemy you kill, you constantly ask yourself why you're shooting dozens of people. In all the chaos, Walker can only defend himself with ***ue notions of wanting to be the hero, of trying to be Dubai's savior. But what of us players? Why are we massacring virtual meatbags that scream for mercy, drag themselves on the ground missing limbs, meatbags that have casual conversations about sharing gum? Are we truly the desensitized monsters that men like Konrad have become? I wish I knew the answer.     By the time the credits roll, you'll wonder yourself whether Konrad was ever the true antagonist. No matter what choices you make, Walker still becomes a sa***e, ruthless killer. If you've seen Apocalypse Now, you understand just how insane war is. That madness is not lost on Walker or the two men he fights alongside with, Lugo and Adams. All three men experience the conflict differently, and all three will change from the people they began as. Does Spec Ops change the player as well?   In these reflective moments, the jarring reality that this is just a game readily becomes apparent. There is a constant barrage of achievements that applaud me for the decisions I did or didn't make. While it may not bother some, I felt like it broke the immersion when a pop-up announced I had 'crossed a line' or 'aimed high' on targets. Isn't this game supposed to be more than just a game? In some ways, being a shooter has ensured the full impact of Spec Ops will never be realized. Since we are simply playing a game, it only leaves lingering doubts in our minds once we put the controllers down. For many gamers, Spec Ops may never resonate with them in the same way that it struck my nerves. I sincerely hope, however, that they at least have an open mind to the horrors that await them beneath the sands of Dubai. If you can walk away unmoved by what takes place, you may already be more of a monster than any of the Damned 33rd or the Delta soldiers.     Mechanically speaking, Spec Ops is a fairly competent shooter. It plays a lot like Gears of War, where players take cover behind sturdy objects and use big guns against enemy targets. Where Spec Ops differs is in the flow of combat. There's a relentless push forward, a constant thrust urging players onward. That's carried over into the relatively quick kills and brutal executions that emphasize and reward speed. I found myself stressed and overwhelmed by constantly having to progress forward, fearing I would be quickly overrun if I cowered behind cover. I never felt like camping behind objects was safe as the enemy AI, however basic it can appear, always outflanked me and tore me to shreds. If I have one complaint, it's the quirky control scheme. Some of the buttons are mapped to more than one function, making it possible to sprint into cover when you actually meant to sprint around a target. The cover system, which people have also complained about, didn't really trouble me. Once or twice I was left exposed to enemy fire, but I didn't really feel like it was a major issue.     The weapons themselves feel powerful and deadly. When I pulled the trigger, soldiers often crumpled or doubled over, coating the walls in red, messy spatters. It felt awful to gun down people who were likely as desperate as I was to survive. In the end, however, I had to regard the violence as a mercy upon my foes. The way they begged for help or clutched massive wounds didn't make it any easier for me to execute them. Even more disturbing was the fact that I was treated to additional (typically scarce) ammo for finishing them off, forcing me to do the deed. If Yager wants to bother players, this is a great way to do it.   The aforementioned squadmates, Lugo and Adams, are great companions on this trip to insanity. They offer constant tactical feedback and aren't bad shots themselves. They can be given a few commands to help alleviate Walker's pressure, but act independently for the most part. The banter between all three soldiers is always interesting, well-written, and appropriately frantic when things get absolutely FUBAR (and they really get bad). Players will likely recognize Nolan North's voice as Walker. I felt North did an admirable job taking on a much more mature character. Though the (sometimes gratuitous) swearing may offput some, I recommend you grit through it to see the shocking conclusion.     There's multiplayer in Spec Ops, but I recommend you skip it. The game works when the servers aren't being slammed, and there are some cheap thrills in modes like Chaos (free-for-all) and Buried. However, it's clear the singleplayer was the focus of development. I felt like the MP didn't carry the same weighty feeling of combat. It also lacked the emotional impact that the narrative hit home. If you purchase Spec Ops, stay for the campaign, not the compe***ive multiplayer.   The technicals behind Spec Ops are fairly strong. The visuals, though lacking when compared to games like Battlefield 3, are suitably gritty and do the job well. Some of the character models look great, and the ruined city of Dubai is beautifully rendered. When the dust kicks up from explosions and gunfire, the air is obscured and a tactical element is layered onto the shooting. The particles aren't just for looks; they can really come in handy when the defecation hits the oscillation. The audio is absolutely fantastic. With a fully-licensed soundtrack and some haunting musical scores, Spec Ops succeeds in mooding you out. Everything here is meant to unsettle you, and the soundtrack does an admirable job fulfilling this roles. As I mentioned earlier, the great dialogue is well acted. The sound effects are also great; they really add to the visceral impact of combat and the narrative. If you're expecting the next generation in A/V though, you'll be disappointed. Then again, if you're coming for that, you're not playing the right shooter.     Is Spec Ops the best shooter of 2012? Probably not, but that's for a reason. Spec Ops is a criticism of the modern shooter, taking the fundamental concept of the war game and inverting it. It may seem like a blatant copy of Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, but don't be fooled; there are far more horrific things to experience in Spec Ops than you may expect. Prepare to have your moral and ethical codes challenged in this game, and always remember that not everything in Dubai is as it seems. But this you already know. The rest you'll just have to figure out for yourself. Welcome to Dubai, gentleman.   Pros:   + Incredibly deep story, filled with hidden intel to unravel more of the mystery + Forces players to make a number of difficult choices at any given time + Great audio and a few beautifully rendered scenes set Spec Ops apart + The multiplayer is not the focus of the game this time around   Cons:   - The multiplayer is also incredibly barebones - Some odd control bindings can cause trouble - Occasional bugs and technical glitches here and there   Overall: 8.5/10 Great   Spec Ops is a great, mature third-person shooter that actually makes you regret the choices you make. A deep story is coupled with great dialogue to create an excellent campaign.     GIVEAWAY:   Want to win a Steam copy of Spec Ops: The Line? Simply tell me what you thought of Apocalypse Now and why you're excited to play Spec Ops. Winner chosen randomly on July 6th at 9 PM Eastern.

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

My Thoughts on Skyward Sword

I“ve spent the past week and a half finally getting through The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Those of you who follow me on Twitter or have seen me in the chat probably have an idea of my feelings on the game, but I“m going to put together my thoughts in a more focused manner than my unfiltered ramblings. That said, this isn“t aiming to be an article of any sort and isn“t heavily edited. There some heavy paragraphs here that you may want a hardhat for.   If you just want to know what I thought of the game without the why, here it is: I hated the game and like almost nothing about it. I feel the only truly good aspect of the game is the art direction, which I loved from when it was first unveiled at E3. It“s always struck me as a 3D version of A Link to the Past. Unfortunately, it all amounts to makeup on a pig as far as I“m concerned. Those of you wanting to know why, settle in.       Controls   I“ll just get the whiny baby part out of the way first and say that I really do hate the control scheme and am entirely unimpressed by it. I always felt like I made the wrong decision in buying the Wii version of Twilight Princess, but I did expect something a little better from Skyward Sword and the Wii MotionPlus. Probably the biggest issue I have with the setup is that it seems to easily get confused and lose calibration. If this happens when you“re in first-person mode, it“s simple to fix by just pressing down on the d-pad. It happens a lot, though, and seems to have the most difficulty keeping centered when using the clawshot. If you lose calibration during a heated fight, things aren“t quite as simple and you could end up in a bad spot. With how many enemies, and bosses especially, rely on a certain type of attack to be made vulnerable, or damaged at all, it“s especially frustrating. I get that there are ways to recalibrate, but if technology really was 1:1 and was anywhere near what Nintendo touted it to be, it seems to me like the methods would just be a fail-safe and not as commonly needed as they are. I do think the game would work better on a traditional controller, but there would still be some issues, as Z-Targeting is still inadequate when dealing with large groups of enemies and auto-jumping can be clumsy as it“s still based entirely on angling.   To be more specific, there are three types of controls that I found especially confusing. First off, the skydiving controls will always be a mystery to me. I cannot for the life of me figure out how they are supposed to work. Every time I think I have an inkling of how moving the remote is meant to move Link, I dive from another spot and everything is different. Maybe I“m really missing something here, but I could never get it to work for me. Secondly, the swimming controls are absolutely baffling, not in how they work, but in why they even exist. For the rest of the game, ground controls are handled exclusively by the analogue stick. If you go into water, you move around with the stick to get out. As soon as you go to swim, though, it becomes motion controlled for no real reason other than meeting some internal waggle quota Nintendo seems to have. My real issue with it is that it at no point is a good idea. Underwater controls never quite work out to begin with and adding the inaccuracy of motion control on top of that is just horrible. My third issue, and maybe it“s just something with how my setup works, is that I could never reliably get the thrust attack with the sword to work. I“d sit there nearly throwing my remote into my display and Link would just slash sideways. I had issues with horizontal and vertical strikes being mixed up, but it was never as inconsistent as getting the thrust to work.   I“d also like to mention that I really dislike the stamina system. When I first saw that I could only run for a certain amount of time, I imagined there would be some race minigame where I“d have to manage fruit pickups or some vine puzzles that would be hard to traverse. None of those popped up, though, so it just stands as some sort of weird limiter to how fast you can go through the game.   Hand-holding   With the technology out of the way, I“m going to move into more legitimate complaints with the game. Probably the biggest issue I have with the game is that it treats you like an illiterate 8 year-old with ADHD. I have never played a game that made it so immensely hard for you to not know what“s going on. You“re usually told what to do multiple times through text and sometimes also shown where to go. The most absurd moments in the game come from instances where Fi, your helper, will explain something to you in a cutscene and then, right when you are about to regain control, come out to tell you what she just told you a few seconds ago. I“d have a lot less of an issue with this information overload if the text speed could be adjusted, but instead the game becomes bogged down with characters telling you the same thing multiple times. There is a good instance of this in the Sheikah Stones, stones that show you mildly cryptic videos of how to solve certain puzzles and sidequests, but they are pretty infrequent, so if you“ve gone back to one you“re probably fairly irritated with what you“re trying to do. Getting back to Fi, she“s pretty much as worthless as you would expect a helper to be. She“s given a lot of conversation options to give you hints, advice, enemy analysis, and such, but nothing she says is every particularly useful. That doesn“t stop her from bothering you with her lack of knowledge, though. It just seems like Nintendo really underestimates the intelligence of their target audience. Skydiving is probably the best reflection of this design philosophy, as not deploying your sailcloth to soften your landing as you get closer to ground results in frantic beeping and concludes with the sailcloth just opening automatically anyway. It“s like Nintendo was worried that player wouldn“t realize how warning bells work.   A Story to Nowhere   Alright, I“ve kept this pretty spoiler free so far, but this section deals with to story, so you may want to skip over this if you care. The game starts with an interesting premise, or at least the relationship between Link and Zelda is a new angle for the series to take, though it“s cliched in other mediums. Zelda starts out as a strong character, and though the game doesn“t do much with that, it“s nice to see that the game doesn“t start out with the damsel in distress. The real problem I have with the game is that after you leave Skyloft, the story manages to do nothing for the next 8 hours or so. You get told very clearly that Zelda has her part to play and that you have yours. Despite this, you go off chasing her through three dungeons and accomplish...nothing. Not a single thing. You get some items, sure, but those could have been gotten anywhere. You just chase after someone who doesn“t need protection by you. Then, after she leaves for the past, Link and the rest of the plot characters finally realize that what the hero has to do needs to actually happen. It“s not something you notice when you“re going through the game, but as soon as you hit the quest for the sacred flames, you realize that you“ve spent a third of the game doing nothing. Going back to Zelda, after you“re done chasing after her, she ducks out of the story for about a third of the game and then comes back in the last third to be the damsel in distress Link wanted all along. It“s really frustrating to see a good concept ruined.   I“m conflicted on if I want to say that the story does a good job tying together Skyward Sword with the mythos of Zelda series, largely because I“m not fond of the whole idea of a Zelda timeline and Nintendo“s commitment to it that comes about the timeline being released and the story of this game. There“s definitely a lot of tie-ins to different games and I do like them as a long-time fan of the series. I think I have to concede that I“m so jaded by the game that I have a hard time looking at the tie-ins as more than just fan service. Realizing how something in Skyward Sword tied into another game were some of my favorite times I had when playing the game, though, so maybe I“m writing something that“s more cynical than I actually feel.   And while I“m on the story, the Water Dragon is a jerk. Seriously. You come to his realm, complete the Ancient Cistern and get the Flame of Farore, but he never gives you his part of the Song of the Hero, despite knowing you“ll have to come back for it. Then, when you do come back, Master Sword in hand, he feels the need to test you, just to make extra sure. There“s no purpose for any of this other than padding out the game“s length. Dude“s a jerk.   Dowsing: The Chicken or the Egg?   One of the new features to Skyward Sword is dowsing, the ability to go into first-person view and use your sword to find where objects, usually plot items, are based on the beeping of the sword. It“s a feature I really don“t like, but I“m not sure to what degree. Mainly, I“m not sure if dowsing came about as a way to find these these various plot items or if dowsing was used as a justification for how many there are and not worry about using map design to funnel you to their location like in a traditional game. It really feels more like the later to me, as some of the collection aspects of this game make me think that the folks on the team spent a bit too much time playing Banjo-Kazooie. By the time your sword starts to get more useful dowsing abilities, you“re mostly done with the game, so it“s hard to even count that as a positive.   An Anniversary of the Worst   It“s pretty hard to miss all the 25th anniversary branding on the game. While all the fanservice in the story serves as a nice way to represent that heritage, the gameplay itself seems to celebrate the darker times in the series far too much. Of course, the game also manages to add its own spin. Starting off with something people have complained about since Ocarina of Time, Fi is probably the worst companion character in the series. I already went over how she has a lot to say, none of it useful, but what I“d left out until now is her personality. Fi is extremely robotic for whatever reason, and it“s a trait that just makes her all the more unbearable. Everything she is very dry and she constantly uses nonsensical percentages to assess your situation. There“s no emotional attachment to her because she has none herself, despite how hard the game tries to force it on at the end. Also something people have been complaining about since OoT, there“s a forced stealth segment in the game. This one happens near the end of the game and, to make things interesting, you also lose all of your items and have to reclaim them while sneaking around. I can“t imagine how the next installment will trump this. How about something OoT did well? Day and night exist in Skyward Sword, sure, but instead of cycling and adding a bit of life and depth to the world, day and night here are toggled by sleeping. People“s positions change, but you can“t ride your Loftwing, so the places you can visit at night are limited to Skyloft and two minor islands. It“s pretty hard to have a conversation about Wind Waker without sailing coming up. It“s pretty much acknowledged as boring at best, but that hasn“t stopped Nintendo from using it again. Skyward Sword“s spiritual homage comes in the form of flying. The long and short of it is that it“s every bit as boring as sailing, you“re defenseless when doing it for most of the game, and there are no travel songs to speed things up. Borrowing from something more recent, the four trials in this game are some weird amalgamation of the Vessel of Light segments from Twilight Princess and the Temple of the Ocean King from Phantom Hourglass. The game also thought paying tribute to Twilight Princess with an escort mission was a good idea. Plot-wise, the whole thing is justified by a robotic pack-mule being infatuated with Fi and wanting to land at a location before Link. Because of this, you have to protect little Romeo and go through a whole area, instead of just landing where you need to go. He can take a few hits, but save points and ammo are rare, so if you aren“t prepared, you may need to restock on arrows to take out all the long-ranged enemies. Should you choose to fight any with your sword, though, the robot will yell at you and cover half of your screen while you try and clear a path. I“d hate this section a lot more if the pathing weren“t so strict. There was a point where I had to go through a cave, but the robot lost sight of me. Upon exiting, he yelled at me that he couldn“t see me and I had to go get him, despite the fact that he was literally right across from me on a ledge I could just barely not reach with a jump.   I don“t mean to make it seem like Skyward Sword does nothing original, because it does. It just also seemed to think one of the best ways to honor the Legend of Zelda series was to cram together all the worst parts in recent memory. It really gives the impression that Nintendo is beyond caring and goes their own way, regardless of the resulting product. It would almost be admirable if they didn“t decide to stick to their guns with the worst ideas possible.       I suppose I could write more on why I don“t like Skyward Sword, but it would just be beating a dead horse. The simple truth of it is that it“s a game I forced myself through with much difficulty. At first I felt like there was something wrong with me and that the game would eventually click, since the game reviewed so favorably and is counted as a favorite among people. As I kept playing though, that“s a view I became less and less able to identify with. I can“t, in all honesty, say that I ever enjoyed myself while playing it. Any time I was close to, the game would throw in a segment that just renewed my hatred and made it all the stronger. I don“t want to seem like a jerk when I say that I hated the game. I“m not insulting anyone who loved the game at all, even though I don“t agree with that assessment at all. I“ve just come to the conclusion that, after 35 hours of playing, Skyward Sword did nothing for me. I just didn“t have fun with it, and as much as I hate the game, I am sad to say that I do.

Number 905

Number 905

 

Gaming changes: A Personal Entry

Casual gaming is generally defined by very simplistic gameplay, short bursts of playtime, and the ease of play. Basically you can just pick up a game and without difficulty, manage to play and progress. This is basically what the mobile and social game market follows, and where there is lots of growth for new developers or large companies. This was also the model of arcade games, and it seems that the console gaming market has even gone so far as to facilitate this kind of mindset as well.   While the short answer is that life has more responsibilities now, what“s scary is that sometimes I feel that even games that required hardcore dedication, like Mario, have become casual games in mindset. Yes, it takes dedication to do everything in a Mario title, but at this point, I“ve become so good at it that beating a stage takes a few minutes. Beating about 3 stages in Mario can be enough for me, since the game is not story focused. Many games nowadays have checkpoints after a major encounter, or can even allow you to save anywhere you want.       Less time with the guy, but time well spent.     I find myself saving more often when playing RPGs. Action games and adventure games automatically save after every stage. I just don“t really see myself ever really wondering, “when was the last time I saved?†anymore. No more chasing after a save point, because I don“t know when one will even pop up. Playing for about an hour and a half is enough for me now. Yes, I enjoy playing that much more, but sometimes I just want those days where I can sit there for 3 hours and be engrossed, instead of worrying about the clock.     Does anyone else feel the same way? Do you manage to pull nearly day long sessions, just for the hell of it, or do you actually get practically addicted for a short while?

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

 

Pixel Reviews: Beat Hazard (PC)

Note: I played on PC (with a bit of iOS here and there), and only with the "Ultra" DLC already installed.   The game is also available on PSN and XBLA. Beat Hazard is quite the unique game. I'd like to call it an music-based arena shooter, but that just doesn't really seem right for what it is, so I'll just call it "one of those music games, but different".   When you first start playing, you're greeted with a warning about photosensitivity in this game. Now, I highly doubt anyone with epilepsy or a sensitive to flashing lights and colors would even buy this game, but the warning IS there, and it certainly does its job well. You have to actually confirm that you want to continue, which is good because once you do, you're sent to the menu screen. On that menu screen is many flashing lights and colors, and they all change in time to the background music, which is one of the many songs that comes with the game.   From there, your basic options are Singleplayer, Two-player, Online Play, Manage Perks, Ranks & Stats, Achievements, Leaderboards, and Options. Within Singleplayer are multiple game modes: Standard Mode, Survival Mode, Boss Rush, and Chill Out. I did not play Chill Out so that won't be covered in this review. Upon choosing Standard Mode (the game's main mode basically) you are greeted with some options for your game, and your song selection screen. Beat Hazard does come with multiple songs to start off with if you just want to try the game out or don't have songs in your collection, but the main bulk of content in this game is the songs that you have, not the game's songs. In your game options section you can pick the intensity of the colors and lights that appear on screen. I can barely manage 100% intensity without dying (as there's too many things on screen at once for me to keep track of), so almost every time I played I chose 50% intensity.     Now, on to the game! Depending on what perks you have, you may get different things at the start. Some give you missiles to fire, some lasers, and others extra lives even. I like to play with the laser, extra lives, and extra multiplier perks, so I had all of those at the start. Enemies fly at you usually slowly at the start of the song, and progressively get faster and in greater numbers as the song gets more and more intense. Occasionally the game will throw a boss or two at you, and often enemies won't appear while the boss is around, which is nice. Some of the bosses can be pretty tough, but they're manageable once you get their tactics down. Powerups also appear and you may collect these to get more lasers, shields, a higher multiplier, more cash to buy perks, or missiles. It might seem like forever or barely anything depending on how long your song is and what type of genre it is.   And that's where the game might be a little lacking.   It seems to me that the game does an excellent job with providing a challenging and fun experience when you play a more fast-paced song, like a rock or techno song, but if you play something more slower and relaxed like say, trance or jazz, the game barely gives you anything to challenge yourself with and thus the game becomes too easy. The majority of players of Beat Hazard probably do play faster-paced songs, but that minority of slower-paced players are left out of the game's fun, which is the challenge of trying to survive.   Okay, well that's a bit bad, but the rest of the game is great I assure you! Survival Mode lets you try to last as long as you can, and it sure can get hectic having no lives left while trying to beat a friend's score. This was actually one of the parts of the game that I played the most just because it was so fun. The Boss Rush game mode is also pretty fun. It pits you against an increasing quantity and difficulty of bosses, and if you aren't able to beat the boss(es) you're up against in a round, you have to finish them off while another boss (or two) tackles you as well. It's not as fun as the other modes in my opinon, but it works decently for what it does.       The Two-Player mode works very well. Co-op on one screen works fantastic whether you are sitting next to someone or doing it online. Even when playing with a guy from Romania (I live in the USA), I was able to get little to no lag because the game's online connection works so well. The one complaint I have about co-op is that there is no option to change the difficulty. It's a bit of a doozy being forced to play on hardcore even when both you and your partner suck at the game.   I also want to add that there is a head to head mode that I saw, though I didn't touch it because my co-op partner only wanted to play with me, not against me, and when I looked for public servers I saw none.   Technically speaking, there are little to no flaws in Beat Hazard. The sound and picture quality both sound and look great respectively, and the game runs great on my older laptop. There were no errors anywhere I could find in the Singleplayer mode, though while playing online there were two bugs/glitches that happened to me. I assume they were only because of the high ping I had when playing at a place with a bad internet connection though, so otherwise the game is fine in the technical aspect.   Graphically, Beat Hazard is a game that impresses for sure. The flashing lights and many moving shapes may take some time to get used to, but after a while, it just seems to flow together very smoothly. You'll notice that the color transitions just effortlessly blend with the game and can be very pretty sometimes even. Perhaps it's just personal preference, but I very much so liked Beat Hazard's graphics.       Overall, Beat Hazard is a game that I really did enjoy playing. It's one of the better music-based games in my opinion, and definitely deals with the concept of having music power your game in an interesting way. The multiple modes, perks you have to progressively unlock with money that you earn in-game, leaderboards, 47 achievements, and most importantly, an unlimited number of songs you can choose, allow the game to have a lasting amount of content that certainly won't dissapoint. There are a few flaws and even two bugs I encountered while playing online, but the game is well worth your $10, especially if you can get it for even less (although paying more always helps out a game developer perhaps struggling to pay the bills )   I give this game a: 8/10

DrPixel

DrPixel

 

How gaming is servicing our service members

There's a common thread among war shooters these days; they all go for big explosions and massive set pieces. The stark reality of war doesn't fit in with the gaming world's picture of big-budget blockbusters and guns-blazing combat. While video gaming may emphasize the violence and carnage of virtual battlefields, gamers also tend to remember the memorable lead troopers who charge onto the field, machine guns roaring and grenades flying. Yet we sometimes forget the real service members who sacrifice so much on a daily basis. If you watch either of the documentaries, Restrepo and The Battle for Marjah, embedded below you'll find an unglamorous view of combat that games rarely depict.   The Battle for Marjah:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1zBZWGKJJY   Restrepo:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geBMq4qJP2c   The everyday heroes documented in these films have been through hell and worse, often forfeiting months of time with their families and the comforts of home. When they return, they often can't find employment at a job or have experienced severe psychological damage, leading to difficulties in reintegrating into civilian life. One film, To Hell and Back Again, depicts a wounded warrior's return home from Afghanistan and it isn't clear as to which is more hellish; the war or the reintegration. While we may remain ignorant of the struggles of veterans and soldiers around the world, two gaming giants have taken proactive steps to make sure we never forget. Activision and EA's Danger Close, though rivals in the FPS market, also understand that giving back to our troops should be one of our primary goals. With the Call of Duty Endowment and the recently revealed Project HONOR, EA/Danger Close and Activison have done just that.   The Call of Duty Endowment fund, founded in October 2009, is designed to help returning veterans find employment. While unemployment may be a pressing concern nationwide, veterans face a particularly staggering challenge finding a job. Veterans aged 20 to 24 tend to have a 30-31% rate of unemployment (Sept. 2011) compared to the national average of 15% for the same age group. Between 130,000 to 150,000 soldiers leave active service each year, so that means roughly 40,000 to 50,000 soldiers can't find work. For all of the the mortars, gunfire, bombs, and ambushes they've endured, they come home to find a public work sector unwilling to grant them unemployment. That's a tragedy, one that the Call of Duty endowment has vowed to fix. By raising millions of dollars in the CODE fund, Activision actively supports veteran employment training programs, CODE advocacy, awareness of veteran unemployment issues, and job fairs. The CODE program has made its mission to support returning soldiers with the tools and resources they need to find employment stateside. It's a great way to give back to soldiers who have given so much and face major obstacles in returning to the civilian world.     In a similar manner, EA and Danger Close have established the Project HONOR program. Project HONOR, which seeks to give back to the families of fallen soldiers and their dependents, receives charitable donations from major military arms and gear manufacturers/distributors, including London Bridge Tactical (LBT) and Magpul. In particular, LBT has spearheaded an initiative to sell Medal of Honor-themed gear, with 100% of of sales going to such organizations as the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. EA, Danger Close, and the Project HONOR affiliates are dedicated to aiding those who have answered the call and sacrificed on behalf of the American public. Though our debt to our service members will never be repaid in full, this is the least we can do to honor their memory and valor.     As Americans it's easy to detach ourselves from the world around us. Surrounded my technology, gaming, movies, and pop culture, we have more than enough to distract us from the inconvenient truths. However, we should never forget the sacrifices soldiers make on a daily basis. They are subjected to some of the worst physical and mental abuse possible. How are service members undeserving of a comfortable life just like everyone else? Thankfully, there are people who remember and also want to ensure the public doesn't forget its heroes.

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

My Thoughts on E3 and "Booth Babes"

Note: Not wanting to add to the problem, this post will only use images of women who I felt had the closest equivalent of dress to their male peers.   I went to E3 this year. Although much fun was had playing the titles, seeing famous people in the industry, and generally having a nice time, I couldn't help but be intensely unhappy about one thing. This one thing is how as soon as I walked into the world of E3 I was greeted by seeing "booth babes". Although I certainly had known they would be here before, I never really thought about just how pervasive it is. This was the first time I was really forced to spend days at E3 and see that they were everywhere. From Atlus to Nintendo, booth babes were nearly at every booth to help lure people over.   Now, before I really get into this let me say I really hate the term "booth babe" itself. Regardless, I'm going to use it because other terms will probably confuse the issue further, especially for those who have never considered it an issue. Perhaps I'm furthering it just by calling these women booth babes, but that is how this piece is going to be written right now.     I'm not sure why I didn't feel like it would really be this way. Perhaps because year after year I always have ignored sites posting booth babe "photo roundups". I can see women in a great deal of ways and seeing ones who are only tangentially related to gaming isn't particularly interesting. So, while I knew that booth babes would be around I wasn't actually prepared for it. Especially not with how they were literally everywhere I looked. Some were in costumes and some were in uniforms, but either way, they were obviously instructed to show skin.   The vast majority of people sent out to represent each booth's products were women. While there were usually men around too, they were dressed in uniforms free of showing off their body. This year there weren't even men costumed up in any state of undress. Instead, there were maybe a few guys in space armor or military-style attire. As they appeared to be physically fit I'd classify them as booth "hunks" but there was probably only four or five overall. In comparison, the amount of women in costume was higher. The amount of women in skin-showing uniforms was probably in the hundreds. The amount of women in dress which was comparable to their male partners, was probably around three.   Although it should probably have been obvious by looking at how 99% of the booth babes were thin and stereotypically beautiful, not all of these women were employees of the companies they represented. They were hired for this event, taught some facts about their games, then dressed up and unleashed on the convention center. These women were very nice and helpful with simple information sharing, but the vast majority had nothing to actually do with the industry. I can understand why Nintendo (with their massive booth) would need to call extra help, but why did the smaller booths feel it necessary to hire extra help? Atlus, for example, had a very small square booth but still had its share of miniskirt-wearing booth babes.   There is nothing wrong with these women taking the job of booth babe, either, in case someone thinks that's where I'm going with this. If these women enjoy being a helpful spokesperson for gaming and other industries then good for them. They're simply taking work where it is offered so they are no way at fault for the trend of booth babes in this industry (and others). They're obviously also not the ones making the costume or uniform selections. That's all on the people in control of the booths.     Perhaps it is due to me not being on Twitter seriously until this year, but I never noticed such a strong backlash against E3's booth babes before. As such, since the event I've read many things posted about the issue from a great deal of people. I've read some from men, some from women, and overall the critical response is that booth babes shouldn't have a place in E3. I agree.   I can't help but feel like one thing is missing from the critical analysis of why exactly booth babes are bad for E3. Both men and women seem to be focusing on the huge issue of how booth babes effect women in and around the industry. With booth babes left and right, it makes you tune them out. Not only them though, but also other women. It's a horrific thing because no doubt women in game development, publishing, media, or otherwise may be viewed less seriously because of all the booth babes around.   It also may be hurtful to women to see these women on display. There's no nice way to say that. These women are obviously chosen and dressed up to be on display. They are meant to attract someone to the booth. As they're all primarily skinny it also isn't helpful to self image, and in general, is just quite negative. Booth babes no doubt are affecting the perception of women in the industry, as well as women themselves who come to E3.   However, there's one thing that no men (that I have read) speak about. Whenever they write about booth babes and why this is a bad idea they talk about how it harms women or how it harms the view of the industry to outsiders. If not that, they may speak to it not being helpful for expanding the industry in the future (as it's not inviting to the growing audience of women). This is all true but why can no men say that it effects them too?   For me, it was a huge shock and made me feel terrible. Sure, I'm not a woman, but that doesn't mean I'm wholly unfazed by the display of thin flesh left and right. I am a feminist, but the distaste I feel toward booth babes at E3 is not purely because of how it treats women and how women will feel about it. This is a huge deal, and probably the larger side of things overall, but as a man I felt bad too. I felt bad for myself.   Were these women meant to pander to me? They must have. I'm a straight man who loves video games. This is what the developers and publishers believe to be their biggest audience and so they were pandering to it. However, thrusting lots of skimpily-dressed women everywhere makes it seems like their biggest audience is actually young teenage straight males. How does this make any sense? E3 is not simply a fan expo but a business convention for adults only. E3 isn't the only part of gaming culture which attempts to treat me like a teenage boy, but it seems most obvious here.     Are men like me meant to love this? Are we supposed to flock to a booth simply because a pretty girl is smiling in our general direction? Are we meant to be excited to play a game simply because a girl compliments me on a shirt or says the game she's demoing is fun? Apparently so, and I hated it.   It made me feel ashamed. Initially, I didn't even want to enter certain booths because their perimeter was dotted with booth babes. I didn't want to be associated with such a thing. I am not enticed to play a game because a girl is dressed up in the same vicinity. It repelled me, not because I thought the women were ugly, or anything of the sort. It was because I KNEW what this was about. It's about pandering to a specific audience, who I feel isn't even very strongly in attendance.   There are definitely people at E3 who like this showing of booth babes. I saw many people taking pictures of booth babes or even posing with them. On the other hand, with the small amount of booth hunks, people only seemed to take pictures OF them, not with their arms around them. So yes, there are definitely people at E3 the opposite of me and who benefit from booth babes. In turn, the companies that hire these women benefit too. However, I doubt this is the majority of attendees who react this way with booth babes.   For me at least I felt awful. I wanted to purely enjoy my time but it was hampered tremendously by these booth babes. They did nothing to me and I did nothing to them but it just felt awful. Here I was, participating in an industry which thinks this is completely fine. It's not fine for a million reasons and I doubt it really makes much business difference either. The only way we would know is if one year they suddenly banned booth babes at E3, but I doubt this will happen anytime soon. Companies will continue to argue that it's completely helpful as the majority of gamers are still male. And straight. And horny.   This is insulting. Not only is it hugely incorrect, it is completely ridiculous. E3 isn't the only part of the industry which treats us this way, but it certainly is the most obvious with it. Women deserve better treatment in and around the gaming industry than this. The industry deserves to treat itself better too, because this is hardly professional. Men, too, though also deserve to be treated in a respectful fashion instead of this supposed pandering to "our desires". It makes me feel like $@#%. It makes me feel worse that no men who I have read on the subject have ever brought up their own issues with booth babes. Why don't they? Sometimes I worry it's because they are okay with it themselves, and only change their thoughts when thinking about how it must cause women trouble.   Again, I'm not trying to say women shouldn't be a big focus of this. Of course they should! However, we have tons of discourse already about how this affects women, both by women and men on the subject. The issue of how booth babes may be problematic for men though is left un-discussed. So there are my thoughts about it.

Marcus Estrada

Marcus Estrada

 

The Official Krater Review

Krater just came out today but I've been playing the heck out the beta for the past couple of weeks. If you've never read my preview or heard of the game, Krater is a cross between Diablo and X-COM. It also happens to take place in Sweden after some horrible Apocalypse-like event. Krater focuses on giving players a team of three lovably odd characters to control and slay monsters with. Each character fills a specific team role, such as a medic or heavy melee attacker. They all have bizarre things to say and really add flavor to the whole experience, but is the experience any good?     The first thing you'll notice is Krater's distinctive art style. I'm not entirely sure what it is, but I like it. It mixes cartoon-like characters with intense bloom, particle effects, and washed out landscapes contrasted with flashy neon lights. In some ways, Krater's carefully crafted environments take me back to Fallout: New Vegas, with the glitz and glam mixed with dust and dirt. I dig it, and you might too if you have a video card capable of DX11 features. While you'll probably be zoomed too far out to appreciate all of those details, it still looks great overall.     Another part of the Krater experience is the soundtrack. In short, it's my one of my favorite parts of the game. There's (what I'd assume is) Swedish rock, 8-bit music, and a driving electronic score. All of it is grimy and fits the tone of the game perfectly. In some ways, it actually adds creep factor to the odd inhabitants of post-nuclear Sweden, as it never allowed me to feel entirely at ease with its muffled synths and subtle beats. The soundtrack really adds atmospheric ambiance to a game that already has it in spades.     The audio in general is fairly strong. There are strange, discomforting voice overs that seem to switch between English and Swedish on a whim. I don't know why this is the case, but I dare to ask too many questions. Krater just is, and I love it for whatever the heck it is. The environmental sounds and combat noises are suitably appropriate. They aren't as noteworthy as the soundtrack but certainly sound great overall.     None of Krater's presentation would matter if the gameplay wasn't good. Thankfully, I'm happy to report that Krater does a pretty good job of being fun. While it sometimes has response issues, particularly with unit commands, I generally enjoyed hacking and slashing my way through underground cellars and mysterious caves. The squad can be adapted on the fly through a quick menu. In fact, every element and stat can be checked or managed from various menus, each of which can be found at the bottom of the screen. Players can customize their favorite troops with stat-boosting implants, equip new weapons recovered as loot or purchased, and swap out role types to better balance squad dynamics. It's an extremely flexible system and allows for adaptation in the face of overwhelming odds.     One of Krater's unique quirks is the permadeath and injury system. If one of your little mercenary buddies is knocked down, he/she needs to be taken to a doctor ASAP. A permanently-injured party member can seriously debilitate a player's squad in intense battles. If a mercenary is killed off completely, that unit is gone, including all of the experience it gained. Thankfully, there's a recruitment system where players can purchase new battle buddies to add to their squad. Unfortunately, these soldiers are raw recruits and must be leveled up from scratch. While I didn't have any issues with the system, it could certainly pose a cumbersome challenge on a higher difficulty.     As of this review, the multiplayer aspect is not completed. As such, I can't evaluate what could be the biggest selling point for this game. Krater is fun as it is in singleplayer, so I can only imagine it'll be a blast when players buddy up and go journeying about the wastelands. Still, for the $15 price-tag, there are plenty of quests and side missions for players to stick around the solo mode. It's good to get your money's worth, and even better to exceed it. Krater manages to do both and is an excellent value. Even if you get the $20 version, which comes with the soundtrack and a powered-up Medikus, you're still getting a great deal.     Despite the number of ARG competitors about (Diablo 3, Torchlight 2, etc.), Krater sticks out among the crowd. It takes a squad-based approach to a usually solo affair and brings a quirky sense of humor and style to the genre. While it may have a few minor issues and bugs, Krater is a fun title and brings a fresh take on the ARG genre in an affordable, attractive package.   Score: 8/10

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

Why Prometheus is a failure

Before I go on about Prometheus, I must stress that I really loved the Alien movies. As a big fan of those films (except for the latter entries following 2 and 3), I was excited to finally discover the fate of the Space Jockeys. Alien and Aliens were both masterful executions of suspense horror, intertwined with moments of intense action, violence, and elements of the sublime. Both films are counted among my top scifi flicks of all time, and the chance to learn more of the lore through Prometheus really jumped out at me. But boy was I misled by the intense trailers and positive press surrounding the film. Instead of getting the movie equivalent of a hot rod, I got the gelapi.     Prometheus centers around man's beginnings as a team of explorers race to find our makers. Employed by the Weyland Corporation, the team of engineers and researchers is led by a cold, calculating Weyland commander portrayed by Charlize Theron. The premise is high-falutin' and sounds fairly interesting, right? If you're an Aliens buff, you already know Weyland isn't the world's most honest company. Why on Earth would they come to some godforsaken moon where man supposedly comes from? These questions, among others raised by the film, are either left unanswered or given completely unsatisfactory resolutions. Nothing in this film really makes sense from the plot perspective, and the way events are portrayed is often disorienting. I get the impression that Ridley Scott was intentionally as cagey as possible in order to set Prometheus up for a sequel. With all of that in mind, you'd hope the heady cosmological and theological questions raised help to make up for the movie's vague explanations. Sadly, they don't.     What's worse is that the film's content really doesn't have anything to fall back on. The cast of characters shows little signs of development and all are caricatures of how real people behave. While some of this should be expected for a Hollywood film, it makes the entire cast look like a bunch of morons. Take, for example, the biologist. [mild spoiler alert, though it doesn't really mention any plot details]         If the biologist's behavior is anything to go by, the entire crew of Prometheus is already screwed. And indeed, most of them die because of their own idiotic behavior and wooden dialogue. Seriously, the lines in this movie really do kill. They're delivered with such forced candor and emotion that it's hard to imagine the actors were really trying with this film. None of it's believable, and it lacks the realism of Aliens, where the marines actually did real marine-like things. They didn't take off their helmets whenever they felt like it. They didn't wander off alone like morons when the aliens are hunting them down. Just like the original Alien (which was actually good, mind you), Prometheus's characters do stupid, stupid things.     My biggest issue with Prometheus is that it lacks a general sense of focus. Aside from the bad script and wooden cast, it felt like the movie tried to move in too many different directions. What made the Aliens movies great was the singular objective of survival against a hostile alien species. There weren't half-arsed glimpses of humanity's origins. There weren't (unresolved) complex theological questions raised that diverged so far off the path as to be irrelevant. Most importantly, the movies added just the right amount of tension, shock value, and violence to make a great film. Prometheus fails at all of these core elements.     In summary, Prometheus is just a bad film. It tries to take a philosophical approach to the horror genre but fails miserably. The characters are unbelievable, the gratuitously violent moments are forced and uninteresting, and the unresolved plot threads are boring and ill-explained. My recommendation: skip it.   Score: 5/10

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

A cry for help

The story of Far Cry 3 begins with a group of friends visiting an island; found somewhere in between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. As they arrive on this tropical ”paradise“, they soon find out that their stay won“t be as pleasant as they thought so and soon they find themselves as captives under the control of the game“s major antagonist, Vaas Wahine- who is in fact utterly crazy but you will discover that in the latter part of this document- whom is able to torment Jason Brody (Far Cry 3“s protagonist/hero) and his friends and eventually killing one of his friends as viewed from the Stranded Trailer.   As a result of his friend“s murder, Jason manages to escape the overlord“s clutches and escape into the jungle but as he keeps on venturing deeper and deeper into the jungle he realises that the island is far more mystical than he“d ever imagined and it is because of this that fuels players to lurk even deeper into the abyss of the tropical and dense forests.   The narrative of Far Cry 3“s plot is all so ever-expanding mainly because of the different character encounters that players manage to confront whether it is a mentally deranged doctor (called Dr. Earnhardt) who has been living on this island as a hermit locked away from society“s view, with the occasional paint-the-house-with-a-different-colour-so-the-pirates-won“t-find-us attitude , he is able to patch you up with a variety of medications including some strangely coloured and shaped plants that can elevate your senses into a new state of rejuvenation.   What is most important about your doctor is that as you use up his supplies of meds, he will start sending you to different locations of the island, to recover new supplies, ranging from damp lizard-crowded caverns to booby-trapped archaic lost temples which will provide you with a new experience each time.   This part-experiencing different journeys each time- is one of the key features that the devs decided to concentrate the most and that is as quoted, ”What“s really going to set Far Cry 3 apart is what we call a 360 degrees approach… It“s not just talking about the actual physical space of the level itself, but it“s also talking about what the player brings to the table as well “ by executing a series of actions based on your style of play, this will allow your character to utilise complete control of the environment to successfully accomplish your objective, by using slow, careful and decisive tactics or by running directly into the action, shooting your Kalashnikov recklessly on a bunch of panicked and unaware pirates.   Furthermore, you will be able to meet other characters that will replenish your need for action by handing out certain quests-similar to the doctor- that will have you trekking across the entire island, i.e. Hurk and his bomb-carrying monkeys will have different missions for you that will transpire at different lengths of time, depending on your gameplay style.   The Ubisoft marketing team are striving as they try to advertise one of the most important games in this year with the new ”Insane Edition“ for Far Cry 3 with its contents: Monkey Business - Discover Hurk, a new memorable character and quest giver, and his four unique missions (one hour additional gameplay).
The Lost Expeditions - Two suspenseful action packed missions totaling over 40 minutes of additional gameplay and an exclusive weapon (The Japanese gun).
The Hunter Pack - The M700 hunting rifle and its three collector's skins.
The Warrior Pack - A handcrafted dagger and two exclusive tribal tattoos.
The Predator Pack - Four exclusive rare predators and a multiplayer bow.
An 'Insanity Guide' containing hints and tips to help you survive the island.
A 12cm Vaas Wahine with bobble head.
The details of the collector“s edition stipulates an idea of what to expect from the game with the introduction of predators(no, not the ones from the film), we will notice that the developers have implemented a new system in their game and that is hunting. For example, there will be wild boars to slay and even ferocious tigers and crazed disciplined dogs as stated by Ubisoft , ”As for the dogs, they're one of our cool enemy units. You must be very careful when dogs are present as they will easily catch your scent if you come too close to them which will lead to a rush of enemies looking for blood.“   In addition to hunting, we have another clue that will affect your story deeply and that is the tribal tattoos! Although unknown how you receive them we know from the developers that each tattoo focuses on the change that Jason is going through but also on the issue that surrounds his friends concerns- will his friends recognise him by the end of the story or will he be a different man? With regards to the different characters, it is one of the developers“ main concerns that each and every one of the character models has their own unique, specialised yet stunning personality since it is from the characters that will emphasize and enrich the narrative with their ingenious lectures.   For instance, we have Vaas, the villain of Far Cry 3, and from what the E3 videos managed to prevail is that Vaas is not one of those frequently used archetypical villains in several past shooters but instead gives a new ,extreme ”definition“ to the word 'narcissism'. Even Ubisoft has its say on the matter of Vaas: “Vaas is basically the very dark side of an alpha male. He“s on this island that has no laws, no rules, no police, and he“s power hungry. He“ll do whatever it takes to make money and control people.†  Turning to a different part of the game; Multiplayer! Multiplayer will feature several game types such as the common team deathmatch and the recently released footage of domination where each team secures and holds each point and wins if the team has gathered the most points overall, with rewards being given with each successful capture i.e. a sprint boost or faster reload.   You will also be treated to an animation in the end of each match where you are faced with a choice to either humiliate the other team by killing the number one player of the defeated team or set the hostage free to show that you respect him as an enemy.   To conclude, I believe that Far Cry 3 will keep its reputation for being the game with the most enticing moments filled with a number of unique scenes. Be sure to expect more at E3 starting on June the 4th .

Cassius Orelad

Cassius Orelad

 

Loco's Top Five E3 2012 Picks

This year was relatively quiet in terms of hot announcements. Publishers like Namco and Nintendo induced yawns over their lackluster showings for new products, and I couldn't help but feel that this year was much tamer compared to past events. Nevertheless, there were a few standout titles that really stole the show.   1. Watch Dogs   I was utterly blindsided by this one. While Beyond: Twin Souls had everyone talking, Watch Dogs is the true surprise of the show. It came from out of nowhere and shocked the crowd with its incredible visuals and seamless hacking/shooting mechanics. It's like Deus Ex, Grand Theft Auto, and Splinter Cell all had a sweet baby. Based on the gameplay shown, Watch Dogs could be the biggest release of 2013.     Gameplay Trailer (Strong Language Alert):       2. Far Cry 3   Following on the heels of Watch Dogs, Ubisoft once again brought another crowd-pleaser to this year's E3. Far Cry 3, which is quickly becoming my most anticipated title of the year, awed gamers with its luscious tropical setting and stunning visuals. Vaas also made his presence known, goading protagonist Jason Brody in the nudity and language-filled trailer shown during the press conference. Suffice it to say, this Far Cry is not like the others. It's crazier, bloodier, and grittier than any of the previous titles.     Gameplay Trailer (NSFW):       3. Borderlands 2   We all knew Borderlands 2 was going to rock. However, the public finally got another closer look at the highly-anticipated loot-a-thon and the previews have all been positive. As it stands, Gearbox has a potential shooter-of-the-year winner on their hands, breathing life into the barren Pandora and bringing guns galore back into focus. In a world of humdrum military shooters, Borderlands 2 is the booster shot of fun we all desperately need.     4. Assassin's Creed 3   At this point, there are enough Ubisoft titles on the list to make any gamer wonder if the list ever ends. Once again, Ubisoft pulled all of the stops out in their presentation of their most ambitious Assassin's Creed yet. Powered by a new engine and featuring an epic, sweeping scale, AS3 is looking to set a new bar in the platforming-adventure genre. Even better, a PS Vita companion title was announced and the previews indicate it's every bit as good as its console counterparts.     5. Metro: Last Light   Resident Evil 6 debuted as the survival horror shooter of the show, but everyone knows the true honor belongs to Metro: Last Light. If you've never played Metro 2033, prepare to be stressed. Ammo in this world is both a currency and a lifesaver, and with Last Light, every shot truly counts as players face against bandits and demonic mutants. The post-nuclear war, irradiated lands of Moscow aren't safe above or below ground. Metro knows this and ensures Last Light will have you dripping in sweat, whether your hallucinating an airplane ride with ghosts or running from a hulking, charging beast. This is horror done right.     What were your favorite E3 games? Let me know in the comments below!

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

Top Five List: The best time travel works

Sure, this isn't specifically a video game article, but given the amount of choices below that ARE game-related I thought I could post it here.   The top five list isn't really sorted, as they're wont to be - it's hard to say, objectively, how awesome one thing is in comparison to another, especially with the breadth of works on this list. All five choices are amazing, and you'd do well in reading any of them.     5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Is this time-travel based? I say so. I think it is because of one particular time travel theme - that characters learn something in the span of their "travel" that applies to them in the future, even if the act of time traveling erased the act of having traveled at all. That's a pretentious way of saying "stuff happens because someone saw the past," and since this movie is great that's good enough for me.   4. Chrono Trigger - It's almost a given that it's here, but that doesn't make it any less valid. Chrono Trigger is the de-facto time-travling video game, hitting every beat that you'd want to hit - magic, technology, dinosaurs, meeting your ancestors and descendants, swords, guns, and the end of time itself. It's still my favorite overall video game experience, thanks to the gameplay and music, but the time-travel based storyline is a real delight, putting in just the right amount of "openness" in a traditionally linear experience.   3. End of Eternity, by Asimov - Did you know Asimov's an amazing writer? I just found this out, after all this time. This novel, published in 1955, doesn't feel like it's old.   2. Back to the Future Trilogy - The first work that overlaid multiple versions of the same person into popular fiction, and a great example of it. It's a fantastic trilogy that misses out on first place just because it gets a bit worse the longer it goes on - Back to the Future 2 isn't as good as Back to the Future 1 just because it ties directly in to BttF3, which wasn't great - but that shouldn't be a black eye on the series. Back to the Future 1 and 2 are really quintessential sci-fi films that are extremely accessible to the everyman, and paved the way for other light sci-fi films in a way that few things have.   1. Ghost Trick - I'd imagine this could be controversial, but this game really has everything a good story should have. Time travel really is the emotional and gameplay-based hook behind the game - change the fate of the present by doing everything you can four minutes before a given character dies. The game is constantly engaging and entertaining, with puzzle solutions that're more Monkey Island than Space Quest - that is, you can screw up, but those moments may be the best in the game instead of moments that make you wish you were playing something else. With the game available for $10 on iOS it's a must-play for anyone with the opportunity.   HONORABLE MENTIONS   Memento - It's not a time travel movie persay, since the illusion and shifting of time is (mostly) in the eyes of the viewer instead of the characters. But it's a bit of meta commentary on the idea of time travel, too, in that the perception of events changes the reality of the events. It's on Netflix, Hulu, and probably everywhere else. Definitely worth a view.   Die Hard - Have you seen Die Hard? You should see Die Hard.

Skychrono

Skychrono

 

Diablo III and/VS/or Torchlight 2

Diablo 3 finally released after Diablo 2 and it's expansion released in 2000 and 2001 respectively. So it has been more than ten years the fans have been waiting for a sequel and it was finally released last week. The wait for me at least has been well worth it. But 11 years is a long time right? Since then there have been many hack'n'slash games. Titan Quest, to some degree Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance and the fairly recent Torchlight.   Pretty much every game of this genre for the past 11 years have been compared to Diablo 2 and the result has always been pretty much the same. "The game is good, just not Diablo 2 good. It will be good to play this game until Diablo 3 is released." One of the games that created a lot of buzz was this game Torchlight. Here are the reasons.   1. The guys who worked on Diablo moved on to create this game. 2. The guys who did the music for Diablo also worked on this game. 3. The game was priced at 20 dollars at launch.   The game was very well received by the fans even though it had no multiplayer whatsoever. At 20 bucks the game was a steal and it was even mod friendly so new content was always around the corner.   In this blog I simply want to compare Act 1 of Diablo 3 and Act 1 of the Torchlight 2 beta. Obviously this may not be a fair comparison but I hope you guys will enjoy it.     Graphics       The two have a pretty distinctive style and they are both low end computer friendly. Torchlight 1 was famous for being somewhat playable on a netbook. Torchlight 2 is a little too cartoony for me. Some people complaint that Diablo 3 is just WoW from a top down perspective but I disagree. Diablo 3 can get pretty dark and gruesome. What really sells me on Diablo 3 are the production values. The story and the cut scenes are simply amazing.     Skills and Customization   Here comes the controversial stuff. Torchlight 2 is straight up Diablo or Torchlight 1. You pick your attributes and you pick your skills. If you want to use certain armor or weapons you need to make sure you put your attribution points properly. Diablo 3 takes out all of this. You automatically level up and you gain a new skill or different version each level. The customization for Diablo 3 comes from the fact that you can only have 6 active skills at a time and each active skills has 6 versions of it. The fun is the mixing and matching. This to me is a love or hate thing. I actually like it because I do not have the time or passion to make 14 versions of a wizard. Now I only need to level up 5 main characters to 60 and I can enjoy the content or hardcore from then on.   Classes         I think both games did a great job with the classes. I finished Act 1 of Diablo 3 using a monk and Torchlight 2 beta using an Engineer. Both were lots of fun. Diablo 3 has 5 classes and Torchlight 2 has 4. Each play fairly differently and will play a distinct role in multiplayer.   Conclusion The simple answer is this. Go out and buy Diablo 3 because it is good. The servers are not settling down and you have probably read enough to know the differences. I enjoyed Act 1 of Diablo 3 a lot and can't wait to get back to continuing the story as well as starting up my hardcore characters. Don't expect this game to fill in your Diablo 2 hole. This is Diablo but this is a new Diablo worth checking out. Also go and buy Torchlight 2, you can get the game for 15 dollars if you have 3 friends that are willing to check it out.   In my honest opinion I prefer Diablo 3. Even as I was playing the Torchlight 2 beta I was thinking I want to play more Diablo 3. The weakest point of Torchlight 2 is the story. I really did not get involved with the story at all. The gameplay of Diablo 3 seems much more focused and purposeful and I like that, but for 15 dollars Torchlight 2 will be a steal.   This is not and Diablo 3 or Torchlight 2 deal. I say try and get both. You may never need to buy another game for the next 2 to 3 years ^^ And that is 75 dollars well spent ^^

Shin GenX

Shin GenX

 

Grounded, or Total Escape?

One night my cousin came over and we decided to play some smash bros. Brawl. After beating the crap out of each other for a bit, he looked through the collection of games and asked why I don't have any sports games such as Madden. I replied saying that I would rather play video games to do lots of crazy things that we can't do in real life. I started playing video games during the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo era. During that time, most of the games consisted of platformers, (Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong) RPGs (Final Fantasy), beat em ups (Streets of Rage, Final Fight). You couldn't play a “realistic†game back then. Once the Playstaion 2 era came about, all of that changed. When playing a sports game, people are trying to live a different fantasy. We all pretty much play video games to escape the reality of real life, but some people play certain games that are more grounded to the reality of the real world. Maybe that's the big appeal.   I understand that people want to re-live history or set up what-if situations with Madden and the NBA2K series. One of the reasons sports games do well is that they incorporate the retired greats. Joe Montana, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, heck, Shaq just retired. Seeing those guys play again, although in digital form definitely brings memories back. Another big draw to such games is mainly in the pick up and play aspect. Since there's no real story behind them, you don't have to get acquainted with the characters and the reason why the main character is doing what he/she is doing. You just get to jump right into the action. If you are familiar with the sport, there's not much extra stuff you have to learn regarding the rules of the game. It's more figuring out how to play the game (or adjusting if you have previous game experience). Fans are finally able to put themselves in the coaches chair, and play the players and make the trades they thought would benefit their favorite team, instead of how things played out in real life. Now the player that didn't get so much playing time is actually kicking some butt right? (let's hope) Maybe you want to see how the season would play out with a specific player injured. Some play to have some feel of what it is like to be a professional athlete. Maybe that's your biggest fantasy.       Go out and JAM!     On the other side of the fantasy spectrum are the games that I tend to play. Games that contain the improbable, or the impossible. Games where bending or even breaking the rules of real world physics is considered normal, and this carries into the worlds and rules of the games. Can your character double jump? Can you air block in a battle game? Why is it normal for a character to carry an item that's two times the size of a normal person? Sonic's main ability is to run at supersonic speeds, which we can't do in real life. In Streets of Rage, a crime syndicate takes over a city, but I highly doubt a small band of ex police officers will be able to take down an entire gang using only their martial arts abilities. And those are the simpler games. RPGs generally contain some form of magic. When people think magic, usually that means controlling the elements in some way. And lets not forget that most of these games have story lines, something that sports games lack.     A grand adventure awaits...     Realism and fantasy are two ends of the same spectrum. While realism does have its aspects that appeal to some, the same goes for the more fantastic games. Some games just won't appeal to everyone. Now let's go play some basketball, break security cameras, and beat up thugs without getting arrested...in video games of course!

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

 

Featuring Features: One Part of Video Game Advertising

I“d like for you try an experiment: Grab a few games and read the back of the box. If you have a larger collection, feel free to vary the genre and generation of games. Now try the same thing with movies. Notice how pretty much all the movies explain the story of the movie, while it“s not the same with the games.   Here“s my list of the games I chose:   Not telling story: Mario galaxy 2 - Wii – platformer Mario and Luigi super star saga - GBA – RPG Tekken 5- PS2 - battle DBZ Budokai 3 – PS2 – battle Jak X – PS2 – racing Assassin“s Creed – PS3 – action/stealth Chrono Cross – PS1 - RPG   Telling story: No More Heroes - Wii – action Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One – PS3 - platformer Viewtiful Joe – PS2 – action/beat-em-up Viewtiful Joe 2 – PS2 – action/beat-em-up Sonic 2 – Genesis - platformer Golden sun: lost age - GBA - RPG     While we do live in the Internet age, and can look up practically anything game stories included), many games surprisingly feature almost nothing about the story of the game on the back of the box. Many games are all about the features. It doesn“t take much to explain the story, just a short blurb will do. A couple sentences explaining why you are playing as so-and-so, and then all of the fancy, eye-grabbing stuff can be in the smaller pictures. Now depending on the kind of game you get can detail how things are played in the advertising field.       Surprisingly, half of the games I chose have nothing to say about their respective stories. The strongest case probably goes to “Mario and Luigi Superstar Sagaâ€, and “Chrono Cross†mainly because they are RPGs, which is the most story-based genre out there. If I pick up a game I haven“t heard of, or have forgotten about, I would like to know what I“m getting into by looking at the package somehow, much like how movies and books try and grab their audience. However, a video game“s interactive nature lets it pick a direction.       Mario and Luigi are off to the Beanbean Kingdom! But why?     Games with simpler stories, such as the “Mario†games can get away with a non descriptive story, because the story is usually just that simple; Princess Peach has been kidnapped, and it“s up to Mario to save her. That“s pretty much it. Everyone looks forward to the new levels and the new features. “Mario†also has the fact that he is a franchise and not a new series. No one expects something overly complicated when it comes to “Marioâ€, so when all the new features are on the back of the box, it“s understandable. Battle games and racing games fall in the same mold, because the mechanics and features is what everyone looks forward to, especially if the game is a long running franchise. Even if the game is new, the audience will want to know what the new game is doing that the others are not. What does “Guilty Gear†do that “Street Fighter†doesn“t?     Right there near the bottom of the case     My point is that much like books and movies, you can figure out what the basic plot of the book or movie is by picking up the package. Interestingly, video games don“t necessarily have to follow that rule. While I was irked that “Assassin“s Creed†mentions nothing about Desmond Miles (Desmond Miles is left to the instruction manual), it“s not necessarily a bad point. A little surprise never hurt anyone.

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

 

Max Payne 3 Review

It's hard to miss an old friend when you don't realize how much he or she has impacted you. In the same way, I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy Max Payne 3. The familiar grizzled cop and bullet-storm pastiche was my jam back in the good old days of shooter yesteryear, but times have changed. Gone is the era of Quake-style shoot-'em-ups, Unreal arena-FPSs, and most certainly gone are bullet-time powered third-person shooters. This shine of bullet-time wore off long ago and it has only been poorly imitated (or used in generic ways) in recent modern FPSs. Thank god for Max Payne 3, then, because it blows the living crap out of every bullet-time powered shooter out there. Forget Dead to Rights or The Matrix's slow-mo scenes; Max Payne does it better, and the third time truly is a charm for Rockstar.     The first thing you'll notice when booting up Max Payne 3 is just how depressing this game is. Max hasn't been doing well in the few years since we last saw him. With his entire family dead, booze and painkiller's have become his roughest vices. Max downs both like candy drops, shrugging off their hallucinogenic and perception-altering affects. Still, you can see the his age and grief reflected in his body. Rockstar has ensured players see every pained expression and wrinkle on his face. Max's life has been tough, and his body clearly shows it.     The third title in the storied franchise centers on Max's bodyguard employment for a rich Brazilian family known as the Branco's. The figurehead of the family, Rodriguo, is a popular builder and has earned several awards, including his attractive wife (hint: she's not there for the man). Naturally, said attractive wife also enjoys Brazil's nightlife and wears flashy clothing that sets her apart from the other loathsome, rich trash. In a sequence of events only possible in Max Payne, she ends up being kidnapped and Max blows up half of Sao Paulo looking for her. If you're looking for a much deeper, more complex and involving plot, look elsewhere. Yes, there's plenty of intrigue and a few decent shocks but it's nothing you haven't seen before. No, come for what Max Payne 3 does best: shooting.     If Rockstar wants to do one thing incredibly well, it's the combat. Every gun is a powerhouse in Max's tired hands. You'll feel the kick of every SMG, handgun, rifle, or shotgun as you mow down hundreds of bad guys. When Max swings his revolver around, you can feel the weight of it in his hand as he physically adjusts his body's balance to account for the metal mass between his fingers. When he pulls the trigger, your adrenaline pumps as the bullet speeds along and gloriously makes contact with an enemy target. To make the combat as visceral and exciting as possible, Rockstar has also utilized motion capture tech and the Euphoria engine, allowing for incredibly realistic animation and physiological response to being shot (think action movies where bodies twitch for each impact). In English, Max Payne 3 lets players shoot up people real pretty-like.     The most important part of the combat, however, is the bullet time. Much like the old games in the series, bullet time fills up with kills. The more Max shreds, the more foes he can stylishly dispatch using his signature bullet-dodge and slow-motion abilities. A final killcam also highlights the brutality of combat, showing each and every hole a bullet makes in an enemy. If players wish, they can 'bullet-time' the cam and slow it down to enjoy the savagery on-screen for longer periods of time. Not that I would encourage such behavior or anything.....     The singleplayer campaign clocks in at around 7-10 hours, depending on what difficulty you choose. I went with Normal, disabled the auto-aim, and faced some fairly stiff odds here and there. The initial five or so chapters (of the 14 available) go by fairly quickly. Around the midway point, however, the difficulty ramps up. Expect a few frustrating deaths here and there. I had to learn certain enemy positions before blindly charging in with bullet-dodge; not doing so got me killed. All in all, the main story is a fun, well-scripted excuse to throw some awesome set-pieces at players. In particular, the siege on one guy's office is likely one of the best gunfights in gaming history.     Visually, Max Payne 3 is a stunner. Particle effects have been turned up to 11 here and everything reacts beautifully to the impact of bullets. Dust and debris kick up as windows and sparks fly all around Max. It's an aural spectacle, especially in cramped environments where a rapid-fire SMG or shotgun is a necessity. The audio is equally strong, with voice-overs matching the quality of the game's production values perfectly. It also doesn't help that the weapons sound fantastic. The music is appropriate, though it's sometimes difficult to hear given how often I was squeezing the trigger.     Rockstar has also boasted about its much-talked about multiplayer, calling it the most cinematic online experience possible. Thankfully, the experience is mostly fun, partly in thanks to the social media service Social Club. Social Club allows players to join up with crews and play on teams in any of the games varied modes. It's great to feel like a larger part of a gang, given the nature of Max Payne 3's enemy-gang tendencies and various factions. The MP modes, such as Gang War and Payne Killer, are all fairly interesting. Each has a different objective set, such as eliminating a hidden target, assassinating Max Payne and his partner Passos, or straight-up killing. No matter your fancy, Max Payne 3 will satisfy. Unfortunately, I wasn't as satisfied with the implemented bullet-time. While it actually works (in a multiplayer game!), I can't say I entirely understood its workings. That may be because I'm ill-experienced with these kinds of things but I'm fairly certain it doesn't help the games pace much. Regardless, the multiplayer is still a blast and ties in nicely with the singleplayer storyline.     Max Payne 3 is Rockstar's homage to movies like Die Hard and Hard Boiled. It's part John Woo, part Bruce Willis, and all action. The violence is brutal, visceral, and satisfying, ensuring gamers blow up every single thing from here to who knows when. While the story may not be entirely original, it's still well-executed and drives the exciting action at a steady pace. The multiplayer, while somewhat handicapped by the bullet time, is still a great diversion from the singleplayer. It will no doubt have its fans among many of the players.     Final Score: 9/10

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

Where is Six Days in Fallujah?

Many people have forgotten the existence of one of the most hotly debated video games this generation, Six Days in Fallujah. Developers Atomic Games recreated the events from the Battle of Fallujah as accurately as possible in this survival-horror shooter. However, the timing of the game's release wasn't right and Six Days was placed on indefinite hold. A couple of years ago, reports surfaced that Atomic was still developing the game despite a drop in publisher support. Two years later, there hasn't been a single mention of the game anywhere, aside from an interview with one of the soldiers who helped with the project. What happened to Six Days in Fallujah?     When last we heard from the developers, Six Days was finished. Konami, the publisher that had actively taken an interest in releasing the game, dropped support after a firestorm of controversy surrounding the game. You might wonder what sparked debate around a Middle East-centric wargame when there's Call of Duty and Medal of Honor. Quite frankly, the difference is that neither of those games actually portrayed real events as they happened. Six Days went the opposite direction and portrayed the events in Fallujah exactly as they were reported, even down to the names of the casualties. This real-life portrayal of war in a video game promptly put the ambitious project to rest, silenced indefinitely and trapped in a limbo state.     I think it's time the public finally saw Six Days in Fallujah. With documentaries like Restrepo and Battle of Marjah, Six Days deserves every bit the chance to impact the American audience as those powerful films have. To me, Americans have a fundamental disillusionment with the realities of war. There aren't respawn points where dozens of terrorists toting RPGs pour out. There's no censorship of the brutalities war does on the body. War is bloody, filthy, and it needs to be shown the way it really is. If we're uninformed of the truth, how can we sympathize or help those returning with PTSD, TBI, and other disorders and injuries? We need to put ourselves in their shoes, and Six Days wanted to do exactly that.     Six Days in Fallujah was also co-developed by soldiers themselves. Atomic went straight to those who had taken part in the battle and asked their advice. After hearing the soldiers' sides of the story, Atomic set about developing an accurate portrait of the conflict. The soldiers even stated that they wanted the game released so that the American public could understand what that hellish nightmare was like! Atomic also stressed that politics and disrespectful portrayals were not part of the game. Combat followed the rules of engagement and never sought to improperly portray and side of the conflict. So why is America so resistant to Six Days in Fallujah?     While I can understand the natural sensitivity to a game portraying such a recent conflict, I actually think it will help us to understand what really happened. The Iraq War was something not many Americans invested the time to research and examine. As such most couldn't grasp how horrifying and disturbing the war truly was. Six Days in Fallujah is the kind of media we need in order to dispel some of the ignorance surrounding the Iraq War. It's high time someone stepped up to show what really happened on the ground. But this is just one point of view. Do you guys think it's a good idea to release Six Days in Fallujah, given the nature of the Iraq War and the controversies that surround the game?

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

Kickstarter before there was Kickstarter

Most people have never heard of Zero Point Software. If you're one of the few who has, you're part of a small handful of people who have witnessed the genius business model of crowd-sourcing firsthand, long before Tim Schafer made over $3,000,000 for his adventure game on Kickstarter. Zero Point, responsible for the upcoming sci-fi FPS Interstellar Marines, turned to crowd-sourcing when they realized that they needed the community's help to build their dream shooter. This is their 'proposal'.   Early alpha footage from the Unreal engine version.   Taken straight out of the pages of a future novel about space marines, Interstellar Marines is the evolution of the space shooter. Full immersion is Zero Point's goal, and if the teased gameplay is anything to go by, they've done an excellent job. The Unity-powered game shines with excellent particle effects, great lighting, and a visceral feel to movement. The camera bobs and the HUD (which is actually a marine's helmet) completes the picture of immersion. And the best part of all this? You can try a demo of the game right now without any downloads or paying a single dime.     Zero Point believes in letting the community evaluate their work before allowing them to make donations. Interstellar Marines has been sectioned out into what Zero Point calls 'slices'. Each slice samples different elements of the game, from the marine and alien designs to the multiplayer combat mechanics. Don't want to pay for the game just yet? Don't worry! You can try several other demos, including the Running Man combat training exercise where players go head to head against enemy drones in a large obstacle course. If your internet is fast enough, you can also play the game straight from your browser. That means Instellar Marines is available anywhere you go.   If you do decide to donate, there are tiered rewards. The game is planned as a trilogy and becoming a Spearhead member grants you access to all three games (should they be released). In the mean time, all paying members enjoy early access to each slice and have extra benefits, including special status on the forums and unlockable support medals. Zero Point wants to make sure donors are rewarded for supporting Interstellar Marines. The developers have also made a point of making the coding and development cycle transparent, posting regular status updates from the team each week. It lets gamers see inside the process, from concept to execution. Have a suggestion? Ping it off them and it might make it into the game!     While Interstellar Marines isn't guaranteed to be released, the crowd-sourced development cycle allows gamers to see inside Zero Point's work. It creates a level of transparency that most studios don't offer when they build their games. It's also novel that Zero Point releases slices of the game for curious players. It's a chance to demo what they have to offer before you commit to a hard purchase. Hopefully, more Kickstarter projects follow Zero Point's example and involve the community. It's the best way to keep the project open and alive.   Want to try the game for yourself? Head over here and pick up a free account! It'll get you access to several slices of the game. Not impressed yet? Watch !

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

A look at Spec Ops: The Line

I wasn't sure what to expect from Spec Ops: The Line. It's been touted as the gamer's alternative to the gung-ho antics of war shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield. In Spec Ops, the narrative is the key part of the tapestry which holds the whole game together, or so I believed. Then, I got my hands on the demo. After roughly twenty minutes of gameplay, I will say this right now: Spec Ops: The Line could be the biggest shooter of the year.   The demo starts with a fairly generic rail shooter sequence where you gun down half an army's worth of choppers. You fly into a sandstorm and the segment ends, leading players to an earlier point in time. From here, we got our first glimpse of the city of Dubai. To say the least, it looks like a dump after the sandstorms hit. There are wrecked cars everywhere and wasted bodies lying in heaps, but no one seems to be home. That is, until you hear a faint transmission coming from down the road, straight towards the heart of Dubai. You know that what lies ahead won't be pretty but you forge ahead into the unknown.   You can actually use the sand as a weapon too.   As you've probably guessed the quiet doesn't last for long. I was fighting against local militia forces almost as soon as I had found the transmission source. In my pursuit of the insane Colonel John Konrad and his "Damned" 33rd Battalion I had stumbled upon the opposing survivors of Dubai. Led by a CIA agent, it's clear that these guys don't like me or Konrad's men as US army bodies litter the ground around me. The fight against these survivors takes me into the city and the battle is bloody, bitter, and brutal. I cringed once or twice at the sheer impact that the bullets had on targets. While it's nothing you haven't seen before, it's a difficult choice to make to just go on a killing spree. But the enemies aren't going to wait for you either; they pepper cover with powerful weapons and try to outflank you and your squadmates. It's a minor tug-of-war to see whether you can juggle the enemy forces and your men at the same time.   Time to run!   Your team-members, Lugo and Adams, are both fairly competent. They offer numerous wisecracks and call out useful combat information if you're in a pinch. You can also order them to do different things, like stunning an enemy or healing each other should one of them go down. They're also good at suppressive fire but don't expect them to be nailing hostiles left and right. That's more or less your job.   Conserving ammo during firefights is also a must. It goes by quickly and the weapons you find aren't particularly accurate. The AK-47, for instance, kicks like a mule but can't hit the broad side of a barn. The other rifles and SMGs also tear through the limited ammo you carry like nobody's business so make sure you keep a keen eye for ammo crates and weapons lying around. The combat certainly isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination and having no ammo won't help your situation.   You'll be seeing stuff like this a lot. Get used to it.   Visually Spec Ops is gorgeous. The colors appear saturated and have this otherwordly feel to them. While it's more trickery than anything, I felt like I was definitely an unwanted invader in someone else's backyard. The lighting also shows off the impressive technical prowess that Yager has doctored up in the Unreal 3 engine. Everything looks like it belongs in this war-torn hole. The bodies and spray-painted messages on the walls all seem to indicate that everyone in the city has lost it. What people remain have gone feral, and the brutal action only highlights how graphic the violence and terror is.   The audio is excellent. Those who are fans of Uncharted will instantly recognize Nolan North's talent as protagonist Walker. The other squad members also deliver strong voice-overs and their dialogue is expertly written. Every weapon in the game also has a pleasingly grim quality to it. I felt the bullets each time I pulled the trigger, and that viscerality is important to immersing the player in Spec Ops's broken world.   Situation is pretty FUBAR.   Spec Ops: The Line is shaping up to be an excellent game. There's a staggering attention to detail and the narrative really intends to draw players in. While I didn't witness any of the much-touted moral decisions, I look forward to getting my hands on this game soon. From what I've seen, Spec Ops is shaping up just fine.

Harrison Lee

Harrison Lee

 

The Long and Short of Growing Up as a Gamer

(Picture credit from Penny-Arcade.com: http://art.penny-arc...098_C3d43-L.jpg)   I recently became an "adult" to the extent that it's a detriment. Let me clarify that before my wife kills me - my son and wife are the best things that have ever happened to me as a person. But as a gamer, they've been pretty tough. The baby may only sleep for an hour or so you had better hope that your mission is more of a sortie.   But that's not something I can blame the industry for. But I can say that some games don't understand the idea of instant gratification, the idea that every time you're playing a game you're enjoying your time. If you're a game developer, ask yourself this: If the time between savepoints wasn't fun, why was it there? If you were watching the events unfold for the first time would they be interesting? If you had to describe what you did in an hour's span to someone else, could you make that sound interesting?   The game that I've been referencing here, to be honest, is Zelda: Skyward Sword. I don't mean to rant against it, and I certainly don't hate it - it's just in dire need of an editor. Seriously, no game should follow a style guide, but this game garner some massive improvements by following those rules I put forth above. Let me tell you (with some spoilers) what I've done in the last five hours or so: * Fought the reincarnation of an evil god for the second time (Awesome! Well, not as awesome as the first time, but still...) * Finally got to hear some storyline information after hours of doing random quests for the sword... * Learned a new skill that did exactly what a previous skill did... * Fought a flying whale with eyes growing out of it (Alright, yeah!)... * ...that required precise controls and wasn't any fun... * Fought, uh, the reincarnation of an evil god again (it's only been an hour or so since the last time...) * Fought the swimming controls to talk to a dragon... * ...that turned an entire area into an underwater dungeon with annoying swimming controls... * ...that required precise controls and wasn't any fun... * ...to catch... musical notes...   And so on, and so on. The game is split into three parts with three sections in each - three initial visits to the surface, three visits to those areas to get musical flames, and three more visits to get parts of a song... and the second and third acts feel entirely useless to the plot and to the structure. Every mission feels like it's tacked on after the first section, every bit of storyline effectiveness reduced by adding long pauses before you hear a peep from Zelda or any of the Skyloft denziens.   The big problem here is not player agency - the player is always involved, and there are barely any cutscenes. The problem is not the inanity of the quests (like tadpole hunting), since those can certainly be done well (like in Mass Effect 2). The problem is that the game is structured like a game that doesn't care that someone has to play it. It wants to get its message across in its own particular way and thinks that games these days need to be long to be worth buying. But that isn't why people buy Zelda - they buy Zelda for dungeon designs (such as the first Dark World dungeon in LttP), the quirky sense of humor (the hookshot goes BOOO-OOOO-OOOOING), and its characters (Malon and Midna have so many fans you'd think that they were the titular characters in their respective games). Skyward Sword focuses on all of the wrong things.   But its combat is nice!   (And, no - a game that can be "chunked" out like this isn't going to lose its sense of immersion. Just look at Skyrim for a game that did it right - the universe is all there, and you can play as little or as much as you'd like.)   Here's some more exampls of games that could've been better with an editor: - Metal Gear Solid 4 (intentionally?) favored quantity over quality with 1.5-hour-long cutscenes, a very literal example of Telling instead of Showing. When previous games in the series put the most interesting content behind codec calls this isn't super surprising but the final game in the Snake series didn't take any of the criticisms on previous games into consideration. I theorize that this game is really the End of Evangelion of the Metal Gear Solid series. - Tales of Vesperia, that lost sight of its message thanks to its reliance on the Spirits (summons) plot. Yuri was a "renegade" with a heart, but a total departure from this plot by the game's second half made it feel like a dangling thread.   And, just to be positive, games that did length well: - Portal 2 had three "acts," but none could really be cut. Trimmed a bit, maybe, but almost every puzzle was interesting enough to be kept in - Skyrim and Saints Row are both "long" games, but with simple components for the most part. Walk around, find a thing, kill the thing, find a treasure. Every day can feel like an accomplishment.     Zelda is the worst offender I can think of recently. But it's not a terrible game. It doesn't tarnish the Zelda legacy. But, hopefully, it's a game which signals the end of an era instead of a proving point. Because this isn't how games can go on, with gamers getting older. If the industry only focuses on the 12-to-20-year-old crowd then it's going to lose out on a share of the market that actually has money to spend, a market share willing to pay for quality. Arkham Asylum, Skyrim, Portal - they knew how to do it. Let's hope that other games try to copy their success.   (Oh boy, I just realized that all of my positive examples are American and all of the negative ones are Japanese. That wasn't intentional. There are great Japanese games out there! Bayonetta for one. And, uh...)

Skychrono

Skychrono

 

My PAX East Adventure!

Well, this year I was lucky enough to grab a ticket to PAX East! It was my first video game convention, and I must say, it was a blast! The entire building was bustling with people, and screens and banners were put up all over the place. I was only able to attend Saturday, so there was only so much I could accomplish.   When I entered the expo hall, it was quite overwhelming to see everything to be honest. Everything was already there and set up, and tons of people were walking around enjoying this and that. Over stimulation at its best. Ok, onto the good stuff!         I pretty much went immediately to “Lollipop Chainsawâ€, which was a school bus with screens. Videos of the game were being played, and I think you could play a demo if you went inside the bus, but I never did that. When I returned later on during the day, I actually got to talk to Suda and take a picture with him! When I asked about what else he was satirizing with “Lollipop Chainsawâ€, he ended up saying that he threw in his fair share of Shakespeare in the game.   When I visited the freeplay areas, there were classics abound. Atari 2600, Intellivision, Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, Dreamcast, and a bunch more! “Sonic 4 episode 2†and “Assassin“s Creed 3†were both popular, as both sections had incredibly long lines. I missed out, because I had too much to do and not enough time to do it in.         When I managed to make my way over to CAPCOM, I found that what I was looking at was a “Street Fighter X Tekken†tournament. I was actually informed of that from a booth babe. That didn“t dismay me, because there was a free play area right around the corner. It was my first time playing the game, and my first time playing with a “Street Fighter X Tekken†arcade style stick, but I managed to win a round and not have my butt completely handed to me.   I got to play “Double Dragon Neonâ€, which is a remake of the first “Double Dragon†game. We“re thrown back into the 80s with neon lights and street punk fashion. The game looks ok graphically, and the animations look sluggish to be honest. Some of the enemy spin kicks are so easily telegraphed, that the only reason you get hit is because there is no block or evade button. Other than that I enjoyed it. I really wish there was some kind of co-op attack for the brothers to perform, but I only played so much.         I actually got to watch a panel on “The Secret Worldâ€, which is a new MMORPG. You start off by picking a faction, and then you are placed in one of three major cities. From there you accept quests and move on with the story. You don“t start with a specific class, which is quite different, and all the main story quests are told through cinematic cut scenes. Seems like an overall interesting game, especially with the story cinematics, something many MMOs lack on a regular basis. I don“t think I“m going to end up playing it despite the good impressions.   Speaking of MMORPGs, I did end up playing “Raiderzâ€, a 3D action MMORPG. Your character was over powered for the demo, but it was really cool seeing your character unleash a basic combo and feeling the impact of those swings. While I enjoyed playing the game, as it was different from the very few MMOs I“ve played, I can“t say I want to get into other MMOs. I ended up winning a t-shirt for slaying a giant lizard.   There was tons of merchandise, as you would expect. Most of the t-shirts and posters were very amusing and fun to look at. They had tons of games, from old classics, board games, and trading cards. I had to nab one while I was there.         Some more wandering happened, where I found food, and a bunch of people playing card games, table-top games, and board games. A part of me wonders how much time actually goes into those. When my brother wanted to go to a panel on legal issues in the video game industry, the room was full. We got there about 20 minutes early, only to find that we couldn“t get in. Yeah, there was that many people going to a legal issues in video games panel. Cosplayers were abundant. Some good, some amazing, some bad, and one in particular I wish I didn“t see. Luckily, I ran into two guys from Screwattack! It was fun to talk to them, but it was a very short meeting.   As things finally wound down, I got to play “Kid Icarus: Uprisingâ€. While the controls will take getting used to, what little I did manage to play (the team based multiplayer) was really fun. I would get this game if I had a 3DS. My only complaint is…WHY IS THIS NOT ON THE WII?         So those are the main points from my PAX East adventure! I would gladly go again, and would suggest gamers to give this a shot if you haven“t already. I was told to try and go to the concert, but didn“t have the energy to do so. Well, there“s a plan for the next visit already.     Thanks for reading!

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

 

An Overcrowded Shelf

Back when arcades were around and during the 16 bit era, beat em up games were the ones popping up everywhere. “Double Dragonâ€, “Final Fightâ€, “Streets of Rageâ€, they were all very similar. Now with the advent of online gaming, the first person shooters are taking over, and fighting games have held strong for a long time. Seriously, look around, at the gaming market and what“s on the shelves. So many different games just look similar.     Not similar at all...   Take a look at the gameplay and controls for “God of Warâ€. You have a light attack, a heavy attack, jump, magic, block, and evade. The light and heavy attacks can be pressed in certain combinations to make useful combos. Different action games have that same general control scheme: “Castlevania: Lament of Innocenceâ€, probably bears the strongest resemblance, due to how the main weapons are wielded. Heck, even the “Ninja Gaiden†reboot on the Xbox had a similar control scheme, and both “Castlevania†(2003) and “Ninja Gaiden†(the 2004 reboot) were released before “God of War†(2005). The control scheme has generally stuck, as there are tons of games with that same general control scheme.   Speaking of “Ninja Gaidenâ€, there are lots of remakes, reboots and ports running around now as well. The “Devil May Cry†series is not only getting a reboot, but it“s being released as an HD collection, along with a different “Metal Gear Solid†collection. Now these aren“t bad deals at all, but it“s just that these games were released last generation. Sometimes it just seems like it“s too soon to repackage the same game. Nintendo made a killing by making their fans wait before remaking some of their franchises. Nintendo could be a good model to follow on that trend. Capcom, while we“re in the midst of this fighting game frenzy, throw a remake of this game into the ring for some variety.         The answer is rather simple: Those types of games are popular and familiar. Something that is popular, will generally sell well. The familiarity to other games means that the player doesn“t have to do a whole lot of adjusting to the new game. It“s hard to be innovative when you“ve already got a formula that works. With the longer development and production cycles (which means more money), it“s that much riskier to make a bad product. Seems like the good formulas are here to stay until the next big innovation comes.

Blazeknyt

Blazeknyt

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