Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever

After spending over a decade in development, Duke Nukem Forever has finally been released to a public eager to see the return of one of gaming's greatest heroes. Hardcore Duke Nukem fans will likely enjoy the game's crude sense of humor, as their hero tosses back beers, visits the strip club, and delivers enough one-liners to make Bruce Campbell proud. The game does an adequate job in capturing the funhouse mirror feel of Duke Nukem's world- a world chock full of innuendo, and enough rude and crude jokes and advertisements to keep fans of the South Park style of humor giggling. Having Duke bench press 600 pounds, hit a high score in his own "Balls of Steel" pinball machine, admire himself in the mirror, and many other activities all add a maximum bonus to Duke's health or "ego" meter, which functions much like the shield in Halo. While these "ego" boosting activities are good for a few laughs, they aren't really given at a set pace and end up feeling random and out of place.
Sadly, this is where the good aspects of Duke Nukem Forever end. Unfortunately, it seems that the painfully long development cycle seems to be one of the game's biggest problems, as much of it feels like it should have been released 10 years ago. Gamers wanting the next big FPS to tide them over until Modern Warfare 3 or the next Gears of War get released might want to skip this one, as this game plays much like an old school PC shooter with a few modern gaming concepts awkwardly tacked onto it.

The pacing can be very uneven, as I often found myself wandering for long stretches without killing anything, only to find myself running into what seemed like endless waves of Pigcops and other alien scum. The long loading times also don't help as the frequent deaths one is bound to experience in certain spots makes repeated attempts incredibly frustrating. Frequent platforming sections also detract from the experience as Duke's jumping feels awkward, and a lack of any sort of objective compass or map can make navigating the game world and knowing where to go next quite a chore. The graphics aren't going to blow anyone away and there are some awkward animations throughout the game (have Duke perform a jump in front of a mirror, and you'll see what I mean). The weapons are mostly the standard FPS fare including a pistol, a shotgun and others. The only real standouts are the freeze gun and the shrink ray, though the novelty of these wears off rather quickly. Since you are allowed to carry only two weapons at a time, you are most likely going to ditch them rather quickly.
Duke Nukem Forever does offer a few multiplayer modes that can be played online. The matches are what you'd expect from a FPS: deathmatch, king of the hill, and the like, and players are awarded xp that can be used to purchase unlockables. Jetpacks and holodukes add an interesting twist to an otherwise average multiplayer, but even these do little to compel one to keep playing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PlayStation 3D TV Announced

Sony's ever popular games console may be about to step up even further in desirability with the recently announced arrival of the PlayStation 3D TV. Sony announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo during June 2011 that they will bring the model to market alongside their existing range of 3D TVs in an attempt to take the 3D games market by storm. Sony are planning to use breakthrough technology which allows two players to see individual different game images on screen by simply pressing a button, revolutionising the existing split screen method, and opening up new potential in the ways that competitive games are played.
The out of the blue announcement firmly places 3D gaming as the one source of 3D content that has true potential to place 3D TV at the centre of our home technology needs. Watching images in 3D naturally increases the feeling of immersion, which of course is one of the key attractions of gaming in general - to take you out of this world and into another where you're in control and slap bang in the middle of the action. With video games attempting to deliver a true 3D experience unsuccessfully for many years, and the Nintendo 3DS not quite delivering everything it promised, it very much looks as if it Sony will ensure that their new PlayStation 3D TV takes the pole position in the race for the best new 3D entertainment of 2011.
Sony have stated that the PlayStation 3D TV screen size will be 24 inches and come as part of a bundle that will include various essential accessories such as active shutter 3D glasses, HDMI connector cables to hook up the PS3 to the TV, and a 3D game which first indications suggest will be Resistance 3. The glasses operate on a rechargeable lithium ion battery that according to Sony needs a 45 minute charge to give up to 30 hours playing time, plus just a few minutes charge is expected to provide a few full hours use. With a planned Autumn 2011 release date there is plenty of time for elements of this bundle to change, and it'll be no surprise to see either different or extra games included.
For anyone who's been following the progress of 3D TV technology over the last year or so, the 24 inch display size might be surprising. On first impressions it does seem on the small side given much of the focus on 3D TV has been on building and selling bigger screen models to increase the immersive feeling that's a major part of watching 3D images. But Sony are aiming this innovation at gamers who are used to smaller screens, they might be playing in bedrooms and other small spaces where standard larger 3D TVs are way too big.
At roughly £320 or around $500 the price might just about be set at the right level, though extra pairs of Sony glasses cost between around $50 - $70 as well. Early reports indicate that the picture quality delivered by the 1080p, 24 inch, edge LED lit display is strong, and other specifications of the model include a 5000 to 1 contract ratio, 2 HDMI inputs, and a 176 degree viewing angle for players. This wide viewing angle looks to be a critical element of the TV, allowing players to sit next to each other exactly as they do now to enjoy multiplayer games and yet still get the full 3D effect.
Other features include a headset port, two HDMI ports, one component port, and two speakers. All combined with an ultra thin display. But the ability for players to see different 3D images while playing the same game is of course the jewel in the crown. The technology uses what's known as quad speed frame sequential display technology, and in simple terms it works by combining the glasses with the TV to send the separate 3D images to the different players.
Most major manufacturers, and Sony in particular of course, believe that 3D games will drive the adoption of 3D TVs even higher, and this looks to be the first real effort from a major games manufacturer to try and prove that point. For an experienced gamer the PlayStation 3D TV could become one of the all time must have gaming gadgets. And for those of us who don't class themselves as hardened gamers, then this new development might be the fuel that sets us on the road. There are already over 100 PS3 3D games in circulation and if the PlayStation 3D TV is successful it will be no surprise to see that number increase substantially.
At the expected price of around $500 this option may just encourage anyone who's been sitting on the fence about buying a 3D TV to jump in with both feet. And the potential for the future is outstanding. Imagine when 3D games get to be paired with motion-sensing controls or head tracking technology, we could be facing whole new ways of gaming. Players could manipulate 3D environments with a wave of their hand. Game play and even player level creation could become far more intuitive than ever before. Should the PlayStation 3D TV be as successful as seems likely, it could open up the doorway to even more new and innovative gaming experiences.
It all sounds good, doesn't it? But there are some drawbacks. The major one is that the dual player mode will only work with 3D games that have been specially created to take advantage of it. Clearly that means that all existing games will be incompatible from this perspective, though of course you'll be able to play them as a single player in 3D. Sony will reportedly have around 100 fully compatible games released by the end of the year.
So we'll need to wait and see what further developments take place. But if the idea of the PlayStation 3D TV doesn't grab your imagination there's an alternative way to hook up your PlayStation to a 3D TV with the recently released Sony combination 3D TV/PC. Known as the Vaio All In One, the combo comes with a 24 inch, 1080p HD LCD monitor, plus a built-in Blu-Ray player. Connectivity to a PS3 is via an HDMI port. At a price of around $1400, the All-In-One could be a better option for anyone who wants to combine 3D gaming with their other online activities.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Angry Birds Mobile!

These cute birds are available everywhere! They are also making their ways to many other mobile devices, some launched and some yet to be launched. Now you don't just have to have the traditional iPhone or iPod to play the game. You can still enjoy the angry bird experience from any phone with Angry Bird Mobile! The graphics on other mobile devices are as great as the iPhone!
iPhone: This is the traditional one. The game was first originally released only for the iPhone and available on other apple devices like iPod touch or iPad. Now it is available for many more devices. It is available on the current version of the iPhone, 4.3 and you can also play it on the newest version 5.0. I phone 5.0 has not yet been released but soon enough it will!
Angry Birds for Nokia Symbian: They are also on Nokia phones. They still have the same gaming interface, but the only thing is that you must have a big screen to fully enjoy the true aspects of the game. It is still a work in progress, so it may not be perfect yet on all Nokia phones. It will keep improving though.
Windows Phone: This one is yet to release. There has been rumors about it releasing sooner, but it just hasn't yet. The official date in June 29th, 2011 and it will release then. It will be cool to see how much angry birds are able to do on the windows phone, but considering how well they have done on android, I know this will also be another success. Hold tight, It will be here soon!
Angry Birds for Android: The stats for this are phenomenal. There have been more than 3 million downloads in one week when this first launched (and I was also one of them). I was overjoyed when I learned I could continue my passion from my smartphone! The interface on the android is also very impressive, but not as good as the iPhone. The touch and the rendering speed is still a little slow, but I am sure that android will fix that to maximize their results. However, I love playing on the android.
Angry Birds for Samsung Phones: Currently, this is only available on the smart phones for Samsung, which probably run on android. You have to be able to connect to the store to download it. Some phones have to be patient and just wait until an option for playing this highly addictive game is available. You can try it out on your phone to see if it works!
Tablets: It was not originally set for nook or kindle, but some smart hackers have been able to get their game on the nook. However, this requires some extreme knowledge. Also the nook has a dimmer screen than mobile phones so the overall aurora is different and I'm not sure how the touch works on the nook either. But hopefully soon there is an option available for nooks and kindles like it is on ipads. That would be great!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D Review

Improving upon "perfection" is not exactly an easy job. Yet that's the task that falls before Nintendo and Grezzo, the co-developers of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. The original Ocarina of Time, which debuted nearly 13 years ago, was universally hailed by critics, including IGN, as one of the best games of all time. It was a milestone achievement, redefining how we viewed action games and how developers made them. "Revolutionary" is by no means an understatement. 

Is it even possible to remake a game as influential and revered as Ocarina of Time? Is it possible to satisfy all audiences, new and old? As it turns out, the answer is yes, for the most part. What the teams at Nintendo and Grezzo manage here is a spectacular yet conservative and respectful upgrade. There are a few minor issues, including some areas where graphics could have received an extra boost, but by and large this tows the line between enhancing a decade-old game and meddling with something that is by most accounts flawless. 

Graphics will be the core focus of anyone buying Ocarina 3D, as it's the biggest alteration made and Nintendo's biggest showcase for the young 3DS's abilities thus far. Fundamentally this is the same game it ever was. Locations, structures and characters have all been preserved. However, textures, models and animations are all built from the ground up, and have been significantly revised. You'll still recognize everything and everyone, but you'll see them as they were originally meant to be.

Ever look at the behind-the-scenes art for Ocarina of Time and wonder where things went wrong for the Moblin or even Link himself? The in-game graphics never quite lived up to the concepts crafted by Nintendo's artists. Those discrepancies are now gone. What's remarkable about the work done for the 3DS version is that it respects its source. It goes to the line set by the game's original artists and absolutely no further. The result is a game that seems so familiar you'd swear it's always looked like this. (Trust me, it didn't.) 

The Hero of Time arrives on the 3DS.

The dedication in preserving what made the original game so iconic is admirable, but in some instances it might have been a bit much. While there's no doubt characters should only be revised so much, environments are another thing entirely. While the enhanced textures and backgrounds in the game are quite impressive, resulting in some truly stunning locales (Castle Town in particular comes to mind), the basic architecture of some of these areas is still a bit archaic. You'll certainly run into some blocky looking hills and cliffs, instantly recalling this game's rather dated origins. It makes me wonder why some of this couldn't have been touched up. More awkward examples of this come in the form of stairs and open fields, where the blocky nature of the ground combined with more detailed textures makes it painfully obvious you're running up a sparse, flat surface.

The concept of Ocarina 3D is identical to what it was so many years ago. Link, a young elf in the Kokiri Forest, is tasked with helping Princess Zelda to save the world. Along the way he explores nearly a dozen dungeons, acquires powerful artifacts, faces off against some of the most epic enemies and bosses ever devised, and does it all while navigating the past, present and future to prevent the land of Hyrule from falling into darkness at the hands of the evil Ganon. 

Back in 1998, Ocarina revolutionized 3D combat with its remarkably polished and innovative Z-targeting system, which forced a camera to lock-on to an enemy, giving players a perfect view of a battle. Many routine actions, such as jumping or climbing, were also automatic or dedicated to a single "all-action" button, allowing gamers to focus on puzzles, exploration and fighting instead of struggling to leap to a specific ledge or adjust their view to scale a wall. This new version goes a step further, using the touch-capable bottom screen of the 3DS to view maps and assign equipment. The system's gyroscope also allows you to view the world around you by physically moving the system.

In the original game, players were forced to frequently pause to adjust inventory or check Link's location. That is easier and more streamlined now, despite the fact that the 3DS's button layout is different from the Nintendo 64's. This time Link only has two physical buttons (instead of three) that can be assigned, as well as two that are based entirely on the touch pad. This works for the most part, though I'd be remiss if I said I didn't miss that third item. Reaching over to the touch pad isn't quite as intuitive, nor is reaching over to go into a first-person view or activate Navi, your companion fairy and general pain-in-the-ass. (She now not only pesters you about what to do or how to fight enemies, but reminds you to take a break from playing the game every 15-20 minutes.) Being able to assign some functions or items to the d-pad would have also been welcome.

A gorgeous world could have looked a bit better.

Gyroscope aiming is deceptively useful. At first glance, it's a useless mechanic that disrupts the 3D effect. However using this method is so intuitive that you'll adjust over time. Considering I was often playing with the 3D off (outside of cutscenes), I ended up not even noticing most of the time.

So the game's graphics and controls have been upgraded while still preserving the core of the game. That is and should be more than enough for any of you who have not played the game before. Ocarina of Time is a masterpiece, and that certainly had not changed. The developers weren't stupid enough to meddle with a formula that worked phenomenally back then, and realized that brilliant gameplay does not age - only technical concepts do. But what does the game offer those of you who know Ocarina of Time like the back of your hand?

In addition to upgraded graphics, Nintendo has added the Master Quest version of the game, which twists dungeons and enemies around, requiring more skill and less reliance on memory than its counterpart. For the 3DS, the entire world in Master Quest has been flipped, meaning whatever used to be to the left is now to the right. It's a subtle difference, but if you intuitively knew the original, you'll find yourself suitably disoriented. The second change is that all enemies in this version now do double damage. The Zelda series isn't often known for its difficulty, but it's likely you'll find yourself in trouble with enemies dishing out more pain than ever before.

In addition to Master Quest, there are a couple more additions to Ocarina 3D. As you complete the game, bosses are added to a "Boss Gauntlet Mode" that is accessible from Link's house in Kokiri Forest. Completion times are tracked, albeit not online, allowing you to compare your best times defeating each boss against your friends'. Additionally, when you've unlocked and beaten all of the bosses in this mode (which does not include the final boss), you can face all of these foes sequentially, with only a small health boost between them. 

The final alteration deals with a tips and tricks system built right into the game. As gamers progress through the adventure, special Sheikah Stones will give them the ability to see hint movies that will clue them into the locations of hidden items or give suggestions on how to beat bosses. It's an entirely optional concept, but it could be a big help to some of the younger or newer Zelda fans out there.

All in all the revamped Master Quest, boss gauntlet and hint movies are great, yet it feels like there could have been a bit more. If you know Zelda exceptionally well, the core graphical enhancements are going to have to suffice. Most of these other things, though certainly nice, are merely a different colored icing on a cake that's largely the same. For some of us, experiencing Ocarina of Time through a shinier, clearer lens will be enough. Others will be left wanting, expecting and demanding that the core concept must change to warrant another purchase. Both perspectives are perfectly reasonable. I fall into the former camp.

This is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, just as you remember it, reborn for a new portable system and a new generation of gamers across the globe. If you have never played this classic game, stop reading this review and get out there and buy it. The core essence of Ocarina of Time ages exceptionally well (even in light of sequels that have expanded on it), and it's never looked better. That Nintendo and Grezzo were only willing to adjust and enhance so much (by and large the sound is untouched) is truly admirable and speaks to their respect for the source material and its original developers. There is no doubt in my mind that it was the right choice. Why mess with perfection?
That said, that decision comes with a price, one that will frustrate many of you who have played this game over and over again and are in the market for drastic change. If the graphical boost isn't enough - and let's be honest, we're already seeing some games on the 3DS that look better than this - you're not going to have much else to satisfy your interests. It's clear this game is being released to find a new generation of gamers that are just discovering Nintendo's franchises. The rest of us will have to determine if it's worth re-visiting a Hyrule we've known for nearly 13 years. Rest assured, though, that doing so will not only let you relive a masterpiece, it will let you experience it in the best way possible.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

Release Date: November 16, 2010 
Publisher: UBI Soft
ESRB Rating: Mature
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is the third game in the AC canon despite the fact that Ubisoft is reserving the actual numeral 3 for the next iteration of the franchise. The game picks up where Assassin's Creed II leaves off, so if you haven't played the previous titles, you may be better off starting there. Just in case though, here's the breakdown. Desmond has been recently liberated from the Abstergo Company who, by using a device called the animus, forced him to relive his ancestors' memories in the search of information on the whereabouts of a long hidden artifact that is itself the key to world domination. Desmond and his rescuers find a secluded place to set up their own animus to further probe his ancestors' memories- in this instance, one particular ancestor: Enzio Auditore da Firenze. Yeah, I know. It's complicated.
When we last saw Enzio at the end of the 15th century, all kinds of crazy stuff went down, and the end result is a Rome run by the Borgias. The previous game's villain, the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia, has secured the artifact, the Apple of Eden, and has become Pope. The Templars, now backed by the Papacy, launch an attack against the Assassins and Enzio, and his few surviving allies are forced into hiding out in the city of Rome to bide their time and rebuild.
Much of AC: Brotherhood's single-player experience remains faithful to AC2, but a few new dynamics are thrown in that prove to be a positive addition to the already tried and true Assassin's Creed gameplay. For one, Enzio can recruit new assassins into the order. Once you have liberated a district from Borgia rule, you can rescue citizens fighting the guards and train them to become assassins. You can then send them out on contracts in exchange for cash and occasional items. If not out on a contract, the assassin can be called out to assist in battle, to silently take out a guard in Enzio's path, or if Enzio has been busy recruiting, have them rain arrows down on a patrol or guard station.
In addition to the rebuilding effort, you'll also be tasked with assisting the other guilds allied with the assassin order (namely, the consorts, thieves and mercenaries) on several missions, and an old friend will call on you to recover some stolen schematics. All the while Enzio will be making his play to recover the stolen apple from the Spaniard. Throw in the usual flags, feathers and various treasure chests to hunt down, and the single-player campaign will easily last you a good 35+ hours if you're a completionist.
Brotherhood is also the first game in the series to feature a multiplayer component. I admit I was initially unsure about the idea, but I was pleasantly surprised. There are several game types- my favorite, and the most basic form, is Wanted. Up to eight players take to the crowded city streets in a game of cat and mouse. The object is to eliminate your target while at the same time staying one step ahead of your pursuer or pursuers.
Kills and escapes are awarded points in varying amounts based on the number of bonuses achieved. While simply running a mark down and plunging a knife in his back will earn you a cool 100 points, if you can manage to poison him unseen while blending in with a crowd you'd be looking at something like 1,000 points. These points not only determine the round's winner, but they also act as experience points by raising your level and unlocking new perks and abilities.
You'll need them in order to adapt since not all quarry act in the same manner. One map you might be playing against a bunch of guys using stealth and hiding in crowds. The next, all the players could be running around on the rooftops. The overall effect is a surprisingly fun, although somewhat uneven, multiplayer experience. The bright spots are further tarnished by long load times and, in my experience at least, occasional connectivity issues. Although neither of these issues has yet to keep me from the addictive online play.
All in all Brotherhood is a great game, but not one that will win over naysayers of the series. New players will feel a little lost on the story, especially if they accidentally stumble on one of Subject 16′s "The Truth" files, but fans of the previous titles will be pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do here. Don't let the lack of a 3 in the title stop you, this is no AC 2.5 or Assassin's Creed Lite. There's plenty of meat on these bones to keep you busy for quite some time

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grand Prix Story Review

I might be biased towards the kind of managerial games that Kairosoft develops. With their first release, Game Dev Story, I easily spent two full days inching my way up through the game industry, creating my own console and eventually dominating the market. With their sophomore title Hot Springs Story, I learned every positive and negative building combination and created an impressively efficient resort.

What both of these games lacked (Hot Springs Story more than Game Dev Story), was a way of giving visual feedback to the player; allowing them to track their rate of success. With Grand Prix Story,  Kairosoft has solved this problem. Whereas previously success was a case of getting higher numbers or more money, Grand Prix is far more visual. Each race serves as a representation of how far you've come, and in case that wasn't enough, each time you beat your last time or improve a stat on a car higher than ever before, a golden little "best!" makes sure you are aware of that. It helps make gameplay feel more rewarding, and keeps you playing for just one more race. Very cool stuff indeed.

Like the two previous titles, you are in a managerial position. This time you're in charge of a racing team, and you need to oversee the hiring/firing/growth of your staff and the creation/upgrading/tweaking of racing vehicles and special parts. It's not really grounded in reality -- an in-depth knowledge of the racing industry probably won't help you much -- but that works to Grand Prix's advantage, opening up the game to people like myself who don't know a car from a very car-shaped rock.
Look, there're cars!
Look, there're cars!

Grand Prix also manages to avoid the repetitious feeling of Game Dev Story. Players progress through a series of races through several different tiers. Early on, races are short and simple, and victory is a matter of building a solid car. Later, as off-road and icy-road tracks are introduced, it becomes a matter of keeping a variety of different cars on hand and making sure that the more specialized vehicles are still fast enough to be useful. The changes in track types keep the formula of building-racing-researching from becoming too stale, and provide a step up in challenge at the later stages. Actually, compared to the previous titles, Grand Prix Story can be punishingly difficult to progress through at times.

Like Hot Springs Story, Grand Prix Story comes with plenty of little secrets that only very advanced players will ever unlock. While an in-game help section explains some of the fundamentals, only trial and error and some blind experimentation will ever push you to the final portions of the game. There also seems to be the necessity to do a full play-through so you can carry certain things across to the next game in order to unlock everything, similar to Kairosoft's previous titles. While I had no problem with that aspect (I would have played it through twice anyway) the idea of forced replayability may throw some off. You'll probably know if you include yourself in that group.
I'm a huge fan of Kairosoft's managerial games, and Grand Prix Story is a worthy addition to the lineup. The aesthetics and concept are essentially the same, but the execution -- especially in how the game shows your progress -- is improved. There are still times where you will sit there passively (in fact, most races are 100% automatically driven), but if you didn’t mind the downtime of the other two games, picking up Grand Prix Story should be high on your priority list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Angry Birds Update - Mine and Dine!

Angry Birds never stop expanding. I am really starting to think that the developers at Rovio don't sleep. They are launching new things every day! This is great news for the general public, especially people like me. I am sure I spend at least an hour playing this game. With new updates and altogether new episodes, I am in luck.
It has been a while since Rovio had launched an Angry Bird update as it had been focusing all its attention on the other games, Angry Birds Rio & seasons. Now that they have an update, I am sure it will live up mine and many other fan's expectation.
The newest Angry Bird update is called Mine and Dine and actually it is a brand new episode in the game! It will be the 6th episode in the game. It takes place underground in a mine type of a setting and the graphics again are just brilliant. The pigs and birds will be in an underground setting and in the released pictures; they are all wearing mining hats, again an add to the absolute cuteness.
If you already own the game on your iPhone or play on android or even on chrome, the update is free. It is also rumored that along with a new episode there is also a new bird! There will also be new prizes, like some jewels. Another motivation for fans!
Rovio mobile has already submitted their game plan to Apple and in just a couple of days, it should be approved and readily available for the general public! The however is not exact release date yet, so let's just wait and watch. But soon, you will be able to play this game and hopefully slay pigs until you advance to the last level!
This game will be available for Palm, iPhone, iPod, iPad and even some Nokia phones!
Rovio can hope to see a phenomenal number of downloads once the game has released, may be something like 1 million downloads in less than 24 hours! The game was said to be released on June 16th, 2011.
So what do you think? Are you going to jump in and play the game once it's out? Or do you think you will wait a little and see how good it actually pans out to be. Or are you just tired of slaying pigs? Whatever the case may be, I know Mine and Dine is something to surely check out! I surely will!
***UPDATE**** I just ordered my Angry Bird update today and I've never felt happier. It was a free update because I already owned the full version of the game. The graphics as usual were amazing. This is a game I really recommend.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Most Anticipated Wii U Games

As soon as these games hit the market, they can be expected to fly off the shelves. For the fiends of fear-inducing, intense game play, Darksiders 2 will be sure to prove satisfactory. For those looking to sneak stealthily through war-torn and enemy-filled streets and undergrounds, Metro: Last Light will leave you in awe. And for anyone else who is looking to be the commander of all that is cute and obedient, or the commander of all that is shell-shocked and restless, Pikmin 3 and Battlefield will give players the chance to experience it all. 
  1. Metro: Last Light absorbs the player into an environment so enshrouded in darkness, so coated in creepy, so enveloped in sheer, skin-tingling intensity that one can hardly ever expect to see the light again. Or perhaps, never want to see the light again.
  2. Battlefield commands bravery. It requires strategy. It thirsts for blood that runs cold, skin that feeds off of shrapnel, and pinpoint accuracy. Players will need to stock up on the heavy artillery, make a break for the frontlines, run for cover, and manage to still wear a smile that is hungry for more at the end of the day.
  3. Pikmin 3 promises a formula that is one part cute, one part cuddly, and one part colorful-a formula that in the end, equates to one of the most addictive and adventurous titles coming to the Wii U. Being in command will have never been so cute.
  4. Darksiders 2 puts the war-fanatic right in the middle of one of the most epic battles of all time-the one between heaven and hell. And in a war of such heavenly proportions, a battle against the undead, immortal and immoral creatures, it helps to play as one of the most feared soldiers of all time-Death.
The cravings I get for these Wii U games are so bad they should make a Nintendo patch, or at least a pack of gum. Listed below are some of the most tantalizing, potential-packed games to hit the Wii U this fall. It is a combination of their unique storylines, characters, and game play that lends these titles some of the most reputable and recognized games to come. Not only that, but the style of game play for each game promises to pack a punch on the new Wii U controller, working synergistically with the restless thumbs and tireless forearms of each player to produce a wholly, addictive gaming experience.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How Do You Get Your Games? Renting Vs Buying Video Games

Games have always been an important part of human existence. Humans have been playing them since 3000 B.C., as competition, entertainment, punishment, and so much more. Today they are really popular, not the ones the ancient Romans played to torture and train gladiators but, video games.
Video games have come a long way since the classic games of Pac-Man, and even the original Mario Brothers. Today we have loads of games and game systems to play them on, including the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Call of Duty, The Sims, and so much more, Along with video games advancement the prices also changed drastically. However people will always continue to buy video games regardless of the price, which is why it is extremely important to know how to get your video games in a convenient and affordable way.
Therefore, I always say there are two ways to get video games, you can either rent them or buy them. With renting you can borrow the game from a company and return it once you and buying where you just buy the game. But in my case I choose to do both. I chose to do both because it is quite convenient and affordable for my gaming needs.
Renting games is awesome, that's why I am surprised when someone has never heard of renting games. Renting games gives you a feel for the game and a complete gaming experience without going out spending fifty or sixty dollars on it. Also if you want to keep the game you can buy it at a cheaper price than retail. "Where do I rent games?" you might ask. For my game renting I use "Gamefly" and Blockbuster Online, both of these companies are great. But I do prefer "Gamefly" because "Gamefly" have a larger supply, and you would be on the waiting list with Blockbuster Online forever.
Renting is not always going to work for me, because "Gamefly" or Blockbuster may take a long time to get a game that I want. So, I also choose to buy, because sometimes I don't want to wait for "Gamefly" to get a game. Of course I don't buy my games at retail price, instead I buy them online. Buying games online is way more affordable than buying them from a retail store. Online you can buy them for the same quality but for a way cheaper price.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pokemon - A Brief History of a Global Cultural Phenomenon

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past two decades, you must have already heard of the global phenomenon, Pokeman. Pokeman, a brand owned by Nintendo (the makers of Wii, and another famous video game brand - Mario), was launched in 1996. It was originally a set of role playing games for GameBoy, but soon morphed into an entire industry of video games, playing cards, collectibles, toys and other merchandize. Today, it is arguably one of the most recognizable brands in the world with followers in every country of every age group. From six year olds in Sweden to thirty somethings in Turkey, Pokeman is known and loved the world over.
The name Pokeman is derived from the Japanese 'Poketto Monsuta', which means "pocket monsters". Pocket monsters, of course, refers to the wide variety of 'monster' species that populate the Pokeman world. Originally, there were 649 such species and the list has been growing longer every year.
Pokeman is based around collecting, training and battling your own monster species. In this Universe, the trainer can collect monster species by using a specially designed ball called the 'Poke Ball'. Maybe you've even see this 'Poke Ball' - a red, white and black contraption that is a common sight around the world. Once collected, the monster species are trained and battled against each other. Each monster has special attacks and defenses, and winning a battle allows them to 'level up' to gain even more power.
Initially released as a role playing game, Pokeman soon evolved to include a very popular anime series. This series followed a trainer called Ash Ketchum collecting and battling monsters in a fictional world. Ash's first Pokeman is called 'Pikachu' - a furry, yellow creature that soon became the symbol of the Pokeman brand. Even today, most people associate Pokeman with Pikachu.
Besides anime, a number of full length feature films have also been made on the Pokeman Universe. A set of trading cards and manga comics further strengthened the brand's appeal. The cute, cuddly monsters appeal a lot to kids, who are the primary consumers of toys and merchandize related to this brand.
The popularity of Pokeman has been declining over the past few years. Nevertheless, many of the monsters - especially Pikachu - remain cultural icons throughout the world. In Japan, for instance, you can find everything from airplanes to theme parks dedicated to this brand.
Pokeman as a global phenomenon has left a significant impact on pop culture. It has been featured in everything from South Park and The Simpsons to VH1 and even a live action show ("Pokeman Live!") in the US. Despite controversies over the brand glorifying occult and violent themes, Pokeman continues to remain well loved throughout the world.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

FieldRunners - iPhone Tower Defense Game

I've been downloading apps like crazy. I'm absolutely addicted to playing games on my iPhone, but my favorite game is FieldRunners, hands down. It's a few dollars to download, but I use it more than any other app I've downloaded. I challenge you to beat my high score!

In short, the game is based on tower defense strategies. You need to create towers that stop the army guys from reaching one side of the map, to the other. The strategy is that you have to choose different towers and weaponry to use, along with building maps to navigate army men, while trying to slow them down and damage forces. There are three different maps, with three different levels on each. There is also the option to download two more maps, but at the cost of 99 cents each.

Stay tuned for more iPhone games being reviewed!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas Review

- Great new additions to the player's inventory and choices
- Tons of fun and challenging quests
- Numerous amounts of weapons
- Hardcore mode really tests your skills
- Still contains bugs and framerate hiccups that Fallout 3 had
- Feels like one big expansion rather than a stand alone

War, war never changes. Welcome to New Vegas. The newest addition to Fallout using the same engine that brought you Fallout 3. No worries if you have not played Fallout 3, the story is completely new. Many new features have been added to the game to bring more freedom and choice into play. There are three different endings that you can receive depending on your choices throughout the game. There are many new factions that reside in New Vegas. Ranging from the politically powerful New California Republic (NCR) to the slave drivers that are Caeser's Legion.
You take on the role of a courier who has been assigned to deliver a package to the Strip in New Vegas. Along the way your travels take a turn for the worse. You meet many helpful and shady characters. Some of which attack on site while others require some help. You can gain reputation with most of the factions found in New Vegas. The choice to follow which faction is up to you. This adds a lot more variety and variation in the story compared to Fallout 3, and you will want to go back and play through with each of the campaigns to further the story.

There are many new quests in New Vegas and more often than not, the side quests can be more entertaining than the main storyline. The story takes off right from the beginning and the tutorial is much shorter than in Fallout 3. You are thrown into quests at the beginning which also in turn become the tutorial quests.

The number of weapons, perks, and skills have been increased. New weapons, weapons from Fallout 3, and a new weapon modification system have been added. There are numerous amount of new perks in order to help you on your quests and also a new Survival skill has been added. The Survival skill is especially helpful when playing hardcore mode. In hardcore mode there are many modifications to gameplay which are for the most skilled players. You need to keep track of your eating, make sure you don't dehydrate, stimpaks do not cure broken limbs, and ammo is now a burden with a weight being added.

Unfortunately, using the same engine as Fallout 3 brings back most of the bugs and technical issues that were in the previous game. Why these issues are still here? Only the developers can answer that. The new features are a great addition to Fallout New Vegas, it truly resembles one big expansion pack. The graphics are the same, the gameplay is the same, the bugs and issues are the same.

With all the new additions, features and new storyline, those who are interested in first-person shooters, third-person shooters and role playing games should definitely take a look at Fallout New Vegas.

Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay - 9/10
Overall - 8/10

Monday, June 6, 2011

Starcraft 2 Review

After more than 10 years from the first original Starcraft, Blizzard finally published its sequel, Starcraft 2. 

Starcraft 2 was one of the most anticipated strategic games of 2010.

Since 1998 when the original Starcraft was published, game got its reputation as one of the top strategy genre games of all time. Starcraft was played at LAN-parties all over the world. What does bring the sequel, Starcraft 2? Through the last decade Blizzard got its reputation as the leading developer for RPG games (World of Warcraft). Starcraft 2 is not only an upgrade from its predecessor but also a standalone project which has taken gameplay, graphics, story-line presentation and soundtrack to a whole new level.

Here is a quick review of the most important aspects, that players are facing in modern PC games:

Those who are not familiar with the original Starcraft, do not need to worry. Storyline is presented altogether from the beginning through the beautiful videos and voice messages. Videos really add up to get an unique playing experience. Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty is focuses on the Terrans, human exiles from Earth. There may be some disappointment that you are unable to play the Zerg's and Protoss but do not worry, two expansions packs are coming soon: Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void which will focus on the Zerg and Protoss. Both are coming in the near future somewhere in 2011. Storyline develops through the game and it is basically the same as in the original Starcraft.

Graphics and design:
The game is very well designed and its art is gorgeous, I could almost say that Starcraft 2 has a Blizzard feel.

Those who play World of Warcraft will found some resemblances with post realistic environment which suits the genre of the game perfectly. Units, are well distinguishable and so is the environment, very well detailed. Lightning and other special effects especially in the combat when firing weapons are awesome.

Graphics and design both contribute to the atmosphere of the game.

Gameplay is something Blizzard gave a lot of mind to. Factions are well balanced which really makes single-player fun and tricky. Game also includes many side challenges which really exclude the straight-forward effect.

You gather resources and currency, build units, buildings and defenses, research the map, gather minerals and vespene gas and attack your opponent.

There is a ton of side-challenges which will distract you but are vital for some armory upgrades. Game also lets you upgrade your trops and hire mercenaries.

Menu is very realistic and it sometimes gives the feeling you are in a first-person game. Swarming enemies will also get your adrenaline going.

Beside the realistic battle sounds, there is also the soundtrack of story-line videos. You can see right away that Blizzard tried very hard to bring realistic atmosphere, using experienced and "Hollywoodly" actor voices.

Negative rumors:
Where ever there is a bright side there must be a dark side. Many players report that the game is too short for its value. But that is a total nonsense!

Game is short if you play to win objectives and finish the missions using straight-forward tactics. But the game has much more to it, there is a ton of side challenges and locked upgrades which are sometimes very hard to unlock. A whole other world is Starcraft 2 Multiplayer which uses built in ladder system where you can post your achievements and update other player on your success. Multiplayer is fun and intense and may hook you up for couple of months at least.

If you love strategy games or even if you are familiar with the original Starcraft, this must be your next purchase. Blizzard created another great PC game and it is offering great support for all new players. We would recommend it to all Blizzard, RPG and single-player, online multiplayer fans, who loved games as: Age of Empires series, C&C Red Alert series and a ton of other strategy games.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Three League of Legends Tips Every Gamer Needs to Know

League of Legends is one of the most popular free online team games on the market right now, and if that can only mean one thing: you've got some serious competition to deal with. If you want to get better at everyone's favorite DOTA-style game, then there are three League of Legends tips you need to know, above all else to guarantee your success.

1. Map Awareness - Map awareness is absolutely critical to success in games like League of Legends, because the team-based atmosphere and lane-control gameplay demands more coordination and situational awareness than most other games you may be familiar with. In LoL, it's always important to have a bead on where your teammates are, what their selected characters are capable of, and which opponent (if any) is currently missing from view.
If you don't have a strong idea of what your teammate's characters can do, and where they are positioned, then you may miss out on many easy kills, or even get yourself killed needlessly. This is especially true if you lurk too far away from the safety of your towers, and fail to account for the fact that there is a missing enemy roaming the map, quite possibly ready to ambush you from behind.

2. Last Hitting - Last hitting is an interesting and effective game strategy that many players in the game today are seemingly oblivious to. Last hitting simply means allowing the minion wave in your lane to do most or all of the damage to the minions of your opponent, with you only attacking on the final blow for each minion in order to receive the bounty for the kill. This is an important strategy, because when done correctly not only will it allow you to farm money more successfully, but it will keep the minion wave from pushing too far to your opponent's tower, too quickly.
This is an integral concept to understand for your success, because keeping the minion wave further away from your opponent's tower, effectively means keeping it closer to your tower where it's safer for you. A safer lane experience means you're less likely to be ambushed from the jungle or other lanes, and it means a longer distance your opponents must run to safety if you decide to attack them. As a general rule of thumb, it's important to try to keep the minion wave close to your tower by last hitting until your team is strong enough to make a legitimate push for the tower.

3. Role Definition - Knowing your role in League of Legends is one of the easiest, and yet one of the most oft-forgotten tips available.. Knowing your role means understanding what objective your selected character should be fulfilling for the team, and working toward achieving that goal throughout play. If you pick a character such as Amumu for example, your role is unquestionably to serve as a tank and initiator. Your objective should be to initiate team fights where possible, soak damage for your team and if necessary, sacrifice yourself for your team's carry if you're positive you can save them when they would otherwise die.

The roles are expansive in League of Legends, so there should be plenty of different duties you can take on to fit your play style. A support character for example should focus on protecting and buffing integral allies during combat. If you're Janna for example, you will want to use your shield on your team's carry during combat, and save your Whirlwind or slow skill when necessary to prevent anyone from focusing down on your team's highest damage dealer. These, and other roles are all important to success in League of Legends, so do your best to identify what fits your character, and focus on fulfilling those duties.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Brink: Review

Brink is the newest game from Splash Damage, the makers of Quake Wars. Much is expected from this game as an FPS game and it delivers in areas where the expectations are high. We take a closer look at what Brink has to offer below.

Unlike other FPS games, Brink actually has a story to its gameplay. For those who are looking for a free for all shooting extravaganza upon the start of the game, you will be disappointed. Brink is set in a futuristic world where sea levels are rising and thus, forcing the human race to retreat to a floating city called The Ark. Over time, beliefs and social status divisions have torn apart the peacefulness in the Ark -- there are those who want to leave the Ark in search of better opportunities outside and those that wish to protect the city's interests. This is apparent before starting the game play because you will be asked which faction you wish to play for.

Game Controls
The game's controls are typical for an FPS game. There are some exceptions, however. The most notable of these exceptions is the ability to activate the SMART system by simply holding the left bumper. The SMART system, otherwise known as the Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain system, allows the character to go into a free-run mode and move quickly past the obstacles in the game environment. The SMART system tells you something of the game developer's skills as they have included the element of parkour without becoming a complication in the game play.

Modes of Play
There are three modes of play in Brink - Free Play, Challenge, and Campaign Modes. In the campaign mode, characters have to complete missions with several objectives under a certain time limit. Objectives vary according to the faction chosen. Under Free Play, the player can customize the match according to maps, objectives, and opponent's skill levels. On the other hand, the Challenge mode allows you to unlock weapons and get upgrades by completing each challenge satisfactorily.

Undeniably, the game was designed with excellent graphics. For console play, there is a noticeable texture lag, but that's nothing to worry about because a patch will soon be available to fix this problem.

Player Classes
Similar to other FPS games, you can play Brink as a soldier, engineer, operative, or medic. The soldier is heavily responsible for the gun fights while the medic boosts health and revives fallen teammates. The operative is basically a spy that can hack devices and work undercover. The engineer, on the other hand, is able to repair broken gears, plant mines, and create turrets. Because Brink is an objective-based game, mastering one character alone will not be enough. You need to know how the other members of your team can contribute to completing your mission objective. For example, there are instances when an objective cannot be completed without the skills of an engineer, etc. In case, you don't have that particular class available, you can easily switch to one in your team's Command Post.

One thing that sets Brink apart from other FPS games is the ability to customize characters heavily. There are 11 ways for you to customize a character in Brink and these are as follows: archetype, voice, tattoos and scars, facial hair, face paint, hair and head gear, face gear, body tattoo, shirt, jacket, and pants. Body type also affects game play. All characters start out with a medium body type but you have the option to change to a light or heavy body upon unlocking them.

Game Play
Unlike other FPS games out today, Brink is an objective-based game play. For those who are unfamiliar with this type of play, the transition can be frustrating. Nevertheless, once you get familiar with the game objectives, it'll be easier to adjust and complete missions. Teamwork is also necessary in playing Brink which makes it difficult if you intend to play solo. However, if you play Brink online with other game enthusiasts, then it will certainly hook you up for hours.
Because it has only been launched recently, there is still much left to be said for Brink. Let's wait and see how future patches and updates will improve Brink's gaming experience. But for now, it's as good as it gets.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fallout 3 Review

Fallout 3 is an RPG/FPS game available for all major platforms(PS3, 360 and PC). It is based in a post apocalyptic world with some themes of mid - 20th century USA.

First of all, the main I can't sing the praises of the main storyline in Fallout 3. I found it rather tedious in fact, it has a very linear series of quests with very little variation. The story begins with the character, the lone wanderer progressing through various stages in age and eventually escaping from Vault 101 and roaming the wasteland in search of his father. After finding him, he dies very soon and lets you carry out the dirty work. The story cannot be majorly criticized however, as the open and sandbox nature to Bethesda's RPG games make any storyline seem restricting and monotonous in comparison with open exploration. One problem however is completing the final mission results in the end of the game completely, and the need to reload a previous save (In my opinion, a major and unnecessary mistake on Bethesda's part) unless one has the expansion pack "Broken Steel" which extends the storyline.
The world in Fallout is in my opinion fantastic! There are two main areas of landscape, the wasteland, which covers roughly 2/3 of the map, and the Washington D.C ruins, which covers the rest. Much of the D.C area's roads are blocked by rubble, forcing the player to travel underground in subway tunnels to reach various parts of the city, however I think this is a good idea, and proves a nice variation in scenery as you travel (There is always fast travel). There are plenty of interesting places to visit in the game, for example:
Paradise Falls - An abandoned shopping mall now resident to a group of slavers.
The Citadel - Clever manipulation of the modern day Pentagon now housing the Brotherhood of Steel"
Washington Museum - The ghoul city
Megaton - One of the two main towns in the game, containing an unexploded atomic bomb
Rivet City - One of my favourites, an aircraft carrier cleverly converted into a city.
The vaults - As well as your own, there are plenty of other vaults, all with their problems. For example: One vault has hallucinogenic gas which will intoxicate the player and produce a trippy adventure. Another is resident to many clones of "Gary", all will proceed to attack the player with sledgehammers on sight.
The characters in Fallout 3 are exceptional. All characters are fully voice active and interesting. Each has various dialog options, enabling the player to ask about their background/history and other trivial things. Characters have daily schedules, some of which are influenced by the storyline, they sleep, go shopping, talk to certain other characters at regular intervals etc. Creating a very immersive and realistic experience.
Fallout 3 contains no "Factions" as such, like Oblivion did. However there are factions which a player can do quests with etc. Which will reward you with goods. Some are friendlier than others and will react to you in different ways as you make various moral choices throughout the game. For example a player with positive Karma will be hunted by the Talon Company, a player of positive karma will be hunted by the Regulators. Some factions to note are the Brotherhood of Steel, Enclave, Slavers, Ghouls and several other minor factions, which a player rushing through the game may overlook such as the Family, Reilleys Rangers and Brotherhood Outcasts. Each faction has its respective, in depth lore and have a variety of quests available. Whatever you may choose to play as, there will always be a faction you may want to try and fit into to accompany your playstyle.
Character stats and attributes are reasonably well done, a player will choose their "SPECIAL"(Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Agility, Luck)) at the start of the game and they will, to a certain extent remain the same. Skills on the other hand are increased through a selection system as the character levels up, with a certain amount of points to delegate to skills.
Equipment and weaponry is very well done. A player can acquire a large variety of weapons and armor throughout the game, from sniper rifles to mines and rocket launchers, its all there! There are really no criticisms on the selection available, as it is likely to keep a player perfectly content with their gadgets, however some weapons can be considered too "overpowered", even with raised difficulty levels, "end game" weapons such as the Gattling Laser and Experimental MIRV shred enemies in seconds, and can really remove any difficulty from the game, however one is not obligated to choose these, and can easily take another root, however you always get the feeling that you are "gimping" your character by not using these weapons.

Graphics in Fallout 3 fall under the category of "reasonable as far as modern games go. In my opinion compared to some of the leading graphical games, some of Fallout 3's textures seem a tad grainy and the long distance view inferior, however this did not bother me too much. The explosions and gun animations are great, and characters look far more realistic than they did in Bethesda's previous RPG, Oblivion.

Sound may seem like a neglible factor in comparison to graphics, or even further so, gameplay. However it is an absolute essential for immersion and making that combat perfect. Sound is by no means exceptional, like in games such as Call of Duty, however it is good, and most gamers will be quite content with this. Explosions make a great noise and all NPCs are voice acted(as previously mentioned). There are a huge variety of voice actors in Fallout 3 and this brings about a great sense of individual personalities in each character, perfect for immersion. The game has also a few cute nostalgia orientated theme tunes, played through various radios etc. In the game, which is a great bonus to know Bethesda care about the little things.

Other Notes
I believe Fallout 3 can only be fully appreciated with a hint of roleplay on the players part. I found it especially satisfying to model my character on one of the factions (In my case, Brotherhood Outcasts) and collect armor and weapons appropriate to that faction to build your perfect character. This factor will give the game far more replay value as you experiment with various playstyles.

-Detailed and fully explorable, immersive world
-Immersive characters and side quests
-Many iconic locations to visit
-Factions and quests related to them to add variety
-Many different types of weapon and armor
-Good animations
-Full voice acting
-Dull storyline
-Inferior graphics compared to other modern games