Aug 012013
 

1374004319-time-and-eternity-artNIS America’s Time and Eternity is what I’ve come to consider as a story of all the things that could possibly go wrong leading up to a marriage. The game’s start is a beautiful wedding scene; bells, fancy dresses, the whole shebam. Right before the bride and groom kiss to seal the deal, a group of assassins break into the building and attack! The groom Zach is a knight, so he runs forward to brandish his sword and defeat the foes, only to be cut down almost immediately. Suddenly, the red-headed bride Toki has a complete personality change into the blonde murderous counterpart that we come to know as Towa. Towa dispatches the assassins and runs back to Zach’s side to check on him. Oh yeah, then they time travel back in time to prevent the attack on the wedding which in turn gets the groom stuck inside the body of a tiny dragon. This game accelerated quickly, and explained things as it saw fit. From what I originally saw about this game, it looked like a fresh new run on the RPG outlook and animation. I was surprised at how the whole package actually ended up coming together. Was it what I expected? Ha-ha! No.

screen1The animation for this game looked great when I first saw it. It has a very interesting anime character design and animated cutscenes. What I couldn’t quite wrap my head around was the old era video game backgrounds that populated the games level areas. Each one of the dungeon maps is very spread out and large, but they just aren’t well done. I’m not sure what went wrong when they decided on the animating of the levels, but it looks like it was cast to the side.  The characters were very well done, so long as we’re talking about the main cast. NPC characters that you accept quests from are literally the same minus some color palette changes. The character movements look choppy and almost laggy, which makes combat a nightmare from time to time. Each character has about ten different movements they’ll do, and many of them make no sense with the conversation going on or what’s occurring around them. As far as voice acting and the audio goes, there are only a couple of songs throughout the game and only one stuck in my head during the entirety of it. The main cast meets at a little tea party scene to discuss things that are going on, and I’m fairly certain I will continue having nightmares to that repetitive little song for the rest of my life. The voice acting isn’t terrible, but nor is it great. The characters seem completely detached from what’s occurring in a lot of the story.  Subtitles are given to many of the sidequest NPCs, but it would have been better if placed in a text box as sometimes the words would blend in to the clothes characters were wearing or the background itself.

Another thing that stuck out was the fact that all of the characters are basically 2-d when it comes to personality. You’re not going to come out of this game with a profound love for any of the characters. The anime tropes are evident at almost every turn, and it gets to be a little much. The game also recycles jokes without any real effort given. Zach (The groom) is completely perverted, and it makes dealing with everything else so much harder when all he wants to do is get in the bath with the females of the cast. A little perversion probably wouldn’t have bothered me, but this guy obviously has nothing else in his life to worry about. The entirety of the game is spent trying to fix whatever happened in the past to ruin the wedding, and there will be a plethora of ignorant shenanigans that the cast will bring to Toki/Towa as a sidequest which usually end up being fetch quests. Most of the fetch quests will even go as far as branching out into more than one person asking you to fetch things for them, and it becomes a chain of doing things for multiple to get just one item for the original NPC.

130627035904613640Combat was something I really hoped was going to redeem the strangeness I had been dragged into so far, but even that wore off. It’s an interesting look at RPG combat, separating the combat into ranged and close ranged and giving a dodge system. Enemies will come through random encounter, and once you’ve been playing the game for a bit three or four enemies will come one after the other, which drags everything out ridiculously. I’ve come to call the combat in Time & Eternity the Attrition system, due to the fact you really just have to pay attention the whole fight and outlast every single enemy that’s coming at you. The little dragon (Drake) Will fight by your side, sometimes healing you or attacking the enemy but in reality, he seemed completely useless between rarely attacking and doing small amounts of damage. What did help a little was the leveling and skill tree system, which was also a little different than the norm. Each level up will change you into Toki or Towa, Toki being more proficient at long range combat while Towa is the close range hitter. The skill tree is added to with each skill purchase, which is bought with something called gift points. Gift points are rewarded in small handfuls for killing enemies or completing quests, and each skill unlocked adds some choices to your attacks or passive boosts. Skills are mapped to the triangle, square, and X button while all regular attacks occur with the circle button. Items can be used any time during combat by holding the right trigger and eventually the left trigger will activate Toki/Towa’s time abilities. The best way to handle the combat in this game is use the magic, because it does plenty of damage even later on in the game.

Time-and-Eternity-4

Hating on a game isn’t something I enjoy doing, especially when I was interested to see this RPG come around and impress me. Sadly enough, it didn’t. The characters are poor, and the combat just has too many problems to defend. It’s not the worst RPG I’ve ever played, but it’s not one that I’m going to play over and over like I do with others. It was ok for a one time playthrough to see what all the fuss was about and have your own criticisms, but more than that and it’s just too much. Any game that is shooting to be a romantic comedy already has a lot on its shoulders, and it really didn’t need to cut around on some things.  It had potential, and just didn’t deliver. Maybe next time NIS.

Playstation 3

Graphics

50
 

Audio

40
 

Gameplay

40

Creativity

45
 

Execution

50
 

Offset

50
    

4.6

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

 

 

Jul 152013
 

 

violent-video-gamesViolence in video games is one topic that comes up a lot when there’s been a mass shooting or an obscure crime. Video games have always had a lot of controversy surrounding them when it comes to touchy subjects like violence, but is it all so needed? And why is the media so quick to jump and blame video games for peoples actions?

There have been many cases where violent video games have been blamed for a criminal’s actions, but the most prominent example I’ve found is the case of Devin Moore.

vice_cityDevin Moore was convicted of murder after the 2003 shooting of two police officers and a dispatcher with a .44 caliber pistol before fleeing the police station in a police cruiser. This sparked off controversy around the recently released Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, as there’s a mission in the game that has you doing the exact thing that Devin did. Moore was sentenced to death by lethal injection, and the victim’s families went on to sue Sony, Take Two, Wal-Mart and GameStop. Devin Moore had allegedly played Vice City for days on end prior to his attack, and the media said that he was trained to kill.

Since then, there have been many more shootings and deaths that the media have tried relentlessly to pin on video games, such as many of the school shootings in the United States. We all know that games can be violent, but they don’t train people to kill others. Video game studios don’t put out messages and step-by-step instructions on how to get away with a crime or murder. Games aren’t real life, and that’s the bottom line.

Some of the criminals in these crimes are underage and can’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. This doesn’t excuse their actions, regardless of their age. Some of the people involved in the crimes, such as Devin Moore, are troubled teenagers with a bad background. Devin was abused by his father and used video games as an escape from his troubles, just like a lot of people do. He lost control of his own actions, unfortunately, and it had a tragic outcome.

manhunt-2009-10-17-01-37-43-601Another murder that video games were blamed for is the murder of Stefan Pakeerah. His friend, Warren Leblanc, after Warren had become obsessed with “Manhunt”, a game for the Playstation 2 and Xbox. Manhunt is described to be more of a psychological experience instead of a game. Because of the brutality of the murder, the media and police linked Manhunt to the murder of Stefan. Once again, I don’t feel like it was just the game that spurred the murder on.

There are plenty of people in the world who play violent video games such as Manhunt, Battlefield, Call of Duty, and many others. Grand Theft Auto is incredibly popular, too. The truth is, you don’t see every gamer who plays these incredibly popular games going out and performing the murders shown in the games that they play.

A majority of the people who enjoy sitting and playing video games use it as an escape from their real world troubles. They aren’t seen as a murder simulator or anything of that nature, but I can understand why the media is quick to jump and blame the violence on video games.

call-of-dutyThe violent content in video games get picked out because it’s the most spoken about thing. There are age restrictions for a reason. While working in a retail store through the Christmas parents, I had many parents come in and ask for advice on whether they should purchase the latest Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto game for their 10-14 year old child. My answer was always the same: No, due to the graphic content of this game, I wouldn’t allow a child to play this game. Did they listen? Nope! At the time of the Devin Moore case, he was 16. He was somehow able to get his hands on an M (Ages 17+) game. Parents should share a bit of the blame, as well as the retailer. The majority of the blame, though, should lie on the criminals and their actions, not on the industry as a whole.

In my opinion, violent content in video games isn’t a big deal in any way. It doesn’t train people to kill others, and it’s not a thing to feel threatened by. People can clearly see the line between violence in video games and violence in real life, and they know right from wrong. I see it as a problem the individual committing the crime has, rather than learnt behavior from virtual reality. I’d love to hear from some of you guys and what your opinions are on the matter. Let me know!

Jun 052013
 

 

 

With that simple debut trailer at Gamescom 2012, Puppeteer became my most anticipated title of 2013. After a few other similar trailers, it looks like we’re finally getting a better look at the entire experience. A group of videos made their rounds today, further showing off some of the fantastic environments, gameplay elements, and the overall charm that permeates the entire package. Here is the first:

Shove your hand up my ass and call me Kermit! I don’t think I’ve ever been so floored by a game on so many levels. When Socrates theorized a world of Ideal Forms, his video game example would have had to have been Puppeteer. (When he theorized a sentence containing tenses of the word “have,” that last one would have been pretty low on his list.)

Puppeteer amazes on all points. Presentation is whimsically fantastic. The constantly evolving stage setting and the one man show, storybook style narration are an absolute delight. A wide range of characters, bosses, and environments show a lot of variation in both aesthetics and gameplay. Awestruck smiles invade my face almost every second.

Wielding something as intrinsically boring as a set of scissors seems odd on paper. However, upon inspection, the magical Calibrus instantly cuts that paper into a million little shreds. The world is filled with set pieces and materials that allows for some very interesting uses of the wonderful tool. Most notable, platforming and traversal are often aided by cutting though various materials, fabrics, or even a whole host of other environmental objects. Boss battles, which seem to be aplenty, seem to provide some interesting uses too.

On top of that fine mechanic, there are also the swappable heads. With the ability to equip three different heads, each can uniquely aid in gameplay or open up bonus areas. Hero heads, of which there are four of, add entirely new gameplay elements like a grappling hook, bombs, or a shield for blocking attacks. With around one hundred heads, the possibilities seem endless.

All of these elements come together to form what looks to be one of the most imaginative platformers ever created. It’s got a degree of creativity and old-school charm that is all too rare in today’s games. And all this is releasing on the PS3 at the price of $39.99! September 10th just can’t come soon enough!

Now, cut loose the strings that bind you, and prepare for more amazement and Hero Head trailer perfection:

Jan 142013
 

It’s becoming that time yet again, folks. It’s time for the next gen hardware rumors to start swirling about like a Disney Channel character’s hair. This time around the rumor is being surfaced by a group that seems to know their business, Baird Equity Research. Colin Sebastian, a Baird representative, took his time to gather up all the rumors that have been floating around for the past year and has concluded (somehow) that both Sony and Microsoft will reveal their consoles just prior to E3 in June. Here are some direct quotes from Sebastian:

“Our checks suggest that next-generation console hardware will be largely built from ‘off the shelf’ high-end PC components, along with hybrid physical/digital distribution models, enhanced voice controls and motion sensing (Kinect integration with every Xbox), and broad multi-media capabilities,” he stated.

He also said: “Moreover, a PC-based architecture (Intel chips in the case of Xbox) should have a number of advantages over custom-developed silicon: for one, the learning curve for software developers will be shorter than completely new technology. Second, the cost of production and retail price points should be lower than prior console launches.”

Also predicted was that Sony would release their console in October while Mirosoft would release the new Xbox in November. Perhaps one of the best tidbits was that both consoles are expected to be $350-$400, a price point that is significantly lower than the PS3’s original $600 price tag.

As of right now this is all one groups prediction, with no real facts to back it up, but it does seem likely in the grand scheme of things. We shall see if Mr. Sebastian is correct in just a few more months as E3 begins to slowly creep upon us.

Source

Jan 062013
 
(Which awards you give is as important as the selection process of giving awards. The Philosophy behind award categories is essential for Video Game Award committees to understand.)

The mission of this column has always been to analyze gaming culture and the gaming industry and a great topic around this time is end of the year awards for Games. There are a ton of questions that come to mind and forums filled with flame wars as to which games deserve which awards but there’s very little discussion on what categories there should be to begin with.

Are we missing any important categories? Do we have any now that are too general that need to be removed? Besides the issues of categories, can you have two games win the same award, or not give an award because no games earned it?

There are a lot of tough questions surrounding these end of the year gaming awards, and a lot of them that simply haven’t been addressed. It’s important to talk about what game is the game of the year, but it’s equally important to discuss whether any game should even win an award for a particular category.

So given all the questions we raised lets try to delve in and find some answers.

Gaming Categories

 

What should be the philosophy behind creating a category? What requirements need to be put in place before we create a new category or remove one? This is important to address because gaming is here to stay for as long as mankind thrives on this planet. During that time, categories need to be in flux or change because over time certain genres may not become as popular or may disappear altogether.

If we keep stale old categories, their age will start to show and people will wonder “Why do we even give awards for that genre?” It’s a question I asked myself and I continue to ask as gaming has progressed and the categories seem to be getting staler and showing their age. On the flip side, you may be ignoring important new categories by no reassessing the landscape and finding new genres that have emerged.

So, given all of that, what requirements should be put in place to create/sustain a category?

Sizable Market

 

By Sizable market, there are two different requirements that are being put forward. First there must be a large number of people that recognize and play this genre, so that it’s not a small niche of gamers, and secondly there should be a sizeable amount of games released in this category every year.
Philosophy behind it

If this requirement was not put in place, we would have two problems:

  • Games with small niche followings would ask for their own categories, for their own genre and would have every right to do so, creating too many awards and too many categories.
  • The second problem would entail making categories for genres that only release a few games per year. In this way, there is very little competition, and people know which game is going to get the award. Why make a category if few games are released and there is an obvious winner amongst the few?

So for the above reasons we should remove categories that shrink and lose their sizable market status and create new categories for emerging genres with large fan bases and multiple gaming releases.

Unique

There should be very little overlap between categories such that one game can’t easily be put into multiple categories. A good example to illustrate this point might be if we created a category for “Best game that uses controllers”. Most, if not nearly all games, use controllers and to make such a badly worded category would make it so that many different games could all be up for the same award.

There is one caveat that I’d like to mention, which is the “Game of the Year” award itself. Being that you want every single game considered, that needs to allow all games to compete, but outside of that specific category, you wouldn’t want to make another category that’s too general.



Philosophy behind it

If we ignored this rule and created categories that were too general, we would be left with this problem:

  • The award itself would have little meaning, as you’re not highlighting how this game is better than the rest. To give an award simply for having a controller or a genre that’s too broad to create distinction, dilutes the award itself. People would recognize that and not give it as much respect as games that won “Shooter of the year”, a title that’s often extremely competitive.
Relevant

 

This may be the most important factor of all because often categories are not reevaluated and become irrelevant. Time eats away at them, gaming progresses, and websites lazily keep awarding games based on a category that is 10 years old and no longer as popular.

Gaming sites need to know that there are consequences for giving awards that are simply, irrelevant.

Three problems come to mind:

  • Firstly as mentioned above people can feel the category is old and needs to be removed.
  •  We include categories that have little to do with gaming, are not genres, and may just be considered “cool”. More discussion will be given on these non-gaming genre categories later in this article. A quick example of a category like this would be Golden Joystiq’s “Youtube Gamer Award”.
  • We neglect new genres that have been created, because we don’t reevaluate our awards and recognize that gaming has changed, requiring new awards, for new types of games.

Given these three principles, most award committees should be able to make different awards, think outside the box, and keep their awards relevant to the current year.

*Keep in mind that giving awards outside of gaming genres is perfectly acceptable if the purpose of it is to recognize some hidden talent or outside effort on the part of the Gaming Industry or the fans. There are good and bad ways to go about this, and one bad way, “Youtube Gamer award” was listed above. A good example would be “Story of the Year” or “Best New Game Mechanic of the Year”.

 

Evaluating Awards

 

Just to show the current state of our awards I thought I’d evaluate two different Gaming award groups and analyze their categories given the three principles listed above. The two award groups I’ll be looking at are the Golden Joystiq awards which are arguably one of the oldest, if not the oldest gaming award committee, going since 1982 and Gamespot which is one of the generic big websites centered around Gaming.

First lets list the awards and discuss Golden Joystiq’s categories.

 

Golden Joystiq 2012

Best Action- Winner: Batman: Arkham City

Best DLC- Winner: Portal 2 (Perpetual Testing Initiative)

Best Downloadable- Winner: Minecraft (360)

Best Fighter- Winner: Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition

Best Free To Play- Winner: Slender

Best Handheld- Winner: Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Best MMO- Winner: World of Tanks

Best Mobile Tablet- Winner: Angry Birds Space

Best Racer- Winner: Forza 4

Best RPG- Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Best Shooter- Winner: Battlefield 3

Best Sports- Winner: FIFA 12

Best Strategy- Winner: Civilization V: Gods and Kings

Outstanding Contribution- FIFA (EA Sports)

One to Watch- Winner: Grand Theft Auto V

Top Gaming Moment- Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Throat of theWorld

Ultimate Game of the Year- Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Greatest YouTube Gamer Award- Winner: Yogscast

Analysis

So in total there are 18 awards. Just off the back, before we analyze the problems, lets look at the categories that are obviously acceptable and then list which are problematic given the principles we listed above.

Obviously acceptable:

Ultimate game of the year (Essentially Game of the year)

Best Strategy

Best Sports

Best Shooter

Best RPG

Best Mobile

Best Handheld

Best Free to Play

Best Fighter

Best DLC

Best MMO

So that’s 11 out of the 18 that can easily be understood, are large genres, or deserve recognition. Sadly that leaves 7 that are problematic; a fairly big number. Lets tackle them 1 by 1.

Best Action: Nearly every game has action and it’s not as easy a category to justify when applied to games. This category may have been added when looking at Movie award categories where an action movie is more about the visual destruction, violence, or intensity of a film. In the vast majority of games, you can’t avoid action.

This category clearly violates the Unique principle listed above, and what game studio would be happy to get this award instead of Best RPG or Best Strategy game. That puts you ahead of the pack. Best action is too generic and diluted a term for gaming.

Best Downloadable: Since they already have a DLC award, what is this category? DLC stands for Downloadable Content, so why would you make a separate category dedicated to downloadable. It seems from looking at the games they awarded, one category recognizes additions to games which they label DLC and the other category recognizes games that don’t come on discs and are downloaded.

There’s one problem with this, because of sites like Amazon and Steam, most games can be downloaded without a disc now. They can be bought before launch day and downloaded the hour it’s released; all blockbuster triple AAA titles. So this category breaks the principles of Relevancy.

Outstanding Contribution: What is this category? Contributed to what? It was even given to EA, a company that’s notorious for bad business practices with their consumers. This award reeks of an insider scam. This breaks the principle of common sense.

One to Watch: Awards for games that haven’t even come out, and are just being hyped up is never a good idea. Anyone remember L.A Noire? Rockstar is good at making games, but giving the game to GTA 5, without knowing if it’s good yet, is not what Gaming award committees should do. It doesn’t benefit the gamer, the companies, or help to distinguish the best games.

Best Racer: This is a great example of violating the Sizable Market principle and Relevancy principle. In 2010 the game was given to Forza, and in 2011 it was given to Gran Turismo and then in 2012 back to Forza again.

Racing games used to have a large niche, especially with the Need for speed franchise. But since then, amazing new original racing games, and the genre as a whole has been dying and shrinking.

We have to recognize this and let this category go. We can’t keep giving free awards to a few games, that dominate a small niche of the market

Top Gaming Moment: Since games on average are 5-8 hours long, this category is a near impossibility especially since you end up comparing apples to oranges. How do you compare shooter moments to RPG moments or great story arcs to great gameplay moments? This is such a daunting task it essentially violates the Unique principle defined above. There are too many moments in games, and different types of games, to justify a Top Gaming Moment.

Greatest YouTube Gamer Award: This award is more of a popularity contest award and probably there to make the award ceremony seem “hip, cool, and trendy”. Youtube is an amazing video website that lets you share all types of content across the world for free but gaming commentators are not games themselves. Although they may provide a lot of value and people may love to watch them, they are a secondary part of gaming.

It would be like giving a movie award to movie critics. You never see awards like that given at movie award ceremonies. It definitely relates to the topic at hand but it’s a secondary concern. Most likely, as mentioned above, this was added to make the ceremony seem more on the cutting edge, hip, and with the times. In reality, we shouldn’t be giving awards to people that play games and share them on youtube. Most true gamers would agree with that.

Gamespot 2012

Genre Awards

Fighting Game of the Year

Action/Adventure Game of the Year

Role-Playing Game of the Year

Shooter of the Year

Strategy Game of the Year

Racing Game of the Year

Sports Game

Platformer of the Year

Platform Awards

PC Game of the Year

PS3 Game of the Year

PSN Game of the Year

Xbox 360 Game of the Year

XBLA Game of the Year

Wii U Game of the Year

Handheld Game of the Year

Special Achievements

Game of the Year
There are 16 awards this time, not counting 12 random awards given under special achievements which will be discussed separately.

I enjoy how Gamespot separates the different awards into Genre, Platform, and finally in their special and Game of the year category. This really helps navigation and helps people understand where each award fits.

Of the 16 awards, not counting the special awards, there were 4 I take issue with which is a better ratio than the 7 out of 18 that were lacking in the Joystiq awards.
Action/Adventure: Just looking at the nominees shows how broad this category is. You have a Puzzle platformer of Darksiders 2 up against a more strategy/adventure/survivor like Lone survivor, and then you throw in a sneaking game like Dishonored into the mix. Just to add more variety they tout the open world game Sleeping dogs.

This category again violates the Unique principle and doesn’t allow games to be classified properly. A lot of games have action and adventure and to try to make one category with a jumbling of completely different games causes confusion, dilutes the award, and creates flame wars on forums.

 Racing: The same issues were raised above in the Joystiq awards. Also, wouldn’t you know it, but that they choose Forza. Quite a surprise right? This is a category that is just too old and needs to go as gaming has progressed passed it.

PSN/XBLA: A DLC category would have been better. Why does it matter if one game is better simply because it’s on Xbox live. Have the games go head to head and create a nice DLC category where only the best games, either on PSN, or on XBLA can go at it and survive.

By separating these categories, a better PSN game may get robbed of the crown of best DLC because it has to share the award with those in the XBLA category, EVEN if the PSN game is better. The same may happen to an Xbox live game.
Special Achievements: I like the idea and concept behind this because it gives awards for specific achievements and greatness that’s hard to put in a cookie cutter box. They gave awards I completely agree with, like one for Dear Esther, for its amazing storytelling and unique game mechanic. They did the same with Walking Dead because of its emotional storyline.

But there are also some in here that are just pathetic like “Persona 4 Golden” for “proving Persona 4 is still awesome”….. Really Gamespot? Really? There are some other bad ones like an award for FTL simply “for keeping its promise after getting funded”. I thought keeping promises is what every human is supposed to do? When did we start giving awards to people for not lying to us?

 

To give or not to give, that is the question

 

Another question about Gaming awards is whether to give them for a category or not. What if in the last year no games really reached a level or quality deserving of the title?

Does that level of quality even matter? Could it be the award is given to a game regardless of how bad the playing field was? Is it that these games are so competitive for sales that this is just a theoretical problem that won’t actual surface as game designers fight tooth and nail for quality?

A lot of unanswered questions. To sum it up it may be best to say it’s hard for a gaming committee to not award a game. In the history of gaming awards this has rarely if ever happened. Even if the year sucked and had very few high quality titles, the awards seem to still be there for the grabbing.

If I were on a committee would I vote to keep an award empty? If the year were bad enough, I just might. Being honest with ourselves here though, this seems a rare possibility, but given how weak 2012 was for gaming, we may have this issue come up in the future. So for now, gaming award committees should include this possibility but in all likelihood we probably will find at least one candidate worthy of a particular title.

With that, we’ll have to put our analysis to a rest and I hope this article raised some questions in your head and allowed you to look deeper at gaming than the everyday news or updates other sites spit at you.  :P

Thanks for sticking in there and see you all next week! :)

http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/272/immortalphoenixheaderco.png

www.ImmortalPhoenix.net

Jan 042013
 

Annualized sports games are something that never gets the attention they deserves. They’re a nuisance to some and there’s no doubt that they never change too drastically from year to year but as most sports fans will tell you, they change just enough. Though that can’t always be said as some games seemingly churn out nearly the same experience year to year or, of course, have an off year or two. In this feature I will analyze the sports games of 2012 and ultimately decide which sports game did the most to improve, and which did the least. This is by no means determining the Sports Game of the Year category in our annual GiR awards; it’s merely my opinion on the past year’s beloved recurring franchises that often include a ball… or a puck if you want to get real crazy. It’s time for arguably the best three sports games this year!

Madden NFL 13

This year’s Madden delivered one of the biggest changes the franchise had ever went through in the installation of the brand new physics system which made near ever tackling animation feel unique. There’s no doubt that the installation was far from perfect as awkward, buggy moments were not far in between one another but that’s to be expected in the one year turnaround. The fact is, the new physics system feels really good when it goes well and it creates true lifelike tackles, unlike the stoic and clearly structured tackles of old. I never believed this until I went back and played NCAA Football 13, which does not feature the new physics, and found it near unplayable as I’d become spoiled by the unpredictable Infinity engine in Madden.

On top of that, they also improved franchise mode by fleshing out the previously installed scout system where you look at players you could take in the upcoming draft and determine if they’re worth your pick or not. Apart from the engine, the gameplay itself is mostly unchanged which is a tad disappointing. One thing that needs improvement here soon is the near five year old animations that happen when you snap the ball. Whether it’s the blocking or the wide receiver running routes, it just feels dated. Lets hope for some decent upcoming changes and Infinity engine tweaks, but I’ll admit I’m pretty damn happy with what I got this year.

NHL 13

Similar to many sports games I talked about in the last installment, NHL 13 mainly only tweaked certain aspects of their gameplay and then called It a day. That isn’t to say the actual NHL experience is any less fantastic because of that however. One of the biggest and easily the most accessible change is in the form of the “true skating.” True skating, similarly to Madden is a physics heavy skating system that introduces a ton of new animations. Also added is much smarter AI that will react to everything happening on the ice, not just what is in front of you. Playing the game remains as exhilarating and hard hitting as games previously released in the series.

NBA 2K13

Though yet again EA Sports did not release a basketball game, 2K continued to churn out their fantastic 2K series. This time with a lot of Jay Z all up in it. Apart from the Jay Z, they also added new features to their already fantastic My Player mode. The mode is largely heralded as one of the best My Career modes out there mainly because of the attention to detail. That detail continues to shine as they added small new additions such as deeper contract negotiations, controlling off court activities, clothing sponsorships, etc.

As far as in game changes go, the attention was on the right stick as 2K allowed the stick to be allocated for dribbling purposes. The execution works pretty well and doesn’t feature any major issues. The change ultimately became one that fell to the back of my head as I took place in the finely tuned and impeccable four quarters of basketball that NBA 2K games so eloquently produce. It really seemed like NBA 2K relied a bit too heavily on throwing out the Jay-Z name as a producer. I’m sure that was a marketing decision but it was a bad one, and that’s coming from a guy that enjoys himself some Jay-Z. Overall, it just seems a tad too in your face and seems like more attention should have been spent elsewhere.

Least Improved: MLB 2K12

Simply put, it’s time for this series to lie down and go out peacefully. That became even clearer with this year’s installment and it seems like the developers are realizing it as well. The changes were almost nonexistent and 2K was clearly just attempting to cash in their last check and create their last MLB game they were forced to do due to a clause in their original contract with the MLB. We’ll see if this was the last year but I’m going to go out on a limb and say the MLB 2K franchise will not be in my Analyzing the Annualized: 2013 Edition.

Most Improved: Madden NFL 13

First off, it was not the best year for drastic changes and that’s obvious from my choice for most improved. Overall, it felt like a lot of games, especially the already established and loved franchises (NBA 2K, MLB: The Show), rode solely on their already fantastic features and did so without shedding an ounce of sweat. This isn’t always the worst thing as that usually means great changes are ahead for the current sports juggernauts. Either that or they’re going to continue to not change much and I’ll continue to love them, I’ll be happy either way, I suppose.

Now for Madden, I’ll be the first to admit that the new physics feature is a bit funnier than it is effective at times. But that hilarity is an occasional annoyance which only slightly hampers one of the biggest changes Madden has ever received. The obscene amount of animations for tackling is refreshing in many ways, especially for people that have played Madden every year the past six years. Thankfully, for every comical mishap, there’s a big hit or crumbling pile of defensive lineman reacting exactly how they would if you were watching a game on Sunday.

The smaller franchise additions are also very welcomed but it’s still missing a few things if it wants to establish itself as a flawless feature. Namely, it needs more in depth decisions on the team, such as removing starters and them being pissed, better rookie evaluations before the draft, trade demands, and somehow make the on field content while in franchise mode at least a little different than every other exhibition game. Don’t even get me started on the abysmal Superstar mode, it has many issues and needs a complete overhaul to even be remotely interesting. But for this year and the little time they had, EA Sports did a remarkable job refining their franchise mode and more importantly, adding in a physics system that revamps every tackling animation within the game. The animation will only get better as time goes on, as will the game itself.

Jan 022013
 

Like most other January’s, this upcoming month is going to be quite the bore in the video game department. We luckily have Devil May Cry but no one is really sure on how that will turn out but at least that’s one game to be excited about. Also possibly coming at the end of the month is The Cave which could easily be the best game to release this January if it does appear on our virtual markets. But don’t forget, Sniper: Ghost Warrior… Could be a sleeper hit, folks. Right?

Anarchy Reigns
Release Date: January 8th
Developer: Platinum Games

If you’re like me, you’ve heard the name Anarchy Reigns but never really dug deep enough to figure exactly what the game is about. After some digging, I have discovered that Anarchy Reigns is in fact a third person action beat ‘em up that features a vast multiplayer mode. The game is developed by the chaotic geniuses known as Platinum Games. You know, the mad men behind games such as Bayonetta and Vanquish? Another game they had a hand in creating was the Wii exclusive Mad World, released a few years back, and Anarchy Reigns is supposed to be a spiritual successor to that as characters such as Jack, Blacker Baron, and Mathlida return.

I’ve never been a beat ‘em up kind of guy but once you attach the Platinum tag to a title, you at least have my attention. But what gets more than my attention is the aforementioned multiplayer the game is heralding so high. Throughout a match, random events such as a black hole appearing and a tsunami rolling in will happen regularly. Most impressively, the game will feature six modes, ranging from a free for all fight to a simple one on one cage match. Sounds like the sort of insanity that Platinum Games is so well known for.

Devil May Cry
Release Date: January 15th
Developer: Ninja Theory

Since the original announcement of the new, revamped Devil May Cry, people have been up in arms about many things, specifically the new design for the beloved main character, Dante. On the more technical side, the new Devil May Cry was revealed to be running on the Unreal Engine, an engine that restricts games to a 30 FPS limit. This was obviously a huge worry as the gameplay in previous Devil May Cry’s has been heavily reliant on a smooth, quick combat system. Thankfully, Capcom has stated that they chipped in during the development to ensure the fluidity within the combat.

But once that early chatter died down, it became rather clear that the new Devil May Cry was going to be, unsurprisingly, very similar to the previous game in the series. The game will focus on the combo heavy combat and will encourage varying up your fighting styles by giving you higher style ranks based on your effectiveness and unpredictability. I’ve never been a huge Devil May Cry fan but I did play through the third one and rather enjoyed it. Because of that I’ll definitely be checking out Ninja Theory’s reimagining of the franchise.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2
Release Date: January 15th
Developer: CITY Interactive

I don’t know, man. There isn’t anything coming out so why not talk about Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 for a second. Similar to Anarchy Reigns, I knew nothing of this game, so I went to work. I scoured the web and went in every crevice and corner to try my best to bring you the hard hitting Sniper information you all desire. I ultimately fell to the GiantBomb page for Sniper, where I found near all I needed to know: “Other than it will run on CryEngine 3, nothing else is known about the game.”

But ultimately, I was not satisfied. So I then headed to the last place any one would look, some website entitled “Wikipedia.” (Going to be a PR nightmare for people who want to market that website) There I found out that Sniper was indeed about being an elite sniper and would feature realistic bullet physics, something we’ve all craved. Multiplayer will feature hotly contested sniper duels as well. Hell, I don’t know, it could be alright.

The Cave
Release Date: January
Developer: Double Fine Productions

I shall preface this by saying January is not a confirmed release date but from what I’ve read, it seems likely that The Cave will release either late January or early February. We shall see but either way, I think I speak for many in saying I hope The Cave comes out this month. Not only because this month is incredibly dry in terms of video games but also because The Cave just seems like damn good fun.

If you’re unaware, in the Cave you choose between three of seven very varied characters and then head into a 2D based cave. The cave itself then serves as a narrator providing consistent dialogue throughout your journey. The journey consists of solving puzzles that are somehow directly related to the characters own personal issues. The Cave will fit the Metroidvania style as some areas will not be accessible without certain items that you can find within the environment. Also, it’s being developed by the geniuses over at Double Fine, so high quality is to be expected.

Also releasing:

Painkiller: Hell and Danmation (January 22nd)
Hitman: HD Trilogy (January 29th)

Dec 312012
 

 

(So yea, Gaming hasn’t improved, it has simply gotten simpler so we imbeciles can enjoy it. Right? Wrong!)

Commonly in Video Game culture there comes a discussion of how games today are just far too easy and they’ve developed this way to make it easier for the masses to play games. This idea perpetuates the notion that gaming has only gotten bigger because it has dumbed down so that non-gamers(Whoever they are) can get excited about playing games.

There are two main reasons why these types of ideas are just plain stupid. Firstly it’s actually offensive to gamers to say that more people play now because games have gotten “stupid” enough for the majority of “stupid” society to play along.

Believe it or not, Pokemon, Paperboy, and Super Street fighter were never hard games. It’s true that there are a number of series early on in gaming that were extremely challenging but looking at the “Golden” era of gaming shows a plethora of games you could consider laughably easy.

IF ANYTHING there are MORE challenging games on the market from 2000-2012, then there were from 1988-2000. As gamers grew up, game designers were forced to keep their audience and code for better and better games more centered toward growing audiences. This has lead to more challenge over time rather than more games like Asteroids.

So just to clarify my first point, there were tons of easy games back when Gaming was developing in the golden era which people seem to so greatly cling to. Ignoring them and saying we have too many easy games today is just ignorance about Gaming history.

Secondly, games have gotten more efficient over time and game designers have been working their butts off trying to makes games more approachable and easier to understand for decades. To ignore their hard work in how they seamlessly integrate tutorials into the game or provide subtle hints to push the player forward CAN lead to someone THINKING a game is more easy. In reality it’s Game designers who have become incredibly good at their jobs.

Games that used to stop and teach you a new game mechanic and then force you into the fire may have seemed harder than the current games which slowly ease you into a new game mechanic and only make it necessary once you’ve had time to master it.

This just means games are less frustrating and are fairer, rather than throwing you into the fire randomly or improperly setting up the game. Why would we want to go back to games that were badly designed?

Hard Games have always existed

Now pointing all this out isn’t to say that hard games didn’t exist, they definitely did and the hard ones in the 1990′s are probably harder than the hard ones we have today. But to say that we don’t have games that are difficult now, or to say that people only love gaming because it’s dumbed down is insulting to all gamers. We’re not imbeciles and society as a whole isn’t filled with droves of idiots that like to randomly mash buttons.

Button mashing games exist, as do correctly designed games like Pokemon. Pokemon, just given as an example, is a game that has depth, but can also be easily played by most children. The game design is supurb and explains why it has gone on to sell millions of copies.

Similarly, most current day games have learned the mistakes of the passed, become the wiser, and are more approachable and easier to  get into than games of the past. This doesn’t make them easier, only better built, and this increased efficiency of play is a boon that has lead to many millions more people getting addicted to the gaming bug.

Our Games are as great as they’ve always been, we should recognize that, praise the talents of game designers, and acknowledge that we’ve learned from the past’s mistakes. To simply throw that all away and say games are “easier” is essentially a slap in the face to all gamers; especially when you follow it up by saying gaming only has mass appeal if it’s dumbed down.

Don’t let their ignorance about Gaming’s history taint the hard work of countless game production studios, designers, programmers, and the community at large.

 

 

 

 

 

http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/272/immortalphoenixheaderco.png

www.ImmortalPhoenix.net

Oct 262012
 

Zombie fans! The Walking Dead is back on TV, you are all shocked at Rick Grimes’ actions and you haven’t played the latest installment of it’s episodic video game extension, There are 2 problems here. Firstly, I take it you haven’t read the comics, because our favorite sheriff’s life is about to become permanently more complicated. Also, the game has been freaking great! Why haven’t you caught up on it yet?

Well, Gaming Irresponsibly is here to help you out… with at least one of those issues you have. We’d like to give one of you lucky readers a Steam code for Episode 4 of the Walking Dead game. Entering is so easy, even a walker could do it. Follow the directions below, tell your friends, keep entering and hopefully you will be continuing the story of Lee Everett. Just remember, in the zombie apocalypse, there are no happy endings… just merciful ones.

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Oct 102012
 

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

Double Dragon Neon

Windows PC

Contains: Fantasy Violence, Suggestive Themes, Partial Nudity

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.


Double Dragon, one of the most beloved old school franchises which has long fallen from grace, has been subject to many remakes and attempted ports. It always seems that every time a new Double Dragon game comes out, there is something lost in translation. My last exposure to the franchise was a watered down, pitiful attempt and a shoddy brawler. A sad ending to a great franchise. However at E3 a newly announced title, Double Dragon Neon, was announced and I was able to get a preview of it. A few months later, we got our hands on a review code of the full game, would it be as good as the originals or just another crappy knockoff?

Double Dragon Neon is very quick to remind you that this is a spiritual remake of the original games, featuring remixes of classic Double Dragon songs and massive nods to some of the levels from the franchises best games. While this is enough to make me smile as an old school gamer, there is also a massive amount of 80′s pop culture and old school video game references. A great example of this is the main villain, Skullmageddon, who is an obvious parody of the He-Man villain Skeletor. I also saw an obvious Mega Man clone in the game as well, everything reference is it’s own love letter to the golden ages of gaming and pop culture. Now the thing I liked most about this is the fact that even though the nostalgia is over the top, it doesn’t take anything away from the game.

With gameplay, there are 2 major things to note with Double Dragon Neon. First off, I really don’t think that the game is ever really meant to be played as a single player game. There are so many features that are just not available to you when you play by yourself. Currently, co-op is only available while playing in a traditional same-screen format but there is an upcoming patch to allow online co-op as well. Now the second thing about playing the game is all the amazing co-op abilities that you can use. The new ‘High Five’ system allows you to share life, steal life and buff each other to supplement the combat experience. You can also juggle your opponents with well placed combos and revive a downed Bro when your health reaches zero. Playing single player removes these elements from the game altogether.

Combat is typical of a brawler, featuring waves of the same enemy time and time again with different skins but the same combat AI. While there is a plethora of different attacks that are available at your disposal, I found myself using the typical punch/kick combos to get the job done. There are a collection of special abilities that you can use as trump cards while brawling but I never really found myself absolutely relying on it either. These new combat features came off as great additions to the game, but really didn’t end up being anything that added to or revolutionized gameplay.

Ultimately, I had a great time playing Double Dragon Neon and was even able to sit down and play alongside my 4 year old son. With the Shadow Bro mode, he was able to autocopy my abilities and not have set his own skills as well. This was nice and allows a new player to play with another player with a pre-leveled character. I did still need to play through some of the more brutal platforming sequences but it was something that he could still play the majority of. I feel this is a huge benefit of this Double Dragon game, it appeals to not only the veteran fans but also to the inexperienced newcomers as well. This should be noted, as this is really the first decent Double Dragon entry in over 20 years. The first for many gamers out there now.

All in all, Double Dragon Neon may not be the best game ever, or have the most original mechanics, it is still absolutely rad!

XBox 360

Graphics

60
 

Audio

85
 

Gameplay

70

Creativity

85
 

Execution

75
 

Offset

70
    

7.4

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Oct 082012
 

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

Borderlands 2

PS Vita

Contains: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


The original Borderlands will forever be known as a hallmark in video game history. Sure, it was far from perfect but it brought about one of the best loot systems and combined it with exciting combat. The result was something no other game could provide. Nothing has topped it since then in those categories so with the release of Borderlands 2 came a lot of expectations that Gearbox, developers behind the Borderlands franchise, must meet in order to please their ever expanding fanbase. Meeting those expectations is one thing, exceeding them is what you hope for, though. Gearbox managed to only meet those expectations, but is that really a bad thing?

Borderlands 2 picks up five years after the events in the original with you selecting between four new vault hunters. All the characters are new but it’s clear that their classes all take some cues from the first game. As a Commando you can lay down a turret, Gunzerker can wield two heavy weapons, Siren can lift people up and freeze them for a few seconds, and the Assassin can make himself disappear while laying out a holographic decoy. I ended up playing through the game with the Siren class and found it to be perfectly acceptable; no class seems to have a distinct advantage over another. But the issue is that no class really pops out, either. The ideas behind them are great but the repetitiveness of using the same special move for 30+ hours really dulls down some of the impact it has on the combat.

This is obviously where the skill tree should come in and liven things up. And while the menu itself looks quite good, no skill within the menu packs the oomph you’re really looking for out of a XP based game. There’s no doubt that more than a few of the unlockable skills have their own uses but that doesn’t mean they add a pound of excitement on the side to the already fantastic combat sequences. It’s far from a game killing issue but it’s definitely disappointing that the skills were not a tad more varied across the board.

One thing the original Borderlands was known for was the exciting, at times insane combat that squeaked itself into every 20 minutes of the game. That combat returns this time around and only improves upon its original success. While the skills are not drastically exciting, they get the job done and with even more loot to gobble up this time around, you’ll quickly become addicted to offing every enemy that attacks you just so you can see what glowing item pops out of them. Then after you’ve put them in their place, the urge to search every inch of their camp for a weapon is just too great to ignore. Everything in Borderlands 2 just feels flashier and more exciting, partly due its beautiful world and partly due to the ridiculous weapons (and weapon combinations) you use throughout the game. No matter what you’re always on the hunt for your next main weapon and once you find that weapon, you never want to let it go.

Borderlands cartoony art style is another reason why taking the disk out of your console was a difficult task. It seems as if Gearbox recognized their issues (or lack thereof) with the visuals and did their best to tweak them in all the right ways. It mostly works out as the world around you and all the enemies look incredible. But the downside is that frame rate drops remain prevalent throughout the whole game, especially when you’re playing co-op your friends. It seems as if Borderlands chokes any time something big begins happening on screen.

The story in Borderlands 2 all revolves around one villainous character, Handsome Jack. Throughout the main story line, he will chime in at random intervals to let out his own little asshole remarks. Your characters goal throughout the game is to stop Jack and his attempt use the vault key and unleash all kinds of madness upon Pandora. In all honesty, story is clearly not the main reason you come to Borderlands and that is apparent throughout the game’s 20+ hour story line which ultimately concludes in one of the most lackluster endings I’ve seen this year. If you want to avoid the story you can always indulge in the plethora of sidequests that are always available. The amount of sidequests spread throughout Borderlands 2 seem endless and completing every one of them is a task that I won’t believe possible until I see it for myself. The quests themselves can range between a multitude of tasks, some being funny, some providing more insight into Handsome Jack, and some being just damn interesting.

A staple of the first Borderlands was the dry, at times hit or miss comedy. That hit or miss aspect returns as phrases like “teabagging” and “cool story, bro” are tossed around and are about as unfunny as you would expect. Claptrap attempts to bring about some laughs but he wears out his welcome rather quickly. He isn’t the only character that wears out their welcome as so does almost every other character that is pushed into Borderlands for comedy reasons. Most of the comedy in Borderlands 2 is a bit hidden, mostly through side quests or hidden collectibles. Like the first Borderlands, laughs are not something it shoots out repeatedly but when it does, it’s always a clever laugh. Except for the character that is Scooter’s sister. That’s one fine woman.

Something that came as a bit of a surprise in Borderlands 2 was the frustrating and inconsistent difficulty. Boss battles within the first Borderlands were stupidly easy and Gearbox knew that, but it seems as if their fix to that issue was to make things just plain unfair in spots. Be it making a boss much more powerful than its level entails or just throwing a humongous boss into a rather small area, frustration is something I came by quite a few times in my journey throughout Pandora. These issues are avoided by doing one of two things, however. You can either play co-op or do a ton of side missions before story missions. These are two things that I’m sure Gearbox expects of their players but it’s still disappointing to see them do their best to force you into one of two play styles,

Truth be told, Borderlands 2 is exactly what I and many others wanted before its release, that being more Borderlands and more loot for us to sink our teeth in for at least 30 hours. Gearbox delivered upon that and provided even more on top of it to keep things fresh and fun throughout. The combat and loot system remain some of the best on consoles today and are only enhanced in this sequel. While Borderlands 2 is just more of a game you played three years ago, it’s still a great game that can easily give you 50+ hours of entertainment. 

XBox 360

Graphics

85
 

Audio

90
 

Gameplay

80

Creativity

85
 

Execution

80
 

Offset

80
    

8.3

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Aug 302012
 
Source CraigmDennis

(Gaming has always shifted to meet our needs. But exactly what are those needs and why do we game?)

The explosion of gaming at the beginning of the 21st century turned a fringe hobby into a significant pastime for millions of people.

The question follows then: what exactly does gaming give us that we need so badly? What inherent desires do humans have that gaming fulfills?

Today we’ll be looking at the top 10 reasons for gaming and showing how gaming gives us what we want. It’s become another way to fulfill desires we never knew we had.

Before we start the list, I just wanted to mention that this list isn’t in any particular order. It’s randomly listing the 10 most important needs that gaming fulfills.

Number 10

Exploration


Isn’t that why we fell in love with Mario and other side-scrollers? The platforming was really fun in Super Mario Brothers but the worlds were also very catchy and well themed. Wanting to go out in a brand new world and venture about was one of the reasons why we played as Mario. His new world was more interesting than ours.

This need inside us, to be adventurous, to go out and explore, is something gaming has come to provide. We used to go out into the woods and find new worlds on our own. Now all it takes is a controller, T.V, and a very very nice couch.

Gaming helps fulfil that inner desire in all of us to see things we’ve never seen before.

Number 9

Earn Praise – Become a Hero / Interactivity


Imagine working hard and never being rewarded for your efforts. Gaming doesn’t do that. Instead when you spend hours grinding away and working hard doing quests, the game, story, and virtual people come to recognize your efforts and in turn praise you for your hard work.

Gaming fulfills this inner desire to become that hero, be recognized for your talents and efforts, and receive praise we may not get enough of in the real world.

The other key with being a hero in a video game is interactivity. You’re not watching this in a movie theater. You’re actually in control of the main character. You immerse yourself into that character and interact with the environment. This interactivity is a key reason why games are so fun. Being able to influence the outcomes of the story or be a part of it is amazingly fun and a definite reason why we game.

Number 8

Leave Reality – Nurture Creativity



Being able to step out of the real world once and a while is a feeling everyone enjoys, especially if you venture into worlds you could never have thought possible. It’s why we watch movies, T.V shows, or any other sort of visual drama. Stepping out of reality has always been a way of helping to cultivate creativity in others by seeing someone else’s vision of another place and another time.

Think of how many spinoff stories people write and how much fan-fiction gets created once someone experiences a fictional world drempt by a creative artist.

Number 7

Explore the Dark side – Curiosity



Everyone always wonders what it’s like from the opposite characters point of view. We also understand that even though Grand Theft Auto lets us drive into streetlights, we’d never do that in the real world.

Gaming often gets criticized for the freedom it allows it’s players to move. But this freedom is really the basic instinct of curiosity. We always ask what life might be like in a different more sinister way.

That doesn’t mean we ourselves are sinister, just like wondering how a cat is like doesn’t mean we dream of being a cat, it just means we want to see a side of the world we could never try in real life.

Don’t let fear mongering against games scare you. People know the difference between virtual and real life violence. Psychologically, something would be wrong with you if you THOUGHT you killed someone while playing a video game. That would be a scarier thought than people merely having fun playing video games .

Even young children know the difference when their action figures/dolls die or get fight each other. They know none of it’s real and it doesn’t affect their moral conscience.

Number 6

Power/Control – Observe results of our choices



The Sims is the highest selling PC game of all time. The game, which puts us in full control of the lives of other virtual people, is a telling example of our need for control and power.

We like building these virtual worlds, controlling them, and eventually seeing the outcome of our decisions. We get to see if our choices panned out and if we really were the wise rulers we thought ourselves to be.

There is also the sinister side of waging chaos and wrath in-game when we may be in a bad mood in real life. Other games like Black and White make us a God, either merciful or vengeful, with full divine powers, and towns worshiping none other than us.

This quest for power has been intrinsic in humans since the dawn of time. It would no doubt seep into gaming and allow us another way to get our fix.

Number 5

Competitiveness


These games seem to have taken over the gaming market. Examples include Halo, Call of Duty, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and a number of other top selling titles.

Competitive games are there for our competitive natures. Sometimes we just want to show others that we excel in a certain field and anyone that disagrees with us can step up and challenge us and be proven wrong in a matter of minutes.

This inner competitive nature in all of us needed to come out eventually in Gaming and it has fully manifested itself now in the line of games filling up store shelves. Multiplayer gaming and cooperative modes let you play with friends rather than just against robots. It takes the difficulty level up to a new threshold when the opponent knows as much or more about how to win than you do. No computer can ever be that difficult and as a result Xbox Live has helped increase sales numbers for Xbox games over their PlayStation counterparts.

Number 4

Creation


Just as we enjoy creating and being creative in the real world, so too would we inevitably find a way to do so in gaming. In a lot of ways Gaming is simply an extension of ourselves. It allows us to virtually fulfill our needs and desires, negating the real world all together.

Being able to create was a very important aspect of ourselves and recently games like Minecraft have really raised the bar on our abilities to create things how we choose.

The games, such as Sims, Terraria, and Little Big Planet, provide the tools and then we work with them to create to our hearts desire. The more customization the better. Hundreds of sites are now littered with these unique designs created in these virtual worlds.

Number 3

Real World Simulations


The name Madden or Fifa is synonymous with sports simulation games and independent franchises. Companies like E.A games have been built simply from this one aspect of gaming.

Lots of people love sports but may not always have the opportunity to play at that moment because of weather, energy level, or time of day. Luckily it’s always clear, bright, and sunny on our game consoles.

Our favorite sports stars also come packaged with fully virtual playoff seasons that wet your appetite when the actual season is already over. Rosters now automatically update to keep your teams exactly up to spec with how the real world is moving and how trades are occurring.

Gaming is a second home for the sports enthusiast and will remain so indefinitely now that these sports simulations have large fan bases and sell millions of copies.

Number 2

Absurd Real world Sims


These games allow us to do activities and sports in ways that are impossible in the real world. They make us super human, like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and allow us to get air or spin in ways that no skater could do in the real world.

NBA street, a game with ridiculous passes and dunks, let you play street ball the way you dreamed. It was the type of dunks, moves, and exploding rims that not even Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan could imitate.

We had insane racing games that let us get chased by the cops or be underground street racers.
These simulations allow us to bring a bit of absurdity into a real world occupation. The graphics would fool us into thinking the world was unchanged but the game-play showed us a view of the world we’d never seen before. That world was simply impossible to glimpse in ours.

Number 1

Storytelling


The oldest art form known to man will always be a draw to play games. Some stories plotted out in games have outsold and outperformed popular stories in books, movies, or T.V shows.

A good story is always a thrill for a human and it entices the senses while welling up emotions deep inside everyone of us. The need to know what happens next drives us through the game, making us work tediously hard, just so the next page in the chapter can be revealed.

One of the most successful franchises in gaming makes it’s bread and butter simply with story. You know when you play Final Fantasy that you’ve paid for the story. That this game better be epic, better be coherent, and better be enjoyable, or it isn’t what you’ve come to expect.  To be synonymous with storytelling itself is a very high mantle to hold.

Heavy Rain, Red Dead Redemption, Fallout, Starcraft 2, and a number of other games have shown us that storytelling sells and is an important feature of any newly released game. A bad story can ruin a coders years of hard work producing a solid platformer.

Storytelling becomes a powerful glue and cements a game together when it’s polished to perfection and fulfills the needs of gamers shown above

Final Thoughts



Gaming is a very flexible activity and new games will have to cater to the needs of it’s players by allowing greater and more unqiue features to be implemented.

A multiplayer option is becoming more and more necessary even for games that once were only known for their single player modes. That was the idea behind giving games like Uncharted 2 rich multiplayer experiences.

Other games only known for multiplayer are being asked to incorporate story modes, such as the Street Fighter series. Games like Starcraft 2 have followed through and provided a rich single player experience even before you get into the competitive multiplayer experience that the game was initially bought for. Other games like Marvel V.S Capcom, were recently criticized for their lack of a true story mode and were deducted points; even though the nature and essence of the game has always been in a multiplayer setting and the multiplayer was executed excellently.

Future games will become more and more open, letting people explore what once was very static and tight spaced quests and adventures. Like Fallout and Red Dead Redemption, you will have the ability to do what you choose and continue the main quest when you like. The reins will be in your hands and the days events for you to decide.

Such freedom needs to be incorporated because different people have different wants and needs. The more of them we can pack into a game, the more people will enjoy the freedom of choice.

For those that want to avoid the horror that awaits over the hill, they can put it off for a few days and level up before traveling onwards, possibly connecting with a few multiplayer friends as backup. For those that want to charge in with whatever they have, guns blazing, the game will be flexible and allow both to do as they want. One may die horribly in a matter of seconds, but hey, at least he learned a valuable lesson. :D

Games are becoming an extension of our real lives. The various needs and desires we have will no doubt have to be fulfilled by game designers. Future games will need to incorporate the flexibility to succeed at many things at once and will need to be more graphically breathtaking then we ever imagined.

In every way possible Gaming is becoming less and less virtual and more and more real. Maybe full integration one day with augmented reality will be the future our kids wake up to in 100 years time. The future of gaming is bright. In the last decade its attempt to satisfy as many human desires as it can has been miraculously successful. Where it will be in the next decade is up to anyone’s imagination.

 

Aug 052012
 

Iconic Franchises Here to Stay

(Custom image I made showing the dominance of certain Franchises. Mario is obviously the king : D )

 

The mentality of the gamers has shifted a lot since the 1990′s. Back then, sequels were looked at with caution and most people looked for originality in games and “The next best thing.”

You never went to your friends home and said, “Hey do you have the new version of ______” or “Are you hearing about the sequel to _______”. What seems to have happened to Gaming industry is what happened to Hollywood, namely “Sequel Fever” and top of the line franchises.

Now this isn’t really a bad thing if you talk to the Call of Duty fans who crave the newest installments of their game. But being that a gamers budget is only so big and industries only have so much money to produce games, it may shift gaming to more of a static art or medium, pushing out a lot of the creativity it once had.

If people are only buying a number of top tier franchises and companies decide to invest less in gambles or new I.P.’s (intellectual properties), gaming will lose one of it’s greatest elements; creativity and innovation. I think any natural gamer will find this saddening and has noticed the results of this lately in our gaming lineups. Between 2000-2008 were some of the golden years of gaming enjoying a number of games people could hardly imagine possible. But ever since the economic downturn, it seems video game studios are less and less likely to pay for anything except for “a sure thing.”

Data

So lets put this into perspective and give some data to back up these findings. We want to show that the best selling games have become Iconic Franchises and that as a result the remakes of these franchises will make it harder and harder for unique games to stand out. The easiest place to find this trend is simply to look at the best selling games on the console. For the Xbox (Not the 360) this game was Halo 2.

Looking at what happened to that very unique game, we now know the blockbuster franchise its become and Halo 4 is set to become the next biggest wallet crunching buy. This trend continues with the next best selling games of Halo combat evolved, a Tom Clancy game (which is franchised to death), and Fable, which continues it’s franchise reign today in Fable 3.

Going to the Xbox 360, currently as of August of 2011, Call of Duty B.O is reigning on top, followed by Kinect adventures (Part of the kinect craze), Halo 3, Call of Duty MW2, and Gears of War. All of them becoming behemoths and blockbuster franchises that are hear to stay…except maybe Kinect adventures. :D

Now onto the Playstation 1, we have 2 Gran Turismo games in the top 5, 2 Final Fantasies, and Tomb Raider. Again all of these games are sure fire blockbusters later turned into mega-franchises.

Moving to the Playstation 2, my personal favorite console of all time, we have 3 Grand Theft auto games topping the top 5 list and 2 Gran Turismo games. As you can see, less and less innovation is trending as the consoles progress forward.

Then to the most powerful console out currently, the PS3, we have 2 Gran Turismo games, Call of Duty MW2, Uncharted 2, and Motorstorm. Now is a good time to mention Motorstorm is slowly becoming a franchise of it’s own, after its latest release of Motorstorm Apocalypse.

On the PC we have 2 Sims games, a series which I’m fondly addicted to, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Half life. All of the above names are synonymous with behemoth gaming giants. Any game would envy to be anywhere near the popularity of the above.

As for the N64, NES, Gamecube, and Wii, hands down everyone already knows that these are systems known for their unique console exclusives. Such exclusives include the Super Mario brothers series, Zelda, Mario Party, Mario Kart, and the Super Smash Brothers lineup.

Gamers Dilemma / Studio Execs Re-branding

So when gamers are out rushing to buy the next big releases of the above games, what can a small gaming studio do to break out and set itself apart as the “new top dog” in town. When the gamer’s wallet is smaller than normal and the new price point for games is the $60 dollar release, how do you sell your unique I.P?

Bethesda had some major success in re-branding and recreating the Fallout series which has blasted off thanks to their hard work. Other games followed suit such as Red Dead Redemption, a game set apart on it’s own in uniqueness that rebooted a failing series.

Maybe the new easiest way to inject creativity and make the Studio Execs happy is to remaster a failing series that has had good sales numbers already. Maybe that’s the model that companies need if they want to keep innovation alive in the industry.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the case I don’t blame studios for wanting to make and release games that gamers want and are willing to buy. I also don’t blame people for buying franchises that they love. (I’m one of them and you would laugh at how many Sims games I bought). :D

I’m just here to tell everyone that the simple result of what we’re doing is now limiting innovation and creativity. Hopefully the creativity route Bethesda and Rockstar has found continues to work for other games trying to break out of the mold and create something unique and refreshing. Maybe a new model remains that we haven’t seen yet, that will satisfy our need for fresh games.

All that is certain is that a new day in gaming has arrived. The golden years are gone, and we’re turning the page of history to a new chapter. What remains is anyone’s guess. We’re venturing into new territory here guys. That’s my message to you. :)

I look forward to seeing how the gaming studios adapt and how the gaming scene evolves over the coming years.

 

http://img52.imageshack.us/img52/272/immortalphoenixheaderco.png

Originally Posted on TheeImmortalPhoenix.blogspot.com
Jul 142012
 

High Noon Studios (Made famous for their development of Transformers: War for Cybertron) next game has been officially announced, at it shall feature one Mr. Wilson. If you’re unsure who Wilson is, that’s Deadpool you silly goose. I say that after having to google what Deadpool’s real name was.

My ignorance aside, Deadpool has himself a video game and from the trailer released at Comic Con, it looks great. I’ll withhold final judgement until I can play the game of course but a Deadpool game filled with decapitations and “mature” content sounds right up my alley. It definitely isn’t being made with the little kiddies in mind.

The High Noon Studios developed Deadpool will be coming sometime in 2013 and the best news? Nolan North will be voicing Deadpool. My hero.

Jun 272012
 

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.

The Walking Dead - Episode 2: Starved for Help

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Contains: Strong Language, Blood and Gore, Intense Violence

Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


As everyone probably knows at this point, episode one of The Walking Dead video game was released a little over a month ago and was highly revered by many for its storytelling and narrative. At the same time there were multiple issues such as a studdery framerate and overall buggy execution transitioning from cutscene to cutscene. Mainly due to the fact there is a small turnaround time between episodes, those issues were expected to go unresolved. We expected correctly, folks.

Episode 2, entitled Starved for Help, kicks off three months later and immediately you realize you’ve added a new member to your survival squad. The new guys name is Mark and it seems he was added due to the fact he promised the group he could give them more food, but they realized that food won’t last too long. From there, the story picks back up where it left off with a “cut or don’t cut” scene. Quickly followed by more dialogue to further the progression you’ve already established with characters such as Kenny, Clem, and Larry.

This dialogue and story may only last for around two and a half hours but it is something that is worth much more than the five dollar price tag placed upon the game. It’s a storytelling experience you won’t find in any other piece of entertainment and as the tension continues to mount, never does your attention stray away from your screen. The writing for each character and most of all the overall way Tell-Tale and their writers progress the group dynamic is stunningly well done and something every other game studio should immediately take note of.

The adventure game mechanics from the first episode return and are unchanged. They continue to bring a level of approachability that other adventure games fail to have. If there was any change that needed to be made it would be to make the cursor move a bit faster. Even that is such a minor detail, a detail that could probably be fixed simply by adjusting a slider.

The biggest problem found within Starved for Help, and the Walking Dead series in general so far, is the aforementioned buggy transitioning from cutscene to cutscene. What exactly happens is typically upon having to either transition from cutscene to dialogue or vice versa, the game locks up for a solid few seconds which can obviously kill the entire mood the game has set up. This issue was prevalent in the first episode but seems to have gotten worse in the newest installment, maybe due to having less time to work on this episode though that seems unlikely. Whatever the issue is, it must be resolved in the future as the impressive storytelling I raved about is getting strongly diminished by this disappointing but unrelenting problem.

The Walking Dead Episode 1’s unique art style garnered significant praise but also a bit of distaste from critics and gamers alike. Some found the cell shaded, imperfect drawings of each character to be a welcome new style while others found the imperfectness distracting. The newer characters introduced maintain the same direction while the characters we know and love remain unchanged as well, with the only changes being different clothes for a few characters.

The Walking Dead Episode 1 was a fantastic piece of content; it delivered on its promises but, like every game, had its own little problem or two. These problems are still prevalent in the newest episode while the successful promises are built upon and made even more enjoyable. If you liked the first episode there’s no doubt you’ll love this one as the story begins to ramp up even more and leads you into a very promising episode 3.

XBox 360

Graphics

85
 

Audio

80
 

Gameplay

95

Creativity

85
 

Execution

95
 

Offset

90
    

8.8

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Feb 172012
 

If there is one fictional series that takes everything cool and interesting about science fiction and puts it into a video game, it has to be Mass Effect.  The action RPG line of games has grown immensely in popularity since the first title’s release in 2007.  Finally, come March 6, the third installment will hit stores in the US (March 9 in Europe) giving reason once again for gamers to spend their free time indoors.  Bioware was kindly enough to offer a demo version of Mass Effect 3 on Tuesday, but because work has officially taken over my life and human spirit, I finally got a chance to test it out. The demo, which included two single player missions and a look at the multiplayer modes, gave an exciting look on what’s more to come for gamers.

The New and Improved Commander Shepherd

Before starting the first mission, players once again go through the long, yet hilarious process of creating their own character and back-story.  Of course, I have a save data file from Mass Effect 2, but for demo purposes, you need to create your own character once again.  This time around, I decided to go with the combination of Brian Peppers and Mr. Slave from South Park.  A man so ugly that it makes the Elephant Man look like Marilyn Monroe.  After creating your character’s past storyline, the opening cinematic begins.

We see Commander Shepherd stationed on Earth in the opening scene, staring out his window like a criminally insane person would.  Admiral Anderson quickly disrupts Shepherd’s daily window viewing, and warns his about possible Reaper activity that has hit the Moon.  While racing to the council room, Shepherd comes across Ashley, who managed to get an extreme makeover since we last saw her, and Ronnie from Jersey Shore.  As the council warns about a possible Reaper attack on Earth, all hell breaks loose as the Reapers finally hit Earth and unleash mass destruction.

Immediately after the cinematic, players take control of, Shepherd as Anderson and him race against time to reach the Normandy ship to warn the Alliance Council on the Citadel.  This first mission is simply a training one, introducing players to the updated controls as well as the cover system.  This section is more so meant to showcase the spectacle that is Mass Effect 3.  All around you, ships are exploding, buildings are falling.  We see that the Reapers mean business and human annihilation is their main objective.  The only hope for survival is to fight and judging by the Reaper threat, it will not be an easy one.  If there is one section of the game that is meant to foreshadow what’s to come in Mass Effect 3, Bioware did one hell of a job.  It isn’t till the second mission where we get a full glimpse of the gameplay.

And you thought things were bad in Syria...

The preceding section takes place around the middle of the game where we see Shepherd along with Urgnot Wrex and Garius as they make their way to a Salarian planet to rescue a female Krogan from a Salarian base.  Things go badly soon after their arrival with extremist group Cerberus reaching the base looking to exterminate the female Krogan.  This section is a bit more action oriented with players having the freedom to utilize not only your entire teammates’ firepower, but also their bionics.  Players will notice not only some old bionic powers, but new ones too like Garrius’ mine throwing skill that does some impressive damage to large groups of enemies.  Cerberus also has strengthened their elite soldiers, with a large variety of different types including ones that fly in on jetpacks and some that carry shields.  Not only is it satisfying to see some sort of change in enemy characters, but it brings a challenge to the table.  The mission concludes with a so-so boss fight against a Cerberus mecha-robot.  It was fairly simple and took mere minutes to defeat without little strategy.  However, knowing the epic boss fights from Mass Effect 2, I am sure there are more challenging ones to come.

Overall, I was impressed by what Mass Effect 3 had to offer.  Though the demo met my expectations, I would not say it blew me away, but that doesn’t mean that’s a bad thing.  My expectations are so high for Mass Effect 3 that after playing the demo; I have no doubt that that final product will be superb.  The graphics have improved as well as the cover control system and overall sound.  The RPG and conversation element has not changed, which is great because that is basically the foundation that series has been built upon.  There were minor issues I had including some graphical fumbles and gameplay issues (Anderson running through a wall), but then again it’s only a demo.  The wide selection of weapons and bionics is also something to note from the demo and I’m sure in the game’s final release, there will more to use in your quest.  All I know is that come March 6, I will put on hold all human interaction for several weeks and probably stop coming into work; I’ve got a galaxy to save.

Jan 012012
 

Sports games have been around since the dawn of video games.  Considering that Pong is a digitized version of tennis, we can easily say that the genre is firmly rooted in the evolution of gaming.  However, the easiest way to see said evolution has us looking to the Canadians.  Hockey games are as good an example of major sporting games as any other sport, however the simplicity and speed of the game have always turned out quality games.  I mean, by the time we got any type of playable football or baseball game, hockey games were already firmly entrenched in as a genre of video game.  Let’s start at the from the beginning and get to the end in an effort to see how the genre has progressed over time, from humble beginnings as a novelty amusement to a simulation which borders on resembling reality.

The one that started it all!

1981 saw the release of the third ice hockey game in history, and the first on the juggernaut of a system, the Atari 2600.  The others came out on the Magnavox Odyssey 2 and Intellivision, but the reason I’m starting with this one is because A.) I don’t either of those older systems or games, and B.) they look like they’re pong variations, taking their inspiration from tabletop air hockey and not the stick-wielding variety we watch on television.  But what’s the first popular ice hockey game called?  Why, Ice Hockey of course!  I love the names of Atari games, they’re short and to the point.  Who do you fight in Space Invaders?  Invaders of course, possibly from space!  In Ice Hockey you actually get a pretty advanced game, with four game modes.  In Game 1 you play against the computer with “Regular Action”, in Game 2 you play against a friend in “Regular Action”.  Modes 3 and 4 are the as one and two respectively, but with “High-speed action” rather than regular.  You play 2 on 2 hockey against the computer or a friend, and the action really takes off with “High-speed” modes.  It’s simple, the controls allow you to pass the puck and get as many goals as you can in 3 minutes.  You have no way of selecting which player you control, rather, when the puck is closer to one teammate than the other, the game automatically switches for you.  It can get kind of tricky sometimes, but it does work.  When you don’t have the puck, the one button Atari gives you will slash at the very bones of your enemies legs in an attempt to steal the puck, often spilling his carcass all over the ice.  When you have control of the puck, your button shoots the puck in whichever direction you’re moving the joystick.   Ice Hockey offers some really good graphics for the time, and with a friend it can give you about an legitimate hour of good honest fun even today.  What we get from this game versus, say, Pong, is the independently moving hockey player who are very visibly skating, team play, and a game where the score is only limited by time.  It feels like a hockey game.

Fun and cartoonish, but hard as hell.

Jumping forwards to 1988, we see Ice Hockey come back from the video game crash of ’83 on the NES .  It’s a very forgettable game, with graphics ripped straight out of Mario Land 3.  Seriously, all the characters look like they could take out a Goomba or two.  This game is a little more involved than it’s Atari predecessor, allowing you change your four-man lineup around between a fat dude, a normal guy, and a tall skinny drink of water.  The fat guy moves slowest and the skinny character gets knocked around easier, but the game is definitely broken.  You fly around the rink like you’re wearing socks on a gymnasium floor, it’s hard to change characters or even tell which one you’re controlling, the controls themselves are broken, and the rink is laid out left to right as opposed to top to bottom.  There are redeeming factors though.  You can choose a nationality to play as, which is patriotically fun.  The music and sound effects are flamboyant and fun, plus when you score the team celebrates in the middle of the rink which is such a nice touch.  I’ve got mixed feelings, but it’s another step towards a more realistic hockey simulator.  It lacks the grit which only Atari can deliver, but it’s much closer to the real thing than the simplicity of the 2600.  The real grudge I bear against this game is that when you play against your friend, neither of you are as good at the game as the computer.

This is the best, I swear.

From the cartoons of the 8-bit NES, we get some resplendent glory in NHL ’94 on the SNES and Sega Genesis.  This game is the one which introduced many to the EA slogan “It’s in the game”, and is the first video game which had the NHL license.  While NHL ’93 had the NHL Players Association stamp of approval, and there were earlier games on the Genesis, this was the one which really started putting hockey games on the map.  I was brought up on this stuff.  The controls are incredibly tight, the pacing is perfect, and the sound effects are gritty and realistic.  It was really fun, allowing you to play full seasons, do a small tournament, or even have a shootout.  You can fully change your lines, which are stocked with some great nostalgic moments as you peruse old greats and rising stars which have since retired.  Playing as folded teams like Hartford or Quebec and seeing future superstars in 32-bit rendering always puts a smile of a hockey fan’s face.  If you go in expecting a fun-to-play video game which you could spend a afternoon playing, this is one of the first sports games which could deliver.

The Great One makes a great one. Who would of thought?

The Nintendo 64 was kind to the genre of sports games, spawning ports of Midway arcade games, introducing the 2KX series along the with Madden and Quarterback Club franchise, with the hockey world getting some great additions.  Blades of Steel, Breakaway ’98, and Faceoff ’98 were all games which could ruin you weekend plans because you’d be hanging out in a friends basement.  Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey ’98 shone above the rest though.  Sure it’s more like a cartoon than the EA produced predecessors, or even the Atari version, but this was the era of NFL Blitz and NBA Jam.  Things had to be over the top, and hockey was no different.  As with the SNES games, Gretzky ’98 had terrific controls and sounds, everything plays really well.

 

The beginning of a pretty bland era.

Jumping ahead to the disc-based games, we see full-motion video and get a real sense of realism which the world had never before seen.  I’ve got EA’s NHL ’03, and the demo mode has popular alternative rock playing over the demo, just like we see today.  It was this era where we got many different play modes and tonnes of teams, introducing international play with a surprising amount of thoroughness with the country rosters and even the international standard sized rink.  It’s little touches like that which really set these games apart from earlier games.  The whole menu system is streamlines and modern, with rendered players showing off in the background, and it’s very easy to navigate.  Loading up the game, we see the two teams coming out on the rink, complete with a highlight reel.  It’s a legitimate attempt to make the player feel like they’re watching programming on television, adding another element of realism to the game which sadly wouldn’t be perfected until the next generation.  But enough about this nit-picking stuff, on to the game!  You get multiple camera angles, from the all too close “Action” camera to the realistic “Broadcast” cam.  I prefer the class “Overhead” view which gives you the best view of the goal.  There’s a fight mechanic, but it’s pretty wooden and can be won by simple button mashing.  Whenever something happens, like faceoffs or goals, you get some dynamic camera angles and close-ups of players.    Again this, combined with the introduction of competent color commentary, is stylized to be like a television broadcast, and it almost works, but there are technical issues associated with the polygon faces and blocky movements which hold it back.  The controls are nice and simple, allowing you to maintain control and lay some big hits.  What else is there to say?  It’s a basic hockey game in the sense that we know today, and fun for the whole family.  Unfortunately, for some reason they chose to omit the shootout minigame, but the actual gameplay is enough to keep you entertained.  I really like this game.  It’s polished, modern, and totally worth the fifty cents I paid for it at EB Games.

 

Look at the little things: The audience, the ice spray, the fact that Tim Thomas is designed to be as unique as Thomas himself...

The most modern iteration of hockey comes once again from EA Sports in NHL 12.  This is by a wide margin the most realistic hockey game I’ve ever played.  The recently added mechanic of using the analogue sticks to fully control your shot is tricky to learn, but once you have it down you can really start getting fancy with the puck.  This style of play can be fun, but if you prefer, they also offer the “classic” controller configuration using the control scheme which dates all the way back to SNES.  The graphics are really great, and I’ve actually caught myself zoning out and thinking I’m watching television.  They somehow managed to make the controls and the presentation so linear that it feels like real life once you get into the game.  It’s definitely different from its cartoonish 64-bit ancestors.  You can go online, get updates to the roaster mid-season, and play as a original character which you develop exclusively in a fictional world.  Every year now, for over a decade, we get a newly polished version of the same game, only now and then getting a new engine or mechanic.  This year, you can play as some of the all-time greatest hockey players and put them into your custom-built teams.  It’s a surprisingly good way to get you to play, as you want to see your favourite players back in action and under your control.  The audiences, I’ve noticed in the research here, are a huge step up from the preceding system generations.  Even the very best graphics on the Xbox or Playstation 2 only allowed for minimalist cardboard cutouts in the audience, but with the might of current processors and graphic capabilities, we see individual people in the stands and unprecedented atmosphere.  If you have NHL 09 or 10 though, I would consider just renting this one, as you already have the current year’s roster and the controls and game engine seem to be the exact same.

Oh sports games, from your humble and cartoonish beginnings we get the realistic simulators played today.

So let’s wrap this whole thing up, and see if we can’t pick out some of the things that tie it all together.  We started out looking at a glorified Pong clone, but one which allows for multiplayer action and functional teamwork.  From there, we got the addition of crowds, customizable lines tailored to your style of play, and celebrations after goals.  The NES version of hockey suffered from the simplicity of the age, but it paved the way for the Super Nintendo incarnations, which set the precedent for all the EA games which would dominate the next two decades.  By NHL ’94 we have commentators, licensed team and player names, multiple game modes like shootout and franchise play, and the classic controls which we can still use today.  The 64-bit era really highlighted how fun a sports game could be.  Goalies turned into brick walls, ambulances run across the bottom of the screen after big hits, and you just can’t help but smile as you get upwards of fifty shots on net.  The disc-based generations of consoles we have today seem to be exclusively going for realism, and it hasn’t been until recently that they’ve been able to pull it off convincingly.  Through fluid controls, recognizable players and arenas, cinematically dramatic cut-scenes  between play, and new game mechanics we enter into almost a virtual reality which borders on the uncanny.  You can manage your teams how you wish and fighting feels more like Fight Night Round 3 then a hockey game.  I can`t express how complex and in-depth these games have become and yet still they remain fun.  But when you boil them all down to the bare bones, it is the few basic commands and multiplayer options that make these games great, and that`s what I set out to find.  They are like sports in real life: simple and repetitive, but impossible to be unbeatable at.

Nov 152011
 

Those yearning for a film adaptation of the superb Bioshock will have a harder time getting their wish granted.  According to Bioshock designer Ken Levine, no one is rushing to get the film done.

In an interview, Levine stated that there are plans for the film, but things aren’t quite in motion and won’t be for a long time.

“We got very close to having it get made – we had a deal in place and a director. But for us there’s no burning [desire] to have a movie made just to get it made,” said Levin. “For us and for Take-Two, it’s really got to be something that will give the fans something that they want, and for those who don’t know BioShock, really introduce them to something that is consistent with the game, and is it going to be a good representation of the game.”

Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski has slated to take the director’s chair, but left due to creative differences.  Then, 28 Weeks Later director Juan Carlos Fresnadilo came aboard, but since then, no other cast or crew has been announced.

Bioshock is just another video game adapted into a film that is currently stuck in “development hell”.  Let’s hope that in time, gamers can witness the underwater world of Rapture on the big screen.

Source: Kotaku

Oct 032011
 

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

X-Men™ Destiny

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Contains: Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.


When it comes to comic book inspired games, I am usually pretty open to them. I worked for a bit at a comic shop and also grew up in the 80s and 90s so they were common reading material. Now it has been a good amount of time since I last purchased a book but I was able to catch up to much or Marvel’s story lines when I purchased Marvel vs Capcom 3. When X-Men Destiny was announced, I hoped that this would be the X-Men title to put the franchise back on the video game map.

Destiny promised us many things that stood out in the action/adventure genre. 3 different characters, customization of mutant abilities, decisions made in game will shape the story and a story scripted by Mike Carey, a veteran X-Men comic writer. All of that together brought many gamers hope of what could be an amazing X-title.

Unfortunately, the final product turned out to be something totally different. Not a total piece of garbage, but most certainly not anything that is worth the excitement that was initially received. The game has many flaws, I’ll do my best not to miss too many. First off, the game itself could graphically be compared to something along the lines of a late gen PS2 title or some form of an HD remake. The story line ended up being surprisingly linear, choices you make will allow you to complete a few different missions for either the X-Men or the Brotherhood but ultimately you are given the ‘Which side would you like to join?’ option. Basically, Magneto and Cyclops each ask you to join their faction, negating anything said or done earlier.

The game plays mostly like a hack and slash, you simply run around and beat the faces in of any Purifier, U-Men and a few other goons. As you advance in the game, you can unlock new abilities and mutations. Unfortunately even on the hardest difficulty, as soon as I unlocked all the button combo attacks, every single enemy I encountered was easily dispatched. Certain skills are certainly overpowered when used together. I decided to go with the ‘Shadow Matter’ mutant ability and paired it with Northstar’s abilities and life steal. What I ended up with was a massive and easy to perform AOE attack that can stun and drain the life from enemies. Game breaking goodness!

Something that I noticed while playing was that achievements and trophies are earned for everything you pretty much do. Break enough comic book-like combat test notices, get an achievement. Upgrade a mutant ability, get a trophy. It is almost like they started throwing these rewards at gamers to hope that they didn’t notice the mediocre gameplay and subpar mechanics. I earned over 650 gamerscore on a single playthrough, I could easily 100% the game by joining the Brotherhood on a second playthrough, if the thought itself didn’t bore me to tears.

Remember those 3 characters and their story lines? Their unique stories are told during mostly in game dialogue and a few discussions with major characters. After beating the last boss (also a huge letdown) your character is given a little closure to their own personal events. When I say a little, I really do mean a little. In fact, the most interesting story I encountered was that of ex-purifier Adrian Luca. The guy had some serious skeletons in his closet but he ended up pretty much ignoring most of them throughout the game

Long story short, the game is poorly executed and lacks a lot of the flashy graphics that are expected in a new release title. When the Scarlet Witch wiped out the mutant population with the phrase “No more mutants”, she must have been referring to this game.

Playstation 3

Graphics

50
 

Audio

50
 

Gameplay

45

Creativity

65
 

Execution

30
 

Offset

45
    

4.8

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Pros:

  • Lots of collectibles
  • A large amount of easy achievements

Cons:

  • Boring combat
  • Poor graphics
  • Rushed feel to the game
  • Linear story (2 playthroughs give you every option)

 

Sep 222011
 

 

MLG is getting ready for it’s final stop before the championship, it just so happens that it is in Gaming Irresponsibly’s neck of the woods, Orlando. The tournament will be kicking off on October 14th and going through the 16th. To reiterate, the Orlando competition is the last stop before the championship on the 8th annual MLG Pro Circuit tour. If you are a fan of competitive gaming, this event is certainly one that you wouldn’t want to miss. Halo: Reach, Call of Duty: Black Ops and Starcraft II will all be played by world’s best players in a three-day, double-elimination video game tournament for a chance at more than $120,000 in prizes.

Gaming Irresponsibly will be there to cover the event but if you are in the area, be sure to check it out and also swing by and say hey! In order to do that though, you will first need to get your hands on tickets, fortunately we know just where you can go to get them, Major League Gaming’s own site! If you can’t make it out to the Orlando area, they still have options for you with their different membership plans. Gold MLG League members ($29.99-12 months) receive $10 off a competitor pass and $5 off a spectator pass, early entry into the event, ad-free high quality live video streams for home viewing, discounts on MLG apparel and partner products and more. Silver MLG League members ($9.99-3 months) receive access to high quality, ad-free streams, premium Video on Demand, access to member only forums and more. Once again, you can get access to all of this at MLG’s site.

So, really, I do have to ask. What are you still doing here and not over at MLG? See you there!

Details about the Orlando Pro Circuit:

Dates: Friday, October 14 – Sunday, October 16

Hours:

  • Friday, October 14 – Doors open at 1:30 PM with the official welcome at 5:00 PM and competition on the main stages from 5:30 PM – 12:30 AM
  • Saturday, October 15 – 10:00 AM to 12:00 AM
  • Sunday, October 16 – 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM, championship matches on the main stages from approximately 4:30 PM – 8:30PM

Location:

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
6000 W. Osceola Parkway
Kissimmee, Florida 34746

Pricing:

  • Spectator Passes for the weekend = $25
  • Halo: Reach Team Pass = $280
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Team Pass = $240
  • Starcraft 2 Player Pass = $70
Sep 152011
 

At the GameFly Fall Preview Event in Los Angeles, Gaming Irresponsibly had the pleasure of going a few rounds with WWE ’12, THQ and Yuke’s Media Creations newest title. After playing around with the demo, we were left with a lackluster experience, and the brief experience we did have left a lot to be desired. The game felt a little clunky and the gameplay was slow and lacked the speed and excitement of live WWE wrestling. Let’s take you through our experience with WWE ’12.

While standing in line. waiting to take a crack at WWE ’12, we watched a great battle that featured the Undertaker. When the match started, we couldn’t help but notice how slow everything went. We figured that it must be the way the players were moving the characters, and didn’t utilize the full landscape of the controls to make fast, exciting movements. Well, we were wrong, cause from the moment our match started, the game was painfully slow.

We began by starting a cage match with one of the few selectable characters that were available on the demo. The actual game will hold a host of stars from both today, and of the past, including The Rock as a pre-order bonus. For our first match, we chose a fan favorite with Rey Mysterio and our opponent chose Alberto del Rio. When the match started, we were greeted with a bevy of unique and personalized entrances, complete with rituals, music and video. The crowds cheered as both fighters entered the ring. The ambiance was great and you felt like a part of the arena as light bulbs flashed and fans screamed. That was about the best the demo had to offer however, because what came next was a slow paced battle between dudes fumbling with controls.

The grappling system seemed easy enough, but when confronted with an attacking enemy, the reaction time of characters seemed to be a little slow to be quick and competitive. Even when running around, the characters seemed to move at a tired pace, and as the match went on, they got even slower due to fatigue and injury. By the end of the match our Rey Mysterio was moving at a snails pace, whilst holding his ribs. It was a matter of time before we were finished and pinned like a rag doll. The game has a ton of improvements to make for it to be as electrifying and exciting as the WWE used to be. We also came across a small glitch while playing that slowed the game down a bit, and made the animations shaky and jumpy. We all know that demos have their bugs, that is why we test them, so we feel confident that any issues arising from that will be handled swiftly by the mega publisher THQ.

It wasn’t all bad though. The arena’s came to life with the amazing entrances, and good graphics, and the sheer amount of characters to choose from is a great reason for fans of the series, or of wrestling, to get pumped about WWE ’12. There are roughly 66 characters to choose from, between current stars, past favorites and Divas. The grappling system was fun and innovative and the different type of matches could increase the longevity for this title. Not to mention the possibility of DLC adding more characters, more modes or venues and such. The game has huge potential, but with the speed being as slow as it was on the demo, we don’t see how this game could catapult itself into the upper echelon of sports/entertainment games.

Overall, we had some fun with the WWE ’12 demo, but not enough to get all too excited about this release. Maybe with some more hands on time, and with more modes and characters, we may be swayed otherwise, but the controls and the speed killed it for us at the GameFly Fall Preview Event.

Aug 142011
 

A little while back I was checking out what Redbox titles were available for rent and I stopped upon Call of Duty: Black Ops. I chuckled to myself, how odd was it that I help run a video game publication, yet I haven’t ever played Black Ops? I rented it and obviously played it and yeah, still feels like Modern Warfare 2 with new weapons. More recently, I went to my brand new Play n Trade store down the road. While perusing the used titles I came across the realization that there are a ton of “Great” games I have never had the opportunity to play (No, demos do not count). Here is my top 10 list of games I haven’t played (but need to).

Bioshock:

I know what a Big Daddy is and I am familiar with what Adam is… kind of. I don’t specifically know exactly what stopped me from playing this game, chances are that there was some other release within the vicinity of Bioshock’s launch date that made me overlook this title. In Bioshock’s defense, I also haven’t played it’s sequel (which has been critically panned from what I hear) so I have never been able to form an opinion on the franchise. I know this is one that I really need to sit down and spend some time with, I just need to make it happen. After all, Kyle Franco seems to think it is one of his favorite games of all time.

God of War III:

I liked God of War, I thought it had a great story and had some really enjoyable gameplay elements (Hell, I even figured out the Easter Egg). The second God of War wasn’t bad either, although it actually felt a little bit repetitive, I played my way through it and never picked it up again. When 3 was announced, I watched all the trailers and read up on it. The next gen graphics looked impressive and what looked to be the final game seemed to be going out with a bang. Unfortunately, 2 games had just came out and they both required my immediate attention. Final Fantasy XIII and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 happily took my hard earned money before I had a chance to get my hands on God of War III. Why haven’t I played it over nearly the year and a half the game has been out? I don’t know, can I borrow it?

Alan Wake:

In some strange alternate reality I’m sure that I would have played Alan Wake, I am also sure I absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, a few weeks prior, I popped in my copy of Left 4 Dead 2 and was greeted with the infamous RRoD. The event itself was quite tragic and I didn’t get the console fixed for quite some time, so obviously I missed my chance to delve into the mysterious town of Bright Falls. Why didn’t I play it after I had fixed my Xbox? Well, 2 reasons actually. I got the Xbox 360 fixed in August, just in time for Castlevania: Harmony of Despair to take ALL of my gaming time, every other Xbox exclusive was just going to have to wait. The other reason (and also why I hadn’t played it over at my brothers’ or some nonsense like that)? You do realize that one of the best games of 2010 came out a week after Alan Wake, right? No? Well, hellfire and damnation! John Marston needs to have a word with you!

Gears of War 2:

How did I miss out on this little gem? I never beat Gears of War, I had fun while I played it but I just never really got into it. Maybe I hadn’t evolved my tastes in gaming? I had certainly been working a lot… Nope that wasn’t it either. You know what it was? World of Warcraft. Period. Seems that way back when, I was really into World of Warcraft. I raided 5 nights a week and was main tank and a guild officer. My online life was extremely awesome but it didn’t help me play many console games in the meantime. So long after quitting World of Warcraft, Gears of War 2 came out. Since I hadn’t completed the story of the first game, it seemed a waste to play the second. Unfortunately, I let me brothers borrow it and also Fable 2, both of which they traded into GameStop because they “Forgot where they got the games from”.

New Super Mario Brothers:

It’s on the Wii, I almost never play my Wii. I had it on my Gamefly queue for a few months but never got it. Sorry?

Heavy Rain:

I wanted to play this game immensely. The story of the game  itself seemed gripping, as a parent I know what that fear and panic is like when your child is in danger. The fact that 4 characters’ stories ultimately combined to make an epic tale that covers all of the spectrum of emotions seemed incredible. Unfortunately, I got tied up with birthday activities and I had already spent my money on the game that was coming out the next week. I still planned on picking it up and would have too but after everyone telling me how great the story was and how cool things were, a friend from work spoiled the big twist in the story. After I found out about the killer (it is FBI agent Norman Jayden, whose drug addiction has caused him to commit some horrible and unspeakable acts) I couldn’t bring myself to play the game. I should still sit down and play it some day, I just hate knowing exactly what the plot twist is well before it happens.

Dead Space 1 & 2:

The Dead Space series, I haven’t touched em. I can tell you exactly why too. The ad campaign that ran with both games struck me as rather obnoxious, therefor I really ended up not being able to care less about the games. However, after the first game came out, I heard rave reviews from friends about how much they enjoyed the game. Ultimately though, after playing the demo, I just couldn’t get into the game. After playing years of survival horror titles, I couldn’t help but feel like this was just more of the same. Enemies would pop up and try to spook you before attacking you in some cases, similar to the way enemies did from the Resident Evil series. I wanted to buy in to it but I couldn’t help but feel like I had been there before.

Resistance 2:

I actually have a pretty good excuse for this one. I played the first game and I guess that I enjoyed it. I mean, it wasn’t too ground breaking. I liked the grenade that launched spikes all over the place and the gun from The Fifth Element but everything else felt like “Medal of Honor: Alien Invasion”. I did like it enough to take Resistance 2 for a spin though and after hearing about the awesomely improved multiplayer, I was more than ready to go. Unfortunately, when I was ready to buy it, the company I worked for announced that they were going to be closing. This event became a time to save money since the future was uncertain but since we sold the game, I figured that I would buy 1 of our 35 copies before the doors closed for the final time. As time dwindled down, there ended up being about 15 or so left. I decided that $11 was a fair price for the still new video game and came in to work prepared to make the purchase. As I walked into the door, a CSR asked my to come over to make adjustments to a customer’s purchase. The dude was buying 14 copies of the game, just so he could trade them in at GameStop for more credit than he had purchased them for. I quickly went to go find the last copy and the guy working in games told me that he had handed the guy 15 of the games, they even counted them. That guy didn’t only buy all of the games, he stole 1 of them. Long story short: Resistance 2 and I just weren’t meant to be.

Halo ODST:

This happened once again during the RRoD period of my game playing life or at least I think so. I was quite loyal to my PS3 for awhile and during that time period I really did ignore some of the 360 exclusives. I was willing to shell out some cash for a new Halo game though and my brothers got it before I did. They almost instantly gave me the thumbs down. “The game that should have been DLC” never ended up being purchased by me. I’m sure I missed out on a few fun moments but by the time I had finally gotten by 360 fixed, we were already gearing up for reach. I am sure I’ll take this for a spin sometime, maybe after Halo: CE?

Crackdown:

Finally, this is the last one worthy of note (for now). Crackdown is a game that always seemed a bit under the radar for me. I really think that the game came out during my PS3 phase, but the only reason I even entertained the idea of checking out the game was for a chance to get the Halo 3 beta. As I prepared to buy it though, my brothers called me to tell me that they each had purchased a copy so they would get me hooked up with the beta. However, they were young and dumb, they didn’t realize that the game itself was needed to play the game. They ended up keeping both copies and I never ended up playing Crackdown. Was I missing out? Maybe. I played the sequel though, kinda wish I hadn’t.

Aug 122011
 

I could alternately call this: How I Learned to Get Shot in the Face.

After playing Catherine for our last game, I had my wife pick out a title that our readers had recommended that I own. One suggestion that she saw was Left 4 Dead, the comment noted that it was fun to play with multiple people since one can protect another. Against my better judgement on this one, I agreed to give it a shot and we then had to choose which Left 4 Dead we were going to play. We decided on Left 4 Dead 2 (because I wanted to play as Ellis) and after an explanation that the game can be quite startling, we started it up.

This couldn't go wrong at all...

We started on “Dead Center” and sure enough, the questions immediately started flying. “Why are all these zombies here?” or “How did the survivors get together?”, questions that any Left 4 Dead veteran knows really don’t have answers. I had a little difficulty answering her question since I was providing quite a bit of cover fire for her as we ran from room to room. She was quite jumpy as we encountered the infected, many times shooting me and the 2 computer controlled characters as we came to assist her as well. After she went into a random room and ran right into a Boomer she immediately panicked, “Oh my gosh, there is a fat zombie after me!” she yelled as she tried to run back to me. Unfortunately, she ran in the wrong direction and while I ran up to try to melee the Boomer I warned her to not shoot it. Well, I started to at least. Sure enough, she shot the Boomer and was covered in bile, her panic became full-on video game hysteria as the infected horde descended upon her. As she began to fire wildly around and exclaim words like “Shitfuck” and “Help meeeeeee” she also began to fire her shotgun around trying to disperse the horde. Unfortunately, she wasn’t so much shooting the horde as she was emptying her ammo into back, when I turned to get out of the way it became my face, incapacitating me. As the rest of our team came back to help, she was incapacitated as well. “Noooooo, noooooo I’m dead!” was her reaction to that, I tried to explain she wasn’t and then in a second I would get her up and we could continue. I’m pretty sure that she was still firing into poor Ellis as I got her up, since I had once again taken some considerable damage. We got to the end of the hallway and started to make our way along the outside of the building when she knocked off by something (I think a normal zombie), I am not sure how but she fell to her death rather quickly and then tossed my controller onto the couch. “I am absolutely not playing this game anymore!”

She watched me play a little bit longer, jumping almost every time I encountered a special infected. She wasn’t a fan of any of them, most of all the Witches since their sobbing made her thing that there were little kids around. I assured her that there wasn’t and showed her the sobbing zombie. She asked me to make her stop crying as Rochelle ran up and fired at a zombie running by. As soon as the Witch had torn stupid Rochelle apart she immediately came after me. My wife kept telling me to stop her as I backpedaled and tried to shoot her. Didn’t work and I died quickly. My wife laughed and said “You must really suck at this game.”

Yup, my wife, the casual troll.

After a bit of playing I asked her what she thought, “The game seems ok, I guess. I mean it is really fucking scary and I won’t play it again.”. I guess that is good?

 

Jul 122011
 

Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.

NCAA Football 12

PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Contains: No Descriptors

Titles rated E (Everyone) have content that may be suitable for ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.


It’s that time of year again, this year’s EA NCAA Football franchise title is upon us. Now, I may work in video game media but I am a huge sports fan as well and NCAA 11 last year set an amazingly high bar for 12, overhauling many features from the years prior. When I recieved NCAA 12 to review, I was hoping that we would see much more of the things that made 11 great and perhaps some more tweaks to really make it stand out. In case you haven’t been noticing, EA Tiburon has their stuff together.

So, what is new this year?

NCAA Football has always been about tradition, I mean that is what the entire spirit of college football is. This year, EA took the tradition and spirit much further with the inclusion of some of college football’s time honored traditions. The Auburn War Eagle, Colorado’s Ralphie, Florida State’s Chief Osceola on Renegade and even Georgia’s Uga are present, the appearances of these mascots say a lot about the game itself. Even pregame traditions are now included as well, watching players follow through on touch traditions or costume mascots riding on motorcycles is always something to be expected and it’s good to see it come through in the game itself as well. The crowd get’s into the game as well, shouting famous chants and holding signs with slogans from their home team.

Talking about the fans in the stands reminds me, one of the things I have always disliked about sports games have been the fans in attendance. The awkward movements of the cardboard cutout fans were always irritating and just comical if there was ever a crowd shot. Then there where the depth shaded fans, made to look like 3d models but they stood out like a sore thumb. This year the crowd is actually 3D, which in itself is quite amazing but what makes it even cooler is that fans actually resemble a college game crowd. In the distance a mob of school colored people shift in their places and jump up and down in excitement, up close you see the fanatical ones with body paint and signs. Very cool indeed.

The realism this time around is even more impressive than last year. The lighting in NCAA 12 is some of the best I have seen in any game and the 3D grass is something to behold itself. As the game plays on, the field will start to wear and players will show degradation on their uniforms as well. In a snowy game, you can even see blades of grass showing through the light covering of snow on the field. Weather itself effects the game greatly, I’ve noticed players slipping and sliding in wet or snowy environments or react to a ball late in a thick fog, just like a real player would. Coaches congratulate players on good plays or give the typical disapproving look to a player that just made a mistake (like a kicker that just missed a 25 yd field goal). Players no longer “stick” or “slide” into a tackle, if you clip a guy, he acts and moves like it happened in such a way. Impact will never happen until you physically see it on the screen. Players themselves just look stunning. In fact, words can’t even describe it, only pictures can, so here is one of a dreadlocked player (yes, dreadlocks are in!) in the snow.

This is just amazing.

When it comes to game modes, NCAA 12 revamps the whole experience. With 2 different career modes, NCAA 12 offers way more than expected. The first mode is the Coaching Carousel, in this mode your play the role of a coordinator or coach looking to more their way up while shaping the program they are working with. While working with your school of choice, you have to meet or avoid certain goals that will increase your job security or put you on the hot seat during your team’s off season. Keeping up with the stipulations of your contract is just as important as every other facet of gameplay. Road to Glory allows you to create a high school athlete that can play both sides of the field and after a successful senior year, choose the college that they should play for as well. What makes both these modes quite enjoyable is the fact that there is so much depth in both modes. As always, there is no shortage of replayability but the career modes certainly add a solid amount of depth that will keep you coming back.

Now, while enjoying all the different game types I did stumble into one of my most horrific experiences in gameplay history. I decided that it would be fun to play Mascot Football, a game type that has you play football with the mascot of your selected team. I chose the badgers and was obviously playing with a team of Bucky Badgers, however, I chose Stanford as my opponent. If you aren’t familiar with Standford’s mascot, it is a mutant hybrid of a Christmas tree and Mr. Potato head, the events that followed were the stuff that nightmares were made out of.

I did encounter a few bugs in gameplay, most of which are probably going to be fixed by the time that you read this review. On a few fields (Auburn for example), grass would start clipping through cement during a team entrance. This created a green and gray flashing mess on the ground, I know this is an easily patched issue though, so just keep an eye out. The other thing that I came across that I didn’t like where a few player animations. After a play, sometimes a player will writhe around on the ground like they are having some sort of seizure. This can usually mean two different things: either they just got hurt or they are incredibly happy about their play. I had a 40 yd run by my Heisman hopeful halfback and watched him shake on the ground afterwards, I didn’t think much since he had such an amazing play but soon found out that he suffered a torn pectoral muscle and would be out 11-12 weeks.

Overall, NCAA 12 takes everything you loved from 11 and improves upon it all. This is certainly a year to invest in and with the realistic ESPN cutaways, the showmanship and spirit of college football are intact in this game. We award NCAA Football 12 a 9/10.

Playstation 3

Graphics

95
 

Audio

90
 

Gameplay

90

Creativity

80
 

Execution

85
 

Offset

90
    

8.8

  

How do these ratings work? Click here for descriptions!

Pros:

  • Many more college traditions
  • Tackles and catches look better than ever
  • Many different modes to appeal to all fans
  • Best looking crowd in a sports game
  • Editable playbooks and college divisions

Cons:

  • That stupid ground flop players do sometimes
  • The cement/grass strobe
  • Coaching Carousel takes a little bit until you figure it all out
One more thing, I took this game online to play a few online matches and was utterly destroyed by some much more experienced people already. Even though it was an embarrassing defeat, kicking a field goal to get on the board was like winning the NCAA Championship.
Jun 292011
 

Why is it that almost every movie with a budget big enough gets a dodgy, samey movie tie in game? All the superheroes got them and most of them sucked. But, then you have a movie like Suckerpunch which was not only an awesome film but would have been, as far as I’m concerned, a prime candidate for the video game treatment.

If you haven’t seen the film yet SPOILERS that is all.

Most of these movie games loosely follow the storyline of said film and then either cut bits out or add bits in just to make it more gamey whereas when you’re watching Suckerpunch it almost is a game you’re watching.

Now the process for the kind of game that I envisage being based around the movie would probably be more awkward than your average Marvel hero money spinner. But, Suckerpunch was just begging for a movie tie in which could have been a far superior game to a lot of those which have been before it. I would imagine that the game would be pretty cut scene dependant with the main portions of the film being set within some kind of institute the same would apply here. But then you have an almost open world option perhaps drop in a few basic side missions or a bunch of collectables with different sections unlocking different collectibles. Stealth would also be an option because the main character misses key parts of story development perhaps sneak round corners or remain undetected in a room that the conversation you should over hear is happening in?

Already Looks Better Than COD

Your main “levels” are blaringly obvious as these would be the main action points within the film. Each one of these seems to begin with some kind of vehicle use bar the first two which just chuck you straight into the action from the off. Here rather than the open world style of earlier you would want basic either third or first person controls, perhaps both and you could chop and change between each one depending on how you were feeling that morning.

The movie itself has plenty of variety to its enemies and weaponry as it is. Sword play would have given them a reason to use Kinect, Move or the Wii even if on the Xbox and PS3 it didn’t feature as heavily as it does on the Wii. To an extent it is also more than possible to have boss level style battles or puzzles such as the Dragon which could see you traveling through a maze and having to perform some level of sneak attack? Or the bomb on the train as less of a maze but more a logic puzzle based around the terminals which are on it in the movie?

Before my final points I will reiterate SPOILERS because this bit has end of movie ruining ones

With the characters in the movie all getting killed, for the most part, it would also be possible for 2 player coop easily but, like all the other games from movies out there’s no way that you could fit a multiplayer into it unless you went for replaying certain areas of levels as a kind of Firefight/Horde mode option. So despite no PvP I appear to have eaten my own words you could get a pretty sweet multiplayer into this.

So coop for more than two players is impossible cause everyone dies at the end but the final scenes would again add some change to the versatility of the game. Instead of any of the other options I would go for this as beginning with some hand to hand style play that was pretty simple and not too intense. After this you would reach the cell and burn it down and have a sneak portion of the game before the fire alarms went off. Finally, after you have made it through the main sneak section brief cut scene before one player enters another hand to hand in the fight you were never going to win.

Overall I really think not having a game tie in for this was both good and disappointing. Had there been a tie in and it had been done well it would have been a brilliant and diverse game but had they done it and not got it right then odds are I’d be sat here flaming them for another sub-standard game from Hollywood.

Beats Anything Else From Cinema To Console

May 042011
 

Tritton is a branch of NASA. Look it up.

As the title may reveal to you, the first thing you may notice about this headset is that it looks as though it was tailored for space men. If you’re like me though: smart, still tripping balls, then you would only consider this a plus and half. So yeah, I was pretty goddamn ecstatic just by opening the box- because up until now, playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 and feeling like Buzz Lightyear has been only a deep and insecure dream of mine.

 

Due to the fact that my actions are like an force of nature, kind a like lightning, I grabbed the headphones and went to the closest thing that attracted me; my computer. I plugged ‘em in and listened to “Focker” by Late of the Pier. Needless to say, the last 30 seconds of the song melted my left ball. I could hear things, mysterious things.

Oh, and trust me, I can tell the difference between flashbacks and reality by now. So please let me get back to falling forever and ever into this black but somehow bright and shiny vortex of pulsing stars and… wait. No. Headphones.

 

So, What’s in the Box?

A White AX 720 Headset (with 12.5 ft cable)

White AX 720 Amp (Decoder Box [that sits on your entertainment center/cardboard box/cat])

A Black Removable, Rubber, Bendy Microphone

White In-Line Audio Control Module

Xbox-Live Communication Cable (plugs into the controller)

Optical Cable

USB Cable (For Ps3)

Analog Adapter

 

PC Audio

Listening to music with these dorky looking things almost make it worth the purchase alone.  You’ll hear instruments you didn’t know were a part of the song, and some you’ve never even heard before. As a musician-sorta, I can say my judgment of good audio is sound. The louds are loud, the quiets are quiet, the trebles are crisp, and the bass is a 9/10 on the 2 Live Crew Booty Bass Scale.

"DANCE, TOO MUCH BOOTY IN THE PANTS!"

One warning though, these can get pretty fucking loud and will vibrate your brain. So unless you’re into feeling like you got plastic cups over your ears for the rest of your short existence, then be cautious of the volume when you plug your AX720s in. Oh and I can’t do a PC gaming review with these because, well, my computer can’t handle good games. I doubt Skifree gives me a good feel for the directional audio function that these headphones sport.

 

 

Console Gaming Audio

Okay, so it’s a bit more complicated to set this kajigger up on the 360 than on the PC. Now, not only can  you look like an astronaut, but you can also feel like one.  You gotta throw this Dolby Digital decoder box into the mix and add like 4 more cords to the tangled mess that is your gaming setup. However, once you’ve figured out what plugs into what (because manuals are for pussies and French people) you will not be disappointed. Well, you might be a little disappointed. When on the dashboard, you will hear some white noise. This is a very common problem and is all over the internet(z). One easy way to deal with this is to shut the fuck up and just play a game already because once you do, the white noise seems to go away completely.
Playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 with this new setup is eargasmic, while the directional audio is directionalgasmic. You will be able to pinpoint the location of vehicles and firefights before they even enter your radar. In quiet matches like Squad Rush, you can hear footsteps and sneak up on people and molest them with great stealth, or actually just shoot them. I personally prefer the molesting.

"Oh this? This is just my Rectal Pistol. Wanna know why I call it that? Just go ahead and leave your guard down and bend over to pick up something."

Even something as boring and simple as shooting your gun is a completely difference experience; you can feel the gunfire in your head. I’ve never really been able to differentiate between weapons before through sound, but now it’s obvious. I’ve begun to learn what certain guns sound like so now while I’m getting my dick shot off I can say things like “Hey, stop shooting me with that AKS-74U Krinkov please sir!”

The Bad Stuff

1) With great headphones comes great fragility. (See what I did there?)
These things may be bulky, but feel a lot more cheap than they look. The majority of it’s structure is completely hollow plastic and feels cheap. This may have been just a way to keep the whole thing light, which I appreciate, but it still feels so… Chinese.
2) With great cords comes great… confusion?
Well I fucked up but I think you get what I’m saying. There’s a lot of cords pluggin’ into everything in your entire life. This is a standard with most wired gaming headphones, but it’s a con all the same. My main issue with the cord business is this goddamn white thing that you use to control the volume. It kinda just dangles there and pulls on your head unless you clip it to your shirt, and well, fuck that. I’ll be damned if I’m going to look like a dork when I’m playing video games, screaming at my TV with a headset proudly set atop my scalp.
3) Lastly, they seem to be a bit “bassy” with some games. I kind of wish they had more treble or at least the ability to control the bass/treble. Bassy games like Battlefield Bad Company 2 can get quite annoying and need a good treble shot straight into the dick to help equalize the whole deal. Don’t get me wrong though, they are still magnificent headphones and get about as close to giving an audiophile a dick-chub as gaming headsets can get.

Recommended?

Very yes. Between the great directional audio and near perfect sound quality, what the fuck else could you ask for? Compared to most other headsets within the league of the Tritton AX720s, these are a poor nerdy kid’s dream. I will be so bold as to say that these are the highest quality gaming headsets within it’s price range: 125 American dollar papers.

Rated: 4.82 Rectal Pistols out of 5