In a land long ago, Bioware created a game known only to few as Mass Effect. Since then the franchise has grown to massive proportions as the popularity of the title skyrocketed.
Yet somehow Grethade missed it. Watch as Grethade catches up and sucks at Mass Effect.
In a land long ago, Bioware created a game known only to few as Mass Effect. Since then the franchise has grown to massive proportions as the popularity of the title skyrocketed.
Sucking It Up is a horrible way to take a look at a video game as Grethade bumbles his way through which ever game has been selected. This episode of Sucking It Up, Grethade takes on other players in Hearthstone in the Arena game mode.
Sucking It Up is a horrible way to take a look at a video game as Grethade bumbles his way through which ever game has been selected. This episode of Sucking It Up, Grethade takes on other players in Hearthstone in the Play game mode.
Sentris, a new spin on music gaming, is in its final stretch this week on the crowd funding site Kickstarter. Game developer Samantha Kalman explains how her game is an innovative new way to venture into music game play.
What makes this game different from what is currently available on the market?
“The biggest difference between the musicality of Sentris and other music games on the market is a matter of composition. Usually in music games you are pretending to play someone else’s song without a great level of variety in the musical output. It’s really fun to pretend to play Bon Jovi in Rock Band, but with Sentris you are literally creating your own song. What you play is going to sound different from what your friends play. The puzzle mechanics themselves are also based around music, how songs are simply a collection of notes layered together. I think that players of Sentris are going to learn something about how to make music that they can take with them after they turn off the game.”
Will there be any support for listening to Sentris created tracks outside the game?
“Yes! This is high on my list of features to implement. I really want players to be able to save and share songs. Downloading a track you’ve just finished is an ideal way to build your collection of your own music. I’m still working on the engineering challenges to do that, but it will be done before the game ships.”
What influence do you think this game would have on those not musically inclined? Would it be difficult for them?
“It’s my goal to turn everybody into a musician, whether or not you’ve played music before. Learning how to play an instrument is a huge challenge. There’s so much to learn. Sentris will lower the barriers of learning how to play an instrument down to pressing a single button. When you don’t have to think about how to operate a musical instrument like a keyboard or a guitar, you can focus on the other parts of music — structure, progression, rhythm, arrangement. All these concepts I hope will become more accessible to players who don’t think they can make music. They actually can and, I want to help them realize it.”
What will be the nature of the copyright on songs created in game? Will be players be able to monetize compositions?
“I would be so happy if players form bands and start sharing their music made with Sentris! Burning your music to a cd or publishing an album on bandcamp are both activities supported by the spirit of Sentris. It’s all about unleashing your own musical creativity. I’m really excited to see what happens as the player base grows!”
What was the motivation behind Sentris?
“Initially I just loved Rez, and I wished I could make a game that had so much style. Sentris started out as a shooting game (where you brought life to the world instead of killing things), and I kept having visions of this circle. I didn’t know what it was or what to do with it, I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I didn’t understand it for a long time, until a couple of years later I started playing in a band. One day after we’d been playing for about six months, we had a rehearsal where our music started to sound really good. I could hear and feel the beautiful music, and I knew it was something we were creating together, right there in the moment. After that jam session I knew that this was the point of the game & the circle. It was all about letting people make their own music and experience this feeling of musical creation.”
Lastly we have to ask, since this project is on Kickstarter there may be some hesitation to contribute. There have been high profile Kickstarter failures in the gaming world. How did you determine the needed budget for Sentris?
“It’s tricky, you have to look at costs of programming, art, sound, marketing, beta testing, all these things. I’ve been working alone so far but how much longer can I do that? The truth is I want to be able to keep focusing on Sentris full-time (and paying my bills in the process) while also paying collaborators. And of course demoing the game at conferences is costly. The Kickstarter budget might cover all the costs, and it might not. We’ll see! The important thing I want my backers to know is that if the campaign is successful, Sentris will ship. It’s going to be made, because they’re helping to make it a reality.”
As stated at the beginning, this game is in the home stretch. The Kickstarter closes on Thursday Nov 21, 8:00pm EST. That’s just one week away from the time of this publication.
Sentris is going to be available on a variety of platfroms including, Windows, Mac iOS, Linux. Also, due to the funds received, Sentris will also be coming to Ouya as part of the Free the Game Fund.
To find out more about this upcoming indie title, stop by its Kickstarter page here.
This piece goes out to the Junior girls of a good acquaintance’s health class. Pardon me while I elaborate, but rest assured that it’s worth a laugh.
A lovely experience came my way over both the internet and the short space of a friend’s living room. Upon realizing we had enough gaming capable PCs on hand, four other friends and I decided a StarCraft II LAN party should commence. We’re all amateurs. There was live streaming, there was embarrassment, and people discovered how hard it is to do commentary with all the players in the same room. There was oddly no alcohol.
After my collaborator Grethade uploaded the evidence or our silliness, an online friend who shall be known as Coach ended up watching it… during free time in class. In no time, he’d gathered a gaggle of students interested in seeing how the match played out, so with his finger on the mute button, betting commenced. Gambling over money in school would be in ill taste, so they bet on the right to demand “Any Time Push-Ups” of their losing peers and Coach. Apparently the my friend was banking on me, and was rewarded with the joy of making a young man do push-ups in the middle of the cafeteria lunch line, the loss a symptom of not thinking a girl could beat the guys.
Though for the record, I’m a “girl” that’s been gaming for 15 years at the time of this writing.
A few young men making their bets based on the gender of the gamer is… a hint at a bigger topic for another time. As I said, this is for the girls of that class that asked their Coach to put a question to me: what game has the strongest positive female character?
As easy as it would be to prattle off the first name that came to mind, I sat down to write up something a little more detailed. All of us look for role models in our media when growing up, and I’m happy to report that while gaming does see its saddening share of poor portrayals of women, there are some great ladies out there in our games. This is far from a comprehensive list as it only contains games I’ve played. Hopefully there’s enough here for any up and coming gamer (or their parents) to find at least one game to their taste, thus the inclusion of genres and ratings.
First up: games where the pre-determined protagonist is a woman.
April Ryan – The Longest Journey
(Third Person Adventure/Puzzle) (M for Mature)
From confused college student to “Shifter,” April Ryan had more transitions in her life than just moving away from home. Discovering a whole new world parallel to the one she knows by also learning she’s one of the few that can make the jump between them, April quickly finds she bears a lot more responsibilities then she thought possible. Led to believe herself Guardian of the Balance, the fate of two worlds are on the line. The fine line between science and magic relies on her, lest they combine and be abused as they were in the old days when “Stark” and “Arcadia” were not separated by the Divide.
Chell [REDACTED] - Portal series
She wasn’t the smartest or the strongest test subject trapped in Aperture Laboratories when it was locked down, but Chell was the most tenacious. Not much is known about her. Implications litter the little nooks and crannies of The Enrichment Center implying she was the daughter of an employee, trapped with the rest while still young, at some point evaluated, and deemed an unsuitable subject for testing. A woman that doesn’t give up is a danger to a system designed to end in failure, making Chell the last hope of the stranded without her even knowing it. The only certainty? The cake is a lie.
Jade – Beyond Good & Evil
(Action/Adventure) (T for Teen)
In the poor districts of Hillys, war is a constant. The head of a local orphanage, Jade protects the children not only from the threat of the DomZ, but also guards them against the more mundane threats of the world by keeping the power on and putting food on the table. Spearheading “Jade Reporting & Co,” her most valuable weapon is a camera. As an investigative journalist, Jade has the potential to do more then crack heads: the truth could do more to end a war then any fight ever could.
Kate Walker – Syberia series
(Third Person Adventure/Puzzle) (T for Teen)
Sometimes you don’t need to fight at all to be someone’s hero. Kate Walker was just a lawyer and a good one at that, but when an assignment sends her chasing the heir to the Voralberg estate across half of Europe, it forces a person to take a hard look at their life. Chasing a man many thought crazy, players get the chance to see not only the melancholy remains of many people’s dreams, but also get the chance to see those fantasies resurrected. In the best portrayal of a mid-life crisis I’ve seen in a video game (yet still a favorite when I was young), Walker is an engaging character is how she is forced to question if she’s truly happy with her life, what more she could be doing with it, and what is really important. If a mad man could leave a trail of inventions that bring so many so much joy, what good might a little chaos do her?
Lara Croft – Tomb Raider series
(Third Person Action/Platformer) (Ranging from E for Everyone to M for Mature)
While somewhat controversial when taking her entire history into account, Lara Croft truly did throw open the door for female protagonists in games a long time ago on an original Playstation far, far away. There were ups and down… the media loved her, but her proportions were ridiculous. She was a strong character, but seemed to be made up of nothing but quippy one liners. The former Tomb Raiders were cheesy, but they were fun in much the same way an action film is. All that changed in early 2013. Lara has always been a character people could look to to break barriers and a new one was shattered when the series was rebooted. Going from a character that was simply entertaining to one gamers could truly feel for was an arduous journey, but a good one. I’ll always have a soft spot for the old days of laughing as I tumbled around the feet of a T-Rex, but nothing quite beats this new college grad turned hardened survivor that just wouldn’t give up on the people she cared about even in the face of impossible (and sometimes supernatural) odds.
Nariko – Heavenly Sword
(Third Person Hack and Slash) (T for Teen)
Scantily clad she may be… but Nariko is one character whose capabilities players will never have to question. Many of us have found ourselves on the outside looking in, and it makes her all the more relatable a character. Born on the day a boy savior was prophesied to be delivered in a divine birth, Nariko stood as a violation to her people’s very religion and all theirs hopes, and so grew up a reviled outcast. In the end she is willing to tolerate them, defy them, and even bleed for them because in the end they don’t deserve the war at their door despite the injustices they heaped on her over the years. While the supporting cast and villains aren’t nearly as well fleshed out, Nariko is a character that stands apart not as some cliche prophesied savior but rather as a woman willing to write her own destiny regardless of the disapproval of others, and comes out the better person for it.
Sarah Kerrigan – StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
(Real-Time Strategy) (T for Teen)
Through much of the StarCraft series, Sarah Kerrigan’s character was very much defined by others. A powerful psychic whose memory was wiped, trained to kill, liberated, then used and betrayed by her rescuers, it’s ironic that she didn’t have much of a chance to make many decisions for herself until she was overrun by the aliens known as the Zerg. As she began to return to herself, she didn’t flee the Zerg… instead, she took control of them. Kerrigan is a good character, but not what most people would think of as a good person. While not the most noble motivation, an awful lot of fans will be disappointed if she doesn’t get her revenge by the end of Heart of the Swarm.
Zoë Castillo – Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
(Third Person Adventure/Puzzle) (M for Mature)
A college dropout trapped in the limbo of indecision, Zoë is one of those characters you’d think would grate on your nerves if it weren’t for how genuinely voiced she is and how relatable her uncertainty. Eventually, circumstances call for action and she can’t help but step up. When her former boyfriend, investigative journalist Reza Tamiz, goes missing she finds herself chasing down the story that may have been his undoing because, “I may not like the Zoë I’m turning into, but I would have hated the Zoë who just abandoned her best friend like that.” Caught in a conspiracy spanning two worlds, that resolve will have to hold if she ever hopes to wake up.
Visit us later for the next installment: whether giving a few preset options or letting you build a character from scratch, there are games that leave the choice in your hands as to who you’re going to play. Man or woman, the experience is sometimes different, but never lesser.
After beating the new Tomb Raider, the first question I received was literally, “Was it all rapey?” With the game released and in hand, I can firmly say no. Questions like this make it obvious that the controversy is still steeping and addressing it is still prudent, especially since the game’s sales have apparently fallen below Square Enix’s expectations.
Originally, this was just going to be a dry follow up to the article I wrote about the marketing that started the debate prior to Tomb Raider’s release. However, when a writer like Ashelia over at Hell Mode publishes an article she didn’t exactly want to, it made me realize my original piece just wouldn’t cut it.
(Two disclaimers. First, as in my other article, a trigger warning as there will be talk of violence both sexual and not. Second, spoilers, which I will try to limit but which cannot be avoided as this piece is partially intended for those avoiding the game due to apprehensions about the content and as such will detail some of it.)
Too often in gaming is “mature” content nothing but “shock” content, inserted as fodder to put people on the edge of their seats. We often look down on it because it seems needless, out of place, and lacking in explanation. Tomb Raider actually manages to circumvent this expectation successfully, much to my surprise. I’ve played many a game with hard moments to ponder in them. Tomb Raider cuts right to the bone though and gets personal. It doesn’t treat me kindly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There were a lot of little things over the years that added up. My mother stopped watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit when I was around. My significant other didn’t quite know if it was okay to touch me, even in a platonic way. My sister was more outspoken about the Tomb Raider 2013 marketing online then she was to my face. All these things changed, pretty quickly even, but it took acknowledgment.
Every one of them looked at me with a question they couldn’t put into words. Each one was answered more or less the same way: It’s ok. I’m not made of glass.
Yes, this game has a divide between its male and female characters. It is actually a part of its story though rather then some arbitrary attempt to appeal to a certain demographic. We are all aware that this game centers on Lara Croft and her crew mates surviving on an inhospitable island after being shipwrecked. It also becomes obvious quite quickly that people have been running aground along the beaches of Yamatai for generations. Where the slowly unfolding story shines and disturbs is in how a society has developed among those that have been trapped for years in this same hostile environment you only just stepped into.
Players are quickly introduced to the legend of The Sun Queen Himiko of Yamatai, and her supposed super natural ability to summon storms to protect her island in ancient times. Lara is quick to note that most legends have some small piece of the truth within them, and players will be tasked with discovering that truth not only through the main storyline, but also through much of the optional hidden content. Without giving away much, the long dead queen’s importance to events is not insignificant, and it leads to the island’s “Solarii” brotherhood having a fairly warped view of women.
Some are true believers, rounding up any woman that crashes ashore for a ritual that before has always ended in death. Others, if you bother to listen to them converse with each other before killing them, see it as a waste. Whether that waste is something they just don’t care about, or are torn over not being able to prevent is also unique to each man. All of them seem to carry some bitterness over this reverence due to its perceived necessity to getting home. Tomb Raider is surprisingly satisfying as a stealth game if for no other reason than to make me care and even sometimes regret killing a man because I sneaked up on him slowly enough to learn something about him even if forced to shoot him in the end.
That’s how many I was told were removed from his home.
The police told me he’d made bail. My parents and I ended up next to him on the main road toward the cities. They were taking me out to try and get my mind off the whole thing and the timing was just bad. To this day, my father doesn’t know if he made the turn fast enough to avoid being seen. We sat for about 20 minutes at a gas station just waiting for him to roll further away from us.
He was later arrested again for attempted witness tampering. Then made bail again. Then the police suddenly realized he still had all his guns. I’m murky on the details, but apparently when released the first time he was simply asked to turn his firearms in until everything was sorted. After the bail violation, they were confiscated.
That’s when the realization hit that he’d had 35 guns for months and he knew where I lived.
It was the first time I’d ever pondered whether I had it in me to kill another person in self defense. Not that I had or could legally own anything that would compare; I wasn’t even 18 yet.
Are the controversial elements of Tomb Raider necessary? No, the plot could have likely been contorted to avoid them. Do they make sense? Yes. Sad as it may be to admit.
Would it have really been more respectful to tiptoe around the subject like it doesn’t exist, or just deal with it? I do stand by my earlier assertion that dealing with the subject of sexual assault head on would be better than poking it with a stick and running for the safety of the next action scene, but Tomb Raider does at least manage to introduce the sense of disempowerment without it seeming like throwaway fodder. Whether it’s a throwaway in the sense that you go from powerless, to scared but in control, but then can later level up to assign brutal finishing moves to every weapon in your arsenal… that’s up for debate.
Funnily enough, the little thing that keeps nagging at me about Tomb Raider is the guns. The violence. The sympathy.
Oh, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for violence in this game. I’m saying Tomb Raider is yet another thing that makes me realize just how much people suck.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Plenty of people had issues with the idea of me getting a concealed carry permit. Some friends and family were either uncomfortable with firearms as a whole, or thought it unnecessary. Others offered to take me to the range. The one reaction that stuck with me though was a boy in my Speech class while in college. We needed to give a speech on absolutely anything we wanted as our final, it just had to be a solid-comprehensible-no rambling please-10 minutes. I did mine on anti-sexual assault organizations. It was painful giving it that personal touch, but in the end I figured that with such disturbing statistics on how many victims there are, at least someone in that class of 30 needed help.
This boy did a talk on firearms in general and during the midday break I asked his opinion on the best places to take safety courses. Of course, the subject of eventually wanting a concealed carry permit did come up. That’s when he dropped my stomach out.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
He elaborated that this opinion came from what I’d been through. What I’d just shared with the whole class. He couldn’t really nail down why (or refused to), but some mumbled bits about how it might color my perspective in certain situations and questions of my judgment were not quite raised.
I thought long and hard about why I would want to carry a weapon. Not because they’re “cool;” I have props for that. Not because I want someone to die; I’ve got enough nightmares to sort through in therapy. I want a gun because, like many victims, I knew my assailant, I am well aware of the fact that he knows how to obtain firearms without going through a background check, I know he’s incredibly fond of weapons, and I don’t know what he’s going to do when he gets out of prison.
It’s not just Tomb Raider: in almost all of our media we seem to expect our victims to become superheroes, to have that turning point, to get their revenge. Has it skewed the way we see the real world? Many of us have a dark little place in our hearts where we want the worst among us to pay the ultimate price, but if it ever left our fantasies and entertainment outlets, we’d be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law like anyone else. So instead we bicker about our heroes versus our anti-heroes, and how much violence makes sense instead of asking why on earth we’re continuing to find violence entertaining at all. After all, that might imply something is wrong with us.
On the flip side, a story like Tomb Raider’s may have an uphill battle to deal with in a world where victims are blamed and offenders mourned for. Or where Lara’s deaths are supposed to be so gruesome as to motivate you to avoid them, but instead we make montage videos.
Two students approached me after class, by the way.
Ironically, the most poignant moment I had playing Tomb Raider was not the most talked about one that sparked all this hubbub. It was a moment when I actually had a choice.
Not too much further into the game, you’ll end up moving through a bunker crawling with (surprise) people out to kill you. In one particular spot you find yourself behind reinforced glass with the room around you steadily filling with gas. Even as you choke and the edges of the screen begin to spatter with blood, the worst part is that on the other side of the glass is a man. A man whom on first spotting you shouts threats, but after seeing your predicament begins to mock you. He’s not going to kill you anymore. He’s just going to sit back and watch you die. I tried to smash my axe into the glass to no avail. I feared a shot from a gun might cause a spark and kill me. As the joyous heckling of my antagonist continued, I finally realized the air duct I’d originally entered the room through was still accessible and scrambled to fresh air. His shouts followed me though. In such a short amount of time, the writer, level designer, and voice actor managed to make me truly hate this character.
I shut him up with the lantern I found conveniently at my feet.
Chucking it back through the air duct, I watched it shatter on the other side, light the gas, and blow the entire glass window as well as a chunk of the wall into this man. Without a moments regret I looked at the screen, cleaned my glasses, and gave a satisfied, “Heh, go to hell.”
As I walked across the room, the man lay against the far wall, half his body crushed under a slab of concrete. The same person who only moments before was enjoying the spectacle of my anticipated demise… was now begging me to finish him off. I could have just walked away. This wasn’t a quick time event, it wasn’t something that had to be done before moving on. Even so, I still pulled up short at his prompting, aimed down the sights of my pistol, and put a single bullet in his head.
The moment that truly gave me pause though was how my expectations got promptly turned on their head.
Even as I was nudging the thumb sticks expecting some line about how he was better off or how it was merciful to come out of my television speakers, the words never came. Quick as lightning after the shot was fired and I pulled out of the tight aim view , I could appreciate Lara standing tall, glancing down sideways at the body and giving only a quiet, “Go to hell.”
That cut a bit closer to the bone than any awkward groping scene could have.
For all the complaints from one reviewer to the next about Lara becoming too adept a killer, becoming too vengeful too fast, maybe we all should appreciate how quick we are to pull the trigger. None of us had to level up those weapon specific finishing moves. Lara Croft did not shove that shotgun barrel under that random scavenger’s chin, or rake his chest with machine gun fire, or put an arrow through his throat. You did.
So did I.
None of us are any worse people for it though.
I always liked Lara Croft. She was tough, but smart. Bookish at heart. I grew up reading, writing, making art, and playing games. I was engrossed in genre works and fandom communities by my family for years.
I’d also been getting the crap kicked out of me for years. Wish I could have dealt with it as deftly as Lara, but doing backflips off people’s heads to initiate some form of bullet time wasn’t an option.
The jump from elementary to middle school was rough. The children were plenty cruel in those early years with their mean words, cliques, and coordinated exclusion. That was manageable for a kid that could just laugh at their pettiness and go read a book though. Growing up and getting my face mashed into the grating of my locker was… less manageable.
Middle school more or less turned into a several year debacle of wishing to be left alone, getting beaten up instead, going to the staff for help like you’re taught to do, watching my tormentors makes excuses, then enduring it all over again. I think getting shoved down the granite steps was the last straw in a way. It reached the point where my alarm would go off, I’d think of what was waiting for me, then promptly get violently ill and lose all the bile in my stomach before crawling back under the covers until the bus had already left. The school’s solution? Send a truancy officer to drag me in.
In High School, I finally snapped. I was going through the motions, waiting for it to be over. I outright told staff who the bullies were, what they’d done, and that if they failed to impress upon them pretending I didn’t exist would be far easier on them, I’d make it difficult.
I’d always been the type to quietly take everything that would get thrown my way until I felt I had no choice. Bullies never seemed to realize where my lines were drawn until it was too late, perhaps thinking that side of me didn’t even exist. Perhaps all those violent games were the perfect catharsis for someone under constant pressure.
When one problem boy that had been tormenting me for months tried to shove me down the stairs (a reoccurring theme), I grabbed the railing, wrenched myself upward by it, and let my momentum carry through into the punch I landed straight to his nose. Without a word, I walked past and went to class. He never bothered me again.
And we all wonder why violence is so prevalent in our media. Until violence stops solving problems we’re unlikely to move beyond it. I suppose I should thank my parents for that line in the sand, that sense of choice versus no choice, of right and wrong, or I’d feel like a much more terrible person right now.
He had 35 guns.
And I never used one on him.
Not even 18 and I still turned to a system that had repeatedly failed me before and put him in prison.
I do have to wonder if in a few years (or sooner if he makes parole) when my assailant gets out of said prison: even if I know I’m in danger, will my judgement be questioned if it comes to unpleasantries? Or will I be my own worst enemy, choke, and be nothing but a story on the news? Neither is probable: he’ll likely move along knowing nothing more about me, and I’ll probably be shooting something or other in the next Tomb Raider or whatever is hot off the shelves, flexing a trigger finger that I pray will never be needed on anything but a controller.
Every time someone apologizes to me for what I’ve been through I tell them they don’t need to be because I won. Game over? Well, yes, at least in regards to Tomb Raider. It will have a proud spot on my shelf though as a classic I refuse to part with in case I ever need a reminder as to how great I can feel even though people suck.
Imagine a world in a time of darkness, a realm in which the elements are in complete turmoil. Imagine that this land is starting to unbuckle at the seams and now its up to you to save it before its utterly destroyed. Welcome to Square’s inaugural step onto Gaia and into Final Fantasy. From large glorious castles, to long sprawling caverns, you and your band of adventurers will travel, fighting epic battles with the very beings of evil included in the original installment of what would be the world record setting franchise. This was supposed to be Square’s last ditch effort in the video game industry resulted in the highest selling video game franchise of all time.
Final Fantasy puts you in charge of a party four warriors set on a quest to restore order to the elements of Gaia. In making of Final Fantasy tradition your party can consist of melee class fighters and spell casters in the practice of different schools of magic. In Final Fantasy, a player must choose those classes at the beginning of their quest. Unlike future installments of the franchise, players will not be able to change character’s “job” to a different classes. So think long and hard before choosing classes, or it may result in a lengthy play through of the game.
Game play at the beginning can be a little confusing for anyone new to the turn based RPG format, and there is a lack of obvious direction throughout the game. Square made sure players explored their environment before moving on to the next part of the game. This turns out to be essential to the game’s experience; it takes players through the adventure intended by the game’s designers. Starting off, you are placed outside of a town where, after talking to townsfolk, players make their way to the castle to speak to the land’s fair king. There he sends you on your first quest rescuing his daughter and proving your worth as heroes. Upon completion of your rescue attempt, the king sends you to further lands, and thus your adventure expands to the land’s distant horizon.
Key parts of what set this game apart from other games born of the mid-80’s era is the constant changes of environment and continuous game play. This had the ability to keep a player into playing quest after quest, leveling characters up to achieve grueling tasks ahead.
The other factor being this was one of few games of the time that enabled players to save their progress allowed anyone to get into the game the privilege to save and return to a game in progress. Who can remember getting up before school as a kid and playing their favorite video game before they had to go? What better way to really enjoy the game if you could save your progress before leaving and remember coming back to it that evening.
The gamble made by Square over 24 years ago has resulted in a game remade and redistributed several times during its lifetime. While Square’s first master piece has been remastered and relaunch many times over in Japan, US gamers can find the game re-released on PS1 in the form of Final Fantasy Origins (a bundle pack featuring Final Fantasy I and II), PSP, and on Nintendo GBA in the form of Final Fantasy “Dawn of Soul” (Another bundle featuring Final Fantasy I and II). All of the relaunches feature enhanced graphics, soundtrack, and game mechanics.
Perhaps its a skewed perspective from my RPG history, but I have always imagined support characters in League of Legends as the healer role – There not to take credit themselves, but rather to sit there and help allies do what they do best. Sona, Soraka, Lux, Taric, and other heroes in the game fit this standard cleanly, but heroes like Thresh, Riot’s most recent release, immediately confused me. What is a support champion supposed to do if they are not healing their allies? I’ve come to realize that the idea of indirectly influencing combat doesn’t end with ideas as simple as healing – Anything that turns the tide of combat outside of damage fits in the role of support, and Thresh proves that not only can he support, but he can cause a lot of trouble with his brutal attacks and control.
The open beta for Dust 514 is live now, but is it worth the space on your PS3′s hard drive? As this is a beta, most of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but given they are already giving you the ability to spend money on it with micro-transactions… lets go wild with our thoughts, shall we?
The First Person Shooter Massively Multiplayer Online game has been a bit of an elusive creature to nail down. Twitch reflexes are a staple of the FPS genre, and doesn’t tend mix well with the lag inherent in most MMOs. How do they overcome this? By not being an MMO in the sense that most players would think. From the website’s FAQ:
“DUST 514 takes place in the massive, persistent EVE Universe, which has been thriving for nearly ten years, contains hundreds of thousands of EVE Online players, and spans thousands of solar systems and individual planets. A major war in the EVE Universe could involve thousands of players at once. DUST 514 can support 24v24 matches in a single battle in a single district on a single planet, and there can be multiple battles on a planet happening simultaneously, impacting each other in real time. The scale of DUST 514 is unprecedented.”
You’re still going into individual matches rather than the massive persistent worlds one sees in World of Warcraft that we typically associate with MMOs. You’ll still end up queuing up in lobbies or hot dropping into a hectic match out of nowhere. They’re cute lobbies though, reminding clone mercenaries that public suicide is not allowed. While not as impressive as Planetside 2‘s large scale battle numbers, Dust‘s 24v24 dwarfs the average round of Call of Duty, and additionally I’ve experienced less lag in these large battles than in some smaller games. Let’s hope that keeps up in the full release.
It is however a much heavier game than the average shooter fan may like. Dust 514 is front loaded with a lot of text and tutorials to flesh out its complex progression system. I’d expect nothing less from a tie in game to the infamously complicated EVE Online, but it can get overwhelming. While you can drop into the fight right away without experimenting and customizing, you’d be putting yourself at a severe disadvantage.
For example: I started up a sniper given my penchant for precision. I discovered there was an excessive amount of sway. Leveling up in “Sniper Rifle Operation” lessened the sway, but other snipers were outdoing me. I took note of system feedback messages, noted their gun types, and in the market found they were using more advanced models. I bought a few for myself given my skill was high enough to use them and… couldn’t even equip them because my Dropsuit didn’t have enough “PG/CPU” (er, think encumbrance limit) to even carry the thing. Having spent all my skill points on making my sniper rifle not sway like I’m having a seizure, I couldn’t level up in “Dropsuit Command,” nor take levels in one of the specific branches of drop suit types right away, and was stuck with sub-par equipment for sometime. Also, you lose your equipment each time you die as your “cloned” body is lost to the battle field when your mind is moved to a new one, so don’t forget to buy your equipment in lots.
That got convoluted fast, didn’t it? The fact that not everything is enabled yet and whole sections of the Marketplace are empty of stock just reinforces the thought that this game is going to be dense.
The leveling system itself though is something I surprisingly find I can respect. Personally, I tend to hate levels in competitive games of this sort as it tends to stunt growth, creating the impression that if you didn’t get in on the ground floor then you’ll just be the newb that’ll never catch up, which ends up chasing away new players. By creating a skill for almost everything (each weapon, drop suit type, upgrades, etc), and by making the max level of those skills relatively low, a person could within a reasonable amount of time create a character that matches their play style perfectly and stand toe to toe with veterans at least as far as levels and equipment go. Outside practice and skill, the main advantage of being a veteran is that by continuing to level beyond your comfort zone abilities, you become more flexible. You can save equipment load out configurations before deploying, and each time you die pick a new one for the situation. You may be best with an assault rifle, but when the enemy rolls out a tank, you may be grateful that you can respawn with a “Swarm-Launcher,” and be thankful you ground out the levels to have the skills to use it well.
As the new girl on the PlayStation 3 block (due to last Black Friday), I carry a bit of baggage from other consoles and other shooters. Aiming and firing with L1 and R1 takes some getting used to rather than the “triggers” L2 and R2. The hardest thing to get used to though is that every single match I’ve played has been dead silent. We all may have heard the stories of loud mouth trolls on Xbox live, but even I will put up with a troll if it’s calling targets. The most frustrating aspect of the team play is how much strategy is involved that you can’t communicate about with pick up groups. Playing in the objective based “Skirmish” mode, I often found myself shouting at deaf ears; you can’t hack that objective if you leave the “Clone Reanimation Unit” in enemy hands right behind you because they’ll just respawn right behind you before you finish. The smartest thing Microsoft ever did for fostering an online community on Xbox Live was include a headset in the box, but this also means that a team of friends investing in PS3 microphones could likely dominate Dust 514 pretty tidily. I’ll be keeping an eye on this Beta for more game types, expansions to the market place, and will cross my fingers for more player customization of your avatar or quarters.
Gameplay is fairly standard for a current generation shooter otherwise. Aim, fire, grenades, sprinting, melee, etc… it’s all there. If you’re looking for more FPS action, it’s free, and you’ll likely feel right at home once you get used to the progression system. The graphics are gorgeous and maps are sure to just keep coming given the massive number of planets in the Eve Online universe. I do hope that they find a way to encourage smooth communication between Dust and Eve players though. The importance of these massive player run corporate entities wasn’t really felt off the bat; I’ve yet to experience one of the “Orbital Bombardments” the FAQ is so excited about. Perhaps more corporate branding, making it obvious in game who you’re attacking or defending? I’d also love to read player written pitches as to why you as a gun toting mercenary should work for them. Perhaps too much to ask for as the shooting would likely start before I even finished reading, but one can hope, right? All in all, this player just wishes it wasn’t a PS3 exclusive so I could drag in more friends to spray some bullets with me and scratch our heads together while trying to find the best skill point investments.
You can check out Dust 514 on their main website and on your PlayStation 3 now.
During the month of April, Anime Twin Cities held their annual three day convention, Anime Detour. As the name suggests, the overlying theme of the convention is anime, but as nerd culture has it, there is plenty of overlap with other fandoms, including video games.
Grethade and Theora Craft attended Anime Detour this year to get a little away time from the real world. While there, several gaming cosplays sprung up. Some of which are a cross of anime and video game, while others are certainly video game exclusive.
Photos are courtesy of MJ Webber Photography of Minneapolis, MN. All photos under this brand can be found at Mjwebberphotography.com.
Editor’s Note: Photos are still being added to this album at this time, please check back later for more photos.
Approximately two weeks ago, I made a choice to dive back into a title I long thought would be one I hardly cared to play ever again. With the release of Mists of Panderia, I thought I would give World of Warcraft another shot. I’ve heard from critics that the expansion was better than the previous, Cataclysm, which led me to the thought “it couldn’t possibly be worse.” I’m glad to say my conclusion has been right thus far.
A habit of mine has been to scour the gaming section of any store I travel to. The reason is simple : to find good deals on games. You never know when you will find a copy of a timeless classic for a killer price or even a brand new that has been marked down for some ungodly reason. This is how I found Starcraft II for $39.99 a month after it was released. Almost immediately, I had texted a picture over to a few friends who asked me to purchase the game for them.
My travels today took me to Target. I just needed to pick up some bath salts, a tripod and shampoo. The long walk to the electronics department left me in awe as I stared at the new Pre Owned Games section next to the $19.99 Classic Games. The games didn’t look at thing like any game that you would pick up at GameStop or even Games N Go. They were lined up neatly, with flawless looking cases they were wrapped up in tight plastic. Had it not been for the label on them saying they were pre-owened, I wouldn’t have known. There were older titles including Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that was available for the Xbox 360 and the Wii. According to an article on joystiq, Target plans on adding a pre-owned game section to 850 stores by year’s end.
This is interesting because now the competition for pre-owned games has become more and more fierce. It used to the be the big retailer for used games was GameStop and since then Best Buy and Walmart has jumped onto the wagon. Is this really a market that they need to join into? I highly doubt it. Something to consider is that even so the packaging looks nicer and even have that nice plastic covering you might be paying for something much expensive than it really needs to be.