Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spartan Ops Episode 8 Trailer

The story just keeps getting better and better. Here's a look at what you'll be facing next week.



US Senator: Video games are 'a bigger problem than guns'

Once again video games and gamers have been brought to the forefront of the gun control issue. Several congressman have gone on record claiming video games cause violence, as well as the Vice President of the NRA. Now another politician, US Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn), has crossed the aisle.

Speaking to Chuck Todd on MSNBC today, Alexander said, "I think video games is a bigger problem than guns, because video games affect people."

With someone as influential as a United States Senator out there defaming games and gamers alike, this puts our community in a difficult position. Already gamers have dealt with the undeserved backlash of the Sandy Hook shooting from the NRA, Vice President Joe Biden, and now another US Senator has joined some of his fellow congressman to make the video game community a scapegoat. Unbelievable.

[Clip via Daily Kos]

The God of War is going to the Superbowl

Kratos, the unbelievably powerful and angry God of War, is hitting the big screen. Not the movies. The Jumbotron. Sony released a God of War: Ascension teaser trailer that will, reportedly, be aired during the Superbowl. At $3.8 million per 30 second advertisement, Sony hopes to hit the televisions of over 100 million people.


Ascension is a prequel game to hit trilogy, God of War. Learn how Kratos began and why his drive to see all other gods destroyed fueled the rage that made him invincible. God of War: Ascension launches March 12th, 2013, exclusively on PS3.

LEGO The Lord of the Rings: Review

January 30th, 2013 - Anyone who is a fan of the LEGO video games knows they are a decent puzzle plat-former. The games are aimed towards the younger generations, targeting children to young teens. Built around this premise, the objectives are straight forward and easily highlighted. The games are put together well, the controls handle nicely for the most part, and the formula stays pretty consistent throughout the games. Unfortunately, that consistency is what is slowly killing the franchise. With practically no innovation, the games are becoming a stale repetition with a setting and character roster change. The games may be advertised for kids, but there are a large amount of casual players that make up those sales figures. Eventually, the continuous use of that mediocre formula will simply cause the games to flop, and the time will come when relying on the low expectations of the consumer will be the end of the LEGO series.

The Lord of the Rings has always been a towering figure of literature. The success of the movie adaptations had Traveller's Tales wanting to expand that success to include the video game industry.

LEGO The Lord of the Rings is the first game in the series to take every character line and music audio and incorporate it into the game. The idea that this would make the games more enjoyable is sound, however it takes away any uniqueness the game might have had and turns it into a playable cartoon version of the movie. Players will see the more memorable parts of the trilogy, but nothing fully fleshed out beyond that.

Where the game excels is in the environment. The weather and lighting put the game far beyond the reach of its predecessors. Stepping onto the Pass of Caradhras and getting hit by the blizzards, delving into the depths of the Mines of Moria, stomping around the tower at Isengard, or peering over the edge of Gondor, all of these settings give fans a huge thrill. It's the ultimate geek/nerd combination. There are the standard LEGO comedy bits in the game, and most of them were actually funny. I laughed when a character got shot with a banana.

The combat system has been enhanced, not so much in the controls, just in the animation. Sword clashes result in a shield being ripped away, or a nice deflection before decapitation. Hacking at trees and watching them sway before breaking apart is enjoyable as always and seeing studs fly from the rocks you are going ham on is amusing. But while this hack n' slash button mashing is fun, the problem lies in the simplistic puzzles. Certain characters are needed to accomplish their relegated tasks, and while playing as different characters can be fun, switching from one to the other simply to knock down a pedestal is rather tedious. The puzzles themselves are not well thought out. Collect wood, start a fire to burn up that vine holding the rocks in, jump across the gap. Toss Gimli to break apart a cracked section of brick and build something from the destroyed blocks. All of these get repetitive very quickly. Not only are they simple but they also give tips and practically solve themselves. It may be geared towards kids, but the developers seem to think kids are morons. My 4 year old was solving the puzzles while I was killing Orcs.

The game whittles down to the basics of the LEGO world. Breaking apart the environment to collect LEGO studs, salvaging ripped apart blocks to form a ramp, or simply finding a crawlspace for a smaller character as always are the main objectives of each level. No real deviation from a tried and true formula that should have been tossed away several games ago. It's molded around the story fairly well, but at times it's a very distinct difference between feeling like a movie and coming across as a lack of artistic vision. The true feeling of the game really comes down to a copy of the movie with random LEGO blocks littering the sets. It feels like the development team was counting on the belief that the Lord of the Rings title would grant them all of the profits that the movies raked in.

Pros
  • Great visuals
  • Combat animations are improved
  • No lack of love for the film recreation
  • Character audio meshes with the game
Cons
  • Simple puzzles
  • Tutorial hand-holding throughout the game
  • Lack of uniqueness
  • No innovation on formula
  • Stale objectives outside of the storyline
Overall Score: 7/10
This game's not very well rounded.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Disney closes Junction Point Studio

Junction Point studio, developer of the games Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, was shut down today by Disney.
"It was with much sadness that we informed our teams today of changes to our Games organization, which include the closure of Junction Point Studios," the company said in a statement. "These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities. We're extremely grateful to Warren Spector and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2."
Disney faced a difficult slump with the numbers for Epic Mickey 2, selling far fewer copies than its early predecessor. Disney, whose newer focus on video games is geared towards a far more casual audience, has ultimately terminated all of its employees at Junction Studios.

The video game business is a fairly finical environment. Some studios hit the big times with a large, successful IP. Others keep their heads afloat by making just enough profit to stay above the costs. Still more end up as Disney is today. Shuttering their offices and letting go their teams. Unfortunately for many companies, one bad game, or even a good game at the wrong time, can end what may have been a shot at a winning streak.

Black Ops II "Revolution" DLC hits today

Black Ops II receives it's first DLC pack today. Revolution includes 4 new multiplayer maps and one Zombie map.
  • Hydro: This large map allows you to use the dam and water to your advantage to block paths and stop enemies.
  • Downhill: A medium-sized map based in the French Alps complete with snow, chair lifts, and a strategically placed lodge.
  • Grind: Set within the locale of the Venice, California boardwalk, this small skate park map is sure to deliver fast and frenetic Call of Duty action.
  • Mirage: This Gobi Desert multiplayer map utilises sand dunes to provide different levels of elevation and a sanctuary in the centre as a natural chokepoint.
  • Zombies - Die Rise: The Zombie apocalypse has invaded China, turning downtown into a dilapidated and dangerous MC Escher painting.
Also in the DLC is the inclusion of the new Peacekeeper SMG, said to be a hybrid SMG/Assault Rifle. Since most players have been using the SMG's due to their firepower and compact frame, this will no doubt be seen on just about every player's arsenal. The Peaekeeper also will come with XP related challenges. As for the new game mode, Turned, players don't just shoot zombies. They are zombies.



Revolution is available now on the Xbox 360 for 1200 MSP ($15) or free for owners of the Season Pass ($50). PC and PS3 release dates have not yet been announced.


Halo 4 Spartan Ops Episode 6 & 7 review

Reviews will be gameplay based so as to not spoil the story
Spartan Ops was advertised as a campaign continuation. Fight your way through campaign settings, accomplish goals to further humanitys control of Requiem, take on the Covenant still on the planets surface, and remove the Promethean threat once and for all.

While the first half of season 1 (episodes 1-5) delivered these expectations, they did it somewhat lucklusterly. The areas were repetitive, the enemies the same, the difficulty rather boring. There was no real thrill. Watching the episodes was definitely the highlight and it started getting very interesting a few episodes in. Overall it was mainly a fun way to hang with friends for a couple hours. Except for the lag. Oh God the lag! I would say I'd kill for less lag, but I can't get a kill at all with the lag in the first place.

Episode 6 finds us captured by Elites after coming through the portal at the end of episode 5. Freeing ourselves is easy, but behind enemy lines we had to fight our way out, turning the Covenants own weapons on them. Navigating through a variety of new settings, your mission is to escape the clutches of the diabloical Covenant. This isn't all to complicated, but the ease is another matter, as the Covies will call in their new Promethean allies to kick your ass. Eventually you manage to get through and escape using one of the Covenants dropships.

Episode 7 puts us into a more close-to-home setting. Convenant and Prometheans have infiltrated the Infinity, planting explosives and staging massive incursions throughout the ship. You'll travel between the hangers to the engine room, killing everything in sight and diffusing the nukes Elites have set. If you play on Legendary, give up on surviving. The amount of enemies in such a tight space will leave you with no chance to live the whole way through. We did encounter one glitch at the end of mission 5 that left us unable to complete it, but hopefully when we try again it will allow us to push through.

So far in the second half of the season, while the lag hasn't improved (seriously, what is with Halo and their co-op code? The lag has been bad since Halo 2!), the episodes have gotten a lot better. The story line, which at first was really enjoyable, has become the highlight of my weekly Halo experience. Forget multiplayer. Hell, forget even Grifball. Just let me see what happens next! The cinematics are beautifully done and the story is dramatic, action packed, and mysterious all in one sitting. The episodes are about 5 minutes long, and yet they feel like a 30 minute television show.

The gameplay has improved too. The missions (while still kill and push buttons) have been reworked to involve all new settings and a variety of enemies and missions. Covenant enemies hurt far more than they used to, with Jackals utlizing carbines that will rip you apart, to Elites firing fuel rod guns like they were heat seeking missiles. Promethean Knights feel like they've also been given a huge upgrade.




This addition to the Halo series started out slow, but with a couple months of waiting, the changes have paid off immensely. I really did end up eating my words.


Crysis 3 Multiplayer Open Beta now live

If you are an Xbox gold member and have been waiting to get your hands on some Crysis 3 action, the sandbox multiplayer beta is now available. You can check your region and queue the download right here. Get some hands on gameplay before the February launch on two maps, Museum and Airport.

In Hunter mode, two players spawn in nanosuits, with permanent active camouflage and utilize bow and arrows. These Hunters will face additional players who have taken on the role of CELL Corporation troopers. Each trooper killed respawns as a Hunter, so surviving the cloak and dagger (or in this case arrows) Hunters will be a significant challenge. Players must either survive or escape in order to win the round.

Crash site, the second playable mode, involves every player spawning in a nanosuit. Two teams race to control alien pods that randomly land on the map. Based on a territory gametype, holding these pods will result in points earned. Players holding these pods will also be given shields to be used in defense, and a heavy weapons walker unit, "Pinger".

The beta is on right now and is free to all gold members. Get out there and win!

Crysis 3 launches on February 19th*, 2013 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.

*North America launch date. (AU) February 21, 2013 (EU) February 22, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gears of War: Judgment to have early access demo

Epic has announced that gamers who pre-order Gears of War: Judgment through Gamestop, or online, will get a 3-day exclusive early access pass to Judgment's new signature multiplayer game mode: Overrun.
Pre-order your copy of “Gears of War: Judgment” online or at any GameStop location nationwide to get exclusive three-day early access to the most anticipated blockbuster of this spring beginning March 15; demo available publicly to all Xbox LIVE Gold members on March 19
All power up rewards members will get this exclusive pass, which will activate March 15th 11:59 PM PST and will stay active until March 18th 11:59 PM PST. This is a multiplayer game mode, so in addition to getting some experience in the game, you will also earn and keep any multiplayer exp you accumulate if you purchase Judgment and play within the first week of US launch (March 19th).

Overrun is the first "class-based" mode to hit the Gears of War franchise. Players will alternate sides each round in a 5 v 5 slaughter fest, playing as COG and Locust. The COG will use certain characters with unique weapon loadouts and special abilities, such as placing turrets, spawning ammo crates, or healing teammates. The Locust will have access to the big baddies of the underworld, from the annoying screech of a Wretch to the fearsome spinning boomshield/flail combo of the Mauler. Each side will be focused on a certain objective. COG playing defense of the object the Locust are trying desperately to destroy. The Locust have the upper hand, but the COG has the will to survive. Who will win this epic match up...


While pre-ordering Judgment from Gamestop will get you access to this exclusive early pass, you will also get a few in-game bonuses. Gamers who purchase from Gamestop will receive the Young Marcus multiplayer skin. See the original hero of Sera in all his prime glory. Also included is the original Mark I Hammerburst from Gears of War (included with all worldwide pre-orders) and a new weapon skin: Lambent.

The early access offer is only in the US, however players will be able to access the worldwide demo starting on March 19th.

*Xbox LIVE Gold membership and 2GB of storage space required to participate. Qualifying GameStop PowerUp Rewards members will receive full redemption instructions via e-mail closer to launch.

Black Ops II Mythbusters

Defend The House (didn't I just do an article on these guys?) doesn't just stick to Halo mythbusters, they also point out the misconceptions in Black Ops II. If you are trying to accomplish a glitch that your best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl who saw a guy do it once, and it isn't working, it's probably a good idea to let the mythbusters team take a look at it. Well, enough of the confusing hipster logic, take a look at their vids:


Halo 4 Mythbusters Episodes: 4, 5, & 6

Defend the house loves to bunk and debunk gameplay rumors. When people start complaining that they only died because the other team cheated/used a glitch/exploited a flawed system, Defend is there to smack em in the face and tell them to man up. Here's a few new Halo 4 Mythbuster videos.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Spartan Ops Episode 7 Trailer

The 2nd half of Spartan Ops season 1 debuted this week, with a huge change. The locations were new, the enemies were tougher, and the storyline is getting oh so good. Check out the next episode trailer:


We're starting to get a clearer picture how this season will end and how it will affect the Halo story in the future.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nintendo confirms multiple Wii U titles coming in 2013

"The fun of video games is not only just playing games, but also sharing experiences together with people – even though they live far away, their skill levels are different or their experience does not happen at the same time. We want Wii U to be the system that brings everyone together."
- Nintendo President Satoru Iwata

Today, Nintendo blew up the twitter feeds for over 300,000 people as they released information about the newest games coming to the Nintendo Wii U console. Fan boys everywhere were hyperventilating as favorite franchise titles streamed by during the new Nintendo Direct video. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata apologized to fans about the lack of titles out for the Wii U launch.
"There will be no new titles released for Wii U from Nintendo in January or February," Iwata said. "Nintendo takes seriously its responsibility to offer a steady stream of new titles in the very early days of a new platform to establish a good lineup of software. On the other hand, we also firmly believe we have to offer quality experiences when we release new titles.
"Based on our software development schedules at the end of last year, we concluded we should spend a little more time to satisfy our Nintendo standard of quality. I apologize to those supporting Wii U about the lack of new titles from Nintendo in January and February but please understand we will have new titles to offer from March onward."
Following that announcement, Nintendo revealed some spectacular titles to break our bank accounts.


The Legend of Zelda
Zelda has finally been announced to be headed to the Wii U with not just one, but two games! A Brand new title was announced, however we haven't been given a name to put to it yet. The second game will definitely get fans excited. A remake of the classic The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. This fan favorite is being remade specifically for the Wii U. How cool is that?

 



Mario
It wouldn't be Nintendo without that short, lovable plumber with the great stache.  The team behind the Super Mario Galaxy games for Wii and Super Mario 3D Land for Nintendo 3DS, is now working on the newest Mario title, a 3D action game made especially to show off the Wii U's gaming power. Also confirmed, is a new Mario Kart game. No further information has been announced, however gamers will get a chance to play both games at E3 in June.








Super Smash Bros. & Yarn Yoshi
The ever popular fighting game, Super Smash Bros., is headed to the Wii U later this year. While we don't have much in the way of information, new screenshots will be shown at E3. Along with the Smash Bros. announcement, came the news that the team behind Kirby's Epic Yarn is currently working on their newest creation. Yoshi, who hasn't been a main character on a console since the 1998 N64 game Yoshi's Story, is getting a whole new look. A yarn spun (Get it? Yoshi Yarn? No? You know what, shut up. It was funny.) for the beloved dinosaur, Yoshi will once again get to frolic in the fields.

With all these titles coming out, one thing is for sure. There will be no end to all of the lines at stores this year.

All those games.....


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Microsoft releases "The Guts of War" video. Confirms Gears Judgment will include downloadable Gears 1 copy

Microsoft and Epic Games released a new video today, entitled "The Guts of War". Fans will be ecstatic to get a deeper look at the newest Gears of War campaign, developed by People Can Fly and Epic Games Inc.. Narrated by the ever sarcastic Damon Baird, fan favorite extraordinaire, the video gives players a sneak peek at some of the new campaign features, including dynamic Smart Spawn Systems, declassified missions, new weapons, player rewards, and much more.


Also announced today, Gears of War: Judgment will include a download for Gears of War, the original game that started it all, accessible through Games on Demand. According to Epic, about half of the players who purchased Gears 3 had never played Gears 1. This is a way for gamers to get a deeper understanding of the story. These downloads will be included in the initial launch quantities, so you will need to make sure Judgment is a day 1 purchase. If you cannot get a code, Gears 1 can be purchased from the marketplace for $19.99. This inclusion will allow new players to immerse themselves in the Gears Universe, while also allowing old-time veterans a chance to relive the glory days.

Unfortunately, due to the restrictions in Germany regarding video game ratings, the Gears 1 download will not be available. The first Gears game did not make it to Germany, so most players would need to buy a physical copy, possibly online.

Gears of War: Judgment launches worldwide on March 19th, 2013

Dead Space 3 will include micro-transactions

One of the biggest controversies in online gaming is micro-transactions. Real world money spent on digital in-game items to give players an edge. Sometimes they are purely cosmetic, such as the Gears of War 3 weapon skins. Others, like Dead Space 3, allow players to customize weapons to pack an extra punch.

Accessible through DLC purchases, players will be able to modify their weapons, or even to create new ones, using the new bench feature. Players normally would find parts scattered throughout the game to construct these modifications, but for those who want a faster approach, you can buy them outright.

Not all options will be available right off the bat, so players thinking they will get the most badass weaponry at the start will be disappointed.
There are a lot of weapon parts that are only available to buy later in the game. Unless you’re playing through it again [on New Game Plus].” - Yara Khoury, Dead Space 3 associate producer.
If you don't want to buy the parts and can stand to wait a bit, scavenger bots in the game will give you token currency that can be used to purchase the upgrades.
You can buy resources with real money, but scavenger bots can also give you the currency that you can use on the marketplace. So you don’t have to spend [real world] dollars.” explained Khoury.
Weapon packs have yet to be announced, but they will vary in size and price.

Dead Space 3 launches Feb. 5th in North America and Feb. 8th in the UK.

Far Cry 3 on sale at Amazon today only $34.99

If you have been waiting for Far Cry 3 to hit a lower price, today is your lucky day. Amazon has all system versions (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) for $34.99. If you would prefer a digital copy on the PC, Amazon has you covered. The sale also includes that option and you can choose the PC Deluxe edition for only $44.99.

Far Cry 3 won several awards last year and has been praised as one of, if not the, best game of the year. Critics have praised it and players have fallen in love. Take some of that leftover Christmas cash and snap up this great deal while it lasts.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Halo 4 gets new community playlist maps, Spartan Ops episodes

In it's first significant update of the year, 343 released 6 new community maps in the "Community Forge Test" playlist. Despair, Garrotte, Relay, Scythe, Shutout and Simplex are player constructed small-medium sized maps, designed for 4 v 4 action. Players will test these maps using Slayer, Swat, CTF, and KoTH gametypes. 343 has deigned it a "Test" playlist to work out any kinks or bugs in the system for possible future inclusions from the community. If you see any problems you wish to report about these maps or the playlist in general, Halo Waypoint has you covered.


The second half of the Spartan Ops series is also debuting today. Episode 6 is live and looking more badass than ever. With more variety in the missions and locations (desperately needed), the next 5 episodes will be very welcomed after the series break last year. You will need 2.2 GB worth of hard drive space to download the newest Spartan Ops missions, so delete whatever isn't necessary, or throw in a new USB flash drive.



And finally, the update unlocks the first two specializations for players who did not get the limited edition specializations, or receive the bonuses for playing early.

Pioneer

"Spartan optimization for deployment into uncharted, hostile territory (such as uncolonized worlds or forerunner installations) for the purpose of gathering/relaying information."


Pathfinder

"Spartan optimization for deep, unconventional deployment within unknown enemy territory and with little to no assistance from Command."





Two more specializations will be unlocked next Monday, and the final two on February 4th.

"You gotta be kidding me. I have to say  'Crimson' a million times AGAIN?"

Call of Duty: Black Ops II Xbox 360 Review

When people envision the future, usually it involves flying cars, holograms, maybe some genetic manipulation that finally allows us to gain superhuman abilities. Not many stop to consider what it might hold in regards to warfare. The world does not grow slowly over time. We leap ahead in bursts of technological evolution. It took us 40 years to go from a calculator the size of a gymnasium wall, to a supercomputer we can fit in a drawer. In Black Ops II, we can do so much more. From gloves that can cling to any surface and support any weight, to holographic scopes that can see through walls, to body armor that can bend light to make you appear invisible, the future of warfare seems terrifying (and yet super cool) indeed.

Drone on Drone action

Black Ops II mixes the standard Call of Duty campaign formula up a bit by utilizing new mission types and adding in decision points that can alter the way the story plays out. Do you choose to spare this person? What would be the result if he died? Is staying undercover better than attempting to take out the target? The decisions can be small, but they also are personal, and they do affect the ending. One of the things that Treyarch delivers for this game is a deep involvement in the characters lives and emotions. Certain revelations can hit you right in the feels.

Call of Duty has always been satisfying to the fans. The story telling is well done and the characters are easy to relate too, suffering the same consequences of their actions that we all do. Small skirmishes during the war settings reinforces the possibility of these events actually happening, as they are not detailed, nor important enough, to change the history of those wars. Jumping back and forth between the future of 2025 and the past of the Cold War is very smooth. It is more of a challenge to actually lose track of your progress as you transition between times. It makes for a very believable campaign, and you soon find yourself feeling like you are in the war zone.

Raul Menendez
Returning to the life of Alex Mason (a protagonist of Black Ops), the first mission of the past involves you making your way deep into enemy territory to rescue Frank Woods (another protagonist from Black Ops and the narrator of the Cold War era gameplay). Switching gears, players then take control of David Mason. A soldier in the year 2025, David is after the same man his father was 40 years ago, Raul Menendez. The villain usually plays second flute to the main characters performance, but in this game, the bad guy actually makes the game. Menendez is a cunning opponent, always ten steps ahead of both Alex and his son David. Even when you think you finally have him in your sights, he always manages to escape your clutches and ends up causing much more harm. This is not a lucky break for him, he plans it every step of the way.

One change to the campaign aspect that keeps it fresh is the addition of Strike missions. Dropping a few squads to defend a target, rescue hostages, and escort convoys are a way to shake up the staleness you eventually start to feel from the campaign missions. Not all of the strike missions are easy. Switching between taking control of soldiers and equipment (such as a turret or drone) can be confusing the first few times, as the controls can be a bit finicky. You can overshoot your target putting yourself into a bad position to fight the enemy single-handed. By the way, the AI sucks.

The campaign formula is pretty stale after so many missions, but there are several gadgets that really make it a lot of fun. My personal favorite is a sniper you get that can see and punch through walls and vehicle bodies. Gotta love popping domes through 2 feet of concrete. The choices and the ability to replay the missions makes it more enjoyable than most past campaigns, and the replay value is a bit higher, mainly to see how those choices play out.


The multiplayer side of Call of Duty games have always been big selling points. A lot of gamers, casuals and hardcores alike, invest hundreds of hours trying to get the best attachments, the best guns, and the best perks. Black Ops II shakes it up a bit with the loadout system. You are allowed 10 points to play with and customize your loadouts. Each item (guns, perks, attachments) all count as one point. You can stack em however you want, whether you want a couple of kickass guns with full attachments, or go into the fray with an SMG and a few frag grenades, the choices are numerous to suit your play style. The COD points system has been replaced with tokens to unlock certain gear as it becomes available.

One big drawback to the COD multiplayer is that higher ranks equal more abilities to equal a distinct advantage. A level 2 can be overwhelmed by the 3rd prestige level 40 even when the new guy puts several rounds into him while his back is turned. A FLAK jacket can absorb grenade damage that normally would throw them through the window to splatter all over the sidewalk. Players should always spawn with the same choices, nobody getting special attachments that can see through walls or highlight a target just because they are a higher level.

That's where League Play really shines. After the first few games you are separated into certain divisions. These are not set in stone and you can rise or fall depending on your performances. The draw to them is the fact that all players, whether level 1 or max prestige, have everything unlocked. Players can mix and match every choice in the loadout menu, allowing for much more balanced gameplay, leaving the players themselves to be the decided victor, not their equipment. It is more intense and a greater overall experience than the traditional multiplayer for this series. Live streaming is a neat little feature as well. Tying your console to your youtube account, you can live stream all of your League Play matches to show what a badass you are with your prone sniping skills.


Unfortunately, one drawback to the newest title is the Zombie mode. Let's face it, zombies have been done. They were fun for a while and the first installment in Call of Duty was an extremely fun game mode. There has not been enough innovation to this mode to really warrant any real amount of time to spend with the undead. Riding the bus starts out interesting, but that eventually stops being entertaining. The bus gets stuck a lot and the boards you need to rebuild are slow and clunky, usually ending up with a zombie gnawing at your back. The glowing blue eyes never really made any sense, but they are still highly abundant. Seeing them coming through the fog (smoke? mist?) is not really that dramatic, and overall detracts from the experience. Another problem is that the zombies don't want to die. The biggest thing about zombies is to "remove the head or destroy the brain", but apparently an entire mag of pistol to a zombie cranium and all you get is a pissed off zombie. Surprisingly, the knife seems to be a zombie killing machine. I'm not sure what a knife has over an SMG or a 12-gauge, but that's how it plays out. I know zombies don't exist, but c'mon. A knife? Seriously?
Really guys? Who are you gonna infect in the sewers?
Overall the game is fun. The campaign is great and the multiplayer is the standard run-n-gun, prone sniping, crazy ball of enjoyment. The changes made in the MP are great additions and ultimately will be what keeps players on this title for a while.

Pros:
  • Great storyline
  • Immersive characters
  • Higher replay value
  • League Play changes up the MP scene
  • Intriguing plot twists
  • Impressive emblem system
Cons:
  • Zombie mode has become stale
  • Flight controls are sometimes awkward
  • Disgusting emblem creators
  • Strike AI is horrendous
Overall Score: 9.0/10



Friday, January 18, 2013

Halo 4 Spartan Ops returns 1/21/13

After a long break between episodes, Spartan Ops returns with the last half of season 1. Check out the trailer for episodes 6-10


Skyrim 'Dragonborn' DLC hits PC and PS3 this February (as well as the rest of the Skyrim DLC)

With most Xbox gamers already done playing the newest Skyrim DLC, Dragonborn, it comes to the PC on Feb. 5th. And, in perhaps one of the most long awaited news about Skyrim since the sneak peek premiere in 2010, PS3 owners will finally be able to play not just Dragonborn, but also Dawnguard (the 1st DLC) and Hearthfire (the 2nd).

Dragonborn will hit the PS3 in February (date TBA) and will be the first DLC to hit the console, 8 months after XBL users got their first DLC with Dawnguard back in June, 2012. PSN users had heard very little about when they would finally be able to explore more of the uncharted wilderness of Skyrim, and now they finally have their answer.

Halo 2 PC Servers getting axed next month

Halo 2 is remembered by many players as being the best multiplayer experience in the Halo series. It was the first big game to hit Xbox Live when it first took off and was played by hundreds of thousands every day. It was the iconic game during the MLG glory days. And ultimately it had to end.

While the Xbox servers were shut down in April of 2010, the PC servers have remained open. 343 has decided they will be shutting down those servers as well.
“We’re sad to report that service end-date for Halo 2 PC Multiplayer will be February 15, 2013. We’ve been monitoring the population for months, and it’s been peaking consistently at approximately 20 players or less. Those that own this game can continue to enjoy multiplayer over LAN after that date; however our network services will be turned off at that time. We love you, Halo 2 PC, and you will forever live in our hearts.” - 343 Industries

However, there is still hope that the rumored Halo 2 Anniversary edition, might be coming out in 2014. This would make an excellent debut on the newest Xbox console (rumored to be launched Holiday 2013).

Warning: Fan Art may result in uncontrollable drooling

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Missouri Representative seeks tax on "violent" video games

The Missouri House of Representatives has a big decision to make regarding the debate on violent video games. Republican Diane Franklin of Camdenton has proposed HOUSE BILL NO. 157, a 1% tax on all violent video game sales. But what constitutes a "violent" game in regards to this bill?
144.1020. As used in sections 144.1022 and 144.1024, the term “violent video game” means a video or computer game that has received a rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board of Teen, Mature, or Adult Only.
That's right. A Teen rated game is now considered in the "violent" category. You want to play Sims 3? WWE '13? Dance Central? Cough up the extra cash. Now, a 1% increase is not large by any means. Even buying the Halo 4 LE Console would mean $4 added to the bill. It is the principle of the action. Targeting video games makes the form of media out to be a scapegoat for the recent Sandy Hook tragedy. It specifically targets video games. No other form of media has been included in this proposal.

The tax revenues, according to this bill, would be used to fund mental health programs and law enforcement measures as a way to combat the possibility of another school shooting.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Are video games behind violence? - An Editorial


The recent shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary school has made many people consider that video games may be behind a large part of the violence in the world today. Emotions can run high after these horrific tragedies occur, and the desire to hold someone responsible can be overwhelming. However, even after the perpetrator behind the act is caught, the question everyone wants to have answered is: why?

Unfortunately, the why is never clear, and the lack of answers can lead to a lot of speculation. People start seeing ties that don't exist, hear rumors that are unfounded, read internet stories that keep changing, and watch media reports that each paint a different picture. This leads to misinformation and random accusations. People try to place blame everywhere they can to try and justify the unthinkable.

Once again, video games have been brought to the forefront to accept the blame. This is not a new territory for the media to delve into. Violent video games have been brought up when discussing any school shooting or violent act done by the younger generations, with opponents claiming that it increases the violent tendencies among youth. The older generations, who have never been involved in gaming, do not understand what video games really are. They are a form of entertainment. Nothing more.


Gamers do not play titles like Call of Duty or Halo to learn battle tactics and the best strategies and weapons to use in killing people. Games, ranging from racing titles to shooters, are a form of competition that can be acted out in a virtual reality setting. The average person isn't going to be able to race in the Indy 500, nor would they engage in real life firefights. These games allow players to immerse themselves in those settings without the fear of actual harm. However, this idea that games causes people to behave recklessly or hostile in real life situations is absurd.

There have been numerous studies done that try to prove that violent games cause people to become increasingly aggressive and develop a lack of concern for the welfare of others. While it has been proven that it does cause increased aggression, the amount is negligible at best (similar to playing a game of Monopoly) and is only temporary, dissipating within minutes or hours after the game has ended. As for the lack of concern for people, several violent games have been linked to actually increasing the desire to help others, as players are usually on teams, allowing for a closer bond to form to protect each other.

A large myth that has been presented by the media is that games are geared towards children, and prey on their inexperience to understand right and wrong, making violent games, where there are no real consequences, a big commodity. However much they want to make us believe that fact, the average age of a gamer is actually 37 with the majority of gamers well into adulthood, with only roughly 20% of players ages 12-17. The attacks on video games attempt to promote the fact that children are impressionable, and that violent games can lead to desensitized "zombies", addicted to causing harm and pain. Contrary to that belief, human beings are able to tell what is right and what is wrong. What is fiction, and what is reality.

The truth is that video games can be a positive influence. Action type games (usually violent genres) have been linked to better hand-eye coordination and visuo-motor skills, an ability to resist distractions in many settings (leading to better attention in school or work), and an increase in the ability to process peripheral vision faster and more accurately. Also contrary to popular belief, video games do not cause problems with vision. In fact, action based games can actually improve eyesight.

Another positive effect, is the use of games as on outlet for stress and feelings of aggression. A lot of players use games as a way to cope with anger. This also has been cited by opponents that video games impress upon children that the way to deal with their anger is to commit violence. None of that is true. A statistical study has shown that violent crime rates have gone down as games (violent ones specifically) have become more popular. If people had been influenced to act violently, those rates would be going up drastically as violent games sell millions of copies. Instead, studies have shown that games like Call of Duty are more likely to relieve feelings of aggression or anxiety, because it allows the player to leave their problems at the door and play a simple digital game.

Even the supposed negative effects such as aggression and lack of pro-social behavior (desire to help others), have been theorized to help younger generations develop a more competitive stance in the business world. The drive to compete enables gamers to have a leg up when it comes to the pursuit of life goals. Many young entrepreneurs have cited their own gaming experience as a factor in their success.

Opponents continuously try to point out cases where violent games and acts of violence have been tied together, albeit not concretely. Events at Columbine high school have been used against the gaming community as irrefutable proof that games cause violence. The teenagers were reportedly addicted to the game Doom, a fictional futuristic shooter/horror where you combat the demons from Hell. The claim states that the two teens used the game Doom to practice the massacre and even created a map using PC mods to develop a floor plan of the high school. However, no such proof has ever surfaced that the teens created this map, nor that they used Doom as a training ground. The link to video games in that situation stands to demonstrate how misinformation and word of mouth can cause irreparable harm to the gaming community.


By condemning violent titles, gamers have been made a social pariah by the media. When you try to have a discussion with any non-gamer about the facts, it falls on deaf ears. People are so sure that studies have been done and proven the link between games and violence. The media salivates at the opportunity to attack video games, which then gives politicians an outlet to apply blame and attempt to impress new laws on games. Even gun right activist groups jump to place blame.
"Here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bullet Storm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Combat,’ and ‘Splatterhouse.’” - NRA Vice President, Wayne LaPierre.
Unfortunately while the community knows, and researchers have proven, that there is no link between violent games and violent acts, the media portrayal has convinced many of the opposite. Unsubstantiated claims have littered the news, and congress has decided to believe them. They are so sure of their own superiority, that anything they believe must be the truth and no amount of discussion will ever sway them from that fact. Video games have become an easy scapegoat for political agendas and an excuse for higher regulations. It appears every step we take to bring games into a positive light, the majority of the uneducated seek to slap us back down to being portrayed as degenerates, doomed to live out our lives as desensitized, violent loners, who know absolutely nothing about real life.

In the end it's up to the parents to determine what is good for their children, not the media, and certainly not the government. If you feel violent games will be bad for your children, don't buy them. While there are no laws against children buying 'M' rated games, many stores have policies that prohibit minors from purchasing titles with a 'Mature Content' rating. The only way they can get a copy, is for a parent to buy them one. If you don't feel that games cause violence, more power to you. A good idea though, is to limit the amount of time they play games. Video games do cause higher brain activity, and trying to put a kid to sleep right after shutting down the console is near impossible. Playing with your children can also be a good influence, just try not to swear as much as you do during the football game.

Video games cause violence? I think you're bat shit crazy.