The Top Five Fixes and Features That Need to Be in Fallout 4
In what is quickly becoming the internet’s worst kept secret, it appears that famed developer Bethesda is gearing up to announce the highly anticipated “Fallout 4.” As one of the general public’s most beloved games of the previous generation (feels weird saying that…), the hype train for “Fallout 4” is beginning to resemble a locomotive in India, as fans across the world eagerly await any news regarding it.
While developer Bethesda is usually so generous with their game content it can feel greedy to make requests, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few items on every fan’s wishlist for “Fallout 4,” as well as a few generally accepted flaws in “Fallout 3” that could use a fix. Personally, I know I can think of five things, I’d really like to see in “Fallout 4.”
The Ability to Play In A World Affected By the Ending
I’d have to say my biggest disappointment with “Fallout 3” was that the game just kind of ended. There was the usual climatic final mission, but then you just got a cinema explaining the consequences of your decisions in the final moments. At that point if you wanted to keep exploring the world, you could only load up a save before the final mission and do it from there, with the finale being forever left on your to-do list.
It was a baffling decision that felt like one of the few genuine design flaws in the game. How could a game with so much to see and do just end? While the expansions and New Vegas fixed this particular problem, I expect that Bethesda will learn their lesson from “Fallout 3” and allow us to not only continue to explore the world after the credits role, but hopefully alter it in some noticeable way based upon the ending.
Incoporate Greater Grey Area Options
While “Fallout 3′s” karma system was one of the more involved of all the games that afford you character building moral choices, it’s hard to deny that if you really wanted the world to reflect your personal choices, the only real paths available were to be a paragon of virtue or the most evil bastard that ever lived.
That’s always been troublesome to me considering that morality in the “Fallout” universe is ambiguous to say the least. Forcing players to ultimately choose between comically good and evil just to get the game to react never really felt in-line with the rest of the world. It would be great if the karma system better incorporated the choice to live somewhere in the middle (neither entirely good or evil) and if the world reacted to you in this manner just as they would if you lived on either polar side of the morality scale. After all, as Bruce Campbell quipped, “Good…bad….I’m the guy with the gun.”
An Expanded, Region Specific Soundtrack
As much as I loved Three Dog and the game’s unique (and often disturbing) selection of 40′s and 50′s music, after a while I’d often turn off the radio as the DJ banter and songs didn’t take long to repeat. While this is expected in a game of this length, it was nonetheless annoying.
An expanded song selection would certainly go a long way to fixing this in “Fallout 4,” but what would really be great is if more individual regions of the map had there own radio stations. After all, it’s not hard to imagine a number of small range pirate stations would pop up here and there, and having certain songs only available in certain areas through those stations would go a long way to cutting down on the music monotony.
Longer Emphasis on Survival
When you first enter the world of the Capital Wastelands, you feel appropriately small and helpless. Nearly everything could kill you instantly and, since the game allowed you to go anywhere at any time, getting in over your head was easy. In those early moments it was vital to scrounge for any and all available resources, even if it meant near certain death to do so.
As the game went on, however, it didn’t take long before you were so stocked with equipment you would often pass up valuable items simply because you couldn’t carry them. Within only a few hours of play you go from fist pumping because you found a clean bottle of water, to better stocked than the local Wal-Mart. While this kind of character building is expected in RPG’s, it would be nice if a better balance was placed on resources availability so that the incredible survival aspects of the game don’t just disappear after the first few hours.
It’s understandable that your character will become more powerful and adapt overtime, but you should never feel as complacent in your available resources as you did in the later parts of “Fallout 3.”
More Imaginative Weapon Crafting
One of the things I liked about “New Vegas” is how developer Obsidian wasn’t afraid to take some chances with the design, since they knew the established “Fallout 3″ formula was strong enough to hold the weight of the occasional tweak and innovation. Among those tweaks was an expanded ability to better your items and weapons through the occasional pick up and crafting. It worked because it makes sense that in an apocalyptic world you would become somewhat adept at making do with what you have, and making what you have better based on what you find.
It was a step in the right direction, but it could go much further in a sequel. There’s tons of seemingly useless items floating around the “Fallout” universe, and it’d be great if you could find uses for them through a more involved crafting system. “Fallout 3” did have the occasional blueprint that allowed you to do this, but it felt too clean and simple. Allowing players a crafting screen to play around with that isn’t necessarily dependent on strict recipes would go a long way to expanding our involvement in the world, and our desire to explore it.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: fallout, fallout 3, fallout 4, Fallout 4 improvements, Fallout 4 wishlist, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, New Features for Fallout 4, things that need to be in Fallout 4, Video Games
The Top 15 Horror Icons of Gaming
As an unabashed fan of horror in all its forms, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for horror gaming. While not as prolific a genre as certain other game types, when a horror game comes along that gets it right, it manages to be more effective and plain scarier than horror films or books could hope to be. Play horror games long enough, and you’ll see some serious shit.
Much like the world of horror films, gaming’s forays into the demonic have left it with a plethora of iconic characters. While its debatable if gaming has produced a character as iconic as say Freddy or Jason, the overall quality and effectiveness of gaming’s horror icons can go toe to toe with those from any other medium, and as Halloween approaches I think its time they got some well deserved attention.
One quick note regarding these selections. A character can be scary and iconic even if it isn’t in a pure horror game, meaning that not every character on this list is from a game that is traditionally classified as horror! With that disclaimer, I present my top 15 horror icons of gaming.
15. Creeper (Minecraft)
Now you see why I highlighted that disclaimer don’t you?
Minecraft is not a strict horror game, but it does rely heavily on its survival elements, which are also vital to good horror experiences. As such, the first night you find yourself out in the wild, or trapped in a deep cavern are among the scariest moments in gaming. That’s a feeling that’s due in large part to the presence of a creeper, whose silent approach and explosive death have been the end of just about ever “Minecraft” player at some point. The only time you fear the creeper more than when it’s directly behind you, is when you aren’t seeing it at all. That’s a pretty good indication you’re a horror icon.
14. The Yeti (Ski Free)
So, it’s the early 90′s and you’re playing “Ski Free” on your fancy new Windows computer. There you are enjoying a leisure ski adventure, marveling at the game’s technical majesty, when all of a sudden a giant friggin Yeti beelines at your skier and straight up eats them.
The brilliance of The Yeti stems from the fact you’re not expecting it. It has absolutely no business existing in a casual game like Ski Free, and not only terrifies you the first time you play it, but makes you live in dread of his coming on subsequent tries. You may escape the Yeti, but you’ll never be truly rid of him
13. Wallmasters (Legend of Zelda)
I swear I’ll get to strict horror games at some point, but until then, I’ve got to give the Wallmaster its due.
Wallmaster…**** you. Not only are you the scariest creature in “Zelda” (giant dismembered hands are always scary) but you are the most frustrating as well. Whereas most servants of Ganon are satisfied merely murdering the young adventurer Link, you find your perverse pleasure in picking him up like a broken toy, and tossing him back to the beginning of a dungeon, making you something of an in-game troll as well as a giant hand. For being the cause of more high pitched screams and broken controllers than anything else in the Zelda series, I salute you.
12. Alma (F.E.A.R.)
You know what’s funny? “F.E.A.R.” isn’t really that scary of a series overall, and the whole “creepy little girl” thing was already getting kind of played out by the time Alma reared her freaky little head.
It’s the fact Alma managed to be so memorable in spite of those limitations, that gets her on this list. Remove Alma from “F.E.A.R.” and you’re left with a mostly generic shooter that would have been forgotten much sooner than it has been. With her though, you have a game that manages to keep you constantly on your toes in anticipation for the next moment that she will come and just scare the crap out of you. It’s her presence that manages to change the entire atmosphere and dynamics of the game, meaning whenever she is on screen “F.E.A.R.” goes from a semi-competent shooter, to pretty damn good horror game.
11. The Fog (Silent Hill)
You know those directors who say something along the lines of “We may have shot in New York, but the city was more like a character than a setting.”? The fog in “Silent Hill” is just like that.
Originally implemented to compensate for the Playsation’s lack of draw distance, the fog in “Silent Hill” makes the whole game about 90% scarier than it would have been otherwise. It not only conceals your enemies making you rely on vague radio signals that only loosely indicate where the danger is, but even makes moments of supposed calm uncomfortable, like the fog is slowly seeping in and strangling you. It might not actually be a monster (that’s actually debatable considering the plot) but it’s certainly an icon of horror gaming.
10. Scissorman (Clock Tower)
The “Clock Tower” series may never get the love it deserves in the world of horror gaming, but it’s high time that Scissorman was paid the proper respect.
Designed and modeled largely after the more famous creatures of film horror, Scissorman is a slasher in the pure sense of the term. He creeps, he stalks, he wields an iconic weapon, and he usually chooses the most cinematic moments to pop out and scare the living hell out of you. His design and actions make him often feel like some sort of missing character from the glory days of the 80′s slasher, and to this day seeing even a still image of him can inspire dread and a morbid curiosity regarding who he is, and where the hell he got those giant bloody scissors.
9. Necromorphs (Dead Space)
Aim for the head. If George Romero movies didn’t already get that simple message buried deep into your subconscious, the years of film and video games that preceded “Dead Space” and preached the same words probably did.
The Necromorph directly plays against that universal shooter rule, by making the limbs the weakspot. While that no doubt caused nearly every player to panic during the first few encounters, even when figuring out the trick to defeating them, their steady menacing pace and skills at playing dead never fail to cause you to shoot randomly in terror once in a while when one comes into sight. Also, unlike many horror creatures, discovering the origins and motivations of the necromorphs actually make them more terrifying. “Dead Space 1 & 2” (you heard me!) are the premiere horror games of this generation, and that’s due in large part to the terrifying contributions of the Necromorphs.
8. Deathclaw (Fallout)
Despite not technically being a horror game, “Fallout” manages to be one of the most terrifying series ever made due to the unfiltered horrific vision of the nuclear apocalypse it portrays. There are atrocities in those games without equal, and the bleak and somber tones of the world they inhabit make them all the more intimidating.
Yet none of the horrors these games can throw at you compare to the Deathclaw. While their pants wetting visual design, incredible power, and simply unfair speed certainly help their iconic status, the biggest reason they’re so memorable is due to the design of the games themselves. Because of the open nature of “Fallout” the first time you encounter a Deathclaw, you are likely in no way prepared to defeat it, and can only watch in horror as it swarms on you with blinding speed, and an almost professional level of malice. Hell, even later in the game when you’re basically a destroyer of worlds, a pack of these bad boys can still make you pause in fear.
7. Poison Head Crabs (Half-Life)
Sure headcrabs are mostly derivative of the face huggers from “Alien,” but that did absolutely to suppress the terror they inspired when making there debut in 1998′s “Half-Life,” and they’ve since arguably surpassed their terrestrial spiritual brethren in terms of notoriety.
That being said, I give the slight nod to their poisonous offshoot from “Half-Life 2.” Even though the Ravenholm section of that game was basically a detour into the horror genre, the only sections I’d really consider scary involved these little bastards, and their ability to bring the player’s health down to 1 instantly. Much like the Wallmaster, the poisonous headcrab is memorable not just because of the way it initially sends a jolt of fear through the player, but because of the way it can wreck your gaming experience.
6. Evil Otto (Berzerk)
When you’re first name is Evil, you’ve got some pretty big horror expectations to live up to.
Otto has done just that, though over a career dedicated to outmaneuvering the players of “Berzerk” and coming upon them like the specter of death itself, all while sporting a permanent grin that only goes away when its blood lust is satisfied. “Berzkerk” has claimed actual lives, and while that’s medically been attributed to heart attacks caused by the flashing lights of the game, anyone who’s ever cringed upon hearing the garbled “Intruder Alert, Intruder Alert” message that preceeds the arrival of Evil Otto know he was the more likely culprit.
5. The Cherub (Doom)
In general, when designing an effective horror character, it’s appreciated if some level of subtlety is applied either in the origins or design. With few exceptions, obvious attempts to scare are not acceptable.
Meet one of those exceptions. Is it a bit cheap from a design standpoint to just throw a deformed monster baby out there and call it a day? Perhaps. However, it’s impossible to deny that when a gang of these things come screeching at you (of course they screech) you’re first reaction is to back away towards the last known safe point while screaming your head off and firing a shotgun in every direction. For the most part, the frights in the Doom series are muted somewhat by the sheer amount of firepower available to you, but there is no weapon in the game (not even the fabled BFG) that makes you feel comfortable when surrounded by these bundles of terror.
4. The Witch (Left 4 Dead)
Ah the Witch. What else is there to say about the Witch?
The Witch is like a landmine of pure terror. Even though you’re up against an army of some of the most horrifying creatures imaginable, it’s the one that can kill you before you can put up a fight that scares you the most. Landmines might not make a noise to alert you of their presence like the Witch does, but those lamentations actually make her more frightening as the moment you hear them, you’re suddenly seized with terror and the knowledge you might soon be dead. The Witch has gotten us all at some point, and the moment you fire a shot in the wrong direction, she’ll get you again.
3. Shodan (System Shock)
Like many other horror gaming characters, Shodan borrows several characteristics from something in film (in this case “2001: A Space Odyssey’s” HAL 9000), but uses the interactive advantages of gaming to maker her own mark.
The antagonist of the “System Shock” series, Shodan’s defining moment would come in “System Shock 2” when after your character has survived an abandoned space ship full of horror, it is revealed that the lone survivor that was guiding you along is actually the evil A.I. Shodan, whose been using you for her own agenda. Long before “Bioshock” asked us “Would You Kindly,” “System Shock 2” showed us how a twist can be that much more effective when coupled with the feeling of betrayal. Only here it’s made even more effective by the presence of Shodan whose megalomaniac personality makes you feel appropriately small.
2. Nemesis (Resident Evil 3)
The argument that “Resident Evil” is the biggest franchise in horror gaming is not a hard one to make, and of all of the terrors the series has lent to our nightmares (lickers, giant spiders, those damn zombie dogs) none are more memorable than the Nemesis.
Essentially the Terminator of the franchise, the Nemesis was built for no other purpose than to hunt and kill S.T.A.R.S. members. Not bound by many of the series previously established rules (he can enter doors!), the Nemesis is like a boss character you fight the entire game, though you never know when he will appear, and as such are rarely prepared to stand up to him. With his strong aversion to dying, the only pang of regret you’ll feel when he finally goes down for good, is when you realize that the “RE” series, and horror gaming, may never see his demonic equal.
1. Pyramid Head (Silent Hill 2)
In a way it was disappointingly easy to name Pyramid Head number one.
While his iconic looks are the very embodiment of terror, and certainly make him stand out amongst the crowd, it’s not until you start learning more about the characters origins do you realize just how depraved it is. One of the more disturbing elements of the character, which is rarely seen in video games otherwise, is its underlying sexual themes, which are highly reminiscent of the terrifying cenobite demons from “Hellaraiser.” It’s an example of the many ways this character assaults your emotions on a primal level, and gets under your skin in a very real way.
I think that may just be the clearest reason Pyramid Head gets the top spot. While just about every other character on this list largely only unsettles you when you’re actually up against them in the game you’re playing, Pyramid Head is the only one that really sticks with long after, and is as terrifying when you’re merely considering him, as he is when you’re facing him in the game.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: Alma, Berzerk, best characters in gaming horror, best video game horror characters, Clock Tower, Creeper, dead space, Deathclaw, Doom, Evil Otto, F.E.A.R., fallout, gaming horror icons, half-life, horror icons of gaming, icons of gaming, icons of horror, left 4 dead, legend of zelda, Minecraft, Necromorphs, Nemesis, Poison Head Crabs, Pyramid Head, Resident Evil 3, scariest video game characters, Scissorman, SHODAN, Silent Hill, Silent Hill 2, Silent Hill fog, Ski Free, System Shock, The Cherub, The Fog, The Witch, The Yeti, Wallmasters
Nintendo versus other gaming companies like Zynga
The gaming world seems to change faster than most industries these days. Several years ago Nintendo was on fire with the Wii, and now everyone seems down on the company and Wii U. How did things change so fast? Well, it shouldn’t be surprising in a world where cheap apps are flooded onto the scene, offering new options daily for gaming fans, and online gaming options seem to expand exponentially as well, with everything from slot games at Sports Interaction, massive multiplayer games and then games like Minecraft that seem to turn conventional wisdom on its head. The console makers seemed to rule the world just several years ago, and then social gaming companies like Zynga suddenly became powerhouses, but now we’ve seen how quickly things change. Wii also will be facing the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in coming months, so even in its own console space the competition is fierce.
But many still have faith in Nintendo. Oddworld Inhabitants founder Lorne Lanning recently made the bold statement that Nintendo would be around for another 100 years, while Zynga would not. Casual observers might be startled a bit by this statement, but when you look more closely at the history, the man has an excellent point. Nintendo is a 124-year-old company that was founded in 1889 as a producer of playing cards. The concept of innovation has been ingrained in this company and its financials are very healthy. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has made it clear he won’t be laying off development staff to deal with short term problems, as that would destroy the company long term. He understands that the key to long term success involves consistently producing great products. He shouldn’t let the short term analysts distort his thinking.
While this culture is ingrained at Nintendo, a young company like Zynga has less to fall back on in tough times. Their games exploded in popularity off of Facebook, but then reality set in when the landscape was changed a bit. Now who knows how they will react to adversity? I wouldn’t make a long-term bet on them.
So when you look at the landscape out there, it’s clear that games will come and go, and so will gaming companies. But I think a company like Nintendo with a tradition of innovation should be able to ride out the highs and lows.
Company of Heroes 2 Has Mightily Upset Its Russian Fans
Since it emphasized all of the things I like about RTS games, and played down the aspects that keep me away, the original “Company of Heroes” won me over in 2006, and even snagged a few game of the year awards.
However, even though I knew a sequel was due out, I wasn’t exactly waiting with bated breath. That being the case, its release was a pretty quiet one and besides hearing some vague rumblings of it being pretty good, since it didn’t shake the world like the original, that was about the extent of my knowledge regarding the release until recently.
What happened? Well in pursuing Metacritic, I stumbled on “Company of Heroes 2” and couldn’t help but notice that while the critic’s score was a respectable 80, the user review was a not so respectable 2.0
Why the discrepancy? Was it “SimCity” style DRM issues? Was it “Kane and Lynch” critic bribing being revealed? Was the review version completely different or something?
No, actually, it turns out the negative reviews come almost entirely from Russian gamers offended over the portrayal of the Russian army in the game, where they commit a fair number of atrocities including shooting their own men, sending soldiers out with no guns, and in general being kind of evil, moral free bastards with whatever it takes mentalities.
The uncomfortable part of this matter is that many occurrences portrayed are actually based off of historically accurate events. While many of the games detractors acknowledge that, the problem seems to be that the major focus on the army is on those negative occurrences, to the point that playing like a dick becomes an integral gameplay aspect.
Honestly my first reaction to this was a hearty “lighten up” as it sounded like a case of overly sensitive people trashing a title for virtual slights. Not to mention the whole “soldiers going to battle without guns” thing was done in the original “Call of Duty,” and I don’t remember anyone throwing a hissy fit about it.
Though I suppose that it was portrayed more heroically there, rather than in a manner of considering the mass death of your soldiers to be “tactically sound.”
Actually I think that is the whole point to this protest. Few had a bloodier and more brutal WWII than the Russians, yet in mainstream (especially American) entertainment, their contributions are mostly either ignored, belittled, or reduced to the most horrific tales of war as a plot device where other countries get to be the heroes.
Russian gamers probably saw “COH 2” as a chance for their story to be told in a way that people might actually get to experience. No doubt upon seeing that their army plays like a more hardcore version of the GLA from “Command and Conquers: Generals,” they thought instead that here is another game that fails to focus on anything but the negative, and will probably add to the general, not entirely accurate, perception of the Russians in WWII that too many share.
It likely wasn’t the intention of the “COH 2″ developers to offend Russian players so tremendously, but considering that is exactly what happened, it’s probably time they swallowed their own pride and started making heartfelt apologies rather than the “We apologize…but that stuff still totally happened” stance they are taking now.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: Call of Duty Stalingrad, Command and Conquer Generals, Company of Heroes, Company of Heroes 2, Company of Heroes 2 controversy, Company of Heroes 2 metacritic, Company of Heroes 2 offends, Company of Heroes 2 Russia, GLA, Video Game Blogs, Video game news, Video Games
Why is there a lack of casino games on the PS3?
Since the world of gaming has taken off in such a big way, the amount of adults who are now playing console games has risen to an all time high. But this raises the question, why arnt their any adult games for the Playstation 3? There are plenty of games aimed at just children but how about a casino game for adults. Many games offer an insight into the world of casinos offering the odd moment in the game where a character tries his or her hand at a game of blackjack or poker. However there are currently no games that offer the full casino experience for players. So far many games touch upon gambling yet non offer the full casino experience.
It could well prove to be a popular idea to offer a game on the PS3 that gives the gamer the opportunity to control an onscreen character and walk up and down a casino, order some drinks, play some slots, sit down at a poker table or play roulette. The gamer has the opportunity to build up a reputation as a high roller on the Vegas strip, or they could go one step to far and have to build your their fortune again. All of this would allow the gamer to experience the thrill of a casino without actually betting real money. Perhaps seeing the effects of winning and loosing in a virtual world will provide some with those high and low feelings many high rollers have felt before.
Currently one of the only games available that offers a casino experience is ‘High Stakes’, a game that offers the gamer the chance to play 5 variations of poker, but they’re all hold ‘em variations: Billabong, Shanghai, Tahoe, super hold ‘em, and Texas hold ‘em. The lack of classic games such as black jack, roulette and other casino favourites lets this game down. However until somebody commits to creating a new casino game ‘High Stakes’ may be the best bet. Until that day we will have to make do with the odd casino experience we can gain from games such as Red Dead Redemption or online sites such as GamingClub.co.uk.
Posted in: Apps, Editorial, Gaming, PS3
Tags: Billabong, black jack, casino games, Playstation, poker games, PS3, roulette, Shanghai, super hold 'em, Tahoe, Texas hold 'em
Celebrate the 4th of July With Some of the Best Revolution Games Ever
Like many holidays that offer you the ability to shamelessly eat and drink as much as you want while multi-colored explosions fill the sky for your amusement, it can be easy to forget the real meaning of the 4th of July.
It’s a day where Americans celebrate not the attainment of independence, but the declaration of it. Before we could earn it though, we needed a revolution, which meant lives would be lost, heroes made, and ultimately one side being written as the victor.
Revolution is one of the oldest story concepts out there, but for whatever reason it doesn’t find its way into video games often as a central plotline. Fortunately though, the revolution games available offer enough entertainment to compensate for the lack of overall entries.
If you’re looking to celebrate the day Americn declared revolution through games then, do so with some of the best revolution games available.
The most entertaining revolution game of all time? You could make the argument.
“Freedom Fighters” is the story of a plumber swept up into a revolution against the Russian empire that, in this timeline, has been growing in strength since the end of WWII. The gunplay, squad mechanics, and varied objectives are all great, but where “Freedom Fighters” really made its name was its presentation and environment. This is basically “Red Dawn” the video game, and little touches like Russian broadcasts that portray your actions as terrorist activities really sell the world being created.
“Freedom Fighters” didn’t get a fair chance on the market when it was released, and considering how hard to find it is now, is likely to remain cimrinally underrated. Should you ever get the chance though, be sure to experience it.
Continuing our underrated theme (which is oddly true of many games about revolution) “The Saboteur” didn’t make a huge impact upon release, but has since become appreciated as a hidden gem.
This is due in large part to the game’s graphics (black and white with splashes of color) and plotline that sees you look for revenge as a member of the resistance in Nazi occupied France. Certain elements like the stealth sections are underdeveloped, and overall the gameplay is leagues behind “Freedom Fighters” or many other titles, but “Saboteur” has style to spare, and provides a memorable experience because of it.
The Just Cause Series
“Just Cause” is one of the few games to really develop an equally entertaining franchise based on a revolution plot, and as such both games get mentioned here.
Whether you’re being dropped into the fictional island of San Esperito or Panau, both games provide a similar objectives, as you play Rico Rodriguez, a man tasked with starting a revolution against oppressive warlords. To do so, you undertake tasks for various groups that could all play a part in the coup to come, and also engage in some good old fashioned anarchy of your own accord.
Similar to the “GTA” games in structure, “Just Cause” made its name by having absolutely huge worlds with loads of crazy stuff to do. It’s the perfect set up, and is executed with bravado.
Jagged Alliance 2
As rare as revolution games are, we unfortunately got even less squad based strategy games based around revolution, which is a real shame considering how well the idea fits. Fortunately “Jagged Alliance 2″ may have perfected the idea before it went dormant.
Featuring action similar to the old “XCOM” games, “Jagged Alliance 2” is a complex and incredibly deep title that sees you take the role of a hired gun for the exiled leader of a former Monarch empire, as he tries to take down his betraying wife, and reclaim what was his. Along the way you’ll gather mercenaries, train them, and take on odd jobs between main objectives to finance everything.
“Jagged Alliance 2” hasn’t aged a day and is just as large and rewarding as ever. Grab it on sale at Good Old Games, or anytime at all.
Republic: The Revolution
“Republic”, the most ambitious revolution game ever made, generated some serious hype before it was released, only to be met with some deserved criticism for its gameplay shortcomings, particularly when it came to control issues and its steep learning curve.
However there is no game before or since like “Republic,” as it offers the chance to start a revolution from the ground floor, and focuses more on the political and strategy side rather than action. As you might imagine, it takes a lot of effort and planning to truly execute a successful revolution, and you’ll have to devote hours navigating menus to even make progress towards that objective.
“Republic” isn’t a perfect game, or even a great one, but for strategy hounds, its one of a kind.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: best video games, best video games about revolution, Freedom Fighters, games about revolutions, games for 4th of July, games similar to Freedom Fighters, Games to Play on 4th of July, games with revolution as a theme, games with revolution story lines, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming lists, gaming news, Independence Day Video Games, Jagged Alliance, Jagged Alliance 2, Just Cause, Just Cause 2, Republic: The Revolution, revolution in video games, revolutionary video games, The Saboteur, Underrated games, Video Game Blogs, Video Game Features, Video Game Lists, Video game news, Video Games
The Return Of 2D
With Sony and Microsoft introducing the newest eighth generation consoles – the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively – some of the highest graphic potential games are imminently poised to enter the market. Video game technology is one of the fastest moving industries, and in order to compete studios are consistently testing the confines and boundaries of what that technology is capable of producing.
Some of the hottest games slated for 2014 include Titanfall and Destiny that immerse a player in a hyper-realistic setting with incredibly detailed character and in-game design. The sheer size of some of these virtual environments is amazing. Additionally, the freedom to be able to create entire worlds has allowed developers to take full advantage of the human imagination, inhabiting these other universes with anything from monsters and mech-robots to protolithic deities and cartoon characters.
But sometimes it’s easy to forget about the precursors to these next generation gaming experiences. The beauty of consoles like the Super Nintendo was that the limitations on their technology, what they were able to display, did not hamper the creative process – quite the contrary, it fostered it. Some of the first role-playing games (RPG) to grace the video-game industry like the initial Final Fantasy and the time-shifting Chrono Trigger were (and are) just as expansive and imaginative as games coming out today, both in terms of their innovation in actual gameplay, their focus on story and character development, and their playability even decades after their release.
That seems to be where a lot of modern games lose their steam – press releases for new games tend to emphasize how many hours of gameplay are to be expected, and this notion of setting a quota often makes the games quite interesting to play, but don’t really imprint any lasting effect. Arcade-style and strategy games, like the original RPGs for the SNES, are iconic not only in their capacity to draw us, but also in their tendency to keep us coming back for more.
Some studios have picked up on this latent nostalgia for simpler formatted games which emphasize 2D interfaces, most notably Klei which brought out Mark of the Ninja for Xbox and continues to release updates to its survival game Don’t Starve. But the beauty inherent in coming back to an older format of video game is being able to look at it through a contemporary lens, and develop novel ways of approaching the gameplay.
Independent studios, which often lack the same sort of funding and manpower, are the guiding forces behind this 2D re-emergence, as well as other businesses that are picking up on the accessibility of gaming. Online casinos and developers of applications for mobile phones and devices are consistently using the 2D style to display their applications and services – think of any Online Poker or Slot Game, or the craze that Angry Birds experienced.
It’s proof that advanced and complex graphics don’t necessarily make for a good game (consider all the heat that subsequent installations in the CoD saga have experienced). What makes a good game is a good idea, and the ability to tell a story in a fun, interesting, or controversial way – the release of Reus from Abbey games is an excellent example, where you take on the role of a god by creating entire eco-systems. The dimension-shifting 2D game Fez takes a meta-approach t by allowing the player to shift the environment 180 degrees on its axis.
Although there is something exciting in the course of video-game evolution, and its endeavour to supply an interactive form of entertainment and adventure, it’s important for developers to recognize that technology is a tool, not a crux. A game can be as flashy and loud as an ambulance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s appealing. The rise of independent game developers, by virtue of the resources available to them, are beginning to represent a shift in video game culture as more and more people pick up on the creativity afforded by a simple 8 bit graphics card.
Simon is a writer and content specialist who is addicted to being on the front page of anything. A graduate of Dalhousie University, he specializes in using the em dash too often. Currently, Simon rests his typing hands in Vancouver, Canada. Check out his recent thoughts on online gaming.
The Top Five Things I Want to See in WWE 2K14
As an old school fan of pro wrestling, I’ve always found a guilty pleasure in the WWE video games.
Sure they’re great multiplayer titles that offer enough freedom and modes for anyone to lose hours to, but in the end they are games meant for the fans.
To that end though, there have always been some nagging problems and missing features that have kept the games from being the ultimate fan service to the faithful of that most bizarre sports entertainment hybrid. While there are a few larger issues that could definitely be improved (*cough* for the love of God better A.I. *cough*), these are five smaller things I’d love to see in the recently announced WWE 2K14 and beyond.
The best thing about the WWE games is their ability to allow you to customize just about anything to an absolutely insane amount of detail. Want a 500 lb woman with a mullet to come out to “Freebird” while wearing a custom championship belt to defend at your own custom PPV? You can do that.
However one aspect of the game, submission moves, have always gotten the shaft. Sure, it’d be great if they were more dynamic and destructive than they are now, but realistically I’d just love the option to create my own maneuvers, much like you can create finishers. It would require a little more “outside the box” programing considering you’d have to play around with ragdoll physics to make it work, but it’s the lack of those kind of dynamic options that have made these games feel stale recently.
Submissions may not be a huge part of wrestling, but they are there and the next WWE game would do well to cater more towards fans of them.
4. Smoother Chain Moves
Chain wrestling is a term used in pro-wrestling to specify wrestlers who are able to flow from one maneuver to another without really much pause between them. While popular amongst high-fliers, more and more wrestlers have incorporated this exciting style into their matches.
The WWE games have always been lacking in this department however. It used to be excusable as the technology of the time only permitted for the “Grapple, do a move. Grapple, do a move” system, but we’re well beyond that tech now, and are still subject to the same plodding style. It would be great if there was more situation awareness to the controls, so you wouldn’t have to experience superfluous, and often janky, animations when stringing together simple moves.
It would admittedly take a complete overhaul to fix this entirely, but it would be nice if there was more of an element of this in the next title.
3. Better Commentary
For years, wrestling games had no audio commentary, so when the feature was finally incorporated, most were so grateful they excused the repetitive and dull nature of it.
Yet, much like animation, here we are years later and still subject to the same repetitive and dull commentary. It’s bad enough when you hear the same lines over and over, but when you play the new games annually, you rarely hear any lines not used in previous installments. There is a level of that in all sports games, but I’ve never heard one as bad as the WWE games, and it really takes you out of the environment, or forces you to turn the commentary off entirely.
While dynamic commentary and more realistic banter would be great, really all anyone is asking here is for some fresh dialogue in each new installment, and some less mechanical “one take” readings.
2. A More Historic Roster
Along with its heavy customization options, the thing fans have appreciated most about the WWE games are the comprehensive rosters, which feature not just a host of modern day superstars, but legends of the past as well.
One thing that’s always bugged me though is that the legends rarely go beyond WWE stars of the past, and even then don’t often go past the Hulk Hogan era.
Granted this may be a licensing issue, but considering the WWE basically owns the rights to the majority of wrestling history, its time the roster reflects lesser celebrated stars of times gone past from other organizations. Sure, not all fans may jump for joy at the chance to play as, say, Buddy Rodgers, but no one will complain about more wrestlers on the roster, and the old-school fans would love it.
1. WAR GAMES!!!!!
The War Games match sees two rings joined surrounded by a large cage. Two teams of 4-5 enter one at a time at set intervals until all men are in the ring. From there, the first man to make another from the opposing team quit or submit wins it for his team.
It’s the most unique and incredible match type ever devised for pro wrestling, and has, to my knowledge, never been in a video game. While a WCW creation, considering that WWE owns their rights now, and even have a War Games DVD on the way this year, now would be the perfect time for the most wanted of all match types to finally make its debut.
Someone please…make this happen.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: Create a Submission WWE 2K14, game modes WWE 2K14, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, improvements for WWE 2K14, Improving WWE 13', most wanted features for WWE 2K14, Video Game Blogs, Video Game Features, Video game news, Video Games, War Games, War Games DVD, War Games WWE 2K14, WCW, Wrestling Legends WWE 2K14, WWE, WWE 2K14, WWE 2K14 better commentary, WWE 2K14 debut, WWE 2K14 wishlist
In Changing Their Strategy, Microsoft has Deprived Gamers of a Villain
After a backlash that will rank as one of the most powerful ever seen in the world of video games, Microsoft recently made the surprising decision to back down on some of their more controversial Xbox One policies.
Specifically the Xbox One will now no longer restrict the sale and use of used games, and game buying and sharing will work largely as it has this previous generation, including maintaining the classic game use archetype of just sticking a disc in the console. They’ve also dropped the unpopular measure that would ask you to “check in” online once every 24 hours, regardless of if you’re actually playing online or not.
Considering the set the world on fire kind of hatred these and other Xbox One policies drew, you’d think this announcement would be met with a shower of rose petals and a loud and proud declaration from the Microsoft faithful, and gamers everywhere, that the console war is on once more.
Instead the reaction is more…interesting.
See it turns out that very vocal gaming group who spoke so adamantly against the Xbox One’s features, are now many of the same gamers who are taking to message boards on sites around the web, and are complaining about Microsoft’s lack of conviction, or how this still changes nothing for the more expensive console. The most interesting argument though, best vocalized by Gizmodo, comes from the once silent minority that now loudly argue that some of the same policies Microsoft was villainized for, were actually potentially great ideas.
To understand this sudden turnaround of emotion, you have to take into account the pride gamers have.
See, people don’t brag about what brand of microwave they own, nor does the maker of your Blu-Ray player incite many flame wars. But who makes your video game console? That does matter to people. People attach themselves to a system and react personally to any successes, or failures, endured along the way. The most vocal of which are described as fanboys, but really every gamer takes some sort of stance on the console they chose.
It’s a timeless tradition that may be occasionally entertaining, but is also very tiring. The fact is that if the average consumer could afford to buy all video game consoles, they would. That they can’t is a big reason that pride exists in the way it does.
The Xbox One changed things though. It gave people a villain. A black hated system that the average gamer could point to and say “That’s the bad guy!” Gaming has not really had something like that on the level of the Xbox One, and there was a certain comfort people took in decreeing the PS4 the champion of the people.
Now, it doesn’t matter that Microsoft listened to the complaints and gave people what they seemingly wanted, because all they did was test people’s pride, and force them to react in ways that don’t make them back down from the once so clear views of the console battlefield that existed not long ago. A large number of people not only invested their money in backing the PS4 early, but that pride as well.
The thing is this though. Sometimes, determining the villain is a matter of perspective. If Microsoft had truly believed that their policies would win people over in the end, no amount of heat would have forced them to abandon their beliefs, and they would have (albeit slowly) reaped the rewards of putting out a system they could stand behind and fully support. They would have ceased to be the villain, and would have become the battle tested hero…the only thing people love more than a golden boy.
If that wasn’t the case though, then make no mistake that Microsoft made the smart business decision to change their policies. However, if they hoped that they would be carried on the shoulders of the populace all the way to the throne in doing so, they have underestimated the pride of gamers. What’s worse is that very pride now forces those same gamers to question if a company that can make such major changes to their system based on knee jerk impressions, has any pride of their own.
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, microsoft, Video Game Blogs, Video game news, Video Games, Xbox 180, Xbox One, Xbox One changes, Xbox One controversy, Xbox One details, Xbox One DRM, Xbox One news, Xbox One policies, Xbox One policy change, Xbox One reactions, Xbox One Used Games
“Gunpoint” Has One of the Best Stories of the Year…But Not the One You May Think
There is a story in the new indie game “Gunpoint,” but even though it’s nicely presented, and the dialogue is pretty good, I’m not sure I could relay it to you in any interesting or captivating way. Initially I found this disheartening, but considering one of the key features of the game on Steam is “all story stuff is skippable,” I don’t think the developer intended that to be the focus.
Instead the focus would have to be the perfectly executed gameplay that sees you play a freelance spy who takes missions to infiltrate various institutions, and often eliminate those in his path. Thanks to some handy gadgets that allow you to rework the wiring of a building though, even the most impenetrable fortress quickly becomes your personal playground should you be able to figure out the mini-puzzles of what items, should perform what functions, at what time, to put you in prime position to take out your foes and secure your objective.
It’s such a brilliant and novel idea, that mixes well with a more visceral and violent element reminiscent of “Hotline Miami” which allows you to tackle guards out of high story breakable windows, or just beating them to a pulp, and provides one of the more complete gameplay experiences in recent memory, as it caters to every intelligent need, and primal desire, the average gamer looks for. The possibility of this type of game was suggested by titles like “Lemmings,” “Oddworld,” or even good old “Mouse Trap,” but never, ever pulled off to this degree of success.
What I’m saying is play it. Play it now, tell your friends, and thank me later should you ever be able to pull yourself away.
But more to the point, as gleaming as the gameplay of “Gunpoint” is, it does have a story that matters. It’s just that, in this case, it’s not the one you get in the game.
Instead the story that matters concerns the game’s developer Tom Francis and his shocking revelation that “Gunpoint” took only $30 to create (an amount recouped about a minute after the game went on sale) and, as pointed out by some pretty hilarious graphs, is so successful that Tom can now live his dream, and quit his day job to develop games full time.
More than that though, he says that he can do so with virtually unlimited creative freedom, and on his own timetable. Interestingly, he also contributes most of this success to the pre-release demo of the game which some insisted would hurt him financially, but instead gave “Gunpoint” recognition in places it would have never reached before. Tom insists he will always release a free demo beforehand from now on and, in case any major developers are listening, notes that its simply just the way he wants to treat people.
Due to the sheer quality of the final product, “Gunpoint” would have to be considered a success even if it wasn’t one of the most profitable games of all time. Because of those extra elements to this story though, “Gunpoint” is also successful on a human level as it’s a tale of of how far the right man, with the right attitude, and the right idea can go, not to mention the unlimited creative potential this still very young artform known as gaming possesses.
It’s a shame then that amongst the twenty-four hour gaming newscycle that so often includes negative press, dry industry press releases, and the “same old, same old,” that this story of the power and potential of an individual creator may be lost, if it even gets a chance at all.
Luckily though, even if the story is forgotten, “Gunpoint” itself is unforgettable and will always somehow stand as the manifestation of those greater ideas
Posted in: Editorial
Tags: $10 video games, best current indie games, best new indie games, exciting puzzle games, gaming, gaming blogs, gaming news, great games under $10, Gunpoint, Gunpoint developer Tom Francis, Gunpoint development, Gunpoint game, Gunpoint review, hottest new games, intelligent games, most profitable games of all time, new games to buy, Should I Buy Gunpoint, Tom Francis, Video Game Blogs, Video game news, Video Games