Gamers get rewarded for good behavior

ID-100137511 By franky242 Playing Game Console
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/franky242

Gamers can be quite competitive, so anything that results in rewards of any kind could become pretty popular. Enter Microsoft’s reputation algorithm for XBox Live. The company wants better behavior on their system, so they’re going to try the carrot instead of the stick. The idea is that if you reward good behavior, that’s more effective in discouraging bad behavior.

It will be fascinating to see how this plays out. In the heat of a live game, passions can get pretty heated, and frankly there a psychological and intimidation aspect to any good game, whether it’s a war game on XBox or Texas Holdem’ or other new poker games you can play in real time. Sometimes trash talk can rattle your opponent. Other times being quiet works as well, but that’s really up to the gamer.

Of course encouraging sportsmanship is a worthy goal, and I’m sure the behavior on these systems can get pretty bad. It must rival tthe comment section on YouTube and Reddit for depravity. But for many that’s a huge part of the fun.

Frank Savage, partner and development lead at Microsoft, says they are still in the brainstorming phase for Xbox Live’s reputation system, so who knows how this will play out. And I do like the rewards idea better than punishment for the reasons outlined above, though blocking and muting will still likely be part of the overall system. And of course you need those tools. The best gamers can find ways to intimidate without being offensive.

And this is the real lesson here. These are “games” and should be treated that way. If you can jab your opponent and get him off his or her game without being offensive and thus getting muted or blocked, then you’re a much more effective gamer. This applies in real life as well with games like pool, ping pong etc.

So take stock of this and up your game.

  

Our Favorite Movie Tie In Games

Ever since the early 1970’s merchandising with movies has been a massive market that has seen the cash roll in for the film’s backers. After a decade of t-shirts, lunchboxes and action figures, the early 80’s saw the first movie – video game tie-in as Hollywood looked to take advantage of the fledging home console market to bring in more cash. One of the first tie-ins was the 1982 movie/game E.T. The Extraterrestrial on the Atari and it was such a very poor effort it was cited as one cause of the video game industry crash. There have been many instances of poorly licensed games over the last 30 years, but there are also plenty of gems too and we list our favourite movie tie in video games here.

Chronicles of Riddick – Escape from Butcher Bay

The character Richard B. Riddick was created in the film Pitch Black, a low budget film released in 2000, and by 2004 a sequel, the titular Chronicles of Riddick, was being made and although the second movie did not do as well as expected, the spin off game Escape from Butcher Bay had the exact opposite story. The game was developed by Starbreeze Studios, published by Vivendi Games and is a first person action/stealth game, similar to Half Life or Splinter Cell, set before the first of the Riddick films.

Film actor Vin Diesel reprised his role of Riddick for the game that sees the title character have the escape for the Butcher Bay maximum security facility using both brawn and brain, just as Riddick does in the movies. The game was released on the Xbox in June 2004 to critical acclaim with IGN giving it 8.5/10, GameZone 9.2/10 and Game Informer giving 9.5. It also won three awards in 2004 and 2005, including the Unsung Hero Game of the Year (Editors’ Award) at the Golden Joystick Awards. An expanded and updated version was released in 2008 with the game The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Battlefront is one of the great tie-ins with one of the great movie series’ as you take control of one character from one of the four main groups of protagonists from both the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy of Star Wars movies and battle to eliminate your opponents. The game came out in 2004 to fine reviews receiving a Metacritic high rating of 82% for the PS2 version, while 1UP.com said “Battlefront manages to stand tall as a great game that does the best job we’ve yet seen of playing out the battles of the Star Wars movies.”

There are many other Star Wars games that could easily feature on this list, such as The Knights of the Old Republic – although not a direct movie tie in – as well as X-Wing and TIE Fighter where you commanded the space craft of the Rebels and the Empire, but Battlefront with it pitting you at the centre of some of the biggest Star Wars battles edges it for us.

The Dark Knight

While there was a planned video game for the release of this 2008 Christopher Nolan follow up to the rebooted Batman Begins movie from 2005, but the game for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 did not materialise and was cancelled. However, from the embers of this there was another type of game linked to the movie – an online slot machine created by Microgaming. In December 2012 a UK resident, Jon O. – a member of free bingo games site butlersbingo.com – turned a 30p spin into almost £6m! This online slot machine features cinematic spins, with video clips straight from the movie, while both Batman and The Joker appear at random to award prizes.

  

Huge Sales Are Coming to the Xbox 360 Just in Time for the Holidays

Sales

Not able to get in early on the next generation by purchasing an Xbox One, Wii U, or PS4? Don’t worry because with the holidays approaching, you happen to be in luck.

No I don’t mean insane deals are coming on one of those systems (though that certainly is possible), but rather that the previous gen console you own is about to see some serious drops in game prices, allowing you to go back and play some of those great games you may have missed the first time around.

While PC holiday deals started on Amazon and other outlets some time ago, it looks like the Xbox 360 is the first console to throw its hat into the holiday sale madness ring by offering up a host of hugely discounted titles starting today through Xbox Live.

What’s available? Well for now you can get a host of Arcade greats such as “Mark of the Ninja,” “Dust,” and “The Cave,” while some AAA greats like “Fallout 3” (and all the available DLC’s), “Tomb Raider,” “Sleeping Dogs,” and “Skyrim” for 50% – 75% off.

However, it appears that the real deals are coming later in the week, as one day only sales are available on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is particularly true of the Cyber Monday collection which features some best of generation titles like “Red Dead Redemption,” “Dark Souls,” “The Witcher 2,” “L.A. Noire,” and “Far Cry: Blood Dragon,” all for 75% off.

The full list of games can be found here and, while this is quite honestly nothing in comparison to the PC sales available this time of year, for 360 owners who aren’t ready to make the next gen jump and need some truly great games to play around with during the holidays, this is a sale you absolutely have to take advantage of.

  

GAME REVIEW: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD

“Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.”Robert Morgan

I recently did a list of video games you just had to be there for and featured “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” on it. My reason was simple: For a brief moment, “THPS” took over the world, and if you weren’t there to experience it, you could never truly understand the effect. Well, developer Robomodo is on a mission to prove me wrong by suggesting that you can in fact go home again with their upcoming release of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.” It’s a remake of the original title, with some of the superior “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2” thrown in to provide a little more bang for your buck. Of course, as Robert Morgan said, my distance away from the original title has indeed provided nostalgia, perspective, and plenty of objectivity.

First off, the game’s controls and basic objectives remain unchanged from the original, so there isn’t much to go into there. I’ll just say that control and concept-wise, “THPS” is one of the most well-rounded series ever made, and that mostly holds true here. Instead, most of the changes in this remake revolve around the graphics, which are actually quite good. Rather than just slap a fresh coat of paint on the original game, Robomodo has instead carefully tweaked each level to accommodate the new look in many subtle (and not so subtle) ways. The effort is as noticeable as it is appreciated. The visual upgrade actually made me remember how well designed the original game’s levels were, and lent a whole new level of nostalgia I’d previously taken for granted. For old school fans, the tweaks make the levels feel appropriately fresh, and for any first timers should help assure that this doesn’t feel like a remake of a game over a decade old. I’m also happy to report that the majority of the game’s soundtrack, one of its best features, is thankfully intact. While a few tracks didn’t make the cut, what did sneak into the game is certainly admirable and lends the desired effect.

From there, though, the rest of the changes to the game are hit and miss. While new multiplayer modes like Hawkman (trick-based coin collection) and Big Head Survival (complete combos before your head explodes…seriously) are welcome additions to go along with classics like HORSE, sadly, the game only offers online multiplayer, joining a disturbing trend of games that are under the impression people no longer play competitively in the same room — a rumor I’d hoped the success of the Wii had squashed. Also, it’s unfortunate that most of the roster wasn’t retained from the original. While it’s great that Rodney Mullen and some other vets made the cut, if you’re a hardcore fan of the original, it’s going to be hard to play as some of the new breed and not feel like you’re missing out.

While those are mostly pardonable flaws, there are a couple of sins in this remake I can’t forgive. The biggest one has to do with some of the game’s available content. As I mentioned earlier, levels, characters and songs from the far superior “THPS 2” made the cut for this edition to go along with the original’s material. Thankfully, so did the essential manual feature from that game that allows you to string together some serious street trick combos. However, if you want “THPS 3″’s revert ability (or any of the other content from that game), then you’re going to have to download the first DLC available for this title that will feature the third game’s content. While that’s cheap enough, what’s inexcusable is that the revert feature is only available for the content from “THPS 3,” even after the download. It’s a skill that’s as essential as the manual to the franchise, and not including it from the outset makes this feel like an incomplete title and rates as a petty move on the developer’s part. Also, there’s just something wrong with the feel of the game. I can’t explain it unless you’ve played a lot of “THPS” on the PlayStation, but this one just feels more grounded and lacks some of that wild arcade style of the original. It’s probably something that won’t bother first timers, but once you notice it, there is no way to forget about it.

I remember that Siskel and Ebert used to comment on their show that studios should remake bad movies, and not good ones. It’s an interesting theory, and I can’t help but feel it’s one that applies here. See, “THPS” and “THPS 2” are two of the greatest games of all time.  Naturally, then, there’s a lot to like about “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD,” as it admirably recreates the better parts of those games. However, there’s no denying that for the most part, the thrill is gone. Robomodo put forth a hell of an effort with this release and, a couple of flaws non-withstanding, they did the best job they could with it. However, you can only polish a gem so much before it just refuses to shine as bright. If you never played the original Tony Hawk games, give this a shot. However, for everyone else, be warned this game’s longevity may be worth nothing more than an afternoon stroll down memory lane.

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD” is available 7/18 for Xbox 360 and is due later this year for PS3 and PC.

  

GAME REVIEW: Spec Ops: The Line

War games are a dime a dozen these days, and with the likes of “Gears of War” and “Call of Duty” dominating the genre, it really takes something special to stand out from the pack. Though 2K Games’ “Spec Ops: The Line” doesn’t necessarily have that certain X factor, it’s still one of the better third-person shooters to come out over the last few years. Set in Dubai six months after a massive sandstorm has buried the city under a pile of sand and destruction, the game follows a trio of Delta Force soldiers as they’re sent in to locate and evacuate survivors, only to discover that the city is under the tyrannical command of U.S. Colonel John Konrad.

The name is clearly a reference to Joseph Conrad, the author of “Heart of Darkness,” whose famous novel was in turn adapted into Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now.” And it becomes increasingly obvious as you make your way through the first few chapters of the game that the Vietnam War film had a big influence on its development, from the striking parallels between the stories, to the heavy focus on the psychological dangers of warfare. In fact, the campaign mode gets so dark at times that I wouldn’t recommend it to real-life soldiers on the off-chance that it makes their PTSD even worse.

Though I encountered a few annoying bugs throughout the game (the most prevalent of which was the habit of briefly losing control of my player while changing direction), the gameplay is enjoyable enough that most people shouldn’t have trouble overlooking them. “Spec Ops: The Line” doesn’t offer much innovation in the way of combat mechanics, but it takes the best parts of similar titles (namely the “Gears of War” and “Ghost Recon” series) to create a relatively solid experience. It’s a little disappointing that multiplayer isn’t as much fun (and quite frankly, it feels like a last-minute addition), but while “Spec Ops: The Line” isn’t going to wow anyone, it’s a more than serviceable military shooter with a unique narrative that asks some interesting questions of its audience.

  

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