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Saints Row 4: I’m laughing right now and I can’t stop

The Saints Row series has always given us games where you are a hardcore gangster who spreads his terror on the streets, and that has always been the core concept of the game. However the Saints Row IV trailer was a look at the game that will throw it all away. For one, you play as the president of the United States (a gangster of another sort). So we’re already off to a bad start, sacrificing the street for the oval office, which turned me off immediately but i kept watching anyway. The second is that there is an alien invasion. That doesn’t need explaining  for how this is an insult to Saints Row 1-3.

When I first saw the trailer, I laughed and laughed, thinking it was a fake and the real game trailer was waiting somewhere else, but no. It was the real trailer and I wrote the game off my buy list. I watched the gameplay and recoiled. Saints row is taking it’s outrageous to the extreme with the new guns and moves, and especially the super powers.

Now the reason for this, I think, is that the previous saints row games were far too similar to Grand Theft Auto, and Saints Row IV attempted to Remedy that.

Don’t get me wrong; the game looks fairly fun to play with it’s open world and freedom, but it just doesn’t look like a game that should be called Saints Row… There is just  to big a gap to jump. It truly seems like a mildly juvenile game, but I may get it in years to come and test it out!

 

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Total War Center

Back in my PC gaming days, I was very interested in the Total War series of games. These are turn-based strategy games set in different periods of time. My favorite was Medieval 2: Total war, which contained mods for Lord of The Rings. If you haven’t already tried out some of the Total War games, you should do it, then check out this site!

http://www.twcenter.net/

 

This is just a shout-out to the past! I recommend trying Third Age Total War.

 

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Back From Break: Performance Increase???

Lately I’ve been at the beach on vacation, chilling and being away from video games. At first it was hard but a few days relaxing in the sun and I was ready for more. Upon my return this morning, I immediately streamlined for my PlayStation and put in Call of Duty. When I played, I experienced a sharp increase in my combat prowess and continued to test my luck on Battlefield 3 with the same results; then Uncharted 3; the same! The streak is currently still going and I  will update when it is gone. I guess that a week an a half of vacation can drastically improve my skills! Maybe it’s the salty sea air making me a better player or maybe its a coincidence but whatever it is, i hope it doesn’t stop anytime soon!

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Battlefield 4: Amazing

I’ve been browsing around YouTube and found something I overlooked: At E3, Battlefield 4 was debuted, and shortly after, multiplayer gameplay was released.  The gameplay features an awesome battle in Shanghai:

Just amazing right?! This game features almost fully destructible environments and large scale UI system. I recently bought BF3 and am currently getting familiarized with the game and it’s mechanics. So far I am enjoying it as much as I did with Call of Duty. As I already pre-ordered the PS4, I will soon pre-order Battlefield 4 as well. I’m tingling with excitement for this Next-Gen era with processors several times faster than the previous generation and games that take it to the extremes!

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Terrible Games: What makes them terrible?

So I am sure you all have played some games where you simply threw the controller on the ground and actually yelled out, “This is the shittiest game I’ve ever played!”  and never look at the game again. I know – I’ve done it too. But what actually makes a terrible game? What is so repulsive that pushes someone away from a game? For some, it is the graphics, for others it’s the storyline, for others it’s the gameplay. Even I couldn’t exactly put my finger on what makes a terrible game.

When we talk about a terrible game, it is obviously an opinionated judgement, and cannot be proved by facts. It greatly depends on who’s playing it and their expectations for it. For example: While walking through GameStop, I found a game called Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy. I had never heard of it but it looked , if I did I would probably call it a terrible game. However, a six-year-old child who loves this kind of stuff would call it an awesome game. But if got a highly acclaimed game, say God of War, and had high expectations for it, it is far more likely that if it doesn’t meet those expectations than I will see the game as a ‘terrible’ game. It’s all relative.

Another factor that may contribute to one’s opinion of game is the difficulty. Most gamers want to be challenged, but not face the impossible. When playing a game, we want to feel like we are badass at the game but we don’t want to feel like it was handed to us on a silver platter. Most games have difficulty changers that make things easier for weaker gamers. I, myself, for first time games set it to medium. This also applies to the multiplayer versions of games. Some games have gameplay that suits more hardened players, leaving the rookies to slowly acclimate themselves to the game. However, multiplayer versions are generally constructed to suit everyone, but there are some that are for hardcore elite.

Knowing this, I have learned to put a stopper on my instant opinions and analyze them. For example, when I played Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, I was less than impressed, but I never explicitly expressed that the game “Sucked”. Instead, the words I used were “The worst in the series,” because in my opinion, it was. I mean it was entertaining for the most part, but got extremely repetitive fairly quickly. My point is not to be so quick to judge a game.

I mean we can all agree that there are some games that are just terrible…

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Non-liniar Storylines/alternate endings

Many games in recent years have been implementing many  different kinds of features to make games more interesting. One of my favorites is the use of non-linear storylines and alternate endings. This has been a great twist to storylines – where the things you do in-game affects the outcome of the campaign or the difficulty of subsequent levels. Some examples are in Assassins Creed: Brotherhood where if you take out Borgia towers in certain areas of the map (Rome), missions taking place in that area are decreased in difficulty. And in infamous, where the things you do affect how the people like you. And Black Ops 2, where you have in-game choices that affect cut scenes and the overall ending. These are all enjoyable games by themselves, but the aspect of alternate endings and altered gameplay are not what the games are famous for. In my opinion, there should one day be a game where anything can happen. I mean anything!

Take a CoD game for instance; say you fail an objective in story mode, but instead of restarting at a checkpoint, the game continues with the result of your actions showing in future missions. This technically opens the door for hundreds if not infinite outcomes of a game. Now this vision of mine has several problems with it.

For one, Time: The game developers spend endless hours trying to create an enjoyable gaming experience, and adding that many more sequences of code alone could take several months, let alone the graphics and animations, which could take years, even with a highly skilled team.

Secondly, Space: The digital space on a game disk is not infinite. Games today take around 6-10 GB of space, much of which is environments and animations. Adding all the variable graphics for a fully malleable storyline could take up about 30 GB or more.

Now I doubt that a dev team would spend this long on a game, not to mention the money, in the age of next gen systems, who knows what companies will pull out of their hats for us gamers. They might  add on more gameplay stuff for us. The PS4 and Xbox One have unknown possibilities!

 

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Red vs. Blue Season 11

RTYou all know I’m not a Halo guy, shoot I don’t even have an Xbox. But I cannot deny the hilariousness of the Halo based show called Red vs. Blue. This internet show has been in existence for over a decade, courtesy of Rooster Teeth. This company is one of immense influence in the gaming world and has captured my attention as well as millions of others. A few weeks ago, they released the trailer for Red vs. Blue 2013, and I just thought that I would share it. I recommend this show for anyone who enjoys to laugh and cry from doing so.

Be sure to check out their other stuff too. Click the logo above to take you to the site. enjoy!

 

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Video Games, Addiction and Violence

addictionIn connection to a prior post regarding my opinion on the link between violence and video games (here) I want to talk about video games in regards to addiction.  I mean, clearly gaming is not like the addictive substances like nicotine and alcohol, but how can video games be compared to deadly substances that cause hundreds of thousands of deaths?

katie

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In truth, they can’t. Not exactly. But they can be compared to other addictions like shopping, adrenaline, or even sex. They can wreck lives, and relationships when used in excess.  So ask yourself why you play video games. Of course most answers will be “Because it’s fun” but the science of it goes far deeper than that.

What got me thinking about video game addiction was when recently, I caught an episode of the talk show, “Katie” (Not that I watch that show, but it was on). The episode involved the case of a young man, who, as a teenager, shot both his parents, killing his mother and severely injuring his father. Throughout his high school career, he was a major athlete until an injury prevented him from playing at all. Lacking an outlet, he turned to video games. Over time he became intensely engrossed in the gaming world, spending on average 18 hours a day gaming; at one point, he spent 72 hours straight playing Xbox. This went on and on and his parents took notice of his withdrawn actions and lack of interest and banned him from playing video games in the house. Angry and distressed, he shot them both, killing his mother.

Many accredited his horrific actions to his constant use of violent video games, specifically Halo 3, an Xbox sci-fi shooter that is played by millions around the world. A psychologist on the show diagnosed the boy as being addicted to the games which then led to his severe misjudgment. The story was extremely sad and touching, however, it was far on the extreme end of the spectrum.  Few people actually play for several days on end, but it does get you thinking about what your brain does while playing video games.

braingamersSee the way our brains work is that they respond well to dopamine which is caused by or creates pleasure, depending on how you look at it. Many stimuli increase the body’s dopamine production; stimuli like drugs, sugar, sometimes exercise, depending on the person. Video games have also been shown to produce dopamine in many people; therefore people will continue to play video game, after all, who doesn’t like to have fun? But does this mean we will become addicts, or murderers? Not at all.

While listening to an NPR show called Radio Lab one day during an episode about psychotic killers and their mindset, I learned that there is a set of genes that, when activated, can cause a person to act without emotion, or get pleasure from certain things; including killing. This was tested in the vast majority of serial killers with the same results. The startling part was that a little over 9% of the U.S. population possesses this genetic code. But clearly there are not millions of serial killers running around… as far as I know.

In most people these genes remain dormant until activated. To be activated, the person must be subject to constant emotional trauma during early development (i.e. birth until late teenage years). This could range fro    m abuse, physical, sexual, or even verbal; watching a close family member die, or even being in a stressful environment.

Some consider violent video games to be a stimulus for these genes; that they can be traumatic enough to push someone over the edge of sanity. However this is not what happened to the boy mentioned above. After a lot of research, I concluded that this boy was simply suffering from some serious misjudgment after being hooked on video games for so long. When his parents banned him from doing what he was so used to doing, and with his house filled with guns (he lived in a hunting household), he made a judgment error and shot at his parents, killing one and wounding the other. Yes, the fact that the game he had been hooked on was a violent shooter probably contributed to his decision, but he was not suffering from the sociopathic murder rage that I described above. So this in no way shows that video games will trigger the serial killer genes. not at all. Many may argue that because the games are so addictive, they will increase the chance of an event like this happening. Well honestly, this event was caused by a lack of doing anything but gaming (albeit gaming on violent games). But constantly doing something that gives pleasure and then stopping cold turkey is shown to produce the misjudgment issues that can lead to murder.

But on the topic of violent games being traumatic: They aren’t. simple as that. I mean if you sit a four-year-old down in front of a game like Manhunt, then yeah, expect some problems down the road. But if someone had common sense like most of the world, that wont happen. Anyway, Video games just aren’t graphic and immersive enough to cause trauma equivalent of being abused constantly. In moderation, games are not harmful to the general public.SYN

My favorite argument against the anti-gamers is about a boy. A Manchester boy who loved to game, and began to make commentaries and put them on YouTube. As his fan base grew, he actually quit his job and left school to become a full on gamer. Yes guys I’m talking about Tom Cassell; Better known as the Syndicate Project. This guy is with out a doubt the best gamer I have ever seen! He must spend several hours a day gaming and does he look like a serial killer to you? No! He seems to me like one of the funniest, easy-going people in the world. he seems undisturbed by the stress and troubles of everyday life. After all, isn’t that why we all play video games? Yes, video games are possibly addictive but only when not moderated. So keep gaming!!!!

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Multiplayer or Single Player

Some people play games for the joy of the storyline and gameplay that it contains – I’ve heard it described as “playing a movie.” Other gamers prefer playing and competing with friends. Games like Assassins Creed and God of War are more for the former grouping. These games are centered on storyline and either contain a low end, or completely lack a multiplayer mode. In fact, God of War Ascension is the first GOW with a multiplayer mode at all. As for the multiplayer games, Call of Duty and Halo both have remarkable storylines, but also pride themselves on their advanced multiplayer gameplay. I once played a game called MAG which is only multiplayer and has no story or campaign mode. I, myself generally keep a health balance between the two.

Frankly, more people play multiplayer for longer periods, for obvious reasons. In a single player campaign, there is a finite amount of things to do, even in open world games like Skyrim and Saints row.  Some games offer multiplayer campaigns, but I’ve never played one before, so I can’t give opinions on it. Some Call of Duty players I know say that they haven’t even finished the campaign yet, even though they’ve prestiged twice. In Zombies mode on Black Ops is never ending, even though there is technically a storyline, still most people play it more than campaign.

Does anyone else have a specific preference? Multiplayer or Single player? I’m available for a game sometime!

 

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First Person vs. Third Person

I don’t know about most of you all, but I was raised playing 3rd person shooters as opposed to the 1st person shooter. My first was Star Wars: Battlefront, which, to this day, is still one of my favorites. The thing that attracted me to the TPS (Third Person Shooter) was the ability to view your entire character, and the ability to look around corners without being exposed. Games like SOCCOM and Battlefront mildly require such visibility to complete objectives and fully get the experience of the game. I enjoyed watching my character move around and fire. Aiming down the sights while in Third Person would transfer into the ambiguous “second person” which is a view from behind the player’s left or right ear. When looking through a sniper scope, the view looks the same as First Person

Later in my gaming life, I acquired my first first-person-shooter; Medal of Honor. Now I was new to the FPS, but I soon got used to the lack of visibility and full view. This mad me shoot far more accurately and gave a life-like experience of warfare. Since then, I have stuck with the FPS, going to Call of Duty and more medal of honor. When I came back to the TPS, it was extremely difficult to get back in the swing of things. For some reason, The FPS was better for me.

What do you all think? I’m sure many of you will choose FPS games, but still I want to know if people are still on the TPS. Vote here and don’t forget to send feedback!

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