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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Glitch: A Weird Fascination

A couple of days ago, I encountered the following video on YouTube and my life hasn't been the same since then:


As you probably noticed, that is one strange trailer. The game being promoted in the video is called Glitch, a browser-based massively multiplayer online role playing game of sort for the Personal Computer made by Tiny Speck where you play as a being who is roaming around inside the brain and imagination created by the so-called "11 Giants". I don't play browser-based games but there was something about this one that just fascinated me so. The offbeat nature of the video is of course extremely attractive to me and that whole "Animal Kinship" skill just looks so... intriguing! I immediately went to the website to sign up for the game but it took them two days to finally give me an invite. As soon as I got the invite email, I logged into the game server to start playing it.

The concept may be a bit freaky but it is actually quite brilliant.

I have only completed the game's tutorial and from what I can tell so far, you are free to roam everywhere you like, interacting with objects around the world to collect items that you need to shape the world around you while leveling your character up. I am still a bit confused about the grand scheme of things - you do get quests but it's all about personalizing your own gameplay experience. For my first skill, I learned the "Animal Kinship" that beckoned me into this odd game in the first place and the skill provided me with more proficiency when interacting with animals. By the way, you can nibble on a piglet in this game... Yes... How can you say no to that? Glitch is free to play but you can choose to subscribe to it to gain access to more character personalization options and "teleportation tokens" - I don't know what those are at the moment. The game did come with 100 credits and I have spent 65 of those on a cool mask and a fancy robe. After having played the game for a little bit, I must say that I am hooked so look forward to a full analysis of the game in the near future. If you are interested in playing Glitch, please visit the game's website by clicking here. Don't lie, you know you want to nibble on a piglet! Yes, you sure do!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kinky CAPTCHA?

I was working on the League of Legends Tribunal cases earlier this evening and I encountered something a little disturbing. No, it had nothing to do with the actual cases themselves - it's a given that they are horrible enough. It actually had to do with the CAPTCHA that I had to enter to register my judgment:

What? But where were the "N" and the '9"?

I am not sure about everyone else but I have never entered a "vulgar" word into a CAPTCHA box before and I have completed a lot of them. As a matter of fact, they are pretty much everywhere on the Internet these days. Unintelligible gibberish? Sure. Fancy words that you don't use in a normal conversation? Yeah, plenty of those but I would never have imagined that they would want me to spell out the word @$$ in there. Perhaps I have been very lucky all this time?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Wii-son to Play

Let's be fair: despite being grossly inferior when it comes to its applied technology, there are plenty of reasons why the Nintendo Wii should still be a good place to spend my time gaming. Still, the console has become the least played in my Game Room at the moment and I figured that it is time to change that. There are definitely a lot of options for me to choose from and I decided on Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, a role playing game I inducted like, oh, almost three years ago? Time goes by so fast when you continually add more and more titles to your gaming arsenal. I have only played like about an hour of the game when I first got it. The game is the direct sequel to Tales of Symphonia on the Nintendo GameCube, which I consider to be the best Tales games I have ever played so my expectation for the game is quite high. Since it is a RPG, I would probably end up with a good 40-50 hours of gameplay here so this should ensure that my Wii will remain active for a month or so.

Actually, I experienced that first hand and it was a memorable adventure!

When I booted up the game, I was surprised that I didn't have a save file from my short play-test session but I had planned to start fresh anyway. The funny thing about this game is that when you start a new game, it asks if you have the clear data from the first game but once that data is loaded, all you get is a set of health items - a couple of extra costumes for the characters would have been nice.  I am now about 3 hours into the game and I am beginning to enjoy the first three main characters. I also like how the heroes from the first game are presented as villains here. This keeps thing really interesting for someone like me who has played the prequel. Since I have been craving for some Japanese RPG action, I am sure that I will get to the end of this Tale.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dominion is Here Already?

With the limited beta sessions last week, it was obvious that the Dominion mode of play for League of Legends on the Personal Computer was ready for full release. There was no lag, no bugs, and the queue to get matched to a game was super fast. With the recent spotlight video focusing on Dominion, it was quite obvious that Riot Games was about to release it soon after and I was expecting it to be rolled out with the next patch which normally occurs on a Tuesday. Riot surprised us all when they have released the new mode today! As in it's available to be played right this moment! And yes, the game is still 100% free even with this completely new way to play - it's like a completely new game! Not a LoL player? Open up your summoner account by clicking here and start playing this game now! Dominion is more action-packed than the classic mode and it is sure to please a lot more people out there!

Now a permanent fixture of the LoL client.
Complete with a picture of Mordekaiser securing a capture point!

Those 2 Days Didn't Change My Life

Last week, I activated the two day LIVE Gold pass for the X-Box 360. Instead of being reminded of the good things that I could obtain from the service, being back on it had increased my determination that the paid subscription is not worth my time. The problem with paying for access to online multiplayer is that you have to be in sync with everyone else's interest and time. For example, I messaged a friend who plays Culdcept Saga that I was back on Gold and that I could play the game online for two days. The friend then replied that he would like to play on Friday night. I sent the message on Tuesday and I think that the whole Friday thing was probably intentional to punish me for not having Gold but that it is not the point I was trying to make.

5 out of 6 advertised LIVE Gold features are not game releated. Open your eyes, my fellow gamers.

Since I don't use the X-Box 360 for those other frivolous things packaged with the Gold subscription - Netflix, Hulu, last.fm, etc. - my access to Gold should solely be for online multiplayer access. The only online game I ended up playing during those two days was Castle Crashers and that was with some random strangers. Unless one only games on the X-Box 360, there should be no reason for one to pay for the Gold subscription, especially if one also plays on the Personal Computer like myself because those other features are so easily accessible for free and are in superior form on the PC. Maybe I sound a little disappointed because I was secretly hoping that my return to Gold was going to be filled with a lot of joy but that didn't happen.What happened instead was a preview of how uneventful things would be if I decided to actually pay for the service, which is something that I do not plan on doing for a very long time.

Games Played 09/19/2011 - 09/25/2011

- 09/19/2011 -
Breath of Fire II - GBA
Fruit Ninja Kinect - X-Box 360

- 09/20/2011 -
Castle Crashers - X-Box 360
The Gunstringer - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Radiant Silvergun - X-Box 360
Splatterhouse - PlayStation 3

- 09/21/2011 -
Fruit Ninja Kinect - X_Box 360
League of Legends - PC

- 09/22/2011 -
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
League of Legends - PC
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - PC

- 09/23/2011 -
Bio Hazard Battle - PC
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
League of Legends - PC
Streets of Rage 2 - PC
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair - PC

- 09/24/2011 -
Child of Eden - X-Box 360
Gunstar Heroes - PC
League of Legends - PC
Streets of Rage 2 - PC

- 09/25/2011 -
League of Legends - PC
MotorStorm: Apocalypse - PlayStation 3
Streets of Rage - PC
Streets of Rage 2 - PC
Time Crisis: Raizing Storm - PlayStation 3
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings - PC

Friday, September 23, 2011

More Free League of Legends Gifts!

You know that the people at Riot Games love League of Legends players and they like to show off that love whenever they can. Today, they have decided to permanently unlock the champion Alistair if you subscribe to their YouTube channel. This is great for those who haven't unlocked him but of course Riot didn't just stop there. They also will include the "Unchained Alistair" alternate skin with it! I can say that LoL players are probably the most spoiled gaming community out there because of how well Riot is taking care of us.

Yeah, I would so hug that!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

League of Legends: Dominion Beta

When I logged into the League of Legends client on the Personal Computer about an hour ago, there was a 5 minute wait on the login queue. When I finally got through, the reason behind the delay became immediately apparent - Riot Games was beta testing the new Dominion mode.

Oh yeah! The Crystal Scar baby!

After playing my first Dominion game, I must say that it definitely quite an exciting departure from the classic mode. The base-capture goal has given Dominion a really fast-paced and extremely hectic gameplay. To game even starts you off at level 3, thus granting you a point in each of the champion's regular abilities immediately if you choose to do that. The map looks amazing, with its moving structures and its radiant color palate. The new special effects look great as well and the champions even have new animations when they are capturing the base. I ended up losing my first game but it was actually a really close game. In the game, the lead switched back and forth between the teams and near the end, I was sure that my team was going to win until the enemies started capturing almost all the 5 bases on the map in such a dominating fashion.

What a great way to begin the epic battle!

Will this be the main mode of play for LoL where all the players will flock to? That's hard for me to say. Sure Dominion is a lot of fun but it could be a bit too fast for some folks. I definitely see myself playing it but not as much as the original mode because I love the slower build up of the gameplay there. Still, having Dominion will keep LoL's competitions on their toes and I will not be surprised if they will also create a similar play mode in the future if they want people to stop playing LoL exclusively.

Enemies from every direction ~ Scary!

If you are one of those individuals who still haven't played this game yet, the addition of Dominion mode has made this game even more fun! Since I didn't encounter any problems while I was playing this mode, hopefully Riot will decide to finalize its official release soon and you really don't want to miss that out. The game is 100% free unlike those other "free to play" games out there. Click here to open your new summoner account and be a part of the LoL phenomenon!

A very close game! It was quite a thrilling experience.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Silverguns, More Fun!

If you own the X-Box 360, the recent re-release of Treasure's Radiant Silvergun on LIVE Arcade is a must buy because the game is nothing short of a video gaming masterpiece. But perhaps, that doesn't impress you enough and you need a little more motivation to get the game. How about one of the coolest avatar rewards ever? By merely playing the story mode twenty times, you get to unlock the blue Silvergun that will fly around your avatar! Now if they would only add a similar reward to Ikaruga via a patch... That would be so very amazing.

Me and my Silvergun.

2 Days That Will Change My Life?

I am back on X-Box LIVE Gold! But no, oh no, I am not a hypocrite: I only have 2 days worth of access to LIVE Gold thanks to the trial code that was included with the copy of The Gunstringer that I inducted into my Game Library yesterday. At first, I was certain that the code would only work for new Gold members but I was wrong! I entered the code on xbox.com about half an hour ago and I was surprised that it worked! What I am going to do is utilize the free 2 days that I got playing online multiplayer games as much as I could - especially Culdcept Saga! I doubt that I will be craving for more LIVE Gold action after the two days are up because there's a lot more online goodness happening on the Personal Computer, the PlayStation 3, and maybe even the Nintendo Wii!

I am a lot more excited about the free Fruit Ninja Kinect of course!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Very Stubborn Sweet Spot

My non-gamer spouse can be pretty generous when it comes to spoiling me with video games and earlier this evening, I was offered two games at my favorite local gaming store. Having access to my "Purchase List", my spouse suggested Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 3 as well as Resistance 3 for the PlayStation 3. Now when I decided to stick with my $39.99 or below price limit on game purchases, I originally intended that to only be applicable for games that I would pay out of my own pocket. Thus theoretically, I could have easily gotten away with those games, which cost $59.99 each. Instead, something about it felt wrong... I am so used to my new modus operandi that I just couldn't deter from it anymore. I felt like I was taking advantage of my spouse if I proceeded to the cash register with those titles. After struggling with that thought for nearly 10 minutes, the following were inducted into my Game Library instead:

The alternatives are not too bad eh?

Games Played 09/12/2011 - 09/18/2011

- 09/12/2011 -
Breath of Fire II - GBA
Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten - PlayStation 3
Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon - PlayStation 3

- 09/13/2011 -
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! - PC
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 - PC

- 09/14/2011 -
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! - PC
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 - PC

- 09/15/2011 -
Bit.Trip Beat - PC
Child of Eden - X-Box 360
Dead Island - PC
Kinect Adventures! - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC

- 09/16/2011 -
Child of Eden - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 - PC
Radiant Silvergun - X-Box 360

- 09/17/2011 -
Bit.Trip Beat - PC
Child of Eden - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 - PC

- 09/18/2011 -
Beat Sketchers - PlayStation 3
Dead Island - PC
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
League of Legends - PC
Radiant Silvergun - X-Box 360

Sunday, September 18, 2011

X-Box LIVE Gold: Reconsidered, Rejected

Ever since I inducted Radiant Silvergun for the X-Box 360 into my Game Library, I have been seriously thinking about jumping back onto X-Box LIVE Gold. This is not necessarily to accommodate the online multiplayer element of that game (something that I know will be hardly playable if Ikaruga was any indication) rather, I felt that Microsoft should be rewarded for giving the 360 owners the ability to play this magnificent game. I was also made aware of the fact that Guardian Heroes, another great game from Treasure will be making its debut on the 360 later this year and this would be a game that must be played with others locally or online (the latter would be my only choice) but thankfully, rumor has it that this particular title may also be released on the PlayStation 3 eventually.

It's always good to be the exception from the norm... but not in this case.

Then, I was reminded of Gears of War 3 that will be released very, very soon. Some of my fondest LIVE Gold memories involve playing through the campaign mode for the previous Gears of War games online. The question then becomes this - Is LIVE Gold worth it just for GoW3 alone? The answer to that is of course quite clear. No, it isn't. I have to take things into perspective: I play on all of the current gaming platforms, the Personal Computer included. Why is it that I have to pay to play the online multiplayer portion of a game on the 360 when I wouldn't have been charged anything if I were to play the game on the other platforms. It just doesn't make any sense. Sure the PlayStation Network on the PlayStation 3 lacks the communication convenience offered by LIVE but there are ways around that and when you are connected with other players online in a game, there is truly no difference in regards to the actual multiplayer experience between the two consoles. Then, there's Steam, the superior gaming client on the PC that offers robust community connectivity and online options, provided to anyone who wishes to adopt it free of charge. Even without Steam, the online experience for PC gaming has always been free of constraints and unnecessary service fees. These things reminded me that there is absolutely no reason for me to get back into LIVE Gold. I now see that paying for the LIVE Gold subscription is like paying for the free basic Skype and as a bonus, you are no longer being locked out of the online multiplayer modes! There will never be enough exclusives to justify my return to LIVE Gold since I can always play bigger and better online games both on the PC and the PS3.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Greatness of Free Things

Playing League of Legends on the Personal Computer has been nothing short of a phenomenal experience and this is further enhanced by the fact that Riot Games likes to actually reward you for being dedicated to the game. Doing the Tribunal daily will reward you with Influence Points, which are the currency you can use to unlock things in the game and recently, I even received a new skin for the champion Kayle because I played in at least 10 matches during Season 1 using the matchmaking system! This is no throwaway skin either because the in-game model does look pretty epic. The pattern here is that the more time you spend playing this game, the more you get from it - even without paying a single dime! If you are still not playing LoL, make sure to start immediately by clicking here to create your free summoner profile. The game is 100% free!

A free game should not be THIS generous... But LoL just is!

Speaking of yummy free things, Valve is current offering the original PC version of Portal for free! If you don't have a Steam account, open one up by visiting the official website just to claim your copy of this incredible game! Sure, it's just a $20 value but that's quite a lot compared to the free gifts you get from other game companies. This offer is only valid until the 20th of this month so make your move before it is too late. Don't say no to free things, especially when they are in the form of LoL and Portal!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Zoom for Kinect: Does It Work?

I received Nyko's Zoom today, a sleek looking plastic attachment for the Kinect camera that promises its user 40% less space needed to accommodate motion gaming on the X-Box 360. The thought of Kinect gaming without having to move your furniture, reorganize your gaming space, nor buy yourself a new house is of course quite exciting for those who have been unfortunate enough to deal with the camera's demanding spatial requirement and Nyko seemed to have found a gold mine with the attachment... that is if it actually works. If you are one of those individuals who have been looking forward to the Zoom as your Kinect's space solution, well, I am sad to report that it actually doesn't work all that well.

Zoom? It's more like Doom!

Note that the Zoom will not be functional at all if you have the Kinect sitting on top of your display. The Kinect got all crazy at this setup as it kept tilting all the way up towards the ceiling as if it got dizzy by the zoomed out view provided by the attachment. Placing the Kinect below the display provided me with a much more favorable result and I could see the small hint of awesomeness when the Kinect could actually view my entire body at just 3-4 feet away from it. Then, I noticed that the video feed of my body had a lot of noises on it. I checked the three lenses on the Zoom and noticed that they were all crystal clear. I even wiped them off with a lint free cloth just to make sure but it didn't help the situation whatsoever. The worst part about this is the fact that the Zoom is good at detecting exaggerated full body motion but it is just horrible when it comes to following more nuanced movement. So even though it worked okay - not perfectly - with Kinect Adventures!, the Zoom was unable to keep up with my hand movement in Child of Eden. I tried removing the Zoom to see if perhaps my current lighting condition could have caused the problem and found that without the attachment, the game suddenly played perfectly. I have tried all the troubleshooting guide provided on the manual and the official website but I was not able to improve the performance of the Zoom-bified Kinect.

When the Zoom was first announced, Microsoft warned Kinect users that the camera had been created with a certain specificity in regards to distance, that altering the visual input will impact its performance. Well, Microsoft was right. Zooming out the video feed of the camera has sacrificed its ability to precisely follow your movements. The Zoom ended up being nothing more than wishful thinking... A solution that is more fantastical than it is logical. Since Microsoft was against the Zoom in the first place, don't expect any future patches that will allow the Kinect to be more welcoming to the Zoom's expanded visual field. If you really want to play the Kinect the way that it was meant to be played, you will have to move the furniture, reorganize your gaming space, or buy yourself that brand new house as Microsoft dictates.

RATING: 1 out of 5

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Radiant Silvergun Re-Release is Here!

Oh my galaxy! My hands are shaking... My heart is pounding fast... I am so glad that I turned on my X-Box 360 tonight because I would have missed out on today's Radiant Silvergun release on LIVE Arcade. I haven't been paying attention to this game's release date because I thought it was not coming out this soon! I already have the SegaSaturn version and this game is my number 2 in my list of Top 10 Greatest Games of All Time. Make sure to check out that list to learn why this game from Treasure is so incredible. I have been looking forward to this re-release because it is supposed to have been graphically improved. I know the on-screen layout looks a lot better from the early reveal and that in itself makes the game worth inducting for me.  If you have never played this game before, it is still the best shoot-'em-up ever made and there is no better time to get it! I think I just heard the 360 popping sound to tell me that the game has just finished downloading. I'm off to go play it!

Yes... Yes... Oh yes!

8:45pm - Quick Review: Even if you have the original SegaSaturn version of the game like I do, this 360 re-release is definitely worth $15. At that price, it's a steal for what is one of the best games ever made. The graphics are cleaned up, sharper, and they look very modern. The original was no slouch but this version looks extraordinary. The animated introduction sequence is now quite stunning as well, free from the video artifact issue we were so very used to on the SegaSaturn. The great thing about Radiant Silvergun is that the engaging story, which further distinct it from the competition, is all self-contained within the gameplay, leaving this version fully intact in the conversion process, unlike the Ikaruga re-release where the real story of the game was left out of context. Playing this game on a widescreen display will benefit you with a clear view of the gameplay area because the HUD has been moved to both the left and right hand side of the screen. This version also allows you to play with Ikaruga chain-mechanics where you don't get stuck chaining only one particular color to further increase your score as long as you continue chaining 3 enemies of the same color. The game also has an online mode but unfortunately, I am not able to try that out. Judging from past experiences with shmup on LIVE, it would probably be unplayable because even a slight lag can ruin the game due to the importance of precision control required for the genre. If you own a 360, there is absolutely no reason for you not to get this game! [RATING: 5 out of 5]

Donkey Kong Posters Up!

It only took me a little over a month but I finally managed to get all of my Donkey Kong 3-Poster Series from Club Nintendo up on the walls. I got sick and tired seeing them on the floor and I forced myself to just complete the project. I am happy with the result however even though one of the posters ended up being outside of the Game Room.

The happy couple hiding in the corner of the room.

The grand entrance to my "Game Treasury".

Right outside of the room.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Riven: A LOL Moment

The upcoming patch for League of Legends on the Personal Computer will introduce another new champion to the roster. Her name is Riven and she has quite a savage history. More savage however was the community's reaction to the original splash art for the champion. It's safe to say that it was ugly... Not just ugly, it was also very, very strange in terms of the overall body composition, facial features, and pose. It was as if the illustrator was tired of drawing another champion splash art. The community discussed their dismay in the official forum and now look what happened... There is a new splash art for the champion! Yes, this is a repeat of what happened to Lux not too long ago. Riot Games really wants to make sure that LoL players are happy. Good for them! I personally think that the new splash art is lacking the details found in the first one. If you are interested in playing Riven or the other 82 awesome champions found in the game, open up your free summoner account by clicking here and unlike other "free to play" games out there, LoL is 100% free to play!

A crazy lunatic or a determined but scarred warrior?

Top 10 Video Game Cover Art Updated!

It is not often that my Top 10 lists get updated thus I am very happy to announce that the game case cover for Vicious Cycle Software, Inc.'s Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon has made it into my Top 10 Video Game Cover Art! I have decided to bump Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow off the list to make room for the newcomer as it takes over the coveted 9th spot. Curious to know why the cover art below is so special? Please click here to find out.

An image that will get stuck in your head for a long while...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Games Played 09/05/2011 - 09/11/2011

- 09/05/2011 -
Child of Eden - X-Box 360
Dungeon Siege III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Steel Storm: Burning Retribution - PC
Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - PC
Trouble Witches Neo - Episode 1: Daughters of Amalgam - X-Box 360
World of Warcraft - PC

- 09/06/2011 -
BloodRayne: Betrayal - PlayStation 3
Dead Island - PC
Dungeon Siege III - PC

- 09/07/2011 -
Dead Island - PC
Dungeon Siege III - PC
MotorStorm: Apocalypse - PlayStation 3

- 09/08/2011 -
Dead Island - PC
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
Dungeon Siege III - PC
Plants vs. Zombies - PC

- 09/09/2011 -
Dead Island - PC
Dungeon Siege III - PC
League of Legends - PC
Strania: The Stella Machina - X-Box 360

- 09/10/2011 -
Dead Island - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 09/11/2011 -
Anomaly: Warzone Earth - PC
Dead Island - PC
Disgaea 4 - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
World of Warcraft - PC

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Going for the Antenna Look

I have had the Kinect for almost a year now, which means that I had to look at it sitting right in from of my LCD for quite some time. Not that the Kinect is ugly, mind you, it's just that the camera is a little bulky and it looks rather awkward sitting at the base of my display. Well, I had enough of that, so I decided to get myself a camera mount for it. To my surprise, there are multiple options of this peripheral out there and after perusing through all of them, I decided on CTA Digital's "Universal Camera Clip":


What is unique about this particular mount is that it is specifically designed to hold either the Kinect or the PlayStation Eye cameras. The Kinect snaps into place on the top of the mount while the middle section is hollowed out so that you can slide the PS Eye into it. The clip tightly clasps itself between the top frame of the display as well as the back of the unit. Now that the Kinect is on top of my LCD, I really do prefer it being there. I was worried that it may look a bit distracting but that is not the case at all. The funny thing here is that I will probably place my PS Eye camera at the base of LCD. I just like having access to the convenient dual function of the clip in case I need it in the future.

Room surveillance mode in full effect!

August 2011 Gaming Analysis

The results shown below are of course based on the combined data from the Daily Game Log which should provide a clear indication of a game's usage frequency. Bear in mind that even if a game is played twice or more during a particular day, it would still register as 1 in the Day Count column below. In a sense, "merits" are given based on how often a particular game can make me play it again throughout the entire period of the month on a daily basis. A game that makes a gamer play it over and over again or at least spend a lot of time with it... Isn't that what we mostly want from a great game? I don't think it's really fair to count all the way down to the number of hours played since some games only require a short amount of time to properly serve their purposes.

OVERALL BREAKDOWN:


Total Games Played: 32

It's the same old story: League of Legends on the Personal Computer dominated my playtime last month. I had a morbid thought the other day - if I ever lose all of the games I have in my possession, at least I know that if I could get a hold of a decent PC, I could always log on to play LoL. Well, then again, the same could be said about all my Steam games... Ah the security of digital gaming distribution. I don't need fancy cases, colorful discs, and thick game manuals... I just want to turn on a gaming client and access all of my games from its storage device. Digital distribution of games is truly a reality for PC gamers. I personally think that the consoles will eventually follow suit but in two more generations unfortunately, which is rather depressing of course.

 
This Month's Inductees:


Total Inductions: 22

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dungeon Siege III: Reeks of Reinvention

Poor Obsidian Entertainment and their Dungeon Siege III. The game's Personal Computer roots has made it a tough sale for that community though the game seems to have some popularity with the console-only bunch. It is understandable though because this game is a huge departure from the earlier entries into the series, being that it was made with the console audience in mind. From the rigid controls all the way to the simplified action heavy gameplay, the game is a casual experience instead of a hardcore dungeon crawler. Obsidian would have gotten a better reception if they didn't use the Dungeon Siege license because the fact of the matter is, what they have here is really different and it also happens to be a really good game. In DSIII, you choose one of four surviving Legionnaires who are tasked to rebuild the order and decimate the forces of evil that is threatening the kingdom of Ehb. It's your typical medieval fantasy setting but it's engaging enough to move the adventure forward. Too bad the static introduction sequence fails to provide anything exciting to the game.

And why would I ever want to leave?

It helps that DSIII is incredible to look at. Running it on my PC at 1080p with all the settings maxed out and the shadow option set to "Insane", the game is bursting with gorgeous colors and spectacular lighting effects. The character models look great too though they are very stiff during the conversation scenes. But of course, graphics don't make a game and I found that the fast-paced battles and dungeon explorations are a lot of fun. One thing for sure is that the game is meant to be played with a gamepad. I am not one of those keyboard and mouse only PC purists so I found the controls to be responsive and convenient. To attack an enemy, you have to walk close to them and then manually trigger the attack. When casting single target damage spells, it will target the enemy positioned in front of you while casting area effect spells require you to aim it with the second analog stick. Obsidian has released a key binding patch for the PC version of the game to satiate the community's complaints but to be frank, I don't see any reason not to use a gamepad while playing it. You can equip your characters with a vast array of loot drops to alter his or her statistics and the skill customizations are fun to mess around with. Though your character progression seems to be linear at first, the way that you can attune your abilities between two different passives is just brilliant and it ensures a certain degree of control as well as uniqueness over how your characters play.

Your magic consumes mana while your regular attacks replenish it.

The only real problem with this game is the co-operative online mode, which can be played up to four players. Only the host gets to use and progress his or her own character while those who join in on the game can use the host's companion characters. You also share the screen with all the other players in the game - an issue that it normally prevalent in console gaming but almost never the case in a PC game. Because of the linear nature of the gameplay progression in the game's campaign, I can see why the decision to set the former was made but Obsidian must release a patch that would fix the latter for the PC version though the chance of that happening is probably quite slim. Playing the game with a computer companion is fun enough but this is one of those games that would benefit from a strong online component in which it lacks. Still, DSIII deserves more credit than it has been given. It is a dungeon crawler than focuses on being extremely flashy and accessible and those things don't necessarily translate into something less than good.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Next... A Remodeled 3DS!

Thanks to user @south1996 on Twitter, the Internet was on fire yesterday over the magazine picture of the new cradle expansion for the Nintendo 3DS that introduces - oh what a surprise! - a second analog stick to the 3DS. When the PlayStation Vita was announced earlier this year with the dual analog stick setup, I was certain that the 3DS will follow suit if Nintendo wants to keep up with the competition. Even when the system was first unveiled at E3 last year, I criticized the missed opportunity of having the second analog stick! Having two analog sticks will open up so many gameplay possibilities for the system. Sure, controlling things with the touch screen on top of the current control pad and analogue stick is okay but that also means that your finger will always be holding the stylus instead of being button ready to enter command inputs easily. Can you just imagine how great a lot of the older games on the NDS would have played if it had the second analog stick? The cradle expansion will find its first usage with the upcoming Monster Hunter game in Japan but you know what this really means: A new remodeled 3DS is on its way. The one with a second analog stick already built into the device! I will certainly get that 3DS model when it comes out after waiting all this time to get one. Well, don't say I didn't warn you when Nintendo reduced the price of the 3DS recently to entice more people to settle for a handheld without a second analog stick post-Vita announcement.

Buy the cradle, then buy the new model! Nintendo wants your cash!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Like Storm of Tears?

I was playing MotorStorm: Apocalypse on the PlayStation 3 earlier this evening and for what was supposed to be a thrilling experience ended up being a surprisingly depressing event. It's not depressing because the gameplay is bad: it's depressing because of the whole concept of the game. Just like the first two entries, Apocalypse is about a group of adrenaline junkies who love racing in exotic, rough terrains while driving a variety of vehicle types. This time around though, the "MotorStorm" festival is being held at "The City" that is being evacuated due to it being ravaged by violent earthquakes.

The psychological horror game of the year?

This may sound really exciting and all because we get to drive through apocalyptic-looking racing tracks but the ways in which this game delivers this experience bring about a heavier implication to the entire scenario. As you are racing through the city, you will encounter three different groups of people: those who are there to watch the festival, rioters who are taking advantage of the chaos, and what seems to be innocent people just fleeing from the entire madness. The whole idea of having people gathering around a city crumbling into the ocean, being destroyed by nature in itself is highly disturbing and to see it actually happening in front of you is a very strange sensation indeed. Sure, it's video game and it's fantasy but I couldn't get away from the emotional resonance of such realizations. The game also has this really offbeat, epic soundtrack and when you add that to the horrifying structural devastation that occurs as you race around the tracks, instead of feeling awed by these incredible sights, I was feeling sad. To think that it must have taken years for the entire city to be built only to have it being decimated by the forces of nature so easily. One particularly haunting sight happened when I was traveling down a ravine with a train track built over it. All of a sudden, a burning train sped across the suspended track into some uncertain doom. Yes, this is surely the most tragic racing game ever made. I never thought that something of that sort could ever be accomplished. And yes, it is actually possible to run over people if they just happen to be on the racing track. Intentionally or accidentally. Sometimes their bodies get stuck to your vehicle too. No blood, just emotional scars...

Dead Island: Smells Like Zombies

I just landed on Dead Island last night, a little late for the whole development code version fiasco/party. I was really anxious about my arrival however, thinking that perhaps I have made a mistake spending some time there when I was greeted by what must be the worst introduction sequence soundtrack known to man... "Who do your voodoo bit$h?" Really? Just... Really? Developer Techland probably thought that the self-reflexive zombie rap lyrics was clever. It's not. Worse still, when I got to the main menu, there was a piercing static scream coming from my right side surround speaker. It was so loud and sudden, I thought that I was really attacked by a zombie in my Game Room!

Who do my @$$!

I had to restart the game to get rid of the piercing sound and by then, I was sure that I was going to regret ever playing the game. If the zombie girl trailer was any indication, this game should be more emotional than tongue-in-cheek. But then, things took a change for the better. The first area that limited you to play only in single player mode was quite intense. I screamed, yes, I screamed for my life a couple of times during my escape towards the other survivors at the offset of the sudden zombie apocalypse on the island of Banoi where the game took place. All of a sudden, that silliness generated from the stupid introduction sequence was gone and despair started to settle in. The conceptual promise of experiencing the irony of carnage in such a beautiful place is definitely fulfilled here especially with a gruesome discovery of a bloodbath that you will encounter during the game's first quest. Since I get easily scared these days, I screamed and screamed some more whenever a zombie suddenly appear into view - so the game is capable of being intense, morbid, and scary.

Sometimes pretty, sometimes pretty ugly? That's Dead Island!

Then, there is the combat. Oh the sweet zombie combat. I have not found any guns as of yet so I have been killing the zombies with boat paddles and my favorites, a sharp cleaver and a knife.  The character that I have selected, Xian, gains sharp weapon proficiencies and stabbing zombies in a violent, downward motion right onto the top of their heads never gets old. The melee gameplay is quite brutal and satisfying, especially with the visual alterations on the zombies as they are getting sliced and diced. Killing zombies and completing quests gain you experience points and you are given skill points when you level up. The game introduces three separate skill trees for each of the game's four characters and even though I have only spent 2 points on them thus far, I can see that this process is going to get very addicting. I have heard that the zombies' level scales up with your character level and unfortunately, I have never been a fan of that kind of setup even when I was playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. But we shall see whether it will impact this game positively or negatively.

Cut? No, that's more like an amputation!

The game seems to be fun to play so far but it is not without its share of problems. The most apparent is that the visuals are not optimized for the Personal Computer. Even though you gain the benefit of running this game at native 1080p or perhaps even higher on the PC, some of the low resolution texture works look horrible and because of the inferior technology running the overall engine, the game is not going to come close to pushing your video card's capabilities whatsoever. Which is a shame, because they could have given the game a lot more visual pizazz - a high resolution texture pack like the chunky one that Bioware provided for the PC version of Dragon Age II would definitely help. The field of vision is also disappointingly short and this takes away from the experience when looking at your surrounding from an elevated location. So visually at the moment, we are just looking at a prettier version of the console releases instead of a competent PC title. The game also crashed on me twice even though that didn't happen to a friend of mine who was also running it at last night. I think all of that violent downward stabbings did something weird to the game? The most disappointing thing however is that the online component didn't work for me and my friend last night. It seemed like the server was recently taken down for some reason because people were able to play the game online immediately after launch. I will try the online co-op mode again later today. Hopefully, everything will be back in order by then. Like I was telling my friend, I don't think I could make it in this game without having other players running around with me because it's a bit scary for me... And much scarier inside dark buildings - oh no! If you are looking into purchasing Dead Island, you may want to wait a little until a big patch arrives but as long as the multiplayer mode is up and running, this game is certainly fun and it definitely holds a lot of promise within its slightly rotten exterior.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 4 out of 5

Update Note = 10:20pm - The online multiplayer is still down. A lot of players are setting up their own virtual private network to get their multiplayer fix but I am willing to wait for it for a couple more days. Certainly it shouldn't take that long to get this feature up and running again? Also, I was able to eliminate the game's random static/screech sound bug by playing the game in 5.1 instead of my original 7.1 setup.
09/08/2011 = 2:19pm - The online multiplayer is now available. The game received another patch as well.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Steam Trading? Interesting...

Valve has just launched the new "Trading" feature for the Steam client. Basically, you can now trade the items you have from games that support the feature easily with other players. Not only that, you can now store copies of games from the store when they are purchased as "gifts". This feature is definitely very early in its infancy but the potential is definitely there. Just imagine being able to unlock a hard to acquire in-game item that everybody wants and then demanding that it can only be traded with a copy of say Dead Island? The developers can definitely benefit from this - if they feature unlockable and tradable Steam items in their games, that could generate some excitement and even sales for those games. I really don't see this going to encourage people to buy extra copy of digital games though because everyone on Steam has access to the sales promotion so it's redundant to stock up when others can easily just get the games themselves. Still, a very interesting feature that further separates Steam from other gaming networks and clients.

The Steam innovation continues...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Games Played 08/29/2011 - 09/04/2011

- 08/29/2011 -
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
Dragon Age II - PC
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS
Numen: Contest of Heroes - PC

- 08/30/2011 -
Dragon Age II - PC

- 08/31/2011 -
Dragon Age II - PC
Dragon Nest - PC
Puzzle Pirates - PC
Rift - PC
Rock Band 2 - X-Box 360

- 09/01/2011 -
Dragon Nest - PC
Half-Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax - X-Box 360
Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes - NDS
Trouble Witches Neo - Episode 1: Daughters of Amalgam - X-Box 360

- 09/02/2011 -
Trouble Witches Neo - Episode 1: Daughters of Amalgam - X-Box 360
World of Warcraft - PC

- 09/03/2011 -
World of Warcraft - PC

- 09/04/2011 -
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - PC
Dragon Age II - PC
League of Legends - PC
World of Warcraft - PC

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Another Return to World of Warcraft

After about 12 hours worth of patches, I finally returned to the world of Azeroth yesterday. The first thing I did was logged in as my level 77 Undead Priest. It was rough to be away for so long because everything about the character felt odd and misplaced. The utter sense of loss was quadrupled when the world just seemed so empty. It just so happened that I logged out at The Barrens during my previous short visit and of course the area was just, uh, completely barren. Then, I used the Hearthstone back to Dalaran and well, what used to be the central hub of activities is now a ghost town. I am really not sure where everyone went but instead of taking on that grand adventure of self-rediscovery, I decided to just create a new character at another server because a friend of mine is playing there. I figured that it would be a great way to recall the nuances of the game again while experiencing the new changes in WoW.

I'm back! Wait, where's everyone?

Since my friend plays an Alliance - oh no! - I decided to go with a Draenei Mage. A female Draenei Mage of course since the male character model for this race looks quite horrendous. I do miss my Goblin Shammy but perhaps it's a good thing to play the Alliance at this point in time to get a fresh perspective of the game because I have so many Horde characters already. Well, historically, the first character I have ever made was a Human Warlock so I'm returning to my roots or something goofy like that. I have never rolled a mage before so she seems to be pretty fresh and fun thus far.

Fly my sweet mage... Fly!

After my recent flirtation with Rift, I was extremely worried that WoW was going to look really ancient but I was in for a surprise to find out that it is still quite pretty. I don't remember the game looking this sharp - well, actually, that goblin starting island did look rather incredible - with so many vegetation cluttering the area and the ground textures looking really busy and detailed. Overall, the game still looks good even though it is not as technologically advanced as most of its competitors. The DIrectX 11 implementation apparently only affects the background performance of the game because all of the new graphical options can be turned on using the DirectX 9 engine. So it looks like Rift's visuals no longer have the edge over WoW if I were to make a consideration between which one of them I would subscribe to. Currently, I am at level 10 and I since the battlegrounds are now open to level 10 and up, I already played a round of Arathi Basin this morning and it was as fun as I remembered it to be though getting repeatedly killed by a level 10 warlock in 2 seconds was just ridiculously annoying. Things are definitely looking up for WoW at the moment but we will see how things progress from here on out. I will probably be spending most of my time playing my new character during the remainder of this free trial period.

It's strange to be on this side of the battlefield...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Screw Hitchcock!

Remember that murderous Easter bunny on Direct2Drive? Whether intentional or just a case of bad marketing, it was one of the weirdest ways to attract or repulse a customer ever. Well, Direct2Drive is currently offering game bundle discounts to celebrate the Labor Day weekend and they are trying to set a new standard for themselves again. I present to you... The vengeful stork!

"Yes, I see you. And I am going to come to your house and do horrible things to you."

Not even the cute cartoon storks on both sides of the web page can help us here. As soon as I landed on the page, my gaze was immediately fixed on the dirty, evil mama (papa?) stork whose razor sharp beak even penetrated through the content frame. Why is she so upset with us? What have we ever done to her? Was she a victim of an oil spill? Is she mad because she has to work a crazy amount of overtime to deliver all those bundles of joy? I'm not sure about you, but I am staying as far away as I can from that thing. If Hitchcock was still alive, he would have been inspired to create a movie sequel.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Going Somewhere?

Planning a return trip to Azeroth.

To me, Rift is an impressive game and during the "half-birthday" free access week recently, I was utterly convinced that it was the new massively multiplayer online role playing game for me. Then, why am I reinstalling World of Warcraft on my Personal Computer again? Well, I still have access to the free 10-day Cataclysm trial offer from Blizzard so I think it would be silly not to at least check out the world of Azeroth again before I make a final determination. The one thing that I really would like to see is the graphical improvement that comes with the game's recent DirectX 11 implementation. WoW may be old and technically speaking, it just can't compare to the graphical powerhouse that is Rift but the game always has a great art style to it. This return visit is of course, not just about the graphics: I just cannot control my hunger for a MMO anymore... Earlier this evening, I was browsing online to shop for new games and I couldn't even decide on what I wanted because I feel like I already have enough from all the other genres to hold me over at the moment. I just want a good MMO right now and 2 weeks of WoW sounds like a really good idea...