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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Almost Forgotten Riven Skinning

I just want to make sure to get this in before the year is over because it happened on Christmas. I have unlocked a new skin for Riven in League of Legends for the Personal Computer. I used to hate playing Riven whenever I got her in ARAM because she reminded me a bit of Annie - both have a quirky stun mechanics - but I don't mind her at all these days and yes, I have learned to appreciate Annie too the more I play that evil child. I really like how this Crimson Elite Riven skin looks, it is definitely one of the bolder skin designs out there that makes Riven look quite different and it is a lot cooler than the default skin!

I will never ever buy that Battle Bunny Riven skin, that's for sure!

New Year Celebration: Fantasy vs. Reality

Another year will be passing us by when the clock hits midnight tonight. The spouse and I don't do anything extravagant to welcome the new year. Every year, we both wait for midnight to come and when it arrives, we would each drink a glass (or more) of champagne. It's a nice, quiet way to look forward to another year of our lives together but you know, sometimes I do wish that the spouse would just join me on a crazy New Year's Eve gaming binge, playing the silliest games and doing the silliest things in them. I will be doing a gaming binge leading up towards midnight - don't I always every single night? - but I am afraid that I will be doing that alone. Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2013 was good to you and that 2014 will treat you right in both life and gaming.

Just wake me up when it's 2015, okay?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Games Played 12/23/2013 - 12/29/2013

- 12/23/2013 -
Eschatos - X-Box 360
Ginga Force - X-Box 360

- 12/24/2013 -
Dragon Age II - PC
League of Legends - PC
Pinball FX2 - PC
Sonic: Lost World - Wii U

- 12/25/2013 -
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Ultimate Edition - PC

- 12/26/2013 -
Cook, Serve, Delicious! - PC
Guacamelee! Gold Edition - PC
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Ultimate Edition - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 12/27/2013 -
Dragon Age II - PC
League of Legends - PC
London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympics Games - PC
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown - PlayStation 3

- 12/28/2013 -
Dragon Age II - PC
Injustice: Gods Among Us: Ultimate Edition - PC
League of Legends - PC
London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympics Games - PC
Marvel vs. Capcom; Origins - PlayStation 3
Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed - Vita

- 12/29/2013 -
Dragon Age II - PC
League of Legends - PC
Rock Band 2 - PC
Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed - Vita
World of Warcraft - PC

Screenshot of the Week:

I did my best but I failed to get us any medals in archery...
London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympics Games (Personal Computer)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Digital Christmas & A New Milestone

The number of Personal Computer games I have is growing fast. Like real fast. It wasn't too long ago that it hit the 700+ mark and yesterday, that number just turned to 900. Isn't it crazy? This growth is definitely directly tied to the healthy state of digital distribution of games on the PC and of course that is mostly dominated by Valve's Steam service. When I want a new game these days, I want it to be digitally delivered. It's convenient and it doesn't take up physical space - this Game Room can't handle any more physical games. Thank the galaxy Nintendo is in on the whole digital thing by allowing an easy, external hard drive solution to support digital downloads on the Wii U. I really don't feel compelled to upgrade that measly 500GB on my PlayStation 4. Sure wish Sony would allow that console to use an external HDD to install digital games. Funny how the Wii U is more forward thinking than the PS4 when it comes to design innovation. I do want to mention also that for Christmas, I mostly got digital game gifts, which is of course, quite cool. The spouse knows now that spying on my Steam Wishlist is the best way to get me the perfect gifts.

My Christmas was very merry indeed.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Nostalgia Tuesday: Beyond the Lies

I walked into my Game Treasury today and while moving some stuff around, I stumbled into the little PlayStation 3 booklet that was distributed during the console's launch. I started laughing as soon as I got to the first page:

The word "lies" was mentioned in there. In hindsight, it was obviously an omen.

"Beyond power. Beyond limits." it said. Then, "Beyond evolution." With the announcement of the PlayStation 4, all of those lofty claims became utter lies. But you know what is more amazing here? It's the fact that the PlayStation 3 is indeed capable of fulfilling those promises but its life got cut short unnecessarily. You already know how I feel about this. I know there's not much that can be done about it, but it doesn't mean that I can ever forgive the level of disgust and filth associated with the abandoned promises, especially knowing that Sony started working on the PS4 not too long after the release of the PS3, a secret revealed by Mark Cerny the uh, "brilliant" mind behind the PS4's already outdated specs and that, uh "blockbuster" game Knack.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Games Played 12/16/2013 - 12/22/2013

- 12/16/2013 -
Borderlands 2 - PlayStation 3
LittleBigPlanet Karting - PlayStation 3

- 12/17/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Lego Marvel Super Heroes - PC
Sacred 2 Gold - PC

- 12/18/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins - PlayStation 3
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 - PlayStation 3
Sacred 2 Gold - PC

- 12/19/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 - PlayStation 3
Sacred 2 Gold - PC

- 12/20/2013 -
DC Universe Online - PC
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning - PC
League of Legends - PC
Pinball FX2 - PC
Razor2: Hidden Skies - PC

- 12/21/2013 -
Ginga Force - X-Box 360
Ikaruga - X-Box 360

- 12/22/2013 -
Dragon Age II - PC
Ginga Force - X-Box 360

Screenshot of the Week:

I don't think that health potion is going to help you Serah.
Dragon Age II (Personal Computer)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Yeah, I Have Too Many Steam Games

So the Steam Holiday Sale just started on Thursday December 19th and thus far, I haven't been able to pick up a good number of games from the terrific deals it has on offer because... Well, everyday, a lot of these games being featured are games that I already freaking own!

Yes, I already have all of those games from both the Daily Deals and Flash Sales, except for one.
Oh wait, now I have all of them.

I suppose I shouldn't see this as a bad thing but I do have that desire to celebrate alongside Valve so they need to ramp it up for me. I do have plenty of games on my Steam wishlist but they are mostly smaller releases. It's not Valve's fault though, I just have too many games.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Luigi Room

The Club Nintendo Platinum reward poster that I received yesterday are not up on my walls. Yes, I did ask the spouse again - it never hurts to try - if it was possible to have on of them in the bedroom but the answer yet again was a no. I should probably call this space "The Luigi Room" instead of the "Game Room" because of how prominently the Luigi poster was placed:

 A reminder that life can be a cruel, dastardly place when I leave my sanctuary.

There are certainly too many Zelda posters in the Game Room now.

Luigi is front and center, the master of this domain?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I Prefer the Other Luigi Please

Yeah, not a lot to choose from when Nintendo announced the fiscal 2013 Club Nintendo Platinum rewards but the one that I picked has finally arrived to me today. I went for the triple posters:

Thrilling, I know.

These posters are nice as well as colorful and the one with the overblown pixelated Luigi is cute but I sure wish that Nintendo was handing out the Luigi figurine to us Platinum members instead. Oh well.

That's Not Fair, Nintendo

Ever wondered what happened to the Platinum reward that we deserved for the last Club Nintendo fiscal year? Instead of getting something mega awesome like this, we get the awful selection shown here instead. Well, Nintendo just revealed that you have to pay 1500 Coins for the reward that we Platinum members were supposed to receive. That's right, instead of blessing those who support them by accumulating enough points to hit the Platinum level, Nintendo is now reserving the coolest reward as something that you need to buy using the coins. Yes, I am talking about the super amazing Luigi figurine below:

Yes, 1500 bloody coins.

I used to have that many coins but I have been spending the coins on the games that they have been offering in the Club Nintendo shop. Though it is disappointing that loyal Nintendo supporters cannot just get this as a Platinum reward, the reason behind this is simple. Nintendo is losing money. Soon, they will abandon the hardware business - at least on the console side - and release their games on Steam and possibly the other consoles. By offering such an irresistible product that can only be purchased using the Club Nintendo coins, Nintendo hopes that this will drive their numbers up because now, not only do one strive to get to the Platinum level, but one also has to accumulate enough coins for the Luigi figurine. Yeah, it's a desperate move that further confirmed that Nintendo is really struggling. This is all going to be for the better though as I will support every single Nintendo game that shows up on Steam and I know that you will to.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ShadowPlay Twitch Streaming: Is It Too Shady?

NVIDIA has finally released its ShadowPlay twitch.tv broadcast function with today's beta release of their GeForce Experience software. Those with a GeForce GTX 600 and 700 series graphics card can now enjoy native streaming to Twitch with "very minimal impact on performance". Now I have been using OBS and that program I thought didn't have any impact on my game's performance but I was proven wrong when I played Sacred 2 Gold and stream the game to Twitch using both programs alternatively. I was amazed that the game ran a bit more smoothly when I used ShadowPlay but of course, this minor in-game performance boost came with a price: the actual stream didn't look all that great even at the High Quality setting. There were a lot of pixelation and the frame rate was low. It just cannot match what I can accomplish with OBS. ShadowPlay does support microphone input and those who are not shy can even include a camera feed to the stream. It can certainly be a convenient way to broadcast but I surely hope that NVIDIA will consider enhancing the program with the ability to switch scenes and continue the stream while you are switching games - just like Origin and Uplay, the streaming capability is limited only while you are playing a game and the stream stops when you exit the game. It can work if you plan to stick with just one game for a while and using anything else may result in a performance issue for a graphically demanding game. I will play around ShadowPlay a bit more but OBS still reigns supreme here. I do have high hopes for NVIDIA though.

We need more options. A frame rate target would be a good start.

Games Played 12/09/2013 - 12/15/2013

- 12/09/2013 -
Marvel Heroes - PC
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 - PlayStation 3
Rayman Legends - PC

- 12/10/2013 -
Hero Academy - PC
Guardians of Middle-earth - PC

- 12/11/2013 -
Guardians of Middle-earth - PC

- 12/12/2013 -
League of Legends - PC

- 12/13/2013 -
Champions of Norrath - PlayStation 2
Dodonpachi Resurrection Deluxe Edition - X-Box 360
League of Legends - PC
Need for Speed: Most Wanted - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4

- 12/14/2013 -
Champions of Norrath - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC
Lego Marvel Super Heroes - PC

- 12/15/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Lego Marvel Super Heroes - PC
Marvel vs. Capcom: Origins - PlayStation 3
Neverwinter Nights 2 - PC

Screenshot of the Week:

I believe I have found my absolute favorite character in this game.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Notebook II: A Goodbye Kiss

I have been using this small black notebook to jot down my gaming activities for such a long time. It becomes a part of my daily life and a compelling necessity to my gaming habits. But today, I have made the determination to leave it behind. I just realized that there may be a better, more convenient way to keep track my daily gaming for my Daily Game Log entries by using my iPad 2:

Technology always wins.

What inspired me to make this dramatic change? Well, my iPad has a nice, permanent spot on the small gaming table and I want to clear out some space on the surface of redundant things. I will not be destroying the notebook however. It will be kept safe somewhere and it would be a relic I could revisit and cherish many, many years from now. Thank you for the many years of service.

Best DLC Ever?

Not too long ago, I discussed the infinite creative content possibility that is bestowed upon The Typing of the Dead: Overkill published by Sega for the Personal Computer. Well, just today, a new content called the "Filth DLC" has just been released and as you may have guessed it, it contains a plethora of pleasurable dirty words and sentences for you to use in your fight against the, uh, mutants! This DLC in itself easily pushes the game into the level of an absolute masterpiece. Just look at the examples below! I surely hope that this is just a little taste of what to come!  Get the game and the DLC from Steam today!

Unsubtle indeed. Hey, you can easily write a full sentence with those words combined.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mass Effect Trilogy: Rebirth

I was looking at my Origin library today and for some reason it never dawn on me that I never registered the original Mass Effect there. How could I have forgotten about this game? I can't believe that the title didn't even cross my mind when I contacted Electronic Art via their Live Help service early this year to add my retail titles to Origin. So I got the retail box out, pulled out the activation code out, and I plugged in the alphanumeric nervously. I was a bit worried that Origin wouldn't accept the code for some reason but of course, I should have known better:

Origin is awesome. Please put a lot more efforts into it, EA.

So what does this mean? Now that all three games are easily accessible via the Origin client, I should start planning my return to the ME universe. The adventures of my Commander Ingrid Shepard didn't end glamorously but I would never forgive myself if I just loaded up the last save point just to change the outcome of my final ultimatum. It would only be fair for me to start again with a brand new Shepard to discover a different end to the trilogy's tale. I think this time around, I am going to create myself a male Shepard. It would be interesting to view the galaxy from a male perspective and even that very concept in itself should be an intriguing motivation for me to venture into all three games again.

For Ingrid! No... For Alexander Shepard!

Killzone: Viewership Fall

Sony really wants the whole PlayStation 4 native twitch.tv streaming to succeed but with the console's inability to provide high quality video broadcast, it's an impossible goal to reach. Those who want their PS4 game broadcast to look more than merely decent must still, unfortunately, invest in other methods outside of the console. That doesn't stop the feature from being heavily promoted on twitch.tv however - I have seen plenty of banners that remind people that the PS4 can stream natively on Twitch - and between Friday December 13th and December 17th next week, those who stream Killzone: Shadow Fall for at least an hour will be entered into a sweepstakes to win Twitch gears.

Meanwhile, the top two games being streamed always remain the same.

Though it is specified under the Official Rules that they are not the sponsor, I am pretty sure that this whole thing was done on behest of Sony. Just think about it, Twitch has nothing to gain from this because there are plenty of other exciting games that could garner a larger viewership thus increasing Twitch's revenue from advertising. It's funny though that you can qualify to win even if you don't use the PS4's native streaming feature, which is really a slap in the face to Sony. Sony should have just jumped in and offer say a $50 PlayStation Store Gift Card daily prize for those who actually stream natively from the PS4. So how successful has this been to push the number of people broadcasting and watching some Killzone: Shadow Fall gameplay? This was how things looked at 10am today:

Yes, Tibia got 1 more viewer. That's pretty sad.

Resogun Boxes vs. Lego Blocks

So those crazy flying tiny boxes just look crazy amazing in Resogun on the PlayStation 4 but you know what is also amazing? The free forming Lego boxes in Lego Marvel Super Heroes that I was playing last night on the Personal Computer. In the very first stage of the game, you get to fight Sandman and he ended up being this gigantic boss made up of moving Lego pieces. Sure, the count may be way lower than what you see in Resogun but the effect created is similarly impressive with chunks of blocks flying everywhere during the course of the battle. I must also say that  Lego Marvel Super Heroes is certainly one of the most impressive looking games I have seen this year. The Lego aesthetics combined with Marvel inspired art on top of a modern looking graphics engine created a clean, colorful, and sometimes downright gorgeous game.

The only downside to this game is its adheres to the movies more than the comic books.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

EA Not Confident of Promoting Origin?

When I am interested in a game, I don't look for the positive confirmation of the popular video gaming media outlets. I would instead check the official website for the game and watch some of the gameplay videos for it to make my final determination. Game reviews these days have no shame in telling you everything about a game to the point that personal discovery is no longer respected. Yes, I do find myself reading some of these after I have played the games to avoid stumbling into the inevitable spoilers. I believe that a review should just convey in general one's feeling about a game and not divulge every single thing that the writer found in the game that can be written within its confine. This problem also occurs with movie reviews by major media outlets. I think these writers are confused that they were not supposed to be writing a synopsis. Anyway, I have been very interested in Need for Speed: Rivals for the Personal Computer ever since its release and this morning, I was watching the official trailer for the game and I noticed something odd. At the end of the trailer, Electronic Arts didn't specify that the PC version of the game is being distributed via their Origin client:

PC DVD ROM? That is so last century.

I have seen many game trailers that would end with a proud display of the Steam logo but apparently, EA has some apprehension in regards to promoting Origin. It's obvious by now that even though they are still using that client for their PC-bound releases, they don't care too much about it. The reward program that is supposed to come with Origin Achievements have yet to be made a reality and I can't find information anywhere if the newer EA published games even have Origin Achievements. Now I know there are a lot of hate out there when it comes to anything outside of Steam, though I find it funny how Steam is not even regarded as a Digital Rights Management tool that it is, but I personally like Origin. I do wish that EA would do more with it because if their interest has waned due to Steam's dominance over the PC gaming industry, they should just call it quits, work something out with Valve, and transfer those game keys to Steam.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Standing by the PS4

Do you leave your PlayStation 4 on standby? If you are like me who found that there are an extreme lack of activities surrounding the console, is there any real reason to leave the unit on standby? Surely the console would be better off being well, off? Saving electricity is always a good thing but then again, maybe there are some benefits to leaving the thing on standby:

Use those powered USB ports to charge things like... The Wii U Pro Controller!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Uplay Superseding Steam? It's True...

I love streaming my gameplay over twitch.tv, even when there's nobody watching. It's more like a gameplay recorder where I can go back and highlight cool moments if those happened during my gameplay sessions. Every time I play something, it's streamed on twitch.tv and that's just how it is these days. Gameplay broadcasting is just the new normal, that is why we can see platforms like Origin, the PlayStation 4, and soon, the X-Box One offering an easy way to help people get into streaming. Even NVIDIA is going to release a native streaming capability for their modern graphics card. So why is it that Valve still hasn't done anything in this field? Why wouldn't they provide the capability for players to broadcast gameplay natively using the Steam client? And what is this now? I was installing Rayman Legends using the Uplay client and I noticed the twitch.tv logo on the top bar that revealed this intriguing Uplay feature:

Beaten by Ubisoft? That is rather embarrassing.

I was speechless. Utterly speechless. How could this happen? And that teaser line of "This is only the beginning" - Does it mean that eventually any games being played on the Personal Computer can be streamed to twitch.tv using Uplay like the way it is with Origin? The Uplay client provides you with plenty of customization options to fit your broadcasting needs:

Looks promising but the performance isn't the best.

Even at High CPU Utilization, I found that the Uplay client did struggle to maintain a decent 60fps stream and the image quality didn't look that great when there were plenty of things happening on screen. It was better than that PS4 native stream of course but that's an easy feat to accomplish on the PC. I would still be using OBS for my gameplay broadcast but those people who value convenience may want to just use the native streaming option while playing a Uplay game since it has virtually no performance impact on the actual game being played. The burning question here is this: When will Steam reveal its gameplay broadcast plans? Perhaps Valve is trying to hatch something big that goes beyond twitch.tv streaming? I am still looking forward to the possibility of watching someone play a game that I have installed by launching that very game and see everything being ran with the in-game graphics engine. Do it Valve!

Do U Remote Control?

As you may know, I hardly watch any television. I get all of my entertainment from choosing what I want to see on the Internet - that mostly involves watching games on twitch.tv - as well as from my own video gaming sessions. Since the spouse loves cable TV however, I do have access to it in my Game Room. With the arrival of the PlayStation 4 last month, I unplugged the cable box and never bothered to set it back up until recently. One of my twitch viewers made a mention about the Wii U's TVii functionality so I decided to finally check out what the hoopla is all about.

Can't they at least make everything more colorful?

I was pretty impressed with how the Wii U GamePad synced with both the cable box and the television as it cycled through different configurations to find the right one for the units that I use. As for the TVii itself, the GamePad functions as a second screen of sort and I didn't spend too much time playing with it to be frank. Yeah, it's cool that you can set up your favorite shows with TVii and all that but since I am not a TV hound, these things are somewhat useless to me. What I was really interested in however was the fact that the GamePad can be used as a remote control without turning on the Wii U by merely pressing the TV button on the GamePad. I always thought those expensive touch screen universal remote controls are cool and to think that the Wii U GamePad could turn into one just seemed exiting to me. That wonderment didn't last however after I discovered that the GamePad could only control the cable box and my TV. Well that was disappointing. If only it could control my receiver, it would have been perfect. Nintendo needs to allow the GamePad to turn into a full-fledged universal remote for it would then become the best and coolest universal remote to ever exist.

Games Played 12/02/2013 - 12/08/2013

- 12/02/2013 -
Assassin's Creed II - PC
Marvel Heroes - PC
Test Drive: Ferrari Racing Legends - PC

- 12/03/2013 -
Assassin's Creed II - PC
League of Legends - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4

- 12/04/2013 -
Assassin's Creed II - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 12/05/2013 -
League of Legends - PC

- 12/06/2013 -
Euro Truck Simulator 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4

- 12/07/2013 -
Euro Truck Simulator 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC
Solstice Arena - PC
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill - PC

- 12/08/2013 -
Euro Truck Simulator 2 - PC
League of Legends - PC

Screenshot of the Week:

The wedding reception is finally over baby.
Assassin's Creed II (Personal Computer)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How to Make a Game with Never-Ending DLCs

Ah, The Typing of the Dead: Overkill on Steam. It's one of the best games ever released. Sega's return to typing software/game hybrid not only brings with it a delicious type or die gameplay mechanics that is simply out of this world but it also contains the original shooting game, which I must say plays incredibly well with the mouse. If Sega plays their cards right, they can continue to produce a never ending amount of downloadable content for this game. They already released the "Shakespeare DLC" which I still have not gotten yet but plan to in the future and just a couple of days ago, they even gave the game a free update:

Epic. So epic. That zombie Football Manager is simply sublime.

This DLC is of course, just plain hilarious. Typing in football lexicons to kill zombies is so offbeat yet so thrilling and it further celebrates the utter ridiculousness of the whole premise of the game. I also love the fact that you can specify how much of the new themed dictionary would actually show up in the game. So what's next? "Sonic & Friends"? "Stephen King"? "Fun with Dyslexia"? Get creative Sega and keep them coming!

Who isn't, right?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Where to Place That X-Box One?

So I ran out of space to place another console on and around my entertainment center in my Game Room without perhaps disconnecting one of my older consoles from the entire setup. Yet my X-Box One certainly deserves a place within my congregation of gaming devices. Even if I remove one of the older consoles, I wouldn't feel safe leaving the X-Box One inside an enclosed space - can't trust the built longevity of these modern consoles - so it looks like I don't have a choice but place it on top of the front left speaker. It should be okay, right?

Can't wait to watch cable TV with it!

Should Consoles Be More Colorful?

I was sitting in my Game Room watching something on my Personal Computer when I realize that I have four black consoles sitting right out in the open on top of my entertainment center. Now don't get me wrong, if I have to make a decision, I would always get the black version of a console but don't you wish sometimes that console makers go a bit bolder with their color choices? And I am not just talking about those special releases either - the crazy colors should be a standard. Enough of the safe gray, white, and black. Why did Nintendo not revisit the purple from the Nintendo GameCube? A purple Wii U would have been nice.

I have to admit, they do look quite nice together.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November 2013 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.


Total Games Played: 33

This Month's Inductees:

Total Inductions: 22

Monday, December 2, 2013

Games Played 11/25/2013 - 12/01/2013

- 11/25/2013 -
Super Mario 3D World -Wii U

- 11/26/2013 -
Divekick - PC
League of Legends - PC
Luxor 2 HD - PC
State of Decay - PC

- 11/27/2013 -
State of Decay - PC

- 11/28/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4
Trials Evolution: Gold Edition - PC

- 11/29/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4
State of Decay - PC

- 11/30/2013 -
Divekick - PC
League of Legends - PC
Shift 2: Unleashed - Playstation 3

- 12/01/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Marvel Heroes - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4
Super Mario 3D World - Wii U

Screenshot of the Week:

Which of these girls will grow up to become the Princess Peach we know and love?
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U)

Friday, November 29, 2013

League of Legends: Let's Mystery Skin!

Right now up through December 2nd next week, League of Legends players can buy mystery skins for themselves! Now why would anyone want to use 490 Riot Points to get a random skin worth 520 Riot Points or more when the Full Machine Viktor skin is currently on sale? Well, let's just say that the potential of unlocking a legendary skin is there for are you the gambling type? Well, I decided to try my luck today with the mystery skin and guess what I got?

Masquerade Evelyn, a retired skin that got resurrected for this mystery gifting period.

I really wish it was Tango Evelynn, but at least I got an alternate skin for Evelynn now so it's not a total lost. Then, I had to sit down and think hard to myself: "Should I unlock that super awesome Full Metal Viktor or try this mystery skin thing again?" I didn't plan on spending too much money on LoL since there are some seriously crazy gaming deals out there right now so I could only afford one or the other. "Screw it, let's do this!" I said and I did the mystery skin again:

Bandito Fiddlesticks? Arrrgh!

Yeah, today is just not my lucky day apparently. Just like that Evelynn skin, the positive spin here is that I don't have an alternate Fiddlesticks skin so it's nice to have one now. How did your mystery skin adventure go? Hope it fared a lot better than mine. If you haven't done it yet but plan to, the best of luck to you!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review - State of Decay: Breakdown

State of Decay: Breakdown (2013)
Developer: Undead Labs
Platforms: Personal Computer (Reviewed), X-Box 360
Available: Black Friday 11/29/2013

So there I was, rescuing a missing neighbor. Me and a member from his zombie apocalypse survivor group went looking from one house to the next, securing the perimeter from those nasty zeds as we went along until we got to the right house and found him standing in a dark corner of the living room doing whatever it was that he was doing. The three of us were on our way out of the house when suddenly, we heard a whimpering cry for help. Just outside, my crew member who had been called in to pick up some food supply from the shed next to the very house that I was in was being mercilessly attacked by a long train of zeds whom she no doubt brought along with her on her way over. Yes, the stupid A.I. is back during my return to Trumbull Valley and so are the other frustrations I found from the original game but this Breakdown expansion was not made to fix what was already there but rather, to enhance the player's experience.

Redefining quaint.

Breakdown is all about pushing the idea of survival to its most unforgiving core. In the main game, if you survive long enough, you can choose to find a closure to the game because of the narrative-focused design. Well, things are a lot more morbid here where the game doesn't end until you perish. The question then becomes, how long will you last in this zombie apocalypse? You play the game until you eventually die. I prefer this mode than the original game because hey, if the world is really all that messed up and even the military can't do anything about it, you know it's only a matter of time before you become zombie food. Now bear in mind that this is not a faster or a more arcade-style version of the game for it is very much still the same game as the original where you will spend many, many, many hours building up your community scavenging supplies, upgrading your characters and home base, as well as taking care of the many different tasks to be found in the game world. You will be prompted to find an RV to fix up so that you can escape the map when you are ready but that is exactly it, you can do whatever you want until you are indeed ready to leave: You are free to fully pick the entire Trumbull Valley clean of all resources before moving on or if things are not challenging enough for you and you are one of those sadistic people who just can't wait to get tortured, you can then just leave the map immediately.

I am not sure if it is a good idea to leave your group's survival to chance.

You see, every time you leave the map, an event that is made more interesting because you can't bring everyone and all of your supplies along, you will arrive at Trumbull Valley again! Whoever was driving that RV apparently had too much to drink. Yes, it's the same exact map, only this time, there are less resources to gather on top of an increased zombie threat. The difficulty continues to rise every single time you leave the map, so the longer you can survive, the harder it is to keep yourself alive. To make things more interesting, you get a score sheet when you leave a map that calculates your performance based on "Violence", "Skill", and "Leadership", and if you like improving your scores, this will certainly make you jump back into the game from the very beginning when your survival adventure reached its horrible end. Now returning to the same exact map may seem disappointing and it does lessen the realism of your journey but the advantage here is that by the time you have spent a lot of hours playing Breakdown, you will know the map so well that it will help you plan and do everything a lot better. New to Breakdown is the introduction of hero characters. These are characters you encountered in the main game that you can now immediately recruit into your group. They would show up randomly in the game world for you to rescue and they bring much relief thanks to their vastly superior character statistics. You can choose to start the game using these characters as well, as long as you have them unlocked by completing specific tasks that are clearly laid out in your journal. Sure, you will still have to babysit them when they are tasked as runners but at least you don't have to worry about having them getting immediately destroyed on the higher level maps when you control them.

Trumbull Valley: Everywhere you go, there will be zombies.

It is very easy to see that the Breakdown mode is better than playing through the original release. You don't have to worry about that haphazard story line while you create your own harrowing tale of survival. Breakdown is what State of Decay should be in the beginning - a very evil sandbox zombie survival game - because the focus on continued survival works really well with the game's established mechanics, not to mention that it makes the game infinitely more playable than before. This expansion is an essential addition that transforms the original game into something more substantial. I would even encourage those who are new to skip right into Breakdown for you won't be missing much from the story mode. Breakdown will cost $6.99 and it will be available this Friday on Steam. Are you ready for your eventual annihilation?

RATING: 4 out of 5

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Games Played 11/18/2013 - 11/24/2013

- 11/18/2013 -
Wii Fit U - Wii U

- 11/19/2013 -
Flower - PlayStation 4
Killzone: Shadow Fall - PlayStation 4
Resogun - PlayStation 4

- 11/20/2013 -
Contrast - PlayStation 4
Galaga Legion DX - PlayStation 3
Resogun - PlayStation 4
State of Decay - PC
Uncharted: Golden Abyss - Vita

- 11/21/2013 -
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - PlayStation 3
Resogun - PlayStation 4

- 11/22/2013 -
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - PlayStation 3
Resogun - PlayStation 4
Shadow of the Colossus - PlayStation 3
State of Decay - PC
Super Mario 3D World - Wii U

- 11/23/2013 -
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - PlayStation 3
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC

- 11/24/2013 -
League of Legends - PC
Pinball FX2 - PC
Resogun - PlayStation 4
State of Decay - PC

Screenshot of the Week:

A lightsaber is best for slicing Jar Jar's neck installed inside a pinball machine.
Pinball FX2 (Personal Computer)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

PlayStation 4: The New Console Experience

They weren't trying to wow anyone with that outer casing.

It's been almost a week since the arrival of the PlayStation 4 in my Game Room and I would like to share my impression in regards to this "brand new console" - a term not to be confused with that forever abused, forever misguided marketing ploy, the media hype machine word of the month that is "next-gen". Let's just get one thing out of the way - does the PS4 deliver anything visually that I have not seen before? The answer to that is surprisingly a yes. The caveat here is that the console's best looking game that I have played so far comes in the form of the PlayStation Network digital download shooting game called Resogun by Housemarque. I also have Killzone: Shadow Fall with me and though that game does look pretty nice, it fails to top what I have seen in Crysis 3 on the Personal Computer when it comes to fidelity, detail, as well as frame rate. Resogun plays with particle effects like you have never seen before where things explode into what seems to be millions of tiny boxes that fly all over the game screen while delivering a silky smooth 60 fps without a single hitch. The thing about Resogun is that it is also addicting and fun - certainly the best game on the PS4 so far - and it is free to download with a PlayStation Plus subscription. Can the effects shown in Resogun be replicated easily on a decent gaming PC? You bet but Resogun is the one PS4 game thus far that will leave a powerful and no doubt permanent impression on even the most demanding graphics whores.

Particles. It's the new lens flare.

I have mentioned before that the PS4 console itself is not a handsome looking console but what about the DualShock 4? The biggest change to it compared to previous DualShock controllers is the addition of the touch pad at the top portion of the controller. It is usable in Killzone: Shadow Fall but to be honest, the touch commands do not bring much to the gameplay and its implementation seems forced. I personally prefer the feel of the DualShock 3 on my hands and Sony should have stayed with that design philosophy. The "Select" and "Start" buttons have been replaced with the "Share" and "Options" button, which is a curious change. It takes time to get use to the missing  "Start" button because it strays away from a well-established convention but I am sure that Sony is proud that they have killed off the whole notion of "press Start button" in video gaming for whatever reason that motivated them to do so.

A speaker on the controller? How very Wii Remote.

Speaking of the "Share" button, the much touted sharing experience is actually quite disappointing. Sony is too dependent on outside social network services to make all the sharing options fun to use. Wouldn't it be great if my friends can stop by my PSN profile straight from the PS4 to check out all of my screenshots and videos instead of having to go to all these other social networking sites? A lot of the people I know on Facebook really don't care about gaming whatsoever and that's actually okay because with the exception of a select few, I don't befriend my online gaming acquaintances on Facebook. The disappointment continues with the native twitch.tv streaming feature - and yes, you can Ustream as well. Though it is extremely easy to get setup and going, the quality of the stream, even when using the "Best" setting is quite mediocre. Playing multiplayer games plus streaming at the same time can also be disastrous to the actual stream where the video feed would start to freeze. The worst part is the inability to moderate the chat room from the PS4 when you have the chat showing on the screen - an unwise action that also makes your game screen smaller. Whoever thought that was cool must be out of his or her mind: The chat should have just popped up on top of the gameplay screen instead of inside an ugly frame that surrounds the gameplay window. When you watch others stream using the Live from PlayStation app, there is no way for you to subscribe to the stream you like so to do just that, you have to find venues outside of the PS4. Sure, all of these problems can be and probably will be addressed in future patches but if you think that you don't need an extra screen or hardware to get the most out of twitch streaming, then you are merely dreaming.

Now trending: The Playroom cam shows. Have fun.

Overall, the PlayStation 4 feels a bit underwhelming. It is quite a shame that one has to adopt it if one wants to play a lot of the great Sony exclusive games that I am sure will be coming to the console because it doesn't feel all that powerful compared to the PlayStation 3. Heck, the PS3's Xross Media Bar looks a lot more exciting than the new PlayStation Dynamic Menu - which is actually a rather ironic name because of how lifeless it is. I think little things like making the Dynamic Menu more uh, dynamic by allowing the users to customize it or even a fleshed-out twitch.tv integration would have made the console feel less of an incomplete product. The only thing that it has right now is Resogun and it is fortunately, a very strong launch title that can keep you glued to the PS4 until more exclusive Sony games arrive. I should also mention that if you have the PlayStation Vita, it is so wonderful that you can fully access the PS4 using remote play and that includes playing the PS4 games from your Vita. It works well enough but the tiny twin sticks on the Vita are not the best so I rather just play on the big screen. If you already have a great gaming Personal Computer, the PS4 is a nice little addition to your gaming library but I would advise against getting it anytime soon because of the lack of exclusive titles. For those who do not even have a decent gaming PC, well, I would recommend that you wait for the Steam Machine or build yourself one before getting the PS4.

We deserve more than being greeted by this dull menu screen when we boot up the PS4.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Loner, Get Ready to Breakdown and Cry Again

Last night, I posted a review for State of Decay, a game where I barely survived the utter mercilessness of something called a zombie apocalypse. Well, the downloadable content for the game called State of Decay: Breakdown is coming out next week on November 29th - on Black Friday, so appropriate - and you can read all about it from Undead Labs' website. Once again, I will put myself in that quite uncomfortable and very compromising situation where I will be endlessly harassed by those freaking zeds. Will this DLC make the game a lot more fun or will it act as a vehicle to keep feeding the forever hungry zombies? The answer shall be revealed soon, so stay tuned!

 To decay or to breakdown? Either way, the zombies will be fed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: State of Decay

State of Decay (2013)
Developer: Undead Labs
Platforms: Personal Computer (Reviewed), X-Box 360
Induction Date: 11/04/2013

We made it? My forever dwindling number of survivor group is still alive? Oh yes, we survived the zombie apocalypse! Well, at least we survived the entirety of the game's story line after having to go through a progressively torturous time trying to ensure that those darn zombies would not be able to kill me and my crew. For sure, this game was so tension-filled, especially with the way things unfolded for me, that towards the end, I just wanted to escape it all by any means necessary. It's a bit unfortunate however that my burning desire to find closure in the game was not only fueled by the genuine sense of fear but also by some of the game's frustrating elements that I am just not a fan of.

Don't be fooled. There are always zombies lurking about. Always.

So what is State of Decay exactly? It's basically a zombie apocalypse survival game that combines open world exploration, character progression, and of course, relentless zombie killing. You are in control of a group of survivors, at least one of them at a time, and you must ensure everyone's well-being by collecting resources needed for daily consumption like ration and ammo in addition to making strategic decisions over quest selections as well as character/base upgrades. It's a clever little gameplay design that will have you obsessing over the basics while having to worry about random situations thrown your way. It is pretty clear however from the beginning that the game does follow a main narrative thread and pursuing related goals will propel the story further but the brilliance in this game is that you are never compelled to participate in them until you want to. This means that despite not having access to the entirety of the game's huge map of Trumbull Valley where the game takes place, you are given the freedom to live the situation at hand any way you want.

Those runners are not very trustworthy.

Speaking of which, it is quite easy to get swept up in that freedom since there are always something for you to do in the game. There are zombie infestation areas to clean up, special zombies to hunt, people to save, supply to retrieve, and so on and so forth. Your journal is always filled up with these tasks so it's a matter of what you think may be beneficial to your group at any given moment. Things do get repetitive after a while but it is the zombie apocalypse after all and these people are just trying to get by on a day to day basis. I personally took a passive approach to playing this game mainly because I am not the bravest guy out there when it comes to playing horror games and this game offers plenty of scary moments, especially at nighttime - glowing red eyes from the pitch black darkness in a random room of abandoned houses makes me cry. The creepy zombie moaning and the sometimes melancholic soundtrack made things a bit too atmospheric too. So the group stayed at just one home base and I took as little risk as possible. My survival philosophy was simple: Let's stay away from the zombies! It seemed like a good idea at the moment but sadly, this backfired on me as the zombie threat continued to grow when I thought things were under control and soon, death came in waves - mind you, it is permadeath - and after that point, maintaining a stable, effective group was a living hell until the end.

Smashing zombie heads into the ground is highly satisfying and it never gets old.

I will take some responsibility over my failure to protect the group effectively but I have no doubt some of the blame lies with the game design as well. There are some things that don't add up, like the randomized events that happen at the home base itself. At one point, someone was close to dying from the zombie infection and he was supposedly being separated from the rest of the group even though I actually saw him interacting with everyone - the game does strange things like that too. When I continued the game the next day, the journal mentioned that the person turned into a zombie and actually killed off two of my group members. Yes, it is indeed a cool feature to have a game that actually does thing while you are away from it but this, obviously not the news I wanted to hear before I started another session with the game, failed to resonate with me because one of the characters killed was one of my advanced level characters. Surely she deserved more credit than being killed off by someone who was already suspected to turn at any given moment. If anything, she would have shot him before he turned. Here's another example that had me pulling out my hair like a zombie in heat: to get the extra supplies you found that you cannot carry with you back to the home base, you can call in for someone to pick it up. If you look at your map, you will be able to see the assigned individual, no matter how advanced their character progression is, do something so illogical like running into a group of zombies. They also tend to get into trouble, asking you to save them only to later die right in front of your eyes. Also, what's the use of providing the player the option between a silent but slow supply search and a noisy but fast supply search when just initializing either search to begin with would send out a large shock wave of sound on your map, attracting at least five zombies your way, even though you are on the second floor of a house opening someone's underwear drawer?

Why bother hiding when the zombies have sixth sense?

I can commend the game for its harsh take on survival, that it is not a given, but something that you have to have to work hard to earn but sometimes, it's easy to see that the zombies get an unfair amount of help in eliminating your existence. While there are a limited amount of supplies on the map, the zombie count is infinitely larger than the amount of people who ever lived on or visited the valley. It would have been nice to be able to actually clear an entire area of zombies. Sure, having several of them spawn here and there should be fine and that includes the special zombie types but those infestation zones, which bring with them a huge number of zombies, keep popping up everywhere without any sign of ever stopping. I think it would have been rewarding to be able to secure an ever expanding safe zone and it would still balance out the game because one would still have to venture out to uncharted territories to hunt for supplies. Still, State of Decay can definitely be an enjoyable experience that can be tailored in many different ways. Once you have completed the story missions, you can even go back to the game  to play around with what you have missed, and if you dare, push yourself to the very brink of total annihilation. There is plenty of content here for those dedicated enough to visit every single abandoned building and there are also enough zombies in this game for the zombie fans to last several zombie apocalypses if you can survive long enough to count them all.

RATING: 3 out of 5