Saturday, July 16, 2011

Student Created Wall-Sized Multi-Touch Star Wars Video Game

Arthur Nishimoto, a graduate student at the University of Illinois, might have created the greatest unofficial Star Wars game in history. It’s called Fleet Commander and it uses Star Wars iconography in a multi-player, touch screen, strategy action game. And he just did it for school. After the jump, you can look at video of the game being played on a giant 20 foot screen, read some of the specs and link to Nishimoto’s website where he explains his process. 

Thanks to Crackajack, a German site (which you can view translated right here), for the heads up.

How cool is that? But that’s just the latest iteration. Nishimoto actually made the game for a smaller screen and had to port it up to that massive one. Here’s another video.

Over on Nishimoto’s site, he gives a pretty layman description of the game and what he was going for but the simplest description is probably just from the YouTube.

Developed at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL) by MS graduate candidate Arthur Nishimoto, “Fleet Commander” explores how a real-time interactive strategy game that would typically rely on complex keyboard commands and mouse interactions be transferred into a multi-user, multi-touch environment. Originally designed for use with TacTile, a 52-inch multi-touch LCD tabletop display, “Fleet Commander” game play has been ported to  EVL’s 20-foot wide multi-touch LCD wall, Cyber-Commons. “Fleet Commander” uses Processing, an open source programming language.

I don’t pretend to know what most of that means, only that the game looks incredibly fun to play and Lucasfilm should buy it from him and port it to WiiU or something that’ll have massive touch screen potential.
Do any of you develop games for a living? Is what Nishimoto did actually as impressive as it looks or is it pretty standard stuff for someone who lives in this world?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Final Fantasy XIII Review

When you get to the 13th entry in a game series, it's hard to approach it as a fresh entity; when you've been playing Final Fantasy games for twenty years, you have to take history into account. This makes it challenging to give Final Fantasy XIII a fair review. On its own, Final Fantasy XIII is a perfectly fine example of a typical Japanese role-playing game, where a rag-tag band of colorful characters joins together to fight a threat and save the world; nothing that reinvents the wheel, but a fine game nonetheless. Judged against the Final Fantasy games that came before it (even though Final Fantasy XIII itself is a standalone title, not a direct sequel), it doesn't fare so well. The characters and plot are nothing we haven't seen before; it's like they were designed by committee to appeal to RPG players. There's something soulless to the overly linear Final Fantasy XIII, something missing that makes it not feel like a Final Fantasy game at all. Of course, if you're new to the series (and to RPGs in general) you might not mind.
Final Fantasy XIII initially feels right; the storyline involves learning some new vocabulary words, like any good fantasy story should. The game takes place between the world of Pulse and the city of Cocoon that floats above it. The utopian Cocoon was created and is operated by mysterious beings called the fal'Cie, who are opposed by the fal'Cie on Pulse below. Fal'Cie can mark humans, turning them into magic-using l'Cie, who are imbued with a quest to fulfill. Fail to fulfill it, and the l'Cie turn into the zombie-like Cie'th, but if they succeed the l'Cie are turned into statues of pure crystal—not exactly a win-win situation. Feeling a little confused? Fortunately, Final Fantasy XIII includes an in-game encyclopedia and plot summaries, so if you're left scratching your head after a cutscene, you can ask the game to dumb it down for you, which you will probably need to do, at first.

The player-characters who are tangled up in this fal'Cie and l'Cie mess are your standard RPG tropes. There's the stoic and hardened warrior protagonist, Lightning, who at least breaks the mold somewhat by being female. Some of the party members that join her are likeable, like the sweet-hearted brawler Snow, but there are some definite problems with the cast. The comic Sazh is not going to win Square Enix any awards for the most enlightened portrayal of a black character, and the unfailingly perky and squeaky-voiced Vanille may make some players want to throw their controllers through their TV screens. These characters fit archetypes, filling roles that gaming companies know appeal to RPG fans. There's something cynical to the way they were tailor-made to hit RPG nerd buttons.

Setting story and character aside, though, the game is technically excellent. Final Fantasy XIII spent four years in development, and the time and effort shows. Characters are beautifully rendered, detailed down to a flush in the cheeks or the faint scruff of whiskers on the chin. The cutscenes are like watching a top-quality CGI movie. Of special note is how Square Enix took the extra effort to redo the character lip sync for the English-language release, instead of making the English dialogue fit to the lip movements from the Japanese version. The voice acting itself is—with the exception of the aforementioned grating Vanille—top notch. The soundtrack in particular also stands out worthy of praise, even if it somewhat inexplicably features a Leona Lewis track as its theme song.
The game's actual battle system and mechanics are worthwhile. Combat uses the Active Time Battle system, in which a gauge fills up over time, and actions can be slotted and chained together depending on how much time is in the gauge. The player only has active control of one character at a time. The other two members of the party are controlled by AI; however, the player can guide what the non-active characters are doing by means of the Paradigm Shift system. In this system, the player can set certain roles for each character—focusing on defense or healing, for example—and can switch them on the fly respond to different battle conditions. Combat is fast-paced, frequently against many enemies at once, so adapting tactics to the situation is important. The system for leveling up abilities is customizable, too, letting you focus on improving abilities for specific combat roles.
While the battle system is well-suited and enjoyable, certain elements may make it too easy for veteran RPG players. The first option in the combat menu is auto-battle—press that button and the game makes choices on what attacks are best suited for the situation for you. You can choose your attacks yourself, but the siren call of auto-battle can be hard to resist. In addition, your characters are healed completely after each battle, eliminating the need to worry about healing items or making it to the next save point. Even if your party does fall in battle, you can simply use the retry option, which puts you back to just before the battle began, with no major losses. These changes remove a lot of the tension and excitement that make RPGs fun.
The more troubling—and surprising—problem is that the game world of Pulse and Cocoon lacks depth. While previous entries in the series have always had an overarching story, they've also been filled with places to explore, stocked with colorful inhabitants. The size and richness of the game worlds were a large part of the appeal of the earlier adventures. Square Enix largely abandons this familiar RPG element. There are no towns in Final Fantasy XIII, and there are very few non-player characters to talk to. A large portion of the game is simply a constant linear push, frequently literally along a straight line, from battle to battle and cutscene to cutscene, with no stops for freedom of exploration or to get a sense of the world. This linearity makes the game seem somehow lonely, somehow empty, a change that is sure to stick in the craw of old-school Final Fantasy fans.
Final Fantasy XIII is, at its core, a technically excellent and solid RPG, and one that's not afraid to change up some of the traditional elements of the genre, even if those changes are a turn-off to more traditional fans. Those who expect more from the Final Fantasy series might find themselves left cold by the storyline and characters, but it's just as possible that Square Enix's calculated choices will make this someone's favorite Final Fantasy yet.
Overall Score: 8/10 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July (Late)

Sorry I didn't post this yesterday but just want to know if everyone had a nice fourth of July, I know I did!

Thursday, June 30, 2011


There have been plenty of apps that have tried (and thankfully failed) to promote a hate-filled anti-gay message in Apple's App Store. But should the powers of darkness attack once again, fear not! "Supergay" is here to save the day.

Or, well, at least it's here to deliver some gay-pride-themed gaming along with a comic-book-style coming-out story with a twist.The new episodic app released for the iPhone and the iPad is called SuperGay & the Attack of his Ex-Girlfriends. ($2.99).
The basics are this: You play Dr. Tom Palmer, a young man on his way to becoming the pink-and-black-clad hero known as Supergay. As the game opens, we find Tom working on a controversial cloning project while coming to terms with the fact that he's not really into the ladies ... all of this right before he's about to wed his boss' daughter.

Nefarious secrets are afoot and a cloning experiment goes wrong as Tom tries to live a lie rather than admit the truth. Check out the trailer here:

As of right now, you can play the first ten chapters of "Supergay" which present a variety of gaming styles — fighting, stealth, racing and there's even a dance-filled rhythm game. If you find yourself in a tight spot while fending off legions of, say, cloned ex-girlfriends, you can unleash our hero's Rainbow Ray. No, really.

The gameplay itself is not entirely, well, super. Instead, it's a touch Average Joe. The controls are pretty rudimentary and I did experience a couple of crashes while playing it on my iPad (though I did not lose any progress).

But there is plenty of variety to keep things interesting here and the comic-book art style is nicely done. Meanwhile, the story (funny, touching, corny) grows increasingly intriguing as you unlock each chapter. But what I really dig is the game's tagline and ongoing message: "Be yourself."

While I hope the "Supergay" chapters that are "coming soon" feature a bit more polish, "Supergay" is already a step in the right direction. The world (or at least the App Store) is ready to be saved by a super-gay hero.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Children's gaming decisions left to the parents.

The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday it's everyone's right to buy a video game- no matter the age or even the graphic content of the game.
It continues a decade-old argument: should violent video games be available to children?
"You can get anything from Hannah Montana to Mortal Combat." Jeff Pearson says, "which started this debate years ago with all the fatalities."
Pearson owns Play-N-Trade; an arcade store selling video games to people of all ages, including games rated "M" for Mature. If Louisiana ever banned the sale of these games to minors, Pearson says it could make or break his business.
"It would have been a difference of 10 to 15% in actual sales," he said.
Some states like California banned the sale of violent video games like Mortal Combat or Call of Duty to children under the age of 17. However, the nation's highest court- the Supreme Court says you can't do that- calling it a violation of the first amendment.
"When a parent comes in with their kid, what kind of game do they allow them to play?" Pearson says, "they could be good parents across the board but it all comes down to how (the children) are raised."
In a 90-page decision, Supreme Court Justices ruled the choice is ultimately up to the parents if their child is mature enough to play certain titles.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board or ESRB posts suggested age groups on just about every game. It's system rates games for content suitable for Everyone to Teen and Mature (17 or older). However, in Louisiana, these are just suggestions. Game stores like Pearson's Play-N-Trade have the option to deny a sale of certain games to minors, but it's up to the clerk's discretion. 
Monday's ruling now makes it more difficult for government to regulate these sales and instead, puts it in the hands of parents.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Borderlands Review

Disregard all the goofy talk about Borderlands and its million-plus guns, or its "Diablo 2 starring Mad Max" premise; the one thing you absolutely need to know about Borderlands is that it's basically Mario Party for FPS fans. No, that doesn't mean that Borderlands is suddenly a board game full of mascots, fluctuating rules, and silly minigames. It's that Borderlands is a game where the single-player ranges from good to downright boring or frustrating; but when you add multiple players to a session, it becomes a delightful fusion of cooperative mechanics, a simple (yet effective) reward scheme, and solid gunplay. It's secretly the party game for people who disdain minigames, but love to shoot things in the face.
A more traditional description for Borderland would be, "cooperative FPS with Diablo-esque mechanics." You start off by picking a character: Roland the gun-toting soldier, Lilith the stealth/magic femme, Mordecai the sniper, and Brick the boxer/tank. Then you guide that character through a grand journey with multiple quest hubs and dungeons; most of the quests are of the simple "go to a dungeon and kill/collect x amount of y." My first playthrough, where I mostly focused on going down the critical path with a little bit of (but not nearly all) of sidequesting, took about 27 hours. By the way, the overarching story of "finding the secret Vault while guided by a mysterious woman who talks to you in your mind" is just serviceable; it's there to give you a reason to kill things, but don't expect anything more in-depth.

But while games like Fallout 3 and Hellgate: London still use under-the-hood die rolls to determine first-person results, Borderlands, courtesy of Gearbox's experience in the FPS genre, uses actual skill in its combat. You don't aim center-of-mass and miss due to an incredibly unlucky dice roll -- you simply hit. While there isn't super-detailed location-based damage (you can't shoot a gun out of someone's hand or cripple their legs), at the very least, a bullet to the head counts as a critical hit. Also, the general aesthetics of gunplay are well-realized; shotguns impart oomph, sniper rifles sound off with a satisfying crack after each shot, and submachine guns blurt out bullets at a furious rate. Curiously, the only gun that seems off is the rocket launcher; there doesn't seem to be enough splash damage, and sometimes I can't even tell where the rocket itself will go. Rocket launchers are the one weapon type that I underutilize in thirty-five hours of play.
Layered onto the FPS gameplay are the two RPG mechanics that directly and reliably tickle my reptile brain: the skill tree and the randomly-generated loot. Like in Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft, each character has three distinct skill trees to apply skill points towards. So even if everyone plays as the somewhat-overpowered Roland, one player might spec him to be a damage dealer while another goes for the medic build. I personally like having Brick be a melee-monster, while others tend to bulk him up as a pure tank. Plus, at a cost, you can re-spec anytime (something that Hellgate should have done). Even though the moment-to-moment gameplay is, "shoot, shoot, shoot," these skill trees add just enough to help each character feel distinct.

The loot system also pulls from Diablo, in that a bunch of adjectives in the name determine weapon factors such as damage, firing rate, magazine size, and so forth; you can open a chest or loot a basic enemy and get a surprise in the form of a SMG with a scope, a large ammunition clip, and explosive rounds. Besides guns, randomly generated gear includes power shields, grenade modifiers (my personal favorite is Transfusion, which saps enemy health and transfers it to you), and support mods that affect skill tree allocation. Heck, the color that indicates rarity is straight out of WOW (white, green, blue, purple, and orange); this is the first FPS where I proudly boast of wearing "mostly purples." Besides the randomly generated guns, there are also "uniques" with specific properties; such as a revolver that fires wildly inaccurate rounds (due to its previous owner having only one eye), or the affectionately titled "Boomstick" shotgun that pelts six electric grenades simultaneously per trigger pull. Borderlands is tuned to the inner lootwhore of action-RPG aficionados.

Borderlands famously underwent a visual style overhaul for the better. The use of strong lines and bold color for a more "painterly" style makes it stand out among other Unreal Engine 3 titles, and alleviates the fact that, man alive, you're looking at a lot of post-apocalyptic wasteland with occasional industrial wasteland or interior (at least there's a snowy mountaintop near the end). The visuals also serve as the gateway for the over-the-top silliness that permeates the game and turns it into a charming and goofy experience. It's fitting that enemies become piƱatas -- with damage-inflicted substituting as confetti and guns/money/shields/ammunition as candy. It's internally consistent that being a medic means that your bullets actually heal allies when shooting them. It allows for a game where a psychotic little person wearing a makeshift crown becomes a feared foe. It's where Mordecai's special attack has him throwing a bird at foes (which also causes money to fall from the sky); where a shotgun can sport a sniper scope while firing acid bullets.

So when you add multiple (up to four) players to all that, it simply works. There's something to be said about collectively experiencing panic when the screen gets filled with "badass level 35 angry shotgunner midgets" (actual game term). When you add players, the game adds tougher (and sometimes even more interesting) enemies to compensate. The characters complement each other; it's great to coordinate a situations such as having Lilith sneak by to unleash a fire attack, followed by Roland laying down a gun turret to help fight baddies, and end with Brick running around while punching stragglers. Though, like an MMO, you'll want to be relatively close in levels to each other -- otherwise you have a situation where either the lowbie can't keep up and dies a lot, or the high-level player get bored. I personally didn't mess much with the PvP features, but I can see players who, after using the New Game Plus mode to run through the story multiple times and reach the level 50 cap (my main, after 27 hours, is level 35), then moving onto PvP arena fighting

In fact, the great multiplayer smoothes over some of the biggest irritations with single-player; playing Borderlands alone is an invitation for occasional aggravation and boredom. The enemy A.I. is simply dumb for the most part. Most enemies follow the "run straight at the player" tactic, with only the Crimson Lance (end-game baddies) utilizing any actual tactics. Fine for when baddies swarm you and your buddies, but dreadfully uninteresting when playing alone. The additional enemy types added for multiplayer help with the variety problem; alone, you face hundreds upon hundreds of the same bandits and skags. With friends, at the very least, more interesting variants of those same foes show up.
The death mechanic gives you a chance to kill an enemy while bleeding to "get a second wind," and prevent actual dying and respawn. This, plus the ability for players to revive each other, is great for multiplayer. It's the right balance of tension, risk, and reward. It's not as interesting alone; it downright sucks such as in situations for when you get taken down but there's no one to fight, and you're forced to pay the respawn fee.

The boss fights also suffer in single-player due to a combination of poor/uninteresting A.I. and design, and the save mechanic. These encounters generally boil down to "either shoot all of your guns at the boss while circle-strafing, or shoot the guns at the boss' glowing weak spot." The last boss fight on my own felt extraordinarily anti-climactic; I was able to exploit it by hiding behind a column and popping out for the occasional easy-to-do critical hit (it doesn't help that the actual ending can either be described as "eh" or "terrible"). Like the enemies in general, the lame (and occasionally cheap) boss fights just feel better when gunning with a buddy or three.

Even as such, multiplayer still can't fix odd quirks that whittle away the experience. Such as the long walks/drives before you unlock fast travel. Or the times when Borderlands forgets that it's in first-person and tries to be a platformer. Or that the sole vehicle I've driven in nearly 30 hours of play is a two-seater (no four-seater seems odd for a 4-player co-op game). Looking at an item on the ground to loot it takes getting used to, and so does not having a minimap (odd, since Diablo 2 had one). The informal "drop stuff on the ground on the honor system" is the closest we have to a trade interface.

Call it a first-person Diablo, an evolution of Resistance 2's co-op mode, Monster Hunter for the west, or a party game for FPS gamers. Call it the best example of the transformative power of multiplayer. Whatever you designate it, Borderlands is a decent single-player FPS/RPG that simply becomes great -- when playing with others. Besides, sheer midget panic is something that has to be shared with friends. 

Overall Score: 9/10

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Data Being Stolen

 The Japanese video game developer Sega said Sunday that information belonging to 1.3 million customers had been stolen from its database, the latest global hacker attack against a video game company.
Names, birth dates, e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords of Sega Pass online network members had been compromised, Sega said in a statement, though payment data like credit card numbers were safe. Sega Pass has been shut down since late last week.
“We are deeply sorry for causing trouble to our customers. We want to work on strengthening security,” said Yoko Nagasawa, a Sega spokeswoman, adding that it was unclear when the company would restart Sega Pass.
The attack against Sega, a division of Sega Sammy Holdings that makes game software like Sonic the Hedgehog as well as slot machines, follows other recent significant breaches. Targets have included Citigroup, which said more than 360,000 accounts were hit in May, and the International Monetary Fund.
The drama surrounding the recent round of video game breaches paled in comparison with what Sony, the maker of the PlayStation, experienced after two high-profile attacks that surfaced in April.
Those breaches led to the theft of account data for more than 100 million customers, making it the largest ever hacking of data outside the financial services industry.
They also exposed what turned out to be a large number of security holes in sites throughout the global Sony media empire.
That led to attacks on Sony systems that undermined confidence in the company and made it the source of frequent jokes by security experts.
Sega Europe, a division of Sega that runs the Sega Pass network, immediately notified Sega and the network customers after it found out about the breach Thursday, Ms. Nagasawa said.
Sega was one of the biggest video game consoles makers in the 1990s but pulled out of the market in 2001 in response to disappointing sales of its Dreamcast system, which began sales in 1998 to widespread industry praise. Dreamcast lost ground to newer products developed by Sony and Nintendo.
It now focuses on developing video games for systems made by other companies.
While the F.B.I. is likely to be called in to investigate the attack on Sega, as the U.S. government agency typically is in such cases, its agents may find themselves competing for clues with members of the Lulz Security hacking group.
Lulz, a group of hackers that has been behind the cyber attacks against other video game companies including Nintendo, unexpectedly offered to track down and punish the hackers who broke into Sega’s database.
In its offer to assist Sega, a Twitter post from Lulz hinted that its leaders might count themselves among a small but highly loyal group of game players who still play on the aging Dreamcast console.
“Sega — contact us,” Lulz said. “We want to help you destroy the hackers that attacked you. We love the Dreamcast, these people are going down.”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

inFamous Review

Imagine waking up one day and finding yourself in the middle of a burning crater, destroyed buildings and dead people everywhere. You soon learn that you are no longer like other humans. Electricity courses through your body, endowing you with superpowers and, by extension, the power to control the fates of those around you. Will you become a noble hero, striving to bring peace to a city in ruins? Or will you lash out in anger, crushing the weak humans who are no longer your equals? In Infamous, the choice is yours. These moral dilemmas intertwine your fate with that of the city, but it's the amazing freedom that makes this experience so incredible. From unleashing electrical blasts to corral your enemies, to scaling the highest skyscrapers with finesse and ease, Infamous lets you seamlessly control the powered-up hero you've always wanted to be. The buggy visuals and gameplay glitches can't quite live up to the excellent action, but the overall experience crushes these small problems like so many petty criminals. It's not easy being a superhero, but it is an absolute blast.
inFamous Gameplay

A powerful bomb has exploded in Empire City, bringing the thriving island metropolis to its knees. Gangs now rule the streets, causing cops and citizens alike to cower in fear, and a deadly pandemic has forced the government to quarantine the whole area. At the center of the cataclysmic blast is Cole, an ordinary bicycle messenger. Of course, he isn't so ordinary anymore. The explosion killed thousands and leveled buildings like they were fragile card houses, but it gave him superpowers. Cole can shoot lightning bolts from his fingertips and withstand an inordinate amount of punishment, so he is the one who must track down the bombers and bring order to the city. The story is rooted firmly in typical comic-book struggles, but the characters are so well developed, the problems so believable, that the deeper you plunge into the conspiracy the more fascinating it gets. As the story pushes you toward the chilling conclusion, you'll become completely immersed in this universe. The cutscenes add to this impact, employing stylish, animated illustrations that would be equally at home in a comic-book.
However, the story is not just a static tale of vengeance and betrayal. You have a choice in how it plays out, which gives you a strong connection to the events, sucking you further into the world. Whenever Cole is faced with a moral decision, the action pauses and Cole spells out his thoughts to you. Should he let the hungry citizens eat the government-delivered food, or scare them off and take it all for his friends? The abrupt stop in the action lacks the immediate impact that a more organic choice would have given, but it makes you face the consequences head on, forcing you to consider both sides of the coin before brashly rushing in. The problems are often black and white, presenting a clear path toward being a superhero or villain, but there are a few twists to the classic formula that make the problems feel much more authentic. There isn't always an obvious good or evil route, so you'll have to put yourself in Cole's shoes, decide how you want the situation to play out, and live with the consequences--both in how the story plays out and in the look of the city itself.

Empire City is split into three large islands, and by the end of the game, you'll be able to travel across the whole city, jumping into missions or on top of buildings without restrictions. Moving around the city feels almost perfect, given that the ease of climbing and leaping makes the whole world burst with possibilities. You can easily grab on to windows, pipes, and other fixtures on the outside of buildings, which makes climbs from the dirty streets to the breezy rooftop quick and painless. There's a slight stickiness to Cole's leaps, so when you jump close to objects that you can grab, you'll be pulled into their path. This simple mechanic makes sliding along thin wires or bouncing across tiny posts incredibly fun, letting you worry more about where you want to go rather than how you're going to get there. As you progress through the game, you unlock the ability to glide through the air and grind railroad tracks, which makes the already dynamic movement even more freeing. The whole system is so immediately satisfying that it's possible to get lost in this huge metropolis for hours, joyfully dashing across towering buildings, skating along railroad tracks, and shimmying up lampposts.

Although leaping from building to building is a blast on its own, there are worthwhile goodies hidden around the city that give you a tangible reason to explore every nook and cranny. There are 350 blast shards scattered in all sorts of odd places, and collecting them gives you the ability to store more electricity, which means that you have even more power with which to zap enemies and innocent bystanders. There are also drop points scattered across the three islands that give important details about the events that unfolded before the bomb changed everything. To find these hidden items, you need only tap L3 and they will appear on your radar, eliminating the frustration of having to hunt down hundreds of collectables. However, it's when you start tracking down these items that a slight problem with the movement crops up. The stickiness of your jumps is great when you're sprinting across rooftops, but it makes landing in precise locations rather tricky. Cole latches on to everything near him, so trying to drop down a story to nab a tucked-away shard can be trying at times. The benefit of being pulled into every climbable object far outweighs this slight annoyance, but it can be grating when you just want to grab a tiny ledge and Cole's sticky fingers won't obey.
The combat is as seamless and enjoyable as the exploration, which keeps the action consistently thrilling. You start with a standard electrical blast that subdues citizens and criminals rather quickly, but you unlock even more powerful tricks throughout the game, which keeps the combat varied and intense. Sticky grenades, high-powered rockets, and an impressive shockwave blast can all be integrated into your normal fight routine with ease, which makes it possible to exterminate your foes in creative and sadistic ways. The controls for the combat are spot-on, ensuring that you can never blame the game if you miss a headshot or accidentally zap a friendly doctor instead of a crazed gunman. As you complete missions and kill enemies, you earn experience points, which are used to upgrade your already impressive abilities. Although the core moves don't differ drastically between good and evil characters, the upgrades throw in some interesting twists. For instance, as a good guy, Cole can use his grenades to handcuff weaker enemies to the ground, whereas his evil side can split grenades into multiple parts, creating more potent blasts.

Though you have superstrength and the ability to conduct electricity, this game isn't a cakewalk. Whether you're good or evil, the city is overflowing with enemies, which forces you to be alert even when walking casually down the street. Bad guys perch atop buildings armed with high-powered sniper rifles and rocket launchers, and they are crack shots with plenty of ammunition. If you're not careful, you will die often, but the difficulty never seems unfair. The versatile combat system lets you attack the hostiles in a number of unique ways. For instance, in one mission, you must bombard a specific building. You can move in slowly, taking out the surrounding villains as meticulously as possible and clearing an open path to unleash your destructive power. Or if you're feeling adventurous, you can grind a nearby railroad track, toss handfuls of grenades and missiles as you glide by, and destroy your mark without bothering with the surrounding humans. The versatility of the fights combined with a forgiving checkpoint system ensure that, even when the odds are stacked against you, there is always a way to weather the storm.
The missions are as varied as the ways in which you can approach them. There are quests that focus on exploration, pure combat, careful tracking, deft platforming, escorting important people, and various combinations thereof. The most rousing is an intense battle in a prison courtyard. Powerful enemies swarm from all sides, filling the screen with fire and explosions. You toss grenades and missiles into the fray, conjure shockwaves to slow down the onslaught, and then slink behind cover to take a breather. It's intense and thrilling, cleverly mixing every element of the game into a superb blend of chaos and fun. The side missions provide an interesting respite from the exhilarating main missions, giving you bite-sized tasks that clean up sections of the city when you finish them. Certain side missions force you to choose between two morally aligned tasks. Completing the good one will make the evil one unavailable, and vice versa. Not only are these missions satisfying, but they further reinforce your moral standing and make the two sides of the karmic coin feel unique.

The visuals cannot quite match the thrilling combat and amazing exploration, but they do a fine job of bringing this chaotic city to life. Cole is nicely detailed and impressively animated; he leaps and climbs with silky-smooth moves. The lighting is also quite well done. During some missions, Cole must enter the sewers to power up darkened districts of the city, and these sections are stunning. The light dances against the murky water and dank walls, creating an eerie yet inviting view of the slinkiest place in the city. Fire is also brilliantly realized, which makes it a joy to cause cars and toxic barrels to combust. Not everything looks so good, though. The other characters don't have the same believable animation as Cole, which makes the in-game cutscenes feel pretty sloppy. The buildings and roads have a hazy look, and textures jarringly pop in as you quickly leap across the city. There are also a number of graphical glitches. Cole will walk through railings and other solid objects all too often, the frame rate struggles when the screen is brimming with effects, and there are far too many jagged edges.
Empire City may not be the prettiest place, but what it lacks in stunning beauty it makes up for in pure entertainment. One of the most remarkable aspects of Infamous is how it continually improves throughout the quest. The pacing is excellent. It doles out new abilities, introduces powerful story twists, and concocts exhilarating missions at a steady rate, which means the game never loses steam during the course of the lengthy adventure. And when the credits finally roll, you'll just want to keep playing, to see what the other morality choices reveal and to squeeze every ounce of entertainment from this amazing world. Infamous is an exhilarating and incredibly fun open-world game.
                 Overall Score: 8.5/10                                                                  

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sony's PS3 3D T.V.

This right here is what I'm going to be saving my money on. It has the ability for two players to see different images on the screen while playing simultaneously. 

It's 24-inches but surely they're gonna be making wider ones. Sony also is going to start selling a lower-priced pair of PlayStation-branded glasses that will cost $69. A bundle with the monitor, glasses, an HDMI cable and "Resistance 3" will be sold for $499 this fall.

Can't wait for this and so much more!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Some New Reviews for Yall

Well I was thinking about the new games I should review and I came up with these 3 games I just recently played and finished so here you go.

First game is...


Second game is 


and the Third game is...

Final Fantasy XIII

I will make sure these will be verrrry lengthy  reviews so be ready!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Battlefield Bad Company 2 Review

Two members of my squad have taken too long to radio in our extraction, and the third just impatiently ran off into the storm in search of them. I am alone on a mountainside and can barely see the encroaching enemies through the fog of snow. I have to get farther down and find my team, but the frostbite is starting to overwhelm. My desperate dash to the nearest hillside house slows as my body begins shivering violently, and my vision is fading under a veil of ice. Just as things start going dark, I burst into the house, put a few bullets into its armed occupant and cozy up to the fireplace. My eyesight returns to normal and I'm quickly back outside in the cold, zigzagging from one warm spot to the next, all the while evading enemies.
Gameplay of BFBC 2

This moment, which I experienced during a mission in Battlefield Bad Company 2, perfectly demonstrates why the game is so interesting: it offers a unique and varied take on established FPS genre conventions. In any other game, I would expect to simply run-'n'-gun my way out of a situation like the one I detailed above, so Bad Company 2's unexpected emphasis on survival skills caught me completely off guard. The radical change in pace forced me to think and react differently to the situation than I normally would, and it made for an incredible experience. The best part is that there plenty of other instances like this throughout the game: racing an ATV through a town full of heavily-armed enemies; sniping enemy sentries with a sniper rifle while using the sound of thunder to mask my shots; and blowing the walls out of a building and watching it crumble on top of your enemies -- it's the moment-to-moment excitement of each mission, helped along by the cool and unique objectives, that gives BFBC's campaign an unforgettable edge.
The core storyline, however, does a poor job of grabbing you. It isn't that it's bad but rather that it basically boils down to four dudes cracking jokes about cheerleaders while shooting the terrorists behind a World War III plot. It works best if you treat it like an action movie; the comparable example that immediately springs to mind is Die Hard: The heroes end up in a situation so crazy, it's practically improbable, but their badass attitudes, loud mouths and itchy trigger-fingers make it worth experiencing anyway. Taking advantage of that simplistic formula,Bad Company 2 pushes the story into the background, meaning it occurs around the action instead of getting in the way of it.
Where it really stumbles is in its reliance on cliches. For instance, your squad is comprised entirely of been-there archetypes like the explosions-obsessed Haggard and the nerdy tech-specialist, Sweetwater. Neither, however, holds a candle to their cigar-chompin' Sergeant: He is not only minutes from retiring but is, as they say, too old for this shit. Like they were in the previous game, they're a predictable lot, but with the help of some solid writing, the squad's deprecating, goofy and profane rapport is genuinely funny. As you progress through BFBC2 you'll also see that they're not as one-dimensional as you originally thought: Sarge grows increasingly agitated about being prematurely brought out of retirement, and Haggard is a big ol' softie.
I also appreciated that the campaign isn't merely a primer for the multiplayer. Yes, the skills you gain during the solo romp will transition over when you hop online but it's an entirely separate entity. It's also remarkably similar to the first Bad Company which, in this instance, is a good thing. It surprised me how familiar everything felt to the first Bad Company, but I quickly realized that BFBC2 isn't trying to reinvent the wheel -- it's merely changing to tires with a better tread. So, rather than bombarding you with oodles of new game types, developer DICE has fine-tuned and modified the familiar favorites to cater to their established fan base.
This is especially evident in the online modes, where the little enhancements not only reinforced what I liked about the original but offered several new ideas to chew on. Where the control point-capturing Conquest mode has been the series' trademark for nearly a decade, Rush is quickly becoming the mode I most expect other multiplayer games to latch onto and players to gravitate toward. Conquest gives two teams the same objective -- hold control points the longest and wear out your enemy's reinforcements -- but Rush puts different layers of stress on a team depending on their objective. Defenders passively wait behind mounted guns or atop vantage points to prevent the struggling offense's efforts to advance.
On the other hand, the attackers always have the opportunity to progress, causing the defenders to frantically retreat to new positions when the explosives are successfully detonated. While similarly structured to Conquest, the push-push-push mentality of constantly destroying enemy control points keeps Rush matches moving along at a quick and satisfying pace. Good thing, too, because the maps are humongous. Areas expand as you destroy their control points, but smart design decisions keep things from getting too messy. As a new sector opens, the last one closes and keeps you focused on going forward. The smaller Squad Rush mode, however, shrinks things down to 4v4 and eliminates the availability of tanks and helicopters. This significantly amplifies the intensity by forcing you to rely on your small team to attack or defend a wide-open area. All of this makes for big, intense, awesome, easily digestible multiplayer matches.
I was only able to sink four hours into these multiplayer modes during EA's prearranged sessions, and while this brief window isn't quite the same as playing against "regular" players after the game's launch, I was impressed with what I saw. I became hooked on BFBC's multiplayer not just because it's a great shooter, but because it is instantly rewarding. Everything you do -- and I do mean everything -- earns you experience points. High kill-counts bring in the big points, but I grew fond of playing support roles to nickel and dime my way to the top. Defibrillating dead teammates back to life, dishing out boxes of ammo and repairing battered vehicles contributes a considerable amount to earning promotions and earning new weapons.
That the customization doesn't reach the standard set by the similarly satisfying Modern Warfare 2 will likely discourage genre pros, but the list of unlockable guns for the snipers, medics, engineers and balls-out assaulters is seemingly endless. The massive maps and wide variety of combat options also contribute to the fun. I had a blast airdropping across enemy lines, flying choppers, mowing enemies down from a mounted turrets and using the destructible environments to my advantage. The spectacular explosions that accompany tank shells punching concrete also have a drastic effect on the way you and your opponents interact with the world, so obliterate with caution and care to exploit the built-in physics effectively.
With Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare 2 being regularly victimized by bugs, glitches, hacks and other exploits, there's an opportunity for another game to come in and do some real damage.Bad Company 2 definitely has the necessary chops to give the current king of, well, modern warfare, a run for its money. Aside from its limited weapon tweaking, it hits on all of the same high points as its biggest competition but does it with a style all its own.

Overall Score: 9/10


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