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The Stanley Parable: A Game About Games
The new hd Collection Standard — Kingdom Hearts hd 1.5 Remix Review
Virtually Unstoppable — Saints Row IV Review
Miami hotline review
Violence, Children and Video Games

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On Tues­day Bliz­zard released a major patch for Dia­blo III. There have been a lot of changes to the classes as well as some fixes and tweaks, for the full release notes go to: http://www.battle.net/d3/en/blog/13532431/patch-204-now-live-08–04-2014.

The Big Changes

There is big news for pets in this patch with a boost to the dam­age that they can dish out, all pets, includ­ing Witch Doc­tor and Demon Hunter pets, now scale their dam­age with Crit­i­cal Hit Damage.

Cru­saders got buffed! They also now incur a 15% dam­age reduc­tion. After the Cru­sader being so OP in the beta it came as a sur­prise that the class in live was so frag­ile, so this patch has brought the Cru­sader back to a level that is on an equal foot­ing with the other classes.

Con­tro­ver­sial change for Wiz­ards, did it get nerfed? Frozen orb is appar­ently now ‘fixed’ because it was bugged before. Wiz­ards were get­ting the max­i­mum orb dam­age on every hit because the radius was too big and the time the orb lasted was too long. So although this will still be a good abil­ity it’s affect will be reduced. In addi­tion, Tele­port has been changed to 3 tele­ports rather than 4, but the dis­tance you can travel in any one tele­port has been increased from 35 yards to 50 yards.

Craft­ing costs have been reduced, level 70 crafted sets no longer require Flaw­less Royal gems and instead now require Mar­quise gems which means that it’s not such a mas­sive over­head and could reduce farm­ing time for some items.

The drop rate of unique Leg­endary craft­ing mate­ri­als has been sig­nif­i­cantly increased along­side ensur­ing that Nephalem Rifts are the best way to get leg­endary items. The num­ber of chests and drops from mon­sters out­side of rifts has been reduced with the drops you are get­ting in the rifts being tai­lored to your class now.

 

Visit east.paxsite.com for  the lat­est news from PAX East, sched­ules, forums, and more. You can also down­load the offi­cial PAX app for smart phones for free to your smart phone.

What’s hap­pen­ing at the Bliz­zard Booth at PAX East 2014

  • War­lords of Draenor hands-on demo fea­tur­ing updated char­ac­ter mod­els and the intro expe­ri­ence for the upcom­ing expansion.
  • Hands-on time with the in-development Dia­blo III: Ulti­mate Evil Edi­tion for PlaySta­tion 4.
  • The lat­est infor­ma­tion on Hearth­stone: Heroes of War­craft, and a chance to play the mobile ver­sion on iPad.
  • A brand-new demo for Heroes of the Storm, fea­tur­ing new Heroes playable for the first time any­where out­side of Blizzard.
  • Bliz­zard devel­op­ers will be on-hand to chat about your favorite games.

 

Fol­low @Official_PAX on Twit­ter and you can also fol­low @PAX_lines for the lat­est from the main theatre.

 

 

 

I know I have been away for some time, plan­ning a wed­ding, even hav­ing a year in advance, can be a dif­fi­cult time. The most dif­fi­cult of these choices has clearly been what song I wanted played while danc­ing with my mother. My mother has been the most influ­en­tial peo­ple in my life, push­ing me to always do bet­ter and always tak­ing an inter­est with the things I love. She is a con­stant reader on the site, always for­ward­ing me arti­cles on the good the gam­ing indus­try does, and when ever she vis­its, takes time to sit and watch me play. My love and appre­ci­a­tion for clas­si­cal music stems from her push­ing me in mid­dle and high school. I started learn­ing music when I was around 9 years old. I played the trum­pet from then till I grad­u­ated high school and I can still read sheet music to this day. There had been sev­eral times I wanted to quit, with the rea­son either being some of my friends or a teacher had annoyed me to the point of no return; but, because of her I stayed. Now, as an adult, I see that it was for the bet­ter and I can now hon­estly say, thank you. When choos­ing the song to dance with my mother, I wanted it to incor­po­rate all of the above. I wanted it to have emo­tion, be gam­ing related, and be an orches­trated piece with no lyrics what so ever. I am not a tra­di­tion­al­ist by any means. I feel there is more emo­tion in music with­out lyrics. Lyrics can be an empty shell, devoid of mean­ing, and can be crafted by any­one. Real com­po­si­tion takes an artist, and I looked to one of my favorite game com­posers, who I deeply respect as an artist and com­poser, Nobuo Uematsu for a com­po­si­tion. I chose “Zanarkand” from the Final Fan­tasy X sound­track. It is the ver­sion taken from Uematsu-sans “Dis­tant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fan­tasy” album, it has a full orches­tra play­ing the piece instead of the MIDI ver­sion from the game (the new HD Remas­ter has much bet­ter audio, Yay!). I wanted to say thank you for your hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to me for the past 29 years. I have grown into a young man that appre­ci­ates the arts and well crafted music because of you. I try to pass that love of music and games with each Gam­ing in Stereo arti­cle I write. Mom, if you read this before you leave, I love you and hope you enjoy the music! To every­one else, I will be depart­ing for a bit, but will return in force, with arti­cles pop­ping up, hope­fully next week. I may have to blog a bit while the misses is out shop­ping on our trip, and don’t think I would go on a hon­ey­moon and leave my handhelds!

Another mile­stone for the Man­tle graph­ics API has been reached with the addi­tion of Cry­tek and its game devel­op­ment engine, CRYENGINE” www.amd.com

AMD and Crytek Collaboration

At this year’s Game Devel­op­ers Con­fer­ence (GDC) in San Fran­cisco it was announced that Cry­tek and AMD had entered into a part­ner­ship that would add native Man­tle graph­ics API sup­port to CRYENGINE. CRYENGINE is an advanced game devel­op­ment solu­tion with scal­able com­pu­ta­tion and graphic tech­nolo­gies, effec­tively mak­ing it the fastest high-end ren­derer in the world. This is the lat­est iter­a­tion of the game engine that has pow­ered Cry­tek game titles since 2004. Many game devel­op­ers have cho­sen the all-inclusive CRYENGINE tool­box cre­at­ing games includ­ing the Cry­tek titles Ryse: Son of Rome and War­face.

AMD’s Man­tle API makes cre­at­ing games for the PC more effi­cient than ever, this is done by stream­lin­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion between a gamer’s CPU and GPU. By alle­vi­at­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion bot­tle­necks and mak­ing the best use of exist­ing PC hard­ware, Man­tle helps to improve over­all game per­for­mance. The GDC 2014 trailer shows the high­lights of CRYENGINE-powered games from the industry:

Learn more about Crytek’s CRYENGINE®
Learn more about Man­tle


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I know I have been away for some time, plan­ning a wed­ding, even hav­ing a year in advance, can be a dif­fi­cult time. The most dif­fi­cult of these choices has clearly been what song I wanted played while danc­ing with my mother. My mother has been the most influ­en­tial peo­ple in my life, push­ing me to always do bet­ter and always tak­ing an inter­est with the things I love. She is a con­stant reader on the site, always for­ward­ing me arti­cles on the good the gam­ing indus­try does, and when ever she vis­its, takes time to sit and watch me play. My love and appre­ci­a­tion for clas­si­cal music stems from her push­ing me in mid­dle and high school. I started learn­ing music when I was around 9 years old. I played the trum­pet from then till I grad­u­ated high school and I can still read sheet music to this day. There had been sev­eral times I wanted to quit, with the rea­son either being some of my friends or a teacher had annoyed me to the point of no return; but, because of her I stayed. Now, as an adult, I see that it was for the bet­ter and I can now hon­estly say, thank you. When choos­ing the song to dance with my mother, I wanted it to incor­po­rate all of the above. I wanted it to have emo­tion, be gam­ing related, and be an orches­trated piece with no lyrics what so ever. I am not a tra­di­tion­al­ist by any means. I feel there is more emo­tion in music with­out lyrics. Lyrics can be an empty shell, devoid of mean­ing, and can be crafted by any­one. Real com­po­si­tion takes an artist, and I looked to one of my favorite game com­posers, who I deeply respect as an artist and com­poser, Nobuo Uematsu for a com­po­si­tion. I chose “Zanarkand” from the Final Fan­tasy X sound­track. It is the ver­sion taken from Uematsu-sans “Dis­tant Worlds II: More Music from Final Fan­tasy” album, it has a full orches­tra play­ing the piece instead of the MIDI ver­sion from the game (the new HD Remas­ter has much bet­ter audio, Yay!). I wanted to say thank you for your hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to me for the past 29 years. I have grown into a young man that appre­ci­ates the arts and well crafted music because of you. I try to pass that love of music and games with each Gam­ing in Stereo arti­cle I write. Mom, if you read this before you leave, I love you and hope you enjoy the music! To every­one else, I will be depart­ing for a bit, but will return in force, with arti­cles pop­ping up, hope­fully next week. I may have to blog a bit while the misses is out shop­ping on our trip, and don’t think I would go on a hon­ey­moon and leave my handhelds!

 

 

 

I had a dif­fer­ent set of songs picked out for this arti­cle this week, then I came across this song and things changed. Hands down, one of the best remixes, and one of the best songs I have heard in quite a while. “Bub­ble Dragon: A Bub­ble Bob­ble Trib­ute” by 7Bit Hero is a remix of the “Bonus theme” and “Main Theme” from Bub­ble Bob­ble, a game that was released in arcades (one of the many cab­i­nets I have had the plea­sure of play­ing) in 1986. 7Bit Hero, out of Bris­bane, Aus­tralia, com­bines music with gam­ing to cre­ate some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. The orig­i­nal tunes mar­ried well with lyrics, one of the few times this actu­ally works. The result is some­thing that feels like a pop tune from the 80’s that feels fresh. The song is free for down­load either at Over­Clocked Remix or 7Bit Hero’s site. The music video is below and is incred­i­bly well done as it is sad. I love the song so much I have added it to my wed­dings playlist. Enjoy this won­der­ful tune, and if you are inter­ested in more from 7bit Hero, they have a free inter­ac­tive app on Google Play and the Apple App Store as well as their albums “We Eat Loot” and “Hey You! a Flappy Bird Lament” are avail­able for purchase.

 

 

It has been quite some time since the last music arti­cle I posted and I apol­o­gize. With the busy hol­i­days and my wed­ding com­ing up in just a few short months, my sched­ule has been hec­tic, but enough excuses, lets get to some tunes! Both tracks today are from the same ReMixer, Argle, and come from Over­Clocked Remix. Both tracks are from the Metroid Prime series, a series that I love to death and hope that Retro and Nin­tendo can bring a new spin on the Prime series to the Wii U. One inter­est­ing fact about Argle’s remixes is that the orig­i­nal tracks had a faster tempo, the remixes have a slower tempo mak­ing them feel more ambi­ent in nature. The tracks have plenty of lay­ers and sur­prises rang­ing from acoustic gui­tars, chip tunes, and pianos; though they do retain their elec­tronic feel. Lis­ten­ing to these tracks over and over makes me want to fire up the Wii and play through the tril­ogy again, maybe a good way to spend the weekend.

 

 

Relics of an Ancient Race” — Metroid Prime — Argle

Start­ing with a war­ble, the track quickly kicks into gear with vocals and effects accom­pa­nied by chip explo­sions. The ambiance this track makes with the stings and stead drum beat is awe­some, mak­ing the track feel like you are explor­ing worlds from behind visor. Heavy gui­tars and the melody pick up at (2:30) and fin­ish­ing with some very nice harp and piano work around the (4:30) mark. The sound­track to the Prime series is already rather heavy with elec­tron­ics and ambi­ent noises, and to remix that is quite a feat that shines through the remix.

 

Bogged Down” — Metroid Prime 2: Echoes — Argle

I love the organ imple­men­ta­tion in the begin­ning of the track and it fol­lows through out. This track has more heavy gui­tars than the pre­vi­ous track but fits with the darker image the fol­lowed Echoes. Hit­ting at the (2:28) mark, a beau­ti­ful piano pro­duc­tion takes over the melody. Fin­ish­ing off the track at the (4:00) mark, a suave acoustic gui­tar fin­ishes off the melody. This track has as much vari­ety as the pre­vi­ous track. Enjoy.

 

 

Our pod­cast is back after a long hia­tus, we are sorry for that. Real life can some­times hin­der our sched­ules is unpre­dictable ways. Brad (the­sound­man) and I are talk­ing about what we want from the next round of con­soles, and what we would like to see dis­ap­pear as well. We will be doing a series of these, with var­i­ous peo­ple, tak­ing about what we liked and dis­liked about the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion we are leav­ing  behind. Enjoy.

 

Intro Music — “Mas­ter D is for Dance (Rise of the Alba­tross)” by Gario from Bionic Com­mando Remixed — Ok, Let’s Grove (Over­Clocked Remix)

 

This Fri­day sees the release of Bat­man: Arkham Ori­gins, a pre­quel to Arkham series devel­oped by Rock­steady. Arkham Ori­gins takes place roughly 5 years before Arkham Asy­lum and puts the Dark Knight in first con­tact with many of his rogue’s gallery that we know of today. The game takes place dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­day, and as a blan­ket of snow cov­ers Gotham, Black Mask issues a death war­rant on the caped cru­sader. The game not only received a new devel­op­ment team, WB Mon­treal, but a new com­poser as well. Christo­pher Drake took the musi­cal reigns from Ron Fish and Nick Arun­del, and cre­ated some­thing that sounds both famil­iar to both fans of the Arkham fran­chise and the recently wrapped Nolan tril­ogy. Though Drake has scored Bat­man media before ( Bat­man: the Dark Knight Returns, Bat­man: Under the Red Hood, and Batman/Superman: Pub­lic Ene­mies), I was hes­i­tant, just as I was with the new voice cast, until I heard the final prod­uct. The final prod­uct maybe one of the best Bat­man sound­tracks to date, to no dis­credit of any pre­vi­ous sound­tracks. The sound­track is well put together with sweep­ing stings, rac­ing elec­tronic beats, deep brass, explod­ing per­cus­sion, and even some well know Christ­mas jin­gles make cameos. Let us dive into the defin­ing sound­track of Bat­man: Arkham Origins.

 

 

Arkham Ori­gins Main Title — Christo­pher Drake

This is the main theme for Arkham Ori­gins. The begin­ning of the this track is very rem­i­nis­cent of Hans Zim­mer score from the Dark Knight tril­ogy. Start­ing at the (0:11) mark we get that same elec­tronic beat, explo­sive per­cus­sion, and deep brass sound. At (0:33) the track makes its own impres­sion with a sweep­ing strings and a proud lower brass sound at (0:53). At the (1:26) mark, the track kicks the tempo up again includ­ing a cho­rus this time. This track feels like we are watch­ing Bruce in a flash­back of the events lead­ing him to become the hero he will be. The main theme seems to hold the same char­ac­ter build­ing we will see from the story, and we couldn’t have asked for a more grandiose entrance.

 

Assas­sins — Christo­pher Drake

Now I have not played the game yet, but from the title I am guess­ing this the main theme for vil­lains Black Mask has assem­bled to hunt down the Bat­man, and it could not be more epic. Start­ing with rac­ing strings and a deaf­en­ing bass hit, it goes directly into a low key piano romp at (0:09), the track doesn’t let up. I love the use of the brass, espe­cially towards the (0:30) mark with the stac­cato notes fol­lowed by the whal­ing note. The track is as epic as the vil­lain cast charged with hunt­ing down the Dark Knight, enjoy!

 

Arkham Ori­gins Suite — Christo­pher Drake

There are a lot of famil­iar sounds from the pre­vi­ous tracks but there are hints at other tracks, includ­ing the very spine chill­ing Joker theme, which is a twisted ver­sion of Carol of the Bells. Noth­ing like hear­ing the Joker’s cackle over a Christ­mas jin­gle. Enjoy the cul­mi­na­tion of the Arkham Ori­gins soundtrack.

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