2011 July

July 30, 2011

Days Gone By: The People Who Make “Classic” Gaming a Genre

Many of you readers probably started gaming fairly early on. I’d be willing to bet many of you have quite a few good memories of a favorite game or console. Maybe you had a Nintendo 64, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time positively blew your mind. Maybe you had a Playstation, and you cried when Aeris died (There’s no “maybe” about the crying, you definitely cried. Don’t lie to me. I write things.) in Final Fantasy VII. Maybe you had a Dreamcast, and were a fan of Sonic Adventure. No matter what system, company, or generation you started with, you have some good gaming memories, as well as some not so good ones. Want to relive those memories?

I know of some guys who can help you live them all over again, with nostalgia and humor combining to make an excellent experience. Hopefully, you’ve already heard of at least one of these guys. If not, I apologize in advance for sucking all of your time away. It’s very difficult not to watch every episode by every person.

My personal favorite reviewer and reviver, who I’ve been watching since Episode 1, is James Rolfe, the Angry Video Game Nerd (or, if you’ve been with him for a while, the Angry Nintendo Nerd.) Of all the video producers on this list, the Nerd is probably the one you know. He goes back to some of the oldest consoles, and reviews some of the worst games from them with delightful vulgarity and gallons upon gallons of Rolling Rock (and for an episode, Yuengling). He hits the bad, the worse, the good but hard, and the absolutely atrocious games from almost every series. If you’ve never watched him before, you’re in for a treat. James has made more than 100 episodes of Angry Video Game Nerd, as well as quite a few board game reviews (under the clever name “Board James”) and pointed out many annoyances in everyday life in a just-as-delightfully-vulgar series called You Know What’s Bulls**t?. While you’re on his website, I recommend that you check out the video “Cinemassacre 200”, a sort of autobiography and autofilmography by James that best describes what he does and why he does it.

While James often finds himself trying to find the good in bad games, another character has found a way to find the bad in games that are often considered good. Make no mistake, most of his reviews cover the cream of the crap, but some of his longest and greatest reviews are of games that are classics in the mind of most who have played them: Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy X. He goes by the name Spoony, and he’s positively hilarious. All of his videos seem to tie together, with plenty of recurring characters, as well as complete non-sequiturs. He doesn’t only cover games; Spoony has taken potshots at plenty of movies, as well as provided legitimate, informative-rather-than-funny reviews on a number of topics, notably 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

Maybe you didn’t play a lot of games. Perhaps you were more into movies, or just all around pop-culture. Enter the Nostalgia Critic, who “remembers things so you don’t have to.” He’s taken pot-shots and low blows at some of the worst movies of the last thirty years, and also has a large number of movies under his belt. He has his share of running gags and recurring characters, but what makes him special is his ability to show up everywhere. He regularly attends conventions, and has appeared in videos with both of the previous producers on this list. He’s a really funny guy who has an uncannily good ability to toss appropriate clips from other films and shows into a review at just the right moment.

“Alright,” you may be thinking, “these guys are good at tossing some clips together for a video, but I want the full experience. I want someone to take me all the way through a classic, with hilarious commentary the whole way.” That’s… an interesting thought, to say the least, but you aren’t alone. Let’s Play is a genre of videos in which a commentator takes you through an entire game, talking the whole way through about the game, or in many cases, just whatever. There are tons of these guys out there (I’m working on becoming one myself), and quite a few good ones have made a name for themselves. However, my personal favorite LPer goes by the name NintendoCapriSun, a combination that could only be better if Capri Sun made bigger pouches so I wouldn’t have to make repeat trips to the fridge. Some of his most notable works are from the Mega Man series, but he’s touched on quite a few classic Nintendo games, spanning from the NES to the N64.

Lastly, but certainly not least…ly… is a musician who really stands out from the crowd. Brentalfloss got his start on Youtube by playing arrangements of classic game themes on his keyboard (he’s an AMAZING pianist), but he really took off when he set lyrics to the Mega Man 3 title screen theme. Since then, he’s made a number of videos with lyrics set to game tunes, and every single one of them will get stuck in your head immediately. This guy has put music, games, and humor into a blender and made a finer figurative beverage than any alcohol (it’s kind of hard to get drunk on figurative alcohol).

I only mentioned five specific guys, but there are plenty more people out there who do all kinds of videos, writings, and other works of art that make the nostalgia well up in you. Ready for an experience? Grab a beverage, plug your charger in if you’re on a laptop, and get comfy. You’re gonna be here a while. Here are your links.

 

Angry Video Game Nerd: http://www.cinemassacre.com

The Spoony Experiment: http://spoonyexperiment.com

Nostalgia Critic: http://thatguywiththeglasses.com

NintendoCapriSun: http://www.youtube.com/user/NintendoCapriSun

Brentalfloss: http://www.brentalfloss.com

July 28, 2011

Battlefield 3 Alpha Test

 

So the closed alpha testing for Battlefield 3 went live yesterday and I got a chance to play some. Its only testing for PC so all the console guys out there will have to wait till beta testing. The alpha consists of one multiplayer rush map called Opertation Metro. As usual rush mode, you take turns attacking or defending two points. As you capture points your team moves forward or you must fall back if your defending. To those familiar with the series the gameplay feels very much the same. You unlock weapons, attachments, and other bonuses as you level each class. The classes are Recon, Assualt, Engineer, and Support. You don’t get access to all the class goodies but there are plenty to choose from for an alpha. All that  is typical Battlefield. The alpha plays in a sort of web brower, so you actually don’t have all the software for the game. You also don’t control any options on video or anything. They have added prone to your movement which came in handy many times. Also as you move you can hurdle over objects (short walls, benches , etc.). While you hurdle over objects you can still fire your weapon. However since you’re firing and hurdling your accuracy does take a dive. You can also jump into prone on the run. The look of the game in fantastic graphically. I did play it on a made-for-gaming PC, but I don’t expect the console versions to be much different. It will easily be the best looking Battlefield to date. While buildings will be fully destructable in the final version, there are no collapsible buildings in the alpha. What they do have are plenty of walls to blow up. Anything you shoot takes some kind of damage. From tiles falling off to glass shattering, they have it. When I took out part of a wall on a two story building it caught fire and burned which was pretty cool looking. There is one tank in the map, but thats all vehicle wise. The map itself is a good combination of close quarters and open field battle. Depending which way the attacking team goes, you start in a Paris park then move to downtown streets or the underground subway station. The map has many paths to take to get to different areas, so there isn’t really any one choke point. Overall I was really impressed considering it’s only the alpha phase. If Battlefield 3 is continuing in this direction we should be in store for possibly the best FPS ever. If you have any questions about anything I didn’t mention or would like me to elaborate on something further, ask away down below and I will answer as best as I can.

July 28, 2011

Just when Comic-con closes Steel City Con opens….

 

For us here at TheGamersBlog we did not have the opportunity (due to this little annoyance called responsibility) this year to head to San Diego for the great nerd migration known as Comic-con. Luckily for two of the editors here that live in the Pittsburgh area, soon to be only one, we have Steel City Con. A convention that is housed in one of Pittsburgh’s gigantic convention centers, it entails all things nerd (or geek if you prefer) with comics, collectibles, cosplayers, and more. ScrotusKilmystr and I will be there all weekend long and will bring you highlights, lots of pictures, and hope to come away with some great stuff to give away to you, the readers. No huge names will be there, though Tony Todd (Candy Man, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen),  Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, Star Wars) will be there along  with the Garrison Carida of the 501st legion. The show should be enjoyable and hopefully I pull away from it with my wallet and credit intact, while I am not going in full cosplay, I will be dawning a Green Lantern shirt and ring hoping to dodge criticism for the half baked film. Anyone that is in the area, we will be there all three days presumably from open till close, hope to see you there.

July 28, 2011

Video Awesomeness: Comic Con 2011 Edition

 

This week’s Video Awesomeness will be all things Comic Con or at least some trailers that debuted there. Comic Con or SDCC for the A.D.D. crowd descended on San Diego last Thursday and for three days was a total nerdapalooza for all thing Geeky from comics to movies and yes video games here’s a few that caught my attention…

 

One of My most anticipated sequels releasing in October is Batman: Arkham City! The first game, Batman: Arkham Asylum was incredibly addictive with hack-n-slash combat mixed with some lite RPG elements and an engaging story, it was truly hard to stop playing. Arkham City adds an open world environment to the mix and looks to be even better.

This next game is from Silicon Knights who brought us a game that was in development for 10 years, Too Human. It was a great game based in the future with huge emphases on Viking mythology. This game did have its issues (Valkyries anyone?) but fun none the less.
Well X-men: Destiny is coming out in September and only took about two years to make I hope this game is good being that I’ve been a fan of the X-men comics forever.

Next is another Batman game…sort of. Being released by Monolith the makers of the ultra-bloody F.E.A.R. & F.E.A.R. 2 also Tron 2.0 from back in the day, all of which were really good. So here’s hoping Batman Imposters is just as good.
Releasing sometime next year as a DLC title it looks to be in the veins of Team Fortress 2 and Monday Night Combat

The last few games have had the “hero” vibe with you being mostly good to one extent or another. This next game has an anti-hero, a man bent on avenging the death of his family. Being developed by Radical games under the evil known only as Activison. They released prototype a few years back and it had a great story, open world environment But mechanically was broken…except for the vehicle controls I wonder if they will fix that in Prototype 2?

These are only a few that caught me eye but I was going for a theme and these trailers topped my list! So what were your favorites? How do you guys thinks these games will do? Comment and be heard!
And Here’s another SDCC video for a game I won’t even mention because this footage speaks for itself!

July 28, 2011

3DS Price Drop!

 

 

Written by: CABXYZ…

Yes you heard that right, just less than a year after the portables release it is getting a price drop and a massive one at that. Early this morning Nintendo released a press release stating that the 3DS just 5 months after the system’s release will be taken from its $249.99 price tag to $169.99 on August 12th. Yes, you are not seeing things the 3DS will be $169.99 early next month. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime had this to say about the price drop,

“For anyone who was in the fence about buying a Nintendo 3DS, this is a huge motivation to buy now,”

“We are giving shoppers every incentive to pick up a Nintendo 3DS from an amazing new price to a rapid-fire succession of great games.”

If you were an early adopter then don’t worry Nintendo is not giving you the cold shoulder. If you have a 3DS and connect to the e-Shop before 11:59pm EST in August 11th, you will be registered for the Nintendo 3DS ambassador program. The program will contain two parts:

  1. On September 1st the e-Shop will receive NES Virtual Console games and you will receive 10 absolutely FREE! These games are to include: Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, and The Legend of Zelda. There will be paid versions of these games as well so that every 3DS owner will have the opportunity for download.
  2. By the end of 2011 the e-Shop will also include GBA Virtual Console titles and you will receive 10 absolutely FREE! The titles to be included are: Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advanced 3, Mario Kart Super Circuit, Metroid Fusion, WarioWare Inc. Mega Microgame$, and Mario vs. Donkey Kong. Nintendo stated that these titles will be for ambassadors only and won’t be released to the general public any time in the future.

On top of all of that news Nintendo gave release windows for some of the 3DS’s biggest games this year. Star Fox 64 3D edition will be out on September 9th, Super Mario 3D will be in November, Mario Kart will be out in December and Kid Icarus: uprising will be out before the end of the year. This is a great announcement for a handheld I am finding more and more things I love about it. With Netflix now available, a stead release of quality titles, and with this announcement of a major price cut, the 3DS could be sitting on top when the handheld wars ignite once more when the PlayStation Vita arrives this fall.

July 28, 2011

Looking at this year’s “Summer of Arcade”….

 

Every summer, we gamers go through a drought of new releases. Microsoft tries to bring water to this desert with “Summer of Arcade” a show case of 5 arcade games that they deem to be the cream of the crop, or at least interesting at best. This year’s event kicked off last week with the release of Bastion, a gorgeous action RPG, and continues this week with the unique god game From Dust. Here is the list, price points and release dates.

– Bastion: July 20th, 1200 points

– From Dust: July 27th, 1200 points

– Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet: August 3rd 1200 points

– Fruit Ninja Kinect: August 10th 800 points

– Toy Soldiers: Cold War: August 17th 1200 points

This year’s list is something of an odd one. Every year there seems to be a theme to the releases, last year you had a multiplayer centric list; Hydro Thunder: Hurricane, Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, Lara Croft: Guardian of Light, and Monday Night Combat, but they threw in Limbo to spice things up (and I am glad they did, Limbo was fantastic). 2009 was quite action oriented with the likes of TMNT: Turtles in Time –Re-shelled, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Splosion Man, Trials HD, and the seminal Shadow Complex. This year they are all over the place but can see one unique trait with all of them; creativity. How are they creative you say? Well Bastion is an isometric action RPG like Diablo or Torchlight, what sticks out is the watercolor visuals and the constant narration of your actions on the fly by the “stranger”.

From Dust is a game in the same vein as Black & White, or Populous, but you are using the elements of the world around you (dirt, water, lava, etc) to help the tribe you watch over from the dangers that are ever present (tsunamis, volcanoes, etc.).

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is this year’s Metroid/vania title with a Patapon (PSP) type art style, and a Tim Burton/malevolent atmosphere.  You control a small UFO through a dark and mysterious world with huge creatures and several power ups for your craft.

Fruit Ninja Kinect, is what it sounds like; but what is unique is the fact it is the first ever arcade game for Kinect. The mobile app is brought to life with HD visuals and a two player option that will have you splattering fruit innards on the screen with you and your couch ninja buddy.

Last but not certainly least we have Toy Soldiers: Cold War. This is a sequel to a game that was one of the best selling XBLA titles of last year. The first Toy Soldiers was unique to begin with, a tower defense game that let you take direct control over your towers using them to their fullest potential add a World War 1 visual style, and a distinctive location of your battle; a table top game. Your forces would mow down the enemy as springs and toy pieces would go flying from the defeated foes. This year’s title will play similar to its processor but with a few new game play tweaks and an 80’s movie esthetic. You will be mowing down the countless hordes of the Big Red, and will have the opportunity to take control of a Rambo/G.I. Joe look alike that comes down to the battle field in its own action figure packaging that will take you into the “danger zone”.

There is usually some sort of prize every year for any one that down loads a number of Summer of Arcade titles and this year is no different. If you purchase all 5 titles you will receive Crimson Alliance for free, will be released at 1200 points. Crimson Alliance is a 4 player co-operative action RPG that is being developed by Certain Affinity, a team that is comprised of some Bungie alumni with some other industry vets in tow, and will be released on September 7th.

There will be reviews of all these titles with Bastion and From Dust coming ASAP and the rest when they are released.

July 27, 2011

More Worms? Yes please!

 

Team 17 the developers behind the worms series announced today that we will get a HD revamp of Worms 3D and Worms 4: Mayhem together in a downloadable titled dubbed Worms: Ultimate Mayhem. The title will be released on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and on the PC through Steam. Team 17’s Head of Design John Dennis had this to say in the press release about the downloadable package:

                “It’s been an absolute pleasure getting the chance to revisit two titles that we remember so fondly. In squeezing the entire content of both “Worms: 3D” and “Worms 4: Mayhem” into one collector’s edition digital package, we’ve delivered a “best of the 3D Worms games” experience, complete with 60 single-player missions, 12 graphical themes, 38 weapons, full online play for up to four players and literally more ways to customize your worm and game experience than we can count”

“ As if that wasn’t enough, we’ve also taken the opportunity to add high-definition sparkle to the visuals and make a raft of improvements and extra content, as suggested by fans of the original titles: from vastly improved camera functionality and voice-acted mission intro sequences, to all-new challenges and multiplayer maps. We’re very proud of the original games, and hope that in delivering this definitive version, fans of the original titles and players new to them will take the time to check out Worms Ultimate Mayhem.”

This is great news for one of my favorite original Xbox titles coming to life once more in a great package. The game will be released this fall and will definitely garner much of my attention despite the heavy holiday season approaching fast. I will now have the opportunity to dust off my Holy Hand Grenade and prep Super Sheep for flight against all the online strangers. The only thing missing from this already great package is Worms Forts: Under Siege. I would love to see a downloadable, online version of this game in the future. Team 17, you had me at 3D, so would you kindly “shut up and take my money”.

July 27, 2011

Restructuring our reviews to better help you….

We haven’t posted a review in quite some time and looking over the old way that we wrote reviews, it was time for a change. We have restructured the reviews to be more informative and to give you, as the reader, a better understanding about what the game is about and highlighting the positive and negative aspects. Our score base is now 0-10 with only whole number scores. There will be personal commentary at the end of each review on how long our playtime was and the replay value. We will try to include game play videos towards the beginning of the reviews to better understand what the reviewer is trying to convey. I hope that this new format will be an easier read and highlight some great games that you may have been on the fence about. I hope everyone enjoys the new look.

July 27, 2011

Huge Game You May Not Know About

 

League of Legends is a free to play tower defense, action RTS game. You select a team of champions to defend and attack enemy turrets along paths to thier base, ultimately winning by destroying the enemy nexus. League was a spin off of the classic DotA game which was a Warcraft 3 mod. The success of DotA has spawned several spin off games. Some good and some terrible. Now League of Legends is not a new thing to those who play it but some news about the game was brought to light yesterday by President and Executive Producer of Riot Games, Marc Merrill. He wrote a little letter to the community:

Summoners!

Now that Season One is coming to a close, this is a great time to update you all on some amazing accomplishments that you have helped make possible.

The first time we discussed League of Legends growth was back in August of 2010. The number of players enjoying the game then was impressive, but since then our phenomenal rate of growth has increased.

As of today, 15 million people have registered to become League of Legends players. Each month, over 4 million people log in to play. And on each day, 1.4 million summoners play League of Legends together.

When we’re at our busiest, over 500,000 people in North America and Europe are in game at the same time. On average, more than 10 games of League of Legends start every second of every day. As we expand into Asia and abroad, the possibilities around live, global events makes the game enthusiast in all of us shake with excitement.

The phenomenal growth that we have experienced this year has not just been limited to the playerbase. Riot Games itself is now more than five times the size it was when we released League of Legends back in October of 2009, weighing in at more than 300 employees in four different cities across three continents. And we’re actively hiring more people now than we ever have before!

Our success, however, can sometimes be our greatest challenge. Servicing half a million players simultaneously puts us in a great, but challenging position, which means we face unique problems to solve to ensure stability. Over the past year, we’ve grown the company to create the best League of Legends experience possible, both in terms of our ability to add new features, new content and, most importantly, to ensure our stability. Our recent division of the EU platform into EU West and EU Nordic & East is our most major, visible improvement to stability, but we’re constantly working to ensure you can continue to play in a reliable environment.

None of this would have been possible without you. League of Legends is your game, and you’ve made it abundantly clear that League of Legends is not only here to stay, but this community has made it one of the most popular PC games in the history of our industry. For that, I want to express my most sincere heartfelt thanks; from me, and everyone here working around the clock to give you the gaming experience that you enjoy, and the features that you’ve been asking for.

Looking back at all we’ve delivered makes us proud – from game features like Draft Mode and Ranked Games around Season One, to Battle Training and Co-Op vs. AI to help you bring your friends into the game, to our commitment of constantly enhancing our community with Auto-Leaver banning, the Summoner’s Code and the Tribunal. We are also committed to continuing to improve and expand our web presence, our live event coverage and competitive scene, but patting ourselves on the back about the past is not what Riot is all about.

Last December we told you to expect the unexpected — and in 2011 we will deliver on this promise. We are extremely excited to continue to demonstrate our commitment to constantly delivering the most innovative and player-centric online game experience around for all of you to enjoy. You have our sincere commitment that we are still just getting started and the best is yet to come. Thank you for your continued support, and thanks for playing League of Legends!

Sincerely,

Marc “Tryndamere” Merrill

President & Executive Producer

Now the thing that sticks out to me is the 15 million player base. Not to shabby for a free to play game. While I was playing this game I never thought the user base was that large. To me it still seemed like a fairly unknown game, but the numbers don’t lie. Have other games suprised you in thier popularity?

July 27, 2011

Review: Warhammer 40,000 Kill Team

 

 

You play as one of four Space Marines in this twin stick arcade style action shooter, on mission to stop an Ork Kroozer traveling to an Imperial Forge World before it can invade. You are a Space Marine. All of your battle brothers are depending on you to fulfill your mission. Do you have what it takes?

Classes consist of two ranged types: Sternguard Veteran & Tech Marine, and two close quarter or melee types: Librarian & Vanguard Veteran. Each have three weapon load outs (two which must be unlocked), two slots for “perks” (most of which must also be unlocked) and a special ability that is unique to each Marines.

This is a DLC title so it is on the cheap (about $9.99 or 800 msp). It has five campaign levels and five survival levels (kind of like horde mode) that can both be played single player or local two player co-op. It also sports leaderboards, player stats and a cool codex detailing all the enemies you come across during the course of the game. This is a sort of a prequel to the upcoming Warhammer 40k Space Marines game releasing later this year so playing through the first level unlocks a unique sword usable in Space Marines.

Gameplay is hectic and fun with each class dealing death in its own unique way. At times it seemed like over one-hundred enemies would attack you at once but I could be wrong. Shooting or slashing through waves of enemies can be hugely satisfying and also a challenge. The level design was engaging and seemingly true to the art style of the Warhammer 40k Universe.

There were some technical issue for example, When large amounts of enemies where on-screen the game did seem to lag slightly, although it could have been the aging hardware of my Xbox that was the cause. Lighting was an issue as well, being too dark prompting my swift death due to not seeing my foes, easily fixed with the brightness control however. The biggest issue was, as with most games of this type, the fixed camera sometimes putting your view in the worst of vantage points but, most of the time it was manageable.

All in all this was about three to four hours of mindless fun and distraction where if you had a bad day, killing a few thousand Orks may make you feel a little better!

+ Visuals true to the Warhammer 40k universe
+ Variety of combat styles and options
+ Plenty of things to destroy and kill
– Lighting to dark at times
– Lag issue when large amounts on enemies on-screen at once
– Local co-op mode only (would be nice to play over XBL or the PSN)

Final score: 7/10 lots of fun

 

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