2011 December

December 31, 2011

Old Republic: First Impressions

My bounty hunter toon

Bioware has always been one of my favorite companies. They have produced some of my favorite games, such as Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect 1 and 2, and finally Knights of the Old Republic. I was skeptical when I heard that they were taking their first stab at a MMO, but I was also very curious to see how they would do such a thing. I quit playing World of Warcraft about a year ago when Cata came out. I had been playing since vanilla WoW. With that said, I obviously at least enjoyed one MMO in the past, although I haven’t explored many others. Having to pay a monthly fee for a game sucks, and you game better be pretty good before I am going to invest that much money in to it.

My Jedi character

Now my very first impression of the game started out with the client. The thing is HUGE and took forever to download. Obviously the launch was just a few days ago and there will be a lot of problems like that, but I have a very fast internet connection and it still took me almost an entire two days to finally get the game all installed and ready to play. The client kept freezing, it stopped when I tried to download over night and it didn’t have an obvious percentage so I could know exactly how long it was expected to take.

 

When I finally got the game installed, all I had the chance to do was watch the cinematic since it was a Friday night and I wanted to go out. This got me squealing like a typical fangirl in excitement. I have a certain soft spot for cinematic introductions to games. When I finally revisited, I was still unsure of what faction I was going to choose. I had friends who were playing both on different servers, and there was a lot of fussing about which one I would choose. I finally settled on two different servers, one for a Jedi toon and one for a Sith toon. From there I will see which one I like better, and which group of friends seems to be more in to the game.

 

This game is good looking, and I absolutely love the cutscenes. There is a much larger role playing aspect to this game than in World of Warcraft. The depth of the game even within the first few levels is very exciting. The fact that you can be good or evil even without your own faction is also exciting. I think that the character customization is one of the best for an MMO I have ever seen.

 

I am excited to see where this journey takes me. I have seen a lot of similarities between SWTOR and WoW, which I think is a survival instinct for all new MMO’s but I also have seen a lot of new innovative things that might just make this game a competitor for the giant that is World of Warcraft.

December 31, 2011

XBL Underworld Awakening Sweepstakes

As you may know Xbox live holds all nighter events for certain games. With the upcoming release of Underworld Awakening XBL will be giving players the opportunity to enter into a Underworld Awakening XBL all nighter sweepstakes.

The events will begin on Dec. 31st, first event on 12/31 will be BF3, 1/7 will be Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and on 1/14 COD: MW3. While partaking in the events you can enter into the Underworld Awakening XBL all nighter sweepstakes.

The grand prize winner will get to fly with a guest to LA and attend a live taping of G4’s Attack of the show. The winner will also receive an Xbox 360 slim, two passes to the movie Underworld Awakening, a copy of the Underworld Trilogy: The Essential Collection, an Underworld Awakening Blu-Ray, an Underworld Awakening poster and 120,000 Microsoft points.

For more info on rules and registration click the below link

http://www.xbox.com/en-US/Community/Events/XboxAllNighter

December 29, 2011

Myst coming to Nintendo 3DS

The highly popular Adventure/Puzzle game Myst is being ported over to the Nintendo 3DS and being given a new look in 3D. The game has seen previous ports to the DS and PSP and the same developer that brought you those is currently working on a 3DS port to make the game pop in 3D. As a bonus the developers will be adding the RIME Age location from the revamp realMyst. For those of you who enjoy adventure/puzzle games such as this one should put this title down on your “want” list, the game is scheduled to release on march 27, 2012.

December 28, 2011

Thoughts from the Dota 2 Beta

Hello, everyone. It’s been a good while since my last posting. Again, same old excuses- social life, college finals, mandatory holiday family time, and all of that good stuff. However, I’ve definitely not let my gaming slip. Far from it- I got the invite I had been praying for, and have spent the last week or so enthralled with Dota 2. While I’m definitely not experienced enough to put out a full review yet (not even considering the fact that the game is still technically in beta), I can surely provide some perspective for those of you waiting who haven’t received invites yet.

Dota 2 is, unsurprisingly, an incredibly good and challenging tactical experience. It takes some drive and desire to play, however; for newcomers, DotA has always been more of a learning cliff than a learning curve. Dota 2 eases much of the pain that was caused by the limitations of the original DotA without changing the game too terribly much at all. The graphics are excellent, and it’s far easier to distinguish between heroes and creeps (a common novice complaint from the original) than it was previously. All of your abilities follow the new “industry standard” setup of QWER, rather than the previous Warcraft 3 system of “some random letter from the spell name”. The shops are amazingly improved, streamlined, and user-friendly (thank God, because DotA’s shop system left a LOT to be desired), and you can buy items into your stash from anywhere on the map with just a few simple clicks.

Rest assured, though, the challenge is not gone. Last-hitting and denying with most casters requires impeccable timing because they wind up their shots like a Looney Tunes character playing baseball, and animation cancelling is an absolute must for chasing. Quarter-second reactions can decide entire teamfights, which in turn can decide entire games. If you don’t know what you’re doing (and unless you played DotA a LOT, you don’t), you will die at any given opportunity until you get the basics down. Playing LoL does NOT translate into Dota 2 skill AT ALL.

I’ll speak to the LoL players specifically for a moment. In Dota 2, you don’t get your convenient cast range circles, skillshot markers, or any of that good stuff. With the exception of AOE spells, everything is targeted with a simple cursor, and you have to know how your spells work. Last hitting is WAY harder due to the aforementioned animations, and denying is a thing. A couple of spells can kill you even at level one, and everything (except the laning phase) moves a whole lot faster. Your health and mana are greatly reduced, so every shot counts. Turrets can’t save you. Flash can’t save you. God can’t save you, because he’s Zeus, he’s on the enemy team, and he’s going to kill you with his instant Karthus-like ult from across the map when you thought you got away. Playing Dota 2 will make you quite paranoid if you’re used to LoL. Learn the difference quickly.

However, even with its staggering challenge level and excellent user interface, Dota 2 is still in beta and as such, there are a few faults. The lack of an obvious “invite to game” or “join game” option makes finding games an interesting task. Matchmaking search times range from the fairly instantaneous to the unbelievably slow. Yesterday I waited a full fifteen minutes in game search before giving up and playing with bots. On that note, the bot games are oftentimes more challenging than playing against real people; the enemy team is a tactical hivemind, and yours sometimes has trouble acknowledging your existence. To the bots on your own team, you’re the babbling, unpredictable foreigner who’s off doing your own thing and ignoring commands. They gank seemingly arbitrarily, and you have no real way of requesting assistance other than diving headlong in and praying that they follow you (which is typically NOT a good strategy in Dota). Other than these inconveniences, everything seems to work fine. The game hiccups and lags during game start and character selection (which makes the sounds hang up and repeat to form a slammin’ three-second techno beat), but this really has no effect on the overall game.

There ARE many things that Valve has gotten very right with this game, though. The spectator feature is INCREDIBLY helpful, as you can watch the pros (or your friends, or just random people) play and view their actions right down to each individual click of their mouse. This works pretty much flawlessly, and is easy to jump into. Watching a number of other people play a certain hero is an amazing way to learn, and you don’t have to worry about bias, tracking down VODs, or patches making metas outdated: you see everything in real time, and you get the kind of variety you don’t find in online text guides. Doing just about anything I’ve not already mentioned is pretty easy, because the menu construction is incredibly intuitive. You’ll rarely having trouble looking for an implemented feature.

That’s about all I have to say right now, as I still technically qualify as a “noob”. I’ll be sure to post back more frequently with details on the beta and the competitive scene, and I look forward to doing an official review upon the game’s release. Until then, keep enjoying your games, and remember: ALWAYS have a Scroll of Town Portal handy.

December 27, 2011

Microsoft to remove avatar guns from Xbox live marketplace

Have you been eyeballing that sweet lancer for your xbox avatar? Well you have until Jan 1st to get your fix. On Jan 1st Microsoft will be removing all gun like items available for your avatar from the marketplace. In an attempt to be more “family friendly” Microsoft will implement a new Xbox Live policy that will put a stop to purchasing firearms for your avatar to rock out. We gotta make sure our youth’s fragile little minds aren’t being warped by fake items from the uber violent game they have been playing day in and day out. Any items purchased before Jan 1st wont be taken away so get it now while you can, you have 4 days to get your avatar a weapon from your favorite shooter.

December 26, 2011

Command & Conquer: Red Alert– an iOS Game Done Right.

Hardcore games are not hard to find on any smartphone platform, Apple’s iOS included. With most of these titles, the hardcore gamer demographic generally has a universal complaint: controls. Shooters, platformers, action games and RPGs all prove to be substantially more challenging and off-putting because of the lack of tactile feedback from a touchscreen interface. One game genre, however, doesn’t have this hangup: Real Time Strategy. As a matter of fact, RTS games seem tailor-made for a touchscreen interface. That being said, I was skeptical when I first saw an official Command and Conquer franchise port to iOS– and got even more nervous when it turned out to be an extension of one of my favorite C&C series: Red Alert. Thank God I gave it a shot.

Not often will I pay for an app of any kind, but after trying the free demo, I bought the full version of Red Alert the very same day, and then later bought it for a friend so we could play together. I not only bought this game, I bought it twice, and it was worth every penny. The fact of the matter is that RTS is perhaps the only style of hardcore game that will ever be perfectly executed on a touchscreen, which is an insane bargain for its $.99 price tag.

The first concern for many gamers when looking at a hardcore mobile game is controls. Rest assured, the controls for this game, while they have a small learning curve, are completely sensible. Even with grouping different units together for an attack force, the onscreen controls are fast and intuitive. One draw back, however, is that you only get 3 hotkey slots for these groups. As seen on the right, the Apocalypse Tanks are back. In this screenshot, they are collectively following attack orders as group 1– hence the top group slot being highlighted in red. While at first the idea of only 3 unit groups is off-putting, it really doesn’t present much of a tactical issue. This sort of scaling back is fairly common throughout all aspects of the game, but sort of makes sense for the smaller nature of the iOS platform. One would hope, though, that the game would have a much larger unit cap with better hardware on later iDevices. Perhaps if there is a subsequent Command & Conquer title for iOS, we could even hope to see larger multiplayer functionality. In a perfect world, this would include support for more than two participants in any given skirmish or multiplayer match, and support for online play. Though all in all, it’s hard to complain too loudly about the first attempt at an official iOS C&C.

Now, the game is good as is when you download it from the App Store, and well worth a buck. I will say, however, that I also bought both available expansions, which were also worth every last penny (twice). The first is the map pack. Even if you’re content with only two factions, two stock skirmish maps is a little harder to defend. For an additional dollar, you get all the maps seen on the right in addition to the two the game comes with. This is a massive improvement for only costing a buck. And if you really wanna make the game seem bigger, The Empire of the Rising Sun expansion adds a complete third playable faction, and its own campaign– all for $2.99. While the compounded cost may scare away a few players, this is a lot of game for your money, and one with a nearly indestructible replay value. Besides, all that said, and you’re still only in it for $3.98. That’s a ridiculously low price for a quality game. Don’t believe me? Try the free demo. If you’re a fellow C&C fan, you’ll probably buy it just like I did.

December 26, 2011

Command & Conquer: Red Alert– an iOS Game Done Right.

Hardcore games are not hard to find on any smartphone platform, Apple’s iOS included. With most of these titles, the hardcore gamer demographic generally has a universal complaint: controls. Shooters, platformers, action games and RPGs all prove to be substantially more challenging and off-putting because of the lack of tactile feedback from a touchscreen interface. One game genre, however, doesn’t have this hangup: Real Time Strategy. As a matter of fact, RTS games seem tailor-made for a touchscreen interface. That being said, I was skeptical when I first saw an official Command and Conquer franchise port to iOS– and got even more nervous when it turned out to be an extension of one of my favorite C&C series: Red Alert. Thank God I gave it a shot.

Not often will I pay for an app of any kind, but after trying the free demo, I bought the full version of Red Alert the very same day, and then later bought it for a friend so we could play together. I not only bought this game, I bought it twice, and it was worth every penny. The fact of the matter is that RTS is perhaps the only style of hardcore game that will ever be perfectly executed on a touchscreen, which is an insane bargain for its $.99 price tag.

The first concern for many gamers when looking at a hardcore mobile game is controls. Rest assured, the controls for this game, while they have a small learning curve, are completely sensible. Even with grouping different units together for an attack force, the onscreen controls are fast and intuitive. One draw back, however, is that you only get 3 hotkey slots for these groups. As seen on the right, the Apocalypse Tanks are back. In this screenshot, they are collectively following attack orders as group 1– hence the top group slot being highlighted in red. While at first the idea of only 3 unit groups is off-putting, it really doesn’t present much of a tactical issue. This sort of scaling back is fairly common throughout all aspects of the game, but sort of makes sense for the smaller nature of the iOS platform. One would hope, though, that the game would have a much larger unit cap with better hardware on later iDevices. Perhaps if there is a subsequent Command & Conquer title for iOS, we could even hope to see larger multiplayer functionality. In a perfect world, this would include support for more than two participants in any given skirmish or multiplayer match, and support for online play. Though all in all, it’s hard to complain too loudly about the first attempt at an official iOS C&C.

Now, the game is good as is when you download it from the App Store, and well worth a buck. I will say, however, that I also bought both available expansions, which were also worth every last penny (twice). The first is the map pack. Even if you’re content with only two factions, two stock skirmish maps is a little harder to defend. For an additional dollar, you get all the maps seen on the right in addition to the two the game comes with. This is a massive improvement for only costing a buck. And if you really wanna make the game seem bigger, The Empire of the Rising Sun expansion adds a complete third playable faction, and its own campaign– all for $2.99. While the compounded cost may scare away a few players, this is a lot of game for your money, and one with a nearly indestructible replay value. Besides, all that said, and you’re still only in it for $3.98. That’s a ridiculously low price for a quality game. Don’t believe me? Try the free demo. If you’re a fellow C&C fan, you’ll probably buy it just like I did.

December 25, 2011

The Foxx is in!

The Gamers Blog invited me to be their newest writer! My name is Foxx and I am a D20 Girl, I have been a gamer since I was a little critter, starting with the original Nintendo. I primarily play on the PC but I also dabble in the 360. My favorite types of games are fps, rpg and rts in that order. I have participated in a few competitions for Counter Strike: Source and attended LANs like Intel LANfest. Other than being an avid gamer, I love zombies, science fiction and fantasy. I have a huge collection of books all within those three genres. I have dressed as Alice from Resident Evil, Zoey from Left 4 Dead and Anna Valerious from Van Helsing among many others.

 

The D20 girls is a project involving geek and gamer girls in the industry. We are involved in entertainment and social networking. Our girls can be hired to work at industry events, and promote girls in gaming as human beings an not just mythical beasts. I write for my own personal blogs and sometimes the D20 girls magazine. Outside of gaming I am a musician and I have an awesome rescue dog.

www.d20girls.com

 

December 22, 2011

Steam Holiday Sale

In case anyone isnt keeping up with Steam on the 19th they started their Holiday sale that will run through Jan 1st, all sales are good till then. If you havent been tracking the steam store you can still get the sales from the 19th and on, they just arent as discounted but still discounted none the less. Check in each day to find out what has gone on sale. They run for 24hrs from 11am-11am at which point new items get discounted. after the sales for a particular day end the items remain on sale just not as heavily discounted. For instance you can get the Fable Franchise from the 19th for $40 regularly $80, it includes Fable, Fable III and all DLC (no Fable II though). Today, 12/21 the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham City is 50% off at $25, among many others. There is also a “Great Gift Pile” where each day challenges are added and for each one completed you get either a gift such as a coupon or free game or a lump of coal, the lumps of coal can either be turned in for an entry each into the grand prize giveaway at the end of the sale or you can trade 7 lumps of coal for a prize. So if you havnt already check it out the deals are fantastic.

December 19, 2011

Gamefly now offering PC titles for rent/sale

Gamefly has just released its own download client for PC games, in its beta stages of course. It would seem that gamers who subscribe to their service will get  to choose from a growing selection of PC titles to download and play for an unlimited amount of time. Most of the play for free games will be unheard of titles and/or titles no one is interested in, however this is to be expected with something in its infancy, not to worry though, there are a few big titles such as Prince of Persia and Assassins Creed, and as it matures more A titles will likely be seen (remember its a FREE service included with membership). Gamefly has made this possible by acquiring Direct2Drive. This allows them to offer their free and unlimited games along with direct download of PC games available for purchase, pre-orders will also be made available for unreleased titles. On top of downloadable PC titles it sounds as if PSP and PSVita owners will also be able to rent and download games to their handheld devices, Gamefly is really upping their game here and making themselves available to a much wider audience and will be all the better for it. Also worth noting is that they will offer games compatible with Mac, how many is unknown but they will offer them.

You can check it out here > http://www.gamefly.com/download-games/GameFlyClient/

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