2013 December

December 31, 2013

Free With Your Subscription: January Edition

 

Happy New Years to all, this coming year starts off with a bang on the consoles. There are plenty of free games to be had in the first month of 2014 and show off some of the best games of the past year and a half. Xbox Live’s Games with Gold is finally paying dividends for being, well lackluster for many months. Though I have both the games that are available, but very happy more people will get to play them. PlayStation Plus is giving us 3 games for the PS3 that are some of my personal favorites from this past year. The Vita and PS4 offerings are a bit light, though there could still be some to be had. Here is the list of what you will get, and again, these are in no particular order aside from the Xbox 360 titles.

 

Xbox Live: Games with Gold

January 1st-15th – Sleeping Dogs – What used to be True Crime Hong Kong, was dropped by Activision only to be later picked up and published by Square Enix. This was one of my favorite titles of 2012. United Front pulled off the perfect open world kung fu movie, with likable characters, a great combat system, and a fresh location. If you have yet to play this game, I implore you to give this a try. The game sold moderately well, but was still considered a success. This game alone is worth the $9 a month for Xbox Live, Microsoft has done well by offering this stellar title.

January 16th-31st – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light – Coming from the 2010 Summer of Arcade, this title is bit of a departure for Lara. Guardian of Light is a cooperative twin stick shooter/adventure title. I have been waiting since 2010 to play this great title with some of my friends, and now it will be free. The game features online co-op, it is a blast despite the odd genre for the venerable heroine.

 

PlayStation Plus

PS3 – Bioshock Infinite – There is nothing that I could say to make this game more appealing. Download it, play it, love it. Now, to be fair, it is a bit more combat heavy than Bioshock 1; but the story will definitely catch you off guard. Also, this game needs to be played for Elizabeth, she is one of the most endearing characters of the year.

PS3 – DmC: Devil May Cry – I review this game earlier this year, and aside from a few minor faults, I felt this was as good, if not better than previous entries. The combat is strong, the soundtrack is amazing (Nosia and Combichrist), and the art style is fantastic. If you have PS+ and are a fan of the Devil May Cry series, please give this a shot. Ninja Theory is one of my favorite developers that spawned from this gen (well formerly Just Add Monsters), and this is one of the their best efforts to date. Put the old Dante aside and give it a go.

PS3 – Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – This game was a title in Microsoft’s Summer of Arcade this past year, and landed on the PSN a month later. The game is developed by Starbreeze Studios, another of my favorite dev teams (Riddick titles, The Darkness, Syndicate (2012). I recently bought the game during a sale, and it is something that should be experienced by every gamer. The game was co developed with Swedish Film director Josef Fares, and has you controlling two young brothers as they go on a quest to save their dying father. The controls are unique, as you will be controlling each brother with the analog sticks, and their actions with the triggers. The game is as emotional as Bastion or Limbo and hope you check out this wonderful title that may have flown under your radar.

 

PS4 – Don’t Starve

PS Vita – Smart As…

PS Vita – Worms: Battle Islands – Worms is always great, it’s on the go, and require very little from your memory card; sold.

December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays from us at The Gamers Blog

 

Wanted to wish all readers and visitors the happiest of holidays, and no matter what you celebrate today, we hope it is filled with family, joy, and of course, gaming. There will be plenty of changes coming to the site in the new year so keep a look out for all the new features we have planned. Enjoy this festive theme “Snowflakes in her hair” by Blue Magic via OverClocked Remix. The original tune comes from Pokemon Diamond, and was featured on OverClocked Remix’s Pokemon: The Eevee EP. Thanks for OC Remix for posting it this morning and reminding me of the festive theme.

 

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December 19, 2013

Loot the World and be Merry!

 

Are you bored with the holiday shopping? Do you wish for something to hold your interest while you duck, dive, and dip through the holiday crowds? 2K games and Gearbox Software have you covered. This past week they released the Loot the World app, which is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app is free and will have you grabbing loot for your characters in Borderlands 2. The app syncs with the email you used for the Shift profile and will transfer loot to you in game. How do you get this wonderful loot you say, simply by scanning QR codes. Those wonderful little black and white pixelated gems are your keys to getting weapons, shields, and a handful of other goodies. The interface is quite simple with 4 tabs at the bottom, one being your inventory which can hold up to 20 items. Once you have snagged something you want, you spend stamps to send it to your character in Borderlands 2. There are plenty of ways to get stamps either by QR codes on products or through Randy Pitchford’s Twitter periodically. I went around Target with my fiancee the other day and was scanning QR codes while she shopped, I got to play a game, she got to do Christmas shopping; a win for both. You can check out the few screens of the app below I took with my phone, and it is available for free in both the App Store and Google Play, unfortunately it is not available for Windows Phone.

 

December 12, 2013

Miiverse has come to the 3ds

 

The latest system update for the 3DS is now available and it brings the wonderful community feature from the Wii U, the Miiverse, to the spunky handheld. The Miiverse is Nintendo’s form of a social network, were you can post screen shots (for certain titles, not all work yet) artwork, hints, or just your love for a certain title for the whole community to see. I was an early adopter of the Wii U and this has been one of the consoles best features. If you sign up for the Miiverse on the 3DS you will have the option to link your Nintendo ID, this is the ID you sign in with and use on the Wii U. This feature will allow for the sharing of funds between the Wii U and 3DS so no more loose change hanging around. This is a feature Sony uses for the Vita and PS3 and I love it. The update is live now and there are currently 19 game communities available to become a part of. Expect more communities to roll out over time, so go sign up and have fun in the community.

December 9, 2013

No Man’s Sky is Jaw-Dropping

 

The Spike VGX was this past Saturday. What is the VGX you say, well it is what replaced the Video Game awards shows of the past, for better or worse. The award show was very hard to watch, more than normal. But out of the train wreck comes something very unexpected, and for the better. The 4 guys over at Hello Games (famous for Joe Danger 1 & 2) have pulled the lid off their newest project, No Man’s Sky. No Man’s Sky is a mix of space/FPS combat and exploration, but with a twist, every world is procedurally constructed. Procedural is built by algorithms instead of constructed by hand, which most games typically are. One game that has procedurally created worlds is Minecraft. The other catching tidbit to No Man’s Sky is the travel and exploration, if you see a planet or moon, you can travel there and be the first to discover. them. The game is an MMO of sorts with every player in the same galaxy starting on the edge and working inward towards the center. There are still plenty of details that are being kept under wraps, but from the video alone, this has me extremely intrigued. Seeing the seamless transition from planet surface to space is jaw-dropping. The game has no release date, no specified platforms, but from the No Man’s Sky Wikipedia page (no the most reliable) is showing PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Hopefully it hits all platforms but this is being built by 4 guys in Guildford, UK, but man even if it hits only one, it sounds and looks fantastic. Enjoy the first look at No Man’s Sky.

December 4, 2013

Starbound Beta Launches With Awesome Trailer

I have been following the development of Starbound, the newest game from Chucklefish, for what seems like an eternity.Starbound has oft been called a “spiritual successor” to Terraria, but this is a misnomer. Terraria and Starbound share an artist and basic gameplay premise, and that is pretty much where the similarities end. Today marks the launch of the first stage of the open beta. You can buy the game on Steam for 15 dollars and get started as soon as the download completes. Check out the trailer below and stay tuned from updates from me as the beta progresses.

December 2, 2013

The Holidays hit the Nintendo eShop

 

As promised, I am back with the eShop deals that are active this week. I do apologize that they are late, with the holiday and being sick it has not been a fun week. Though I did have a fun Sunday finally putting some serious time into Super Mario 3D World and have come away thoroughly impressed. I started the game up around 10 a.m., wanting to just finish a couple of levels and grab some collectibles. I had picked up ZombiU on a Black Friday deal and wanted to give it a go once I finished 3D World. 6 p.m. rolls around and I am still at Mario with my Skullcandy headphones plugged into the gamepad, enjoying one of the all-time great Mario games. The soundtrack is a work of art. If you have a Wii U, or plan on getting one for the holidays, please pick up Super Mario 3D World. It is not as revolutionary as Galaxy or 64, but it has incredible level design, is not too overbearing on the nostalgia, and it runs at a native 60 FPS at 720p. That last bit is a shot at the new consoles yes, Mario may not be the most demanding visually, but this game in motion looks damn fine and it is running on $300 hardware. I may not have time to put a full review up, but with this post I give my wholehearted recommendation for this game. If you have a Wii U or plan on it, this should be in your library. I played it solo and it was a blast. Now on to the deals. This week we see deals for Mario in both the Wii U and 3DS eShop. Here are the deals for the corresponding shops.

 

Wii U

Mario Bros, (NES) – $3.49

Super Mario Bros. (NES) – $3.49

Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) – $3.49

Super Mario World (SNES) – $5.59

 

3DS/2DS

Super Mario Bros. (NES) – $3.49

Super Mario Bros. (NES) – $3.49

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy) – $2.79

Mario/DK: Minis on the Move (3DS) – $6.99

 

These deals will last until the eShop updates on Thursday (12/5) around 12 p.m. EST. There are a few other titles that hit the eShops recently to make a point of interest. Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom hit the 3DS ($4.99) as well as the first two of the 3D Sega Classics. They started the roll out with Super Hang-On and Space Harrier (each $5.99). On the the Wii U we have received my favorite Contra title, Contra III : The Alien Wars (SNES), which you can snag for $7.99. Next week we see the end of the holiday sale and it closes out with a Donkey Kong featured sale. For a little bonus fire up the eShop on the Wii U for a small bit of Christmas cheer.

December 1, 2013

My Week with the Xbox One

So I wasn’t really planning on getting either of the new systems on Launch day, however I walked into my local Target during my lunch break on launch day and they had just stocked 3 Xbox One’s on the shelf that happened to come in. So staring at the big green boxes I told the clerk “you’d better give me one…”  so for the last week I’ve been playing with Microsoft’s latest addition to the new next gen. console race.

 

Now, I’m not writing this as a review or a comparison to Sony’s PS4 because simply put it’s your money and you should get as much information as you can before you shell out your hard earned cash on either of these high ticket consoles. So I thought I’d just share with you my experience with the XB1 so maybe it’ll help you decide to or not to buy it.

 

First thing to know is that there are two versions of the XB1 Offered to buy however, unless you had a pre-sale or are willing to throw about $1000+ dollars (American) into the Day One edition on ebay you more than likely won’t find it for sale and out side of the box being black, Day One being stenciled on the controller and an achievement you unlock there really is no reason to obsess over the day one edition so the Plain Jane XB1 will do you just fine. 

 

When I say “Plain Jane” I meant it, the box is green and has a handle and that’s about it nothing flashy other than a few pictures of the XB1 and the dashboard. Opening the box up revels the XB1 in all it’s plastic wrapped greatness and Setting it up is pretty standard, queue the monkey. Upon powering it up you of course have to update the system which clocks in just over 500megs (the PS4 had the same thing clocking in at around 300megs so I hear). Then you set all your preferences with the system, dashboard and how you will use the Kinects. When you finish you are welcomed with a video that shows you around the system which is handy because (at least for me) there’s a learning curve to navigate around being that the XB1 is pretty much running windows 8.

The XB1 is, I have to say, a brick and not as coolly stylish as the PS4 looks to be, but we aren’t going for form here we’re going for function and the XB1 has several ports options to allow you it plug in your cable box and allow you to run SPIDF to you receiver and add surround sound to your gaming ( I can’t I live in an apartment  so the neighbors would get cranky if I boomed my games). It also has some USB ports so you can use charge n play and other devices with the XB1.

 

The XB1 controller is slightly different from the 360s (which I thought was a great controller). The new controller now has rumble packs in the triggers which honestly I haven’t even noticed yet. The repositioned start and back buttons are ok I guess but the one thing I do like is the redesigned Dpad, it works really well and hasn’t mis-commanded for me yet.

 

The Kinects I haven’t really played with outside of voice commands that work well enough until there is too much ambient noise, then I found myself screaming at my XB1 to get it to work. One thing to remember is if you move the Kinects at all you have to recalibrate it to function properly. One cool feature of the Kinects is the ability to use it to party chat instead of the crappy headset that included with the system

 

If you have an Xbox Live account during setup it will be imported to your new system so you can retain your friends list weather they have an Xbox 360 or an XB1 however you cannot party up and chat with friends on the 360 and visa versa but the new friends feed will keep you up to date on what everyone on your list is doing and if they are an XB1 owner then you will also get achievement updates, and video clip uploads that you can watch. When your account imports you also retain your achievement progress and reputation ranking and according to Microsoft your rep will certainly affect the type of people you play with in an effort to curb trolls, and belligerents that can ruin gaming for everyone.

 

As I said before navigating does have a little bit of a learning curve and gone is the handy Xbox “blades” when you hit the home button. There are 3 major options on the dashboard including PINS, HOME, and STORE. The PINS group is a location for all the games and apps that you that you have “pinned” to the dashboard for ease of access and is pretty handy for anything you use a lot. The HOME group and the primary screen displayed when you turn on your XB1 and it contains your friends info, and what you’ve accessed recently, the Snap feature and the “My Games and apps” which the location for all apps and games you have installed and downloaded. The final group is STORE and contains options for downloading paid and free content, add-ons, movies and apps and yes you have to download everything in the way of apps because pretty much there isn’t anything preloaded.

 

When I bought the XB1 I also bought two games as well: Battlefield 4 and Dead Rising 3. First thing I noticed is that each game had to be (at least partially) installed which kills the happiness of just throwing in my game disc and jumping right into a new gaming experience. But I guess with the amount of data that the new gen of games will contain, installing it will help with it running better off the hard drive much like a PC.

 

Battlefield 4 had an interesting feature where it loaded the campaign and multiplayer components at the same time (the campaign was literally 20% of the install) so when the single player component was finished I could play it while the rest of the game installed, cool. When the full game was installed I could jump into the multiplayer game which sadly is riddled with bugs and lag issues as well as being kicked back to the dashboard, but that is a games issue and Dice, so I’ve read, is releasing a patch soon to help rectify the problems that plague this game. I do have BF4 for the PC as well and although my rig isn’t the most powerful it can run the game at medium settings fairly well and seeing the XB1 and PC graphics side by side the XB1 does hold it’s own and at least (for now) can graphically hold it’s own against it’s PC cousins.

 

Dead Rising 3 also had to be installed to the hard drive and judging by the amount of action that happens on the screen at one time while playing it is a needed draw back. The game looks pretty good (Battlefield looked so much better) and can literally have thousands on zombies on screen at one time for your zombie killing pleasure. This game is looks to be a good litmus test for the computing power of the XB1 due to the amount of individual AI onscreen at once and how they interact with you and the environment.

 

The apps I’ve downloaded all have a new look. Netflix for one is certainly much easier to navigate and uses the screen space a little better. The same can be said for Amazon Instant and I do like the layout of both of the apps much better than the 360s. You Tube more resembles how the smart TV app looks and functions the same. The other apps I’ve installed are interesting like Skydrive, which allows you to access files that you uploaded from your xb1 and PC, Xbox Video which is Live’s streaming service and a Blu Ray app that does a good job of playing my Blu Ray movies.

 

The one app the I thought was pretty interesting was Upload Studio which is an app that allows you to edit and upload videos to the Skydrive and it also allows you to upload videos for others to watch much like Halo’s theater mode check out the video I made with clips of me playing Battlefield 4:

 

 

Some of the other features of the XB1 are pretty slick like the integration of my cable TV into the system that allows me to navigate cable TV much like a smart TV using the controller and Kinects to change channels and start movies. But, I have a smart TV that has voice functions already so this seems redundant to me for now, although the ability to use one HDMI connection for 2 devices is pretty handy because I already had four HDMI devices plugged into my TV and I didn’t want to have to unplug anything to use the XB1.

 

 

Some of the things I liked:

The HDMI pass through is handy

The cable TV integration is really cool (but in my case redundant)

Love the fixed Dpad on the controller

Being able to pin apps and games to the dashboard for easy access

Graphics look really vibrant and crisp and, in my opinion, can be compared to the PC

Switching from games to apps to live TV and back is pretty seamless

Redesigned apps for Netflix and Amazon Instant are great

No notifications while watching movies or TV unless you are messaged

 

Things I don’t like:

If I use the cable pass though the XB1 must be powered on

The XB1 doesn’t shut down due to inactivity even though it’s setup to do so mainly do to live TV being watched

Party system doesn’t work well and if you try to turn on chat while in BF4 it fails 100% not sure who is at fault here but it needs patched for sure

The dashboard lacks some zest, it’s very utility oriented

The loss of the dashboard blades that could be have been handy at times

 

 

The Bottem line:

The Xbox One is an innovative system that is trying to take steps into integrating all our entertainment choices into one hub. Some feel that this will leave the true gamers behind, I feel that’s not the case being a gamer and a technophile the marriage of multiple entertainment choices is welcome and I hope Microsoft will continue to hone the interface until it’s perfected.

 

 Ultimately my final decision to purchase wasn’t that I thought the release day game line up was great (the XB1 and PS4 exclusives are ok to say the least) but that the exclusives games to come are so much more interesting to me and a there’s HALO series coming!!! Yes the XB1 is a cool system, but do you want all the bells and whistles that it has to offer? Only you can answer that!! Hope this article helped you make a decision. Leave a comment if you like and let us know your thoughts and please try to keep the trolling to a minimum. 

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