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Esteban Sky Cuevas
11:24 AM on 01.08.2013

2013 is here and many people are attempting to predict what the year will hold for us gamers. That sounds like a good idea so I will do the same. Just for fun, some of my predictions will be serious while others will be in jest. See if you can spot which is which!

1. Microsoft will show the Next Xbox at E3 and will be released in November of this year.
2. Sony will show the PlayStation 4 at E3 and will not be released it until holiday of 2014.
3. The Behemothís new game, Battle Block Theatre, is finally released.
4. THQ goes completely under and all of their assets are sold.
5. Warner Bros buys Vigil Games and announces Darksiders III.
6. The Wii Uís library comprises mostly of ports of games and struggles with lower than expected sales.
7. The Nintendo eShop will continue to release inventive titles for both the Wii U and 3DS.
8. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 4 will be released but will fail to surpass the sales record Black Ops 2 set. It will still make a little over 400 million dollars at launch.
9. After the lukewarm reception to Assassinís Creed Revelations and III, there will be no Assassinís Creed title this year.
10. Electronic Arts will give up on the NBA Live / Elite series and instead will release a new NBA Jam or Street title.
11. Electronic Arts will release Battlefield: Bad Company 3 this year and will give the option to purchase only the multiplayer online for $20.
12. Remember Me will be a surprise hit for Capcom but will receive some questionable DLC.
13. There will be no word on Tekken X Street Fighter.
14. Konami will finally announce a new Contra gameÖas a downloadable title.
15. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will struggle to find an audience and go free to play.
16. Downloadable titles will grow in popularity and will more or less be just as prevalent as retail games.
17. Dead Space 3, The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite will all disappoint critically.
18. Sega will continue to release retro releases and will gain back some financial ground.
19. Capcom will release a Street Fighter Alpha 1 and 2 collection and announce a HD remake of the third game.
20. Sony will stop supporting the PlayStation Move.

What are your predictions? Leave a comment and let me know!

Iíve been playing a lot of games as of late. Christmas was good to me as you can see by my two previous entries and I even managed to get Sleeping Dogs, and RAGE during the last day of the Steam sale and Red Dead Redemption for $20 at Walmart. However, the side effect of all that is I havenít been able to focus on many of them, if at all. However, there are two games I have managed to stay with among the mountain of games I have to play.

I got Grand Theft Auto IV with some Christmas money I got and Iíve sunk a good 10 hours or so into it. Iíve played GTA4 before; Iíve actually owned it previously when I had another Xbox 360 but I could never get into it. Now that Iíve really spent some time playing it, Iím find myself enjoying myself. The car controls and physics that Iíve never liked before are growing on me and Iím getting the hang of how to drive in this game. I still prefer the more loose controls of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas but at least I can controls my cars now and enjoy myself while doing so. I really enjoy the shooting in this game. Having lock-on and free targeting mapped to the same trigger is strange but the guns feel good. Killing someone instantly with a bullet to the head is extremely gratifying and for that reason, I try to stick to just my pistol since it usually enough.

However, so far I donít care too much for the story and itís mostly because of the characters. Niko isnít very sympathetic to me and I canít find another way to care about him. All the others so far have been either overly crass or excessively annoying with maybe Dimitri being the exception. The only character I can actually say I like is Roman. He was eye roll inducing in the beginning but I like the reactions heís been giving to the situation, as heís essentially what many of us would be like. I like sincerity in that although heís full of shit with his boasting and lies, he did make his life by himself, whatever little it may be. At least the missions I go on are pretty fun and varied.

Another problem is while Liberty City feels big and alive, there isnít much to do. Thereís some places to go, to eat, drink, buy clothes, and stuff but for the size of the place, there really isnít much. I think itís because the city feels so active that I notice more that I canít walk into most of the buildings. Still, Iím enjoying myself, though not as much as the other GTA games.

The other game Iíve been playing is one I actually didnít buy. Via my SNES emulator, Iíve been playing Secret of Evermore, a little known action RPG on the SNES from SquareEnix, then Squaresoft. Made by the companyís North American team, it follows a boy and his dog as theyíre sucked into another world with various sections based around different periods in time, such as prehistoric, Rome, the future and more. The game plays similarly to Secret of Mana and utilizes an item based Alchemy system as magic.

So far, Iíve been having fun with it although right now Iím in a section of the game that dragging a bit. Iím not crazy about the Alchemy system since I donít like having to constantly buying ingredients that the closest alchemy seller may not carry. The story isnít very engaging either. So far, itís just been ďthis happened, then this happened, now this is happeningĒ. The overall goal is to get home but so far, the in-betweens have been just various random crap. The combat is fun though. Charging up your weapon to unleash a super strong attack is fun as is leveling up your Alchemy and weapons. Also, your dog is a badass. Best dog ever.

Thatís all Iíve been able to focus on. I played Sonic Adventure 2, Red Dead Redemption, Sleeping Dogs, Dead or Alive 4, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and Phantasy Star II via the Sonicís Ultimate Genesis Collection with none really sticking but thatís okay. Theyíll be there for later. Iím just going to focus on GTA4 and SoE for now. However, Iím playing GTA4 and Secret of Evermore on the PC. I should be playing something on my Xbox 360. Hmm. L.A. Noire is just sitting thereÖ

This gaming landscape is going to be a bit all over the place because I was sick for about three weeks and I didnít play too many games and instead just watched TV. Also, Iíve recently been listening to a lot of music because I like to hear new music, both mainstream and indie, and as the year winds down, I want to hear everything the year had to offer. But enough of that! Weíre here to talk games! Top of the list is the Prototype series. I bought quite a few games last month. Awesomenauts, L.A. Noire, I also got the Humble THQ Bundle so Iíve just been swimming in games but I did get both Prototype games on Amazon for $10 and decided to focus on those. Iíve already written a piece on that, which you can read here so I wonít say too much. Those were the games I was focusing on for a majority of the month, like two and a half weeks. I did a majority of the side missions in both and completed both games in I think 14 and 18 hours respectively. I definitely got my moneyís worth at $10 and I wouldíve been willing to pay like $30 or so for both. If you can get both cheap, go for it, and if you can get only one, go for Prototype 2. Much better than the first.

Before playing the Prototype games, I played Need for Speed Most Wanted for review and I also did a quick lets play video. Again, I wonít get into it too much because you can read the review and watch the video for more of an explanation but I will reiterate that it is a great game. Completely worth the money and although the direct multiplayer isnít great, the leaderboard stuff thatís built into the world is awesome. I also started playing Jamestown on Steam. It was another Humble Indie Bundle game that I never got to and it is AMAZING! I love Shoot-em-Ups and am a fan of the Gradius series but theyíve always been much too hard for me to get completely into and Iím just not that good at them. This game is just so well balanced and fun while being hard and challenging. Now that said, I stopped playing because Iím stuck but Iím near the end of the game and this is a title I can recommend to fans of shmups and old school games. One thing thatís weird is itís only available on PC, a platform not usually associated with Shmups.

Recently, I been playing Saints Row 2 a bit and itís fun but Iím having trouble getting into it. I may put it back on the shelf and try something else. I mean spraying buildings, cars and people with waste is fun but thereís a routine feel to everything. I donít know. In a few days, Iíll be getting my Christmas gifts for myself so Iíll probably post about that and thatíll be what Iíll be playing. So what have you been playing? Let me know in the comments below!

and I will say that I have an abusive relationship with this series. I like and hate this series at the same time. Itís frustrating, especially when you play them back to back, like I did, or compare the two, like Iím about to do.I got both games recently through a deal on Amazon that gave you both games plus DLC for the second game for Steam for only 10 bucks. On one end I wouldíve like to see where this series wouldíve gone if developer Radical Entertainment hadnít gone out of business. On the other end, it was inevitable that they would go under because you canít make a triple A title like the Prototype series at the quality it was. It is.

Lets start with the first game. The first Prototype game is such a mixed bag of a game, I wouldnít be surprised if you told me that it wasnít actually completed or major components and features of the game were taken out at the last minute. First thing I noticed were the graphics. Holy crap is this game ugly. It looks like a PS2 game with its resolution raised so it could pass for high definition. The story is paced like a subpar PS2 action title also. The only thing thatís not last gen is that a game like this wouldnít have been an open world game just because the PS2, Xbox and GameCube wouldnít have been able to do what this game does. It wouldíve been an action title.

The other thing I noticed right away is the controls are really finicky. They are not precise and are real loose. Youíll constantly be doing things you didnít mean to and youíll start to get confused since the camera sucks as well. That being said, when you do have proper control, which thankfully is a considerable amount of the time, you see that the combat is fun. Destroying helicopters in one to two hits was fun and in the chaotic environment the game puts you in, there is a sense of direction. However, overall the story was just too uninteresting, and the side missions were equally unappealing. I had actually rented Prototype 1 before and I had said that the only way I would buy that game would be if I could get it for $10 or less. Which is what happened. This isnít a proper review per se but the first game is definitely mediocre and I would give it a 2.5 or 3 out of 5.

Prototype 2 is definitely better. I have more positive things to say about this game so Iíll get the negative stuff out of the way. The most irritating thing about this game is the protagonist himself. James Heller is such an unbelievable bastard itís really surprising heís not actually the villain at the end of the game. Alex Mercer, the protagonist of the first game and the antagonist in this game, was an anti-hero, as he really didnít care about anyone other than himself. Heller however is just an unlikable person right from the beginning. Heís way too brash, has a rotten attitude and uses the word fuck like itís a punctuation mark. The other issue, and this is really the biggest issue, is the stuff that is here is good but itís not great. Thereís enough to do but none of it is really engaging. Lastly, this may be a minor gripe but itís so strange, Iím willing to call it a glitch. Heller doesnít like grabbing barrels. Iíve had instances where when I try to grab barrels, he runs away from them. Doesnít even grab anything else. This sucks since thereís side missions where all you do is grab barrels but there you go.

Now for the good, which is everything else. The graphics are much improved and the game has a more polished feel to it. The controls are improved and although the game is slower than in the first game, itís for the better as you just have more of an idea of whatís going on. The powers you get are also scaled back but more of them are useful. Plus new powers like the tendrills are just extremely useful. For what itís worth, Heller does feel different from Mercer from the first game. The side missions have you doing things that are more meaningful such as finding recordings that add development to the overall plot or clearing out lairs that usually contain creatures of which absorbing them upgrades one of your powers. Some are still kinda dumb like your diving off of ledges and smashing enemy targets on the ground missions but they are less frequent. The game just feels more organic overall and less forced in its execution. Again, this isnít a proper review but overall, I would score this somewhere around 3.5 or 4.

Overall, the series is still sort of underwhelming. The second game is better and I would actually recommend picking that game up if you can find it cheap (like $30 or less) but considering what the gameís premise is, it couldíve been better. Both the first and the second game fail to deliver on the idea of being this super being with an assortment of powers and flexible abilities while not having to be this beacon of chivalry or wear rainbow colored tights. A series like this that is decidedly second tier wouldíve been fine last generation or even the generation before it but nowadays, there is no space for a second tier game and I have to agree with this gameís lack of popularity. For as much money that mustíve been sunk into this series, they have little to show for it. If you took out some of the more extraneous stuff thatís in the second game, you wouldíve had a great downloadable title. Sure the game would be 12 hours long rather than 18 but Iíll sacrifice length for quality. Oh and the first game just needs work, downloadable or otherwise.

Well, those are my thoughts on Prototype 1 and 2 but what are yours? Let me know in the comments below and Santa will get you a Mega Wii U for Christmas. Thatís a Wii U with a terabyte of internal memory, a touch screen with multi-touch, and Metroid Prime 4, Super Smash Bros U, Legend of Zelda U, and Earthbound U all included before anyone else gets to have it. So, you know, leave a comment. Please. Mega Wii U.
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Iím a completionist. In everything I do really. If I try to fix anything, I wonít stop when itís at least functional. I keep going until its working as its supposed to. In video games, I strive to get every collectable item, finish all the side quests, and do so before finishing the game proper so I donít have to go through the game again. Also, when I get games used (which is always) I try to get the case and manual to the point where Iíll not buy it if both are not available. With this in mind, you should also know that Iím a big advocate of moving video games to an all digital format. It would mean cheaper prices for consumers and more convenience and support for titles. Steam is a great example of what this digital exclusive version of the video game industry could be like.

Every hidden package, every side mission, Iíve done it all.

Another reason I support a digital only format for games is because of the benefits it would have towards the environment. Without all those cases and manuals for video games, there would be less waste and less clutter. I am a eco-conscious person who recycles, likes to buy eco-friendly products and who has already gotten rid of my DVD collection in favor of AVI files on my PC. Playing Sonic the Hedgehog a lot and being a big fan of The Lorax as a kid will do that to you, I guess.

I saw this video featuring Adam Sessler of X-Play fame, now working as Editor-in-Chief of games content at Revision 3. In the video, he expressed his distress over throwing away his game cases and putting the game discs in disc binders in order to save space in his new house. The aftermath resulted in numerous bags of cases that would be thrown away and replaced by about five disc binders. Obviously, thatís a lot of space saved not to mention a lot of waste that seems below necessary. He then talked about what seems like a primal need to collect items like game cases or various other types of media. This got me thinking and I realized that while I do some things to be helpful to the environment, I too have this inert desire to collect things regardless of my desire to not be wasteful and for a digital future in video games.

So what did I do? I happen to have an extra disc binder and I put all my games that were disc based into the binder. Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Wii, all of them into one binder. I still have room. As for the cases, for the time being theyíre just stacked in my shelf as I contemplate what to do with them. More importantly though is Iíve resolved to care less about obtaining a case and manual when buying used games. I already buy titles on Steam without batting an eye and the same goes for XBLA titles. If thereís a good deal on buying a full Xbox 360 game on the Xbox Marketplace, Iíll get that as well. Itís admittedly rare, as Microsoft appears to just be ignoring what Valve is doing with Steam, but I do have Halo: Reach, Kameo: Elements of Power, Perfect Dark Zero, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter digitally on the Xbox 360 already.

My Steam library looks like this too.

Backtracking a bit, why did I have this need to collect the cases and manuals to begin with? Well, I remember when I was younger, the box art for games were these flashy but artistic endeavors that got you pumped for the game while also telling you vaguely the experience you were about to have. Manuals in turn were these fully colored books with impressive art in addition to helpful information as to how to play the game. How many times have you been stuck in the game back in the day and pause it to look something up in the manual?

Sadly nowadays, none of this is true. While the front cover is still sometimes great to look at, most of the time they are merely an image of the protagonist of the game with little else and more importantly, you still get that image in digital markets. Manuals have all been removed from games and replaced by flaccid pamphlets that are four pages long and in black and white. More importantly, they are not really manuals as they explain hardly anything about the game. Most of that content has been moved into the game itself via in game tutorials or a How to Play option in the settings menu.

I swear, thereís a meme for everything now.

I know some people who are not in favor of a digital only market because they enjoy their cases and manuals but these have essentially been already taken away. Therefore, my own desire to have cases and manuals to my games is purely on tradition. I will say that for those who want that kind of product should have it available to them as a special edition. Pay an extra five bucks and get a full featured 60 page manual that doubles as an art book as well as an instructional manual with imaginative box art that isnít covered with legal text and quotes from reviews and previews and is printed on both the front and back of the inlay.

I may sell my cases and manuals on eBay, store them in a box and put it in my storage room, or I may recycle them. One thing I do know already is having all my games in a single disc binder is already extremely convenient. How do you feel about being eco-friendly with your games? What about physical media in general? Comment below and let me know. Oh and hereís the video I was talking about with Adam Sessler. Itís thought-provoking!

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