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    Discless: Global Agenda

    Strap on your jetpack and grab a gun, because this week, Discless is reviewing Global Agenda. GA, as it is called for short, is a sci-fi MMORPG available for download on PC through Steam. If you don’t know what that is, then you either don’t play PC games, or you’re WAY out of the loop. GA is set in a future in which the human race is struggling to survive. The world has decayed into a state of utter annihilation. The world’s surface is entirely made up of deserts, and the humans who are left live in what are called Dome Cities. The cities are, obviously, covered in massive domes. This is where the player begins.

    Let’s begin with character creation. You begin by selecting your class. There are several classes to choose from. I’ll run down the list after the break.
    # Assault: This is the “heavy weapons guy” of GA. They specialize in weapons such as miniguns, rocket launchers, and anti-personnel grenade launchers. The two skill options are guns and bomber.
    # Medic: This class speaks for itself… Or does it? With the medic you have two options – Be the classic healer medic, or go on the offensive as a poison medic. When selecting skills, there will be two options – healer and poison.
    # Recon: This is the ninja class (my favorite class, too). They specialize in sniper rifles and stealth sabotage. The skill sets are Sniper and Melee for this class, though melee specializes more in sabotage bombs and mines. This class also has the ability to turn invisible for a set time.
    # The last is Robotics. This is the engineer of GA. They have a myriad of constructables to choose from, ranging from stationary turrets to mobile drone weapon platforms. The two skill sets are stationary and drone.

    After you’ve selected your class, you customize the face, hair style, and hair color. Then you begin the story.

    When the player creates his/her character, they begin in the Dome City. They talk to a cybernetic army officer and learn that they are now agents for an organization formed to keep the hostile denizens of the desert wasteland at bay, as well as to combat an evil organization bent on taking control of every human settlement left on the planet.

    The story consists of PvE missions, largely fetch quests. Kill this number of this type of enemy, collect this number of this item from this enemy, locate this NPC, the works. The PvE is nicely done, and the desert is actually a quite vast place to explore. Too vast, perhaps. Though it is a large place for the player to roam in, there is no fast travel system. The player can be on one end of the world talking to an NPC about a quest, and the NPC will tell them to go to the OTHER end of the world. It can get rather tiresome. There are two dungeons the player must complete as well. They can choose to complete them alone, or in a party of four. I chose to complete them alone. It took a VERY long time. I would advise anybody who decides to play GA after reading this that they GET. A. PARTY. The dungeons will be MUCH easier on you if you get a party. Get it? Got it? Good. Moving on.

    Aside from PvE, GA boasts an excellent PvP system, which is good, since it was PvP only during the beta and the early stages of the game’s life. They’ve had time to perfect it. Anyway, the player brings up a PvP map in which there are several game modes to choose from, one being standard PvP, another being PvE short missions, and the last being guild (or “agencies” as they’re called in this game) conquest. I’ve played PvP and PvE missions. I’ve never played the guild conquests because I never really bother much with guilds in MMOs. Anyway, the PvP is split into several game modes: Standard team battles, Payload, Conquest, CTF, and others. One notable feature about the PvP is that it is by far the FASTEST way to level up your character and earn loads of cash. Which is great, because the upgrades cost a ton. They can range from 10,000 credits all the way up to 100,000 credits and more. I’m talking REALLY expensive. And no, there are no short cuts. GA makes you work for your new weapons and armor.

    Let’s move on to gameplay. GA is set up like a 3rd person shooter/MMO hybrid. You control movement with the keyboard and mouse, fire your weapon or use your equipped item with left mouse button, and use the weapon/items secondary ability with the right mouse button. Weapons and items are hot-keyed to the number bar above the WASD keys, and are hot-keyed from 1 – 9. You can also cycle through your weapons using the mouse wheel. However, that ONLY cycles weapons. To use items and abilities, you must press the hot-key to activate it. Combat should speak for itself. It’s a shooter.

    So, if you’re looking for a new MMO to play because you got tired of WoW (sorry, I’m majorly anti-WoW), grab Steam for free, Google Global Agenda, and pick it up for… FREE. Well, the Free Agent package anyway. Or you can dish out $20 to get the Elite Agent package, which provides many benefits, such as end of mission XP, credits, and loot. Or, if shooters aren’t your thing, you may want to look into another MMO. But if you like shiny, Tron-y sci-fi and shooting action, you can’t go wrong with Global Agenda.

    Wii 2?

    The news is out there. Apparently there have been reports that Nintendo is going to unveil a new console this year at E3, with the ultimate goal being to recapture the hardcore gaming market. Now, whether or not these reports turn out to be true, I think that this brings up a big question for the gaming world: should there be a new console?

    To quickly answer my tease of a question, the answer is yes, for Nintendo.

    I want to clarify my beliefs here; I don’t think that we need an Xbox 720 or a Playstation 4, I’m totally cool with my 360 and the PS3 feels like it’s still just starting to get good. The real thing here is whether or not Nintendo needs a new system, and I think that it is pretty clear that, yes, they do.

    There is no denying that the Wii was a HUGE success, so much of one that in order to get across just how big of a success it was I had to go to all of the trouble of hitting the caps lock for a word. But the Wii’s future is undeniably limited at this point; both of the major system competitors have motion control now, hell they have better motion control, and that’s in addition to their more powerful systems, better graphics, and better games. Whether you like the Wii or not you can’t deny that this generation of consoles, while successful fiscally, was not necessarily a renaissance for Nintendo software. There are great games on the system, some of the best games of all time are on the system (Mario Galaxy, Galaxy 2), but the truth of the matter is that I haven’t played my Wii for a very long time.

    So now with the competition matching Nintendo in the motion control department it would only make sense that they are going to create a new console to try and get back some of that competitive edge.

    With that in mind I would like to point out a few things that I think Nintendo should know.

    Also less this...

    1. Don’t just boost up the graphics of the console. The graphics war is a war that Nintendo will never win; they tried to do that with the Gamecube, and I believe we all remember how that turned out. We’ve had HD consoles for the last six years, and we are still figuring out new ways to boost the graphics and use the technology. I’d rather we all weren’t forced to update for all of our systems. That’s why I said that Nintendo AND ONLY Nintendo should create a new system– the 360 and PS3 are good. So, with that in mind, Nintendo has to try to stand out from the pack. That’s what makes the company successful: when they’re pushing the foundations of gaming, like introducing a 3D world or motion control. What they don’t do well is play the system graphics pissing contest; it’s what made the Gamecube such a failure.

    2. Bring the software. One of the things that’s most frustrating about Nintendo is that what they do, they do so freaking well, and what they do is make kick-ass games. That’s why people are willing to buy a whole other console just so they can play Mario or Zelda. I’m not the first to admit that I own a Wii pretty much for the Nintendo games, to the exclusion of pretty much everything else (if I want a shooter I’ll buy it for the 360). So if they are indeed releasing a new console they better bring it. I’m talking Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pikmin, Super Smash Bros., make the system worth buying, because God knows I won’t buy a console if there’s no software.

    3.Go digital. This has been a long time coming, but really, Nintendo, it’s time you learned to use the Internet. Everyone else does, it’s the most annoying part of your console, and to be entirely honest it’s just really annoying that I can’t play Super Smash Bros. online without a friend code or a three-hour wait for a shitty connection.

    4. Finally have a real controller. If I have to no choice but waggle control I am going to hunt you down Nintendo, and I will throw my Wiimote in your face.

    -Quinn Anderson

    So what do you guys think? Want a new system? Don’t want one? How hard does… suck? Post below.

    Crysis 2 Review

    The first Crysis had, and still has, a bit of a reputation associated with it. When it was released in 2007, it brought most modern computers to their respective knees with its high level of graphical fidelity, still impressive by today’s standards. To boot, it also boasted first-person shooting that was not only fun and satisfying, but surprisingly complex. Running around a tropical island in your body-augmenting nanosuit using speed, strength, armor and camouflage and take out enemies as you saw fit. Crysis the first, was a blast to play and a dream to look at with its only blemishes showing in a underwhelming story and a lackluster endgame.

    Crysis 2 takes all of those aspects and tries to improve upon them. And the results are almost unanimously positive.

    Taking place some three years after the events of the first game, Crysis finds you in the shoes, visor, and nanosuit of Alcatraz, a Marine Special Forces operative who unwittingly ended up in the suit due to the intervention of Prophet, the only surviving character from the first game. New York City is under attack from a lovely combination of a flesh-melting virus, a Private Military Organization known as CELL, and the Ceph squid-like aliens with jellyfish insides wrapped inside of metallic casings. The story is paced well with a couple of twists and turns. It’s standard sci-fi fare, but it’s enjoyable none the less.

    The nanosuit from the first game returns with some major tweaks. Most notably is the condensing of suit abilities. Where there were several different modes in the first game, here there are only two toggle able modes: Cloak and Armor. While this may seem like the sequel is gutting the suit from the first, nothing could be further from the truth. Tapping E on my keyboard sends me into invisible stalker mode, ala Predator, while Q turns me into a walking juggernaut, shrugging off bullets as long as my rapidly depleting energy meter is going. Cars can be kicked by holding the melee button next to them. High jumps can be used by holding the jump button for an extra moment. Same with a devastating melee attack in the form of a mean power-punch. Running, jumping, sliding, cloaking. Not only are these options well implemented, they’re fun to use.

    Combat for the most part is a joy. When presented with wide open spaces and tons of nooks and crannies to duck into, the game is at its peak. Popping into stealth, taking out a Ceph solider with a well placed headshot, going back into cloak, and running for cover to recharge, all the while watching the other patrols trying to find you, is cackle-worthy. One of my favorites of these moments occurs fairly early on and involved me snuffing out a search team, solider by solider as they attempted to track me down in the middle of a dust cloud from a recently collapsed bridge. Ducking behind freeway dividers, popping off a couple of shots with my silenced SMG, cloaking, flanking, and finally finishing off the last grunt with a stealthy 180 degree neck-snap. And that’s just one way I could have gone about that bit as well. The game is absolutely jam-packed with tactical options that range from sneaking to sniping to guns blazing. Crysis 2 gives you the tools to make you feel like an absolute badass, most of the time. Other instances have you running down corridors ala Call of Duty, leaving your tactical options severely limited. It seems like something that Crysis would try to avoid given all of toys you get to mess around with, but it does manage to break up the pacing a bit. Aside from the standard run-and-gun bits, there are a couple of driving sections that put you in an APC and send you cruising down a shattered expressway but these parts never last long enough to overstay their welcome.
    Speaking of toys, another new feature added is the upgrade system. Killing Ceph gives you “Nano Catalyst” which acts as a sort of currency you can use to purchase upgrades that fit in one of four slots. It adds a bit of depth, and all of the abilities have a good impact on your combat. One of my favorites painted a trail of green arrows behind enemy patrols allowing me to sneak by them more easily or plan out a good sniping spot.

    Now, the first Crysis was a game that set the standard for what modern PC games should look like, so it’s no surprise when I say Crysis 2 is pretty. Ok, here I go: Crysis 2 is so incredibly pretty. Screenshots don’t do this game an ounce of justice. The city of New York is rendered in an almost scary amount of detail. The cracks in the road to the sparks off of a power line, to the Ceph grunts and friendly Helicopters. Everything about Crysis 2‘s graphical presentation is spot on. Explosions practically erupt off the screen, the dust dancing through your laser sight. Crysis 2 is a game that needs to be seen in motion. The game runs at a pretty good clip as well, even on my budget-conscious machine. (I haven’t had a chance to try the console version of the game yet, but I’ve heard there are some slight graphical differences and some noticeable FPS dips.) This does come at a cost however, as the PC version is missing previously promised DirectX 11 support and has graphics options that have been lobotomized to three different presets: High, Very High, and Extreme. There has been word a DirectX 11 patch is in the works and the game is still oh-so-very pretty, but it’s still a rather glaring omission.

    Another slight disappointment was the multiplayer component. Opting to join the Modern Warfare bandwagon, Crysis 2‘s multiplayer is a rank and unlock based system, where kills and tasks are assigned XP which gives more and more abilities, nanosuit upgrades, weapons, and dog tags . It’s a widely used model and while the nanosuit abilities do add some uniqueness, it comes off feeling a bit stale. That, and the PC version has some rather serious issues with configuration file tampering that has guilty players running around with thermal vision and permanent spring like some sort of Predator on crystal meth. It’s perfectly serviceable, but I’m not sure it’s going to have any staying power.

    Overall, Crysis 2 is a hell of a lot fun to play. Shooting is fun. New York is beautiful. And kicking cars at people seldom gets old. With its singleplayer lasting a good thirteen hours with a New Game + mode, and the multiplayer okay for a quick diversion, Crysis 2 is a fine FPS and is a couple steps ahead, while not breaking any new ground, except in looking damn good, Crysis 2 is well worth your attention if not your money. Crysis 2 well earns my Seal of Approval.

    Stem Stumper Review

    How many times have you played a game with sound as your only guide? Never you say? Well then here’s a new challenge for you from Ananse Productions. If that challenge seems a bit too complex, you can switch the sonar mode off. When I played Stem Stumper for the first time I’ll admit it was far easier to understand with the visuals turned on. Then I went stealth and switched to sonar mode, navigating Mimea the vine through the various cognition evoking levels. Not only is this game one-of-a-kind, it also helps render a creative thought processes in a way that other games pay little attention to or simply don’t address at all. That’s what really makes this game unique and enjoyable for everyone. The Ananse team is truly breaking new ground for the industry with Stem Stumper.

    Kwasi Mensah and the Ananse Productions team saw a problem and asked themselves two simple questions, “If not now, then when?” and, “If not us, then who?” Then they set out to begin breaking down the Berlin Wall that has held up the gaming industry for far too long. Indeed you may see this as just a simple game someone made for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but I’m asking you to look at it as much more because Ananse has done something profound. They saw an industry focusing on one thing, the majority of the demographic. Then they realized, consciously or not, that we are in a world where cognitive surplus is at an all-time high. The more accessibility is offered to everyone the more connectedness, understanding, and creativity will begin to spawn. This has been common knowledge for a long time, so it’s time to stop focusing on the extrinsic motivations of the societal ladder and see that the world is round and that we all matter.

    Okay, so by now you might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about exactly. Stem Stumper allows the game to be played by not just the normal person, but also the visually impaired. There are currently only two other games in the iTunes store that address this demographic at all. I downloaded and played Papa Sangre so I had something to compare with Stem Stumper. Papa Sangre is an audio only game with a vivid three-dimensional audio environment that can scare the sh*% out of you! It is a great game, but does have a flaw that Stem Stumper stomps out. When I was testing Papa Sangre I was in the meeting room at GameZombie and had to max out the volume to try and hear everything in the game. That totally sucked when I woke up some type of beast and was scrambling to turn the volume down and run my character at the same time. What resulted was an iPod on my lap and ears ringing from the blood curdling feeding sounds of what I think was a pig-beast. With Stem Stumper the volume is set at a much more consistent level so this isn’t an issue. You can also play Stem Stumper anywhere and not have to worry about looking like a fool by making awkward, fearful facial expressions. Plus it doesn’t make you cry yourself to sleep at night. Instead, it rewards the player by exercising the brain’s problem solving skills, and without you even noticing because the games objectives are so addicting and fun!

    VoiceOver: YES! Okay, so this won’t pertain to most people, but for those of you that it does, you’ll appreciate this factor a ton! I tested it out, and it works flawlessly.

    Stem Stumper is Ananse’s inaugural production. I’d like to challenge everyone to try it out and support Ananse Productions as they begin paving the way for a vitally important change in the gaming industry! Plus you get to help out someone who is helping others by having fun. Is there really a greater reward in life then having fun with this wisdom that you’re spreading compassion also?

    The Changelution of Pokémon

    So I’ve finally managed to crawl out of my self-induced Pokémon coma after beating Black (White? Which version did you have?) a few times and finally playing with a grass starter that is actually worth the effort for the first time since Bulbasaur. Realizing that I had to write an article at some point in my lifetime, I decided that my weeks of isolation up in my wilderness retreat in Colorado huddled over my DS and having Bulbapedia opened up on my iPad should actually go towards something (other than contributing to my obvious sex appeal). Realizing that writing an article on Pokémon MUST at some point contain a pun utilizing or implying the word “evolution,” I have decided to take a look back on the oh…(searching Wikipedia) 15 years of Pokémon (look it up) and talk about how the series has… changed over the course of what is essentially my entire lifetime.

    Pokémon Red and Blue-

    These two didn’t change S$%# about Pokémon.

    Pokémon Silver and Gold-

    Ahh finally, changes. These two games added a lot to the Pokémon plot structure and gameplay mechanics that are included in pretty much every Pokémon game this day and age.

    Changes include time system, day/night Pokémon, baby Pokémon, Pokémon eggs, Pokémon gender, pokégear, berries, held items, berries, dark Pokémon, steel Pokémon, move deleter, more stupid HM’s, shiny Pokémon, different types of pokeballs and the cell phone. Jebus you guys!

    And that’s not even counting all of the plot stuff that they added to the games, like the game-specific legendary Pokémon (though you could still catch the other at a later time), the wandering legendaries, the removal of your rival as the final league champion (though I don’t know if that’s so great), and the addition of the entire map from the first game (which they have sadly not repeated).

    And that’s not even counting Silver and Gold’s greatest contribution to Pokémon: Cyndaquil (link in ranking Pokémon article).

    Pokémon Crystal

    The continuation of the Pokemon Yellow strategy towards money making, but actually including something vital to like half of the worlds population (and creepy members of the other half!), the ability to play as a girl, and the creation of the starter animation that we now have in front of every battle.

    Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire

    There are a lot that these two games did wrong, like removing the day and night system (why?), but we must still speak of what they did add.

    The two contributions that these games added were the inclusion of natural abilities for Pokémon and double battles, which have both become staples for the series. Other than that we also got some contest thing, but I don’t really think anyone important actually does those, so…

    Pokémon Emerald

    Two things here, Gym leader rematches and Battle Tower.

    Pokémon Leaf Green and Fire Red

    This game is special for allowing us to replay the first games, but did also include a very much notable feature in that it is the first game to allow wireless connectivity in a Pokémon game and included a VS seeker which I think we can all agree was great.

    Pokémon Diamond and Pearl

    Diamond and Pearl instigated a new method of battle where attacks could be physical or special, based on the attack itself rather than on the type of attack it was; in the past, for example, all fire attacks were special and all ground attacks were physical. This game is also the first game on the DS system, which allowed for a slight improvement to the graphics and a bit more bulge in the scenery.

    Pokémon Platinum

    It did the distortion world thingy.

    Pokémon Soul Silver, Heart Gold

    This game gave us the pleasure of finally being able to have Cyndaquil be your starter Pokémon again! On top of that, we were able to replay Gym leaders, the cell phone system is so great that I am actively angry it was removed from the next games , the touch screen interface was awesome and quite frankly it was great to just get to play Silver and Gold again.

    Pokémon Black and White

    The first Pokémon game based on America, it’s fitting that this is also the first game to make everyone (by which I mean white people) feel a little awkward whenever they talk about this game (it’s cool I’m friends with a guy who owns Black version). In addition to underlying racial tension this is also the first Pokémon game that’s ever had an interesting and compelling plot line too it, Nintendo has also really pushed the Wi-Fi connectivity for the game and I hear that there are new battle types called triple and rotation battles (you only have like two of them in the entire game and which one that you can do is based on the game that you get which actually really irritates me). There’s also a mythical addition to the game called Dream World, but fuck America, so we don’t get it .

    It’s also important to note the greatest contribution that this new generation has accomplished, giving us a grass starter that rocks for the first time since Bulbasaur.

    There we are, my totally awesome list of all the Pokémon games that mattered (yellow kicked ass at the time, but let’s be honest, it didn’t matter

    -Quinn Anderson

    What was your favorite Pokémon game? What do you think of the article? How much do you hate this jackass who wrote the article? Post below.

    PAX East 2011: The Old Republic Preview

    The line to demo Star Wars: The Old Republic at PAX East reached six hours plus. I heard nightmare stories about eager gamers waiting in line all day, completely passing up any opportunity to play other demos. Lucky for me, I only waited for thirty minutes before I got the chance to test out the most anticipated new MMO of the year. Bioware gave those fortunate enough to reach the end of the line a good thirty minutes to test the game. There were two demos featured: a run through a newbie zone or a group play event. Although I did see others play the group experience, I tookthe chance to check out the newbie zone.

    Most opted to play the Empire, so I decided to play the role of a young Jedi of the Republic. Also to note, I wasn’t allowed to create my own character but instead had to play a premade newbie. Despite the lack of creation I still enjoyed the upward, yellow scrolling text explaining my situation. So when I showed up for my training, of course things were going wrong, and I was chosen to fix the problems.

    One of my first tasks was to go save captured Padawan trainees. Even though I was still a trainee myself, I still liked feeling like I was higher ranking and, well, better trained than the other Jedis. It made me feel, as an MMO should, that I was important to this world. During these quests I was grouped with another PAX attendee and was happy to know that whenever he did something for a quest, I also got credit. Although I should mention (and yes I know, the game is still in construction) when I opened empty cages I somehow managed to get credit for saving Padawans. And yet, other times, I wasn’t even allowed to open cages with Padawans in them; still a little glitchy.

    I also noticed that several of the Bioware staff were eagerly watching gamers play, absorbing constant feedback. At one point I had to have one of them point out my communicator interface in order to pick up a quest, commenting that, “Lots of people seem to be missing that. Don’t worry.” It’s good to know the people making the game are not shy about their errors and learning how players experience the game.

    But the Bioware dialogue tree is everywhere and not glitchy. Even though I do love Bioware dialogue trees (complete with the nice answer, the jackass answer, and the joker answer), I’m torn whether or not such conversations will get annoying when all I want to do is accept a quest and go. From what I understand, even during group missions there will be dialogue trees. The player will get light and dark side points depending on their answer, and the group as a whole will get light and dark side options. So, the Jedi player can be nice while still playing with a bunch of smuggler jerks.

    As for the combat, I did love ‘force leap’. Whoosh-whoosh went the light saber and zoom I went flying over to a monster. It was pretty awesome. However, when I was attacking it felt weird not to have an auto attack. It hurt the experience of combat; one moment, my Jedi would swing wildly at the creature and then, moments later, I was standing stupidly still getting attacked while waiting for cooldowns.

    I would like to comment on the audio, but even with headphones, it was difficult to hear anything over the roar of PAX. Overall though, The Old Republic was fun to test out. It’s hard to judge an MMO with only thirty minutes of playing with no sound. It reminds me of WoW but with Jedi Knights, which isn’t a grievance by any means. Considering there is no release date, I have high hopes that Bioware is trying to make Star Wars: The Old Republic an excellent MMO.

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