As some of you know, I'm a small school music teacher/avid gamer. Today was another fine rehearsal for the band, and I had released everyone to go to lunch but my 10th-12th grade students who eat lunch during an earlier shift. During our downtime, I brought up the fact that I had recently purchased a PS4, and that I was thoroughly enjoying the system (you'd be surprised how well video games can help you build a relationship with your students). That's when my one lone senior said the saddest thing I had heard all day. "I asked my parents if they'd consider buying me a PS4 for Christmas, but they say that since I'm turning 18 I'm too old for video games".
18 years old. Too old for video games. Pardon my language everyone, but I call bullshit.
I too have contemplated this notion before, especially as a teacher. I've asked myself the question "Am I getting too old for video games?" "Does it make me look immature to be playing video games at the age of 24?" etc. The well rounded conclusion I've come up with is obviously, NO.
I've been a video game enthusiast since I was just a kid. I've ALWAYS loved video games, from the early Sega Master System (my first ever console), to the Nes, Genesis, Snes, N64, PS1, Dreamcast, Xbox, 360, and now PS4. I still have a hidden infatuation with Sonic The Hedgehog (The official poster from Sonic 2 currently hangs proudly in my office), and I've marched the Mario Bros. through every adventure to date. I grew up playing video games for fun, but I've found that my experience playing video games has also helped me to mature as I have aged. Games like Final Fantasy tore at my heart, Madden, NCAA Football/Basketball and MLB The Show further helped me understand the sports that I've long adored. Grand Theft Auto taught me what NOT to do as I got older. Guitar Hero further expanded my love and passion for music to a whole new level. In many ways, video games helped me to grow up every bit as much as my family and social experiences.
So where does it end? When should one draw the line that says "I'm too old" for video games? I say never. Gaming is a hobby, it is a cultural phenomenon. It sparks magic in the eyes of children, and invokes thought and emotion in older audience members. I feel like as technology and video games evolve, we can further promote gaming and fun experiences across all age groups. Should I feel bad for playing Pokemon X and having a blast, or shouting out in excitement and joy as I hold up my brand new PS4?
Video games make me happy. They remind me of my youth, in a positive way. They help me to remember a time of innocence and pure bliss through the magic of a controller and tv screen. That feeling doesn't have to die, and I certainly hope that most people realize this. I sure hope that that student of mine doesn't get the impression that he's "getting too old for gaming", because to me, that excuse is nothing more than a sad reason to save money, or a crude way of killing off any creativity or innocence left in that boys mind.
And when I have my own child, I will be damn proud when the time comes to put a controller in his/her hands and share the same passion and excitement that I have long embraced throughout my life (starting with the Snes, of course).
Hey hey hey, how's your PS4 today? Don't have one yet? That's fine, don't be in a huge rush.
I'm one of the lucky ones who has been able to collect my PS4 early, and I will say I'm quite pleased with the investment. From the earliest moments of installation, it becomes obvious the PS4 works fast. You'll quickly breeze through your setup, and be able to navigate the menus and PS Store. Of course there will be updates ready and waiting for you, however it won't take long for them to load either. I was pleased with how quickly I was able to download Netflix (it literally took seconds). My next big move was to download Warframe (I'd highly recommend other users take this action, it's free to play and quite frankly, the early launch library can use all the help it can get).
The user interface is pretty easy and straight forward. You can join party conversations with friends, or you may simply resort to messaging friends via chat or text (nothing too new). The Dualshock 4 however makes this even easier with it's very clear built in microphone. I must say, the Dualshock 4 has modified the Dualshock 3, almost improving it in every way. I will say that the controller is spaced out a bit farther than the Dualshock 3, which took me some getting use to. The analog sticks are comfortable though, and the left and right trigger buttons (L2 and R2) are every bit as comfortable as an Xbox controller. If you are use to playing fps games with the Dualshock 3, you'll have to re-train yourself to use the controller more like a 360/One controller. Other then that, I'm quite pleased with the Dualshock 4's sleek design and all around handling.
The share and option buttons still function quite similarly to the select and start buttons of old. Actually, the share button is very unique, and very convenient. The PS4 is constantly recording your gameplay, and the share button allows you to share videos and screen shots at any given time. You may even sync up to your facebook account and post these videos and images directly to facebook. It sounds kinda silly now, but I can see it becoming very big in the future. It brings the concept of gaming and social media one step closer.
The PS4 itself is a pretty unique little design, very different from it's older sibling PS3. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the design honestly - it is attractive and still very compact, yet the rhombus shaping still catches me a little off guard. It is a sturdy brick though, easy to set up and easy to place (either flat or vertically). The system itself is a little noisy, but not too bad. The fans are pretty audible, but honestly they've got their work cut out for them cooling such a powerful computer. The glowing controller/system lights are also a neat little feature, they tell you how well your controller or system is functioning (watching The Hunger Games right now on Netflix, it's got a nice white strip across the front).
For gaming comparison, I will be using the example of CoD Ghosts for the PS3/PS4. I recently beat Ghosts on the PS3, and rather enjoyed myself. I decided to kick the difficulty up a notch (for funsies) and just observe the unique differences between the visuals of the two consoles. Drum roll please.......no?...alright. There isn't much difference to be seen between the two. The PS4 definitely has crisper textures, and the lighting seems a bit more efficient, but you're not going to be dropping your jaw. Honestly, a casual gamer will hardly be able to tell the difference at all. The truth is, your experience will be just as good on the current gen as this 'next' gen, so don't sweat the details.
That being said, the PS4 has soooo much potential. Much like many of the reviews you may (or may not) have read, this system is all about potential. Killzone Shadow Fall might be your thing if you've played through the series, however other launch titles will likely leave you wondering why you upgraded so soon in the first place. However, if you are still into CoD, Assassin's Creed, or maybe even want to dive into Knack for a platformer, there is enough content here to keep you satisfied (as the gaming is every bit as tight as it is on the PS3/360).
Ultimately, I'm very excited and feeling quite optimistic about the PS4. It will be fun to see how it and the Xbox One grow and develop over the next generation!
With all the hype about the next gen around the corner (literally less than a week away for PS4 enthusiast), it becomes easy for those of us who still own a 360 or PS3 to become discouraged. Many gamers have already resorted to trading in their old consoles, or selling them off while they still retain some cash value. It's a well known fact that most gamers are attracted to 'new' things - it's simply the nature of the beast. Whenever something bigger and better comes along, many gamers are ready to jump on board and leave the past behind us. Some of us aren't quite ready to move on though; whether it be for financial reasons, fear of change, or just appreciation for all the wonderful things that this generation has served us, you just can't let it go. One might even make the argument that this is the best time to jump in on the current generation of consoles, with a wide library of games established, and many being priced far more affordable then when they were first released. No matter what your decision is, there are many awesome opportunities that await us as gamers. This blog serves to shed some light on them, so don't be too hasty about setting aside that PS3 or 360 just yet!
I must admit, this all comes from a somewhat biased perspective - yes, I just recently purchased a PS3 for the first time. I was able to obtain a newer super-slim model with a 250gb hard drive and 3 games for $160. Those games are Metal Gear Solid 4, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune and Uncharted 2. All of which are fantastic games that really impressed me, and were very easy on my wallet. I'm so thrilled about the vast library that the PS3 has, and I can feel good as a consumer knowing that I won't have to spend $60 for every single game I'd like to play. All that being said, I still like the feeling of grabbing a brand new game, and neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 are done delivering the goods.
Are you as excited about Destiny as I am? I certainly hope so. Ever since watching the E3 demonstration of the game in action, I've been nothing but excited to try it myself. I think it's fair to say that Bungie and and Halo were a big part of why the Xbox has become as successful as it has. Now that Bungie has been out on it's own, the potential for this game is mind blowing. Bungie has been given the freedom to develop a shooter from the ground up, unrestricted from a franchise label and first party demands. I've got my fingers crossed that this game will raise the bar to a whole new level for first person shooters, just as Halo did so many years ago. Keep your eyes and ears out for it when it's released in 2014.
I've been a Metal Gear Solid fan ever since....well, the original came out on the PSX. This is one of the few franchises in gaming that continues to get even better with every installment, and I have no doubt that Ground Zeroes will execute in a similar manner. Metal Gear Solid 4 literally left me speechless, it was such a powerful game that left me hanging on the edge of my seat to the very end. 5 years after it's release, it's just as brilliant as it's ever been, and I know that Kojima will have many new twists and turns for us with Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. Better yet? These games are being released on the PS3 and 360 as well. Better better yet? They can be downloaded digitally for $10 less than the leading retail, and the PS4 and Xbox One versions. If that's not a pretty neat little deal, then I don't really know what to tell you. The game is looking really nice, and I should remind you all that most of the actual gameplay footage we have seen to this point is of the game running on current gen restrictions. This means two things - 1) It's going to look really good on the PS3/360 and 2) It's going to look REALLY good on the PS4 and Xbox One. Like Destiny, we'll see this bad boy poke it's head around in 2014.
Okay, I think it's safe to say that not EVERYBODY is happy with the latest direction that Castlevania has been going with it's franchise. However, statistics will show you that Lords of Shadow has been the highest selling Castlevania game yet, meaning that there are plenty who do enjoy it. Personally, I loved Lords of Shadow and Mirror of Fate for the 3DS as well. Konami has done a pretty good job of mixing the traditional storyline up and creating an all new dramatic tale, as well as delivering a pretty entertaining gameplay experience similar to God of War. Based on early impressions, it's looking like Lords of Shadow 2 will not only be a visually impressive game, but (fingers crossed) may even be a more engrossing title than the first. Here's a little tidbit you'll want to know if you are as excited for this title as I am - this game is being released on the PS3, 360 and PC, however there is no announcement to this point of it being released on the PS4 or Xbox One. Another good reason to enjoy that current gen console a little bit longer. We'll be seeing Lords of Shadow 2 early on in 2014.
Dark Souls has developed a pretty strong cult fanbase since it's initial release. I've yet to dive into the first game, but it's on my wishlist for holiday/birthday pickups. Dark Souls is the kind of action oriented rpg that gamers will either love or they will hate - it's a game that challenges gamers and forces them to push their levels of patience and persistence to the max. The first game was praised for it's gorgeous graphics, as well as play-stye and challenging level of difficulty (though faulted in the same manner). Dark Souls II looks really good, and I think that we'll be seeing more of the same, and then some. Like Lords of Shadow 2, this game is currently being developed for current gen consoles only (not even a PC port as of now). Keep your eyes open for it early in 2014.
I've only begun to list some of the fun and exciting games that have yet to come to our current gen of consoles. There is still much fun to be had for all with the current going generation, and I don't foresee either Microsoft of Sony abandoning their older siblings so long as the sales are good and the developers are willing to continue working with the tech. Getting a brand new PS4 or Xbox One will be a great experience for everyone, and when the time comes I'm sure there will be even more fun to be had. The bottom line is that whether you're not quite ready to let go, or your anxious to jump onto the newmobile, things couldn't possibly look better for gaming enthusiast. Show your console some love and be excited - good times are comin'!
1989 - A fine year indeed. Why do you ask? Well for one it was the year that I was born. Secondly, it is the year that we were blessed with the fun Disney platformer DuckTales. Some of you are thinking "Why in the world would I want to play some silly platformer based on a washed up child's cartoon?". Well for those of you who are unfortunate enough not to have played this game before, look up some gameplay and audio samples from the original title and it will soon become obvious why this is not only one of the most underrated NES classics that put Capcom on the map, but also to this day still a perfect example of the platforming genre at it's best.
DuckTales has it all. From funny and elaborate characters, to simple yet engaging gameplay, to beautifully designed environments and sprites, and of course a stellar soundtrack. While the Remastered version of the game does a great job of emphasizing many of these high end qualities, the fact remains that even the original title of 1989 still holds its own and embellishes all of these values in it's own subtle ways. DuckTales has had a fairly strong cult following for many years, and even those who were not so fond of the TV show can still recite the darn title by heart (Life is like a hurricane, here in, Duckburg). There's something about the game that just oozes with charisma, and draws out the inner child in even the most veteran gamers.
While Capcom has had it's fair share of blunders over the past decade, nobody can take away it's sheer success with the platforming genre in it's earlier titles. Mega Man is still admired and loved by gamers everywhere. Ghost N' Ghouls (Goblins) made many gamers break their controllers in rage...only to go buy a new controller and try again. Capcom really had something special going for them, and no title really shows off that magic quite as well as DuckTales. This wasn't only a smart move on their behalf to revive this classic title, but it was also a move that many gamers have been NEEDING. Much like the impact of Rayman Origins, DuckTales reminds us that games of the current and upcoming generations do not need to rely on pixel perfect graphics and gunplay. As a matter of fact, all that extra effort is often times wasted and ultimately goes unappreciated unless the game is genuinely perceived as fun, engaging and ultimately addicting. AAA games have taken many a hard knock this generation, and I believe that many companies need to actually take a step back and look at all the fundamentals and foundations that help to make for a fun game in the first place. Michael Bay is living proof that having a bigger budget does not amount to creating a timeless classic.
I encourage all gamers to pop in a classic title (nostalgia or not) and find within yourselves what made that title so darn good? How did it make you feel? What is it about that particular game that no matter how old it gets, it will still be so very special to you? DuckTales reminds me that there are still games out there that can bring out those feelings for me. Games that can really make you appreciate a gaming genre and take you back to a simpler time. Go on, get to it! Me? I've got some treasures to find!
Well ladies and gentlemen....I made the plunge. Not only did I make the plunge...I made it hard. Last night, I took in my 3DS XL and all of it's games and traded them in towards non other than a Playstation Vita. Oh I know, you can bring on all the hatred you want - "WTF is wrong with you bro?" "The Vita is worthless and has no games!" "Sony is the Antichrist!" Yes yes, fill me with whatever hatred you might desire.....however, when you're done venting, continue reading on and I'll tell you why I am absolutely stoked about my decision.
One thing that nobody can take away from the Vita is the fact that it is technically speaking, a very savy and advanced device. The entire front of the Vita acts as a touch screen, which really becomes more likable as you grow use to using it. It's very responsive, smooth, and fun to use. I've yet to have much use for the back touch screen, but I'm more than willing to entertain the use of it for the future - it's just a neat concept. Of course the layout and features of the Vita are very similar to that of the 3DS as well - there's a home button feature, you can take pictures, store videos and music, and of course check facebook, browse the web or watch Netflix.
One great edge that I absolutely must give the Vita over Nintendo's 3DS (and no, graphics do not count) is the Playstation Network. There is such a robust library of classic PSOne games, all listed at a pretty fair price, as well as PSP titles and even dlc Vita titles (many in which are cheaper to download digitally then to buy at retail value unlike Nintendo's eshop). I was giddy as a school girl to see some of my favorite Final Fantasy titles available as well as Harvest Moon Back to Nature (don't judge, I love me some farmin'). There are many dlc titles available through the Playstation Network, and I'm somewhat disappointed that I've not heard such things advertised in the media.
I'll flat out say that the Vita just naturally feels more like a portable console than the 3DS....that's not to say it's 'superior' by any means, that's just my personal opinion. Graphics wise, the games do look right on par with current gen consoles. I'll be that guy and even say that the addition of a right analog stick definitely helps this opinion (though they are definitely not the most comfortable analog sticks I have ever played with). The screen bolsters such a smooth and clear image that the 3DS well....doesn't. Needless to say, there is still sooo much potential left in this device, and I sure hope Sony get's their act together and does something about it.
"There aren't any games for the Vita you idiot!" - yeah I'm going to shut that guy up right now. How many of you have actually looked at the Vita's library? I was pleasantly surprised to see the diversity in it, and while not all of the Vita's games have gotten A+ ratings on Metacritic, I think there's more than meets the eye with many of them. I bought the CoD Declassified bundle with a copy of Ragnarok Odyssey, and both offer up an extremely fun gameplay experience. Yes yes, I know how much Jimmy hated Declassified (and rightly so, it's a pretty hunky turd indeed), HOWEVER, it does offer a sustainable Call of Duty multiplayer experience, one that is not on par with it's console brethren but is still very fun and addicting. Ragnarok is just gold, nuff said. I wouldn't mind getting my hands on Rayman Origins (a game far superior on the Vita than the 3DS) and the MGS HD Collection either, which still leaves me with games like Dynasty Warriors Next, Assassin's Creed III Liberation, Uncharted Golden Abyse, Gravity Rush and Phantasy Star Online 2. Trust me, there is much potential to be had here.
Sony is definitely on a downhill slope right now, and I'm hoping they get their act together soon because they're sitting on a mountain of potential. Once you've gotten over the financial hump, you can clearly see that there is enough in the Vita to make it far worth the investment. I'll have my fingers crossed that it's sales will improve and that Sony makes some more affordable bundles occur in the near future, E3 is just around the corner.
BTW, IF by some slim chance this blog sparks your interest enough to actually go out and get a Vita....don't hit me up for a referral. That shit's just silly.
I don't know about you, but I love to jump online and check the game reviews for all of the industry's hottest titles (or even better, the lesser known diamonds in the rough). I've probably embraced this concept even more since going into college, however as I'm nearing my graduation date, I'm also realizing that game reviewing that results in a score or rating out of 100 is *ahem* bullshit.
Well why in the world would I think that right? We all love getting high scores on our test - you get an 80 or higher and you feel pretty good about what you've done. That's all fine and dandy, and yes there's nothing quite as rewarding as sending mom home an assignment to post on the refrigerator door, however I'll be the first to admit that I've had my fair share of assignments that I put a lot of quality time and effort into that didn't quite reach that A (or B for that matter), yet I still pride myself in all the hard work I put into it, and I feel as though I gained more from those assignments then from my more successful ones.
How about we get back on topic? I think it's great to have paid game reviewers go out of their way to give us the insight on today's hottest games (no really I do), however I've grown terribly sick of the subjectivity and bias that goes along with it. Without pointing any fingers, I can think of a few certain game reviewers who just seem to think their opinion is higher then God himself, and that whatever they label a game should be the defining opinion of the rest of the world......well let me tell ya, it doesn't work that way. As a matter of fact, it only discredits that reviewer (in my mind), and provides for either comical effect, or me wanting to chuck my old broken Snes at them (rip old Snes).
I pride myself in being 'that gamer' who thought outside the box and enjoyed the poorly reviewed games for what they were. Example: Duke Nukem Forever - really liked it. While Duke was nowhere near the hottest up and coming fps games at it's release, it is a game that had been in development for 15 years (mostly in a measly apartment by a couple of poor white guys). Gearbox's Randy Pitchford in tribute to his founding father 3D Realms took the game under his wing and put it out to the public so that Duke could finally have his final showdown (well....at least for the time being). Really and truly, I enjoyed the campaign of the game, and I'm grateful to have received another book of one-liners thrown at me (even if they were slightly outdated). Another fine example: I Am Alive - really enjoyed the different pacing and elements of survival that went along with this game (it was basically about bluffing your way in and out of trouble). The ending was heartbreaking and left you wanting to know what the heck happened (I'm sorry, but video games these days very rarely execute this sort of emotion in me. Period).
The lesson to be learned from this blog (say it with me) "Take it with a grain of salt"! Seriously, think objectively and give the forlorn and neglected their chance to shine, because there is obviously more that went into those games then someone throwing money out the window and crapping on the fans perspectives (Capcom and RE 6 reference.....very fun game btw, you should actually try it). Stop feeding trolls and start thinking as an individual, or else you might just see your 'favorite' game developers jump boat and start developing strictly for ios/android based gaming.....and the apocalypse. Are you ready for the apocalypse? No? Didn't think so. [img][/img][img]