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8:57 PM on 03.15.2013

First Impressions: Army Of Two: The Devil's Cartel

I've always been a fan of the Army Of Two games, not just that you can play with another person both with split screen and on XBOX Live, but it is just so darn fun! Granted, this was the first TPS game that I have ever played, but I found the story and the gameplay very good. So when the third game in the series was announced, I was giddy as a little schoolgirl when her first crush hugged her.

Don't worry, got this.

With the change of developers from EA Montreal to Visceral Games, I was worried, though, that the game that got me interested in TPS games could take a left turn and change things up a bit. However, the bread and butter of what makes Army Of Two is still there and the game is as fun to play as when the first game came out.

First, the mission on the demo puts you smack dab in the middle of a drug war between the cartels and you...and your partner. This time around, the game chooses how you can approach who goes on the mission. You can either choose the solo route with a bot controlled partner, split screen with a human partner, or by XBOX Live. In each, I found the mission itself quite exhilarating.

So, what do you have to do in this mission? Basically kill as many bad guys as possible. The story will be explained in more detail when the game comes out March 26th. In the mean time, the demo's story is rather bland.

But what is a shooter without it's guns? The game gives you a choice of 9 assault rifles, 4 LMG's, 3 shotguns, 5 SMG's, 4 sniper rifles, and 6 sidearms, which you can customize, mix and match to suit your needs. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Ah...this is perfect.

Not only can you customize your weapon load-out, but taking a cue from the second game, you can also customize your mask. As of this writing, the demo version doesn't have this feature, but does give you a cutscene explaining how it works...and cues in on online multiplayer.

So if you are tired of playing lone wolf in games, definitely check out Army Of Two: The Devil's Cartel on March 26th on XBOX Live, PC and Playstation 3.   read

10:46 PM on 02.28.2013

First Impressions: Omerta: City Of Gangsters

Real time strategy games walk a fine line, especially on the console. They can either be really fun, such as XCOM: Enemy Unknown, or, in this case, be really boring and monotonous. Omerta: City Of Gangsters attempts to combine the genre with the aesthetic of 1920's Atlantic City. Unfortunately, it falls way short.

First off, the RTS element is broken at best. A waypoint is highlighted on your part of the town and oftentimes when you interact with it, the controls sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. It's especially frustrating when you are talking to an informant and the waypoint can be selected, even if the point is highlighted and your cursor is directly on it. What's more frustrating is the controller scheme. You can tell that this game was made for PC, as the outline was wonky and didn't feel very good.

As far as the graphics are concerned, they were on par with a $20 cheep PC game that a no-name developer does that was released on an outdated OS. The cars are okay, just as long as you don't view them at night, as you can see the actual driver with no animation and no, well, nothing. Just a sprite. The houses geography isn't better, as shoddy textures and frame rate drops run amok. Yes, this is just a demo, but if this is an early indication of the game, a few months of polish is in order.

The combat itself is, again, frustrating. You have a set number of "step points" that you can move on one turn and a set number of "attack points" you can use on that same turn. Often, I was on one area trying to find the nearest cover point only to realize that the step points were depleted and the attack points are full. Moving from cover to cover is a chore to do, especially in the open warehouse scene.

Let's not forget the atrocious sound in the game. You get to enjoy some jazz that is looped over and over while you work as a gangster. The character voice-overs ranged from okay (your main character) to downright laughable (picture of young guy with a voice of an old guy, and vice versa). Not to mention that the text they actually speak is present by a pop-up. Note to the developers of this game: this is 2013. The voice overs can talk for themselves without the player reading what they are hearing.

Overall, I would pass on this game. If you want a great RTS, get XCOM: Enemy Unknown. If you want your 1920's fix, go for LA Noir.   read

1:26 AM on 02.01.2013

First Impressions: Crysis 3

The Crysis series isn't just your normal run-of-the-mill shooter. You have to use the tools you have at your disposal, which are invisibility and armor modes. You play as a super soldier with enhanced powers, such as the aforementioned tools along with a fast sprint and some light parkour thrown into the mix.

The third game in the series attempts to have the same tools but with a little twist thrown in there. Sprinting doesn't use your power level (let's face it...a super soldier has to have some power source, right?) so you can, in essence, sprint forever. Plus, the sprint itself has sped up and, as a result, the gameplay has sped up as well. So is it a better game?

Well, in the beta, you choose two game types: Crash Site and Hunter. First off is Crash site.

In Crash Site, you have to gain control of an alien pod on the map that is identified on your HUD when it drops. Players who gain control of the site earn team XP and individual XP...but for a certain time. After 1 minute, the site explodes, sending anyone camping at that site back to the respawn timer. Then, another one drops 30 seconds later. The gameplay is very similar to Headquarters on Call of Duty but it's a lot faster pace. Think Unreal Tournament or Nexuiz fast. I also loved the addition to riot shields, as those shields break down if it is shot at or held for too long. Players of the second or first Crysis are wondering why this wasn't included in the games, as it is a lot of fun to play.

Then you have the Hunter mode. In this one, you start out as either a CELL member or a hunter. If you are a CELL member, you have a choice of four classes and you have to either hide or escape (or both!) the hunters, who just so happen to wield a bow and arrow and invisibility. If you have played The Hidden on the PC, think of that, but the teams are evenly split. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time as both sides because you have the scare factor on the CELL side and the choice of finishing off your opponent by melee or arrow to the face on the hunter side. This was my personal favorite game type, as you can either get yourself scared half to death or hunt down as many unsuspecting guinea pigs as you see fit.

The two maps have that panache to them. Both are different but equal. On Airport, you get to fight not only inside the terminal, but inside and underneath a dilapidated 747 with old sewer holes as crawlspaces. It makes for flanking moves and elevation techniques all the more enjoyable. On Museum, you are in a jungle with ruins scattered on the map. The base of the map is filled with water, which makes playing Hunter even more enjoyable due to the rippling effect of an enemy's movement present in the water. The higher portion of the ruin makes for some sniper fun, but not to the point to where snipers can camp out. This is a huge plus. Both maps have ways in which you can approach an enemy differently. You can either go head-on and flank them, or you can go above and either snipe them or ground pound and send the bodies flying. It's your choice. Both the maps look and feel gorgeous with the new CryEngine 3, with the cracks in the fuselage on Airport and the rock formations on Museum.

As of this posting, I have already capped out on XP (it ends at 10) and still want to play more of this game. You should definitely pick this game up when it releases on the PS3, XBOX 360 and the PC February 19th. To check out the game early, head up the Playstation Network, XBOX Live Arcade and Steam for the Crysis 3 Multiplayer Beta.

For now, here's the most recent trailer for Crysis 3. Click on the video below!

11:31 PM on 12.24.2012

A bill for violent video games? Why?

If you don't know who Jay Rockefeller is, you may in the near future. He is proposing a bill that would study the impact of video games on children and how it is a concern for the safety and well-being of children. You can read the Senator from West Virginia's statement by clicking on this link:
However, in a time such as this, the bill would be redundant, if not harmful to us gamers.
First off, we already have a system in which games of violent nature is controlled and not allowed to be purchased by anyone under 18 years. The ESRB's job is just that. However, it is up to not only them, but the retailers and the parents to filter what kids shouldn't play. It is not the government's job to do the parents, retailers or any person's job.
And to do this with a curtain of what happened in Connecticut a couple weeks ago is is downright despicable. I think Senator Rockefeller forgot to mention that what happened was not caused by a kid, but by an adult. This was not caused by a kid who wanted to portray what he saw on a video game, but an adult who wanted to massacre kids. He said in his statement that "recent court decisions demonstrate that some people just don't get it." Senator Rockefeller doesn't get it. US gamers, as a whole, believe that certain games belong to a certain group of people. We scour at kids who are playing M rated games due to the fact that these kids don't have much parental discipline in their lives. Who's fault is that? The Senate? I believe it is the parents. Plus, I would like to see these vague court decisions he refers to. If you have read the link, not once did he provide any documentation for any violent video game court decisions on his statement, which leads me to believe that 1. they are very old, back when the ESRB was just getting started or 2. there is no court decisions and he is lying.
Last, he calls on his colleagues to pass this "important" piece of legislation quickly. I call on the gaming community in general to call their senators and tell them that we already have a system in place and we don't need any more to interfere with our games.   read

7:41 PM on 11.24.2012

A letter to the TV execs.

Writer's Note: This is for the TV execs who constantly cast us gamers in negative light. This is not to offend anyone and my sincere apologies to anyone that I may offend. Thanks for reading!

Dear TV execs and script writers,
Recently, I saw a program called Criminal Minds in that you depict two gamers that get overly obsessed with a violent video game. The gamers then try to mimic the violence in the real world. This is not what we as the gaming community are and are ashamed as we are cast in a negative light time and time again.
Those small numbers of gamers who go out and try to emulate the gaming world already has something wrong with them to begin with. Did you check on their mental health? Nope. Instead, you ignore it and cast us all as murderers or, worse, soulless people who donít have a life. I take offense to that because yes, I play violent video games, but you donít see me go out with an assault rifle and killing people. Thatís because most gamers are people. We people who take their violence in the digital world and not in real life. We know the boundaries that exist in that world and not to cross that boundary. There is a big difference in the real world and what you execs call ďvirtual realityĒ. What we do in the game we canít do in real life. For example, we canít jump over a skyscraper, nor ride a horse wielding a sword slaying a dragon, nor mow down other people with an AA-12 as we run around a closed off area of the world and run around like mad people.
Imagine that we did. Letís pretend that the virtual world somehow did cross over to the real world. At one point, we would be back in the medieval times slaying mythical dragons on a quest to save a princess. Another one would be that we would be stopping a terrorist attack every minute of every day as we are constantly getting shot at and dying only to be re-spawning at a singular point in the globe and try to save the world again. Would that be the world you want to live in? Well, letís flip the chart around, as you claim that the games are becoming more realistic. If the game of life were made into a video game, absolutely no one would play it. The main objective in the game would be to take out the trash or walk your dog, and perhaps go to an office job where you file useless papers away in cabinets. Sounds like fun, huh?
So why are you making fun of us? We are people. We are a lot of people. Last I checked, one game trumped your crappy TV program. Matter of fact, that same game managed to rake in more on one day than you can on one channelÖfor a year. The biggest convention in modern history was a gaming convention and it sold out within minutes. How is that TV award show doing? AwwÖyou have record low ratings. Too bad most people instead turned on their consoles and PCís and had more fun.
So instead of writing us as murderers, pick up a controller or keyboard and play these violent video games. I promise you nothing will happen to youÖin real life.
See you on the battlefield,
A fellow gamer.   read

1:54 PM on 11.19.2012

And now for something different...

Since I played a lot of shooters in my life, I want to present shooters that you may like or hate, but they brought something new to the table and wound up being fun in the process.

1. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
In this game, you play as part of the Umbrella Corporation trying to cover up the outbreak while dodging zombies and defeating foes that were playable characters in past Resident Evil games. While the AI was dumber than the zombies themselves, the unique quality was the multiplayer. Slant 6 took the normal game types like Team Deathmatch and Capture The Flag and added zombies in the middle of it. Imagine you are trying to take down an enemy player, but between you and said player are a horde of zombies. This simple yet fun approach to multiplayer added a unique tension to winning games.

2. Hybrid
This is essentially two games in one. You have the TPS in that you have to jetpack from cover to cover, sometimes it's upside down, sometimes it's against the wall. However, you have to be careful due to the enemy picking you off mid-flight, so it adds choices to the player. Should I hunker down and defend this post or should I risk being shot and go for the cover that provides a better point of view? Although the matches start off being three vs. three, it soon becomes hectic with drones and flying ninjas (!) on the battlefield, chomping at the bit at taking you back to the spawn screen. Then, there is the meta game, in which your side has to take over a part of the world, then a continent, then the world itself. This adds staying power, as each match counts towards progressing that part of the map. Should you win, you get a bonus. Lose? You get something else.

3. Tribes: Ascend
If only this was brought to consoles!!! This game is very objective based, but like Hybrid, you have to move in an unique way. You basically have to jetpack up a hill then ski down a hill. You can get quite fast going from objective to objective, but the drawback is that kills are few. However, once you do have a kill, it is very satisfying, going from daredevil to assassin in the blink of an eye. Capture The Flag is a true gem.

4. Blacklight: Tango Down
This plays much like Call Of Duty, but they add the HRV, which stands for Hyper Reality Visor. With a press of a button, you can see everyone, both friendly and enemy, so you can tell your teammates where they are. Trouble is, you cannot fire your weapon, nor see where the walls are. This adds tactics as you can coordinate where you want to flank an enemy or go head on with a squad.

5. Blacklight: Retribution
Same as above, but with mechs!!

6. Brothers In Arms
No longer are you a super soldier, but a part of a team. Sure, you can try to mow down a whole platoon of enemies, but you will get killed. This World War II shooter can be unforgiving at times, but with the added effects of coordination of attacks and defense, this is well worth the play times.

7. Operation: Flashpoint
Same as Brothers In Arms, but brought to the modern day.

8. Day Z
The first game that I know of that has a permanent death. If you get killed, you get killed and have to start everything over again. Plus, the tension of being spotted by a zombie is nothing compared to being spotted by another player. A true test of the zombie apocalypse in which scavenging and looting are necessities and the threat is everywhere.

9. Brink
Right from the beginning, you have to pick a side. Do you want to save the Ark, one of the last outpost of human civilization, or do you want to escape it and look for survivors? In each side you pick, you have to either defend a point, or try to take it over. One of the few games that utilizes side objectives that can either help or hinder your team's main objectives. You can cut off the enemy's main entrance point by building a barricade or provide a flank route by building a new route or taking down a barricade. This game adds true teamwork to accomplish a mission and with the available classes and customization also provides the player with more choices during and after the mission.

10. Battlefield
In this series, you have to coordinate attacks with your teammates (you can lone-wolf it, but playing the objective is HIGHLY recommended) and work together to accomplish a win. Plays much like Call Of Duty, but with a lot more teamwork and add some jets, helicopters and vehicles (yes, there are tanks) with more objective-based gameplay. Single player is good, but the action is in multiplayer.

11. Warhawk
I must admit: I have never played this, but as the previous posts installs, this game combines RTS with FPS, set it in the future and add some flying and vehicles.

Did you play a shooter that has some good ideas? Sound off in the comments below!   read

12:44 PM on 11.19.2012

Let's bring different ideas to the table.

Back when Modern Warfare 3 came out, I had the chance to play and scrutinize it's multiplayer and single player games. During that time, a thought crossed my mind...didn't I just play this same game with Modern Warfare 2? Sure, the game types were a little different and the graphics were updated, but it was just the same game as 2 years prior. I paid $60 for a game that was essentially the same game? Yep.

Not only that, but it seems that the player's main goal in any Call Of Duty is to kill the other team, no matter what the actual objective is. I would be playing Domination and it would play and feel like Team Deathmatch. I would even think "Am I the only one actually going for the mission objectives?" and more often that not, the answer would be yes. Don't get me wrong: I like Team Deathmatch, but if the game just has that game type, there's no sense wasting $60 on players who run around like headless chicken. Not interested.

Instead, I like games that present new ideas to an ever expanding FPS and TPS genre. For example, Hybrid lets the players move from cover to cover...using jetpacks. You have to really know that that cover is where you want to go and you are committed to going there. If not, chances are you are going to be back to the spawn screen quicker than you can jetpack to the next cover. If that idea were to make it in a Call Of Duty game, players would be in an uproar. How about the game Brink? The idea that if you say to a teammate "I'm going to do this" and get rewarded is, well, rewarding. Instead to shooting each other as the primary objective, you can create flank positions and cut off enemy movement by building barricades...and get rewarded for teamwork. I don't see a Call Of Duty using this idea. Instead, if you want to survive, lone wolfing it is the way to go.

So what if they implemented these or any different ideas? Would you play it if a Call Of Duty added a very different idea to the table? If the idea makes a game better instead of the same game, I would. As a matter of fact, I would jump at the chance to play a Call Of Duty if they let me drive their vehicles and aircraft.   read

6:31 PM on 11.12.2012

No more nostalgia in games.

Answer this honestly: who has played Super Mario Brothers? Most everyone has. So what do you remember about the game? For me, it's my dad trying to figure out how to work the NES controller, which was very primitive back in the day. It was only a D-pad and two buttons, but for my dad, it was like handing him the Rosetta stone.

Ah, the memories. I used to play games until the wee hours of the morning in high school when games were primitive and made by only a handful of programmers. Yet, these were the games that I most enjoyed due to the fact that these games made me stop and wish for the good old days when games were not competitions.

That's the thing: games used to be played for fun. Before the advent of internet and MLG, gamers got together under one roof and played to see who can get farther in one level in Mario. I remember one night when my next door neighbor came over and did a speed run on Mario to the amazement and bewilderment of my family. Inspired, I spent the next month constantly trying to beat him. Nowadays, people get mad if they lose a one vs. one match on Call Of Duty to a far superior player. Heck, I've seen players act as though they are a professional gamers with their gamer picture as an MLG picture and playing COD constantly.

And when you look back at those games, they would be long forgotten in the sands of time.

Again, does anyone remember the first time you played Super Mario Brothers? Almost anyone who has played ANY game has played Mario so it's easy to remember your first time. How about Tetris? Zelda? Pong? Of course you do. Who hasn't? It was those games that were special. It wasn't about the graphics, the sound, any of that. It was that they were simply so much fun. Those first generation games had nostalgia factor.

So what changed? In my opinion, it was the changeover from a fad to a legit medium. Before, people played games to pass the time. They were not so glued to the TV so much as that there wasn't anything on TV, so why not fire up the Atari 2600 and play some Pong. When the first Playstation released, people saw that this was more than just a fad, it was here to stay. However, the jump to mass media came with the advent of internet with games. No longer were games confided to one console with multiple controllers playing one game. Now, you can play one game with someone from around the world. Heck, I played games with people from Germany, the UK, Japan and Australia. With that said, people won't remember these games due to the fact that these games now are a dime a dozen. How hard is it to find a Modern Warfare 3? Not very. How hard is it to find a first generation Metal Gear Solid? Harder than diamond.

It's all good, though. I love to fire up a Battlefield now and again to savor the sweet tank rides and satisfying kills. However, I love the games that I played as a kid and still do just for the fun factor.   read

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