Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Space Mission Videos and Balmorra Datacron Location Videos

For those of you who haven't played the game yet or haven't gotten that far and need a glimpse of the fun and secrets of SWTOR, I made a couple of quick vids for both and working on more as we speak. It's a little slow especially when you play on both sides, giggity, and trying to make 40k for speeder training and 25k just to buy it. =P 

MrButton's and the Secrets of Balmorra: Matrix Shards and Datacron locations

SWTOR Space Missions: Space, where no one can hear you Ding!

Monday, December 19, 2011

SW:TOR Empire Superiority at the Hammer Station Flashpoint!

Grouped with a Powertech Bounty Hunter, Sith Sorceror, Bounty Hunter Mercenary and I as the Imperial Agent Sniper. The run is pretty straight forward, though it does contain a few secrets to those who explore and have the sufficient crew skill to get create shortcuts or find extra loot. The bosses are also tougher this time around, but with team cohesion, we cruised through the station like it was training camp.

Part 1-3 below:

Friday, December 16, 2011

SW:TOR Black Talon Flashpoint and Hutta Datacron videos

Back to tease everyone who isn't in the game yet. I'm going to keep finding more datacrons and record Flashpoints for tactical review. Those who are in-game. How are you finding it so far? Favorite moments? Hope you enjoy them and don't forget to Like/Sub!

Planet Hutta Datacron and Matrix Shard location

Black Talon Flashpoint 1/3



Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SW:TOR Finding those pesky datacrons and matrix shards on Koriban

Warning, this can be a spoiler for some who want to find it on their own, it's true as a lot of them can be found with just a little exploring. =) Loving the game so far.

I keep finding more artifacts than I know what to do with! This is a simple walk-through of the Nightcaller Temple found East of Dawnstar, where you pick up the quest from the local priest of Mara, who turns out he knows more about it than he lets on.
 For those who just want to find the good parts/quest items, just watch the first few seconds to find out where they are if you don't want to watch the whole thing.


Part 2


Friday, December 9, 2011

Misadventures in Skyrim: You need to leave!

So I was turning in a quest over in Winterhold, now sure people don't like you intruding in their homes at night, but I figured they'd want to keep it discreet since I'm spying and dealing against pirates for them. =P

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Can Video Games Be Art?

Hey friends and fellow gamers! MrButton's here, I had a fun experience last week, volenteered my services to write a guest article for Respawn x Reload, a video game website owned and co-founded by PMS Aloha. I chose to go on an often touched subject. Video games and art. Can they be one or are they just a wistful wish to the nay sayers from the art world. Go check it out and tell me what your thoughts on art and video games are. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Skyrim: Daedric Artifact videos

Hey gamers of the wooooorld! So who's been keeping warm so far by playing lots of Skyrim? Been playing this superb game almost non-stop when it's not crashing and wanted to share some of the cool quests out there. This series I found three quests that brought me towards meeting Daedric princes who offer me pretty solid equipment. If you want more locations just keep tuned to my channel and I'll upload more as they're found. =)

Mind of Madness quest, Sheogorath's Tea party and the Wabbajack aka Daedric Artifact


Daedric artifact: Mace of Molag Bal/House of Horrors quest


Ill Met by Moonlight quest/Savoir's Hide daedric artifact


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Skyrim Adventures: Proving Honor Companions Quest and more Skyrim tips!

Using my Wood Elf Archer/thief, I'm in the tomb called Dustman's Cairn that's West-NW of Whiterun and just next to Hamvir's Rest. Farkas and I are seeking a sword fragment belonging to an old hero of legend. This quest is the second one you get from the Companions to prove yourself and to become a full member. The dungeon's not that big but there's plenty of kill inside, along with a cool secret or two. =)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Enjoy! As always, feel free to comment, like and sub if you haven't yet! Wink

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Quick Skyrim video of battling the first dragon

Was playing late last night, which is why I barely talk, doing a story quest where you had to meet solders at tower post at the behest of the Jarl of Whiterun. Lo and behold what was there waiting for us. =O 

You get some pretty good loot after defeating it, and not just from the dragon, you also get some nice quest rewards from the Jarl, think Norse Lord, like a title, a decent weapon and your own bodyguard if you haven't gotten a follower yet! =)


Friday, November 11, 2011

Intro to Skyrim, Bleak Falls Barrow and the Golden Claw Quest Part 1

Sup everyone! I know most of you have played Skyrim at midnight and might've already seen this part, but for those who haven't and want to get an idea of how Skyrim plays and looks like, I made a video of the first dungeon near the town after the tutorial. You get the quest from a trade in town who lost a golden dragon's claw by some bandits who've discovered a secret about it. 

So far I'm findin
g this game fantastic, a nice improvement and tweaks from the other Elder Scrolls games. Same races are involved, just about the same racial bonus' as well. The char I'm playing is a Wood Elf archer/thief.

The vid has some good action, tips on what to keep an eye out for, tricks during battle, exploration/drooling over the environment and other gameplay helpful tips.

This is also part 1 of 3, I'll post the others in this thread. Leave a comment if you liked it! =D


Here`s part 2. Getting deeper inside and finding out that this place holds some interesting secrets, and guests, inside. Just got to keep it cool and delve deeper! Sneaky sneaky sir. Veeeery sneaky. =)


and the finale! After all of the crawling and undead bashing, I find an interesting puzzle and something really amazing and dangerous behind it. Go check it! You know you wanna! =)


Friday, November 4, 2011

Zombie Driver, Rock of Ages and Battlefield 3, OH MY!

Hey everyone! I'm still kicking, just trying to do various projects at once. Uploaded a few videos to show off some recent games that I've bought. Zombie Driver is a cheap game that was cheaper still during the Halloween sale on Steam and it's just like the title suggests, so check it out!

Rock of Ages is a very quirky game where it's you vs the computer in a race of who can destroy the opponent's gate while avoiding or destroying their defenses with your giant boulder that you control. If you know the developer Atlus then you shouldn't be surprised.

Last of all is the new Battlefield 3 game on the PC, wanted to show off a few scenes and the amazing graphics of this game. So check em out!

Sorry about the first few seconds on some of the videos, seems the new compression software I use seems to screw around with it so I'll see what I can do to fix it.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halolz Pumpkin carving contest

So one of my favorite sites as of late has this annual pumpkin carving contest, and being a fan of all things gaming  I couldn't help to be amazed at some of the contestants skills. Be sure to give the video a quick check.


Also I have been uploading more Battlefield 3 videos on my YouTube channel just to show off the graphics. If there are any particular spots in the single player game or multi you want to see, let me know!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Grand Prix Story review -iPhone/Android

Grand Prix Story, on the iOS

Kairosoft keeps throwing out the punches, least that’s how it seems like with their 5th released app on the iPhone (3rd for you Android users), and they’ll keep coming for more which is understandable considering that these apps are just older games they made on the PC back in the 90s over in Japan. The government should assemble a task force to find more of these hidden gems and have them translated.

The game starts you off with a basic tutorial, though I highly recommend reading the “How to Play” text in the Settings menu. Right off the bat some people will get turned away from playing when they realise that you can’t directly control the cars but don’t let that stop you from trying as you’ll be impressed at what you can do.

As a manager game your job is to make sure your team is skilled and ready to tackle the obstacles that are the races. There are three major criteria to master in this game in order to win.

The staffs are the first half of what makes a great racing team. You start off with a driver and one mechanic, and as you go along you’ll unlock the ability to hire more of them. You can have in total two drivers, though the second can only be hired after you conquer the first Grand Prix tournament. When selected you can train them to become better in various skills like pedal (top speed), shift (acceleration), steer (handling), appl (think charisma that boosts your sponsor bonus), tech (used in building/upgrading) and anlys (analyse which grants more tech points). Each driver has a skill cap so switching to a better driver later can be worthwhile if you want to spend the time and money, and you can only train them so much at a time before they tire out, which can affect driving performance. Lastly, drivers get colored auras from time to time; use them wisely as they give big bonuses when used in upgrading, building, training or racing. I recommend the first two mostly.

The mechanics are the unsung heroes in my book as they provide the background bonus to your driver in the terms of extra appeal, tech and analysis, and when you can have six mechanics per team later on, it really adds up. Tech is the main skill I look for as it is crucial to building better cars and getting better bonus’ on parts. Each mechanic can be leveled from 1 to 5 which require more tech points per level, and the better the mechanic, the more points you’ll need per battle. Keep an eye out for the good ones like Tom Edson and Boba Fatt (beware of punny names) as they’ll have the best level 5 stats. Though the real key to make the best racing team out there is to keep them busy, by researching, repairing, building, anything as a busy team keeps gaining stats and tech points, plus who wants to pay their staff by doing nothing? So time your race schedule, repairs and other plans accordingly.

Cars and parts are the nuts and bolts (*slow clap*) of your team. You’ll have four types of cars, all of which you can upgrade to unlock a better version of. The all-rounded Buggy, the speedy Dragster, the well-handled Wing car and the special types, like the Duck car, that give various special bonus which you only unlock later on in the game, but most are unlocked by pleasing sponsors and upgrading other cars and parts. Experiment with them all to find out what suits you best, but just make sure you got the tech points ready for it as the costs rise progressively. Also be mindful when building new cars or installing parts as the total amount of your team’s tech determines how well it goes, so the more the better, especially if you have the best of the best techs in one single team.

Learn these well and you’ll find that getting 1st place in every race will be easy, though I recommend you conquer the single races before heading off to the Grand Prix as those take time and are a lot more challenging in terms of opponents and leave little time in between races to repair and upgrade/make better cars. Though once you do become number one, you’ll move on to bigger and better challenges, as well as having the room for more staff and another driver.

And this is where the money comes in. Hiring another driver and more staff will start becoming more costly with their monthly wages for staff and annual contracts for the drivers. Winning races is a good way to get some but sponsors are the key. Along with them giving you money, if you get them enough advertisement they will give you various cars and parts to research, along with new skills to train your driver, though they get progressively tougher to please as you go along. It’s tough at first but well worth it as you’ll need to save plenty of cash if you want to build lots of A-list cars and plan to switch parts around in your cars.

Overall the game is easy to play with lots of depth, addicting qualities and replayability. Its quirky characters, bright colors and challenges keep you coming back for more in order to drain your phone’s battery to its last drop. I played it to death, had lots of fun unlocking new parts and types of cars and felt proud of my little digital team for doing so well, especially since I kept my starting driver from start to end and almost conquered every track. I highly recommend the game for those who’re looking to kill time, who enjoying building/management games or who’ve played other Kairosoft games such as Game Dev, Hot Springs and Mega Mall Story.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

All Points Bulletin preview

Published a Youtube vid for fun to show off APB: Reloaded at the request of a friend. Looking to improve the sound of my mic so if you have any ideas, please let me know!

Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLQPEza0U2s&feature=related
Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvQ18St1ZlM&feature=youtube_gdata

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ah life, where's my save file?

Sorry for the lack of posts, no excuses but a new job, moving and playing new games tend to take up time.

Speaking of games that take up time, I've been playing a lot of World of Tanks and Shakes & Fidget. I'll be writting a review about the first, but for now here's a link to the latter, it's a fun rpg time killer game with silly humor and pvp/guild rankings. Check it out: http://s3.sfgame.us/index.php?rec=125988

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Brink: Choir of guns, gameplay and class videos

I'm looking forward to this game. Coming out on May 10th. PS3, 360 and PC. Picking it up on the 360 myself.
A nice melody of gunfire.

General gameplay and the use of the SMART system

Quick glance at the classes with mission related objectives.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Game Dev Story, one of the most fun, amazing and unique games on the iPhone

A full in-depth review

I’ve been meaning to write about this game for a long time. Funny enough, this is what really gave me the oomph and interest to give writing and reviewing video games a chance. Now, how can a little niche iPhone game give way to such passion? Simply put, the game made me ask myself “How can this simple little game be so complex, full of depth, yet so simple and fun?” It also made me say to myself “Oh my god! I can be a game developer without having to learn all of that bloody coding? Sold!”

As the title of the game goes, Game Dev Story is pretty much what it sets out to be, minus the story. There is no story script per say but the game does contain rpg elements which I’ll talk about later. The story is more of an adventure: you create the story yourself by giving your company a name, hire the staff you like and create just about any combination of games that you can discover.

Like any good company, you have to have a plan. You can’t just throw your money into anything and expect to make money. Contracts will be your bread and butter at first as you’ll need it to fund your games, hire new employees and pay their salaries. It also generates research points that are used for other things. So make sure you stock up, as you will need plenty to give your company a good chance to succeed early. These contracts are simple, leave little room for error and take the least amount of time to complete. Just ensure you don’t accept tasks that may be too much for your rookie staff.

As an rpg fan, I really got a kick out of the stats and roles each employee has. Coders are best at programming (an all-around good skill to have),Writers with the Scenario (story and style baby!) Designers with graphics (you want it to look good right?), Sound Engineers with Sound (Hire Daft Punk imo) and Writers for game proposals (which are a necessity if you want to begin making ANY game). Stats can be increased through training and levelling aka promotions, but that can put a hole in your pocket as their yearly salaries will rise with their level. At the same time, new game genres, types and roles can be unlocked by training, i.e.: Lv3 Producer unlocks Action RPG genre and making a Writer “train” by watching movies unlocks the Samurai type game. It is highly recommended you play around with the training options. Not counting the starting game options, there is 15 genres and 68 types of games you can unlock. As you progress and use more expensive methods of hiring, you will find people who’ll have high marks in more than one skill and have several jobs under their belt, ie: a Director is good at coding and writing and the Hardware Engineer which is needed if you ever want to create your own console.

Speaking of genres and types, combining them rightly together is where the real fun begins. Use enjoyable examples of games like Action + Rpg or Romance + Simulation. You can try more unusual combinations but the game lets you know if you’ve picked an odd one.

As any good video game company knows, fans are important and there are various age groups. Depending on what type and the popularity of the games you make, you will gain fans of a certain age group. As your company ages, so will your fans. Be sure to think ahead so you’ll always have lots of people buying your games. Throwing money into various types of advertising helps attract particular groups and helps future sales.

Now here’s a description on how things work when making a game. Skip this paragraph if you want to figure it out yourself. First, pay a one-time fee for a licence on the console you want to work with. Two, pick a genre and type. The popularity of them plus the choice of console determines the starting cost. The more experienced you are in these areas also lets you allocate points in which direction you want the game to go in which can affect the type of fans you attract. Thirdly, they’ll prompt you to pick someone to write the game proposal, graphics, sound and fun. Pick whomever you feel would be the best, some are obvious and some aren't, though be mindful that picking the same person who did the previous game might suffer a penalty. Taking chances can pay off or create bugs in your game which will take more time at the debugging phase. Randomly during the creation phase, your staff will make a proposal, for a price, to boost a random stat (Fun, Creativity, Graphics or Sound). The success rate depends on their skill and how many research points you invest in it. Advertising, fans, fame, hype and high points during the creation phase are factors that determine your sales and success of the game. Lastly, the game is thrown to the wolves aka the reviewers. They will give you scores which will boost your sales (sorry, there’s no option to lavish them with free stuff in order to get a better score lol). If you score well, that particular game will be placed in the Hall of Fame.  You’re now allowed to make a sequel of it which generally creates an instant best-seller.

The game doesn't stop there, oh no. To make things harder and more exciting for you, you have competition from other companies. Don’t dismay from not doing as well in the first few years, especially at the annual award show. Be smart with your capital, even if you really want to hire that “celebrity” during the games own version of E3.  Set your some goals, save your money for the write game and hire the best staff with high marks in their specific fields as it will all help with making better games and win.

Now down to the hilarity or should I say punnery? The game is full of puns and inside jokes, from character names like Lady GooGoo and Gilly Bates, to company names like Nintendro and Campcon and consoles like Play Kid and Microx 480. Just about every name is based off of people and things related to the industry or their craft. God knows the silly, profane and awesome ones you come up with as you’re allowed to name your company, games and consoles you create.

Overall this game kept me glued to my phone for longer than any time wasting app I’ve had. I laughed at the terrible names, I cursed at my opponents for doing better than me, grumbled as my employees botch proposals and fist pumped like a frat boy as I watch my sales go through the roof. Honestly for any self-respecting gamer out there looking for a good game to play on their iPhone (Android support is underway), get this game asap. It’s well worth it.

*side note, The first Game Dev Story actually dates back to 1996, while its sequel debuted on PC roughly10 years ago. The company Kairosoft is a Japanese game company that has made several simulation games already, sadly only two have been translated so far so if you enjoyed this one then keep an eye out for others. I personally like the looks of the sushi restaurant and cruise ship sims.
Homepage to Kairosoft: 11 iPhone games including the two that we have in English
Here’s their page featuring the two English iPhone games that they’ve made

Monday, May 2, 2011

In L.A. Noire, you ask questions first, shoot later

Read this at work and wanted to share it as Rockstar keeps impressing me with their daring ventures in gaming along with the use of different technology and style.

Artful game is a risky move for Rockstar

Seven years in the making, L.A. Noire (due out May 17) is the latest release from Rockstar Games, the company forever associated in most people’s minds with its blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series.

Seven years in the making, L.A. Noire (due out May 17) is the latest release from Rockstar Games, the company forever associated in most people’s minds with its blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series.

Photograph by: Handout photo, Rockstar Games

Aaron Staton is used to being in front of cameras. But it wasn’t until the actor best known as ad account executive Ken Cosgrove on "Mad Men" starred in the video game L.A. Noire that he acted in front of 32 of them.

On a winter morning in a warehouse in Culver City that has been turned into a makeshift acting and game development studio, Staton was wrapping up his last day on the job. Sitting alone in a small room surrounded by the dozens of cameras and pupil-shrinking lights that eliminate any hint of a shadow, he worked his way through one gritty line after another - the type most people haven’t heard since the days of, well, noir.

"A 15-year-old girl told me she was drugged and molested at a casting house with a mermaid out front," Staton growled. On the other side of a thin white wall, Brendan McNamara talked into a headset. "Make it a little more urgent," the game director said with his Australian accent. "This guy throws his rival off a roof."

By the next day, a bank of servers helped transform the performance into Det. Cole Phelps, an animated character who isn’t so much based on Staton as possessed by him. Every dart of the eyes, tilt of the head and crinkle of the skin caught by those 32 cameras can be seen in the game, making for an eerily lifelike performance.

It’s not uncommon for video games to feature professional actors doing voice work and even motion-captured movement. But McNamara was searching for something different in L.A. Noire: a video game in which players spend less time shooting people and more time interrogating them. "People hear about this game and they wonder what buttons they press, but it’s not about that," McNamara explained. "It’s doing what your brain has been doing for millions of years: Reading faces."

Seven years in the making, L.A. Noire (due out May 17) is the latest release from Rockstar Games, the company forever associated in most people’s minds with its blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series. However, the New York publisher has long struggled to find another series that could stand behind it, with titles such as Bully and Manhunt falling well short. Rockstar finally hit the jackpot in 2010 with Red Dead Redemption, which sold 8 million units and swept industry awards.

It also revived the Western at a time when it was virtually dead not only in video games but the larger pop culture. The company has mined different angles of the crime drama with its GTA sequels and is now looking to do the same with noire. "This is a very risky game, but it’s also consistent with what they are known for," said Adam Sessler, co-host of the video game news show "X-Play" on cable network G4. "There’s no other game developer with Rockstar’s interest in mining American mythologies."

L.A. Noire shares traits with GTA and Red Dead such as a huge, open world - in this case 8 square miles of 1947 Los Angeles, from downtown to Hollywood, faithfully re-created with the help of a cadre of historians. But it stands out from most big-budget games for one simple reason: It’s not a shooter or a fantasy role-playing game or any of the other industry-standard genres on which publishers are typically comfortable spending tens of millions of dollars. Action, in fact, is minimal, and there’s no online multi-player, a de rigueur feature for most big-budget games nowadays.

Making a game centered on investigation is inherently a chancy proposition. Players raised on a diet of fast-paced shooting and epic action sequences might struggle to stay interested with the more methodical tasks of investigation and interrogation, no matter how stylish the backdrop is. With the exception of sports simulations and a few long-lasting and well-known brands such as Super Mario and the Sims, hit games in the U.S. not centered on shooting, stabbing or stomping are rare. Other games that emphasize style over action, like last year’s murder mystery Heavy Rain, have been modest sellers.

"This is a very bold move in that most people won’t really be able to understand what it is until they play it," said Andy McNamara, editor in chief of the gamer magazine Game Informer (and no relation to the game’s director). "I don’t think it could have gotten made at any other company."

But Rockstar, about to kick off a significant marketing campaign for its latest creation, believes L.A. Noire can be a hit among an audience much broader than the typical young male gamers. They’re going after people who watch police procedurals like "Law & Order" and "CSI." "I think it’s going to appeal to a very broad audience that is familiar with this type of thing in television or movies but never before in interactive entertainment," said Jeronimo Barerra, vice president of product development for Rockstar.

And Brendan McNamara said that if nothing else, he’s confident L.A. Noire takes his chosen art form in a much needed direction. "If the future of games is only about body count," he said, "then it’s not a very interesting future."

McNamara and his core team of developers previously worked on Sony’s racing video game series the Getaway. In 2004 they formed their own studio in Sydney, Australia, called Team Bondi and set to work on L.A. Noire. As a fan of Humphrey Bogart films, the books of Raymond Chandler and the man he calls "Mr. Ellroy," McNamara thought the then-in-development PlayStation 3 could for the first time create the genre’s foreboding shadows in a video game.

Developing the story and setting was the easy part: In 1947 Los Angeles, a World War II-veteran-turned-police-detective is haunted by his actions at the Battle of Okinawa while he investigates crimes based on infamous real events, most notably the Black Dahlia murder. From music to lighting to case names like "the silk stocking murder" and "the red lipstick murder," L.A. Noire was designed from the start to embody its title.

The problem was what the gameplay would be. McNamara knew he wanted to center it on interrogations but wasn’t sure how to translate that into something compelling for the player. Verbal sparring was too technically complex, and letting players beat the truth out of suspects resulted in almost comical barrages of smacking.

At the same time, however, McNamara had begun working with researcher Oliver Bao, who was developing a system called MotionScan to more accurately capture facial movements. Starting with two cameras in a shed, Bao’s dream was to re-create every nuance of the face in digital form without the help of an animator.

McNamara’s intention had been to use Bao’s technology for the narrative scenes in between the action. But he eventually realized that lifelike facial performances could be at the heart of it - players would analyze suspects’ facial tics and attempt to determine who’s telling the truth, who’s lying and where to take the investigation.

"The first half of developing this game was basically stick figures and texts," recalled Barerra. "When the heads started coming on-line, it was a ‘Hallelujah!’ moment."

Those heads were portrayed by Australian stand-ins until late 2009, when video production began in Los Angeles. More than 400 actors performed in the game, first by acting out their characters’ movements on a stage and then in the Culver City offices of Depth Analysis, where Bao is head of research.

It has taken more than a year of on-and off work to make it through a script that weighs in at a staggering 2,200 pages because of the multiple paths each investigation can take. The game features 20 cases as Phelps works his way through the Los Angeles Police Department’s traffic, robbery, arson and homicide desks, investigating crimes. In one, a boxer goes missing after winning a fixed fight he was supposed to lose. In another, a young woman comes to Hollywood with dreams of stardom and ends up raped and nearly dead.

On Day 82, according to a call sheet taped to the studio’s white walls, Staton was one of several actors wearing orange T-shirts who were going through hair and makeup before sitting in the blindingly bright room with the expensive cameras. Bao was proud to show off his technology but also paranoid about letting strangers get close. The last time someone accidentally tapped one of the cameras, he explains, it took nearly four hours to recalibrate the system.

Reading a teleprompter and staring at a mini-"Mona Lisa" as his eye line, the 33-year-old Staton rattled off lines like the video game pro he has become, though McNamara occasionally had to remind him to stop blocking his face with his hands. Speaking later on a bench outside, he acknowledged it has been a bizarre process as an actor and not at all what he expected when, in November 2009, he was offered a part in a game code-named "Hard Boiled."

"With a television show or a movie, you have an idea of how it’s going to look because you were there," he said. "In this, you feel very removed because the physical process was separate from the line reading. I have no idea how it will look when it all comes together."

McNamara has a pretty good idea after all the time he and his colleagues have put into the game. The question is how many consumers will be as fascinated as he is in the underbelly of L.A. in the late 1940s. "The detective story has always been great in literature; it’s always been great in films," he said."We’re asking: ‘Why hasn’t it worked in video games?’"

Read more:


Monday, April 25, 2011

Portal 2: Another kind of rabbit hole


Suffice to say that’s the exact word that I would use for one of the rare sequels that didn’t make me regret buying.

Back in 2005 an amazing little game originally made by DigiPen students came into light. Their original creation called Narbacular Drop saw the team hired by Valve. Thus Portal was born. Presentation was the key to the original and it still is with its polished puzzles, dual portal system and well scripted story of a passive-aggressive computer whose only love in life is using you for science.

Now Portal 2 has finally graced our consoles and the PC. The first thing I noticed to my elated surprise is in my PS3 copy has a code that gives me a PC copy which can also share my saved game between the two thanks to the Cloud system via Steam. Well, as long as the Playstation Network is running at the time anyways. Second thing I noticed is your character waking up back in the Aperture Science Lab. *STORY SPOILER* Now didn’t I escape from it in the first one? *END* Which is what I would think if I didn’t see the free webcomic Valve released which explained a few things and set the story a bit
for the sequel. You can find the comic here:

Now Portal 2 hasn’t really brought anything really new to the table. Same kind of puzzles, get from here to there, bring cube to button, avoid turrets, get ridiculed by the AI as it tries to kill you. Adding new elements like the various propulsion gels, launch pads and laser direction cubes keeps things fresh. Though I must admit, I am slightly dismayed at the puzzles. When you stop to think about how you solved it, it is very simple, like /facepalm simple. The real challenge is how the game trains your mind to think in certain ways so you don’t see the answer right away. You then forget the basic tricks the game teaches you abd instead your mind looks for a more complicated way to solve it.

What really set things apart and kept my mood high was the story development and the scenery. Valve’s graphic engine and the atmosphere are amazing as always as you really do feel “alone” in the larger than thought Aperture buildings. It starts off with our silent protagonist, Chell, who recently woke up from a long sleep, though there’s no idea of what year it is. Her environment which is normally pristine is now in shambles with no clue as to why. Thankfully a chatty and happy-go-lucky British bot named Wheatly (apropos no?) “helps” you out and tries to find a way out. Though honestly any Portal fan knows the best part is when GlaDos comes in and, my god, does she deliver the sarcasm in spades. *clap clap clap* Many questions are answered in this sequel as you progress and discovery the true story of what happened behind the scenes and what this science company is all about. That should satisfy many curious gamers who were left with a cliff-hanger and many unanswered questions from the first game.

Gone are the extra levels and time trials from the first game. Yet happily it is replaced with a co-op mode where you and a friend next to you or online can solve unique puzzles together much to GlaDos’ amusement. Quick button markers and set gestures help you communicate with each other and helps things from getting frustrating, especially if your online companion chooses not to use a mic.

Overall this is a must buy and if you’ve never played the first then I highly suggest getting both to appreciate the full offering that is Portal. The graphics are amazing, story and text is well done, lots of humour to be found from the random signs, environment and the script. The fun and challenging puzzles will keep you busy. On top of all, by no means is the game as short as the first one is. My only gripe, if any, is the lack of more sophisticated puzzles, special challenges and a "create a puzzle" function. That would amp the replay value through the roof as the fans of the series would jump on it like a companion cube on cake.

I’d give this game a 9.5/10

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dynasty Warriors 7: KOEI's 7th iteration of a "diverse" dynasty

Dynasty is definitely the best word to describe KOEI's and Omega Force's long running hack and slash series that dates back to 1997.  Little known fact about Dynasty Warriors 1 is it was a one-on-one fighting game similar to Tekken. Only in the second version which was the first in North America did they change it to the 3rd-person rts hack and slash that we?ve known throughout the years and I use the term rts loosely. 

The newest version boasts many new improvements, such as the graphics that are now crisper, the cutscenes are amazing to look at, the attacks more fluid and eye catching, more characters can be loaded upon the screen at the same time without disappearing and proper pronunciation of the characters names. 

One of them that I`ve been enjoying the most is the new weapon and skill aka seal system where each character are not limited to one but two that can be switched during battle (which was features in DW: Strikeforce) and exchanged for other ones if you`re not liking them, which is great except that each characters are proficient with a handful of the 10 types of weapons on a 1 to 3 star rating. Each weapon also contains a seal for you to unlock by defeating numerous enemies that can later be equipped upon each weapon you hold, for example: Attack +, Defence +, Movement speed, Officer Assasin which raises atk and def against officers and Seal Master which helps you unlock other seals faster. Basically it replaces the item equipping you`ve had in previous versions. Each character as well has their own skill set that you can unlock by spending skill points that you collect from defeating enemy officers.

Story wise they`ve changed little, Story Mode allows you to choose one of the four sides of Wu, Wei, Shu and the new Jin which is led by the cunning Sima Yi who`s well known as Wei`s famous strategist. Once you pick a kingdom you go through the clan`s entire story from one character to the next and back depending on which battle you`re in so you get the chance to unlock all of the related characters along with keeping the repetition low compared to DW 5 where you play one character`s story at a time where you ended up playing the same battles over and over again. This also keeps the storyline prevalent as you`ll not play characters that historically didn`t appear in certain battles.

Lu Bu: The Chuck Norris of the Chinese dynasty

Once after playing through a dynasty or two you can jump into Conquest mode where you select only one character and go on a rampage throughout China by unlocking stages on a hex grid which is great for those who wish to unlock everything and for the hardcore players who want to gain extra stats and weapons to grow their favourite characters that will help them endure hard and chaos mode which is the best way to do so as the gap between normal and hard can be astronomical in difficulty. You can also participate in various quests, buy new mounts which every character has one that can be summoned at any time by pressing a single button which makes things much easier compared to previous version, grow bonds between other DW characters and answer historical Romance of the Three Kingdoms questions which the game is based upon.

Overall the game is great but not amazing and nothing really new to the series. Despite some terrible English voice acting and the removal of the optional Chinese voices, the repetition is thankfully low, the maps and character designs were re-done so you won`t feel like you`ve seen it all yet remain familiar and the conquest mode will keep the replay high enough for fans of the series to keep going and unlock the higher end weapons and for the challenge. For newcomers be warned, it is a button masher, you may not know the series and the history behind it but it is fun, fairly easy to get into and if you`re looking for an excuse to cut down thousands of enemies per battle then this is your game but I`d suggest two things, try Dynasty Warriors 5 first on the PS2 as it was one of the best in my opinion and for god?s sake, stay AWAY from Lu Bu until you`re ready, he is a badass for a reason, who else rides a fire horse (besides Guan Yu who`s also a badass, just look at that beard) and lives?

*side notes: For those who don`t want to read the long Romance of the Three Kingdoms book can also check out the turn-based strategy game of the same name that`s been out for years and also the movie Red Cliff to get info and your fix on Chinese history.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dragon 2 or 1.5? The aftermath of Denerim and the path Bioware chose to make Disappointed? Yes/No/Stab in the throat!

*Be warned, potential spoilers*
I've been meaning to write about this game for the past week and words fail to come to me as to how I can express and explain what this game is. Suffice to say that I am pleased in some aspects and confused in others. so let's work at this one at a time.
The Dragon Age sequel has definitely improved in the visual category, so much that I had to reduce most of the graphic settings on my computer in order to run it more smoothly and my Inte i5 CPU 650@3.20GHz, ATI Radeon HD 5450 and 6 Gigs of ram is decent enough to run any game at a high setting. 
Bioware has always been a favourite of mine, crafting amazing worlds, creating characters you grow attached to and writing amazing scripts and stories. One cannot deny they've done much in the realm of rpgs. Suffice to say that I was a little shocked at what was to be found when playing the game.

Now mind you I have yet to finish the game, to be honest I have a hard time wanting to play more as the game feels diminished, gone is the big arching story line that got me absorbed in DA:Origins, now I find myself grinding dozens of side quests in order to get enough money in order to move on. Same with the environment, yes the city of Kirkwall is large, especially with its numerous wards that you can visit during the day and night along with the handful of areas outside of the city but it all feels too constricted and limiting with its set paths.
The characters in the game have been great I do admit, who knew a dwarf with a shaven beard can be so cool? The friend/rival system which allows your companions to gain different bonuses depending on how they see you is a great aspect but the now limited equipment they can use really shows a part of how they've stripped the game as a whole. Especially when throughout my adventures I find a many great items to use yet most are restricted to Hawke who will never use most of them when they do not fit their chosen class. You can still further develop and learn more from your new allies but they have taken away the camp/hq style forcing you to visit each character in their place of domicile that are scattered throughout the city which I find slightly irritating, especially when one wants to progress with various companions at once. At least the banter between teammates is still as amusing and unique as ever.
The list of things I enjoy in the game are few and far in between. The menu has changed a little. No more can you see all of the downloadable content you’ve acquired from the main menu as was prior even though you have an option for it. These little nuances keep building up though perhaps I am nitpicking too much. It is noteworthy that you may upload the story of your previous DA:Origins hero so you may hear about them in this version, along with a few familiar faces such as Flemmeth, Bodahn and Sandal (Enchantment!) and some new class trees you can explore in.
I find there is little to not enough in this time to consider it worthy of the title of a sequel, perhaps a larger expansion, a Dragon Age 1.5 if you will but overall not what I was expecting from such a well-established and veteran company such as Bioware.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to not perish at PaxEast (or any other con) and live to tell the tale! My first ever big convention and trip to Boston!

Wow...that's how I would describe PaxEast. That’s it and thanks for reading!
Kidding aside, I had the most amazing time over at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center where Penny Arcade was hosting their 2nd annual PaxEast and I admit, I was a total fanboy when I was there. Yes, as an aspiring writer I could've been more productive and professional by talking with various big name and indie developers asking them all sorts of questions about their products but as this was my first time outside of Canada and at my first major video game convention I wanted to just enjoy it, and enjoy it I did. It's quite funny how one can wish they could spend more time there and wanting to go back home at the same time because by the end of the 3-day event I felt lethargic, sore and sleep-deprived, I never felt closer to a real zombie in my life, especially since I spent most of the week-end with a Plants vs Zombie cone on my head.
Now I'm going to "try" and summarize my experience, but be warned, it will be extensive. Skip below if you want to read about specific games:
As Dimitri Martin once said, location location location, and PaxEast picked a great spot as the convention center is attached to the Westin hotel, which by the way was a great hotel that had all of the amenities a convention goer needed: a working warm shower, a really big comfy bed and a coffee shop (Starbuck’s) in the main lobby. It was also attached to the convention center so we never needed to dress warmly as we walked to and from our hotel room.
The convention center itself had three floors; level 0 was the main floor where the exhibit hall was. It housed all of the game developers, from the well-known Rockstar, Ubisoft, 2K, Valve, Bethesda, EA and Turbine who all came out in force, to indie groups like Torn Banner Studios (Chivalry), SBRN Games (Ash), HalfBrick (Raskulls) and The Tap Lab (TapCity). A few game development schools like Becker College were also there to recruit future students along with various hardware companies like NVidia, Alienware, Logitech, Kingston and Asus, There were also a few video/card/board game and clothing vendors. Honestly there are many, many more but I’m too lazy to list all 118 companies, and I’m sure you could find a complete listing elsewhere I’ll give you my most memorable ones below.
Also on level 0 was the massive tabletop room, where after they close the main hall for the evening, you could go and relax with the fellow board and card game geeks while trying out new and old games until 2am. This is one of the features of PaxEast that impressed me. Various attendees volunteered their time to show and teach people games they’ve never tried, especially for D&D 4th edition where many tables were setup and dice were rolled to teach first time players. This is where I tried Ascension, a derivative of Dominion, for the first time. The people were friendly and anyone who walked by could join in or just watch the game be played. Another section had a free play area where tables of donated board games sat waiting to be picked up and played once you registered it with the Pax volunteers aka Enforcers. Various times random people were looking for others to join in on a game, they even had an LCD panel with a Looking For Group twitter board so people could organize themselves. I even had a chance to play a game of Munchkin Zombies with a couple who’ve never played Munchkin games so myself and my friends happily showed them and we had a good time beating each other up. I also had the chance to play Dominion for the first time  (funny note, we had to rock/paper/scissor with two other people for it when we found it) which all of us agreed was a must buy as it was fun and fairly easy to learn, sadly only the expansions could be found for sale anywhere. Many tournaments of Magic, Pokemon, Settlers and WoW TCG were had in this hall as well. There were also more board and card game who gladly sold me the board game Smallworld.
Once you’ve battled your way through level 0, level 1 contained a more relaxed area where various meeting rooms were converted to free play areas (minus the Cat Theatre where some of the panels were held). You could sign up to play modern consoles (lots of Marvel vs Capcom 3 was being played), PC and Bring Your Own PC (for those who reserved a spot) There was also a room dedicated to console tournaments, a handheld lounge where all the Pokemon trainers hung out on comfy beanbag chairs, and designated Dance Central and Rockband areas. What was best is that none of these required any extra money to be spent as it was all included with your event pass.
After defeating the console boss you move onto level 2 where the more aspiring and professional attendees went as it contained most of the rooms where the panels were held, aptly named Manticore, Wyvern, Naga and the IDGA Dev center and Reckoning lounge. Sadly I only attended two panels, State of the Industry: What are your career options? and Snagging the Marketing or Writing Job of Your Dreams. I found out that you either have to be really dedicated to what you want to see and show up early to wait in line as space was limited or roam around to see everything else on the main floor. More often than not various interesting panels were at the same time or right after another, which along with the numerous prize giveaways in the exhibit floor ensured you couldn’t see and do everything. In hindsight, this is a good idea on PAX’s part to avoid having large crowds in one place. The floor also contained a couple of rooms for classic consoles from Atari to N64 (where a great tournament of Bomberman 2 was going on full of gasps and cheers) and a room dedicated to classic Arcade machines (4-player Gauntlet, Beer Tapper or Dragon’s Lair, anyone?) thanks to an American arcade company whose card I sadly lost.
Level 3. Location: Main Theatre. Final Boss. Well ok, not really but this is where Jerry Holkins aka Tycho and Mike Krahulik aka Gabe held their keynote, Q&As, along with the Omegathon (which I sadly did not see, I’m hoping all of the missing panels and what not will be on the dvd). Rooster Teeth aka Red vs Blue, X-Play and the concerts were also held here.
All in all it was an amazing experience, one that will have to be repeated over and over again in order to see everything as the event had aspects that were catered to specific types of people whom would only go see those (ie: media to the game booths, aspiring game industry people to the panels, professional gamers to the tournaments) which makes it difficult to get into those if you have no specific genre like myself.
Various things were also learned on this trip: Don’t bring food on the trip except for drinks and snacks that you can eat before crossing the border, buy easy to eat foods once in town from the grocery store to cut down on meal costs, travel with friends whom you can handle for long hours and bring plenty of fresh clothing, especially socks as you WILL be warm and aromatic by the end of the day and the other event goers will appreciate it. Bring plenty of money just in case for emergencies or for when you spot things you didn’t expect and want to get but try to keep to a budget. Be kind to other attendees as there will be crowds and guaranteed bumps as you stare wide eyed at the game trailers and the well-dressed cosplayers, especially to the Enforcers who volunteered their time to help you and ensure the event and your experience goes smoothly.Stay awhile and listen (*grin*) to the hardworking developers and merchants who’ve taken the time to show you what they’ve made as this encourages them to keep up the enthusiasm for what they love to do: making great quality games and items. Also don’t worry about bringing an extra bag for the free swag as more often than not there will be someone who will be giving out large bags for you to store your free t-shirts, hats, buttons and other items in (though try not to overload it as they will break) so a trip or two a day back to your hotel room is a must.
Special notes and things that I liked at PaxEast2011: The cosplayers who’ve made awesome costumes and take the time to stop for pictures (which to some would be every other minute). Favourites included the Pyro (whose foam axe was confiscated for being too real) from TF2, a Commissar from Warhammer, a female Mass Effect Shepard and heroine from Dragon Age 2, Saria and Sheik from Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a male and female version of Assassin’s Creed as well as Valkaria Chronicles, three well done Ghostbusters, a Joker, Harley Quinn (whom they let keep her real baseball bat) Scarecrow trio, the PvZ group (two girls in pot/sunflower costume, two guys dressed in suits with a zombie head), who were awesome when they were rocking it out at the Rockband booth and a slightly scary and hairy legged Chun-Li of Street Fighter. There were lots more but I couldn’t recognize all of them. Big thanks to Tycho who I spoke with briefly and who shook my hand before he remembered about the germ thing as well as Gabe, Morgan Webb, Adam Sessler, Blair Herter and Scotty Kurtz who all signed my X-box 360 controller.
For pics of the event, go here:
Games that really got my eye:
Chivalry from Torn Banner Studios, whose realistic medieval battle game really impressed me as it is based on skill where the mouse acts as your hips which directs how you swing your sword or fire your arrows, battles arranged from free for all to attacking/defending the castle. No levels or upgraded gear is obtained. Only customization of armour can be garnered from doing well which is where skill comes in.www.chivalrythegame.com Beta will be out in a few months, out possibly at the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012.
Raskulls from Halfbrick which is out now on Xbox Live. It’s a fun and cute competitive party game where you race your variously dressed little skull characters through coloured blocks that you shoot through in order to get through and hopefully trap your opponents behind you. www.raskulls.com
TapCity from The Tap Lab is a free social iPhone and soon to be Android game where you can use real buildings from google earth and attack them, once obtained you can turn them into various types of buildings like a castle or bee hive and have it defended with dinosaurs, lasers and what not. The social aspect comes in where you can get your friends to check in on the battle and the more people you can get on your side the more it can sway the battle no matter how strong the opponent is. www.playtapcity.com
Orcs Must Die! by Robot Entertainment was one of my favourites and a must-buy on my list. It’s like a tower defense game where orcs and other creatures run along a defined path and your champion spends points to place traps like floor spikes, shooting arrow walls, spring boards and swinging ceiling spiked balls that help as you attack and try to prevent them from reaching the other end. www.orcsmustdie.com
Geek Chic is not a game developer but a company who caters to geeks with taste and well-lined gold pouch as they create well-crafted solid wood tables that you can use as coffee and dining room tables which open up and convert into the ultimate board and/or miniature table with tons of room for attachable cup holders and drawers lined with foam shaped to your preferred console controller They also create armoires and bookshelves to safely store your books and miniatures in style. www.geekchichq.com
Firefall by Red 5 is a free to play 1st and 3rd person team class based shooter that quickly reminded me of Tribes which by chance one of the developers of this game was from. Each class has three skills that refresh over time and has lots of team customization from emblems, names and so forth. I’m looking forward to this later on in the year. www.firefallthegame.com
DragonNest by Eyedentity is a free to play mmorpg with stylised anime inspired characters that uses various main classes that grow with various sub-classes as you play. Combo attacks chained with special moves make the game enjoyable, though invisible walls that prevent you from jumping down a ledge annoyed me somewhat. The graphics were well done and on the cute side, the creatures you fought were well detailed and looked like monsters instead of cute fluff balls of doom.http://www.eyedentitygames.com/eng/games/dragonnest.asp

Now some of you may say, wtf mate? Where are all of the big games we’re so excited and hear about? Exactly, you’ve all seen and heard about the games like KotOR, LA Noire, Duke Nukem Forever, Battlefield 3, Portal 2 and Brink, though all of them had amazing booths and great trailers to look at but that’s the thing, what’s the point of regurgitating the same info? All I could really say about them is that you had to be up really early to be far enough ahead in the queue to even have a chance to try some of these games, especially for the Star Wars demo which allowed everyone inside to play for 45 minutes. But the line was so full that one would have to spend their whole day waiting to even get a chance to try it. The point of my trip wasn’t so much for bragging rights but to just have fun, I knew I would see plenty of videos of the convention from the media and reviews of the demos by others so unless I was getting paid or a convention veteran what would be the point of it? I saw what I wanted to see, tried what I wanted to try, happily spent all of my money feeding the Merch and had a great time with my friends. Objective accomplished, xp earned, level up and cue the victory music (FF3/6 for me please!). =)