Do Shareholders Influence Game Development?

123_ASIC Company Shareholder TableMany of the largest publishers and manufacturers in the video game industry are publicly traded, meaning shares of the company can be bought on the marketplace. This allows fans to own a piece of the companies they like/love and hopefully make a profit through. That’s fine and dandy, but the people who put big bucks into buying shares rarely have little knowledge of the product the company is making, they just want a piece of the action in a huge industry. Continue reading

Valve has Announced Their Entry Into the VR Market With the HTC Re Vive

Screenshot_2015-03-01_10.52.26.0For some time many of us have been speculating as to where Valve will find itself in the emerging VR market. Originally, Valve and Gabe Newell supported development of the Oculus Rift VR headset, but this likely changed when Oculus was bought by Facebook, one of the most surprising moves in recent memory. Especially considering the Oculus Rift was being made with video games in mind yet Facebook doesn’t exactly have a foothold in the video game market (what are they going to do? Let us play Farmville like we’re really there). Continue reading

Ubisoft, Child of Light, and the Push for Big Publishers to make “Indie-like” Games

Ubisoft_logoOver the last few years, indie games have seen a huge surge in popularity. Certain games like Minecraft have even managed to outsell some of the biggest franchises in history (Though Minecraft is no longer independent after being bought by Microsoft). So it’s no surprise that big publishers like Ubisoft want to know exactly how these developers are taking up such a large share of the market, and how they can compete in that space. Continue reading

5 Best Online Freebies and Discounts for College Students

freeBeing a college student can be tough. Between partying all night, dealing with hangovers, and… I mean, um, between studying all night and having an early class… yea, let’s go with that. Anyway, college is tough, and for most students, it’s even tougher on the student’s wallet. Luckily, many companies offer freebies and huge discounts to college students. Let’s take a look at the best 5 freebies and discounts available to college students online. Typically, all you need to capitalize on these offers is a valid .edu email address. Continue reading

3 Best Video Game Book Tie-ins

Knowledge - light

Video games and books have one very important thing in common. They are, in my opinion, the best media to experience a world, and the best to build one. So naturally, many writers have built upon video game worlds and the stories therein. From the incredible worlds created by the likes of Bioware, Bethesda, and other top studios, authors are able to dive into the untold stories that lie beneath. In this post I’ve assembled my favorite Video Game Tie-in books in no particular order.

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Will PCs ever replace consoles?

So Many Parts......

So Many Parts……

The short answer? No. At least not the same kind of PC I’m using to tap out this post. For years the PC gaming community have claimed superiority over the “peasants” still playing games on consoles. After all, a well-built PC is ridiculously more powerful than any current console, and can be upgraded without buying an entire new system. In certain cases, the $400-500 it costs to buy a new console could be used to build a more powerful PC instead, allowing games to be played with higher frames per second, higher resolution textures, and even a higher resolution overall. So, in reality, PCs are great and much more bang for the buck in comparison to consoles. So why do I say PCs will never replace consoles?

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After the Fad Reviews: Borderlands 2

Alright, guys and gals, time for another After the Fad Review. This is where I review a game I didn’t play when it was new, and am just picking it up years after release.

Today’s review is for Borderlands 2, a critically acclaimed “open-world” first person shooter with rpg elements. I was drawn to this game due to the nearly endless amounts of loot, and I often enjoy MMO style games that require a lot of grinding for top level loot.

First off, the most important part of Borderlands 2, as with most shooters, is the gunplay mechanics. Shooting down the various baddies is freaking fun, to say the least. Even though the physics aren’t on par with many newer games, the mobility and satisfaction of taking down enemies makes up for it. The enemy variety is also some of the best I’ve seen. The problem though is the different enemies alway spawn together, so there are almost always the enemies that run towards you suicidally, easy to kill enemies, and bullet-sponge enemies. This means the same tactics will work on almost all main groups of enemies, except animals and mini-bosses.

The story is fun, and Handsome Jack is one of the best “love-to-hate” villains of all time. Clap-trap is hilarious, and I even found characters that other players hated fun. My biggest problem with the story is eventually, though all kinds of crazy things happened and everyone was in danger, I had to force myself to keep playing and finish the game. I reached several points where I just didn’t care anymore. On top of that, I found the late game gameplay very tedious in having to switch between weapons every few seconds to use the different elemental abilites with slag, a type of weapon that causes other weapons to do more damage.

I think the main reason I stopped caring about the story is because I found none of the characters compelling. Though they are all fun, most of them seem like bad parodies of video game and real world stereotypes taken to the extreme. Because of this, I didn’t really care about saving any of them because there is no real relationship between the player and the NPCs.

The loot system is excellent, and finding a chest full of powerful guns and grenades after a grueling boss fight is a very rewarding experience. Co-op is tons of fun, and makes combining different elemental effects on enemies easier. Having a variety of classes slowing enemies, dropping turrets, and cloaking to flank enemies all at once is incredible fun, and makes playing solo seem like a bland affair.

Overall I really enjoyed my time with Borderlands 2, even though it never hooked me the way I would have liked. It is a truly fun game with more than enough content to satisfy in the base game, not to mention the huge amount of DLC available. I’m really excited to see what Borderlands 3 will be (no, the pre-sequel doesn’t count).

AFTER THE FAD REVIEW: BORDERLANDS 2

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

After the Fad Reviews: Gran Turismo 5

Ah, Gran Turismo 5, I remember reading rumors about it for years. I dismissed most of them because there was no way a console game would have the typical lineup of hatchbacks to super cars, and also have go-karts and NASCAR. Surprisingly, Gran Turismo 5 released on the PS3 and fulfilled all of the promises they made. Unfortunately, though, it took so long to come out I was no longer interested and moved to PC racing.

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Before I begin the real review, I will warn that I am coming from being very involved in many PC racing simulators. I have spent at least 100 hours in iRacing, and have spent a considerable amount of time in rFactor 2 and Live for Speed. While Gran Tursimo touts itself as the real racing simulator, most PC gamers see all console racers as almost arcade games when compared to their PC couterparts. Ironically, all this PC racing I have been taking part in I have been using the Logitech Driving Force GT wheel and pedals, which was made specifically for Gran Turismo 5 and even has the logo on the wheel, but until now it has never been used for its original purpose.

It’s no surprise that Gran Turismo 5 is a beautiful game. Racing games have always been a true testament to what’s possible on the hardware they run on. Cars and tracks are both modeled beautifully, from the reflections on a car’s body, to the asphault on the tracks. The biggest dissapointment was the “premium car” system. Not all cars in GT5 are created equally. Premium cars are fully modeled cars, where as others have no interior or other realistic features, making the cockpit view a basic wheel/gauge setup with the rest of the interior pretty much blacked out. I believe all cars available from the main dealerships are premium, though, so it really isn’t a big deal.

In my very first race, I turned off all assistance and traction control/ABS. I expected to end up in last place (or a wall) because I was unfamiliar with the car. Instead, I won the race, and by quite a large margin. Granted, I was in a FWD car and going against what I assume to be the lowest level early game A.I. opponents, but going from last to first and then some in an extremely short 3 lap race shouldn’t be quite so easy. This leads me to my next problem. I know all console racers do this, but I would love to be able to jump right into races that take about twenty minutes. Eventually, I did reach the point of entry into longer races, but the majority of these didn’t include the slower, production cars such as performance hatchbacks and roadsters such as the Alfa Romeo Brera or the Mazda MX-5 (though I was happy to see a series dedicated to the MX-5).

Another problem I have with this game is the fact that if you don’t win a race, the entire event is pretty much seen as a loss. Personally, I’d much rather have the difficulty up and have to fight for a podium than to need to be able to win every race.

I have played Gran Turismo 6 a bit and all of the Forza series, and I have to say, as far as the simulation experience goes, GT5 is probably the best. Every car feels different (especially when playing with a force feedback wheel) as they should, though many cars are a bit too grippy.

Overall though, GT5 is very, very fun while being realistic enough to keep me happy along the way. Cars behave predicatbly and the few times I found a mulitplayer match, it was good fun. If I had to be contstrained to only playing racers on consoles, I would definitely choose Gran Tusismo over the competitors.

AFTER THE FAD REVIEW: GRAN TURISMO 5

FINAL SCORE: 8/10

After the Fad Reviews: Uncharted 2

Alright time for the first After the Fad review! I’ll be reviewing games that I missed on initial release, and didn’t play until years after release. The first game I’ll be reviewing is the critically acclamied Sony exclusive Uncharted 2.

Before playing Uncharted 2, I had of course heard a lot about it. I know of stellar reviews, incredible graphics, tight gameplay, and apparently a good story. This sounds like a great game, so I thought it would be fun to see if I share the same opinion without playing it on launch day.

Firstly, despite going back a generation to play this game, I still find the graphics absolutely beautiful. Everything in the environment is believable, from foliage and flags blowing in the wind, buildings in a warzone slowly deteriorating around you, and birds flying off as you approach them. The character models are very well done, all cutscenes are rendered in-game, and they’re not afraid to do close-ups to show the detail of Drake’s facial model.

Gameplay is very fun, the cover system works great, though I did feel blind firing was way too accurate and I only needed to peak over cover to take out long range targets even on hard diffiiculty. Nathan Drake is vey mobile and able to traverse the often vertical landscape easily. My favorite bits of gameplay, however, were limited to just a small percentage of the full game. The first mission in-game is all about stealth, and subduing an enemy by surprise is far more satisfying than shooting them ever is. My absolute favorite sequence in the game was in the mission “Urban Warfare”. It was great being able to start an action sequence without the enemy knowing I was there, allowing me to scope out the terrain and plan my attack out carefully. Unfortunately, these moments are rare in the overall game as most enemies are just waiting for you to arrive so they can get started with the shooting. I really thought the game would be filled with these moments, because honestly the stealth and last known location systems are much more satisfying to me than the main gunplay/movement mechanics.

According to the never-wrong population of ye olde gaming forums, I expected to be blown away by the story of Uncharted 2, but to be honest, I only found it mildly entertaining. The characters all have very strong personalities, but there really was a lack of character development throughout the story. The small set of characters all started out of action movie stereotypes and pretty much stayed that way throughout the game. The only real character development was the fairly heartwarming ending that hinted at a relationship between two of the main characters. Nathan has no direct contact with the games main enemy except for the dissapointing final mission.

I know I’m being tough on this game, but to be honest I did find Uncharted 2 a very entertaining game. It is exactly what I expected from a big AAA action game. Uncharted 2 is a very polished, pretty game that while entertaining, doesn’t really take any chances in doing anything to really make me have a unique experience.

UNCHARTED 2: AFTER THE FAD REVIEW SCORE

7/10

Introducing After the Fad Reviews: Reviewing Acclaimed Games Years After Release

I have a bad habit of not playing big AAA releases because I’m too busy messing with Indie titles or putting another 100 hours into a Bethesda RPG. The majority of the games I have yet to play are PS3 exclusives because I never owned one for personal use. So, I’ve decided to go back and play a few of these games I missed that everyone tells me I need to play.

I thought going through this backlog and writing reviews as a first time player years after release might provide a new perspective. Considering I’ll mostly be playing games that were released on last generation consoles, it’s unlikely I’ll be blown away by graphics, and be able to write a review based on more important factors such as gameplay, story, atmosphere, and hopefully multiplayer, (assuming the game still has an active player base).

Here’s a list of games I plan to review, that I played for the first time no earlier than August of this year.

Uncharted 2
Gran Turismo 5
The Last of Us
Borderlands 2