Archive | Video Games

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DC Universe Goes Free To Play or I Get To Be A Green Lantern Bitches

Posted on 12 November 2011 by DM

Early this month DC Universe made good on its promise to become a free to play game and as one would expect, there have been a few growing pains.  In this situation, it is hard to judge exactly how angry one should be for server sluggishness, long log in queues, and blatant bugs resulting in booting you from the game.  It is free after all.

What should we expect for none of our money? Also, should the people who are still paying money for a more…luxurious…game be upset?  I do not think anyone who considered playing DCUO did not figure that there would be some problems at the beginning.  It is an mmorpg and it is DC Comics; there are going to be a couple of people who want to try it out.  The question is how long will it take to recover from what is reportedly a 6000% increase in player population?

If what I have seen becomes a trend, I think things are going to work out fine.  The server seems to be moving towards stabilization and queues have eased in the last few days.  Time will tell though.  I will be doing a more thorough overview soon but I am curious about what others think in terms of what a player has a right to expect out of a free to play game.  Please write your comments below.

All Geeks Considered

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Steam Celebrates Halloween In The Best Way Possible: Cheap and Scary games

Posted on 31 October 2011 by DM

Since Steam has been kind enough to celebrate my favorite holiday, I will be happy to let those of you who have not partaken in said sale know and give some brief reviews of some of the games I have played off the sale list.

  • F.E.A.R. Collection: Let us start with the scariest game I have ever played. The Original F.E.A.R. was an awesome game that I heartily enjoyed.  I will not play this game in the dark.  I will not play this game before bed.  If you like spooky supernatural effects, then this might be a pack to pick up. For $6.79, you get the first two games and all the second games add-ons.
  • Left for Dead 2: I was not a huge fan of this game but according to my friends, I am in the minority.  A nice zombie hunt co-op game for almost a quarter of normal cost.
  • Borderlands add-on “The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned”: This one was not scary by any means but it was full of what makes Borderlands great; Good Hokey fun.
  • Bioshock and Bioshock 2: Both Games are available for good sale prices and if you have not played these games then you must not like video games.  So why are you reading this then?
  • Cthulhu Saves the World: This is a game that the sale got me to by and for 2 dollars, I really do not regret it.  A nice short and simple game ala Final Fantasy 1 or Dragon Warrior that adds a good bit of cheesy humor to the mix. Have fun playing as Cthulhu as you try to unlock your evil powers to destroy the world by becoming a true hero.
  • Plants versus Zombies: I got tired of the repetition but again I seem to be in the minority.  Hack away at zombies with plants that have murder in the hearts.

And so many more games that look to be worth a try. Any games on the list that you have played? Tell me about them in the comments below while there is still time to get them on sale!

All Geeks Considered

Steam Sale Page

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Minecraft To Leave Beta? Hell Reporting Record Temperature Lows.

Posted on 30 September 2011 by DM

All jokes aside, it is true.  Minecraft has a release date.  It has been known for a while now, but I wanted to give some credit where credit is due.  On November 18, 2011 Minecraft will release to the adoring public, and really not be that much different at all.  It is true that the developers seem hell bent on cramming as much content as humanly possible out before then, but it is still going to be that game with blocks where you build things that may be destroyed by exploding green creepers. I, a lifelong lover of Legos, could not be more happy.  A month long code freeze will be implemented on October 18th, 2011 in order to work out any existing bugs.

This has been a serious triumph of indy game developers and it definitely deserves some major credit.  Minecraft has gone from a small alpha development to a full release date with over 3 million people purchasing the beta, a pocket edition for android (iOS is in development), and an upcoming Xbox 360 version with Kinect support.  Hopefully, this serves as a significant example of what can be accomplished on an indy level with the right idea and work ethic.  Congrats Notch and crew.

All Geeks Considered

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The Highs and Lows of Science

Posted on 20 September 2011 by VinnieAve

There are two emotions that reading scientific articles elicit from me very often, wonder and amazement at the ingenuity of man and deep sadness at the horrors and failures that have been committed. In the past few days there has been a great example of each.

In the case of wonder I present to you Foldit. This game has been around for a while I think I played it for a while a few years ago. This is sort of like SETI@home but instead of using the power of computers it has harnessed the power of human mind in great collections. Great work is rarely done alone. In this case it was the collaboration of many different men and women working together to get discover how this protein is shaped. A brief science primer, it is fairly easy to figure out what a protein is made of but it is the shape of the protein that can be helpful in determining how it functions. This can lead to what it interacts with, which can lead to a cure or treatment. This was not work done in a lab; this was the work of people taking some of their free time to determine the structure of this protein that with time can be used to find a cure to one of the worst diseases on the planet.  This is such a hopeful bit of news for so many reasons. Of course the progress that has been but more importantly it was the designers of the game that managed to create that can engage the general public so well and for such good work.

Now for the nasty, in Austria, a scientist committed a series of dangerous actions that put people’s lives at risk and may have caused long lasting damage to many of the patients. This man submitted no ethical documentation, gave false testimony in court about his work, and has not provided the raw data from his experiments. Of course this man was fired and the he was sued by the Medical University of Innsbruck. However, parts of this case didn’t come to fruition and it has been declared by the Austrian government that this man must be given his job back. No university would want someone with such a scarlet letter on their faculty. This arises because he is a public employee and thus there is some level of oversight on hiring and firing. Scientific misconduct is always wrong and anyone who does it is not a good scientist and will be found out eventually. But when it puts people’s lives and health at risk it crosses more lines, lines that should result in criminal charges. There is no license to be scientist nor should there be but when someone does something like this they should never be allowed to work clinically ever again. Luckily, the university is doing its best to keep him from getting near people again but still he is being paid and that is a waste of Austrian Euros (they use Euros, right?).

Okay, now some mental wash to help us think about this clearly:

Science is full of highs and lows but always remember (I try to remind myself of this a lot recently after learning about eugenics, you’d know if you followed me on twitter) that progress is always being made and that we are advancing as a society.

Foldit Story from Scientific America
Austrian Scientist Story from NatureNews

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Are Gameboys Going the Way of the Atari 2600?

Posted on 15 August 2011 by DM

Perhaps it is a sad state of affairs but much like The Daily Show provides me my reasonably balanced TV news, webcomics, of late, seem to be providing me the most geek news.  A recent strip from Penny Arcade led me to the news that Nintendo was reducing the price of the 3DS due to low sales.  Furthermore, PA indicated that something that I had not thought of before, that game capable smartphones were one of the causes.  Maybe I am the slowest man in the universe but I just had not contemplated that idea.  Here I sit no PSP, Gameboy, or other portable device in hand, but a few inches from me a smartphone loaded with at least a gig of games on it sits, and I just did not think about it.

Now that I am though, let us look at what is going on out there.  A quick stop at lists the average 3DS game at $39.99.  A little more research and we find that the probable price tag for the upcoming PS Vita is also $39.99. We know that a huge chunk of games on iTunes are free or 99 cents, but let us assume you want more quality console-type games.  A quick look and we have Archetype, a  bestselling FPS, selling for 99 cents, Angry Birds, which you would have to be dead for a year to not know about, selling for 99 cents, Ultimate Mortal Combat for 99 cents, the original Final Fantasy selling  for $8.99, and Final Fantasy Tactics selling for $15.99.  The highest priced game I found and it is less than half the price of a 3DS or vita game.  ITunes and Android stores also have a plethora of classic arcade games as well as digital versions of board games for the taking.

Let us look a little deeper now.  ITunes has an integrated game center that allows for a friend system as well as gaining achievements, a virtual must have for gamers anymore.  There are demo’s available and free versions with advertising for many games.  It is easier for prospective game developers to “break into” ITunes market and create games, while quality is still mostly maintained.

You will undoubtedly note that I have not spoken much on Android while examining this phenomenon, mostly because I have an iPhone 4 and do not know too much about the Android (and half of you yell sacrilege!).  Much like the Pepsi vs. Coke debate, the two phones seem sufficiently compatible that I doubt there is enough difference to matter on this subject.

Android and iPhone continue to advance in technology.  Windows is jumping on the bandwagon and will undoubtedly catch up in quality and fanbase sooner rather than later.   Are we then looking at the future of portable gaming?  How soon until Sony and Nintendo have no choice but to abandon their own devices and move towards smartphone support?  Alternatively, perhaps their fanbases will be enough to stave this off. Is this trend inevitable?  Time will tell, I suppose.  In the meantime, comment and share your view.

All Geeks Considered

Further Reading:

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Anime News Round-up August 3, 2011

Posted on 03 August 2011 by VinnieAve

So today there were a few pieces of anime or anime related news that I cared about. Instead of clogging people’s feeds with my blathering I would just put one article up. This isn’t a news site, it’s D and I giving news commentary and reviews. I’m still working on the Otakon con report so it should be forthcoming hopefully with the first part up tomorrow and D has been busy with personal stuff recently.

Heroes Fantastia

First off, I never expect to see this game hit the states. Never, never, never. It’s a cool concept of having a ton of anime characters in a video game and fighting with them. However, this means that we will never see this game if only for the licensing issues, let alone the lack of profit that will come along with releasing an anime game in the states.  Looks cool and Japanese nerds will be the prime market for this game. I can’t say for sure but I expect that this will spawn a series of games that I will not enjoy but fans in America will say is the best thing ever.

Crunchyroll Article

Crunchyroll Article 2

Aja’s Cobra Film is Delayed

I’ll say this now. I’ve been aware of Space Adventure Cobra for a few years now and recently started to watch it. Since when I watch things I like to learn as much as I can about the work I found out that that Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3-D) is helming the project. Currently the project is stalled with filming planned for 2013. I have to say that given the popularity of Cobra across of the world (other than America) there is a good chance this film will get made assuming other people don’t pay the director more and keep the film in the hopper and have it not get made. Even if this gets made I doubt it will see a wide release in the US. This is tragic given the western influences in the show (see video below and guess which franchise had an influence). If it gets a wide release here, I will be surprised and delighted even if the movie sucks. This is the kind of property that has wide appeal and could be a good shot in the arm of the sci-fi genre.

Crunchyroll Article

Gundam AGE Will Stay True to Gundam Staples

There was apparently some fear that the Gundams will talk in this year’s Gundam series Gundam AGE. The director has said that this is just nonsense. My knee jerk reaction to this show at first was ewwww but as there have been more things revealed about it, the more I want to see it. I will admit that I am still hesitant due to the nature of the villains (nameless aliens not human opponents). I have to say that this is a case of American fans thinking that Sunrise cares what the fans over here think. The goal is to get new fans from the younger generation into Gundam. It makes sense they got the older fans back with Unicorn now they have to get the young’uns that won’t watch that series (or pay the high price per episodes, if you haven’t seen Unicorn go and watch it on Xbox Zune market or PSN, don’t worry this blog will still be here when you get back). I may not like AGE, I’m okay with that, if it leads to more Gundam series that could be a good thing. Obviously, a franchise needs to keep creating new fans. This could help and maybe they will ask for better series or AGE could be good, the mech designs have a nice classic look so it could go in that direction.

Crunchyroll Article

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Wii still not Doing that Well

Posted on 06 July 2011 by VinnieAve

Vincenzo Averello

I have a Wii, I got it when they first came out and it was fun. I’m sure it still would be fun to play but nothing really impressive ever comes out for it. Honestly, people still really use it for Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and Super Smash Brothers Brawl at conventions. The president of Nintendo made a comment about how people always worry about Wii sales at this time of year and then around the Holidays sales pick up. While I’m sure that every console has better sales around the Holidays, I’m willing to bet that they don’t worry about holiday sales as much. The strength of a console isn’t measured in how many units sold but how many games are sold. While there is no game that everyone has (other than pack-ins) there are games that are immensely popular. People love Call of Duty and I’m sure the bulk of X-Boxes and PS3s have a copy.

It’s seems like they are doing too little too late with the WiiU. They didn’t do much for graphics last round now they are talking up the graphics capabilities of the system. It looks like the controller will be better suited for popular games and thus making it easier for other companies to make games for the WiiU. However, I think these companies will do little with screen making it use batteries for no reason. It looks cool and it should work better than the nunchuck system did but it will not pull new companies in.

Nintendo has made a system that everyone bought and will continue to buy but over time it will be forgotten and sit unused attached to the TV as the VCR bought in 1993 gets more use. I sadly, don’t care about what was the machine with the most potential. At this point, I don’t think people are going to flock to get WiiUs just to let that cry with the other Wii. Nintendo has a lot of creativity but not much else. The take away message here is Nintendo lives for 2 months of the year and really could give a rat’s ass about the rest.

Mercury News Source

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Magic the Gathering Duel of the Planeswalkers 2012

Posted on 22 June 2011 by VinnieAve

Author: DM

Magic: The Gathering is one of the first modern collectible card games and is going on strong.  Its license has given us a ccg, online ccg, novel line, countless knick knacks, and a several computer games.  The game comprises of each player using a deck constructed of selected cards with which to defeat each opponent by either reducing their starting life total to zero or manipulating them to the position in which they have no cards left to draw from their deck.  Really though, that’s all that I am going to say about that.  If your reading this review, you have some interest in Magic the Gathering already and if you don’t then you must just really like my elegant prose.  Anyway…

Magic: The Gathering- Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 has been a franchise that has proven to me that no matter what a person is given, they will complain that is wasn’t plated in gold and lubed for their pleasure.  Having now put some time into MtG: DotP 12, I will share my insights with you. The main good point is that Stainless Games has learned from the games predecessor in several key ways.   DotP 12 has learned from its decrepit older brother and come out of development a sleek sports car as compared to its old Buick paneled station wagon of a brother.

From the start we have limited core deck editing, a sleeker interface, a co-op campaign playable with AI partners, and a seemingly smarter AI.  That is to say that the new AI a younger child who drinks the poison under the counter and one who merely pours it on top of your very expensive new laptop.  Yes the AI has a lot to learn but at least now it will be your stalwart companion when none of your real friends are online.  This works out great for me since I hate people.  Last but not least in the pro column is that the decks are somewhat more balanced for play against each other.  That’s right original players; no more, “Shit that guy is playing the vampire deck? Fuck it, I’m out”.  Or at least not as much since a number of decks seem just as promising as said vampire deck.

DotP 12 does have some downsides however.  The interface is a great deal to get used to when you’re used to playing its predecessor and the deck management system is enough to make you pick up actual cards again. Core deck editing is also limited to the fact that no matter what you need have a minimum of 60 cards in the deck and you have no control over land distribution.  Stainless removed the local coop option on the PC available in the first game for no discernable reason as well other than an attempt to earn more money. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this is a new interface with a reported good many bugs.  I myself have only run into one major bug which has thus far prevented me from playing with a friend in online coop.  However, you have only to go online forums to see complaints of bugs both big and small.

In every major way, the game mechanics are identical to its predecessor.  You begin with two 60 card decks, which are inevitably the ‘weakest’ decks in the game.  To unlock more cards you must defeat the computer opponent in various duels. To unlock more decks you must play through the single player campaign and defeat the wielders of said decks.  After which you can use those decks and continue the unlocking procedure.

The single player campaign does give us some welcome differences though.  Rather than a simple defeat an enemy to unlock the next, the developers shifted to a type of tree format wherein at times you may choose which enemy among two available you wish to defeat and thereby obtain their decks.  They have also given you an additional “revenge” campaign to play through upon beating the main single player campaign, wherein your opponents are given slightly enhanced versions of their original decks with which to pummel you into submission.

Challenges are back in this version as well but have been integrated into the single player campaign, unlocking as you progress.  It seems now though that as opposed to doing their absolute best to give the average player an aneurism, the challenges have evolved into a strategy boot camp.  The challenges, starting with a basic tutorial are fairly uncomplicated with the first few requiring little more than the player to understand a card mechanic or concept in order to prevail.  While I was at first disappointed in the challenges, wailing and gnashing my teeth at their inability to give me the slightest of head trauma, I was soon appeased as the difficulty curve moved up steeply, leaving me to date with one challenge which I am still unable to solve.  This evolution of the challenge system should be welcome to the rookie player and serves its purpose well enough.

DotP 12 has removed its two-headed giant campaign completely and replaced it with the recently popular Archenemy campaign, wherein you and two others, real online players or stalwart AI companions, battle against a computer archenemy that starts with twice your life and receives special “scheme” cards with which to batter your pretty little faces in with.  I won’t spoil the surprise of these cards. Instead, I will leave you to your inevitable digital table flipping.  For those of you feeling keen heartache at the loss of the two-headed giant campaign, fret not for it is available as a format in the custom game section as well as online multiplayer.

Overall Magic: The Gathering- Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 is an improvement in every way to its predecessor.  Most of my complaints as well as those I’m seeing online are based on improvements to the game, which to me is like saying how dare you replace my skateboard with a jet propelled one that only allows me to skate ten feet above the ground.  If you liked the first one, chances are you’ll like the second one.  If you’re wary about bugs then wait for the first expansion, chances are the major ones will be fixed by then.

Ranking: total annual in-game monopoly payouts per year out of angels on the head of a pin

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