Monthly Archives: March 2017

The most iconic cities in fantasy literature to life

A group of intrepid nerds have organized an Indiegogo campaign to bring one of the most iconic cities in fantasy literature to life. Peter Jackson’s version of Minas Tirith would make for a most impressive living experience. Can you imagine the block parties? Thing is, video games know a thing or two about creating fascinating and wonderful cityscapes that inspire our curiosity and imagination, and there are many of them that I would definitely choose to have residence in over the capital of Gondor.

Treno is a city of perpetual night, and it is one of the most cultured and diverse spots in all of Final Fantasy 9. There’s a huge art community there, with street performers and painters littering pretty much every available sidewalk. There’s a pronounced criminal element, but let’s focus on the good, here!

This submerged city-state on the bottom of the ocean was supposed to be a land of opportunity. A place unhindered by societal pressures, Rapture quickly became a city of discovery and revolution. Quickly after that, it become a ghost town rife with death and addiction. Oops.

Based heavily on New Orleans, New Marias is the Gulf of Mexico city that Cole ends up in after the events of the first Infamous. New Marias is like the French Quarter of NOLA, but across an entire city – which is both exciting and overwhelming for anyone who’s been to Frenchmen Street on a weekend.

Val Royeaux is an impressive city, architecturally speaking. Its buildings and streets are intricately molded, gilded with gold, and draped with grand tapestries. It’s the religious seat of Theadas – the Vatican of the game, if you will – and is also the epicenter of much of the intellectual progress that happens in the country. Too bad most of its residents are jerks.

A lot of choices on their hands

When Destiny 2 comes to PC on October 24th, new guardians are going to have a lot of choices on their hands. For starters, there is which race to pick, which class to play, and which subclass they’ll want to specialize in.

 

They’ll also have options to customize their look with armor shaders. They’ll need determine which exotic guns and armors they’ll want to pursue. And on top of all that, new guardians will also have to choose which faction they want to pledge their loyalty to.

 

Sounds like a bit of a Titan-sized order right?

 

But it doesn’t have to be. Choosing a faction won’t change how you experience the game, not like, say choosing Horde or Alliance in World of Warcraft might. Instead, you’ll have access to a unique cache of guns and armor (because really, isn’t that what this is all about anyway), each with a slightly different color scheme depending on which faction you pick.

 

So who to choose? What is each faction about and what do they stand for? Let this lore guide to Destiny 2’sthree core factions help you decide.

It’s hard to look at the wealth of human history, examine life under absolute monarchies and other authoritarian regimes, and go ‘yeah let’s bring that back!’ But the New Monarchy faction led by Executor Hideo wants exactly that. They believe that the City, with it’s current system Vanguards and the Speaker, leave the city weak. They believe the best way to usher in a new Golden Age for humanity is for the city to be united under “a single sovereign of unimpeachable character.”

 

That potentially alarming caveat aside, on paper the New Monarchy is a faction of inclusiveness and improvement. They’re guided by the principle of “Together we rise,” along with seven tenants all designed to promote harmony and collective advancement within the city walls. Overall the New Monarchy might be a pretty decent faction, if you can get over the whole enlightened despotism bit.

Should only be played once

Some games are so great, they should only be played once. They can still be good on subsequent playthroughs, but these five games are prime examples of experiences that exist to shock or inspire the first time around. This shouldn’t put these games in diminished standing amongst their peers, though. These games are at their fullest when they aren’t over-prodded by the ever curious gamer.

 

1. Bioshock: Infinite

Bioshock is a great series of narrative-heavy first person shooters that bring a particularly unique set of mechanics to the genre. It’s always fun to shoot lightning bolts out of your hands, and the game’s focus almost always tends to be how twisted and dramatic the story is – especially in Infinite.

 

Once you play through the last half hour of it, you can never look at Bioshock: Infinite the same way again. One of the biggest plot twists in games is when the ending is obvious, but so well executed that it remains impactful. You can never have that “first time” back, though, and romping through Columbia again will not bring you back from behind the veil.

 

2. Journey

The evocative and almost ethereal adventure that Journey takes players on is really only great once. When you find random travelers (other players) and investigate the incredibly elegant spaces you’re lead through, everything comes together organically. Words are replaced with visual and audio cues, and the effort to get to the end is one that will never feel powerful a second time around. Every new environment relies on some form of “WOW” factor that you can’t unsee and get re-surprised by.

 

3. Any Telltale Game

Telltale has their particular brand of adventure game down to a science, and almost all of their games have followed a similar format. Unfortunately, that means there’s really only room for one genuine playthrough, where you set aside the fact that you know how these narrative paths work and can almost predict what happens next because of it.

 

Regardless of how you feel about the game’s stories, playing it a second time shows you not only the micro effects of the actions you didn’t take, but the fact that they really don’t change the overall course of the story much at all. It can be a real bummer to pull the veil back like that.

 

Facts We Couldn’t Believe About Game

Nintendo, which means “Leave Luck to Heaven”, is a 126 years old company from Japan that has captured our hearts and imaginations for years, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Check out these awesome Nintendo facts, and share your favorite trivia in the comments below.

 

Nintendo History

Did you know the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) only came out 30 years ago? If the company is over a century old, what were they up to in their earlier years? Initially, Nintendo was known as a playing card company that produced various card decks when a playing card ban was lifted in Japan. They even became involved in board games, toys, a taxi service, and hotels for adult couples. Yeah, it’s safe to say they have a colorful past.

 

Color TV-Game

The Nintendo Family Computer was not the first console from the company. With Mitsubishi Electronics, Nintendo produced a series of game consoles called the Color TV-Game. The consoles didn’t have interchangeable cartridges, but they offered a variety of games from Pong to racing.

 

A bit later, Nintedo released the Game & Watch series of portable devices. Are you familiar with Mr. Game & Watch from Super Smash Bros? Now you get the reference.

 

Luigi

The original Mario Brothers game introduced our favorite gaming sidekick, Luigi. In the game, he’s basically just a green and white version of Mario – not the tall and lean character we’re familiar with today. Luigi’s outfit is green because shell creepers (more commonly known now as koopas) were also green, and it saved memory space.

 

Nintendo Cereal System

Ever dreamed about a Nintendo cereal? Well, the Nintendo Cereal System showcased Super Mario Bros and Zelda-themed cereals. Each box contained two bags of cereal (one for each game), and was produced by Ralston. You might know the company from their other products, though – such as Purina Dog Chow and Tidy Cats cat litter. Hope you didn’t lose your appetite…

 

Seattle Mariners

Nintendo of America is located in Seattle, Washington – so it makes complete sense that Nintendo would purchase the Seattle Mariners baseball team. President Hiroshi Yamauchi was the one who purchased the team, but unfortunately wasn’t able to see them play before his untimely death in 2013.

 

Nintendo in Space

When Soviet cosmonaut Aleksandr Serebrov traveled into space, he had a Nintendo Gameboy at his side. His game of choice? Tetris, of course.

 

A juggernaut for any hero based game

Release a hero shooter in 2017, and it’s bound to be compared to Overwatch. It’s simply an inevitability. Blizzard’s FPS is too much of a juggernaut for any hero-based game following in its footsteps to avoid the comparison.

 

Such is the case with LawBreakers, released earlier this month on Steam and PlayStation 4. The hero-based, multiplayer-only FPS from Boss Key Productions has been compared to Overwatch almost from the beginning.

 

From its cast of larger-than-life characters to their ultimate abilities and the game’s loot boxes, there are definitely some apt comparisons to be made between the two shooters. There are also a number of major differences that set the two games apart, in terms of everything from game mechanics to the wider universe each title occupies. Here are some areas in which LawBreakers and Overwatch find common ground — as well as some of the elements that make each experience unique.

A hero-based shooter is hardly deserving of the name if it lacks heroes to play as, and it’s here whereLawbreakers and Overwatch find the most common ground (at least on the surface). Nearly every character in Blizzard’s Overwatch has become an immediately recognizable piece of videogame iconography, and while the hero roster in LawBreakers isn’t nearly as charming or memorable, there are a few standouts.

 

Maverick, for instance, sets herself apart with a look and attitude straight out of the film Top Gun, while the reprogrammed security bot Nash shines by only being able to communicate via violence-oriented quotes from popular culture.

In a major departure from OverwatchLawBreakers actually features two heroes for each of the game’s roles, depending on which team the player finds themselves on. Fans of the Vanguard class will play as Maverick while on the side of the Law, but play as Toska-9 when on the Breakers team. It’s a nice touch that keeps LawBreakers grounded in its own universe, as opposed to playing a match in Overwatch, where archenemies Soldier: 76 and Reaper can be seen fighting side by side.

Would Bring Us Back to Pokemon GO

Pokémon GO‘s release was a cultural phenomenon. For days, it was impossible to walk down the sidewalk or go to the park and not see several trainers-in-training huddled around a lured PokéStop. Yelling “there’s a Lapras over here!” became our generation’s new “crying fire in a crowded theater” as a sure stampede starter.

Unfortunately for many, ourselves included, the game didn’t hold interest for very long. That’s not to say the game is a lost cause, though. Niantic has made several updates to the game this past month, adding Daily Quests as well as re-implementing the “tracking” feature that was so bugged at launch. We have high hopes for a planned large patch hitting early this December, so here are some changes we’d like to see that might just make us put on our snap-back and go outside again.

 

1. Trading

Arguably the most requested feature since the game’s release, the ability to trade Pokémon with our friends is something nearly everyone wants. Niantic’s obviously had quite a difficult time adding this feature, considering it was portrayed in the popular announcement trailer over a year ago. There are some obvious concerns with the potential exploitative nature of power-users charging money for trades, but implementing a proximity requirement to trade would do away with most concerns there.

 

2. Team Progress Maps

Initially, there was a lot of pride involved with being a member of a Pokémon GO team. It was fun to capture gyms for the glory of your team, and working with strangers who happened to be on the same team as you was one of the game’s simplest pleasures. However, now capturing gyms is only useful as a means to an end to train Pokémon and gain XP. The lack of an indication of how your team is performing outside of your immediately area means travelling to capture new gyms is much less exciting than it could be.

 

3. PvP Skirmishes

Controlling gyms for the glory of your team is all well and good, but sometimes you need to settle a score with friends. Much like trading, there are certainly concerns with abuse of the system, but I would be content with the the PvP battles being simple “skirmishes” that don’t generate rewards or cause lasting damage to Pokémon. Niantic has been on record as saying a PvP battling system is “on the roadmap,” so it’s hopefully coming at some point.

Visual survey of canceled products

It’s been four decades now since the first video game console, the Magnavox Odyssey, made waves in electronic entertainment. With such a long and varied history of video game systems behind us, it should be no surprise that more than a few consoles were planned but never made it to market.

With history as our guide, let’s dig through the annals of long lost hardware to find 10 such gaming machines that never graced store shelves anywhere. Their stories serve as powerful cautionary tales that, if heeded, should serve to prevent the same mistakes from being made in the future. And they’re loads of fun to gawk at, too.

In the mid-1990s, Sega’s product line suffered an extreme case of multiple personality disorder. By 1995, the company supported eight incompatible gaming platforms: Genesis, Sega CD, 32X, 32X CD, Game Gear, Pico, Saturn, and in some markets, Master System. It also sold the CDX (a combined Sega Genesis and a Sega CD unit in a semi-portable package) and the Nomad (a fully handheld Genesis console). Then, on top of all that, there was the proposed Sega Neptune.

Sega designed the Neptune as a way to simplify its product line by combining a Genesis and the 32X add-on into one unit. But as you can see by the list above, Sega definitely did not need another game product to support. Around this time, a rare modicum of sanity hit the company, and word came down from its Japanese HQ to focus only on its new flagship console, the Sega Saturn (1994). As a result, the Neptune (phew) never made it to market.

The VAS, designed and promoted by a small American company called Ultravision, promised to be an all-in-one answer to every video gamer’s wildest dreams. It was to integrate a 10-inch color TV set, a video game system, and a high-powered computer into one unit. In addition to the console’s own custom software, plug-in modules would be available to let users play Atari 2600 and Colecovision games on the VAS. All this sounded too good to be true, and it was: in the end, Ultravision’s promises of gaming excellence proved to be nothing more than a load of hot air.

Couple of very important choices

A new Pokemon game is on the horizon, which means you have a couple of very important choices to make. On November 18th, do you play Pokemon Sun or Pokemon Moon? Which starting Pokemon do you choose to help shepherd you through the new Alola region? I can’t really help you with the first question, but maybe the following information can help you narrow down the choices between starting Pokemon.

The owl Pokemon, Rowlet, is the second starting Pokemon that is mixed type, following Bulbasaur’s lead. Both Grass and Flying, it is somewhat of a oddity, considering Grass is weak to Flying. Rowlet isn’t the only Pokemon in the series that has this peculiar mix; at least five other Pokemon gain the benefits (and weaknesses) of being Grass/Flying. The young bird uses its feathers as razor-sharp weapons, throwing them with pinpoint accuracy.

 

Grass-types are known for their great support abilities like Leech Seed and Spore, and their Attack and Special Attack stats tend to be on the high side. Flying-types usually become among the fastest Pokemon in the game, with super high Speed stats and above average Attack and Special Attack stats. Flying abilities can also hit any target in Triple Battles, which is incredibly useful. Unfortunately, Grass-types tend to have the most weaknesses in the game, and like other Grass/Flying types, Rowlet is highly susceptible to Flying-type attacks. They usually have reliable raw defense numbers, though, and you’ll be needing them. You’ll encounter plenty of Flying, Bug and Poison-type Pokemon who can put a hurting on Grass-types.

 

Another great bonus for mixed Pokemon is the pool of abilities you have to choose from when considering STAB, or Same Type Attack Bonus. When you attack with an ability type that matches your Pokemon’s type, the attack is more effective. With two types to draw from, Rowlet has a wide selection of moves to benefit from. As a starter Pokemon, trainers will be able to take advantage of this bonus early, since Rowlet will know Leafage immediately.

 

Rowlet evolves into Dartrix, a more regal, full grown avian creature. It retains its Grass/Flying type, but also seems to gain more of an attitude in its evolutionary adolescence. Apparently, it can get distracted by how disheveled its feathers get during battle and actually leave combat out of vanity! Be sure to bring your best compliments to battle, along with those Potions.

 

Its final evolution is Decidueye. Oddly, it sheds its Flying status, gaining Ghost-type instead. This may have something to do with the fact that it can move around without enemies being aware of its presence, firing arrow quills from its coat from the darkness. Cooler still, the Ghost-type comes with its own special, Decidueye-exclusive move, Spirit Shackle, which prevents Pokemon from fleeing or being switched out by trainers. If you’re willing to ride out the bummer of being a Grass-type Pokemon with many weaknesses, Decidueye is definitely worth the investment.

 

A Magical Apocalypse in ELEX

The limitless power of Elex once threatened to annihilate mankind, but now the mysterious element might just hold the key to humanity’s survival. It falls to you to decide whether the terrible toll its use will inflict is worth it.

 

ELEX is a massive new science-fantasy RPG from the makers of Gothic and Risen, which challenges you to pick up the pieces and forge a new path for a society reeling from the brink of apocalypse.

 

Four factions vie for supremacy in the broken world, each with their own ideas of what the power of Elex means. The Albs believe the element is theirs by right, and consume it to increase their power at the cost of their humanity — but who has room for emotion when it’s time to conquer the weak? The Berserkers transform Elex into pure Mana, turning the ruined wastes into verdant new woodlands.

 

Yet for the Clerics residing in the volcanic ruins where the world-shattering meteor first struck, the answer lies not in combining Elex with life, but in using it to power their technology and industry. And amid the squabbles between these factions, the Outlaws seek to forge their own path, free from the doctrines of the others.

 

Finding yourself separated from the Elex that forged your powers, you’re forced to confront emotions for the first time — and the choices you’ll make will determine the shape of humanity for the foreseeable future. ELEX leaves it to you to choose a faction and make your way through a massive open world. Every region is open to you from the start, and as you make new allies and forge new alliances, you’ll face a variety of fiendish foes with the help of a massive array of weapons ranging from swords and bows, to plasma rifles and flamethrowers.

Bundle Includes a Real Car

This week we finally saw the release of Gran Turismo Sport by Polyphony Digital for the PS4. Most gamers wanting to play it will pay $60 for the disc or download version. Some may opt to also pick up a PS4 Pro and PlayStation VR to up the enjoyment even more. But in Taiwan, someone paid $46,600 to play the game.

As spotted by NeoGAF, Sony Interactive Entertainment Taiwan decided to offer a one-of-a-kind Gran Turismo Sport bundle. The reason it costs so much is because it includes a real car. More specifically, the bundle comes with a limited edition 2018 Mazda MX-5.

I believe this is the most expensive console bundle ever offered for sale, with the full contents including:

  • PS4 Pro
  • PS4 DualShock 4 wireless controller
  • PlayStation VR headset, camera, and motion controllers
  • Gran Turismo Sport physical copy
  • 12-month PlayStation Plus subscription
  • APIGA AP1 racing chair
  • Thrustmaster T-GT racing wheel and pedals
  • 2018 Mazda MX-5 limited edition car

There is certainly a lot of stuff in the bundle, but is it good value?

If you select the highest spec 2017 Mazda MX-5 in the US it costs $35,750. So this bundle costs $10K more. Even if you add in the cost of the PS4 hardware, accessories, and game, that’s still going to be quite a premium paid. But it is a limited edition 2018 model of the car, so probably worth the extra?

One person certainly thought so as the bundle has already been sold. Depending on how good that limited edition MX-5 is, maybe they can sell it on and make a profit. Or they may instead just enjoy driving the car between Gran Turismo Sport gaming sessions.