It is hard to believe the PS4 launches one month from today. Talking about it makes me so exited for next gen the stuff Sony was talking about at E3 will be on my television screen in 30 days. However, there is also some sadness. I love the PS3 and it is really depressing to think about how many games I missed and just did not play. On the bright side my day one launch game is Killzone Shadowfall. The game looks amazing graphically and coming from veteran developer Guerrilla I am pretty sure it will also play extremely well. The online multilayer is changing things up by letting you create your own gamemodes and using progressive challenges instead of xp. I have two other games on my radar that are not day one the first being Infamous Second Son and the second being Destiny. However, a lot of what is going to make the PS4 feel next gen is the user interface. The share button, play as you download and vita connectivity are all things that we did not have this generation. But the million dollar question is will all of this stuff work on day one? Online launches for games have a very bad track record at the moment. Diablo 3, Sim City and GTA Online have all been online catastrophes. Sony claims it will all work day one but I am skeptical at best, hopeful, but skeptical. When I get my PS4 on November 15 I will be doing lots of articles and videos and I probably won’t shut up about it on the our podcast. Looking forward to it! See you guys then.
Borderlands 2 has always been unique, no not unique whats the word? Oh yeah the word is AWESOME! Borderlands remembers that video games are supposed to be fun. There are many tweaks to the game that just make it more fun including: infinite sprint, no fall damage and the chance to get a second wind I could go on. In a landscape of gritty shooters and action games Borderlands 2 remembers it is fun to laugh . . . and blow psychos into tiny meat chunks. Anyway, you already know all of that. It seems that same sense of fun has made it into the Borderlands 2 “loot hunt” contest. This is Gearbox’s way of saying thanks to all of their fans giving us free stuff! Starting October 11, that’s tomorrow, there will be a daily ingame challenge. If you complete the ingame challenge you are automatically entered to win the grand prize of, and I quote “$50,000 mother bleeping dollars!” As Claptrap so eloquently puts it the winner of the contest will indeed win $50,000. However, there are many other prizes including cool stuff from Sony, Turtle Beach and Invidia. But if want to learn more about that head over to the official site (link below).
How many other games can you think of that have done something like this? Take Skyrim for instance, a spectacular game, PC Gamers 1# pc game of all time, 9.5 ign the list goes on. However, what did they do to say thanks? Three DLC packs and a game of the year edition plus fixed the PS3 edition. In other words not much compared to Borderlands 2. But let’s focus on the positive, the Borderlands 2 loot hunt contest is real, it starts tomorrow and I won’t be seen by my friends and family for a couple weeks. I’ll see you on Pandora happy loot hunting!
Valve finally announced the long prophesied “Steam box” however they also had a couple of surprises up their sleeve. One of them is “Steam OS” a linix based operating system that runs steam, obviously, and is built specifically for gaming. However, there is a problem with that since it is linix based only games ported to linix will run on it. Steam has around 400 games that can run on linix as of right now although doubtless more are soon to come. Oh and by the way, Steam OS is free this means when Windows 9 is released you can save your self a hundred bucks and use Steam OS. This could be the killing blow to Microsoft’s gaming superiority something that I am all for.
The Steam Box itself is slightly more confusing. Valve wants to bring Steam into the living room and they want to try to eliminate all of the hassle of pc gaming. There is already one big problem, unlike a console there are going to be multiple steam boxes each with their different specs the cheapest one being simply a streaming device. That has always been one of the most annoying parts of pc gaming you are never quite sure if the game you want to get will run on your pc. Another problem is the different boxes will be built by different manufacturers, not Valve, meaning the quality of some steam boxes could be worse than others. It seems Valve is trying to find a middle ground between consoles and pc’s by having the convenience of the console but still maintaining the openness of pc gaming. My fear is that they will achieve neither and instead make a box that no one wants to buy. However, much of this is speculation Valve has released very few details on the Steam Box and no one even knows what one looks like. Despite all of my concerns this is Valve we are talking about possibly one of the smartest gaming companies ever the masterminds behind Half-Life, Teamfortress and Portal. They are a company that seems to have never made a mistake, however, there is a first time for everything.
What is a video game? FInding a answer to that question is one of the most disputed topics for us gamers. How can you find a definition for something that is Call of Duty, Angry Birds and everything in between? On the cover of Edge magazine it says “The future of interactive entertainment” that does work except it also covers board games. I read a quote by someone that said video games are “a series of interesting choices” I like this definition because it also incorporates those games that otherwise could be argued are not video games; such as Journey and Dear Ester. It is my favorite definition because it points out the fundamental thing that makes video games different from most other forms of entertainment, choice.
From Skyrim to Journey the player is constantly making a series of choices. On the surface Journey seems to be a game with no choice you simply walk toward the mountain you can’t die there is no combat and only a few encounters that could be called puzzles. But if you think about it it’s filled with choice, you can choose to admire the scenery or just blast through the game and not give it a second thought. This brings me to another important thing that only video games can do environmental storytelling. From the dead drops in infamous to the audio tapes in Bioshock they are all totally optional you could totally ignore them. The Last of Us took it a step forward and perfected what I call background environmental storytelling. What I mean by that is instead of there being an audio tape, something that once found requires no more brain power from the player, in The Last of Us you need to stop and look at the environment around you. Interpreting what you see with no help from the game. However, what about a game that has none of this? Let’s to the fundamental definition, choice.
Imagine a game were there is only one button when you press it on the screen a balloon gets bigger when you stop pressing the balloon starts to deflate. You are given twenty seconds the bigger the balloon is at the end of those twenty seconds the more points you earn. The catch is the bigger the balloon gets the higher its chance is of popping which means you loose. In this scenario there is no story no combat nothing that usually associated with a video game there is simply one choice: how big do you want the balloon to be? However, you could not deny that it is a video game. If we ignore the fact that life is “a series of interesting choices” and focus on the different major types of entertainment: books, movies, music and video games. The only thing that can claim to have “a series of interesting choices” is video games. Clearly we are a long way from a definition that only applies to video games and I think we probably never will. I see it as unanswerable as the question “what is art?” but still, it is fun to try.
Could the PSVita fps curse be over? It looks like it could be with Killzone Mercenary a game that I am being cautiously optimistic about. Playing the multiplayer beta has made me hope again for console quality gaming on the go. Because let’s be honest the most console quality game on the vita at the moment is Uncharted Golden Abyss. Killzone Murcenary’s multiplayer is almost console fps multiplayer, almost. The biggest problem is that the Vita’s touch functionality is integrated into the multiplayer with no way to bypass it. There are some things that use both controls like sprinting can be done by ether tapping the back touch twice or by pressing the circle button. But the biggest disappointments are the special powers like launching missiles or orbital bombardments. These have to be done with the touchscreen and it is awkward. Sure it sounds cool to just simply tap the screen and watch your enemy get blown to bits but in the heat of the moment I just resorted to madly tapping at the screen only to be shot by the guy who is using real buttons. Having unavoidable touch functionality in the end just breaks the biggest rule of fps gaming: your thumbs should stay on the joysticks as much as possible. At the moment the only cool touch control is melee attacks. If you are attacked by melee from the front everything goes in slow motion and you are given a split second to counter the melee attack, by swiping the touchscreen. This works because after you swipe the touchscreen you are given enough time to put your fingers back on the controls before time resumes normal speed. However, when you don’t have to use touch controls the joystick controls feel good and aiming down the sights is not finicky. In the end I have a overall good feeling about Killzone Mercenary and I am interested to how it is received when it is released this September.
Back when I just played minecraft in survival mode I had my mind blown the first time I saw the huge projects other people had built in minecraft. From giant statues to Hogwarts in all its glory I could not fathom how someone could build something that big. As time went on I started to realize that there were programs like MCedit that could bang out thousnds of blocks with a single mouse click, however, the fine detail and redstone cercetry still, to my knowladge, has to be done by hand. As survival mode became boring my friends and I started to play in creative mode. We started simple learning the ins and outs of redstone, building cool houses, making giant holes in the ground with TNT and so on. Slowly our creations became more and more elaborate we were now building castles and giant statues and now we have started to build our very own adventure map. Now I realize what the biggest barrier is between anyone and a mind blowing minecraft creation. It has to be fun to build. For me that means that the build has to have a purpose that is why I wanted to build a adventure map. For me the funnest part of the build is to figure out what is next for the player. For instance, today we spent all afternoon building the entrance its a big hallway with pillers all the way down the sides. When the player hits the switch we could have just made all of the lights turn on at the same time easy right? Yes but it would have also been boring. Instead we decided to make each set of lights turn on one after the other for the “dramatic reveal” effect, harder? Yes but much more dramatic. In the end, I am no longer intimidaited by giant minecraft builds like I used to be now its just those computers built out of redstone mind = blown.
My friend recently told me that after finding out he had spent over 350 hours in Civilization V he decided to stop playing; naturally this got me thinking is 350 hours to much time? Is there something he could have done to better enrich his life in 350 hours? First let’s compute 350 hours to put it in perspective. A quick search on Wolfram Alpha says that 350 hours is:
In a landscape of high octane, quick killing, running and gunning all around frag fest it is refreshing to see a well thought out, patience rewarding, slow paced brutality that is The Last of Us multiplayer. Forget killstreak rewards The Last of Us feels rewarding just to get a kill. It’s like a chess game only much more stressful. Its brilliant because there is a counter move to every move your enemy makes and if you die it is always your fault. Is there someone camping in a corner with a shotgun? If you have a smoke bomb he doesn’t stand a chance. Don’t crowd to close to your teammates or a well placed molotov will take you all out. My usual multiplayer strategy is to be silent and although it works in games like Call of Duty it feels most rewarding in The Last of Us. You are given two simple tools to find the enemy, spotting and listen mode using both intelligently can be the difference between winning and losing. There is one perk called covert training, at its highest level it makes your character silent when crouching and unstoppable by the enemy. Combine covert training with a silenced weapon and my character becomes a silent force to be reckoned with. In short you will never see me coming and even if you do your already dead.