Micro Transactions in Single Player Games Are The Next “Season Pass” But Worse

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Yup, you read that right.  Micro transactions in single player games are the next fad, the newest iteration of the darker and more greedy side of gaming, just like seasons passes were (and still are).  They were a way to generate even more money in addition to the cost of a full priced game, and sometimes offered very little, if any substantial content to the experience.  Plus, there is usually no clear indication what you were getting in most cases until the game was close to release or already available for purchase in stores.  They were a cheap and shady way to get money for content that was even cut from some games.  Other cases saw high-profile games, like Destiny, release content that, while satisfying, was way too short for its price (you can also buy loot boxes in that game as well, if you feel like you haven’t spent enough on the five expansions and base game like me). In a way, micro transactions in single player games are becoming even more sinister than season passes, and here are some examples to back up my claim.

Dead Space 3 – Released February 5th, 2013

Developer – Visceral Games

Publisher – EA

deadspace3-exe_2013-02-19-02-36-01-037.jpg

This one kills me, because it is one of the first ones to have micros transactions in a single player experience and it is one of my favorite franchises.  Even though Dead Space 3 had some disappointing aspects compared to the first two, it was still generally considered a solid game.  The coop was fantastic, especially since you were able to experience some areas differently depending on which character you were (Isaac or Carver).  The game play was also still solid, even if it did feel more like Resident Evil 5 than a Dead Space game at times.  That’s where my compliments end, and the criticism comes out.

For the first and only time in the series, you could make your own weapons with components you found in breakable boxes and hidden areas.  These crafting materials have ratings, from common to epic, and are designed to improve the weapon you are creating by giving it better statistics or additional attributes.  The problem?  You could just simply purchase a loot box, get an epic weapon, and wreck every enemy in the game.  That completely defeats the purpose of Dead Space games, which originally gave you that sense of dread and fear that you are always running low on ammo and an enemy could ambush you from anywhere.  Not with these epic weapons they won’t!  Even though I enjoyed the core experience, I didn’t approve of these changes and hope they never incorporate them into a future Dead Space game.  P.S. Please make another Dead Space game!

Injustice 2 – Released May 11, 2017

Developer – Nether Realm Studios

Publisher – Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

injustice-2-reviewmalaya-26-1024x576

Here is where the problem begins to manifest.  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, known for publishing the Shadow of Mordor, also published the sequel to super hero fighting game Injustice, called simply Injustice 2, on May 11th 2017.  The introduction of micro transactions were met with cautious skepticism, since this is a fighting game with a single player campaign and multiplayer modes as well.  The purchasable loot boxes contain gear for random characters, that can be better or worse than their currently equipped gear.  They are also locked to a level restriction, but that can be changed by using one of the multiple currencies in the game to change it. Instead of criticizing it for having too many currencies, I am going to focus solely on the loot boxes.

I understand that the loot is disabled for some multiplayer modes.  I commend Nether Realm for implementing that in their game. It needed to have that, or else the multiplayer mode would be unbalanced and absolutely unfair for players not forfeiting their hard earned money. Thankfully, that isn’t what this concern is about. It is about having to spend real money in order to get better gear for characters, only for the gear to drop for characters you don’t even use. I never used Bane, and yet I ended up with a ton of gear for him since that is what dropped from the loot boxes. Don’t like what you get? Well why don’t you spend MORE money to get something better. But wait, better hope it’s for a character you like, because if not it will just get disassembled into more currency to spend on the next (usually) drop of garbage gear for characters I never used in the game.

Shadow of War – Releases October 10, 2017

Developer – Monolith Studios

Publisher –  Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

MTI3ZDIyZjVlMSMvNnRTbnlyRmtSbTdCSEI1SWdaOEFCR044UTJBPS9maXQtaW4vNzYweDAvZmlsdGVyczpub191cHNjYWxlKCk6Zm9ybWF0KGpwZWcpOnF1YWxpdHkoODApL2h0dHBzOi8vczMuYW1hem9uYXdzLmNvbS9wb2xpY3ltaWMtaW1hZ2

Are you seeing a pattern yet? I sure hope so, because it sure is clear to me.  Shadow of War, developed by Monolith Productions and the sequel to the 2014 Game of the Year Shadow of Mordor made by the same studio, is releasing on October 10th, 2017. Originally slated for an August release, it was delayed two months before its release and scheduled for the new date in October. It is easy to overlook this delay as polishing, but I strongly believe it was due to the inclusion of micros transactions. A game published by WB Interactive in 2017 has micro transactions in it? No! It cannot be true! The dark lord Sauron must be the head of WB Interactive to make such a henious decision.

Seriously, another single player game with micro transactions in it, and it by the same publisher as Injustice 2, and released the same year just months apart. That’s not a coincidence. To me, this game doesn’t need the addition of micro transactions to catch my attention. The original did that by having fantastic game play and a serviceable story. It was, by all measures, a great game. Did everyone like it? No, and that’s okay. That doesn’t take away from how good of a game it was. The balancing between your character’s abilities and your enemies always felt fair, with a gradual learning curve and satisfying progression throughout the experience.

Shadow of War, which should now be named Shadow of Give Us More Money, has loot boxes and two different currencies.  One seems like a dummy currency: you earn it but can’t spend it on loot boxes. The other one, called gold (really…gold is the best they could come up with) is the premium currency and is dropped sparingly throughout the game and is used to purchase said loot boxes. The boxes come with three rarities, and can include minions for the multiplayer mode similar to Metal Gear Solid V’s base building mode, or additional weapons and XP boosts. Sounds invasive but not game breaking yet right? Think about this: will the game be balanced to take into consideration that a few whales might drop a couple thousand on loot boxes and just stomp out your base and make your gaming experience miserable? My guess is probably not. Making a single player game literally pay-to-win isn’t fun, and spending 40 plus hours to unlock a legendary weapon or Orc you could get by spending $20.00 on loot boxes sounds like a pretty terrible way to play a game.

It seems that the choice to add these loot boxes into the game came from the publisher. Even still, it is Monolith’s decision to sign with that publisher in the first place, knowing full well that it might mean altering their game to fit the publisher’s greedy and slimy desires. They want to make money, lots and lots of it, even if it means potentially ruining what could be a fantastic video game in the process. I don’t excuse Monolith, but I don’t completely blame them. However, their reaction and body language in a recent live stream that explained and demonstrated the extent of loot boxes does concern me.

To conclude, WB Interactive is like a skid mark in my underwear: it’s ugly and hard to clean the stain out of them. They aren’t doing the gaming industry any favors, and I would be more than pleased to see them cut this crap out of having micro transactions in single player games before it gets even more out of hand than it already is. They prey on gamers who have a tendency to gamble, or flat out take advantage of those unable to control their spending. That’s disgusting, and we need to tell them how we feel by speaking with our wallets.

What games do you think should have been on this list?  Do you agree with my opinion, or think I am a doomsayer and losing my mind?  Let me know in the comments!

Facing the Facts: I’m Done Completing Games I Don’t Enjoy Playing

Author: Nathan Doverspike

For nearly 18 years, I’ve been playing video games, from Tomb Raider 2 to Horizon Zero Dawn (go play it if you haven’t, it’s amazing) and loving my time with most of them.  Every once in awhile you come across a game that just doesn’t click for you, whether its the story, theme, gameplay, art style, or maybe something as simple as the music.  I used to do everything I could to push passed these obstacles, in the hopes that there would be some sort of payoff in the end; some feeling of satisfaction for continuing with a game that I didn’t necessarily enjoy.  One title, named Mass Effect Andromeda did just that; it broke me of this habit.  As the title of this article states, after playing Mass Effect Andromeda, I realized that I can no longer beat games that I get no enjoyment from playing.

Before I get into all the reason I refuse to beat games I don’t enjoy and the game that ultimately crushed my soul, I need to say this first.  I LOVE Mass Effect 1 through 3.  I was even alright with the original ending of Mass Effect 3 before they extended it with free DLC.  It had a conclusion, even if it felt like there wasn’t as many choices as there could have been.  It made sense, and that’s what I wanted.  I also adored the characters.  There’s a reason there is a giant piece of artwork featuring characters from Mass Effect in my living room.  The characters and their stories were the best part of the original trilogy, in my opinion.  That said, on to this albatross of a game.

There’s not enough space on this page to describe how frustrating that game was.  To start, the facial animations at launch (they released a patch  that fixed some of the issues) were not only atrocious, they were appalling to behold.  They were so gross, that I thought I was playing some terrible $1 Steam Greenlight game (RIP Steam Greenlight) that used Unity stock assests to make a quick buck or two.  Want to see how ugly they can be? You’ve been warned.

Mass Effect Andromeda Weirdest Face Ever

This is the first person I interacted with in the game. Little did I know, it didn’t get much prettier than that…face.  I think that’s a face?

Yup, that’s how my failed journey through the boring and uneventful game called Mass Effect Andromeda began. With that face staring at me.  Ok, so the combat was satisfying and the skill tree allowed for a bevy of customization.  But in a game that resembled Dragon Age Inquisition more than the original Mass Effect trilogy, I didn’t enjoy the exploration, party members (there were only six, SIX), or the bland/terrible story they tried to tell.  I loved the premise: you are sent on a 600 year journey to find another galaxy to colonize in case the Milky Way is destroyed by the Reapers.  Cool right?  It is, until some of the worst writing in video games is on full blast right from the start and all the characters look like they are from some alpha version of the game.  It felt unfinished.  By all means, it was.

I spent over THIRTY FIVE hours on this turd.  I did everything I could to enjoy it.  I would play podcasts while playing so I had something interesting to listen to (the dialogue is embarrassing except for maybe Drack and Jaal).  That only helped so much, until I realized I wasn’t even having fun exploring the FIVE planets. Yeah, you have the pleasure of exploring FIVE planets the WHOLE GAME.  Even Dragon Age 2 had more locations to explore, and they even recycled a lot of them to pad the time it takes to beat the game.

I ended my playthrough after reaching the third planet.  It was a giant ice location full of sadness and emptiness. Wait, that’s what I was feeling while I was playing this.  Sorry about that. I meant to say it was full of empty space and sparse enemy encounters, sprinkled in a few giant towers that you need to scan (that part sucked too) and a ton of fetch quests that amounted to getting some experience and nothing satisfying.  I couldn’t take the punishment anymore, so I traded in Mass Effect Andromeda and used the money to wipe my tears away.

As we come to the end of my sad tale, I want to make it clear that I am totally cool with anyone liking this game.  I just found it unbearable for the reasons listed above, but everyone is more than welcome to have their own opinions and likes/dislikes.  I want to hear from YOU!  Are there any games that you just couldn’t finish?  Why? Was it because of the gameplay, story, or something else entirely?

 

 

 

Four Reasons Why Horizon Zero Dawn is One of The Best Open World RPG’s

Author: Nathan Doverspike

Horizon Zero Dawn was the biggest surprise of 2017 to me.  It didn’t come out of left field like Shadow of Mordor did in 2014, where I knew almost nothing about the game and absolutely loved it, but it did something I feel never fully accomplished: it made me want more even after I was completely done with all of the main and side content.  Horizon, in my humble opinion, is the best open world game that has come out in years, and here are four reasons why.

  1. The Story

Not know for their stories, open world games usually rely on their world-building and interactive environments and interesting characters.  That’s why this is my first and most important reason for this game being so good. The story starts slow, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t quickly speed up after the tutorial ends around hour 2 or so, and won’t let you breath until you finish the final mission.  In total, I would say I spent about 20-25 hours on the story alone, and loved every minute of it.  Every twist and turn, every revelation, every boss battle was enthralling and engaging unlike any other game I’ve played in a long time.

horizon zero dawn blood sky2. The World

The world of Horizon is beautiful, and when I say beautiful, I mean look at the screenshot I took above. That is the game running on a normal PS4 on a 1080p TV.  No PS4 Pro needed here, the game is a treat to look at.  It’s photo mode really allows you to capture the beauty of the game by letting you take stills of the game in motion.  You can even move the camera as shown above so Aloy isn’t even in the picture. The sunsets and snowy mountains aren’t the only highlight of the game either.

horizon zero dawn big kill

3.  The Creatures

The nature of the mechanical beasts is a massive spoiler, so I won’t dive into that whole plot.  What I will say, though, is that they are so much fun to hunt.  Yup, that’s right, you get to hunt giant mechanized dinosaurs and sabertooth tigers in a video game.  The giant beasts that inhabit this land are dangerous, and some are downright terrifying to fight.  An ability you unlock later in the game makes them even more awesome, but you’ll have to play the game to find out what that mechanic is and how much better the game gets after you unlock it.

horzion zero dawn at nighttime

4. The Combat

While this is the last item on the list, it could have easily been my top choice as well.  That’s what makes this game so amazing: there isn’t just one thing it does well.  It does everything almost perfect, mixing so many awesome concepts and mechanics together.  The combat is so satsifying.  Sliding between a metal T-Rex’s legs, going in slow motion, firing arrows into its underbelly, and regaining your footing only to watch, for a split second, your arrows explode and send giant chucks of armor into the air before dodging incoming missiles and planning your next attack on the monstrosity. That’s just one example of how fluid combat is throughout the game.

I love this game! I put over 40 hours into it, and I am just over half way done with all of the side quests!  That isn’t including the upcoming DLC planned for the game, that sends Aloy to a whole new area with new beasts to slay.  Hopefully after reading this, you’ll go and at least watch some YouTube videos of it and eventually give it a shot.  After all, who doesn’t want to ride around on a mechanical bull and slay giant T-Rex monsters?

 

Why It’s Ok To Be Afraid of Change In Real Life and In Video Games

mass-effect-2-characters-wallpaper-3.jpgAuthor: Nathan Doverspike

As I search for the right words, the best way to say what’s on my mind, one phrase keeps coming to mind: everything happens for a reason.  While cliché and overused, it rings true for me, and I hope you as well.  Friends come and go, jobs are earned and lost, and money is always finite.  But that phrase, everything happens for a reason, is helping me cope with being afraid of change.

Change always seems to happen when it is the most inconvenient in life.  Whether it is a new job, moving to a new town, starting a family, making new friends, change always likes to butt in and threaten the comfort of routine you’ve seemed to surround yourself with.  It is comfortable to stay at the same job, comfortable to live at the same place for a long time, and comfortable to be content with the same friends and not branch out to find potentially new and exciting guys and gals.  Change is scary, and that’s totally ok.

Just like real life, change in your favorite game can be scary too.  Some games, like Mass Effect 2, do a phenomenal job of implementing necessary changes to an already fantastic series.  With characters like Mordin, Grunt, Zaeed, and Legion they took an already great cast from the first game and really ramp it up.  Unique loyalty missions, the ability to scan planets for resources instead of landing on each one (personally I liked that but it took way too much time), the occasional button prompt for either a “good” or “bad” reaction during dialogue, and the best ending mission for a video game I have ever experienced, it serves as a prime example for change resulting in positive outcome.

That isn’t to say that change always results in something turning out better than before.  Resident Evil 6 is one of my least favorite video games.  EVER.  I truly despise that game.  It changed so many things that made Resident Evil 4 unique, like well-developed characters, decent voice action throughout, a fantastic story, beautiful environments, satisfying weapons, pretty much everything was streamlined and watered down.  Resident Evil 6 was way more action than 4 (like literally all action), and I believe it suffered from a story standpoint.  Resident Evil 6 didn’t just give players three separate campaigns, it game players three excruciatingly poor campaigns with bad boss designs and some abysmal weapons.  Don’t forget that the U.I. was disgustingly ugly and the inventory management sucked too.  Last thing, the ending boss of the Leon campaign made me rage quit that nonsense, and I never went back.  In other words, change isn’t ALWAYS good.

The best way to deal with change in any situation is to keep an open mind and remain positive.  Even though Resident Evil 6 was damn near a disaster of a video game, that didn’t damper my excitement for a return to roots entry in Resident Evil 7 (see my review here).  Even unfortunate and upsetting events can lead to positive situations later in life.  The result won’t be immediate, but a positive attitude can turn a turd of a game like Duke Nukem Forever into something less awful (I think).  It’s normal to be afraid of change; just remember that everything happens for a reason.

Why I Love RPG’s and The Games That Stole My Heart

reckoning_screenshotAuthor: Nathan Doverspike

Before the Mass Effect Trilogy ultimately stole my RPG loving heart, I couldn’t get enough of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  The characters were memorable, wielding colorful lightsabers able to cut down alien scum was a blast, and the stories that game told still inspire me to write to this day.  And that doesn’t even cover the AMAZING score the two Knights of the Old Republic games nail to really complete the authentic Star Wars experience they so satisfyingly knock out of the park.  If you haven’t yet noticed, this whole article is dedicated to my love and infatuation with Role Playing Games, more commonly referred to as some of the most amazing video games ever to grace this galaxy.

Fantastic writing is needed to really immerse the player in the world and convince them to become invested in the game.  Games such as Mass Effect 2, Knights of the Old Republic, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning are prime examples of excellent writing.  Knights of the Old Republic introduces players to arguably the most badass character in the entire Star Wars Universe, Darth Revan.  Darth Revan can be evil, force choking his victims at will, but also has that pull to the light side that Star Wars Episode VII presents with Kylo Ren (who is now canon in the official Star Wars lore).  Knights of the Old Republic 2 is always amazing with the inclusion of Kreia, who isn’t who she appears to be throughout the whole game (only click the link if you don’t care about SPOILERS).  That twist is one of the best, right up there with Darth Revan’s reveal in the first game.

Those games are fantastic, but what is even more impressive is the galaxy and lore created for the Mass Effect Trilogy.  Commander Shepard is tasked with creating an elite group of aliens to defeat the impending doom the galaxy faces.  Every 50,000 years a galaxy destroying force descends upon them to wipe them out and restart the galaxy.  The player’s task: by any means necessary stop the galactic apocalypse.  Your choices, both good and evil, have real consequences.  Certain characters will leave your party permanently if you make decisions they strongly oppose.  Likewise, you can earn their trust, and they will battle even harder for you in the fight to end all fights.  One such fight, labeled the Impossible Mission, is one of the best experiences I have ever had and occurs at the end of Mass Effect 2.  Seriously people, please play at least Mass Effect 2 if you love RPG’s.  It has everything, amazing soundtrack, interesting characters, heart wrenching stories, exciting and fast pasted combat, and naked aliens!

The last example of why RGP’s are amazing is a slightly flawed but still awesome experience.  Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was well received, but like most games with a huge budget and not as much marketing, it failed to cover the costs it required and thus will most likely never see a sequel.  Well, that and 38 Studios, the developer, unfortunately went bankrupt in 2012 after they were unable to pay back the state of Rhode Island the $1.125 million loan they owed.  Regardless, that game is massive offering hundreds of quests, dozens of unique weapons to find, and R.A. Salvatore as the lead writer for the game.  Tthat alone is enough to check it out in my opinion! (Did I mention there is a Chicken Overlord easter egg, because that is pretty rad.)

All the games listed above bring something unique to the table and remind me why I love games so much.  To me, RPG’s have that special extra bits of lore; that link (see what I did there) of personal attachment to your character since you get to make the decisions for them.  They are your gateway into these massive and wonderful worlds created by some of the most brilliant writers and artists in the video games business.  In all the examples above, the combat goes above and beyond to create a memorable experience for the player, especially Knights of the Old Republic’s ending.  RPG’s give you a world outside of your own to experience, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Let me know in the comments what are your favorite RPG’s and if you think there are some that I should definitely play!

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Review

resident-evil-7-house

The game strikes a perfect balance of being terrifying and gorgeous at the same time.

Author: Nathan Doverspike

I start to panic as my character takes their good old time unlocking a hatch leading underground.  He is right behind me: Daddy is coming. I hear him curse at me as he swings a bloodied spade wildly towards my head.  I luck out.  The hatch opens and I drop down into the claustrophobic crawl space littered with cob webs and a rusted lawn mower (no idea how that got there).  My heart won’t stop pounding as I contemplate just staying put for a moment to catch my breath, cursing Daddy for scaring the living hell out of me.  I can hear the creak from his brooding footsteps above, and I know I can’t stay here forever.  I need to get out of there and find out what in the world is going on here.  This is just a taste of the heart-attack-inducing moments to come, and I loved every second of it!

Ethan decides to go looking for his long-lost girlfriend Mia after he receives a video of her begging him to stay away.  Reckless, and slightly naive, he nevertheless travels to the swamplands of Louisiana to investigate her disappearance.  Once you arrive, all is not as it seems.  The family living there, the Bakers, clearly have a few screws missing, as well as a pile of other body parts along the way.  You fight them, as well as another form of enemy along the way to saving Mia and yourself.  While the game is slightly linear most of the way through, I never felt quite safe from the denizens of darkness.  Besides the safe rooms located throughout the game, no place was comfortable or inviting, and I prefer my Resident Evil that way compared to the travesty that is Resident Evil 6.

Speaking of gut wrenching, please do not play this game if you have a weak stomach or are prone to heart attacks.  That is a serious warning.  This game made me jump off the couch AND scream at the top of my lungs in just the first hour.  The first half is terrifying, and the second half keeps the scares coming but does focus a little more on linear level design and first person shooting gameplay.  While some might have wanted a complete return to form to Resident Evil 1-3 (this game has a house that resembles the mansion in RE1 and even references to the greater Resident Evil universe that are subtle but brilliant), I adored the blend of scares and stealth mixed with tense moments of action.  Even when you are stripped of your inventory during a section of the game, it never feels like it overstays its welcome.  The weapons all have a place, and I never felt like a weapon wasn’t useful or didn’t feel awkward aiming.  The pace is nothing short of a masterpiece, so much so that I began a new playthrough immediately following the completion of the game.  It has its bloody hooks in me that deep.

Overall, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is both a return to horror and a breath of new life to this decades old franchise.  Some fans may not enjoy all aspects of it, and I respect that.  However, I couldn’t get enough of this entry and can’t wait to see what the future holds for Resident Evil if they continue down this gutsy path.

Final Score:  9/10  Excellent

Best Games to Play When The Real World is Too Real

Author: Nathan Doverspike          

With all the protests, debates, angry social media posts, and just general unease, I figured now would be a good time to make a list of games that I feel help me deal with the real world (when it becomes too real).  So, without further ado, let’s dig in!

de Blob 2

de-blob-2

de Blob 2

Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS

Released: Feb. 2011

While the first title, de Blob, was released exclusively for the Wii, the sequel graced the current generation of consoles in 2011.  The game follows a colorless blob as he brings color back to the world and defeats the evil INKT Corporation.  The art style is awesome, but the catchy music is just as good and will have you bobbing your head in no time at all.  With giant levels, the ability to mix colors, fun power-ups, and overall beautiful aesthetics, this game will get you into a joyful mood and groove instantly.

Yoshi’s Woolly World

yoshis-woolly-world

Yoshi’s Woolly World

Platforms: Wii U

Released: Oct. 2015

This game is wonderful!  Being able to play the whole game cooperatively on one tv is something few games feature anymore, and something on which Yoshi’s Woolly World thrives.  Everything in the game, from the enemies to Yoshi itself, is made of gorgeous yarn art.  I cannot stress enough how beautiful every character, background, enemy, and boss are in this masterpiece!  Numerous power-ups that change how you play the game (like being unable to die from falling into pits or magnetically attracting items to your character throughout a level) make completing the game enjoyable for kids and adults alike.  While some of the later levels do become challenging, the overall experience of finding all the secret areas and unlocking dozens of different Yoshi yarn characters is something I hope everyone with a Wii U is able to experience! (Note: the game is releasing in Feb. 2017 on 3DS as Poochi & Yoshi’s Woolly World with all the content of the previous game and new levels focused on the yarn dog Poochi).

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

kirbys-epic-yarn

Kirby’s Epic Yarn

Platforms : Wii, Wii U on eShop

Released: Oct. 2010

Noticing a pattern here?  The Wii and Wii U have some amazing first party titles, and Kirby’s Epic Yarn is another great example of beautiful aesthetics combined with simple yet satisfying gameplay to warm any gamer’s heart.  Similar to Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby has been transformed into yarn and needs to save the day!  Instead of sucking up enemies, Kirby now uses a whip (like in Kirby’s Dream Land) to defeat his foes.  It’s cute (oh my goodness is it!), has precise controls, and is fully cooperative throughout the charming adventure.  Did I mention it’s adorable, ‘cause it rivals Yoshi’s Woolly World as one of the most stunningly beautiful games I have ever played.

 Little Big Planet 2

little-big-planet-2

Little Big Planet 2

Platforms: Playstation 3

Released Jan. 2011

Ok, so I don’t know what it is about yarn characters, but I think I have an unhealthy obsession with them in video games.  Released in 2011, Little Big Planet 2 is a creative platformer that expanded on everything offered in the original, while giving players new ways to play.  You are able to create levels (not just platforming levels) that are so cool that you have to check them out!  I won’t spoil some of surprises in store, but let’s just say you can face off versus zombies and also go back to the future!  Also fully cooperative on a single system, this game allows you to play community levels from creators around the world, as well as create your own masterpieces.  Even if you aren’t into creating levels, a lengthy campaign with cute dialogue and interesting level design will hold your interest for quite some time.

Now it’s time for you to tell me, have you played any of these titles?  Are there ones that you feel I missed?  Comment and email us to let us know!

Five Things I Like About the Nintendo Switch

Author: Nathan Doverspike

As I raised my fists in victory, glowing as I watched the Nintendo Live Press Conference for the Switch last night, I realized just how excited I am for this ambitious device.  While the design is sleek, the controllers look comfortable (if slightly diminutive), and it looks easy enough to handle, I can’t express enough how encouraging their initial first year lineup appears on paper (and via the streamed video).  Below are the five things that excite me the most about the Nintendo Switch.

  1. The Design

This one is an obvious first choice.  While initially skeptical of a design that closely mirrors the failed Wii U controller, the tablet itself appears thin and comfortable to hold (per recent sources).  While the Wii U had a good concept, I never quite understood the weight to the device, or the fact that it felt like my hands were always too far apart for it to feel like an actual controller.  Hopefully this one gets it right.

  1. The Detachable Joy-Cons

While most knew about the detachable Joy-Cons since the initial design was leaked, no one was able to report on how they felt or looked for sure.  Now, we know that there are “shoulder” buttons built in to the side for use when apart from the main console.  Also, you can hold them apart just like you could with the nunchuk and Wii remote.  The freedom that gives your hands is something no other console can offer, and that’s always a plus.

  1. The Launch Lineup

It was speculated that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would miss the initial launch window.  Thankfully, our doubts were vanquished when Nintendo confirmed that it would, in fact, be released alongside the Switch (and this awesome collector’s edition is something to swing a sword at).

Also, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks beautiful and will release within two months of the console being available.  Breath of the Wild alone should be enough to satisfy the hardcore fans long enough for other promising titles to reach our anxious paws.

  1. All of the Unique Games Announced

Now, I know that not all of the titles announced will be out anytime soon, let alone this year.  However, that doesn’t mean that a brand-new Shin Megami Tensei game on console or Fire Emblem Heroes isn’t enough to get me all fired up.  In particular, Super Mario Odyssy looks like a blast (minus the lifelike people in that trailer, boy they looked rough) and the super interesting Project Octopath Traveler have me licking my gaming chops.

  1. The Possibilities Ahead for the Switch

This is my last point, and as such is somewhat ambiguous. Instead of focusing on a singular topic, I want to expand it to all the possibilities for this new console.  I know they haven’t announced or even mentioned Metroid yet, but how cool would it be to play a brand new Metroid game on a portable system that isn’t as limited as the 3DS?  To be able to take a console quality Metroid game on the go would be a dream come true!  Plus, with the added power,  the Switch could serve as a great return to form for a legitimate 2D Castlevania game that rivals SotN.

Those are my thoughts for now.  Feel free to comment or email us with any questions: officialgoldenagegamers@gmail.com

The Importance of a Good HUD

Author: Josh

This originally appeared on Josh’s blog on November 13th, 2014

Over the years many games have used different HUDs (Heads Up Displays) for players to know what is going on with their character in the game.  Some of those HUDs have more material than others.  The question that arises is which is a better HUD?

 A good HUD should show the players what they need to know, and not get in the way.  A life bar, ammo counter, mini-map, these are just a few examples of the bare essentials.  Let’s look at Megaman X as an example of a good HUD system.  The player has a life bar on the far left of the screen at all times.  In a plat-former, a player must always know what their life is at (with exception to games where the player dies after one hit), thus it should always be displayed for the player to know how they are doing.  Second in Megaman is the ammo counter.  Generally the player has unlimited base ammo, but limited special ammo.  Whenever the player engages a special weapon, the ammo counter appears next to the life bar.  The combination of both of these devices only takes up a small percentage of the screen allowing the player to focus on the task at hand.  The only other information that shows up on the screen (aside from text boxes) is the enemies health bar, which only appears when the enemy is on screen.  Even with all three bars, the screen is 95% visible.  This should set the bar for any HUD.  It should not cloud the players view of the game.

Another great example of a HUD system is Golden Eye for the N64.  Similar to Megaman, Golden Eye keeps only what is necessary on the screen.  In the bottom right, players can see their ammo counter.  Unlike Megaman, it isn’t a straight counter of how many shots remain, but a breakdown of what the player has in their gun, and what they have ammo wise in total.  It is very minimal allowing for a full viewing of the terrain around the player, but what about the player’s life?  Well, that is there too, but it only appears on the screen when it is decreasing or increasing.  When it isn’t changing, it fades from the players view.  The player only ever sees what is necessary.

 HUDs are becoming ever more present, and not just in video games.  Take a look at fighter jets & helicopters.  The military uses HUDs on most all of their air crafts.  The information displayed included an altimeter, an attitude reader, speed, and even an ammo counter.  Now I know what many of you are thinking.  “What if I don’t want to be in the military to use a HUD?”  Well, there is also applications being seen all over the civilian sector.  Perhaps one of the most popular version of a personal HUD device, is the Google Glass device.  This attachment provides it’s users with the ability to access Google from nearly every location, as well as a location feature and picture taking ability.  There we have it, the HUD is not just important in video games, but also has practicality in real life.  From the way things are looking, it would seem that in a few short years HUDs will be a normal part of everyday life.

Like the article?  See more here!