Tag Archives: Gamer Diaries

Product Review: Gamehook (Producted provided by MobileZap)

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a massive handheld or mobile gamer. After being spoiled for choice with my PC and consoles, it feels like a bit of a downgrade playing stuff on my Nintendo 3DS or my phone. When Chris from MobileZap emailed me last week saying that he had a nifty toy for my phone that I could play with, it definitely grabbed my interest.IMG_0036[1]

What crossed my desk is called the Gamehook. It looks like a phone cradle you’d find in any car, but you can attach a PS3 controller into the bottom and play Android (Sorry iOS users) games wired, or wirelessly.

(Entirely off-topic: While downloading a game to demo for this review, I spent several giddy minutes controlling my phone with the PS3 controller. The integration between the controller and the Android software is seamless. Whether this is because my phone is ALSO a Sony product is unknown, but it’s done rather well.)

IMG_0037[1]The Gamehook is designed to work with any Android device under 5.5 inches. The part of the Gamehook that holds your phone expands with the push of a button to hold phones on the higher end of that 5.5 inch scale. With my being just under 5.5 inches (5.47 inches to be exact), my Xperia needed all the room it could get! The phone dock should still hold a phone with a case and there’s enough room for bulker phones to sit comfortably in the dock.

The cradle isn’t anything special to look at from the front. “Gamehook™” is displayed on the bottom of the phone cradle and the whole product is black. The back has a nice carbon fibre pattern on the back, which is a nice style touch, but when you’re working with something so simple, there isn’t much you can do with the looks. I wouldn’t mind seeing it in other colours like red, purple or green but again, these are just small style choices.

Putting the PS3 controller was a little confusing to start with, but once I played around with it for a while, getting the controller in and out of the cradle is pretty easy.

The only problem I had with the entire time I review the product was trying to find mobile games that had gamepad support without resorting to a Google search. Most of the popular game choices aren’t compatible with gamepads and the couple of games I tried weren’t either, which was surprising with games like Sonic Racing Transformed and other racing-themed games.IMG_0038[1]

The Gamehook is definitely something I didn’t think I’d use, but with the right games, it’s the perfect way to introduce a PC or console gamer into the world of mobile gaming. The device can be a little top heavy, but that’s par for the course when you’re using a whole phone just for the screen. It’s going to sit happily with the rest of my gaming peripherals and I’m happy to add it to the collection.

Thanks to MobileZap for sending me out this genius little product for me to play with.

Tagged , , , ,

South Park: The Stick of Truth (Australian Censored version)

 

Before I start, this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t finished the game, click here and be redirected.

Spoilers

South Park: The Stick of Truth (TSoT) had a development story akin to that of Duke Nukem Forever; developer issues, bankrupt companies and constant setbacks. However, with the help of Ubisoft, TSoT was finally released this March and to my surprise, it’s hilariously good. And this comes from someone who isn’t a South Park fan (there are dozens of us! DOZENS!)

Set in a Dungeons and Dragons style adventure game, the turn based RPG sees you, The New Kid (Sir Douchebag) go roaming around the neighbourhoods of South Park in search of The Stick of Truth after it was stolen by the Elves from the humans at Kupa Keep.

It is said whoever possesses the Stick controls the universe.

The create-a-character screen is fairly easy to use. You get a basic character and have a limited range of hair and clothes to deck your little adventurer out with. This isn’t a massive issue because along the way, you’ll look new customisation items or buy them from places around town. You also find dyes to make your costumes individual.

The game looks like an episode of South Park, which is what you’d expect. Your characters hop around when they’re walking and everyone looks like they’re made out of pieces of coloured paper. The writing is what you’d expect from a South Park game, too. The magic you’re taught from Cartman is one giant fart joke; Kenny is a princess who “charms” her (?) opponents by flashing some tits (which isn’t even the most disturbing thing in the game) and even the Aliens make an appearance. There are pop culture references a plenty and most of them refer to A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) which was spoofed in Season 17 (an episode that even I laughed in.)

Sadly, because I’m playing the Australian version, my game is censored but even that has a South Park flair. Because of the Australian Rating System, R18+ games still have strict guidelines to abide too. We’re not the only country to receive a censored version of the game, but our friends across the creek in New Zealand aren’t censored. Whether this raises discussion about adult content is yet to be seen, but Trey Parker and Matt Stone have made the censorship hilarious and a little easier to deal with.

0_480_640_0_70_http---i.haymarket.net.au-News-2014-02-23_00025

Like most RPG’s, TSoT gives you the option to choose a class: Fighter, Mage, Thief or Jew. (Or paladin class for those of us who aren’t Cartman.) The “Jew” class is a tricky one to master but can have massive payouts for a skilled player as you become more powerful the closer you are to death. Combat works well and requires the player to generally press a button at the right time to have the full effect of an attack. You can summon characters you’ve helped through quests to come into combat and fight on your behalf with some hilarious results. The turn-based combat works nicely and gives you time to think up a strategy to defeat harder enemies.

Controls and UI are where I start to feel like the game was ignored. From footage I’ve seen of the PC version, you’re unable to rebind keys; possibly because the game was directly ported from console, but a simple feature like that can turn people off. I know that I like to have a specific key-bind for a lot of games to make it work easier for me. Even on the console, the use of the bumper buttons doesn’t feel natural and some of the magic combinations can be difficult to master because of joystick fiddliness. The controller really doesn’t feel like it was properly utilised for anything other than combat.

The options menu, “Facebook” and inventory tabs looks completely out of place with the rest of the game, too. I’m not sure if it’s some inside joke with hardcore South Park fans, but the almost generic tabs visual is off-putting and can be annoying to use. The game uses at least seven tabs to scroll through for various uses in the game, but trying to figure out where something might be is frustrating.

It’s racist, sexist, silly and painfully self-aware. It pokes fun at Australia, the games industry and fans of the series itself but it doesn’t feel forced or ironic for irony’s sake. A lot of the time you’ll find yourself laughing until you’re crying or in a state of mortified shock that realistically only something related to South Park could get away with. The game is enough of an RPG for fans of that style of game to enjoy and so South Park that it hurts. I almost hate myself a little bit for enjoying it as much as I do. With the few complaints about controls and UI, it’s obviously not a perfect game but it’s better than a lot of games based on a TV or movie franchise. Really, it’s just like playing a very long, unedited episode of South Park and that’s the best thing about it.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

TotalBiscuit, FUN Creators and Critique.

The argument that video games are forms of art has been made several times. An important part of art is the ability to criticise the artist, the art and the art form as a whole. It’s worked that way for centuries with other forms of tradition art.

However, with this new art form come new critics and new artists who aren’t used to taking such “harsh” criticism, even when it’s warranted.

TotalBiscuit on the Cynical Brit YouTube channel is well-known in the gaming industry for his fair, but often highly critical analysis of video games. Last year, after a scathing review of a video game called “Day One Garry’s Incident”, the game’s developer Wild Games filed a copyright claim against the “WTF is…” video in which the review appeared. (It should be noted that TotalBiscuit wasn’t the only critic who slammed the game. His review was just the most prolific.)

After some intense back and forth between the YouTube channel, it was revealed that Wild Games had filed the claim under a false pretence and were forced to apologise to TotalBiscuit for having the video taken down.

The incident revealed some pretty gaping flaws in YouTube’s copyright system.

It seems like history is repeating itself.

After the “WTF Is…  Guise of the Wolf?” appeared on Youtube being highly critical of the game’s mechanics, voice acting and how many bugs were in the game. TB told his audience that this game wasn’t worth the money that it was asking for.

This is where the fun begins. The creators of the game FUN Creators filed a false copyright claim against the video (all videos use Fair Use). TotalBiscuit’s reps sent the developers an email asking why copyright claim was filed and that it’s illegal to file a claim as the video is a critique. The reply email from FUN Creators implied that the review was a paid review by someone else to criticise the game and that they would get their lawyers involved to find out who was behind the review.

TotalBiscuit announced the issue and FUN Creators hit back saying that any emails that were release were faked and not from their studio. Both claims are incredibly serious but only one person was correct. TB again provided proof that Fun Creators were making serious threats against him and his channel.

Finally, at the end of all this, FUN Creators want TB to take down his channel, tweets and pretty much anything related to the incident or they’ll sic their lawyers on the channel and everyone involved.

I try to present these facts without too much bias to allow you to make up your own mind.

Personally, without my journalist or reviewer side kicking in, I’m sick of developers trying to manipulate the system for their advantage and try to remove any critical analysis of their work. Like I said at the beginning of… whatever this is, art is presented without comment and readily for critique. Without it, art has no meaning. Games can present a story and a purpose, but without critique, there can’t be any discussion of the deeper meaning of what the story means for the player or the world.

When more information comes to light, I’ll update this post.

TotalBiscuit logo by Jamspencer on DeviantART.

47f4jt6w1iLIhi

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Two Games Down, 98 More To Go…

In the month since I started the Steam Challenge, I’ve felt quite overwhelmed. Realising how much time and effort this will require, the size of my list, what I can finish and what I can’t; it’s all a lot to think about!

Some of the pressure has been relieved, thankfully, when this week I finished two games. I know it’s only two games, but it’s a start and sometimes that’s all you need.

This week I finished Mass Effect 2 (no plans to finish Mass Effect 3 since it isn’t in my Steam list, but I’ll probably import my character and actually finish Mass Effect 3… eventually) and a texty-point-and-clicky RPG called Monsters Love You.

My Mum asked me about this challenge recently. I explained to her the basic rules and regulations I’ve imposed on myself and what I’ll be doing. Her second question was “How many games do you need to play?”

“Well, I’ve got 100 games in my list and I’ve figured that I can play at least half of them before I have to start looking at games that I can’t actually finish.”

While my Mum doesn’t necessarily understand my work, her interest in it (or feigning of) is nice, too. Hopefully with the coming months and more games being completed, she’ll be my own personal cheer-squad.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Steam Challenge: Humble Bundles, Steam Games and the Internet Plots Against Me.

I actually think the Internet is working against me this year. When I decided to start the Steam Challenge, the first thing people said was “What about Humble Bundles!?” Ah, Humble Bundles…

If you’re not a gamer and don’t know what a Humble Bundle is, they’re a group of games that you purchase for whatever price you think they’re worth. The money you spend goes to charity. It’s a pretty cool idea. Some people just pay over the recommended price to get the extra goodies, but I’ve seen donations for games upwards of thousands of dollars.

So while I’ve been doing the Steam Challenge, I’ve pretty much ignored the Humble Bundle stuff on social media and such so that I won’t be tempted to buy anything. And then this happened:

 bundle

A text message from Tyr (the boyfriend) telling me about the new bundle and its games.  Apparently, the boyfriend has joined the evil forces of the Internet in trying to tempt me with new games. I went to look at what games the Codemasters Bundle included because apparently I’m a giant idiot who likes to tempt myself. Thankfully, the only games that really appealed were games I already had (thankfully!)

Humble Bundle: 0. Rade: 1.

In other news…

I’ve started Mass Effect 2, Peggle Deluxe, Plants vs. Zombies and Half-Life 2. I think that with two story-heavy games, Peggle and PvZ break up the long hours of game play. The list of games I’m playing is available here if you’ve got suggestions on what I should play!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Steam Challenge: Week 1

Half a week in to the Steam Challenge and I haven’t completely lost my mind. After the initial freak out and planning stage (which didn’t go well, to be honest), I started playing games from the beginning and making some simple rules for my challenge to follow.

For the challenge to be a little easier to manage, I decided to go through the games I can play. I’ll go through all my games and make sure that I haven’t missed anything, but the list so far contains 52 games which is just over half of my Steam list.

Secondly, I realised that this challenge might interfere with the whole “review” part of my job description. So I add this clause, any game that I have to review doesn’t count towards this challenge. Although, all the games that I review, I buy for myself so that would go against the rules of the challenge.

Lastly, any game that I can’t finish (online games, multiplayer-only games), I will spend at LEAST half an hour playing and I’ll document it with a Let’s Play, to show that I’ve done it. At the end of the challenge (or when I break), I’ll put together a thing and write up what I discovered about gaming. Or something. Maybe I’ll just wax lyrical about crap like I normally do.

Like always, if you’ve got suggestions for what games to play, the list is linked above. Should I play them alphabetically? Short to long?

Tagged , ,

Steam Challenge: Oh Sweet Jesus, What Did I Sign Up For?

I often feel this pang of guilt when I look over my Steam list and see games that I’ve bought and never played. My number (101 games) isn’t much by any means (my friend Lasers has 247) but, I’m somewhat ashamed that I’ve probably only really finished maybe a quarter of the games on my list.

Then this appeared on my Facebook newsfeed.

1017631_593951077348304_1976587969_n

“Beat every game in my library? Can I do it?” I pondered to myself, forgetting that I’d only been awake for an hour and thus am probably too tired to actually realize what the fuck I’m taking on.

Looking over my games list, I do notice some games that I can’t really “finish”; MMOs, only multiplayer FPS games. So, with that in mind, I add only one caveat: games I start MUST have a definite ending. I see Skyrim being a massive problem for me. While I’ve finished the main storyline before, there are a butt-ton of side quests to do. What counts as beating a game? Do I have to 100% it? Get all the achievements? Jesus Christ, what did I just sign up for!?

I plan on logging some Let’s Plays while doing this so you can see my progress while also updating you on the blog and Facebook page. If I can get Twitch to work, I might even do some live streaming. Obviously, this is a massive task and it’s probably going to take me all year to do it so I’m wondering who thinks I can do it, who thinks I can’t and do you think we can get Waterhouse to take bets?

Now, what game to start with?

Tagged , ,

24-Hour LAN To Raise Money For Typhoon Relief

People can be pretty cool when it comes to helping others in need. So, when Typhoon Haiyan touched down in the Philippines, it wasn’t too long before people started figuring out how they could help. The guys at Atomic and PC & Tech Authority are doing it the only way us gamers know how; 24-hour LAN party.

On December 7th, Atomic headquarters will be become home to a team of gamers playing PC games, console games, mobile games and they say “even the odd card game” in order to raise money to donate to World Vision Australia’s Typhoon Haiyan’s emergency appeal.

According to abc.net.au, the revised death toll in the Philippines has risen to over 4,500 people, leaving families broken and without supplies to keep themselves alive. Atomic and PC Authority hope that for every hour they play, donors will donate $1 or give what they can. Hoping to hit $24 an hour, their goal is $10,000 to donate to World Vision which will be used for short-term and long-term relief.

24-hours of gaming is a pretty big feat when you’re trying to raise money for a good cause. A lot of people see the devastation on the television and want to help, but aren’t sure how to. Atomic and PC Authority are giving people a way to combine their love of gaming with the human need to help our fellow people. I know I’ll definitely be tuning in to watch and donate some money to help people in need.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

“Your Feedback Matters” – Microsoft Listen To Criticism and Change Everything.

Hardware developers have no respect for sleeping schedules I tell ya….

Today, Microsoft announced that it would remove the dreaded DRM and used-game policies that everyone has been so anxious about. Previously, your Xbox One would need to check in to the Xbox servers once every 24-hours to verify files. Microsoft tried to calm the waters by saying that the files that would be transferred were so small you could tether your phone to your Xbox for this check-in. Alas, the masses had spoken and they didn’t want to be anywhere near this DRM.

The used game policy was just as confusing and frustrating for consumers (even I’m still trying to get my head around the ex-policy). And that’s partly Microsoft’s fault, they weren’t very clear in explaining how trading and lending games. But they’re now changing the policy so that used games are handled the same way they’re handled on your Xbox 360; whether that’s a good or bad thing.

What’s new? The Xbox One is now region free which is something I’ve wanted for years. For too long have we been punished in Australia for our location and thus, we get games about a month behind the world (which the exception of one or two games to keep the unruly masses at bay) so now, you don’t have to wait. I’m a sucker for pre-order shinies so I might still have to wait, but at least I’ve got the choice to get a game in advance.

There’s an article on Gizmodo that outlines the ways that this change could really suck for the customer. It’s a really good read. I’d suggest going in with an open mind and seeing how it changes your mind on things.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: