I wanna try a few different things with the blog. One idea I’ve had is starting an article called “Flame Bait”, where I would take about topics that people tend to get very passionate about and discuss them. I’m working on one at the moment about Video games being art; when I post it, can I ask you to put your comments on the Facebook page and the comments section of the post to tell me what you think? That’d be brilliant.

 

Cheers, Rade.

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With my 21st birthday coming up (It’s the 10th December, guys!) and Christmas on the horizon, the difficult task of buying gifts becomes obvious. Being the well-skilled shopper that I am, I find buying gift for my game-orientated friends the worst. It’s like buying shoes for someone without knowing their size.

So in the spirit of the up-coming season, I give you my guide to buying the perfect gamer gift.

Xbox Live Arcade

Gift cards are the easiest solution for the picky gamer or someone you don’t know very well. Your friend can pick what they want without the risk of buying something said gamer already has or don’t want.

Games are a great gift if you know what your friend plays. Steam has a ‘wish list’ system that is a fantastic indicator. Games are ranked in the order that your friend wants them

and they show up-to-date prices. If you’re buying a game for the console user, Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network Store and the Wiistore offer a range of games that be purchased using a credit card or a point-system.

If your nerd has a game in mind, but it hasn’t been released, offer to buy the pre-order for them. Some pre-orders are quite cheap and you still get some decent loot with it. If they already have a pre-order organised but haven’t paid it off yet, offer to pay the rest off. Some collectors editions can be upwards of $150 price wise, so buying it or paying it off is always a good idea and who doesn’t want a shiny new Batman statue for Christmas?

Hardware is another idea, but I’d reserve that for a close friend/partner. My Boyfling is building me a computer for my 21st and Christmas. Since there is a huge cost involved, obviously Boyfling wouldn’t go and do this for everyone. My best friend Jono is getting me a keyboard and mouse and I’ve bought him a new keyboard since he whines about his all the time and I bought Boyfling a new mouse and possibly a new GPU. Clearly, something you’d do for your closest friends/family.

There you go! If you’ve got any other ideas for games, I’ll do a “Gaming Wish List” post and you can

print it out and highlight the stuff you want!

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Tomorrow I have a fancy new post for you! JB HI FI broke the Street Date for Batman 😀 Prepare for violency goodness.

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Fracture (video game)

Image via Wikipedia

With the 8 million other things I’ve got to do, I’ve decided to test a game I haven’t actually played yet. I bought Fracture a few years ago and never played it.

The opening credits give an idea of what the game is about. Oddly enough, I’m playing this at a very interesting time. The game is about how Global Warming affected America, separating the nation in two, then the fictional events of genetic modifications. This game is your standard “Us VS Them” third-person-shooter but with a twist. You get a weapon called an “Entrencher”, which works to raise or lower open earth. You’re able to slow enemies by raising the ground or give yourself cover by lowering it. You’re also able to move around obstacles by lowering or raising terrain.

So far, I’ve only played a few hours of Fracture so far but I’m very interested in the story. The idea global warming sinking some parts of America and causing a divide with natural humans and modified humans is kind of new. The story has room for improvement but that may be because I haven’t played for too long.

I’m hoping to give a better review in the future when I’ve got more game time under my belt.

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I frequent a fairly well-known gaming e-zine/online forum. While I was checking up on a thread I created, I saw a thread about a new Sims 3 Pets Expansions. Since I’m fairly keen on the Sims 3, I entered the thread and found some truly idiotic responses but this was the topper:

MercurySteam: Who gives a crap about The Sims 3 when Gears of fucking War 3 comes out next week?

In other words; no, not really.

Now, this pissed me off to no end. Who is to say that Gears of War is worth more than the Sims 3? Is it because that Gears of Wars is about Über-testosterone and violencing the hell out of every living being?

Let’s analyse this.

Gears Of War: is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios.

The Sims 3: is a 2009 strategic life simulation computer game developed by The Sims Studio and published by Electronic Arts.

So they’re very different games. One is a sci-fi game and the other is a simulation. They’re obviously not comparable so what makes one better than the other?

Simple answer? Nothing. It’s a matter of opinion. Although, it’s in the opinion of this writer than the Sims 3 is a better game than GoW. At least Sims 3 isn’t a dribbling, brain-dead love song to overly mucho men and how manly they can be.

/rant.

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In my essay on Gaming Responsibility, I mentioned a mother who bought her 8-year-old son a violent video game saying that he was mature for his age. Being a gamer means that we have to put up with this kind of argument all the time when it comes to age. Many parents are unaware of why a game is rated for a group.

No on under 18

Currently, the Australian Ratings System includes a G, PG, M and MA15+ rating. In the future, the Australian government will be implementing an R18+ rating. These ratings are meant to provide comprehensive information about what is included in a game, but unfortunately the rating system doesn’t reflect current generation advances in technology or themes in content, such as sex, violence and drug use.

The positive that comes from the R18+ discussion is the acknowledgement of a flaw in the classification system. The Attorney-Generals, aware of the changes occurring in  video games, and have begun adjusting the system in which they are categorised. Games such as Left 4 Dead 2 and more recently Mortal Combat gained huge media attention when the games was refused classification (RC) which essentially banned the game from Australian shores. Valve (the developers of Left 4 Dead 2) reissued the game in compliance with the notes made by the review board. When the game was finally released in Australia, those who hadn’t had the game imported from overseas experienced a very different game with bodies vanishing almost instantly and blood being reduced dramatically.  Compared to the original experienced by other countries, the game was a mess.

With children being more technologically capable than their parents there is only so much that parents can do to keep mature material out of their children’s hands. That doesn’t mean that parents can completely avoid their responsibilities.  Ratings are there to provide accurate information about what is included in the game and are meant to be used as a guide, it is a generalisation of age groups. Knowing what a child is like is key to knowing how mature they are and if the child is truly ready to play a game that may contain violence (from Modern Warfare), sex themes (from GTA) and swearing (from most other games). I know I sound like one of the “won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children” crowd, but in all honesty do you believe that an eight-year-old could handle that and learn something from the experience? Even if it was as small and simple as the word fuck?

There have to be boundaries and there has to be understanding. When I witnessed the woman in the first paragraph hand the game to the staff member behind the counter, he informed her on the content inside the game and still she bought the game for her son, to which she replied that her son was mature for his age. I’m sure that her son is a lovely child who enjoys playing video games, but is he as mature as a 15 year old who is a little more schooled on the ways of the world?

The rating system is an arbitrary number, but there has to be some intelligent thought behind what the age of players should be. There’s no way a ten-year-old should be playing something like Catherine which is R-Rated because it’s in absolutely no way appropriate for that age group. The reason why the gaming community in Australia lobbied for an R18+ rating was so that children couldn’t get their hands on stuff that wasn’t appropriate for them because the “won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children” crowd kept saying that games are so violent it turned kids into crazed killers. It seems to me that the only people thinking of the children were the ones who were apparently doing harm. It took hundreds of thousands of people to rally for an appropriate adult rating for selected video games so that the parents’ job could be easier.

Parents need to set firm boundaries for their kids and need to stand by them if they want to ensure that their children aren’t exposed to high violence, sex, drugs and adult content and make sure that they take on the complete responsibility for raising their children. The entertainment industry won’t do it.

When it comes to making a decision for your kids on what’s appropriate. Obviously personal opinion and knowledge of your kids is vital, but there also needs to be consideration for the time and effort put into testing these games to ensure they comply with the law. While it isn’t the responsibility of the government to raise children, they have everyone’s best interests at heart. Parents need to make sure that they’re doing the parenting when it comes to making decisions about the content that their kids make instead of being manipulated by their children or lazy.

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Do want

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(There is some fallacy in the truth with this post, but the point remains the same)

So, I’ve read through my old posts, basking in my talentseeing what I need to catch up on and I noticed in my “Games Industry, I am Disappoint” and realised that I wanted to write something about how DLC is free on PC but not on Xbox.

I first noticed this when I had a free two-day trial of Xbox Gold back in ye’ olde days (around 2008) and wanted to download a Halo map or something I think. I noticed the words “800 MS Points“. MS Points? I said to myself. Quickly Googling this, I soon became informed of the MS Points system. MS Points is a currency to buy games, items and DLC on the Xbox system.

I declined the download but I was upset that I’d be forced to pay for something that would be free on PC. (if such a wonderful game existed on PC /troll) Why such discrimination, I ask.

I think the answer lies within Microsoft wanting to profit from the distribution of DLC from developers. I mean, if someone is going to use your medium to distribute their content, why wouldn’t you want a piece of the pie? But this greediness can sometimes (and I’m assuming more times than not) push users away from your medium. Yes, I am aware that servers and such take money to run, but if you’re paying for a Gold Sub anyway…

I certainly prefer playing L4D with my friends on my PC because of the free DLC I get from Valve and play L4D on my Xbox when I’m alone.

It’s just frustrating that developers put a lot of time and money into these expansions and DLC and some people who can’t afford it but want to experience it are essentially rejected because a third-party want to profit from it.

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(This has been sitting in my drafts since April, probably time to get it out there, hey? Also, deleted and reposted because it was in the wrong bit)

Portal 2 Review

Months and months of hype, release dates being pushed back and mysterious references to potatoes were finally silenced as Portal 2 was released this week.

It’s took me a little over two days to finish it and I found that my original predictions were correct: This game isn’t worth the hype.

I can’t say that my view of Portal 2 is unbiased. After I initially heard about Portal 2 being released, I wasn’t impressed. “Seriously!” I thought, “How on earth do they justify this?” I am, as I always probably will be, of the opinion that Portal didn’t need a sequel, not until after the sneaky update Valve released.

Now, before the lynching mob start screaming for my blood, lemme give you my review of the game – then you can come hang me by my lower intestines and drain me dry.

Careful all who tread beyond these parts. Ye have been warned...

Now, I can’t really comment on anything in the first 5 minutes or so, when Chell comes out of “reanimation” since it’s meant to be a tutorial to new-comers to Portal. So I’ll move past that. Yay! Tutorial! *learns*

The atmosphere the game, a post-apocalyptic jungle feel, does get the ball rolling and you make your way through the first few chambers from Portal 1 and the voice-over makes comments about what happened in the outside world.

*LOADING SCREEN*

What? Sorry about that. Like in the first Portal game, elevator loading screens are ever present, but Valve have somehow managed to make the short loading screens far more frustrating by cutting away to an Apature Science loading screen. I know this sounds like a small nag that I’m picking at, but when each level takes less than two minutes, the constant loading takes away from the enjoyment from the game.

I do enjoy the commentary by the voice-over. For a game that doesn’t use much language to propel the story-line, it instead uses it to add humour to situations that seem lacking. For instance, the commentator mentions something about how hundreds of robots used in testing have been given a copy of the Rules of Robotics to share and if you feel that a robot has invaded your privacy or completes an action that contradicts the rules of robotics, you should write it down in your notebook and a future Apature Science engineer will file the appropriate paperwork. Horrah!

*Loading screen*

Once you get the Portal gun, things begin to move along quite quickly. Wheatley is your companion during the game and he helps in your attempts to escape the chambers.

Things start going pear-shaped when you accidentally bring GLaDOS back to life and she immediately goes back to testing. GLaDOS does hold a grudge about you killing her and she’s not afraid to call you a horrible person, or make fun of how fat Chell has gotten since the last game. Rather, she congratulates you on “beating the odds” on malnutrition and packing on a few pounds. Aw, you’re so nice GLaDOS.

Valve takes the time to introduce some new game play mechanics. I had so much fun with the repulsion (bouncy) gel and putting in on cubes and turrets (seeing turrets go bouncing around the room was gleeful) and generally having fun with it. The propulsion gel was useful to get across gaps where you couldn’t had a portal and using the two together proved to be a handy mix. The last gel is Conversion gel. A white paint substance that you could splash on a wall (or paint with Portals!) and bam! Instant portal wall.

You learn the history of Aperture Science with a tour through the old labs, which is where the above-mentioned gels are introduced and about the founder of Aperture Science founder, Cave Johnson and his assistant Caroline. Since the messages for the tour were recorded around the 50s, it’s all perky and good-spirits in the beginning. As you travel through the old labs, you slowly learn about the illnesses associated with Science(!) and the game takes a somewhat grittier turn, story-wise and Cave tells you what you can do with those damned lemons life seems to be handing out constantly.

Puzzle-wise, the game isn’t quite as challenging as Portal 1. Portal 2 seems more story-based instead of controller-busting brain teasers. I’m hugely disappointed with this because that’s what I loved about Portal 1. I spent forever (no, seriously. It took me twice as long to finish Portal because I could not move past some incredibly rage-inducing levels.) trying to find the perfect spot for a portal to move through the level. While the chambers can be challenging, I just wasn’t finding the learning curve to be as difficult as I was hoping.

The newest feature for the game is the addition of multiplayer. I’ve had a few rounds with my friends and unless you’re playing it with someone who hasn’t played the multiplayer levels (or played them as far as you have), it seems to be a drag on players. You know what to do but your buddy is still messing around with something behind you, although, it’s good fun when you’re get into it.

I’m completely underwhelmed by Valve’s latest puzzle game. While it works as a stand-alone game, the idea of it continuing the story doesn’t strike me as something the original needed until Valve changed the final cut scene (a dodgy move for a money-grab, imo). A frustrating game that occasionally hits the right buttons.

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You know that great feeling when you find a great game? I’m feeling that now.

I was looking on Steam for a new RTS because Boyfriend has been playing Shogun 2 for ages and it made me crave an RTS. I was thinking of buying Shogun 2, but seeing the $90 price tag I decided against it. Ahh, the joys of being an Australian gamer.

/sigh.

Anyway, I browsed through Steam’s RTS section and Trapped Dead caught my eye. Inspired by the 80’s horror movie genre, I’ve played it all of 20 minutes and I’m already in love.

The beginning cut-scene is compulsory, but it sets the scene for the theme in the moviegame.

The graphics and character styling is alluring with speech bubbles and portraits of the characters appearing like comic-book-like squares. The game play is (so far) well paced and makes learning easy with the tutorial being built into the first few levels, which is normal these days. Oh, you’ll also want to wear headphones. The sound of the zombies chewing on people is… delicious.

One annoying thing is if my friends had this game and just wanted to play multiplayer straight off the bat, they couldn’t. You “earn” multiplayer after a few single player missions. That’s my only gripe so far. However, it’s redundant since my friends are playing League of Legends or Deus Ex 2 at the moment.

All round? For ten bucks? I’m pretty happy so far. It’s a nice time killer and I’m sure the more I play it, the more I’ll find it bloody charming.

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