The LOTR Online beta is now open to America. The game is really polished for a Beta, beautiful graphics that doesn’t tax your machine too much. For now the only trouble I see is the lack of directions. Not much of a tutorial and information on where to go next. The map for me is confusing, and it takes several seconds to load it. You can’t help but feel the World of Warcraft vibe that is sprinkled around it.
Scheduled for this week I believe, a new update for the xbox 360 dashboard, which will included a new feature I’m really excited about. Separate from the Friends lists will be Msn Messenger. It’s not clear on what features will be implemented, if it’s only text chatting or more. I’m guessing just text for now, and probably later on they might just scrap the friends list and go with messenger. I hope they would do that so that we could interact easier with Windows Live Games. Streamline everything so it could be one easy method to share and play on both platforms.
If anything is present in the slew of next-gen titles are the graphics. Not a major leap from 16 bits consoles to the playstation, per say, graphical tricks are used beautifully. We certainly stop to look at them from time to time and say wow, we don’t actually see all the nuances. From better looking fog, to facial details, passing by animations, if you were to stop and see the process it takes to achieve such masterpieces, you would give them great respect.
Nowadays we are spoiled in all the games we play. When the bar has been raised, we turn our backs to uglier, dated games that can be just as fun, if not more. A great example of this was Doom 3, next-gen for it’s time in terms of graphics, people spent money (including myself) to upgrade their pc just to be able to play it. Beauty does sell, even if it’s boring on the inside. Not to say that Doom 3 was a total mess, scratch off the shiny coat of paint and you got a predictable game that doesn’t challenge the mind and doesn’t come close to the atmosphere the first doom game did.
To make my point a little clearer, the industry is forced to spend million if dollars into their graphics. We then bang on them for not offering more than 6-8 hours of gameplay. Let’s try not to judge a game by it’s graphics anymore.
It’s been awhile since I got sucked into puzzle games. What sets Puzzle Quest apart is the clever use of rpg elements mixed in with a puzzle game. The puzzle is similar to bejewled, where you must switch circles to match 3 of the same colored circle together. The difference is that you are against someone and both have hit points. You essential fight by matching skeleton heads and same colored circles gives you mana points, that can be used for skills. You can choose a class of character and level them up during the many fight sequences. It’s a great pick up and play game that is stays addicting, far beyond normal puzzle games. Check it out here.
Wow, a new shiny version the xbox 360, called the elite version, is shipping soon. It’s now black, features a 120 gig hard drive and a HDMI port. Take that early adopters, with the usual fan base of early buyers is hardcore, they come out with such disappointing news. They will sell the new hdd for 180$ US, there is still no way of getting the HDMI support. The price of this hefty new version is 479$ US, that’s a lot of moullah if you place it next to the ps3. Since ps3 has a built-in blu-ray player, the price difference is now minimal in terms of features. If they could of somehow included a hd-dvd drive with that package and increases it’s price point to, hmmm, let’s say, 549$ US. I would see more value in that and it might of put them on the map for the HD-DVD vs Blu Ray format war.
A patch for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. : Shadow of Chernobyl was released on the 26. Small patch but seems to fix a lot of big bugs, the worst part of it is that it deletes your saved games files. I haven’t played this game yet but I believe it’s a long single player game. If you put in lots of hours into it, and like to jump into the multiplayer games from time to time, this is a pain in the !@#.
For a long time now,we heard that Castlevania was headed to the Xbox live Marketplace. Rumors were circulating that it couldn’t possibly fit into the 50mb limit. They “upped” the file size of Xbox live Arcade titles, from the 50mb to 250mb. New memory cards will be made available to compensate for the changes. Although Castlevania only takes 98mb, the fact that developers have now a little more freedom is a nice added bonus. Enough about that and let’s talk about the game. The controls are really well implemented on the Xbox 360 controllers, always nice to see for such a platformer. The graphics were a little enhanced to smooth out the pixels, the option to turn it back to the original graphics is included if you don’t “dig” the new ones. It’s also fairly priced at 800 points (10$ US) for such a high profile game.
It’s a sad thing to see that people still think that video games is for kids. Even most stores place video games in the kid sections of their store or magazine. The average age of gamers is 30, and 75% of Americans buys games. So why is it still labeled as toys? Here is a list of games that will change your mind on this subject.
1. Guitar Hero:
Guitar Hero not only demonstrates that games are fun, it also shows that it’s accessible to everyone. Having a controller that resembles a real guitar is less scary than a normal controller. Whip it out at a party and people will instantly be drawn and curious to try it out. Music, being something that anyone can relate to, has a relaxing feel to it.
The DS has been good recently in showing off great applications that are much less of a game and more of a way to sit back and enjoy simple stuff. While the game might end up be bought to kids from their parents, kids will most certainly show their dogs to their mom and dad. You can then see that it has learning value since you can train your dog to do tricks and you need to take care of it. For people who can’t own a real dog, this game does a great job of having a virtual one replace that.
3. Big Brain Academy:
Speaking of learning, there is nothing better than this game for that. Big brain academy is a multitude of fun little games that teaches you how smart you are. The game is simple, clean fun that uses the stylus for ease of use.
4. Dance Dance Revolution
Although this game isn’t for everyone, if you see a good person doing a difficult dance it might turn you off to try it. If you come in with the right mindset, and have someone to teach you the steps, then DDR becomes a wonderful experience. Not only is it fun, it also allows you to burn calories and become fit since a workout mode is included.
5. Second Life
Maybe not a true game at heart, Second life is still a digital world, developed the same way as a game is. The phenomenon that as become second life is truly amazing. The concept behind this game is just like the title, a second life. You are a character that can have a life, you can get a career, make money, spend it, create stuff. Businesses use Second life to set up meetings and create virtual stores from which they can sell real life products. Not only is Second life a game but it’s being used as a powerful creation tool.
6. America’s Army
Part game, part recruitment tool, America’s Army is developed by the US Army and the game is free. Upon launching the game, you get training before hand. From shooting, reloading guns, you are also trained in the medical field, with video and tests you need to take. The main portion of the game is playing as a team to take down the terrorists and what to do in dangerous situations. I’m not here to argue as to whether this is good or bad as a thing to implement in a game but it shows that video game might be used to teach more profoundly in the future.
7. Microsoft Flight Simulator Series
Simulators are nothing new, they present the player with a virtual simulation of a product with much realism. The flight simulator series has always been a benchmark in the simulation genre. You can plane almost any planes you can imagine, from old models to hangliders, there is lots of variety. The most appealing feature, that I choose this game to be included in my article, is the weather mode. You can fly anywhere in the world and at about a 15 minutes interval, you get the real life weather of what it’s in that area (of course if you are connected to the internet).
8. World of Warcraft
A base of 7 millions subscribers is nothing to sneeze at. We could debate as to why WOW as become so popular. I believe that massively multiplayer games are so appealing to most people is because of the community. Interacting with people from anywhere in the world while doing entertaining stuff like playing a game at the same time. Where WOW most succeeds to my knowledge is in its customer service. Providing new content from the feedback of the players is great. The glue between the developers and the users is what keeps WOW from being just a game.
9. The legend of Zelda Series
The Zelda series might never get to be enjoyed by a large number of people due to the fact that it is difficult, and uses the whole controller (even the wii version is complicated). It can’t be denied that the series is one of the only game that truly gets you emotionally attached to a game character. The Metal Gear Solid series has delivered emotions also from their cinematic but I’m only talking in a gameplay perspective. As game evolve we might reach a certain point where we will break this barrier, for now, Zelda shows it’s way beyond it’s time.
The king of puzzle game, Tetris probably came from Aliens and given to earth as a gift. The barrier is shattered from a game stand point. Your brain shifts into a state of gaming nirvana as little blocks falls down a hole. Wits and reflexes are tested as you try placing your blocks into lines before they are stacked too high. In all seriousness, Tetris is what placed the word game into video games for me.
This article was not conceived to turn everyone into a gamer. I understand that you can’t force feed people into liking stuff. This article was conceived to try and break the link that most people assume, Video games are for kids. Also to educate parents that some games are not for their kids, the ESRB ratings exists for a reason. Please leave comments on your thoughts about this.
Kongregate.com brings a new approach to flash game based websites. It now offers challenges built into the games. Not unlike the achievemnts points used on the xbox 360, challenges revolves around doing a certain special thing in a game that unlocks points and a goodie. Points are used to level up your account, while the goodies seems to be cards that will be used in a card game, soon to be released. I’m glad to see this new approach being brought to a website. It might just end up being so addictive like achievements on the 360, but now the points go beyond bragging rights.
I played the Archlord beta a little while ago and now with a 7 day trial I’m giving it another run. Setup was quick and painless, you go into your account and add in the trial key, nothing more. Game launched I try to find my old character but its gone (or maybe it was the server that was offline). I’m guessing more that they got erased from the beta. I start a new character once more, the same cat like female moon elf from last time.Back in the beta there was some horrible (creepy too) voice acting from the NPC. They still reside, bad as always. Still clipping in the animations too. The servers are much more empty it seems, or its only the starting area maybe. For me that kind of makes or breaks a deal in terms of mmo, especially for new players trying a mmo for the first time. What made me love mmos in the first place is the interaction and role playing. If I can’t find friends to enjoy the game with I won’t go on. This is only a idea I’m throwing out but maybe include a GM in newbie areas that could interact with new players and show them around in real time. That would fill the void until you get into more populated areas.
The game is now being free of monthly charges, you only need to buy the game to play. Probably an attempt to get more players in, I hate to see such ambitious titles have to force themselves to that. Since players make75% of what a mmo is, they at least understand that.
6 more days to roam, this won’t be enough to give it a review I think. I’ll just give more insight into it next time.