Posts Tagged ‘games’

I Am Alive : : Don’t wait for The Last Of Us

I Am Alive is probably a game that you won’t ever play. The next 5 minutes will hopefully convince you otherwise. The simplicity of the game is what makes it such fun to play. For £8 you’re getting a single player experience that easily rivals that of the £40 titles out there at the moment. It’s certainly been the most enjoyable single player I have played in 2012. So what exactly makes it such a joy to play? Why should you not just wait for The Last Of Us? 

The opening hour is more or less of a climbing tutorial. In I Am Alive you have a stamina bar that slowly decreases as you traverse the terrain in front of you. Therefore, if you are acting like Nathan Drake for too long, then you’ll eventually fall. This makes the climbing sequences not only exciting but also challenging. Figuring out what path to take across (the George Washington?) bridge will act as a lovely tutorial for this.

These climbing sequences usually space out the main events of the story which see you meeting many people. Some need your help, some can help you but most just want to kill and loot your body. This part of I Am Alive is where the game comes into its own. You usually want to help those in need after you experience how difficult it is to stay alive (especially in the harder difficulties).

Every meeting with hostile civilians is dealt with differently than in previous encounters. That said, there is only ever one solution towards coming out alive after each encounter. These meetings with people pop up at a brilliant pace, you’re not waiting long between meetings but you’re waiting long enough to enjoy the other aspects of the game like climbing, scavenging and exploring. The variety between who you come across is also very refreshing.

It’s been a very long time that I’ve played a video game that had me thinking about what will happen even when I am not playing it. Most nights I often found myself thinking about how this man would find his family, which parts of the map I hadn’t explored and what I needed to scavenge for as soon as I resumed playing. It was nice to be so passionate about a single player game since I played the Uncharted series.

Scavenging is another part of I Am Alive that the producers seemed to have pulled off brilliantly. Your character starts off with nothing. Everything from water to camera batteries to first aid must be found. The rare items like bullets and adrenaline shots are usually found in hard to reach places. They often require the player either helping out a person in need or exploring a part of the map that does not tie in with the story line. That said, it is worth your time to go this extra mile. You see, an empty gun is handy to keep away people with a machete. But should you raise your gun towards someone who also has a gun, then expect to die, quickly. Should you find yourself cornered by three enemies, you should shoot and kill the one person with a gun first and then aim your gun menacingly at his two friends that only have knives. They don’t know you just ran out of ammo and they sure ain’t going to call your bluff. Usually, you won’t ever have more than 1 or 2 bullets. Heck, most of the time you won’t have any. I vividly remember the time I managed to scavenge 5 bullets in the space of 15 minutes, I couldn’t stop screaming “5 F**KING BULLETS?!” The amount of power I had was silly. Like a school boy I ran into my next engagement as 4 men slowly cornered me. They were joking with one another about how I probably had nothing for them to loot and how my body would keep their fire warm that night. 3 seconds later they were all dead and I only had one bullet left. The regret seeped into me immediately….

The game later brings in other elements, like a bow and arrow in which you can pickup your arrow again after each use. This means you have unlimited ammo in one way, but can only use it effectively once per engagement. This brought a new element to the game as there were now numerous ways to deal with hostiles. Not only did I have my machete for close engagements but now I had 2 bullets and my bow and arrow?! Before the excitement got too much, I realised that now there was usually an extra person in each group of enemies and a couple of extra guns between them. This made each encounter much more difficult. Yet I must commend the game, the pacing is superb along with the increased difficulty as the game progresses.

I Am Alive is a game that far exceeded my expectations. When a game is only available on the PSN store for £8 you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid. However, I Am Alive could be the most under-rated game of the last 5 years. Many people will unfortunately miss out on this experience due to its lack of coverage along with the release of The Last Of Us just around the corner. However, you will not be disappointed. It was, without a doubt, the best £8 I ever spent.

The Beauty of PC Gaming.

Recently, I downloaded steam on my MacBook and took the plunge into PC gaming. After a long and tortuous night of installing Windows 7 to allow for greater gaming access, I was ready to join the ‘pro-gamers’ that people had only warned me about.
It’s no secret that PC gamers are more competitive. However, this competitive attitude does not turn them into screaming hooligans. It, dare I say, brings out the best in people. Especially those people with a mouse and keyboard in their hand, rather than a wireless dualshock.
You can watch any gaming YouTube video and it wouldn’t be long until you found a console vs PC comment war. It was never something I took much notice to due to my lack of PC experience. Give any console gamer 1 hour on Counterstrike Source and he will suddenly realise what he’s been missing his whole life and why consoles will never match up to PC’s.

The game library itself is far more extensive for PC’s, an obvious thing to say but it must be said all the same. Not only that, but graphics suddenly become less important. My 2009 MacBook is hardly capable of running Slender. As long as there is a smooth frame-rate, I have been consistently having much more fun playing these games compared to the blockbuster console titles; Modern Warfare 3, Fifa 12, Mass Effect, Max Payne.

You see, the PC really comes into it’s own when you turn on your microphone and start listening to other players. It wouldn’t take you long to hear a “F**K YOU” whilst playing online on Xbox, or PS3. Yet I managed to play 2 hours worth of Counterstrike and 2 hours worth of Hidden: Source without anyone screaming at me. More than that, these people were pleasant. PC gaming is incredibly difficult to pick up. Having a keyboard with 60 buttons rather than a dualshock with 8 is incredibly daunting at first. I was hesitant to ask the ‘pro-gamers’ which button I should press to open a door in fear of being sworn at. However, it just doesn’t happen. Everyone is happy to welcome new players, help them out and ensure they are enjoying themselves. Once I picked up the controls more, real conversation ensued. Suddenly, I was talking to a Polish man about how long he has been gaming for and why he started.

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I haven’t ever had a conversation like that in my 5 years of playing online the Playstation 3. With dedicated servers and a more precise aiming tool (your mouse) there is much less room for you to be made angry. The games are more simple and so more fun.

I haven’t had this much fun playing online games for a very long time. So I plead for you all to try PC gaming. Don’t get me wrong, if you are one of those obnoxious COD players then we clearly don’t want you. But anyone that is just looking for a new experience or is simply tired of getting called a ‘F*****G TW**”, then download steam and download an old school fps. They’re cheap and they really don’t need a great laptop to run them smoothly.

I leave you with the video that kick started my new found love.

Video Game Euphoria.

You often hear people talk of their amazing experiences. Whether this is in front of a crowd, as they jump out a plane or when they see there sports team win the championship. These are easy to understand because all of us, at some stage, have experienced that magical feeling. That feeling that makes you scared to live the rest of your life out of fear that you will never reach those magical heights again. This feeling comes in all sorts of forms. However, one of those is greatly overlooked. This is the 3rd blog post I’ve written after experiencing such euphoria from a video game (see here for what Call of Duty’s single player did to me).

I write this just one hour after the most incredible FIFA victory I’ve ever seen or taken part in. Now stay with me, before you judge, because it was utter insanity.

The night began with pizza, beer, (real) football and a complete oblivious nature as to what was about to unfold. We set ourselves the task of beating Germany with England on Legendary difficulty in FIFA 12. This would be the perfect climax to the video game football world with the release of FIFA 13 just around the corner. We would proudly be able to say “yeah, we beat FIFA…..on Legendary.” After 3 hours of trying we soon realised the task ahead was not for the faint of heart.

It took us an hour alone just to score a solitary goal, but a tremendous goal at that. Rooney, from the centre circle, threaded a perfectly weighted through ball towards the ‘gassed’ Theo Walcott down the left wing. Rooney continued his gut-busting run all the way to the edge of the area, overtaking two German defenders before Theo eloquently rolled the ball towards the bulldozing Rooney.

Manual Neuer never stood a chance.

   The goal was met with raucous cheers that were loud enough to wake the neighbours. We weren’t even dis-heartened by the final score line of 4-1. We had scored. Against the Germans. On Legendary. It was possible. Suddenly, seeming like we were in a Nike “impossible is nothing” advert, we clicked the restart match button. Our index fingers filled with nothing but optimism and faith.

Another hour went by and we got closer. Scoring became a more regular occurrence. The main difficulty (my friend George and I agreed) was that as soon as we managed to score, the computer would seemingly crush our gleeful faces by upping the difficulty from Legendary to ‘COMPUTER SAYS NO’. The number of times that we conceded minutes after scoring…I don’t like to think about it. Still, we could score, and we had experienced times of up to 60 (FIFA) minutes where we kept the Germans at bay.

Memories of playing through the D-Day mission on Medal Of Honour and Call of Duty began flooding back to me. The Germans had to be stopped.

The clock struck 11:27 pm. We hit the restart button for what would be the last time.
The first 45 minutes was uneventful. A chess game. Teasing runs that made sure not to commit too many men forward for fear of the German merciless counter-attack.
Within 5 minutes of the 2nd half commencing, Ashley Young was hacked down in the area by Per Mertesacker. The kind of challenge that only a slow, lumpy oaf like Per would make. Ashley tumbled to the ground before we heard the referee’s whistle stay silent. We could barely contain the anger. We were stuck in the pause menu for 10 minutes, trying to steady our emotions after it seemed this game was doing everything in its power not to let us win.

   Then just 2 minutes later, Walcott steamed into the penalty area off a counter attack and lobbed the ball up deliciously into the bath of an incoming Ashley Young. He was out for revenge. He leapt high up above Per and headed the ball towards goal from 2 yards out, a certain goal, a certain 1-0 lead…..to our disbelief Neuer clawed the ball over the bar. The agony wasn’t over yet. From the following corner, Lampard swung the ball into the near post where Ferdinand met the ball, winning England’s 4th header in as many hours, before directing it towards the bottom corner. We began to rise in anticipation of this long awaited goal before we saw the ball cannon off the post and out. More screaming ensued. There was no way to win, it wasn’t in the algorithm of the game. Another two minutes went by and these fears were crystallised as Klose headed the ball into the England net after what was incredibly uneventful and boring build up play.

We were 1-0 down at 55 minutes. Our belief in being able to win was gone. We both knew that come the final whistle it would all be over, for good.

But it wasn’t over.

10 minutes later, Per handled the ball in his own area to keep the ball away from Rooney.  A certain penalty, there was no way the referee could worm his way out this way. George handed me the controller in complete fear he would miss. Lampard stepped up and blasted the ball into the top right corner. 1-1. GAME ON.

At the 76 minute mark, Rooney (who has been our shining star all evening) received the ball with his back to goal about 20 yards out. He leant one way before swivelling the other, leaving Per for dead. Shrugging off the incoming Schweinsteiger, he rocketed the ball into the bottom left corner. A typical Rooney goal that displayed his strength and power. We were 2-1 up and we could hardly contain ourselves. Just 10 minutes away from beating FIFA 12 we became petrified as soon as the German team took possession in fear of the computer suddenly upping their difficulty level again. People say the Shining is a scary film and that Slender is a scary video game. I however have never been more scared than when Phillip Lahm has been running straight at me.

We held out until the 90th minute before Klose somehow found himself 3 yards out. Joe Hart came to our rescue for the 89th time that evening. The ball was cleared and the final whistle was blown. 

The following 25 minutes, we sat dumbstruck. Re-watching highlights and absorbing every possible lick of information available from the match facts page. We knew that we had both experienced something we would one day tell our Grandkids. Stop laughing, I’m serious.

You can list this as #39 in the “Reasons why Video Games are the Best Thing to Happen to the World Since Sliced Bread”.

Bring on FIFA 13.

Are video games too violent?

 I was playing Modern Warfare 3 the other day in the presence of my girlfriend’s Dad. The violence of the online world was something very shocking to him, so much so, that I had to stop playing. It made me start thinking – what would people who have never seen a Call of Duty game in action think of it? I have been playing violent video games since the legendary Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64. Never have I ever thought to take my gaming persona into the real world. At the same time, I love playing these games because they allow me to do something I could never do in real life – kill someone. Now I’m not saying that I want to kill someone – I’m merely stating that it’s human interest to be fascinated in things unknown to us, like death, war, superhero powers, playing in the NBA, surviving a zombie apocalypse, saving Princess Zelda and being Solid Snake. This is why people love video games, they allow a normal person to do things they never could. However, over the years, the majority of gamers have invested their time in violent titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and Battlefield. This blog will concentrate on two main aspects; if these games too violent and if these games are socially destructing to the person playing.

Violence

“F**k you edpenn!”

I am not a violent person, like all of my friends, like 95% of the people I meet online when playing Call of Duty or Battlefield. I won’t go and steal a car after playing Grand Theft Auto. Parents and people who have no knowledge of these games find it hard to form an opinion when all they see is 30 seconds of playtime. Their view? Why is my son smiling and laughing as he is shooting someone in the face? What have I done wrong as a parent?!
Nothing. The bottom line is that you have to already be severely messed up to take this games literally. Any normal person would not kill their mother after playing Grand Theft Auto (true story). It isn’t the violence in the games that brings about this sort of behaviour, it is the sheer insanity that already existed in the person. Also, any violent game today has a ‘mature rating’ similar to movies. With Call of Duty I believe it is 16. So if a kid is playing Cod- you can bet his parents bought it for him since he just enjoys video games and was a good boy in December. If an old teenager or adult is playing – then there is nothing to fear.
Just as with all paths of life, there will be dicks. Dicks that ruin your experiences and make the stereotype ever more easy to accept (are telling me your work place is full of genuine, down to earth people?!). This is no different in the online world. There will be people who constantly yell obscenities at you whilst you play, shouting they will find and kill you after you just said “hello” in a ‘posh’ accent. Believe me, after playing online games for 5 years now, I’ve met my fair share of these morons.

If you are worried that your son/daughter is one of these people, or that you yourself are one of these people – you should first judge what the person is like in other situations. I, along with all of my friends, sometimes get angry when we play violent video games, it’s human nature. When we aren’t playing the game, we don’t walk around acting rude to people, swearing as soon as something goes wrong or acting violently towards anyone. That is because we, like 90% of people playing are normal, level headed people with other things going on in our life.

Socially destructive

During my last two years of high school, I played Call of Duty almost every single night after school. I played into the early hours of the morning each weekend. I have no issue in saying – not much has changed since then.
In one year alone during the Modern Warfare 2 era, I figured out that on of my friends had spent 1 out of every 8 minutes playing MW2 (after you take away time spent at school and time sleeping). In 12 months he amassed over 1 month of playtime. Yes, it’s insane. But, like my friend, both of us led perfectly normal lives. We both attend great universities now. We both played a lot of school sport together and hung out with our friends a lot. I started playing in a ukulele orchestra. I went skateboarding with my brother a lot. I spent time with my family. I did all my school work.
Ask my father what he thinks of video games, he’ll probably roll his eyes and walk away from you. He probably thought I was wasting my life when I played my playstation. Honestly, I can understand why he did.
However, he had no idea of the memories that were made between me and all my friends when we played each night. The reactions I developed, how quickly I could make decisions in all aspects of life, the long lasting friendships that were made over a microphone.
For me, video games has become more than a casual hobby. I have a youtube channel and I blog regularly about all things gaming related. For my friends, they still play online with me now even though we have gone our separate ways to higher education. What has stayed the same? The fact that we are all progressing in life towards a bright future and the fact that we are growing into mature young adults. We still talk tactics when we play Cod and Battlefield, but we also talk about what we will do with our lives, why our degree’s are difficult and personal issues that we just want someone to listen to.
However, just as there are people making violent video games seem ‘violent’, there are people who also make video games appear to be socially destructive. Yes, there are people who do nothing but play video games and yes, that is unhealthy. As long as you have other things going on in your life then there is nothing to worry about. That ultimately is down to parenting and what interests your child has. If he/she is only interested in video games, then who’s fault is that?
If anything, this blog and how it covers video games, music, the environment and basketball should prove to my father that I am a well rounded adult (it definitely won’t though).

Video games are something that didn’t really exist in our parents generation. Just like modern technology (iPhones, the apple store, online shopping) it will be something that they struggle to understand.
However I must state that video games are a huge part of who I am and they have played a huge role in developing me into the person I am today. So next time, try not to be as judgemental.

Video games helped me get through depression, they helped me generate a large circle of very close friends, they helped to develop an incredible passion and they helped me to enjoy my life.

Video Game News! 4th July 2012 – Old games come back strong.

Terminal map confirmed for MW3

The map we all love from Modern Warfare 2, “Terminal”, has been confirmed as part of a future DLC package for Modern Warfare 3. Even better than this, it’s going to be free. Expect the map to hit Xbox players a month before PS3 and PC players. I think this is the first time that I don’t care about having to wait an extra month before playing it on my Playstation. Can we just have Highrise, Favela and well, all of the MW2 maps except Derail now?
I know I want to see this again. #MANZ

Playstation Vita getting PS1 support

In the upcoming 1.8 firmware for the Vita, Sony will be providing support for the “PS1 Classics”. There isn’t a definitive date yet, but fans have been told to expect this firmware update this summer. Finally, after playing Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 and 4 repeatedly, I can now go through Metal Gear Solid again with my Vita. What PS1 Classic are you most excited about?

Free to Play Call Of Duty Online announced, China only

Developed by Activision Shangai, a new free-to-play Call Of Duty Online experience is coming to the Chinese market. No release date has been given but the game will have the grass-root features of Call of Duty. It will also be tailored slightly to fit the needs of the Chinese gaming market……so it has lots of flashing neon lights and the only level will be “Chinatown” from Cod4? Maybe. There is a debut trailer online. The like/dislike bar probably represents Chinese viewers/Rest of World viewers.
So why is this not available to everyone else? Well if you think about it- everyone else pays $60 every year to play Call of Duty. China have very few Cod players (compared to the rest of the world). Activision are simply trying to expand their fan base whilst making sure 90% of people pay for their game. Clever, but very evil. 

Tony Hawk HD getting THPS-3 DLC

Remember that amazing Tony Hawk game? The last game that featured 2 minute runs and secret tapes? The one with the amazing airport level? The one with the amazing cruise level? The one with FOUNDRY.

Well, it’s going to be available on the new Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD game released for our current consoles. It will only be $5. What about the fact that it was Tony Hawk’s idea to bring the classic levels back? It makes you want it more doesn’t it?

Sony have been working on the PS4 since 2010

ps4 job - According to the resume of a former Sony employee (research and development director), Sony have been working on the PS4 since 2010. The LinkedIn profile of Attila Vass is evidence for this claim. Sony have declined to comment after being asked about this. Jack Tretton (boss of SCEA) said, “we’ve never been first, we’ve never been cheapest, it’s about being the best. If you can build a better machine and it’s going to come out a little bit later.” Do you think the PS4 has been in development since 2010? It seems very likely.

I leave you with
What would video games be like of Hitler never existed?
– You have a girlfriend that likes video games too? Firstly, kudos. Secondly, buy her this.
– A great catchup of Splinter Cell so far, in preperation for “Blacklist”.