The Game Guy

“Super Smash Bros.” - That title signifies something more than a game series. For me, the title was an obsession. Even the word “obsession” suggests that the situation at hand teeters on the edge of being dangerous. If my college “Smash Bros.” playing habits would have been presented to anyone outside the gaming realm, the person would’ve conclusively branded it as such. 

In hindsight, it was dangerous. I think my friends and I all realized that at the time on some level even if that thought was heavily suppressed by the joy that “Smash Bros.” brought to us all. There was always something more productive that we could’ve been working on, whether it was respective studies, a term paper that had a looming deadline, or something as simple as stepping outside to see daylight. But all of those peripheries were easily brushed aside if there were four bodies willing to pick up the sticks and throw down in a 2-on-2 “Smash” session. Three-stock matches are generally short, and shouldn’t last longer than 10 minutes. It was the best-of-seven series or the endless refrain of “one more game” that turned one match in to several, and minutes into hours. I can say without question that I have logged more hours into "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" than any other game I've ever played.

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ShadowofMordorCoverThe “Lord of the Rings” books and movies can hold clinics on story structure. They establish a cast of heroes, their plight as a group and individually, introduce a great evil, a struggle of power, a great journey, downfall and redemption. There are such epic developments in the “Lord of the Rings” saga that it had to be divided into three books and movies. But one thing that isn’t developed is the story of the orc soldiers. They are portrayed in enormous groups with each face more grotesque than the last. Every nameless uruk can be mindlessly slaughtered because they’re orcs. Nobody cares about orcs.

“Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s” mantra is “know thy enemy.” You’ll know everything about the leaders of the orc forces called uruks: their strengths, weaknesses, motivations, fears and what gets under their leathery green skin. You can then use this information to demolish your enemy from within. That process is carried out by the ranger Talion.

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Disney Infinity

 

“Disney Infinity 2.0” is in stores today! Marvel characters are about to collide with the world of Disney. As exciting as this prospect is, the game requires careful consideration from consumers. Since these Play Sets and figurines aren’t cheap, you should know which ones are worth the money, and which ones should stay on the shelves.

 

I played all 16 launch characters and all three play sets and compiled a ranking of each character. Here’s how they stacked up.

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'Disney Infinity 2.0' review

Monday, 22 September 2014 11:00 AM Written by

 

Disney Infinity 2.0 Pack CoverartThe concept behind “Disney Infinity” was a perfect fit for Disney’s deep bench of beloved characters. It brought small, detailed figurines to life, from the cast of “Monster’s University, “Pirates of the Caribbean” and many series in between.

 

But the build up turned out to be bigger than the payoff. The end result was a series of Play Sets that were hit or miss, and a level creation system called Toy Box that was too confusing for many.

 

Now comes “Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes,” or often called “Disney Infinity 2.0.” This time around, Disney is tapping into their recently acquired Marvel franchises. Marvel favorites like Spider-Man, Iron-Man, Venom, The Guardians of the Galaxy and many others are available in the 16-character roster. Additional Disney figures like Merida from “Brave” and Maleficent will be available in the near future.

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'Destiny' diary: Guardian's log part two

Tuesday, 16 September 2014 12:00 PM Written by

 

Destiny box artPart one of my “Destiny” diary tackled the opening to about hour 10. Part two picks up where that left off and continues to hour 20 and beyond. After all that time spent planet hopping and palling around with other Guardians, I’m still not sure what “Destiny” is. Is it a shooter, MMO, shoot and loot or dance party simulator? I still don’t know. But I do know that it’s a melting pot of some of video games’ most beloved types of games.

 

But “Destiny” isn’t one thing: perfect. There are some questionable gameplay mechanics and story structures. Those shortcomings don’t ruin the entire experience. The game still provides fun, especially when playing with friends.

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'Destiny' diary: Guardian's Log - day one

Thursday, 11 September 2014 12:00 PM Written by

Destiny box artAh, the old familiar feeling of starting a sprawling, endless RPG. It begins as a blank slate that holds the potential for greatness. You, as the player, have the ability to make that greatness possible. “Destiny” is no exception.

 

Starting “Destiny” is reminiscent of the first day of high school. You don’t know where to go, or what to do. What’s worse, you don’t even know who you are yet. It takes months (hours of in-game time) to discover your role, your strengths and your weaknesses. Eventually you find a crew to pal around with, and you find direction along the way. Things start to click, and the fun begins. You’ll have friends. You’ll have enemies. You’ll excel, and you’ll fail. Success is essential, but enjoying the ride sits above all.

 

“Destiny” nearly succeeds in being the groundbreaking new I.P. that it bills itself as. Its structure is refreshingly unusual. Because of this, the first steps are ones of discovery that are occasionally familiar. The game kicks off with the obligatory character selection.

 

There are three classes with different abilities. Each class can be one of three races, which can each be male or female. The Titan has a defender ability that acts as a shield for party members, the Hunter is more of a high-damage, close-quarters attacker and the Warlock has a couple mystical powers.

 

Races include human, Awoken and Exo. Awoken are pale creatures that live on the edge of space, while Exo are self-aware robots. It’s odd how similar these three races actually are. Each has human characteristics other than their skin color. It’s not immediately easy to tell what race a character is with a quick glance. The game, and certainly the locales, would benefit from some diversity. Otherwise, it just looks like a game inhabited by hundreds of Mandelorians.

 

At this point, I don’t know how differently each class behaves. I chose the Hunter class for no reason other than because he’s the only character with a cool blade in his offhand. It seemed like a useful skill to have when planet exploring.

 

“Destiny” is a huge game. Activision and Bungie claim that they have a 10-year plan for it, rendering a 3-day review unfair, not to mention impossible. Instead, I’ll be keeping a journal of my experience over the next two weeks. Each entry will contain notes from recent play sessions: what I liked and what I didn’t like, cool things I noticed or found, annoyances, amazements and everything in between.

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'Counterspy' review - Secret agent man

Tuesday, 09 September 2014 11:55 AM Written by

The world is on the brink of extermination thanks to Russia and the United States’ nuclear standoff. Both sides have shaky fingers on the trigger, ready to fire a warhead to eliminate their enemy, but taking everything else with it. It’s up to a third party to intervene and stop the apocalypse. This is “Counterspy.”

“Counterspy” is one of the latest downloadable games that is exclusive to the Sony empire of the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita. This sidescrolling stealth game with 3D elements adopts a 60’s-era comic Pop Art style, which is fitting given its Cold War-inspired plot.

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Elgato is beefing up their game streaming offerings with two new products this month. The Game Capture HD60 external capture card is the follow-up to the Game Capture HD, and the company’s video editing software called Game Capture has been given a big 2.0 upgrade. It’s all very confusing since the hardware shares the same name with the software. The Game Capture HD60 ($179.99) is capable of streaming in 1080p at 60 frames per second, and has a smaller, lighter design.

I’ll be working with the HD60 extensively over the next few weeks to eventually bring you a full review. At the start of that process, I began testing out the Game Capture 2.0 software. What was once bare-boned streaming software that had more features for editors than streamers is now a full-fledged command center for broadcasters.

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