The Game Guy

The LAN party atmosphere was alive and well in Castle Shannon, PA this weekend.  Friday evening kicked off Iron Storm XIII, an annual event organized by the Pittsburgh LAN Coalition or “Pittco” as it’s often referred to. 

Gamers began filing into the Castle Shannon Memorial Fire Hall at 6 p.m. on Friday with their PCs in tow.  Some came from as far as Canada and New York to take part in the three-day, 42-hour festivities.

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I’ll admit that I was a bit worried when I first started playing “Trials Evolution.”  It had nothing to do with the game itself, but my dread stemmed from seeing early review headlines.  I remembered seeing a tweet that said it was “more than just a sequel,” which led me to believe that the things that made “Trials HD” one of my favorite XBLA games had been changed. I worried that it wouldn’t be the same experience.

After about ten seconds on the first course, my fear melted away.  This is the second coming of “Trials” on the XBLA.  The development team, RedLynx, has improved upon the original formula, making “Trials Evolution” one of the best experiences available in the online marketplace.

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I don’t enjoy getting stressed out when I play video games. That’s why I shy away from certain genres when gaming in my free time, like RTS games for instance. I dabbled in “StarCraft II,” but the learning curve was so great in the online arena that it became more of a headache than fun. Every one of my matches followed a similar format: feverishly working to build an army, only to have my poor defenseless miners obliterated by ruthless opposing forces before I even have a chance to form units with firepower.

I don't want to take anything away from the “StarCraft” universe. I respect both “StarCraft” 1 and 2 and recognize that they are the pinnacles of the RTS genre. I’m impressed by anyone who can play them on a competitive level. They're just not for me.

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The Splatters, an XBLA title developed by Spiky Snail, is puzzly action that we’re used to seeing on a mobile device rather than Xbox Live.  Its format is reminiscent of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, but the gameplay is anything but.

The game has a fresh, original concept while keeping the “trial and error” gameplay style of the above-mentioned games.  The stages get progressively complex and difficult, and success is measured by a 1-to-3-star rating, again, much like Angry Birds.

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I spoke to Twitch.TV heads Emmett Shear and Matthew DiPietro about their fast-growing company, PAX East, the future of consoles, and e-sports on the whole.  This piece going to run in Wednesday's Edition of the Post-Gazette, but here's a sneak peak.

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Competitive gaming is a popular part of video gaming culture, yet it’s often overlooked by the mainstream audience.  Gaming tournaments are held locally and in the surrounding regions, like Tekkoshocon, which is held annually in downtown Pittsburgh.  The popular PC game “StarCraft” has spawned events known as “Barcraft” events, some of which have been held in Pittsburgh.  BarCraft events are held at local bars where fans meet to watch players compete in the “StarCraft” competitions.

Competitive gaming, often referred to as electronic sports or “e-sports” for short, has grown quickly over the last three years with help from the website Twitch.TV.  Twitch.TV is devoted to e-sports, and is comprised of streamed, community-based content.  Any gamer can live stream gaming footage through Twitch.TV, and can then be watched by anyone around the world.

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It seems like everything Star Wars-related has been panned recently (except for SWTOR), starting with the Blu-Ray changes, and continuing on with Kinect Star Wars for the Xbox 360. Don’t expect me to join in the chorus of “boos,” though. I enjoyed my time swinging a virtual lightsaber and learning dance moves like “The Kessel Run” from Han Solo. If you accept and view this game for what it is–a game for kids–it is a perfectly serviceable title. Just don’t fire it up and expect the second coming of Empire.

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Journey - PSN review

Thursday, 29 March 2012 01:42 AM Written by

When I was a young boy, I was shown an early Disney film called “Fantasia,” a movie that mesmerizes me to this day.   The word “symphony” comes to mind when I think about it, not only in the literal sense of the word that represents a classical piece of music, but because of the movie’s characterization of two elements working together for a common cause.  “Fantasia” was and is the perfect harmonious relationship between music and imagery, two elements that have the ability to evoke strong emotion.  To see them come together in a way that I had never seen before at a young age was awe-inspiring.  Since then, I haven’t had an experience that resonated with me on the same level of “Fantasia” until I played Journey for the PS3. 

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The PlayStation Vita: One Month Later

Tuesday, 27 March 2012 06:35 PM Written by

It’s been over a month since the PlayStation Vita’s release, and the infatuation stage is officially over.  It’s funny how quickly infatuation transitions into the “what have you done for me lately” stage when it comes to technology.  I suppose it’s similar to human relationships in that regard, but that’s a post for another time and place.

The Vita came out last month like gangbusters, bringing with it launch lineup of over 30 titles.  It was a mixed bag in terms of quality, but it was safe to say that there was a game for every kind of gamer.  Then came the apps that released during week one, like Netflix, Facebook and Twitter.  Now, Sony’s music streaming service, Music Unlimited, is available as well.

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