Max Parker (The Game Guy)

Max Parker (The Game Guy)

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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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DBcoverI grew up with a household PC that was limitedly effective, but overall inadequate. It carried out the few tasks that were expected of it like an early web service called Prodigy, and Encarta digital encyclopedia. Throw in a word processor and you have the three main tasks of my childhood PC. Gaming was not on its short list of can-do tasks. The only game character it was familiar with was Mavis Beacon.

 

It was because of this PC that I missed out on the “Diablo” series. The popular game from Blizzard was not in my computer’s prevue. In fact, this PC wouldn’t even know what to do with it due to its lack of CD ROM drive. Throughout the years, I instead experienced the many “Diablo” console clones like “Hunter: The Reckoning” and “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.” I now admit that I enjoyed these games through a naïve lens having never played the game that inspired their cooperative progression.

 

“Diablo 2” eventually released for consoles, but by that time the series had passed me by. I had little interest. That was until “Diablo 3” was released for next-gen consoles and I was tasked with giving it the review treatment. It only took a couple hours of playtime to show me what I had been missing.

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'Hohokum' review - controlled ambiguity

Wednesday, 13 August 2014 11:00

 

Hohokum iconEvery so often, a game will pop up as a surprise on my review calendar. This was the case for “Hohokum”: an artsy exclusive for the PlayStation family by Honeyslug and Santa Monica Studio. I didn’t know much about “Hohokum” going into the review, which can be a positive. It’s refreshing to pick up a game with a blank slate, especially today when AAA games receive umpteen trailers prior to release. “Hohokum” is rare in this regard. But what’s even more unique is that I don’t know much more about this game after having spent more than six hours with it.

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One of the biggest video game news events has kicked off from Cologne, Germany. Gamescom is home to some major announcements in the industry, and the 2014 show was no exception.

 

Microsoft took the stage first with their annual press conference to make major announcements such as the 1TB Xbox One and that the next “Tomb Raider” installment will be exclusive to the Xbox platform.

 

Later, Sony tried to match that with the presser of their own, which showcased a strong lineup of upcoming games, plus the PS4’s firmware 2.0.

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