Might & Magic Heroes VII: What a Disappointment!

Without doubt, I am one of the biggest Heroes of Might & Magic 3 fans out there and I still find time to play a quick map every now and then, even though you can feel the limitations of the game so many years after its release. But somehow HoMM 3 manages to entertain, to offer value… and it’s the nostalgia that pushes me to give the series another try.

I must be honest and admit that following a slightly disappointing Heroes of Might and Magic IV and an even more disappointing Might & Magic Heroes V, I completely ignored the series. Until this year. This year, the HD edition was launched, I purchased it, played the campaign over and enjoyed the improved visuals and the HoMM bug took over once more. Just in time for Might & Magic Heroes VII.

What a disappointment!

As soon as you start the game, you are left wondering if the developers had budget cuts or your computer started to act strangely: the intro video for the campaign is basically static images with sub-par voice acting. Worse than a hidden object game’s intro – at least they have proper animation nowadays and certainly better special effects.

But it’s not intro movies and cutscenes I play a game (especially Heroes of Might and Magic for), so I decided to ignore this warning and I jumped straight into the game. I chose a campaign – the yellow one (and sorry for my terms, you will see that I didn’t spend too much time with the game to actually know what’s happening) and I got stuck. For the first time since I play a Heroes game, I got completely stuck. Frustrated, enraged, stuck.

I started with two heroes. No chances to enter the city. Not completely sure that was MY city. Moved around, fought so me enemies, lost some troops, decided to wait for an event to unlock new features, for something to tell me what to do. Nothing. Just frustration. Increased by the poor graphics, the tones that made all items to blend in, difficult to individualize, impossible to appreciate.

So I decided that I’m completely out of shape and I probably miss the obvious and it’s time to do that shameful thing that hardcore gamers don’t: play the tutorial. But probably MMH 7 is made only for the most hardcore gamers out there because there’s no tutorial whatsoever. If you are new to the genre, new to the game – and I completely felt like a complete noob – then you will have NO IDEA how to play the game. How to enter the freaking town, build a freaking building, recruit some troops and make your way though the map. If you are new to the game, nothing will make sense. Heroes, artifacts, skills… well, nothing will be explained. And it sucks.

I did try a new campaign (can’t remember the color) and I managed, there, to enter my city or cities. I can’t remember exactly because I was still enraged. I was blindly clicking stuff at that point, not really knowing what I have to do, what are the goals and why on earth am I playing this joke of a game.

So I quit, completely disappointed. I had high hopes from a new game in the series and I wanted so bad to get a good game. A game to love, a game to obsess me as much as HoMM3 did and still does. Instead, I got a joke. And wasted 60 minutes – time I will never get back.

Might & Magic Heroes 7 also managed the counter-performance of becoming the first game that I ask a refund for on Steam. It was a sad moment and I realized that the franchise might actually be dead and gone. I gave the new game 60 minutes and all I got back was frustration and disappointment. At least I got my money back.

Speculating Street Fighter V’s New Boss Character

The roster for Street Fighter V is nearing completion with only a couple more characters awaiting their reveals.  Karin, Zangief, and newcomer Laura were officially revealed recently, with Laura being accidentally leaked by Famitsu early.  Capcom has stated that there will be sixteen playable characters in Street Fighter V‘s initial roster and more will be added post-release in a League of Legends type of ongoing service.  They’ve also stated that, of the sixteen characters, eight will be series regulars, four will be veterans that have been out of the fight for some time, and four will be entirely new.  With the most recent reveals, we now know seven of the eight all-stars (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Zangief, M. Bison (dictator), Vega (claw), and Cammy), three of the newcomers (Necalli, Rashid, and Laura), and all four of the returning veterans (Charlie Nash, Birdie, Rainbow Mika, and Karin).  This leaves only one all-star and one newcomer for the initial roster.  However, the remaining characters may already be known as all of these reveals line up well with a supposed leak that was originally released on the forums of popular Street Fighter fan-site Shoryuken.com.

The leak was posted three months ago and claimed that R. Mika, Zangief, Sim (supposedly referring to Dhalsim), Juri, Karin, Ken, Urien, Alex, Laura, Rashid, and Zen would be on Street Fighter V‘s roster before any of those characters had been confirmed.  Initially, I shrugged the leak off as it not only failed to mention Vega and Necalli, but it also contradicted with the number of characters that Capcom themselves claimed would be in the game.  Even when Rashid was revealed, I still wasn’t convinced and chalked it up as a lucky guess.  Dozens of fake leaks are released regularly and, while Rashid isn’t the most common name, it’s still possible that someone just got lucky.  However, now that Laura has also been revealed, it lines up too well to be called a mere coincidence.  Taking the Shoryuken leak as real, that makes Dhalsim the last veteran character (so much for my Necro prediction) and Zen as the last newcomer and is also referred to as the new boss character in the leak.  Unfortunately, it turns out that executive producer Yoshinori Ono really was playing a trick when he heavily hinted at Blanka being announced at the Brasil Game Show.

However, what about the three characters left over?  Unless the roster has changed mid-development or the stated number of characters was an outright lie, there isn’t enough room in the plan for Juri, Alex, and Urien to join the cast.  Well, the simple explanation is that these characters won’t be in the initial line-up, but rather are the first ones in line to be added post-release.  One of them may even be announced near launch as a free preorder bonus.  There is an event scheduled at New York Comic Con that would be the perfect place to reveal the all-American Alex.  I doubt anyone would be used as a preorder exclusive given that Capcom knows how much they’ve burned their fans with on-disc DLC in the past and they are in no position to garner more bad press for themselves.  After all, the only reason Street Fighter V is being developed at all right now is because Sony offered to help publish it.  More likely, preordering would get you a voucher for a specific character that would have to be unlocked with either grinding or microtransactions otherwise.  Then again, never underestimate a major game developer’s ability to dig its own grave.

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The one major mystery surrounding the roster is the identity of the supposed new boss, Zen.  With such an innocuous name, Zen’s playstyle, personality, and even gender are all anyone’s guess.  However, I think we may have already seen Zen and can deduce some of his abilities.  In Street Fighter IV,  Shadaloo enforcer and former boxing champ Balrog decides to go rouge in order to steal Shadaloo tech and sell it for his own gain.  In the end, all he walks away with is a mysterious child experimented on by SF4’s main antagonist,  Seth.  It’s my guess that this child is Zen and he will appear in Street Fighter V all grown up and in control of his latent powers.

Being raised by Balrog, Zen would likely be a boxer and the roster is still in need of one.  Having a boxer as the new boss would be an interesting twist, and he has his mysterious powers to differentiate him from Balrog and Dudley and make him stand out as a boss character.  Given that he was found in the same facility that created Seth, a creature made up of the best moves of all the other Street Fighter characters, the possibilities for his powers are essentially limitless.  He could mix up his pugilism with projectiles, spacing techniques, barriers, or who knows what.  Just having a straight-forward boxer wouldn’t be much of a boss, so Zen will definitely have some overwhelming abilities to put him on the level of Akuma and Gill.  Once again, I want to emphasize that this is all just wild speculation on my part and Zen could just as easily be an entirely new character unrelated to anyone or anything we’ve seen before.  Zen could very well be a space alien with three legs and shoots lasers from its eyes for all we really know.  Before you call that ridiculous, keep in mind that Street Fighter has never been shy about casually throwing around monster men like Blanka and Necro.  I just think Balrog’s ending from SF4 feels too much like foreshadowing of events we’ll see play out in SF5 to ignore.

Who do you think will be the new boss character for Street Fighter V?  Who do you want to have join the post-release roster first?  Do you have any lingering concerns as we approach the game’s release?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Top 5 3DS Classic eShop Games

I have nothing to play. One of the most common quotes about the typical gamer. I’ve used it myself on multiple occasions. Luckily if you own a 3DS/2DS you have a tremendous amount of games at your disposal.

So to make life that little bit easier I have created a list of must-own, classic games from the Nintendo 3DS eShop. These are perfect for the hand-held device if you have never experienced them before and should certainly try out. Alternatively, if your looking for a nostalgia tour, you should invest in these 5 first.

Note: I have discounted all games specifically designed for the E-Shop. This list primarily is dedicated to titles previously released that are now available on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. Enjoy:

Super Mario Bros Deluxe

Expecting the original? Yes I could have easily picked Super Mario Bros, however, for the same price you get the privilege of not only sprinting your way through the original 32 iconic levels, but you get a heap of challenges and extra content to keep you occupied for weeks. Revisit every level whilst hunting for 5 red coins and a hidden Yoshi egg and trying to beat the set score. There is also 32 advanced levels that you gain upon completion of the original 32. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned Boo races…

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2

You’re too slow. He may have fallen on hard times more recently, but the blue blur has some superb titles waiting on the eShop. What better way to revisit his glory days then to go with the best of the bunch; Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The game improved upon every feature from the first, making it vastly superior. It also introduced Sonic’s sidekick, the ever lovable Miles ‘Tails’ Prower. Here the duo sprint through the best 2D Sonic levels still available all these 23 years later. You have the Chemical Plant, the Aquatic Ruins and the unforgettable Casino Nights stage. Running through these vibrant, colorful levels with some of the best music to date. Flawless.

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Megaman 2

Sequels are popular. Again the blue blur, ahem, I mean the blue bomber came storming out of the gates in 1988 with debatably his greatest ever outing. Oh, how we would love a new entry like this. Anyway, in the mean time we have the stunning audio and gameplay of Megaman 2 that was cutting edge for the time. Take on Dr Wily and his army of robots in this difficult platformer. Warning: this is not for beginners that are new to the platforming genre. Megaman 2, like any of his titles, is unforgiving and require lots of practice, but if you are willing to sacrifice the time you will be well rewarded.

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Super Mario Bros 3

It’s impossible to leave off either of Mario’s greatest platformers. Super Mario Bros 3 introduced the Frog Suit, Hammer Suit and the unforgettable Tanooki Suit. There are exceptional levels still seen as gaming at its peek. Ice, sand and even a giant land (including giant Koopa Troopas!), whats not to like? Oh, right, that frustrating sun that constantly stalks you throughout the duration of the stage. Curse you!

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Tetris

For never-ending puzzling fun, you just can’t go wrong with the timeless Tetris. It’s been more than thirty years since the original release, yet it still remains one of the most popular puzzlers around. On top of this, it was announced that Tetris is the best-selling paid downloaded game of all time. I think you’ll agree that, for the money, you could do a lot worse, especially considering the game is endless. Nostalgic heaven.

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So, there you have it. The top 5 eShop games available on the Nintendo 3DS. Do you agree with my list? Leave us a comment below to tell us your top 5.

 

Bring Back Bioshock – The Bioshock Collection

2K Boston’s/ Irrational Games first person shooter game, Bioshock, is undoubtedly one that should sit firmly and proudly in any gamer’s collection. Receiving universal acclaim for its mind-boggling story line and intense and quite frankly disturbing gameplay, Bioshock definitely became a game difficult to compare to any other.

Most recent gaming consoles (PS4/ Xbox One) have provided developers the opportunity to remaster and recreate some fan favourites. Among such games is the Tomb Raider reboot (Square Enix) which made a comeback with Tomb Raider Definitive Edition, Devil May Cry 5 (Capcom), The Last Of Us (Naughty Dog) and even 2K’s own Borderlands series came to newer gen consoles in the form of The Handsome Collection, including both Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. With such great titles making such successful comebacks, it is almost strange that Bioshock hasn’t crept its way into the running, well, until now – kinda. It has been covered by IGN that a ”retailer may have accidentally leaked The Bioshock Collection”. That said, let’s savor our excitement – I’m almost sure I can hear millions of eager fans fidgeting in their seats, so let’s revisit what made Bioshock such a gruesomely great game and why there is every reason it should be remastered for fans on up-to-date consoles.

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Completely Deranged

One of the most renowned aspects of Bioshock is the utterly mental story line. Although seemingly simple at the beginning, as the game proceeds it becomes evident that with a ton of scientific jargon and DNA related technicalities, that unless you are scientifically inclined, the game is going to toy with your mind a bit – or a lot.

To enlighten those unfamiliar with the Bioshock basics, the game is set in the once intended utopia, Rapture. The city is based miles and miles deep within the North Atlantic Ocean. Pre-game, Rapture suffers at the hands of a civil war, resulting in the ultimate corruption of the underwater city. A valuable substance, ADAM (discovered in the process of Rapture’s creation) which allows genetic alterations once consumed, became exploited and fought over by residents who began splicing themselves extortionately, resulting in deformities and physical disfiguration. Most residents either became ‘Splicers’ or died at the hands of them. Primarily identified by their distinctive diver suit appearance and low, echoing whale like calls, Big Daddies sit at the top of the splicing food chain. Accompanying them on their ADAM patrols through Rapture are Little Sisters. These once little girls of Rapture have been corrupted by exposure to and consumption of ADAM and must be either saved or harvested by the player, once of course they’ve gotten through the rather terrifying Big Daddies first.

The player takes the role of Jack who, after a plane crash, finds his way into a lighthouse and, in using the bathysphere there, arrives in Rapture. The player must traverse the demolished city, fighting through hordes of spliced psychos and Bioshock’s iconic Big Daddies in order to escape.

This brings us to the first reason Bioshock should find it’s way back to our screens remastered. There is no other game like Bioshock. The whole ideal behind the game is very sinister and wicked and it makes the game very interesting to play. Featuring several characteristics of survival-horror, the thrill factor spurs you on during your playthrough and although you are dreading the next splicer that hurls itself at you unexpectedly or the next Big Daddy you have to take on unprepared, you will continue to play.

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No Escape

To add to the ongoing list of reasons Bioshock remains to be one of the most extraordinary games of all time is because of it’s widely credited setting, Rapture. In being situated thousands of miles below the surface of the ocean, consequently generated is the disconcerting feeling of no escape. For a player caught up in Bioshock’s proceedings, this simply adds to the dark atmosphere throughout the game, also contributing to the fear factor considerably. Bioshock’s well developed gameplay in combination with the almost evil atmosphere that Rapture creates, the game is immersive, making you feel as if you yourself are fending for your life in Rapture’s wreck.

Rapture is a perfectly developed setting also in respect to its association with the ocean. This I mean not only literally, in regards to its location, but also in respect to the resounding whale calls the Big Daddies produce, the glass walkways that exhibit Rapture’s once beautiful sights, the many species of fish that can be seen looming all over the city like vultures in a desert, it all reconciles to make the setting increasingly eerie and unpredictable and for a keen player, this makes the game far more enjoyable. It would be truly wonderful to be able to experience all of these feelings again in a remastered version of the game.

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The Remains Of A Utopia 

Rapture was Andrew Ryan’s (a main character within Bioshock) intended Utopia, what it became was the complete opposite. A city that was once supposed to manifest a perfect way of living was reduced to what could only be described as hell.

With Splicers making up the foremost part of the broken city’s population, it is almost uneasy for the player as the enemies have few limits, nothing is standing between them and you. There is no law, rules or regulations, Splicers are quite simply relentless and it really draws out the true horror factor of Bioshock. The setting presents to the player the rawness of these villains, blood spats on walls, messages written in blood, gruesome dead bodies displaying the aftermath of attacks. All of these scenes are scattered throughout Rapture and it does so well to keep the player on their toes. Collectively and in contrast to safe haven Andrew Ryan aimed to achieve initially in Rapture’s creation, all of the fear becomes amplified and, again, it effectively produces the immersive environment that few other games have even come close to developing on such a great scale.

We need a game like Bioshock out there, we need the Bioshock Collection.

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Back To Rapture 

Bioshock has been overwhelmed with all means of praise since its release, even receiving several Game Of The Year awards. It is a unique game on a number of different levels and in being so, it owes itself a remastered version. Fans deserve to revel in and thoroughly enjoy this title again, enhanced and buffed up for up to date consoles. I know I’d happily sit through another playthrough of being toyed with by a Splicer flickering lights of the room I am in, or coming face to face with a Big Daddy with nothing but a wrench – I kinda take that bit back.

All we as anxious fans can do for the meantime is tame our excitement if possible and keep checking to see if these rumors are in fact true.

 

 

5 Great Super Mario Maker Levels

Everyone’s favorite plumber turned 30 this week. A huge achievement for a character that is as popular as when he made his debut.  To celebrate this event Super Mario Maker has been released worldwide meaning for the first time we can officially create our own Mario Levels. The game itself is a wonderful experience that is incomparable. Now that the online community have got their eager hands on the tools, modders globally have been working tirelessly trying to create the best levels. In it’s early game life there have already been some genius designs made. So to highlight some of these here are “5 Great Super Mario Maker Levels”  that are worth spending your time on.

Note: This is simply from my online experience. Credit to all of the makers below. The main two criteria I have picked from are originality and fun. I want you to experience these levels and enjoy them as much as I did. So in celebration of Mario “Here we go!”

 

Don’t press Anything (AA64-0000-000F-7D4C) By Niramou

I wont spoil anything here however I think the title is a little bit of a giveaway. What I love here is the uniqueness. The temptation to touch the controller and push buttons to try and save the helpless plumber is agonizing. Like a chaotic roller coaster all you can do is hang on and pray you get out alive. Not one for the faint hearted.

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Bob-omb Battlefield N64 (536C-0000-0026-0267) By Andre GX 

Big fan of GameXplain, so nice to see some well designed levels by one of their co-founders; Andre Segars. Straight from Super Mario 64, Here we have as close to as we’ll ever get Bob-omb Battlefield in a beautiful Super Mario World style. Everything from the opening cannons to the star behind the Chain Chomp is present. A great ending that culminates with King Bob-omb looking for a rematch. Can be quite difficult this one though, so keep at it.

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Sonic1 Memory (6BC6-0000-000F-86F4) By ツヱ-

Sonic in a Mario Game! Impossible. Well after 24 years the blue hedgehog  finally makes an appearance. This level is a bonafide nostalgia trip. For any lovers of the 2D Sonic era this is a must. I couldn’t help my self,  All I did throughout this level is smile continuously. From the minute the mushroom was picked up and the sound effects kicked in I was smitten. The stage itself is a great nod to pass Sonic games making it feel as authentic as you can get. Who would have thought this was possible all those years ago?

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The Great Escape (B2FA-0000-000F-82CE) By CB*Crazykg

“We’ll dig our way out”. Never in my life did I imagine I would see a Super Mario Level based on the The Great Escape, yet here we are. Not only is this stage based on one of my favorite films of all time but it is superbly made. Burying underground, running from Nazi’s in the form of Chain Chomps combined with eerie patches of darkness make a great tribute to one of the most iconic films. All that is missing is Steve McQueen on a Motorbike. You can’t have everything.

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Press right, run and enjoy. (7CA1-0000-0011-1B5D) By Pyro 

Again a title that you should take literally. This is one of those stages that you think “How has someone possibly created this?” The premise is you are Mario in his Kart racing against a spiny to the finish line. You don’t have to do much as you navigate through paths avoiding enemies and traps but its a joyous ride throughout. The saying “It’s not about the destination, its about the journey” never applied so much.

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There you have it 5 Great Super Mario Maker Levels for you try out; Enjoy! If you have a Wii U feel free to add me on fordy004. What Super Mario Maker levels would you recommend? Leave us a comment below to tell us why.

Gaming Is Good For Me

A ‘hobby’ is defined as ‘An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure’. Common hobbies include an ensemble of varying sport activities, the reading of books, even trainspotting is considered a hobby. However, it has come to my attention that for a noticeable number of those outside of the gaming community that playing video games is highly disregarded as a hobby. That being said, what I aim to do here is try to defend this hobby that I personally partake in and try to bring into light it’s positive aspects as I believe it has many.

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The Lazy Hobby 

One of the primary reasons that indulging in a game is frowned upon is due to the fact that it isn’t a particularly physically demanding hobby. Strictly speaking, most gaming consoles and handhelds require the player to sit and focus on a screen. A successful game developer will aim to keep the player seated and engrossed for an extended duration of time. Does this then ultimately mean that gaming should be classed as any less of a brilliant hobby? I think that is quite unfair actually.

The Comeback

Firstly, let’s begin with the fact that although gaming as a hobby in most cases is not physical or evident in any means of activeness, mentally, games possess the ability to exercise a players mind. Games of today offer the players opportunities to gain knowledge of circumstances and eras that prior to playing would not have comprehended or taken any interest in. They allow players to put themselves into situations and ways of thinking that they would not consider themselves ever to be in. A fine example of a game that captures this ability so well is Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream). Heavy Rain falls under the genre of interactive-drama. Throughout the proceedings of the game the player plays as four vastly differing characters that are all collectively involved in the case of a serial killer known as the Origami Killer. The player is put in the position of a Father, a former police officer, a FBI profiler and a photojournalist. The game requires the player to make quick and vital decisions that have the potential to kill of main characters. Complete with interactive gameplay in the form of fast-paced action sequences and motion related actions with the controller, Heavy Rain is perfect for involving the player as if they were living out the games events for themselves. By bringing the more underrated moments of gaming in to light, we could even consider the fact that perhaps gaming ultimately becomes a more exciting way to learn.

Furthermore, in regards to the physical side to the argument, game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, have answered such issues allowing players to use their physical being to play games. For example, Wii Sports provides players the chance to bring sporting activities to their home. Despite the odd, 40 inch television taking a battering from a Wii remote in tennis or the insatiable level of embarrassment derived from playing Just Dance at a family gathering, Nintendo Wii, Playstation Move and Xbox Kinect have answered the demand for more physical means of gaming.

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Living The Story Of Many Differing Characters

Admittedly, one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing video games is the sheer span of genres, gameplay styles, settings, story lines and characters. The profound versatility video games provide is what allows it to be such a widely appreciated hobby. It offers players of all types a chance to escape from their everyday troubles, whether it be a bad day at work or a little bit of leisure to unwind. Let’s take The Last Of Us as an example. A hard day at the office followed by even a short amount of time with protagonists of The Last Of Us, Joel and Ellie is enough to A. mentally teleport you elsewhere even if only for a short while and B. Proceed to make you then realise that things could be worse, you could be surviving against an increasing population of infected on a day to day basis. The requirement for a general escape from reality is something every good hobby should offer and gaming offers just that. In addition thanks to the indefinite amount of genres it is fair to say gaming can cater for every type of player. There is no reason why is should be regarded unpleasantly.

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Educational

As mentioned briefly before, gaming is actually relatively educational when considering games such as the Assassins Creed franchise for instance. The Assassins Creed game series orientates itself around various historic events and is based within historic settings. It reconciles a number of radically different religious faiths and beliefs and ties them in with the story lines of the games within the series. Games such as Assassins Creed are great for bringing to the attention of the player, things they may not have known before. This enlightenment to players as a whole is just another pro to gaming.

Gaming- Associated badly?

It is possible that the more negative views and opinions aimed at gaming as a hobby may actually be derived from popular game franchises almost posing as the face of the hobby. For instance, first-person shooter franchise, Call Of Duty is at the heart of many gaming addictions. The installments within the series consist of taking part in war, mass shootings and a number of other violent activities. Although, the events within some of the series installments are of historic significance, it is apparent that the overriding feature of the series is the widely played multiplayer which results in a lot of anger and arguing among players the vast majority of the time.  This being said there is a strong possibility that the negativity posed towards gaming as a hobby could originate from associating gaming primarily with such franchises. Whether or not it is the narrow-mindedness of outsiders to the gaming community or poor means of presenting gaming is to blame, both fail to acknowledge the beauty in games such as The Last Of Us, Tomb Raider, Journey and even more recent titles such as Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture. These memorable video games not only fulfill the basic needs and requirements of a hobby, but that also allow the player to lose themselves in jaw-dropping stories that give the player the chance to explore an entire spectrum of emotions they were not accustom to prior to playing.

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All In Favor

Gaming is an utterly fantastic hobby that can take a player of any age or sort and give them their rope ladder to escaping the harshness of reality for just a few hours when seemingly needed most. No, generally speaking gaming isn’t as physical as other more kindly regarded hobbies but in terms of exercising the mind and imagination, I believe that gaming should be regarded in much higher spirit than it is by so many. Here, I aimed to open discussion over the issue, not point fingers.

That said, feel free to comment your views below.

 

10 Things That Still Irk Me About My Adventures Through Rapture

The BioShock series of first-person shooters has received near global acclaim from critics for their thoughtful stories, amazing settings and characters, and fun gameplay. And they’re not wrong.

However, rarely is a game perfect. I intend to shed light on some of the inconsistencies, annoyances, logic problems, quirks and general silliness that developers Irrationals Games and 2K Marin thought they got away with.

Here are 10 things that still grind my gears about the first two games.

1: The Totally Overpowered Crossbow

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The Crossbow in BioShock is the final ranged weapon obtained by the player. It’s found in Fort Frolic, courtesy of everyone’s favorite madman Sander Cohen. Quite ironically, the weapon is so powerful—even on the game’s hardest difficulty setting—that you can kill Sander Cohen in one shot, trivializing the entire boss fight and the rest of the game, wherein almost all other enemies can be killed in one or two shots.

 

2: You Never Forget Your First Time… Because It’s the Only One You Had

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The first Gardener’s Garden vending machine Jack encounters in the game has the Electro Bolt plasmid inside a container, having already been dispensed and left for our convenience. Jack injects the container with a hypodermic, extracting the red liquid and injecting it into his veins.

He starts to freak out, jolts of lightning shooting from his hands uncontrollably, eventually resulting in him falling off a balcony.

This awesome first-person cinematic shows us exactly what happens when someone splices up—it’s more or less exactly like being a real-life drug addict, excluding gaining the Godlike ability to shoot frickin’ lightning from your hands.

This is cool, except it’s the only time we see this happen, despite acquiring numerous plasmids throughout the course of the game. Apparently, there’s nothing like your first splice up; each subsequent one pales in comparison, without even a grunt or moan from our hero after he’s just had his genes modified. His frickin’ genes!

And you thought Danny Dyer was a hard man.

 

3: Big Daddies Have Anger Management Issues

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While Big Daddies don’t attack the player until provoked, they apparently have intimate knowledge of who attacked who and which who then attacked them.

As I said, Big Daddies only aggro you when attacked. Though if you attack a Splicer—using Incinerate for example—and that on-fire Splicer then inadvertently sets Mr. Bubbles on fire, he’ll take his rage out on you.

Not cool, Mr. Bubbles, not cool.

 

4: Hypnotize Plasmid: Your Results May Vary

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The beginning of BioShock 2 starts off with a first-person cutscene as we see Subject Delta going about his everyday task of collecting a Little Sister from a vent, protecting her as she collects Adam from the corpses of Splicers, and ultimately taking her back to a vent to nap. His Little Sister then runs off out of sight before we hear her screaming.

She’s being harassed by a group of Splicers and we come to her aid. Subject Delta—like the hero he is—takes out three Splicers before being hit with the Hypnotize plasmid by the fourth, just before he’s about to be turned to mush by the Big Daddy’s drill arm.

Things get all green and hazy. Professor Lamb—the main antagonist of the game—gives us a little speech about the girl not being his daughter, then instructs him to kneel, remove his helmet, put a pistol to his head and pull the trigger.

It’s a fantastic opening scene to a great game, but it’s inconsistent with in-game properties of the Hypnotize plasmid, which can only be used to befriend Splicers, Brute Splicers, Big Daddies and Alpha Series Big Daddies. It does not allow you to make enemies commit suicide.

I’ll be posting my one-star review on Amazon in due course.

 

5: Jack and Subject Delta Are Shutterbugs

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In both BioShock and BioShock 2, the player obtains a camera that can be used to research Splicers, Big Daddies and Security Bots to gain various buffs, such as a 50% increase in damage against a particular enemy, or a Gene Tonic in BioShock 2.

While it adds another layer to the gameplay, taking photos causes two issues: 1) it takes away from the fun combat—I’d rather be shooting guys with bullets, not a camera, and 2) it makes combat more dangerous, usually resulting in more damage taken while you’re thumbing around trying to hit the shutter button before you take too many bullets to the face to be able to see your beautiful photographic masterpiece.

 

6: The All-Seeing Eyes

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One of the oddities in the original BioShock that many players probably didn’t notice because they were too busy playing an awesome video game is the fact that characters that talk to you over the radio seem to know exactly where you are and what you are doing in that very moment.

We’re simply led to assume that the characters we chat with over the airwaves are sitting in some control room packed with monitors that show camera feeds covering vast stretches of Rapture, despite only seeing security cameras later in the game as a gameplay mechanic. Jack sure as hell didn’t tell them where he was, what with him being mute and all.

Either that or they’re all-seeing omnipotent beings who get a good kick out of taking us pitty mortals for a ride.

 

7: A Plank Has More Personality Than Jack Does

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The protagonist of the first BioShock game is as dull as a door knob. He’s the strong silent type with no personality or character because manly men that shoot guns and light fires with a snap of his finger lets his actions do all the talking—ALL THE TIME. He speaks exactly one sentence of dialogue right at the start of the game and remains oddly mute throughout.

Characters such as these are a lot easier for game developers to use, since there’s less work involved—both in terms of programming and working with a voice actor. It also allows gamers to project their own personality onto the cardboard cutout, though it does make for an extremely underwhelming protagonist of such a beloved and acclaimed first-person shooter.

 

8: Plumbing and Hacking Are Synonymous, Apparently

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In BioShock you’re able to hack into turrets, cameras, some number locks, safes, vending machines and more. However, despite us hacking into electronic devices, we’re greeted with a plumbing mingame where in order to achieve a successful hack we need to place tiles of different shaped pipes to complete the pipeline before the water reaches the end of the line.

Um… what? Last time I checked hacking was nothing like being a plumber. It’s a fun and satisfying minigame in itself, but makes absolutely no sense at all. What were they thinking?

 

9: Rapture’s Magical Technology

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BioShock and BioShock 2 are set in the 1950s and the late 1960s, respectively. While there are many artistic licenses that can be offered to both games, the ability for cameras to be able to identify friend or foe by their DNA is not one of them. According to Atlas’s claims, Andrew Ryan had the security cameras locked to his and his men’s DNA because, y’know, Ryan wanted the guy dead and all.

While this could be overlooked as a lie, it still doesn’t explain how devices such as the security cameras and security bots are able to target and differentiate friend from foe. We certainly didn’t have the ability to develop competent facial recognition technology, at the very least, back in the ‘50s or ‘60s, so they must be sprinkled with pixie dust or something.

 

10: They’re Too Easy

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Maybe games like XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Enemy Within and the Darks Souls series have hardened me as a gamer, but I found that once you’re a good chunk into the game, BioShock and BioShock 2 become quite the cakewalk.

I unlocked the “Brass Balls” Achievement in the original BioShock and the aptly titled “Big Brass Balls” Achievement in BioShock 2 with ease. For an Achievement that many tout as being one of the most challenging to obtain, I was disappointed when I discovered that it was nothing of the sort, assuming you saved the game occasionally. I did die a lot, but nothing more than I would expect in any other first person shooter or any video game in general, for that matter.

I’m an avid gamer, but wouldn’t call myself a pro. Maybe I am woefully ignorant of my own prowess, or maybe the game aren’t that challenging in comparison to some others.

This is made worse by the fact that I’d often have my wallet capacity maxed out, unable to pick up more cash. On the same note, I found that I was almost always well-stocked with Med Kits and Eve hypos. The later portion of BioShock 2 took this further, forcing me to leave ammo lain around, as I was always fully stocked with most weapons.

What do you think of this list? Anything you’d add? Let us know in the comments!

Exciting and Frustrating: Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Announced

Last night at TGS, Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue was announced after being leaked a week or so ago. The game contains an HD remake of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, an HD movie of the Kingdom Hearts browser game titled Kingdom Hearts χ [chi] Back Cover, and a new experience called Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep 0.2  -A Fragmentary Passage-.

As a huge Kingdom Hearts fan, this announcement is equally frustrating and exciting. So, I’m going to break down my emotions on the subject and start with the more negative which just kind of highlights a lot issues Square Enix has a whole.

For starters, the name of the collection is stupid. Not only is the collection name stupid, the name of the movie and Birth by Sleep pseudo-sequel are also really dumb. This kind of falls under the category of tradition though considering just about every Kingdom Hearts game has had a terrible subtitle that means just about nothing until you play and beat the game. In fact,  the only subtitles I can think of that are at least decent are Chain of Memories and Birth by Sleep.

Secondly, this is super  annoying because it seems like it’s a waste of time and resources over at Square Enix. I had a similar issue when Square Enix announced the demo of Final Fantasy XV and then even more so when they made an update for that demo. The development teams should be putting all of their efforts into the actual games (Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III) themselves instead of these side projects so the games will come out earlier. Final Fantasy XV has been announced for what seems to be nearly a decade and Kingdom Hearts 3 will mostly be four years after the announcement by the time the game is released. That’s ridiculous and these side projects really need to stop.

Besides that, I will buy this game because I’m a huge fanboy but I’m not nearly as excited about it as I was about the 1.5 and 2.5 collections. The only part I’m really looking forward to is Birth by Sleep 0.2. Birth by Sleep is my favorite game in the series and in 0.2 it looks as if Aqua is the main playable character, and  she’s the best character in that game. In fact, Aqua might be the best character in the entire series.

Birth by Sleep 0.2 looks exciting because,  besides being about Aqua, it looks to be in the same engine as Kingdom Hearts 3. This will probably give us the closest look and feel of Kingdom Hearts 3. Actually, the more I think about it as I’m writing, this will probably be the KH3 equivalent to Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae. That’s awesome, but at the same time I could’ve lived without this announcement and game and preferred for all the developers to be working on KH3.

This announcement also implies a few things about the status of the franchise. For one, this game will most likely be the final yearly Kingdom Hearts release before Kingdom Hearts 3. This sets KH3 for a 2017 release which sounds about right due to the progress they’ve been making on the project. Also, if the trend continues from the previous collection, a few months before the release of the game a collectors edition will be announced that includes 1.5 and 2.5.

With this slightly infuriating news out of the way, expect more information on KH3 during the upcoming Japanese D23.

Street Fighter V: Who Could Be Left?

With the release of Street Fighter V drawing ever closer, the roster of fighters is coming together more and more.  Actually, there only remain another five characters to be revealed.  In an official statement made by Matt Dahlgren, the initial roster will have only sixteen playable characters, with eight being series regulars, four being returning characters that have been out of action for a while, and four being entirely new characters.  Of the familiar faces, six will be Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Cammy, M. Bison (the dictator also known as Vega), and Vega (the claw-wielder also known as Balrog).  Most of the long-lost veterans have been revealed with Charlie Nash, Birdie, and Rainbow Mika making their returns.  Finally, we know two of the newcomers will be the savage beastman of presumably Aztec background, Necalli, and the wind-wielding Arabian with a gadget-addiction, Rashid.

We could throw wild speculation at the newcomers without luck for days (with one possible exception), but the remaining returning fighters are much easier to speculate on.  Keep in mind that this is all merely speculation on my part and not a preview of any characters that have been officially announced.  As such, I highly encourage readers to argue my points in the comments below on who may or may not appear in the initial roster.  After all, I can’t honestly saw I was ever expecting to see Vega or Birdie make the launch line-up, so Capcom could have plenty of surprises in store.  Also, consider that the sixteen characters that will be included on the disc will only be the beginning as Street Fighter V will consistently update its roster with more characters in a business model similar to League of Legends.  With enough time and resources, we could potentially see every veteran fighter make a return.  Still, these are the safest bets for the roster we’ll all be getting right out of the gate.

Juri

Juri

There’s a good chance we’ll see at least one fighter that debuted in the Street Fighter IV games.  If we go off of popular opinions, it’s pretty easy to narrow the options.  Abel is too boring, Hakan is too weird, Rufus is too annoying, El Fuerte seems redundant with Mika and Rashid, and let’s not even talk about Seth.  I’d also rule out Gouken for being both a shoto-style fighter, something we’re unlikely to get another iteration on in the launch line-up when Ryu and Ken are already in, and a boss-level character as we’ll likely only see Bison and maybe one newcomer in that category.  That leaves only Crimson Viper, Juri, and Poison.  It’s a toss-up between any of them, but I’m going to lean more towards Juri making the cut.  Not only is she generally more popular in the competitive circuits, she’s also had a large marketing push to establish her as a mainstay of Street Fighter femme fatales alongside Chun-Li and Cammy as the resident bad girl.  Fan-response has definitely been positive and it only makes sense to strike while the iron is hot and bring the Taekwondo assassin back for another round.

Blanka

Blanka

This is the most obvious of the series regulars to make a return and many have already assumed that he’s in.  After all, series director Yoshinori Ono has already given a far from subtle hint that the electric beast-man will be revealed during the Brasil Game Show this October.  Given the fact that Ono has never made it a secret that Blanka is one of his favorite characters, always having a Blanka figurine on hand, I didn’t bat an eye when I first saw him throw on that Blanka outfit to tease his return.  With that said, it should be noted that, much like Mortal Kombat director Ed Boon and Super Smash Bros director Masahiro Sakurai, Ono loves to play with people’s expectations and take his audience by surprise.  I have no doubt that Blanka will be returning as a complete bait-and-switch would be too cruel, but I can’t help but suspect that there’s more in store for the Brasil Game Show.

Alex

Alex

Alex is easily the fan-favorite for bringing back a forgotten veteran.  He was the main character introduced in Street Fighter III, but his only appearance since was in Tatsunoko Vs Capcom.  Because of his role in Street Fighter III, Alex is easily the biggest fan-favorite for making an overdue return.  Of all the characters to debut in Street Fighter III and didn’t make a return in any version of Street Fighter IV, Alex is the safe bet.  His only real competition in that category would be Sean, who is another shoto and it just doesn’t make sense to flood the limited roster with a single archetype.  However, one has to wonder if there will actually be any Street Fighter III characters in the initial roster.

So far, every returning character we’ve seen was playable in the Street Fighter Alpha games.  Following that logic, it seems more likely that Sodom or Juli will make a return before anyone from Street Fighter III.  Then again, the devs are going to want a variety of characters in the line-up, so saving the last spot for someone from III rather than having a royal flush of Alpha characters makes more sense.  Although…

Karin

Karin

If we are going to see a royal flush of Alpha characters, the most likely candidate is definitely Sakura’s snobbish rival, Karin.  A few supposed leaks have insisted that she’s in, but comparing those leaks against the actual roster debunks them.  Instead, the best indicator that she may get in is a popularity poll that Capcom held a few years back.  In Japan, Karin managed to take the number one spot on the poll.  Despite being the Ken to Sakura’s Ryu, Karin isn’t a shoto fighter and instead uses a style of her own invention called Kanzuki.  While her moves aren’t especially flashy, she does have a strong balance of offensive and defensive moves that could make her viable inclusion for the starting roster.  Including her in the starting roster while Sakura gets stuck in line post-release would make them even after Sakura got in Street Fighter IV while Karin was left waiting in the wings.

MikeHaggar

Mike Haggar

While newcomers are anyone’s guess, there is one new fighter that everyone is banking on joining the roster: Final Fight‘s Mike Haggar.  Street Fighter and Final Fight have always existed in the same universe and several heroes and villains from the Final Fight series have already appeared as playable characters in Street Fighter games, including Cody, Guy, Hugo, and Poison.  However, the main character of the series, Mike Haggar, has yet to appear as a playable fighter in any Street Fighter game.  The closest he’s come is appearing in Marvel Vs Capcom 3 which provides some basis for how he could work in a Street Fighter game, but would not be a 1-to-1 transition.

The biggest piece of evidence in Haggar’s favor is that he actually already appears in Street Fighter V.  In the England stage, there is a large poster hanging in the upper-left showing four of Final Fight‘s heroes, including Haggar.  It definitely looks like the wait is over and Haggar will finally be joining Street Fighter proper.  The only downside is that there’s no way Zangief will be on the launch roster with him as a second heavy-weight grappler, so their long-awaited showdown will have to wait until post-launch.

Necro

Necro

Last but not least, I have my wild card prediction with the genetically-modified Necro.  While I certainly don’t consider him a more likely candidate than Alex or Karin, he may be still be included over them simply for the sake of having a long-range fighter in the starting roster.  Dhalsim is the most famous example of this archetype, and Necro is the only other character in the series history to attempt this style.  While I’m a big fan of Dhalsim, I can’t really see him making the initial roster over several other veterans, so a revival for Necro may be in order.

Granted, Necro has never been an especially popular character and scored pretty poorly on the poll I mentioned earlier.  However, Birdie ranked even lower on the poll and look where he ended up.  It seems that Capcom is using the initial roster to experiment with characters that saw little use back in the day and breath new life into them.  Both Birdie and Mika were low-tier in Alpha 3 and now have bold new changes to make them viable.  It actually makes sense to experiment with these forgotten fighters early and save the fan-favorites for post-launch as characters like Alex and Karin would be easier to sell individually, while bundling revitalized versions of previously unplayed fighters in the starter package drastically raises a renewed interest.  Alternatively, Q is in the same position as Mika as a low-tier that has developed a following over time and may be a safer bet, but I’m still banking on Necro given his long-range style and greater need for a renewed interest putting him just ahead.

Those are my best guesses on who we can expect to see in Street Fighter V, now let’s hear yours.  Could Viper or Poison beat out Juri?  Is there room for one more shoto fighter?  Will Zangief crush heads like sparrow’s egg between thighs?  Is Turkish oil wrestling truly the greatest in the world?  Will Joe from the original Street Fighter finally make his triumphant return (don’t count on it)?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Does the Wii U Still Have a Life?

It may only seem like yesterday that the latest mad contraption to come out of Nintendo was released. Surprisingly, this November the Wii U will hit the three year mark. It’s easy to criticize the successor to the Wii considering the lack of sales and games in comparison. One thing that the Wii U defiantly strives for is quality over quantity. Anyone buying the console today would have the luxury of choosing between such terrific titles as Super Mario 3D Worlds, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Bayonetta 2 & Splatoon. Yet this is just a mere taste of what is on offer.

Since Nintendo’s Digital Event at E3 many people have speculated (including myself) that the Wii U has been written off by the company. Nintendo’s showcase consisted of 3DS games or for the majority nothing we hadn’t previously seen. Then during this years Pokemon World Championship the announcement everyone has been waiting for was revealed. Pokken Tournament will be arriving on the Wii U in Spring 2016.

 

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The reveal of the title was not a shock. The choice of console it will be released on is. The general gaming community believed that the Tekken inspired fighter was sure bet for the NX. Now there is the possibility of a ‘Twilight Princess’ situation where the game is released on both platforms, but I think this is unlikely. So the question is, if the Wii U is being put to sleep so soon why release the clearly popular Pokken Tornament on it? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Possibly, as this reveal seems to encourage the thought that the Wii U may be sticking around for quite a bit longer. How long is impossible to tell (especially with Nintendo).

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As a proud owner of a Wii U, I feel it would be a shame to abandon the platform so early. True the audience has only just risen to the 10 million mark, but I can guarantee the bulk of owners love the console dearly, forgiving its lacking features. Speaking of which that’s another point to consider, does Nintendo really want tor risk the 10 million loyal customers that have stuck with them through thick and thin. That’s a lot of sales that could be lost straight from the NX’s release. Most probably the NX will be backwards compatible so those that skipped the current generation will be treated to the vast library already on offer. Something I am quite jealous of.

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For the time being it would be great for those Wii U owners to be gifted more fantastic exclusives. Pokken could be the beginning of the the second coming. If we get surprise addition come the next Nintend0 Direct, I would like to be optimistic and believe the Wii U will be around for at least a couple more years. What sadly puts a hole in my prediction is supposedly at E3 2016 the NX will be shown to the world. How far along in development is again another question.

Do Nintendo have other ideas? Have they gone back on their plans to focus all attention on the NX? Could it be behind schedule forcing them to prolong the Wii U’s life? Its time we got some answers. This is the thing with Nintendo, you may think they are easy to read, then they do something so off the wall no one would have ever predicted it.

Image 4A Pokemon game on a console is a rare outing, one that is likely to help boost sales so you would have thought Nintendo would preferably rather see a strong start for their next console as apposed to a strong finish for their last. Imagine if you buy a Wii U for Pokken in Spring, to then find yourself mere months later being asked to shell out for another. Personally I dont see a friendly consumer approach. Though, when times are hard you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. It’s just how many eggs can Nintendo afford to break?

Do you think the Wii U still has a life? Or are the curtains closing on Nintendo’s current console? Leave us a comment below to tell us why.