Bobby King, VP and Lead Designer of Pinball Arcade joined Ms. H for a riveting interview on the Mom’s Minute podcast. He discussed the current kickstarted campaign to license the legendary Addams Family pinball table and also dropped more than a few gems of info about what lies ahead for the Pinball Arcade. A deal with Sony Entertainment will bring Arnold Schwarzenegger back to pinball with The Last Action Hero table and also, for the first time Farsignt will design a completely original pinball table based on a Sony film property. That leaves a lot of room for speculation, although it’s slated to be released in time for Halloween, so that could narrow down the prospects.
Mr. King also let us know that the long awaited Xbox 360 release is nearing completion with all of the current tables in the mix. Even more exciting is the Xbox One version of The Pinball arcade is in final testing and may be out as soon as next month.
You’ll find a lot more information in the 30+ minute interview as Ms. H gets answers about upcoming tables, leaderboard hacks, Farsights new non-pinball titles, and exactly why Christopher Lloyd’s face won’t be on the Addams Family artwork.
The interview starts 37 minutes in and you can listen to the 9/22/14 episode of Mom's Minute below.
Among other such ballyhooed features as a time-saving sleep/resume function and the ability to purchase a rising mountain of slightly remastered versions of games you already purchased between two and 10 years ago, the Playstation 4 also makes it dead simple for anyone to engage in the formerly cost- and technically-prohibitive act of streaming a live performance of their gameplay to all who wish to watch it.
Now let's amend that statement for Bossa Studios' "I Am Bread." Among other such blah blah blah as something something God of War III High-High Definition Edition, the PS4 makes it dead simple for anyone but you to spend their own $13 to play "Bread" on a live stream while you, and not them, enjoy the game's best feature -- schadenfreude -- for free. You need not even own a PS4 to take advantage of this incredible offer.
"Bread's" gameplay operates in league with the likes of "Octodad," "Surgeon Simulator" (Bossa's previous game) and the ancestral "QWOP," all of which tasked players with doing simple things -- walking around as an octopus, maneuvering a surgeon's hands and running on a track, respectively -- via purposely unintuitive controls that transformed elementary motion into acts of comedy and horror.
This time, you control a slice of bread, whose four corners are mapped to, of all things, the Dual Shock 4’s shoulder (L1, R1) and trigger (L2, R2) buttons. Hold the corresponding buttons to apply weight and grip to those corners, and use the left stick to swing, nudge, flip and fling the bread according to the whims of physics and whatever combination of corners you have gripping onto whatever surface stands between you and the floor.
From this, a system of movement is sort of born, and if it sounds willfully messy in written form, the words have done their job. Even "Bread's" lone attempt at helpfulness, wherein it denotes each corner's button assignment with a corresponding icon on that corner, sort of backfires. All four icons look nearly identical, and you may wonder, with increasing lament, why the iconic Playstation face buttons weren't used instead or simply offered as an option. (They come into play as well, but in service of a secondary grip mechanic that isn't nearly as instrumental or complicated.)
The objective of all this? Get yourself toasted before too much exposure to the ground or other unsavory elements deems you inedible.
(Never mind that the walls and furniture you maneuver to stay off the ground appear just as dirty as anything below. "Bread's" definition of what constitutes an edible slice of toast is right up there with its controls in terms of erratic interpretation, so please do not consult it when making real toast in your own home.)
Aggravatingly, "Bread's" physics are similarly temperamental — sometimes obeying the laws of this earth, but just as frequently suffering a crisis of gravity that turns the task of gently steering a simple bread slice into either (a) a reactive guessing game or (b) an experience reminiscent of accidentally wandering into quicksand and trying to crabwalk your way out. Soft touches sometimes trigger wildly erratic flops, while other times, all the jamming in the world on the stick and buttons won't move the slice more than a painfully impotent tick at a time.
Yes, while you're working all this out and seeing these digital tantrums for the first time, "Bread" is funny — not laugh-out-loudly so, because the games that broke this genre in did so with more absurdity, charm, surprise and shock, but amusing at least.
But "Bread's" temperament and sluggishness spell a quick demise for the joke. And once the joke wears off and all that remains is you, these not-quite controls, these not-quite physics, a fickle edibility meter and the constant threat of one wrong anything — from you or the game — undoing 20-plus minutes of monotonously careful maneuvering that had sapped all pretense of being fun to play at around minute four, "Bread" feels less like amusement, or even a game, and mostly like digital antagonism that's designed to be enjoyed by everyone but the person tasked with playing it.
(That, after only three failed attempts, each level tosses in an invincibility power-up that makes failing the level completely impossible is quite telling in multiple interpretative ways. An unspoken admission that the developer recognizes but has no interest in intelligently reconciling the laughable imbalance between the task at hand and the tools provided to complete or even just enjoy it? Or just yet another way for game and audience alike to mock the poor soul who ponied up the $13 sacrifice? All of the above? Take your pick. No wrong answers here.)
The shame in all this is that some genuine novelty peeks through all that contrived aggravation. When you discover, possibly by accident, that you can toast your bread without a toaster, it's enough to wonder if "Bread" could have been a clever environmental puzzle game instead of a practical joke. Physics are sometimes employed to clever effect, even if these instances are telegraphed by the standout placement of certain objects in each area. "Bread's" end-of-level grading system takes toasting technique into account, and had it gone all in on this pursuit and left the willfully obtuse control scheme giggles behind, it could have been a genre unto itself instead of an also-ran.
"Bread's" story mode — which is punctuated by interstitial text that, to its credit, pays off with a clever conclusion and remains amusing long after your smile might fade everywhere else -- accompanies a series of secondary modes that all engender their own ill will in their own special ways.
There's a multiple-item fetch quest mode in which you play as a cracker that's susceptible to breakage as well as dirt and bad physics and is, as such, even more tedious to control. There's a very basic racing mode starring a bagel that's amusing except for the part where you steer a bagel that occasionally betrays everything you're doing with the controller, and there's a zero G mode that's amusing except for the part where you bang your head against a stubborn control scheme that feels like that aforementioned quicksand with a side of frozen tundra mixed in.
Finally, there's a destruction mode, starring a presumably stale baguette, that should be the cathartic foil to the antagonistic game that envelopes it. But even here, where failure is nearly impossible and the only task is to create as much chaos as possible in two minutes' time, a diving framerate and the worst, most not-of-this-earth physics in the entire game join forces to pry aggravation from the jaws of mindless fun.
At that point, with all other options exhausted, the only recourse is to quit the game, fire up the Live From PlayStation app, find a stream of someone else playing "Bread," and experience the game as it's most likely intended to be experienced. Only here — when you set out to revel in someone else getting their turn at comedic misery but instead experience pangs of empathy while watching an increasingly dispirited fellow player attempt to justify 13 evaporated dollars by chasing it with countless wasted minutes — does "Bread" feel like a product whose intent and result are in strangely perfect alignment.
The PS4 has distinguished itself as one of all time most friendly platforms for independent developers to release their games. There are some really brilliant indie games showing great creativity that you’ll never find from a mainstream game. There are others that are as amateurish as it gets that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of day. We look at the latest independent game to come out on Sony’s PlayStation 4, In Space We Brawl.
In Space We Brawl has to be one the easiest games to review because honestly there’s barely a game. Take some basic twin shooter controls, add in some slightly different spaceships and weapons and you’ve got In Space We Brawl. The games is almost totally a multiplayer game and there isn’t all that much depth to these battles. The only thing the game has you do is to shoot your weapons while moving around with your left stick. You hope you’re the last person standing taking less weapon fire damage than your ship can stand and avoiding the few obstacles littering the map. There’s eight maps in the game and the only thing that even makes them even slightly different is the textures they use in each and the amount of asteroids you can hit, otherwise there’s absolutely no difference.
There is what can be considered a single player mode, called the “Challenge” mode. As far as I could tell instead of programming bots for single player arena matches they just put a bunch of forced scenarios for you to play through that feels like tutorial missions rather than anything that could be remotely fun. You get to experience terribly boring goals like avoid the asteroid or travelling to difference waypoints on a tiny map. Honestly if you thought the multiplayer was lacking then the single player takes it to a whole new level.
The sound effects are atrocious, the developers discovered the Dual Shock 4 had a speaker and decided to use to deliver ear crushing sound effects on an all too frequent basis. That’s not to say sound effects coming from your TV is any better, the voice acting has to be the worst I’ve heard in any game and that’s with the option to pick from a handful of equally bad voice actors with none being even passable. The graphics are the nicest part of the game as they the ships are adequate, the background graphics are plain but look nice enough and the character designs are well done.
In Space We Brawl is currently selling on the PSN for $11.99 in an PS3/PS4 crossbuy. I can’t recommend you buy this game at this price. There’s maybe two minutes of fun and then the game slowly evaporates into boredom and disappointment.
In this day and age with people shouting from every mountain top and soapbox available, it should come as no surprise that a game like Never Alone exists,a game based on and around another culture and its mythology where you play as a young girl on top of everything else. It’s something that we're probably going to be seeing a lot more of and I'm all for it. I just hope those other games don't skimp out on the "game" part of it all.
Never Alone is based on the lore of the Alaskan Iñupiat. In it you play as a young girl named Nuna and a magical arctic fox. After saving her from a polar bear, the fox starts following the girl around through a giant blizzard. The entire game is narrated by a person speaking what I presume to be the Iñupiat native tongue, and it gives the feeling of listening to your grandpa tell you a story around a campfire, which is fitting. In between all the in-engine bits we have cutscenes drawn to look like old paintings you would find in caves and on native art and whatnot. All of this really helps sell the idea that this is another culture's story being told to us by another culture, and not filtered through white people.
When we aren't in the native art style, the game looks kind of weird. The fox and the polar bear look like they don't have enough fur on them, with their coats fading out as it gets further from the body. It gives them this balding effect and I can almost make out the naked model underneath it all. The girl looks fine, but I have a hard time figuring out if the trim on her coat is supposed to be frozen hair, animal bones, or it just glitched out. There are these huge triangles all over the coat and they look like something wasn't coded properly.
The environments don't look that much better. Sure, when you get to the caves and wooden areas, everything looks fine. But when things are covered in snow, it gets bad. The snow never looks or acts like snow. It looks like white dirt that the character models just clip through. And that's a real shame, because it looks like some effort was put into the game in regards to the snow. When you walk on ground level snow there's a slight bit of dust up, and when the snow gets deeper Nuna does a small hop with every step, which is how a small child walks in snow. Believe me, I'm Canadian, I would know. The snow never feels like anything more than a big texture, and it really bugged me.
But snow aside, where the game really falls apart is in the gameplay. You control two separate characters, Nuna and the fox. I think this game was meant to be played in co-op mode, with one person controlling Nuna and one controlling the fox. But I don't have any friends to play games with, so I had to play it solo. You can switch between the two of them at any time, and when you do the other character becomes AI controlled. Unfortunately, the AI is kind of stupid. So many times throughout this game my AI character would die or screw up puzzles because I had no way that I knew of to tell them to stay put or come or not be stupid. There was a level where I was controlling Nuna and had to jump between blocks of ice that were smashing into the ceiling (because video games). So I jumped and ran across the ice block to the safe area. The AI then did one of three things. He either ran into the safe spot with me, caught up to me then ran back into the crushing maw of death behind me, or overshot the safe spot and fell into the gap between the platforms and drowned. This happened so many times I almost gave up and stopped playing the game. But I eventually made it through there and made the jump to the final platform, completing the level. Or, I would have, if the fox hadn't missed the jump and drowned. Pushing us back to part where one of the previous three things would happen.
Speaking of jumping, it doesn’t feel great in this game. Like a lot of polygonal platformers nowadays, turning around takes off a lot points right off the bat. So many times I tried to make jumps but my character wasn't facing the right way, so I went a foot forward (or backwards) into a bottomless pit. When you do get the jumps right, you have to make it a decent way on to the platform or you will fall back on to the ledge and have to sit through the climbing animations. And then you have the wind to deal with, which is always fun. When it's first introduced, you're given the ability to brace yourself so you don't get thrown back. But almost every time you encounter wind after that first time, you're supposed to use the wind to propel yourself forward to make jumps. It's never really clear on when you're supposed to brace or use the wind, and since the place I'm supposed to be jumping to is blocked by the camera which I have no control over, I'm just sitting there cowering from the winds trying to figure out where the hell I'm supposed to go next.
Also there's the bola. Oh boy, is there the bola. You get this from a magical owl man who may or may not be your grandfather and it's absolutely terrible to use. What you do is, pull the right stick back to charge it up, then flick it forward in the direction you want it to go. There is no precision aiming with this thing. You just fling it and hope it's going in the right direction. And it's dependent on which direction you're facing, too.
The fox can scurry up some walls and wall jump, and it works fine enough. He can also somewhat control spirits. This is entirely dependent on his position on top of the spirit, which basically serves as a platform. When you get to a specific on the spirit, it will move. But, since you probably had to control Nuna to get her up on the platform, you will have to switch back to the fox to move him the quarter of an inch forward to get the platform to activate right. It never feels right doing this stuff and it really pulls you out of any kind of experience when you have to move that damn fox into the proper position.
I believe games being developed by and about people of other cultures is a good thing. I don't really go out of my way to learn about this stuff, but a game could get me interested and teach me something I didn't know before. Hell, this game even has a documentary series in it about the Iñupiat. But the game around all the learning stuff needs to be good. And I don’t think Never Alone is particularly good. The graphics and platforming aren't great, and the computer controlling the other part of your twosome is terrible. Maybe I would have had a different experience with the game if I had played this with a friend or, failing that, the fox that hangs out outside my house howling at me all night. But I didn't. I was alone in this, and I did not enjoy it.
In every generation of videogame consoles, a manufacturer attempts to take how we play games past the status quo. Videogames have been presented in the same basic way for nearly 40 years. You look at a screen and control whats on that screen with a joystick and buttons. The screens have gotten bigger and the controllers have added more buttons, but all in all, not much has changed. But each generation, a company tries to move gamers deeper into the experience and expand how we interact with our consoles. And they fail. Every single time. The failure isn’t because it’s a bad idea (well, sometimes it’s a bad idea). Most of the time its because the idea was poorly implemented, lacked support, or simply didn’t work. Or maybe gamers don't want anything new. Is it possible we're satifsifed with how things are and that's why gamers as a group steadfastly reject any control scheme other than a stick and buttons?
In this article we'll go back through each console generation and look at some of those failed attempts at innovation. We’ll only be looking at 1st party peripherals, the items built by the console makers themselves since they had best chance to succeed in terms of development and support. That mean famous failures like the Power Glove and U-Force will get a pass.
XBOX One Kinect
Ok, this isn’t a surprise to anyone. Microsoft recently announced that the Kinect will no longer be a required part of the Xbox One console. While this doesn't automatically mean the camera/microphone sensor has failed, lets be honest. It means that it failed. The Kinect was the most advanced sensor of its kind. It could listen to your voice commands, translate your movements into controls for games or media. Hell, it could even tell if you were smiling and when your heart rate went up. Experts will be debating why the Kinect wasn’t embraced by consumers for a long time. But the lack of software support had to have been a huge problem. For most people who had the Kinect sitting in front of their TV, that's all it did..sit there.
PS4 PS Camera/Move
Sony’s PR people are the best in the world. Not because they’re great at promoting products. But because when they have a failed product, no one ever talks about it. At the launch of the PS4 was a Camera/Microphone sensor that had many of the features of the Kinect, just not as precise. The camera was a $60 option that the vast majority of PS4 owners have skipped. And the few that did pick it up quickly realized that there wasn’t much they could do with it other that make tiny robots dance in the free Playroom software.
The PS4 Controller is also treasure trove of failed concepts. Sony added the ‘sixaxis’ motion abilities to the DualShock 4 controller. You can tilt and rotate your controller and thus have more precise and integrated movements on screen. It’s a feature thats used less than the Sweet n Low packets at a candy store.
Sony also managed to sneak in a PS Move sensor into all of the controllers along with a touch pad. The Dual Shock 4 is equipped with a bright tracking light that is very similar to the original PSMove controller that will allow the the PS4 to have pinpoint accurate motion controls. This has yet to be used in any game (but it's rumored to be important to the upcoming virtual reality headset). And the touch pad is a pretty good way to enter your password when signing into PSN, other than that, its a controller feature that has yet to be exploited.
Wii U Tablet
It’s a 10.5 inch tablet with a screen smaller than my 7 inch Nexus. Nintendo knew their Wii U console was underpowered spec-wise when it was released, but they figured that the innovative tablet controller would be more than enough to alleviate any problems with horsepower. Nintendo has stood behind the controller, even if it does seem forced at times. Blowing into the microphone to turn a propeller on Mario World doesnt really boost your confidence that you made a smart purchase.
Xbox 360 Kinect
The first iteration of the Kinect had a lot going for it, a wide range of titles, tons of media coverage as the next big thing, and the unwavering support of Microsoft. But after the initial surge, the games quicky dried up and the consensus of the gaming public was ‘it just doesn’t work’. Microsoft didn't give up easily though and announced the second version would be a required part of their next console (until it wasnt). Meanwhile the original Kinect is gathering dust with development for it at a near standstill.
Live Vision Camera
Before the Kinect there was the Live vision camera. Basically is was a webcam that plugged into your Xbox 360. Why would you want to do that? No reason. None at all. Unless you wanted to play UNO and witness visuals that made Chat Roulette look highbrow. The camera was succeded by the Kinect sensor which for all intents and purposes made the Live Vision cam obsolete.
This unfortunately shaped device was Sony’s answer to the overwhelming success of the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls. An illuminated bulb tethered to a makeshift gamepad worked in conjunction with the PSEye camera on the Playstation 3 to give you an incredible range of precise movement on screen. And it worked pretty well, too. But people couldn’t get over the fact that it looked like it should be sold at a discount by Adam & Eve, and also the game support for it was almost non existent. The technology would like in as it was transferred to the DualShock 4 controller and Sony still contends that the PSMove works with the PS4, even though there is no software available that uses it.
Nintendo Wii Balance Board
The Wii Balance Board was going to transform your Wii into the ultimate fitness partner. Instead it spent it's life gathering dust underneath couches all across the world.
Sega Dreamcast VMU
The Visual Memory Unit (VMU) for Sega’s Dreamcast added a new dimension to controllers. Think of it as a very early version of the Wii U tablet. Only much, much smaller with its 1.5 x 1inch screen having a resolution of 48x32 pixels. If that seems like it would be too tiny to do anything meaningful, you would be correct. It was intended to be used as a way to display information from your games, and the VMU even had a little controller and buttons on it like a baby gameboy. But in the end only a few games took advantage of it and most just ignored it altogether.
Sega Genesis Activator
The Genesis had its fair share of failed add ons (32x anyone?). But for the purposes of this article, the Activator fits perfectly. The Activator was a large ring that you placed on the floor and stood inside of. It would sense your movements so that you could punch and kick while your onscreen character mimicked your actions. Now, if the Kinect has problems pulling this scenario off in 2014, this 1993 controller had very little chance of success. Its lackluster sensors resulted in unwanted motions and twitching characters that almost never resembled what the player was doing. Since it was a direct controller replacement, you could use it with any game, like say, Ecco the Dolphin (which was actually suggested by the tutorial video). They never explained exactly how punching and kicking in the air corresponded to a dophlin swimming in the sea eating guppies.
Nintendo NES Power Pad
Nintendo wanted to get kids moving. Partly to silence critics who said the NES was creating a generation of couch potatoes, and partly to sell a bunch of overpriced plastic mats. So Nintendo introduced the NES Powerpad. The power pad was a large mat you placed on the floor with buttons embedded in it. The uses started and ended with running in place or hopping back and forth like a futuristic form of hopscotch. Unfortunately kids weren’t interested in being active. They had an NES so they -didn’t- have to run around. The Power Pad died a quiet death after having only 11 titles to support it.
Coleco Vision Expansion Module #2
The ColecoVision launched with an available expansion module that added a steering wheel and gas pedal to the system. It allowed players a true arcade like experience when playing racing/driving games. Today PC gamers spend hundreds of dollars on steering wheels to go with their driving sims. But in 1982, not so much. The Colecovision’s driving controller only had 4 titles available for it. Which wasn’t nearly enough reason for consumers to get the accessory.
Atari 2600 Keyboard Controller
Oddly enough, the Keyboard controller for the Atari 2600 wasn’t really a keyboard. It was actually a 12key number keypad(0-9 and *, #). As you can expect, there are very few titles that used the keyboard controller. Classics like 'Basic Programming' and 'Memory Match' weren't enough to spur gamers into leaving the world of up-down-left-right and a single fire button.
Game makers continue to try to change how we play games, and even though none of them caught on and infact were often huge failures, I'm glad that they are making the attempt. As consoles get more powerful and games get more complex, we need to search for better ways to interact with the virtual worlds being created. Simplifying everything down to a few buttons and joystick movements deal a huge disservice to gamers and the games we play. Hopefully we'll get a control method that's not gimmicky and actually works. Until then, I'll be yelling at my Kinect and watching Hulu on my Wii U Tablet.
Here -- In this seemingly ordinary looking Best Buy lies the answer you have probably been waiting for.
Have you pre-ordered your PS4 or plan to get one but do not have the slightest idea of when the system will be available? You may have a general idea or a nebulous time frame as to when the PS4 will be released. For example, you may have heard the rumor that the PS4 will be launched some time before the holidays, 2013. The question you may have is -- how much time before the holidays arrive will the PS4 be available and is there a specific release date for the PS4?
Could the release date be just days before Christmas, since some video game companies like to schedule launches around the holidays? Or maybe the release date will tie in with Black Friday. Since Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days before Christmas, it would be strategic timing on Sony's part to release the PS4 on a day when just about everyone will probably be out shopping anyway. There's nothing quite like a big shopping day like Black Friday to launch a new, highly anticipated video game system, especially for those holiday shoppers who like to get their shopping done early.
Can you find the system inside Best Buy that shows the release date for the PS4? Hint: It's in the picture to your left.
Putting speculations aside, could it be that somewhere out there in the video game biosphere, there is someone or a group who knows without a shadow of a doubt the release date for the PS4? Certainly Sony knows, but to date, they seem to be taking their time getting the word out. I guess Sony may be satisfied that it has done enough by sharing with you at E3, 2013 how much you will have to fork over to get your hands on a PS4 -- namely $399.99. Maybe the company is of the mindset that the price is enough information for you right now. However, I will wholeheartedly disagree. I think Sony should share when this game will be available when known, without any leaks, teasers, etc. I'm sure Sony knows that news regarding video game systems or even video games for that matter involve providing answers relative to the Who, What, Where, Why and When.
If you picked this Pre-order touch screen system, you were correct as to the source for the release date for the PS4.
You already probably know the Who -- Sony; the What -- PS4; the Where -- Whereever video game systems are sold; the Why --Releasing new generation video game system; but until now you probably did not know the When. Exactly when will the PS4 be released?
The answer lies in what I would describe as an impressive pre-order display touch screen system located at a particular Best Buy I went to recently. Using the touch screen, you can pre-order video games and/or the new video game systems. While I was at Best Buy, using the touch screen, I decided, on a whim, to select the video game consoles category since I was curious as to what would be displayed for the PS4. I touched the screen that showed a picture of the PS4 -- when lo and behold -- I saw it! There before me on the big screen was the release date for the PS4.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look and you will see what I saw as the availability, release, or launch date for the PS4. Rather than me telling you the date -- check out the visual below.
Pre-order touch screen at Best Buy shows availability date for the PS4 as 11/30/2013
There you have it -- practically in black and white -- that the release date for the PS4 is 11/30/2013. In my opinion, it is beneficial to know the specific release date for the PS4 for planning purposes -- however; there is a caveat. If you are interested in pre-ordering the PS4, unlike Amazon or other places that do not require a deposit, you will have to pay a $25.00 deposit if you pre-order from Best Buy.
The PS 4 will be available on 11/30/2013, and will require a $25.00 deposit if you pre-order from Best Buy.
Regarding the $25.00 deposit -- when you look at the big picture, if you already plan to spend $399.99 for the new video game console -- along with the cost of the video games you plan to buy for the PS4 -- paying a $25.00 deposit to pre-order the PS4 now may not be such a big deal.
As for me, I plan to continue to enjoy playing video games on my PS3, for now, even if the PS4 is probably a steal, when compared to the $499.99 price for the Xbox One when it launches. As the release date for the PS4 gets closer -- of course, this could change.
That being said, I'm looking foward to getting an up close and personal look at the PS4 on the store shelves when it releases on November 30, 2013.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Unboxing
After playing part of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition video game for the first time, I have a three letter word to describe it -- "Wow!" I preordered this game awhile back and have just now had the opportunity to play part of it. When I received Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, starring Lara Croft on the release date in March, 2014 from Amazon.com, I did an unboxing of this game complete with pictures. I was that impressed by the artistry of the video game packaging which included a hard cover book with artwork from the game that is worthy of framing. What was missing was a poster of Lara Croft in action as she braves the perils and tribulations of what it takes to survive.
Tomb Raider Unboxed (game and book) with Pixelbot robot courtesy of DPL looking on
Of course packaging is just that -- packaging. What really counts about a video game, in my opinion, is the enjoyment that you experience from playing the game, whether your excitement for the game stems from the action, characters, story line, creativity of plot, or any number of other reasons. If you ask me which of these choices Tomb Raider: Definitive Collection excelled in, I would have to say the character and the action.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Expectations
When I slipped the physical video game disc in my PS4, and the Tomb Raider cover art showed on the screen, I was unsure what to expect. I saw the previous version of this game played during the holidays by my family member, and at that time, I was impressed by the realistic graphics, as well as the requirement to use logical thinking skills to advance in the game. At that time, I was a bystander, just looking at the video game playing action, listening to the realistic sound effects as Lara Croft splashed her way through the deep seas, roamed forests, etc., to accomplish her missions. Just as there is a saying "Seeing is believing" -- regarding video game playing I think there should be a saying "Playing is believing." It is only by actually holding a video game controller, controlling and experiencing the actions of the video game characters yourself that, in my opinion, you can truly decide if you will not only play the video game again, but will also recommend others to play it as well.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Spoiler Alert
I am going to give you a spoiler alert here, just in case you have not played the game and want to experience the gameplay with the surprises and suspenseful moments in tact. If you have not played Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, you may want to stop reading here, because the next sections I will be talking about my experiences with this video game, including how Lara Croft got through certain obstacles during the first part of the game, that you may prefer to figure out on your own. I played this game in the normal mode, vs. the easy or hard options. Also as a disclaimer, this review does not cover the complete video game -- only the first parts that I played.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Actions/Adventures
I liked the action-packed movie introduction which included actions where Lara Croft seemingly spirals down a long drop before she reaches the bottom. She is visibly in pain, her clothing is soiled and she has blood all over her, including her face. Unfortunately, she also is hurt and has a sharp object jutting in her left side. My first action in the gameplay was to use the controller to remove the shart object from hurting her -- which I succeeded in doing. From then on -- for the part of the game I played, Lara Croft moves throughout the video game environments, clutching her side with her right hand over the wound while in some cases holding a torch in her left hand. But not to worry, as I played the game longer, eventually she felt well enough to remove her hand from her side, to regain use of both of her hands.
As I continued to move her along the terrains, I had already decided that this was an exploratory type game, where you use the character to discover the surroundings. However, I stood to be corrected. I found out soon enough that Lara Croft does a lot more than move around the environments. Just when I was getting comfortable moving her through parts of the dark cave where she had landed, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, an enemy apppeared and tried to capture her. I literally jumped when this happened, because this was totally unexpected. From then on, I knew this game would be adventurous and suspenseful. After about three tries, I was able to get Lara Croft to fight off her enemy, and breathed a sigh of relief when within the small cave she was in, a door closed that blocked the enemy from entering.
That one particular unexpected action got my adrenalin going. I kept thinking what would happen next. I had Lara Croft continue her adventures in the cave by having her to traverse treacherous waters where there was fire on one side of a waterfall and barrels of fuel on the other. The problem was that in order to get out, Lara Croft had to go through the waterfall while carrying her torch -- which of course did not work. The water would put out the fire each time, as expected.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Strategies
Throughout the game, you are given pictures of which buttons on the controller to push as well as information on the mission or environment that Lara Croft has entered. Also, when you push the L1 button on your controller, the environment turns to black and white and items that can help you to escape, etc. are lit up brighter than the others. Once you release the L1 button, the game actions, including the colors return.
I studied the environment and saw a hanging apparatus, as well as a street car-like vehicle on another level of the cave area. Both were lit or shined brighter when I pushed the L1 button so I knew these items were required for her to escape. Also the square button would appear on the screen to push as barrels and boxes floated in the water. When I did so, the barrels would start burning and continued to float in the water. To give you a visual of where she was during this part of the video game -- Lara Croft was in thrashing waters, among lots of burning boxes and barrels, with debris, old bottles, shoes etc. floating around with loud sounds of waves of water crashing through several areas.
To make a long story short, I was unable to get Lara Croft to push the street car off the ramp or get her on the hanging apparatus. This is the first part of the game where I got stuck. After a phone call for advice, I went back to the game and tried again, this time using different actions to get her out of this cave-like atmosphere that had water and firey barrels and boxes everywhere. I was unable to pile barrels beneath the hanging apparatus as suggested, so I tried a different strategy which surprisingly to me -- worked. Somehow I got her into the hanging apparatus. She was unable to swing back and forth -- so I had her to jump from this apparatus. Then I had her to try once again to push the street car which by this time was full of burning barrels. Lo and behold -- this time the street car actually moved out of the way. Previously, it would move just a little and then return to its original position. When the street car moved, a multitude of actions seemed to happen all at once which resulted in her being in a totally different mountainous environment. I had Lara Croft jump over mountains where she hung dangerously off tall cliffs. She also had to fight off another enemy in this environment. As a disclaimer -- The apparatus/street car scene actions I did when I played this game, may or may not work for you. It may depend on the level of game that you are playing, i.e., easy, normal, hard -- or even some other reasons.
Now for the next adrenalin moment I experienced when playing the first section of Tomb Raider:: Definitive Edition. When Lara Croft reached the mountains, she had to actually climb the mountains, by frantically clawing her way up. To keep her from falling, I had to keep pushing the L2 and R2 buttons quickly at the same time. I also had to move the left stick on the controller either right or left to have her dodge large, gigantic boulders before I got her to the top of the mountain. I tried numerous times to keep her from falling by pushing these buttons, even at one time turning the PS4 controller around so the L2 and R2 buttons were facing me. However, I got her on the mountain-top and kept her away from the boulders by using the controller positioned in the normal way. My fingers got a true workout here, and with the controller rumbling, the sound effects of her climbing up the mountains, and her gasping -- when she finally reached the top of the mountain, breathing heavily, I was doing just about the same thing. I felt as if we had both shared a victory at that point, and felt quite exhilarated that she had made it up the mountain safely.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Likes and Dislikes
Here's what I liked and did not like about the part of the game I played. I liked the realistic video game graphics, where the grass moved with the wind. I liked that the game started over close to the part where you may have tried to complete a mission, instead of starting all over again. I liked the sound effects including the sounds of the rushing waters that in some ways can be a nice sound to listen to, but can also be frightening as well -- especially if the character is on a high mountain, looking down in deep, thrashing waters. The voice acting, was ok; however, in some of the scenes, the voice actor was difficult to understand, and when the character fell from a tall mountain, I personally think that she could have screamed more realistically. Also the illustration of the character can be improved in some of the scenes, because in some, her face seems to be swollen at her jaws -- not in all scenes -- but in some. I liked the realistic movement of the character's eyes, as well as the expression she had which signaled that she was at a loss as to what to do in certain situations -- however, she was able to figure things out. I also liked the voice commands where you actually speak your options, such as showing the maps, pausing etc.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Highly Recommended
If you have not played this game, and enjoy playing adventure, action games, I highly recommend you play Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition on your PS4. If you do not have a PS4, you may be interested to know that Tomb Raider is currently free to play on the PS3 for PS plus members. I also have a PS3 -- but I was happy to play this game on my PS4 where I was able to use the new features of the PS4 and experience the improved graphics and sound qualities.
I'm looking forward to playing more of this game as well as seeing and experiencing via video game play the other adventures/missions Lara Croft will encounter in Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition.
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is rated M for Mature and is playable on the PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows PC and Mac.
Did you notice a stand-out video game that caught your interest during E3, 2013? In my opinion, there were lots of notable video games showcased during E3, 2013; however, there was one video game that really caught my eye.
The game that stood out at E3, 2013 among many, in my opinion, was Quantum Break by Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft Studios. The demo shown was packed with action gameplay and started off with a bang. Of course, during actual video gameplay, there may be slow-moving parts in the game to advance the plot along, but based on the trailer, these parts may be few and far between. I especially enjoyed watching the still-action motions and the graphics of objects as well as some of the characters suspended in space and time during gameplay.
To give you background info on this game -- Quantum Break will be an action, science fiction time travel type video game with main protaganists, Jack Joyce, Paul Serene and Beth Wilder. It is a single player video game, exclusive for the Xbox One. While Remedy Entertainment is keeping most of the storyline and the gameplay under wraps for now, it is known the plot involves an experiment in a lab that went awry -- giving the characters the ability to manipulate as well as travel through time. For authenticity, the company consulted with time travel experts to keep the gameplay in this video game as realistic as possible.
Similar to another video game, Defiance, Quantum Break will have a television show tied in with the game. The television show guides you on how to play the game and how you play the video game will, in turn, impact the show.
Quantum Break has a pending rating and will be available in 2014.
The Director’s Cut of Q.U.B.E. has launched on the Playstation 4 and Playstation 3 (available as a cross-buy) and was released on the Xbox One shortly after that, July 21st and 24th respectively, and will be available on the Wii U in August. Toxic Games has developed the newest edition of the physics puzzler and it has been published by Grip Games .
Q.U.B.E. (Quick Understanding of Block Extrusion) is a first-person puzzle game that sets you in a spaceship where you have to manipulate blocks using a pair of high tech gloves to accomplish your goals in the environment. The Director’s Cut edition has an all new narrative single player campaign that pits you against unusual and challenging puzzles with a new original music score to add ambiance. You can also test your skills in 10 new levels in the time trial mode. To find out more visit http://www.grip-games.com/games/QUBE/
Dead Pixel Live talked to Bobby King, VP at Farsight Studios about their multiplatform title, The Pinball Arcade. He tells us about the differences a small studio can face when releasing a title on the Xbox 360 vs the Playstation, Ouya and mobile platforms. He also lets us in on some of the enhancements that are coming for the next gen platform versions of Pinball arcade, including the Wii U. We talk about the Terminator 2 Kickstarter campaign that is underway and how gamers can help them secure the license to the classic table. Mr. King goes over what new tables are on the way (-cough-Metallica-cough-) and even teases the possibility of some original tables from Farsight, and even a pinball construction set where users can create their own unique machines. Listen or download the interview below.