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GH101 Xbox 360 and PS3 Restrospectives

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Fred is joined by an all star list of guests as Gaming History 101 looks back on the longest, most successful, and most diverse generation of consoles. Steve (R9cast) and Norma (Knuckleballer Radio and Zombiecast) come on board to discuss the beloved Xbox 360. They take a deep look at the console launch, launch titles, significant advances, hardware setbacks, and a bunch of other ups and downs in Microsoft's second, and currently most notable, console.

Then Fred is joined by 42 Level One host Andy and Video Game Outsiders own Matt (@MattoMcFly) to reminisce on the Playstation 3. They look back on the launch, early titles, and myriad of ups and downs that Sony struggled with on its third console

 

Click Here for the GH101 XBOX 360 Episode  

Click Here for the GH101  PlayStation 3 Episode

 

The Little Pawn Shop That Could

Royal PawnRoyal Pawn

 When garbage collectors are called sanitation engineers, and used cars are referred to as certified pre-owned vehicles, it's refreshing to notice a place, though small in size, that goes simply by the name of Royal Pawn.  Why?  Because it is an actual pawn shop.  Unlike another establishment I visited during my video game field trip that was called "Cash Converters" when it was in essence a  pawn shop, the store I visited for my video game field trip was a bona fide pawn shop.  It's a place where you can pawn items it you want, or if you prefer, you can just shop around like I did, and find out what they have to offer in the way of video games.

Before visiting Royal Pawn, I went to their website and saw lots of pictures on the walls, as well as musical instruments and other merchandise displayed in glass cases.  I have visited similar looking places, and would more often than not be told that they do not sell or trade video games.  When I visited Royal Pawn and walked closer to the glass door opening of this store, I saw the sign  "We Buy Gold” -- which heightened my doubts that video games would be sold in this pawn shop.

When I walked in the store, I was greeted by a salesperson.  I was going to ask a leading question such as, "You all do not have video games or video game systems here, do you?" -- when I decided to take a more positive approach and just ask if they had any video games. I was surprised when the salesperson said that they not only sold video games but had video game consoles as well --  which were located in an area behind where I was standing.

Xbox 360's at Royal PawnXbox 360's at Royal Pawn

 I asked the salesperson if there were any PS4 or Xbox Ones in stock, and his reply was that it was too soon to have the new systems. However, he mentioned that about two weeks ago, this store had a PS4, which was bought within a few minutes after it was put on the shelf.  Of course, this could have been a fabrication; however, judging from the busyness of this store, this was a possible true story. When I asked about the prices of the video games, he said that most of their video games sold for $10.00, unlike the "Game Box" down the street that sells games for $50 and up.  When I questioned "Game Box," he said that he meant to say "GameStop."  Having visited GameStop the previous week, I can attest to the fact that the used video game prices at Royal Pawn were more reasonable. An added plus was, from what I saw -- the video games included some recent titles.

Here are some of the video games displayed in the locked glass case.Here are some of the video games displayed in the locked glass case.

 When I asked to look at a game in the glass case that caught my attention, he went to another area in the store and brought a key back with him to open the case.  The video game that caught my eye was Gears of War for the Xbox 360, which  was in a new-looking metal case.  When he opened the metal case, the game along with the external and internal packaging were intact.  I was expecting this game to sell higher than $10.00 -- but when I asked, he told me the price was $10.00.  I was tempted to purchase this game; however, I did not particularly like that there was a red skull on the front of the packaging, similar to the skull that's on Call of Duty Ghosts. The salesperson jokingly said that he would remove the skull if I liked, and I knew obviously,  he was just kidding.

To make a long story short, after much contemplation, I passed on the Gears of War game and did not purchase it.

I would describe this video game field trip as an enjoyable one.  Not only was I looking around for video games in a pawn shop that was also known as a pawn shop,  but I was being assisted by a salesperson who was very helpful as well.

If you want to look for your favorite older video games in a place that seems like it's not out to take your money, I recommend you visit a similar type establishment  in your area. If there are no video games in the pawn shop that you are interested in, there may be other type merchandise that you may want to check out.  It is likely that should you decide to look for video games, consoles, or other merchandise,  there is a pawn shop waiting for you to frequent.  Hopefully the salespeople are just as friendly as the merchandise is inexpensive.

 

World of Tanks Xbox 360 Preview Impressions

 

WoT Xbox 360 Preview title

I first saw World of Tanks in a small booth at E3 a few years ago. I played it a little, but at the time, to me the term ‘Free to Play’ meant ‘Not a Real Game Yet’. I admit it, I was biased against F2P games and didnt give it much thought. Every year since then, the World of Tanks booth has grown to the point where now you can expect to see full size WW2 tanks looming beside the game area. I began to think that maybe I had misjudged this MMO version of a tank sim.

A few weeks ago I got the chance to play the new version of World of Tanks on the Xbox 360. I kept an open mind, because when a company shows up at E3 with a tank, they must be doing something right. And they are, World of Tanks manages to solve not only a lot of the problems I have with F2P games, but it manages to avoid the shortcoming of most shooters.

 

WoT Xbox 360 Preview01One of my big issues with shooters (and make no mistake, WoT is shooter, not a sim. Think Call of Duty...but with tanks), is what I call ‘lone wolf syndrome’. No matter what the game developers envisioned, the game is almost always populated with ‘lone wolves’ who sprint around the map like wanne be Rambos trying to take out the opposition on their own. I’ve always said, if you can get just 3 people in a shooter to work together, their team would win every match. "Think Call of Duty...but with tanks"And yet it never happens. But in World of Tanks, you can’t sprint. You’re a tank. A big slow tank. Even the ‘fast’ tanks are still pretty slow. and that’s a good thing. Because now you’re almost forced to work as a team. Because of your speed and size, if you go out alone, you’re just a big target. This means that almost every game, you’re aware of where your teammates are. You cover them, and they cover you. And with that comes an immediate sense of ‘I’m part of a Team’, even in pickup matches with strangers. That’s something that you almost never get in most shooters.

 

WoT Xbox 360 Preview03The next big plus happens when you die. In the modes I played, you only get a single life, with no respawning. Once your tank is destroyed, you can wait around and watch the rest of the match unfold. Or you can leave immediately and start a new match without being penalized any points or rewards you may have earned. No more waiting around while the final two tanks look for each other on opposite sides of the map. That change allowed me to keep playing instead of just sitting back and flipping through the different camera views of other players.

 

"the devs have managed to keep the tedious parts of sims out"World of Tanks is a slightly arcade-y tank game with more than a few simulation style additions. There’s a ton of historically accurate war machines to pilot, with everything from small Shermans to huge Panzers. All of the tanks have the same simple controls. It’s more complicated to drive a car in Forza than it is to move a 30 ton beast in WoT but I’m not a tank buff so I can’t comment on how historically accurate each tank is. I was pleasantly surprised how well WoT uses terrain. For once in a game, higher ground actually means something. Flanking around the side of a hill isn’t just possible, its the norm. Getting into cover means driving behind a house, and not just hitting a button. Somehow the devs have managed to keep the tedious parts of sims out while including all of the ‘cool’ stuff like the damage model that allows you to blow off a tread or destroy a turret while still keeping the tank alive. And there’s a huge draw distance where you can see someone creeping from behind a fence on the other side of the map.


WoT Xbox 360 Preview06Notice I've gotten this far into the preview without mentioning ‘Leveling Up’. Usually in F2P games, the game is obviously secondary to the economy the developer has concocted to get you to start spending money. I know Wargaming.net isn’t a charity and they want to fill their bank accounts like any over dev, but I have to admit, I never felt pressured to hand over my credit card, or felt like I was being held back because I didn’t drop an extra $5 in the jar. The games were matched up in a way that I was always against similar skilled opponents, or on a team that had an even mix of small and big tanks. This is just a preview so I won’t go too deep on how the economy works, but basically, you play, you get money, you buy stuff for your tank (or new tanks).

 

World of Tanks on the Xbox 360 is now in open beta and from what I’ve seen, there’s no reason it won’t make as big a splash on the console as it has on the PC. It manages to have an arcade like control style, strategic gameplay, and is well paced. Maybe ‘F2P’ isn’t such a bad word after all.

 

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