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2015 L. A. Games Conference : Gaming on a Higher Level

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The Digital Media Wire L.A. Games Conference was held May 6, 2015 from 9:00 a.m. - 5:45 p.m. at the W Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Due to renovations at the Roosevelt Hotel where the conference was originally scheduled to take place, a change was made to move the conference to the W Hotel a few weeks prior.

The DMW L.A. Games Conference is an annual conference where the movers and shakers in just about all facets of the video game industry get together, network, collaborate and share ideas not only on the current state of video games, but also on where video games are headed in the future. Some of the best minds in the video game industry got together to debate such topics as Virtual Reality (VR), Alternative Reality (AR), mobile versus console and PC gaming, advertising in video game and a wide range of other video game topics of interest not only to gamers, but to those who can direct the fate and destiny of the video game industry as a whole.

Digital Media Wire 2015 L.A. Games Conference SponsorsDigital Media Wire 2015 L.A. Games Conference Sponsors

Location, Location, Location

It was fitting for the DMW L.A. Games Conference to be held in Los Angeles, California. During the conference, it was pointed out that L.A. is fast becoming just as noteworthy and the place to watch for videogames success as other citiesL.A. is fast becoming just as noteworthy and the place to watch for videogames success as other cities, such as the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York and other mecca gaming locations. Additionally, L.A. is becoming the hot bed to attract great startups and communities who are all about creating video games.

With the E3 video game convention happening in just a few months -- the DMW L.A. Games Conference seemed to be just the right introduction to this event. During the conference, E3 was mentioned and a question was asked by one of the audience members if E3 is still relevant. The response given was that E3 is not as relevant as it was years ago when video gaming was relatively new -- however E3 is still relevant, but to a lesser degree. That being said, everyone was encouraged to attend E3 which is currently scheduled for June 16-18, 2015 at the L.A. Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. Just to clarify -- E3 and the DMW Games Conference are separate events and are not partners, etc.

Keynote and Roundtable Conversations

Given the varied calibre of video gaming industry experts, speakers, debaters and presenters -- it appeared that no stones were left unturned when it came to sharing views, opinions, challenges, and predictions for the video game industry. The spokespersons were directly involved in the video game industry whether their involvement was deeply intertwined in the making of video games such as developers and designers, or if the involvement was from an investment point of view, such as the investors and venture capitalists who had a fireside chat as well. There was also a discussion from TenCent on China’s request for more western games to be available for play in China.Popular games in the Chinese marketPopular games in the Chinese market

Future or Fad? The Great Debate on Virtual and Augmented Reality Gaming & Entertainment

At the DMW L.A. Games Conference, anybody who was anybody in the video game industry seemed to be there to not only share video gaming information but to debate as well. Like the saying goes -- there are two sides to every story -- which includes the video game industry. It was refreshing to see the panelists not only agree to disagree on some topics, but were also willing to listen to the other side’s argument as well.

An example of this was a discussion on whether Virtual Reality (VR) and Alternative Reality (AR) should be relegated for at home play only -- or if these new forms of video game play requiring headsets and other apparatus, other than today’s gaming consoles, PCs and mobile devices -- could enter into mainstream living. In other words, what would be the ideal setting of VR and AR relative to video game players? Interesting enough, both sides had compelling reasons why VR and AR should be an at home gaming activity only, as well as why VR and AR would be ideal to enhance the social aspect of gaming. This could be done by affording gamers the opportunity to interact with others outside of the home environment. The debate was not settled at the conference; however, this topic did open up dialogue as well as thoughts relative to the future of VR and AR and the impact these types of games will have on society.

VR PanelistsVR Panelists

It was noted that video gamers were expected to lead the advent of 3D television -- which sort of fizzled due to human dynamics as well as poorly executed content. The question was whether VR and AR would face a similar demise, or would it become a part of gaming just as much, if not more so than today’s gaming consoles, mobile devices and PCs.

Comments from Ted Schilowitz, VR Creator & Futurist, 20th Century Fox/CinemaVangelist indicated that to the contrary, VR is destined to become an integral part of video gamingVR is destined to become an integral part of video gaming. In fact, in his position at 20th Century Fox, he spends up to 8 hours a day in the virtual world instead of the real world. He added that hardware is the easiest part of VR, and creating the best possible content for VR is the hardest part. Concern expressed was people will try to give away VR games to stimulate the market -- which should not be done.

Some of the challenges discussed relative to VR and AR included safety issues as well as the difficulty of making VR and AR video games.


Money and Video Games

For these discussion topics, the politically correct term of “monetization” was used instead of “making money” in the video game industry with topics such as   The Evolution of Free-to-Play,  Mobile Advertising: Maximizing The Value of Advertising, Mobile Games: Strategies for Cost-Efficient User Acquisition, Investor’s Roundtable as well as other monetization discussions.

The company’s bottom line is the basis for the video game industry which cannot be ignored. The company's bottom line is the basis for the video game industrySure, the conference was enlightening and it was sometimes eye-opening to find out the inner workings of the video game industry; however, at the end of the day the question must be answered -- How will money be made from video games?

Towards this end, a fireside chat was held on how to use ads in video games as a way of monetization. Discussions included how to embed ads in video games without taking away what could be an enjoyable video game experience for the video gamer.

Specific methods discussed to introduce ads seamlessly to the video game player was to bring the ads in slowly, depending on how long the game was played. For instance, if someone just started playing the game, the strategy used was to wait until the game is played for longer periods of time before ads are slowly introduced. 

Another idea presented was to have the ads become part of the video game play itself. For instance, the gamer would have to click on the ad to either get more points or to advance to another level in the game, etc. In this way, ads would be used as incentives or rewards for reading or even clicking on the ads.

A statistic shared was that only approximately two to five percent of video gamers actually click on ads with the remaining players, either skipping or ignoring the ads. Even though the numbers of gamers clicking on ads are relatively low -- this does not dissuade video game companies from concentrating their advertising efforts on those two to five percenters which could possibly grow in numbers.

There was an agreement among the panelists during this discussion that if video games were of high quality, gamers would be more tolerant to ads appearing in the game. The message seems to be for developers and others to provide more high quality, innovative video games to equate to higher revenues from ads. An example provided of a video game that uses ads appropriately was Compass Point West, a free online game.

An additional method of monetization of video games discussed was to use subscriptions which would almost guarantee gamers will return to play the game, while at the same time being exposed to ads which could result in more revenue.

As a footnote: The monetization fireside chats were well attended. During one of these chats, a group of ad executives sat on one side of the couch and the developers sat on the opposite side -- which made for a productive exchange of information and ideas relative to the monetization of videogaming.

Hollywood & Games: Opportunities & Strategies

Since the conference was held in L.A., the topic of Hollywood celebrities was a given. Several experts shared thoughts about Hollywood celebrities and video games. It was mentioned that more celebrities are being urged to become part of the twitter universe, especially if they have aspirations of having their own video game. With the monetary success of Kim Kardashian’s game, Kim Kardashian:Hollywood, it is not surprising that some celebrities are looking to capitalize by having their own game. The benefit mentioned during this discussion was that unlike movies, with video games, celebrities have a more intimate relationship with the game. 

Hollywood and Games PanelistsHollywood and Games Panelists

Distribution Track - Myst to MP3S: Music in Games: The Next Generation

How would video games fare without music? Probably not as well as video games do with music. During this fireside chat with the experts which included Brandon Young from Blizzard, Siegfried Paquet of FreshPlanet, Les Borsai of SongLily and others, discussion ensued on the sometimes daunting task of making sure all the licenses are in place before music, songs, arrangements, etc. are added to various video games.

Music in Games

One may think the only person’s license that is imperative to get approval for is the songwriter. However, this is sometimes not true. In fact, narrowing down who the licenses should be obtained from as well as locating the applicable people to discuss terms, etc. for the licensing -- appear to be a job in and of itself. Brandon Young indicated the timeframe for licensing for some video games can take up to four months. On the other hand, it was noted by a panelist that the time frame for getting approval for licensing music for video games in China is much shorter. Sometimes approval is granted in as little as 24 hours since there are no layers to muddle through to get licensing approval. The flip side of the short time frame in China according to one of the speakers was the high cost of licensing there when compared to the U.S.

Wrap-Up

Attendance at the DMW L.A. Games Conference is highly recommended. Not only was there a multitude of compelling discussions on video games as well as the video game industry, but the venue provided an opportunity to network and collaborate with others. Attendance at the DMW L.A. Games Conference is highly recommended. The cost is sky-high to attend, but when one weighs the positive benefits of getting instant answers to questions one may have about the video game industry, as well as to learn more about the video games from the developers’, strategist, and even investors’ points of view, the money can be considered money very well spent. To find out what is happening, not only on the outer edges, but down to the core of video gaming, this well represented, and well attended DMW L.A. Video Game Conference was by far the place to be.

PS4 Release Date Revealed

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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.

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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.

BestBuy Preorder

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.

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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.

PS4 Preorder

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. 

Marvel Universe Live: A Review

If you would like to see some of your favorite Marvel superheroes in full costume and as always fighting criminal elements, including monsters with lizard tails and others -- then Marvel Universe Live is the show for you.  At Marvel Universe Live you will see a full cast of some of your favorite Marvel characters, some with the added power to perform acrobats and dare-devil riding and stunts while at the same time fighting for justice and the American way.

Norfolk ScopeNorfolk Scope

Marvel Universe Live is a stage show where there are lots of explosions, fireworks, fighting matches and the like to keep your interest.  Some of the fighting can become intense, which can be attributed to the excellent acting chops of the actors and actresses; however, for the very young in attendance, some of the fighting may be a little disconcerting or disturbing -- even if they are accustomed to watching violent cartoons on TV.  My advice during some of the more graphic type fighting scenes is to remind the younger children that no one really gets hurt during the show, and the quick and lightening fighting blows that are levied, never land on the opponents.

In addition to fighting crimes with various theatrical weapons, Marvel superheroes performed knock-down, drag-out fights.  You will see a lot of these types fights in the show. In fact, during some scenes it looked as if nothing but fighting was going on -- so much so that it may be difficult to focus your attention on one fighting area.  This is a plus, in my opinion, because it cemented the professionalism of the actors in doing the fighting, while it heighted the excitement of the audience when so many actions were going on all at once.

Aldrich Killian battles Iron ManAldrich Killian battles Iron Man

Your impression of the show's magnitude would probably depend on what you are used to seeing in a production of this type.  Personally, the last similar show I attended was at the Convention Center in Washington D.C., where the actions took place on a large, round stage surrounded by what looked liked thousands of spectators.  For the show that was held at the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia, there was a seemingly noticeable lack of arena area for the acrobats and stunt driving to take place. The pro of the smaller stage was the audience got a closer view of the superheroes and villains in action while the con was the smaller arena probably gave the show a scaled down type of appearance at first glance. Some of the actions, including the stunt driving probably would have been more spectacular if there were more driving and stunt spaces available at the arena. After a while, one may become used to the arena size.  Also, the actors and actresses seemed to adjust well to the venue's size and structure when acting to the dialogue and performing stunts.  It appeared to have helped that the theatrical props seemed to be adaptable to the size of the arena as well.

Lady Liberty StageLady Liberty Stage

There are also limitations on the type stunts, fights and actions that could take place in the enclosed arena.  Marvel Universe Live took advantage of the space that was available.  For example, in one scene there is large round stage display showing the face of Lady Liberty.  Within this stage display was a winding stairway that provided space for several superheroes to fight against the villains.  Regarding ariel limitations, the air space was used adequately for a villain's airplane to fly high and ultimately get destroyed by explosions while it hovered several feet above the stage area.

Regarding the actors playing the superheroes themselves, some of the actors and actresses appeared sort of smaller in stature including Spiderman, Wolverine, Black Widow and others.  There were exceptions for some of the villains; however, for the most part the superheroes were not as tall as I expected.  Of course, some of the heroes are of the height as depicted in the comic books, and once the show started, which included dare-devil bike stunts and acrobatic moves, it was easy to understand why this was so.  Some of the actors and actresses appeared to be stunt riders first with the capability to maneuver themselves along on their bikes, and were actors and actresses depicting superheroes second.  

There were several crowd-pleasing moments in the show that caused the audience to applaud loudly.  Not to give anything away, these actions included lots of fire in one case and in the other case -- the entrance of one of the larger superheroes in the arena toward the end of the show.  In my opinion, this was the most size, girth and height appropriate superhero who appeared, even though it was obvious an actor was in a large, embellished costume which would probably not be adequate for doing anything more than walking in it much less performing acrobatic stunts. 

Marvel Live Universe is a lot more than stunts and acrobats being done.  There is a storyline that the actors follow during the show. The venue is set up where the audience hears dialogue from the characters who perform actions relative to the booming voices that fill the arena.   For the most part, actions were done in concert with the voice acting.  Once the second half of the show started or maybe even earlier, one may become accustomed to the voice acting and the fact they are watching stunts being done, along with the superheroes moving to the voice actiing -- sort of like "lip-synch acting." In other words, it did not appear as if the characters were actually saying their parts, unless their personal voice acting was recorded earlier.

Hats off to the pyrotechnic professionals who were expert in setting up and executing the firey displays while at the same time keeping the actors and the audience safe.  They managed to do an excellent job of providing just enouigh theatrical fire works to keep the audience happy as well as the actors and actresses unhurt.  

Black WidowBlack Widow

There were an  array of superhero actresses, which included the female Captain America, Black Widow, and a few others.  The female superheroes' presence was not as prevalent as the males in the show which is no fault of Marvel Universe Live but is a reflection of the comic book make-up in general. Their stunts were also not as "jaw-breaking" as some of the males.  For example, some of the stunts performed by the males were jumping using the motorcyles from high altitudes, driving over barrels surrounded by fire, running out on stage engulfed in flames, and other crowd-pleasing feats.  By comparison the most the female characters did including Black Widow was to drive around the stage on motorcycles, being lowered from the ceiling by wires and fighting on a high altitude platform. This mix could possibly change if more female stunt performers auditioned to become a part of Marvel Universe Live.

Marvel Universe Live provided an excellent correlation between the live performance and filmed portions of the story and the scenery.  One may get the impression visually  that the superheroes are actually climbing up the  high, avalance prone mountains as they traversed the ladders staged against the filmed images.

There were also laugh out loud moments in the show, sometimes based upon the dialogue between the superheroes  themselves and sometimes from the narrator to the audience.  Marvel Universe Live demonstrated that even though superheroes have been around for some time, they are able to keep up with the times, including the advent of social media such as Facebook, Twitter along with hashtags.  Some of the most humorous dialogue included the use of social media references in the show.

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Marvel Universe Live is a show that is entertainment that will delight all ages.  Whether your favorite superhero is Spiderman, Iron Man, Wolverine, or some of the other Marvel superheroes in the show, you are sure to find some moments that will cause you to applaud, laugh or just  leave you in an overall good mood.  It helps that the show is not overly short or long in duration.  The above being said --  The best way to see if you will truly enjoy the show is to of course  go to one in person and find out for yourself.

If Marvel Universe: Live has not been in your area recently, it should arrive soon.  Just check the Marvel Universe: Live website for schedule and site locations.

Listen to Ms.H's interview with Gilyon Brace Wessel who plays Dr. Aldrich Killian on the show.

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Black Desert Online: A Ms. H Video Game Review

 Introduction to Black Desert Online: A Ms. H Video Game Review

I was pleasantly surprised at what awaited me when I downloaded the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Player Game (MMORG) Black Desert Online.  Black Desert Online was different from the video game I imagined it would be.  I've played quite a few MMORGs and was ready to experience the same type video gaming experience as I did before.  However, I quickly realized Black Desert Online wants to be clear that it is not your ordinary, run of the mill MMORG video game.  Here are my thoughts and views of the Black Desert Online video game.

Video Game Customizations in Black Desert Online Video Game

It didn't take me long to find out that one of the many high points of playing Black Desert Online was the customizations.  In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time first of all on naming my characters -- then customizing them to the Nth degree.  There were numerous choices of how I could customize my video game characters which included not only the facial features and body types, but also the horoscopes and other aspects that were provided to me.

There was a minor downside to my customizations. When I logged back in to play Black Desert Online, I discovered the specific character I customized was tied to a particular server.  Of course I had not made note of the server I chose, so I was unable to retrieve my customized character.  No problem.  All I had to do was to pick another server, customize another video game character and be sure to use the same server to bring her back up.

I believe I customized about two or three characters before I decided that it was time to get into actually playing the video game.  When i concentrated my efforts on playing the video game, instead of using my customized characters, I decided to use the character that was provided in the game with no customizations whatsoever.  That's not to say that I will not maybe later retrieve my customized character and play the game from her vantage point.

Graphics in Black Desert Online Video Game

At first glance, Black Desert Online graphics had the cookie-cutter look of other similar type video games.  However, some of the close-up rendering of the enviornment was quite impressive, and appeared to look realistic.

Choices in Black Desert Online Video Game

The developers, in my opinion, did not economize when it came to giving gamers choices when playing the Black Desert Online video game.  In addition to the wide variety of customization features available for the video game characters, there were numerous choices within the video game itself.  As I completed quests and other adventures, I was given options to interact with other video game characters in the game by simply pushing the "R" key.  There were many other choices as well throughout the video gameplay.

If I was stuck in some way in the video game or needed help, I could summon the assistant called the Black Spirit by simply pressing the comma key on my laptop.  The assistant would appear as a black flowing cloud with red dots for eyes to instruct me on what I could do.  Interesting enough, I found out if I summoned the assistant while I was in combat with enemies, this assistant was not immune and could get temporarily destroyed.

Black Desert OnlineBlack Desert Online

Violence and Gore in Black Desert Online Video Game

Speaking of enemies, many of the quests in Black Desert Online video game involved fighting or destroying enemies.  Some of the enemies included grass beetles, weasels and other creatures.  I think it was creative how the developers would oftentimes camouflage these enemy creatures in the foilage and other areas where sometimes they were not easily visible.  A negative was the blood splatters in this video game which I am not a fan. I think the video game would be even more enjoyable to play if there were no blood splatters in these battles.

Leveling Up in Black Desert Online Video Game

I think leveling up in Black Desert online was not difficult.   When I reached level 10, I was no longer considered a beginner in the tutorial stage. As I leveled up, I begin to notice other aspects of the video game.  For example, I noticed the attention to detail in the environment as well as other video game players' characters in the game.  There was also the usual dialogue among players appearing and scrolling sometimes on the left side of the screen.

I was leery of being tempted to get loyalty points by logging on to the video game Black Desert Online daily.  For the first two or three days, I gave in to signing in daily, and in turn boosted up my loyalty points.  However, I still limited my video game playing time.  I resisted the urge to log on to Black Desert Online for loyalty points as I did other things instead of playing this video game.   My caution is to not get lured into having this video game take up a lot of your time by playing it for long periods of time, not only because of the temptation of the loyalty points, but also because Black Desert Online is such a fun video game to play.  As I've cautioned you before -- always strike a balance between playing video games and doing other real-life non-video game activities.

Black Desert OnlineBlack Desert Online

Assessment of Black Desert Online Video Game

In my opinion, Black Desert Online is a video game that is worth your time playing in moderation.  I think you will enjoy the different type environments and the feeling that you are actually a part of this video game world and making video game accomplishments. There are lots of quests you can choose to take as well different adventures you can embark upon.  Black Desert Online video game will keep your interest in part because of the wide variety of characters and the real-world look of the video game backdrop as well as the various missions and quests.   As with most online video games, there is also an online forum you can consult as required if you need help in getting to the next level or getting further into the video game.

Black Desert OnlineBlack Desert Online

I believe I would have rated Black Desert Online higher if the blood splatters were eliminated, if it was easier to get the video game launched in the first place and if the characters retained their customizations once you got a far-away view of them in action, if profanity in the video game was eliminated and on top of all this if there were no instances where the server timed out during the game play.  When this happened, I had to start playing the video game all over again. That being said, I think the positives of the Desert Online video game far outweigh the negatives.

Rating of Black Desert Online Video Game

On a scale of 1 star to 10 stars, with 1 star being the lowest and 10 stars being the highest, I rate Black Desert Online video game 8 stars.

Availability of Black Desert Online Video Game

Black Desert Online is a buy-to-play video game developed by Pearl Abyss and is playable on the PC.

  • Published in PC

Penguins vs Possums Interview - 7/21 on Mom's Minute

On Monday July 21st, Ms. H will welcome one of the creators of Fanboy Comic's hit title Penguins vs Possums to Mom's Minute. Sebastian Kadlecik will give Ms. H the ins and outs of the secret war that has has been raging since the dawn of time between two unlikely foes. Penquins vs Possums is a graphic novel written by Sebastian Kadlecik, John Bring, and Lindsay Calhoon Bring and features the art of Sebastian Kadlecik and John Bring. The trade paperback collects issues 1-4 of the epic story and is available now from www.Fanboycomics.net

Listen to Mom’s Minute to find out the hurdles in developing and publishing an independant comic, how digital media has effected a medium once ruled by pen and paper, and most importantly, which side Ms. H chooses, Penguins or Possums.

Join the show live at 4pm PST/7pm EST at www.allgames.com/live  to submit questions you’d like Ms. H to ask, or if you’re too busy reading comics on Monday, post your questions right now in the comments section below.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for PS4 - The Review

 

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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.

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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.

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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.tombraider4  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.

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Project Spark: Create Your World

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Project Spark

Have you ever played a video game and thought that if only the location or setting of the game was designed differently, it would be a more exciting game to play?  Or maybe you thought that if the video gameplay was tweaked just a little, you would have a better chance at winning or getting a high score, depending on the type video game you were playing.  Enter Project Spark. Now that the formerly closed beta version of Project Spark is available to all video game players-- you can do a lot more than just think about how you would like to change video games.  Tapping into your imagination and creativity, you will be able to actually create your own video games, including the world the video game characters designed by you can explore.  Maybe you prefer not to design a video game from scratch.  No problem.  You can simply play unique video games that were created by other video game players if you like.                                                                                       

Project Spark is  a video “gamemaker”, developed by Team Dakota, where you can build your own video game experiences including the backdrop of the gameplay.  You create your video game on a digital canvas that can be a blank sheet or one that has already been started for you.   You can edit, change, design, modify and create aspects of the video game with just a push of the controls on your controller, choosing from the wide selection of terrains and environments available to you. You are not limited in using only the controller when creating your video games -- You may also use the Kinect and even Microsoft's SmartGlass.

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Project Spark

This game has been compared to Minecraft and Terraria by some; however, in my opinion, this game gives you so much more in the way of creativity. For example, unlike Minecraft, you are not carving your video game environment, but you are designing one that is attuned to a video game that you created yourself. In other words, you are not just building an environment from one that is already there, but you are creating one from the ground up -- so to speak. As mentioned earlier, you also have the option to get a headstart on your video game as well as the environment by choosing from those that have already been designed for you. Also, the graphics, vivid color terrains, and other elements of video game designs are, in my opinion, levels up from what is available on Minecraft, Terraria, and other similar type games. Additionally, there is the social element of Project Spark where you can share your video game creations.

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Project Spark

With the above being said, you may ask, "What is the catch?" Well, even though the download of Project Spark is free, you will have to pay for some of the content for your video games. Depending on how you look at it, this may not be a drawback, if you look at this from the standpoint that once your video game is completed, it will be a true original -- which in some ways can be considered priceless.

Project Spark beta is available now and is playable on the Xbox One, and Windows 8.

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Ms. H Examines: Noel Brown’s Ban from Video Game Tournaments

Noel Brown’s Ban from Video Game Tournaments
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent those of AllGames.com

 After researching Noel Brown and his present and past behaviors, I questioned why I should give him further notoriety by covering his antics. As you may know. whenever a catastrophic event occurs, the media seemingly concentrates on the perpetrator instead of the helpless victims. I prefer not to spread more publicity about someone such as Noel Brown. However, I’m providing my thoughts on this topic in the hope that others will learn about consequences that could result from someone’s wrong behaviors -- even if not directly impacted by them.

Specifically, the purpose of this article is to share my thoughts on whether or not Noel Brown’s ban from playing in Capcom and Evo professional video game tournaments is adequate or if his punishment should have been more severe.

 Background

Noel Brown is a professional video game player who participates in tournaments, usually involving the Street Fighter games. Based on my research, he is not one of the expert players who regularly wins or even places in video game tournaments.

Noel Brown 240x300He has become known mostly for how he reacts violently and inappropriate in certain situations rather than his expertise in playing video games. For example, in 2011, Noel Brown engaged in a physical altercation with another video game player. In 2013, he was arrested for domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend. More recently, in May, 2016, he sexually harassed a female which was recorded and caught on tape. As a result, Noel Brown was banned from playing in Capcom and Evo video game tournaments for the rest of 2016, 2017 and possibly 2018.

Noel Brown’s ban was effective soon after the sexual harassment action occurred. His return to playing in video game tournaments depends on how well he conducts himself during the time he is banned.

Will this ban be sufficient to cause a change in Noel Brown’s behavior and his tendency towards violent and unsuitable behavior? Before I answer, let me state that I think that everyone, depending on the specific offense, deserves a second chance. However, it appears that Noel Brown has already been given numerous second chances. He needs to understand he does not have a place in public video game tournaments if the violent and improper behaviors continue. He can play video games to his heart’s content, but not in public tournaments or events that involve interactions with other people, specifically Capcom and Evo video game tournaments for now.

Was Noel Brown Guilty?

There is no doubt that during this latest incident, Noel Brown was guilty of sexual harassment that was not consented to by the female. I was not present at the event where the harassment occurred; however, a video exists of the inappropriate touching by Noel Brown. (The woman wishes to remain anonymous.) In the video, there were a lot of people congregating and moving around. As the female walked in front of him, Noel Brown groped her in plain view of the cameras. Even if the cameras were not rolling, the behavior he displayed was not appropriate and was uncalled for.There is no doubt that during this latest incident, Noel Brown was guilty of sexual harassment The woman did not consent to being groped; therefore, Noel Brown was called out for sexual harassment, and subsequently banned from Capcom and Evo tournaments. Even if this act was not done in public and was not recorded, he would still be guilty of sexual harassment.

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Who is to Blame

If Capcom or Combo Breaker, the organizer of the tournament had a zero tolerance for sexual harassment, Noel Brown would not have been given a second chance to display bad behavior at the tournament. However, it appears that Capcom and Combo Breaker do not have a strong sexual harassment policy. And if there is a policy, it is not actively enforced.

Instead, Capcom and Combo Breaker gave Noel Brown what I consider to be a slap on the wrist instead of taking a serious stand against what he did. Sexual harassment is a serious charge and as such should come with serious consequences. I do not see any evidence of Noel Brown learning his lesson that sexual harassment is not acceptable by having an insignificant break or ban from playing in these  tournaments.

The above being said, Capcom and Combo Breaker cannot be blamed for Noel Brown’s behavior. Being an adult, Noel Brown is the only one to blame for what he did. 

Noel Brown’s Response

In reviewing Noel Brown’s response regarding sexually harassing the female, he indicated that this was no big deal. In fact, he mentioned he and the female victim were texting later that day. My response to him is “So what?” Just because you carried on a conversation with her does not negate what you did earlier.

Noel Brown seems to make excuses for his actions. For example he responded that he doesn’t understand why other people are concerned when they are not involved in what happened. Here are his words:

“I don't understand how someone else calls sexual harassment on someone else's behalf if they're not any of the parties involved. Actually all three [her, her boyfriend and I] of us drank and ate pizza together that night after seeing the screenshot.”

Apparently, Noel Brown is downplaying what he did and does not understand what constitutes sexual harassment. I think that he feels sexual harassment involves only the two people who are directly involved in these acts and does not know the reach of sexual harassment. If he knew anything about sexual harassment, he would know that in addition to the person directly impacted by the sexual harassment act, anyone who saw and is offended by such behavior, even if not directly impacted can accuse another person of sexual harassment.

I don't understand how someone else calls sexual harassment on someone else's behalf if they're not any of the parties involvedNoel Brown

Noel Brown also had an excuse for the physical altercation he experienced with another player at the video game tournament in 2011. He indicated he was provoked to violent behavior because the player threw his personal items that had been taken out of his pocket to the floor -- even after he had warned the player of the consequences if he did so. His violent recourse was caught on tape as the physical fight broke out between the two video game players.

 Noel Brown needs to learn that violence is not the answer when someone does not do as he instructed. The video showed he was the aggressor, and lunged at the other video game player. I do not know the real reason behind the aggressive, violent behavior, but I do know this retaliation was uncalled for and immature for a grown man to display.

Noel Brown needs to learn that violence is not the answerIn each of the previous violent incidents, I think Noel Brown feels that he did nothing wrong -- which is unreal to me. Capcom and Combo Breaker seems to be validating his recent act of sexual harassment and the seriousness of the matter by giving him minimal punishment. When the ban is lifted, Noel Brown will have chances to perform more harm to others should he be allowed to participate in future video game tournaments.

Noel Brown and the Reputation of Video Games

Violence and sexual harassment unfortunately probably happens in other type tournaments -- not only in video games. However, video games often suffer undue negative publicity when it comes to violence, i.e. there is the notion that somehow playing violent video games causes violent behavior. Noel Brown is perpetuating this unfounded reputation of video games by failing to control his immature violent actions and continuing to show behavior that has negative impressions relative to video games -- simply because he is associated with video game playing. Even though this recent sexual harassment event did not involve an altercation, the groping of the female while at a video game event placed video games in an unfair negative light.

Positives

Capcom, Combo Breaker and Evo are to be commended for banning Noel Brown from future tournaments -- even if the ban will last a short time. Capcom is stating that if it happens again, Noel Brown will be banned for life.

The plus is that at least for the rest of 2016, 2017 and maybe 2018 Noel Brown will not be making news relative to his actions, at least not in the world of video games. One may think that by not playing video games in the public for awhile, he will have the chance to maybe reflect and change. But based on his history of violent and unsuitable behavior, I’m sure that it will resume once he is allowed to play.

Negatives

Noel Brown has been given many chances to change his behavior for the better. This latest incident of sexual harassment while in a video game atmosphere should have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Back in 2013, CapCom categorized the domestic violent incident that occurred involving Noel Brown as a personal matter and dismissed the seriousness of what happened during that time. Now, three years, later, Noel Brown has not changed but continues to perform actions that in this case, was not violent but was grossly improper.

 Next Steps - Eradicate Noel Brown from Video Game Tournaments

Why wait for another public or non-public incident involving Noel Brown to happen? Noel Brown should have been given a life-time ban from playing in public video game tournaments for Capcom and Evo after this latest incident. He has already been given many chances to change his ways -- which is not happening.

It is up to the video game companies, namely Capcom and others to show that video game tournaments is a time for friendly comradery between video game players -- and nothing else.

As long as Noel Brown lingers around in the background, waiting to return to tournaments to show just how violent and inappropriate he can be in public, some people's negative perception of video games will fester, and people may be harmed. On a positive note, Noel Brown can always play video games in other places where he is not yet banned -- the keywords being “not yet.”

 To put it simply, in my opinion Noel Brown should be banned from playing video game tournaments publicly for life at Capcom and Evo tournaments. He has shown time after time that he cannot control his behavior and act like a civilized, mature adult. Believe me, I do not think anyone will notice he is no longer around.

Enter the Mom's Minute Ultra Street Fighter 4 Tournament!

It's time again for the Mom's Minute Matriarch Meltdown! This time players will battle each other in Ultra Street Fighter 4 on the PS3, and the winner gets the chance to fight Ms. H herself for the championship.

The winner of the tournament will get their choice of three incredible prizes.

Square Enix Street Fighter IV: Play Arts Kai: Ryu Action Figure
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Square Enix Street Fighter IV: Play Arts Kai: Cammy Action Figure
Street Fighters Play Arts Cammy kai 6

Street Fighter Collectible Mini Figure Series 1 Blind Box Lot Of 20
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Sign up for this free tournament by creating an account and logging in to AllGames and going to Community-> Tournaments  or http://goo.gl/Nj7LdW .  Click on the Join Group button and you're in! The bracket will be created and matches will be set up once the tournament starts. The winner of the tournament will then go one on one with Ms. H, the host of Mon's Minute in a winner take all match. If you're able to defeat her, you will get your choice of the grand prized. But if you lose to her, you will leave empty handed. 

Will Aiden Pearce Deliver for Watch Dogs?

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The main protaganist, Aiden Pearce of the Watch Dogs upcoming video game, has his job cut out for him.  Not only is he expected to give video game players a spell-bounding, action-packed, suspense-riddled video game playing experience, but Aiden Pearce must also help bring in record breaking sales numbers for Watch Dogs --  similar to Grand Theft Auto V. When GTA V was released, it was probably not surprising that Watch Dog's original release date of November, 2013 was delayed.  (See Watch Dogs article link below).  You may know that GTA V went on to break video game sales records upon its release. During that time, it appeared that UbiSoft was not confident that Watch Dogs' Aiden Pearce was up to fighting against the video gaming beast that was GTA V; and subsequently, held off releasing Watch Dogs.

Aiden Pearce Fights an Uphill Battle

Looks like in some cases Aiden Pearce will be fighting an uphill battle to get to the "victory lap."  He is already being compared to the main protoganists of the Assassin's Creed and Unchartered video games.  Even the premise of seeking revenge upon which the gameplay is based resembles other video games.  As the storyline unfolds in Watch Dogs, Aiden Pearce gets into the hacking business to avenge the destruction of a family member.  His methods include hacking the surveillance system, CtOS which is used by the fictitious Chicago, Illinois company which he hacks into.  He spies not only on his enemies but also on his family because of his strong propensity to work hard to keep them safe. Even some of the gameplay of Watch Dogs is being compared to that of GTA V, Infamous Second Son as well as other games.  

The question is with these similarities to characters, actions, gameplay and missions of other video games, where does the uniqueness lies with Aiden Pearce as well as the game, Watch Dogs? What is the magic ingredient of Watch Dogs that will catapult it to record video game sales? The hacking element of the gameplay may fit the bill for uniqueness and may be the basis for the continued excitement for Watch Dogs, similar to when it was first introduced at Ubisoft's press conference at  E3 2012.  The game itself has been in production since 2009 and many may say that this game has improved with time.Watch Dogs Supporting CastWatch Dogs Supporting Cast

Aiden Pearce Strengths

Besides the similarities between him and other main male protaganists in video games, what does Aiden Pearce bring to the table that may entice you to want to play Watch Dogs?  For starters, he is a technological mastermind; an expert in social engineering; highly proficient in hacking; an expert at defensive and offensive driving; has impressive hand-to-hand combat skills,  and demonstrates atheleticism and agility when mobile.  He also appears to remain calm under pressure.  

Additionally, even though he is known as the best in his field, he still seeks out help with hacking from others including Clara Lille who he admits that he does not trust completely -- but she is the best hacker that he knows.  He shares the thought relative to technology,  "Big Brother is Always Watching." In fact, Watch Dogs gameplay uses the concept of information warfare, where all data is interconnected, in a world that is dependent to a degree on technology.  It is this information warfare and the thought that someone is always watching, in addition to revenge, that is the basis for Aiden Pearce's concentration on surveillance. Aiden Pierce in actionAiden Pierce in action

Aiden Pearce Weakness

Aiden Pearce has a criminal background, even though he seems committed to try to walk the straight and narrow sometimes.

Will Aiden Pearce Deliver for Watch Dogs?

All being said and done -- Will the video game character Aiden Pearce deliver for Watch Dogs?  The short answer is that after five years in development, the prevailing thought may be that Watch Dogs is now as good a game as it will ever be -- not allowing for the DLC that is sure to follow.  

With Watch Dogs being released in just a few days, I guess we will find out soon enough if the delay beyond the November 2013 initial launch date was worth the wait and if Aiden Pearce will deliver. When UbiSoft delayed the game upon GTA V's release, the expectation was not only would Aiden Pearce deliver for Watch Dogs, but the game, itself, would rival other games in the same genre of third person shooters, open world action adventure video games.

Watch Dogs, is rated M for Mature.  The video game releases on May 27, 2014 on the PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, the PC, and later (about Q4 2014) for the WII U.

http://www.moms-minute.com/index.php/ms-h-news/953-video-games-watch-dogs-release-date-revealed

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