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Video Games: How Shenmue 3 Was Guaranteed to be Funded

 SMH - Shaking my head about the "third" party funding of the Shenmue 3 kickstarter which successfully ended on July 17, 2015.  If you haven't heard, Sony is the "third" party.  Yes -- I get that Shenmue 3 was a long awaited video game, and yes, I understand  the ultimate goal is to get full funding of a video game to make sure  the video game actually comes to fruition.  What I do not get is a video game that garnered over $6 million dollars while at the same time having the financial backing of a major company like Sony.  

Call me naive, but I thought the purpose of a kickstarter was to be the primary funding vehicle to ensure there is enough money to follow through on making a video game or whatever project the funding was being asked for.  I was unaware, until I did some research, that Shenmue 3 was guaranteed to be made regardless -- mainly because of the backing of a giant software/hardware company like Sony.  It's news to me that a kickstarter can be used to subsidize the funds a company already has earmarked for the game.  Since that company is Sony, I'm sure the amount funded for Shenmue 3 is in the millions.

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Let's talk numbers.  The requested amount for the Shemue 3 kickstarter was $2 million.   The kickstarter's goal was reached when over $6 million was raised at its conclusion. It was indicated the game would be produced if only $2 million was raised;  however, if $10 million dollars were raised, there would be more of an "open world" for the Shenmue 3 video game. It's my understanding some gamers and backers of the kickstarter wanted to know more specifics about what the funds would be used for; however, this information was not provided. This nondisclosure did not seem to negatively impact the funds raised for Shenmue 3 during the kickstarter.  In fact, Shenmue 3 broke records by being the first video game to raise the largest amount of money within 8 1/2 hours of the kickstarter being announced.

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So just what was Sony's part in the funding, other than guaranteeing the game would be produced?  Well, when the Shenmue 3 video game is completed, it will be playable on its gaming system -- the PlayStation 4 as well as the PC. Sony is also the publisher of the video game.  Given its deep pockets, Sony has stated that additional funds will be provided to market the video game for its PlayStation 4 video game system.

Even though it was not specifically stated in the kickstarter that Sony is involved in the funding, the partnership of Ys Net  (developer) and Sony was mentioned during an interview with Sony's Adam Boyles.  It was also inferred the kickstarter was used as a means to guage the level or range of interest for a Shenmule 3 video game to be produced.

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A question that begs to be asked and answered is how much money did Sony provide to ensure Shenmue 3 was made.  For now, mum's the word since, to date, Sony has not divulged the amount.  I'm sure this amount is and will be sizeable.

My thoughts are with all of the other hardworking developers who may have dreamed of having a kickstarter, or who may have even had one; however,  were not given the extra boost of being backed and funded from a multi-billion dollar  company like Sony.  My advice to these developers is that even if a strong backing from a large  company for your video game is not forthcoming, continue making exciting games that  will be of interest to gamers on a large scale.   In other words, build a better mousetrap, I mean -- build a better video game, and the gamers will fund your project, maybe even to  level of success  experienced by the developers of the Shenmue 3 video game.

Shenmue 3 is scheduled to be released December 2017.

Divinity Trailer at Gamescom!

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Larian Studios revealed the Divinity: Original Sin trailer at this year’s Gamescom.  Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is being published to your Playstation 4 and Xbox One this Autumn by Focus Home Interactive.

                This classic RPG game has turn based combat that will keep you on your toes (or on the edge of your couch if you prefer), use your spells and abilities to take out your enemies alone or with a friend.  In Divinity you will be able to explore the world of Rivellon by yourself or in co-op mode where you will share your couch and the screen.  Stick together and you will be on one screen, wander apart and you will automatically be moved to a split screen!  For more info check out www.larian.com

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  • Published in News

Lies, Damned Lies and Game Trailers

 

Mark Twain has been noted as saying, there are three type of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. If Twain played videogames, the quote would probably be ‘There are lies, damned lies, and game trailers’. Since the earliest days of videogame consoles, developers have used a slew of different ways to entice gamers to make a purchase. And none of them involved being truthful to players.

When videogames first hit the market there was almost no way for the underpowered hardware to portray anything meaningful to the player via the screen. Atari Combat Box ArtAtari Combat Box ArtGamers were told they were looking at a biplane, or a tank, or even a dragon protecting a castle. But not really. Instead they were staring at a grouping of odd shapes and listening to different variations of white noise masquerading as sound effects. The box art for these games promised incredible worlds filled with action and adventure. These painted covers attempted to tell the story via artwork that the console couldn’t with pixels. 

Those box covers were lies. But at the time, everyone understood that we were complicit in the fraud. The Atari 2600 would create as complex a picture as it could muster, and we’d fill in the missing pieces with a healthy dollop of imagination. It worked. I can still remember the thrill of stealing gold trinkets while dodging balls of searing flame in DragonFire, or narrowly avoiding a cannon shot in Combat.

Combat on the Atari 2600 Combat on the Atari 2600

As games grew more sophisticated, the hardware they were played on became more varied and diverse. Home gaming consoles gave way to home computers and the myriad of options that came with them. A ‘PC’ could mean anything from a monochrome TRS-80 to a Commodore Amiga boasting millions of colors. With only a handful of game magazines available, one of the most important factors in deciding whether or not to buy a game was the screenshots displayed on the back of the box. Defender of the Crown - Amiga screens shownDefender of the Crown - Amiga screens shownThis small image, maybe 2 inches square, was the game’s only way of convincing you that it was worth your hard earned allowance.
This screenshot was a damned lie. While it may have been an image from the game, it was rarely from a version of the game that ran on the lowly Atari 400, Commodore 64, or CGA equipped PC that millions of people owned. Instead the picture shown on the box was from the one of the rarefied graphical powerhouses like the Atari 1040ST or Amiga 1200. You would stare longingly at the vibrant colors and detailed images on the back of those game boxes, only to watch in disappointment as your 4mhz computer with 64k of memory failed to live up to promises that were made with a $2000 piece of hardware. But still, those screenshot were from actual games on actual, if mostly unattainable computers. And if you looked hard enough, you could make out the small print that admitted ‘images from Amiga Version’.

Today videogame systems are orders of magnitude more powerful than the consoles and home PCs of yesteryear. Games have become so complex that it can take dozens of people, millions of dollars to produce a top selling title. Developers have tools at their beck and call that coders from prior generations only dreamed of. And instead of fanciful cover art or misleading screenshots on the back of game boxes, consumers are wooed with the latest type of lie, the game trailer.
For some reason, publishers aren’t content with enticing gamers with the incredible graphics and immersive sounds that modern consoles are capable of. Maybe they don’t believe that people would be intrigued by what the Xbox One or PS4 could produce with their multiple core chipsets and gigabytes of storage. Instead, time and time again gamers are outright lied to in form of a gametrailer that is at best misleading or at worst a complete fabrication.

NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat X was announced with a trailer that showed a pair of intricate CGI warriors locked in a brutal battle in the middle of a frost bound forest. The gaming community rejoiced at the return of the legendary fighting game that seemed to actually use the power that had been missing from the next generation of consoles. But it wasn’t long before that trailer proved to be nothing more than fantasy. MKX was released to much fanfare, but without a trace of the graphic wizardry from the announcement teaser. What happened? The game that was released seems to be a enhanced incarnation of the game engine used for Injustice, and while it’s still a top notch fighter, it’s a far cry from what was first paraded in front of the public.

The Madden Series is another offender of the game trailer showing you something patently different from what you’ll actually be playing. The low camera angles highlighting the spinning, jumping acrobatics of the player is far removed from the three quarter overhead view that you’ll be using for the vast majority of the game.That slow motion shot of the dirt being thrown up by cleats will only be seen on the youtube trailer, and never make an appearance in your online scrimmages.

EA premiered the trailer for the long awaited Star Wars Battlefront to a convention hall full of diehard Star Wars fans that breathed in every frame of the spectacular looking game. Even though the words ‘Game Engine Footage’ are emblazoned on the screen, it’s hard to imagine a control scheme that would allow for the multiple camera angles and character motions shown. While some form of the game engine may have been used to create the cinematic trailer, you can be sure that those arent the scenes that gamers will be interacting with. Instead the audience was shown what amounted to a barrage of cut scenes.

It’s a trend so prevalent that we’ve become used to it. No single company is more or less to blame. It’s practically the industry standard. More and more, games are being sold with a bill of goods that bear no resemblance to reality. Instead of being shown what we’ll actually be playing, we’re shown what a 3d artist was able to dream up and render out. And now that game demos have all but disappeared, gamers have less information to go on when purchasing a game than in years past. Pre-orders are pushed heavily with discounts and bonuses as developers are asking customers to put down money for a game before its released, based on footage that most likely doesn’t portray any aspect of what they’ll actually be playing. And that’s sad because games today can truly be breathtaking. The next gen consoles that grace today’s living room are capable of astounding visuals. The actual gameplay and interactivity has progressed to a point never before possible. That’s more than enough to sell a game. They don’t need an artists rendition on a box cover. They don’t need misleading screenshots from an overspecced super computer. And they don’t need a gametrailer devoid of real gameplay. All games need to sell themselves are the games themselves. There’s no need to lie about it. And yet, the lies remain.

Dying Light - Review [PS4]

 

It’s a common theme, the world is in danger of being overrun by mindless zombies. The outbreak is held at bay by a quarantine trapping both “biters” and survivors alike. The survivors band together into two groups, Runners and Bandits. And so it goes, the conflict between the living and dead as well as between the living and the living.

You play as Crane, an agent of the Global Relief Effort (GRE) dropped into to the writhing hell hole that is the Harran ona mission to secure a file from the leader of the Bandits, Rais. Early on in your campaign you’re befriended by members of the Runners faction that are lead by Brecken, a parkour instructor who’s trained his followers the art of fancy jumping and climbing to keep them one step ahead of the zombies while they scrounge the city for supplies. You’re almost immediately welcomed into the fold by the runners after coming to the rescue of one of their members. Soon you’re asked to go on missions, after a bit of fancy running and jumping about training, which are comprised mostly of fetch quests and dungeon crawls. Being a typical modern city though the dungeons of Harran are comprised of sewer tunnels and the corridors of high-rise apartment buildings. Eventually the Runners need antizen, a drug that’s used to prevent infected survivors turning into flesh eating monsters, from the Bandits and you’re volunteered to broker a deal. Of course the bandit leader is a charismatic psychopath who’s against any deals that have a potential to be fair. Rais orders you to run errands for him, reneges on his deal and a recipe for conflict is concocted. Through the course of the story you grow attached to some of the Runners and their wellbeing soon becomes your primary concern. Personally I found the story formulaic and the NPCs do what they always do, ask you to do favors for them. There are plenty of side missions available but I spent 19 of my play hours focused on the story missions alone.

The open world first-person gameplay of Dying Light is like something Dr. Frankenstein would have dreamt up. The developer essentially spliced together elements from several triple-A titles. Movement is reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge, your ability to run and jump and climb is indispispensible in traversing the city. Dungeon exploration right down to the lock picking mechanic is highjacked from Skyrim. There are several locations in the open world map that can be cleared and made into safe houses similar to Far Cry(unfortunately there are no zombie elephants). There are a lot of other features of Dying Light that are cherry picked from other games but overall they are implemented rather well. Your weapon load out can run the gamut from water pipes to hatchets to rifles. All the weapons can be upgraded to enhance their effectiveness and all behave rather different. Blunt objects will crunch and rebound as you’d expect and slicing weapons will cleave ever sosatisfyingly when upgraded properly. The gun play is a hot mess, right clicking R3 will allow you to aim down the sight but if your hungry opponents get too close you’re better off switching to a scythe and decapitate them before you’re overrun. Besides the mindless zombie drones there are some more deadly variations. Some are faster, some are stronger, some explode with little notice and others will spew green toxins at you from several yards away. In some cases it’s well advised to stick to the roof tops when running from place to place. It’s the best way to navigate the open world while the undead try their best to gnaw on your heels . When you get to the dungeon sections avoidance is less of an option but it still pays to be cautious. Melee fighting drains stamina so having a quick route of retreat to catch your breath is good practice (a la Skyrim).

The sound design and graphics are very well done. Besides a bit of open world jank this is where the game shines. I played about a third of the game with headphones on.The sounds of screams, moaning, feet shuffling and the horror music is nerve racking when you’re playing at night, in the dark, with a bit too much rum in your system. There are jump scares in the game but they are fairly well spread out so when they do happen they are effective. Also when they don’t happen you feel kind of foolish. The city of Harran really looks like an outbreak has taken place. Besides the fidelity of it all, abandoned vehicles, buildings and lunches all appeared to have been turned upside down right in the middle of life. The architecture of the city proper and the “old” city are well varied and provide a beautiful landscape from a distance when your zipping down a zip-line. Walls with blood streamed hand prints, boarded up doors, improvised booby traps and graffiti messages to other survivors depict the the gruesome struggle between living and dead. It’s a beautiful mix of metal, concrete and organic matter that you wish you had more time to explore if you weren’t being hounded awful day and gruesome night. Oh the night! When the sun goes down, you can’t see more than a foot in front of you and ultra violent zombies come out to shred you to pieces. You do get a stat boost for operating in the dark but unless you’ve leveled your weapons and character you might not make it to the morning in one piece. Furthermore, while this might sound morbid but I was very impressed with the level of detail that went into rendering severed body parts. Under close inspection you can see clearly the sinew, bone and marrow of the recently re-deceased. Anatomically, I’ve never seen another game that is its match. It may be something that goes unnoticed by most but if you do play this game, examine your slain, it’s awesome.

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To reiterate, it took me about 19 hours to complete the story and there was still a lot of side missions that I didn’t get to and miles of landscape of hidden treasures that I didn’t fully explore. This game is a loot and leveling junky’s wet dream. There’s a lot of real estate to mine for swag to upgrade weapons and endless fodder to max out your character. While obviously not necessary to complete the story, if you’re into collecting this game has extra value. If you’re looking for an intense and deep story with revolutionary gameplay mechanics you should probably look elsewhere.

 
If you'd like to find out more about Dying Light check out the website at:http://dyinglightgame.com/

Bombing Bastards Becomes Busters

Sanuk Games, the Bangkok-based developer, has announced that their hit game - Bombing Bastards - will be coming to the Playstation Store on September 15th and we be available for your PS4.  The game that was given a 8.5 out of 10 from AlwaysNintendo will be available under the name Bombing Busters, name change at the request of Sony, for $6.99.  Previously available on Steam and the WiiU, Bombing Busters took a long hard road to be ported to the Playstation 4 but now on the 15th you will be able to explode those baddies to your hearts content.

You and Dr. Wallow will try to one up Brain and take over the Galaxy instead of just the World in 30 different mazes on five different worlds.  Blast away in single player mode or with up to four of your friends in the multi-player mode.  Get more information at www.sanukgames.com

  • Published in News

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. 

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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Rollers of the Realm [PS4]

The fun thing about indie developers is that you never know when they are going to come up with something unique. Take for example Rollers of the Realm, by developer Phantom Compass; it combines video game pinball with a role-playing game (RPG).

Since a majority of your gameplay will be playing pinball the story is kept light, but engaging. You start as the Rogue. She has come to town with her dog looking for some easy targets. Eventually her dog gets kidnapped by the town blacksmith who wants to make the dog his dinner. The Rogue encounters a drunken Knight who decides to help her recover her dog and a Healer who wants to help defeat the blacksmith. You work your way through different pinball tables, which represent various parts of the town, until you finally encounter the Blacksmith in his forge. When you finally defeat him you find out his brother is the evil Baron of the realm and now you have to hide in an outlaw camp to avoid capture. Here is where your adventure really starts.

The gameplay mechanics are your typical video game pinball: flippers, bumpers, teleport holes, rails, etc. What makes it different is that each character in your party is represented by one of your balls on the table. Each ball has its own specialty. The Rogue has the ability to steal gold from characters on the table and does "backstab" damage to enemies. The Knight is a larger armored ball that can do more damage and can break boxes easier. The Healer can heal your flippers and has a special power of bringing back lost balls, if you have enough mana. All the balls can generate mana by hitting things like torches and other special items on the table. The other characters can also use the mana pool in order to activate unique magic powers. The Rogue can summon her dog to the field for "multi-ball" action and the Knight can temporarily block the gutter so he can't "die." You can swap between the balls as needed by trapping the ball with one of the two main flippers and then selecting the character you want.

rollers of the realm review 1

As you play you gather gold. This gold, in typical RPG fashion, can be taken to shops where you can purchase items to upgrade each character. You can even add new members to your party by "hiring" them from the shop.

The tables play out much like any other pinball game; somehow make the balls into certain places to progress further. Other times you have encounters where you have to defeat all the enemies on the table. For the most part, the pinballs physics are sound given that there are certain exceptions for powers of the characters. Difficulty does ramp up as the game progresses; you'll even eventually get tables that are multi-tiered that you have to work through section by section to clear the whole table.

I love both video game pinball and RPGs so for me Rollers of the Realm is a bit of a no brainer. I do have frustrations with the pinball aspects, but then again I have those same frustrations with regular video game pinball. I may love the genre, but I am no master of it, so sometimes trying to manipulate a ball to go into certain places can be a little bit of a challenge.

I am really enjoying Rollers of the Realm. There is an arena mode that you can open up after a while that lets you "grind" to earn more gold so you can buy those power ups you just know you are going to need for later levels. In fact the one complaint I would have is gold seems to be hard to earn so grinding takes a bit longer, but if you've spent any amount of time in World of Warcraft you know grinding all too well.

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I say if you like video game pinball definitely check out Rollers of the Realm, the characters and powers add a unique twist on the normal fun game of pinball. If you are an RPG fan it might be hard call to recommend. You have to be up for something very different than what you are used to as far as "adventure."

Review: I Am Bread [PS4]

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.

i am bread Story Mode

"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.

i am bread Free Roam

(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.)

i am bread Race 01

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.

I am bread CheeseHunt 02

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.

MLB 14 The Show Is Broken

There are only a handful of games that I play all year long. MLB The Show from Sony San Diego is one of them. It's always missing out on the spectacle of E3, because the latest release has already hit the streets. If you want info about arguably the greatest sports game franchise ever created, you'll usually get it in January as we get closer to spring training. MLB 14 The Show is actually the first baseball game to have no competition on game consoles. With MLB2K finally being put out of its misery, PlayStation owners had the only game in town, literally.

Normally this would not be an issue. MLB The Show is actually worth the price of a PlayStation 3 console for just this one game IMO. In fact, it was the only game I've repeatedly played on the aging console since 2012.  The game is not without the occassional bugs. Online play included a 3rd strike pitch in the dirt that would freeze the catcher allowing the batter to score an inside the park home run while the ball sat a few inches from home plate. Thankfully, that bug is gone this year but what's worse is that the game people consider the best simulation of a sport, has some serious visual glitches and high weirdness that makes the game mostly unplayable online against other human opponents.

This is not a problem for the millions of gamers who buy MLB The Show for the single player and franchise modes. The problem is a result of the developers rebuilding the online codebase from scratch. After a disasterous release in May, the developers issued this statement regarding the horribly sync issues occurring in online games.

This year, we strove to revamp our online gameplay from the ground up. The goal was to provide 100% parity with the feel and input response of our offline gameplay. We have accomplished much of this: input and timing for Batting, Pitching, and Fielding online all feel the same as offline with virtually zero latency. As a result of this overhaul and our emphasis on a minimal latency experience, a number of visual anomalies and issues of synchronization have manifested that we are actively identifying and working to resolve.

It is a process, one with growing pains, but we are confident the significant changes we’ve made this year will help to lay the foundation for a vastly improved online experience, both in terms of fixes we will deliver in the near future and also for subsequent entries in the series. We can also assure you that our highly anticipated PlayStation 4 debut will benefit from many of our immediate learnings and fixes from day one."

Some of the visual anomalies are just jarring, like when a ball disappears in mid air instead of being caught by the player standing a few feet away. Or when a ground ball that seemingly makes it into the hole is magically caught by a time warping 2nd baseman. Other anomalys affect strategy as you see a ball sail past the catcher, which causes you to advance the runner from third to score. But the ball didn't get by the catcher on your opponents screen, so you are called out at the plate. This happens all the time in various ways throughout the game.

The worst problem the game faces is freezing. Yep, frozen players, frozen games, frozen PlayStation. Most times you'll need to power off the PlayStation and start all over, taking a loss and a disconnect mark on your profile.

The development team released a patch, but it didn't fix the glaring issues of freezing, warping, and visual anomalies. Here it is over 2 months after release, and the problems still exist making online gameplay a crap shoot. Spend a half hour playing a glitch filled game, only to have it freeze up and force you to start over.

You can't return a video game for a full refund if the mode you play is broken. The majority of customers play offline modes, so they aren't really complaining that much. It's like having a copy/printer/fax machine that works incredible when directly connected to your computer, but leaves smears, smudges, and streaks on documents when connected via wifi. 

I'm pretty sure I'll be skipping launch day releases in the future, the only way publishers will stop releasing broken games is if people don't buy them. Sony put out a press release about record breaking sales, while the people that bought the game for online play were left rebooting their PlayStations and wasting time

 

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