Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grave: Open World Survival Horror



You may want to check out Grave (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2129301589/grave-open-world-survival-horror). It's being made for the Xbox One, and PC and you can get some 'swag' if you're interested in contributing.



Anyways, here's the info provided by the designers (there's plenty of screen shots, vids and even a rough demo at the kickstarter url):

We've just announced Xbox One support! Anyone who backs in the $25 tier or above will be eligible for selecting a copy on Xbox One. Keep on the lookout for more console announcements! We can say more once our dealings proceed.



Grave is an open-world, surrealist-inspired, procedural survival horror experience. Our goal is to provide a much needed update to the survival horror formula, injecting it with the tension and fear of modern horror games while still retaining the strategy and survival elements of classic genre staples. The game is being Developed in the Unity game engine, and we are hoping to push the graphical fidelity to its limit.


Features:

Reinventing survival horror - The player can take action when frightening moments occur, but has to use strategy to find the right tool for the right job. This isn't just about stockpiling or storing inventory items.

Light fights the darkness - Instead of guns or knives, your weapons are entirely light-based. Many of the creatures in Grave react to light, each in unique ways. Whether tossing a flashbang or igniting a puddle of gasoline, Grave presents many options for dealing with encounters.



Ever-changing world inspired by surrealist art -  Not just a visual, the world changes and rearranges itself during play. Each passing night offers a change to the experience.

Full story progression - Not just a rogue-like or survival experience, Grave features a full story with multiple acts, strange characters and many unique elements taking advantage of the surreal setting
Developed for Windows, Mac and Linux, with Oculus Rift support where available.




In Grave, like in a many horror experiences, the player is vulnerable. Frightening creatures mount persistent attacks with each passing night, and many dynamic and procedural elements are employed to keep the experience from being predictable. The game features many unique creature types and items to employ, with effective strategy being crucial for survival.


Day and Night

Because Grave has a day and night progression, the game takes on a different feel for each time of day. During daytime, Grave is primarily an exploration and fortification experience.

Players can explore new regions that have cropped up during the night, gather resources and prepare for the dangers that await them in the darkness. The emotions connected to the rise and fall of the sun each day are crucial to the experience of Grave.




Dynamic Choices

Grave is a game about choice and divergence. Almost every item, creature or location in Grave has at least two ways of interacting with it, to suit the gamer's play-style and desired experience.

Those who are interested in tense action can arm themselves with defensive weapons and trek out into the night. The more cautious player might fortify themselves in a safe place and attempt to wait out the night. Some may like exploring the many strange landscapes of Grave, while others will be very goal oriented and only stop when their supplies run short. It is important for the experience of Grave to be dynamic and fluctuating, so that the game presents unique opportunities at ever turn.


Unpredictability

In Grave, our goal is to do everything we can to keep the player reactive and the experience fresh.  If you think waiting out the night is always the best idea, you run the risk of not finding useful items that appear in the fleeting locations that exist each day. Every enemy and situation requires new reactions, and we are using procedural/random systems to keep the experience exciting.






Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Gaming Interview w/ Vince Vega

Thanks for joining us for this week’s Gamer Interview; today we're here with Vince Vega who has graciously volunteered to be our first interviewie. So, without further ado, let's jump right in to these questions.



Leo: How long have you been gaming? When did you first start? What console did you start on?

Vince: My first real console was the PS2 in 2004. But my first gaming device was a Namco Ms. Pack-Man Plug & Play with 5 TV games. My guess is that I have been gaming for over 12 years.

Leo: Do others in your family game, maybe a little bro/sis, a significant other, parents, gramps?

Vince: My little brother and father both game.

Leo: I love it when a family can come together over gaming. :)

What do your family and friends have to say about your gaming? Are they terribly against it, like mine are/continue to be? Or do they just not care?

Vince: Most of my family games and the ones who don’t, don’t care.

Leo: If you don’t mind me asking, where do you call residence (state/country is fine, or a link to Google Maps with your coors, either or, just saying)?

Vince: Illinois.

Leo: If you don't mind me asking again, what kind of work do you do in Illinois?

Vince: Self-employed, so just about anything that I need to get done.

Leo: Ahh the comfort of self-employment, wish I could set my own hours.

How long have you been self-employed?

Vince: About 4 years

Leo: What other hobbies do you enjoy?

Vince: I like reading and writing. I also play the Saxophone.

Leo: Are you an achievements hunter? Or do you game for fun?

Vince: A mix of both. I like to get achievements, but I primarily game for enjoyment.

Leo: What’s your favorite game of all time on any console? What makes it special?

Vince: That is like choosing between children. There are so many good games. I think it would be a tie between Mass Effect 2 and Star Wars Battlefront 2. If I really had to choose between the two I think I might go for Mass Effect 2. The story is just amazing. It is written very well.

Leo: I agree, really loved Mass Effect 2, especially Legion, just wish he was in it for longer.

Do you remember the first game you played? What’s your fondest memory of it?

Vince: The first game that I ever played was probably Solitaire. It was the only game that I knew was on the computer. I remember being so excited when the cards would fly all over the screen.

Leo: Haha, I hated Solitaire, I was more of a Minesweeper guy myself.

If you were in a terrible accident, and had to have only one game in your console/system of choice, what do you want it to be (assuming that no one wants to take care of you, nor can you afford a housemaid, sad right?)?

Vince: I can’t play digital games? Ok, I guess it would have to be Star Wars Battlefront 2.

Leo: If you could make any game, what type of game would you design, what would the story be? Genre?

Vince: I would love a game like Oregon Trail, but you were a captain of a ship that has to sail to the “New World”.

Leo: Oregon Trail was an amazing game, still is in fact.

Do you have any particular gaming pet peeves?

Vince: I hate Multiplayer Achievements.

Leo: Any upcoming games (any system) that you’re looking forward to?

Vince: Just about every game that has been announced for Xbox One this year. Star Wars Battlefront 3, ESO, Watch_Dogs, the list goes on and on.

Leo: Let me know how you like ESO, I've been interested, but dropping the $60 on it is a risky move for something I may not like and can’t sell.

If you could have any videogame character come to life to be your ‘BFF’, who would you select and why?

Vince: Tali’Zorah Vas Normandy. I just love her personality. She is clumsy and innocent, yet she can step up to the plate and be a strong leader.

Leo: I love Tali, she was my love interest in Mass Effect… (spoiler) until I replayed 2 and got her killed…. And when she killed herself in Mass Effect 3…. Sad times those were....

Without thinking, most antagonizing game, GO!

Vince: Kerbal Space Program

Leo: Worst online gaming experience; please do share it with us….

Vince: Playing Black Ops 1 Zombies with my old Zombies group. Every time we got good weapons and were set up to last a long time the game would just start lagging to the point where at least one of us would die.

Leo: Do you prefer single player or multi-player?

Vince: I don’t think I prefer one over the other. It all depends on how I feel. I may feel like playing some zombies now and later I want to stop the Reapers.

Leo: Reapers are a great threat to humanity. *nods*

Do you have a favorite group of friends you like to play with? Or are you a lone wolf?

Vince: Typically I am a lone wolf.

Leo: What consoles do you own?

Vince: PS2, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One. I briefly had a PS4, but gave it to a family member who could use it more.

Leo: Have you ever had a game you really looked forward to that you were disappointed in when it finally arrived?

Vince: Kind of with Halo 4, but that was because my friends at the time over hyped it to the point where it could never live up to the expectations that they set.

Leo: I really liked Halo 4, I don’t tend to listen to any hype though, so that probably helped.

Tell us about your gaming set-up.

Vince: I have the main TV with my 360 and X1 connected to it and another TV with the Wii. A closet with my games and a desk with a PC. All in a spare room.





Favorite 360 game?

Mass Effect 2


Favorite non-360 game?

Star Wars The Old Republic


Least favorite game?

Goblin Commander


Favorite game developer?

BioWare or Ubisoft, I can’t decide.


Favorite game weapon?

Dead Space 2 Hand Cannon


Most hated game enemy?

The Humpback Whale from Assassin’s Creed 4.


Favorite game character?

Shepherd from Mass Effect


Favorite game sidekick?

Cortana


Favorite game ending?

Mass Effect 3


Most hated game ending?

Battlefield 3


Favorite game music?

Mass Effect 2/3, and Ezio’s Family from Assassin’s Creed 2

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Preview: The Evil Within

These days, games get turned out quicker than you can read reviews, play a demo or even see a commercial, sure big titles like Call of Duty, Killzone and other gets their spot on TV, but others are forced to rely on ‘Word of mouth’, usually from biased reviewers or gamers. So I thought I’d try my hand at looking forward at upcoming games to inform others who may not have known about them.

The first entry in this series, The Evil Within (TEW)


TEW is a survival-horror game, directed by Shinji Mikami, who is the mind behind the Resident Evil series, and is a single player game for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The game, based on screenshots, appears to play similar to Dead Space, with the psychological horror of Silent Hill.

Not creepy at all....

Of course, there's still plenty of blood for those who like that type of thing.


And you can really see the Resident Evil influence on the game, especially at points like these. 

Beware windows....
While the devs are keeping quite, you bet we'll be bringing you more information as we get it. If you like horror, keep your eyes on The Evil Within.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Can one of the crappiest MMORPG's turn it around and become one of the greatest?


Story

The story of FFXIV is initially told in the opening cutscene and is continued to be told as the player advances in missions, here's a breakdown of the story with the assistance of Wikipedia:

"Seeking control over the peaceful realm of Eorzea and its abundant crystal resources, the more advanced civilization of the Garlean Empire invades the realm from the north. In retaliation, despite their differences and anatgonisms, the city-states of Eorzea reinstate the Grand Companies—comprehensive centers of command which combine the cities' military and economic assets.
8th Imperial Legion Legatus Nael van Darnus, has his own agenda, insanely bent on purging all he sees as impurities, Nael orchestrated Project Meteor to summon the lesser moon Dalamud and wipe out all life.
 This forces the Grand Companies to put aside deep-rooted differences and consolidate their forces under the banner of the Eorzean Alliance. At the behest of this new confederation, adventurers from across the realm take up arms and march to the floating islands of Rivenroad to defeat Nael after he absorbed Dalamud's power.However, despite the mad imperial's death, Dalamud continues its descent to Eorzea.
In a final bid to save Eorzea, the Grand Companies turn to the Archon Louisoix, an enigmatic scholar hailing from the forgotten city-state of Sharlayan. Louisoix devises a plan to summon the power of the Twelve, Eorzea's pantheon of guardian deities, to banish Dalamud back to the heavens. But for this to succeed, the rite needs to be performed directly beneath the point of Dalamud’s impact: A vast swathe of barren lowlands in central Eorzea known as the Carteneau Flats.
The battle ceases when Dalamud enters the atmosphere while revealed to be a prison created to contain the elder primal, Bahamut. Freed after aeons of imprisonment, Bahamut jump starts the Seventh Umbral Era while unleashing his wrath upon the realm.  
Louisoix attempts the ritual to seal Bahamut in vain. Seeing his death certain in the Primal unleashing his ultimate attack, Louisoix summons the last of his strength to call upon the Twelves' power to send the survivors (including the player) into an ethereal rift, where they will be untouched by the passage of time, until it is once again safe for them to emerge and rebuild their ruined land." 


Gameplay

The gameplay is like most, if not all, MMORPG titles, the player can form parties, join guilds, run dungeons and participate in PvP. Of course, there are various trades the player can perform such as weaving, alchemy, blacksmithing and more, these offer items that might be harder to obtain otherwise and can earn you a nice sum of Gil for rarer items (if sold to players, NPCs offer little to nothing).

The player can freely* switch what class they are, you are not tied to one type. The exception being when you first start, you'll have to reach level 10 and complete your class quests in order to switch, from there you can join a new guild and start working on that class (some skills earned from the previous classes carry over to your new class, but more on that later).

Once you've reached level 10, you can join Guildhests, which are essentially mini dungeons. If you are level 10 in a trade, you can take Guildhests to earn exp and Gil that will help you level faster in said class. Upon completing the required quests, dungeons can also be entered (the first is available at level 15).


Graphics

The graphics look pretty good considering how much of a hiccup the first version went trhough. Although since the game is also on the PC, and therefore made FOR the PC, the PS3 version does tend to suffer a few graphical errors, such as the rare bug of enemies not appearing properly on screen, or party members seemingly disappearing despite them being right in-front of you.

When using the chat feature, characters mouths will move with your text, so this is a minute detail, but one that I find pretty cool non-the-less. Facial expressions are well-done as well, so be sure to try them out when you get the chance to do so.

Original graphics (left) and updated graphics (right)
The game has had a nice over-haul since it originally released some years ago, the new graphics engine shows quite well on many characters and skill effects.


Controls, Voice and Audio

The controls on the console are a tad tough to learn at first, so I'll try to run them down as thoroughly as possible.

The Cross button is your selector, although since you likely won't have a cursor to use (although you can opt for that), you'll need to be looking at the person you want to talk with, although the game is pretty good at figuring out what you're trying to do.

The Triangle button is simply used for jumping, so there's no need to go into depth on that, it is what it is.

The Circle button allows you to deselect your current target and cancel out of various menus. Simple.

The Square button allows for quick access of the map, which will be very handy when doing quests as the location of various monsters, items, etc will be shown on there.

The d-pad is used to cycle through enemies and friendlies, it takes some getting used to in order to 'master' using it.

All of these buttons take on a different role when either of the R2 or L2 bumpers are held, this brings up your hotbar for skills, items, etc that you may have registered to those slots (they also your the d-pad, so in total you'll have 16 available slots, but you can also have more than one hotbar, so cycling through them gives even more options). Confusing? Undoubtedly, however the games tutorial runs you through the basics quite well.

A screenshot, notice the hotbar at the bottom of the screen
As any Final Fantasy fan can hope to expect, the music is well performed, during standard battles, you may recognize the music (it's more reminiscent of the older games on the NES, SNES and such). When riding a Chocobo, as well as other mounts I would assume, you are treated the Chocobo music. Music in town and on the field are quite elegant and, to some degree, soothing and rhythmic.

Voice acting is scarce, the intro and small cutscenes are the only place they really occur at, but they are done well when they are done. The only other time you get to hear voices is from the various grunts that characters make, so don't expect much when it comes to voices.


Other

As I mentioned earlier, you are not restricted to one class and can switch once you've completed your current classes level 10 class quest (you usually get a quest at level 1, level 5, level 10 and so on). The classes you can choose from are many, from fighting classes (such as Gladiator, Pugilist, Arcanist and many more) to trades (such as Weaver, Alchemist, Blacksmith, etc). The latter are, as you may have guessed by the term 'trade' non-combat classes and are used to make armor, potions and other nick-naks that can be used by combat classes. When you start a new class, you revert to level 1 within your new class but retain the level in the previous class, so returning to your previous class will allow you to continue where you left off at.

The game has what are called 'Fates', if you've played Rift, they are like rifts, randomly generated missions where you and other players work to meet a goal, generally killing a certain number of enemies. The more you contribute, the larger your exp and Gil reward will be.

There are also unique chats called 'Linkshells', which can consist of up to 128 players that are not necessarily a guild or friends, but can use the chat feature to chat solely with each other and no one outside of the Shell can read your chat, it's basically a giant party chat.

Most of the negativity that has been generated was during the beta, people would complain that servers were constantly down or laggy, this has since been rectified and almost all of the game works as intended. If you see a review that says otherwise, look at the date, anything prior to Sept 13th is unreliable.

And yes, this is a subscription based game, but you get 30 days free.


Overall

This is a great MMORPG that has a lot to offer and much to do. With free expansions coming, this is a must have for fans of Final Fantasy or MMO's. I know I'll be cancelling my WoW sub so I can enjoy this great game.

9.0/10.0

Pros

+ An all-around great MMO
+ Great music score
+ Interesting class system
+ Guildhests are a fun way to level up quickly
+ Linkshells offer a great way to stay in touch with people you like, but not enough so that you want to add them as friends or join their guild

Cons

- Picking an enemy out of the crowd is sometimes unbearable
- Gold spammers are plentiful
- If you don't have a keyboard, typing is a hassle

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Silent Hill Origins

Every story begins somewhere.



Story

The game takes place 'several years' before the first game (on the PlayStation), with Travis trying to make up time during his delivery by cutting through a small town know as Silent Hill. While driving, the road becomes foggy and he barely avoids hitting a girl in the road. When he gets out looking for her, he is follows the young girl until he loses her but comes across a burning building.

Travis runs in to see if anyone’s inside, after traversing the burning house, he finds a girl with 3rd degree burns over most, if not all, of her body, he manages to rescue her before passing out and then waking up in the town of Silent Hill.


Gameplay

The game plays like many of the Silent Hill entries before, focusing on puzzles with elements of survival-horror. You'll spend much of your time searching for the next piece of a puzzle while avoiding or fighting demented and warped creatures of Travis' mind.

The camera switches between static and moving, at some points, generally in small rooms, the camera is fixed into a certain position. When in larger rooms or halls the camera is behind Travis and can be manipulated with the shoulder buttons.

Combat is pretty over-simplified, the left shoulder locks on to enemies while X allows you to attack (or can be held for power attacks). Weapons have slightly different speeds, meaning you'll have to use a bit of strategy for some enemies (obviously, if the enemy is fast, a big sledgehammer is not a wise choice).


Graphics

The graphics are pretty good for a slightly older game. Being Silent Hill, the game adopts the old fashioned screen effects such as static when an enemy is near and grain effects. Environments are decently detailed as are the characters. Lighting is done very well and gives the game a very dark feeling.

The game can be given a much darker appearance via brightness

Controls, Voice, Audio and Music

The controls are quite simplistic, as there aren't many buttons on a PSP and will be learned quite quickly. The voice work ranges from acceptable to cheesy, which seems to be a staple for the earlier installments, so I'm not sure if it was intended or not.

The audio, when it's there, is well done, lending an ominous vibe to the area around Travis. Small movements can cause large amounts of noise when you're walking down a dark and empty hall. The music is very well done, as Akira Yamaoka was the composer, so I would expect nothing less from him. The music picks up heavily when Travis has what he needs to confront the areas boss, and altering when Travis enters the Otherworld.

Travis about to enter the Otherworld

Overall

This is a great addition to the series, and if you're a fan, I highly suggest giving it a try.

8.5/10.0

Pros

+ Great music score
+ Well executed game overall
+ Chilling feeling for much of the game

Cons

- Voice work is laughable in some areas
- Camera is sometimes uncooperative
- The combat seems lacking and not very in-depth outside of minute 'strategy'