Video games

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Need Something To Do Thursday?

Posted By on Thu, May 9, 2013 at 6:00 AM

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There are few symbols of '80s arcade culture more iconic than Pac-Man. The roving yellow circle has been evading ghosts and chowing on little yellow balls since 1980. According to the Davie-Brown Index, Pac-Man has some of the highest brand awareness of any video game character in the United States—ranking above real-life celebrities Michael Jordan, Robert Redford and Matt Damon.

Unlike his real-world comrades, Pac Man can be found almost anywhere video games are played. Today from 7-10 p.m., he'll make an appearance during Payette Brewing Presents: Pac-Man Tournament at Spacebar Arcade.

The concept is simple. Show up for Pac-Man-themed treats courtesy of The Cake Ballers and wash them back with beer from Payette Brewing. Here are the rules: Register any time between 7 and 10 p.m. for free. It's a timed competition, so the highest score after each contestant has played for 10 minutes wins.

Winners of the tourney score custom tournament T-shirts from Design Bandits.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Gamers Go Ape Over Donkey Kong Tournament at Spacebar Arcade

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Boise Weeklys New Media Czar Josh Gross attempts to topple the top score.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Boise Weekly's New Media Czar Josh Gross attempts to topple the top score March 28 at the Spacebar Arcade.

Boise Weekly previously took you below ground to Spacebar Arcade, where a group of classic arcade gamers battled it out in a Galaga tournament Feb. 21. After the success of that tourney, more than a dozen players turned out March 28 to try their hand at a similar competition—this time featuring the Nintendo classic Donkey Kong.

For those unfamiliar with Donkey Kong, the premise is simple on paper. A giant ape has kidnapped a pretty blonde lady and a Mario-esque "jumpman," as he's called, must save her. To do so, players jockey a knob and a button to jump over barrels.

For the competition, each player had a single quarter to drop into the machine and five minutes to achieve a high score. Unfortunately for me, I'm better at downing suds than I am at dodging barrels.

On my first run, I scored a paltry 2,200 points without getting past the first level, whereas BW's Josh Gross scored 7,800. Meanwhile the frontrunner, Mike Ramshaw, scored 32,000 on his first shot.

Alas, a second run did me no better. I scored 1,500—less than 10 percent of some of the other competitor's scores. Ramshaw walked away with first place at 32,000 points, Joel Wallace achieved second place with 29,500 and Cam Gunn took third place at 29,100.

Each took home swag—including hats and pint glasses—from tournament sponsor Ninkasi Brewing Company from Eugene, Ore. A Pac-Man competition is planned for April.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Here's What Downton Abbey Looks Like as an Old-School Video Game

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 10:53 AM

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Sometimes you see a movie or TV show and it just screams: "This should be a video game!" Things with robot battles, explosions and iconic action characters spring to mind.

But then sometimes you see a show like British period drama Downton Abbey and it just screams, "Aren't you glad you didn't have to live through something this boring!" But believe it or not, shows like Downton Abbey can be made into video games, as well.

Check the video below to see what Downton Abbey would look like as a old-school, side-scrolling RPG.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dishonored Lures Players In, Then Gives Them a Grand Adventure

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM

From Dishonored
  • Bethesda Softworks
  • From Dishonored, by Bethesda Softworks.

Dishonored, from Bethesda Softworks, is a dark tale set in a world that melds the Renaissance with the arcane to seamlessly create an environment. This is a single-player game that allows players to choose to play as either a stealth assassin or as a demon, monitoring the player's actions and modifying the playing experience accordingly.

The set-up for the game is relatively simple. Dunwall, like so many other cities in the world, is overrun with plague and rats. Corvo, the trusted bodyguard of the empress of Dunwall, has been sent to allied cities to find out if anyone has a cure for the blight only to return without anything of substance. He is greeted by the empress’ charming daughter, and then the empress herself. The empress cuts short her meeting with Dunwall’s spymaster to chat with Corvo and it is during their meeting that assassins overwhelm Corvo, murder the empress and kidnap her daughter.

Corvo is behind the coup, it seems, and he is blamed for the murder, tortured and sentenced to hang. This is, of course, all part of a plot to seize the throne of Dunwall. There are those who oppose the takeover and Corvo is freed. Not only does he get some very nice gear, but arcane forces bless him (or curse him) with skills that make him a dangerous combatant.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Turbine Makes Free-to-Play a Compelling Element in the MMO Space

Posted By on Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Turbine was there at the beginning of the modern age of massively multiplayer online games. The modern (also sometimes referred to as the Second Generation) age of MMOs kicked off back in 1996 with the release of Meridian 59. A year later saw the release of Ultima Online. In 1999, two games released—Sony’s first EverQuest and Asheron’s Call from Turbine.

Since the first Asheron’s Call title, which is still in release, Turbine has gone on to make Asheron’s Call 2, Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online. What is, perhaps, the most noteworthy of Turbine’s accomplishments is that the latter two games are free-to-play. (Asheron’s Call 2 closed in December 2005 after three years in release.)

The F2P model is unique in that it allows players to play the game free (without the monthly subscription rate), to a certain point, and then pay for content that they wish to unlock for their gaming experience. This can be a double-edged sword. While it allows players to avoid monthly fees for game content they do not care about or even use, it also puts the onus on the game development team to create content that is compelling enough that it is purchased by gamers.

Turbine recently released content expansions for both D&D Online (Menace of the Underdark) and LotRO (Riders of Rohan). It seemed like a pretty good time to chat with the studio about F2P and MMOs.

Boise Weekly: In a nutshell, why has Turbine moved its MMOs into the free-to-play category?

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Worthy of Franchise and Gamers' Attention

Posted By on Sun, Sep 9, 2012 at 3:00 PM

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Does the mere mention of the license name Transformers flash you back to a childhood memory? That is ... if you are old enough. After all, Generation 1 of the Transformers franchise dates back to 1984.

Maybe you are the current gen of Transformers’ fans, having been inundated with too many games, television series and movies that have been only OK or mediocre. And if the very name of the Transformers’ franchise leaves a taste in your mouth like you just chewed on a piece of aluminum, the good news is that the latest video game in the series is actually pretty good.

Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is a third-person action-adventure that boasts a strong single-player element and decent multiplayer online modes. Missing is the campaign co-op mode featured in 2010’s Transformers: War for Cybertron, but in the overview, that’s not a detriment because the campaign itself is very much worth the 10 or so hours it takes to complete it.

What makes the campaign so much fun is actually what some may perceive as limiting. The game has 13 chapters, each one of which focuses on the abilities of a pre-determined character. Nope, you can’t create or choose which character you want and then zerg the levels. Each level is crafted to challenge the skill sets of the central character, which may be an Autobot or Decepticon.

If the level gives you Jazz, for example, you may be using Jazz’s hook to grapple across the zone. The tutorial level features Bumblebee, and you have to transform into the race car, at times, build up speed and then jump over the gaping holes in the terrain.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Preview: Popular Franchises Round Out the Gaming Year

Posted By on Sun, Aug 12, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Mass Effect 3: Leviathan (PS3, 360, Wii U, PC) explores the origin of the Reapers starting in the third quarter.
  • Mass Effect 3: Leviathan (PS3, 360, Wii U, PC) explores the origin of the Reapers, starting in the third quarter.

Video-gaming is about to heat up just as summer cools down. In the next edition of Boise Weekly: a short list of what to expect in the rest of 2012.

We'll bypass titles like God of War Saga (all five games in one bundled pack) and the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Set (scheduled for mid-September) that are merely trying to capitalize on the franchise without really turning out anything new. DOOM 3: BFG Edition (releases Saturday, Oct. 6, on PC, Mac, Linux, 360 and PS3), which features remastered versions of DOOM 3 and the Resurrection of Evil Add-on Pack, are similar attempts to capture gaming dollars.

Instead, we'll get right to the new games and break it down by category.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Risen 2 Dark Waters Sinks As Much As It Swims

Posted By on Sat, Aug 11, 2012 at 1:00 PM

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Looking for a high-seas adventure full of booty (ahem ... the treasure), swashbuckling and yo-ho-ho and a bottle of grog? Risen 2 Dark Waters may not be your mug of rum.

Risen 2 Dark Waters is a mash-up of Greek mythology and pirate cliches with some period-based sexism tossed in for good measure. There is a story here, but while you are trying to find a mythological weapon to defeat Mara and her enthralled titan henchman, the Kraken, getting distracted is easy. After all, there are islands brimming with treasure to be found, native voodoo-practicing tribes to avoid or fight, a little detached role-play to struggle with, plus sword fighting, musket shooting, high-seas adventure and exploration.

The game itself, with the special edition that includes two DLC (downloadable content) packs has a built-in time sink but not all of this Spanish Inquisition/Caribbean/pirate-based adventure is so captivating that you can't put it down. Why? Because the game has problems.

The main stumbling point is the look of the game, which tosses away players like tattered sails flapping in the wind rather than pulling them in. With the high-def graphics of which the PlayStation 3 is capable, players should expect to see smooth, crisp graphics with a relatively even frame rate. Risen 2 doesn't achieve either. The graphics go from a slight blur to pixilated edges, and there are stutters and skips in the game delivery. The animations can be redundant and during cut scenes, the background can shift or the central figures can suddenly be facing the wrong way.

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Endless Space Breathes Fun into 4X Strategy Gaming

Posted By on Sat, Aug 4, 2012 at 2:00 PM

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Having not been a huge fan of 4X strategy games, I was reluctant to try Endless Space, the debut PC title from Amplitude Studios. Slogging through a chess match, managing resources, doing the research and then indulging in turn-based, limited movement combat just didn't hold a lot of appeal. Don't get me wrong, I like some civilization-style games, like … well … Civilization, Age of Empires and Tropico. But every once in a while, a game comes along that changes one's opinion about the genre it represents. Endless Space is just such a game.

Graphically pleasing, this debut title from Amplitude Studios brings a wonderful, easy-to-navigate and downright helpful user interface to the genre. No more noses buried in a manual trying to find out how to accomplish something. The folks at Amplitude seem to get that many gamers dispense with manuals in favor of simply diving in and playing. And it's little wonder. While Amplitude may be a new company, the dev team is comprised of seasoned veterans, featuring designers from such titles as Battlefield, Rayman, Ghost Recon, Call of Juarez, and Heroes of Might & Magic.

So, yes, Endless Space is a space-based strategy game. It is downloadable (Steam has it, and you can get it on amazon.com) and comes in two flavors: the Admiral and Emperor editions. The latter is the special edition that has a few extras, like the Emperor Guard extra skin pack.

Don't know what a 4X game is? Simply put, it is a turn-based strategy game based on four "X's" — eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate. You are given a small empire, you build it up by colonizing, building resources (or simply ravishing other areas for what you need), researching technologies, building up your military and then attacking other areas.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Game of Thrones Had Potential But Didn't Reach It

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM

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Game of Thrones, the first in the book series A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin, has seen incarnations in a variety of medium. There have been card-based games, board games, a successful HBO series and even a run at the video-game market. Cyanide Studios and Atlus have teamed up for a new video game, but you better think before dashing out to purchase it.

The game fails to measure up in several ways to the standards set for role-playing games by such titles as BioWare's Dragon Age, or CD Projeckt's The Witcher, or Bethesda Softworks' Elder Scrolls games. Let's hop right to where the game stumbles: the combat is cumbersome, the voice acting is strained and the story is linear.

All of this overshadows a game that could have been very good. The look and feel of the game is brooding, dark and well designed. But the combat uses a wheel to load up attacks, and players can jump to other members of a party to set up their attacks. Yes, that sounds all well and good, but the attacks feel ponderous and combat, as a whole, feels like slogging through mud rather than a briskly paced and enjoyable element.

The game is set in the land of Westeros, and it follows the stories of two characters—Ser Mors Westford, a knight of the Night's Watch working from Castle Black in the shadow of the Wall, and Alester Sarwyck, the heir to the lordship of Riverspring. Westford is a foul-mouthed veteran with a gruff appearance and demeanor. Because he is the first character players encounter, it can leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth.

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