Friday, August 29, 2014

Game Review: Guild Wars 2


By Grease Coakes

Most gamers are familiar with WOW, aka World Of Warcraft, as the best selling online roleplaying game, rich with lore and many things to do and quests to accomplish. Guild Wars 2, available to buy online for a fair price of $50, follows the same vein. The world of Tyria is rich in adventure with incredible realistic graphics and easy to get into playability. For example in WOW if you wanted to go from one place to another for a low cost in gold you hired a wyvern or a griffin to fly you there on a fixed flying route which took some time. In GW2 you merely press M for map and click on a waypoint or WP for short. For a small cost in silver or copper you see a load screen appears for a brief time and you're where you want to go.

As you create your character you can pick from four races: the Asura a goblin race which is small but extremely intelligent, Humans, a larger human-like race called the Norn, and a furry race called the Charr which is a cat/lion furry. Including the sex of your character, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. Options include skin and hair, color, height and physical physique of your character. Last names are accepted for your character. For example my Charr warrior is Dusty Coakes. You can also pick colors for your armor or clothes. Don't worry the colors you pick aren't permanent. One of the many options is dyes so you can always change the colors of the clothes or armor you wear.

In addition to those options you also have a set of questions. Like when your character was growing up who was your trainer and were you born from a noble family or was your father a traitor? Another question when I made my elementlist was what element do you feel most connected to? Arena Net, the game company behind Guild Wars 2, put a lot of time and thought into this game. There's also eight classes or what the game calls professions to pick from as your character. There's also a story mode you can play through with rewards and sometimes you earn a Black Lion Key. You use these keys to open Black Lion chests which has treasures you can only earn from these chests.

Warriors are the tough guys along with guardians. Both of them can wear heavy armor as the guardian is like the paladin from WOW. An engineer creates guns and turrets to attack and heal. The ranger is akin to the hunter from WOW. The thief is sneaky and has lots of tricks to play keep away and do heavy damage. The Engineer Thief and Ranger can wear medium armor hence leather armors.

Necromancers use spooky and death related spells to hurt and drain health from baddies. Mesmers create duplicates of him or herself to confuse foes and slowly wear down and kill whomever. Elementlists use the four elements of fire water earth and air to attack or heal. These three professions let your character wear cloth armor.

Not only does the game have fabulous graphics you also hear superb voice acting. You'll hear voice emotes like “Go ahead hit me!” or “I can outrun a centaur!” My Elemtlist says things like “Air!” or “My power will drown you!” when I switch him to water. Cut scenes in dungeons or in story mode also have excellent voice acting and excellent graphics.

WOW to get to the maximum level took a while. As you went from area to area getting herbs or metals you finished quests to speed up your leveling. GW2 is in the same way but different. As you travel around you'll see an empty heart pop up on your screen. There's a text read out explaining what the NPCs want you to do in the area. When the heart fills up you receive experience karma and a low gold reward. Filling hearts in an area helps you level quicker. In fact just completing hearts in areas will level your character at a very fast pace. Or if you PVP you earn tomes of knowledge. Each tome of knowledge gives you a level.

Like in WOW you gather materials for your crafts like tailoring, cooking, amrorsmithing, weaponsmithing, etc. However to gather materials like wood metals or carrots you don't have to use a trade slot to gather those materials or mats for short to create items or sell. So long as you have mining picks sickles and axes equipped you can always gain these items from various nodes in the game. So instead of mining and armorsmithing like in WOW you can have cooking and weaponsmithing as your trade skills instead. And you can still gather other materials to sell off.

Akin to WOW you can sell your goods and shop around on the Black Lion Trading Company. However let's say your bags filled up and you're in no mood to go back to town to unload your goodies to sell. And GW2 isn't stingy with gear dropping you'll see gear drop now and again as you kill baddies in your way.

You could right click over an item you want to sell and the item is taken from your bags to be sold on the BL Trading company. Taking a few minutes to right click everything up for sale takes a lot less time then going back to town and going to a BL Trading company NPC to sell in person.

In each area there are vistas, points of interest, waypoints, hearts, and skill points. Vistas give you a wonderful scrolling view of an area but aren't always easy to reach or find. Skill points you have to earn either by your character absorbing the skill point or fighting an NPC for it. Skill points purchase traits and abilities for your character. Every time you level up you also receive a skill point. Points of interest you just find and it pops up as completed.

There's a downscaling system as you explore Tryia. For example if your character is level 50 and you're in a level 35 area you'll be downscaled down to a level 35. However your gear will still give you high stats. You should have an easier time killing mobs but don't get lazy you can still die if you're not careful.

When you complete an area for example when you start a Charr your first area is Ashford Plains so you might complete that first. You receive a blue chest which has goodies for your character. The higher level the area the better loot you receive. GW2's motto is treasure as the game rewards you in various ways.

One thing you can do with random loot you find is use a salvage kit to break apart items to get ore pieces of leather and essences of luck. Essences of luck will boost your magic find and you use the materials salvaged from items to sell or for crafting.

After a while you may try your hand at PvP or player vs player. However your level doesn't make any difference as your character is given a PvP necklace and runes that makes it possible for any level 1 character to be able to fight a level 80 character on equal ground.

There's various games that pop up and in fact you don't have to wait very long for a PvP game to join. Click the PvP icon and you're taken to a Player versus Player waiting area. Talk to the Norn and you're good to go. There's a capture the flag game similar to WOW's Warsong Gulch and other games where controlling points is the key to victory. If possible like the buddy system in swimming swim with a buddy for safety reasons.

The buddy system in PvP is a good idea. With at least two people taking a point it's much easier to defend instead by all your lonesome. The other team may zerg around and knock the stuffing out of you quickly. Each team is up to 5 people is a color blue or red and you can take your pick. The main goal isn't just to chase down and kill the other team but to get 500 points through controlling points.

Fair warning though PvP is not for the faint of heart. It goes at a very fast pace and once in a while some players might say mean things. However playing in PvP can be worth your time and effort if you put the hard work into it and take your bad games with your good games.

For example my Elementlist wanted a whole dungeon set before he hit level 80. So when I did story mode in a dungeon called “Honor of the waves.” It unlocked a PvP track for me permanently. Usually PvP tracks might be locked until a certain time when it's unlocked again.

So all I did for a while was just PvPing and ever so slowly I earned Kodan tokens and weapon boxes along the way and treasure boxes. Not only that I can earn scrolls and tomes of knowledge to level up my character and skill points. When I got what I wanted out of PvP my character hit 80 (which is the max level). So with that character he already had a full armor and weapons set for a lot of blood sweat and tears. After that I stopped PvP and went to dungeons instead. However with PvP you can only do so much PvP before you hit a PvP limit and you stop receiving points on your PvP track. When you see a red ! Stop playing in PvP and find something else to do and try PvP again later. Over time the red! Will go away and you can start again. GW2 must of put that there so you don't earn treasure from PvP too fast.

As you level up you also earn traits to make your character better. For example my elementlist is traited fire and water. And two points in arcane. There's 5 choices for each profession or class whichever noun you wish to use. When you hit max level at 80 you have 14 trait points to spend. Each choice or trait line is a maximum of six. So I have six points in fire and water and 2 in arcana. Traits also give you bonuses to your stats. Water grants me vitality and healing power. Fire gives me power.

Each weapon gives you options as well. There's weapon choices for each character. For example 3 on my warrior depending if he has an axe or mace equipped has two different attacks. If a thief is attacking me in pvp and I’m smart enough to have a one handed mace equipped I can click counterblow by clicking 3 which is very handy. If the thief attacks me his attack is blocked and I thwack him with my mace for very high damage. The 4 and 5 keys are my shield. Where I can block attacks for a short time or rush a short distance and stun a bad guy.

Or if I have an axe equipped and someone I want kill in PvP is running away from me I can mouse click 3 and throw an axe at whoever. It adds what's called a condition (something bad on your character.) the condition is a cripple which cuts down the character's speed in half The opposite is called a boon which is something good for your character like a speed or might boon.

As your character levels up there's also abilities and or spells you can buy with skill points and the traits you also have to purchase with skill points. But don't worry the game isn't stingy with skill points as you earn them in areas or through PvP.

As you progress through the game there are also skins for armor and weapons that you earn from the game. My elementlist walks around in a full kodan armor set and also kodan weapons and my warrior Dusty is in a flame legion armor set. With transmutation points you can change your character's clothing or armor appearance from other skins you have unlocked. As an example I didn't like how my necromancer's hat was covering her face. So I used transmutation point to change her hat into a different skin. Transmutation points are earned through pvp or through daily rewards. My necromancer as a joke is colored pink as her name is Freehugsofdeath. She always offers free hugs but oddly no one wants a free hug. Amazingly I do very well with in PvP with her and she seems to give out lots of free hugs

Like WOW there's also guilds to join. Chit chat with guildies and also find a group to go defeat a dungeon. And GW2's dungeons aren't time eaters. A dungeon like sorrow's embrace could be knocked out in a short time like 20-30 mins.

There's also a world vs world option which is PvP on a grander scale. I haven't played much of that nor have I done much with crafting items. However what I was told is with weapon smithing you could create your own end game weapons.

With excellent graphics and easy to get into game play GW2 is an excellent game to buy for a mere $50. Oh, and the best part of all there is NO MONTHLY FEE. Once the $50 is ponied up. That's it the game is yours. Keep playing until the cows come home or until you fall asleep. You could purchase gems with real money or gold in game for skins or boosters but to play the game it's not required to use or purchase gems.

If you're looking for something to play and you enjoy playing with others go use up a birthday present or buy it yourself and have a great time burning or bashing bad guys in pvp or in a dungeon. Guild Wars 2 is the Porsche of online role playing games.

Grease Coakes

Monday, August 25, 2014

Next "World of Warcraft" Expansion to be Released November 13


By Bixyl Shuftan

Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of the top MMO "World of Warcraft" recently announced the date that the latest expansion, "Warlords of Draenor," will be available: November 13. The new expansion is somewhat lighter in some ways than previous expansions: there are no new races or character classes. But the maximum level for player characters has been raised to Level 100, you get a chance to raise a starting character from Level 1 to Level 90 instantly, there are new dungeons and a new Player vs Player battlefield, a new continent: Draenor, and something new: player-controlled garrisons. One feature, updated looks for the various races, has already been in progress over the past several months.

In both terms of the plot and the gameplay, the game is a look back at its orgins. Garrosh Hellscream, the bad guy from "Mists of Pandaria" whom was about to be put on trial for his crimes, but escapes with the help of a time-traveler whom takes him back in time to Draenor, the homeworld of both the Orcs and Draenei. There, he stops the Orcs from being corrupted by drinking demonic blood. Instead, he offers them technology from the future and sets about creating an "Iron Horde" and building a portal back to Azeroth to invade it. It's up to the players to go back to this alternate past and try to stop him.

Players whom played the original Warcraft games will encounter characters such as Durotan, Ogrim Doomhammer, Kilrogg, and others. In some ways, the game resembles those "Orcs vs humans" games, "The age of the whimsical panda is over," one designer commented, "Warcraft of old is back."

But one thing that won't be back are the numbers of over 12 million players the game once had. Although the expansions have helped raise numbers back up for a time, "World of Warcraft" has seen a slow decline over the years to 6.8 million as of August 2014. One designer commented, "We really don't know if it will grow again. It's possible, but I wouldn't say it's something we expect." Still, while Blizard's Multiplayer Online Game may no longer have the numbers it once had, it's still the champion of MMOs after a decade. While some players might be a little disappointed over no new races or player classes, the makers of the game "are still sitting at the top of the mountain, and they've got no reason to shake the foundations."

"World of Warcraft" has made news in other ways recently. Earlier this year, Blizzard sponsored a short spinnoff of "American Chopper" - "Azeroth Choppers." Two teams built real life prototypes of motorcycles in the style of both the Alliance and the Horde, with an audience voting on which would be made available in-game. The Horde chopper won, and was made available to it's faction's players for free when the next expansion launches, provided they logged in before September 30. The Alliance bike was made available for it's players anyway, though they would have to pay extra for it.

Also, Robin Williams, whom passed away recently, had been an avid "World of Warcraft" player. A petition that he should be honored in the game with an NPC was soon answered by Blizzard that they were working on one. Shortly afterwards, the Wowhead fansite announced the discovery of an NPC "Robin the Entertainer" as part of the code for the upcoming "Warlords of Draenor" expansion. The image attatched was that of a blue djinn, a connection to "Genie" from "Aladdin" which Williams did the voice for.

Sources: BBC News, Massively.com, PC Gamer


Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Game Review: Saints Row IV


By Nydia Tungsten and Brandi Tungsten

   Like the first three games, you are a gang leader. But there is a twist. You save the world and become the President of the U.S.A. after the opening “how to” phase of the game. You freefall through the White House roof and POOF, next thing you know, you’re the “Prez."

    Then comes the Alien invasion….. and The Matrix Rip offs, i.e. all of humanity is in a “simulation” of the real world and once out, you try and free other past enemies whom become allies  as you hack the “simulation."  Then you get into the Tron rip offs, being thrown into a game to beat the Boss to get what you need. Saints Row 2 started with this one but I didn’t really notice it (bad Nydia, no biscuit).

    But to be honest, the rip offs in no way detract from the game other than slapping you in the face with it. Other than the blatant movie rip offs, I do applaud the creativity around the rip offs and how the story develops for each character, if ONLY they put some of that creativity towards your character when you chose female.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised as a redneck tomboy, and I can shoot with the best of them. But if you choose to be female, you come across as a male with boobs with the same lines and same swagger that could have been a lot better in all four games.

   I know I have been bagging on this game pretty hard but let’s get to the positive side. Even with all these flaws, I have mentioned it is a lot of fun. Some of the lines given and interactions between you and the other characters are just priceless.

     When you get the chance to “romance” Kinsy, whether you are male or female, DO IT! I had to stop playing for at least 5 minutes to get myself under control, I was laughing so hard.

    Normally, I like to include a few clips of the game as I am playing it, and I recorded a few of the “romance” scenes. But this is a "workplace safe" paper and there is a lot of coarse language throughout the game, and I know Bix is tired of cleaning up my stories (smiles and waves to her editor).

   When it is all said and done, I really have to give this game an enthusiastic thumbs up. I have not finished it yet, but I am having fun with it and I will let you know how it turns out.

Until then,
GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Images: Wikipedia, saintsrow.com 

Nydia Tungsten

Friday, July 11, 2014

Game Review: Robocraft


By Xymbers Slade

I haven't been in-world much (less so once I heard Linden Labs is making a second SL, so to speak) but I haven't forgotten about Bixyl and the gang, and when I was browsing Steam the other day and found something worthy of writing about (which is very very rare for me these days) I just had to bring it up here.

 The game is called Robocraft. released July 8 on Steam Early Access. It's effectively World of Tanks smashed together with Minecraft (well, in the extent that it uses cubes to build your tanks with) and there's real physics thrown in the mix (which surprised me), so if you make your tank top heavy or too light, you'll flip over and be powerless to move. Too many guns makes you heavy and slow; too few guns and you'll be blasted to bits.

It's a deathmatch; you are paired with others of the same "tier' (you advance tier by unlocking more powerful weapons/armor cubes and putting them on your tank) and the goal at the moment seems to be capturing the opponent's control point, like in Team Fortress 2 Control Point maps. There are only two levels right now (Mars and an ice planet) but as it's VERY Early Access (I did say it was just released on the 8th), I do expect things to be added to.

There are two methods of movement... flying machines (with "hover" platforms you attach, like wheels) and tanks (that use wheels).

The game is free to play (with microtransactions, unfortunately, if you want more cubes to build with without earning "robopoints" to spend; robopoints are earned via multiplayer battles), but there are -no- tutorials yet and the controls are unintuitive (right click removes a block instead of placing a block and left click places a block, controls I'd have expected to be vice versa). You can only have one kind of weapon (no paring submachineguns with plasma cannons) and weapon selection is limited (submachine guns for short range, plasma cannons for explosive, and rail launchers for long range)

I'm going to give Robocraft a rating of three dragon hoards out of five; it stands to be an exceptional game if done -RIGHT-, but there's a lot of features lacking at the moment. Microtransactions don't help any; as usual it's just a lure to get cash (though it probably goes right back into game development).

Xymbers Slade

Friday, July 4, 2014

Steam Summer Sales


By Nydia Tungsten and Brandi Streusel Tungsten

         You’ve seen talk about Steam and their sales all over the web and how Valve sucks us dry of every penny they can get, but let’s look at what they are doing for the gaming industry. With their sales, they are making is possible for many, (myself included) that are on a fixed income to be able to afford great games at a great price. Yes…some not so great to me, BUT fantastic to others.

    Here’s the draw back that I think makes everyone jump on the sale bashing band wagon. It is VERY easy to get caught up in sales and just start buying, after all, that game you want is only five bucks, or ten, or fifteen… Where you can get into trouble is not paying attention to how many you get. After all, even the great pyramids start with a single brick, and then just…..grew.

    At the time of this article, I have over 75 games just in Steam alone. Some have been bought for me to review but 99.9% of them I got on sale through Steam, and most I’ve enjoyed. But, we all have bought games thinking we will enjoy them and then have it turned out it just wasn’t what we were hoping for. But, at least if you got it on sale from Steam, you know you really didn’t spend too much on it. Out of all my games I have from Steam, I think about a quarter of them are no longer installed on my system for several reasons but none of them do I feel I wasted my money or was cheated on.

For those of you that don’t know what Steam is and have no clue as to what I am talking about, but want cheap and free games….oh yes, they have PLENTY of free games as well, here is the link.
http://store.steampowered.com/ 

  I remember who “inflicted” steam onto me, Treminari. I can’t thank her enough and I have since inflected many others for the simple reason I like playing with my friends and loved ones. It is a great way to keep in touch with those distant friends. I play with my son, who is stationed at FT. Carson, Co. as well as with other friends from around this globe we all live on.

   I know of no other site or service that offers this at such a scale and affordability. So, while they offer these sales at prices that make them almost impossible to resist, they also allow us to have some truly great fun with those we care about and that to me is priceless. You can also find likeminded groups that share your passion for a certain style of games as well from Star Trek and Star Wars, to the D&D flavored games.

So if you haven’t tried Steam yet, I cannot recommend them enough and hope you try it soon. After all, the price is right and they have some of the best deals out there.

Hope to see you there soon….who knows, maybe we like the same games, but as always, until next time GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Nydia Tungsten

Friday, June 27, 2014

Game Review: Sniper Elite V2


By Nydia Tungsten & Brandi Tungsten

   I was told about this game being free on Steam for the day by several people, so I got it, as did my son, Kody. We sat down and played for a few hours and between the two of us, we had beat the game.

     It is a basic first person shooter taking place during WWII while the game designers took some liberty with the historical facts to create better missions. First thing I notice about the game is how the tutorial is buggy, so don’t worry if you can’t get all the way through it. While irritating, it is not game breaking, so go as far as you can then go to the missions. In this game, you can play with others in either co-op or PvP. Kody and I tried co-op.

   Another annoying aspect about this game is when we hit Continue, it threw us back into the lobby. So, we had to go through the list of missions to get to the next one. In my opinion, the developers of this game did not do a very thorough beta testing with this game. It has just too many things going wrong, nothing game crashing, but just annoying.

     Would I shell out money for it? No, so I cannot recommend it unless it comes up free again, but until then, I’d say leave it alone.

They have started pushing Sniper Elite III, but with the problems I am having with V 2, I don’t think I could trust it’s sequel enough not to have problems. I cannot stress enough that if they have a game that originally has problems, and then they release a sequel to it, leave that one alone. It is the only way we can get the message to the developers we will not stand for “close enough” games being thrown at us. Remember, we have the power to get our message across by not giving them money for unfinished games and Sniper Elite, while fun, was lacking in many ways. Not having enough missions is the biggest flaw. If someone can finish and beat the game in just a few short hours in co-op mode and have one of the players not even take the tutorial and just jump in means there isn’t enough content in my eyes.

And another thing is given that it never told us where to aim to destroy tanks. It took us a bit to figure that out as well and we STILL beat it quickly.

   So, save your money and wait for it to come out on another free day to get it, that is the only way I can recommend getting it. If you already have it, let me know how YOU like it and let me know if you think I am wrong.

And as always, GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Editor's Note: At times when making a sniper shot, the view changes to show a slow-motion of the bullet traveling towards it's target. Just before reaching the target, the screen changes to an "X-ray" view which shows the bullet shattering bones, or if the shot's at the target's gonads, disintegrating testicles. Not exactly something for the squeamish. 

Nydia Tungsten

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Game Review: "Wolfenstein: The New World Order"


By Nydia Tungsten & Brandi Tungsten


   Basically it starts out as a WWII First person shooter, but that changes FAST!

   With this one, the Germans are winning the war through advanced technology that they developed seemingly out of nowhere. Then you are injured and spend time in a hospital….well a LOT of time. When you come to, it is in the 1960’s and the Nazis have won the war.

    From here, the writers delve into the alternate reality of a world dominated by the Nazis. In my opinion, they did too good of a job. I have German family and heard stories of the war. I asked why he was telling me this and his answer struck a note in me even then, “If the future doesn’t remember the past we are doomed to repeat it.”  The writers captured the possibility of this Nazi future extremely well, to the point where I had to stop playing it and walk away for awhile.

    I am not saying this game is ALL doom and gloom. I have found an Easter egg in the base in Berlin that pays homage to the very first 8-bit Wolfenstien game. If you find it, I think you will get a kick out of it whether you had originally played it or not.

   But, the story line itself is a dark one throughout the game. I would not recommend this game for anyone under the age of 16 due to the language, violence and the few sex scenes (it doesn’t really show much, but…paranoid parents, be warned).  But, just for the story line and I know there will be some that say “Nyd’s it’s just a game. How bad could it be?” When you see a Nazi woman hold out a baby from her, dangling it by its heel with the look of pure revulsion on her face, or an audio diary of a young girl searching for ways to kill the “Nazi baby” growing inside her….yeah….it gets a bit disturbing.

   Will I recommend others play this? I would have to say, “Yes.” Because, it IS a well written story and it DOES depict what life here could have been like had the Nazi’s been a little bit smarter. If you play this game, be warned…you may learn something and find yourself engrossed in the story and have it elicit extreme feelings within you too.

   Again let me know if you get it and what you think about it. I would love to know. Until then, good gaming to you!

Images from Steam

Nydia Tungsten