Friday, October 24, 2014

Game Review: Archeage


By Nydia Tungsten & Brandi Streusel Tungsten

Part One

At first, I was very leery of the game, ArcheAge by Trion Worlds. I looked at the trailers and still had that bad taste in my mouth from League of Legends. But my friend, Ranchan, assured me it wasn’t anything like League of Legends, that these trailers actually portrayed the game as it was. So, I went ahead and created a Firran character in the game (Cat people…yes furry). They have three other races to choose from as well: Elves, Nuians and Harani. They are split into two factions (WoW flashback) with two races on each side

   You start out in a small village with small quest that will let you level up fast, but what you see in the village, and almost every other village you visit has blue glowing tables to help with your crafting. They are kind of like WoW, but these crafting benches go into more detail than I have seen in any other MMO.
There is a lot of crafting involved in a lot of missions, and a lot of ways for you to earn in-game money: From an outside comment, “as a game with strong sandbox influence, the majority of the content in game is generated by players. ArcheAge features 21 different crafting professions that help to fill the world with everything from potions and weapons to warships and houses.”

There is the Labor Point system, LP for short, which I think is very unique in the MMO industry. This is how they explain it:

“Labor Points” Almost every craft based, non quest action costs labor points to perform. The cost can be as small as 1-2 points for small things like picking flowers and as large a several dozen for more advanced actions like building. Labor Points are gained/refilled over time. A non-premium user will gain 5 points per 5 minutes of play and 0 points per 5 minutes while offline. A premium member will gain 10 points every 5 minutes and 5 points every 5 minutes while offline. The System is rounding up for example something cost 10 Labor Points and your Veteran Rank which gives 5% Labor Point reduce it still cost 10 Labor Points to craft.

There are the classes you can choose from and you get three of them as you progress, so you can choose from any of the ten classes in the game for a unique combination that suits you.  There are even arrows at your feet to help guide you along to your active quests, some people will say these are being held by the hand, but I disagree. It is up to you to interpret where you are and the routes you take, going in straight lines everywhere is not an option here.  The story line I am following is very well written and voiced. The writers should try writing for movies because I have found myself disappointed that the story line would pause until I reached the next milestone of it.

   The Graphics are from “CryEngine 3”. Look for yourself:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oT506JrOX0Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT506JrOX0Q )

This is the official trailer to the game and so far it is holding very true to my expectations through that video. I am only a level 16, so far, as I haven’t been able to play a lot of it but I expect good things of it. You can even have your own land to place a garden for growing your own crops and animals for quests as well as a house or even a castle. This ability is only available for paid patrons of the game, but there are plenty of public garden spaces to use as well. The only catch is other players can harvest after your things have been mature for 24 hours.

Now we come to the only problems I have found with the game and it IS the fact that it is an open world. There are only certain areas you can own land and those have filled up fast already. So the likelihood of you actually getting to build a house are very slim The homes that are there are bunched VERY close together and making them a very unattractive option. Your only option is to find a hidden area, grow what you need and hope you get back to it before someone destroys it or steals it. I have had two friends who have their “hidden” gardens raided.

I won’t bother to open the local chat tab because of all the spamming that goes on with offers to “Buy gold here! We have the best gold prices @wepromisewewon’tscrewyou.com!” Those spammers spoil many of a MMO and they rip people off. Other free MMO’s have found a way to keep the rampant spam off their servers and I hope Trion Worlds will do the same soon.

    In my play through, you can see me create my avatar. One of the drawbacks to me is with the eyes…. They provide very little selection and I would like to see them expand on that. This is my first time play through. Give it a look and let me know what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQlm2djv5pg

If you would like to try it for yourself: http://www.trionworlds.com/archeage/en/

 And a few more videos you might enjoy:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MO8fL2jYUg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piG3AmM3Pu8&list=PLXI4IP7MnwtZ5M5bCAb8QKuQc-8SpdZW6

Part Two

Okay, I have been playing it for a few weeks now and discovered a few more things about the game. They have a court system where you can be on the jury. At first, you may think this may be a good thing by keeping the griefers on the straight and narrow. Well, it doesn’t seem to work. This system actually encourages griefers because it is the only way the players can become “Pirates”, so they grief more players on a larger scale and get rewarded for it.

While this is technically a free to play game, some of the quests you are given require you to grow items to complete them. The only way to grow what you need is to own land, which you can only do if you are a paying account. There are free, public gardens, but you are limited to what you can grow there.

If you are a player that doesn’t really enjoy PvP games and are hoping to stay safe in non PvP areas….sorry, there are none. Enemy factions can roam freely over all the continents, let alone part of the quest lines will send you into one so you need to go in order to finish the quest that will allow you to build a bigger farm.

  So, you see, there are many draw backs, and there have been times I just wanted to scream in frustration. But it’s beauty of graphics and physics keeps dragging me back. So, in the overall scope of things, I will have to give it a reluctant thumbs up and recommend you to look it over and decide for yourself if it is something you will enjoy.

As always, until next time,  GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Nydia Tungsten

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dosbox


By Wesley Regenbogen

About DOSBOX
If you were a teenager in real life in the 90s,you probably learned to work with MS-DOS and you had a few programs and games that you liked. With the Windows environment coming out back then, the MS-DOS era was almost done and in most cases you weren’t able to run those programs and games again. The more new versions of Windows came, the less of a chance that you were able to run those programs and games. With Windows 7, 8.1 and the upcoming Windows 10 ( which will be released at the end of 2015, probably ) you don’t have a MS-DOS command-line.
But don’t be afraid, DOSBOX is a program that allows you to run these programs and games like you used to do in MS-DOS. You can download the program at http://www.dosbox.com/download.php?main=1 and install it. The current version, at the moment of writing this, is 0.74. The installation process is painless ( meaning : easy ) and you can use it directly.
Where do you download old games to use within DOSBOX ?
So, you are probably wondering, “Ok, so you got a program to use old programs and games with? But where do I get the games from, then?”
Well, I found a good website for that. It’s called “Best Old Games.net” and you can find it at http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/. At the top of the site, you will find letters and if you click them, you get a list with games that are supported by DOSBOX. But, if you already know the game you are looking for, you can use the “search box” under the “Info” section of the site. You can also search games by category, under the “Games” section.
Should you encounter a problem, you can post it on their support forum as well, just click the “Best Old Games Support Forum” button.
Oh yes, I’m going to explain how to run and install programs and games later, but if you download games from the site, they are always in a .zip file format, you need to have a program to unzip them, like 7-Zip or WinZip or similar programs.
How to run a program or game under DOSBOX ?
So, you just downloaded a game on the website http://www.bestoldgames.net/eng/ and you downloaded the zip file and unzipped it with 7-Zip or a similar program. You need to extract it in a directory like C:\DOSGAMES or a similar directory. You can close down the unzipping program. 
Then you click on the “Dosbox v0.74” icon on your desktop. The program opens up and you see a DOSBOX window appear with the “Z:\” in the command-line. You need to follow the instructions below to mount the directory you created earlier ( without the quote signs ) :
At the “Z:\” command-line you need to type the following to mount the drive and directory:
Mount C C:\DOSGAMES”
You get this message in the command-line :
Drive C is mounted as a local directory c:\dosgames”
You can use the command “dir/p” to view the contents of the directory.
To go to the directory of the games that you downloaded earlier, you need to type in the following :
cd [NAME OF THE DIRECTORY]”
Then you go to the directory itself.
Then you need to type the command to run the game, that’s different from game to game, of course.
Some games need to be installed first.
You then need to run the SETUP or INSTALL command to run the setup.
In my opinion, this program is very well and runs smoothly. This is a great program and the site mentioned is one of the best sites to find old games and download them.
Wesley Regenbogen

Friday, October 3, 2014

Game Review: Star Trek Online


By Bixyl Shuftan

Even if you know next to nothing about science-fiction, chances are you've heard about "Star Trek." Taking place in a future time, humans of a long since united Earth along with alien comrades "explore strange new worlds and new civilizations." Since the original show aired in the 1960s, there have been numerous additional telivision series and movies, in addition to books and comics, as it's popularity has grown. And of course there have been games. And more recently, a Multiplayer Online Game based on Star Trek has appeared: Star Trek Online.

Development of Star Trek Online started with the company Perpetual Entertainment in about 2004. But in 2008 they went bankrupt and sold the rights to Cryptic Studios, the makers of the MMO "City of Heroes," which then took over working on the game. Some friends of mine heard about the game sometime around this period of development, saying an alpha version was supposedly playtested at a sci-fi convention. But the game had a lot of problems, notably players had to team up for missions, and when someone had to leave, that left his/her friends unable to finish what they were doing. Even the Trekkers didn't like the game, I was told.

What to do about this problem? Cryptic's designers soon had a solution: make all the players ship captains. Beginning players do a series of missions on foot, eventually ending up in charge of a small ship. Once in charge of a vessel, the player controls its movement, weaponry, and other actions in the game's starship setting. This dual game play of both playing as a character and to "play as a starship" distinguishes Star Trek Online from other MMOs. As players progress in levels, and rank, they work their way up to larger ships.

The setting of the game is that about three decades have passed since the time in which the last of the "Next Generation" movies ("Nemesis") took place. Relations between the Federation and Klingon Empire have deteriorated and the two are once again at war. Meanwhile, a supernova has destroyed Romulus, the homeworld of the Romulans and the capital of their empire. The result are the Romulans spliting into two factions, the Romulan Empire under the old Imperial government, and the Romulan Republic, which favors peace with the Federation and Klingons and doing away with their culture of secrecy from other interstellar societies.

It used to be all players had to start with Federation characters, Klingons available only after players had progressed a number of levels. Now from the start you can play as either, a Romulan, or have a character from each. Players can play up to three characters without paying extra. Federation characters can be human, Vulcan, Andorian, or a number of well-known and not so well known races from within its borders, as well as Ferengi whom presumably some have left their home to become Federation citizens. Klingon characters can play Klingons of course, and a few races under the Empire's dominion, including the reptilian Gorn and the Orions. Romulan background characters are limited to just Romulans. For a real currency purchase, Federation players can have a Caitian (feline), Trill (joined), or Klingon character. Klingon players have the option of a Ferasan (a feline race that possibly might be the Kzinti from the Animated Series under another name) or Trill, and Romulans a Reman (a subject race of the Romulan Empire). All factions are open to having a liberated Borg character (think Seven of Nine) with a real currency purchase as well. You can have either a tactical (fighting and strategy skills), engineering, or science background. Each has it's own perks in the game.

Begining Federation players start out as graduates from the Academy at the top of their class, assigned to be on the fast track to command and made second in command on a ship of cadets under an experienced captain for a training cruise. But disaster strikes, and the Captain is taken by hostiles. Should the player pull through, his character ends up promoted and given official command.

Klingon players start out as a promising warrior who's risen up to the third in command on a Bird of Prey transporting a captured Federation spy. But the ship is attacked on the way, and events result in the player taking command and resuming the mission to take the spy to the Klingon homeworld for questioning. But this isn't the last you hear about the spy, and trying to track him down results in a long quest chain that leads to the character meeting two of the characters from "The Next Generation."

Romulan players start out as residents of a colony world made up of refugees from the chaos that followed the destruction of their homeworld twenty years earlier. Since then, they've gotten along without help from the Imperial government, and are content with doing without them. But just as they're throwing a party to celebrate, they come under attack by some strange aliens aided by the Imperial government's secret force, the Tal-shiar. The player has to fight them, and with the help of an old Romular Warbird parked in orbit gets some of the poplace to escape. The player and his crew end up meeting with D'Tan, the leader of the Romulan Republic whom enlists them to join his cause. Subequent missions involve the player helping to find a world for the Republic to establish itself and getting recognition and aid from the Federation and Klingons, whom at first think they might be some kind of trick by the Imperials. Success however comes at a price. Then Romulan players need to make a choice, will they have the Federation or the Klingons as an ally? Choosing one means access to their ships and some missions.

In carrying out their missions, players will have to do them out both on foot as either alone or the leader of an away team (character or ground mode), or out in space using the ship from the bridge (space mode). For instance, a mission may require the player to destroy a force of attacking ships in ship mode by manuvering the ship and using it's beam and torpedos to destroy (or cripple) them, steering the ship to keep one's strongest shields between they and the enemy. Then the player has to go in character mode to beam over an away team to a nearby planet or space station to deal with attackers whom have beamed down, as well as fix any damage done by them. Enemies destroyed, both in space mode and character mode, leave behind pickups, such as weapons, batteries, and parts. Ships and players, as well as members of the players bridge crew, need to be outfitted with weapons and shields/armor in addition to other fixtures to be more effective in battle. Players and Bridge Crews/away team members also have skills that are useful in fights and can be raised with experience points. Promitions lead to the acquiring of more skills, and able to use better weapons and shields/armor. From certain missions, players earn Dilithium ore, which when refined can be used to purchase special gear and ships.

Besides the missions, players can also get in line for PvP battles, in addition to PvE Fleet Actions in which up to 20 players can take part for a common goal such as beating an invasion fleet. There's also one feature unavailable on most other MORPGs, missions designed by other players. From The Foundry, players can access and play out missions made by others, a unique feature to the game, and can rate them once finished.

As one advances in level, players also advance in rank. At Level 3, players rise to Lieutenant. At Level 10, Federation and Klingon characters rise to Lieutenant Commander, Romulans to Centurion. At Level 20, Federation and Klingons rise to Commander, Romulans to Subcommander. At Level 30, Federation and Klingons achieve the rank of Captain, with Romulans becoming Commander rank. At Level 40, Federation players are promoted to Rear Admiral, Klingons Brigadier Generals, and Romulans Subadmirals. Players get more promotions every five ranks up to Level 60 for Fleet Admirals for Federation and Romulan players, Dahar Master for Klingons. With the rise in ranks comes accessibility to higher tiers of starship, where one can get larger and more powerful vessels, up to Tier Five for the admiral ranks. There's a variety of ships available, such as Federation Lieutenants being offered a choice between an escort vessel with an emphasis on combat, a science vessel that does well with researching and versitile in supporting other vessels, or an all-purpose light cruiser designed to perform multiple roles fairly well. Your character and your bridge crew have skills than can help out in space combat.

There's a kind of crafting system which one can research and develop then build items, presumably one that gets a boost if you're in a science ship. There's also a Duty Officer Assignment screen in which officers of your crew other than the bridge crew can be used to perform various assignments that can take from half an hour to over a day. Completing them can earn experience points and other rewards. Catastrophic failures can lead to the officer developing negative personality traits, or even it's removal.

There are guilds players can join, each with guild banks. Like many other MMOs, there's an exchange where players can buy and sell goods to and from other players. There's also Tribble Breeding, which can be a fun little distraction.

Star Trek Online is Free to Play, but some options are open only if you want to spend a little money, such as wanting to play as a Caitain character. These microtransactions require the use of ZEN credits from the company behind the game, Cryptic Studios. Besides ships and gear, one can use them to buy outfits for one's character, redesign the bridge, get pets, and more.

While there are some things that some players may have a problem with, as some commented the ground and ship modes made it feel like two different games. Or players may feel that some races aren't shown right, such as the Caitians in the game having plantigrade rather than digigrade feet. But all and all, I can only consider this a great game and something Trek fans with PCs (sorry, no Apple OS version) should consider playing. So far I've gotten three characters, one from each faction, to over level 25, and have had plenty of fun doing so. Some "Delta Rising" missions involved characters from the "Voyager" crew, such as Lt. Commander (now Rear Admiral) Tuvac. Some missions involved a bit of time travel, interacting with characters from the Original Series.

Oh, under one faction's quest before you get to Level 25, you will witness one character from one of the TV series meeting his end (No, it's not Wesley Crusher).

So "Live Long and Prosper" and enjoy this (almost) free MMO.

Bixy Shuftan

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Game Review: League of Legends


By Nydia Tungsten & Brandi Tungsten

    I found out about this game through my daughter’s boyfriend, so I Googled it and took a look at some of the trailers of the game. When I saw the trailers, the graphics, the action, I was TOTALLY blown away, so I downloaded it. I was excitedly unable to believe a game like this was free to play. I watched even more trailers as I waited, getting more and more excited!

   Here is what I saw:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzHrjOMfHPY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nlJuwO0GDs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEnsqpThaFg
https://www.youtube.com/user/RiotGamesInc


     After seeing them, I couldn’t wait. I was almost drooling with anticipation to create one of those majestic characters that I had seen  (I loved the Neko), but instead of the game I was looking forward to, (sighs) I got this….  http://www.twitch.tv/nydia_tungsten/c/5192980 (may take a few minutes to load for some).

Now, I am not saying it is a bad game, (even though the tutorial leads you by the hand and speaks to you like one would to a toddler away from it’s mother for the first time) it is probably a great game for those that like the 3-D side scroller type of game. But, I am not one of those, and after seeing the trailers and getting this, I feel like RIOT games LIED to me…..offered me candy then shoved castor oil into my mouth ( I am being nice here, Bix ). To say I was disappointed would be like referring to Jaws as a guppy.

    Now, I try to keep my personal opinions to a minimum as I review any game, I truly try and give it a fair chance no matter the genre, but after the blatant misdirection of RIOT with their trailers, I cannot in all honesty give this game a fair review. As I am writing this, I am going so far as to uninstall it and vowing to never touch it again and SERIOUSLY even giving thought to not try anything from RIOT again, ever! I absolutely HATE bait and switch and I feel that is what they are trying to pull with this game.

    If you like the 3-D side scroller’s, you may thoroughly enjoy this game, but with this bitter taste in my mouth, I cannot, nor will I ever play it again. But, I will recommend you try it for yourself but don’t believe the trailers.

    Normally, I would either give the game a thumbs up or down at this point, but I won’t. Instead, I will give the game makers a “Finger up” and recommend they straighten up and fly right.

So until next time, GOOD GAMING TO YOU!

Nydia Tungsten

Monday, September 15, 2014

Microsoft in Negotiations to Buy Minecraft


 By Bixyl Shuftan

Four years since it appeared on the computer scene, "Minecraft" is likely to change hands from the small independant company Mojang to the corporate giant Microsoft. Reports from Bloomberg.com and other sources state that Microsoft is prepared to spend as much as 2 billion dollars to buy the game. The sources have asked not to be named, and stated the deal could be concluded this week. Microsoft and Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, have declined comment.

If true, this would be the first multi-million dollar deal made by Microsoft's current CEO. But they would also be getting an icon of the computer gaming industry, one that has gone from beyond the computer screen to popular culture. More than 54 million people have bought copies of the game, from sign-ups on the Mojang website to versions of the game on sale for the Playstation 4 and Microsoft's X-Box. It has become the third best selling game of all time. But it's not just the games people have been buying. Fans have been putting down money to buy Minecraft-inspired jackets, hoodies, hats, bedsheets and pillows, even plush dolls (insert huggable creeper plushie), in addition to Minecraft-themed Lego brick toys. One can see why the company created by Bill Gates is willing to spend $37 per user.

And what goes on in Minecraft does not necessarily stay in Minecraft. Because of it's ability to be an outlet for creativity, some players have made some elaborate builds. Recently a Cody Littley built a one kilobite hard drive in the game that actually works.


That Minecraft's creator Markus Perrson would be willing to sell to Microsoft might be news to some people. In the past, he has been critical of the large computer corporation, saying of Microsoft about it's criticized Windows 8 computer operating system, "stop trying to ruin the PC ... I'd rather have Minecraft not run on Win 8 at all than to play along." But as time went on, his relationship with the company improved.

So how would being bought up by Microsoft affect Mojang? The company has kept up it's "Indie spirit, not collecting data on it's users and encouraging employees to interact with fans online." With Microsoft having a "much more controlled PR presence ... It would certainly be a test of a culture clash to mix the two."

And of course, how would the buyout affect the game, "There have been cases in the past of big corporations taking someone else's game and turning it into a huge money-flip just to see what they can make out of it. Gamers will naturally be worried about this." Minecraft became a hit not through an ad campaign, but by masses of players who loved the game, spreading it through word of mouth on youtube channels and computer buliten boards.

So would Microsoft suddenly start doing things like offering starter packs of resources to players for a little cash? *Probably* not as the company most likely realizes fans would be very wary of any attempts to tinker with the game for the sake of getting money. So perhaps the company would avoid messing with the dynamics of the game, but "continuing to keep the game as broad and accessible as possible," not pulling it from Playstation, and raising more revenue through licensing of the brand by partnering with media companies for cartoon shows, and of course more Minecraft-related products.

It's also probable that Mojang would continue to develop the game on it's own, being free to work on ideas to continue to improve it, "essentially a Microsoft-funded skunkworks labratory of small and wild game ideas." It's possible part of the company could be split off into "an indie publishing group" with "the money and means to find and fund indie game projects free from corporate bureaucracy and red tape."

But over time, a number of small companies, such as TheHive, HyPixel, have sprung up making money through for-profit servers and other means without any of it going back to the company. It would be a challenge for Microsoft to  work with this "accepted and important part of the Minecraft ecosystem," but it isn't unreasonable to expect the megacorporation to work out a way for them to keep on going as before in exchange for a share of the profits.

But as gamers from places such as Second Life have found, such best-case scenerios do not always come to pass, and instead you have companies making short-term moves on raking in the money. Mojang's current business model is basically the gamer spending $27 on Minecraft once, and then the company never makes a dime off them again. So there is the possibility of perks introduced into the game for small fees, even as Minecraft fanatics howl that the spirit of the game is being ruined. The Mojang team that developed the game could end up leaving when their contracts are up, and further development is done by one of Microsoft's internal teams, eventually making it feel not quite the same to it's fans.

Microsoft could also start pulling the game from rival platforms. No longer would the game be available on Playstation, Android, or Apple. Modifications to the game such as the popular "Feed the Beast" could also vanish as Microsoft demands that Minecraft be played only on it's own servers. Finally, there are the gamers building things such as "Star Wars" Star Destroyers, "My Little Pony" characters, and  more. It's possible Microsoft's legal team would be too skitish of lawsuits by other corporations, and start cracking down.

But as writer Justin Davis of ign.com put it, neither a best case scenerio or a worst case one is likely to be enacted in it's entirety, "the truth is that there is no way Microsoft spends billions to acquire a single game without an expectation and plan for making more money from that game. But if handled with plenty of care, paitence, and thoughtfulness, this added emphasis on money doesn't need to ruin Minecraft's open nature or it's continued indie appeal."

It's possible that the deal might be called off. After all Minecraft is still making a lot of money, and Persson has bickered with Microsoft in the past. So for now it's fans watch and wait, hoping that the creeper outside their door in the game is the only thing they have to worry about.

Sources: BBC News, Bloomberg, IGN, Forbes, Polygon 

Bixyl Shuftan

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