Video Games

By Luke Kirtley ’15 | Graphics Editor

Recently, Ubisoft released “Blood Dragon”, a spin off of “Far Cry 3.” on April 30 for $15. Although not similar to “Far Cry 3″ in hardly any way, “Blood Dragon” has become my all-time favorite game of the year.

The game takes place in an overdeveloped 2007, consisting of robot soldiers and basically robot everything including sharks, alligators, etc. Aside from the robots, mega-shields, and massive futuristic buildings, the weapons and landscape are pretty “2007”. The game is very dark though, (it is always night time) and the main spectrum of colors bases off of orange and pink.

What I just love about the game is how 80’s style the art is. The style brings me back to the original Terminator feel, just with even more lasers. The darkness of the scenery is a key factor when it comes to showing off the bright weapons and characters as well. The world is post apocalyptic, after a nuclear war between a multitude of countries, and the player must find and kill Col. Sloan to stop him from furthering his nuclear raids.

Players start off with the player commanding the character Rex “Power” Colt, with his accomplice Spider, who investigates Col. Sloan, an ex-agent. Spider is then killed and Colt is knocked out, leaving it up to the 16-bit style cutscenes to explain what was happening. Colt is then taken to a base where the game is basically free-roam but still has the main objective lie prominent.

Blood dragons are then introduced, which are not really dragons, but dinosaurs that change colors, which have poor eyesight but acute hearing. This comes in handy throughout the game. There is a plethora of animals, such as goats, snakes, turtles, leopards, tigers and dogs, which all hurt you unfortunately.

The absolute best part of the game is the humor that comes with it, ranging from the cheesy side comments by Colt, the in game tips, such as “We spent too much money on font colors”, and the comments made by other characters. The game is politically informed as well, tackling subjects such as the correlation between violence and videogames, or lack thereof.

Even the side missions they provide the player with are jokes. Most of them consist of saving scientists from hostage situations. Other missions involve killing animals, where are completely self-aware. For example, one of the missions is “Tigers ate some scientists. Thats a no-no. Go murder the big cats for being big cats.” Another way the game is self-aware is the fact that it will make fun of itself, like when it makes fun of how long the tutorial is at the start.

Also, let’s not forget, this game consists of literally everything, lasers, guns, zombies, dragons, and vehicles. It pertains to basically every interest even if the player isn’t interested in first person shooters.

Sadly, the game is really short. I beat the entire main mission, played all the side missions, and captured all garrisoned bases in 3 hours and 35 minutes. The story is the classic cliche saving the world story, which is what I love about it. The dialogue is forced and similar to most action movies in the 80’s. Colt is overly patriotic, claiming his blood is “red, white and blue”, which just adds to the humor of the whole game. The classic twist ending is also cliche, which leaves room for a possible sequel (fingers crossed).

The game makes multiple references to movies and television ranging from Terminator to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Not only is the dialogue funny, Colt’s actions are hilarious, for example regaining health will consist of Colt using a hand exerciser really fast or rewiring his left arm (which is robotic). There is even a button dedicated to giving other characters “the finger”.

Overall this game is a must-buy! It’s only $15 and will supply the consumer with hours of entertainment, laughs, and even some political topics to debate among their peers. I give this game an A+, supplying me with the best experience I have had while playing a game in all of the year.

 

Halo 4

Andrew Keating ‘13| Executive Web Editor

Although the sci-fi/first-person shooter “Halo” video game series has been around for over a decade, “Halo 4” still manages to feel fresh, delivering a solid single player experience and a variety of exciting multiplayer modes. The game is sure to be one of the best to arrive this year.

“Halo 4,” like the popular “Call of Duty” games, is a first-person shooter (FPS). Thus, it may not appeal to players who don’t enjoy being placed behind a weapon. But for fans of the FPS genre, “Halo 4” is a clear winner, with a large variety of weapons that can fit any play style. The game’s sci-fi setting makes a large amount of the guns unusual and impractical, yet nearly all weapons feel powerful and almost realistic. And the weapons that don’t feel realistic are just plain fun, such as the “gravity hammer,” my personal favorite. The gravity hammer isn’t a gun per se in that you smack other players with it really hard. The player will often be flung across hallways, rooms and even the occasional canyon (where the game map allows).

The first playable mode in “Halo 4” is the campaign (or story) mode. The player controls the super soldier Master Chief, the series protagonist, as he tries to save himself and a shipwrecked crew from mysterious unknown planet. Of course, you aren’t alone on this planet, and you’ll soon find yourself shooting your way through ancient alien ruins and hostile extraterrestrials. The plot takes quite a few twists and turns, and is surprisingly interesting and compelling for a video game. At about 10 hours, “Halo 4’s” campaign is short, sweet and packed full of action.

For fans of cooperative play, “Halo 4” does not disappoint. In addition to the campaign, which can be played in its entirety with up to three friends, the game offers an additional co-op only mode. This mode, called “Spartan Ops,” allows players to battle their way through enemies in several story-based missions. The best part of “Spartan Ops” is that a new mission is added weekly, drastically increasing the amount of game content throughout the next few months. Unfortunately, online co-op can become glitchy at some points. However, the game developers should be able to have this problem fixed soon, if they haven’t already.

“Halo 4” is at its best when it comes to online multiplayer. Players can connect with other from around the world and duke it out in online games of up to 16 players. Unlike previous “Halo” games, players can pick what weapons, grenades and perks they will receive before starting a game, using the new load-out system. While each player starts with a limited selection of ways to customize their load-outs, players unlock more and more guns, grenades and more as they keep playing online. One of the best elements of the new load-out system is the wide variety of “armor abilities.” These abilities allow a players character to fly, heal themselves, become invisible and more. When used correctly with one’s play style, these abilities can cause devastating damage to opponents. While other shooters have been doing this for years, “Halo’s” implementation is a welcome addition that brings many benefits.

In “Halo 4’s” online multiplayer, there are a variety of options in modes. Options include deathmatch, Capture-the-Flag and enormous big team battles. These varieties keeps the multiplayer from getting too stale, and trust me, it’s all good fun.

One of the most impressive qualities of this game is its graphics. Running on the Xbox 360’s 7-year-old hardware, “Halo 4” still manages to look beautiful and well-detailed. The colorful art style is superb as well, offering an alternative to the drab, dark color schemes of many modern games.

As a fan of the “Halo” series since I started playing video games, I was a bit worried about “Halo 4.” I thought it couldn’t stand up to the original classics, but I was wrong. I probably realized this at about 10 am on launch day, after having bought the game at midnight. Yes, I played it all night with no sleep and no breaks. That’s what makes a great game, right there.

MATT RIASHI ’13| Staff Writer

Cover art courtesy of Amazon.com

With Opening day just under two weeks away, Major League Baseball 2K12 (MLB 2K12) will give gamers a head start on the much anticipated 2012 baseball season.

Although many aspects of the game have not changed since the release of MLB 2K11, this year’s game does have one difference that will excite Tiger fans: Justin Verlander graces the cover, surrounded by flames.

The best feature about the game is the “My Player” mode. The goal is to make it to the Major Leagues by getting the player’s rating up to a specific level. In this year’s game, gamers can choose the type of player they want to be by changing the expectations, ratings, and how the player progresses through the minor leagues.

For the gamers who don’t get as much enjoyment from “My Player” mode, they can experience controlling a franchise. In this mode, gamers can control everything, free agents, trades, managerial responsibilities and playing all the games on the schedule. Playing 162 games would take a long time, so simulating games is very useful.

The best way to play the game is to play one on one with a friend not online, actually playing someone in the same room. The online gameplay is really bad. Even in good WiFi connections the game tends to freeze momentarily and it throws off your timing when hitting and pitching.

 MLB 2K12 has other new features, like the tendency tracker, which adjusts to the way the gamer is pitching to the computer. This new feature can get too unrealistic at times.

One step up from last previous year’s games is the graphics the players actually look somewhat like they do in real life and the ballpark details are better from years previous. It is not that big a deal, but it adds to the experience. But along with the many good details there are some problems. At certain times the game glitches and there is no other choice to turn the game off and start over.

When first starting to play the game, there was also some disappointment when realizing that Prince Fielder was not on the Tigers. It is not a big deal, because he can be added very easily. So, some roster updates need to be made.

The game controls are all the same from the years past, which is good because nobody wants to learn new controls to a game where timing is the most key aspect to pitching and hitting. There is one minor change to the throwing meter when a player catches or fields the ball. As the player fields the gamer can decide either to start the throw early, with the greater possibility of making an error or play it safe and potentially not getting the out.

MLB 2K12 meets a lot expectations, but the glitches that occur in small doses detract from the good effects.

Thomas Keating ’13| Entertainment Editor

If you like video games, 2011 was a great year. Although, there were plenty of hits, there were quite a few misses. After playing both great and terrible games, these are my favorite games of 2011.

5) “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”

Selling 6.5 Million copies and grossing $400 million in the first 24 hours after release, “MW3” was the most successful release in the history of the entertainment industry. Did it deserve that success? No. Is it still an enjoyable and well-done game? Yes.

The campaign (story mode) of “MW3” takes place during a fictional World War III. The game begins in New York City, where Russians, not protestors, seek to occupy Wall Street. The story then progresses to Paris, Prague, Somalia and all around the globe as you seek to kill Makarov, the Russian terrorist responsible for the war.

But nobody buy a Call of Duty game for the campaign mode. The multiplayer mode is where “MW3” truly shines. Countless hours can be spent playing on the 16 beautifully designed maps. Hundreds of unlockables makes online multiplayer addictive, stringing you on for that next kill and that next weapon upgrade.

4) “Saints Row: The Third”

You start the game as the leader of the Third Street Saints. The Saints are the most successful crime organization in history, and are expanding their influence into the city of Steelport. The only thing between you and control of the city is the Syndicate, a rival organization comprising of Steelport’s established street gangs.

Other than that, the story isn’t really that important, and it doesn’t have to be. Plot and narrative take a back seat to pimping, drug dealing and cop killing. “SR3” is also a perfect game for cooperative play; running over innocents to aggravate the police, for example, is way more fun with a friend.

The best part of “SR3” is customization. Your character, your cars and even your gang are fully customizable (I personally made my character look like presidential candidate Ron Paul and drove a hot pink SWAT truck around town).

3) “LA Noire”

Set in the late 1940s, “LA Noire” follows the story of LAPD detective Cole Phelps, a WWII veteran with a keen eye and a sharp suit. The story follows Phelps as he hunts down drug-dealers, arsonists, serial killers and even corruption in his own police department.

True to the title, “LA Noire” has the feel of the “Film Noir” era of American cinema. The story of a detective with personal baggage, corruption and an eerie jazz soundtrack add to this feel. You can even set the color scheme of the game to black and white (although I just found it really annoying to play a black-and-white video game). Every case takes 30 to 45 minutes, so the game feels like a marathon of your favorite cop drama.

The gameplay is mostly focused on finding clues, questioning witnesses and interrogating suspects in order to solve the cases that comprise the storyline. Interrogations involve asking a suspect or witness a question, listening to the answer, and judging whether he/she is telling the truth, lying or withholding information. Motion capture software allows actual actors to play persons of interest, so you must watch their faces to determine if they are telling the truth.

“LA Noire” combines beautiful graphics, gripping narrative and enjoyable gameplay to create a game that is truly one of a kind.

2) “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations”

The “Assassin’s Creed” series is known for its unusual historical fiction settings; previous games have been set in the Crusades-era Holy Land (“Assassin’s Creed”) and Renaissance Italy (“ACII” and “AC: Brotherhood”). “Revelations” takes place in 16th century Constantinople (Istanbul). The main protagonist is Ezio Auditore, hero of the previous two games in the series. Ezio is now an old man, searching for artifacts left by his ancestors. Between him and the artifacts are the Janissaries, soldiers and police of the Ottoman Empire.

Other than obscure world history references, “Assassin’s Creed” features a plot full of action and intrigue. Ezio may be old, but he can still fight, spy and most importantly, perform assassinations. The story is fascinating and culminates in an epic ending that is arguably the best I have ever seen in a video game.

1) “Skyrim”

This game takes place in a fictional country after which the game is named, called Skyrim. The country of Skyrim in plunged in a bloody civil war, now facing attacks from dragons risen from the dead. These two conflicts account for about 20 hours of the game.

Twenty hours may sound like a lot, but 20 hours in “Skyrim” barely scratches the surface. Side plots include joining a thief’s guild, going to a school of magic (not Hogwarts) and killing an emperor. This and plenty of other content add up to about 200 hours (note: the internet told me that; I DID NOT play for 200 hours). With so much to do, the game is a unique and addictive experience. I personally played for a disgusting 20 hours in my first 48 hours of owning the game.

With a huge and detailed environment, a compelling story and over 200 hours of game play, “Skyrim” is easily the game of the year.

 

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THOMAS KEATING ’13| Entertainment Editor

In a videogame market saturated with modern military shooters, the “Call of Duty” franchise still manages to beat the competition. This is especially true in the multiplayer modes, the aspect that the “Call of Duty” series is known for. As the newest installment in one of the best-selling and top-rated franchises in video games, “MW3” has a tough legacy to live up to.

Many would argue that “MW3” is just a barely updated version of 2009’s “Modern Warfare 2.” To an extent, they’re probably right; the graphics, physics, weapons and even some maps seem to be copied and pasted from “MW2.”

But then again, why would it have to be different? The franchise is clearly successful, and too much change would be fixing something that isn’t broken. And what it does change is hit-and-miss.

The highlights of “MW3”s game modes are the death match variants. “Team Deathmatch” and “Free-for-all” modes are where you’ll probably be spending most of your time with the game. Other than a few minor tweaks, the death match variants stay true to the COD formula, which few players will complain about.

After the superb death match variants, objective game modes (modes in which killing opponents isn’t the only goal, e.g. capture the flag) are a flat-out disappointment. If there was anything that the Call of Duty series needed to change from previous titles, it was objective modes. Team play is essential to win objective games, but there is no real incentive to be a team player, as killing opponents is a far more lucrative way to gain experience points (more on that later). Most players in objective games seem to treat it as another death match game, so they just run around shooting anything that moves. This means that anyone trying to actually go for the flag, bomb, or other objective gets shot instantly (and accidentally throws the controller across the room in a fit of frustration, in my case).

The only objective game mode that doesn’t end in rage and broken controllers is a new mode called “Kill Confirmed,” in which you have to kill an enemy and then get his dog tag in order to get full credit for the kill. This mode adds an interesting dynamic to the game, because you have to be in close proximity to your opponent in order to score any points.

What’s especially fun about “Kill Confirmed” is that, if you or a teammate dies, you can still pick up dog tags that the enemy didn’t pick up; in other words, you can steal kills back from opponents if they don’t pick up your dog tag. “Kill Confirmed” allows for an objective game mode that is still based on kills, so the traditional problem with objective modes is no longer a factor.

When you’re releasing a game that is incredibly similar to its prequel, it’s always good to have some new content. Sixteen brand new maps fill this need for new content pretty well. Although some maps feel like re-skinned versions of maps from previous games, most feel fresh and new.

Because I’m talking about new content, I should also mention the guns. Although there are few new weapons, the amount of attachments, scopes and customizations is incredible. MW3 could keep a gun-nut entertained for days on end. In fact, there are so many unlockable customizations that you’ll be hard-pressed to go through a match without gaining at least one.

Overall, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” has an addictive multiplayer that only falls short in the area of objective modes. Even though it doesn’t change much, it still has that winning formula that fans know and love.

Grade: B+

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To read the review on the single player mode, click here.