Monthly Archives: September 2012

Opinion: Gaming Makes the World Better

Some of the best friends I’ve ever made are people I met because of gaming. I never understood why there is so much hostility during online play and in comment sections over the internet. We are all gamers, why do we have to yell at each other about whether 360 is better than PS3, or why Call of Duty is better than Battlefield? As you may know, I’m a huge Halo fan. I used to verbally lash at Call of Duty (It was more about my hate for Activision with Call of Duty in the crossfire), but recently I’ve made it a point to NOT publicly do so. I respect a lot of Call of Duty gamers because they’re as passionate about it as I am Halo. When you’re online with someone you might get into a very loud and inappropriate conversation with this person, but why do so? What are you doing? We’re all gamers, and if we stood united, we could overcome almost anything.

Why am I talking about this? Well, it’s annoying when someone tries to tell me gaming brings nothing to the world, when I know from a life-long experience that is incorrect. In the 1990’s, violent crimes in the youth’s populations steadily dropped while the gaming population steadily increased. The U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Surgeon General have both studied research and come to the conclusion that there is no causal link between violent programming and violent behavior. So gaming doesn’t make you violent, according to research. So why is gaming used as a scapegoat so often in politics and discussions? Probably because it’s still new, and people are afraid of it. Look at rock and roll, the adults of that generation thought that dancing to rock and roll would send the nation downwards into an abyssal hell.

Continuing from my first point, I’ve never met friendlier people anywhere but at gaming conventions. You can literally start a conversation with almost anybody and they are completely comfortable with talking to you. Gaming brings people together. I am twenty years old. I have a few fifteen year old friends, a few thirty year old friends, and everything in between. When I say friends, I’m not talking about online friends either; I mean I willingly spend time with these people usually at least once a week. We all share a bond that many other people are sharing nowadays, our love for gaming.

Gamers are typically very charitable people. Gaming Kickstarters have made more money than any other category on the website. With Child’s Play, Gamers For Giving, GamesAid, and more, gamers are able to donate to not only help people in need, but help fellow gamers in need. People who play Cooperative video games are statistically more generous and more caring in on the spot situations than people who don’t. In a new social game called WeMonster, when you purchase premium level ups or in game objects, the developers use that money to fund planting of trees around the world. In Humble Indie Bundles, you can get a selection of great games for any price you want to pay. You also get to decide who gets what percentage of money between the developers, charities, and humble indie bundle itself. There are also many tournaments that are for charity in some way. FLAG, or Fight Like a Girl, Halo tournaments are charity tournaments to help breast cancer patients. There are many ways our culture gives to make this world a better place.

What I’m trying to say is this. Gaming brings people together, and when people come together, the world becomes a better place to live. The best way you can help is to simply do one thing. All you have to do is be civil to your fellow gamer. You don’t have to agree. You don’t have to even like them, but show them respect. If they aren’t showing you any, your best bet is to just ignore them. You may think it’s no big deal, but if gamers stopped arguing about stupid unimportant differences between each other, we could really make a good difference in this world more than we already have.

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Review: Borderlands 2

When I put Borderlands 2 into the console, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had heard some news about the game, but I stayed out of the loop for most of its development cycle. I don’t have as much experience with Borderlands as most people, because I was a late adopter. I picked up the Game of the Year Edition a little over a year after it came out and played through it with a group of friends. It’s not that I didn’t like Borderlands, that’s not it at all, but there was just something about it that drove me to keep the much anticipated sequel under my radar. Nonetheless, I preordered and attended the midnight launch. I knew the game would be good but, like I said, I wasn’t sure how good because I didn’t follow it.

With little to no hype, I’ve always felt playing an amazing game is that much better. This most definitely applies here. Borderland 2, as of right now, has four difference characters. You can play as Axton the Commando, whose abilities involve placing turrets, Maya, the Siren, who can lock enemies in place, Salvador the Gunzerker, who can duel wield any two weapons, and Zer0 the Assassin, who can place a hologram and turn invisible. The game starts you off five years after the events of Borderlands. Handsome Jack, the antagonist, is trying to rule the planet Pandora. He has an evil corporation called Hyperion that seems to have unlimited amounts of robots at its disposal. He also vowed to kill all the Vault Hunters. What a jerk. The Vault Hunters are then contacted by Angel, an AI, who tells them they have to save the original Vault Hunters (The playable characters from the first game) and kill Handsome Jack before he awakens the most powerful monster locked away deep within the vault on Pandora. Oh yeah, and there is a powerful new element called Eridium that makes sirens powerful and stuff.

The gameplay is more of what you already love. There is nothing in Borderlands 2 that feels like it wouldn’t fit in the previous entry. It really is the perfect sequel. The story is longer, it’s more refined, there are more enemies, and of course, there are a bazillion guns. I found it kind of odd, however, that you can’t fully customize your character’s colors. Instead in this entry, you find skins for your body and head. This is good though, because it’s way more fun finding and unlocking new outfits for your characters than it is having every color at your disposal off the bat. The controls are tight, the shooting is fun, the vehicle combat is a blast and there is a lot of room to explore. This game is the perfect game to play with friends. It supports up to four players cooperatively. It enhances the experience a lot if you enjoy it with a few buddies. Be prepared for hundreds of side quests, and at least twenty hours of story missions. The game isn’t too hard, but it’s also not too easy. When you die, you will respawn at a checkpoint close by. If everyone on your team dies, then the enemies will fully heal from the previous battle. Also it’s mind-numbingly hilarious, as Borderlands should be.

The music is much more appropriate than in the first game. I felt it became boring after hearing it in a lot Borderlands, but in Borderlands 2 it is much more plentiful in style and composition. It gives the combat a fresh scent to it, all while enhancing the environments you’re exploring with memorable sounds. There isn’t any point in the game where I found any sound effects annoying, although repeated dialog happens often. The Environments you’ll be exploring are excellently designed. You’ll traverse tundra, industrial, wasteland, mountains, and even grass lands. I found myself enjoying the vastness of the landscapes quite often. Portions of the game are very beautiful, to the point where I would stop and stare for a few minutes. That being said, it has its share of scarred territory that while exploring, you’ll feel legitimately sorry for that area of the planet. This drives you even more to kill Jack, since he seems to love the idea of ruining nature.

There are a few points where you might say “Well that’s kind of dumb”, an example being, Jack’s corporation is the same corporation that revives you when you die, even though he is trying to kill you. Or when Hyperion seems to have unlimited robots, but instead of just sending more robots out when you damage one, they send a repair drone out that opens the security door allowing you to slip in. Little things like that made me say “That could have been executed better”, but at the same time the game is supposed to be humorous so it doesn’t really take away from the overall story. The one problem I had with the main game is how rare good guns are. White are common, green uncommon, blue rare, purple very rare, and orange are ultra-rare. I understand that “Rare” means hard to find, but in my 35+ hours of gameplay I only found three or four purple guns and one orange gun that dropped when I beat the story. I feel that they should be a little more common, although I’ve heard in New Game +, which I haven’t started yet, they are.

Borderlands 2 is an amazing game. It’s definitely going to be a Game of the Year nomination on my end. It’s a must own for anyone who can get their hands on it. It is the epitome of what a Role Playing Shooter should be, action based, story driven. The multiplayer is a lot of fun and will leave you begging for more. I found myself laughing out loud on multiple occasions and enjoying the plot. If you enjoy Role Playing Games or First Person Shooters, you will enjoy Borderlands 2. As I said before, it’s a must own for this year in gaming.

Badges:

*Recommended

*Co-Optimal

*Hours of Fun

*Top of the Genre (Role Playing Shooter)

I give Borderlands 2 a 4/5.

Miniview: Skyrim: Hearthfire

There are many exciting things downloadable content usually offers for open world RPGs. We all love new quests, gear, enemies, stories, characters, and above all, areas to explore. The disappointing thing about Hearthfire, is that it really offers none of these, other than wooden swords and generic characters. However, Hearthfire is in its own, a fairly cool expansion. Running you a measly $5, this expansion offers the ability to build and customize your own house, and adopt children to raise as your own.

It allows to the ability to buy three separate plots of land in Hjaalmarch (Morthal), The Pale (Dawnstar), and Falkreath (Falkreath) to build said houses. The customization is pretty cool, letting you build extra wings of the house with rooms such as an alchemy tower, trophy room, kitchen, enchanter’s tower, master bedrooms, armory, and many more. Raising a child is also pretty cool, as it allows you to give them gifts and play games with them like Hide and Seek and Tag. Hearthfire does offer some pretty cool things for $5.

That being said, Hearthfire is not for everybody. It requires you to do several aimless and boring tasks essentially making you run back and forth between several different blacksmiths to buy several hundred iron and corundum ingots. You also have to go to general stores to buy hay, wood, animal skins and other random things to actually make the beds, tables, decorations, etc. My level 65 character (who has 150,000+ gold) was constantly running around buying these random essentials just to build a house that really doesn’t offer you anything that the normal houses the game don’t already offer. The adopted children can even move into your normal houses after buying a children’s bedroom.

The customization in some places isn’t really even customizable; it’s more based on how rich your character is than your character’s personality. For example, in my living room I was hanging animal heads as decoration, but you can’t decide which ones to hang. It tells you the materials for each one and creates the decoration the same every time. So in other words, you HAVE to have a Sabre Cat, Goat, Mudcrab and Bear hanging in your entryway if you want decoration. You can’t choose to have, say, four bear heads hanging to give it your own touch. This is the biggest flaw of Hearthfire.

Hearthfire is cool, don’t get me wrong, but it’s nothing amazing. It’s worth the $5 dollars for people who are dedicated to the franchise and like to build and show off wealth. If you’re looking for a large expansion with quests, items, monster, etc. you might want to hold off.

Badges:

*Not much content

*Skippable

*Cheap

*Repetitive

I give Skyrim: Hearthfire a 3/5. (If it cost anymore it would have been a 2/5.)

Miniview: Home

    Home is a classic pixilated horror adventure game by indie developer Benjamin Rivers. The player awakens in a dark house by himself, without the slightest idea of where he is. As you explore the decrepit and lonely house, pieces of the ultimate puzzle start to unveil themselves. The game is interesting because although you find clues, the ending of the game is entirely up to the player. He/she decides with the evidence they have found, what exactly happened to the protagonist’s loved ones. Was there a murder, or was there something much, much bigger… that is for you to decide!

    Home is a really, really cool take on the classic adventure game. The story is determined by what the player decides to find, pick up and piece together. It’s a little short only running about 30-60 minutes, depending on how you play. It took me personally about 65 minutes to complete. That being said, you will probably want to play through it multiple times to get a different perspective on what may have happened. The visuals are great and, although it’s pixilated, it’s really easy to determine what you’re looking at. The sounds are creepy, mysterious, and the reason I was legitimately uncomfortable at times. I found myself looking over my virtual shoulder while playing this game. There is no save feature, so you will have to play the entire thing in one sitting. It’s okay though, because you’ll probably get hooked like I did and want to keep pressing forward to find the next clue. This is a great game, and priced at about $3 on Steam, although it’s on sale until Sept. 7th for $2.50. This is a great investment if you’re into horror, indie, or adventure games. I suggest this game!

Badges:

*Recommended

*One Of A Kind

*Legitimately Creepy

*Cheap And Great!

I give Home a 4/5.

Check out more at Homehorror.com