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By Akodo On 14 Nov, 2014 At 04:24 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
Sony PlayStation 4

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PS4The PlayStation 4, will officially be one year old tomorrow. And I will give it a round of applause as Sony and the PlayStation brand have made a resounding start off of the now current generation. Even though the PS3 started off slow and finally gained traction, it still lost a large swath of its fanbase during last generation. Now, learning from its mistakes, and that a name isn’t the only thing that is needed for a console launch. They went back to basics, and making sure that the console put the gamer first, and nothing else. It went to developers and talked with them, and asked what they needed to make a solid, A+ game in their eyes. They essentially went back to basics. And its paying dividends!

The PS4 has led all ten months since its release one year ago, and hasn’t stopped. They have mounted one of the biggest, “We Hear You” campaigns since the console was launched. Listening to what we, the gamers, the consumers, the casuals, the hardcore, the every once in a while, to come to the fold, either switch, stay, or come back. Admittedly, it is tough when you friends continue on with the Xbox, or vice versa, since this generation will probably be determined by where your friends are, kind of gaming. But the ecosystem of the PS4 has gone from the multimedia hub that it was as a PS3, to the more streamline, games and broadcasting arena, that allows gamers to play, solo or quickly connect with friends before launching into a game. And with the features that were promised during that fateful shift at E3 a year ago, being released in a massive update (2.0, and 2.01), Sony is hitting strides at the right time, and giving games something to want during the Holidays this season.

With the massive influx of streaming content, ala YouTube, Twitch, or UStream, it makes the living almost akin to a theater and people watching you play. Some features like, recording to a separate device wasn’t available at launch, but Sony listened, and they removed the black box that was HDCP, and allowed YouTubers to rejoice and use their PS4s to stream. Additionally, they have polished up those interfaces giving the user, the gamer, more things to do from better comment sections during streams, to better usability for uploading clips and such to social media, and now YouTube directly. They even gave the gamer, a small tool, that does wonders for editing, albeit not like you could on a computer, but “Share Factory.”

playstation plusAs I have seen and heard from forums to in-person, people are switching, and happy about it, and the potential it has, or is currently showing them. But this is the reason why, I Akodo of Real Otaku Gamer, think that day one reviews of consoles are rather asinine in the fact that, you have a console, barely hours old, and not much to it, since it was just released. You can judge the wares it has and come with, but it can only go so far. At the year mark, you can judge the console, in its entirety. For instance, let’s talk about the PSN. Since the PS4 launch and the premise to play online service, for only the games, and not putting something you already paid for, behind another paywall, for the instances of netflix or Hulu or the ilk, you still have a solidly functioning console. As with the PSN you get automatically with the year subscription of PlayStation Plus, which allows you to  get a free game each month on the PS4, sometimes its something great, like Splunky, other times its something else like Velocity 2X. Sometimes it hits, sometimes it misses. But the PS+ always is adding. And with it being pay, means that Sony can upgrade infrastructure and improve the service as a whole, but that too takes time.

The games, the games are the main selling point of a console, for what is to come and what will be there the day you buy. And the lineup for the future is looking strong with games like Uncharted 4, and Order 1886, to name console exclusives, two unknown “AAA” titles being announced sometime in early december, and with the undoubted shift in developers going towards the console with the bigger base, means 3rd party exclusives that haven’t been announced and will, and current exclusive like InFamous, Knack, Killzone, and The Last of Us: Remastered. Side note: Didn’t think the masterpiece that is “The Last of Us” needed a remake, but its a damn gorgeous game, and for those who have turned to the blueside, i.e. Sony, from being on the 360 and not experiencing the master piece. To indie games, that as of right now, console exclusive like No Man’s Sky, and out now on the PS4 and exclusive, Octodad, Resogun. The PS4 has given a plethora of games to be played on it, and from now, and to the future.

The interface of the console, gone are the cool and sleek Cross Media Bar (XMB), and more individual folders, this has left much to be desired. And I believe with how receptive SOny and its Playstation team have been, the nuances will slowly take shape, and change to a more manageable feel. Another thing that was annoying at launch, seeing the notification for every single person doing something on their PS4. For instance, Person X joined a party chat. THis has been curdled a little but still, its less frequent. But a little thing from the PS3 that has been brought to the PS4 is the dynamic themes, so that’s a plus.

DS4 Wear!But as the good, of a console, there is bad. Although the revamped DS controller, now, DS4 has the worlds greatest feel, and is much of an improvement over the last in every degree, the DS4 knobs of the analog sticks wear out quicker. I have a DS3, from launch that still is functioning, and has its knobs intact. Gone are some of the functionality of the PS3 that was a sign on minimalist in the sense of moving to the PS4. The overall media hub that the PS3 was, like the music limitations, or the immediate USB support, and bluetooth as well. The cheap attempt to get gamers to talk with its cheaply made headset. But now the USB functionality are fixed in an update, and the headset market is entirely better!

So after a single year, the PS4 has grown with its audience, implementing things that the consumer wants, and continuing Sony’s drive of the “Gamer is first!” or more simply put, “Games!” Or like Steve Ballmer so elloquently said: “DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS!” I wonder where Sony will go with its massive momentum that it has gained in its entire first year, forcing the competition to rethink their entire way forward. And return to the Sony brand that dominated during the era of the PS2. But as we all, as gamers is, Watch and See!

Steve Ballmer

By Akodo On 13 Nov, 2014 At 02:04 PM | Categorized As PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews, Toys and Merchandise, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments
Assassin's Creed Unity

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20141111_193321I’m not going to lie, I have no earthly idea why I keep buying Collector’s editions of game, but for some reason, certain games will always garner that extra $50 bucks from me. And this time, Assassin’s Creed: Unity has gotten my money. And I’ll go piece by piece.

First, there is a small, music box, that if it was handcrafted, it would be amazing. The faux wood has on it the emblazoned Arno and Unity’s specific Assassin’s emblem. Inside, the interworking are tight and well put together. Although the grinder doesn’t allow for compiling the pressure in order to play the melody of the music box without constant tuning. But maybe mine is broken. And that moves me onto the melody. It’s a haunting, almost melodic tune that is played. The tune is the remixed version of the Subject Matter music.

The music from the Collector’s edition is a joy to listen, as it will instantly kick off a random memory of the game, if you payed attention to the music throughout the game. It’s nothing on par with the music of Destiny, that I could sit and listen to, without ever playing the game, but the music of Assassin’s Creed: Unity is definitely worth the listen, even if its French. The next to last piece of the Collector’s edition is the magnificent art book. The art of Assassin’s Creed never fails to impress, and this batch is more of the same stellar craft and penmanship! Giving each character, although small, a page to themselves, and then the various locations, and villains, and random redshirt guys… There are really redshirt guys who you can kill, and they wear read.

20141111_193226The coup de gras of the Collector’s Edition, is the 16” statue of Arno, that comes with French flag with the Assassin’s emblem blazoned on it, to fly behind Arno in his defiant stance on a Gargoyle. Arno is also armed with a French basket Rapier. The detail of the statue is penpoint, and on mine there are no visible blemishes, or spots of imperfections. Compared to the harlequin jack-in-the-box of Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood, I enjoy this statue. The last piece, which I haven’t played yet, both single player, “Killed by Science” and “The Chemical Revolution.” For the MSRP of $129.99 it’s not a bad price for a Collector’s Edition in my opinion.

By Jessica Brister On 24 Sep, 2014 At 11:48 PM | Categorized As Company Spotlight, Featured, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments
Sims4_Logo

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It’s been over five years since Sims 3 came out, and many fans of the Sims franchise have been very excited about Sims 4.  Although it wasn’t quite the gem that I was expecting, Sims 4 still has its merits.

Sims 4 was released on September 2 for Windows-based computers only.  It is basically a life simulation game that was developed by Maxis and The Sims Studio and was published by EA.  The Sims, like games like Minecraft, is a game that some people love and obsess over and some people “just plain don’t get.”  Despite this, the Sims franchise itself has been hugely popular; however, has had some criticism in recent years of nickel and diming players with bunches of add-ons and expansions.  Compared to its predecessor, Sims 3, there are very specific gaming elements that were improved upon and there are also very specific things that were not so good.

The first major improvement of the game was the slick new Create a Sim system, which is the way a player creates his or her Sim and Sim family.  This is actually one of the best improvements from Sims 3 to Sims 4.  It is quite obvious that Maxis really spent a lot of time into this part of the game: it runs extremely well and is very easy to use.  Plus, you end up with a Sim very close to what you wanted.  The sliders of Sims 3 have been replaced with clicking on and manipulating body parts.  To make adjustments to the body part that you want, click on it and move it around to the desired size and location.  It ends up being very easy for you to create a very customized Sim.  For those who aren’t great manipulating body parts, there are pre-set Sims that you can choose from as well.  There was also a nice selection of clothing and outfits to choose from, and they were easily sorted by types (something very different from Sims 3).  The only downside to the new Create a Sim is that the player is limited on hair, eye, and clothing colors because of a Create a Style system (more on this later).  I’m hoping that more options are added later in a patch or expansion.

 Create a Sim is by far the best updated feature for Sims 4.  In this aspect, it blows Sims 3 out of the water.

Create a Sim is by far the best updated feature for Sims 4. In this aspect, it blows Sims 3 out of the water.

The second improvement was the addition of The Gallery, an online sharing community.  Sims 3 touted The Exchange, a similar online sharing concept.  The problem with it, though, was that to get any shared content from other players, one would have to log into The Exchange from a web browser, selection what you want, download it, install it, and then boot up the game.  This was very tedious.  Sims 4 fixes this because it is all in-game sharing.  All a player has to do is click on The Gallery icon in game, and this automatically shows up while you are still playing.  You can place Gallery items on lots on the fly very easily which is a nice bonus.  Sharing your own Sims and lots is also just as easy.

You are only one click away from browsing through what others have shared.

You are only one click away from browsing through what others have shared.

Another improvement is the overall performance of Sims 4.  For those who have played Sims 3 with all of the expansions, the game engine got really bogged down.  Although this might also happen to Sims 4 in the future, the base game is very stable (then again, so was Sims 3).  The real improvement is the fact that Sims 4 runs pretty well on computers that are not high-end.  I’m not sure if I would run the game on the minimum requirements, but the game handled by laptop, which is not a gaming PC, without any issues.  Sure, the graphics were automatically toned down quite a bit, but the overall game ran great without any hiccups.  Just for reference, if you’d like to do a comparison to how Sims 4 might run on your PC: I am using an HP Pavilion dv6 Notebook with an AMD A6-34200M with an integrated graphics card and six GB of memory.  Though I have not had the time to try the game on my actually gaming PC, I was impressed with how the game handled on my laptop.  However, with my experience with Sims 3, I am concerned about how Sims 4 will run with multiple expansions added to it.

The graphics are toned down quite a bit on a lower end up, but the game play actually is very smooth as long as the minimum PC requirements are met.

The graphics are toned down quite a bit on a lower end up, but the game play actually is very smooth as long as the minimum PC requirements are met.

The fourth enhancement to the game was the addition of new and better Sim interactions.  This is what Maxis really concentrated on, and overall, they did a pretty good job.  “Emotions” were a new addition to Sims 4, which can add some interesting outcomes, though I think they were a bit overrated for as much as they were touted.  The Sim interactions were much more interesting, especially since it was a common complaint in Sims 3 that the open world led to less interactions between your Sims and NPC Sims.  Because Sims 4 is not really open world, this issue has been fixed.  It is very easy to find other Sims and hang out with them.  Though open world is lost, it is very fun to talk to multiple Sims at once, which is another new addition to the game.

 

Although you lose the open world feel, it is easy to find and meet new Sims.  I was able to find this Sim within seconds of starting a new game.

Although you lose the open world feel, it is easy to find and meet new Sims. I was able to find this Sim within seconds of starting a new game.

The last major improvement in game play is the ability to have Sims multi-task, which is a new thing for the franchise.  In previous Sims games, a Sim could only do one thing at a time.  In Sims 4, a player can make his or her Sim to multiple things at once.  This element adds some interesting game play to the mix.  For example, I had my Sim reading a book.  When I saw the bladder meter go down, I had my Sim use the toilet.  I was delighted to see that my Sim took the book to the toilet and continue reading on it, much to my amusement.  This ability to multitask has made the game play a bit more fresh, though the novelty may wear off after a bit.

Sims are no longer forced to do one thing at a time.

Sims are no longer forced to do one thing at a time.

With all of these improvements, it at first glance seems as if Sims 4 can do no wrong.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad with the good, especially if you are a die-hard Sim 3 player.  One of the biggest disappointments for Sims 4 is the fact that the open world concept of Sims 4 was nixed for a world of segmented “neighbordhoods.”  The open world of Sims 3 was a revolutionary part of the franchise that really took the Sims to a new level.  I tried to keep an open mind and thought that if it was done right, neighborhoods might not be so bad.  Unfortunately, the neighborhoods concept in Sims 4 are not that great.  The six sections of each neighborhood do not feel connected, and you have to use your Sim’s phone to get anywhere.  The loading screens didn’t bother me that much, but I was hoping that you could walk or jog from one neighborhood to another (unless there is something that I haven’t figure out yet).  The Sims 4 “world” is not that large, either.  There are technically two worlds that come with the base game, but there are only actually six neighborhoods for each world, and there’s not that much to each neighborhood.

This is the neighborhood selection screen for Sims 4.  As you can see, your options are limited for places to go.

This is the neighborhood selection screen for Sims 4. As you can see, your options are limited for places to go.

Another Sims 4 disappointment was the lot building system, which was supposed to be a major improvement from Sims 3 to Sims 4.  Overall, the building system was actually a disappointment.  It is indeed pretty easy to make corrections and add rooms on the fly, but it actually takes longer to build anything overall when compared to Sims 3.  This is mostly due to the crazy camera angles that the game forces you to look through.  I even spent extra time trying to play around to see if I could get the angles any better, but I still haven’t found any style that I like.  I am hoping that this eventually gets fixed in a patch or update.  I was also very disappointed to see that the current lot size limit is 50×50 residential lots for Sims 4, which makes it hard to create massive mansions (large for Sims 3 is 60×60 or 64×64).

This is not my idea of a McMansion, but this is apparently as large as residential lots get so far in Sims 4.

This is not my idea of a McMansion, but this is apparently as large as residential lots get so far in Sims 4.

The third disappointment is the lack of entertainment options for Sims in the Sims 4.  I do understand that you are purchasing a base game when you get Sims 4, but I really was expecting a bit more, especially after getting it for a “next-gen” price tag.  There are no swimming pools, cars, or a large open world to explore, so that game can get a bit boring at times.  There are some interesting skills that have been added for the game, but overall, I found that this aspect of the game was lacking.  The game might pick up a bit when expansions start getting added, but it really shouldn’t take a bunch of expansions to make the game fun.

Oh, I do miss cars and wandering around the open world of Sims 3.  Sims 4 entertainment options for Sims seems a bit lacking in comparison.

Oh, I do miss cars and wandering around the open world of Sims 3. Sims 4 entertainment options for Sims seems a bit lacking in comparison. (Photo of Sims 3 game play)

Another Sims 3 gaming element that Sims 4 left out was the Create a Style system.  This system was a unique way for players to customize pretty much anything in the game.  Maxis ditched this element for a set of pre-selected colors that you can choose from for clothing or home building/decorating.  Unfortunately, the pre-selected colors weren’t that great.  I had a hard time creating the house I wanted from what they gave me.  It felt like a lot of “basic” colors were not included in the pre-selected ones, such as white.  This made creating a custom home very tedious, and I never quite ended up with what I wanted.

Sure you have a lot of colors to choose from in the pre-selected colors of Sims 4, but sometimes getting a basic color like white is almost impossible.

Sure you have a lot of colors to choose from in the pre-selected colors of Sims 4, but sometimes getting a basic color like white is almost impossible.

Lastly, I was disappointed to see how Maxis went with the Sim careers this time.  There are some interesting careers in Sims 4, but it really doesn’t matter because you don’t really to get see them at work or interact with work that much.  Sims 4 works a lot of Sims 2 with jobs: when it’s time for work, you leave the lot and disappear for awhile.  There’s not even an animated carpool or anything; you just run off of the lot.  It’s a really annoying and disappointing aspect to the game that I hope eventually gets patched.  When Sims 3 came out, some people complained about the “rabbit holes” (where a Sim would disappear into a building and come out when they were done).  What they actually wanted was to be able to see and control their Sims at all times.  What we got in Sims 4 is the elimination of rabbit holes for Sims disappearing off of  the map altogether.  This does not solve the rabbit hole issue, but it does actually make things worse.

What's the point of these fun careers if your Sim disappears during the workday?

What’s the point of these fun careers if your Sim disappears during the workday?

Overall, the Sims 4 is a stable, solid game that has a lot of great elements.  If you are a fan of the franchise, you will probably like it.  However, it does have a lot of issues in which I hope get resolved in the future.

By Amy McGarey On 6 Sep, 2014 At 03:21 AM | Categorized As Featured, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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What happens after your favorite video games are over? Who cleans up the blood, the aliens, the bodies, and the rest of the mess? Viscera Cleanup Detail attempts to answer that question.

vcd

You play as a sci-fi janitor and it’s your job to clean up after whatever space battle/evil experiment/bloody massacre just happened. The game is really simple – you switch between a mop and your hands. You have an infinite amount of refuse bins and water buckets to clean with and an incinerator to burn your trash when you’re done. So far in development there are ten maps to choose from as well as two bonus maps for buying the game before release – Santa’s Rampage and Shadow Warrior. At full release, there will be multiplayer co-op and speed trials. Currently you can try out this feature, but I wouldn’t suggest it since it’s still very buggy.

As someone who has random bouts of OCD cleaning, I felt like VCD was the perfect game for me. I was surprised at how many hours at a time I would obsess over getting a map into pristine condition. The bigger and more impossible map, the better. Evil Science was my favorite because it takes place in a futuristic science lab where humans and aliens are being experimented on. I never thought I could spend hours upon end playing such a short game that is still in development, but I found myself being reluctant to stop cleaning. It got so bad that I started obsessively cleaning my own apartment!

In a way, the game reminds me of my day job (I’m a registered nurse), so I would clean with extreme focus and actually think that I was a real janitor. Viscera Cleanup Detail delivers a convincing simulation of janitorial work in that the game is repetitive and tedious. However, I loved the freedom of being able to come up with my own back story of what happened on the space station and how I got there.

vcd2

Here are some handy tips to help when you play the game:

1. Go for picking up the “bits” first before you reach for the mop and bucket. You’ll notice various appendages – human and otherwise – as well as intestines, trash, bullet casings, and equipment. If you try to mop up around severed limbs, you’ll just spread more blood and make a worse mess.

2. When it’s time to mop, start with the ceiling and work your way down to the floor. When you’re ready to mop the floor, remember the old saying “don’t pant yourself into a corner?” Well, don’t mop yourself into a corner. If you walk over blood and sludge, you’ll track footprints everywhere, so be sure to map out a path that you won’t backtrack.

3. Don’t get to happy with the arc welder. If you use it too long, you’ll burn scorch marks that will travel all throughout the walls or floors that take even longer to clean up. It is hard to throw away a body bag all at one time, but once you figure it out, it’s not that bad.

4. Make sure you have some awesome music playing while you clean. I recommend listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack – Awesome Mix Volume 1. After all, what do you think Peter Quill did before he became the Legendary Starlord?

Viscera Cleanup Detail is available on PC and you can buy it through Steam Early Access for $7.99.

smoking mirror 2 title

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It’s been a while since I’ve played point and click adventure games; they were a childhood staple for me. Most kids had either a Gameboy or a console, both if they were lucky, for me it was adventure and educational computer games. I grew up in a strict household where if we were having fun we better be doing something that wasn’t making our brain rot so that’s how I ended up playing lots of point and click games. From what I remember most of those games probably wouldn’t be much fun for me today, but those mystery and puzzle games had always been fun to figure out. Apart from Nancy Drew I hadn’t really ventured in the point and click adventure game genre since but Broken Sword 2 has refreshed my curiosity.

smoking mirror 2 title

Definitely not for kids it’s the second game in the Broken Sword series which revolve around the adventures of George Stobbart and Nico Collard. The remastered game is available in both PC and mobile devices in download format. In this installment Nico goes with George to investigate a carved Mayan stone she came across while investigating a drug ring. When she goes to a professor’s house to get more info George is knocked out and she is immediately abducted. The game has you step in the shoes of both Nico and George to unravel a strange conspiracy that puts their lives in danger and might have the fate of the world rest in its balance.

The controls are easy to figure out in both mobile and computer with options to look, talk, pick up, and interact depending on the nature of the thing you’re clicking on. With simple controls you’re free to examine and figure your way through the game. One of the things that has always been frustrating for me was the common stuck feeling I always got when playing through these types of games, but Broken Sword 2 has hints to help you through the game when you need a nudge. My favorite thing about the hint feature is the games give you escalating hints that go from slight nudges to detailed instructions on what to do the more hints you ask for, which allows you to still get the satisfaction of figuring things out and not have to consult walkthroughs if you hit a brick wall.

This game is hard enough to not be a one sitting game, requiring me to stop playing halfway through so I don’t finish by the time the sun rises again. According to Steam I played for 8 hours, your experience may vary.

smokingmirrordialogue

Perhaps what made my game drag out so much was the witty dialogue and excellent voice acting, which had me pick every talking option with the other characters. If you’re like me in that aspect you’ll enjoy some of the jokes throughout the game, one of my favorite involves a tequila worm I picked up, and you have the option of showing it to most characters you encounter in the game with Stobbart himself seeming to notice his strange attraction to the worm as the game progresses. Everything else is top notch too. This game came out in the 90’s so there’s only so much you can remaster until it loses its old fashioned charm, and to me it seems tweaked enough to still feel like a game from the era but enough retouching to make the game look like a really good version of its old self. The cut scenes are some of the most gratifying things you get out of the game and push you to see how the story ends. The new game even comes with a prequel comic, a great bonus for such a satisfying game.

Smoking Mirror 2 bonus comic

So what I’m saying is you should definitely check out the remastered version of Broken Sword 2: The Smoking Mirror, it’s a great game. If you want to watch the trailer be mindful that it might contain some spoilers.


By Ryan Hershman On 25 Jul, 2014 At 10:39 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Company Spotlight, Featured, News, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments
Deadly Class 2

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Comic books are one of the many joys in my life. Comics should be a joy in others’ as well. I am going to begin shooting off some recommendations every week or so. Not exactly a review, just a short description so you know why you should be reading.

My pick for this week? Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth. NOTE: some of the first issue will be spoiled, to cover the basic plot. Nothing past that should be.

DeadlyClassVol1-cover

  Property of Image Comics

It’s a witty, colorful book about a band of misfit friends attending a secret school for future generations of assassins called King Dominion’s School for the Deadly Arts. Rick Remender writes the book and does so extremely. He lets in humor, romance, and action into a lovely combination. The excellent writing is coupled with amazing art by Wesley Craig, and colors done by Lee Loughridge.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story is such a finely blended cast. The main character, Marcus, is a Nicaraguan orphan and the rest of his adventurous posse is composed of characters from across the globe. Every main character in the first major arc experience great development to get you really more interested in each character than perhaps any

The art compliments everything that is done in the story. From a car chase (rare in comics due to the difficulty of showing the true “action” due to static images), to fight scenes, to drug trips. The coloring and lettering stays on point throughout the first six issues.

Events occurring within the first six issues, all compiled in this one volume, leave the series with a lot of breathing room for story development. Remender’s writing is sure to continue to be as solid as it has been between this series and fellow Image series Black Science. This is definitely a solid choice for any fan of action or suspense to get into. Overall the comic brings everything one could hope for to the table.

The first volume is available on Amazon for a cool $9.99 here. You can always stop into your local comic shop as well and snag the trade. Maybe some other great titles as well. The series will pick back up in September so now is as good as a time as possible to pick up the trade and follow this great series. This is not a series you want to miss out on.

By Isabel On 16 Jun, 2014 At 12:02 AM | Categorized As PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
Oops, I cast a bad spell, I wonder what kind of shenanigans will occur.

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I kind of have a thing many people find weird. I love visual novels. In a medium where some of the most talked about subjects is either graphics or game play mechanics it seems unusual to some one of my favorite types of video games amounts to what is essentially a mix of first person POV narrative and a choose your own adventure game. Hell some of them have no choices, which makes some gamers dismiss the genre as a whole, dubbing it as casual games without ever delving into one of the many Visual Novels out there. So if you’re trying to get someone started with Visual Novels or want to try it out for yourself, my advice is don’t play Magical Diary.

I got this ungodly spawn on a Humble Bundle sale, excited that there was finally a visual novel included in a bundle I want them to have again: the Celebrating Open Source bundle. After paying my small tribute I immediately got my Steam key to fire that baby up and, after I see the menu appear the screen turns black. I started the game again and again wondering if it was broken until I pressed a bunch of random keys and had a normal full screen. Later I figured out the problem was the game didn’t work so well with the Steam user interface that lets you chat and access other community information while you’re playing and every time it got a notification the screen inexplicably turned black, which made the game malfunction at first due to the access notification you get every time you start a game. All you have to do to fix the problem is wait for the notification to vanish and press “F” which is used to get in and out of full screen. Having to minimize and maximize the window every time a friend decided to play something or message you was really bothersome, but that was only the beginning of everything wrong with this game.

You play as a girl (no other option) who finds out she has magical powers and decides to attend a magic school. But before you go on your magical adventures you create an abominable monstrosity; seriously, it’s the worst customization options I’ve ever seen in a game. The Caucasian colors are deadly white or piggy pink, the face is all deformed and pointy so that most eye options look too big to even fit on your character’s face. Either way my first playthough I created the lovely Miss Master Destroyer.

She looks better in the thumbnail I swear!

She looks better in the thumbnail I swear!

Not always.

Not always a good thing.

This game is just, bad on so many levels. To begin there is something outside of the visual novel’s narrative, which have worked very well for games like Cherry Tree High Comedy Club but just seems like a pathetic effort at content creation on the part of this game. You have five different colors of magic. What does it really contribute to the game? Nothing at all. I’m dead serious on this, you have a few “tests” throughout the year that even if you fail miserably don’t really contribute anything to the narrative and just give you demerits you can easily earn back if you’re on good terms with a character named Donald and aren’t a complete doofus. The fact you use magic so rarely makes the act of even going through the effort of planning out your classes seem utterly pointless because the way the game is designed makes it easy to pass tests with low level magic. Not to mention sometimes the spells you use make no sense (“breeze” to locate the exit of a dungeon) and a few annoyances here and there (like when you push items).

Now on to my main issue with this game, the narrative. I don’t like make your own character games as much for a reason, it’s hard to create a story with a consistent narrative voice when the character can be anyone. My point is, it’s great for multiplayer and open world games, but not so much for single player games heavily narration based. When it comes to its characters, Magical Diary leaves much to be desired. You never learn enough about them, and some of them are pretty boring. Only character I really liked was a pretty boy called Damian. However his path is not enough to save the game from being utterly terrible. In fact, I think it leads to one of the dumbest conclusions this story can reach.

Damian Magical Diary

If you want a taste of what type of dialogue a masterpiece like Magical Diary will have these screenshot will speak for themselves.

OH GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE

OH GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE

Magical Diary trouble

Oops, I cast a bad spell, I wonder what kind of shenanigans will occur.

Oops, I cast a bad spell, I wonder what kind of shenanigans will occur.

The worst part is the choices the game gives you sometimes don’t seem to be rational or important at all. There are obvious turning points of course, but there are also subplots like another student’s relationship with another student you constantly help out but get nothing out of in the grand scheme of the story. I’ve explored almost all the romantic outcomes, even the ones with girls, and I can tell you this game isn’t entertaining in the slightest. Also did I mention the dialogue gets extremely repetitive? For example you get this one liner from your character every time a teacher mentions anything out of the ordinary.

Magical Diary and sex ed

I would label it “My First Visual Novel” perhaps for preteen girls, but then I feel this would be an insult to the intelligence of preteen girls. My advice is, don’t pay for Magical Diary. The official site flatters themselves by making this game worth $19.95 (at the point in time I’m writing this review) so if you must have it or your curiosity at seeing how bad this game can get is that strong, just wait for a sale or Humble Bundle, because in my opinion this game isn’t even worth $1.

If you wanna know, my impressions of this game can be seen from my loading screen.

Magical Diary load page

Mandatory video preview to close this review.


By Sean Jacobs On 8 Jun, 2014 At 10:33 PM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, News, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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The brilliantly deranged minds at KrillBite Studios have collaborated within the shadows of their confines to come up with a freakish survival horror title sure to rattle the players cage. Brought to us in a very new and unique perspective we play as an frightened two year old boy, in first person… Yes, you play as a toddler in first person! Me being a horror story buff I instantly clamored at the chance to play Among The Sleep whichwill be later released on PlayStation 4. On the KrillBite Studios Website you can download Among The Sleep onto your PC, Linux or Mac platforms.

 

                                                  “Brought to us in a new and very unique perspective”

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     Among The Sleep begins off with a blank screen with only ambient noise coupled with the soft pitter patter of rain drops rapping against the window pane. You begin to hear the voice of a mother softly whispering to you sleep all the while a gentle, slightly freaky song begins to fade in. Soon afterwards you the protagonist the two year old starts to blink slowly giving us a brief glimpses of the surroundings  which is inside a crib inside a child’s room. As the blinking persists you start to see how your confidant Mr. Teddy is being whisked away by an unseen force to outside the crib down to the floor eventually out your bedroom door, it closes and now your game truly begins.

 

                                                                          “Remember, this is the EARLY ALPHA BUILD”

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     Controls are the basic PC variety you have WASD for your movement then you your mouse for looking around and interacting with the worldly items like toys, furniture, doors etc. Your character being an toddler hasn’t mastered walking so he still crawls around when he needs too. To get into the stand and crawl positions there are two ways to attempt this; Using the CTRL key & the SPACE bar with these two keys you can also climb obstacles in your way. Oh one neat animations in Among The Sleep is when you pause the title by pressing the ESC key your character places his cute little toddler hands over his face to cover his eyes to show game options. While the object interactions when grabbing items within the world is sometimes spotty this early Alpha build plays well enough to get the general idea of where the final build will be.

 

I will not speak anymore on the technical issues like the system freezes every so often because KrillBite Studios is obviously abreast on that issue. Remember, this is the EARLY ALPHA BUILD.

 

                                          “I can already see the silver lining of a potential masterpiece”

 

What really drew me to Among The Sleep is the idea of what KrillBite could think of imaginatively with this genre this is NEW territory. I can’t wait to dig deeper into this title as development progresses. So, far I have enjoyed the dark and freakishly frightening ambiance they have going on it in this average home in suburbia. I always told my wife what scares me the most in horror films/ video games are children & kiddie music. Though, at this point there is only one child the main character the music is definitely there or not. See its the slightly drowned out noise of the house that gets me it gives you the false idea that everything is OK. All I have to do is find mommy though, mommy as you will figure out is hard to find. Among The Sleep aims to be one of the best atmospheric survival horror games released. This early alpha build I can already see the silver lining of a potential masterpiece, lets hope KrillBite Studios delivers when the final build launches to the public on PC, MAC, Linux & PlayStation 4.

 

To get in on the action of building this potential classic, keep a close eye on Among The Sleep for its future releases up to its final launch. If you would like a taste of the action now go to KrillBite Studios Among The Sleep’s website and download the Alpha PC build or whatever available platform of your liking.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming news!

 

 

UPDATE: As of May 29th Among The Sleep has been released (so that means you wont be able to play the Alpha build) it is available on www.SteamPowered.com it is available for $17.99 GO NOW and try out this game it is sure to please all my survival horror fans!

 

STAY TUNED FOR RealOtakuGamer.com’s full review of this final build!

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Inspired by Adventure Time, Minecraft, and Legend of Zelda, May’s Loot Crate has to be my favorite so far! Loot Crate is a monthly subscription box filled with nerdy goodies – toys, stickers, t-shirts, etc. It’s like getting nerd Christmas every month! This month featured a Legend of Zelda t-shirt. If you look closely, it’s Link made out of words. My very favorite item in this Loot Crate was the Adventure Time tin. Not only do you get an awesome character tin, but you get a blind bag figure inside. My tin was Fionna and I got BMO inside! This was my favorite because those are two of my favorite Adventure Time characters.

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A very close second for favorite item is the Legend of Zelda key chain. It doubles as a bottle opener and it has a picture of the famous scene, “It’s dangerous to go alone…” I always love when Loot Crates come with practical items. Another item worth mentioning was a Minecraft blind bag “hanger,” which I guess works as a key chain because the ring on it is sturdy enough for one. I got a skeleton.

Other items in this month’s Crate are tons and tons of stickers from Polaris and Maker studios, as well as a soundtrack for the talk show The Friend Zone.

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One strange thing about this month’s Loot Crate, however, is that it didn’t come with the usual monthly magazine that explains what came in it and the occasional article. Maybe it was just a mistake and they forgot to put it in my Crate?

Either way, I would consider May’s Loot Crate to be my all-time favorite so far. If you like what you see, Loot Crate is $20 per month, including shipping. Go to LootCrate.com to sign up and be sure to follow Loot Crate on Facebook for discounts and contests.

There was too much focus on the third-person shooting aspect of the game and not enough on puzzles.

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There was a point in time that I used to be a hard-core, old-school Tomb Raider fan.  I have all of the early games and have actually had the pleasure to play them on both PC and console.  When I heard about the new Tomb Raider origins/reboot game that came out in 2013, I put it on the list to play.  My chance finally came when I whittled down the backlog of games this spring and got a chance to play Tomb Raider.

If you are not familiar with the game, Tomb Raider is a 2013 action-adventure, 3rd-person video game developed by Crystal Dynamics and published by Square Enix.  It is a reboot of the original franchise, concentrating on how Lara Croft became the world-famous adventurer.  It was also released on next-gen consoles as the “definitive edition” with slightly improved graphics.  It is also the first in the Tomb Raider series to ever have multiplayer, though for the purposes of this review, I will only be reviewing the single player aspects.

If the game wasn’t a Tomb Raider game, I would probably rate it as “okay,” considering that the game is fun to play at parts but copies to heavily from the Uncharted series.  However, this is supposed to be a Tomb Raider game, and here is what went terribly wrong:

Where are the puzzles? 

The first thing I noticed right away was that the game barely has any puzzles.  There’s a few sprinkled throughout the mostly 3rd-person shooter game, but they weren’t that hard.  I never felt stumped on them, and they only took a few moments to figure them out.  What was even worse was the fact that there are no jumping puzzles at all.  Some people may rejoice that the jumping and climbing bit of the franchise has been made easier by almost “auto” directing for you when you go to jump.  The problem is that jumping puzzles were have the fun of the original Tomb Raider games.  Trying to figure out what angle to jump and how many steps into the jump you needed to take was part of the charm of the game.

 Too much shooting

The Tomb Raider franchise had been all about balance.  The original only had a little bit of shooting (animals and the very occasional bad guy).  As more games came out, shooting became more and more prevalent, but the focus was also want adventuring and puzzles.  This new game is all about the third-person shooter experience with duck and cover elements.  The problem?  Old school Tomb Raider games were jump and flip.  I have had people point out to me that the game needed updated.  I can agree with that to some degree.  However, I do have a problem with the developers fundamentally changing the whole feel of the game play.

There was too much focus on the third-person shooting aspect of the game and not enough on puzzles.

There was too much focus on the third-person shooting aspect of the game and not enough on puzzles.

 Where are the tombs?

This game has basically become “survival raider” because there really weren’t any traditional tombs, at least the type that one would expect in a Tomb Raider game.  The player is stuck on one island for the whole time, so there is no variety.  There are some ancient houses and temples built  there, as well as some areas the game calls “tombs.”  I call them “rooms.”  They are barely big enough to do any actual exploring.  There is nothing really adventurous about the game.  It’s sole focus is on survival.

 The tone is off

Tomb Raider games used to be fun and hip.  Playing the older games, you felt like Lara was in control of the situation, even if the situation was a little out of control.  Even given the fact that this is supposed to be an origins story, the tone just felt off.  It was too dark and depressing.  It wasn’t actually that fun to play.  The franchise used to be about adventuring and exploring and having fun.  This new game felt as if the developers wanted everything to be a little “too real,” though the franchise has never been like that before.  Some people have pointed out to me that they enjoy the realism, that it was nice to see a more realistic side of Lara.  However, I would like to also point out that right off the bat at the beginning, she had a metal stake go through her body.  Now please tell me how she was up and walking around for the rest of the game?

The tone is a little dark for a Tomb Raider game.

The tone is a little dark for a Tomb Raider game.

 Is this really Lara Croft?

I wasn’t exactly sure who the woman was in this game, but it wasn’t the original Lara Croft, that’s for sure.  This woman went from apprehensive to super aggressive in a matter of a few hours.  The problem is that the original Lara never got that crazy aggressive.  Sure, she knew how to kick some serious butt.  However, there was always control.  When I played this new Tomb Raider, it didn’t really feel like the same character anymore.  Sure, she looks like Lara (sort of), but it’s not the same Lara I grew up playing.

So, is this a bad game?  No.  Most people will probably like it to some degree.  I know a lot of people who gave it high praise (critics included).  I also got some enjoyment out of it.  However, it just didn’t feel like a Tomb Raider game, orign story or not.

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