Five New or Upcoming Games You Need To Play

Now that the fall season is in full swing, you know what that means: It’s getting darker earlier, the temperatures are dropping, and few things sound better than being cozied up on the couch playing video games. To that end, we put together a list of five new or upcoming games that haven’t just caught our attention—they’re the definition of must-buys. Now let’s see what we have on the docket.

Killer Instinct

Longtime gamers, especially those fond of fighting games, have a special place in their hearts for the Killer Instinct series. And after nearly 20 years, it’s set to make its return to consoles on Nov. 22 as one of the launch titles for the XBox One. There will be six characters available for battle at first, though more are set to be released through downloadable content down the line.

Fans of the original games will see some familiar faces, including Jago and Glacius, and likely get nostalgia chills setting up ultra combos on their opponents. With many of the core elements of the first two Killer Instincts remaining, the developers worked to expand the experience with some new touches. Like the instinct mode, for example, which allows fighters to adopt super power-ups like ice-plated armor for Glacius.

Grand Theft Auto V

Without question, this isn’t just the biggest game on this list; Grand Theft Auto V is the game of the year. You could even argue that it’s the best game of the past few years as it allows even more freedom to XBox 360 and Playstation 3 owners alike. The locale in this installment is Los Santos, an imagined version of Los Angeles where you can seamlessly play as three different protagonists.

That aspect of the game takes it to another level on its own, but how about the immersive mini games (golf anyone?), scuba diving, the ability to hunt, and so, so much more. As another added bonus, the game is set to include gambling side-quests in planned downloadable content in the near future. But until then, you can always head to Betfair and enjoy its myriad gaming options if gambling’s your thing.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

You would think that a series would grow stale with a lineage like Call of Duty, but that’s simply not the case as long as developer Infinity Ward is in charge. They will unfortunately not be handling the Wii version of the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts, but at least the rest of us will be OK, right?

COD Ghosts

As far as the narrative goes, Ghosts takes place a decade or so after the U.S. has been devastated so greatly that it’s not even a superpower. Therefore, you’re not playing as a member of a tactical squad trying to maintain power or take over another country—you’re just trying to survive. Both single and multi-player gaming have been improved in numerous ways, like the 30 added guns, added player dynamics, and the new feature called Squads. Nov. 5 can’t get here soon enough. As for you PS4 and XBox One owners, you can buy the game on Nov. 15 and Nov. 22, respectively.

Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins‘ predecessor, 2011′s Arkham City, was so unbelievably enjoyable that it would be a crime to leave this game off the list. Speaking of crime, that’s exactly what drives our masked protagonist. He’s much younger in this game and must avoid the bounty placed on his head by a murderous mob boss.

With that in mind, stealth and detective work have a large role in the gameplay that comes with some new gadgets and enemies. Even better is the new travel system that should take the headache out of going from one place to the next thanks to his handy plane, the Batwing. But the best part? They have finally added multiplayer. Praise the gamer gods. Oh yeah, it’s out Oct. 25 on all systems.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Anyone with a penchant for stalking video game baddies and taking them out in silence already has the fourth Assassin’s Creed installment on their radar. They also probably have the release date of Nov. 22 circled and highlighted on their calendar. But if not, here’s the deal: Multi-player will return with some killer new modes; there will be three main locations where you’ll do your dirty work; and the environment will be and feel much more wide open as opposed to the preceding AC games.

Also, because a large portion of ACIV takes place on the water, you’ll also be the captain of a ship named Jackdaw. You’ll be able to upgrade it as you make your way through missions and you can even recruit people to join your crew. The only downside is that your cohorts will not be able to join you on quests or battles.

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The Promise of Final Fantasy XIII-3: Lightning’s Atonement

 Lightning
Lightning’s Atonement
Last month I wrote an article entitled The Promise of Final Fantasy XIII-3.  In it, I wrote about the lack of resolution in the Final Fantasy XIII story.  In response to Final Fantasy XIII-2’s cliffhanger ending, Square Enix responded by pointing players to paradox endings and DLC.  I have unlocked all of the paradox endings, and I have now played all of the DLC.  And there is no resolution to be found.  And so there is only one other option left: Final Fantasy XIII-3.  Many people may ask why we need Final Fantasy XIII-3, and that is certainly a valid question.  No other Final Fantasy game has two direct sequels – why is XIII any different?  In the following article, I will attempt to explain why we need XIII-3, and why it deserves a chance.

SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains MAJOR spoilers for Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and the “Requiem of the Goddess” DLC.  If you are interested in finding out the story elements yourself, please play all of these first.  I will also mention that there is a secret ending you can obtain by beating “Requiem of the Goddess” twice, which is also discussed in detail in this article.

Throughout the stories of Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, there has been a recurring theme.  Lightning will often face incredible obstacles to protect her loved ones.  She tries to carry the weight of these problems squarely on her shoulders, but they are too much for one person to bear.  So her loved ones help her overcome these impossible obstacles, but in the process something usually goes awry.  Lightning blames herself for this, and spends a lot of time beating herself up about it.  Finally, she seeks atonement – usually alone at first, but then joined by her friends.
lightning-smile
Lightning: the soul of Final Fantasy XIII.

I think the reason why I love Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2 so much is because I care deeply about Lightning.  It is not her fault that all of these crazy events happen: it is not her fault that Serah became a L’Cie, that Fang and Vanille were turned into crystal, that Serah died.  All of these events did happen while her loved ones were helping her, but that is what loved ones do.  They put themselves at risk for each other.  As Serah says at the end of “Requiem of the Goddess”: she has no regrets.  Yes, she may be dead, but she was trying to save her sister, and she does not regret that.  And yet we all know how guilty you can feel when someone you love suffers for you, how even though you would do the same for them in a heartbeat, it is ultimately them that is suffering.

Lightning wants more than anything to protect her sister and her friends; she wants them to be safe and happy.  And when they are not, she blames herself.  I think this is the source of the melancholy that we saw with her at the end of XIII, and it certainly plays a prominent role in “Requiem of the Goddess”.  The Chaos that has trapped Serah accuses Lightning of being the sole cause for Serah’s death.  It strikes at the very center of Lightning’s heart, of Claire’s heart.  And I think it works: Lightning’s guilt is what propels her to sit on the throne of the goddess, becoming crystal until the end of eternity.  As she says, this act will be her “atonement”.
 Serah & Lightning reunite
Lightning and Serah – will they ever be truly reunited?

Speaking of “Requiem of the Goddess”, I actually enjoyed the DLC a lot.  I believe that DLC should offer experiences that are part of the main game that were not playable before – i.e., something that is mentioned or alluded to but not actually seen.  And I think Lightning’s DLC did just that.  It offered a different viewpoint on the action of the game, and actually did a good job wrapping up the game itself.  After playing through it, I have to say that everything in Final Fantasy XIII-2 does make sense.  Yes, the story is presented in a confusing manner and is not tied together very well, but all in all it does add up.  You do find out why Caius is trying to destroy the future, you do find out what happened to Lightning, and Serah and Lightning do have their reunion scene (which is beautiful, by the way).

While “Requiem of the Goddess” does tie up FFXIII-2 well, however, it still does not offer players what they are ultimately searching for: an end to the Final Fantasy XIII story.  But despite Square’s proclamations, I really don’t think it should have.  DLC should add-on the the experience of the game, not provide a resolution for the entire story.  That is simply too much pressure to put on a DLC.
The question then is this: if Square wanted us to look to the paradox endings and the DLC for a resolution, where is it?  As I mentioned in my previous article, a resolution occurs when the actions you take in the game change the world of the game.  However, this does not happen in Final Fantasy XIII-2: Caius wins, the timeline is destroyed and the world becomes Valhalla.  We set out at the beginning of XIII and XIII-2 to save the world, and now ultimately those actions are rendered moot.  Nothing Serah, Noel, and Lightning did in the game changed the outcome: the world is destroyed. There is no change as a result of their actions, and therefore, there is no resolution.
 Lightning and the Throne
Lightning chooses to turn into crystal to preserve Serah’s memory.

It’s actually funny, because during the DLC Lightning mirrors many players thoughts: she reveals that she has many questions that have been unanswered as well.  I believe that Square knows that there is no resolution to the XIII story.  And from what we have experienced, it was not their intention to offer a resolution through paradox endings and DLC.  So what is left?  Where do we turn for our resolution?

A virtue that I believe nearly all fans of Final Fantasy XIII hold is patience.  Patience was required to become engaged in XIII’s story.  But if you stuck with it, XIII became a beautiful tale of friendship and determination that taught us to never give up hope.  Patience was required to fully understand XIII-2’s story – we had to wait nearly 4 months for the final DLC.  And while this DLC offered no resolution, it did offer hope.  The action of the DLC mirrors the game’s situation as a whole.  Serah is gone, and yet she still urges Lightning to not give up hope.  There is no resolution to be found in Final Fantasy XIII-2, but we cannot give up hope.  Serah chooses to not give into despair because she knows Lightning can save the world.  She believes in her sister.  Despite all of the obstacles, all of the questions, all of the missed opportunities, Serah will not give up on Lightning.  And we must do the same.
 Lightning
Will they ever find true happiness?

The DLC ends just as the game did, with the world collapsing into Chaos, and with Lightning sitting on the throne of the goddess, encased in crystal.  But instead of “To Be Continued”, there is just blackness.  If you play through the DLC twice, however (on any level), you will unlock a secret ending after the credits.  In it, Lightning speaks of the gift the goddess gave to humans: their souls.  And with a soul comes the constant struggle all of us must face: of light and dark, good and evil, hope and despair.  Lightning’s soul is heavy with despair – her sister is dead, the world is destroyed, and her friends are lost.  Despite all of this, however, Serah will not give up on her.  Serah knows that Lightning’s soul has the power to overcome all of that despair – it has the power of hope.  As Lightning herself said, “It’s up to you to keep hope alive”.  And Lightning does keep hope alive: the final image of the DLC reveals her walking in A Dying World, speaking of how she awaits “the end of eternity, and the day I awaken once again”.

As this secret ending unfolds, the prologue music from Final Fantasy XIII plays softly in the background.  Lightning speaks of a “world consumed with chaos, in a world where spirits are fading”, mirroring her words of “in a world where I no longer exist” from the beginning of XIII-2.  I believe this secret ending is a prologue.  The world is consumed with chaos, which leads to a new beginning, as Vanille tells us in the paradox ending “Vanille’s Truth”.  There is hope for a new beginning, and Lightning is that hope.
Square has created two games that achieved something truly incredible.  No, the games were not perfect by any means.  But they offered us something more important than perfection: a world that we came to know and love, a story that enthralled us, and characters that we truly care about.  I care about Serah.  And Noel.  And Fang, Vanille, Sazh, Snow, and Hope.  And I care about Lightning.  I won’t give up on her.  I want her to save the world, and I want to experience her story until the end.  I want to play as Lightning again.  I want to explore the vast wilderness of Pulse again, the new Cocoon.  I want to find and unlock the secrets of Valhalla.  I want to see Vanille and Fang again.  I want Noel and Hope to find peace.  I want to rescue Snow from the Coliseum.  I want Sazh and his son to be safe.  I want to save Serah.  And I want Lightning to be happy.  I need to believe that the impossible can happen.  That Lightning can find atonement.  That she won’t be alone.  That she and her friends can be happy.  Final Fantasy XIII began with a promise: the promise to save Cocoon.  And Final Fantasy XIII-2 ends with a promise: the promise of Final Fantasy XIII-3.

 Lightning and Serah Goodbye
It’s up to us to keep hope alive.UPDATE: I have written another article for “The Promise of Final Fantasy XIII-3″ series, in which I discuss my hopes for the game specifically.  If you’d like, please check it out and let me know what you think.  You can find the article here).
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A Colonist’s Tale Part 2

Read A Colonist’s Tale Part 1 Here

I gave the guide my measly twenty silver, only armed with the knowledge that he would take me into the wilderness. After a few moments I found myself in a far away forest, surrounded by maple trees and an environment covered in colors of gold, green and red. Near me there was a rudimentary shelter made of wood, my new home, some-thing I eventually learned is called a lean-to. My first order of business was to make some storage, which I recently learned how to create through one of the low level skills, probably foraging, and I set off to gather autumn grass, which is normally very common, but I had no idea how hard it would to find in a forest. No longer was I a traveler on the plains, now I was a explorer of the forests.

A friendly non-aggressive bear greeted me in my wandering
After twenty minutes of finding plenty of useful items in the forest that were not autumn grass I decided to head back to Boston and head to the plains, where autumn grass is plentiful. On the way I saw a bear, contemplating killing it, but then looked at my combat skills and realized I had none, so to Boston I went. I quickly learned that you can fast travel to Boston from your residence, which was my lean-to at that moment. You always have the option to fast travel to your residence or Boston, but normally you can only do so if your inventory is empty. If you are at your residence it doesn’t matter what you have, you can travel to and from Boston with ease. Upon getting to Boston I noticed many experienced and impressively outfitted players, people obviously more adept at the game than I was. I wondered if their success was a result of hard work or of less than savory means like thievery and murder. Many tales of attacks and theft I had heard by this point and I was glad that I had been lucky enough to experience none of that.
People love their swords. It is currently the strongest weapon in the game, to my knowledge.
After easily gathering ten pieces of autumn grass I then proceeded to make that into two baskets back at my camp. After that I made a temporary campfire in order to cook some berries and create some inspirations. Inspirations are items that you can make that increase skills, similar to the items that I talked about previously, like the basic smooth stones or chestnuts except there are many inspirations and some of them give a great deal of skill. The main draw to inspirations is that you can create them and use them to consistently build up a specific skill. For instance, I built up enough skill to learn blacksmithing by continually making these log based inspirations that a thousand points in two of the three skills needed to learn blacksmithing. Nearly every time you learn a new skill you get some new inspirations with it. After I made my camp a little more homely I set off to wander the woods, further and further each time I set out, always being careful to remember what direction I came from.
After days of living in the woods, corresponding with kinsmen and learning new skills I decided to head farther out in the hopes of finding some items that would actually make me money, like arrowheads or Indian Feathers. The forest stretched farther than I could imagine. There were lakes, rivers and swamps here and there, but for the most part it was all forest. After wandering for hours I found signs of others living out in the woods. The first of which I came to after following a random road in the forest, it was a paved area with a bench nearby and a couple of empty containers, but the shelter was gone. Someone had lived their and left already. Less than a minute of walking distance from that was an actual shelter with a few amenities, much like my own home, but far more organized. I was not comforted by the close proximity of this shelter to my own, for I had heard terrible stories of murderers roaming the world killing all they find. My closest kinsmen had been wandering the forests near his home, several hours walking distance from my home, and found a town full of dead colonists. All I could think about was if those people weren’t safe, that many people, how could I possibly be or how we will be safe when we set up our small settlement.
Throughout all of my wanderings, days of exploring the massive forest around my camp, I never found any item that would earn me money, merely many different types of food and items that I may study for skills. One of the great things about exploring is that you are always rewarded in one way or another. Even though I spent days finding nothing worth money I learned a great many skills. All of the time I was exploring I was also studying items and increases my skills in order to purchase new skills. After those days I learned how to build a house, among other things, and had learned settling, a skill needed to place a claim. Claims are one of the first things you will want as a budding colonist, for claims make an area explicitly yours and if others enter they are trespassing, which slowly injures them and can make them fall unconscious. A town claim is the same except it makes a huge area into a claim and of course many people can be under that claim.
To attempt to read that click on the screenshot and enlarge it
Throughout all this time one of my kinsmen had been more successful than I and he had earned quite a bit of money.  He found somewhere suitable for a settlement, with my reservations in mind about being far from Boston in order to prevent gangs of murderers from finding us, and invited me to come join. I went through my several crates of belongings and set out, leaving everything else behind in that forest that had long been my lonely but safe home. I wasn’t told how far from Boston it was and all I had to follow was his arrow. When you party with people they have arrow indicators that show you what direction they are, but it doesn’t indicate how far they are away nor is there any kind of world map to look, just the small minimap. I followed this arrow and after an hour of walking I still hadn’t received my kinsmen. I did bump into someone’s small camp, the owner of which regarded me with cautious hostility and refused to engage me in conversation. They stopped their work, watched me and resumed their work as soon as I left. Apparently they had heard similar stories of terror as I had.
I’m the one on the left, waiting for some response, but all I received was silence
After another hour of traveling through brilliant forests, dusty plains, green pastures, large bodies of water and small swamps, I reached the upstart town. He had set up a house, a friend of his had set up a lean-to nearby and there were all kinds of benches, tools and farms being built. Seeing as to how I could build a house I tried to smooth out a piece of land in order to place a house, a task that is one of the most difficult things I have dealt with in Salem. After thirty minutes of constantly eating to regain my strength and constantly trying to flatten out the land I gave up, for the moment. The land in the game is on all sorts of different levels, so to make a house you have to get a shovel of some kind and hold down control while you dig, which will make that area flat, but when you dig anywhere near that spot it will have ripple effects on the ground near it, generally making them less flat. Someday I will learn how to properly flatten my land in order to build a house, but for now I will work on helping the settlement in other ways.
I don’t know when I will be writing part 3, but I expect to write it at some point within the next week or two as we start to get our town up and running. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about the game, especially about the mechanics that I barely explain, then do ask. If you want to check out more on Salem look to the two links below.
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A Colonist’s Tale Part 1

Over the next week I will be doing a couple of stories on the crafting MMO Salem. It is a game set in a fictional New England and it gives players an open world to explore, learn and create in. It is currently in closed beta, which I am lucky enough to be apart of, and rather rough, but it still has some really interesting ideas and exciting possibilities. It is a tough game, with fairly minimal graphics at the moment, and has some pretty harsh ideas, like if you get lost you have to abandon all of your items if you want to teleport back to town or if you trespass on someones property too long, without permission, you will die. The game is being produced by Paradox Interactive and developed bySeatribe for PC, Linux and Mac. This is my first hands on account of the game.

When you start Salem you get a very minimalistic character creator in which to craft your Puritan colonist. I chose a man, you may choose a woman as well, with a big blonde beard and medium length blonde hair, a decent looking fellow. Once you are in the world you can mess with your characters hair and a couple of other options, but most importantly you pick a name and pick up some Puritan clothing. This was all done in a closed in area near the harbor that was supposed to be somewhere in London. Once I finished up there I was immediately whisked away to Boston, arriving in the midst of a marketplace filled with guides and other colonists.

Boston is the only town in the game, at the start, the rest of the towns have to be created by players. My goal right from the start was to claim my own land and build my house, but I had no idea what to do from the start. I looked through some merchants and saw many different items, like a town writ, a house writ, swords, shovels, backpacks, coin purses and many items that I had no idea what to do with. More importantly I had no idea how to earn money, but thankfully a few of the others gathered around the town center did. I overheard a few conversations that several other eager players had put forth and found that my first order of business was to wander the land. In the beginning I was supposed to find some kind of nut, smooth stones, food, hay, arrowheads and Indian feathers. With Boston and the sea at my back I set out randomly into the plains, like many others around me.

I found the closest land to be picked dry and there was evidence of travelers everywhere in the forms of discarded camp fires. I immediately learned that I had to wander must farther away from town to be able to find anything.  I knew I must do something with my skills, but I hadn’t found any item that affected those in anyway. You have a skill tree that shows various skills like Law & Lore, Hammer & Nail, Frontier & Wilderness and many others, all of which start at 5 points. There was also a single available skill called Survival Skills. It took me quite a while to learn how I was supposed to actually earn that skill, but more on that later.

Click on this screenshot to actually see what that all says
After an hour of wandering with little to gain except for some wheat, which is useless at the start, and food I started to become dismayed and concerned that I was either doing something wrong or there was something wrong with the game. I was nearly ready to stop for the night when I ran into a single person and I asked them what I should be doing. All this singular traveler told me was that some people nearby were attacking anyone wearing a hat, then she left. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I took off my hat regardless. I didn’t want to run into an Ultima Online vicious player killers and thankfully I didn’t. I soon ran into a group of three people, three people who were conversing about making a town. Like the random traveler I was I walked up and joined in one this conversation. All four of us decided to join a kinship, which is basically just a friends list, and we were then inclined to help each other in order to eventually start our own town.
My new kinsmen helped me find my first smooth stone, one of the first items in the game that you can study. With this I was able to learn my first skill, survival skills, which opened up several new skills. Each skill requires you to study objects, each object gives you a specific amount of one of the rudimentary skills like Law & Lore and the one’s I previously described. You need to fill these rudimentary skills up to a specific amount so you may learn a new skill, which get more and more expansive as you learn new skills. At that time I only had three new skills available, foraging, self defense and something to do with forestry.
When you start the game you have nothing, no money, no crafting options, no resources, no skills, just the option to learn survival skills if you can figure out how and the basic Puritan clothing. Your skills matter for everything, each type of skill. If you learn new skills they may give you new crafting options, like campfires, inspirational, buildings and options for creating food, but they may also help you become better at finding things in the world. When you see the cleaned out fields near Boston you may think that is odd that they created a game with so few resources, but there are quite a few skills that increase your chances of seeing resources on the ground, which can make those cleaned out fields yield new resources. Another way to increases chances of finding resources, or any action in the game, is to increase your rudimentary skills. When you study something the bar will fill up for each skill depending on the item you are studying. If you fill up a bar all the way it will turn green and you can increase that skill. So, like I said earlier everything starts at 5, so it takes 500 points in any one skill to increase that skill to six and then it will cost 600 to increase to the next level. In the beginning it’s fine to have everything at 500, but pretty quickly you will need to increase these rudimentary skills in order to learn new skills.
Lost in the wilderness
I know it’s quite confusing to have two sets of skill, both of which I’m not quite sure how to address to differentiate them, but to make it clear one set of skills are skills that you learn, kind of like abilities, and they are unique and various with many different types, like settling or woodworking. The other set of skills never changes and is only increased by the means I previously described. They are used primarily to make you better at spotting things, climbing, mining, swimming or other various actions, but they are also there to let you learn new ability skills. With that said, back to my experiences.
Eventually you can get huge farms, like this one, although I am nowhere close to achieving this.
Several hours later into the night I was still off in the world gathering resources with my two kinsmen, one of the three original kinsmen had logged off much earlier. Gathering was going slow, but much better than before for I had found two arrowhead’s worth a total of thirty silver, enough to hire a guide into the wilderness. I wasn’t quite sure what hiring a guide would do, but I do know it was the first step into owning a piece of land and becoming a settler. My fellow Kinsmen had no yet earned enough money to purchase a guide, so we took our conversations to the game’s whisper/tell system and I hired my guide. I had no idea where it would take me or what would be there when I got there, but I was not disappointed by the result.
Stay tuned for my next tale, sometime within the next week, as I get closer and closer to earning my very first house and setting up a makeshift town. My first experience was rough and almost depressing, but it turned into something exciting and intriguing. The world is unfriendly, a bit buggy, a bit ugly, but also charming, massive and filled with things to learn and find. If you want check out the game some more, or even in action, take a look at the video below (a developer walkthrough of sorts) and the links. Thanks for reading.
-Written by Sean Cargle
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Mount & Blade Warband: Napoleonic Wars

I’ve never seen any DLC for Mount & Blade before, only expansions, like Warband andWith Fire & Sword. Today Paradox Interactive announced today that there will be a multiplayer specific DLC called Napoleonic Wars and you can probably guess what that will be focusing on, 19th Century military combat complete with artillery, horribly inaccurate rockets and line infantry. Since it is entirely multiplayer it will be quite a bit different than anything else for Mount & Blade. They seem to have taken some notes from some very successfully Warband mods, like Mount & Musket and the many other mods that focus on this same type of combat, but with Napoleonic Wars they are making the experience deep by letting you choose your character based on the 220 unique units that will be in the game. Thankfully they have announcement trailer to show off how it’s going to look. Take a look at that then I will give the last details about the DLC.

If you watched that you might think that it’s just basically a Mount & Blade mod, one you have to pay money for, but it’s more than that. Everything about Napoleonic Wars shows that this isn’t a mod, it’s something worth money because of it’s large amount of content and high quality creations. Each battle will let you fight with two hundred and fifty players, I’ve never seen many games with that many players battling it out at once and that alone is exciting, but there are also artillery units (new to the series in general) like mortars, cannons and rockets. They even have period specific types of ammunition available for artillery, like canister shot, explosive shot and more. There is an engineer class that will be able to construct barricades, dig trenches or rig explosives and that is a huge step for them seeing as to how they’ve never had anything remotely like that in their games. You can even be a musician if you want to and march into battle with your bag pipes, fifes, drums or trumpets. The new multiplayer mode will be called Commander Mode and it will make it so one players will be able to lead squads of soldiers in battle. There isn’t anything else about the DLC just yet, like pricing or release date, but it sounds like a good reason to come back to Warband one more time.

Thanks for reading.
-Written by Sean Cargle
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Monaco Overview

I’ve never written about Monaco, mainly because it’s been in development for many years and still hasn’t seen any demo or release date but I saw a recent update and figured it’s about that time. Monaco is a very unique indie PC game that is all about action and stealth. Essentially it has a lot to do with with being a criminal, the kind inspired by French heist movies and set in modern day Monte Cristo. It’s also not purely just singleplayer, it’s developed specifically to be the most fun with one to four players playing cooperatively. The game is top down and presents you with different characters options, each of which have their own criminal expertise. You have to play the game carefully by hiding from the line of sight of guards, watching out for alarms and stealing everything without any confrontations. Check out the newest video that highlights the new music for the game along with some online gameplay.

The game may look a little crazy and chaotic but that may be because it is influenced by pacman. There is very little actual information about the game around their website but they mainly show off everything through videos. They mainly show off level creation and some few snippets of gameplay, through that they show that each class has their own unique skills that each player must use effectively to outwit guards. For instance Hackers can shut down security systems and the Muscle class can knocks holes through walls.  There is also a cleaner, prowler and locksmith. Pocketwatch Games is not only going to release the game with a singleplayer/co-op campaign of some sort but there will also be a level editor. Check out how the level editor looks, it seems to be exactly the same tool the developers use to make levels themselves.

They are also going to have a PVP mode alongside the beef of the game, which will be the co-op mode. One version of PVP will be death match and team death match while the other will be a competitive co-op mode. The competitive co-op mode pit’s two teams against each other in a race to see which team can complete the objectives and escape first. Both of the pvp modes will be highly customizable, allowing you to add in enemies, traps, turrets, helicopters and all kinds of fun stuff. Have another look at gameplay with yet another gameplay video!

Monaco is very unique game and hopefully sometime during 2012 it will be released. You can keep an eye it on their facebook page or their main website, but they don’t do updates too often. There are also a few other videos on their youtube page. Thanks for reading this and I hope I piqued your curiosity.

Main Website: http://www.pocketwatchgames.com/Monaco/

-Written by Sean Cargle

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Terraria Story

It’s about time I do my reiteration of my recent Terraria adventures and it will likely turn out just like the two Minecraft stories, MP and SP, I’ve done. This story is full of snowmen, goblins, unicorns, pixies, giant robotic worms and walls of flesh. Plus we’ve done quite a bit of work with traps, base building and the new materials.

Upon the last huge update of Terraria back at the beginning of December, detailed here, my brother, cousin and I started to new characters on a new world. We saw this new mode called mediumcore, which makes you drop all of your items when you die and is a middle ground between hardcore (permadeath) and softcore (you lose nothing but some coins). It seemed like a great idea at the time, but one we came to lament as we made our way through the new world. The problem with dropping all your items is that you often cannot get them back unless you have several friends to help, a whole extra set of equipment at your base or you are lucky and your corpse is very close by. The other huge problem with mediumcore, the most significant problem, is that when items drop they lose their special abilities. With the latest 1.1 update items are now unique, meaning you can craft a weak mythril sword that has negative points to damage or speed, or you can get lucky and get a sword that has +5% to damage. There are quite a lot of different attributes that can be applied to any item, armors and accessories included, and when you die on mediumcore all of your items lose that. There is a goblin NPC now that lets you reforge items, which costs quite a bit of money depending on the item, and give the item new abilities. So if you spend a lot of money getting a super special sword and then have that sword return to it’s vanilla attributes once you die, well that’s a bit obnoxious. So eventually we got tired of the extreme annoyances of mediumcore, like spending hours trying to get equipment back from the depths of the dungeon, and made softcore characters once again. In the screenshot below you can see many of new things, including weapon attributes, the tinkerer, traps and levers(top left where the bunny is), cobalt armor and the drill. The drill takes over for the mining pick after the inferno set.
Terraria12

We went through the world like you normally would, working our way up to demonite weapons and mining tools. The one big difference for the beginning of the game is traps and mimics, most everything else is normal until you fight the wall of flesh, but there are several new enemies like harpies and snowmen. Traps are pretty fantastic, in a frustrating and satisfying way. There are boulder traps and dart traps throughout the world now, often near chests or in opportunistic areas. Boulder traps will kill you instantly when you are starting the game out, they tend to do 100 damage per hit and they will roll down hill doing damage per movement. Dart traps poison you and will keep firing unless you disarm the trap, which you can do by breaking the pressure plate or finding the trap device that is shooting the darts. You can take all of these back to your base but you cannot do anything with them until later on when you save the mechanic, which you can do only do after you defeat the first new boss The Wall of Flesh. Stole this screenshot of the Wall of Flesh from Terraria wikia.

You summon this wonderful behemoth by finding dolls, which drop from demons in hell. You find the dolls then fling them into lava, once you do so you are stuck in the fight till you die. The Wall of Flesh is unique, if you somehow get behind you die, if you try to retreat you also die, the only option is to fight. With that said he seems a lot more intimidating than he is. If you have some pretty decent armor, silver or better, a minishark (a machine gun basically) and an anti gravitation potion (let’s you float through the air) then you are pretty good to go. Once you beat The Wall of Flesh everything literally goes crazy. All corrupted areas of the world are now spreading at an increased speed and through every type of material except for walls. On top of that there are plentiful amounts of new very tough enemies roaming all corners of the world. Enemies that will seem damn near impossible to fight until you manage to get some weapons and armor from the first new material, Cobalt. The new materials keep randomly popping up in the world, it tells you that Mythril or Admantite has spawned, and you have a bunch of a new materials to work for. There is also a new area called the Hallow that will take over a random surface area of the map and start spreading, much like the new corruption it cannot be stopped by anything except for walls and gaps. We actually had to make a three layer gap all around our base in order to stop corruption from spreading into our home. The Hallow area would invade our home as well if it had started close enough. That area spawns new enemies like Unicorns and Pixies, both of which drop souls of light, one of the many new materials that is needed for many of the best new items.
Terraria+13

Other than finding new areas and materials we also worked on finding the new NPC’s. We were able to obtain them all but first we had to rescue the Tinkerer from the dungeon and the Goblin Mechanic from hell. After that we found the wizard, who sells various high end and odd items (like a disco ball!). You know when you see a NPC that sells an item that costs nearly a platinum that he is one of the late game vendors. You can also obtain Santa as a NPC, who sells lights and costume options, but first you will have to find a snowglobe and summon a snowman army. Summoning a snowman army against our newly built traps was pretty enjoyable, especially when you drop boulders down upon them as they attempt to bash your doors down. The snowmen are hilarious creations, you have the tommy gun snowman, mr. stabby and a shotgun snowman. They act just like the goblin army except they are much stronger and they assault your base for quite a long period of time. By the time that siege ended we had lost every NPC except for one.
Terraria+Snowmen

The snowmen don’t drop anything special but they do drop quite a lot of money and presents. Presents are dropped by damn near every enemy in the game and it has the chance to drop a snowglobe or various colors of candy cane. Candy cane is a wall type that can be used to make a house. The snowmen also drop snow, which is a new biome and will spawn in a new world, but you can also take the snow to create your own snow biome. Nothing in particular spawns in the snowy area but it does look quite delightful. Back to candy cane, we decided to take our excess candy cane and create a splendid house for Santa. It is a worthy home.
Terraria+Santa

The end game of Terraria now has you fighting the super difficult versions of previous bosses. There is now the destroyer, a giant worm with roughly 80k hitpoints and when you injure it flying robots come off it’s body to attack you. This boss is by far one of the hardest one’s that we’ve tried to fight but if you can get some really nice armor, mythril or admantite, then it isn’t too bad. It does help with you have wings, wings are one of the new items that allow you fly moderately high and glide all over the map. Wings are very hard to get though, they require souls from bosses, either the giant worm (destroyer) or the twin eyeballs.
Terraria+Eyes

The other two new bosses are double eyes of Cthulu, except they are now mechanical and much stronger. Once you injure them to a certain point they both change forums into robotic versions that do quite a lot of damage. Like the destroyer they are manageable with help and good equipment. The hardest of the new bosses is the new Skeletron, who we haven’t even tried yet but by the accounts of others he is very difficult. All of the bosses drop the necessary souls to make Hallowed equipment, arguably the strongest weapons and armor in the game. All of the Hallowed equipmentrequires you to have one of each type of whatever you are making, so if you are trying to make a Hallowed helmet you will need the mythril, admantite and cobalt helmet plus twenty souls of sight. That equipment is now the ultimate goal but we still find new items every time I play. Fighting bosses is not easy and it takes a while to get good at it.

Terraria+Death
Terraria has added a lot within the last month, most of which with that huge 1.1 update, and if you haven’t played it in a long time like I hadn’t then you are sure to find a ton of new content to keep you interested. Also if you’ve never played Terraria I hope you picked up yesterday when it was on sale for ultra cheap, but even now it is still on sale on Steam for $5. Absolutely worth it if you enjoy a game that throws on exploring, crafting and rpg elements onto a Castlevania type of action game. Check it out and thanks for reading. Wish I had more to write today but this week is painfully slow for gaming news, so most of our “news” will be reviews and oddities like this post.
Main Website: http://www.terraria.org/

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The Walking Dead: Secrets Review

As we draw near the midseason finale of The Walking Dead, episode seven, the episodes seem to be gradually improving. Presumably that means the midseason finale will be a standout episode among a fairly docile season, but Secrets show us that even with the slow plot there can still be some great action and drama. Episode seven airs tonight on AMC at 9 pm PST and 6 am EST. Despite some lukewarm reception by critics and fans The Walking Dead has already been renewed for Season 3 after shattering some records for most viewers among an adult show (18-49).  You can find more information on Season 3 here, but now onto the review.

*Spoilers Ahead*
We quickly learn in this episode why Hershel is holding all the Walkers in the barn. He has some crazy idea that they can be cured, but he ignores what Rick previously said about the CDC being destroyed and the world having gone to shit. Dale has a lengthy conversation with Hershel about the barn but all it seems to accomplish is making Hershel restate that he doesn’t want them all there much longer. The two other important parts of this episode have to do with Andrea and Shane and Lori and Rick. Most importantly this episode puts a majority of the shows secrets out in the open, at least to some characters if not all of them.

The Walking Dead Season 2

Andrea and Shane show their relationship growing throughout the episode. In the beginning Shane takes Andrea’s firearm training up to a new level and finds that the doesn’t do well against moving targets. Later when they go out to a suburb we get to see how the situation went down in one house and those people sure took out a lot of Walkers with them. The pondering and horror of what happened to the people at the house is tapered off when they see a large number of Walkers trying to get into the house. They run into the streets, Shane easily taking down Walkers left and right, while Andrea intially has quite a bit of trouble hitting Walkers in the head but Shane makes her focus, while also making her rely on herself, and she turns into quite the marksman. This all leads to Andrea turning into a confident and cocky Andrea, no longer full of complaints and pessimism. We see that this new Andrea wants to have sex with Shane, so they do, in the car in the middle of some forest road. This new Andrea is a bit of relief compared to the old, but it still makes it hard to like her as much as people like the Andrea from the comics.

The Walking Dead Season 2

When Glenn told Dale about the barn he also told him about Lori being pregnant. Dale comes to Lori later on and has a fantastic talk about her pregnancy, sharing some back history about his wife and how his wife always got sick at the smell of cooking meat, the same symptom that Lori showed a moment before. Dale doesn’t talk about the past too often and it was nice to see how they handled him broaching the subject, it was also very nice to see Lori being upfront about everything and letting Dale in. Unfortunately Dale didn’t know what to tell her, specifically about whether or not to bring a child into the world, but he did give splendid advice about letting Rick be part of the decision.

The Walking Dead Season 2

The last part of the episode is all about Rick and Lori. Rick finds Lori’s morning after pills, but not Lori, and runs out looking for her. By this point we viewers already know that she has thrown up the pills, showing that she is well aware of the implications of that and cannot handle it. Based on my little knowledge about the morning after pill I can guess that it probably wouldn’t have worked anyways, since it supposed to be taken immediately after you have unprotected sex with someone. Rick finds Lori near the side of the road and she tells him everything, finally, but their confrontation is moving. They each show anger, remorse, pain, sadness and so many emotions that I must hand it toAndrew Lincoln and Sarah Wayne Callies, if nothing else that was some great acting. The conclusion they come to seems to be that they are going try to make the best out of it but we will see how that develops throughout the rest of the season.

The Walking Dead Season 2

There is one last thing I should mention, something that comes up in the next episode; at the end of the episode Dale and Shane have a heated conversation where Dale tells Shane that he thinks he is an awful person and Shane basically tells him that if he is indeed an awful person then he will have no problems killing Dale. It doesn’t mean a lot at the time but it leads to some further confrontations between the two later on. The next episode is the mid season finale with the show returning in February and having watched it by this point let me say it is a big one with some important moves forward in the plot. Secrets show us that “secrets get people killed” as Glenn says in the next episode and I wish I could quote the rest of that speech because it is great. Thanks for reading and tune in later for the review of episode 7: Pretty Much Dead Already.

Violent Score: 8.5 (out of 10)


-Written by Sean Cargle

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Back to Battlefield 2

Never made that leap to Battlefield 3 or Bad Company 2? Well no worries there are still wonderful mods to keep Battlefield 2 strong. Take a look at Forgotten Hope 2 and Project Reality.

Forgotten Hope 2
ForgottenHope2

Forgotten Hope was originally a realism WWII modification for BF1942 and for BF2 the mod team decided to go at it again. Forgotten Hope 2 came late in BF2′s existence but made quite a large impact on the modding community, generally earning itself the number two spot behind Project Reality as the most popular modification. It is still a WWII modification and it still boasts large maps that support planes, armor, infantry and support guns.

I had played Forgotten Hope 2 quite a lot when it initially came to Battlefield 2 but never found it to be as appealing as the original modification was for BF1942. All of the maps were originally placed in the African theatre of war and Italy but now they have expanded the mod to include other theatres as well. Forgotten Hope 2 has several other game modes on top of the typical BF conquest mode. Many of the modes are strategic based, often requiring you take out objectives or capture areas in a set order. The mod is still going strong and recently was a runner-up for modification of the year, along with Project Reality, and is nearing the release of its 2.5 version. It is a fairly large download, nearly two gigabytes, but is easy to install. Check it out, it’s likely one of the best WWII games out there at the moment.
Main Website: http://forgottenhope.warumdarum.de/
MoDDB Page: http://www.moddb.com/mods/forgotten-hope-2

Project Reality 

As it is known to many, PR is still one of my favorite modifications of any game ever. With Project Reality they attempt to do what many have clamored for in a FPS shijia_valleysince the genre has come into existence, make people work together as a team. With PR if you try to go the lone wolf you are either wasting the team’s resources or wasting your own time, little will be accomplished on your own while others are out there trying to find enemy ammunition caches or forward bases. Generally with PR most people use mics or at the very least are very good at typing, because without communication your squad will die and the enemy will win. The most organized and skilled team are the ones who win. Besides all the emphasize on teamwork PR has other unique features that make it the #1 modification for Battlefield 2. On a basic level it has destructible buildings, something that no other BF2 mod had before it and few first person shooters had at the time. It also has large scale transport vehicles, like chinhooks, huge maps, a unique damage system and interesting classes that force people to work together. Check out the most recent trailer for their 0.95 release.


Project Reality BF2 Mod v0.95 Trailer – Mod DB

I have played PR a lot over the years, it’s one of those games that you play quite a lot with friends and then move onto something else after a while only to return to it again at a later date for one reason or another. Never in any other game has squad based combat felt as right as it does in PR. Spotting enemies, defending areas, doing “boring” tasks are often vital to the team and feel more significant than such actions do in many other games. Running through the gorgeous and massive maps is also a pleasure, especially when you watch buildings get decimated by artillery and crumble to the ground. Not all of the buildings in the game are destructible though. If you’ve ever wanted to play a game that feels like modern combat should be, organized and tactial on a large scale, then check out Project Reality. They have also moved the mod over to ARMA 2 but it I haven’t seen anything fantastic come from that version yet. Can’t recommend this one enough yet at the same time I don’t recommend it to anyone who considers casual FPS games to be perfect.
Main Website: http://www.realitymod.com/
MoDDB Page: http://www.moddb.com/mods/project-realityHonorable Mentions
US Intervention Mod: http://www.moddb.com/mods/us-intervention
-Made by the guys who made the original Desert Combat for BF1942.

Point of Existence 2: http://www.moddb.com/mods/point-of-existence-2
-Focuses on Eastern Europe modern combat and supports singleplayer.

Thanks for reading, be back shortly.

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Renegade Ops Review

It is hard to go about reviewing something that looks great and is a lot of fun but has god awful controls. Renegade Ops is a twin shooter that has a fantastic arcade feel to it and destructible environments set in the same engine that ran Just Cause 2. It came out first on PSN and XBLA back in September with a later release on PC in late October. It is developed by SEGA. It is a downloadable game with a $15 price tag, a price tag that is very flexible this holiday season.

The story of the game is very light and action orientated, something you will feel right at home with if you grew up watching G.I. Joes. It has a light rpg element added onto the twin shooter action that lets you customize each of the four characters and level them up through a skill tree. The story isn’t horribly long, lasting maybe five hours if you aren’t rushing through or playing through it all on easy. There are several difficulties and the main difference between each one is the number of lives you start with and how strong health/ammo drops are. The story is pretty easy to ignore and the game tends to bring all the focus onto the action. The maps they give you, most of them that is, are fairly wide and open but have obvious routes that you should be taking in order to get to objectives. Each mission tends to just give you objective after objective and sometimes there side missions as well can be completed for extra points. Most of the levels are enjoyable and slick but there a few that feel a little poorly designed, especially when it seems impossible to do all the side missions and main objectives because of time constraints. Why they have time constraints in the first place, I don’t know, but they tend to force you to move on and in a game where there are secret lives to find, side objectives to complete and areas to explore it is not appreciated.
 Renegade Ops Review
One of the main selling points is how well the game works within the graphical engine and like I mentioned before it is the same gorgeous tropical engine of Just Cause 2. If you’ve ever played Just Cause 2 then you know how fun blowing up buildings, vehicles, landmarks and radio towers is in that game, the same applies for Renegade Ops. Driving through buildings and around the tropical landscape is a pleasure to see, as is blowing up damn near everything. It helps that almost every objective involves you blowing up something, whether it’s tanks, missiles or an aircraft carrier. Normally you go through a level as a land based vehicle, each of which is unique to each of the four characters, but there are also helicopters that you can use that are very powerful and fun to use. The only complaint about air combat is that once you use a helicopter you lose all unique features and abilities, but at least you still gain experience towards that particular character. There isn’t a lot to the gameplay in Renegade Ops but it is done well and in an enjoyable manner. Check out this gameplay video to get an idea of how the gameplay is.
The game’s UI is made well but like the controls you can tell that it wasn’t originally intended for the PC. I’ve thankfully played the game on Xbox 360 as well and can attest to the differences. While the UI and menu’s are fine as they are, they could use quite a few customization options, the controls are terrible. Even when you start the game they recommend you use a gamepad instead of the keyboard/mouse setup. The default controls have you use the mouse only for abilities and firing your machine gun, while you drive with the keyboard and in this kind of game that is an absolute pain. With a gamepad you move very smoothly and easily but without one it feels very frustrating. Starting the game with this controls is brutal and eventually you can get used to them to some extent but even then they are still unpleasant.
Last Comments
Renegade Ops is surprisingly enjoyable, despite it’s poor controls and some poor mission mechanics. It a good example of how fun and addictive a twin stick shooter can be. You may think the premise is simple and the combat is repetitive but Renegade Ops has quite a punch, especially when you are fighting alongside friends. Sure it’s very arcadey with it’s light story and overly explosive world but it is solid and often strong game. If you can nab the game on sale and you happened to have a corded Xbox 360 controller, or some kind of gamepad, then Renegade Ops should be a pleasant surprise. Then again, if you can manage to get it on console then it is all the better, except for the whole thing with DLC and multiplayer both being easier to access, also cheaper, on PC.
 Violent Score: 3.5 (out of 5) PC
Good..
 
 Violent Score: 4 (out of 5) XBLA/PSN 
Nearing Greatness..

 

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