There is a nostalgic appeal to the Epic Mickey series that cannot be denied. Not nostalgia for the golden age of Disney films but the very genesis of film animation and the construction of the Disney Parks from there inception in 1956 to today. Epic Mickey 2, guided by the expertise of Warren Spector, constructs a world built from pieces of Disney history.
The story of Epic Mickey is pretty barebones. The Mad Doctor, who was supposedly defeated in the first game, returns to wreak more havoc on the Wasteland. Mickey is called to save the day again with his magic paintbrush, and Oswald comes along for the ride this time around. A game like this doesn't call for a complex narrative though. The simplicity is typical of any children's game and effectively opens the door for any range of imaginative level design. The story's cutscenes are also given an excellent shot in the arm with the addition of some excellent voice acting plus full-blown musical numbers to give the game a Disney musical feel.
Where the game falls apart though is in the game play. There is a problem that every 3D platformer encounters and must address at some point in its development, and that is camera controls. Nintendo, in a stroke of genius, solved this problem in the Super Mario Galaxy games by having the majority of the levels take place on spheres, meaning that the camera will never have any walls to navigate or to block the player's view of the character. This elegant solution unfortunately cannot be applied to every 3D platformer and Junction Point's previous Epic Mickey game was marred by poor camera controls. Nothing has changed in that field for Epic Mickey 2. Though playing with two analog sticks is much preferred to the stopping and re-centering the camera that Wii players will endure. The camera tends to want to be too close to the ground and seems to always want to get stuck or bounce off of walls. The effect the camera has on a 3D platformer like Epic Mickey cannot be understated either. Adjusting the camera angle to make the perfect jump is one of gaming's great pleasures, and Epic Mickey 2 leaves the player feeling more frustrated than satisfied.
Epic Mickey 2 offers a cooperative mode that allows you to play the campaign along with another friend. This mode makes it infinitely easier to access the game's more interesting nooks and crannies because the AI driving Oswald always seems to be one or two steps behind what you actually want him to do. Playing through the game alone is an unsatisfactory way to experience this vivid world because the inconsistency of Oswald makes it hard to expect him to do anything beyond what is necessary to move on to the next area in the game.
Warren Spector is known for realizing vivid game worlds and Junction Point delivers his vision adequately. Despite the intricacy of the world however and the beautiful High Definition graphics on the WiiU, this game is plagued with all the classic pitfalls of a 3D platformer, issues which, in this console generation, are hard to forgive.
One of the biggest complaints that has always been levied against games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero is that it is just a toy that doesn't actually teach you anything. Many people, particularly musicians, take the stance that the time you spent getting good at a rhythm game could have been spent learning how to play a real instrument.
Well now we have the best of both worlds with a game that teaches you how to play the guitar. Rocksmith for the PC comes with a USB adapter that will work with any regular guitar, and provides an environment full of amps and effects that function to let you enjoy yourself while you slowly learn how to play your guitar over time.
For people that have never touched a guitar before, the game starts about as basic as you can get. The first thing that Rocksmith will teach you the first time you boot it up is the proper way to hold your guitar, and then moves into how to pluck and tune the strings. For people who have decided to upgrade from a more traditional rhythm game, the developers of Rocksmith have included the highway of notes that scroll by the screen at a rapid pace, although this time they are actual notes.
Most people usually give up on learning Guitar because they are just playing boring songs they don't really recognize. Rocksmith has intelligently managed to completely dodge this problem by very quickly moving from basic lessons on how to make noises come out of the guitar into very basic riffs from popular songs. This keeps new students engaged while at the same time trying to give more seasoned guitar veterans a reason to buy the game.
Sadly, it is with this audience that Rocksmith completely falls flat. The game takes forever to ramp up to the higher level lessons and more difficult songs, and there are no options for people who already know the basics of guitar playing to skip any of the basics, which will often lead to them becoming frustrated. Because of this, the only people who should really be considering Rocksmith are those people who want to learn guitar but have never started doing so.
Beyond the basic learning modes, Rocksmith also features a number of videos that show the concepts that are being taught in-game in a very simple manner that make it far more personal and easy to understand. It also features something that it calls the "Guitarcade", which has mini games that often end up feeling like someone took the basic idea behind Typing of the Dead and shoved it into a guitar game.
Rocksmith certainly is not for everyone. It requires a desire to learn that not all people have, and its certainly not enough of a "game" to play for fun, but for the price it makes a fantastic training tool for people that are new to playing guitar, and it's a lot cheaper than a real person.
Balaurea is ruled by Tiamat, the Dragon Lord, who promises that there are new zones which could be explored and new twists to the flying mechanics that everyone loved in Aion. In Balaurea, there are three new zones which have their very own citadels. The Elyos has taken over the Inggison zone, and separated by the Silentera Canyon, Gelkmaros is taken over by the Asmodians.
Both of these zones are beautiful and thanks to the stunning graphics, and the fact that they have not been touched by the Daeva or the humans, they are even more stunning visually. For the fans who had wondered how Atreia looked before the shatter of the Tower of Eternity, this is the perfect visualization. A word of warning though, there are a lot of lurking creatures which do not like you, the player.
There are two world raid bosses, the Dramata, which are literally the most ginormous of additions in these two zones. These are abomination or hybrids, part Dragon and part Balaur. Legend has it that when a Balaur tries to transform into a Dragon, things can go drastically wrong and they are caught mid-transformation and trapped in this horrifying form.
The aim of the game is to look for these monstrosities in the zones which are taken over by the Daeva, namely Padmararashka which is in Gelkmaros and Sematrix which is in Iggnison. Players have to be very determined to go through these for they have to kill the abominations. There is a time-limit though, only one hour. The process is hard and may involve a lot of people, like several hundred, just to draw out a bit of their blood. Dont be discouraged though, even if they are freakingly huge and could squash your character into pulp. All you need to do is look for the Stone Elementals like Ragnarok and Omega. These are much like the Dramata, they are present in every zone you enter and they are easier to kill. Once they get killed, they offer the characters loot which may not be as fantastic as those offered by the deaths of the Padmararashka and Sematrix, but it is better than get killed off.
Basically, Assault on Balaurea is a lonely game to play when done solo, but thats really not a problem. There is a way to get over the lack of companionship in the introduction of the pets. These have been much requested and are available in the NCsoft online store. These five pets are cute, cuddly and each are unique and offer their own advantage. These pets not only make the adventure less lonely, but it ups the appeal for all the players. Assault on Balaurea is the first major expansion for Aion and it is simply impressive.
Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer is neat and detailed but simple at the same time. The sound effects and the music score is good and the voice acting is effective enough. The downside is the plot, it is shallow and not all that interesting. I dont speak French but I know a bad pronunciation when I hear it. There are puzzles that are interesting and then there are some which are too silly to even consider compelling.
Art of Murder: Hunt for the Puppeteer opens in New Orleans. A squad of SWAT guys march into a seemingly unused and unoccupied warehouse. They search through the area and find a corpse which had been horribly tortured and killed hanging way up high on hooks and wires, looking like a grotesque puppet. It is a shocking and macabre vision which I must admit scared me. The first thought was yell scream oh, its a game the next thoughts, this is so much better that the original game. Whoa! Okay, so I screamed, so what? That is the first impact which made me realize that this is something out of the ordinary.
The SWAT teams are there because of The Puppeteer, a baffling case of a serial killer that has the habit of making the victims looking like a puppet reminiscent of a Degas painting. Now, this all seems really strange, hard to wrap the head around with on the first impact but it goes on and on. Soon, I felt that the whole thing was getting more and more familiar but I didnt know why. Until I hit on it: it was like Silence of the Lambs and Still Life all rolled into one. The feeling of familiarity grew until I reached the point when I said to myself, what is going on and do I like what is going on?
Okay, that said, the whole thing is really unoriginal and I felt a little down, especially after that first squeal. The character played is Special Agent Nicole Bonnet and she is so like Clarice Starling it is creepy. She is the one destined to find the serial killer and has to go through the records with a fine toothed comb. She soon finds that the victims are well chosen and the scenes are patterned after the dark periods in the history of Europe.
Now, dont get me wrong. After playing the game in its entirety, it is not that irritating or frustrating, it just creeped me out. There are the obvious drawbacks and the simplicity is not so bad. The overall experience is good and is just as good, if not better, than FBI Confidential. I know there are issues, but I must accept the fact that it is a good game to play. It can be a bit macabre, but in a simple way. This simplicity is what really got me in the end. It looks and plays simply, but the overall feel after playing lingers on for hours and days, and I say that if a game gives me these long lasting effects, then there is something to it that was well done.
Sims 3 Generations has arrived for a variety of game-playing consoles. Each has its own special benefits and drawbacks, but the Sims game hasnt changed it style or its substance since its inception several years ago. The game play has advanced a bit and the graphics have certainly become more impressive, but the main concept of the game stays the same and Sims 3 brings lot to the table that still is incredibly fun to play with. Perfect for all ages and people with imagination.
If you arent familiar with the World of Sims you will find that it is very simple. Its a game that lets you create an environment, not much unlike the one we already live in, and gives your simulated character (hence, Sim) the ability to grow as a person. Just like real people however, Sims have daily needs. They need to eat, need to use the bathroom, need to have a job, need to pay bills and need to have friends and relationships. Sounds kind of mundane, but the fun is in the details. You can manage their development step-by-step, or choose to have them move swiftly on their own. Theres not a lot of fun in that, however. The real fun it taking it step by step, and seeing what they like and dislike. Remember, you are essentially in charge of their every move. Experiment. See what they can handle and like, and try to cater the actions to garner the reaction you want.
There is a vast amount of re-playability with Sims 3 and the Generations expansion certainly adds more. Whenever you are bored with living the life in a normal way, you can mix things up for your created universe. The basic idea of the game is to create a Sim and design its life like that of a real one. You can give it a house, a job, relationships and a family. Have them do ordinary things with ordinary results. If you have basically tapped your interest in that game play, you can get creative, and sometimes evil.
One of the ways you can mix things up is to try and mess around at your Sims job. Maybe not go to work a few days in a row. See what happens. Perhaps your Sim is getting a bit randy and their significant other isnt around, you can play digital adultery with the neighbor. Or, you can create a room without any doors or bathrooms and feed your Sim and watch them squirm. Sounds terrible, but its something can be cone on Sims 3 if you have an evil way of entertaining yourself.
Overall Sims Generations is a welcome addition to the Sims series and has further helped the series evolve into a pretty impressive game set with year upon year improvements and additions. The game play is still really fun, as is the variety of things you can make your Sim do. The computer I played it on is a few years old, but the graphics and overall playing was smooth and faced no hiccups. If you are looking for a fun game to keep your busy for hours, or even weeks at a time, Sims 3 Generations will definitely impress and add to the entertainment that the Sims offer.
The Sims 3: Ambitions for the PC opens a whole new world for players. Sims is a life simulation game which allows players to create 3D characters and give them certain characteristics and can to some degree be made to resemble yourself, someone you know or some completely new human being. these characters are then used in the game to mimic the lives of real people. They can have families, make friends, go to work or lounge around, or do any life task that humans can do. Ambitions is an expansion pack that presents additional features that The Sims 3 base game and the many other expansions do not have. These features, as the title suggests, are related to the luxuries of life that an up and coming Sim may aspire to and include such things as clothing, furniture and accessories. Also included are new skills and new customization for characters.
But Ambitions is not just about a better material life but also deals with work or vocational aspirations. Jobs or vocations that Ambitions offers include fireman, self employment businessman, doctor, fashion designer, private investigator, ghost hunter, architect etc.
This game lets you use data already saved from previous Sims, or your can create a brand new Sim. Players also get a new experience when it comes to visiting places in their town. In The Sims 3 base game players could only visit buildings but they could not always see inside whereas Ambitions now allows players to see what their Sim can do inside and can control them as normal while they go about the activity of working, shopping or playing etc.
All the new jobs offered here encourage the player's Sim to take an active part in that role. For instance, if a player's Sim is a detective, the Sim can stake out a house or lurk under the cover of bushes, take objects for evidence, and even break into another Sim's house. Each job includes new objects that are the usual tools of the trade. The new jobs also come with consequences that are the result of actions taken and so must think before they do things as the outcome may be disadvantageous to themselves or others.
Although the Sims 3 Ambitions expansion has a lot of extra and activity and content to offer existing Sims players it is not much use on its own, but then it is not really marketed as a stand alone because you need the basic Sims package loaded to make use of it.
Guild Wars 2 is an MMORPG and one of the most popular of its kind and 2 was given the Game of the Year award in 2012. It was released to those who pre-ordered on August 25th of 2012 and then released to everyone else three days later on August 28th.
Guild Wars 2 was awaited with great anticipation, especially among those who wanted more out of their MMO like World of Warcraft players. Guild Wars 2 includes many differences between itself and World of Warcraft, which was the most popular MMORPG until Guild Wars 2 surfaced, with races more individual than the races of World of Warcraft, such as the plant humanoids, the Sylvari, and better story options like choosing the past of the character and playing out that character's story based on the options chosen in character creation.
The customization is much more extensive than almost all of the MMORPGs out there and far surpasses the limited customization in World of Warcraft. In Guild Wars 2's character creation, multiple presents are allowed for facial structure, but there are sliders that allow facial features to change. The colors for the hair are of a wider variety, and the character's height and body type can even be changed. If the player wishes to create a massive macho man with big arms and great height, he can do so. If the player wants to make a small, petite, female player, they can do so as well. The petite character will only be a little bit taller than the NPC children in the various stages and areas in the game, but it goes to show the variety and options in the customization for Guild Wars 2.
Players don't just play out their character's story. They play out another story line pertaining to the world of Guild Wars 2 which involves the leaders of their race. When completing the story or main quests, the NPCs that the player speaks with does actually speaks to them. Previous World of Warcraft players were dumbfounded when they saw that there were "cutscenes" for character dialogue instead of just grabbing a quest from an "important" figure in the game and moving on. The cutscenes involve the player in the story, making them feel more important and needed, whether it's in the Guild Wars 2 story line or the character's personal story line.
Players experience things that aren't usually experienced in MMOs like World of Warcraft. They feel a sense of importance and are given certain choices all throughout the game from how to create their character to what measures to take in attacking certain enemies. Guild Wars 2 players are brought into a world of fantasy and science fiction all at once with the races that were created like the technological Asura and the fantastical Sylvari. So many different original ideas were brought into one game, making it a fantastic MMO to top.