Thursday, July 24, 2014

SAMMURAI WARRIORS 4: Special Anime Pack Announced

SAMMURAI WARRIORS 4: Special Anime Pack Announced
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on Facebook
Written by Dustin Murphy

 Are you a fan of anime? Are you a Sony Collector’s Edition hunter? Well, you’re in luck, as of today, you can find yourselves placing the SAMURAI WARRIORS 4: Special Anime pack on pre-order. Available on the PlayStation 4, celebrating a decade of SAMURAI WARRIORS! For those of you who want to get your hands on the title, it’ll be hitting shelves, near you, October 21st, on all PlayStation platforms. 

 For those of you interested in the Special Anime Pack, you’ll be able to find the following within it: “Special Anime Pack” 10th anniversary Collector’s Edition packaging, Samurai Warriors: Legend of the Sanada anime (Blu-Ray Disc), SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 game disc (PS4 only), SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 Official Soundtrack (CD), Special Costume Pack 4: Garcia, Ina, Nene, Oichi, and Ranmaru (DLC), Edit Parts Pack 1 (allows for facial and western themed armor customization (DLC). Is that enough for you to get it? Maybe? Well let’s seal the deal for those of you who love to pre-order. For those of you who prefer to go to GameStop, their following DLC packs are as follows: Scenario Pack 1, which features the stages “Sinister Beauties” and “Men of Charm and Courage, and the following items, “Gold Lacquered Box” and “Lion Censer”. The second DLC in this offer includes Special costumes for Mitsunari Ishida and Toyohisa Shimazu. For those of you who prefer Amazon and Best Buy, you’re in luck. You can get Weapon Pack 1 which features new weapons for over 25 characters, the “Old Costume Pack 2”, which has costumes inspired by the original SAMURAI WARRIORS for Keiji Maeda, Kenshin Uesugi, Kunoichi, and Shingen Takeda. 

 Official Information from KOEI TECMO Below:

55 New and Updated Characters— Nobuyuki Sanada and Yoshitsugu Otani join the fray, along withTakatora Todo, Naotora Ii and Munenori Yagyu (previously only available in Japanese releases of SAMURAI WARRIORS) along with major overhauls of appearance and rearrangements in battle moves for fan-favorite characters such as Yukimura Sanada and Nobunaga Oda adding to the diverse range of more than 50 playable characters

Disseminate the Enemy Ranks— Battles are more thrilling than ever with new maneuvers including Hyper Attacks which allow for rapid moment on the battlefield combined with high powered attacks, a powerful Rage Attack which can be reached when the Spirit Gauge is full, deadly finishing moves with Mighty Strikes and the ability to mount and dismount horses seamlessly, additionally existing moves have all been powered up from their previous iterations

New Battle Modes— Enhancements and newly implemented gameplay systems create a deeper and more satisfying combat experience, including the all-new ability to switch between two characters in real-time, adjustments to morale, Officer development and the return of the 
popular portable item system found in SAMURAI WARRIORS 3 are just some of the features players will find to gain the advantage in combat

Unfold the rich tapestry of the Warring States era— The Story Mode portrays the tales surrounding the battles by faction, deepening the relationships between characters and is separated into two parts, regional stories, which tell the tales of the officers of various regions around the land such as Kyūshū and Shikoku, and the story of unification, which details events up to the end of the Warring States era

Leave a mark on history— In the new “Chronicle Mode”, while completing various quests, meeting new officers and collecting items, players discover the world of SAMURAI WARRIORS through their own design with more ways to customize than ever before including a vastly upgraded Create Character system

Living World— PlayStation 4 players will experience an even more engaging saga with highly detailed landscapes and breathtaking skies that reflect true to life lighting and shadow effects and battlegrounds packed with significantly more enemies on screen

Cooperative Play and Cross Save functionality— All modes can be played cooperatively via Network Play across the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita system, additionally save data can be shared across all three systems

SAMURAI WARRIORS 4 is developed by Omega Force and published in North America by KOEI TECMO America.  The PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions will be available digitally exclusively through the PlayStation® Store for $49.99 and $39.99, respectively. The PlayStation 4 standard edition will be available for $59.99 and the “Special Anime Pack” will be available at participating retailers for $74.99. This title has been rated T for Teen by the ESRB.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Becoming a Writer and the Adventure to Journalism

Becoming a Writer and the Adventure to Journalism
Written and Copyrighted by Dustin Murphy

 Things are never the simplest of choices, but when it came to writing, that was not something that was expected. Our lives offer us many different paths to take. Some of those paths will lead us to friends, jobs, and the life to obtain with it. Some of those other paths take us to a world where there is not a lot of money, but there is an incredible amount of fun to be had in it. That is where my adventure begins, a road that I only dreamed of as a kid, and one that I am proud to walk.

 It started about a year ago and was a big surprise to me, but lets go to HOW this adventure started and the why. It was a rather nice and cool night, the bar was hushed with some dull music playing, but the chatter of laughter and voices was enough to keep the place loud. My friends dad Cecil was next to me. This man I, in ways, have a lot of respect for. It was his words that inspired me. He’d asked me in a rather calm and collected manner about why I play games as much as I do. The answer was simple: I love them.  His question though was not getting the provided answer. This was easily figured out when he asked me again about why I love them. Dumbfounded it took me a second before I took a sip of my drink (at this time I was obsessed with amber brews) and went to respond. The problem was? My response didn’t come out. I couldn’t answer him so I kept my response silenced with my drink until I figured it out. Once I figured it out, I turned to answer him and the answer was more of what he wanted. I love video games because of what they provide. From the well scripted stories, character development, animations, the living animated worlds that are crafted in them, and even the engines used, but that wasn’t all. There was more than just that. It was the sheer will, passion, and drives the developers and their publishers have for these games to be successful that drove me to experience their work. His next question though, that was one I was not expecting. What was it? Well your answer is what you are reading and the question all the same: why not do something with it? I was dumbfounded by this. Shocked really. It was the very next day that I was able to sit down and open up my word editor. My writing skills were probably the worst thing I’d seen since reading my last book report for high school. 

 Though my efforts were seemingly in vain at the time. Why? I had no clue what I was doing. It lead me to almost putting my chair up, taking off my glasses, and walking away. Though something unique happened. I got a response from Mike Futter of Game Informer. What did I ask? Simple. How to become a writer. How to get somewhere with it. His answer to this day still resonates with me: Write. Practice writing even if once a day. So what doe that mean now? I still practice. I still work every day on it. Because of this I got someone in the industry that helped me get to where I am now. Not just a writer, but a journalist and a founder of a journalism team. His words are something that I have written on a post-it that sit inside my net-books bag. 

 After my email from Mr. Futter, I was on my way. I practiced, I reached out to the public relations teams for multiple studios. Nothing picked up immediately, but a unique opportunity arose. Thanks to Mr. Drake and Nick Chester at Harmonix, I was able to do an email based question and answer with Daniel Sussman, the Project Lead Director for Disney’s Fantasia, which is their upcoming title for both XBox 360 and XBox One. This opportunity granted me an insight to what it was like to speak directly to game developers, but also how to ask questions, to word them so that I can form adequate sentences within an article. It opened a flood gate of chances that I had never thought possible. Shortly after the article had been written in regards to Mr. Sussman’s responses regarding the upcoming project, I took once more to Twitter. There I reached out, followed writers, and began to understand their writing styles, but also their interactions with the public. Thanks to having read websites such as Joystiq, GameSkinny, Game Informer, How To Geek, and many other sites, I picked up a few lessons. To be open minded. That is where I took the time to hunt down and follow writers such as Geoff Keighley, Mike Futter, Susan Arendt, Andrew Rainer, and many others. These people reminded me of what it takes to be successful, but also to remember that being a journalist and gamer is to have fun. To do something you are fully passionate about.

 Within a few months my experience had grown. Blast Away the Game Review began to grow, followers began to arrive thanks to the support of friends, family, and even people just purely curious about what we write about. We went from a team of two, to a team of six, from a team of six to a team of four, and eventually up to eight. The team fluctuated as each of us began to clash heads. Why? We were inexperienced and had very little leadership skills among our team. Some of wanted to voice our opinions, some of us wanted to be calm and collected, but also let our wants and needs get ahead of us. To me, this was it, I’d finally made it. A team, even though we seemed to be a dysfunctional family, and a bunch of emails, articles as well as reviews right in front of us. That was the least of our worries though. We’d begun to lose sight of what we were pursuing, even I had begun to lose sight. I forgot what I wanted most: to be a gaming journalist. The vision began to become skewed as the hunger for reviewing had began to take over and it was then did the enjoyment fade away. The news was exciting, seeing upcoming title emails roll in and fill the inbox, and before long a review title here or there. With a team of eight, this is shared, and sometimes that seemed dumbfounding boring. Who wants to share? That was the mindset that had begun to set in. Then I remembered what I’d seen on other places. Journalists aren’t scared to help out other people. They are there to share an experience, to provide it, but also to get feedback.

 Once more I was set back on track. I had decided it was time to not just review and wait for emails, but to do what I’ve seen before. Opinion articles, thought articles, and even public discussions regarding these games, but also the society around the games. To me? This was what journalism was about, whether it gets hard and emails do not pour in as you’d hope, or the review season would get slow and boring. The easiest thing to remember? There’s always a lot of research out there. A lot of projects that some people may not even know about due to the ever growing Kickstarter and Indie Developers scene. For me? I was inspired and am inspired to be a writer because of the hardships it provides, but also the unique things I get to see, do, and even experience. To me that is what makes me as a writer so unique. I get to experience and see things I’d never imagined. I will hopefully, one day, sit with the big dogs in the gaming journalism and even developer world. It is because of two words that I strive to be a writer and what has inspired me to become one: Practice daily. 

 In this I want to take note that becoming a writer was not an over the night project. It has taken months, if not now a year to even get where the Blast Away the Game Review team and myself even are. With our first convention coming up, it’ll be a test to see how well and how much information can be provided, and with great accuracy. To me it is things like this that test us, make us who we are, and define our trade skill. It also will teach us that sometimes we must first fall to our knees, crawl, and learn to once more walk before we can run. To me, this is what inspires me to become a writer every day and work as hard as I can to be better at it. I want to give a very special shout out and thank you to the following people that helped get me started: Daniel Sussman, Nick Chester, John Drake, Susan Arendt, Mike Futter, Cecil Metcalf, my parents, my team, and my friends who trust and believe in what I do. Without all of you I would not strive as hard as I do to become a better writer, to drive as hard as I can at this, and make it happen. Because of you guys, I’m inspired, and I want to thank the gaming community inside and out for this chance that has happened. 

 If you see me at a convention? Give me a shout out. I’ll always say hi. This is Dustin Murphy and I’m a gaming journalist.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fairy Fencer F Gets September Street Date

Get Your Fairy Dust Ready for Fairy Fencer F™ In September!
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review
Written by Dustin Murphy

Any fan of import games should be excited, especially when the names Yoshitaka Amano (concept artist) and Nobuo Uematsu (composer) are mentioned. Both are well known for their renowned and classic works with the Final Fantasy series. As of today, NIS America has announced that Fairy Fencer F will be flying its way onto your PlayStation 3's this September on the 23rd for North America. Europe will see it dropping by on the 26th! So shine off those controllers and get ready for another amazing turn-based RPG title by famed developer COMPILE Heart. Stay tuned for our review and for those unfamiliar with the title, read below for the official information from the amazing doods over at NIS America!

About the game:

Long ago, a dreadful war was fought between the Goddess and the Vile God. Because they were equally matched, they both created a vast number of special weapons imbued with their godly energy, each containing the life force of a fairy. Armed with these weapons, the deities continued their conflict until they finally sealed each other away into the great unknown. A long time has passed since this ancient conflict, and the weapons created by the Goddess and the Vile God have since been scattered across the world. These weapons—now known as “Furies”—are highly sought after by warriors who call themselves “Fencers”. It is said that whoever collects a Fury will be granted one wish. When a young man named Fang decides to rashly pull a Fury from a stone, he inadvertently becomes a Fencer himself, forever altering the course of his destiny.

Key Features:

Robust Combat System – Witness the next evolution of Hyperdimension Neptunia's battle engine! Move your characters in a fully 3-D environment as you link combos in thrilling turn-based combat! Exploit enemy weaknesses to trigger Avalanche Attacks and watch your party gang up on opponents! Send your enemies sky high with Launch Attacks, then follow up with an Air Attack to send them crashing back to Earth! And if fights get really tense, simply transform into your upgraded Fury Form and really bring the pain!

Untold Levels of Customization – Use the Furies you collect to give your characters powerful abilities, or use them to customize dungeons to your exact specifications! Need a little more "oomph!" in your swing? We've got a Shaping Effect for that! Want some extra experience points after battle? We've got a Shaping Effect for that too! But what if you're a masochist who wants everyone—allies and enemy alike—to deal DOUBLE damage? Oh, you best believe we've got a Shaping Effect for that!

Artistic Pedigree – Enjoy the dulcet tones of renowned composer Nobuo Uematsu, the composer for many of the Final Fantasy titles. With character designs by Tsunako (Hyperdimension Neptunia) and Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy I-VI), the line between cute and menacing has never been more blurred!

WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Gets Street Dated

Unleash Your Inner Warrior in September With WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review
Written by Dustin Murphy

 Does your inner warrior cry for the heat of intense and large scale battles? If so, your wait is almost over. As of today, Tecmo Koei has announced that WARRIORS OROCHI 3 will be returning to home consoles September 2nd, 2014. What does this mean for those of you whom played the earlier version? Content, tons of new content, which means much more fighting to partake in.

 For those interested, WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate will be headed to PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®4 computer entertainment systems, PS®Vita and Xbox One. Those consoles will also feature a pre-order bonus for earlier adopters. Players who do get it will get a special Halloween costume set for the character Zhao Yun from DYNASTY WARRIORS, Mitsunari Ishida from SAMURAI WARRIORS. Think that's it? Nope! GameStop is also offering you all a chance to get the well renowned character Kaguya exclusively at GameStop, and of course costumes for Kaguya, Nuwa, and Taigong Wang at Amazon and Best Buy, in their respective order mentioned.

 Wait, that's not all! We've also learned that our friends over at TECMO KOEI America will be attending Anime Expo starting July 3rd, through July 6th, 2014, and they will be showing off the following titles for you to see: WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate, Atelier Rorona Pus: The Alchemist of Arland (check out our review here: Blast Away the Game Review: Atelier Rorona Plus ~ The Alchemist of Arland Review), and their upcoming title SAMURA WARRIORS 4. All of these titles will be playable and will be enjoyed by anyone. Additionally. TECMO KOEI would also like us to let you know, especially you cosplayers, that you are highly invited to their booth, especially if in TECMO KOEI or Team NINJA characters so that you can enter for a daily raffle! Their booth will be located at 1521 and 1523.

Official Information from TECMO KOEI:
 Fans will experience WARRIORS OROCHI 3 in a brand new light as they enter the fray with the implementation of new generation console features, new storylines and scenarios. There is enough new gameplay content and depth of replayability to satisfy warriors of all levels including special cross over characters such as Sophitia from the SOULCALIBUR series and battle stages from Atelier, DYNASTY WARRIORS, NINJA GAIDEN Sigma 2 and SAMURAI WARRIORS.

New Features in WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate:

- One Warrior against a Thousand— Densely populated battlefields with up to 100 enemies on screen, each with progressive AI add to the exhilarating battle, amplified by new moves including Aerial Special attacks, Triple Rush (a system which allows the player the ability to switch between individual characters or unleash attacks as a party of 3) and True Musou Burst, the powerful finishing move executable by up to 6 characters

- New and Crossover characters— The legion of warriors is larger than ever with 145 playable characters including the introduction of Tamamo and Yinglong, just 2 of 9 that are new to the series, cameos include Xu Shu from the DYNASTY WARRIORS franchise and Kasumi from DEAD OR ALIVE 5 with more to be announced including the Atelier and SAMURAI WARRIORS series

- Captivating Lands and Stages— Lands and battlefields are dramatically rendered drawing from the dark, sinister imagery in the OROCHI series totaling 51 distinct stages with cross-over stages melding universes including Atelier, DYNASTY WARRIORS, NINJA GAIDEN Sigma 2 and SAMURAI WARRIORS, furthermore, Musou Battlefields allow for customization including character models and battle cries

- The mythology of the OROCHI universe expands— A new main storyline brings the heroes together again after the death of the Demon Snake as they are called upon by a mysterious stone to return to the chaotic din of battle. Additionally, new side stories provide a multitude of new scenarios and uncover secrets, the story extends with the ability to battle from a different point of view or even “what if” hypothetical stages that exist in a parallel world

- Gameplay modes— Adding to both Online and Offline competition, new modes include Duel Mode, a fusion of team battles (up to 3 vs 3) and card battles, Craft Weapons function to alchemy even more powerful weapons, Officer Requesting and Summoning, Formation Skills and Dragon Portals that can be used to escape the battlefields, weaken enemies or recover party members Life Gauge

- Share experiences Online— PS4™ system players will be able to capture screenshots and live stream, share and see live comments which can impact either players’ games or co-op in Story mode, Free Mode and the new Gauntlet Mode

- Cross-Play and Cross Save functionality— Co-op, data sharing and saving, and save data is now possible between PS3™ system, PS4™ system and PS Vita system versions, including save data importing of the original WARRIORS OROCHI 3 on PlayStation

WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate is developed by Omega Force and published in North America by TECMO KOEI America. The PlayStation 3 and PS Vita versions will be available exclusively through the PlayStation® Store for $49.99 (PS3) and $39.99 (PS Vita) respectively and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions will be available for $59.99 on September 2, 2014. This title has not yet been rated by the ESRB..

For the latest WARRIORS OROCHI 3 Ultimate news follow us on or @TecmoKoeiUS or visit

Saturday, June 21, 2014

PlayStation Vita Loses First Party Support - Does it Really Need it?

Does the PS Vita Really Need First Party Support?
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 6/21/2014
Written by Dustin Murphy

 When games are being made by first party, we as gamers have heavy expectations, and some that just can't be fulfilled. As many of us know, Sony Entertainment has decided to cut back on how much they want to do as "first party developers" and have decided they won't be doing much in the means of development. The question is; does the PlayStation Vita really need their support as developers? In my honest opinion, the answer is truly this - NO.

 Many of you may actually expect me to have said the easy answer of yes. The reason I've stated no? Because of the amazing third-party developers and publishers who have decided to really show through. With companies such as XSeed Games, NIS America, Tecmo Koei, Atlus, AKSYS and many indie developers, the PlayStation Vita has more games than I would have imagined. Sure there are not a lot of physical titles out there, but don't let that fool you. With a currently 76 games on my Vita, it's been no doubt as a writer and gamer that I have been busy. These games have ranged from indie titles, full retail titles, to PlayStation One Classics as well as PSP digital titles. This truly isn't disappointing. The approach reflects something similar to what Nintendo has done with the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS in recent years. Why do I say this? Go check out the indie game support as well as third party digital distribution support. That's not also leaving out the support for Nintendo DS support as well as the virtual console that's bringing back games from all sorts of platforms.

 One of the biggest surprises that may come out of the PlayStation Vita for many of you is the RPG library. As many of us know, the PlayStation 4 has had a seemingly large lack of RPG's and JRPG's all together. When it comes to this, the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita have become the go-to items for JRPG's as well as American RPG's, but that's not without saying there are some limitations to turn based titles. With many of these gaps having been filled by the teams mentioned above that are publisher and developers, there is no lack of support on the PlayStation Vita, but what it does lack are some triple A rated titles. The last true one the Vita could say it saw was the release of Killzone Mercenary, which in many ways, is the one of the best looking game on the PlayStation Vita at this time. What the PlayStation Vita could use is the appearance of a few franchises we've seen before, which means Square-Enix, Naughty Dog, and a few others would truly need to kick it into gear. What franchises might I be thinking you may wonder. That is one we ourselves could easily answer. A new Parasite Eve, Brave Story, and of course a noticeable absence of Tales of titles! Hopefully these are ones we will see make way to the PlayStation Vita in the future.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Opinion: The PS Vita and Why It’s Struggling, but Not at the Same Time!

The PS Vita and Why It’s Struggling, but Not at the Same Time!
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 5/23/2014
Written by Dustin Murphy

 A lot of times these days you hear how a console is doing good or bad because of a competitor’s sales. This case would be the PlayStation Vita and the battle it is having with the Nintendo 3DS in order to win users over. For me, both have been great handhelds and both offer a huge difference between each other. One offers more foreign and indie games, while the other offers more throwback titles, but also in-house developed titles I may not experience without both. For the PlayStation Vita Handheld Entertainment System, many would say it is a struggling console, and that it needs more games. Why? Well for one, it has a very limited memory card size, and unfortunately no-way to really surpass the 32GB threshold unless you are willing to buy more than one, import a 64gb for over 99.99 USD, or simply just delete games as you go from the memory unit, which is a hassle on its own. 

 The lack of games is not truly a problem. Unfortunately, there is a problem with the physical releases and any games that would interest many gamers outside of import titles. For many people that is the ideology of how vacant the world of shooters is. With titles such as Resistance Burning Skies, Call of Duty Declassified, and Borderlands 2 having left sour tastes in their mouth, such things have become a sour taste in the mouths of many gamers. The other issue is the lack of physical titles such as Soul Sacrifice Delta, Dragon Ball Z: The Battle of Z, and of course the Atelier Series, which has become a big focal point for many of the gamers who prefer such niche games. So lets take a look at what the Vita can do and what Sony could do to improve, but first a small disclaimer. I own a PlayStation Vita, I have quite a few games for it, and have reviewed quite a few games for it. I am a huge fan of this product as it is a great handheld and does more than I’ve expected. Unfortunately, mine is a first generation model, which may not outperform the newer models as they come out.

 Part 1: Memory Issues and the Cost for More

 When owning a PlayStation Vita the first thing people seem to come to realization with, is the lack of memory. With only a 4GB memory card with most models, many gamers are quickly going to run out of space due to digital titles, but also due to game updates and the content some games are provided with. This prime example is the Borderlands 2. When having looked at it, many player would think that there is no problem with the digital version or physical and all its content. The reality? There’s roughly five gb’s of it and that’s not including possible future updates and content. This would quickly eat up a 4gb and of course the 8gb memory cards. For some people that own a 32gb memory card will find themselves turned off by this title. 

Solution for this issue? Well we know in Japan they had the 64gb memory card introduced to them, which has cause many gamers to do one thing - import it. How much does this cost? Well unfortunately around 120 USD with tax, shipping and handling, and of course making sure it works. The downside? It’s realistically only 59gb’s, which still means a lot of memory will be used up by updates and system data. Hopefully we can see a price change in the near future regarding this or some news regarding third party support in order to keep the handheld much more alive than it already is.

Part 2: Triple A Titles

 For how long the handheld has been around, there has been very few of these, which is in truth a rather disappointing thing. However, we can say that companies such as XSeed Games, Sony Studio’s, Comcept, and of course Tecmo Koei have been rather good about filling up that void caused by the lack of bigger titles such as Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, and of course games such as Persona that could in truth boost sales, but also bring more players over to the Vita itself. What titles though has the Vita already benefited from? This was a question I’ve been asked in and outside of being a journo, and to be honest? There’s a lot of them. Surprisingly many fans have been amazed by titles such as Soul Sacrifice/Soul Sacrifice Delta, Toukiden: The Age of Demons, Stealth Inc., Dragon’s Crown, Deception IV: Blood Ties, Castle Storm, Ragnarok Odyssey/Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, Tear Away,  and even the Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus titles that have kept us rather amused. 
 To some these titles are easily looked over, and negligible because of them having released on consoles, which to some is a better and more superior way to experience the titles.  Luckily their remasters did a rather splendid job at bringing the experience to us once more. With Sony Entertainment having a huge list of possibilities that could make its way over, we certainly hope to see more new titles, and not just ports. We can only hope that this happens in the future.

Part 3: Why the Heck Bother?

 When looking at a PlayStation Vita, you may ask yourself this dumbfounding question: Why bother? It was a question I had to stop and ask myself a few times. The question came surprisingly easy. Mobility, access through wireless connections to my PS3 and my PS4, but also the ability to chat with friends on the go. What else? Well for one the handheld isn’t just a handheld, it in a way is a tablet, which lets you use apps such as Skype, Facebook, and even Twitter to stay connected with friends. Not a social person, but want to watch movies or shows? The Vita can also handle that for you thanks to it having apps such as Hulu, Netflix, YouTube (for you music lovers), Sony Video Store, Crunchyroll, Crackle, Tunein Radio, Redbox, Music Unlimited, NHL GAMECENTER and of course NBA Game Time for you basketball fans.

  Is that all it has to offer? Of course not. Thankfully the PlayStation vita also has compatibility with most (not all) PSP games, but also PS One games. This will allow those of you who wish to go back in-time (not literally here! I don’t have the Delorean to loan you kind folks) and revisit some of the greatest games of the time! If that’s not your thing, the PS Vita is also compatible with some of the indie games that can be cross-bought between PS3 and PS4, but also the Vita (this does not apply to all games, so watch the purchasing options carefully, and enjoy them!). 

 Let alone all these features, the Vita also comes as a rather nice music player, which can manage MP3’s as well as MP4’s. For those of you that don’t, check out the Music Unlimited feature, you won’t be disappointed.

Part 5: The Run Down

  As you have read the PlayStation Vita is far from disappointing. Instead it is a console that is not to be underestimated. It’s powerful and it shows thanks to games like Little Big Planet, Ninja Gaiden Sigma/Sigma 2 Plus, and of course Killzone. It also has a vast array of features from multimedia support for music and streaming services. For social media users, it features quite a few options, which in my opinion, are among some of the best. From classic games to new, the PlayStation Vita itself hosts a large array of options that include even indie developers. So what are you waiting for? Go out there, try it for yourself, and experience the large library of titles that are available.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Confessions of a Former World of Warcraft Addict

Confessions of a Former World of Warcraft Addict
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 5/17/2014
Written by Dustin Murphy

 Where do you start when you've become an addict to something and have almost fully “recovered”? Do you say, “I've done something wrong” or do you simply state that you have a problem? For me, I never knew until it had already begun to unwind my life. It was simply how it started. One of my best friends growing up brought it over, let me play it, and next thing I knew - I was hooked. It was simple, playing his Night Elf Druid, a balance druid at that, and questing. I couldn't stand the dull graphics at first. Except they weren't dull. I just wasn't used to high particle effects that could not be seen on a console. I was too used to my Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and even my Nintendo 64. They were what I was used to, even though I played games such as Starcraft and Warcraft.  Though what got me wasn’t just the graphics, but the gameplay, then the digital society within the game (other players). I began to find myself wanting to keep playing, and thus I did. I set out, bought a new computer after having shared his account for a few weeks. I bought the battle-chest since Burning Crusade had only been out a few weeks at most, and of course my adventure began. Rather my undoing. I found myself making my first self-paid for account, character, and of course my addiction that soon became a manifestation of disapproval from friends and family.

Now before we get to far, there is some admittance to be made. The game had been something of a hype for me, even at the time, it was something I was curious about due to Warcraft 3. It, however, did take time for World of Warcraft to lure me in completely. It was around the time Wrath of the Lich King had launched. I found myself sucked into the idea of leveling my Draenei Paladin, and dragging feet through each of the dungeons the game had to offer. The whole idea it contained at level cap was something new. Gear Optimization: The idea of fully making sure each part was proper, that gems were in their sockets, enchants for optimal proficiency was there, and of course having the proper weapon proficiency for the weapons of my choosing. The newest part though was add-on’s. That was a whole new exploration of its own that also helped expand my resourcefulness to each group I participated with on that character. Since raiding was something that had not peaked my interest at the time. I found myself questing. II wanted to explore the lore behind WoW, and even become a know-it-all about the the franchise itself. Then the novels released, then the comic books, and of course then another expansion. It wasn't quite till World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King, had my interest peaked. There I found myself following the storyline of Arthas, Invincible, the games lore of Old Gods, and even the deviance of the horde itself as it unfolded. It got me hooked, I began to stay up, not eat, not sleep, not run errands, and even begin to feel panicked if I felt my subscription beginning to run out. Truths turned to lies, and lies turned into more lies as I needed every reason to play. Even if it had meant having my WoW playing friend come over and stay the night, which turned into days, and days turned into weeks as the obsession became more of a need and want. Even vacations I found myself dragging my computer with me even if I had the SLIGHTEST hint of a working internet. Why? I needed at least some WoW time. Even if it was just a few minutes to get on and talk to friends. Social networking? Could have done it. Even with my cellphone, but instead, it was something about the game.

The first major time it became a problem, my Great Grandmother had passed away. She was someone I had held very dear to me. Someone that had taught me things about life, hobbies, and even lessons regarding craftsmanship's that I will never forget. Unfortunately, she didn't make it through all of my life as one would hope. She passed away due to age and health related complications. Once the date was announced, where, when, and who all was there. We set way to leave the house, but there was something else I felt must come along. My laptop and of course World of Warcraft. So I packed my bags, my laptop, and grabbed my phone. Off we went. There was nothing unusual about this to my parents, which in many ways, was because they kept quiet about how they felt. Even my aunts and uncles found it a bit unnerving by the time I got there, I was sitting there, logged into WoW. I would attend raids, level new characters, and spend seamless hours on WoW till it was time to power down, go to sleep, and get up to once more take on the ‘heroic’ deeds that my character would seek out to do at my discretion. Even at the anger of my own parents, whom I’m sure were ready to blow a gasket, but at the time, I didn't care. The funeral came, the funeral went, and soon as we were done? I was once more logged in and ignoring the pain that was ebbing at my heart. So you see, in ways, I logically told myself that it was okay to use WoW as an out rather than facing the reality of it all.

 This problem carried on for years, before the funeral, before the family gatherings, and even before the family trips. It became an obsession, more so an addiction to be quite honest. Why? I wanted it, needed it, and even craved the simple sounds of logging in and having a character on my computer screen moving around. It came to the point of ignoring friends, family, and even my responsibilities. It cost me friendships, relationships, money, and almost a job. Why? Because it’s all I wanted and needed. It was something I found insanely indulging. I even found myself back to where I first started: fighting over the internet. It wasn't small shouts here and there. It was screaming at the top of our lungs, screaming profanities, hating ourselves for what we were becoming, but most of all, hating WoW because of what it was doing. To me? This was normal. It was helping me get my way and letting me play what I wanted to play the most. World of Warcraft had become my life. It was everything I had and wanted. It made me feel satiated. It wasn't till after having been in a hardcore raid guild during the events of Cataclysm did I find myself questioning my reasoning behind my drive to play WoW. It started to become a job. Eventually it began to make me want to hate the game. The hardest pushes against bosses such as Ragnaros, Deathwing, Yor’sahj, and all this being on heroic difficulty. Why? We felt like we were the best of the best. Truth was? We were for our server. We had taken over the server as the top guild for both horde and alliance. It made us feel like we became fans. Why? We were being acknowledged by the social parts of it. Good and bad, mind you. Some people hated us, others cheered for us, and others simply didn't care like we did.

Though this was something that eventually began to die out shortly after the release of Mists of Pandaria. The guild fell apart, people moved on, and friendships were lost. Like most things in life, WoW began to become an expendable time slot for them. Some of them got married, some had kids, and some simply just found more creative hobbies. Even if it was gaming related. Shortly after having begun to wing away from WoW, it was interesting to see things a bit differently. A hate had begun to bubble. A dislike for the title really. Logging in after having joined another raid team began to feel like a job even though I had fun. Then came another raid group disbanding. Shortly after, another one, and another one, and finally another one. After several refreshes and restarts, it was time to try something new. Our teams merged, players began to give out availabilities for grouping if they could. It was just sort of playbook really so that even if we didn't do anything, it allowed us to get on, chit chat, and of course act like complete fools. Somewhere a year later we found ourselves once more with another guild, but this time things went smooth. We raided, we cleared content, we opened up more of the lore, which really drove us to keep going. Shortly after, we began to go back on hiatus. During this time I began to make new friends that didn't live halfway across the nation, two states away, or even half way across the world. Instead I got to meet people in an aspect I wasn’t used to. It was this aspect that of reality that began to sink in, and that’s when the little rain cloud with lightning bolts appeared over me (think like the cartoons).

I had finally realized in the past that I ignored much of my life for World of Warcraft. Things I can’t get back. A relationship, a funeral gathering, respect from friends or family, and even the bits of my life that could have been even more adventurous than before. The reality sat in, which meant so did my disapproval, but there were people there who genuinely cared, which lead me back once more to one thing: playing WoW. Though this time around it has better reasons, which has lead to me playing with friends, taking time away from it, and even running an amazing team of creative writers, gamers, and self-proclaimed gaming experts. What does this mean? My life has become mine again. WoW doesn’t own it, nor does the addiction, which means I’ve in many ways, broken the bonds that many have not had the strength to break yet. Does it pain me to not play like I should, how much I should, and why? No. Because I know the people behind the screen, running their animated characters around, and even talk to me through the title understand that my life has meaning. They also understand that sometimes, addiction can be something nasty, and truly horrendous for those who missed much of their life because of a game or a substance. I can’t say I don’t game anymore. I actually do. I still work on review titles, I still social game, but I do not let it consume me. I have since begun seeing my friends, my family, going away from the games when needed, and simply being honest about my intentions. Do I plan on playing more WoW in the future? Possibly. How soon? I can’t tell you that, but what I can tell you is this, once you regain control of your life, once you begin to let things smooth over, then you can think about all the things you can do. The freedoms you have lost, but regained because of the bonds that were broken.

 As of the past few months I have begun to find new hobbies, new friends, new adventures, and even new gaming events to go to. As a gamer, sometimes the best thing to do, is simply walk away from the one problem there is. For my problem? Taking a break from WoW was it. I still play two times a week, sometimes three. I have friends I do not see because they are still heavily indulged in the title, but eventually - they will see the things they have missed. The opportunities that are fading away. They will simply be in many ways, free of bonds that held them there in bad ways. For some of you, this was a rant, a jumbling of words. To some of you, it’s an admittance of being guilty of a painful addiction, a distasteful hunger, and of course a newly shed light on something that was once a bad habit, which has since, turned positive. There’s nothing wrong with playing games, there’s nothing wrong with being social, and there is nothing wrong when walking away from something that is seemingly becoming a problem.

Now that you have read my confession. I have a question for you, the reader, and of course fellow gamers. We all have problems that come up in our lives. Problems that could be something to do with finances, relationships, family, friends, and or something completely different. We all try to find ways to hide our problems. We all try to find ways to shove it to the back of our mind. When you have problems come up you can’t deal with, how do you manage them? Do you go to a game to subdue it? Do you purposely find yourself addicted to a game title in order to escape?  Have you been addicted to a game? Let me know in the comments. Sometimes the first step is simple. Admitting there is a problem. deal with them. With this we also find ourselves pushing away those around us because of something bothering us. Have you ever found yourself addicted to a game? If so what happened? Why? What were your repercussions because of it? I know mine were quite dangerous on their own. I lost nine years of my life.