Friday, August 30, 2013

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Borderlands 2 New DLC Announced!

Borderlands 2 Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2 : Digistruct Peak Announced
Originally Posted on and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/30/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

A glimpse of Digistruct Peak
    Today Gearbox Software announced on their official site (here) that Borderlands 2 will be seeing a raise in difficulty once more. In the new DLC named Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2: Digistruct Peak, players will once more find themselves on a trip through the hilariously and psychotic trip that is Borderlands 2. In the new DLC players will find new content such as a new level cap at 72, new area, new loot, and more. With the announcement of the new content it also brings in excitement for players that haven't dusted off their copy in a while, get together and once more find themselves raising as much chaos as possible on Pandora.

    Players will also find themselves excited to find new Legendary class mods, new Pearlescent-grade weapons, new character skins, new character heads, and of course the new level cap as mentioned in before. Was it also mentioned that new harder, more powerful, and of course crazed enemies wanting only one thing, to kill you will also be involved? With the new DLC players will get to fight the new Overpowered enemies, who have a higher chance to drop rare loot. Players will also enjoy the ability of gaining a new talent point per level while taking on the new area. 

   After hitting the new level cap of 72, players who have completed the content can enter into the new mode exclusive to the DLC called, Overpower. According to a interview on the official Digital Trends coverage of the upcoming content, the new area has been balanced for four player cooperative mode, and will also be quite normal. However, once all four players have progressed through the arena, they will see tougher, more aggressive, and even harder to beat enemies. These enemies of course will be based on the overall Overpower level that players have earned, starting out at Overpower level one and will change as players earn a higher Overpower rating. Even at the new level cap players will find themselves testing out their luck with the new Overpower system that has been activated. 
  According to the article on Digital Trends, once level capped and players have completed the arena, they then can leave the area, re-host their game, and then be prompted by the game to choose at what Overpower rating they would like to play the game at. Once players have selected their difficulty of choice they game will adjust the game to that Overpower rating where enemies will become more difficulty and of course will drop better loot. At the hardest levels players at the level cap of 72 can raise the max level to 80. The level 80 Overpower rating will pit players u against enemies exceeding level 80, the gear of course that drops will be rated at level 80, however thanks to the system in play, level 72 characters will be able to use the equipment. For the full coverage of the Digital Trends article, click here

Borderlands 2 is rated M for mature and is not suitable for players under 18.
  Borderlands 2's DLC, Ultimate Vault Hunter Pack 2: Digistruct Peak will be available on September 3rd for a cheap price of 4.99 USD. Owners of the season pass will not see this as a benefit to their season pass as it seems the usefulness of the season pass has run its course. Borderlands 2 is available for PS3 and XBox 360 fo 19.99 USD to 29.99 USD new at most major retailers online and in-store. For buyers looking at the PC version, prices may vary.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I'm Not Quite Sold on the Sony PlayStation 4

Why I'm Not Quite Sold on the Sony PlayStation 4
Originally Published on and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/28/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

  In gaming hardware history, Sony has been nothing short of a shining star, but that was quickly changed when their Sony PlayStation 3 had flopped. It started with low sales due to the extremely high price tag, limited online support, and of course the Microsoft Xbox 360 having dealt a heavy blow with a lower price, and of course heavier support. Over time the console grew in support with the blu-ray technology, vast amounts of exclusives, and of course a heavy support on digital sales. It has just been in recent years has the PlayStation 3 truly began to shine thanks to games that push the hardware such as Metal Gear Solid 4, Killzone 2, Killzone 3, God of War 3, and of course the latest installment God of War: Ascension. The PlayStation 3 has also been a home to amazing digital and or exclusives (Rain, Unfinished Swan, and Dead Nation to name a few) giving it a bit of a lead against the Microsoft Xbox 360, this however only being recent, and the question will be can they hold on.

  With the announcement of the PlayStation 4 as well as their plans for the future once it releases, it has received large public cheers, and ultimately a punch at Microsoft console sales for next gen. With the announcement players were able to see a strong and steady line up as well as support for the console. The support is only questionable to how strong it will remain due to Microsoft’s reversals on the XBox Ones hardware, game support, used games policies, and of course the Kinect not being required to play. This still has left a few fans weary of the XBox One, but why not the PS4? With the next generation around the corner in November it is the consoles should be studied, looked into, and ultimately decided on based on support as well as launch titles.

Launch Title Exclusives

  When it comes to exclusives, Sony has been a master at them, and the next generation seems to show this once more. With their 33 title launch window titles including Driveclub (day one), Killzone: Shadow Fall (Day One), and Knack (Day One), just to a list a few of these. However, the concern appears to be on how large that launch window is. After having boasted on their support for large online titles (Blacklight Retribution, Planet Side 2, and DC Universe Online), Sony has found themselves short with launch titles, and by short most won't be out till 2014. For gamer's such as myself, 2014 is a ways away, and in gaming a few months is like a year to be quite honest. With the lack of Planet Side 2 and Blacklight till 2014 this has began to waver some players to the XBox One and also gives Microsoft a leading draw on Day One exclusives. The problem here for Sony is trying to deliver a bigger and stronger blow than what Microsoft has already done with reversals as well as upcoming launch titles.

   Killzone Shadowfall however has demonstrated a strong performance for the PlayStation 4 thanks to the newly added co-operative play for campaign. Another focus has been on community. With their upcoming title Driveclub, Sony Entertainment has assured players Driveclub will focus on one thing aside from game play  the in-game racing community. With this focus it will be interesting to see how Sony plans on delivering a strong blow towards Microsoft's Forza Motorsports titles that have a strong following. With a weak track record after Gran Turismo 5, it is only a wonder how Sony can pull this one through, and if it will succeed. With Microsoft having announced they will have the same amount of release titles, more exclusives, and a heavy focus on the cloud for gaming. It is only a wonder if Sony can slow Microsoft's focus of gaming down. Sadly so far the only thing plucking at my strings is Killzone Shadowfall, a game that will have to deliver against the upcoming XBox One Exclusive, Titanfal by Respawn Entertainment. Sony you have some big shoes to fill, now lets see if you can deliver, and out-do this monster.

Online Support

PS4 community focus screen shot
  With the current generation of gamer's, community is a big thing, and so is the online support. The PlayStation 3 truly lacked in this where as Microsoft's XBox Live team focused on this, and eventually delivered with a Party Chat, something that PS3 was unfortunate to never have. With the launch of the PlayStation Vita, Sony saw this happen, and it works very well. The Party Chat system on the Vita seems to have been what is safe to assume a test ground for how the PlayStation 4 will operate their new party chat integration. While this is something that will be heavily welcomed to the gaming community that is moving to the PlayStation 4, it raises doubts to as how it will perform, and this is since Sony does have a bad history with slow networks. Players in the past have voice issues regarding this, Sony in turn having responded with patches to fix it, and lately they have. That still raises the questions on how Sony will support the new servers (PlayStation Plus online requirement?) as well as to how secure these servers will be after the Sony outage back in 2012. Another issue a lot of players will question if the PS4 will be able to handle the party chat, online multiplayer servers, and of course the new two thousand person friends list. It will be interesting to see how Sony does this, if they will tell the public, and how steady the connectivity will be compared to that of the PS3's at times flaky wi-fi due to USB based attachments such as the Sony Pulse series, USB dongle based controllers, and of course blue tooth interference from headsets. With the changes coming though it may be safe to assume that the 802.11n support on the PS4 may fix this issue. It will be interesting to see how to join friends, share game videos, earn new trophies, and of course see  all-in-all how the finished product is polished out.


  When it comes down to it the PS4 is truly a console of raw power. According to Sony the PS4 will be able to keep up with PCs for at least 7 years in quality of graphics and gameplay, but the question comes down to how it will do so. If the games remain that way, will we sacrifice graphics for power? On the other side of the river we have the XBox One, which could truly power gaming graphics and engines through utilizing the cloud servers, and also by the almost matching console specs. Another question is how will Sony provide the in-depth motion controlled game play that the XBox One will provide via the Kinect sensor? It will be interesting to see if SCE can actually harness the PS4's eye toy to detect human interaction and voice commands in future titles. When it also comes down to hardware the internal specs matter, but that is something I won't get into. Both consoles are almost identical now, one having a higher opportunity than the other, but the PS4 could truly be showing its raw power in the next four years. 

  With hardware support we also notice accessories. The biggest issue a lot of people had was if their headsets will work. The answer? Yes. Sony has come out and stated that all bluetooth headsets, pulse edition headsets, and of course possibly USB based will work on the upcoming console. The other interesting part is their cross-platform support that may occur between the PS3, PS4, and the PlayStation Vita. It will be interesting to see how this works, and if it does, Sony will officially take a leap that Microsoft has stated they won't be doing. With the launch of Diablo 3 not far out for current generation systems it will be a true sight to see how Sony will do this, and if they do.

  With their support of the PlayStation Vita and PS4 it will not be surprising if we see cross-platform play and support, it will also not be surprising if we see companion apps, cross-platform party chat, and perhaps even cross-platform streaming from the Vita to the PS4 or the other way around. However, even with their announced Vita and PS4 plans, the question remains. WILL they actually stick to this or will we eventually see them lose sight of this objective they made?

DRM Left to.... Developers?!

Online Pass DRM screen
   Sony after having announced that the PlayStation 4 would allow used games, it was not surprising to man fans that they would follow the PS3's suit, and the voice of gamer's. In turn it also ignited our worst fears. The DRM would remain intact if developers wanted to embed it into their games. Doing this would allow developers to control what titles can and can't be traded in via the online registration, something that PC gamer's have grown accustomed to, and something that may soon be the same for console gamer's on PS4. With this also comes the danger of hurting a promised relationship to their consumers, freedom of playing games, and the ability to share them. All of the mentioned is something that remains huge in the gaming community thanks to businesses like GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, and various other retailers that support the used game market. This is truly something that has peaked a tad bit of concern among the gaming community and could ultimately push some towards the XBox One without realizing the damage dealt. 

Discontinue add showing GameStops support for used games
  On the companies PS4 forums they let out an open statement saying that similar to the PS3 we know today, PlayStation 4 will not have any gating restrictions on used disc-based games. When we the gaming community buy a PS4 disc, we have the right to use that copy of the game, so that we can trade-in the said title at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or even keep it for all times. This also means players will not have to go through activation steps or be charged using fees when playing the used titles on our PlayStation 4's when they become available. This still brings forth the question, why would they allow the companies to decide DRM, is that not contradicting what they've previously stated? This is of course a concern.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GamingAnomaly or share and like Blast Away the Game Review for you Facebookers.

Authors Note: This version has been edited unlike the one Blast Away the Game Review. It does remain copyrighted and protected by myself and Blast Away the Game Review.

A Child Now Lost

A Child Now Lost
Originally Posted on and Published by Blast Away the Game Review on republished on
Written by Dustin Murphy

   As you may know here at B.A.T.G.R, we don't take child kidnapping lightly in any form. It is horrendous, heartbreaking, and utterly disgraceful for someone to do. With a heavy heart it has come to hit the gaming community. One of those people is a man I've gotten to work with in writing this article. Thanks to his assistance in editing, providing information, and staying in contact we are able to raise awareness of such a thing. This article is to help raise awareness, have the information spread, and ultimately hope that it gets to the right people, and hope it helps so that Kris Morness can get his child back. In the following paragraphs you will give you a story of a game developer and his fight for his child. A child that he has sense won custody of and now finds he has now been taken to Japan. Please not that this is also not a common type of article for us to do, but it has been requested of the gaming world to do this, and thus is why we are. I hope you find it in your hearts to share this article.

  It is not uncommon for us to hear about a divorce, child parenting plans, and the counseling all parties need. However, it is uncommon for us to see a case as bad as this from an HR Employee (Kawabata) and of course a developer (Morness) who helped in the design of titles such as Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars, Operation Flashpoint Dragon Rising, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Command and Conquer Generals, both The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth games, and Jagged Alliance 2. When I logged into Twitter as always I was welcomed by a post that simply was this - a cry for help. Amid a legal battle turned ugly by the mother, Kris Morness has reached out for help. One that only awareness and assistance from a community can give. In the light of this Kris has also given out ways to help, what to do, and how to do so. In the light of all this we have seen something that should normally go peaceful turn into a battle that should never had happened with the help of the courts.

Kris and Max after finger painting.
  Chie and Kris met while they both lived and worked in the Los Angeles area in 2005. They married the following year and both planned a move to the UK where they both lived and worked for the next two years. In 2008, Max was born in London, England. Shortly after that, they planned to move back to Los Angeles together. They had barely settled in Los Angeles when the mother wanted to take a job at Microsoft in Seattle, which ended up being her 6th job in only 3 years. She had already demonstrated a disturbing trend of job jumping and this new job would require separating the family temporarily. Despite major arguments, Kris capitulated. He had just started his job at technical producer at Activision and needed to see his project through, which was due to be complete in 9 months, and would begin in earnest to search for a new job up in the Seattle area to rejoin the family.

That was late 2008. Right about the time the economy tanked and game studios started shutting down at an alarming rate. The project finished and job hunting intensified. He stayed in Los Angeles longer than anticipated when his studio was shut down in Feb 2010. The next day he packed up his stuff and rejoined his family. The marriage was already on the rocks and it was Jan 2011 when Kris called it quits and moved back to his native, Vancouver, BC.

Kris and Max having a heated debate about how fast the boat can go.
  Kris worked hard after the separation to arrange for regular visitation in Canada. Under the guise of separation anxiety, Chie had Max see a therapist of her choosing. First couple visitations took place in Seattle. Then Kris was able to bring Max to Canada. Only 5 months after separation in June 2011, Chie had an idea to move to Beijing with Max, and that he would have access to private schools and effectively try to sell it similarly to her move to Seattle. But it was just another attempt to isolate Max from his father and keep Max all to herself. Chie China Relocate to China Request.

Kris was very concerned that Chie’s job jumping would never stop, so he enquired about the possibility of having primary custody of Max. Chie’s reaction was to file an ex-parte restraining order. The restraining order was contested and defeated as there was no cause for it, but it did end up triggering an official parental evaluation to determine custody as well as a temporary parenting plan. That process took a few months and the evaluation came out in Dec 2011. Parental Evaluation for 12/28/2011.

Kris and Max building a dresser.
  By the end of 2011, litigation had already heated up with various motions in the court system. But 2012 would turn out to be a brutal year of litigation. During this time, Chie started drumming up allegations of child abuse and dragged Kris through 2 mediations and 5 arbitrations.

  In March 2012, Chie’s lawyer sent a letter stating that Chie’s mom in Japan had stage 4 colon cancer and had six months to live. She also inadvertently disclosed instructions from Chie regarding a relocation and change to the parenting plan. As a result of that disclosure, Kris did not give consent for international travel as required by the parenting plan. Chie forced it to arbitration and the arbitrator gave her permission to go, citing a lack of evidence. Chie Kawabata Arbitration Decision on Traveling to Japan on 5/17/2012.

She planned her trip, and on June 5, she signed the paperwork with a new lawyer on her Intent to Relocate to Japan before getting on the plane to Japan with Max. Kris was served 4 days later when she was already there and there were already great concerns she absconded to Japan with Max. Property division hadn’t even been decided yet but it ended up exceeding $100,000. The arbitrator ultimately stayed travel to Japan as a result as Chie misled the facts. Chie Relocation Motion and Arbritation Final Decision against Ms. Kawabata.

By the point, Kris owed his lawyer a great deal of money and fighting this relocation was going to be an uphill and expensive battle. So she withdrew and Kris objected to the relocation and filed a motion to block the relocation on a temporary basis. Among the many reasons cited, Chie had not paid any of the property division that was owed in an effort to impede my ability to fight the relocation properly. Objection to Relocate Petition on 6/26/2012

  As a result of that filing, Chie did pay $30,000 which was enough to get his lawyer back on the record. The evidence of foul play from Chie was so overwhelming that the court rendered a stunning victory against the relocation. Successfully blocking a relocation against the primary parent is exceptionally rare. But even more rare was the fact that the court ordered that Chie pay 100% of the costs of a second parental evaluation.

  That second evaluation strongly recommended against the relocation. One would think that at this point, dropping a relocation action would be the right thing to do. It is very difficult to overcome expert opinion and anyone in their right mind would have dropped it. But she pushed on. She actually deposed the evaluator at great cost and when that backfired, she plowed through to trial anyway. She had to go! Her 3rd lawyer withdrew two weeks before trial and managed to find a 4th lawyer to take on the case with only a week to trial. Parental Evaluation for 9/4/2012.

  Words cannot describe how crazy that trial was. Chie was a habitual liar going completely against common sense, while Kris continued to stay the course. Not only did Kris prevail at trial to block the relocation, he was also awarded half of his trial costs due to Chie’s ongoing intransigence (which basically means obstinately uncompromising) and lies. And her 4th lawyer withdrew after the trial.

   Chie’s next step was to hire an appellate lawyer to appeal her relocation loss and the costs award. This is an incredibly expensive proposition for her. So Kris had to hire one too to defend and at this point he had already spent nearly $80,000 in legal fees. His main lawyer had to withdraw a second time due to a high balance owing and couldn't afford multiple lawyers fighting on multiple fronts. Not to mention that Kris also hired a collection lawyer to garnish Chie’s wages for the past several months.

Kris and Max dressed nicely for Kris wedding.

  Kris remarried in Nov 2012 and they are expecting a baby boy in October 2013. There is only so much money to go around, so he acted pro-se (without representation) for the past several months as he tries to dig himself out of litigation debt.

  In 2013, Chie also hired her 5th family lawyer to continue to harass Kris with unnecessary litigation. She filed a contempt motion against Kris which failed, and she filed a motion to recalculate child support, which ended up going in Kris’ favor. She pushed hard to arbitrate travel to Japan and for Max to enter a private school in Bellevue for Kindergarten at a cost of $25,000 per year. It just never ended with her. The litigation had already come full circle for things that were already litigated in the previous year.

  Due to the school schedule, Kris has the majority of the summer break and other breaks in addition to every other weekend. Max was up in Vancouver from June 28th through July 15th. That would be the last time Kris saw Max in person. When Max is with Chie, there are 3 regularly scheduled Skype calls between Max and Kris. Those continued while she was in California

  Chie took a trip with Max to Los Angeles and San Francisco where the majority of her friends reside. Ultimately this was her goodbye tour, as she secretly boarded a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo on July 26, 2013. The last Skype contact Kris had with Max was on July 25. She started making up strange excuses for missing Skype.

  Kris grew suspicious and called the daycare and found he had not attended the daycare at all that week. Kris called the police and they started investigating. They discovered they were not at the home, but looked inside the windows and saw that the place looked like it had been partially packed up. His worst fears were realized. Her last email confirmed she was in Japan illegally with Max.

  Since the last email Chie Kawabata has gone off the grid. After the police did research of the local residents they were able to quickly confirmed the worst of fears, Chie did indeed flee to Japan, and Max went with her. Unfortunately due to circumstances, the courts cannot do anything about since Chie has gone outside of United States Jurisdiction. It is cases like this that as a gaming journo, human being, and a grown man find breaking my heart. In what should have been a peaceful custody share, Chie has run away causing it to turn ugly, and in doing so has caused writers like myself to take action. In light of this there is a shimmer of hope that Max will be brought back to his father from Japan and will be in his rightful home.

For more information visit Kris Morness' page: Chie Kawabata

To get a hold of Kris on how to help contact him on twitter: @kmorness

Warning: If you see the woman above or the child in the pictures above, please call local authorities. She has abducted by him to Japan against court orders.

Authors Note: I want to thank Kris Morness for his time in working with me as well as his patience he has shown. It has been a major help in doing this article and providing me an insight of these occurrences first hand.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Article Removed

 Earlier today I posted an article regarding a situation of a child being taken away from his father against court orders. Due to some of the information having been represented incorrectly by the contact, Mr. Kris Morness. I have since removed the article to correct some details in it that should have not been in the final draft and had been removed previously. At this time the article will be down until further notice. Apologies to all readers as some of the information was out of date or incorrect.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day One Exclusives and the Battleground They Create

Day One Exclusives and the Battleground They Create
Originally Published on and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/26/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

   When it comes down to gaming and the launch of new consoles, exclusives matter. This is the spot that has set in stone our battleground for the next generation and this battleground is getting ugly. With Sony having yet again taken away best of show at GamesCom and swept E3 under their arms like it was over from the get go. This has not changed the pace that many gamer's want to see, but is Sony going to far with the childish jokes? Yes they are. Their puns, ridicules, and even incessant nudging at Microsoft has begun to get old. Though with the ribbing jokes so has come a bit of news that has been leaking out slowly and that is regarding the Day One titles that will release side by side with the consoles this November. With both consoles having a relative strong line-up. Sony just like Microsoft seek to win over the masses with titles such as Titanfall, Knack, Project Spark, Killzone Shadowfall, Infamous Second Son, and their indie titles that will be seeing a launch or sometime post launch. 

   As a consumer, reviewer, and journalist this all comes to include values that everyone should take in - is it worth my money? Unfortunately neither console has provided a solid answer as to why theirs is the one to take. Sony on one hand has began to provide quite a bit of reasons and that is their free-to-play game support as well as their focus on getting indie developers to flock to them. With this ensures that a console will sale well, the player base will grow, and of course it gives the companies an idea of what gamer's will look for later on. The biggest change to this entire industry has not been the focus on the blockbuster hits such as Uncharted, God of War, Gears of War, Alan Wake or Forza Motorsports. Instead it has come down to developers of the smaller titles such as Minecraft, Unfinished Swan, and even indie titles such as Charlie Murder. These titles do not have a backing as big as games like the previously mentioned blockbusters, but their followings are just as big. It is these type of games that will come to present themselves as the battleground for the next gen. Sure the big hitters such as Titanfall and Killzone Shadowfall will matter. In previous years Microsoft has shown that these small names do matter with how fast they sale and how many people purchase them.

   What are we looking at in the long run though? With the past generation many gamer's saw a gap in exclusive console titles when it came down to Microsoft. The biggest ones gamer's could possibly remember were titles such as Mass Effect and Bioshock going cross platforms. This honestly had been one of the biggest hits Microsoft could have taken. With the hit though Microsoft still remains outshining many even with their questionable exclusives such as Quantum Break that have remained rather mystique as to what they are. Having presented multiple reasons as why to stay optimistic about the XBox One and its future Microsoft has already pushed out knowledge of the new Mincraft XBox One Edition that will be heading out the doors sometime in the launch window, hopefully no later than spring 2014. However, Sony in turn has dealt a similar hand with a recent announcement over some of their free-to-play titles that will be making their way out to PS4 near post launch. Players who purchase the PS4 can expect titles such as Blacklight: Retribution, Planet Side 2, DC Universe Online and even Warframe by Crytek to make a debut sometime post launch.

   Though with this knowledge why do exclusives create a battleground? Lets delve back into the launch of the classic XBox. Halo was and still is one of the biggest titles out there in the series. It created a lifeline that many XBox fans have come to require with each release of a console and even desire as the titles release on by one. In its lifetime Halo's first installment "Halo: Combat Evolved" has sold a lifetime total of over 24 million copies world wide, which in truth is a lifetime achievement. To this day even with the Anniversary Edition, Halo Combat Evolved has not shown a slow down in player base, instead it seems to grow faster than ever. Another example as to Microsoft's huge hand in exclusives is the rarely known, but heavily fan fared title - Jade Empire. Jade Empire once more proved that Microsoft could house rather large titles and keep them selling to gamer's with a last checked 1,167 digital versions sold on the Xbox 360's market rating. However, this pales in comparison to the records set by BioWare's more renown franchise. Knights of the Old Republic, which to this day still sales very well. With a fan base big enough, BioWare | EA teamed up to develop and publish the now free-to-play MMORPG Star Wars the Old Republic. If things turn out true, Microsoft could capitalize on this title and even make it an XBox One exclusive giving the XBox One another true punch in the direction of Sony Computer Entertainment. If this happens is only a maybe as it has seemingly never been in talks nor would it be imaginable is at this time. Though Sony has been dealt a mighty blow when Tetsuya Nomura announced the once planned to be exclusives Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 will be launching on both the PlayStation 4 and the XBox One. Does this mean we could truly see Sony making a move to gain fans through a multi-console possibly one time launch or does it mean Square Enix is starting to jump ship? We'll have to wait and see in the upcoming years. It does seem Sony may remain strong and recover from this painful blow. For now anyways.

   What does all this mean though? For some consumers this means they will be going into a waiting period to see what games release and when. In light for others this means they will be prepping for the next generation of consoles to release this fall, and those consumers will be the first signs of a new era to console warring. To others this just means a time period where they will transition from one generation to the next in order to get the best exclusives each console has to offer. To others this also means that players will also wait to see what offers come to multi-console titles such as Call of Duty Ghost and Battlefield 4. This is truly a unique period where gamer's will once more follow their preferred console based on release and of course games that are available at the initial launch.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Subscription Fees for The Elder Scrolls Online?!

Subscription Fees for The Elder Scrolls Online?!
Originally Posted on and Published by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/24/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

  Earlier this year we saw one of our biggest announcements start to walk around flaunting what could have been the biggest monopoly on the MMORPG market. That was quickly muddied earlier this week. Zenimax and Zenimax online have come forth stating that after backing the 59.99 USD plus TAX cost of The Elder Scrolls Online players will have to also have to pay a monthly fee of 15 USD after the first month of free play has expired. It is something that has sparked a rather large public relations wildfire and of course has earned them a loss of credibility among some of the more hardcore fans who find this stance change condemning. 

 In this day in age there is nothing short of high expectations when it comes to Bethesda|Zenimax when it comes to their publishing of titles. This move however has set a fire unlike any underneath their feet, one that will stay with them, and possibly hurt the in the long wrong. With many MMO titles that promised to be something big, new, and innovative we have seen those come to a slowly forming painful death. One of these many examples is the Star Wars The Old Republic MMO that had promised much seemed to be a giant success at first for BioWare and their Publisher EA. Instead the title was a mess and lacked major content that eventually caused the game to go to a free-to-play scheme. With this is a rumor another giant of the MMO market has began to slowly fall from to its knees - World of Warcraft. Earlier this week at GamesCom Tom Chilton lead Game Director for World of Warcraft had stated in an interview, "I definitely think that free-to-play MMOs will be around for a very long time," Chilton said. "At some point it's possible that World of Warcraft could end up being free-to-play, but I do think there’s always room for there to be subscription games."

 With this highlight it would only be a wonder as to why Zenimax has taken the subscription fee stance, it is also a wonder as to how this came about, and if it will stick before the games summer 2014 launch window. On top of this announcement Zenimax was also caught stating that the game will feature an in-store market, one that players can use in order to gain cosmetic items as well as other items that will become noted closer to launch. In the heat of this they have also seen major hits on social spots such as Facebook and Twitter, fans calling them out for their change of heart on the free-to-play scale. It will be no surprise if they change their stance offering subscription rates at a cheaper cost or perhaps even at a lower cost for longer periods of play. This backlash could also effect the upcoming Square Enix MMO - Final Fantasy XIV, which set to release on August 27th for PC and PS3.

 With all this what is your feeling towards The Elder Scrolls Online? Are you willing to by then pay to play or has the age of free to play become a new mark in gaming territory for you.

For the original coverage of this by Kotaku click the logo below.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mortal Kombat PS Vita Review

Mortal Kombat PS Vita Review
Originally Published on and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/23/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

  • Contains all previously released content for Mortal Kombat on consoles
  • Online multiplayer has been vastly improved with connectivity to servers
  • Controls transferred well from console to handheld
  • Touch-screen fatalities are wacky and fun to use
  • Online multiplayer does not have a true skill rating system for players
  • Lacks cross-play between PS Vita and PS3
  • In-frequent frame rate drops cause the game to be at times hard to play
  • Character models show their downgraded appearance rather heavily when playing 

Final Verdict: 6.25 out of 10

Final Opinion:  Mortal Kombat for PS Vita had a chance to go the distance to match that of the PS3 and 360 titles that it was ported from. Unfortunately it feels as if NetherRealm dropped the ball and didn't take time to fine tune features such as graphics and animations. They did however manage to deliver a good on the go experience that will fulfill any Mortal Kombat players craving. The only downside to this is that the title does not feature cross-play between PlayStation 3 and PS Vita leaving it out in the cold on its own.

Replay Value: Low to Moderate

  Mortal Kombat for the PS Vita is everything I expected it to be for a port from the more graphically demanding console titles. Mortal Kombat for the Vita shows this flaw almost immediately when players enter the character selection only to see the models that appear to have never been touched up from a graphical stand point. The character models are pixilated, muddy, and seemingly left in what could be considered a beta phase of sorts. It becomes more evident that the team didn't take time to truly program or touch up graphics when the game goes from cut scenes to actual fights. This is where it gets worse as the graphics seemingly degrade dramatically. It was bad enough seeing this sight for sore eyes till my eyes set place on the beautifully done fighting arenas that look as if they had more time spent on them to show the pure raw power of the PlayStation Vita. On the bright side of it all it felt as if the developers did spend time to fine tune the game itself for the Vita. The game play for the title was seamless thanks to the well done controller transition from console to handheld. Mortal Kombat's controls remain unchanged except for a few additions that had been implemented due to the lack of the back triggers like the PS3 and the XBox 360 have. To make up for this they added the use of the PS Vita touch screen that allows for fatalities and some "Test Your Might" challenges to be completed using it and of course the motion sense technology inside the hand held.

    In this title players are going to be familiar to many of the game modes available including the return of the hardest - The Challenge Tower. In Mortal Kombat for PS Vita, players will be quick to take on over 150 total challenges. Some of the challenges will vary to using the motion sense, the touch screen and of course sheer will power to complete the challenges that wait. These challenges have proved to be quite funs even though some are downright frustrating. My frustration was put aside when I decided to step up to the plate and introduce myself to a multiplayer that I was expecting to be as broken as the console versions. Once into the multiplayer the frustration was broken. Never once was a form of latency to show up nor was there once a loss of connection from a fight in progress. The PS Vita version has seemingly fixed many problems that the console versions have. 

    It was easy to tell that the Mortal Kombat team spent a lot of time and effort working on the multiplayer since it was a quick, hardcore, and in many ways stayed true to what makes Mortal Kombat Unique - blood filled. Mortal Kombat for PS Vita was quick to show off the new "Finish Him" moment when I decided to use the touch screen to perform one of my favorites of all time scenes of Subzero turning Scorpion into a baby via using the Babality commands. In seconds I got to see Subzero do what was memorable as a mockery to Scorpion - turn him into a baby. After the scene was done and the moment of laughter was finished it was time to go to the campaign and see how well it made the transition from consoles to handheld. Sadly the transition was not beautiful as would be expected. The campaign once again shows one of the flaws that would keep me from touching another Mortal Kombat on the Vita, the graphics, frame rate drops, and of course the horrid transition from cinematic to game play. 


   With the campaign players once more undergo a rather familiar tone of playing the role of Mortal Kombats familiar fighters. At the start of the story the game introduced me to multiple fighting styles from Jax, Sonya, Liu Kang, Raiden, and Nightwolf to name a few. The story remained in depth and well written as is expected. Giving the players an idea that the war in the Nether Realm has once more occurred players get to see the story from multiple aspects. These multiple aspects is also what will give players the full background story whether they want it or not. With the story being well rounded it seeks to not disappoint and leave players hungering for more. Hopefully the Vita will get that as well if we see another chapter to the Mortal Kombat franchise reboot.

  Overall Mortal Kombat for the PS Vita is not a title that should be looked lightly upon. It stays true to what made Mortal Kombat unique; the blood, the fighting, the side to side combat, and of course a story that will leave players astonished. With Mortal Kombat for Vita players who are on the go will certainly feel as if NetherRealm had stayed true to the legacy and let it live on as a on the go title.

Graphics: Character models are muddy, dark, and require a lot of touch ups. Each fighting arena feels as if it was pulled directly from console versions, leaving this game to wonder if it could have looked like the PS3 title. Not to forget the fact the graphics also find a bit of a frame rate infrequently.

Sound: Great soundtrack and voice over’s that match that of the console versions as well. From bone crunches to be-heading the sounds transferred very well giving players a console like experience.

Controls: Adapted from the PS3 and XBox 360 the controls transferred well thanks to the help of the touch screen giving added support.

Official Website:
Mortal Kombat
 Official Twitter: Mortal Kombat - NetherRealm