Monday, September 30, 2013

The Final Hours are Nigh!

Mighty No. 9 Record Breaking Kickstarter Reaches Final 24 Hours!
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/30/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy.



 When it comes to games and Kickstarters, gamer's, enthusiasts, and of course developers all become excited over things, but nothing like Mighty No. 9. When it comes to Keiji Inafune and his team at Comcept, Mighty No. 9, a soul successor to Mega Man, has shattered records, and become a soul successor come true.

When it comes to the goals that they have set, they have been made with exceedingly possible funding, and that's not all; Keiji and his team are shooting for PS Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and next gen console releases sometime in the future if the goal can be reached at 3.5 million USD in funding. Though with the final past few days of this campaign we've seen a few cool things release. One of the released items that caught interest is the first development demo to come out of them through their official Kickstarter page. Take the link below to see what is in-store for us. The video description and information can tell you how hard at work these guys were with this test video.

Final Day is Nigh! - Mighty No. 9 Blog Post



When it comes to Kickstarter bonuses, gamer's, founders, and of course fans are eager to see what they get for their support, and of course a physical disc and USB "cart" have been added to the list. What does this mean? Well you fans of the NES- and Famicom-style fanatics will enjoy this USB drive as it looks just like a game cartridge from those days. Check it out below! 

Mighty No. 9 - Physical Disc and USB Cart!



When it also comes to Keiji Inafune and his team at Compcet, we now knew their passion going into this, but that passion just got a whole lot bigger. Announced recently by Keiji and his team, the musical composer Takashi Tateishi and sound producer Ippo Yamada have joined the talented team to bring a true classic experience. Many of you will know Takashi Tateishi for being the composer for Mega Man 2 and of course Ippo Yamada from Mega Man Zero, Mega Man 9, and of course Mega Man 10. For the full statement take the link below!

Takashi Tateishiand Ippo Yamada Join Team - Official Blog Post

When it comes to working with the fans, this game has been everything up to that and some. When it comes to this project, the team wants input from all the fans on knowing what the heroine should look like! Well interested in your opinion? Take the link below, check their facebook page, and or both to cast your vote! 

Mighty No. 9 - Heroine Call

Mighty No. 9 Official Facebook Page

We knew when I stated earlier that the goal of three million USD was being broke, we didn't know just was at stake, well I'm here to tell you just that. Keiji and his team added te stretch goal for next gen as well as the handheld versions mentioned before to the goal list. Well with how close we are it will be saddening to some (such as myself I know) to not see this happen. If you are interested head over to their Kickstarter page, throw in a few bucks, and help push the game to that goal.

Want to see what the team has been doing? Well here you go in their first episode of The Mighty No. 9 dev-documentary, showing an early behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the game!

Mighty No. 9 - Dev. Documentary Episode 1


Interested in seeing a behind the scenes with a livestream from the team? In the final hours of the Kickstarter, running on Tuesday, October the 1st, from 3pm to 6pm PDT, including team interviews, live backer Q & A and of course, a special guest, Inafune himself announcing the winners of the our Call heroine design vote! Of course directly from the team here's a thank you from them!

"Thanks for your time and support! (`_´)ゞ  "- The Mighty No. 9 Team

Quotes from around the industry about Mighty No. 9!

“Inafune-san is one of the most legendary game designers on the planet. Everything he's touched has been massively influential not only to my career but also the amount of fun I've had throughout my childhood and into my adult life. I look forward to this project with bated breath!” - Cliff Bleszinski Co-creator Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, Gears of War

“Kickstarter is an appealing system, but there's been this assumption that an indie game can only perform so well there. So I'd like to express my gratitude to Inafune-san and the Mighty No. 9 team for blowing that pessimism out of the water. On top of that, this veteran creator has shown us all that, no matter what your age, it's never too late to take on the challenge of making the games you want to make. I hope to follow in his footsteps.”
Takumi Naramura (Nigoro) Director, La Mulana

“Inafune-san is best known for creating a videogame icon, but perhaps his biggest impact is how passionate he's always been about listening to his fans -- even before social media, community management or Kickstarter. And now those same fans (myself included) can give Inafune-san a chance to return to his roots and create something amazing in the genre he helped define. I don't know about you, but that's SUPER/ULTRA/MEGA EXCITING to me.

Now let's get Mighty No. 9 on next-gen and handhelds!”
Nathan "Mighty No. 92" Vella President, Capy Games

“To all of us independent developers and creators, Mighty No. 9 is a truly inspiring project. It's a rare game that has its creators and its fans so in sync with each other, and I hope it gives birth to lots of smiling faces!” Yohei Kataoka (Crispy's) Director, Tokyo Jungle

“I'm looking forward to the birth of a new franchise from this Kickstarter! Best of luck to Inafune-san and my friends at Comcept, Inti Creates and 8-4.” Christian Svensson Former Senior VP, Capcom USA

“I really have no idea who this guy is (...or...) what his stupid game looks like.” Michael Pachter, Games Analyst, Wedbush Securities

Additional information and updates on Mighty No. 9 are available at:  

Kickstarter campaign page: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mightyno9/mighty-no-9 

Twitter: @MightyNo9 

Official Facebook page: Official Mighty No. 9 Facebook!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Minecraft Blamed for Kid Bringing Weapons to School

Minecraft Blamed for Kid Bringing Weapons to School
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/28/2013
Originally reported by WFTV
Written by Dustin Murphy



When it comes to games, violence, and well fingers being pointed - the gaming industry has it all. Recently was the most recent report of a nine year old child bringing a gun, a clip with six rounds, a small handled sledge hammer, and a steak knife to school according to the officer who searched his bag. According to the officials the child obtained these said items from his fathers home. According to the report on WFTV the officials at Endeavor Elementary School, said the 9-year-old boy told three friends before school that he had the weapons. The friends then reported their findings to school officials, who in turn are the ones that did this report.

According to the report on WFTV there were no injuries reported at the school, which is a nice thing, but brings to question - how long can games keep being used as a scapegoat?

In the report to WFTV, "I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I couldn't believe it," said the boy's father. According to the boys father, his son was just acting out the game, and that he believed his gun could never have been fired. "Well, the gun was stored in a drawer but the firing pin component had been removed," the boy's father said in his report to the station.

My take on this? When it comes to games we have to look at them like movies, games, books, or even music, they are a form of entertainment media. When it comes to things like this, it's no joke, and something that shouldn't be taken lately. Parents should let kids know how and when games are games, the difference between reality and virtual reality, and of course guidance that comes with it.

Though the question is - how much did these people know about games? As a Minecraft player it's easy to notice when a game is being pointed out, players can easily be seen using the weapons and resources given. The said resources listed below when it comes to tools and weapons that are base components:

-Mining Pick
-Axe
-Shovel
-Sheers
-Gardening Hoe
-Sword
-Bow

When parents, officials, and unaware players, they should research into the things they are blaming. According to several other reports the father was caught saying, "he uses guns to kill zombies in his game", well dad, sorry, he doesn't. In truth he uses a sword or bow, which are noticeably different from a firearm. When it comes to things like these especially the accessibility to firearms, it brings in a questioning as to why the father had the gun that low in the first place, why he even though with a firing pin gone it was safe. In the game it is purely about building, harvesting, and of course creating your own world, literally. It's not like Call of Duty or Battlefield where the focal point is all about fighting other players. Instead this one is the most laid back, enjoyable, and group focused games that has ever been created. It is only a surprise to see that this game has been at the head of a blame based game the parent has played.

Gamer parents out there this is for you. Do you feel confident in your children gaming? If so or not so, why? Do you think parents need to be a bit harder on their kids with the games they are playing? At what extent do you believe kids should be playing games?

I've reached out to Mojang for their take on this and will report back when I get one.

The copyright to the photo belongs to WFTV and will be removed upon request.

Killzone Mercenary Review

Killzone Mercenary Review - A Handheld Based Console Experience
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/28/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy




Pros:

  • Amazingly scripted story that carries well with other Killzone installments and puts it equally next to them.
  • A side story and precursor to the events of Killzone Shadowfall, which leaves no questions asked with plot holes that could exist.
  • Finally, we get to see a side we never had seen before, players work with the Helghast.
  • Multiplayer that could easily set an example of how First Person Shooter titles can thrive on a handheld system.
  • Graphics and sound effects that give a true console experience.


Cons:

  • Aiming seems a bit slow even at higher settings, but motion sense aiming seems to help a bit.
  • Absolutely throws a cow when no internet connection is found
  • Multiplayer at times can be a pain with unbalanced teams
  • Campaign has a few spots where the frame rate hiccup can cause problems and lead to death.


Overall Rating: 9.25 out of 10.

Final Opinion: When it comes to Killzone and storytelling, Guerrilla Games is no stranger to what it takes to make a game that will absolutely capture you, and this one is no exception. With a triple a title type experience on a handheld, this is a game PS Vita owners must have, it's strong in performance and graphics. It's something the Vita needed desperately and it was delivered on a silver platter.

 When it comes to the Killzone franchise, I'm a long time fan of the series, and with it comes good foundation to such. Killzone as many who have experienced it knows, is a very well scripted story, a strong first person shooter, and of course filled with cutscenes, narrative, and battlefield chatter that comes in and out. Killzone Mercenary is not an exception to any changes, and that is something well deserved for any Killzone title, and with it comes another big experience on a small screen. Having seen a handheld before, Killzone Liberation was Guerrilla Games' first attempt at bringing us a handheld experience like no other, and in many ways it was a sloppy birds eye view mess. However, with it we had an expanded story, something that tied a few holes that were left over from Killzone and the transition up to Killzone 2. With Killzone Mercenary we do not see any hole patching, or even plot holes that could cause some problems for people wanting a complete story. Killzone Mercenary in many ways is a side story to the events from Killzone 2 and Killzone 3, giving players an entire new playable character, handler, and of course this means a new storyline.

In Killzone Mercenary, players will experience the role as just that, a mercenary named Danner. When it comes to being paid for their services, Danner is no rookie, instead he's a veteran of it and worked with the ISA quite often to make his name. In it we also get to experience something unique, a story-line that is completely new, one that gives us an insight to just how horrid the Helghast and ISA truly are. A few missions in players will see exactly what is going to unfold and how bad it is truly going to get. The most interesting part of it all was my time spent in it playing as a mercenary for the Helghast. What I had longed for in a Killzone game was interesting, well thought out, and let me revisit some of the maps I had seen post ISA invasion. With it I also learned some new facts about previous events in the Killzone series through Helghast Intel that was collectible throughout the Helghast portion of the campaign.

After having spent what time I did (a whopping eight and a half hours on Veteran) the game left me satisfied with my experience, the story, and of course the background they provided through the collectibles hidden through out the game. For those of you who want to hunt? Make sure not to kill specially marked icons on your mini map, those guys, they're important to "interrogate" through the games touch-screen based melee function. With it players will get to hone in their response times for when they move into the multiplayer.

Now that I've touched a bit on this a bit, it's time to move onto the major focus of the game, multiplayer. When it comes to Killzone's multiplayer, it is something to look forward to as it is just as solid as the campaign, if not even with it. Much like my hands on first impressions from the beta, Killzone Mercenary kept everything it originally had. thankfully though we did see much of the system carry over when it comes to gear, equipment, and load outs, lets touch on this first. In this game they let us use a shady blackarms vendor known as Blackjack sell us our weapons, supplies, and of course our VAN-guard based items. When it comes to VAN-guard players will be acquainted with a new feature that has never truly been seen before in a Killzone title. 

The VAN-guard system is an interesting load-out selection, it allows players to choose from one of multiple items, and the ones I leaned to favor would be questionable and highly utilized. First we had the Ghost Generator, which does what it sounds like, provides players with a limited stealth capability that could and can be used as a tactical advantage. Though when it comes with Ghost Generator, players must note they will not be able to move fast, shoot, and of course use equipment without going out of stealth, which means use it wisely. My second VAN-guard of choice was the amazing portable airstrike - Skyfury. When it comes to deadly equipment, Skyfury is not an exception, it is the definition of amazing playing field leveling tool, and should be used as such. Skyfury will take players into a birds eye view, allowing them to see the entire battlefield at a circular angle as they move in such, and ultimately are able to target enemies that are highlighted with a red triangle on screen. Once these enemies are marked, players can then tap their screen on these marks, and well obliterate them into a pile of nothing. While using Skyfury, players must note they are left vulnerable, and defenseless. Do note that Skyfury CAN be countered by going into passageways and buildings, which leaves it useless, and of course ultimately open to being shot down.

The next one I had an in-depth affair with over the other two was the Porcupine Launcher. The Porcupine Launcher can be thought of as your mini-missile launcher. I found myself using it more often than any of the others thanks to its pure destructive power and ultimately the splash damage it had, which leveled the playing field to my advantage. The launcher is quite fun as it pops ups targeting reticle(s) on screen for players to tap, blow up, and enjoy an explosive show. However, when targets can't be hit they are marked as a blue diamond, which means the porcupine missile will miss.

There are a few things that will be notice that are shared between campaign and online, one is the spending and earning of Vektan Dollars, weapon purchases, and of course rank. Yes you read it, all of it is openly shared between campaign and multiplayer, which is a satisfying bonus. Though your loadouts will have to be made separately between the two, which is not a big problem, and allows for players to set up loadouts for multiple types of encounters. Players can also earn valor cards that will help them unlock feats, bonuses, and of course decks for trophies just to show off how much of a top end mercenary they truly are. Now that we've touched on all the above lets move onto the true multiplayer portion of the game.

In the multiplayer portion of the game we get to see three game modes, Guerrilla Warfare (deathmatch), Guerrilla Warfare (team deathmatch), and last, but not least, Warzone (a multi-objective based mode). Much like previous titles, Warzone is the seemingly most popular one, which gives players the ability to experience multiple objectives ranging from interrogation, hacker, bodycount (kill as many people as possible), and of course bounty hunter (collect as many valor cards as possible). Though there is five, one of them is a reshuffle of a previous objective, which is not a problem at all, and in truth shakes things up a bit. With these game modes comes a nice set up of six maps, inlet, shoreline, marketplace, zenith, refinery, and skyline. Each of the maps offers a unique experience as well as bit of detail that goes with the terrain. Some of them supporting zip-lining, close quarters combat, and of course at times long range combat. Players will be able to adjust to their teams play style as they adjust to the multiplayer and allow for a fragfest filled time in a four versus four lobby in each of the game types, allowing for a well rounded experience. Though the multiplayer size seems small, it's not, and this is thanks to the well crafted maps that assist with this.

When it comes to any Killzone, Guerrilla Games brings forth an experience gamer's would only expect from consoles, and that is a true to the core FPS title. After all this is said and done, Killzone Mercenary will paint a picture that players will love, hate, or simply come to process as a new fan favorite that made itself unique as a PS Vita exclusive. From beautifully wartorn cities on Vekta to the wasteland like terrains of Helghan, players will come to appreciate the masterpiece that has been presented forth in a true handheld HD presentation, and that itself is something worthy of noting as well as enjoying. For fans of the Killzone legacy, this is something truly worth getting a hold of, and quite honestly taking the time to enjoy.

Graphics: Like any Killzone title, Mercenary sets itself apart from other Vita games with astonishingly beautiful, detailed, and of course a movie like presentation all around. A true HD experience on a small OLED screen that has yet to be seen from any other title on the Vita as of yet. Though all this is said, players will at times run into a small frame rate hiccup, which is rare in occurrence.

Sound: Much like the previous titles, Mercenary was awesome in supporting the Pulse Elites, which gave it a true console like experience. From the explosive boom of grenades all the way to the cracking of gunfire, Killzone Mercenary stays true to the high end sound effects of previous titles, which to many is an amazing feat to be had. The title truly lives up to what it means to be a console like experience on a hand held.

Controls: When it comes to the Vita and a dual joystick based handheld, Killzone makes itself feel like it belongs on the handheld, which is no small feat. With smooth aiming, crisp motion sensing for motion based aiming zoomed in, players of the console titles will feel right at home during their sessions with the latest Killzone title.

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/killzonedotcom

Official Website: www.Killzone.com

Official Twitter: @Killzone

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Killzone 3 Review - War Gets a Much Darker Future


Killzone 3 - War Gets a Much Darker Future
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/26/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy



Pros: 
-Astonishing beautiful graphics that make the story believable
-Very well rounded story leaving no questions asked
-Online multiplayer's story coincides with the story very well, giving players a true fighting experience, as both ISA and Helghast.
-A smiling return of the franchises original cast from Killzone 2
-Simple controls that allow for some customization
-A campaign that's not to long nor to short.

Cons:
-Motion sense sensitivity for the bomb arming needs upped
-Online multiplayer takes some learning to get used to
-Players using deception can make a casual gamer frustrated and want to quit playing.
-Sensitivity even at the lowest on controllers at times sees to high.
-Game load times between videos cause the game to hiccup
-Voice acting lip sync at times is out of place, taking away from the incredible work this game has, and hopefully future titles don't suffer this.

Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Final Opinion: Much like Killzone 2, Killzone 3 carries the titles legacy very well, and does it by picking up the story where the game left off. Once again players will revisit cast members old and new and move forth from an experience they are quite well attuned to. This is truly a saga that players must experience.




 When it comes to first person shooters, Guerrilla Games is not stranger, instead they are masters of it. With Killzone 3, Guerrilla Games once more will indulge people into the Killzone universe as ISA trooper Tomas "Sev" Sevchenko and Rico Valesquez, also with the notable Captain Jason Narville as the commanding officer once more. The return of these three will give players a true appreciation for an unchanged cast, great voice acting, and once more emotional depth that a title such as Killzone requires. 

 Killzone 3 once more returned me to the battlefield of Helghan only minutes after the ending of Killzone 2, where an act of enabling true war has occurred, and leaves the ISA attempting to flee Helghan and return to Vekta. After a brutal fight in Killzone 2 I was quick to indulge myself with the latest console release, and of course enjoy a story that left me wanting to see the results of the ending I had already achieved in the previous title. With what I experienced? One of the best stories I could ever ask for, a story that simply left me crawling across beautifully realistic landscapes of Helghan. In Killzone 3 players will explore multiple changes of scenery such as the lush and dangerous flora and fauna of the planet, torn apart urban warzones, factories, junk yards, industrial machines (the size of city blocks) and of course dangerous arctic landscapes that left me gawking at how much one console could accomplish. With the beauty and splendor of Helghan and its dangerous world players will meet situations that will leave their hearts pounding, stomachs in their throats, and of course screaming at their TV for the characters to do something. One said scenario is a moment in the title where players early on will experience Rico (you'll remember him from Killzone, Killzone Liberation, Killzone 2 and of course Killzone 3) once more become insubordinate towards Captain Narville. With it we seem him run off to save a squad of ISA soldiers from a impending death due to Helghan soldiers. It was there when I experienced Narvilles orders through the games narrative that I quickly called out to Narville, calling his character an idiot, that no man got left behind, no matter the results. Later however, it paid off, and I was introduced to new team members to the squad.


Skulking around corners has advantages in Helghast filled terrains.
 Aside from a well rounded story, players will get to experience a in-depth look as to what's truly going on with the Helghan hierarchy as Charmain and CEo of Stahl Arms, Jorhan Stahl and Admiral Orlock duke out their differences as Admiral Orlock wants to uphold the Helghan hierarchy as it was known under Scolar Visari, and in many ways it turns into a game of cat and mouse. In this bit of an insight to the ways of the Helghan, players will take notice to the references taken from Killzone 2, quite literally, in order to fill in the gaps as a back story for their bickering among each other for the new Autrach (leader). After having got an insight to the chairmen of Killzone my curiosity to the Helghan had begun to grow quite heavily, and sadly never sated. The game had seemed almost promising that players would experience the game in a playable form of the Helghast to see both sides of the war, instead we were stuck as Sev, and in some ways it was disappointing.

 After having spent nine hours on the campaign on Veteran (hard) the game was quite noticeably hard, grueling to finish, but at the same time left me wanting for more. After having been getting my face beaten in for hours by the Mawler (a walking quad-legged fortress), the game relieves players to hold onto a rather powerful gun, fly around with it, shoot all their frustrations out, and continue on. This was seen more than once through the campaign, which lead me hungering for more after having had a chance to cool my head, give the Helghast what they deserved, and walk away grinning. This happens almost all the time in this game after long chapters that leave players banging their heads into the walls of their home if playing on the highest difficulties. For players looking for a change up, the campaign offers this, and in more ways than one. Players will get to pilot Exo-Suits (power armor), use jet packs, be a gunner for tanks, and of course use the games version of the BFG 9000 to annihilate everything in sight. 


Steel Rain DLC announcement Screenshot

 The online multiplayer does this very well too. After having beaten the campaign it was time to sit down, put on my Sony Pulse Elites, set the sound mode to Shooter, and indulge myself into a fragfest that depends on team work. Killzone 3 much like its predecessor keeps true to the class based combat system and improves upon it, which was a nice change, and left me quite happy. However, unlike its predecessor, Killzone 3's maps were much different, closer in many ways, but at the same time friendlier for players like myself who preferred sharp shooting over close range combat. After spending half the night with the multiplayer I walked away just as impressed on the the vast majority of improvements. Some of them were minor tweaks that were much needed, such as the snipers stealth. This example is easy to provide to you, as it was something that was in dire need. With the Snipers stealth mode players could phase in and out of cloaking, allowing them to be almost impossible to see, but with this games system upgrades, these players will be like the Predator where you can see the world around them bend. This was nice to see and allowed for a fighting chance against them, but not always assuring a win, which is disheartening, but a bit more pleasing than before. Another improvement to the system was the melee, which went from simply beating them down, to a new brutal kill system. Players can stun each other with a single melee, assassinate, or of course instant kill based on the reactions of the other player. Mixed with the snipers ghost generator, this is quite literally a lethal mix, and gives players a chance to have a lot of fun, and of course a sense of lethality. The game also brings back the game modes from before; Guerrilla Warfare, Warzone, and Operations. Fans of the series will remember each of these quite well and will of course enjoy it quite effectively with high appraise for it.

Chairman Jorhan Stahl
 Overall, Killzone 3 does what the series is known for, delivers a movie like experience in a video game, which is something not many games do these day. From realistic characters to a heavy story and its narrative, Killzone 3 is unique, defining, and gives players an experience they will never get anywhere else. This game is truly the ugly face of war, featuring bittersweet endings for characters to the reality of harsh battlefields, Killzone 3 is a must have for an PlayStation owner.

Graphics: Some of the best to date. Even at close ranges and zoomed in factors, the terrain does not muddy, look degraded or have poor quality, which is something not many games do. It is truly like watching a computer graphic based movie. From ashes falling to the sky, to debri, smoke, and snow - players will leave awestruck.

Sound: Killzone 3 is something unique, everything sounds real. From the battles in the distance, to communications from other soldiers, and even an amazing score by Joris de Man will give players an authentic theater like experience. The game simulates a battlefield better than any other in the science fiction genre.

Controls: Thankfully the game has some of the easiest controls that allow for players to easily use the cover and lean system once more, and more efficiently this time around. It's still suggested players read through the manual or at least take a peak at the control settings.

Author Suggestion: For those who are looking into Killzone, it is suggested that you get the Killzone Trilogy Edition. It comes with Killzone 1 HD as a download token and Killzone 2 as well as Killzone 3 on their own discs for a true Killzone experience.

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/killzonedotcom

Official Website: www.Killzone.com

Official Twitter: @Killzone

Ascend: Hand of Kul - Falling Hard on Micro-transactions

Ascend: Hand of Kul - Falling Hard on Micro-transactions
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/26/2013
Review by Dustin Murphy. 



Pros:
-Very easy to use and execute controls
-A hack-and-slash RPG game that resembles titles such as Fable
-For a downloaded game it's graphics are actually amazing.
-Fully customize-able characters
-Open world style arena gives players a fight against others for territory in a capture and hold style mechanic.

Cons:
-Micro-transactions take away from the game play, making it hard to gear up, repair, and otherwise level up abilities.
-True PVP and co-op are hidden inside the game menus and are not explained.
-Equipment and spells break to easily or have limited use.
-Very poorly explained stat system.
-A pay-to-win title.

Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 10

Final Opinion: Unfortunately Microsoft and Signal studios released a game that truly could have rivaled other free to play titles if they had made the micro-transaction system less embedded into the game. After spending half a day with it, I can truly say this game had great ideas, a beautiful graphics system, and an interesting leveling system, but I'll not be touching it again unless things change. For those of you wanting to have a grind-fest, spend a little cash, and hammer out enemies, this is right up your alley.



 In recent months it seems that the free-to-play market as well as the MMO market have been a huge focus for both Microsoft and Sony. When it comes to it, Ascend: Hand of Kul is no exception to this, and it shows when playing online. After having booted up the game it was very quick (based on connection) to download the games updates, assets, and overall new environment that was installed via in game updates (think like a game launcher). Once the downloads were done, everything was installed, I was introduced to the games introduction video clip. It gave me what seemed like a very well built story that it could develop fully on and give us an ultimate god like creature versus titans type story-line, instead I was given a tutorial on how to build my characters appearance (much of this even items are locked behind souls, which can be purchased or unlocked via playing), armor selection, and ultimately my faction; Dark, light, or Caos. After having done said all of these selections I was given abilities and new quests that lead me to more soul purchasing in the game. These purchases were quite simple - repair, upgrade, and re-stock spells. 

 After having spent all my souls on almost all the tutorials recommendations I was brought to the realization that I needed to quest, level up, obtain more souls, and ultimately upgrade everything I could. Unfortunately, this is a big problem with this title is simply the micro-transactions ruined the entire experience. Within a few hours I found myself doing as many quests as I could, finding new gear (broken at that and needed repair), farming souls, and of course progressing on my story. The issue here? The entire pay-to-play experience was being forced. Half way to level cap, unfortunately I quit, and removed the game. Much of my time was spent taking over shrines, "temples", and of course going on a murderous rampage of goblins, undead, trolls, and of course once in a while enemy player minions who decided to invade my "realm".



 When it comes to making a game innovative, this one fell flat on its face. Having taken queues from Demon's Souls as well as Dark Souls, Ascend: Hand of Kul executed a new invasion during questing experience that was fresh, and let alone interesting. The problem that came forth was quite simple - everyone did it during the hardest quests and would cause you to fail. That was the goal though it seemed, screw over other players as hard as possible, and ultimately make their life hell. While this was interesting it was also problematic, very problematic and cost me to actually at one point quit and hope the server thinned out, and eventually did enough that I was able to complete my quest, and continue on. After hitting the level cap, I Ascended my character, resetting my level, equipment, but carrying on my spells as well as currency. Having done this was quite entertaining as I visited new areas I'd never seen before, and even dove through new combat mechanics. Some of them requiring players to quickly charge out of enemies ways, and well sometimes right into them due to the invading other players with spells, and causing a onslaught of two to three enemies to charge after you. Some of these enemies could quickly rain on your parade and end your experience.

 Outside of the invading the game was very simple. It was in many ways a focus of capture and hold. The idea was to simply take territory, fight off enemies, and ultimately take an area for your faction. For me the faction was caos thanks to their AoE spells, dots, and plentiful amount of snares. As for the others? The game was bad enough I didn't try them, admittedly didn't try them, and this was because of the focus on micro-transactions, and the focus on constantly spending souls to level up as well as repair and upgrade. After taking as much terrain as possible, and moving on with their story, players will be introduced to new areas, new enemies, and of course more powerful equipment (spells are considered a part of your inventory). The story evolves primarily around your character serving a deity, becoming their warrior, and ultimately taking all the land and the world eventually for your faction. When it came to pvp the game was interesting when it came to this, in many was it reflected a World of Warcraft style fight system. By this I mean a battleground where players will fight players in order to conquer, dominate each other, and of course prove their faction worthy.



 Ultimately the game is flawed, borrowing from many well known titles, and of course trying to make itself something new, something innovative, and it did that in many ways. Sadly all those ways were bad decisions and ended up costing an entire group I was playing with (9 people) to delete the game off their XBox 360's only to play a different game in order to clean their eyes out from the bad eye candy they saw. With beautiful graphics, beautiful animations, and a detailed world it is only a wonder as to why Signal Studios as well as Microsoft focused so hard on a micro-transaction based system and didn't focus on the idea of possibly making only cosmetics micro-trans-actionable as well as editing the cost of spells, item repairs, and of course character creation based skins. Overall, the game could have been much better, and currently sitting in patch 1.2, it's advisable for players to try Fable, Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning, and enjoy something more pleasing. Unfortunately due to the game being repetitive, dull, and overall a cliché title, I'll not be seeing this again in the foreseeable future. I suggest sticking to their titles known as Toy Soldiers, they are much more pleasant, and lighter on your wallet. Hopefully this changes in the future or at least see a better balancing job.

Graphics: The games details are quite astonishing as the world changes around you as you take shrines and alters for your faction. Fighting animations as well as the detail to the world is amazing, but won't compete well against higher development costing titles.

Sound: With a beautiful soundtrack as well as voice over system, Ascend: Hand of Kul could very well stand up there with games such as Fable, Kingdoms of Amalur: The Reckoning, and even Defiance. From the cracking of hammers to the shattering of trees, rocks, and even enemies heads the game gives a life-like impression to some players.

Controls: The controls are quite simple for players to learn especially people just wanting to crack heads, burn enemies alive, and reap the world for their taking. Overall it's very straight forward with a very in-depth tutorial.

Official Twitter: Signal Studios

Official Website: Ascend: The Hand of Kul

Official Facebook: Ascend The Game

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

PS Vita, Triple A Titles, and Price Drop


The PS Vita and Triple A Titles.
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/24/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy



  A few days ago I stated that I was working on a title covering the PS Vita and the capabilities it could have in Triple A titles coming to it. Well after having done a long bit of thinking, it was hard to process this, and ultimately the argument at some points came invalid until having done some back looking. The results are quite simple I've noticed and amazing at that.

  According to several sources the PS Vita's game card houses upwards to 8GB's of data, with a 4GB to 32GB (currently, 64GB rumored this fall) memory cards that could allow for further game optimization. At the rate we are going the PS Vita is already seeing several huge games release and to be upcoming release. Lets recap those titles though, so everyone is on the same page, which would be helpful.

Triple A Titles:
  • Bioshock Title (TBD)
  • Borderlands 2 (announced, 2014)
  • Lego Marvel Universe (10/22/2013)
  • Minecraft (TBD)
  • Tear Away (10/22/2013)
  • Valhalla Knights 3 (10/15/2013)


  When it comes to big names, Sony is not a stranger to making a form of them for everyone, and with the PS Vita about to showcase the power of Borderlands 2 and a future Bioshock, it will not be surprising if games like Call of Duty (Declassified was a very bad attempt, so lets pretend it didn't happen, but it still did), Battlefield, Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, and even perhaps a future iteration of Diablo 3. 





  When it comes to the PS Vita and these named titles, the question boils down to this - can it run them like the consoles? Much of it may actually be no. This is due to the memory limitations as well as hardware limitations that the PS Vita has, but that's not to go without saying, if the hardware is optimized and used properly, the PS Vita could be a home to very beautiful and demanding games. We've already seen a display like this thanks to Killzone Mercenary, Little Big Planet, and even Uncharted: Golden Abyss when they released in the past year. With the announcement of that Ken Levine having displayed his interest in the PS Vita, it will not be surprising to see an entry for the PS Vita coming sooner or later, and that alone should be more than enough for developers to take it seriously. The question however comes down to whether or not the PS Vita versions of titles like borderlands 2 could truly stand in quality with their console release versions and how those games will be optimized for the PlayStation Vita.

  Though with all these huge titles and even Minecraft having become a phenomenal success, it will not be surprising if PS Vita gaming fans see the handheld 'console' hit its wall rather quickly due to hardware restrictions, and that is something that to some could or will be alarming as games get more demanding and diminish the play time that gamer's are used to. At this moment however, this doesn't seem to be a problem, and with the future PS Vita version coming out before we know it (2014) players will spend more time gaming than they do now. For those who have the first generation like myself? That wall plug will start to become our best friend. With the PlayStation Vita TV in high demand by the Western market, it would not be surprising to see that change before to long.



  With the PS Vita though we will see limitations in the future, but how far down? That's questionable. For you techie people lets take a look at specs and what they could mean for us. The PS Vita houses a Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU that can run up to 2GHz (just short of a low end laptop or desktop), 512 MB RAM, with 128 MB VRam to feed its Quad-core PowerVR SGX543MP4+ video card. What does all this mean though? For those of you familiar with tablets such as the Nexus 7, iPad, as well as the Lenovo tablet, this will all seem familiar and in truth - astonishing. The PS Vita itself houses what could be considered a mini-computer, that will allow game developers in the future to access more memory, more power, and develop games that could truly be up to tablet specs before too long. (We'll revisit the techie side of this at a later date when the new model releases and we get our hands on it - hopefully)

  With the raw power of the PS Vita and what it's capable of, it would not be surprising to see some PlayStation 4 games cross over before to long. For those of you who own or know quite a bit on the PS Vita, what's your take on it? Is the PS Vita something that peaks your interest? Is it a waste of money? Do you plan on getting one? If you have one do you see it suitable for big titles in the future?


  For now we can only stand in awe at the few PlayStation 3 games that have crossed over and gawk at their PlayStation 3 graphics. That being the Sly Cooper titles, Atelier titles, and of course FIFA 2014 that has just released in recent months.

  For those looking into the PS Vita you can easily get your hands on one now for the new price of 199.99 USD, and of course the 32GB (Suggested) memory card for a price of 79.99 USD at most major retailers and experience the splendor that is the future of gaming innovation.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Valhalla Knights 3 Playable Race Info Released

XSEED Games  Details for Valhalla Knights 3
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/20/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy



 Finally getting its release trailer, XSEED Games, the independent-minded console publishing brand of Marvelous USA, Inc., has finally given us a glimpse of features in the game, the graphics, and of course the playable races that Gamer's will get to see on its launch this October exclusively on the PlayStation Vita.

  When it comes to Valhalla Knights, players will be welcoming in the fourth installment to the popular RPG series, which features a robust character creation system and of course a party-based multiplayer combat system. In North America's version, players will see a new Wi-Fi option for online game-play and also with it will be the standard local ad hoc option. Players will be able to select one of seven races and one of twenty possible classes such as the Fighter, Mage, Thief, Priest, Prisoner, Akatoki or Archer, while also having the opportunity to select up to two sub-jobs. Players will get to adventure with a custom party or of course take on their adventure alone in the wilds while seamlessly engaging in real-time combat and upgrading each job class's special abilities.

 Each of the game's races will have their own seat of feats that benefits them towards specific roles, which also gives players a good bit of selections to make when it comes to selecting a class beneficial to their characters race choice and of course their own style of game-play. Below XSEED Games has provided a list of each race and what each of their special traits will be. 

PLAYABLE RACES

Humans
As a species, humans are emotionally unstable, prone to deception, and – thanks in part to their relatively brief lifespans – rather shortsighted. However, they’re also known for their persistence and adaptability, and those two factors combined have made them the most populous race in the world. Being generalists rather than specialists, humans can handle almost any job, though few of them are considered masters of any one job in particular.

Elves
Most other races consider elves callous and haughty, but only because elves see things differently. With their centuries of life experience, most elves develop a long and broad perspective, so much so that they often ignore the whims of those too young to understand. Their lofty mindset gives them a natural affinity for magic of all kinds, and their near-agelessness gives them a long physical prime as well.

Halflings
With their diminutive stature and cherubic faces, halflings are often mistaken for children. But those who make that mistake — either by honest accident or in condescending laughter — often find themselves at the end of a slick blade or a clever trap. Without humanity’s numbers, elfkind’s magic, or dwarfkind’s brawn, halflings have come to pride themselves on their quick hands and sharp wits instead. Many halflings turn their size to their advantage in stealth and thievery. Others employ their steady fingers on the string of an archer’s bow, keeping low and out of sight until the perfect, fatal shot.

Dwarves
Despite the loud, boisterous stereotype, most dwarves are generally calm, polite, and focused on working toward their goals. If anyone or anything obstructs those goals, however, dwarves are capable of terrible fury, and their stocky frames hold enough compact power to unleash that fury in force. An industrious people without much care for magic, dwarves are at their best when making use of their endurance and brute strength. Many dwarves become fighters or soldiers, holding the line as few others can.

Beasts
The origin of the beast race is shrouded in mystery. Some say they were created in a magical experiment, while others suppose they simply evolved in the wildlands. Wherever they came from, the beast people have made their mark on society. Each beast bears the grace and power of nature’s deadliest predators, and takes great pride in every battle scar. Many of those scars come from their monthly mating period, when beasts of both genders are at their most ferocious. In addition to their natural physical talents, beasts are skilled with all types of weapons, though many prefer to fight with claws alone as Akatoki.

Nightmares
Nightmares are tall, frail beings with black or gray skin and pointed ears. Because of those ears, some call them “dark elves,” though any elf is quick to correct that. The two races have a long, unpleasant, and largely secret history; few books reference the nightmares at all, and most of those that do are kept under lock and key. To the rest of the world’s races, nightmares are generally known as rare, mysterious loners. Few nightmares become frontline warriors, as they have little natural tolerance for physical pain. Instead, they employ their phenomenal spellcasting talents, striking foes dead from across the battlefield.

Machines
Do autonomous machines qualify as a race, or are they simply tools for other races to use? Scholars and layfolk alike have debated that question, and others like it, since the first machine rose from its slab. Regardless, anyone with the knowledge can build a machine, whether in a royal foundry or a common scrapyard. Most new machines are clumsy and slow, as any flesh-and-blood infant would be, but have the potential for impressive growth through upgrades and care. Because their metal limbs can take more stress than organic bones, machines are uniquely suited to wield heavy firearms, and have their own job, known simply as “automaton,” specifically designed to do so.

Valhalla Knights 3 was developed in Japan by MarvelousAQL Inc. and will be released by XSEED Games in North America exclusively for the PS®Vita in October 2013. For more information on XSEED Games products, please visithttp://www.xseedgames.com. Fans can also follow XSEED Games on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/XSEEDGames and Twitter at www.twitter.com/XSEEDGames.This title is rated M for Mature by the ESRB.


About Marvelous USA:
Marvelous USA, Inc. is the US-based publishing operation of MarvelousAQL Inc., overseeing its two North American divisions. XSEED Games, its brand and division for unique and innovative console, PC and handheld games, has been in operation since 2004. Marvelous Online, the company’s brand dedicated to mobile and online social games, is an expansion of XSEED’s mobile team thanks to acquisitions by Marvelous USA. Marvelous USA is a 100% wholly-owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based MarvelousAQL Inc., a publicly-traded company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. More information on Marvelous USA can be found at www.marvelous-usa.com, and XSEED Games can be found at http://www.xseedgames.com.

Grand Theft Auto V Breaks One Billion USD First Week


Grand Theft Auto V - The Game that Shattered Sales Records
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/20/2013

Written by Dustin Murphy



 When it comes to pushing the envelope on what is acceptable in any form of media, Grand Theft Auto is a series that seeks to break that, and ultimately redefine adult gaming entertainment. With record breaking sales every time a title comes out, Rockstar is great at this, and they keep doing so. Earlier this past week players saw a release for Grand Theft Auto V, the game that cost the most ever made at or exceeding development cost of 128 million dollars when all said and done, and in turn has made a profitable gain in three days that no previous games have done - 1 Billion USD sales overall.

 Within three months of release, Call of Duty Black Ops II had finally broken records previously set by Halo titles just under the one billion USD mark, and now - GTA V has done that. Becoming the most profitable game in the market, GTA V has gained a crowd bigger than any other, GTA V's fans and non-GTA fan's alike. We could truly see a game that will define the production of games, movies, and any form of media outlet thanks to the time and effort put into it by the development team. For those curious? GTA V is unlike any GTA made, it's beautiful, characters believable, and of course a story-telling unlike any other in gaming history that could easily resemble something seen from the 80's and 90's gangster, daddy-issue, and homicidal maniac filled films. Taking many queues from movies such as Scar Face, Friday, and American Psycho, players will be awestruck by the gravity of this games depth.

 Stay tuned for an upcoming review by me and see my take on the first Grand Theft Auto title I've truly enjoyed so far!

 GTA V is now available for both the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 for 59.99 at all major online and offline retailers. GTA is rated M for Mature due to contents of the game, parental advisory is highly recommended for this title, and is not suggested for minors.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Bureau: XCom Declassified Review


The Bureau XCom Declassified for XBox 360 Review
Originally Published and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 9/19/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy



Pros:
-Story sticks true to it's time period in 1962
-Builds upon the back story of XCom Enemy Unknown
-Offers a true difficulty for tactical third person gamer's
-Very detailed character models for main characters of the story
-Back story for game is based on hidden collectibles
-Free roam within mission based locations

Cons:
-Poor A.I partner that gets itself killed
-Multiple endings, and a branching story based upon choices made
-Character models outside of main characters are hideous
-Short story spanning nine hours per completion
-Frame rate and lock up issues
-Weapon choices are more limited than backpack sets

Overall Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Final Opinion: While I enjoyed The Bureau, at times it was hard for me to truly enjoy the game due to the A.I. which I felt 90% of the time I was babysitting. The other issue I had with this game was primarily the lack of detail when it came to character models that were not primary characters to the games story or aliens. Definitely something that needs improved before they launch another game. With all issues put aside, The Bureau XCom Declassified is a solid title that will deliver a unique story line as well tie in with XCom Enemy Unknown and will give a unique take on strategic third person shooter titles.



 After having been asked by Josh Turner of Blast Away the Game Review more than once to try out this game, I plugged it in, and hesitantly booted up my campaign. From the get-go this game was noticeably was not going to have a slow pace to it, instead it revved its engines and fired up straight from the very beginning, and never slowed down. This became a very welcome change from the titles that have to build up their story before players really feel as if they aren't dragging on from beginning to end. The Bureau takes place in the 1960's and puts you in place of Agent William Carter, a CIA Agent that has been sent to the Groom Facility, a location where he was sent to meet with The Bureau's top dog, Myron Faulke. It is within this intro clip that players will get to see everything go to pure insanity right off the back. From watching the mysterious case blow up, players are introduced to the games alien invasion head on, and in turn the mechanics of the A.I partners. In the introduction and throughout the game I was introduced quickly to using the 'B' button to access the command menu where I was giving orders to my character as well as the A.I partner. 




 Throughout the game players will find themselves adjusting to the wheel more often-than-not, for those of you used to games such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and other titles of the such - this should be casual to you. For other people unfamiliar with the title, this menu will become somewhat of a bother, but fear not it's useful and gives you time to set up a tactical take on the battlefield. The problem with this - babysitting the A.I, unfortunately this is something that desperately needs fixed, and I truly hope the A.I does get fixed, this is game breaking as the A.I.'s if not babysat, will get downed 9 out of 10 battles in the game unless you get the drop one enemies with your own abilities.

 With a constant hand-holding of the games A.I, I was fortunate enough to make my way through a very well adventurous exploration in the first few zones where I found myself constantly exploring in order to find collectibles, but guess what? I did, I was able to find hidden alien guns, army weaponry, and of course collectible items that gave me a background story behind the games events. However, remember, this game is all about back story, hidden items, and of course tactical decision making to give players a true field leader feel. In turn it also builds upon the character we will endure for the entire game, Agent Carter, which is fortunate as many games seem to deviate from doing so.



 Much like XCom players will spend some time between missions wondering around the base where they will do several things, hunt down collectibles, gain intelligence on enemy encounters, recruit new squad members, and of course change out their weapon set ups as well as their squads. Players will also get to send squads of agents out on 'Agent Missions', and of course take on main story as well as side mission's to fulfill their story as well as gain important assets, and of course level up (this is highly suggested for those playing the hardest difficulty). Do note at times based on how you talk to a character can restrict the information they will give you, thus making it harder for your character to get information, and in turn causing the ultimate reactions to your character to become negative.

 When it comes to combat players will be rather familiar to the old play style of using a cover style based third person shooter, from hitting random forms of cover, players will also be able to analyze enemies through the ability wheel. Bringing this wheel up, players can hold down the left trigger in order to scan the enemy in order to bring up their stats, this includes weapons, abilities, and what the class does best. When it comes to the enemies scan details, players will also learn about that enemies role in combat, for example; Muton's. Muton's are gigantic brutes that the alien forces use as their brute force tank, they are strong close range, allowing for quick dispatching of you as well as your squad. Another instance that can be tied to this is your squad members being downed can cause you to lose them, and by lose, I mean permanently. Luckily for players who lose one of their squad members, they can be replaced with new recruits allowing for players to fill the required spots, and ultimately also pick up a new variation for squad set ups. This is highly recommended in general so that players have a bigger tactical advantage on the battlefield. 



 When it comes to voice acting and script, 2K Marin does not drop the ball, instead they have a knack for making indepth and very well voiced storytelling that gives the game its true emotional value. From words of the era to the military roles on base, many players will be able to experience a truly detailed 1962 event, that also lets players feel as if they were experiencing an event that took place at the height of the Cold War between the United States and Russia during John F. Kennedy's tenor as president. The part that makes this game interesting isn't just the detail to these events, but the fact that they stuck true to how the military was run, the roles men and women played in the military forces, clothing, as well as details to how American culture was in the 1960's.
The details to this are amazing, making the games authenticity even more noticeable, but at the same time players will be quick to notice the things that take away from this detailed title.

 When playing The Bureau there were bugs, irritations, and of course annoyances that begin to appear as the game progressed. First lets start with character models, when it comes to character models, players will be able to notice the depth to detail when it comes to the main characters such as Agent Carter, Faulke, and of course the inevitable to meet Agent Weaver. After having met up with these few I had taken to the pleasure of exploring and seeing how detailed the textures were, what I found was rather disappointing. From afar non-player characters look greatly detailed from the agents on base, to the military members there, and of course the scientists, I was quick to note the muddied figures that had seemed as if they were pulled straight out of a early generation XBox 360 game, which was quite disappointing. After having taken note of the missing polishing on these faces I decided to get closer to the terrains such as the on base map, vehicles in certain levels, and of course later on the textures for any form of terrain I could see. What I found this time was low detailed, muddy and of course pixelated terrains that left me feeling as if 2K Marin had either run out of space on disk or simply didn't care to apply more care to this final details that would have made a lot of difference in quality on the final product.

 A few other things that I had noticed was the games inability at times to keep a steady frame rate that left me gritting my teeth when in high combat situations while trying to roll out of enemy range, get near cover, and or run for a nearby building or overhead so that safety was gained. Let’s also not forget the games lack of truly giving players a broad range of weapons to choose from. Sure the ability to find enemy variations of human weapons was nice, however it would have been more interesting to see modifications to these weapons, and ultimately the ability to explore optimization abilities giving weapons a broad reach for variations of combat situations.

 When it comes to an overall standpoint, The Bureau XCom Declassified is a unique experience that stands out among tactical third person shooters, allowing them to have an interesting spin on what games such as Gears of War set the par for. With it players will get to explore a unique timeline, in-depth background story building, and of course a complete mind mess that unfolds as the story progresses. This game is truly a diamond in the rough that many players will appreciate, and should take an exploration of when the chance is possible.


Graphics: Beautiful from afar, but when it comes to up close, some character models as well as terrains are muddy that causes the experience to be taken away rather quickly.

Sound: From the well orchestrated score, soundtrack, and of course voice acting; The Bureau delivers an authentic 1960's feel that is to be a truly authentic feel to it.

Controls: Thanks to the games rather familiar Third Person Shooter play style, The Bureau is easily to learn and will not disappoint many as some TPS clones have. However, the action and ability wheel will take some time for players to adjust to.

Official Twitter: @2k

Official Website: The Bureau Game