Archives for October, 2005

World of Warcraft: Expansion Pack

Posted on Oct 30, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media, MMOGs/MMORPGs, PC Games | No Comment

Several years have passed since the Burning Legion’s defeat at Mount Hyjal and the races of Azeroth have continued to rebuild their once shattered lives. With renewed strength, the heroes of the Horde and Alliance have begun to explore new lands and broken through the Dark Portal to investigate the realms beyond the known world. Will these heroes find friends or foes? What dangers and rewards lie in wait beyond the Dark Portal? And what will they do when they discover that the demons they thought vanquished have returned to renew their terrible Burning Crusade?

World of Warcraft’s first expansion pack, titled The Burning Crusade, has now been officially announced. Players won’t have to get it to enjoy all of its features, but for some of them, such as the new races, it will obviously be a necessity.

Here are some of the new features and add-ons you’ll find in it:

  • Two new playable races, including the magical Blood Elves
  • The entire new continent of Outland, reachable through the Dark Portal
  • Many new high-level dungeons to explore in Azeroth, Outland, and elsewhere
  • New flying mounts in Outland
  • New quests and items
  • A new profession: Jewelcrafting

Popularity: 4% [?]

A Force More Powerful

Posted on Oct 28, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media, Strategy Games | No Comment

Ever thought of learning the ropes and strategy of nonviolent conflict? If the answer is “yes”, then A Force More Powerful may be something you’d wish to keep your eyes upon. Wired News has an interesting article about this upcoming game, the child of Ivan marovic who, along with the Otpor resistance group, helped remove former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from power.

Created by BreakAway Games, the game leads players through simulations of real-life events, such as Gandhi’s struggle for Indian independence, the civil rights movement in the American South, and Otpor’s protests in Serbia.

“Young people grew up with video games,” said Marovic, “and they take the medium seriously.”

The game doesn’t require an itchy trigger finger or keen hand-to-eye coordination; rather, it relies entirely on strategy. As well as historical recreations, players can set up their own scenarios, based on their own situation on the ground, and experiment with different nonviolent strategies. The game’s artificial intelligence calculates the results.

Again, this is all about nonviolent strategy (this time, there’s no way the old smelly “video games turn our children into violent beasts” argument can hold water), and it seems to me, from the way the article summarizes the game, that it can be not only interesting and captivating, but also a good lesson in strategy at all, as well as a voice whenever and wherever such tactics could be needed for the good of all.

The game is planned to be sold in the United States, and distributed for free to international groups.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Why Morrowind Will Ruin Your GPA

Posted on Oct 26, 2005 under Game Reviews | 3 Comments

About two years ago (Long long ago, before I met my boyfriend Stick), I was at Eric’s, lying on the couch and studying. With characteristic focus on my homework, I looked over Eric’s shoulder and saw Morrowind.

“Oooo, that looks pretty. And you have lots of stuff in your bag! Can I play?”

“I told you about it when I first got it, and you said it looked like a bloody game and you don’t like violent games and you wouldn’t even let me make you a character,” Eric reminded me.

“Oh yeah,” I said. “Well, you were slashing somebody up then.”

“Oh yeah,” (This conversation explains why Eric and I don’t argue)

I like really open-ended games. If a quest has more than one ending, I’m happy. If almost every quest has different endings, which unlock even more quests… I’m in gamer girl heaven. Morrowind is the most open-ended game I’ve ever played. You can pick a detailed combination of racial traits, birthsign, talents and skills, or if that’s still not enough customization, you can invent your own character class. (And the preset classes include Witchhunter, Nightblade and Spellsword, instead of just Fighter, Mage and Rogue) If you decide, after hours of gameplay and several levels, that you’re not so crazy about your skills and you want to become something else, it’s possible to work on those other skills. Nothing’s forbidden.

The Morrowind world is well-written, too. You find (or in my case, steal) bottles of flin and mazte, instead of Potion of +50 HP. When you find (or steal) books, you can read about the history and myths of Morrowind. If anyone from Bethesda is reading this, and needs someone to write fictional myths for a computer game, I’m your girl!
Celtic and Persian-inspired clothes, NPCs with Roman-style names and an incredible variety of architecture keep Morrowind from becoming pseudo-medieval generic fantasy.

If you ever run out of things to do in the game, say there’s a blizzard and you can’t leave the house for weeks on end, you can download new mods for Morrowind. My personal favorite is the boyfriend mod. (Hey, this was before Stick, ok?) He’s programmed to say sweet things, and you can sleep at his place without the assassin mod coming for you. You can also leave some of your loot at his place.

And I really like games with stuff. Sure, I like leveling too, but I’d much rather have a sexy new set of armor and a better sword. (New cleavage-baring robes for the magic-users don’t hurt, either) Morrowind gives you different styles of clothes, armor, weapons… and modders have built a complete wardrobe, plus weapons and all kinds of trendy Pottery Barn accessories for your house.

The mapping system is not so good… or maybe my sense of direction is not so good. Quite a lot of my Morrowinding time involved me shouting “Eric! I’m lost again!” into the kitchen. I was playing it at Eric and Chris’ place because Morrowind requires a better videocard than I had at the time.

I liked Morrowind so much that finally got my finances into a spot where I could buy a new videocard. I was supposed to go see a movie with a boy I’d just met and kinda liked but I was so excited to play Morrowind that I kind of blew him off.

Luckily, Stick asked me out again.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Game Developer Lists Top 20 Publishers

Posted on Oct 26, 2005 under Game Reviews, Gaming News, In The Media, PC Games, Xbox Console | No Comment

For the third year in a row, Electronic Arts has taken top honors in Game Developer magazine’s list of the top 20 game publishers, according to a news release. EA reached revenue of more than $3 billion this year.

Activision, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony rounded out the top five. Microsoft slipped from No. 2 last year, but hopes the release of XBox 360 will improve the company’s revenues as well as its stature among game publishers. Activision jumped up from No. 7, thanks in part to popular titles such as X-Men Legends and the Tony Hawk’s Underground series.

Atari slipped to No. 13, while a strong year for Bandai, LucasArts and Capcom have helped the companies secure spots on the list, knocking Koei and Empire of the list.

The guide will be available on newsstands through Nov. 14, or check it out on Game Developer’s website.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Special Offer on Irth Online

Posted on Oct 16, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media, MMOGs/MMORPGs, PC Games | No Comment

The game itself looks interesting for some of its announced features (non-instanced player housing, open skill system not involving levels…), even though it seems to me like one of the “calssical fantasy-types MMORPGs” out there, but one thing is certain: it never harms when one can subscribe to a MMORPG while benefitting from a few discounts.

Therefore, for anyone who would be interested in subscribing to Irth Online when it goes live on November 1st, Magic Hat Software, its conceptor, has announced a pre-launch special offer going from October 15th to October 31st:

The Pre-Launch Special Offer allows gamers to purchase Irth Online for $19.95, a 33% discount off the at-launch price of $29.95. The pre-order subscription fee will be $9.95 per month for the first six months, representing a 30% savings over the at-launch fee of $13.95 per month. Pre-Launch Special Offer orders may be placed online only at which explains the ordering procedure and payment options.
If those who pre-order Irth Online choose the option of paying in advance for three months of subscription fees, they will receive an additional, fourth month for free. This offer will not be available after Irth Online is launched.

The offer is valid for the three types of distribution (download, CD and DVD), but won’t be anymore, of course, once the game is officially launched.

If you’re among those who would’ve subscribed anyway from the start, it looks like something to keep tabs on.

Popularity: 4% [?]

The Sims 2: How to Buy Electronics

Posted on Oct 13, 2005 under Gaming News | 10 Comments

When I first started playing the Sims 2, I was having a great time, so were my sims…Until! One of my sims had a peculiar aspiration: he wanted an MP3 player. Then he wanted a cell phone and a handheld video game. Befuddled, I took my sim to the community lots (the stores and park) and looked through their selection, and all I found was food, clothing, and computer games. I searched everywhere.

I went to the internet to do some research, and I found that you can buy MP3 players, cell phones, and handheld video games from things called vending kiosks at the community lots. I said, “that’s all well and good, I’ve searched the community lots high and low, and have found no such vending kiosks.”

After a little brainstorming, I thought, “If I don’t have vending kiosks in the community lots, I should put them there.”

Here are the steps I took to get a vending kiosk:

1.) Go to the neighborhood page

2.) Select a community lot (to edit the community lot)

3.) A vending kiosk is something you can buy for you community lot, so buy one and place it in one of your community shops or parks (all items for community lots are free, as are building materials, so you can just go bonkers). The vending kiosk looks like a large version of the Sims pay-phone, it looks like a…kiosk.

4.) Once you have placed the kiosk in the community lot, go back to your sim’s house, call a taxi and take your sim to the community lot that you placed the kiosk on.

5.) Buy your electronics!

Popularity: 7% [?]

ROSE Online: Q&A

Posted on Oct 13, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media, MMOGs/MMORPGs | No Comment

Stratics presents today a series of Q&A with Gravity, makers of the famous Ragnarok Online, about ROSE Online, their upcoming MMOG. This one seems to be targeting a younger audience (namely “Teens and Tweens”), yet can probably be of interest to older players as well (after all, it looks like there is a deeper, evolving storyline happening behind).

Here’s a short excerpt of the Q&A in question:

Stratics: Why did ROSE Online choose to target the teen and tween market?

Gravity: Well ROSE is meant to be a game that people of all ages can enjoy. It’s just that there are so many games out there that are designed strictly for an older audience. We wanted to create an online game that youngsters would also like. The challenge was to create an experience that would be fun for MMO players already used to certain “MMO features� and yet palatable to the sensibilities of a tween or teen audience.

Stratics: How has ROSE Online achieved this? What features in particular are you proud of that achieve this?

Gravity: ROSE has apparent qualities like its cute, cartoon graphics and playful music that kids would like. At the same time, it has an evolving storyline of galactic struggle and adventure that more mature audiences might get into more so than kids. At any rate, the very nature of self-discovery that a player goes through as he levels his character and ventures throughout the game world is something that, I think, both the hardcore MMO player and youngster can understand and appreciate. We just tried to make it so that the game struck a chord with a child or person’s inner child.

This is only the first part, and more is likely to follow (soon?). Note that if you’re interested in taking part to the beta, you can apply here on the official website.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Phoenix Wright Retails In America

Posted on Oct 11, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media, Playstation 2 Games | 8 Comments

“Courtroom drama”: this is how Gamespot qualified Capcom’s Phoenix Wright. Until now, the game wasn’t available in the USA before, but soon this won’t be a problem anymore: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney now retails for $29.99 on PS 2.

According to a previous review written about it, the game is pretty much heavily text-driven, but this isn’t a problem in my eyes, as long as it remains interesting to play it, which it seems to do. Actually, this simple paragraph from the review is what caught my interest:

The game has you controlling Phoenix Wright, a lawyer fresh off the bar who is, initially, more than a little nervous. The first case you take on, a murder trial in defense of Phoenix’s dopey best friend, Larry Butz, serves as a tutorial in which law firm chief Mia Fey guides you through the ins and outs of courtroom procedure. Each of the game’s five cases begins in the same way, as you’re treated to a brief cinematic that shows the events of the murder, during which you’ll usually get to view the killer. In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, discovering the killer is not the surprise; instead, it’s the way in which you bring him or her to justice. The events surrounding the murder always end up leading to the false accusations of innocent witnesses, and as a defense attorney, it’s Phoenix’s job to get a verdict of “not guilty,” despite the lying witnesses, shady prosecutors, and a judge who sometimes forgets the letter of the law.

Intriguing? I have to say that it sure looks worth a try.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Greek Houses in The Sim’s University

Posted on Oct 11, 2005 under PC Games | No Comment

Greek HouseIn playing the Sim’s University Expansion pack, I got a little confused when I wanted to join a Greek house. Each source I went to said that all I needed to do was click the phone and choose “Join a Greek House”. I found out that this was not an option: when I clicked the phone, that option was not listed…the wheels in my head started to turn…I thought, “there isn’t yet a Greek house in my University.” Proving the theory that you can’t live in a Greek house if there is not a Greek house to live in. Here’s how to create and manage a Greek house!

Here are the steps for creating a Greek house:
1.) Have some Sims move into their own residence (a house not a dorm).
2.) Click the phone and select “College”, then select “Apply for House Charter”, which costs only about $10.
3.) You are now a Greek house. Place your Greek letter somewhere inside or outside of your house.
Note: If a Sim selects house letter it can get your house’s statistics: # of members, # of pledges, # of friends, house rank, etc.. Your house ranking is dependent upon how many friends your house members have.

Here are the steps for joining a Greek house:
1.) Once you have a Greek house created, if you are playing as a Sim in another dorm/house, you can click the phone and select the “Join a Greek house” option.
2.) They won’t let you in automatically. The Greek house members will come over to your present residence in togas and size you up. You must impress them for them to give you entry into the house. Essentially, it helps for you to build a relationship with them. (Tip: Become friends with several of the house members before “Joining the House”. It will make the process much easier.)
3.) Once you’ve met their standards, you will be admitted as a house member, which doesn’t mean that you have to live in the house.

If you do want to live in the actual Greek house once you are a member:
1.) A resident of your Greek house must invite you, so switch control to a resident of the Greek house.
2.) Invite the prospective resident over (as you would any person, by calling them on the phone).
3.) Then “Propose” that he “Move In”.

Here are the steps for getting pledges:
1.) To have a person pledge, you must be controlling a Sim who is already a Greek house member.
2.) Invite the Sim you want to pledge to the Greek house.
3.) Then “Ask to Pledge”.
4.) Depending on how well you know the Sim, asking a Sim to pledge could be successful or not. I suggest becoming friends with him first.
5.) Once you’ve gotten a pledge, you can pretty much boss them around for a couple days (the pledge period): you can make them, do assignments, cook, write your term paper, clean, etc.. This setup is very cool indeed.
6.) After the “pledge period” is over they will become a house member.

Check out the Sims 2 University Site

(Keep in mind that house membership does not require house residency. House members can live all over campus.)

Popularity: 3% [?]

Renaissance Kingdoms

Posted on Oct 11, 2005 under Game Reviews, PC Games, RPGs | No Comment

For these moments when you want to play a game online but don’t have much time to dedicate to it everyday, here’s one of these little “management/roleplay” games that will only demand you a few minutes of your time: Renaissance Kingdoms (also available in French at Les Royaumes Renaissants). It’s free (unless you want to take a paying account, in which case the character will be a Noble), it’s played online in a simple web browser, and you don’t need to do more than your share if you don’t want to.

The basics are simple: your character starts as a peasant in the Renaissance setting. The first goal is to feed him/her (simple bread is the poor peasant’s friend when starting!), and to find ways of earning money, the most common being hiring yourself at a mine, as soldier in the local army, or by cultivating your little parcel of soil. More interaction with other players and within the game is of course possible: you can put offers to hire people to work for you, craft items and sell them later on when you reach a certain level, chat with other players in the various taverns where you can also buy food, and so on.

So, as said, not very complex, not very demanding, you can stop whenever you want, and it can be fun to give it five minutes here and there (if you plan on not playing for several days, park the character at a church: at least he’ll be fed and you won’t find him dead from starvation!). At least it has lasted me for more than one week already, which isn’t that bad at all for such a little thing.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Posted on Oct 11, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media, PC Games, RPGs, Xbox Games | 1 Comment

Everybody remembers Arena, Daggerfall and Morrowind? Yes? No? You should! Not only have these games marked their time, but the fourth opus of the Elder Scrolls series is now to come soon… very soon… on our beloved machines. I’ve seen a pretty snazzy demo of the game recently, and both my boyfriend and I were in awe while watching it. Not only were the graphisms stunning, but they also leave room to much interaction with the background and the items pertaining to it (even animals, too; the demo showed one NPC ‘shooting’ her dog with some kind of calming spell, and it was quite funny to watch).

In any case, for more information about this sure-to-be monster of gaming, here’s what IGN published about it yesterday:

We played through much of the same areas we saw at X05, which is basically the training area for Oblivion. At the start you’ll pick your race and customize your character’s appearance, eventually you’ll pick a birth sign, and a little while after that you’ll be charged with selecting your major skills and attributes. When you go to pick all your final attributes you’ll also be given the choice to change any of the conditions you’d previously selected, right down to your character’s name.

As you select what kind of character you want to be you can pick warrior or thief presets from a list, modify them, or create and name your own class, much like in Morrowind. Unlike Morrowind, Oblivion gives you the chance to try out some of the game’s skills before you finalize everything.

On our way through the training catacombs we were able to pick locks. These sequences switch to a different screen where you’re tasked with tapping tumblers into an unlocked position. As the tumblers move upward you need to press A at their apex to correctly fix them in place so you can open the container or door. Your security skill determines how difficult the tumblers are to manipulate and how many tumblers you’ll need to tap. You can also tell the game to automatically resolve the lockpick sequence instead of doing it manually, but this seemed to result more often than not in broken picks.

An article a tad bit technical, about the various character and skills possibilities, but doesn’t it make you wish that it was already available? For me, it sure does.

Popularity: 7% [?]

Final Fantasy: A Look Back

Posted on Oct 10, 2005 under Playstation 2 Games, RPGs | No Comment

I love the role-playing video game genre. The Final Fantasy games are as much a staple of the role-playing genre as good old fashioned Dungeons and Dragons. Some of the FF games are much better than others. I think the most beloved of all the Final Fantasy games is Final Fantasy III (or FF VI in Japan). Other great FF games are VII, VIII, and X. Here is how I rate them:

1.) Final Fantasy III- The most engaging storyline, the most memorable characters, and the most excellent gameplay of all the Final Fantasy games. Just imagine if this one had graphics that were worth a bean. One of my most favorite things about this game is that there are 15 playable characters, and it seems like most of them have a pretty neat story as well as cool abilities. This video game would make a pretty fantastic movie (when I make my millions, that is my first order of business, to make this into a story).

2.) Final Fantasy X- This game has a great magic system, which is much like Final Fantasy III (probably why it is so great). It has a great story and memorable characters. Although, I felt like the ending was disappointing. It had excellent side quests. The final bosses were not too challenging (that may have been a tribute to my time spent leveling up, but I wasn’t too impressed, regardless). Overall, though, I had a blast throughout the entire game.

3.) Final Fantasy VII- This game had pretty decent graphics (if you look past the outrageous polygon-pop). The story is quite good. The magic system is pretty interesting (though a little tough to learn at first). The characters are lovable and enduring.

4.) Final Fantasy VIII- This game had great graphics, and neat movie sequences. However, it had a very confusing story. It was difficult to identify with the characters, and the magic system absolutely stunk. Since the magic system stunk and the Aeons were so powerful, I would give up on my magic attacks and regular attacks and just use my Aeons over and over again (it would take forever to watch the little Aeon video clips, so after awhile it would get quite tiresome). If you have the opportunity to buy this game, don’t; rent a movie instead. The only redeeming feature of this game is its cool graphics and beautiful movie scenes.

Popularity: 6% [?]

Question: The Sims 2 & University Expansion Pack…are they worth the dough?

Posted on Oct 10, 2005 under Game Reviews, PC Games | No Comment

Answer: Every Penny!
Elaboration: I have played many a computer game in my life: ranging from extremely dynamite to ultra poor. The Sims 2 as well as the Sims 2 University Expansion Pack rate on the extremely dynamite end of that scale.

This game is very engaging and quite addictive. Don’t buy this game if you don’t want to be tempted of the devil to play it all day long. If you are okay with that type of addiction, feel very good about making the investment to buy this game.

The original Sims game is very good; it kept me hooked for about a month or so. However, the Sims 2 is 20 times better, and I’ll tell you why: The added sense of realism.

In the original Sims game, you would control your characters seeing them prosper with a successful carrer. You would accumulate wealth, buy the house on the hill, have several children, and then you would enter a world like unto Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day–everyday is the same, your Sim and his children stay the exact same age, and the only entertainment you get out of the game is having your Sim play the piano so that you could hear “The Flight of the Bumble Bee”.

With the Sims 2, you can now follow your Sim through his life. You can see him grow up from a baby to a teenager, to an adult, all the way to an old fogey. You can then follow their children through their lives, and so on (the game never ends, it’s like looking into mirror that is infront of another mirror…mindnumbingly cool).

Also, each Sim has a life-goal/ambition. If your Sim’s ambition is to have a family, he will enjoy spending time with his wife and children. If your Sim’s ambition is Fortune, he will enjoy success in his career and earning money, etc.. You also have the option to persue knowledge, popularity, or romance. Also, you have the option to change your Sim’s life-ambition at different points in your Sim’s life (for example, once you’ve matured a bit, you may not be quite as girl crazy as you were in highschool and college; you may now be after $$$, but the choice is up to you).

The additions to this game are astounding. You can build wonderfully elaborate stores for your Sims to shop in: they can try on their clothes in clothing stores, buy groceries in grocery stores, or buy video games in video game stores. You can learn how to cook different types of meals–salmon, hamburgers, turkey, mac n’ cheese–and watch your Sim prepare the meal as they would in real life (just at a faster pace).

The University Expansion pack allows your Sims to go to college. As college is one of the funnest parts of your life, it is also the funnest part of this game. My pappy always said, “don’t let going to class get in the way of your education,” and if you are playing this game you should let that line be your mantra: throw some parties, get to “know” some girls, join a Greek house, and if you can get your Sim to get up by 9:00 am, send him to class as well.

To sum up, the game is extrodinarily fun. It is better than the old Sims because it more realistic and the game never gets boring. You almost develop a relationship with your Sims; each Sim grows on you and has his own personality. It is a great game, and very addictive.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Hot Coffee

Posted on Oct 06, 2005 under Gaming News | No Comment

Why all the controversy with the “Hot Coffee” easter egg on Grand Theft Auto?

It’s a game about running people over. You can beat hookers to death. You can go postal at restruants… they are even old ladies to shoot. But there’s a cheat that allows sex — with your girlfriend, no less — and now the game’s off the shelves.

Ok, I completely understand the AO rating. I even understand Wal-Mart and so forth refusing to stock it. And I think Rockstar’s excuse about “leftover content” is up there “my dog ate it”.

I just don’t understand the lawsuits parents are bringing against Rockstar, because they feel misled by the game’s labeling and packaging. It wasn’t rated Everyone or even Teen, GTA already had an M because of the hookers and, oh yeah, graphic violence. So parents bought their pre-teen sons a game about beating people to death, but didn’t want him to see boobs? What kind of morality is that? It’s ok to run people over and shoot bystanders, as long as no one has sex?

I’d expect the kids to grow up and get laid, rather than grow up and beat people to death (Unless they’re turned violent by those evil videogames and that metal music).
Hey, parents, you know there’s this thing on the computer where your son can see naked girls? It’s called the internet. Personally, I’d much rather have my teenage son watching pretend porn than shooting up pretend bystanders, but I was raised by crazy hippies!

Porn or games or the combination of the two isn’t the problem. Bad parents are the problem.

Pretty unbiased article here:

Popularity: 2% [?]

Gamers in the Movies

Posted on Oct 06, 2005 under Gaming News, In The Media | No Comment

Wired’s article on gamers in movies talks about the way gamers are shown in movies.

In Japan, skilled videogame players are treated with the reverence Americans reserve for rappers and athletes. It’s no wonder that anime films show gamers as attractive (showered!) and popular. Most interestingly, videogames are a date activity, and the girls even win sometimes! It’s a bit of a stretch for those of us who’ve been in an American arcade, but still. Girls playing. And winning. What a concept.

Adam Sandler’s new movie Grandma’s Boy will show a game tester as the main character. Did you catch the part about Adam Sandler? Can this be anything other than another joke about gamers and their inability to get laid/ have friends/leave the house?

At least Ed in Shaun of the Dead had the amazing aim born of many hours on a first-person shooter. So maybe he didn’t pay much attention to clothes or girls, but at least he knows a loaded weapon when he sees one… hanging over the bar at the local pub.

Popularity: 2% [?]