Category Archives: GAMING

RAINBOW SIX SIEGE Released on DEC 1 2015

So far, I’ve spent eight hours or so blowing up walls, extracting hostages, and laying traps in  Rainbow Six Siege. The catch: most of this was from an early review event, and while it gave me some quality time with the game, all the characters were unlocked, I had an apt supply of renown and Rainbow Credits (used to purchase weapon skins), and the entirety of the games were played in the same room with people I could easily communicate with. I couldn’t base much of my critique on such a controlled experience, especially before the game was released.

Now that Siege is officially out, I’m going to play a bunch more in order to solidify my thoughts. And there’s quite a bit more to see: I need to see how the progression feels without using purchasable boosters, how the gameplay holds up over time with strangers, if the servers hold up at launch, and whatever else crops up during my extended playtime.

So far, I think Siege is great. With a communicative team, making plans and messing them up (or not) is a fun time bolstered by a surprising amount of depth in the map design and character abilities. Siege feels like a special kind of shooter, a pleasing psychological trap that depends more on teamwork and smarts rather than reflex.

Chat or die

Rainbow Six Siege’s primary mode is five-on-five objective-based multiplayer, with each team either defending an objective or attacking an objective. But you don’t just get thrown in and shoot one another willy-nilly. Every round opens with a planning phase, in which the defending team uses character abilities and resources (wall reinforcements, barbed wire, traps, explosives) to slow down, distract, or destroy the enemy team’s encroachment. During this phase, the attacking team sends in tiny remote control drones to sneakily survey the defense. Holding down a button marks the last spotted position of defending players, while other defensive structures are communicated over voice chat. While this is happening, each team is ideally forming some kind of plan. And chatter isn’t just important, it’s necessary for success.

If it all sounds complex, well, it is, and the more I played, the more complex it got. But this isn’t to say the game is impenetrable, this is just to say that we were all discovering the limits of the 20 operators’ abilities and more importantly, the destructive capabilities of the 10 maps at the same time. Most surfaces can be destroyed, either from gunfire or explosive devices, but figuring out exactly what can be destroyed and to what extent takes time. Sometimes, learning a map means setting up a seemingly impenetrable defense, only to have the attackers eliminate half your team by confirming your location via drone, marking you, and shooting you from above through a wood floor. The win to loss ratio was about even, but our strategies and understanding developed at a deft pace.

I was lucky. My team loved to talk. We’d spit out ideas, form a perfect plan, agree to it, and soak in solidarity. Then we’d execute the plan, at which point human error began to seep in. Nothing ever went as we hoped. Either we couldn’t find the objective, or didn’t anticipate the enemy team’s counter. At this point, when things went to shit, everyone would assume their archetype: there was the lone wolf, the turtle, the angry leader, the cool and collected, and the lucky idiot (me). I had never met these people prior to the event, but through playing a game that depends so heavily on teamwork and communication, I was able to learn more about their quirks through their in-game behaviors than any water cooler chit-chat could reveal. But enough about beautiful, fleeting connections. What about the guns?

There was the lone wolf, the turtle, the angry leader, the cool and collected, and the lucky idiot (me).

Purely from a shooting perspective,  I’m still conflicted. For a game so focused on tactics and planning, the shooting feels too snappy and simple. What I love most about Siege are the big commitments I’m forced to make, either in the slower planning stage or in the moment-to-moment quick wit of the actual operations. Consequences are somewhat undermined by shooting high-powered weapons that lack much recoil. Most high-powered shotguns can be fired on the same point without having to readjust at all. I’d like every shot to feel as important as laying any given trap or barricade: intentional and risky.

The environments are eerily domestic or mundane, not exactly gorgeous, but rendered as they would be. One map takes place on a grounded airplane, so most surfaces feel sterile, made of either plastic or steel. Another takes place in a suburban home, where sheetrock and linoleum dominate. None of the environments outright impress me artistically, but that might be the point. It’s most visually impressive during big, coordinated firefights. Walls crumble, glass shatters, smoke gathers—it’s all quite chaotic and pretty. A quick poke around the menus revealed a fairly complete variety of graphics options, though I haven’t had time to experiment.

Rainbow Six Siege is a pretty dopey military FPS at first glance, but insists players learn to work together with minimal error. Further, it invites a maddening cycle of thought—it makes me think about how I’m thinking the more I play. We were constantly disrupting our own habits. On defense, our initial instinct was to hang out in the objective room and build a seemingly impenetrable fortress. It worked half the time. Then we got the idea to use the objective room as a trap. We fortified it as normal, but hung out on the outside perimeter until the enemy team gathered around the objective, at which point we’d throw in a flash grenade, breach a few intentionally open walls, and lay waste.

But now we expect them to expect that plan, which means we revise to accommodate for layers and layers of potential. At its worst, Rainbow Six is just some pretty good FPS team deathmatch. At its best, Rainbow Six is psychological race, where you’re attempting to outwit instead of outshoot your opposition. Look for our final review in a few days.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider: Latest Game

Rise of the Tomb Raider: Latest Game in Adventure Video Game Franchise Makes Debut on Xbox
The game continues the adventures of Lara Croft, which began with the “Tomb Raider” game in 1996. It is set to be released on Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4 in 2016.

One of gaming’s great surprises in recent years is indeed just how far Lara Croft has come, shedding her late-’90s image as eye candy in a catacomb to the fully realized character she is today. Once a symbol for how gaming accentuated a woman’s features for a male audience, the Croft of 2015 is as worthy a hero as Furiosa in “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

The Croft of “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is intelligent, stubborn, complicated, empathetic and a heck of a good shot. She’s as consumed with rare artifacts as she is her own demons, a character with supreme intellect and superpower-like abilities who still manages to feel human.

She no longer hesitates when having to pull a trigger to save her life, but she cringes a little when having to skin a bear. She has no problem buying into the idea that there could be a source for everlasting life, but she has little patience for the consoling words of a therapist-for-hire.

Ultimately, as the follow-up to the 2013 reboot of “Tomb Raider,” “Rise of the Tomb Raider” puts the emphasis where it should: on Croft the explorer. There’s plenty of gunplay, but duck-and-shoot action is not where the game excels.

No, it’s the journey to hidden ledges behind waterfalls, into abandoned mines and across faulty bridges to rocky cliffs to reach the top of tower ruins. “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is as much about Croft versus the elements as it as her archaeological foes, in this case religious zealots who want their hands on a Holy Grail-like artifact to build God’s immortal army.

Plot-wise, the backbone of the story is “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” with a terrorist organization standing in for Nazis. Overall, it’s more logical than the 2013 “Tomb Raider,” which was hampered slightly by a convoluted story about using weather as a weapon. That game also lacked many notable tombs to raid, which has been remedied to great effect here.

The strongest moments in “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” in fact, are in its tombs. These stand apart from the core story and are optional to complete. With little exception, the main narrative largely has players engaging in battles of stealth and gunplay. The tombs, however, break up the action with some of the game’s most majestic locales and almost all of its brainteasers.

The settings — curved bridges, glacial waterfalls, swampy crypts — are the setups for occasionally vexing challenges that have Croft manipulating the environment to get from Point A to Point B. The payoff is usually worth it, as completing a tomb often earns Croft vital skills to surviving the game’s more action-oriented elements. The more time I spent with “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” the more I put off completing the game’s narrative because I came to dread the moments when Croft had to use a gun rather than her smarts.

When we meet Croft, she’s amid an existential crisis. Her late father has been discredited by academics and archaeologists alike for believing in the supernatural, yet after the fantastical events of the 2013 game, Croft finds herself increasingly consumed with the very facets that forced her father to be an absentee dad.

Like her father, Croft is struggling to not push everyone in her life away and completely isolate herself. The game arguably overrelies on these unresolved issues, yet they do illustrate that Croft has a soft spot for her friends and family, and the game’s evil forces, known as Trinity, learn how to exploit this and worm their way into Croft’s life. “Just a frightened little girl trying to walk in her daddy’s shoes,” a Trinity leader scoffs at Croft, and thus the game becomes personal.

As the game progresses, Croft becomes ridden with guilt and starts to call into question her very quest for a source of everlasting life. Her initial motivations were pure naiveté, believing, in part, that such an artifact could rid the world of illness and war. But it’s her research that has led Trinity from Syria to the Siberian wilderness and innocent locals are caught in the fray.

Inward crisis or not, to adventure with Croft is such a joy — to swing from a branch, to jump from broken bridges, to climb down into abandoned caverns or to traverse rooftops of an abandoned ice city — that the story becomes an excuse to stay out in the wild.

“There’s no us,” Croft sneers when one of the game’s characters wonders how the two of them will get out of a tricky predicament alive. Indeed, I often wanted all of them to disappear — Trinity, the locals, everyone. Croft, after all, wasn’t talking about the player, and the two of us had underwater burial sites to exhume.

SOURCE : LATIMES

Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 the Next Game to Get a Special Loot Crate and the First Woman Character

The “Call of Duty” franchise has had players (as soldiers) do battle underwater, shoot in outer space, wear jet packs and even attack zombies.

But for all the series’ fantasy warfare over the past dozen or so years, the game never imagined women as equal players on the battlefield. “Call of Duty,” instead, has long been considered a game for dudes who love their digital guns.

But that may be changing.

The release this week of “Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” marks a gender milestone for the Activision-published blockbuster series, one of the video game industry’s few household names. A female character is, for the first time, playable in the game’s core story.

codwoman

Abby Brammell, the actress whose voice and likeness is used for the starring female role, recalls the day the game’s developers told her she was making “Call of Duty” history. “I was shocked,” she says.

She had to take a moment, she adds, “thinking of all the women who have ever sat down to play this game and … had to play as a man.”

What took so long?

Treyarch developers don’t speculate on the gender split of their games, but “Call of Duty” can be forgiven for following the guidelines of the real-life U.S. military, where the subject of women on the frontlines remains a national debate. Only recently, however, have mainstream video game publishers begun to diversify their characters.

“We probably used to have, on hardcore games, an audience maybe 20 years ago that was 5% women. It’s probably 25% now,” says Michael Pachter, an analyst at investment firm Wedbush Securities. “I think Activision is smart to try and appeal to that.”

What’s more, recent figures on the industry at large estimate that about 44% of game players are women, and developers, even those who have made games long drenched in machismo, are taking notice.

“It is absolutely a myth that this is a game for boys,” says Dan Bunting, a developer with Treyarch, the Activision studio that developed “Black Ops 3.”

In addition to “Black Ops 3,” several big-budget games this holiday season have given women prominent roles, including “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate,” “Halo 5: Guardians,” “Fallout 4,” “Star Wars: Battlefront” and, of course, “Rise of the Tomb Raider.” While the video game industry is not yet close to reaching gender parity, there is now a visible effort to shed the image of games as a boy’s club.

“It’s really exciting to see more and more female characters put out there as not the prize at the end of the game but as the participant,” says Rachel Kimsey, who voices one of the nonplayable female characters in “Blacks Ops 3.”

“I think a lot of people in the game creation side are really excited about opening up the world to female players and female gamers,” she adds. “I don’t think it’s going to take too much longer for that to be even more widely accepted.”

For “Black Ops 3,” a game set in a future in which human soldiers are augmented with cyborg-like technology, developers say they didn’t want to be on the wrong side of history. Set in 2065, the game takes place in a universe in which a large air-defense system, designed to nullify drone attacks, has placed a newfound importance on foot soldiers.

“Our military advisors were saying, ‘Listen, the role of women in the future, especially in the battlefield, is going to be more prevalent than ever,’ ” says Jason Blundell, a director on the game.

“That was a progressive step that we’re seeing in our militaries, and when we start looking ahead to 2065, which is when our story takes place, it almost seemed like it would be ignoring the pointers that we were following in all other aspects to not include women,” he adds.

In recent years, “Call of Duty” games have shifted their focus away from the real wars of the past to imaginary ones of the future. They still mix arcade-like action with the topical. “Black Ops 3,” for instance, begins with some harrowing scenes of torture and talk of terrorist organizations. Yet there are also vicious robots, and when our hero — a nameless protagonist who is meant to stand in for the player — loses his or her limbs, squeamish viewers will want to look away from the screen.

While players can choose to play as a male or female (the male character is voiced by Ben Browder), Blundell says there was only one script.

“We wrote a gender-neutral script. In other words, you basically write a single role and don’t think about whether the character is male or female. If you think about the character being male or female, you pander to the sexes,” he says. “You want to be masculine for the male, or more caring and more feminine for the female. By writing it gender neutral and letting each actor perform the role, they brought their gender’s properties to the piece.”

Brammell says she auditioned for “a really strong feminine character” and was told on the first day of work of the importance of her role.

“The responsibility was to women,” she says, “to portray the power and the strength and the intelligence and the sensitivity that a feminine soldier has. Clearly they’ve been under-represented, right? I was so honored that I was the chosen one to carry this portrayal forward and to expand the culture’s idea of what it means to be a soldier in battle. It is not tied to the masculine, the man.”

“Black Ops 3,” says Pachter, is estimated to sell between 18 million and 20 million copies before the end of the year. Last year’s “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” also released in November, was 2014’s top-selling video game, according to the trade group Electronic Software Assn. On Friday, Activision Blizzard announced the creation of its own movie and television studio in an effort to bring “Call of Duty,” as well as other properties, to screens big and small.

With that size of an audience, Kimsey says “Call of Duty’s” newfound gender diversity cannot be underestimated.

“I think it’s going to assimilate really quickly,” she says. “People are going to get used to seeing a woman running around and doing the job and getting it done and advancing through the game. That alone will start to change the perception of female players in this world.”

SOURCE :LATIMES

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Nintendo Pushes Its Video Game for Smartphones.

Nintendo pushed back the much-awaited launch of its video game for smartphones to March 2016, disappointing gaming fans as well as investors who drove its shares down by more than 10 percent on Thursday.

Under a strategy announced by its previous chief executive, who died of cancer earlier this year, Nintendo had said it would introduce its first smartphone games by the end of 2015. Fans and investors had hoped it would include its best-selling videogame franchise Mario in the first lineup.

Chief Executive Tatsumi Kimishima, a former banker who succeeded Satoru Iwata, said the delay would help Nintendo concentrate on selling its existingconsoles and game software during the year-end holiday season.

“The year-end is traditionally our peak season for sales,” told a packed news conference, when asked about the delay. “This way, we’d be able to introduce our new applications after the holiday season is over.”

He avoided commenting on whether Mario would come to smartphones, instead introducing a new social networking service-style application called “Miitomo” which would be available in March.

The news knocked Nintendo’s shares down more than 10 percent in morning trade, erasing earlier gains.

Former CEO Iwata, credited with broadening the appeal of videogames, died of cancer in July just months after deciding to enter mobile gaming despite years of resisting investor calls for such a move.

The Japanese electronics maker — one of the world’s biggest video game companies but a virtual nonentity in the rapidly growing mobile games industry — unveiled its first title for smartphones Thursday in Tokyo.

“Miitomo,” which is set to be released in the spring of next year, is a game that allows players to create avatars to interact with one another socially. The game is the first of five mobile apps Nintendo plans to launch by March 2017, including one that may feature the iconic “Super Mario,” the company said at an investor briefing in Tokyo.

nitendo

This year marks the first time mobile gaming revenue will exceed console gaming revenue globally, at $30 billion versus $27 billion, according to video game market research firm Newzoo.

Nintendo’s popular franchises, which include “Super Mario” and “Zelda,” “have the potential to be a billion-dollar business on mobile alone,” said Peter Warman, Newzoo’s co-founder and chief executive.

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PlayStation: Survey Asks Some Users for Feedback on Potential Features, Report Says

The survey mentions potential PlayStation features including notifications when friends come online, and was posted on NeoGAF by user Saint of Killers, according to playstationlifestyle.net.

All the resources, best technology, and this is the Best PS4 can do? People can talk all the crap they want about Xbox but you guys are just getting features that we have had since i got my Xbox 36o back in 2006. And like ive said a million times the PS4 dashboard looks like the dashboard of an Old school sony dvd player. If you havent experienced and Xbox One i just say give it a try, and decide for yourself.
‪#‎Xboxone‬
@gamespot: PS4 survey asks if you want to change your PSN ID, have more PS2 games & custom backgrounds

Here’s the full list of potential features from the survey:

– Notifications when friends come online
– PS2 classics
– Folders
– PS1 classics
– ‘Appear offline’ mode
– Hide / completely remove items from library (e.g. demos)
– Delete items from your library
– Filtering options in game libraries (e.g. installed only, download only, genre)
– Download avatars on PS4
– Custom backgrounds
– Store wish list
– Increase max no. of people in a party
– Change PSN ID

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Halo 5: Guardians: 1st-Person Shooter Video Game Released

#LOS #ANGELES – Gamers lined up late Monday waiting to get their hands on the latest chapter in the massive video-game franchise, “Halo.”

After three years of waiting, ” #Halo 5: Guardians” hit shelves making it the biggest salvo yet in this year’s battle for video-game dollars. Gamers who have followed Microsoft’s science-fiction space-battle game since its very first iteration in 2001 hoped to be the among the first to take control of their beloved protagonist – space warrior dubbed Master Chief. The #game went on sale at midnight Eastern time.

HALO5

The game’s release ended years of waiting for Halo fans. “I like robots and space,” says Estefania Johnson, 24, of Los Angeles who was planning to buy a copy. “Alot of people play this game.”

The Microsoft Store in Los Angeles – located in a high-end mall – was bursting with sounds of explosions as characters from the game strolled around interacting with fans waiting for the game to go on sale. Inside, giant screens showing the game were displayed giving eager gamers their first crack at seeing it.

The stakes are high both technically and business-wise for Microsoft. “Halo” is routinely the title that showcases what Microsoft itself can do on its Xbox platform and prompt other developers to push the pixels to a new level on their games for the console. The company has spent an estimated $100 million developing the game, estimates Bloomberg without confirmation from Microsoft, to make “Halo 5” a hit that will sell Xbox consoles and help close the gap with Sony’s PlayStation 4. Halo is perhaps the biggest ammo Microsoft has – as it’s a supremely popular game that’s only been available on Xbox. Halo 5 is the first chapter of the game’s 13 titles to be available on Microsoft’s latest console, the Xbox One.

“Halo has been the face of the Xbox,” says Reunald Jones, 35, of Los Angeles who was attending the Los Angeles launch party. “This would attract people to the Xbox One.”

“Halo” is not the only game in town. Much buzz is also centering around Activision Blizzard’s upcoming “Call of Duty” – which is a top seller on multiple platforms including the Xbox One.

But Halo is the first big title right before the holiday season, which is the time of video-game blockbuster releases. “It’s the next big thing,” says Merino Emanuel, 30, who has bought and played every “Halo” title. “I went to see if they got it right,” he says.

SOURCE: USA TODAY

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