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At Last: Final Fantasy XIII

March 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Today we witness the release of one of the most highly anticipated games of the decade; Final Fantasy XIII. This title was actually first teased at way back in 2006, so the long road to release has been staggering. Well, that wait is finally over and we can all sit down to what will surely be the gaming event of the year.

Released in December over in Japan, Final Fantasy XIII has actually amassed a little controversy since its unveling, and the reviews received for the game haven't quite been the straight aces developers Square Enix were hoping for. The main reason for this is that Final Fantasy XIII has quite drastically revised the fundamental gameplay associated with the franchise, and indeed the RPG genre as a whole. Gone are NPCs, interactive towns and an instantly open world.


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Instead, Final Fantasy XIII is a lot more linear and story driven. Players follow quite a tightly set path for the first 25 hours or so of play. Following this, the gameplay opens up and players are free to follow their own choices a little more. This has been a major gripe amongst some, whereas others welcome the more focussed and cinematic approach. It really does depend on your preference.

One element which has been universally applauded is the combat system, which is made up of an innovative mesh of X and XII. Players are now able to 'stack' actions, and the more you can stack increases as you level up. Furthermore, in Final Fantasy XIII there are various different roles your characters can play, such as healer and tank, and gamers are free to shift these roles during fights.

It goes without saying that the graphics in this title are breathtaking. Presentation has always been Square Enix's strongpoint, and the franchise has always offered top range visuals. Being the first of the franchise to hit the next gen consoles, Final Fantasy XIII is, without a doubt, the best looking videogame ever. The cut scenes are so detailed and beautiful you'll want to stare at them all day, and the in-game graphics are good enough to rival the FMVs of lesser games.

Throw in an undoubtedly epic storyline, and you have the biggest game of the year. It may be a little different to what you're used to, but overall Final Fantasy XIII is just what everyone's been waiting for. Masterful combat, achingly beautiful visuals and a guartenteed 60+ hours of gameplay mean Final Fantasy is back with a vengeance. Let the adventure begin.

Wolfenstein Returns!

June 9, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Wolfenstein is a videogame series which has been around longer than most. In reality, it first debuted in the early 80s amongst the first stealth-action games. Since then, however, it has gone through some major re-imaginings, from the intensely bloody shoot-em-up Wolfenstein 3D to Return To Castle Wolfenstein, in which multi-player was a pretty major part. Lucky for us gamers, the new Wolfenstein to be released on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will draw from components of all 3 games, as well as other sources.

The story of the game occurs in the fictional city of Isenstadt, where the Nazi's are trying to unleash the power of an artifact called Black Sun. As American soldier B.J. Blazkowicz, it's your job to stop them at any price. But in order to do this, you're going to be forced to essentially use it yourself before they can. By harnessing it's power you can dive into an alternative realm and take advantage of the diverse landscape and circumstances to outflank foes and reach new areas. This dimension is known as The Veil. Veil pools are dotted here and there and you can recharge your energy by standing in them for a time. As you progress you can unlock new capabilities which may be used in the Veil, like the power called Mire, which permits you to slow time. This is great for escaping heavy fire or dodging out of the trail of an incoming missile. But hey, Wolfenstein isn't all puzzles and method, it is a first-person shooter, and if you would like to all but forego the other elements you sure as heck can.

Wolfenstein features a large assortment of weaponry, all of which can be upgraded with cash; adding on components like scopes, bayonets, and grenade launchers. It's clear that the creators wanted the player to have a lot of choice in how he played the game, not only in provisions the weaponry but also in that there are sometimes multiple paths or options to take in each level. This may be highly satisfying when the player can decide whether he is going to avoid Nazi fire by rushing up a flight of steps to his right and thus outflank his enemies, or slide down a manhole to his left and into the sewer, and escape that way. And , it greatly contributes to replayability, making certain players will come back to try new tactics and directions to glean the full gaming value.

As for a release date, no precise date has been shared, but it's likely that Wolfenstein will be coming out before the end of this year.

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Video Game Violence

March 13, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Controversy has surround video games for decades. Varying opinios are held on the issue of violence in video games. Since some studies indicate that as many as fifteen percent of gamers show signs of video game addiction, the presence of violence in games is equally troubling to some.

Parents

It's a parents right to be concerned about their childrend, and many parents are concerned about the influence games have over their children. They wonder whether certain games will cause their children to exhibit aggressive behaviors which they otherwise would not.

In fact, several instances exist of children who have, in fact, planned attacks on others based on specific gameplay. At least a handful of these have actually been carried out. Parents are rightly concerned that their children are not unduly influenced to display antisocial and criminal behavior.

Gamers

The opinion of gamers on this issue, as expected, is all over the map, but most serious gamers are content to let individual gamers make up their own minds. They acknowledge that a few isolated incidents exist where gamers appear to have been encouraged in taking violent actions based upon a specific game, but point out it was likely the individual would have found some other example to model, such as a movie, television show, or book.

Ministers and educators

Many influential people, such as ministers and educators, feel that the presence of violent video games is bad for society. Their existence provides a degree of legitimacy for the use of violence. Young people may get the idea that it perfectly acceptable to use violence to resolve personal conflicts rather than seek alternative methods.

Legislators

Our law makers have also become involved in the controversy. Many Congressional hearings have been held to debate this issue. Laws have been passed both at the national and local level, with many cities passing laws banning specific games. These cities' laws are often later overturned.

Gaming industry

In response to initial legislation during the 1990s, the video gaming industry created the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) which rates video games (similar to ratings for films). This was essentially a self-policing action designed to prevent further intrusion by various levels of government.

Ratings include: EC (Early Childhood), E (Everyone), Everyone 10+, Teen, Mature, Adults Only, and Rating Pending.

The ratings serve to guide parents and their children about the appropriateness of specific games to the child's age and maturity level.

In addition, video games contain "content descriptors" on the back of the game to further describe the game's content.

Conclusion

The controversy over video game violence will certainly not be resolved anytime soon. In fact, it will probably escalate along with the advances in graphics and gameplay with the major gaming consoles. The best approach is to stay informed and to make decisions based upon what is right for you and your family.

One of the main problems regarding video games is that many people believe they are aimed at children. Whilst this is true in some cases, most games are aimed at a much more mature audience. Children, teenages and young adults are naturally drawn to video games as they provide hours of fun and an escape from the real world, much like a book, but in a more involved and usually adrenaline packed way.

The controversy over video games, will certainly not be resolved anytime soon. More accurately, it will likely escalate due to the advances in graphics and gameplay with the major gaming consoles.

The best approach is to stay informed about the games industry, especially if your children are avid gamers. Make decisions that are right for you and your family. Also, don't forget game developers do all they can legally to make sure the game does not fall into the wrong hands. Games have an adult rating for a reason and this is the biggest indication of whether the game is appropriate or not.

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