Ryan Davis: How words are not enough

This world is crazy. I have never met Ryan Davis, but I feel like I have known him as a long-time, close friend. That is the magic of the internet, and mostly the magic of Giant Bomb, to bring strangers together from across the world and make these connections that wouldn't of formed otherwise. What can be said, this is not a normal situation. I mean, death is something that people have to deal with, but to mourn and have feelings for someone that you have never met, it is only something that shows how much of an impact Ryan has had on my life. Watching and being a part of Giant Bomb is a way of media and entertainment that surpasses almost any type of tv show or movie that you can watch. You get to know the people as, well, you know, people. Something that lacks in normal daytime tv or late night shows where you get a scripted hour with the host and a 5 minute interview with the guests. Giant Bomb is so much the opposite in the sense that the people who run it give people what they want, EVERYTHING. They give people the facts, opinions, and don't hold back at all, something that is missing in almost anything. They don't care if the podcast is over 3 hours since they are giving their fans what they want, and they enjoy doing it. It is the perfect relationship, the fans love Giant Bomb, and Giant Bomb loves their fans. Thanks for the unlimited amount of entertainment Ryan and to Ryan's family, friends, and all of the other fans out there, know that you are all in my thoughts as we go through this tough time. We will miss you, Ryan.

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VideoGabes 5/11/13 "It's been a while"

Hey guys,

It has been a while since I last wrote up something about video games and I have been wanting to get back into it. Since I am done school now, I will have more time to play and write about the games that I have been playing. For this return back to blogging, I thought that I should write about some of the games that I have played this year that did not come out this year. I have played quite a lot of games this year (to see a full list: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/noobsauceg7/lists/games-i-have-beatenplayed-2013/82089), so I will be highlighting my 5 games that I really liked from the previous years. Thanks for reading and please enjoy!

Sleeping Dogs

This game I played early this year after watching all of the quick looks and hearing all the praise that the game was getting. Unfortunately, it didn't seem to get a whole lot of recognition from other places besides Giant Bomb, but everything I saw of the game made it look really fun. Plus, I really like the Hong Kong, cop acting like a gang member setting. Everything about this game is awesome. The combat is fun, the hand to hand really has an impact and you get enough moves and abilities without feeling too powerful. The shooting and driving also feel good. The gameplay was exactly what I wanted from an open world game, since the driving in GTA4 was pretty bad (it almost made me want to stop playing the game completely) and Saints Row 3 just didn't hook me in like Sleeping Dogs did. The story too felt real and made me feel attached to the characters and want to know more about them. Overall, if you have not played this game yet, you probably should. I thought I just didn't like urban open world games that much after GTA4 and Saints Row 3, but this is exactly what I want from the genre.

Pokemon Soulsilver (Nuzlocke)

Pokemon Silver was and still is my favorite Pokemon game in the franchise. I was at that perfect age where all of my friends were playing it, watching the tv show, the movies, reading the manga. I have played all of the main Pokemon games, but I decided to do a Nuzlocke run of Pokemon Soulsilver with my brother who did it in Heartgold. For those who don't know what Nuzlocke is, you can only catch the first pokemon you see in a new area (if you kill it, you can't get another one) and if a pokemon faints, you have to release it. It is a great challenge that makes you play very carefully and even more strategically. I did do a Firered nuzlocke before, but this time was much more fun since I was playing along with someone else so we would compare what Pokemon we would catch at each route and how we defeated each gym leader. The loses are also devastating when you lose a team member who was with you from the beginning and have to train up a new pokemon to their level. It is very much like Fire Emblem in this aspect. This is really fun to do by yourself or to play along with a friend since it adds a new level of difficulty to a game that I have played a ton out of.

Banjo-Tooie

I played a whole lot of Banjo-Tooie as a kid, but I never beat it. I would play the first few levels and get stuck, but still loved the game. BT is much different from the original BK. Everything is a lot more connected and in order to get a lot of the jiggies, you need to go to other worlds and do a few things to effect something in another world. BK was a lot more straight forward and had the Super Mario 64 philosophy of everything you needed was right in front of you. This made BT a much more complicated game, especially today where you are not used to a lot of backtracking in video games. This game is full of atmosphere and every little thing has so much detail. All the characters are funny and the music is awesome. It makes me miss the days of Rare in the past. Even though I did like BK Nuts and Bolts, there is just something about the originals BK games that grabs as a game that is like "Let's go on an adventure!"

Metal Gear Solid (The Franchise)

While some people spend their Spring Breaks at the beach or visiting relatives, I spent mine playing the Metal Gear Solid series. I played through all of the numbered franchises for the first time. Each of those games are so vastly different and incredible games in their own way. The first one of just being a raw stealth game with really intense cutscenes (I imagine at the time they were like nothing else). The second one just being one huge "HOLY ****" moment, one after the other. The third one being a really interesting game with the camo elements and sneaking around. The fourth one wrapping everything up and just might be the craziest of them all. I know that I am being vague but you just don't know how crazy and awesome this franchise is if you have never experienced it and I don't want to spoil it for any one. All of the cutscenes in the games are really good and the story is so crazy and fun that it makes every other story look boring in comparison. I am glad I played through these games and am super pumped for all the the MGSV games coming out soon!

Kingdom Hearts 2

I played through Kingdom Hearts 2 when it first came out and really loved it but last year I played Kingdom Hearts 1 again after all these years I didn't think it was as amazing as I remembered it. But playing through KH2 again has reminded me how great this franchise can be. You should play KH if you want to play KH2 since it adds a lot to the story, even if the gameplay is not as good as the second one. It is a little sad seeing Square Enix now compared to what they used to do since no one is makes games like the KH games. I am honestly not even that big of a Disney or Final Fantasy fan, but I like the story and the world of the KH games and I feel that they do a great job of keeping a balance between both Disney and FF in each of the world making it an interesting universe to be a part of. It is interesting playing through KH2 knowing that there are so many spin offs after this and that they kind of wrap up the story pretty nicely in it's own way. I do want them to make a KH3 and would absolutely play it, but I can also see them just keep making these side games and never getting me back into the series. I hope that is not what they do, but they have dropped the ball this generation so whatever.

Thanks for reading! I hope you guys liked it and hopefully I will continue this and get better as I do this!

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NoobSauceG7 Top 10 Games of 2012

2012 was quite an interesting year for games. A lot of the highly anticipated AAA games were disappointing while there were many of surprises from smaller developers. A lot of games wanted to incorporate player choice into the story like The Walking Dead and Spec Ops: The Line, even the giant Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 had player choice in the story. There also wasn't a clear GOTY-type game for the year, like last year you could look at Skyrim and know that it was going to be a favorite or the year before with Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption. But that may not be a bad thing since there were a ton of great games with a lot of variety in them. So here is my top 10 favorite games of 2012!

10. Rock Band Blitz

Although you may not know what is happening the first time you watch this game in action, or the second, or probably have to have someone sit down and break it down for you step by step, this was easily one of the most fun games of this year. It is very satisfying tapping out the rhythm on your controller as you switch between the different instruments. Along with this, the in-game leaderboards make you determined to keep playing a song until you pass your friend's scores. No other game this year could I just jump in for 5 minutes and play one song and be satisfied with my time in the game.

9. Far Cry 3

I was not expecting to like this game as much as I did. A great combination of an interesting story along with great open-world action that absorbs you into the world. With the insane villain Vaas and your dumb, rich kid friends, the games story makes you guess every second about what is real and what isn't along with trying to figure out what is happening around you. It is very interesting to play the role of Jason Brody as he is a very unlikable player trying to save your very unlikable friends while exploring this rich world full of crazy people and savage beasts. One of my surprises of this year.

8. Need For Speed: Most Wanted

Now before you go and say it is just a racing game, it is a very good racing game. Exploring the open world of Most Wanted is fun as you explore to find new cars and beat your friends in jumping through billboards or driving fast past a speed camera. And how could I not talk about how solid the racing is! The controls are super tight and when you mess up you know what happens. Yes, sometimes there is an unlucky turn where a truck slams right into your car and you suffer because of this, but overall it is just plain fun racing. Plus, the multiplayer is absolutely crazy!

7. Persona 4 Arena

Persona 4 is one of my all-time favorite games so I was very happy when I played P4A and reacquainted myself with the awesome class of characters. The story mode is more of a visual novel and the fighting is very simple in the game, but it is worth seeing through this lengthy journey as you play through all of the character's stories and get their side of the story. The fighting too is very fun and the variety of play styles with each character makes it interesting to learn a new character.

6. Trials Evolution

Trials is almost a puzzle game where you have to figure out the best way to get through each level. Whether it is trying to not mess up while moving at a fast pace or passing your friends ghost times, you can always improve upon each section. It just has that Super Meat Boy mentality where the levels are difficult and the music keeps going as you mess up just to push you through to the end of the level. A very addicting game and still plays great in a local competitive setting where the courses are simple, but you have to play fast and clean to be the best.

5. Darksiders 2

I was not a big fan of the first Darksiders. The puzzles were good but the combat was too shallow for me. Darksiders 2 is able to make the combat fun with a better combo system and a really great loot system. It is fun getting the new loot and making your character better with improved armor and weapons. The puzzles become more difficult through the game and the combat stays interesting. It is a huge game but not to huge in the way that it is empty. This feels like the new modern Legend of Zelda with a better combat and a darker tone.

4. Mark of the Ninja

There are very few games which I can say are perfect. Mark of the Ninja is one of these perfect games. It does what it wants to do and does them amazingly. The stealth is very tight but you never feel powerless. You have the control in every situation and you are able to play through each section any way you want. The game just makes sense too. The story gives good context for your powers and makes a very interesting story as you think if you are really going mad with power, or if the ninjas are just changing for the best. Plus, the art style just looks awesome.

3. The Walking Dead

This is the epitome of how games should tell a story. All of the characters are interesting and are unique to themselves. You won't please all of them all of the time, but this just all plays into how the game is about the gray choices. You don't make good decisions, you just make decisions which you will think will turn out the best for your group. This is the game which will lead how choices in games should be made. A lot of scenarios it is under a lot of time constraints where you have to make hard, meaningful choices fast. It also doesn't break the atmosphere and have you go on pointless missions and play through a bad game to get to the meat of the story. It cuts out the fat and makes a huge impression of story telling in games.

2. Halo 4

There is just so much to love about Halo 4. The combat feels new and fresh but it stays true to the Halo formula. The new guns look cool and new but all fit into the mold. The multiplayer feels like Halo but new in the way you can customize your character the way you want but you still are not all powerful and need to pick up the power weapons. The story is the best Halo story making it interesting when you meet the new enemy. Along with this, it tries to make Master Chief more of a human as he learns more about himself and why he feels the way he does. And the interactions between Chief and Cortana where great and the ending was satisfying and leaves me very excited to see where they pick up from here.

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown

My favorite game of the year, XCOM. This game just does everything so well. The turned based strategy is super stressful where every action you make has to count. You have to plan ahead and many times, you are screwed anyway since the enemy force is a very powerful force which will outnumber you. And one of the greatest parts of the game is the meta-game where you are managing your resources and have to keep the other nations calm during the horrible invasions. These amazing parts along with sticking with your crew and making your own story as you go through each battle. You feel attached to these characters who don't have any significant speaking parts but you feel a connection to them as you go through each battle with them and they go through the hardships. One of the most Earth shattering moments is when you lose one member and realize that there is a hole in your squad and you have to go on without him. One of the most intense games of this year and that is why it is my favorite game of 2012.

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Halloween and Hurricane Sandy game playing

So this was a very hectic week. I was looking forward to playing some scary games on Halloween but Hurricane Sandy had other plans for me. I had no power for 2 days so I couldn't get any game playing in. I tried to get some Game Boy playing but I didn't want to get into any gaming during the power outages. I did get power very late on Halloween night and did get to play some games from then to now.

Over the weekend, I bought Resident Evil 4 on Xbox Live during a Halloween Sale. I wanted to play a Resident Evil game for a while now and I wanted to play a scary game for Halloween. I have never played a Resident Evil game before this and have only seen some videos of the more recent RE games. I also remembered that people really liked RE4 a lot at the time and hearing about how the series was at it's peak with 4. This is all the knowledge I went in for my adventure.

As I started playing RE4, the biggest thing that I noticed was that you can't move and shoot at the same time. This become more common for third person shooters starting with Gears of War in 2006, this game came out in 2005. RE4 uses what is referred to as "Tank" controls. You can only shoot by standing still and hitting the aim button. This is the same for melee attacks too. This almosts makes the Right Stick completely useless for playing too since you aim with the same button that you move too. It was a little clunky and hard to get use.

I get to my first big combat scenario and I was having a real hard time. It is a survival horror game so ammo is limited too on top of the strange controls. After an hour of failing, I finally get past the giant battle. That is when I realized that RE4 is in fact still a great game in todays world. I was not going back with a nostalgic view of the game, I was going in with fresh 2012 eyes into a game that is 7 years old. The game worked a lot as a horror game as first because I did not want to fight the bad guys. I was not use to the movement, the enemies were just as strong as I was, and I had limited supplies, very different from todays action games where you can not fail easily.

Leon (the main character) and I had our biggest problem being the point of the game, saving the President's daughter (Ashley). She is defenseless and you need to protect her when she is with you. One of the worst parts in video games is escort missions and RE4 is able to pull them off well. This just adds to the horror and stressfulness of the game, not only do you need to protect yourself but Ashley too. You do have a little control over her telling her to hide, but if you get too far away from her, a bunch of zombies will come and take her away. Even though you are even more powerless in these scenarios, they are manageable.

Overall, I think this game holds up as a horror game with the limited supplies and "Tank" controls. It was a very enjoyable experience and fun to play around Halloween for even more scares. It did get less scary as I became more comfortable with the controls and mechanics of the game. I am glad that I got a chance to play this game (and cheaper than usual too) and it makes me a little more interested in the rest of the series, even if Resident Evil 6 is not a very good game. Hope everyone had a happy Halloween and that anyone effected by Hurricane Sandy stays safe and is ok!

Thanks for reading and please check out my blog!

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XCOM: Enemy Unknown makes itself a known great game!

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn based strategy game where you are trying to defend the Earth from aliens. It offers an interesting premise with an addictive gameplay system similar to games like chess, along with making difficult decisions of which countries to protect or making the decision to use your limited resources to make a gun versus building a new aircraft to protect the Earth from invaders. Not only are the risks high, the rewards of nailing a low percentage headshot or surviving a terror mission with minimal causalities are even greater feelings.

In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you play as the commander in charge of the XCOM project. The Earth is being invaded by the mysterious aliens and it is up to you to make the tough decisions and find a way to save the Earth. While the fate of Earth rests in your hands, the countries help you out by providing a small amount of soldiers and giving you some funds towards the project.

The gameplay of XCOM is a turn based strategy game. You start off taking control of a squad of 4 soldiers, maxing out later to a squad of 6. You take turns with your enemy making movements and taking cover. Soon enough, you will encounter an alien. They too will take cover and have just as much abilities as you do. When you are choosing which enemy to shoot at, there will be a percentage for your accuracy and critical hit chance. This will work for you, and against you. You will miss shots that are a high percentage like 80% which will frustrate you, but it is very satisfying to hit a low 30% shot and be able to have your squad live another turn. Your enemies play by the same rules too, except there are even more of them so be prepared to be outnumbered, outgunned, and lose a few soldiers.

There are four classes which your soldiers can be. They all start off as rookies, who are very weak and classless. Once they level up for the first time, they will become either a heavy, assault support, or sniper. Each of them has their strengths and weaknesses, like while snipers can't shoot after moving, they have some of the highest percentage hits and do some of the most damages. As they level up, you do level up you soldiers by putting a point into a perk, which can be very helpful as it gives you more abilities and a better squad. Their is a great balance in the game which doesn't make you feel too weak, but you certainly never feel too powerful.

But you would not be able to win on leveling up and dice rolls alone. Your ship has two key components, the research team and engineering team. You scientists use the resources you took from the field and researches them so your engineers get the blueprints of how each object is made. It does take a few days for them to learn how these unknown objects work. It is funny in a sense since your researchers are able to figure out how to build these amazing things just from 7 days of looking at the alien's plasma gun or from dissecting an alien. You do have to keep upgrading your soldiers armor and weapons in order to keep up with what the enemy throws at you.

You also have to maintain your base and build new facilities to keep improving it. Not only do you have to build new workshops or laboratories to speed up research and give you more engineers, but you must build new facilities like an alien containment to be able to interrogate the aliens and the foundry where you make improvements to your weapons and aircrafts. Your resources are very limited however and you must be able to make decisions of what you need to improve, which is everything. Only some missions do you get money, and at the end of every month you are giving your funds from the council, which starts off as a very small amount only increasing as you launch more satellites over nations. But your funds will decrease as nations leave the XCOM project since their panic level is too high from not doing missions for them. You have to be able to use your resources and time wisely since you are limited on each.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is an absolutely amazing game. The risks are high but with a huge payoff. It is great how your decisions effect everything in this game and how the tension is high while you are giving time to think very carefully about the next steps of success (or more likely, your failure)!

Thanks for reading and please check out my blog.

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The problem when fake becomes the reality (PETA and Pokemon)

If someone asked me what my favorite things were as a child, I would say both Toy Story, and Pokemon. Pokemon was great because not only was Pokemon Yellow my first game, but it allowed me to explore this new world, discovering the mysteries that surround it, while maintaining this illusion of being connected with the creatures that I am capturing and raising. Besides this, it was a very fun game for me to play and it was especially fun to battle and trade with my friends. However while I played this game, I knew that it was a virtual world and that it was a video game.

On 10/7/12, Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 came out for the Nintendo DS. It still carries those same feelings of capturing pokemon and training pokemon, while still holding up for a modern game audience. The game is good but someone else out there has something to say about pokemon, that someone being, PETA.

PETA released a free game on the next day called Pokemon Black and Blue. In this game, you play as the Pokemon fighting against the humans because the pokemon do not want to fight against other pokemon or be captured into a ball. I am someone that loves animals and thinks that it is wrong for animals to hurt each other and that we should treat animals the best we can, but I also know that PETA is receiving the wrong message from the Pokemon universe and that pokemon themselves are not real animals.

One of the biggest problems I have with PETA doing this is that it is a waste of resources for them and that they can be using their time to protect real animals. They aren’t making a game about Michael Vick and his dog fighting, which were real animals that got hurt. PETA doesn’t even seem to have a problem with actual games where you hunt animals like the Cabela games (there are 36 Cabela games where you hunt deer and other “game” and capture fish). The fact that PETA would spend a fraction of their time not looking after the best interest of real animals is ridiculous.

Plus, we can’t look past the fact that the Pokemon games are very kid-friendly. Yes there is a lot of reading and the systems in Pokemon may be complex for a really young kid, but kids love getting new pokemon and growing as a trainer just as they would if they had a real pet. The whole point of these games, and the TV show too, is to bond with your pokemon (many times referred to as “partners” in the later games) and to watch yourself grow from being a nobody in a small town, to becoming the champion. Yes you do battle other pokemon, but the pokemon never get hurt and they actually seem to enjoy fighting. In fact, at times when there are no trainers around, Pokemon will naturally fight each other for fun and will never get injured.

The obvious reason that PETA choose to do this with pokemon is that pokemon is mainstream enough and a big enough name that it will bring attention to them. But it is bringing negative attention and it makes them look foolish and ignorant. Their version of the pokemon game is incredibly violent too, almost to the point where it is disgusting. I wish that PETA will look more at the facts and see that pokemon is just a game in a fake world, and that they would tackle more real world issues and help real animals.

Thanks for reading and please check out my blog!

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My Top 5 anticipated games for Fall 2012

We are here at the start of the fall releases. Borderlands 2 just came out last week and many more games will be coming soon. Even though Halo 4 is probably the game I am most excited about, I will be writing about 5 other games that I can’t wait to play!

Dishonored

This is a first person game made by Arkane Studios. It seems like it will be a combination of several great games like Bioshock, Assassin’s Creed, and Deus Ex. It will be a very open game where you will make many choices on the different styles that you can play. You will have several different powers too, similar to Bioshock, as you go around each open-ended level trying to assassinate your targets.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based strategy game. You play as a squad of humans from all across the Earth as you fight off an alien invasion. You will try to save the other countries as the aliens take over, but you will lose countries and your squad mates. Each campaign will last for many hours and will have many random elements that will add to the amount played and the fun.

Assassin’s Creed 3

Although Assasssin’s Creed Revelation was a disappointment in the Assassin’s Creed series, AC 3 seems like it will pick up the pace again. It will star the Native American, Connor, who will be fighting the Templars(some of them will be the British) in Colonial America. It will have historical ties like the previous games, this time taking place in the American Revolution. This would be a great place to start too for newcomers of the series!

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

I played my first Need for Speed this summer with Hot Pursuit. Made by Criterion, who made the Burnout games, it was an awesome experience of realistic driving and creative driving scenarios. Most Wanted will be an open city similar to Burnout Paradise. The autolog system will be back where you can try to outscore your friends in challenges and races. If you want to get into racing games, there is no better option than Need for Speed!

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman Absolution is a return from the Hitman series. Like Hitman:Blood Money, you will go around the environment as sneaky as you can trying to kill your target without being spotted. There are several different ways you can approach each encounter and most of the fun will be figuring out the best way to complete each mission almost making it seem like a puzzle as you use trial and error.

If you like this please check out my blog at videogabes.wordpress.com

What games are you guys looking forward to?

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The End of a Legacy: Bioware

Bioware is known for delivering some of the best games in the industry. Whether it is something older like Baldur’s Gate and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, or some more current great games like Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Their games were not only fun to play, they made you, the player, feel important as you played out different roles and made weighty decisions. Unfortunately, their image has washed away in more recent years leading them to become more of a brand-name then a powerhouse of amazing games. This trend will continue even more because the two founders, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk, have left Bioware and the gaming industry as a whole.

On Tuesday, September 18th, it was reported that the two doctors have left Bioware. Dr. Ray Muzyka has stated that he will leave the game industry and pursue intrest in “investing in and mentoring new entrepreneurs, and more specifically, the field of social/impact investing.” Muzyka also stated that he made this decision back in April this year and that he would not want to come back to the game industry. Dr. Greg Zeschuk had said that he no longer feels the passion for the company or games, and that he will pursue the craft beer industry. However, he has said that it may be possible for him to come back to gaming.

While Bioware is a huge company with hundreds of employees and this is just two men leaving that company, these two men were at the forefront of Bioware making sure their games can be the games that they want to make. This is primarily an issue of the more recent years because of EA buying their studio. Although at face value, it may not be a bad thing because EA can give them more money and more publicity for their games so they can hit mainstream success. However, it gives EA more control over Bioware’s games to make decisions that Bioware may not necessarily want to make.

Some of these decisions may be to ship the game faster, like in the case of Dragon Age 2. Dragon Age 2 suffered from a huge problem from this and repeated many level designs and had players go to the same environment to the point where it made the game overstay it’s welcome and be a worse game because of it. Another example would be including multiplayer in Mass Effect 3. However, the multiplayer was quite good and made a lot of money for micro-transactions, it was still something that was not part of Bioware’s vision of the Mass Effect universe.

This has caused fans of Bioware to be angry against them several times. Dragon Age 2 being a huge disappointment. The ending of Mass Effect 3 and how awful it is. And Star Wars: The Old Republic, a MMORPG which was a hue loss for EA and has recently taken the “Free-to-play” model just to get more users.

These are easy reasons for Dr. Ray and Dr. Greg to lose faith in their company, and for the most part EA. While it may also be true that Bioware has made some of their greatest games under EA, like Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins, their have been too many flops in their recent games that one has to be a bit more skeptical while looking at another Bioware developed game. I can only hope that the people who are working on the upcoming Dragon Age 3 and the next Mass Effect game can take a second and make sure they are making something not just for the fans, but for themselves too.

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Rock Band Blitz is a forte for rhythm games!

Rock Band Blitz (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])

Developer: Harmonix Music Systems

Publisher: Harmonix Music Systems

Released: August 28, 2012

MSRP: $14.99 (1200 Microsoft Points)

Rock Band Blitz is a rhythm game by the people who have brought you the other Rock Band games. Although it shares the title of “Rock Band”, it has a very different way of being played. Instead of using plastic guitars and drums, you just use your regular Xbox 360 or PS3 controller. This might sound confusing but it is fairly simple.

How do you play Rock Band Blitz?

In Rock Band Blitz, you only have to two lanes of notes as opposed to the original 5 for guitar and 4 for drums. You hit these notes by using the A button (360) for the right note and the d-pad for the left note. The tricky part of playing these notes is that you must switch instruments throughout the song. You will play as vocals, guitar, bass, drums and keyboard for each song.

In order to play the other instruments, you must switch lanes by using the right bumper to go to the right by one lane or the left bumper to go to the left by one lane. From there you can keep hitting the bumpers to get to your desired lane, however, you can’t bump over from all the way to the right to the left. The reason you want to switch lanes throughout the song is that you have a increase the score multiplier for each instrument before you reach a checkpoint throughout the song.

How is Rock Band Blitz different from Rock Band?

Unlike previous Rock Band games, you can have the multiplier for a song be over 4x for each instrument. You have the chance to increase each instrument’s multiplier by 3 for each checkpoint, however the checkpoint only goes up by the instrument’s that has the lowest multiplier. For example, if you increased your guitar, bass and drums multiplier by 3 but only increased the vocals multiplier by 2, then the overall multiplier will only increase by 2. So if your guitar, bass and drums were at 4x and the vocals is only at 3x, then by the next checkpoint the highest you can be is 6x because that is 3 more than the vocals 3x and the vocals had the lowest multiplier. It may sound confusing but in practice it is easy to follow.

How do you score better for each song?

The increasing of each multiplier is one of the biggest strategies for each song as you will want to get each track up to the highest possible multiplier before the checkpoint. This allows for a lot of different tactics of how you can approach each section and allow you to plan out which instrument you will want to focus on first. Along with planning out your tactics for increasing multipliers, you will want to plan out how to use your power-ups throughout each song.

The power-ups in Rock Band Blitz range from many things like the traditional increasing points by 2x but there are several different new types. You have 3 different slots for each power-up. These power-ups range from a blast note, which will blow up any surrounding notes, a giant truck which will drive on the notes highway and destroy incoming notes, or even instrument specific power-ups which will increase the points for a specific instrument. These power-ups add a lot of diversity to how each song can be played and can add to the strategy for how you will approach each song.

Can I play Rock Band Blitz with others?

There is some real incentive for you to challenge your friends online with the mode “Score Attack”. In Score Attack, you either challenge someone or you are challenged by someone at a random song and have to try to get the highest score. Here is where most of the strategy for getting the most amount of points comes in handy. The winner of each match will get more “Blitz Cred”, which will unlock more new power-ups and some more coins which you use to purchase power-ups for each song.

Although Score Attack is fun when you challenge someone to a song, you have to wait 3 days for each season to end and even with that, you can only challenge 10 people. And even after you complete the 25 songs that comes with the game, playing through the DLC of extra songs that you have downloaded (from past Rock Bands which are exported to Blitz for free), you don’t really want to spend your coins on the extra songs so you pretty much are just trying to complete each song quickly to get more coins for the next time you challenge someone. However, this has been addressed by a patch which has increased the amount of coins you get after a song.

Final Word

Rock Band Blitz is an incredibly fun game. It is a different, creative way from the original, plastic instrument based Rock Band games. Plus all of your old downloaded songs from the previous games work for Blitz and your Blitz songs work on the other Rock Bands. So who the heck won’t want to sing “Jessie’s Girl” the next time they play Rock Band!

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Mark of the Ninja makes it's mark on XBLA!

Have you ever wanted to have the power of a tank while hiding in the shadows. How about the ability to inflict terror on your enemies with relative ease. In the stealth, action game, Mark of the Ninja, you will be able to accomplish these things plus more.

Mark of the Ninja is a new game to come out on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The premise of Mark of the Ninja is very interesting and helps provide context for how you will play the game. In it, you play as a no-name ninja who must protect his clan from a militia of guys who want to stop the ways of the traditional ninja. You are able to overcome these bad guys because you have a special tattoo that gives you great abilities over the other ninjas. However, these great abilities come along with the greatest cost. You must give up your life for your ninja brothers before it causes you to go insane and see hallucinations.

All of this is what fuels the rest of the narrative along with providing some context as to how your ninja will play. The main focus of this game is to sneak around in the shadows in order to not be seen by the guards. You go around point to point trying to kill the militia while trying to make as little noise as possible and trying to not be seen. Sometimes you must take out lights and kill critters that make noise when you walk by them like rats. Because you have these special tattoos, you are able to stop time and plan out how you will throw darts and other items in order to break lights, district guards, or even to kill guards from a distance.

The way the game plays is not only simple, but very precise in how your character moves. You can run by holding the right trigger, however most of the time you will want to walk because walking makes no noise while running makes a lot of noise. You are able to see clearly what you are doing and how it will make an impact to how stealthy you are playing. Whenever there is a noise made, a blue circle comes off of the sound and shows where it was made. Along with this, a yellow circle is placed as to where the guards last saw you if you lost your stealth and made a big noise or appeared in their line of site. And the most streamlined feature of how they show your stealth is that in the dark, your ninja will be black while as soon as he goes into the light, you will be able to see the color of his outfit.

The main way that playing well is encouraged is how the game scores you for how you play. You get a certain amount of points for how you play stealthy, for example, you get 200 points when a guard walks by you without noticing you or 250 points if you hide a body of a guard you have killed. However, you lose 800 points if you are caught and the guards see you. But this carries little impact because you can easily go back the the previous checkpoint and have no penalties so when you are caught, you might as well let the guard kill you. You are also encouraged to search around and find hidden scrolls and try some secondary objectives because you get points which you can put into your ninja in order for him to play differently and become stronger. It also adds to replay-ability as you will want to complete these secondary objectives and get a higher score than your friends on the leaderboards.

Mark of the Ninja is an incredible game and one that is very fun to play. The story is really interesting and helps make context for your abilities. There is also a ton of different ways for you to play which encourages you to replay levels and try different tactics. Mark of the Ninja is a shining example of how stealth games, and downloadable games, should play.

5/5

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