A couple of months ago I reviewed Costume Quest, the latest game from Double Fine Productions. If you're reading this and you haven't read that review, then you should probably go back and read it because this is a review of the downloadable content (DLC) for that game. The new DLC has been named, rather fittingly, Costume Quest: Grubbins on Ice. It's OK, I'll just wait here for you to come back …
You've done what I asked? You've been back and refreshed your memory about what I said? Good. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.
The chiptune sounds that once emanated from within the walls of arcades have long faded into darkness; the affordable nature of modern console and PC gaming effortlessly decimated the away-from-home competition. It leaves something to be wanted, though - with virtually no reason to leave the house these days, especially with the explosion of powerhouses like Newegg and Amazon, gamers have to find a reason to converge at a common ground and compete. If our trip to this year's Raleigh MLG event taught us anything, it's that internalized competition is far more ferocious, and irrefutably more entertaining for even the spectators. This was proven yet again when I attended a small local tourney at Strafe for Halo: Reach. Although the prize money and attendance is far from anything like MLG or PAX Prime, the high-octane competition is the same; gamers want to give it all, and if lucky, walk home with a couple bucks more than they arrived with.
There comes a time in every gamer's life when walking from Leyawiin to Bruma is outright unacceptable; the journey is no longer the most fascinating, it's the most mind-numbing. Once you've seen the scenery the first time 'round, why bother walking through again? You're much higher level than any mobs you'll encounter in those zones, so experience isn't much of an incentive either. Our example gamer would much rather fast travel using some sort of boat, teleporter, silt strider, or The Nine forbid, a freakin' map that works from anywhere as long as the combat music isn't playing. Yes: walking in a video game becomes a tiring chore when infused with the "I want to get this quest done and go to sleep" curse. It's silly to think that the physical embodiment of the player character - the actual player - could reach a point of utter laziness such that holding down W is cumbersome. What's the matter -- is your index finger tired? You're sitting in a chair, not actually running. Don't be lazy.
Our new level design segment received such great traffic and feedback that I've decided to write a new piece, but don't fret, I will soon do a follow up of the Level Design Through Lyrics column. For this article, I am setting my sights on an old phenomenon within the RPG universe: "Open" RPGs.
The sentiment that a game world can be entirely open to exploration is not unique, nor is it in its infancy. Not surprisingly, the very roots of open world design can be attributed to pioneer tabletop games, the most widely known being Dungeons & Dragons and perhaps the Greyhawk setting, although adaptations have been made throughout the years to evolve these "pen and paper" interactions (seriously, who uses a pen for their character sheets?) into keyboard and mouse games. This feature can be applied to any sort of open world level design, but here are some examples you might like to employ:
- Naturally, using the article for your tabletop games.
- Repurposing ideas to fit Minecraft.
- Designing levels within your favorite level editors, such as UDK or TES Construction Set.
- Preparing for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim!
Finally, a game the epitomizes Yorkshire in a single word. Drizzle, and lots of it.
The Xbox Live Indie games section is like a treasure trove, especially if you're thinking of a treasure trove that's been filled by a pirate who doesn't really have much stuff that's worth hiding. There are some bits of gold in there but they're very few and far between, with most of the marketplace being filled to the brim with stuff that nobody would ever want to play, not with the Xbox Live Arcade sitting so close to it. Gamers Nexus was asked to review Drizzle and, at first, I was apprehensive. I've never reviewed a Xbox Live Indie title before, it was simply that none of them had ever appealed to me. A game is judged based on its box art, as with everything else. I know you're not supposed to “judge a book by its cover,” but the overwhelming urge to do so is insurmountable, it's human nature to take a quick glance at something and instantly assess its value. It doesn't matter if that assessment is to do with danger, monetary value or, in this case, entertainment value. When you look at the box art for most of the Xbox Live Indie titles, it's easy to see why they don't have the same appeal as some of the Xbox Live Arcade games. With that in mind, I downloaded Drizzle and started to play.
The word alliance assumes that you have friends, for a gamer that's a stretch.
There have been literally thousands of tower defence games over the years, ever since the explosion of popularity that the Defence of the Ancients mod saw back in 2003, and even before that! Some have been good, some have been bad, but almost all of them I've been terrible at. That being said I've tried a lot of them, they are a style of game which I enjoy playing, I enjoy levelling up my units, trying to stop their advances in any way I can, and so I've bought a lot of tower defence games for PC, iPhone, and iPad. When Vectorform contacted Gamers Nexus in order to review their latest version of Galactic Alliance, this version made specifically for the iPad, I was all over it. I'd looked forward to having a go at Galactic Alliance ever since I'd seen it played on Microsoft Surface and, since I'll never be able to afford a Microsoft Surface, I'd assumed I'd never be able to play it. Thankfully, I was wrong.
Earlier this decade, 'open RPGs' were by-and-large the biggest fad in gaming: The Elder Scrolls series bathed in its originality across platforms, bringing the true feel of role-play to life. With the latter part of the decade winding down, we've seen fewer and fewer titles of the genre, and - disappointingly so - more shoot 'em up, multiplayer titles. Yes, Call of Duty, we mean you. The ebb and flow of FPS games managed to wash up a pearl of open RPGs, though: Divinity II - The Dragon Knight Saga. My initial skepticism toward the game was locked into gear with the artistic style of the box art (that had looked very JRPG-esque), but the game itself is far more impressive - and, for the most part, well-written.
The closing months of the year bring with them a superfluity unachievable anywhere other than the Internet. You can get buckets of games for $5, hop on Steam and grab the latest indie bundle or Valve bundle, but in the end - some gamers are still stuck on old, dusty machines that are spinning their last fan-cycle of life at this very moment.
Continuing our wildly popular Budget Gaming Rig feature, we've taken advantage of a few of the Newegg sales to put this beauty together. Its prime focus is to satisfy the graphics-hungry gamer, but options for gamers that double as video editors or Photoshop artists are at the end of the article (opting for more CPU power in sacrifice of GPU power). Let's get started!
Imagine my surprise to find myself laughing at a character voiced by Will Ferrell. I know! Shocker!
There was a time in my life when I would have done anything to play a movie tie-in game, especially one from a prominent movie of the time. Yes, I spent some of my childhood playing those classic Star Wars games for the GameBoy, but there was always something missing, something that I could never quite put my finger on. Eventually I discovered that what that was: I hadn't seen the film in the cinema when they had originally come out. I wasn't born yet. That realisation came later on in life when I played the movie tie-in games of films that I HAD seen at the cinema, Lion King for the Mega Drive, Toy Story 2 for the PlayStation, even Spider-Man 2 for the Xbox. There's always something added to the experience of a game when you've seen the movie it's tying in to. Something that dilutes the inevitable awfulness that, from now on, I'll be calling the “Tie-In Terror.” As far as I'm concerned, anyway.
The Internet is irrevocably the single most expansive compilation of knowledge in the world, and despite its humble beginnings as insignificant packets of data within token ring networks, the phenomenon has a current outreach of two billion global users. It is arguably man's greatest creation - a construct with procrastination-enhancing abilities second to none; somewhat more ostensible is its infinite potential to unite creative minds worldwide - be they mathematicians, undiscovered musicians, writers, or artists - and pool ideas into a sprawling mass of ingenuity. The Internet offers aspiring writers and garage bands an audience of millions of users, largely thanks to pioneer companies like Google and (before it was assimilated) YouTube. In fact, the very website you are reading would otherwise be non-existent without the affordable and forgiving ways of the web. However, as with all modern instruments, fear-stricken politicians of the United States have converged under the nigh-infallible vision of American mega-corporations, thirsty to stifle a new-sprung creative threat.
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