Saturday, February 27, 2010

Shoot First ....

First Person Shooters have gone through some major changes in the last decade. It is a genre that was once branded as "brain dead, shoot 'em ups". That is certainly not the case anymore. FPS games have spawned million dollar tournaments, user edits, and fantastic plots. Here is a quick rundown of two major players in FPS development.

Bungie: USA. 1991. Founded by two undergrad students from the University of Chicago, this company prides itself on its irreverent attitude towards formal business practices. Their ultimate goal is to nurse and embrace creativity. Their biggest hit, Halo, successfully brought amazing storylines back to traditional first person shooters. When the developing company was acquisitioned by Microsoft, they turned the first installment of the Halo series into a launch title for the original Xbox. It went on to become one of the most successful launch titles ever. Common traits to look for in Bungie games are definitely first person shooters. They are typically based in exotic locations with elaborate story-telling.

Valve: USA. 2003. Valve is a developer that has created several major hits in a very small amount of time. Their biggest hits include the series Counter Strike, Half-Life, and Left for Dead. The company is best known for using the Source engine. While many games rely on backwards compatibility, the Source engine evolves in small increments. So when the developer or actual players create mods, they can carry over to sequels. Common trademarks of Valve games include classic first person shooters. They encourage modifications and frequently develop games that include multiplayer components. Even with all this, they still try to create interactive environments for a great, visceral gaming experience.

Purchasing a game from either company would be an epic win. They are super fun alone or in a group. If you are looking for legendary story, Bungie games are for you. If you want a variety of massive multiplayers, check out the latest Valve game. Better yet, do yourself a major solid and purchase games from both.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Treyarch vs Infinity Ward: Where's the Love?

Talk about the ultimate Tug of War. The Call of Duty series (one of my personal favs) has been in the middle of an intense battle between two developers: Treyarch and Infinity Ward. The companies themselves don't actually square off. But there are die-hard supporters for each side's interpretation of the series. These people frequently spar, especially when new installments of the franchise hit shelves. Here is how it all breaks down. Just the facts ma'am.

Treyarch: USA. 1996. For being a developer that is almost 15 years old, Treyarch has a pretty short list of titles. While many developers have made their names by improving an engine or element of gaming overall, Treyarch has remained low key. They have definitely been one of the few developers that have been really in tune with their audience. They offer frequent updates on developing games, public Beta testing, even free iPhone applications. They also know how to give gamers all the crazy stuff they want. Pack of blood-thirsty dogs? Why not. Flamethrower? Yes please. Nazi zombies? Like you had to ask. One of Treyarch's emerging skills is their ability to be realistic and true to history, (minus the Nazi zombies). Their major contribution in the last decade have been Call of Duty 2, 3, 4 for the Wii and World at War. Old school shooters are now what they do best. Keep your eyes peeled for Call of Duty 7 which will supposedly draw strongly on the movie Apocalypse Now.

Infinity Ward: USA. 2002. This developers originated with a team of about 20 employees who broke off together after working on the Medal of Honor series. Infinity Ward has not made any games outside of the Call of Duty franchise, but their contributions have changed the course of the series. Their strongest input to the games includes raising the bar of weapon management. Every time this developer touches the series, there are more weapons, additional attachments, and realistic applications. They are also known for adding one of the most controversial moments in gaming when the player is given the option to participate in a level where they begin by executing a large crowd of civilians in an airport. While some viewed the optional mission as tasteless, others acknowledged that it was definitely one of the most emotionally powerful moments in video game history.

There is something that people might be able to notice about the descriptions of the two companies. They worked hand-in-hand on some titles. Yes, TOGETHER. Both companies publish and work directly with Activision. The teams even work cohesively on titles like Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty 4 for the Wii. Both developers are great in different ways. Infinity Ward has branched to a far more modern style of shooting game. They love to utilize technology and cutting edge weaponry. While Treyarch likes to put lots of detail into their maps and surroundings as well as really invest time in their fanbase. The bottom line on the two developers: they are both great. I love them both and you will too.

On a more personal note, the universe should take time to congratulate my co-blogger Lindsey on giving birth to the world's newest gamer. May her tiny skull grow to be filled with a wealth of weapon loadout knowledge and multiplayer maps. Congrats lady face !

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Insanely Short Review

I picked up N+ for the DS on a Black Friday sale for like, $3.50 or something equally ridiculous...but forgot to play it until today.  Review at a glance?  Maybe 6-7/10. 

It's a fun game, but oh my goodness...the music.  It is horrendous.  Do yourself a favor and turn the volume ALL THE WAY OFF.  It is awful.  It is distracting from the gameplay which is otherwise pretty fun.  It's interesting trying to learn the physics of this particular game to best control your ninja.  And, when you lose control and hit a bomb and explode, it is hilarious.  Plus lives seem to be limitless so that is awesome.

In other words: really fun, really great way to pass a short amount of time, really annoying to listen to.

Buy at your own risk.  (I'd try the XBLA version to just see if you like it enough to carry it around with you.  That's what I had played before I purchased the DS version and they are basically exactly the same.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

More For Your Big Nerd Mind

Just a litte bit more for your education.

Lionhead - England. 1997. Lionhead Studios was created by a couple of disgruntled, EA castaways. They have created two classic video game titles like Black and White and the Fable series. The goal of Lionhead studios was to create family friendly gaming experiences. However, the success of that goal is debatable. If you have had multiple sex partners and contracted Syphilis in Fable II, then you probably know it's not a great game for little kids. In their short time on the scene, they have become notorious for re-design in the middle of game development and excessive delays. They are also constantly on the cutting edge of non-player AI. That means that the story line or the environment progresses based on the actions of the player. So thanks to Lionhead, you are less restricted. You dont have to say the exact right thing or stand in the exact right space before the game will acknowledge your progression. Lionhead traits include strong showings in RPGs and games with gods.

Ubisoft - France. 1986. Yes, you read that right. One of the biggest names in video game development was born and is still headquartered in France. They have developed well over 100 games on almost any platform in use since the company's creation in 1986. Their most recent titles in include the Tom Clancy games, Far Cry series, Assassin's Creed series, and so much more. They are a corporate powerhouse and they have around 1500 people working in production at any given time. They have also acquired dozens of smaller development companies. They have also created a gamer-reward system accessible via internet or through the game itself. The more you play your game, the more you get for free. Anything from free character outfits, new maps, and other fun unlockables. It may cost you the forfeiting of an email address, but it's nice to not have to pay for these things. With their huge amount of games, its hard to narrow down certain traits. But they seem to have fewer sports games and they love to acquire franchises and series.