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You are not the character. A look at This War of Mine.
Posted on Monday, December 1 2014 @ 16:47:16 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.


I have been very excited in anticipation of the release of This War of Mine since the GR preview in June of 2014. The idea of being a regular person trying to survive in a war torn place and a focus on the “experience” vs “action” had me just about sold. Gil followed up with the review of the game in November…5-star rating. I knew at this point I would purchase the game but the question now was when? Is it worth a full price purchase or a steam sale?
 
To answer my final question, I had to watch some “Let’s Play” and after watching the first 12 days over about 1.5hrs no sale was necessary…yet Steam was having the “Exploration Sale” so I still got my first Steam game at a discount (note: this is also my first PC game purchase since like 2004). After watching an hour and half of gameplay, it still truly did not do justice to what I was about to experience.
 
This write-up is based on about 15 hours of gameplay and 32 days in (game days). The first thing that should be noted is that I don’t think I actually killed anyone for what seemed like the first 10 hours but that was a really good thing. I didn’t feel the need to kill anyone as the locations available to scavenge on this playthrough had relatively low danger levels if any. What grabbed my attention was the fact that regardless of how insignificant I deemed my actions during the night to be, it still had an impact on the group of survivors I was to manage. In that sense it didn’t feel like anything was missing for having not had to kill an NPC for that long of a time.
 
The impact of “stealing” was the primary concern in the early hours. You didn’t have to kill someone directly to have a negative impact on the psyche of your group. On one instance I went to a location with a father and son, but so as not to spoil anything I won’t say the in game location. One of them was ill and the other was trading and providing guard during the night. I traded with the individual and then began to search the area for supplies the “first” night. I found some supplies that I didn’t have to “steal” and made my way back home without incident.
 
Upon my return, the group commented on how it was a “shame” I didn’t have medical supplies to trade in order to help the sick person last night. I spent the day prepping my base to revisit the location the next night. This time I needed food… I approached the individual and traded some medicine for some food, but this time I also brought a crowbar to explore a bit more of this not so hostile spot. I found that I could go around to the back of the location, break into a door and steal a ton of food and supplies right from under these two…so I did…no one dead no harm?
 
As I ran away from the location alerting the two that someone had just robbed them but not quick enough for them to see it was me. I thought sweet, I got a bunch of needed supplies and still didn’t have to resort to violence. I got back to base and everyone was talking about how I left a sick person and another individuals who were not violent with very little if enough for them to survive. This led to everyone being “sad” the earliest tier before leading to “depression”.
 
All I could think of was that in Elder Scrolls when I steal and don’t get caught the loot is mine with very little negative impact if any…until I am caught. This was very different…being caught wasn’t the point. You knew what you were doing was wrong and accordingly it had an impact on your mental state. The emphasis on the ramification of your actions even when they are deemed as innocuous by most gaming tropes was quite refreshing. I had to remind myself that you are not the character…don’t play the game like a “game”. Just because you “can” do something and get away with it doesn’t mean that an individual in this real world situation would act accordingly.
 
It should be noted before I move on to discuss my set of murders in the game that I focused on the impact of “theft” for the first half of my playtime and “theft” can also indirectly lead to death thereby leading to depression. Needless to say, the theft that led to the death of a couple of NPCs and thereby the depression of one of my best scavenging character was a key factor in my experience with “killing”.
 
When I started to explore the option to kill in order to scavenge more… things became a bit more complicated. The first location I visited where I needed to resort to “extreme” measures with my knife was in a hotel with ruthless thugs. If I am going to kill an NPC it might as well be some bad guys….amiright? I hid in the shadows and took down the first guy…that was a pretty cool knifing animation I though and ran away before the guy with the shotgun could get to the site of the crime. Whoo.
 
Some of my group wasn’t really impacted by the act so the next few nights I took it upon myself to pick off the remaining thugs to secure the supplies in the area. After the second or third night my guy was “depressed”. Once again I am tasked with the question of how the "character" would deal with killing bad guys not ME. Alright…we have gotten through depression before…a little music, some rest, a few days good deal. I just needed to not do anything too egregious for the next few days while scavenging and I should be set…
 
When selecting a location to raid at night you are given a brief description as to whether there are armed forces and they may or may not tell you whether the inhabitants are hostile. I went to another location while depressed and was able to steal some much needed supplies without any violence (I knew my depression would not be reduced the next day due to the theft) but I had to steal the supplies or one of my group was going to bleed to death from wounds incurred guarding our base. I also noticed a whole section of the location that I couldn’t access because an NPC had taken an overwatch position and wasn’t moving (at least for the amount of time I was willing to wait). I left without incident with a few more supplies but the other section looked like a gold mine. Going to have to get my hands dirty, I thought...
 
The next night I returned. My character was still depressed so I didn’t want to kill anyone, instead I was going to make a run for the other side of the building. I ran, the NPC took a shot but missed and I made it to the other side. I thought everything was okay and began scavenging.  After a little while, the crazy NPC ran over and tried to attack me at which point I stabbed the **** out of her. Now in my experience with games, when you are attacked while not being hostile the response is usually well, “they were asking for it” so you are not penalized.  To be honest I thought that was the case as nothing changed immediately after the event. I continued to load up on supplies and when the other 2 NPCs saw me they ran so I avoided them and headed back to base.
 
Wouldn’t you know, as soon as I walked in the the door my character was mentally “broken” (I think this is the tier just before suicide) from the act. I had to really stop and collect myself because I thought I just lost one of my best characters for defending himself. I was literally pissed and thinking, “WTF, I ran to get access to stuff I didn’t have to steal and only killed the NPC when no options seemed to remain” now I am going to lose my best character. I didn’t want to kill anymore NPCs…This experience has just been so damn different. I found out later that the NPC that I killed was protecting 2 other non-violent NPCs but I didn’t realize that as I didn’t eavesdrop on their conversation long enough to learn this (listening is another important action in this game).
 
Time and time again, This War of Mine asked me to not focus on what I was doing as much as the long term implications of my actions. We often times compare games to “art” and I believe this title truly captures that. While writing about just the two incidents above I marveled at the stories the game itself provides the user. The randomness of the supplies and locations available at any given time leads the player to respond uniquely based on the needs of the group.
 
In similar games it is not uncommon for me to play for a few hours and then restart…this is not that type of game. You will lose characters…you should lose characters - this is War. I was reminded of the Walking Dead when I lost my first character. It occurred to one of my characters over the course of like a week in game due to my inability to secure bandages for his wounds, Pavle you will be missed. I have played The Sims and created sims without any home just to see how they end up dying from lack of resources but that is nothing like going out for 7 consecutive nights in hopes of finding bandages only to simply not be able to acquire them and then watch a character deteriorate from slightly wounded to bleeding to death regardless of your efforts.
 
When I started to decide whether to restart, what made me think of The Walking Dead was the idea that you will lose people but trying to rebuild the resources currently available to the group is much worse than letting a single character go even if their loss is surprisingly palpable for a game. Few games have had such little action and yet engaged me to this end. If you are getting a bit desensitized to digital war from the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield then you should really give this little gem a spin. I read several comparisons to Spec Ops: The Line but would argue that after having played both you have more control over exactly how dark war can get in this War of Mine. Spec Ops has great set pieces to make you question on a deeper level certain aspects of war but whether you choose to let an NPC drag a woman away after eluding to rape, attacking and killing the hostile character, or simply running in and punching and running from the better armed character to possibly give the girl a chance to run is all left in the players hands in This War of Mine.

[The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted on December 1st, has been lightly edited for grammar and style. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~ Ed. Nick Tan]

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How do you know when to switch? Last-Current-Next Gen
Posted on Monday, November 10 2014 @ 12:59:20 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
I have been playing Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and cannot emphasize enough how fun that game is. In discussions with my friends, I called it the “San Andreas” of the series and vehemently hope that they make another entry off this branch for PS4. I just wholeheartedly like the “pirate” style and I am just so over the beef with Assassins and Templars that I can only say thank you, Ubisoft, for introducing a main character who also did not give a **** about their endless war (note: I am only 56% through and have been enjoying it so much that I have been literally going island by island clearing them so only 56% complete but almost 30 hrs in and I am on Sequence 7). In my joy for playing this exceptionally solid game I couldn’t help but wonder if it would look or feel that much better on a PS4. If so, how much better…buy a redundant PS4 version, better (If I had a PS4, we’ll get back to this) or simply an aesthetic improvement more than anything else, better.
 
As opposed to going down the road of resolution and graphic fidelity I need to explain that what spurred me to write this piece wasn’t a need for better resolution but rather, after mulling over the merits of a new console I had to resort back to my “Video Game Purchase List”. Similar to many other gamers I have a physical backlog of games to play for my PS3 that has gotten larger as years roll on and great games continue to be released. As a somewhat cheap bastard, the majority of my backlog is of great games I got on sale ($10-$15 AAA titles) and have either yet to complete or not yet started. To slow down my backlog buildup I created a list a few years back that keeps track of games I would like to purchase. I included columns for approximate aggregate review scores, release date, comments, price/purchase threshold, and most recently I added a column for “delay to PS4” for cross gen games like Far Cry 4, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Mortal Kombat X, etc…
 
My list has been split between perspective PS3 purchases and PS4 purchases for when I eventually make the switch and to be honest the ratio was very different last year. I think this may be in part due to the PS3 coming into it’s final years and Sony’s shift in focus to games built for PS4 and not cross-gen ports. I was recently having a discussion about what PS3 games I am excited for this holiday season and all I could think was, “meh”. I want Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age: Inquisition next month, but not so much so that I would purchase a PS3 version and a PS4 version in the event I purchase a PS4 in the near future.

See, my dilemma stems from two things:
 
1. I don’t want to buy a lesser quality game at the same price if I know I may do the next gen switch soon.

2. I don’t know if I am ready to switch yet as I have a huge PS3 backlog and I only currently want       about 6 games out of the total PS4 games library. (FYI: Those 6 are The Evil Within, Alien       Isolation, Watch Dogs, Middle Earth, Diablo 3, & Infamous.)
 
A six-game library plus all of the free games I have downloading for PS4 via Playstation+ still really isn’t the tipping point for me to switch this holiday season…but what is, is the cross-gen games that I am delaying purchasing in order to reduce redundancy and not spend friggin $120+ for two copies of games like Middle Earth & Far Cry. That is the crux of my issue.
 
My list of perspective purchase games for the PS3 has whittled down to about 7 with the likes of Killer is Dead, Heavy Rain, and Lollipop Chainsaw, etc… while my perspective PS4 list is at about 16 with the previously mentioned 6 titles already out and another 4 desired titles coming out in November 2014 (Assassin’s Creed: Unity (sad it’s not pirates, but I want to see where the series goes when given the opportunity to build a game purely for Nex-Gen), FC4, DA:I, and GTA V (yes, I may be burned twice by ****ing Rockstar and it’s multiplayer but the single player was that good).
 
I currently feel like based on these factors it may personally be time for a switch. I can continue to delve deep into my backlog but for the first time during my PS3 ownership, as my list dwindles the entries are no longer being replaced with awesome new perspective titles.
 
My PS3 has served me well over the years and with regards to multiplayer, most of my friends are still rocking the 360 and PS3 (another determining factor in why I have delayed purchase…not as significant as the overall lack of games due to the novelty of the PS4 and Xbox1…but still a big factor). As I enter the closing years on this great system I look forward to what the second year since release will bring to the PS4 (Metal Gear Solid V). I will miss playing my PS3 and will probably not purchase a PS4 until next year but as Sam Cooke would say, “A change gone come." Not planning to trade in my PS3 but once I acquire a new system the ratio of time spent between the new and old shifts drastically... so it is more of a soft death for my PS3.
 
Aside from getting the money to buy a new console, how do you determine when to switch?

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of GameRevolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted on October 29, has been lightly edited for grammar. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~ Ed. Nick Tan

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Ninja Storm Revolution: Initial Thoughts (Not a Review)
Posted on Friday, September 19 2014 @ 17:37:24 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.


Background: I own and have completed every entry in the Ninja Storm series, so there is inherent bias but luckily this isn’t a review. These are just my thoughts on a fun series I chose to pick up after my Dragon Ball Z Budokai days. I am also only about 3 episodes behind in the current anime (not the manga).
 
1. The Edo Kages are ridiculous and add some fun new move lists to the mix, particularly the Second Mizukage…Dude is a combination of Itachi’s clone bomb jutsu, Suigetsu’s thin water dragon is part of his taijutsu combo chain, and Diedara as he has some strong shuriken combos but also strong taijutsu combos…maybe a more appropriate comparison is to TenTen but his long-range combos are better in my opinion.
 
2. The separation of ultimate jutsu, awakenings, and support types really make for a ton of extra variety as they do a better job fleshing out character abilities and balancing the matches. Ultimate jutsu types can deal some heavy damage really quickly but may need to rely heavily on chakra depending on character or team. Several times I have transformed into a giant awakenings only to be sealed by an opponent using support type. Support is able to provide that extra bit of time to buffer between being attacked and charging so it is one of the easiest scenarios to “pressure” fight with. They just keep attacking and depending on the team can have a long combo attack range leading to reduced substitution jutsu usage.
 
3. I really don’t like the character select menu anymore because they tab the fighters into groups. It is difficult to see some of the potential team formations. Once you select a character, the cursor is placed over a preferred teammate and once selected possibly the next preferred teammate if there is one. Having to flip through four groups of fighters makes for a bit of a disconnect from being able to see all of your options laid out in front of you.
 
4. The “Ninja Escapades” mode made me really want a story mode for this game because they did that section so damn well. I like the streamlined movie->fight->movie->fight sequence vs. the running around the leaf village…again… This could have been a good way to bring players new to the franchise up to speed through a series of CGI movies and battles. The missed opportunity leaves new player with very little information on what the Ninja Escapades are talking about…who the hell are the Akatsuki?... Why do only certain combinations of characters have combo ultimates?...What the hell is an Uchiha?...There funky eyes do what? None of these questions are answered! Great for fans, but not so much for individuals now entering the series…
 
5. Combo ultimate jutsus are ****ing bomb-looking when you pull them off. I hope they expand the list of combo jutsus available in the next game. Combos should also impact awakening mode types and support mode types. For instance, Sasuke and Itachi have a combo ultimate they perform together when paired. In awakening mode it would be cool if you could awaken both when the gauge maxes so that the support came from Sasuke’s, Sassuno, or vice versa when you truly awaken Itachi. Currently, no supports can be used when you awaken into a giant form. With regards to combo support type implementation I would go with being able to flick one of the analog sticks to switch which support jutsu your teammates use so when in a combo support group your supports could use 2 types of jutsu respectively vs. only 1.
 
6. The time allocated to Ninja World Tournament should have been split between it and Ninja Escapades. I know the story for fans has been at this point beat to death but Escapades was great in offering fans some additional information on known story arcs. It was a means of briefly summarizing past events while incorporating a few fights. They really should have expanded this section if only to bring new players up to speed…
 
7. Ninja World Tournament also gets old kind of quick with the four-player mix-up. I found it entertaining and novel for a while but ended up just going to Free Battle where I could actually test out the moves and strategies for the various team types I would be using for the brunt of my time spent with the game. This would have been a great side mode as it gets repetitive quickly but still has its moments. I personally just wouldn’t have swapped out story mode for a focus on this mode…
 
8. Great variety of characters and costumes! Let me reiterate…great variety of characters and costumes! It’s really fun playing as Naruto and Sasuke in their school uniforms and pulling off a combo ultimate jutsu to finish off Madara.
 
9. They have added a whole lotta multiplayer modes…I haven’t gone online as of yet but have set up my clone and sent him out…2nd Mizukage of course with a team of the current and former Mizukages.  I am going to see if he has reached level two today. The addition of the online clone is a fun way to guide players who primarily focus on the single player (due to the online historically being super unbalanced and players sticking to repetitive OP choices) to the online aspects of the game. Still not sure how much time I will spend online but going to give online matches a shot this weekend to see if the segregation of team types has improved the balancing. Still need to wrap up advanced survival and advanced league modes but was happy to see all the different variations.
 
Overall Impression: I like the focus on fighting vs story but think a little more backstory would have helped newbies. As a fan of the series the number of options and variations on play style has been much appreciated. Ninja Escapades was made for players like me and I liked the additional information as I am very familiar with the story arcs presented. The segregation of battle types in my opinion seems to have allowed CC2 to better flesh out the fight system and have lead to some very novel yet nostalgic battles and outcomes.
 
It’s a fun game for fans and okay for others. Nonetheless, I will be sinking some serious hours into this badboy and look forward to trying out the vast combinations of team types!

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A Letter to the Big “N"
Posted on Friday, September 12 2014 @ 12:02:24 Eastern



I have and will continue to have a place in my heart for Nintendo. In fact, my first console was a Super Nintendo. The video game market has changed drastically since the early '90s and it seems like what once was platinum is more...   read more...

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The Microsoft 180: Business as Usual
Posted on Tuesday, July 1 2014 @ 11:58:22 Eastern


When Microsoft announced its new “Kinect-less” Xbox One offering, the debate over the “Microsoft 180” was reignited. As I read the comments for and against this business move, I couldn’t help but feel that a grea...   read more...

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So much more than war...
Posted on Friday, April 18 2014 @ 16:56:36 Eastern



The recent blog, Peace in the Era of Call of Duty really made me think about war games that dig deeper than simply a kill streak reward. The first game that came to mind was Spec-Ops: The Line and although I haven’t played ...   read more...

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A Day Without Booth Babes! But why?
Posted on Wednesday, March 19 2014 @ 11:31:18 Eastern

I felt compelled to write this one up after reading a recent write-up by Daniel Bischoff requesting the support of the GR community in banning booth babes. Before I begin to address some of the points made by Daniel, I think it worthwhile to expound ...   read more...

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The Great Compromise: Final Fantasy VII
Posted on Friday, March 7 2014 @ 08:42:06 Eastern

[Yep, I flipped the image... see what I did there? Ed. Nick]
I was not originally a fan of FFVII; in fact, I remember looking at the commercials in the '90s and finally purchasing the game only to realize the commercials only show...   read more...

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Playing to achieve, complete, or enjoy?
Posted on Tuesday, March 4 2014 @ 16:38:29 Eastern

I read the article, “Gamer Earns 500 Platinum Trophies, Makes a Real-life Platinum Trophy” and it reminded me of Ryan Bates piece, an “Irrational Divide” and a piece by Daniel Bischoff called, “I Got a Top Score in Call of Duty”. What the...   read more...

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Playstation+ More than Just Free Games
Posted on Friday, January 31 2014 @ 10:16:51 Eastern


On June 28, 2013, Anthony Severino posted an article quantifying the monetary benefit of a one year subscription to Playstation Plus (PS+). After some basic assumptions and quick math, Anthony assessed that a user for that time period would h...   read more...

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