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Windows 10 Review for Dummies
By Ivory_Soul
Posted on 08/11/15
After all these years, and growing up with Windows 3.1, I have seen an entire evolution of computers and software. Touch screens and large resolutions were a pipe dream just 15 years ago. Now it's the norm. Going from a Packard Bell (yes, before HP) that couldn't run 3D Ultra Mini...


shandog137 shandog137's Blog
Re-Masters - Next-Gen Backwards Compatibility?
Posted on Monday, March 30 2015 @ 13:07:45 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.
I am a PS3 owner and someday hope to be a PS4 owner, yet I am not at all dissatisfied with my choice to delay purchase, solely based on the current PS4 library. When I transitioned from a Playstation 1 to a Playstation 2, I was pleasantly surprised that I could for the most part rid myself of my PS1 and while the PS2 library came into its own I was able to occupy my time with gems from my PS1 days. I didn’t care as much about the launch lineup because my library was bolstered by my PS1 games, some of which I had not yet completed. I was an early purchaser of a PS2 for this particular reason.

When I transitioned from PS2 to PS3, things were a bit shakier in that I was being offered full backwards compatibility at a premium price or shortly thereafter “limited backwards compatibility”. I associated this limitation to the upgrade from CDs to Blu-ray but also costs. I didn’t purchase a PS3 until probably 2 years after its release for this reason. It, also as a byproduct, made me focus more on launch lineup. I wasn’t sure which of my favorite games would work and which wouldn’t. The interesting part was that although Sony started to limit the quantity of games I could play on their console, nothing was done to address the fact that when you launch a new system it takes time to develop a solid library. Accordingly, many individuals who would transition immediately if they could take their library and just have to upgrade their console delayed their purchase to see exactly how many of their previous games they would be able to play and also determine if a game had yet been released for the new console that warranted their purchase.

The PS4 said to hell with it! It seemed like the lack of backwards compatibility was attributed to “costs” I think. I still don’t really understand why PS3 Blu-ray disc cannot be made to function on a PS4 but for whatever reason (*cough* Money *cough*) they decided to remove the ability all together. This led to an interesting phenomenon, the influx of Re-masters. Let’s take a look at the impact of this course of action:

Example 1. I am an early adopter of the PS2 because I have a large PS1 library to get me through the 1st year or two while developers learn how to create some really great games for a new console. *If a crappy new game came out for PS2 in the first two years I didn’t purchase it because I could play great PS1 games. I had no motivation to purchase a new but low quality game because my base library was so large even if dated. This means no “new” money invested other than the console purchase until I decided a PS2 game was worth my purchase.

**Having access to so many games from my PS1 library also made me more critical of the quality of initial PS2 games. Why buy a pretty but crappy game (The Bouncer) when I could just play FFVII until something worthwhile came out? Great for me as a consumer but the lack of new funding being injected into the PS2 “business” was not so good for Sony.
Example 2. I didn’t want to pay a premium for a new PS3 upon release for full backwards compatibility because the price was too steep for me, but I assumed that the functionality would not be removed in future iterations of the same product. I was wrong. *Once the price dropped to a point where it was deemed reasonable by my standard I was disappointed to learn that the functionality had been restricted to accommodate the cost reduction. I understood the relationship between the cost reduction and removal of certain hardware in favor of software emulation, but just didn’t like where this trend was going.

Example 3. November of 2013 comes around and the PS4 is released sans any form of backwards compatibility. I have a solid PS3 library with a quality backlog. I had no interest in being an early adopter of this system. It was priced right but with the removal of any form of backwards compatibility I was wondering what are early adopters going to play in the first couple of years as the library develops... Ahhhh…in comes the age of the “Remaster” As PC gamers upgrade their rigs for the next super-demanding game, they have a fundamental one up on console gamers – lack of concern for backwards compatibility. As they upgrade elements of their PC at times taking significantly greater graphical leaps than consoles for numerous reasons they still have access to most if not all of their old games.

Consoles are a different beast all together in that if some form of backwards compatibility, cloud, emulation, hardware, etc… isn’t included at release you still have the gap between system release and when that “system selling” game comes out. Which has led to complaints like, my PS4/Xbox One is just collecting dust for the first year or two, simply by virtue of the library being so limited.

When we look at the fact that even in the latest stages of the PS3 and 360 years, many gamers have backlogs of great games they may have purchased, rented, or borrowed and not yet played. It becomes apparent that launch lineups of 30, 40, or even 100 different games is not going to satiate and meet the varying demands of the gaming community. The focus then is to appease large segments of the community with your line-up understanding that unless you permit access to their old games that are tried and true you are not going to be able to migrate as great a portion of the community from PS3 to PS4.

We talk about “system selling” games, but with the expansion of the gaming industry into the casual forums and older age group, I don’t even know what a “system seller” looks like anymore just because of how diverse the gaming community has become. To address this issue we now see remaster, after remaster, after remaster…

The interesting part of this situation to me is that this strategy was planned years ago in the PS3 era. GR recently posted an article regarding EB Games Australia offering pre-orders for Nintendo’s “NX”. You are literally paying for “nothing”. However, it points to an important fact. Console developers strategize years in advance on how to rollout their products yet as consumers we complain/live in the moment.  Backwards compatibility was removed from this generation of consoles – this doesn’t mean if the market shifts to demand it again it won’t be implemented in the next gen but gamers have to look at the long term strategy of what they actually want.

I honestly believe we are going to see a lot more remasters in the coming months to years of this current gen because the model has been tested and thus far well received (financially). Motivation to discontinue the practice appears to be lacking. Once again though, gamers as a group can be a catalyst for changing this practice.

Consider the Xbox One always on DRM fiasco...”Ohh, so you guys really don’t like that – my bad, nevermind”. We live and we learn, but for me I would much rather pay the extra $200 per console next console generation for backwards compatibility hardware than put up with another rollout like this generation. How many remasters does it take to offset this cost? Far fewer than have been and will be released this year alone.

Remasters of games released in the last two years seems like a money grab. Do you remember those “Game of the Year” editions with all DLC – why keep that model if folks are willing to pay for remasters that may only offer some of the DLC included (“select DLC” sounds nicer)? If this trend has been rubbing you the wrong way, now may be the time to not only be vocal but also to be frugal in your purchases of these types. The Last of Us, Tomb Raider, and Batman were all great games in their own right yet the remasters/definitive editions were/are not worth a double purchase in my opinion, particularly having purchased and completed the originals. However, remasters have been and continue to be purchased and this is indicated by the initial offering price remaining stable well after release of these titles. The TLoU remaster for PS4 is still $49.99 on PSN and I paid $59.99 for my original PS3 version. 

[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 March 26, 2015, has been very lightly edited for grammar and style. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan] 

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The perils of the Hype Train…
Posted on Monday, March 9 2015 @ 16:54:14 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

The recent release of Evolve and The Order 1886 really got me to thinking about the disparity between the perspective of sales-driven publishers and the quality-driven purchases of consumers. The “Hype Train” is nothing new, but the way it is utilized has been creating far more controversy in recent years. The costs allocated to development and marketing of AAA titles has steadily increased as profits continue to rise from the more successful franchises and IPs. As this still relatively young market enters its adolescence the growing pains are felt around the gaming community as a whole.
Prior to the release of Evolve, a controversy stemmed from the numerous suites of DLC being offered a la carte prior to the game even releasing. Some of the gaming community perceived it as a bit of a rip-off in that it was essentially piece-mealing a full title in order to maximize profit. This isn’t new… The interesting part was that in this case the Take-Two Interactive, CEO Strauss Zelnick was cited in the media as stating:
“Yeah. You’re right, Mike. There was some controversy start-up by an online post,” … “And I guess, controversy, generally speaking, is a good thing. People can argue about the business model. I think we’re delivering a fantastic title that’s well versed with consumers who will pay for it. And all signs are extraordinarily positive.”
I see absolutely nothing wrong with his statement but one could perceive it as him saying, “money talks”. You have this loud communal voice with no teeth behind it. It’s the equivalent of threatening to beat a grown man with a spaghetti noodle – no matter how assertive you are, chance are the guy is going to look at you like an idiot.
The base game sans DLC received pretty good scores upon release with a primary issue of contention being a bit of repetitiveness. Lots of hype, a dash of controversy, and a pretty solid game lead to a quick shift in the community’s ire from Evolve to our next example, The Order 1886. Note: feel free to checkout PSN or Xbox Live to see exactly how much DLC was removed based on the controversy. I can currently pay $59.99 for the PS4 base game but I could also purchase 11 different skin packs between $4.99 -$6.99, a season pass for $24.99, and let’s not forget what has yet to be released. Mr. Zelnick I think you were right.
The Order 1886 had a different issue in the weeks leading up to release: “short and pretty syndrome”. In this case we had a game hyped as a 2014 PS4 Christmas blockbuster. They even delayed the game to 2015 with the following quote cited from Eurogamer:
“Speaking at a pre-E3 Sony event in Santa Monica, Ready at Dawn Chief Ru Weerasuriya tells Eurogamer the decision was made so the developer could try to make sure the entire game was at a high-quality level, rather than just certain sections.”

The Order: 1886 released to very mixed reviews, with GR giving it a 2 of 5 stars. But it should be noted across the board that most review sites including GR commended The Order 1886 for its graphics… it was just the rest of it. The GR review had a very long comment section but a comment that stuck out to me came from the commenter “Nicholas Thompson”:
“This review is WAY to harsh and I'd even go as far as to say inaccurate. I'd give it a 3.5 or a 4. I understand that the cinematic and QTE approach over gameplay is a huge flaw but that shouldn't make it a bad game because the production value is amazing, I personally think the shooting mechanics look fun, and above all else it's playable.
I mean if the graphics and cinematic were not good then what would you give it? A 1? So a boring game with bland presentation is the worst kind of game despite it being playable? This is probably the worst review I've seen on the website.”
What struck me in this commenter’s post was “and above all else, it's playable”. Have we really set the bar that low? Consumers pre-order games, season passes, DLC, special editions, etc… but do you really think the expectations of gamers is that at a minimum I am paying $59.99 in advance for a game that is at least “playable”…WTF? I can understand the statement based on recent releases like AC Unity, but it is still disheartening to think a reviewer should give points/credit for a game being "functional". I don't shop for food with the expectation that this restaurant should get a better rating because the food is "edible". You are a restaurant...your food should be a baseline.  
Even with the mixed reviews, GR later in the week posted the UK sales chart lineup and the game appeared to be well received coming in at #1 last week. Was this due to hype or quality? I think we will find out in the coming weeks as we see how long it stays on the list.
So what does this say about hype, ire, and change? Regardless of community ire, hype alone can drive initial sales. If the quality of the product stands up to the community upon release then the ire subsides and sales increase. If the quality (this includes duration as a metric) is inconsistent with the community expectation upon release, it is reasonable to assume that the train that brought you to the top of the charts will be departing shortly.
Hypothetically, as a publisher/developer it would behoove me to get that hype train rolling full steam ahead for the mere fact that at a minimum I will recoup some costs and at best I would have exceeded both consumer expectation and sales projections. As a consumer, it seems to me if you don’t want to end up seeing the “short & pretties” and the a la carte DLC model which provides DLC in an aggregate cost that not only exceeds the base price of the game, but is released in tandem more frequently, then you may want to take a step back from the hype train. The pre-order bonuses are oftentimes an exclusive skin, mission, weapon, etc… but is that “digital” item really worth the actual currency you pay for it? Particularly if the game ends up woefully underperforming based on your individual opinion once it is actually released.
It would be nice to get an extra gun, but if the damn game is only 4 hours long, how much use am I going to get out of it? I like additional skins but how does changing the skin on my monster offset the perceived repetitiveness of the core gaming mechanics? These questions don’t become relevant until you actual have a chance to play the game.
If I pay $60 for DLC at release, do I still have to buy the base game at full price? What if I spent a $100 on DLC alone, then do I still have to buy the base game? As consumers we can incentivize changes in the business structure but as a whole we have to stop positively rewarding companies for **** we don’t like. Just saying.

(Edit: 2/27/15. Incorporated above

"I can understand the statement based on recent releases like AC Unity but it is still disheartening to think a reviewer should give points/credit for a game being "functional". I don't shop for food with the expectation that this restaurant should get a better rating because the food is "edible". You are a restaurant...your food should be a baseline.")

[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 February 26, 2015, has been lightly edited for grammar and style. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan] 

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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 PST

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 PST

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 th...   read more...

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

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 ...   read more...

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

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

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 PST

[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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