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Super Mario 64 in 2014 - Playing without nostalgia

For Christmas gatherings my family always played Golden Eye 007. My older cousin set up the Nintendo 64 on a giant television shoved into the living room corner. When ready, my dad and older cousins alternated between chair and floor seats as they ran circles in each map. They never let me play. I was the five-year-old little cousin not allowed to play with the grown-ups. Those are my memories of the N64. I never owned one. I didn't play Golden Eye 007 split-screen and I didn't play Super Mario 64 with the trident controller.

I was only three-year-old when Super Mario 64 released alongside the console, yet most of my friends of the same age all retell memories of "the greatest Mario game." When I asked my dad of why he never bought me an N64, he quickly responds with, "You never asked for one." Only in high school did I start reading video game news and playing more games than available time. I spent most of my childhood away from home, staying hours past the final school bell playing basketball until sunset. I never asked for a N64 because I didn't want one.

DOTA 2 - My best and worst heroes

When I played League of Legends I never found a Champion I wanted to use. The weekly rotation of Champions never gave enough time to learn a single character, yet the rotation let me try each Champion. This past summer I decided to try DOTA 2. I haven't stopped playing since.

My time with League of Legends simplified the learning curve for other MOBAs like DOTA 2, yet something about the roster of Heroes made sense to me. And while I still miserably lose matches even today, I know most characters - and my best and worst. Both as an exercise to recognize my strengths and an admittance of my failures with certain Heroes, I've compiled a list of successful Heroes and Heroes I should always avoid.

 

Good Ahead, Choose Them

Earthshaker

I don't remember how I decided to play Earthshaker, but his full arsenal of stuns and low item dependence helped me setup kills for my team. Once I acquire a Blink Dagger and warp into the middle of teams to dunk my Echo Slam, I watch as my team clean up the remaining health of enemy Heroes. Earthshaker's usefulness somewhat drops off in longer matches, but my friends never complain when I select my favourite Hero.

E3 2013: A pre-show assessment

As E3 quickly approaches, it brings the near complete picture of the next generation of games. But to proclaim the official entrance into the next generation doesn't feel entirely fair considering the release of the Wii U. Even with stronger hardware, new games and a newly design controller, many people, including myself, choose to forget that Nintendo's console even exists. The slow trickle of information and void of Wii U games doesn't help either.

So as many Wii U owners sit in limbo waiting for the complete reveal of the Xbox One and PS4 launch line-ups, I wonder how Nintendo can even compete new hardware and any the opposing games capable of diverting attention away from the next Zelda.

With E3 only a few days away, I want to evaluate the current state of each console and outline what each company needs to do for the most successful E3.

A cyberpunk void

I continue to look for a game that doesn't quite exist yet. I want a game where I can explore and climb the buildings a cyberpunk city (a dirty and grimy version of science fiction where even the most common man owns advanced technology) and gameplay that won't burden my time spent learning about cybernetic implants or other technology.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes closest to that elusive cyberpunk game that I imagine, though its confined hub-worlds and stealth mechanics represent game systems that I usually find more tedious than enjoyable.  Deus Ex's stealth enabled for many great moments when successfully bypassing an entire room of guards or even wandering the lower, dirtier half of Hengsha - a city with an entirely separate and cleaner city floating directly above. I continued to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the appearance, fiction and societal issues a technologically distant yet similar world, not for the gameplay itself.

While searching for a game that would offer gameplay and combat not focused on stealth, I came across Syndicate - a linear first-person corridor shooter. Unfortunately, Syndicate did not provide what I specifically looked for. I ignored the narrative and spent far too much time looking at horizon of brightly lit landscapes I would rather explore instead of the white hallways I always found myself it.

Even with the relative newness of game development in the 3D era, I did not expect such small selection within the setting. Why does such a large void exist in cyberpunk themed video games developed in the last decade? I came across a few titles that closely fit the description of an open world game, but most of them (for me at least) come with a sliver of cynicism or developmental issues.

Unpacking the PlayStation 4 reveal

Prior to the unofficial yet predictable unveiling of the PlayStation 4, I expected disappointment. Sony's continued failures did little to convince for anything better. The PlayStation 3 launched for $600 with no software support for two years; the ridiculously expensive PSP Go didn't play PSP UMDs, and the PS Vita barely sees any new game releases. Even outside of the video games market, the last innovative piece of technology Sony produced was the Walkman.

But I was wrong; Sony finally learned something.

Dual Shock 4 - A tentative grasp

About a week before Sony's announcement of the PS4, Destructoid.com posted what looked like a prototype PS4 controller. In the photo, a blue light bar - similar to the Playstation Move - hinted at some type of motion control implementation. No one wants to waggle their controller or shake it furiously; we learned that immediately after the Nintendo Wii's novelty wore off. After hearing the confirmation of Move support, the idea didn't bother me.

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