Now Playing

Now Playing: Demon's Souls (again)

Five years ago, the Armor Spider boss in Demon's Souls forced my Souls career into early retirement. I tried exploring the other stages to make some progress, but I couldn't will myself any further. After such a frustrating experience with a punishing game, I avoided the Souls series altogether. My avoidance of the series includes the PlayStation 4's newest game, Bloodborne, and I'm starting to regret it.

Bloodborne's high praise and dark Victorian Era aesthetic makes it a difficult game to ignore; I want to see what other players love so much. "If only it was easier," I wished. Then I decided to give Demon's Souls another chance, because apparently my high school self didn't get enough ass-kicking during the first playthrough. I figured my experience with Demon's Souls would help decide whether or not I should stay away from Bloodborne and save myself the punishment. I'm still getting my ass kicked, but unlike my first playthrough, I'm making a lot of progress, even killing that bastard Armor Spider.

Now Playing: Day Z alpha

I always planned to wait for the complete Day Z standalone release, not buy the unfinished, buggy alpha version firmly situated in Steam's top sellers. I thought playing the alpha stage game with periodical content updates would not represent creator Dean Hall's vision of the finished Day Z game, or let alone actually resemble any sort of functioning software.

Day Z doesn't follow a linear structure driven by story or depend on specifically designed levels like a platformer. Players create their own objectives through the need to survive against the dangers of zombies, unstable health and the threat of other players. The moment you assume nothing can go wrong, something always does.

I join a night server with two other friends after planning to meet somewhere along the east coast of Chernarus. My previous character broke a leg, collapsed and died in a single second while climbing a staircase. A glitch I assumed. My other friend, Alessandro, discovered his character vanished between play sessions - a reoccurring glitch for him. My third friend, Frank, managed to escape any lethal staircases or character bugs and walked north to Alessandro's spawn point near Berezino. From a westward inland town I run east towards the rising sun where we decide to meet.

Now Playing: Need for Speed, Final Fantasy X, Battlefield 4

A break from school and a thin summer release schedule gives me plenty of time to play some older releases. But this summer I spent more time buying games then actually playing them. And since I couldn't decide which game to write a "Now Playing" feature on, I'll just compile my thoughts on each game in one post.

Need for Speed: Rivals

I planned on making Need for Speed: Rivals my PlayStation 4 launch game back in November, but buying a multiplatform game for a console launch didn't feel quite right. On launch day I changed my mind and bought Killzone: Shadow Fall instead - a game I barely remember playing.  Still curious to play Ghost Games' debut racing title, I picked up a copy for Xbox One hoping for a still thriving online community.

Unlike most racing games, Need for Speed: Rivals doesn't separate multiplayer and single player modes. In the open world, players zip past both Racers and Cops controlled by CPUs or other people. For a multiplayer-single player integrated game, Rivals rarely feels like a multiplayer game. The other five players either complete their Speedlist on the other side of the map or disappear into the safe havens to deposit their credits.  Racers can race against computers, compete in head-to-head races and beat time trials. Cop activities only slightly vary as all race types revolve around busting Racers. Racers dominate online sessions, removing the threat of ever driving into player controlled police patrols.

Now Playing: Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2

In my elementary school everyone searched for recruits to play their favourite free-to-play MMORPG. Other groups ran through the blocky world of Runescape, but my friend group spent their time leveling through the endless grind of Maple Story. Yet after my friends guided me through the start of Maple Story, we veered in different directions. I joined a guild of closely knit players while my friends scoured the internet for hacks to farm items and blow through the leveling stage. I continued to play fairly; I wanted to see my Ranger grow. I was hooked.

Since then I never found another MMORPG as equally addictive. I downloaded Rift, Neverwinter and even bought World of Warcraft, but none grabbed my interest. Each game adheres to the familiar formula commonly associated with games of the same genre, and reputation alone would not sway me. As I try to find an equally addictive game, I realized I forgot to search for just good games.  After many months of consideration, I took a chance with Guild Wars 2.

Now Playing: Civilization 5: Gods and Kings

I played Civilization V many times before, yet I never understood why I did anything. I failed to understand why I researched certain technologies like Animal Husbandry, or why Science points proved important to the progression of these technologies. From friends who knew the answers to why, they often preached just learning from experience. But when you feel a lack of progression after playing a game for hours, without actually knowing the significance of your actions ultimately feels pointless.

During the Holiday break, discounted the Civilization V: Gods and Kings Expansion from $20 to $3. Despite no intention of ever playing Civilization V again, I bought the expansion based on the recommendation, and promise, that with the addition of Religion, new units and new Leaders, the game drastically changed. With a long break from school and excessive amounts of free time, I committed to actually learning how to play and understanding the significance of certain units or buildings. I again encountered the endless learning process that plagued my initial Civilization V experience.

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