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.

Review: Dishonored - Blink, stab

I don't know if I actually enjoy stealth games. I find that whenever guards spot me trying to sneak from behind, I fall into an awkward limbo where I will either restart from my latest save, or stab everyone in the neck until I hear complete silence. Unfortunately, Dishonored doesn't change my mostly cynical opinion about the stealth genre. Dishonored's industrial, Victorian era setting fails to even compete with the highly detailed and futuristic world of Deus Ex, but it stays close to the crouch walking, throat stabbing and trap setting tactics found in the best stealth games.

Lagging Behind - Saints Row: The Third

If you look at the total number of unique users, as of December 3rd, Grand Theft Auto 4 ranks as the 13th most actively played Xbox game. Players managed to turn Liberty City into a canvas for ideas both ambitious and simple. While some players established activities through unofficial rules or constituted verbal challenges to all participants, I preferred the structured modes available in the multiplayer. I especially loved the thrill of out-driving my friends in game of Cops N' Robbers, though naturally I grew bored and sought other games with more responsive controls and clearer purpose.

The stiff and imprecise character control made turning corners quickly like trying to Parallel Park a tank in an obviously small parking spot. Regardless of control, I would often block a busy intersection with a bus or any large vehicle. Awkwardly climbing onto the roof, I stood and watched atop the bus for traffic to pile up. When drivers became suspicious of my choice of parking spot, they would try to reverse out of the traffic jam. I responded quickly by lobbing grenades then firing a RPG multiple times into the sea of metal. Shrapnel flew in every direction. Explosions triggered more explosions. But comparatively, my trivial bus roadblocks in GTA 4 reflect amateurish desires in the universe of Saints Row: The Third.

Review: New Super Mario Bros. U - New console, same Mario

Placing a "New" label before the title "Super Mario Bros. U" is a lie. Four games ago, when the New Super Mario Bros. franchise first appeared on the DS, the return to Mario's 2D side scrolling roots felt like a new experience, although a familiar one. 

With a brand new console to allow Nintendo's first venture into the HD era, expecting a different Mario experience, even at launch, does not seem like an unreasonable expectation. Despite new hardware and expanded limitations, New Super Mario Bros. U recycles the old ideas belonging to the 3 previous "New" Mario titles and creates one uninteresting, but familiar, Mario game.

Now Playing: League of Legends

While playing StarCraft 2, I often saw the rumblings between its e-Sports community and the much larger community of League of Legends. I first played League of Legends a few years ago and quit after about twenty minutes. At the time, I remember receiving no helpful instruction or indication of the main goals. And just like many other free-to-play games that leave a bad first impression, I quickly gave up.

I typically don't stay attached to free-to-play games for very long, and with no obligation through monetary ties, League of Legends didn't fare any better. For the past month however, I spent a lot of time with League of Legends. When you know people who willingly help you and will stay patient (for the most part) while you learn how to play, the learning curve doesn't seem so steep.

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