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.

Review: Transistor - Plan, Not Process

As each person adventures alone in Bastion, piecing together the world with each step, a narrator watches. The narrator stays an observer, never guiding players down a path. Transistor doesn't accompany players with a narrator, but with a voice imbedded inside a sword called the Transistor. The sword's voice fills the empty air left from the voiceless main character, Red. Despite any resistance from the Transistor, Red pushes forward to unravel pieces of story neither Red nor the player can begin to form. When players learn of the the enemies called the Process, players simultaneously unravel an ambiguous, forced story wrapped around an ingenious turn-based combat system.

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.

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.

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