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Level Creation in Dante’s Inferno, Three Years of LOTR Online & ESRB isn’t good enough? – Welcome to the column that wishes to submit a new rating of C (for Crap) to the ESRB known as Dare to Play the Game.
I’ve been playing some fighting games lately. As some of you know, I’ve been collecting old xbox original games and came upon a complete copy of Dead or Alive 3 for $5. I actually cracked it open a day later (I’m shocked too) and played the arcade mode through on a couple of characters. I’ve never actually played the Dead or Alive series but it isn’t too far a departure from say Tekken or Virtua Fighter.
In addition, I have also been playing a lot more of Marvel vs Capcom 2, trying to get better with the arcade mode and actually trying to get an achievement or two. I can now beat the arcade mode with 2 to 3 losses. Except all of the group achievements like beat the game with X-Men or Avengers require you to be perfect and you can’t lose any. This is frustrating especially when you are pitted against an enemy who blocks every special attack in the book. We’ll keep trying because I’m a stubborn sort.
This is Laura Bailey, she lends her voice to the character of Kaine in NIER which comes out this week. In addition to that, she’s been in a ton of games such as Bloodrayne (Rayne), Street Fighter IV (Chun-Li), Final Fantasy XIII (Serah Farron) & World of Warcraft (Jaina Proudmoore). She also lends her voice to anime, television and film. Quite talented and as you can see quite beautiful.
Dante’s Inferno’s Trials of St. Lucia downloadable content is due out this Thursday, giving players the opportunity to create and share their own hellish combat levels. Here’s how that works.
Trails of St. Lucia’s lead system designer Mike Brinker may urge moderation and common sense in using the trial creator included with the upcoming downloadable content, but that’s never fun. Bring me 25 waves of extremely difficult, highly aggressive enemies and one small sliver of health! I will show you fear! I will show you power!
I will show you a guy who doesn’t own Dante’s Inferno and will therefore not be able to play your silly little level anyway. Bring it on!
Dante’s Inferno despite the tremendous media blitz has mostly underperformed in the last few months. Most criticized it for being unoriginal (well it is based off a very famous poem that has been done to death, what you really expect?) and a few said it started off strong but waned towards the end. Yes Virginia, it is God of War for the Xbox 360. (or for those who only own the PS3, a GOW clone).
Anyway, Dante’s has also had a few pieces of DLC leading up to this one. They included souls purchase, new enemies and even a disco costume. However, this newest package is their most interesting to date including cooperative gameplay and a game editor. I’m actually interested in the game editor portion but mostly in how far it is willing to let me go.
See, the term game editor can be as simple as changing difficulty and a few sprites to total game overhaul. I don’t see total overhaul, but I sure hope that it is more than place monster A here, monster B here and move pillar here. I would hope and keep fingers crossed that there is the ability to edit dialog.
Now I’m not implying something as massively impossible as cut scene manipulation but akin to certain role player editors where you create a quick event involving dialog. Say I want to change the story, I’m a sucker for those things. Needless to say this has perked my interests and I will be looking into the game when it gets a little lower in the price column.
A picture from the level editor, it looks pretty good to be honest. I haven’t seen any pictures of editing dialogue so that is in doubt, but hey this is for free; it should still be a fun diversion.
Turbine marks three years’ worth of plunging players headlong into the magical world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth with discounts for folks who’d like to stick around a little bit longer.
Turbine launched massively multiplayer online role-playing game Lord of the Rings Online on April 24, 2007, and servers quickly flooded with rabid fans, fresh from the movie trilogy, hungry for a new way to experience to world of Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves, and Orcs.
Three years later and the game still has a relatively strong following, with frequent updates and regular expansions keeping players partying in the Shire from dusk til dawn, and the party is just getting started.
Turbine will be celebrating the third anniversary of Lord of the Rings Online from now through June 30, with special subscription rates for players who’d like to hang in Middle Earth a bit longer. Between now and the end of the event, players can purchase up to a year of game time at $9.99 a month, a substantial savings over the game’s normal
$14.99 a month fee.
There’ll be in-game celebrations as well, with monsters dropping items that can be exchanged for special commemorative items, and everyone who logs in scoring a Writ of Virtue, a special item that gives players 20% off the normal prices at bards throughout the game.
So log on and help Turbine celebrate three years of Middle Earth. Let’s hope they stick around long enough to get rid of that pesky ring once and for all.
Lord of the Rings Online has been one of the few MMO’s that I have actually wished to play besides World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. It is one of the few MMO’s that have really thrived and it has stayed true to the works of Tolkein. They also have played around with their subscription model including selling a lifetime subscription for $200.00 (for a limited time) which is basically assuming that you are willing to play the game for about a little over a year.
Heck, when most WoW players think about the amount of time we have put into our characters, $200.00 would be nothing. Anyway, purchasing gametime at $10 a month is great for old or new players to get into the thick of things. I honestly wonder though if some MMO out there gets smart and starts offering $5 a month subscription models. Now I know there are plenty of free ones out there, but they all suck. If you can make a convincing $5 a month model with plenty of content, it would be a serious contender.
A picture from the MMO. I also watched a 5 minute video, it is very much like World of Warcraft. In fact, it is remarkably similar right down to the way they display quests and the mini-map. A cheaper WoW isn’t necessarily a bad thing but if I wanted a clone I would keep paying $15 a month on the original.
California vs ESRB
The Supreme Court’s decision today to hear a case about the potential criminalizing of the sale of violent video games to children sparked divided reactions from the parties in the case and a call to gamers to get informed.
“I think gamers have a lot at stake,” Mike Gallagher, head of the Entertainment Software Association told Kotaku today of the law that the state of California hopes to have found permissible by the Supreme Court.
The 2005 California bill, which was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger but has been blocked from taking effect by state courts, would criminalize the sale of violent games to minors.
The music industry voiced solidarity today with gaming.
“Culture and art thrives on the preservation of the First Amendment. Any law or effort to weaken First Amendment protection of free expression whether in music, film or video games or other creative content is ultimately a harmful thing,” said Cara Duckworth of the Recording Industry Association of America.
The other side of this debate, which drafted and supports the California law disagrees about the potential impact and stakes of the case.
State Senator Leland Yee, the Democrat and child psychologist representing San Francisco and San Mateo who wrote the California bill, said that his legislation, was narrowly focused, targeting only the sale of “ultra-violent” video games to children. He predicted that approval of the law would have no impact on what games were made.
“This is not about Leland Yee trying to destroy the industry,” Yee said in an interview with Kotaku. “This is not about Leland Yee trying to prevent any of you game from developing any more atrocious kinds of games. This is a free society. If you have the imagination to do something even more horrible with the technology, then god bless you. That’s part of our freedom of expression here in America, but you just have to figure out when it’s appropriate and when it’s not appropriate. For me, as a child psychologist you ought not be doing it for kids.”
Yee maintains that he is impressed with the technological development of games but is wary of how the interactivity of the most violent ones impacts children and influences their behavior.
The state senator was backed today by California attorney general Jerry Brown, who petitioned the Supreme Court to hear this case. “It is time to allow California’s common-sense law to go into effect and help parents protect their children from violent video games,” he said in a statement. (Read excerpts of the Brown petition that swayed the Court and gaming’s failed counter-argument to stop it.)
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case in its fall term keeps the argument about whether states may legislate against violent game going. It does not foretell whether the court will side with the video game industry, which cautions against chilling of speech, or the state of California, which maintains that the interactive nature of games and, in the state’s view, the poor effectiveness of game ratings systems puts children at risk from violent video game content that can damage them psychologically.
As the case proceeds eyes will also be on other entertainment industries to see if they join the video game business or stand aside to see if gaming will be treated as a distinct form of entertainment, subject to different laws about its content.
Concerned gamers were encouraged today to join the ESA’s Video Game Voters Network. Among those pushing for it was Madden and Battlefield publisher Electronic Arts. “This is another sign that gamers need to wake up and get organized to protect their rights,” EA vice president of public affairs, Jeff Brown, said in an e-mail. “Censorship and content restrictions are a very real threat to video games. Any gamer who has not registered with the ESA’s Video Game Voter Network, loses the right to complain when government starts taking games off the market.”
Again, the full article can be found at the link. I truncated this to the best of my abilities but it is quite large. Basically it comes to this as I understand it. State Senator Leland Yee and a child psychologist wrote this bill that they as the state of California want to be able to keep ultra violent video games away from children. They want to protect children and basically make sure that games aren’t accidentally bought by minors and make sweet little old grandmothers weep. There is just one little problem with that.
But I think that the senators and those who wish to pass the law have forgotten something. There is a thing called the ESRB or the Entertainment Software Rating Board. They take a look at all of the games coming and then rate them based on their violence, sexual aspect and other odd things like tobacco references. Then the stores get in on the act by not selling to minors based on their rating, like M for Mature. The system actually works and it is supported by just about every gaming platform and company on the planet.
Basically, by listening to this bill (and chance getting it passed), we aren’t saving any more children or grandparents, we are giving California (not the ESRB) the final say on what is or not violent, sexual and offensive to the gaming community. They decide on what games can be sold to minors. I already can hear what you are saying, so who cares those games shouldn’t be sold to minors anyway.
True and it could start out innocently and prohibit say all the copies of Mass Effect 2 from being sold to minors in the state of California. Fine its rated M. But what if they started doing it to those question T games just because they show a little bit of violence or mature situations? This could certainly affect future content for games because let’s face it; game companies would become susceptible to decreased sales from the game not being as available in the state of California.
It’s basically a form of censorship. There is already a ratings board that is impartial and just. Can we trust California to be impartial and just? If you think so, I’d laugh in your general direction. Actually I would say this for any state. There is too much tampering at a state level to make this actually work. They have their own agenda to push and can’t be trusted to rate a game correctly.
But it all comes back to one thing which I will jump up and down and say again, it comes down to this: parenting. Kids have a broad range of maturity levels. What might be appropriate for one child, isn’t for another of the same age. If the parent would actually become involved in their children’s lives and test out some of these games, then they would be able to determine what is right or wrong for that child. Thankfully, the ESRB has made it a little easier to help the parents out. California will only complicate matters.
If you live in the state of California, I would hope that you stand up for this and vote against it. It’s not a vote against the children or anything as silly as they would have you believe. It’s a vote against censorship. If you are a gamer, trust me you want nothing to do with this because of the long term effects towards the games that you hold so dear. Unless you want to play Spongebob Squarepants for the rest of your life.
Tecmo Bowl is back and I couldn’t be happier. This will be coming out for Xbox Live and PSN this week and it is essentially an update of Tecmo Super Bowl which came out in 93 for the SNES and Sega Genesis. There will be updated 3d graphics along with online play. Season play will also be included which will for three total seasons, sounds akin to a mini franchise.
But one of the main enticements is the Player and Team Name Editor. Meaning? You can re-create the current NFL (or a past one) if you want to dedicate the time to it. Personally, I might recreate like Philly and Houston but all 32 teams can be a bit tedious. I will certainly download the demo and unless it sucks I will be purchasing it later in the week.
This is a collection of five arcade games. We have Templar Bashing, Pizza Jungle Delivery, RC Buggy Madness, Lumberjack Trials & Whirling Rangers. There appears to be everything from some medieval fantasy to space shooter to a racing game. However, 700 points for 5 arcade games? Yeah, I wouldn’t be expecting much.
Another lovely puzzle game. Place the elements of a scrambled puzzle according to a simple model. Then select the pieces and spin them in order to move them correctly in your puzzle area. There will be obstacles in the way of your puzzle solving to slow it down or possible squash it in its tracks. There 200 fixed puzzles in Challenge mode as well as a Race mode and a Random mode that continues endlessly. Well until you smash the Wii into bits.
King of Fighters is back in this great team fighting game. Nothing is changed really from King of Fighters 94 except this was the first one to allow a Team Edit in which you could create your own team rather than selecting a pre-defined one. Also the American Sports Team is gone, to be replaced by Rival Team which was comprised of Iori Yagami, Billy Kane and Eiji Kisaragi. The bosses are the brainwashed Saisyu Kusanagi and a stronger Rugal Bernstein, host of the tournament.
PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe
2010 FIFA World Cup
Harvest Moon: Hero of Leaf Valley
Super Street Fighter IV
2010 FIFA World Cup
Dead to Rights: Retribution
Super Street Fighter IV
Record of Agarest War Limited Edition
2010 FIFA World Cup
Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper
Dead to Rights: Retribution
2010 FIFA World Cup
Some good games thrown in there for a decent week. Obviously the pick that most are interested in is the budget minded release of Super Street Fighter IV at $39.99. This game will actually add ten fighters including T. Hawk & Dee Jay as returning favorites as well as Juri (female Taekwondo fighter) and Hakan (Turkish Oil Wrestler!?!) as brand new fighters. There are a few new modes including Team Battle (4 vs 4), Replay Channel & Endless Battle. Oh and also bonus stages.
The second game I’m interested in is Dead to Rights: Retribution. The first one which was on PS2/Xbox wasn’t really all that interesting; it looked generic. However, I saw shots of this re-imagining on X-Play and it looks like it could be a sleeper hit the second time around. The graphics looked good and I really like that they took the dog as your partner idea up a few notches. Shadow Dancer has nothing on this one. But again, it will probably be one of those that you really have to wait for a good price.
Among the others is one other title that should be mentioned and that is NIER. It’s made by Square Enix and can be described as extremely unique for the depth of characters. There is an old man trying to find a cure for the Black Scrawl virus, a Skeleton known as No. 7 and a hermaphrodite. Well, in the hermaphrodite’s defense, she only became that way after a demon possessed her. Haven’t we all been there before? Okay, don’t answer that, but this one could also get interesting.
As mentioned at the beginning, I did dabble into some fighting games this weekend. I also played my usual World of Warcraft and busted my warlock up to level 40. Though in my defense, I’m not entirely sure I know what I’m doing still. He’s great at herbing, alchemy and fishing. Apparently he makes for a great DPS too. Rain of Fire is an awesome thing. It’s really fun when you get a Mage (Blizzard) and a Warlock in the same group. All you see is some crazy area of effect spells and a lot of things dead.
I also received Saboteur this week from NewEgg. I admit I really would like to play it but if I do get something like Tecmo Bowl this week, it will get pushed to the side whether I like it or not. I’m not very good with juggling two console games at once unless they are completely casual. Maybe, if I pace myself I can hold off on Tecmo Bowl and not purchase it until I come back from my vacation which is scheduled for mid-May. We’ll see. Have fun kiddoes and hope to see you back next week.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)