Kit Harington cast as the villain of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Review | Doom

Once upon a time, the original Doom was seen as the gold standard for shooters as it defined the genre back in 90’s. However titles like Half-Life, Unreal Tournament and 007 GoldenEye had redefined the genre by the end of the decade.

Enter the early 2000’s; Doom 3 attempted to bring new life to the series but its fast paced action (by early 90’s standards) was replaced by a horror survival tone. Doom 3 was a success in its own right for being one of the earliest first person horror survival titles but it lacked the feeling of a Doom game.

As the decades passed, gaming would continue to evolve as titles become more ambitious in their setup or story telling. Which makes Doom the perfect title for those who want a simple old school shooter.

Doom takes everything players loved about the original game while giving it a few new gameplay mechanics and updating the graphics. The result is John Carmack and the team at id Software have shown the industry that this is how you make a f***ing shooter.

The story remains practically unchanged but this is a quick summery for those unaware of the original game.

Players take on the role of the Doom Marine, who wakes up to discover that the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) research facility on Mars has been taken over by demons from Hell. Doom Marine must battle the army of the dead in an attempt to close the portal and escape Mars.

Unlike Doom 3, this remake returns to the series roots as a simple fast paced shooter that gamers remebered.

The gameplay is simple, shoot every demon that is encountered while solving puzzles to progress. The game features the standard arsenal of a pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, Gatling gun along with the iconic chainsaw and the BFG 9000 (Big F***ing Gun).

A new mechanic introduced allows players to upgrade their weapons and power armor based on the players combat style. Gamers will also have to complete side quests and mini-games to unlock new upgrades.

Doom also feature multiplayer component which surprisingly works well with the overall experience. Another unique features is creating your own levels and having other players try it out, similar to the ‘Contracts’ feature in Hitman: Absolution.

Some of these features may take away from the old school experience that some were hoping for, but it adds a sense of uniqueness to the overall experience. At it’s heart, this is a classic shooter but it has also adapted for a new era while also appealing to a new audience.

However it’s never a real Doom game unless there is lots of gratuitous violence and this installment makes Grand Theft Auto V look like Minecraft by comparison. Those who are squeamish and sensitive to violence should probably skip this title.

Doom is the ideal game for those who want a simple shooter but have grown board with Call of Duty and the knock-offs it has inspired. At its core, this is a simple shooter that will take old school gamers back to the 90’s while showing a new generation what a shooter is suppose to feel like.

Final Score: 10/10

Written for 8Bit/Digi
5/18/2016
Original Article: Review | Doom

Game Review: Pocket Mortys

Release Date: January 13, 2015

Rating: RP (Rating Pending)

Staying true to what makes Rick and Morty a unique show, Pocket Mortys for the mobile device is a Pokemon-like game that is a treat for the fans.

One should not be quick to dismiss Pocket Morty as a cheap gimmick, as the game stands out from other free mobile titles while taking players on a journey that stays true to the tone of the show.

For those who are unfamiliar with Rick and Morty, the series follows the adventures of Rick Sanchez and his grandson, Morty Smith, as they travel either across the galaxy or between different dimensions and alternative realities. The niche of the show has been their surreal encounters mixed with Rick’s alcoholism and sociopathic behavior along with Morty’s naive but good natured outlook.

Overall; it’s basically Doctor Who on crack… and The Doctor is Trevor Philips from Grand Theft Auto V.

Pocket Mortys has the duo dragged into the world of Morty Training when the Council of Ricks (an inter-dimensional governing body that protects and rules over all Ricks) confiscate Rick’s portal gun after participating in an illegal fight. To reclaim his portal gun; Rick (C-137) must prove his worth by defeating several key Morty fighters and earn their victory badges.

Yeah, it’s literally Pokemon, complete with the same visual style and musical tone in the background (the word “Pocket” is in the title). This is not a bad thing and it should not dissuade gamers from playing, as the Pokemon setup actually makes Pocket Mortys a fun experience.

Players will have to train their Morty and catch new Mortys who have their own unique characteristics. At the same time, players will battle other Morty Trainers that are encountered in the game. Memorable characters and moments from the show also make an appearance, such as the Council of Ricks along with Birdperson.

Kudos need to be given to the development team for not forcing the micro-transactions as a key component of the game. Even though this is a freemuim game, the micro-transactions are not a nuisance and players will have a good time without having to pay anything.

Normally when a game mixes freemuim with a media license and rips-off another work it always results in a disaster. Yet, Pocket Mortys is the one exception to this notion as, overall, it’s a good game.

Pocket Mortys for the iPhone and Android is a game that stays true to the source material while guaranteed to get players “rickety-rickety-wrecked, son.”

Score: 8/10

Written for The Indiependent
1/13/2016
Original Article: Game Review: Pocket Mortys

Game Review: The Mean Greens

Release Date: December 2015

Rating: RP (Rating Pending)

Many old school gamers will recall the Army Men series during the Fifth-Generation era and how it depicted the age old battle of Green vs. Tan. Those who wish to once again experience that war will take a liking to The Mean Greens for the PC.

The Mean Green is a third-person multiplayer shooter that has players fight as either the Green Army or the Tan Army in maps based on household locations. Individuals who either enjoyed the classic Army Men games or are bored with shooters that focus on gritty realism will enjoy this unique title.

The game offers players 10 maps to battle in along with a selection of 10 different gameplay modes. The gameplay modes are the basic ones found in any multiplayer shooter which include Death Match and Capture the Flag.

While the gameplay modes may not bring any wow factor, it’s the layout and design of the maps that make this game memorable outside the nostalgia elements. The Mean Greens features levels that are either inspired by moments from Sarge’s Heroes or are original designs that fit well into toy world setting. Overall; Virtual Basement did an excellent job of using the Unreal 4 engine to create these detailed maps that player will appreciate.

The Mean Greens’ greatest achievement overall is it’s so well made, that an old school gamer will forget how awful most of the Army Men games were. Come on let’s be honest; with the exception of Sarge’s Heroes and Air Assault, most of the Army Men games were either mediocre or just awful.

Some may feel the games only straight comes from its nostalgia factor, this is a wrong assumption to make, as any gamer will enjoy The Mean Greens regardless if they played Army Men. However there are a few issues that are holding it back and might make a gamer second guess themselves.

The biggest issue that plagues The Mean Green is the lack of a single-player campaign, which creates two major problems; the first is that the Army Men games were mostly known for their single-player campaign. The second is that there are already too many multiplayer games available on Steam while the most popular ones are free to download. Plus, The Mean Green mostly appeals to a niche audience- there have been a few times where finding an active server has been difficult due to be a limited amount of players.

Despite those minor setbacks, The Mean Green is a multiplayer shooter that will appeal to both old school gamers who want a nostalgic battle or a new generation of gamers who want to play something different on the PC.

Rating: 7/10

Written for The Indiependent
1/9/2016
Original Article: Game Review: The Mean Greens

Game Review: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (iOS)

Release Date: October, 2005 (Initial)

RatingM (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs)

1998 was the year when the criminal underworld of Liberty City would be changed forever thanks to the return of the prodigal son, Toni Cipriani. It was a defining moment in the 3D-era story arch, and gamers could now return to the city that introduced them to a life of crime with Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the iPhone.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is no stranger to mobile gamers as the original was released back in 2005 for the PlayStation Portable. Yet its arrival adds verity to a platform dominated by unique puzzle games, arcade ports, and freemuims that are an embarrassment to gaming. While casual gamers are consistently blowing their money to progress in some freemuim title, more dedicated and experienced gamers could enjoy this overlooked classic any time they want.

The story is set before the events of Grand Theft Auto III as the Leone Family are fighting both the Sindacco and Forelli’s for control of the city. Everything changes when Toni Cipriani returns from exile to once again serve Salvatore Leone. However it’s not the welcome he anticipated as he must once again start from the bottom and work his way up. Not helping his cause is the Leone Family being threatened by internal conflicts while Toni must also struggle to earn the respect of his mother.

It’s the classic crime story that fans love with The Sopranos and the works of Martin Scorsese being an obvious inspiration. At the same time it feels like a retelling of Grand Theft Auto III only with real character development as players witness the transformation of Cipriani as he grows to become one of the most notable leaders in the Leone Family.

For gamers who grew up playing the Grand Theft Auto series on the PlayStation 2, Liberty City Stories will feel like a crime spree down memory lane. Old school gamers will feel right at home as they return to the original Liberty City and interact with the characters they fell in love with back in 2001.

In regards to its gamplay mechanisms, it has the classic setup used in GTAIII along with features that were introduced in Vice City. Unique to the iPhone version is an auto-save feature that makes it more convenient for players to pick up where they left off. Add the sharper graphics that neither the PSP nor PS2 version had, and it makes the iPhone version superior overall.

However it’s far from perfect as it, too, has a few minor flaws with the most obvious being that the controls are a slightly difficult to use. Unfortunately this has been a problem that has plagued every version of Grand Theft Auto for the iPhone, hence most gamers will most likely be used to it by now.

Another issue is that Michael Madsen did not return for the role of Toni Cipriani, but this is something that can be easily overlooked if one feels that Danny Mastrogiorgio did an excellent job.

Despite its minor flaws, this is a good game to have for gamers who either have been looking for a good game for their iPhone, or need to kill time on their commute because they are not dumb enough to find Candy Crush challenging.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories is not only a nostalgic crime spree but the games return to the mobile platform. Gamers who miss the good old days of the Sixth Generation console era will enjoy the return to Liberty City in the role of a familiar character.

Rating: 9/10

Written for The Indiependent
12/30/2015
Original Article: Game Review: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (iOS)

Study finds low skilled gamers are more likely to be sexist

According to a new study, male gamers who are low or unskilled at playing online are more likely to demonstrate sexist behavior towards female gamers.

The study was conducted by Michael M. Kasumovic and Jeffrey H. Kuznekoff from the University of New South Wales, who observed over 163 matches of Halo 3 and coded the behavior of the players. The purpose of the study was to examine if the presence of a skilled female would be disruptive to the ego of an unskilled male, who may feel their sense of hierarchy is threatened (be it in a game or work environment).

The research team used Halo 3 because its a game that relies on skills and fast thinking, hence everyone starts on an equal footing. Plus all the subjects are anonymous and may not have a personal history with the research team or other players. Another reason is that because everyone plays as a SPARTAN soldier that has the appearance of being gender neutral.

Based on the data collected, male gamers who performed poorly were more likely to act hostile towards a female player. It was also noted that the unskilled player was less likely to act hostile towards a male player who was more skilled.The theory is that the unskilled male gamers would try to compensate for their failure by trying to act more masculine towards their female counterpart.

Meanwhile the study also found that male gamers who performed better were more likely to be respectful towards female players. This was because they didn’t fear that their hierarchy was being threatened while trying to get the attention of the female player.

All of the data was collected by observing and recording the actions of other players through Xbox Live, no consent was made and the team made no interactions with the observed subjects.

This has been the second major study done by Michael M. Kasumovic on the effects of video games on gender roles. It was reported over the weekend of July 10, that a study by him and Thomas F. Denson found that violent video games boosted the self-esteem of women gamers.

Looks like this may explain the behavior of those affiliated with the GamerGate movements, a legion of noobs that wants to protect their masculinity by lashing out at women gamers.

Written for Digital Journal 
7/19/2015
Original Article: Study finds low skilled gamers are more likely to be sexist

5 Games That Failed But Earned A Second Chance

The path to success is always met with a series of failures, and the gaming world is no exception. Not every game series started with a major hit, as several iconic titles had a rocky start.

The following are examples of five major games that failed at first but the creators worked to learn from their mistakes.

5. Driver 

The series started as an icon during the days of the PlayStation but became a joke when Driv3r failed to redefine the genre. A follow-up, Driver: Parallel Lines, was also met with modest reviews by critics and failed to reignite gamers’ interest. By the time gaming entered the Seventh Generation, the series was almost forgotten.

After Ubisoft acquired the rights to the series, they aimed to redeem it for the fans. Driver: San Francisco abandoned the GTA-style elements and returned the series to its roots while introducing new gameplay content. This paid off, as Driver: San Francisco was highly praised by critics and became a hit among gamers.

4. Just Cause

This was one of those games that had a good concept but terrible execution. Just Cause has Rico Rodriguez working to overthrow a South American dictator by waging a guerrilla war alongside rebel factions.

However, its clunky function along with poor control setup earned it mediocre reviews from critics and gamers. It also failed to standout from games like Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

All the game needed was a little polishing, and it paid off with an iconic sequel. Just Cause 2 kept the premise of the original, but had smoother controls and gave players a more reliable gaming experience.

Gamers fell in love with Just Cause 2 so much that a group of dedicated fans created a multiplayer function that received the blessing of the game’s developers. Meanwhile, Just Cause 3 is in the works and is set to be released sometime in 2015.

3. Hitman

Mr. 47’s introduction to the gaming community didn’t go as Eidos and IO Interactive planned. Despite its unique premise, Hitman: Codename 47 suffered from poor controls and clunky gameplay. Critics were not impressed, but it did develop a small cult following.

One thing gamers had to admire about Eidos was their ability to learn from their mistakes and apply that knowledge to sequels. Hitman 2: Silent Assassins fixed the clunky gameplay and presented a polished second chance for Mr. 47.

The sequel was highly praised by critics and fans. Its success was followed by Hitman: Contracts, a retelling of the first game by recreating several of the original missions.

2. Killzone

The series has become staple for PlayStation gamers, but many forget the game failed to be a classic when it was first released. The original game for the PS2, a fast-paced action shooter set in a futuristic conflict zone, was marketed as Sony’s grittier rival to the Halo series.

However, the game was met with mediocre reviews and was mocked by gamers for failing to live up to the hype. This could have been the end of the Second Extrasolar War.

The series earned a little redemption thanks to Killzone: Liberation for the PSP. But more needed to be done save the series. Lessons were learned in time for the Seventh Generation consoles, and the result was Killzone 2.

The sequel was a hit among gamers and was praised by critics as one of the best shooters for the PS3. Its follow-up, Killzone 3 improved an already successful setup and avoided being branded as a Call of Duty knockoff.

1. Grand Theft Auto

A game series doesn’t become a cultural landmark without going through some trial and error. The series started as an innocent racing game titled Race’n’Chase, before a glitch convinced DMA to create what is known as Grand Theft Auto.

The game was a success on the PC, but failed to gain the attention of console gamers and received mediocre ratings. Grand Theft Auto 2 did no better. This would have been the end of the series unless real changes were made.

Grand Theft Auto III took the concept of its predecessors and incorporated it into a 3D environment. The result transformed the video game world, moving it from being a niche culture toward becoming part of popular culture.

Its success was followed with Grand Theft Auto: Vice City  along with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which broke its predecessors’ records and raised the bar for the gaming industry. At the same time, the concept of open world-gaming became of the most popular genres.

The legacy of the series has not ended, as the 2013 release of Grand Theft Auto V sold over $1 billion in three days, making it the fastest-selling title of all time. The PS4 and Xbox One ports were released in late 2014, but gamers are still anticipating the PC version.

The moral of the story is that everyone will fail, but a successful person or company can and will learn from their mistakes.

Written for GameSkinny
1/4/2015
Original Article: 5 Games That Failed But Earned A Second Chance

Op-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

Sexual violence is an ugly aspect of our society that has a lasting impact on the victims. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed in society and taken seriously by the criminal justice system.

Alleging one of the greatest cultural works encourages sexual violence and then strong-arming retailers with guilt isn’t one way to bring better awareness. Unfortunately a victim of domestic violence (going by the pseudonym of Nicole) chose to take this path by circulating a petition that slandered Grand Theft Auto V than bullied Kmart and Target Australia to remove it from their shelves.

It’s important to know that at no point in Grand Theft Auto V are players asked or required to participate in acts of sexual violence. There are also no moments in the game that features the player perpetrating such a criminal act on a female non-playable character (NPC).

The petition that circulated on Change.org claimed that Grand Theft Auto Vencourages and rewards players for sexually assaulting women. Her only evidence is a YouTube video that demonstrates a players encounter with a prostitute, a trivial feature that has been available since Grand Theft Auto III.

This is has not been the first time the game has been denounced for allowing players to have interactions with prostitutes. However most critics who have denounced the content have been taken seriously in resent years. This is due to a story influenced by Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson that presents an in-depth analysis of the American Dream in a post-2008 crash society. Bickering over an insignificant content to the game gives the impression that they are too stupid to understand its literary content.

Unlike the few irrelevant critics, this petition has fooled 40,000 users and convinced many that the game “encourages kids” to participate in some acts of sexual violence. The result has been two major retailers having pulled the game and reignite a controversy that should have been dead. Worse is that Nicole has had the audacity to brag about her action while demonizing gamers.

So it should not be surprising that the gaming community has come to Rockstar’s defense by circulating another petition while denouncing Nicole’s unfounded and damaging accusation.

Many have felt that Nicole’s petition was based on her not being informed of the game’s content and story, but that is just sugar coating it.The content of the petition was not based on misinformation or a response to Gamergate but the intent to damage. This was all about Nicole wanting to advance her own political ambitions by leaching on a social issue that matters to many.

Following in the footsteps of Jack Thompson, anti-video game activist and disbarred lawyer, this has been a moral crusade based on lies to deceive the public. Adding more insult, she is constantly referring to the game as a product targeted to kids while assuming gamers are kids. This despite the fact that the average gamer is in their late 20s and the game was made for adults.

Nicole is no hero looking out for those who been the victims of sexual violence. The real heroes are those who refuse to accept what happen to them while working not only to seek justice for themselves but for others. They are also the ones who are fighting to have the law take the crime seriously while pushing for stronger punishments against rapists.

It should also be noted that Change.org needs to to be held accountable for allowing such a petition to be passed around without checking its accuracy of its claim. Was the petition actually fact checked by an admin or does any social justice warrior gets a free pass?

Sexual violence is a problem that could only be addressed by fighting for the rights of the victims to seek justice, not slandering a work of art. In the end Nicole is no hero, she is just another opportunist pushing her own political agenda on the backs of those who have been the victims of sexual violence.

Written for Digital Journal 
12/11/2014
Original ArticleOp-Ed: Grand Theft Auto V removed from retailer due to guilt and slander

Alien: Isolation still haunted by the failure of Colonial Marines

Sega and Creative Assembly are attempting to redefine the horror-survival genre with Alien: Isolation, but every attempt to demonstrate the games uniqueness has been overshadowed by the failure of Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Recently OXM reported on the struggle Creative Assembly is having in promoting the game while trying to escape the shadow of Colonial Marines. The article noted that many gamers who sampled the demo at E3 2014, tried to play the game like a shooter rather than a horror survival.

The games presentation and demo at E3 2014 had been praised by critics but gamers are still bringing up comparisons with Colonial Marines.

When the game was first unveiled on January 7, gamers were a little weary of the announcement with most of them expecting the it to be a failure. Since then; any news or preview about Alien: Isolation has always been meet with remarks that bring up the failure of Colonial Marines.

The moment an article about Alien: Isolation is published on a news site or posted on a aggravator site like N4G, the discussion will quickly be dominated by expectations of failure while citing Colonial Marines as an example of what to expect.

In response to the negative backlash, several game pundits were trying to assure their readers that Alien: Isolation will not be a disaster while encouraging them to give it a chance. Many were quick to point out that the game is influenced by Ridley Scott vision and not the James Cameron film.

However gamers had been quick to dismisses the pleas of giving the game a chance.

Alien: Isolation will be released on October 7, 2014 for all major consoles and the PC. With so much bad publicity, the development team will be under a lot of pressure to avoid another disaster like Colonial Marines

Written for The Gamers Progress
06/15/2014

Kevin Spacey’s performance in ‘Call of Duty’ has generated buzz

After the official trailer for ‘Call of Duty: Advance Warfare’ was unveiled, one of the most talked about moment has been the performance of actor Kevin Spacey as the main villain.

The game will be set in a future were Private Military Companies have grown to have great influence around while one of them decides to turn against America. Spacey portrays the villainous head of a PMC and is featured delivering a monologue to the viewer about the futility of democracy.

Spacey’s performance has been well-praised by pundits in the game media while gamers have welcomed his talent to the series. In no time his name started trending on Facebook and Twitter while gamers discussed his role on websites like N4G.

Scott Watson stated on Twitter, Well damn me it’s @KevinSpacey turning up in the latest @CallofDuty game. Is there nothing this man can’t turn his hand to? Looks EPIC \o/.

Lachlan Davidson stated on Facebook, Not really a CoD fan but I’d be interested to see Spacey’s contribution to the game.

Several gamers have refereed to Spacey’s involvement as making the game feel like “House of COD” or “Call of Duty: House of Cards” (a reference to House of Cards). Luke Plunkett of Kotaku added, “If there’s one thing that could revive my interest in this most flagging of franchises, it’s by injecting a little House of Cards in it (not literally of course, that’s not Frank Underwood, but the tone and the timing of the casting says it all).

Spacey has joined the ranks of many Hollywood stars who have had a performing role in the Call of Duty series. In 2008; Gary Oldman and Kiefer Sutherland both had a major performing role in Call of Duty: World at War. Oldman returned along side Sam Worthington and Ed Harris for Call of Duty: Black Ops.

Worthington would return for Black Ops II while Harris was replaced by Michael Keaton. Meanwhile the role of Elise T. Walker in Ghosts was performed by Stephen Lang.

Call of Duty: Advance Warfare will be the eleventh game in the popular series that has sold over 100 million copies and on average has 40 million active players a month. The game is set to be released on November 4.

Written for Digital Journal