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Monday, December 30, 2013

By Jamaal Ryan

I use the term saved very liberally, however Playstation Vita has become a surprising asset in helping me engage my girlfriend during our near 8 year relationship.

The Playstation 4/Vita Remote Play feature cannot be understated. The Vita’s value is flourishing rapidly on its own with a price drop, hotly anticipated announced games, and the no-brainer for PSN subscribers, Playstation Plus. But with the Remote Play feature for the Playstation 4, it is an excellent companion for Sony’s new console.

Currently living in a two story, three bedroom condo, my girlfriend and I spend much of our time separate from one another in the house. While she’s downstairs watching the History Channel, I’m cooped up in my office space plugging away at video games. Any spouse of a gamer understands the long hours of dedicated play time of their significant other, however that doesn’t mean that devoted time still doesn’t raise an issue every now and again.

But now thanks to Remote Play, I can take my game from the PS4 anywhere with me in the house and sail the seas and plunder numerous ships in Assassins Creed IV while lying next to my girlfriend downstairs. The PS4 & Vita Remote Play feature is painless and works surprisingly well. By imputing the code displayed by your PS4 on your Vita, within seconds after the one time code-pairing, you can play virtually any game in your PS4 library on your Vita within the range of your Wi-Fi signal.

There are some slight limitations which prevents Remote Play from being an exact replica of the big screen experience. The feature does a great job at taking the trigger/bumper’s most used functionalities and mapping them to the Vita’s shoulder buttons, i.e.: running in AC IV is done with holding down R as opposed to R2 on the controller. However in a game like AC IV, sailing is a pain in the ass. R1, mapped to the right side of the rear touch pad, is useful in identifying ships from afar. I constantly caught myself awkwardly placing my fingers on the pad while using only my left hand to hold the Vita.

I’m sure similar issues arise for shooters through Remote Play with attack buttons and sprinting mapped to L&R3, and grenades used with the rear pad. And that’s not considering the lag issues for twitch heavy shooters as well. Remote Play works wonders with smaller titles like Resogun where the controller layout is less complex, and the action on screen suits well for such a small screen.

Don’t be like me and abandon your significant other while playing video games for long stretches of time. But if you are, Playstation’s Remote Play is a wonderful catalyst and allowing you to spend more time with one another while gaming. 
From Jamaal Ryan:

I hope everyone had a good holiday if you celebrate, and will continue to enjoy your holiday season into the new year.

I'll announce some slight changes to this blog today. This will be the last "A Week in Gaming". Instead, I'll move to posting daily content, so be sure to check in every other day instead of at the end of the week. Quantitatively, nothing will change. Just think of it as taking the week-in-review and spreading them individually throughout the week.

Now for the last time, let's take a look at a week in gaming from 12/23/13 to 12/27/13. Below is a feature discussing some of the questionable racial and underrepresented depictions in two of Xbox One's launch titles.

It’s always upsetting to hear bad news during the holidays. While there were no lives lost, floods hit Guildford in the U.K. on Christmas Eve home to the following developers: 22Cans, Electronic Arts UK, Fireproof Games, JiggeryPokery, Kinesthetic Games, Lionhead Studios, Media Molecule, Pitbull Studio, Rodeo Games, Supermassive and Twistplay. Two so far have reportedly been hit by the storm, Strike Suit Zero’s developer Born Ready Games, and the studio behind the VGX’s hit debut for No Man’s Sky, Hello Games.
Many only know No Man’s Sky behind it’s awe inspiring trailer. What better time to discuss what we know about No Man’s Sky thus far.
No Man’s Sky has far more to it than being a persistent online space that one can easily draw comparison to a game like Destiny with a rich art style similar to The Witness.
Conceptually, No Man’s Sky bares resemblance to games like the lonely MirrorMoon Ep and the more appropriately compared Starbound, both heavily driven by their exploratory gameplay. Such is the case with Hello Games’ new 4 man project, only with a different ambition. Lead developer Sean Murray means something very different when he discusses exploration in the context of NMS. This isn’t Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag's sailing the ocean, kicking open chests and chasing shanties; this is true Enterprise exploration, “going where no man (or player) has gone before”.
Within NMS’s 9 month development, Hello Games has been focused on creating ecological systems through procedural generation. Erosion has a gradual effect on locations in the galaxy, the atmosphere dictates the color of the sky, certain planetary variables can cause mutations (massive sand worm?) creating even more dangerous creatures. The intention is for everything to happen for a reason in NMS. Sean Murray carefully puts it, “We are designing a set of rules, not designing a game.”
With an ever changing galaxy, it is your job as well as everyone else’s, to push against it towards the center of the galaxy as you all begin at the galaxy’s crust. Each player will begin in a more human friendly, and less hazardous environment. Looking up from that point of origin, there is no sky box; there is no cosmetic sparkling star or a crescent view of a planet painted on the sky; everything you see is a location. As you press onward, you must gather resources to upgrade your character to not only get stronger, but to survive against the environments and the creatures that lie ahead as well as build your ship to expedite your journey to the galaxy’s center.
This game of resource management is the primary incentive to explore. Each location you come across, if you happen to be the first person to discover it, you will get credit for setting foot on it first. That’s what we all saw when the text: “New Ediru Ocean. Discovered by Hello Games – Hazel” appeared at the beginning of the trailer. First-dibs-players can create beacons for other players at that location, or they can take advantage of being first and leech the planet of its valuable resources.
This game of resource management also has complete command over your journey as well. There is no Game Over and restarting at checkpoints; in NMS, you can’t necessarily die. Instead, instead you’ll lose your gathered resources. If you happen to crash land on a planet and your ship is destroyed, you’ll lose everything in it; and yes, that’ll also mean that you’re stranded planet side. It’ll then be your job to build a new ship and take off.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun reports that one of NMS’s biggest misconceptions is that it’ll be a multiplayer game with a bunch of space frontiersmen flying around. You won’ t necessarily see other players in NMS, but its galaxy is shared among players to the extent that if you commit genocide to an entire species, that species will vanish for other players.
Combat is clearly apart of NMS as it’s a game of survival as it is about exploration. Expect combat encounters both planet side and in space as we’ve seen in the brief look at the space ship battles in the trailer. Not much has been said about the ground combat, however traditional FPS gameplay seems practical enough.
Much of what we know of No Man’s Sky at the time is a product of 9 months of development. And especially given the devastation that has stricken the studio after the flood, who knows how much its development will be affected. But one thing’s for sure, No Man’s Sky is easily one of the most anticipated games resting on the distant horizon, and we’re all rooting for Hello Games’ successful completion.

Let’s get this out of the way first. Resident Evil has, and continues to be one of if not the most successful selling “survival horror” franchise in the industry. Despite how many feel about the franchise as of late, it’s a widely popular series.
But that still doesn’t make us feel any better about how much worse it’s gotten.
Like a proper marketing division, Capcom’s marketing behind Resident Evil targets with cultural awareness. For example, to the American audience, ads look to emphasize the horror atmosphere of their titles whereas the game’s characters get the attention when targeting a Japanese audience. Looking at the box art for the Japanese and American versions of Resident Evil 6, over in the east has the ensemble of characters lined up on the cover while here in the west simply has the giraffe “blow-job” looking “6” caked in spider webs.
Nearing its 18th anniversary, Capcom bares in mind that their oldest fans easily sit upwards to their early 40’s. In attempts to keep the older demographic interested, Capcom seeks other means such as linking up with fashion brands, instilling Resident Evil themes in Japan’s Universal Studios, and the Biohazard CafĂ© and Grill S.T.A.R.S. in Tokyo.
Here’s how a cynic might find this futile.
In spite of the marketing attempts to highlight the series’ horror themes in the west, series producer Masachika Kawata explicitly stated that they intend on making the franchise more action oriented in order to compete in the American market. Horror atmosphere; action oriented; both for the American market.
Though much of the franchise’s known attempts at expanding its marketing outside of gaming constraints seem to be in Japan, particularly in the west, many of the Resident Evil’s oldest fans are likely to also be its harshest critics. Resident Evil is virtually unrecognizable from its origins; not just in technology, buts in its theme and pacing as well. Resident Evil 6 and Raccoon City are arguably the franchise’s biggest offenders.
Fortunately there’s still a horror spirit left in Resident Evil. Resident Evil: Revelations is one of the most classic installments in the series in years, for better or for worse; and Capcom saw the market to bring it from the 3DS to home consoles.
However it seems that the Resident Evil franchise will suffer from an identity crisis for years to come. Marketed as a survival horror, and playing like a mediocre third person action shooter, Resident Evil’s messaging is oxymoronic.
Source: Polygon
A Week in Gaming Special Feature:
Were you offended by Xbox One's
Launch Line-up?
Originally reported on December 23rd 2013
There are many takeaways from the wealth of games that have launched from these fresh next gen platforms. The Playstation 4 offers some well worth downloadable titles, a number of them free-to-play especially if you’re a Playstation Plus subscriber. The Xbox One may not have as many worthy small titles as Sony’s system outside of Killer Instinct and Peggle 2, however it certainly has strong heavier titles, ones that you’ll want to show off with your shiny new hardware in the form of Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3.
But while we debate which console had the best launch line-up, I’ve found myself looking at some of these games in a very different light, and not a good one either. Within the Xbox One’s launch line-up, two games in particular present a concern in cultural competency.
Lococycle, Twisted Pixels vehicular brawler, managed to rub some folks the wrong way before and after its release. IGN’s Jose Otero was very vocal about his issues which were later validated by Ryan McCaffery, Polygon’s Danielle Riendeau was deeply offended at the game’s number of depictions of underrepresented demographics as a way to create humor, and I expressed great concern of the game’s narrative anchor looking too much like some of this nation’s most heinous hate crimes.
Lococycle’s elevator pitch is this: a sentient motorcycle is being hunted down by her makers, the Big Arms Corporation, while she drags around a helpless mechanic, Pablo, whom she can’t understand his pleas because he speaks – as another character in the game puts it – “Mexican”. This “Speak English!” treatment of Lococycle’s most victimized character hits home for many American immigrants. The subject matter has been explored before in much more refined comedic attempts, however Lococycle isn’t so much funny as it is “mean”.
But Lococycle also goes the South Park route of targeting multiple minorities and underrepresented groups. Its pervasive failings extend to depictions of North Koreans, Africans, Russians, midgets, and plus sized women.
Twisted Pixel’s sophomoric and offensive writing isn’t Lococycle’s biggest problem, it’s the uncomfortable resemblance of brutal hate crimes that’s most unsettling. The act of having Pablo dragged throughout Lococycle’s entirety draws too many parallels with the murder of African American James Byrd Jr. who was chained to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged 3 miles to his death in Texas.  Lococycle’s overt attempts at comedic racism and perhaps unfortunate coincidence of mirroring vehicular lynching makes Lococycle arguably the most racist game of 2013.
Dead Rising 3 fairs better than Lococycle’s disastrous failings, but its minority depictions seem to be a product of desperation rather than ignorance. In my Dead Rising 3 review, I discussed some of the game’s portrayal of Asians, African Americans and West Indians. Your first Psycho is a depressed Asian man expectedly outfitted with a monk garb and armed with a traditional polearm. Later on, you may run into a West Indian survivor who used her Voodoo to combat zombies in the graveyard. Even after you complete her side quest, for no discernable reason, she kills herself.
But one of the most aggressively offensive encounters – next to the plus sized wheelchair bound Psycho – is Big D, another survivor who you’ll meet in Los Perdidos. As a gangster with a gangster moniker, his attire hits the expected stereotypes: brimmed hat, obnoxiously large gold chain with a dollar sign, and he seems to be one of the few survivors who’s coincidentally armed with a gun. After escorting him to his “Pad” you’ll discover a hog-tied woman on his table where soon after her pleas, he barks at her, “Shut up ho!” and refers to her as a “bitch” when he asks you to kill her. Of course, your objective is to then kill him.
Both Lococycle and Dead Rising 3 run into a different problem in video game depictions of minority and underrepresented groups. The issue doesn’t come from not knowing Blacks, Asians, and plus sized women outside of media depicted stereotypes; this issue lies inknowing what these stereotypes represent and trying to replicate them through comedy, comedy that falls completely flat on their faces.
Video games have begun undergoing a renaissance of cultural competency, building racially and culturally diverse studios that can offer a better perspective on minority and underrepresented groups. But it seems that a new movement is developing in the industry, controversial comedy. Obsidian is set to release South Park: The Stick of Truth early next year, a show that has historically been unapologetically racist, but being damn funny while at it.  I have a long running statement that I’ve stood by for many years, “If you’re gonna be racist, you better be funny.”
However neither Lococycle nor Dead Rising 3 are all that funny.
Let's take a look at a week in gaming from 12/16/13 to 12/19/13. Below is a feature discussing a worrisome look at the link between gambling and video games.

By: Jamaal Ryan

Outsourcing has such a negative connotation in the national and international public eye. Companies turn to such means to avoid American labor laws as well as the nation’s pay wages to cut costs significantly in both dodging investing in high standard working conditions and taking advantage of substantially less survivable wages in other countries.
In relevance to the video game industry, poor working conditions have been found behind Foxconn’s unpaid interns at the Institute of Technology behind the assembly of the Playstation 4 in China, and similarly poor conditions behind the Wii U as well – also in China.
Game development has been a collaborative international affair for many years now, but with the turn of dramatically increased development costs that have catastrophically affected developers and publishers alike, game companies turn to outsourcing as a means to keeping up with the elevated financial burden.
Game development, even in conditions of the “highest standards”, can be grueling. Google “Q/A Tester stories” and you’ll find a slew of tales of misery, laden with painfully long hours, low pay, minimal to no benefits, and high risk of termination. Even main team developers aren’t immune to the pressure of a harsh working environment. Crunch time typically rolls around when approaching a major milestone in the game’s development, whether that may be for a trailer, conference show casing, and – of course – their release date. Some studios are better than others, but game development certainly isn’t easy.
Now imagine these conditions relocating in other countries where the expectation of standards might not be as high? Michael Thompson wrote a column on The New Yorker covering some of the aspects of development outsourcing. He reported that Streamline, an art-outsourcing company, has contributed to the art design to games like Bioshock Infinite. Irrational Games isn’t the only studio that has outsourced its projects. As of 2008, 86% of game studios has used outsourcing for at least one facet of development.
With the financial gravitation of outsourcing, coupled with the inevitable work demand of game development, who’s to say that these outsourced companies are up to par to expected standards? It’s difficult to imagine that international employees haven’t fallen through the cracks of poor working conditions given the history of outsourcing and the high demand in game development, all for cheaper labor.
Companies like Glass Egg Digital Media, whose work can be seen in NFS: Most Wanted, Forza 4 and Battlefield 2, are doing it right. They stated that it gives back to their employees by offering continuing education programs. Unfortunately not everyone is as empowering as Glass Egg claims, and I fear that outsourcing is off-loading the harsh work of game development to inadvertently be exacerbated in other countries.
Source: The New Yorker

With two of the most anticipated Nintendo titles on the horizon for next year, Nintendo’s December direct was lighter on announcements. Still, there were some new software reveals that both add to the ever-growing library of the 3DS, and the thin but soon-to-be prepped Wii U line up. In the case for the Wii U, one little game caught our attention…
Hyrule Warriors!?
Tecmo Koei and Nintendo’s collaboration on the Zelda IP is nothing at all if not unexpected. The very adventure-format regimented and occasional RPG-esque flavor of the Zelda franchise has been pervasive throughout the series’ entirety with only a forgettable small number of exceptions such as Link’s Crossbow Training.
Hyrule Warriors broadcasts many things about Nintendo. One of many is that Nintendo is increasingly turning to Japanese partnerships allowing other developers to take a handle on their franchises. Nintendo has a long history of doing collaborations off and on, most infamously were the CD-i games from the early 90’s. In recent years, Nintendo has had examples of both successes and failures; the worst being Metroid: Other M by Team Ninja and among the best was coincidentally also with KOEI, Pokemon Conquest for the DS.
Another take away is how Gamecube-esque this move seems. Some would argue that Nintendo’s lunchbox shaped console had a number of experimental titles because of its rough sales and lack of third party support. Such a case is very true for the Wii U, even worse so than the Gamecube. It’s too early to tell if Nintendo is going in this direction because of this, or just happened to have the idea on the back burner for a while.
In retrospect, putting Zelda in a Dynasty Warriors format sounds almost blasphemous. Many would argue that such a radical genre shift strips away the very essence that makes Zelda so alluring, and isolates it into strict combat focus. Dynasty Warriors has a toxic history despite how mechanically satisfying many claim it to be. But many can’t deny heavy interest in this bizarre mash-up.
The triple quality in Triple Deluxe
I must admit, Kirby is perhaps my favorite Nintendo character. As you’ll find me religiously relying on him in a game of Smash Bros., the essence of accumulating others’ powers and making them his own fascinates me in both a character and game design sense alike.
Kirby Triple Deluxe’s base campaign is very much your expected Kirby game outside of the hyper vacuum ability integrated into puzzle solving. And that’s fine. Kirby titles don’t come around too often, and it’s a concept that Nintendo should explore more frequently.
Kirby’s multi-ability design makes for a great base in multiplayer. The very Smash Bros. flavor in Kirby Fighters – which pits four versions of Kirby against one another in a multiplayer brawler – looks to be a significant addition to the package, hopefully for both local and online multiplayer.
Lastly, with this being a Nintendo title, the obligatory light mechanics of the King Dedede’s Drum Dash rhythm game is both excepted and moderately appreciated. It’s a pattern for many Nintendo games, particularly handheld titles, and may work for a healthy distraction.
Chibi Robo Picture Perfect?
Nintendo dives deeper into their vast number of IPs with Chibi-Robo: Photo Finder. Its real world aesthetic works well for the 3DS, as utilizing the camera is not commonly seen on the system. It feels very Japanese in concept, but it’s nice to see such a strange and unique title return.
Sports done the Nintendo way
As a way of continuing to recapture the magic of the Wii’s killer app, along with Wii Sports Club bowling and tennis games, the downloadable software is also adding golf to the mix. Wii Sports Club golf looks to be an exact proof of concept taken from the system’s original debut trailer, neatly having the player place the Gamepad on the floor holding an image of the ball, and using the Wiimote as the golf club. This is very much proper Nintendo, taking the hardware capabilities and designing software around it. This may be the first time in years that I break out a Nintendo sports title, provided I have enough functional Wiimotes laying around for it.
Capitalizing on Nostalgia
Nintendo continues to feed light pick up and play experiences with NES Remixes and Dr. Luigi. NES Remixes represents raw nostalgia, presenting cosmetic and design alterations from old school titles that may already be available on the Virtual Console. This isn’t my cup of tea, but with fan favorites such as Excitebike making a return, there’s sure to be an audience for it. The same can be said for Dr. Luigi which comes to us in a modern remake in the form of L shaped pills and online multiplayer. Near decades after these original games’ releases, Nintendo still sees a market for some of its oldest titles.
On a personal note…
…after Reggie’s tease of an appearance at the VGX wearing a Metroid pin standing next to Retro while presenting Cranky Kong from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, a piece of me was looking forward to something Metroid related. However today’s Nintendo Direct has kept me excited for owning a 3DS, and more intrigued for what’s ahead on the Wii U.

WhoLetsPlay, a non-profit group started by co-founder of Level Up Labs (Defender’s Quest, Tourette’s Quest) Lars Doucet, has been formed to address the copyright process in the advent of YouTube’s Content ID crackdown.
The group looks to generate legal information for YouTubers’ relationship with game companies. More importantly, they seek to create “standardized licensing terms” with the help of legal experts that can be applied to avoid both video and audio copyright infringement claims.
After the launch of this YouTube kafuffle, my concern only piqued at a certain level. Though it’s understandable that YouTube has cornered itself in this dance of dodging legal rain drops of potential lawsuits much like the one faced with Viacom, my assumptions was that after the destructive nature of Content ID sweeps and the uproar of users, creators, publishers, and Kevin freakin’ Smith, would have forced YouTube’s hand to generate an alternative solution, even after their cold response to the community.
Though this is outside action, it’s assuring to see that action is being taken regardless. Let’s all root for WhoLetsPlay’s success.
Source: Polygon
A Week in Gaming Special Feature:
Can Video Games Facilitate Gambling Addiction?
Originally reported on December 12th 2013
It’s rather fascinating looking back and seeing just how video game transactions have evolved in just a single console generation. Video games grew from being bought solely at retailers in content complete discs, to offering priced DLC, to presenting free-to-play games and allowing micro transactions. The matter in which how we pay for video games doesn’t just adhere to $40, 50, 60 transactions; game and game content purchasing has adapted to be more in line with the consumer’s discretion.
It’s an empowering business strategy allowing gamers to dictate just how much they’re willing to invest in their experiences; however with such a discretionary system, potential dangers of irresponsibility and even addiction lie ahead.
Anticipating where this might be headed will quickly draw you the conclusion of uninformed in game purchasing. We’ve seen this happen before; a young child gets a hold of an Android/iOS device and begins playing a very alluring free-to-play game, then not before long racks up thousands of dollars in in-app purchases. Little Danny did it, Lily did it, Paula Marner’s twin sons did it.
The notion of youthful ignorance is understandable. Some of these children didn’t know how to read fully quite yet; and even if they did, presenting a young child between the ages of 4 and 8 with the option of purchasing piecemeal content goes way over their understanding of the concept around monetary accumulation.
Japan has been swift to counteract these pitfalls of in-game purchasing as seen with recent action taken against randomized booster pack systems. As reported earlier this month, Tecmo Koei has implemented purchasing caps on Japanese youth. Children and adolescents under the age of 15 can only spend up to 5,000 yen per month ($50), and those between the ages of 16-19 can only spend up to 20,000 yen ($200).
But what of the cognitively developed adults who are outside of proactive countries like Japan? The excuse of being too young to comprehend and conceptualize the potential risks and responsibilities of liberal in-game purchasing ends at a certain age. This then grows from a misunderstanding to a potential addiction.
In light of these in-game transactions, these games are inching dangerously close to becoming a new bedrock of gambling addiction. As one of the purist forms of addiction, gambling addiction is drawn to the element of chance instead of skill, and it doesn’t rely on substances such as alcohol or narcotics. Simple lottery broadcasts or Pick 10 signs outside of a convenience store, or even sporting events can be visual triggers just as powerful as going to a bar or passing by a liquor store. With video games, these visual triggers sit in the software or online markets such as the App Store itself.

Many of these games seemingly avoid disclaimers warning of the monetary element in their titles. In many instances, the game’s economy is specifically engineered towards tricking gamers to spend more and more money building a steady accumulation of investments.
For decades, video games have sat heavily on the element of skill, with only occasional and often peripheral granular elements of chance. In an interview with Giant Bomb, Ryan Black, a lawyer at Mc Millan LLP in Vancouver Canada, he states, “I do worry that there’s a bright line there that I think [game] companies need to be very careful in letting people buy actual things of value.” He adds, “If [people] act as if they can get something valuable that they can turn around and sell to someone else, it’s looking an awful a lot like gambling to me.”
Gambling addiction is largely recognized outside of the video game industry. One of my clients, who’s diagnosed with major depressive disorder, suffers from gambling addiction in the traditional sense. Atlantic City, lottery tickets, and sporting bets were his poison of choice. For someone like him, it wouldn’t take much effort to bring him from behind a black jack table and in front of a computer. Ryan Black highlights that three states in the US have allowed the distribution of licenses for online gambling which involve social game companies getting picked up by casinos. “It just shows that they recognize where the money is. They recognize ‘look at what these video game companies are doing, we want a piece of that as well.’”
Political regulators are very much aware of gambling addiction as seen from state to state in the US. Being that video games is already a hot button topic for those in office, as the venn-diagram closes between video games and gambling, it’s easy to predict that state and federal regulators will quickly react to this phenomenon and impose strict regulations as they see fit.
Ryan Black stressed the point in what could trigger the attention of state and federal regulators, “If gamers start to look at games as something I’m putting money in so that I hope to get more out of it, that’s obviously the sort of thing that a regulators’ attention is going to get drawn to.”
Ryan Black’s twin brother, Dr. Tyler Black, a psychiatrist at BC Children’s Hospital and assistant professor at UBC – also in the Giant Bomb interview – adds to his brother’s points, “I think we’re at a level now with free-to-play gaming with seeing gamers as wallets walking around the world that you’re trying to get money out of; where you’re basically asking for at some point a legislator is going to propose a law to make that illegal or make it regulated or taxed. In both cases are probably not good for game companies or game development.”
Source: Giant Bomb


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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reviewed by: Jamaal Ryan
Despite the genuine concerns Nick Ramos might express for his fellow survivors, Dead Rising 3 recognizes how dumb it is. It's a game about killing hordes piled on top of hordes of zombies in over the top and comical ways, and that’s with any assortment and combination of inanimate objects you can get your hands on. While the story and sketchy writing can distract you with its stupidity, there’s a deep and highly entertaining game that lies beneath.
Nick Ramos lends a fresh face for this new console generation. He doesn’t have the journalistic intent Frank West had, nor the plausible care for another as what was seen with Chuck Green. Ramos’ objective is simple: get the f**k out of Los Perdidos.
Dead Rising 3’s narrative is more or less as serviceable as the numerous previous entries to the extent of acting as a strong plot device to give reason as to how and why a zombie outbreak has occurred, and how you’ll get out. This full-on third installment’s darker overture is short lived as Dead Rising still remains the campy polar opposite of more serious stories told around the undead. The game simply can’t keep a straight face on while you wear a Blanka mascot head with a children’s superhero costume on talking to a freakish dominatrix with a frightening penis shaped gun that shoots surprisingly efficient liquid nitrogen.
Many will forgive Dead Rising 3’s ludicrous story, especially those that are very familiar with the franchise; however some will sharply notice Dead Rising 3’s montage of Family Guy's most targeted stereotypes. You've got your monk garb wearing Asian, your Voodoo practicing West Indian, your "Bling-bling" obsessed, dollar sign chain wearing, "bitch-hoe" name calling thug, and your unsubtly promiscuous domineering military vixen. Dead Rising 3’s depictions are all but failed attempts for bringing the humor out of exaggerating what would said individuals do in a zombie outbreak. Fortunately, there’s much, much better ways to occupy your time than rolling your eyes at Picard-facepalm worthy stereotypes.
As a title released on new hardware, Dead Rising 3 looks like an impressive 360 or PS3 game, but boasts the muscle and power only made possible by the Xbox One. The lamented load times of previous entries have vanished. Outside of brief fades to black when transitioning to cutscenes and understandably long chapter to chapter segues, Dead Rising 3 is in constant play. Entering buildings, venturing into sewers, traveling to any of the four quadrants of the city, no matter what you do, Dead Rising 3 will almost never stop.
Barely a stutter.
Framerate has been a huge concern for this new installment leading all the way up to its release. Rendering a large city with no load times and hundreds upon hundreds of shoulder to shoulder, sidewalk to sidewalk occupying zombies is a massive technical feat. However in my experience, with the supposed taxing double flamethrower spewing Roller Hog crashing into a wall of zombies, slight framerate drops were – at worst – an uncommon occurrence. Outside of some fuzzy draw distance materialization, Dead Rising 3 runs like a dream.
Dead Rising 3 advises you to avoid being surrounded by zombies. I am here to recommend the exact opposite. In a game where the near absolute primary purpose is to lay waste to as much of the undead as possible, there couldn't be a more welcoming sight than a curb-to-curb sea of zombies inviting you to do your due diligence.
The epitome of satisfaction comes from eviscerating dozens of walking, rotting flesh at a time using devastating weapon constructions as your kill count multiplier sores well into the triple, even quadruple digits; whether that may be by navigating an RC toy helicopter armed with missiles and a machine gun, or rolling around with a teddy bear strapped with twin LMGs sitting on top of a wheelchair. This is why you've come to Dead Rising 3, and it never, ever gets old.
I'm gonna get off right here.
Dead Rising 3 builds upon the franchises best ideas along with adding new features; and this begins with leveling up and weapon combinations. Leveling up happens rapidly as you continue to improve upon your increasingly capable Nick Ramos dumping earned Attribute Points – awarded after each level progression – into skill lines and purchasing item categories. Building up to earning unlimited sprint and being able to construct a mobile locker where you can access your massive weapons cache from anywhere is more than worth the grind.
However one of Dead Rising 3’s biggest features lie in what you can build. Improving on the Combo Cards from the Dead Rising 2 series and introducing the new Blueprint system, leveling up can now allow you to combine any two items from entire categories to craft a new weapon. For example, if I want to craft the satisfyingly overpowered Z.A.R. which calls for an assault rifle and shotgun, once I’ve purchased the Firearm category – being that both an assault rifle and shotgun fall under that label – I can combine any two guns to make a Z.A.R., whether that may be a hand gun, flare gun, LMG, what have you. If I wanted to craft a Flaming Sword that originally required a broadsword and motor oil, after picking up the blade and chemical categories, I can craft a Flame Sword out of a pair scissors and a bottle shampoo if I wanted to. The specificities only lie in Super Combos which allow you to craft a more powerful item out of an existing combo. Dead Rising 3’s new crafting system is hugely satisfying as the more categories you unlock with Attribute Points, the more likely it is that at any given time there may be multiple items in your inventory that you can use to craft.
Navigating Los Perdidos is made better with combo vehicles. Aligning with the same concept as building weapons, Blueprints also allow you to combine two vehicles to construct a weaponized superior ride. Each combo vehicle has their own ways of cutting a path through blankets of the undead, whether that may be by shooting up-arching missiles, sucking them up and delivering rotten meat packed spheres, or deploying blades on both sides of the vehicle.
Moving from one point to the next on wheels is vastly more entertaining than most open world titles; however the deliberate placement of impenetrable road blocks do make trips a bit tedious, especially when main mission objectives have the tendency to appear on the opposite end of Los Perdidos from your current location. This forces you to access Dead Rising 3’s sluggish map, but with fragile vehicles – all holding an element of fragility even after the “Indestructible” skill is unlocked – having to hop out into the thick of the zombie infestation seeking refuge on top of cars while searching for more functional vehicles, though the city could use a little less combustible road hazards, it’s a consistently excellent change of pace.
Road Warrior.
Quantitatively, Dead Rising 3 doesn’t have the vast number of distractions as you would find in a typical open world game. Survivor side missions are delivered via a faceless anonymous caller who locates desperate survivors that assign fetch quest in exchange for their minion service. But ultimately the only incentive to complete said missions is to earn experience points. Leading additional party members becomes a hassle, especially at times when you’re waiting in your vehicle as they make their way to the passenger seat swimming through a sea of zombies. It becomes more apparent that they’re hardly worth the effort as there are so many other ways to level grind, and you’ll do enough of your own fetching on your own time.
And explore you shall. I’ve had more fun fetching for collectibles in Dead Rising 3 than any other sandbox title in recent memory. It’s less of a passive distraction and more of an autonomous trail of risk and reward. Downtime is nearly nonexistent in Dead Rising 3 as zombies are present everywhere you go. Blueprints sit on top of your list of collectables as each time you discover one, there’s always enough zombies around to test your new construction. Some players may grow easily fatigued from the incessant chopping and whacking and shooting of countless zombies, especially if they’re on their way to a Frank West Statue sitting on top of a building; but others will instantly appreciate the constant danger and plenty of opportunities to kill zombies along the way. In this infested Los Perdidos, there’s never a dull moment.
Dead Rising 3 is far from perfect; but even when it falters, it still occasionally earns your forgiveness. Controls feel a bit hampered; but some issues can be avoided, and what can't be fades in acclimation. There's a consistent albeit serviceable delay in movements such as jumping and climbing, but the consistency works in your favor for knowing when to time jumps. Camera use for projectiles and guns is atrocious, but there aren't many situations where precise aiming is required in a game where hundreds of zombies occupy your field of vision.
The game’s controls are exacerbated during boss fights. These encounters suffer from Deus Ex syndrome where the mechanical design that’s structured around killing hundreds of enemies doesn't necessarily fit for a single opponent. However many of the bosses are well diversified, varying in both aesthetical and combat encounter design. From Twisted Metal style car combat to hallucinogenic obscurity akin to Arkham Asylum's Scarecrow boss fight, most of the appropriately labeled “Psychos” are still entertaining, flaws in tow.
Easily Dead Rising 3’s most forgettable features are products if this new generation. Though this launch title comes with the obligatory integration of Kinect and SmartGlass, they’re largely un-intrusive to the play experience as a whole. Kinect voice commands range from needless menu selection to issuing survivor orders and taunting and/or luring enemies. The SmartGlass app is clumsy, but provides useful traversal tips, item and store locations along with extra mission content. Though each feature serves a purpose, neither Kinect nor SmartGlass has anything to offer that face buttons and a few menu options couldn't or don’t already accomplish better.
No thanks.
Strangely enough, Dead Rising 3 is also a bit misleading. The next gen launch title has been marketed as freeing itself from the noxious time limit that the Dead Rising franchise has partly been defined by. However very early in the game, it becomes clear that Ramos must complete his business in Los Perdidos within a week. Even by Dead Rising 3’s standards, that’s plenty of time; however if you’re not carefully monitoring the clock as you clear the streets of the undead and stock up on collectables, the countdown can bring you to an unfortunate end.
The Bottom Line
By all accounts, Dead Rising 3 deserves to be one of your very first Xbox One launch titles. It may not look the part, but the sheer magnitude of zombies active on screen and the chaotic mess you can make of them alone is an experience worth having. Dead Rising 3’s new combo weapon Blueprint system represents the game’s replay value. With over 100 different weapon combinations available, expect to lose track of time soaking the pavement with rotten flesh in any number of different ways. Dead Rising 3 might be flawed with tedious road blocks, imperfect controls and some embarrassing stereotypes, but none if it gets in the way of enjoying this zombie squishing game.
+ Blueprint offering standalone replay value
+ Challenging exploration
+ Incentivized leveling system
+ True next gen performance
- Offensive stereotypes
- Occasionally fumbling controls
Let's take a look at a week in gaming from 12/11/13 to 12/13/13. Below is a feature discussing some of the most anticipated RPGs coming to next gen consoles.

December 11th 2013
A little known game called Democracy 3 released earlier this year and was lauded as “The Ultimate Political Strategy Game.” In this political and economical simulator, you can control and adjust everything from taxes, to research funds, to normalizing the death penalty, and to reinstating the draft. It is both a niche game of interest and an educational tool for those who seek for a more interactive lesson on politics brought to us by Cliff Harris’ studio Positech Games.
Harris sought to advertise their latest game on Gamespot, who’s owned by CBS. However the advertisement was rejected. Here’s the conversation as posted by Harris:
"Message from the publisher: I’m sorry, but your ad banner is inappropriate."
"so… why exactly? Or do I just spend my money elsewhere?"
" apologize, but we can not promote any politics as this is a sensitive topic."
This sediment effectively stifles the maturation of video games. There have been several games that discuss controversial topics including slavery, abortion, prison pregnancy, and Anne Frank’s experience in the Holocaust. It’s difficult to comprehend that a medium which has received incessant criticism over the past two decades for juvenile and violent content, that once it steers away from the stereotypes and the conventions, games like Choice Texas and now Democracy 3 are panned for their content.
Cliff Harris makes a profound point in response to CBS’s and Gamespot’s rejection:
" WTF? I bet ads for games like hitman, or GTA, or games where you get slow-mo closeups of people’s skulls being blasted apart by high-caliber bullets are just fine. But discuss income tax? OH NOES THE WORLD WILL END! I saw a clip of mortal kombat on that charlie brooker doumenatry that made me feel sick, but apparently we as an industry are just FINE with that… It’s stuff like this that sometimes makes me ashamed to be in this industry. Half of the industry wants to be grown up and accepted as art, the other half have the mentality of seven year olds. I’m pretty cynical, but I never expected my ads for a game about government-simulation to be too controversial to be shown (for money no less…).
My next game will be gratuitous homicide battles. I bet everyone will let me promote that one eh?"
Note: I caution folks not to point the finger at Gamespot, but at CBS. We don't know Gamespot's involvement or weight that they have in making decisions in approving advertising as it seems that CBS's influence supersedes the website's, just as the same case might have occurred if IGN was still owned by FOX.
Source: Positech
VIA: Polygon

December 12th 2013
What’s your definition of a real job?
Is it being a social worker like me? Working an office job, or earning some salary income between the hours of 9-5? Is it working in retail, landscaping, or nursing?
Working a job is doing a service, whether that may be for entertainment or making someone else’s life more convenient and/or better for monetary compensation.
And yes, [that] includes YouTubers.
It’s been rather difficult to ignore or avoid the metaphorical s**t storm YouTube has bestowed upon its users. This week YouTube issued its Content ID (their version of a copyright infringement tracker) which track YouTube videos, particularly those with attached advertisements, and if there’s any content – whether that may be video or audio, they will be flagged and the revenue generated from advertisement will be terminated.
Content ID has been catastrophic to the gaming community on YouTube, to internet personalities who earn their keep posting videos on YouTube of Lets Play commentaries, reviews, and any uploads that utilize game footage. Many of these personalities dedicate themselves full time after having had quit their conventional jobs and threw their entire weight behind building video empires, building reputation, and making money for it.
Doing something you love isn’t always a cake walk. Any reputable video game journalist will tell you that their job isn’t easy. I myself loose hours reading material and writing blogs 5-6 days a week. I can’t imagine what these YouTube users sacrifice working nearly double the amount of hours of a traditional work week writing content, setting up equipment, editing footage, maintaining their creative energy day in and day out producing the content we enjoy on YouTube.
YouTube is effectively loosing apart of its identity with Content ID. YouTube once could pride itself as an intuitive platform where creative minds could channel their passion in a form of expression and make money for it. That’s an incredible opportunity to be able to provide. But this week, YouTube has ripped that livelihood out of people’s hands, ripped that opportunity for those who have just gotten started, and ripped the very existence of that community.
Here’s what the very outlandish, and often violent Francis has calmly and profoundly stated in response to this:

Originally reported on December 11th 2013
With the reveal the next Fallout after Kotaku’s investigative work combing through documents obtained from a Kotaku reader, RPG fans have become increasingly excited for what the genre will bring next gen. Here are some massive role playing games set to release on new hardware.
Fallout (untitled)

We can’t call it Fallout 4 just yet, just like we cant call the new Uncharted game Uncharted 4 until official confirmation. The build up to the next installment in the rightfully renowned RPG series has been a blue balling wang tease for quite some time. The Boston setting rumors, the countdown site, the weeks and days leading up to the VGX. The latest documents obtained by Kotaku are all but confirmed by Bethesda, and we can begin to cautiously get excited for another Fallout game.
The information revealed is extensive casting and character descriptions. The mechanics and design of the game itself remains under wraps. But the simple notion of knowing a Fallout game is in development is enough to make us salivate. Fallouts 3 and New Vegas were massive titles in quite the literal sense. These, along with Oblivion and Skyrim, matched the scope of the Fallout games of last gen. Within both franchises, we’ve clearly seen the hardware work to its fullest, never able to perform perfectly. Just the thought alone of a Fallout game taking advantage of next gen technology is exciting to say the least. Just imagine a better looking, better running Fallout game without the many bugs that have plagued the series last gen. But we can be certain that the next Fallout game won’t just be a better looking, better performing one. Whoever is behind this project (ehem… Bethesda) is going to add a lot more than just pretty graphics.
The Witcher 3

The Witcher 2 was one of the most underappreciated RPGs of last generation. It too was in many ways subject to the limitations of the available hardware at the time. Even on PC, The Witcher 2 was narrower in scope. With only a few locations that instilled a sense of scale, this RPG was sectioned off into self contained hub spaces which was likely in compensation to the insanely lush and detailed environments. It played to its strengths as a more linear experience with one of the best lores in RPG history, even outclassing some of the best stories told in the genre.
The Witcher 3 reeks of next gen; not just in the sheer size and eye watering visuals, but in narrative ambition too. The Witcher 3 looks to carry over the series’ level of storytelling and populate it across the vast worlds you explore in it. Mature telling, unapologetically complex combat system, and a massive world to explore, it’s almost as if the bar is being set too high too early with The Witcher 3.
Dragon Age: Inquisition

This isn’t a popular sediment, but Dragon Age 2 is one of my favorite RPGs of all time, flaws and all. Bioware took their exceptional talents in character development and outclassed themselves in this loosely relevant follow up to Dragon Age: Origins. But even for those who hated Dragon Age 2, Inquisition looks to be the perfect marriage between what Dragon Age 2 was trying to do, and what Dragon Age: Origins fans missed about the franchise.
Like many next gen titles we’re looking forward to, Dragon Age: Inquisition is properly large, and from the demo we’ve seen earlier last month, it's properly seamless as well with no visible load times shown. Full character customization is back from Dragon Age: Origins allowing you to equip armor, weapons, and equipment to all of your party members. The dialogue encounters have also said to have evolved, not only factoring decisions made, but which characters are present during the conversation, and allegedly character stats as well. Lastly, we’ve also gotten a brief look at the full issuing command screen, returning for those who missed it in Dragon Age 2. One-to one action combat isn’t going anywhere, and I’m glad for it; but more strategic fans will appreciate the tactical option for combat.
Final Fantasy XV

Before seeing the inevitable fifteenth proper installment of the very popular Final Fantasy series, I was convinced that this next game would have its work cut out for it after the very divisive, and by many accounts, flawed, Final Fantasy XIII. That is, until I saw this extended E3 video:
Final Fantasy XV doesn’t just look to take inspiration from Kingdom Hearts’ combat system, it draws direct inspiration from their cinematic direction, most notably Final Fantasy: Advent Children. This gameplay video doesn’t only make Final Fantasy XV look to be one of the best action RPGs of next gen, but I’ll be the first to say that – again, based on footage – one of the best action games of next gen.
Honorable mentions include…
… The Division, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Kingdom Hearts 3, and quite possibly the recently revealed No Man’s Sky.
What RPGs are you looking forward to next gen?