Top 5 Rainstorms in Games

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/ by Ian Hill

What is it about rain in video games that makes it so compelling? Perhaps it’s because many of us enjoy a good storm out in the real world and when applied skillfully, that unique vibe often translates well to the digital world and can even enhance gameplay.  So, here are some of the best rain sequences in games from the current generation. Fair warning: There’s going to be some spoilers below, so proceed with caution tape.

5. Alan Wake (Xbox 360)

You know that part of the game where you’re running through the dark woods with a flashlight and…Ok, granted that’s a good chunk of the gameplay, but early on in Episode 4: The Truth, things change up a bit when you awaken in a mental hospital/lodge disoriented and befuddled. Outside, the skies darken and thunder echoes between the mountains off the distance. Eventually, everything goes to hell and Wake becomes entangled in a desperate race to escape the facility as floating, possessed furniture and the game’s main foe, The Taken, try to erase you from existence. The best part comes when you make it outside, and witness sprawling forks of lightning stabbing the countryside as the building threatens to implode in on itself, Poltergeist style.

4. Gears of War (Xbox 360)

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Popular Game Characters: Toss Them In a Fight, Who Would Win?

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/ by Ian Hill

Popular Game Characters: Toss Them In a Fight, Who Would Win?

 

With the official announcement of Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale  and the upcoming Super Smash Bros Wii U/3DS, this brought to mind that classic geek game that everyone has played at one time or another. You know the one: If so and so fought so fourth, who would win?  So, let’s take a few chosen game characters, toss them into some scripted situations, and see what happens.

Batman VS Kratos

Set-up:  Let’s say the Ghost of Sparta was tricked into entering an ancient portal by Athena (re: wormhole) and found himself deposited in downtown Gotham City. Meanwhile, at a hundred or so feet above, the ever vigilant Dark Knight scouts for criminal shenanigans atop a stone gargoyle overlooking the streets. ‘Athena!’ and ‘Sorcery!’ Kratos exclaims as he starts poking at a nearby parked car which just happens to be the batmobile. And then he decides to slice it in two with his chain blades, because…well, he’s Kratos. The bat swoops down and the fight is on.

Outcome: Tough call. Both characters are more than capable of holding their own. However, Kratos has the strength of a god (he took down a Colossus, the massive titan Chronos, and even Aries himself, after all) yet Batman would probably outsmart the Spartan. Kratos would outright try to murder bats, but bats would try to restrain and detain.  This has to be a draw and who knows, they might even reach a truce to take on some villains.

Samus Aran VS Prophet

Set-up:  Samus crash lands on earth during the crux of the Seph invasion. Prophet spots the downed craft from a distance and makes a speedy beeline over to investigate. He can only assume its more alien scum and prepares to treat it as so. As Samus crawls out of the wreckage, Prophet grabs the dazed bounty hunter by the neck and tosses her like a ragdoll. Samus staggers to her feet, she begins firing at the fast approaching super soldier who then returns fire and the battle begins.

Outcome: Traditionally, each time Samus begins a new adventure she unfortunately loses all her upgrades and weapons and has to start from scratch. But, for the sake of argument, let’s make her fully powered. Now, both fighters have powerful suits, but the Nanosuit seems tailor-made for extreme combat situations. The advantage Samus has is her unique weapons such as the ice blast and varia gun, while Prophet is stuck with mostly standard earth military hardware.  Still, I think I’d have to give the slight edge to Prophet since he’s simply more agile and overall a little stronger.

Locust VS Chimera

Set-up:  Within the walls of a popular space pub, aliens from all corners of the galaxy are unwinding after a long, hard day of conquering and plundering and killing.  A disgruntled Chimera, let’s call him, “Ted” who had a very rough day, sits on a barstool alone, nursing his drink and keeping to himself. Behind him, a rowdy and obnoxious Locust named “Cliffy,” tries his hardest to impress two attractive (in alien terms at least) female patrons with his otherworldly manliness.  After a particular joke he told that he thought to be a laugh riot, Cliffy bumps into the Chimera as he’s taking a sip of his drink, causing it to spill all over himself. Enraged, he curses at the alien and insults his mother. I think you know what this sort of situation leads to.
Outcome: In this particular situation, I think they would cancel each other out. Both alien races aren’t the brightest bulbs in the chandelier and neither of them would back down from a brawl, but both are ruthless scum. The Chimera possesses more exotic weapons, but Locusts have nifty chainsaw bayonets for close-quarters combat. In the end the result would simultaneously be a chainsaw bayonet to the face and an Auger blast to the. Very messy.

Link VS Customized Dark Souls Character

Set-up:  Trudging through the thick darkness of the forest, you stumble upon a hidden passage tucked into a gnarled, dying oak. Cautiously, you make your way through a dank tunnel lined with the roots of dead things. There’s a small circle of light at the far end that leads out to a vast field. A wooden sign hammered into the soil nearby reads: Welcome to Hyrule. Suddenly you hear the pounding of horse hooves a mile away.  Knowing that all living things you’ve encountered so far are out to kill you, you fire an arrow at the first sight of the horse and its rider. The horse goes down, you charge towards the enemy, and it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Outcome: The Dark Souls character without question.  Regardless what character class, weapons, magic, armor, he/she has equipped, or what the soul level is, beloved Link is going down.  The Master Sword will shatter into a thousand shards, the Hylian shield will break in two, and his traditional green attire will darken with the stain of elf blood (or whatever race Link is). He has to be worth a few hundred thousand souls at least, right?

 

Next-Gen: Are Gamers Ready To Do It All Over Again?

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/ by Ian Hill

Next-Gen: Are Gamers Ready To Do It All Over Again?

With the internet crackling with rumors in recent weeks in regards to the Playstation 4, the next Xbox, the Wii U, the possibility of Apple throwing down the gauntlet in the next console race, and it’s clear that the presence of the new gaming generation can be felt looming on the horizon. This begs the question: Are gamers ready to do it all over again?

There’s little doubt that 2011 was an absolute monster year for game releases. Some critics are even going so far as to declare this entire generation the golden age of gaming.  And 2012 is shaping up to be yet another stellar year of triple-A releases such as Assassins Creed 3, Resident Evil 6, Max Payne 3, and The Last of Us. These games not only look fantastic, but from what we’ve seen of them so far, appear to be on track to incorporating some truly memorable gameplay experiences.

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Top 10 Most Immersive Worlds in Games

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/ by Ian Hill

Every seasoned gamer has an epiphany at some crucial interval during a session whether they’re conscious of it or not. Usually, this phenomenon occurs when the entire game design is firing on all cylinders and your inner-self whispers, “Ok, I’m all in,” and suddenly the hours just melt away. For those in the know, the following are some of the reasons why we game.

10. Limbo (XBOX 360, PS3, PC)

No, not the party game you play on Caribbean Cruise Ships with the lowering stick, but Danish developer Playdead’s morbid take on the side-scrolling puzzler. Mystery and starkness are the main themes throughout the 8 or so hour journey as you scamper your way through the silowhetted environments solving physics puzzles and trying to figure out just where you belong in this world.

Immersion Factors: The haunting, surreal black and white visuals, the minimalistic sound design, and those giant spiders…

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