Ponderings on State of Decay

When a friend told me about State of Decay, I was a little wary. It took me a while to get into The Walking Dead, and looking at the screenshots for State of Decay, it didn’t look quite as appealing. I downloaded the demo however, and played it for the full hour that I was allowed before deciding to buy it. I’m definitely enjoying it, but it’s not a game that has me completely addicted to the point where I can’t put it down

Obviously I’ve recently bought Animal Crossing New Leaf so that has taken over everything else at the moment, but even before then I was struggling to spend longer than an hour or so on State of Decay. That’s not to say it isn’t a good game, because it is. It’s an excellent concept, and I was more than shocked when I died in the demo, and that was it; the character who I was playing as had really gone, and the other characters in the safe house were verbally mourning the loss.

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When you die, it truly is game over

When you play a game, you expect that when you die you’ll just come back to life, or you’ll have to revisit a previous save point. It’s not very often that when a playable character dies, they’re gone for good, but the game carries on without them. That moment really hit home, and made me realise just how realistic State of Decay is in terms of survival. If I trash all the cars in the game, then I’ve got to walk everywhere by foot. Resources don’t respawn after a certain amount of time, so if you use everything you just raided from that house, there’s not going to be anymore unless you look elsewhere.

Weapons break and your stamina temporarily remains depleted until you ‘tag in’ with someone else so they can take on your zombie slaying responsibilities while you rest. It’s a tough game, and it’s not one for the impatient.

One of my main issues is the tiny text, and this is an issue that I have with a lot of games. I wear glasses. If I don’t wear them, the entire world around me is a blur. My 32 inch TV is no more than 6 foot away from me, and I am straining to see the tiny text at the bottom of the screen. Yeah, I can sit in a chair and move that closer, but why should I? I’m not exactly far away from it, and I enjoy playing games in the comfort of my bed. It’s just a personal issue I suppose, and an issue for another blog post.

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This text is too damn small

I will go back to State of Decay, but I think I need to play some other, less strenuous games first. I like a challenging game, but you’ve really got to be in the right mindset to play State of Decay for any extended period of time.

The Highs and Lows of E3 2013

I’ve had my 6 hours sleep after E3, and it’s safe to say I’m still reeling off the excitement of the Sony conference last night. It wasn’t a perfect conference, suffering from the usual delay which enraged the 2AM British crew watching online, and experiencing at least one technical hitch, but that doesn’t alter the fact that Sony have easily won E3 for me so far. Jack Tretton essentially punched Don Mattrick to the floor, and continued to kick him while he was down, and I think Sony deserve every ounce of praise they get for that. It wasn’t all about Sony though, and it’s not all about the console war. Here are my personal highlights, and lowlights of E3 2013, including games as well as hardware.

Microsoft had the tough job of opening the show after a less than warm reception to their new console, the Xbox One. They did however stick to their promise of keeping their conference all about the games. In a bold move, slightly copied from Sony, Xbox 360 gold members are going to be treated to two exclusive, free games each month up until the release of the Xbox One, Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3 are the only titles confirmed for this so far. Microsoft Points are also changing into local currency, so you can now buy your games in GBP, USD etc without having to pay for more than you need in MSP.

Onto the new games however, and Microsoft had a lot to be proud of. Max The Curse of Brotherhood looks like a fun side scroller for the Xbox 360, while the Xbox One will be getting Ryse Son of Rome, as well as the intriguing Sunset Overdrive, to mention just a few. Project Spark made use of Kinect, allowing you to build your own game world starting with the landscape, as well as your own characters, villages and monsters. This will appeal to fans of games such as The Sims, and those who dream of building their own games and it does look like a lot of fun.

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Sunset Overdrive looks gruesome in a fun, cartoon-y way

Unfortunately, Microsoft came out with a rather high price point for the Xbox One, coming in at $499 and £429. I will never understand the inability to be able to convert currency efficiently in the games industry, but that’s steep by anyones estimations.

Next up were EA, the home of sports games and some truly incredible gaming franchises. Choosing to open with Plants VS Zombies Garden Warfare was an inspired move, opening the conference on a light-hearted note, and it does look like serious amounts of fun. Peggle 2 was also announced, pleasing the Popcap fan base immensely.

Next up was Need for Speed Rivals, a title which I am very excited about. As long as this performs better than Most Wanted I’ll be happy. Another title I was thrilled to see was Dragon Age Inquisition. Though it may have been brief, it certainly looks exciting, and if Dragon Age 2 was anything to go by, this could be an utterly astounding title in 2014.

Unfortunately, EA Sports just had to take up a big chunk of time with their ‘new’ games. I know I’m in a minority when I say I couldn’t care less, but I do appreciate the graphics that they showcased with titles such as Madden NFL and UFC. They’re just not for me.

Finally, the moment everyone had been waiting for finally happened; Mirror’s Edge 2 finished off the conference with a very stylish trailer, showing the classic gameplay fans of the original have grown to love, as well as improved graphics. The roar of excitement from the room was incredible.

The third conference slot was taken up by Ubisoft. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, they chose to use the same awful host from last year, thinking it was a good idea to promote the hash tag #girlwood from last years equally cringeworthy conference. The host was terrible, not funny and unnecessarily crude at times. I want to hear about games, not someones sexual promiscuity.

Anyway, Ubisoft had a few surprises up their sleeves with PC title The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot which looks a little bit like Torchlight on speed if I’m honest, and that’s a good thing. They also went on to showcase new racing game The Crew, which puts a bit of a unique spin on the racing genre. The clue is in the title, you are part of a crew of racers battling to infiltrate and take over criminal organisations in an incredible open world. You can also tune your car as much as you want, from the inner workings to the shiny exterior, as well as using SmartGlass to craft a car while out of the game. It looks new and exciting, and I can’t wait to see more.

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The Crew looks fun and new

Assassin’s Creed 4 also had an interesting, if not slightly laggy live demo, which leads me to believe that it’s going to infinitely better than Assassin’s Creed 3. The usual suspects like The Raving Rabbids and Rayman made an appearance too with some pre recorded gameplay, and two new Trials games were announced; one for console, and one for mobile devices.

Finally, the conference we had all been waiting for, Sony. Sony had kept quiet about their stance on the used games argument, always online etc, as well as the look of their console. Early on Sony had unveiled their new console, which bore a striking resemblance to the Xbox One, but appeared to be much smaller. I’m not sold on the design just yet, but I’ll need to see more images, and maybe a size comparison with Xbox One.

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It’s not a pretty console, but it’ll do

True to form, Sony went straight in with the games, and my goodness do they have some good games coming up. The only company to announce the new episode of The Walking Dead, titled 400 Days, is coming to Vita, as well as their promised HD versions of games such as God of War 1&2, as well as FFX & FFX-2. They carried on at a quick pace, blasting us with trailer after trailer for new games. No talk, just games. Games such as Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond Two Souls and Batman Arkham Origins, all for the Ps3.

Then onto the PS4 titles; The Order 1886, Drive Club, Infamous Second Son and Knack. And then the first blow to Microsoft came; high support for indie developers. A stage full of indie developers playing their games live, screens behind them, looking glorious. Titles such as Mercenary Kings, Don’t Starve and Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty were just a few that were mentioned.

A personal favourite moment of mine is when Square Enix finally gave us a new trailer for Final Fantasy Versus XIII. But here’s the kicker; It’s no longer called Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but is being developed as Final Fantasy XV. I’m not so sure about the gameplay so far, it has a look of Crisis Core, but the graphics looked beautiful, and so undoubtedly Final Fantasy. The next shocker? Kingdom Hearts 3. Finally, Kingdom Hearts 3 is happening. I was getting so overjoyed at all this news that I forgot to update my live blog for a good ten minutes (That, and sleep deprivation). Squeenix really knew what to announce to get their fans back.

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Final Fantasy Versus XIII becoming Final Fantasy XV is probably a good move

And finally, the glorious moment for Sony was this; PS4 supports used games. Want more? Ps4 users can lend their games to anyone, at no extra cost. More? PS4 doesn’t need to be online to play your games, and there are no authentication checks along the way. The best part? $399, £349 pricepoint. Sony listened to the consumer, and the crowds cheers of excitement are testament to Sony’s success this year.

So those are my highlights and (minimal) lowlights of E3. What about you? Do you think Sony stole the show, or is there more to this than meets the eye? Are Microsoft still your favourite, or are Nintendo going to sneak in through the back door with their Nintendo direct later on? Let me know in the comments, and stay tuned with Ramblings of a Gaming Girl for live updates from the Nintendo direct at 3PM BST.

 

Ramblings of a Gaming Girl reaches 10,000 hits!

I’ve been so busy with the man coming to stay, and then relatives coming the day after that I never got chance to update when I reached 10,000 hits! I’m over the moon that I’ve had so many people look at my (sometimes silly) ramblings on the gaming world. Lets raise a glass to the next 10,000 hits 😉

On a more gaming related theme, I’ve been quite busy recently on the Xbox. I’ve managed to procure some intermittent internet connection and have been updating my games and downloading the on disc DLC I was never able to do before. Today I also sorted out my PSN account as it was tied to a dead email address. I was going to sign in and download Legend of Dragoon, but it appears that the May 1st release date has not happened? Someone please correct me if I am wrong. There appear to be some good games on the PSP available to download as well (RPGs, of course) so that’s charging at the moment. The sun is shining and everyone is outside, but I’m inside on my consoles having a great day. Before anyone criticises me for staying inside, I’m pale with red hair, so the sunshine is my worst enemy.

Since procuring this unknown internet connection, I downloaded a little Xbox Arcade game called Trouble Witches NEO. It’s a great little game, and it was only 400MSP. It’s a little repetitive at times, but it is a port of a Japanese arcade bullet shooter. It’s very similar to Deathsmiles, but it’s nowhere near as overly complicated or full of lag. Most of all it’s just a cute little game to pass the time with if you’re a fan of anything Japanese or anime related. It’s got a cute little shop where you can buy power ups from, and loads of different modes so it really is excellent value for money.

On a side as well, I went to the National Media Museum in Bradford one of the days the man came to stay, and we had a great time. They’ve got a Games Lounge with all the retro classics, including some up to date games for people to go and have a little play with. The older games such as Pacman, Frogger and Donkey Kong were 20p to play which I thought was a bargain. The other, bigger arcade machines with games such as Street Fighter and a bigger version of Pacman were 50p a go, still a bargain.

There was a big section all about the internet, and the progression of internet technology since, I think, the 1970s. If you live in Yorkshire, or if you’re planning a holiday to the North and are interested in everything media related, then please visit. It’s free to enter, it’s got a cinema on the side, and you can easily kill an entire day there. There are also sections on Kodak, television, radio and film. It’s all interactive so you’re not just wandering around a museum that you can’t touch anything in.

For the rest of my pictures from the Museum please go to my Flickr to find them, and feel free to leave a comment.

Trying something a little bit different

As gamers we can get into the habit of only sticking to our favourite genres. This is understandable of course; we’re not going to go out & buy a racing game when we have no interest in cars, nor are we going to buy a fighter if all we can hope to do is button bash at our opponent.

It does us some good every now and then though to try something just a little bit different, dip our toes into the unknown and sometimes you may even surprise yourself at how much fun you will have.

She may look crazy...oh no wait, she is!

She may look crazy...oh no wait, she is!

This past week or so I have been slightly disillusioned with my gaming, even with E3 just around the corner. I was recommended Sega Rally Online Arcade by a friend and have been enjoying zooming about the small yet sweet selection of racing tracks (also, failing miserably), but an Arcade game just hasn’t cut it for me over all. With no new releases really catching my attention, I raided my games collection to see what I hadn’t played, and for some reason Batman Arkham Asylum caught my attention. I don’t like Batman as a character at all, and I don’t even like the general premise of many of the American comics he has been in. I enjoy superheroes with a bit of a dismissive praise. More of a ‘Sure, this is good, but don’t they all just look a little bit silly?’ state of mind.

I have a lot of love for the psychological, as well as the dark & eerie though (even if it does scare my senseless sometimes, I love the adrenaline that comes with the fear. You could say I’m a fear junkie?) so once I really got into Arkham Asylum, I think my love was firmly rooted. The problem is, Batman has always been a really cheesy character for me. Taking me back to my A Levels & studying Film I remember a friend who was mad on all the American superheroes, and he brought in one of the original Batman films for us to watch. I sat at the front & cringed, buried my face in my hands when ‘Shark repellent’ appeared and Batman was hanging from a helicopter with a plastic shark attached to his leg, beating it to death with said can of  repellent. I have never seen anything so horrendously corny in my life.

You do not want to mess with this guy

You do not want to mess with this guy

Arkham Asylum is a stark comparison to that film though. Sure, Batman’s voice actor is cheesy as ever, but it’s not Batman himself I want to praise, it’s the dark pasts of all villains featured. Scarecrow terrified me the first time I encountered him, sat on my bed with controller in hand, wide-eyed out of genuine fear. I just played out the section with Killer Croc chasing me through the sewers, also quite pulse racing. The general dark atmosphere has given me a new-found appreciation for the game, and dare I say the original characters. I still don’t like Batman, and I don’t think I ever will, but I am now hotly anticipating the new Batman Arkham City & hope that it’s even darker than the first.

Go out there, try something a little bit different. Don’t necessarily spend your hard-earned £40 on a new game you’ve never really heard of, but borrow something from a friend, give it a go and expand your gaming horizons!

LIMBO; Ending Interpretations

LIMBO intrigued me the second I heard about it. A glimpse at a single noir screen shot and I was pretty much sold on the idea. I instantly fell in love with this little Arcade gem because it really did excite my love of the morbid and creepy. At 1200MSP it’s definitely a hefty price to pay for such a short game which is easily completed in 4 hours, but I certainly do not regret spending my time and money on it.

LIMBO is a game that focuses heavily on puzzle solving, and not characterisation or emotive game play. You still cannot help but feel emotionally involved with the young boys cause though. Every time he dies a gruesome death at the hands of a vastly oversized spider, or is maimed by a flying bear trap, you can’t help but cringe and feel some remorse for him. The poor thing is only trying to find his sister.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my thoughts and feelings on the ending of LIMBO though, not the gameplay or processes. There are going to be huge spoilers from this point on, so if you haven’t finished the game, or are intending to play it at some point, close this page down now.

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