Friday, August 31, 2012

Ni No Kuni Release Date Changed?

I just got this email from NamcoBandai informing me that the release date of Ni No Kuni has been pushed forward to September 4th. That's a huge shift from January 2013, so it may be just a website error. In any case, we've contacted them for a comment and will keep you updated!

Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops, and Ground Zeroes announced

In the slew of announcements and celebrations from the 25th Anniversary of the Metal Gear Franchise, a couple of new games were revealed to be in development from Kojima Productions. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, formerly teased as Project Ogre, was announced starring solid-snake in an open world stealth-action game. The demo showed off Solid Snake doing is thing sneaking around and eventually drives off in a jeep and somehow calls a helicopter down. I guess snake is just that much of a boss. The impressive part was that all of the demo flowed seamlessly together from area to area, and the game itself will run on the new Fox engine produced by Kojima Productions

Additionally, Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops was announced to be designed internally by Kojima Productions.Social Ops will be a mobile game that runs through various stories in the MGS storyline and uses a card based system that is similar to the one used in Metal gear Acid. With a late 2012/early 2013 release it seems that there is still more Solid Snake to come in the next few years and I for one am happy to hear it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GameStop, Used Games, and the Future of Bargain Bins

I wonder how many people have a story that starts with “So my friend let me borrow this game…” or “So I picked up this used game from GameStop for like 10 bucks…” I can remember spending hours at different GameStop stores trying to find the best deal and the cheapest used games for my consoles. With rumors of the next-gen consoles battling used games in various ways, the times of preowned game bargain bins and buy one get one free deals may be coming to an end. But before everyone marks their calendar for the end of days and screams at Microsoft and Sony for being money-grabbing stiffs, let us look at how used games has evolved and how places like GameStop affect the market.

The act of trading in used games and getting the most value out of each purchase has been a staple in the market of video games. Kids in particular don't have the disposable funds for games, often scrounging for the money to buy a $20 used game. And most parents can't/don't/won't shell out the $60 for a new game very often.  For me one of the best parts about buying a game came from figuring out how much value I could get out of the games I was willing to trade in and discovering which games I could actually afford. Unfortunately a lot of publishers have been trying to battle the secondary market by either using their own proprietary online system, like Ubisoft’s Uplay or EA’s Origin system, or having additional content that is available in a new game, but must be purchased if you are playing with a used copy. The more companies try to money-grab at me with first-party online systems and new-game-only content, the less I want to play the game. If this trend continues, maybe the idea of borrowing games will be obsolete when your game system won’t even let you play the game. The sad thing is that this statement isn't even outlandish. A simple registration of a unique game ID to your online account is all it would take to make game borrowing much more difficult
While a lot has changed about video games over time, I hope some of the traditions still prevail, namely borrowing games and split-screen co-op. Some of the most hilarious stories that involve games come from 4 friends sitting on a couch playing Goldeneye or Halo and shooting at each other for hours. And when you don’t have a game that you want to play, the best solution was always to call a friend and see if they have it and if you could borrow it. Once again companies are trying to stifle these things with more content that can either only be accessed on one account. Even games like Halo or Super Smash Bros. are moving into online territory where the experience of playing a game like that is moving from 4 friends on one couch to 1 guy sitting alone playing online with 3 other random people. Of course the solution to this is to just have everyone buy the game right? But the reason 4 player co-op is so popular is because not everyone can buy a console, a game, and more controllers. It’s the same reason we borrow and lend games to friends.
Not every game company is making things worse though. Steam offers the ability to buy a four pack where each person can chip in money and receive a copy of a game that everyone can enjoy. And their annual sales are great for picking up older games that are worth buying at any price. Hopefully, game lending though the digital markets will become easier to do than sharing Steam accounts and risking being banned. I think that right now companies are trying their best to keep their margins up as games become more expensive. They are trying to make at least as much money as they have been while increasing the cost of creating a game. That is also why a lot of prices on games have gone up recently. Now most are paying upwards of 70 dollars when tax is figured in and it takes a chunk out of anyone’s bank account, so how can we come up with solutions that benefit both the companies that create and publish video games and the consumer who walks into a GameStop trying to find the best value on used games? I think the answer lies in changing the model of how GameStop does business. Radical I know, but I think it could work.

When GameStop sells new games and new hardware, a portion of the money paid goes back to publishers and developers. However when someone buys a used game, 100% of the profits goes to Gamestop. So when you go in, trade in 4 games to buy 2 used ones for $40, GameStop gets everything. Instead, GameStop should either pay a percentage of the used game as well or maybe a kind of mass transaction fee. Say at the end of the quarter GameStop can tally up how many used games were sold that come from EA, Ubisoft, etc. and pay a percentage based on those numbers. Sure, Gamestop can threaten to not carry consoles that don't allow for used games, or dictate whether or not to purchase a game that has far less value preowned than it does new, but this leads to a stalemate and something has to give. With this solution, the only one potentially losing money is Gamestop, and it doesn't look like they're feeling that. It may not be the best idea, but I think something needs to change soon. Now, we get 4 different deals that offer “awesome exclusive content!” when you buy with a certain store, and all of that content has to be either bought or somehow obtained via online stores or eBay if somebody wants to grab the game a month after release. Publishers are really starting to hammer home the idea of buying a game when it first comes out so that the buyer can enjoy all of the rewards for being an “early-adopter” and getting a bunch of cool stuff.This strategy is an attempt too get more money out of you, GameStop, and anyone else that wants to buy their game sooner rather than later.

Now I know I’ve started to make the companies sound like soulless jerks who want nothing but money, but that isn’t really the case. All of these strategies and new-game content promotions are just the companies way of keeping their employees paid. Yes it may seem bad from our end, but in reality it’s the companies trying to stay in the black each quarter after spending millions on creating a video game. I think a solution lies with word of mouth. Remember how popular Minecraft through mostly forum posts and people promoting the game to their friends because it was really fun? I think game companies should work on something similar. A lot of record labels have “street teams” that put up posters, post on forums, and do a lot of work promoting music that they really like. If a publisher used their PR to get gamers to promote their game to other gamers, I think more people would listen. I bet a lot of revenue for AAA games comes from friends suggesting the game and showing it off when they get the chance.

I know that these solutions aren’t the easiest to implement and have probably already been suggested to game companies, but if less people buy consoles, and by extension games, because they can’t afford a game at $60, then less games will get made. In this economy it sucks dishing out $60 for a game you might put away 4 months from now. And I know I would hate to lose the ability to let a friend borrow a game because their console won’t play it. I can’t predict the future, but I definitely can see troubles ahead as companies try to get more money from gamers when most gamers don’t have the money to spend on new games every month.

I hope that these kinds of problems will go away, and we can all enjoy our games in happiness ad sunshine, but reality dictates that companies will try to improve their bottom line and gamers will do their best to get the most bang for their buck. Luckily for us, our voice can be heard since we are the ones spending the money. We as consumers can tell them how we think it should be because if we don’t like it, then we can just not buy the game. However I think that the relationship between gamers and game companies like EA, Ubisoft, and Bungie, can be much better for both parties if we communicate and talk in some way. Until then, I will still be searching the shelves for the best value I can get.

Monday, August 27, 2012

State of Decay Announced

Undead Labs has officially announced their upcoming PC and Xbox 360 zombie game State of Decay.  According to their website, State of Decay is to be an open-world sandbox centered around a zombie apocalypse.

The gameplay is said to be unique from other well known zombie games like Left 4 Dead 2. Instead of reaching pre-set safe houses or focusing entirely on developing combat skills against zed-heads, State of Decay is to have a much more detailed survival aspect.  Players will be able to set up initial safe-houses, explore and rescue other people to bring back to your safe house, then expand the safe house into well defended communities. The level of choices and freedom for each player"s experience is still not fully known, but we do know it should be expansive given that aspects such as scouting parties for supply runs and the amount of noise/activities within an area or community notifying zombie hordes will be incorporated in gameplay.

The zombies themselves seem to be a mix of slow-walking George A. Romaro living dead with 28 Days Later (or Return of the Living Dead should you want quirky 80's) running zombies. Overall, this looks to be a very interesting installment in the zombie gaming world.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sound Shapes Review

Music games have been around almost as long as games have. From the sound creation bits in Mario Paint to Gitaroo Man all the way up to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, people seem drawn to creating music as a game. The latest in this difficult-to-define music genre is Sound Shapes, a musical platformer with new tracks from musicians like deamau5 and Beck. Has this PSN title got it right, or will it too fall like insert-musical-device-here Hero, Rock Band musician-partnership Edition, and Wii Music: Let’s All Shudder at How Pointless This is?

Sound Shapes allows the player control over parts of a song, and letting you collect components of the song as you progress through a level. This concept opens the world of a song to a player and not only lets you derive deeper meaning from the music, but feel more connected as not only are you adding to the music with your efforts, you are exploring the world of a song. In order to allow for such gameplay, DJ style music is the best fit, as different beats and tracks can be pieced together in a level and it won’t sound like a song from The Who without the guitar until you pass enough levels. Dance music is one of the few genres that can be picked apart and still sound good, since that’s how the music is generally built from the get-go.

The single most important part of Sound Shapes is the music, followed very closely by the gameplay. The music in the game is phenomenal, and covers a range of DJ-type songs from heavy techno in deadmau5 to Jim Guthrie’s demure to uplifting beats to Beck’s whatever the heck you want to call it. Each album has a concept and story to tell, which means a lot to me personally. Normally, I would say I am reading too much into this, but after a few playthroughs of user generated maps, you will understand what I mean. That’s not to say the user content is bad (it’s actually far from it), but the albums in this title were designed around telling a story, whereas user content usually consist of one-off stages and, from what I’ve seen, recreations of songs from other series.

The musicians working on Sound Shapes had a feeling and idea in mind when creating the soundtrack for this game, and that feeling is consistent from the level design to the art styles. In fact, my only complaint is that there was not enough music to play through in the campaign. I started and finished the title in the span of three hours, even with dying multiple times. They were a very satisfying three hours, but I wish the game had at least twice as much content to play through. But I digress; simply put, the music is the best part of Sound Shapes, but not just because of the music.

The gameplay for this title goes hand in hand with the music. That is to say, the music is the star, and the action takes a backseat. The level has a background beat, and everything within the level makes a sound to go with the song. By collecting notes, you add layers to the song, with each new screen in a level providing more notes, and progressing the music. To give you a better example of what I mean, here’s a video of me playing the first level just to demonstrate what you can control and how it works:

The instructions are simple enough to understand—jump over red things, collect notes, and stick to walls— but the levels are complex enough to make the game challenging and fun. The balance struck here is incredible, as I never spent too much time thinking about how I was going to finish one screen to forget to listen to the music. By leaving the controls simple, and instead focusing on clever level design and a killer soundtrack, the experience felt by a gamer is never broken by difficult puzzles, and is always driven forward by the desire to hear more of the song and see more of the story.
The art is also wonderful, conveying a simple and playful style that’s a delight to view, especially on the Vita’s screen. The story of each album is conveyed through the music, but that message is clarified in the art. Nowhere is this more prevalent than Jim Guthrie’s album with art animated by Superbrothers. The small attention to detail and pixel characters were eye-catching, even if the dull grays of the office conveyed a different message.

Travelling from the office to the pits, and experiencing the message of how office work dulls your senses and music sets you free was astounding. Though no words were uttered, the journey was as clear as if Morgan Freeman narrated the entire thing. Admittedly, the art looks less crisp on a big TV as some of the fonts look a bit blurry and some of the nice round shapes look a bit choppy, but the Vita’s screen makes all of that go away. I’m not sure if it has to do with the fact I was playing in 720p or what, but the Vita just made the game pop that much more. Perhaps it was designed for the smaller screen and the PS3 compatibility was an afterthought.

This title is also the first I’ve played that featured the cross-play functionality. I bought the game for Vita and ended up downloading it to my PS3 as well. After cloud syncing my files from my Vita, I turned on my PS3, pulled the save down, and had trophies unlocked, as well as all unlocking all of the stages I had completed. It was easy, fast, and there was no hassle involved. I hope to see this in more mainstream titles as well, because it just feels so cool to see a fresh game populated with things you did on another console. Very satisfying to feel like my progress remained in the game, no matter the platform.

Verdict: Sound Shapes is a marvelous, innovative game for the music genre. The music is ideal, the gameplay is fun, but out of the way, and you can play it on your 32” LCD TV, or the 5” OLED display of your Vita. Though the length of the game is a shame, and the community levels mirror those of Little Big Planet in that there are some real gems, but far too many homages to other games, it’s a solid game and a must play for the Vita or PS3. If you like simple, fun platformers like Journey (albeit with one less dimension), or just enjoy a good tune, Sound Shapes is well worth your money.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Plants vs. Zombies 2

EA's PopCap Games has announced that they are officially planning to create a sequel to the hilarious and popular tower defense game Plants vs. Zombies.  The original game, released in May 2009, allowed players to build defenses in their expansive backyards in order to attempt to stop the oncoming horde of zombies.  Since release, Plants vs. Zombies has been a huge success with the entire gaming community and hearing of a sequel has been expected.

The PopGames press release has been pretty stingy on details with this exciting sequel, stating only that it "will include a bevy of new features, settings, and situations, designed to delight the franchise's tens of millions of fans around the world".  Given the amount of details that PopCap gave to both artistic style and gameplay experience in the first Plants vs. Zombies, it should be pretty safe to expect the same level of attention for this quirky sequel.  Plants vs. Zombies 2 is scheduled to be released sometime in Spring 2013.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Zelda Encyclopedia to be Released in US

While the internet itself has collectively tried to make sense of the Legend of Zelda timeline, only to have an official chart be released making all earlier assumptions wrong, there are plenty of other facts and tidbits about the universe that contain the Legend of Zelda series that we do not know.A previously Japan-release-only encyclopedia will be translated and ported over to the US in January 2013. The Zelda Historia contains many answers to some of the questions that have been asked since the early days with the Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles, Like how the games actually line up chronologically. I know that for $34.99 I will definitely be picking it up to add to my library. 

August 2012 Podcast

Colby, Devin, and Casey discussed Gamescom news, including new IP announcements, Sony's Cross Buy program, and games we missed at the event. Other topics include mods and their impact on a game's sales, new video projects, and our panel at San Japan.

Subscribe to us on iTunes
Or download here directly

Thursday, August 16, 2012

AristoGamer August 2012 Podcast

August is half over, and the time for podcasting is upon us! Join us this month for discussions on the following topics:
  • Our panel at San Japan
  • News from Gamescom
  • How mods sell PC games
  • Video changes

How to can download and use Teamspeak

Date: Thursday, August 16th

Time: 7:00pm Central Time

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance Review

Kingdom Hearts was a radical idea when it was first introduced—nobody had ever thought to pair Disney worlds with Square Enix characters in a platformer setting. Since then, it’s become a staple for Disney games, and one of the most well-known Square Enix series. For full disclosure, I love Kingdom Hearts. I’ve played every game since the inception of the series and I consider it to be one of my top five favorite franchises. That being said, I can recognize when the games are lackluster, and I’m more than willing to point those out. Yes, every Kingdom Hearts game on a Nintendo console has been a snore fest with less-than-stellar controls, odd battle mechanics, or a convoluted story. After three titles from GBA to DS, Kingdom Hearts makes the jump to Nintendo’s latest platform with Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance (3D). Has the new console inspired higher game quality, or is this yet another title most fans of the series would tell their friends to pass on?

Nintendo Kingdom Hearts

A hallmark of the Kingdom Hearts series is its unlikely mashup of Disney and Square-Enix. Though much of that is preserved in this game, they seem to have dropped the ball more than usual. There are exactly 5 Square-Enix characters present, all of them in Traverse Town, and all of them from The World Ends With You. Though I’m elated that there are new Square-Enix characters, I’m disappointed that there are so few— I actually enjoy seeing those characters more than the Disney characters. They make up for it in the fact that almost all of the worlds are new, from the Hunchback of Notre-Dame to the Three Musketeers to Fantasia. New Disney worlds are just pouring out of this game, though that is made slightly bittersweet by the fact that Donald and Goofy are not by your side, the developers choosing instead to allow you to have nice versions of the Dream Eaters. I will admit that the new sidekicks are cuter though.

Kingdom Hearts Spirits and Dream Eaters

The story of Kingdom Hearts, throughout the series, has grown from playful and interesting into a monstrously complex tale. First there were Heartless, then the Nobodies were added and that was fine, but there were also special Nobodies (which was okay too) then bugs in the datascape (well I guess that’s what would be there, yeah) and Unversed (wait what?), and now a new breed of enemy are introduced called Dream Eaters (that’s it, I need a spiral notebook). When there was just one keyblade wielder, now there are multiple, so many that they actually had a gigantic war some time ago and there’s one evil guy who must share a mother with Ganon because he can’t die. Not to mention people trapped inside one another’s hearts and sleeping worlds, but others were locked away while some were transformed and who even knows what the special Nobodies are all about and sigh…

Kingdom Hearts Nobodies

You get my point. This story is Complicated, proper title. Dream Drop Distance only exacerbates the problem by adding in a new realm of worlds, a new type of monsters, and a few retcons to the story. Sure, they give you summaries of each game, but that’s like reading the Spark Notes of the history of the entire world and expecting to understand it. Hardcore fans of the series will find this title necessary, considering it’s rumored to be the last game before Kingdom Hearts III, and the ending says as much as well. If you have decided to hop into the Kingdom Hearts series, or have missed out on some games, you’ll either need to read up on the internet, watch some cut scenes, or have a diehard fan explain it all to you because it’s absolutely 100% necessary to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you care not about motivation, then you wasted your time by reading the previous two paragraphs and for that, I am sorry. This next one is for you though.

The combat in this game is remarkably fluid, thanks in no small part to the Flowmotion system. It’s difficult to describe it without a visual reference, so here is a demo of it:

Now, with just the press of a button, you can kick off of buildings, grind rails and ropes, execute powerful combat moves, and reach unattainable areas. The system integrates seamlessly with combat and it soon becomes something you rely upon quite often as it’s generally faster and more powerful than your standard attacks. Whereas in previous KH games, you’d be spamming the attack button, hoping to win in the end, this will have you looking for terrain to jump off of, poles to swing on, and special moves to execute to kill your enemies faster. Not only does this system make combat more fun, but it also engages the player more. I know there were more than a few times in which I zoned out in KH fights until I had won, but with this game, I’m constantly strategizing and trying to find more powerful moves. The only bad thing about it is that it seems the game was designed before the system was implemented, because there are so many objects and items to help you jump higher or farther, but with Flowmotion, you can jump infinitely high as long as you have a wall, and there’s no gap in the game too big to air surf across.

Kingdom Hearts Clouds

In addition to the new Flowmotion system, Flick Rush is a new minigame added to KH which allows you to pit your spirits against others in an arena. This game essentially replaces the Olympus Coliseum from previous titles with a game that requires a bit more strategy. You send three spirits into the ring to do battle against three other spirits. Cards for each spirit are distributed and have either attacks or support magic on them along with a number. If the number of the combined cards you play on the field is greater than that of your opponent, you cancel out their attack and do your own. If they are equal, you duel against each other and try to match three slot machine-esque symbols. Though it’s certainly an add-on meant to extend gameplay, it is no less fun and entertaining. The battles are intense, the strategy is intriguing, and it’s every bit as satisfying to win as it was in Olympus.

The art in this game looks about as good as Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep on the PSP, and sometimes surpasses it. Specifically, just the facial rendering of the characters from Tron: Legacy is surprisingly accurate especially considering that it’s a handheld console.

Kingdom Hearts Tron Legacy

The 3D in the game is what you would expect from a 3DS title, namely that there are a few instances in which it’s really noticeable and cool, but most will prefer to have the 3D off. Even so, this looks to be one of the best looking games on 3DS to date, not only because of the hardware, but also because of the colorful backgrounds, and smooth animations.

A problem KH: 3D suffers from is the camera. Since there’s only one circle pad, it’s up to AI or shoulder buttons to control the camera, and it can be quite frustrating. I often found myself trying to turn the camera, only to end up in a worse spot than before, or get the camera to where I like it, only to have it snap back to the exact position I was just in. The quick solution for this is to get a circle pad pro, though that’s an extra $20 plus battery investment to solve a mildly annoying problem. 

Kingdom Hearts Camera

Verdict: For all its problems, this game feels like a Kingdom Hearts game, a feat previously unaccomplished on Nintendo, in my opinion. The fluid combat and delightful worlds make this feel like KH without any compromises, and that's impressive. The bottom line is that if you’re a KH fan, you’ll enjoy this game. If you’re looking to jump in to the series, I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one, but if you can handle some confusion and accepting high level facts without need of explanations, you could do worse than Dream Drop Distance. Play this game (and the whole series while you’re at it) if you like platformer adventure games, intriguing and fun storylines, or just want to hang out in some Disney worlds without having to be in Florida.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

League of Legends Tips and Tricks

With League of Legends quickly rising to be one of the most played games on a PC, it seems high-time I talked about it. League of Legends, made by Riot Games, is a MOBA-style game. In English, that means a team game with players on each team trying to conquer the other’s base. League of Legends (LoL) has garnered a huge audience and is even featured in E-Sports matches alongside games like Starcraft 2 and Counterstrike. However, the learning curve can be a little high when you are playing through the early levels. Instead of spending 5 pages trying to explain the basics of LoL, thisvideo guide explains it much better than I could and even has pretty pictures. This guide can serve as a list of tips and tricks to follow as you level your way up to level 30. As a veteran of LoL, playing hours a day with friends and foes alike, I decided that a nice LoL 101 guide would be quite handy for new players who want to try their hand at this quite fun game.
To kick things off, I think a few tips and tricks are in order.

Try Every Champion at Least Once
                With free champs rotating every week, you should try out as many champions as possible to understand what each one does and what their abilities are. Even the new champs are put into rotation a few weeks after they are released, so always look out for new champs to experiment with. After a figuring out what roles/champions you like you can narrow down the choices and work on only a few.

For Lvls 1-10, Pick One Role/Champion and Stick With It:
                This sounds slightly counter-intuitive to what I just said above, but both can be true. At first play a lot of champs, but once you level up a few times you’ll start finding certain roles or champs that you like to play more often than any of the others. When you do, try to stick to that one champ or role and learn how to play that really well. Since this is a multiplayer game and you are a part of a team, you end up helping your team out more by playing a champ you know well, than playing someone you don’t know just to fill in a role. By learning one role you also start understanding how your role ties in with the team as a whole.

Use the Internet /Friends/Guides…Do Your Research!:
                Since this is a team based game and your players depend on you to do your part, you should do your best to be as informed as possible. There are plenty of guides, tutorials,explanations, and helpful communities that can aid you when learning a new champ or new role. Say you decided to pick up Ashe for the first time and have no idea how to play an AD Carry. There are many sites and forums that post guides to the proper item builds, leveling orders, and playstyles that will tip the odds in your favor. Here the old cliché “Knowledge is Power” really does apply. Even if you don’t have that much skill as a newer player, being well informed about a certain champ or what role you are playing can go a long way in helping out your team win.

Don’t Worry About The Metagame:
                League of Legends can have a very interesting metagame, with strategies and builds shifting often to counter and re-counter champs that are popular at the time. However as a lower-level Summoner, you really shouldn’t worry about that. Eventually you will probably have a lot of discussions about the metagame and how this champion counters that one. But in the early levels, worry about getting the basics like last hitting or map awareness down. You are much more valuable to your team if you can do your job well than spout off the best counter to Morgana.

Try To Play With Your Friends:
                The best games of League are played with your friends. If you have friends who are already playing, then they can help you with item builds and champ selections. Friends are also a great place for support and encouragement. Not everyone is going to be happy if you don’t do well and having friends who can help out instead of just yell at you is always beneficial. If you don’t have friends that play LoL, try and find some people who you can play with against bots. The more people you have on your friends list, the better your chances are at not playing against random people.

Choose Carefully What You Buy:
                Considering the fact that you can buy things like XP and IP boosts with real money, along with different tiers of runes depending on your level, be careful with what you think is worth spending IP and RP on. For example, the tier 2 runes aren’t worth spending IP on at all. Just save up and buy tier 3 runes once you reach a high enough level. Another thing to avoid buying is the XP boosts. When you buy an XP boost, you get additional experience points when you complete a game, making your early levels take less time. But when you do that, your deprive yourself of the practice you need. If you level up 2 or 3 times in the time it normally takes to level up once, then you will reach a new level of playing that you aren’t ready for. It might seem really tempting to buy one or two to get a little more XP to hit the next level, but resist the temptation. You’ll feel much better about it when you reach level 30 and feel like you can handle yourself.

Don’t Leave/Go AFK/Give up:
                Sometimes a game can be really difficult, or someone on your team is berating you and you feel like quitting just to spite them. Don’t ever do it: always to try to finish your rounds. No matter what happens, see the game through. Even if your team decides to surrender before the game really is complete, stick with it until the end. If you leave early too many times, you will get warnings, alerts, and eventually punishment. Not only that, but if you leave because you are losing, or because things aren’t looking good, then you lose out on valuable experience playing when you are in a losing position. Like most competitive games, losing a game can be more valuable than winning because when you lose, you can learn from your mistakes. It sounds trite, but it’s still true and if you want to really do well in League of Legends, then sticking around for the last 10 minutes, even if you know you will lose, is always worth it.

Watch Patch Updates
One of the things that keeps LoL interesting is the patches made to it every month. Like many competitive games, a patch that updates a game can change the attributes of abilities, items, and champions. That in turn inspires new strategies and ideas as the whole game is changed because of the patch. For example, the most recent patch “buffed,” or improved specific stats, a champion named Rumble. After the patch, a lot of people started playing with Rumble because his buff made him quite powerful. This change starts the metagame I mentioned before, and it also creates an opportunity for players to take advantage of the new champ and create new builds and strategies. As a LoL player, It is important to keep an eye out for new patches and to pay attention to which champs, items, and abilities are altered in the patches.

League of Legends can be a really fun and engaging fame that keeps you glued to your computer screen for hours. It gets even better once you discover that people around you are playing as well, and you get together for a good round or two of LoL. I would definitely recommend downloading it and trying it out. It’s free for goodness sakes, and the hours you can get out of the game are quite worth it. I know I’ll be playing League for at least a few hours tonight.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The First Ever AristoGamer Panel at San Japan!

Have you ever wanted to learn the secrets behind creating a mildly successful, but still mostly unknown video game review blog that's pretty funny? Have you ever wanted to shake the hand of J. Wellington Rommefeller and give him free things because that's such a nice thing to do and he would appreciate it because doing so would validate his existance. Well want no more!

AristoGamer is doing a panel at San Japan called "How to Review Games and Be Mildly Entertaining!" Saturday August 11th at 6:30PM! Join J, Apprentice Casey and more as we share our experiences reviewing games, play games with attendees and give away free swag from SDCC 2012!

You can find the full schedule for San Japan here. And more info about the con here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Source Filmmaker Hints at Half Life Episode 3 and Source 2

Since Valve released its internal software Source Filmmaker, many intrepid gamers have been hard at work creating films, others have been tearing apart its source code, looking for info on Valve's "next big thing." Two interesting bits of information have come up as a result of this relentless hunting -- Half Life Episode 3 and the second iteration of the Source engine.

In one of the comments here, you see a reference to the character model for Alyx Vance with the folder heading "ep3." Though it may be tempting to be excited about this, it is likely either an error or is deliberately misleading. To my knowledge, this is the only reference to ep3 in the Source Filmmaker code and combining that with Valve's tendency to include erroneous files for sniffers to find and their trolling with HL3 shirts, I doubt there's much credence to this.

What's far more exciting, however, is the references to Source 2. They are littered all over the place! uncovered not only text references, but icons as well, including the logo for the new engine.

In addition, icons for the paint tool, terrain tools, and a few others have been found for Source 2. Could this be Valve misleading gamers yet again? Perhaps they forgot these assets in the package? Or maybe they're teasing us with this information, choosing to wait until a large conference to make the Source 2 announcement.

In any case, Source made its debut more than 8 years ago and most gamers feel it's time for an update. Where this information leaves developers working in the current Source engine is anyone's guess, but it will most likely leave upcoming Valve titles like Dota 2 and CS:GO on the upper end of the graphics spectrum.

Friday, August 3, 2012

SWTOR Goes Free-to-Play

While Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) is still a popular game and is enjoyable for many hours, the number of subscribers have been decreasing since its release. While the game itself is fun, it has been criticized for lack of more end-game content, and the current price tag is still too high for some when free-to-play MMOs are abound. As a solution for the decline in sales and subscribers, Bioware has announced that SWTOR will be free-to-play in November.
While SWTOR is going free-to-play, there will still be a subscription model for higher level play and additional content. However all eight character classes and the first 50 levels will be available in the free-to-play model. Maybe the switch will increase the subscriber base and help increase revenue as players are incentivized to buy more content after they play for free. For now the game is on sale for $15 and a one-month free trial.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Steam Disallows Class Action Lawsuits

Steam updated its subscriber agreement with a section about class action lawsuits, specifically how Steam users are no longer allowed to levy them against Valve.

So far, reactions from gamers has ranged from apathy to outrage, and it seems many people have the fine details misconstrued. Though you can no longer band together and form a class action lawsuit against Valve, you can still go through small claims court. This agreement is only banning class action, not other forms of legal recourse.

That's not to say this is a good thing. Quite the contrary, many gamers feel this is an infringement upon their rights. If you do not agree to the SSA, you no longer have access to your Steam games. That part of the argument is nothing new, as Steam only lets you purchase license to use the game while subscribed to their service instead of the game itself, so not agreeing to the SSA voids your subscription and you are barred from your games. The gaming community had a similar reaction when Sony tried the same thing with their PSN agreement last year. Only time will tell if Valve will modify the SSA the way Sony did to add a manual exclusion clause.

If you want to share your thoughts on the new SSA with Valve, you can submit your feedback here.

Rain Slick 3 Review

Penny Arcade's On The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 was just released after a long lull and cancellation of the series. Has the revival done the game good, or should it have remained dead?

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