Vampin' Gamer Statesboro

// Review: ‘NBA 2K15’: Best in the 2K series//

With the 16th installment of the NBA 2K franchise, developer Visual Concepts and publisher 2K Sports have delivered yet another stunning basketball simulation game in NBA 2K15. The game features Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma Thunder as this year’s cover athlete and includes a soundtrack curated by Pharrel Williams. Once again, the game is sure to please basketball fans and gamers alike.

Most notable in this year’s iteration are the vast improvements to both player spacing and the overall presentation of the game. Where players used to get unrealistically stuck in past versions of 2K, the players now receive more realistic spacing and animations in game. The improved physics and movement system are very welcomed changes that took too long to update.

The presentation is also much cleaner, with press conferences and player discussions appearing more natural. There is even a new pre-game segment featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Ernie Johnson to add some entertaining commentary during load times. Another added bonus is the weekly live-action show called “NBA 2KTV,” which has interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, tips from Visual Concepts and in-game currency giveaways.

The new MyCareer mode is by far my favorite upgraded game mode thus far. Instead of being a star college draft pick, this year the player assumes the role of an undrafted player who has to earn his spot on a team and in the NBA. Player attributes have also been revamped and more streamlined so that there is less work in upgrading and improving your player.

Of course, everything hasn’t gone over without a hitch. Again this year, the bombardment on the 2K servers ruined all the online game modes and rendered them unplayable on the release date. However when they do work, players can create and join crews with their friends and even play full NBA games in the Jordan Rec Center. The worst problem with the game this year was the popular and welcomed face scan that was added to digitally map your face onto the MyPlayer using the PlayStation camera or Xbox Kinect. Unfortunately, the scan feature hasn’t worked to perfection and has created some monster-like players that have been shared and laughed at on social networks.

NBA 2K15 has done a massive overhaul that has produced a beautiful game with smooth controls and improved gameplay. Spacing finally feels much better without the awkward animations where players would get stuck. Although the presentation and gameplay is superb, there are some server problems and a humorous face-scan glitch. NBA 2K15 is still strong despite the server problems and hopefully they fix it to make this one of the best game releases this year.

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// Review: ‘Alien: Isolation’ creepy in all the right ways//

Starring Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley from the hit movie Alien, Alien: Isolation takes place in 2137, 15 years after the events of Alien and 42 years prior to Aliens. Developed by The Creative Assembly and published by Sega, Alien: Isolation is a first-person survival horror stealth game.

The game follows Amanda Ripley after being isolated on the space station Sevastopol while searching for the flight recorder of Nostromo to investigate the disappearance of her mother, Ellen. During her exploration of the Sevastopol, Amanda discovers the space station has been infested by an Alien.

Alien: Isolation borrows a lot of ideas and style from Ridley Scott’s original horror film Alien, leaving Amanda to survive by exploring and using stealth against the Alien. However, weapons are available for players to use against human occupants and androids.

The Creative Assembly decided not to follow a predetermined path in the game. Instead, the Alien has an artificial intelligence programmed to hunt Amanda through sight, sound and smell. The Creative Assembly have confirmed that “the Alien AI was programmed with a complex set of behavioral designs that progressively unlock as it encounters the player to create the illusion that the Alien is learning from its encounters with the player and adjusting its hunting strategy appropriately.”

The game is done to perfection, in my opinion, in both visuals and audio. The graphics are have the perfect lighting and textures to give the feeling of being isolated on a space station in the middle of nowhere. Also, the audio cues, sounds and score tie in to perfection with the visuals and ambiance. This perfect blend of audio and visuals creates a very tense and frightening experience.

Gamers should be warned, though: this is a survival horror game. The Alien will not show up instantly and may even take an hour or two for gamers to eventually cross paths with it. With that said, some gamers may find this game poorly paced, particularly considering the hours of exploring you will have to do on the space station. Also, as beautiful as the game is, the facial animations look rather bland at times.

In conclusion, the game is genuinely scary and perfectly captures the mood and tone of the Alien films. Also, the unpredictable AI of the actual Alien makes for a tense cat-and-mouse gameplay that is perfect for a survival horror. Although the pacing and game style are not suited for all gamers, Alien: Isolation is a welcome horror and probably the best Alien game to date.

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// Review: Return to Middle-earth in ‘Shadow of Mordor’ //

Satisfying my inner geek and revolutionizing my favorite author’s world, developers Monolith Productions and Behaviour Interactive have released Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, an action role-playing game set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings universe. Published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, the game takes place between the books The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Gamers play as a ranger named Tailon, who has wraith-like abilities. The game is open-world and gives the players the choice to do side missions and traverse around the world with freedom. At the start of the mission, players can choose to create new characters and customize Tailon. In-game characters will develop as Tailon interacts with them through an in-game system called the Nemesis System. The way Tailon treats characters throughout the game will affect how they treat or see him in future encounters.

Players can customize Tailon throughout the game via two skill trees for both Ranger abilities and Wraith abilities. The Ranger abilities allow Tailon to move silently without attracting enemy attention, while the Wraith abilities allow him to impose his will on enemies so that they can gather information or even kill for him.

The game can be compared to Batman: Arkham games or Assassin’s Creed titles in that you can stealthily take out enemies or go headfirst into fights in an all-out brawl. However, unlike the characters in the two aforementioned titles, Tailon may find himself having to retreat from battles if the numbers aren’t in his favor or his skills aren’t up to the task.

The game is beautiful to look at and the added environment of Tolkien’s universe makes it one of the best game worlds to date. The combat and gore are realistic and perfect for the battle-torn setting. Also, a superb sound design adds to the fantasy world and beasts found within it.

Like Assassin’s Creed, players may find some issues with the camera angles at times while fighting, but not so much as to make the game bad. The story seems somewhat rushed at times, as the game introduces characters out of the blue with no back-story at all. Also, a lot of the better features or skills for Tailon aren’t seen until at least halfway through the game.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a welcome change to the open-world video game genre and a sure sleeper hit among games this year. I was pleasantly surprised at the fluid combat and was happy to be within the world of Middle-earth. Challenging combat and an advanced skills tree will be a joy to gamers and the outstanding graphics and audio will only add to it.

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// Far Cry 4 Pagan Min: King of Kyrat Trailer//

Ubisoft released today a new trailer featuring Pagan Min, Far Cry 4’s chilling yet charming antagonist.  Sadistic dictator.  Psychopath.  Best dressed man in Kyrat.  These are just a few traits on Pagan Min’s lengthy resume as the self-appointed King of Kyrat.  Take a look into one of the most complex personalities gamers will encounter worldwide on November 18 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system, Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC.

Pagan Min was born in Hong Kong, the son of a mid-level drug boss in the Golden Triangle. His father was a small fish in a big pond and even as a young man, Pagan was as ambitious as he was flamboyant.  This peacocking drove a wedge between them.  Pagan worked for his father, hated him, and was frustrated as a lieutenant, seeing his father as a dinosaur.  Nobody knows how his father died, but it wasn’t natural causes.  After his father’s unfortunate passing Pagan inherited his small piece of the pie.  He then left his old identity behind and adopted the moniker “Pagan,” naming himself after an old Burmese king who murdered his family to take control.  Of course, he changed the pronunciation to be western so that he’d be more unique.  Pagan quickly started carving himself more of the pie he believed that he deserved.  He built considerable assets, a small private army, and started angering his allies in the heroin trade.  He didn’t fit in and he knew he couldn’t kill them all; it was only a matter of time before the old guard decided to have him killed.

This is when his eyes fell upon Kyrat, a small failed state with multiple warring factions in the wake of the collapse of its monarchy.  He allied himself with the Royalists, propping up a distant heir to the throne who he used to swell his ranks and to remove all opposing faction in the country.  After a few bloody months, Pagan and the united Royalists took the palace by storm, but Pagan betrayed the Royalists by murdering the heir and seizing the throne for himself.  He then started a purge of anyone who didn’t fall in line, executing his opposition.  The betrayal led to the formation of the Golden Path, a small resistance movement dedicated to overthrowing Pagan.  

For this occasion, Ubisoft announces that Far Cry®4 bundles for both PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®4 will be available at launch in Europe.

For all the game fans, UBICollectibles brings a new collector’s piece named “Pagan Min: King of Kyrat”. This figurine represents the self-proclaimed ruler Pagan Min, leaning confidently against an old brick wall with a tiger graffiti painted on it. Gun in hand, he’s ready to demonstrate his dominion over the oppressed Kyrat people. At the back of the figurine, players will discover a new and mysterious character from the Golden Path: Bhadra. Depicted as an adventurous young woman, she is thought to be the new Tarun Matara, the real-life incarnation of the Bride of Banashur from Kyrat mythology.

For more information on Far Cry®4, please visit: and

// Preview: Fasten your seatbelts for ‘Forza Horizon 2’//

To follow up the extremely successful Forza Horizon, developers Playground Games, Sumo Digital and Turn 10 Studios have once again visited the fictional “Horizon Festival” for Forza Horizon 2. This time the game will take place in southern Europe, with an emphasis on northern Italy and southern France as players race across three times the area found in the first game.

In this newly published Microsoft Studios Forza, events will have a dynamic weather system and can take place both day and night. Similar to the 1000 Club from the first Forza, gamers will be able to complete a “Bucket List,” a group of challenges scattered across the map. These challenges continuously update and provide new tasks to add to the replay value. Also, “Car Meets” are an online mode where players can meet up and compare their vehicles, similar to “Forzavista” mode in Forza Motorsport 5.

The game has a North American release date of Sept. 30 and will follow shortly in Europe Oct. 3. Back on July 22, Turn 10 released 100 of 200-plus vehicles to be featured in the open world game, including exotics, hatchbacks, rally cars, trucks and more. The list included LaFerrari, the McLaren P1 and the 2014 Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4.

On Xbox One, the game runs at a stunning 1080p and 30 frames per second. This game has by far the best graphics I’ve viewed on my Xbox One. Microsoft has also released a demo for the game in the Xbox One Marketplace. With three radio stations in game, the soundtrack is pretty awesome as well. Although the commentary/dialogue is a bit cheesy, the mini tutorials and training tips are very helpful for players.

Forza Horizon 2 is the perfect blend of simulation racing and the arcade style to keep gamers happy. I love the location the game is set in, and the hundreds of cars offered added to the experience. Of course, the superb visuals were the seller, but the solid soundtrack and countless challenges kept the game fresh and exciting in my two-hour preview. I’m definitely sold on the game and can’t wait to see the hundreds of cars and challenges yet to come.

Read it on Connect Statesboro

// Microsoft buys Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion//

Minecraft developer Mojang has been bought by Microsoft for $2.5 billion. The rumor had been circulating for the past week that Microsoft would be acquiring them and finally Monday, Sept. 15, Microsoft’s head, Phil Spencer, confirmed the rumors.

Phil Spencer wrote on the Xbox Newswire, “Today is an incredibly exciting day for our team as Mojang and the Minecraft franchise join Microsoft. Minecraft is one of the most popular video games of all time, with more than 100 million downloads, on PC alone, from players since its launch in 2009. Minecraft inspires millions to create together, connects people across the globe, and is a community that is among the most active and passionate in the world.” He also assured fans of the series, “We plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms — including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.”

Also, on Mojang’s own official site they shared more details about the acquisition.

"Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance," it reads. "Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle."

Notch himself wrote about his decision to move on after the deal is complete on his own personal blog.

"I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter," he wrote. "As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change."

With a huge gaming fan base that has toppled 100 million downloads on PC alone, Minecraft has grown to be one of the most successful indie games of all time. Joining with Microsoft should only solidify and help Mojang grow over the long run in both gaming and other areas.

Microsoft is expecting the regulatory approval to acquire Mojang to be received by the end of 2014.

// Review: World-building at its best with new Minecraft//

Originally created by programmer Markus “Notch” Persson and later developed and published by Mojang and 4J Studios (for console versions), the sandbox indie game Minecraft has now been released on the next generation PlayStation and Xbox consoles.

By now most people have at least heard of the hit Minecraft. Gamers construct and build anything they can imagine with textured cubes inside of a 3D generated world. Players of Minecraft can also explore, gather resources, craft items, and even engage in combat. The game offers several gaming modes, “including survival modes where the player must acquire resources to build and maintain their health and hunger and a creative mode where players have unlimited resources to build and the ability to fly.”  

Although simple in graphics and gameplay, as of June 25, 2014, the game has sold over 12 million copies on Xbox 360, 15 million copies on PC and nearly 54 million copies across all platforms.        The new version of the game found on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One offers up some nice advantages compared to the older platforms. The greatest addition is the larger worlds that are now possible with the new hardware. Worlds in Minecraft are now 36 times larger than they were on the old console version. Also, you can export your old creations from the past generation to the new console. As an added bonus for previous generation owners, gamers can buy Minecraft at a discounted price of $4.99. All the skins or textures bought on the previous console can be added for free on the new console version.

Besides the increase in world sizes, the game also runs at 1080p and at a nice 60 frames per second. The 60 fps is solid most of the time, but will drop a bit when things get chaotic on the screen. 4J Studios have also updated the song playlist in the game to add to the one-of-a-kind feel you get only in a game of Minecraft. Players can work independently or team up with others, both split-screen or online multiplayer.

Minecraft offers a deep and captivating creative survival simulation. Like building with LEGO blocks, gamers can build to their hearts’ content within a world of Minecraft while juggling the duties of keeping their health and hunger satisfied in-game as well. With a nice family friendly game, Mojang and 4J Studios have updated their successful title to reach even more homes.

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// Review: Hit the arcade without leaving your couch//

Zen Studios has finally released Pinball FX2 to the Xbox One and rounded out its availability on the Xbox consoles and PC. Pinball FX2 has the same rules of a real pinball machine but in a virtual environment. Players can also choose from dozens of different pinball tables to play on.

As with a traditional pinball machine, players fire a ball onto the table using the plunger. Once the ball is in play, players control flippers to keep the ball on the table while also nudging the machine to guide the path of the ball. The game also supports multiplayer both online and split-screen.

The game itself is free of charge, but players are charged for different tables to play on. A variety of tables are available for purchase, including Star Wars, Marvel, Plants vs. Zombies and many more. Visuals and sounds are superb and add to the functionality of the game. Some of the tables are somewhat challenging, but there are tables easy enough for a newcomer to feel at home.

As with all Xbox games, players can unlock achievements on each table they play on. Also, for each million on your top score across all tables, players create a superscore. This superscore can be pitted against your friends to see who’s the true pinball wizard. A wizard score factors in the superscore along with how many tables you bought and how many of your friends own the game as well.

With realistic ball physics, detailed visuals and plenty of tables to choose from, Pinball FX2 is a great choice. A healthy leaderboard system that pits you against your friends list and great multiplayer options only add to the fun found within this game.

Read it on Connect Statesboro

// Review: Latest ‘Madden’ is more than just a roster update//

It’s football season once again, and for gamers that means a new Madden NFL game. Madden NFL 15, which is developed by EA Tiburon and published by EA Sports, is the annual American football sports video game that brings the action into your home. This year, NFL cornerback Richard Sherman got the ESPN vote to be the cover athlete.

As always, EA has released another solid digital football experience that should be a hit with the fans and first-timers alike. New to this year’s Madden is the huge emphasis on defense. New pass rush options and highlighting on blocking has made QB rushing much more substantial.

Also added and revised are camera angles. At the touch of a button, gamers can now change the camera angle to a preferred view. Another added pleasure is the tackle cone, which adds a bit of excitement and risk while making huge tackles. Players are able to make huge hits that can dislodge the ball for a fumble, or they may miss the tackle altogether and give up a large gain. The AI, as always, has been improved and EA has added a ton of information and analytics for players.

New analytics and information are presented to the player in real time right at the line of scrimmage. Gamers can judge matchups and check out tendencies before snapping the ball, all via the right analog stick. If the gamer is struggling in a certain area, they’ll know it immediately and can make the necessary adjustments to remedy it. Play calling will be observed and the gamer can statistically decide if a new play call will work or not, using this real-time information.

Madden veterans can breathe a  sigh of relief as the popular Connected Franchises and Ultimate Teams make a return in this iteration. Slightly improved to better streamline the experience, Ultimate Teams has removed the reserve deck and focuses on your main team.

There are a few annoyances and bugs, however. With all the new information and analytics added, it can sometimes be overload. Users may find all the information a bit much when trying to make play calls and adjustments. Also, the commentary — simply put — sucks this year: It is very bland and boring. Even though the game is next gen and star athletes look spot on, the sideline players and fans look subpar and are repeated every few faces.

Madden NFL 15 feels like a fresh new start for the series that will be a hit with gamers. With an increased importance on defense, return of favorite modes and improved play-calling, this year’s Madden is one of if not the best in the series. The added pieces should reassure gamers that EA is not casually sitting back updating rosters, and is committed to updating the game to bring the closest thing to actually playing on the gridiron.

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// Review: You’ll love getting addicted to ‘Peggle 2’//

Developed by PopCap Games and published by Electronic Arts, Peggle 2 is a puzzle video game that rivals the addictive, entertaining gameplay of other puzzle games like Tetris and Candy Crush. A timed exclusive for the Xbox console, Peggle 2 is all about clearing the pegs on the screen to reach the next level.

In Peggle 2, gamers shoot balls from the top of the screen to clear colored pegs from a board. The player has a limited number of balls to use while they clear the board. Also found on the board are one of the five Masters, who will lend a special power to your balls if you hit the green peg. As gamers clear out the board, a rendition of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” blasts through the speakers as fireworks erupt across the screen and the Master dances along, giving the gamer pure satisfaction.

The game’s physics along with the layout of the pegs make for a very entertaining and addictive gameplay. The game is very strategic but can become very random as well while the ball bounces around. PopCap Games have added a multitude of challenges, trick shots and high scores for gamers to master which only add to the replay value of Peggle 2.

The game is highly accessible; a child could figure it out. Although the game is simple to pick up, it also can be very challenging and deep to give hardcore gamers the challenge they crave. Colorful backdrops and background music add to the already slick gameplay and round out this game into something special.

With hilarious animations and music, Peggle 2 has gripping mechanics to make for the perfect puzzle video game. Adding delightful music, visuals and sound effects with tons of extra content to play through, PopCap Games has developed a totally riveting game that will be an instant classic of fun for your living room.

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