Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – First Impressions

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When I got my first look at Shadow of Mordor, all I could was that this game has the potential to be a game changer. It may follow some similar mechanics to Assassin’s Creed & Batman but at the very least, it’s got some well-planned innovation. But can Monolith pull it off?

The story doesn’t have much innovation in it at all, although considering it has to follow Lord of the Rings lore, the developers are not entirely to blame. Nor will this effect whether it’s a good story or not. In fact, I expect nothing but a great story from what I’ve heard so far.

This brings me to the main character, Talion. Sadly there’s somewhat of a generic backstory to him. He has lost his family, was killed and came back to life to seek revenge. It has been done before. A story of a man who’s lost his loved ones seeking vengeance. But what makes Talion stand out and what makes him so cool? He’s a ranger who’s part wraith. After being brought back from the dead, Talion has been sort of possessed by this wraith like entity but neither of them know why. The wraith has its own agenda and a mind of its own but yet Talion and the wraith need to figure out who the wraith is and why Talion is cursed with these abilities.

Okay so maybe being part wraith isn’t entirely a curse due to the fact that it gives Talion supernatural abilities that allow him to enter the realm of the dead in a much similar way that Gollum does when he places the ring on his finger. These wraith abilities also allow him to zap his way around certain areas and slow down time among other things. In all honesty, the whole effect looks so damn cool that just being able to turn into a wraith is an amazing ability on its own. What makes these abilities a curse for Talion; is that he cannot die, not permanently at least. If Talion is killed, he’s resurrected but not without the consequence of the world progressing further in time.

Naturally something like this wouldn’t be enough to make an RPG game like Shadow of Mordor stand out. Many games have cool abilities or cool protagonists that make you feel like an extreme bad arse when you play. What really makes Shadow of Morder stand out the most, is the dynamics of the story and gameplay, primarily the nemesis system whereby any and every enemy can become a villain or an antagonist in the story or world of Mordor. Basically any enemy you meet in battle can become a villain and separate into its own story. Each enemy has a different personality and reacts differently to Talion’s actions. Even when not confronting Talion the enemies continue to progress in the world of Mordor. 1 target might be a simple foot soldier at some point but given enough time a few different things can happen. They could literally end up dead from another battle or while out hunting or they could get promoted to a captain or even a higher rank, giving them increased influence over other enemies and giving them increased power. On top of this, certain enemies will partake in certain tasks. Some enemies might be celebrating after killing Talion, assuming that he’s dead for good. The enemy who slayed him may have received a promotion for it. Or another target or the same target could be out hunting or in the middle of a battle. It’s these variations that will give the player a different way to take down an enemy and these dynamic elements are supposedly random.

But there is a massive problem here. Theoretically if every enemy has their own identity and personalities which are generated at random and manipulated as you play, this would make every play through dramatically different. Assuming everything goes according to plan. Monolith are trying to create a new RPG experience and possibly 1 that could change not just the way RPGs are played but how games are played in general. 1 of the main things video games have been lacking this decade, have been dynamics in the environments we inhabit in the games. Many developers have boasted creating play throughs that are unique every time you play but end up failing to do so due to restricting branches in the story. Not to mention that with certain games these branches can be difficult to stumble on and you most likely always end up with the same story as quite a lot of other people. So this usually renders a 2nd or 3rd play through redundant.

Here’s to keeping my fingers crossed that Monolith pull this off and create a true dynamic experience that sets the bar for open world RPGs and the entire industry. Regardless of whether they do or not, the nemesis system should still provide an innovative and memorable experience for anyone who plays.

Playing Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag and Loving It

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As the title suggests (more or less states actually), I've been playing Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag and loving it. I knew I would like the game within the first 30mins of gameplay. Why? Well upon climbing up a broken wooden construct of some sort, I turned around to look back at the beach which I had washed up on, only to see this amazingly colourful and vibrant environment that was just breathtaking. This was only a small taste of what to expect and it's not until you set sail in the large open seas of the Caribbeans that you truly see the amount of effort that Ubisoft put into making this a large scale exploration game. You can check out Part 1 of the playthrough I'm doing for Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag in the video above.

My Mark of the Ninja Video Review

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Slowly, very slowly, getting better at this. For anyone who's interested I've done a full written review here for Mark of the Ninja, and a video review which can be found here.

The full written review is pretty much the same as the video but it includes all the parts I cut out. If you watch it, let me know what you think and if there's anything that needs improving let me know.

My Steam Summer(WinterInAustralia) Sale experience 2013

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Every year Steam has a sale, I always tell myself and even others that I won't be buying anything at all this time around to save money or that nothing in the catalogue interests me. As usual though, Steam figures out a way to suck me in. To make matters worse with this years sale is that I'm currently unemployed and should be hanging onto every cent I can save. Finding a job can become somewhat of a mission or a long adventurous quest, without the adventure. But I told my shameful self that it's okay to indulge in the large amount of free time I currently have since employers aren't biting at any opportunities. The reason I'm more ashamed than with other Steam sales; is that I've even re-purchased some games that I owned on PS3 which were traded in towards a PS4 pre-order. The result of this shameful attitude can be found in the list below:

All pricing is in USD according to Steam invoices.

Day 1: (I told myself this was all I would buy)

  1. Payday: The heist 9.99
  2. Hotline Miami 2.49
  3. Don't Starve 8.99
  4. Call of Juarez Gunslinger 12.02
  5. Payday the heist: wolfpack DLC 4.99

Day 2: (2 days later, this is partially my friends faults....and mine for letting them convince me)

  1. Grid 2 Super Modified pack DLC 4.49
  2. Grid 2 - headstart pack 3.74
  3. Grid 2 - car unlock pack 3.74

Day 3: (The next day, literally, this is where it gets a little worse as I end up buying games I kind of didn't want :oops: )

  1. Postal 3 9.99 (terrible reviews I don't know why I got it, for good laughs maybe)
  2. The Walking Dead 12.49 (had no intention of even playing it as I hate point and click games)
  3. Surgeon Simulator 5.99 (why brain?.....just why?)
  4. Ace Combat Assault Horizon enhanced edition 14.99
  5. postal 2 complete 2.49
  6. DLC Quest 1.01 (I can't believe it but I enjoyed this 1)
  7. Strike Suit Infinity 1.74 (Don't think I'll ever play it but it was less than $2 >.>

Day 4: (2 days later....again)

  1. Mark of the Ninja 3.74 (legitimate purchase since Klei won me over with Don't Starve)
  2. Defiance Standard edition 13.59 (I hate MMOs)

Day 5: (I held out way longer this time around....4 days after day 4...okay so only twice as long >.> )

  1. Just Cause 0.27 (seriously 30cents I couldn't resist)
  2. Assassin's Creed 2.49 (I already own a digital copy on PS3....but I really can't be bothered walking over to play it)
  3. Assassin's Creed 2 deluxe edition 2.98 (I had this on Ps3....)
  4. Just Cause 2 2.99 (I don't even like the game that much and I also had this on PS3)

Day 6: (today, the last day and I fear these may not be my last purchases)

  1. Max Payne 2.49
  2. Max Payne 2 2.49
  3. Max Payne 3 12.49 (I also had this on PS3, for **** sake...)
  4. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood 4.48 (also had this on PS3)
  5. Assassin's Creed Revelations gold edition 6.3 (I had this 1 on PS3 as well)

So the grand total 26 games at $153.39 in total. Not to bad actually...it could have been much more if I purchased them at full pricing or even at earlier sales. I know some of the prices were cheaper either else where or during the Steam sale itself but these were the prices that caught my eye at the time.

Let me know what you guys bought, if anything at all and don't try to hide your shame!

My First Video Review

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I purchased an Avermedia Live Gamer HD C985 around 4-5 months ago and as usual with my shitty luck on PCs that damn thing either misses some features that should have been there, doesn't work properly at all or doesn't work without constant set up.

I purchased it to record gaming memories to share among friends if I played online with them. To my surprise the device doesn't let you record and use a USB headset at the sametime without setting it up properly, which would be okay if the setup process worked all the time instead of 60% of the time. To top things off it only supports stereo recording and does not record 5.1, even though the piece of crap uses HDMI and most, if not, a large majority of gamers are likely to use 5.1 surround. I admit this was my fault for not researching this aspect of the product, but that defeats the purpose of adding "Gamer" to the name of the product, since without proper support for headsets and 5.1 audio it's pretty much just an 'Avermedia Live HD C985'. The problems don't even end there, but I'm not going into the amount of BSODs I was getting due to their software, to save time.

Since I paid $200 for it and Avermedia are beating around the bush to avoid a refund or RMA so that I can return it or to even help properly, I've decided to make the most of this $200 chip of problems by starting a small YouTube channel where I can post video reviews and even random gaming shit.

For anyone who's the slightest bit interested you can find the video review by clicking here as I can't seem to get YouTube videos to work in this damn blog thing. I also have the written review here for anyone who's after some reading material, although it's not my best review to date.

Digital vs. Physical - How do you prefer your games?

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Almost everywhere I look for games now, the only decent places I can find are EB Games and JB HiFi. Not that this is entirely a bad thing and there is of course the option to go to Dick Smith or Harvey Norman, but they don't have anywhere near the abundant collection that EB or JB have.

I remember a time where I could visit stores like GAME Aus and Gametraders (which I wish I did more of) for the added variety. Sadly GAME has obviously closed down completely here in Australia and Gametraders appears to be on its way out as well (although I am no business man so I could be wrong), since nearly every Gametraders within a 20-30 minute drive of my area has closed down, and there used to be quite a few. What I'm getting at is that; more and more as time goes by, video game stores seem to be struggling to a point that they are closing down and this includes even a small minority of EB Games stores. You know it's getting bad when the most dominant video game store in Australia, child Company to 1 of the most dominant stores (GameStop) worldwide, is also having problems of their own.

Now for me this is a bit of a concern. And it should be for a lot of other gamers or even people who shop for gifts to give to gamers and I'll explain why later in this article. To add to this concern is that publishers, developers and even some gamers; are beginning to believe that digital is a way of the future for gaming. Which is okay when that's where the belief ends. It's when they start to believe that it's the only way for the future of gaming that becomes a bigger problem.

 Patrice

"But, deep down, nobody cares about not having CDs anymore. The future is digital, and there's nothing you can do about it." - Patrice Désilets

I for one do care about having the discs but I really hope that man with the girly name is wrong about us not being able to do anything about it, and that he accidentally cuts his entire face off shaving.

Let me give you two scenarios from a consumer perspective:

Scenario 1) you see a digital game for say $50 and lets assume for now that this is the PC version only. This same game is maybe $70 for a physical copy at a local game store. You fill out some details, scratch your genitals, click a few things and its all done. This is good though right? You're saving $20 and you haven't even left your computer chair to do it. Now all you have to do is just wait for it to download and you can play it. Nice and simple. Or is it?

What are the advantages here? You didn't have to leave the comfort of your own home, you didn't have to talk to anyone (you anti-social wanker, just kidding), the game is now attached to your account for whatever client it was activated with, and you saved yourself $20 and maybe even some petrol.

Forever Alone 

What are the disadvantages? You didn't get out the house, you didnt have to wash your hands (dirty wanker), you have to wait for the game to download and assuming you're Australian, you lose a chunk of your download cap, the price of the game was set as is and you're restricted to using a specific gaming client.

Scenario 2) you see a physical game for $50 and again this is PC only. But this time around (surprisingly) its more expensive for the digital copy which is $70. Again this is a good thing, you're saving $20. This time around though, you make your way to the local store with washed hands, have a bit of a chit chat with the staff, maybe even discuss some games (its good and healthy to socialise... Right?), browse the store and maybe even find something else on sale. But you're there in person so you decide to haggle the price of the game down a bit or even get them to price match a competitor. You get say $10 off. Or if you're feeling anxious, you just walk in, pay and leave. Now you've got your copy of the game; you just need to install it. Again its pretty simple. Or is it?

What are the advantages here? You got to be a little social and get out the house, you now have a physical copy of the game to install without having to wait extra time for the download, you can install the game anytime you want hassle free and don't have to worry about your download cap, the game is now attached to your account for whatever client it was activated with, so even if you lose the disc; its still your game and you saved $20 but also got to haggle and saved an extra $10. If you're a simple parent who loves their child and you aren't familiar with the digital world, you just have to walk into a store to buy them a copy of the game they may like.

What are the disadvantages here? You had to leave the comfort of your own home and you now have to find space for the physical copy of the game.

So keeping in mind this was for PC users primarily. What happens when it comes to consoles? If a digital game is cheaper on PSN or Xbox Live, do you choose that over a physical copy? Or do you pay a bit extra for a physical copy and then trade it in for credit towards something else? There's obviously other factors that come into play specifically for consoles; like scratching or losing the disc or having your entire console hard drive shit itself and losing all the digital games you bought if you didn't back them up.

Another thing to keep in mind, which could add to further concerns is; some companies that concentrate on digital content are trying to implement trade and share functionalities. Steam themselves are experimenting with the ability to share games which I think is great. I hate having to convince people to buy a co-op or multi-player game because they either don't want to research it, are sceptical, or aren't really gamers and look at a gameplay video like a plain old video. Having the option to share a PC game temporarily makes this process a lot easier. This is mainly because a large number of my friends can be stingy wankers. Obviously though, this process is significantly easier on consoles since you can just hand someone the physical game and assuming they are your friends, they wont skip states like a thieving wanker. For me, this is not a viable option, as I tend to be overprotective of my physical games and can react in a similar way to Dexter Morgan if something happens to them. Green Man Gaming currently have a trade in system for their Capsule client, although not the most popular client around, its only a matter of time before other digital content providers start following the same path. Don't get me wrong though this could be beneficial to a lot of people but at what cost?

I know what some of you are going to say in regards to the digital clients and physical media as well. You can back up the games on Steam and store them on a hard drive or even split them onto multiple discs. Since Steam has its own proper back up methods this is very possible (and useful) although it does sort of bring you back to square one if you think about it. But not every client is as successful and dominant as Steam and not every publisher puts their games on Steam as well. At the same time, consoles can also lack the storage advantage that PCs especially if finance is an issue.

To top things off, some publishers are actually starting to increase the pricing on some of their digital games higher than retail or equivalent. Whether this is accidental or a way to exploit the digital world, I do not know.

So imagine if video game stores did die out. Imagine that this also includes the stores that only do online sales, which are also a problem for local game stores due to their very competitive pricing, but I wont go into that to save time. Would you be happy paying the full retail price for a digital game? It's definitely a benefit to some people for the convenience factors that digital content can provide, but it's also beneficial to the publishers. They don't have to pay for any manufacturing fees; no overhead, no printing, no covers or discs etc.... But in theory shouldn't some of the savings be passed onto the consumers? You could say they're protecting assets and using the money for good, but we all know the publishers usually get the better end of the stick when signing developers over.

The concerns grow even more when you start to think about how the competition would be reduced to publishers competing with each other. The reason is that; for the bigger publishers, it could very well turn out to be all about the sales figures and becoming the more dominant publisher, meaning that the quality of games could also reduce overtime. There is the chance it would increase the quality of games overtime but it can be fairly evident in the industry today that this is not always the case.

I see the advantages to having both and the disadvantages to having both, including a few more I haven't listed, which is why I'm content with the options I have today. If I want a PC game I always try to make sure its a Steam game, even if I purchase a physical copy. Generally with indie titles I will seek digital copies for both PC and console, because they are usually smaller in size, although with the advances in technology this is beginning to change and rapidly. If I want a console game, I always purchase a physical copy unless I absolutely cannot find a copy of it locally. I also like having that peace of mind that if a new console is released and the previous consoles games wont be coming to it, then I can keep them to play on my old console. I also like knowing that if something goes wrong with a server that I can still install or play a game without having to worry about whether it will install or not.

For me, I prefer physical not just for the disc though. It may seem sad to some and not so to others, but its also the social interaction and something that's routine. I love driving down to my local EB Games store (primarily at night) and sometimes chatting with the staff about current games or future games (something I can only do with a small amount of friends) and getting out the house. On the other hand I also like a bargain. So if I see a significant price difference of around $20-30+ for either a digital copy or an online copy, I'm likely to choose that over physical but not without some thought. That's just me though.

If there's anything I've missed, said or done wrong in this article let me know in the comments. I'm curious to know peoples thoughts on the topic itself as well, so comment below on whether you prefer digital, physical or both and why.

Playing Papo and Yo

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At the moment I'm in the middle of playing Papo & Yo and so far all I can say is "wow". This game is great for something that I paid $5 for.

I was skeptical at first, thinking it would require a lot of thought process for puzzles and would be using a fairly generic engine and I even thought the game would end up becoming repetitive. So far though, I've been very wrong, the game has proven to provide great puzzles that almost solve themselves but still require a little bit of thinking, the engine though is slightly generic but acceptable for the type of game it is and the game isn't overly too repetitive.

The interaction with the world is amazing to. I loved that I could walk up to a house with a wind switch on it, twist it and then watch the house grow white glowing legs and walk over to another area to bridge a gap I would need to cross. The whole fantasy world vibe is just stunning to. I think given the chance, I may actually finish this game today in 1 sitting (give or take a break or 2 for lunch and maybe dinner and other break stuff).

On top of that the story is amazing. Not too much is revealed to start off with but if you've read about the game you know the concept. The game is based off designer Vander Caballero's life and dealing with his abusive and alcoholic dad. Straight away the game throws you right into as well. You're hiding in the closet while a monster or Quicos dad is looking for him, probably to beat on. What's even better is that the game's providing a great story aspect not relying primarily on dialog or cutscenes but through interaction with the fantasy aspects of the world and the characters you meet and Monster is obviously Quicos representation of his dad.

Not to mention that the game is that good it has me litterally writing the review for it as I play. Unfortunately there are some flaws I've noticed in the game so I won't be expecting to give it a 9 but the score I give will definitely take everything the developers have done into account.

The Generation Gap in Gaming

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So a few months back I saw a picture posted on 9gag.com relating to how older generations got to see people being sent into space for the first time and that the younger generations, or the now generation will never get to experience a feeling like that. And I thought that this is actually true but it has also got me thinking.

There were those other times similar to when man was sent into space, and times where life, to us, seemed simpler. There were times where people had to communicate in person to socialise, times where people read physical books, times where the economy wasn't fluctuating as bad as it is now, times where video games were a lot harder, times where you had to visit a library to finish your homework or assignment and times where your identity wasn't at a constant risk of theft. There were the complicated situations of course. For obvious reasons Im not going to discuss the advances in technology and how some of the older methods can still be used today but in a more digital era, because I'll be here forever.

It irritates me that older generations look down on anything gaming related as nothing but fun and games with little to no chance of anyone having a future in it. It's always people telling you to stop playing games and read a book or to do something with your life, or some people saying that you're immature for playing video games when they still watch movies. Lets not forget the minority of the older generation that did play video games and how they try to talk themselves up as well. To some extent, I agree. I wont get to experience conscription, I wont know what it was like to see the first computer ever made, I wont get to see the first person sent into space, I wont get to experience playing pixelated games and the difficulty that came along with them and I wont get to experience playing video games on consoles that had storage mediums no bigger than 10mb.

"2020's kids will never know..."

RIP select and start buttons

In a way I don't really blame the older generations. I thought about it and realised that most of them would have grown up in times where work had to be work and nothing more, no fun, no socialising, no games, nothing but work. Hence why the gaming industry today can be seen as something fun as opposed to work. Hell Ive had my small share of work being work and nothing more in my short lived life, but some of the older gen' had to do it for years, even decades. That I respect, but for me, working a job that's depressing is just not healthy and not something that I ever want to do. I know, I know, not everyone gets to choose, and Im fully aware that's how life works and it cant always be fun. But whats wrong with trying to find a job or career path that you enjoy?

One things for sure, what I do know, is the now. And now, is a great time to be a gamer and even alive in general. It has been for almost a decade, thanks to technology. This random thought is sparked mainly due to seeing the new Frostbite 3 engine and it made me think about all the other games and how technology for consoles has progressed. What makes me even happier is that, it doesn't end there, the industry can and will keep expanding on its ideas. On top of things like that, there's the Oculus Rift, bringing V.R. back and much better than it was said to be before, a very welcome addition to gaming. If you haven't already checked out DICEs Frostbite 3, check out the GameSpot video below or by clicking here.

[video=6410622]

Today, the gaming industry is so big that there are many ways a person can actually find a career path in it. I mean, it has reached a point, where professional gaming has actually become a thing. I might not be reading a book right now, but Im writing this aren't I? Even if it's not something I do for a living, at least Im not wasting my mind away, or letting video games rot my brain as the oldies would say. While I wont go out of my way to read a book, I'll definitely go out of my way to read some gaming magazines to keep my mind fresh and working.

Sure the older gen' could have seen a man sent into space and had all these amazing experiences in the good old days, but I'll take gaming over that any day. It's a new era, for a new generation, for new experiences. Be it gaming or anything otherwise.

PCs, Consoles and Video Games - Art or Entertainment? Variety or Uniformity?

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It's no secret that I've hated the Xbox 360 since it's release back in '05. Why? Because it just wasn't a great console at the time. I refused to get 1 or even show my support to the console or any of its game developers. I sadly got involved in the infamous console wars starting in 05-06, that would last nearly 6 years. It angered me that the 360 even existed. I hated that it didn't have blu-ray, I hated that it was so easily hacked, I hated that it didn't perform nearly as well as the PS3, I hated that you could cook your breakfast on it but couldn't even play a damn game without getting a red ring, I hated that you had to pay for online content even if it was just to play a co-op game with friends who lived in the same city, I hated it, I despised it.

Has anything changed today? Not overly too much. I still dislike the console, even though I own 1. But my hatred for it has died down over time. Not because Im willing to accept the flaws of the console. But because I started to want more variety in my gaming, I wanted to know why other people bought the consoles they did, and that couldn't be achieved without buying 1 myself. Fortunately I was able to obtain 1 for free thanks to Toshiba Australia. Although I considering selling it at first, thinking it's a 360, what the hell you I play on that but then I thought I could try halo and gears of war to see what all the fuss is about. So the remaining question was: Sell it brand new for its full value? Or try out the exclusives and maybe sell it afterwards for less value or even keep it? Needless to say, this led me to buying Gears of War 1 and Halo 3 (pre-owned as I still didn't want to spend money on a 360) for the nostalgia and fun that Halo 1 provided when I used to play it on Xbox 1 at a friends house. So after trying Gears of War 1, I thought hey this is actually a pretty decent game. It was a bit of a wakeup call for me, one I really wish had happened a lot earlier. Eventually after finishing the Gears trilogy (yet to try Judgement) I thought this series was actually pretty good, so I ended up buying every Halo I could that would work on the 360 except for Halo 4, although I literally ordered the limited edition of it yesterday from EB Games (I think they had spare stock), just to get the Forward Unto Dawn content, and no, my decision to spend the extra money on the limited edition was in no way affected by them offering the Live avatar as an extra...even though I think it looks awesome and it will probably be the first thing I try to activate in the package. I played through most of the series (halo 1 anniversary, 3, ODST and reach) and being much older and more passionate about games than before I was able to understand the story. It didn't stop there though. I found myself on google, constantly searching up characters from the game to learn more about their background and giving me more insight into the Halo universe. I couldn't believe that I had missed out on not just a great series but a whole new universe founded by Bungie.

This is where Ive come to a new philosophy and epiphany when it comes to gaming. Albeit an expensive philosophy to live by. Lets take an artist who paints 2 of the same paintings. The artist can then display the pictures in 2 separate museums (or more if they have more paintings). The 1st museum has low lighting, cheap admission, staff who know next to nothing about any of the art, and for some reason, old people, who wonder around unwashed and donning beards and hair that have their own ecosystems (I have a weird imagination of what a terrible museum would be like, mainly cause I don't remember going to 1).  The 2nd museum has more prestige, better lighting, staff that know everything there is to know in their area of expertise, people wondering around drinking expensive wine, and people who are, well...washed. I thought about this scenario and asked myself a few questions (not literally because that would be weird); Would the paintings still be the same paintings? Would they physically change themselves because they are in different museums? Would the artist be a different person or the same person after the paintings were displayed?

How does this relate to gaming? Well similar principals can be applied to gaming platforms being the museums and the developers of video games being the artists. Sure you can go to the bad museum where you might get some unwashed people approaching you and showing off their little hair people to you. But that doesn't mean that the painting still cant be admired for the qualities that the artist intended the admirers to see. A developer is the same developer they were after releasing a game on the 360, PS3, Wii U, or PC, but the video game that was published is the same experience it would be if released on all platforms. You might miss out on some detail in graphics or the ability to add mods, or may even get some connection drop outs while playing online, you may find that 1 platform is more simple to use than the other. From what I can see, PC, 360, PS3, Wii U (and even next gen) coexist because they need to, much like PC and Mac, because this adds variety to cater to peoples needs. Some people prefer cheap and simple, some expensive and complicated, and some prefer as much as the world allows them to have. But does it really matter, if at the end of the day you enjoyed the game?

Ive decided to no longer restrict myself to biased perceptions of platforms and the games on them. I will try to give the developers a better chance to wow me, since Bungie has done so well so far with the Halo series and even 343 have been doing a good job. I didn't think it possible to become more passionate about gaming than I already am, but Ive longed for variety and I wasn't mature enough to see it, until a good few months ago. While this philosophy is something that Im happy to live with now, it may not be so for very long and this attitude may slightly change. For obvious reasons this is due to the next gen consoles and the direction they are taking in the industry today. As I said before, I hated that you had to pay to play online content even if it was for co-op, especially due to the fact that the consoles are clients as well as the host. Supposedly this is meant to change so that consoles are clients and nothing more. Being a Sony fan I was slightly shattered and even concerned about Sonys announcement to force an online payment, even to a point where I wasn't going to get a PS4. I agree PS+ is a good thing, but only because it's currently an option, hence variety and convenience. $50 a year, not too much of a price to pay but what about the principal involved? What if I don't use the PS+ service for around 6 months because none of the games provide any reason to? Some might say it's only $25 but by that logic, if it's only $25, than Sony should refund me that remaining $25 that I will not use, since they are the richer party in the scenario? Of course though I couldn't resist and eventually pre-ordered a PS4. I was going to pre-order an Xbox One as well but that was until Microsoft mentioned their restrictions. Fortunately these restrictions are no more and I can game happily on my PS4 and PC knowing that later on, if I want more variety I can purchase an Xbox One without having to worry about any of those distressing restrictions. Needless to say on top of wanting to expand my variety of the games I play, I now want a Wii U.

Do you choose the path of a PC elitist avoiding anything console related and putting down fellow gamers for their choice of console? Do you favour Sony over Microsoft (or vice versa) and refuse to support developers on either side because of it? Do you enjoy the games for what they are and the variety the industry provides you with? Or do you not understand any of this and instead spend your free time being unhygienic and growing hair people in your beards? Let me know what you guys think and let me know if there's anything I may have missed.

Rockstar Games converting Pirates to Gamers since 1997

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Yar mateys, ye be readin' a story 'bout th' days I sailed th' seven seas of the World Wide Web in search o' animated treasures without spendin' a sin'le piece o' coin. Okay I think we can establish I'm very fluent in pirate gibberish and that I should never speak like that again.

Recently I posted a blog about my days of gaming as well as my current lack of days gaming. I spoke about how Rockstar games also changed things for me, both my attitude towards gaming and slightly towards life. So I thought I'd expand a bit on that, sort of as a thank you to Rockstar Games.

Often you will see stories about how an athlete, a writer, book or movie has inspired someone and made them have an epiphany that would change the entire course of their life. For me it was a little similar (no really life changing but at the least; influencing) and it all started with the day I had my first taste of a GTA title. It was the original GTA and I would have been about 9 years old at the time. When I first played GTA it wasn't anything important to me and all I can remember is that I loved coming across a game as violent as that. There was nothing more amusing than running around, burping and farting and punching random people in the face to see them fall over and to hear the (now atrocious) sound effects follow. On top of that running people over and hearing their humorous screams and getting chased by the cops was also great fun, until you died. I unfortunately never owned the first title (until it was made free on the Rockstar website) but was able to play it on a friends PC every now and then.

Back then I only had my PS1, the demo disc that came with it and crash bandicoot; the first game I ever owned, since the PS1 was the first console I ever owned as well. I sadly missed the Nintendo and Gameboy train. For my 9th birthday my mum had literally gone and bought me a copy of Doom (1 of my favourite games I used to play at my godfathers house when we visited him) for PS1, a legit copy, and her and my dad decided to also get me a copy of Duke Nukem Time to Kill, a pirated copy, my first pirated game. My folks didn't know the repercussions of video game piracy as they generally didn't and still don't know much about technology at all. They probably found it really cheap and thought they were saving money and it would make me happy if they bought it for me, either way they were right about both those things. They weren't really wealthy so I can't really blame them for trying to provide me with gifts that they could afford. Being at such a young age though, I didn't understand what piracy was or how it could affect an industry let alone an individual, and having seen my parents get pirated games I didn't think it was a bad thing at the time.

So as I mentioned in my last blog my brother had gone to Malaysia and had given me all his games. He had given me a shoe box filled with them which my parents surprised me with 1 day after coming home from school. I was thrilled and this pretty much meant they wouldn't have to buy me any games ever again but they still did every now and then. Now my brother  got all the games for around $1 each and to this day Im pretty sure they were all pirated, although I can't say for sure as they were bought overseas and things could have been different back then, they could very well have been legitimate in that country. I cant remember how many there were but there were enough to keep me occupied for a few years. My most memorable game from that pile was metal gear solid, a game that would aid my change in attitude towards the gaming industry. I wouldn't end up finishing MGS until I was around 13 or 14, all because I didn't listen to Colonel Campbell and push the X button.

A few years later my parents had again got me another pirated game to add to my already large collection; GTA 2. Of course I played it for hours and hours, murdering person after person, farting and burping as I jumped over the bonnets of cars to insult the drivers. I loved the game just for the sheer menace you could cause. Didn't pay attention to the story or anything else, not that a lot of games back then had much else to offer apart from interaction, or so I thought at the time. Around the same time my brother gave me the rest of his games which, when I did count, I ended up with a little over 100 PS1 titles. My parents would on occasion buy me games I asked for, but only ever if it was from the Caribbean gardens market.

Around the time I started high school Rockstar took the GTA franchise to a new level and released GTA III. They had strayed from the top down or birds eye view and made it from the third person perspective. I never got to own this title during the time of release but I got to play it a bit. This took the violence and amusement to a whole new level for me. But still then I didn't pay much attention to the story or other elements the game had to offer. I do remember being devastated that they removed the farting and burping. Maybe 1 day this feature will return.

It wasn't until I tried Vice City that my passion slowly start to shape and grow into something more. I first tried it at a friends house and being based off of Miami City was a nice change from the New York City-ish like environments. I remember running around with a chainsaw and cutting up people and cars, doing nothing but small menacing tasks to avoid any police attention; to a point it annoyed my friends that I wasn't doing missions. I didn't understand why it annoyed them at the time but I eventually would. This is 1 of the main reasons I got a PS2. I had practically begged my parents for 1 and they got me 1 for Christmas. But when I got the PS2 it didn't come with any games and at the time it wasn't chipped which meant I couldn't play pirated games, or any games but the demo disc, which was quite boring. I had to save up my pocket money to buy GTA Vice City and it took a very long time to do as well. I barely had any games to play at all and I was still learning the value that games could have in a persons life.

I couldn't afford to buy a lot of other games and this is where I learned how to pirate them because my parents wouldn't buy any games unless it was a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas. I had to save up pocket money and birthday money to buy the games I wanted if they had just come out, but on occasion Id ask my mum for some money to add to what I had if I was low on money. She was never happy about it but would always give me as much as she could, as long as she didn't have to pay more then half she didn't really mind. I noticed other kids weren't buying some of their games and heard some talking about how they could get them for free. The moment I heard that word "free" I got curious and had to ask how and they told me that you could duplicate games that you owned or your friends owned using a burner. I couldn't afford a burner so I remember asking my dad to get me 1 as a birthday gift. Back then they were around $200 just for a basic 4-8x DVD writer that could do dual layer. Even though it was odd, it was still an expensive gift. I then started burning games before I even had my PS2 chipped. Id borrow off friends or from the local blockbuster store. Game after game after game, building a small collection until I had enough money to chip my PS2. Being 14 at the time I didn't know any better and started making copies to sell as well. At some point around this time I actually sat down and finished Vice City, without cheats, I played the story, watched and listened and realised that it was actually a pretty good game. Years later I would realise it was a work of art. The year after that came San Andreas. I borrowed money off a close friend to buy it. The reason I bought it is because I wanted the map poster they give you with the game. I thought the map would actually help, I was sort of wrong. But this is where the turning point slowly started for me. I was 15 at the time, I had gradually stopped selling copied games and I still played through San Andreas the first time with cheats, again just to finish the game and enjoy it for all its violent and destructive glory, forgetting and not realising there was a story behind the game and its character. I never finished it with cheats though. I stopped at some point and decided to play through it with no cheats and finish the story while paying attention to it. I was able to do so in 3 school days. It was the best feeling being able to finish a game that fast. The story was amazing and the satisfaction of doing it without cheats was even greater, which was a big thing then since cheats were always found on the web or in magazines you bought and nearly everyone used them nearly all the time. But after San Andreas, that's where I told myself from now on, I will make sure I always buy a GTA title and never pirate it. But this epiphany and new life rule would change over time towards Rockstar and even the entire industry. I continued to burn games here and there until I accumulated around 150 PS2 titles. I had stopped selling copies by the time I got San Andreas and had slowly reduced the amount of titles I would copy.

Around the age of 16; I realised I wasn't as outgoing as the other kids or as I used to be growing up. I realised that I actually enjoyed staying home playing games and doing nothing else. My parents were very strict towards my education though so I would never be able to take sick days or wag school, and they would always discourage my time spent playing games, but that was 1 thing they couldn't stop me from doing at all. I realised there and then that I had a passion for gaming. I could actually say I was a gamer. Playing whatever caught my eye. But it didn't just end there for me. I would occasionally hop on a computer during lunch breaks to read up on some games here and there. I would still on occasion get a magazine or 2 that was gaming related and read through them to learn about new game releases. I eventually got 1 dedicated to GTA San Andreas which had a guide to help find all the maps collectables and hidden stuff. I loved going through the entire game, again and again. I generally don't look at guides as cheating while some people do. I find collectables to sort of ruin a game if you're forced to explore as opposed to being intrigued into exploring an open world environment, unless they provide an in game map of where everything is. San Andreas would offer me hours, days, weeks, months, even years of fun, even up until the release of GTA IV. The more games I played the more I grew attached to gaming. Liberty City Stories came a long; not as great as their previous titles but it still had a great story. I remember borrowing friends PSPs overnight just to play some of the game. I eventually bought my own copy when it was released on PS2. Then Vice City stories came out, even better than Liberty City stories and Vice City and even close to on par with San Andreas but only because the game was different. By that time, I was loving Rockstar for creating these violent works of art.

I eventually burned a copy of GTA 3 for myself just to try it out. The reason I didn't purchase this particular title, even though it was against my rule, was because it wasn't as good as the following games but I decided I should play it for the story. What triggered this was seeing the mute protagonist in the San Andreas game. But I realised something after finishing GTA III. Everything, all the events that occurred in Vice City, San Andreas, and Vice City stories, Liberty City stories, they all lead to the events that occur in GTA III. All I could think at this stage was that Rockstar Games were geniuses. The way they could write something that intertwined like that is just amazing. And it makes you wonder if they planned it all out from the beginning. How did I not realise any of it while playing GTA III baffles me. Maybe I was enjoying it too much or maybe Im just slow. This is where I knew, any game that Rockstar Games developed would definitely be worth every dollar I put into it. $100, $150, $200 I didn't care, if Rockstar made it, Id buy it. Years later Id eventually purchase GTA III as a sign of respect and support to the company on both android and PC. The android version never worked for me but I was nowhere near annoyed. As for the PC version, still haven't bothered to play through it again.

Eventually a new era of gaming would come along with the release of the PS3, better graphics and blu ray technology. All thanks to Rockstar before the release of the PS3, I told myself that from now on, if a developer deserves the money, Ill buy the game. But in order to do this I had to come up with a try before I buy policy. This involved me getting a pirated copy and if I liked it, Id buy the original. This didn't work out overly too well with PS3 as Sony had worked extremely hard to prevent piracy on it, and I respect them for having a console that took almost 5 years to crack, or so it seemed. I still had my PC that I was playing some pirated games on which I acquired from friends, but back then, PC wasn't really something I wanted to game on and to this day I still prefer to have a console and a PC in 1 household. I know there are demos out there but I always found them too restricted at times. A year later I eventually got the internet (another story altogether), and would download games here and there. I would only purchase games that I knew would be great titles to play unless it was made by Rockstar.

I had started memorising studio names from the really memorable games I played over the years. I started researching games and starting spending a lot of time on GameSpot until I eventually made an account to allow me to track all the games I was interested in. Id spend hours watching game reviews, gameplay videos, reading up on all the cool stuff you could do in certain games. But I told myself I could never write reviews or blogs; that's just not me and something Im not capable of. If I ever did though it would probably be 1 or 2 lines and no one would ever read it. As you can see, Ive grown into a different person over the last 5 years.

GTA IV. My most favoured GTA title to date. This is where my respect for Rockstar grew even more. A company that kept progressing. The violence factor had increased to a point that deaths in the game looked fairly realistic. They had removed some great elements from San Andreas but the attention to detail made up for it, at least it did for me. I realised I had made the right choice to continue to support Rockstar and other worthy development studios. This would later be confirmed by the release of Red Dead Redemption, which is actually my most favoured game by Rockstar at the moment. I went and bought the most expensive version I could, wanting all the souvenirs I could get but all I got was a nice looking game cover and some DLC codes. But the game was a masterpiece, so Im not even mad.

I wouldn't really have a long term or lifelong goal now if it weren't for Rockstar Games and if I did it would probably be to become some hit man crime lord who would probably be killed or arrested within a week of work. The reason is that Vice City, San Andreas and Vice City stories all had something in common for me. You could purchase and invest in businesses and properties. Not legitimate most of the time I know, but it made me think to myself that I could 1 day be a business owner and an entrepreneur, if I save my money and spend it wisely I could 1 day achieve something and make something out of myself. But all the games combined showed me that 1 man can take on all his problems and even the problems of others, 1 problem will lead to another but you have to challenge it the same way it challenges you. 1 man can change an entire city or even more. 1 man can rise through the ranks and achieve the goals he has set for himself and even crush anyone that stands in their way. Ever since playing San Andreas, seeing the way CJ can work to being a healthier person makes me want to be a healthy person. Although that goal is taking a god awful amount of time. Its a slow goal but still may not have been a goal in my life had it not been for Rockstar games.

Rockstar games created something more than just entertainment and art, they created something that can influence and inspire people. People will say that video games influence violence but its not the case. Its the people who choose how a video game influences them. Because of Rockstar Ive taken more notice of other studios as well, trying to find the 1s that are willing to release something that's worth calling a work of art or even a masterpiece and worth paying for. They have opened my eyes and showed me that games can be more than entertainment. I look back at all the games I played and realise that they were a major part of my life growing up. For example, Prince of Persia; never bought a single game, but played next to all of them, and a few months ago I decided to buy the collection because Ubisoft and the developers deserved their money for it. For not doing so earlier I apologise. Tomb Raider, another great series I grew up playing, never bought 1 until a week or 2 ago I bought the collection as well as the new 2013 version. For not doing so earlier I apologise. And by far 1 of my most favoured series, a game that provides a story that is like no other, a story that tugs at you and wows you with every twist and turn; Metal Gear Solid. I only ever bought MGS 4 but definitely plan on buying the up and coming collection pack because Kojima deserves the money. Again for not doing so earlier I apologise. Not all companies are great to me personally but I can say in order of preference my favoured companies are Rockstar, Kojima, Ubisoft and Naughty Dog. There are other great companies out there as well, a lot of studios that make games worth buying. Now days, I cringe when I hear someone saying they played a game like GTA IV or Far Cry 3 or any title worth buying and they haven't purchased it; I downloaded it. Every single game I have in my current collection is a legitimate purchase. I had thrown out all my old PS1 titles and sold my PS2 with all the old games to a friend to get money to buy the PS3. Now days I am also open to indie developers.

I used to have many ambitions that I got bored of, or lost interest in until Rockstar came along. I may not be a business owner now, but at least I have my mind set on something that interests me. I may not have achieved anything yet but at least Im on a single path without any doubts about what I want to do. Rockstar may be just another game studio to some people, a studio that is good for nothing but taking money off people and not caring about anything else. To me they have changed the way I think towards games completely, for the better. They have even changed the way I think about life to some extent. So for this I say thank you Rockstar Games.

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