Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Online Games and Social Networking

The online gaming industry is growing and this growth has been nothing short phenomenal over the past couple of years. The popularity of online games has brought with them new innovations in all aspects of the game including marketing. One of the many variants of internet communication that also grew in popularity over the recent past is social media websites. Social media websites took real time communication/ data transfer to a whole new level with members being to share information round the clock. According to experts, social media websites are the marketing platform of the future as this form of communication appeals to users of all ages, gender and types.

Social media is not just popular with regular college/work buddies but also with industry specific individuals, such as online gamers. With new online bingo sites being launched every minute or so, this is one platform game developers just cannot afford to ignore. Social media websites allow online gamers to interact and get to know various trends that are evolving in the online UK bingo circuit and information here can travel as fast as lightning. Online game developers recently found another use for social media websites - a testing ground for their new games. Many game developers have released their new game variants with social networking members as such releases have many advantages.

Starting off with testing. Online gaming websites when releasing their games via social networking websites for testing are able to get unbiased feedback and reviews from real time players. These are players that have a keen interest with online games meaning they would do a much better job of finding how the game behaves in real time rather than professional testers. In most cases, the feedback such players would give can turn out to be invaluable for improving the game and making sure all aspects of the game are fine-tuned for the real world of online gamers.

Launching preview of games on social media networks also help game developers save time and costs. To be a bit more precise, releasing new games on social media networks mean that the number of players playing the game would be restricted and always manageable. Since the game is being released on a much smaller platform with a smaller audience, developers and game hosts would be able to make any changes to the layout or the interface of the game without a large scale rebuild that can be time consuming and costly.

On a marketing note, there is no better place to launch a new online game than on social media websites. If the game play is fresh and users are pleased with how the game structure is laid out, it is possible that the game would get publicity within the social media circles even before it is released for public. Such a game would go viral and has a bigger chance of becoming an instant hit when released for real world players bringing in more revenue and publicity for the game host.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Most Wanted Video Game Consoles of 2012

The video games industry is a multi-billion dollar business which is growing by leaps and bounds every year. The increased sophistication of the hardware of gaming platforms and the superior algorithms of the underlying software is making the games more realistic, immersive and interactive. We will take a quick look at three of the most promising present and future video game consoles - Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation Vita, and Xbox Kinect.

Nintendo Wii U

Scheduled for release in 2012, this new gaming console from Nintendo comes with a new controller. The controller has two analog circle pads and traditional button controls. It also comes with a 6.2 inch touch screen display with a 16:9 widescreen ratio. This serves as a second window to the virtual environment of the game, separating the previous barrier that existed between the player, the TV and the game.

For instance, when playing golf, the player can place the controller on the floor to see the golf ball displayed on the touch screen display. This would truly enhance the sensation of playing the game. Likewise, when a player runs to catch a baseball dropping from the sky, they can hold the controller above their heads and actually see the ball drop through the display. The addition of another window to the game environment has added a new dimension to Nintendo games.

Playstation Vita

Scheduled to be available by February 2012, the PlayStation Vita from Sony offers brand new ways to play their video games. With front and rear cameras, the gaming environment becomes more real than ever before. The AR or augmented reality technology incorporated into the PlayStation Vita merges the game world and the physical world seamlessly.

Equipped with 3G and Wi-Fi facilities, PlayStation Vita lets players locate their opponents with pinpoint precision. Gamers can use the Vita at home or on the go.

Xbox Kinect

Kinect for the Xbox 360 from Microsoft which is already available, completely eliminates the need for a controller. The player becomes the controller of the game instead. The Kinect comes with a motion sensor that tracks the body movements of the player and uses their actions to control the characters inside the game.

Game playing becomes so natural with the Xbox Kinect as players do not have to use a handheld controller anymore. They can control the game with their hands, legs or their whole body. They can also use the Kinect with their voice to activate its various features. Kinect helps players get off their couches and get on their feet and into the game literally. It offers the most natural and realistic way to play games.

With each leader in the gaming industry taking a different approach to make games more realistic and enjoyable, the consumer is in for a real treat. Players might have to wait a little more to see how the Wii U and the Vita turn out to be when they are released in 2012.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns Weapons

Metal Gear Solid 4 Weapons
Metal Gear Solid 4 Guns

Metal Gear Solid 4 is the top-selling Playstation 3 game from Konami, featuring Solid Snake. While the game is about sneaking and stealth, since you're mainly travelling through warzones, you might feel the urge to use one of the 70 available weapons that have made it into the game. Many of these weapons can also be customised, adding scopes, silencers, flashlights, and more onto them. Having so many weapons in the game can get confusing, so it's helpful that you can visit Drebin's shop at any time (once you've met him) to buy new weapons and ammo. I will not be looking at all of the Metal Gear Solid 4 weapons, but just the highlights.

Let's first have a look at the Handguns:

MK. 23 a.k.a SOCOM
Anyone that's played Metal Gear Solid 1 will remember this gun as Snake's primary pistol. Developed for the U.S. Special Operations Command, it has a 45 caliber barrel, and comes with laser aiming and a specially developed suppressor. The gun is one of the best in its class, due to the large magazine capacity compared to its size.

This is my personal favourite pistol, as I like to play a stealth game, and of all the Metal Gear Solid 4 weapons, this fits the bill perfectly. It is completely soundless, as it uses a special type of soundless ammo, eliminating the need for a suppressor. While each magazine can only carry 6 rounds, that is more than enough to take down one or two soldiers at close range, undetected.

The Race Gun
This gun is a bit special, and can only be acquired after completing the game. What is lacks in power, it makes up in the fact that it can fire rapidly. It is also the only gun that can bounce bullets off of walls, ala Revolver Ocelot in the first Metal Gear Solid. Unfortunately there are no modifications possible, but it's still a lot of fun to use.

Next, let's take a look at the Submachine Guns:

The Patriot
The Patriot is the weapon of The Boss in MGS3, and is an exceptional gun. It is the weapon of a master, and requires no reloading at all during combat. When looking at it from the front, the magazine forms the shape of an infinity symbol, which is a nice touch.

The P90 is a specialised weapon that provides you with good mobility during combat, thanks to its shape. Best used at close range, it can take down large crews in seconds thanks to its impressive rate of fire. This can be found all over the first level, as it's carried by the FROG troopers.

M4 Custom
It is basically a shortened model of the M16, and is the mainstay of U.S. Special Forces. It includes a highly-revolutionary 'rail system', which makes it compatible with a lots o add-on parts, almost like a 'Do It Yourself' gun. This is probably the gun I used most during my first play-through, as it can be heavily customised, it is useful in nearly every situation. For example, you can fit on it a silencer, a scope, a laser sight, a grenade launcher, a shotgun, two different grips to improve accuracy, and a flashlight.

The DSR-1
No we're really talking. The DSR-1 is a no-nonsense, bolt-action sniper rifle. Billed by its manufacturer as "the most sophisticated and technologically advanced tactical precision rifle in the world", it certainly packs a punch. Its integrated bi-pod means it's always ready to go, and despite its extreme loudness, it is always guaranteed to take down your victim, should you land a direct hit.

If you want something a little less brash and subtle, then the Mosin-Nagant is for you. Brandished by 'The End' in MGS3, the Mosin-Nagant is a special sniper rifle, as it uses non-lethal, tranquilizer ammo. While this gun is extremely noisy, if it's used from a distance (which is what it's designed for), you won't have a problem. This is one of the Metal Gear Solid 4 weapons that is essential when trying to complete the game without killing anyone.

Rail Gun
The rail gun is acquired after defeating Crying Wolf in act 4 of the game. Of all of the Metal Gear Solid 4 weapons, it might just be the most powerful, when fully charged, and is said to pack the same power as a tank turret! There are no modifications that can be made to this weapon, but realistically, there are none that are needed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Metal Gear Solid 4 Review

Metal Gear Solid 4 Review - Stealth Action Suffers Due to Ridiculously Overdone Story.

Score: 6.0

System: PS3

Genre: Action, Stealth movie
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: 6/12/08
Length: 25 hours
Difficulty: 5

- Creative and varied sections including stealth, on-rails shooting, and hand-to-hand combat
- Outstanding graphics, sound and production values
- All movies and codec can be skipped

- Almost half of the disc (can't even call it a game anymore) involves sitting and watching movies and codec conversations
- Repetitive gameplay isn't challenging
- Several minute installation sections riddled throughout the game

game for kids

Before I start, I find it necessary to mention that I love stealth games. There is such a great sense of satisfaction in sneaking up behind a large force and taking them down individually while the rest of the company is oblivious to your existence. I really loved the first Metal Gear Solid, which was a landmark title on the PS1. The Splinter Cell series has expounded on the stealth series in its own vision and is probably the most direct comparison to the Meta Gear Solid series. Alright let's get onto the review.

The Patriots are a conspiracy theory junkies' wet dream for a group that controls private armies, which wage war to support weapons building corporations. Liquid is attempting to destroy the Patriots to create chaos throughout the world. Premature aging renders Solid Snake terminally ill as he hunts down and attempts to stop his nemesis, Liquid Snake, one last time.

The million dollar real question is whether there is any gameplay on the disc. About one-half of the game's 25 hours is spent watching movies and listening to codec. John Carmack, main programmer for many famous id games, summed it up best when he said, "Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important." If games are intended to involve interaction with controllers, then why aren't we allowed to use them for such prolonged sections? The answer? Hideo Kojima really likes movies. He should be making them for Hollywood to be seen in theaters rather than working on interactive media.

His stories are just too self-involved and detailed. He wastes time discussing people's relationships, who's married whom, and how they've dealt with cancer. You start to wonder if you are watching "The Young and the Restless" or playing a game. There are far too many details and dialogue to explain a plot that really isn't really that complex. While the story is somewhat interesting, humorous and attempts to pull at your emotional cords, it is just too self-involved. Get over yourself, Kojima!

His work would serve the movie audience better. Unfortunately, he has found a way to mind control a sizeable section of gamers to buy his games continually just to sit on their rears and watch movies. The CIA and FBI really should look into how he has been able to accomplish it. I think the irony is that his conspiracy theory stories are true. He's slowly gaining control over everyone through subliminal messages in his movies. We need someone to take him down pronto!

Many movie sections are like watching the end of a football game. "Just 2 more minutes and I'll take out the trash, honey!" slowly and inevitably turns into 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc. It's so ridiculous that the game's makers know it and indulge in it. One character actually asks you to put the controller down while he gives his speech. They have the audacity to show they know they aren't making a game anymore. Why do people live with this tripe?!? In exchange for pre-release review copies to larger sites, even Konami acknowledged the problematic cutscene lengths by demanding pre-reviews not mention these problems.

Thankfully you can skip all movie sections and cut straight to the action. You will miss the story, but after watching all the movies I can't recommend it to anyone who values their time. The only commendable movies are at the end of the five main stages.

What about the little action left for gamers? The actual sections involving gameplay aren't half bad. Surprisingly, there is plenty of variety with stealth, on-rails shooting sections, and updated hand-to-hand combat. There are cool weapons to customize and trade. The OctoCamo and Metal Gear MKII remote drone provide alternate ways to get through some tedious stealth sections.

The main problem is that there isn't enough gameplay and it isn't very different from previous games in the series. You can play the game as a first-person shooter, but there are already too many of those types of games. The stealth aspects to the game haven't changed much since the first MGS. The hand-to-hand combat is new but not very different from many other games already available. Even if you skip the movies, you get a sub-par game.

This final entry in the series also introduces the psyche and stress meters. I applaud new innovations, but I just didn't fully understand these features. The stress meter seems to increase when you aren't in good cover or in combat. Snake is supposed to be more mistake-prone with a high stress meter, but I never saw a difference. A lower psyche level is supposed to be a problem, but it never affected gameplay. Perhaps these meters are needed on higher difficulties. I was able to get through the game without paying them any heed by taking advantage of the game's simple AI and patterns.

Solid Snake needs more moves to deal with such advanced enemies. As noted, the most comparable game to Metal Gear is Splinter Cell. Each new addition to the Splinter Cell series adds new movements to Sam's repertoire. He can climb on poles hang upside down and break an enemy's neck. He can hang from a railing below an enemy and pull him down to his death. He swims underwater, cuts a whole in ice, and pulls enemies down. He whistles to attract a guard's attention, then dispatches of the guards one by one. What happens when Sam sees an enemy's shadow in a tent? He cuts a hole with his knife, sneaks up behind him and takes him down.

Snake may be an old dog, but he's learned a few new tricks for his final bow. He has some new close-quarters combat moves to throw, kill and knock out guards. Snake can also hold a guard hostage and search him for items (no anal probes thankfully). There is a wide array of weapons available along with several ways to customize them. It's just puzzling why more hasn't been implemented over the past decade.

While these new moves are appreciated, gamers expect more advances over a decade within a series. Why can't Snake use his environment better? Why aren't we enthralled by a wider variety of ways to dispatch enemies? Why aren't there more than 4-5 types of basic enemies (excluding bosses)? Why hasn't Kojima done this? He's spending all his time on his absurd movies and plot twists is the answer. This is a game. Add new ways to interact rather than watching everything cool happen during the movies. I'd like to perform some of the amazing action during those cutscenes. The more action I saw that I couldn't affect, the more frustrated I became.

The game is set over five main stages. The movies start you off in a battle-torn war zone in the Middle East. You are in the middle of some large combat zones where multiple forces are fighting each other. If you are patient, you can take advantage of each side's ensuing weaknesses. The setting is refreshing compared to the typical one-man army Solid Snake against a squadron of guards and vision cones, which the series has become known for. The combat environment isn't unique though, since it has been replicated many times since the inaugural Half-Life.

The second stage is set in the typical South American jungle we've all seen countless times. We get it. Producers liked Rambo 2. Please get past the hiding in jungles motif. The middle and later sections of the game provides some welcome variety in the gameplay. Various sections of the game make it clear that Kojima and his team have a ton of talent. If they only spent it filling games with more gameplay sections rather than the mundane movies, the world would be a better place.

No action game would be complete without boss battles. Snake will vanquish numerous bosses that are all unique, varied and set in cool environments. None of them will challenge you much though. The main problem is you will spend a good portion of your time manipulating your inventory and weapons in the middle of combat rather than actually fighting. It actually fits with the theme of the game. The game wants to take you away from any interaction as much as possible. Even the actual interactive sections involve many portions that are not interactive.

Of course, this is the PS3, so you must endure a several minute installation section before the game even loads. But wait there's more. Act now and we'll throw in several more multi-minute installation sections before each stage. Unfortunately, there's no money back guarantee on this one. It all comes to a slow and hopefully final conclusion with an even more overt slap in the face. The game ends with a ninety-minute movie to conclude the series. Ok, you like your characters and story. We get it.

It's not that I don't like a good compelling story. I just think it could have been executed better with voice-overs that allow simultaneous gameplay, such as in Bioshock or Splinter Cell. Games should always strive to include as much interaction as possible. Only take us away from playing for a few minutes and make it worth it. I'm not against a game including a short intense movie after every few levels to "reward" you for getting past a tense and difficult section. If the excellent movies at the end of each major level would have been the only non-gameplay sections in the game, the final product would be much better.

The graphics during gameplay and the movies are gorgeous. The only issue is an overt use of browns and grays. I know that Solid Snake is gray now, but does the world need to be also?

The music is both moving during dramatic sequences and energetic during action sequences. Things that should go boom, go boom loud with satisfying bass. Surround sound is executed very well to envelop you in the frenetic war zone and cautious, tense stealth sections. The very realistic bullet twings remind me of the beginning of Saving Private Ryan. Yes, they are that good.

Its become clear that larger sites praise Metal Gear Solid and other hyped games because their reviews are bought out by the publisher's large advertising budgets. "Give us a perfect score review or we'll take our ads away!" We know we aren't alone in recognizing these problems. Well, PoweredUpGamers isn't a biased site. Our review may differ from other sites, but we don't work from their positively-skewed scale that rarely dip below a 7. If we don't enjoy a game, it gets a low score despite the hype.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshots
Microsoft Flight Simulator Screenshots

Is Microsoft's Flight Simulator a Simulation or a Game?

If we ask the dictionary what a simulator is it will tell us that it is "any device or system that simulates specific conditions or the characteristics of a real process for the purposes of research or operator training". A game is defined as "an amusement or pastime diversion or a contest with rules, where the result is determined by skill, strength, or chance". Using these definitions, we'll try to answer our opening question.

Microsoft's flight simulator program is used by many flight schools to teach the basic principles of flight. It also uses the simulator to familiarize the student with the various instruments and operations of an aircraft. It even allows them to learn how to communicate with air traffic controllers and create flight plans. Even though they are flying an airplane on their computer screen, they are simulating a real process. And it's this real process that makes learning to fly at your computer a simulator.

Some people take their flight simulation very seriously. It's these people who are looking for an "as close to real" experience. These people don't see it as a game mainly because there is no "chance" involved. The results of their experience will definitely depend on their skill, their knowledge and their ability to follow the rules of flight. This also means following the rules of the road, so to speak, from an air traffic controller.

Another reason why these people don't see Fight Simulator as a game is because there's no opponent. Whether they are flying a predefined mission or have created their own mission, they are usually flying solo. Their enjoyment level is most often defined by how well they fly the flight simulator and achieve the goals of their mission.

Many computer games require more than one player. In the early days of Microsoft Simulator, it was difficult to fly with someone else in multiplayer mode because the Internet was so slow. Dial-up connections weren't fast enough to provide a realistic experience. Today, with high-speed Internet, multiplayer mode can be more easily achieved. 1, 2, 3 or even more desktop pilots can get together and do a fly-in. One of the participants can act as the air traffic controller at a specified airport and manage or marshall all the other participants about safely. It's really kind of cool! And, it's as close as it gets to being a game because there are multiple participants. However, these participants aren't playing against each other. Rather, they are working individually to achieve a collective success.

And now, let's take a look from the gaming point of view.

For some, flight simulator is an amusement or pastime diversion. I can't count the number of days I would be working at my desk and have the flight simulator flying from airport to airport. I would create a flight plan, verify the flight plan with ATC, follow the ATC instructions to take off and then put the plane on autopilot. Every once in a while, just like in the real commercial airline business, I would make flight adjustments and radio frequency changes to keep the flight on course. ATC would advise me to start the aircraft descent as we approached our destination airport. By following the headings and altitude requests from ATC, I would land at the airport and taxi to the gate. If time permitted, I would make a new flight plan and do it all over again. So for me, it was a diversion from my day-to-day work and it amused and occupied me. It was great fun!

Gamesmanship is defined as the "art of winning games or defeating opponents by clever or cunning practices without actually cheating". As a gamer, flight simulator doesn't offer opponents to challenge. You are actually challenging yourself more than others. However, from a gaming point of view, you can do things over and over and not pay the price of actually crashing an airplane. When it comes to the laws of aerodynamics there is little forgiveness. If your plane is not flying, then it's like any other object that will eventually succumb to the law of gravity. And, it's much less expensive crashing a computer model than the real thing.

As for clever or cunning practices, flight simulator does allow the user to practice and refine their flying technique. Like any other skill, the more practice time you put in, the better you will become at that skill. The more time you put in on takeoffs and landings the more proficient you will become. That's why pilots in training do circuit after circuit practicing their takeoffs and landings.

I believe that flight simulation software is not a game. There are no real opponents and "chance" is not involved. In fact, it is the "as real as can be" experience that makes flight simulator so enjoyable for me. I remember when a new version was released that added jetway movement. It was so cool because when you landed and pulled up to the gate you could use a keystroke to have the jetway move to the door of the plane. It was such a simple thing and yet it was so cool.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Playstation 4 Release Date

PS 4 Concept Prediction.

PlayStation 4 Release Date - Catch The Latest News

There is a lot of speculation online regarding the PlayStation 4 release date. Many forums are springing up all over the place, and some of the talk states that the PlayStation 4 release date is May, 2012.

Apparently, the PlayStation 3 has not even reached its full potential yet, and so there is not much rush to release the PS4. Many of the games for 3 are slated to have updated versions released to be fully compatible with PS3.

Some people are forecasting that the PlayStation 4 release date would be 6 years after the release of PS3, going on past releases. In order to remain competitive in the gaming market, many console developers continue to release newer systems with games that are much more complicated, providing a challenge to gamers. Once the gamer has master all of the games with a specific console; however, they may be looking to purchase the next generation console.

This is where markets can make or break a console. If certain gamers run out of a genre of game that goes with a specific console, they may be getting their wallets out for the next console, but if it has not been released yet, then that company may be missing out on their market share of gamer funds.

If you are a big fan of PS3, then you may already have played all of the games that are available. You may be anxiously awaiting the PlayStation 4 release date. The best way to find out that date is to go right to the main company website and look for updates. Sites that are not directly associated with the company may have some general chatter, and you might notice that there are several Facebook pages dedicated to the PS4 release date too. This does not mean that anyone knows anything for certain, but it does not stop them from talking and getting people's attention.

For now, the PlayStation 4 release date is a bit of a mystery, but that will not stop avid gamers and fans of PlayStation from speculating on that date. Rest assured, from a marketing standpoint, it will probably be released close to a time when consumers are most ready to part with their hard earned dollars, such as the Christmas season. The new module will feature updated controls with different features, and better graphics designed to compete with consoles like the Xbox.

For avid gamers around the world, and current Sony PlayStation 3 lovers there is a definite buzz in the air surrounding the PlayStation 4 Release Date. Sony is a company with consistency, and if the past has proven anything to us it is that we can expect the PS4 to hit the markets some time around Christmas 2012.