Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Batman Arkham City Review

The single major flaw of Arkham Asylum was that the wonderful and overwhelming thoroughness in which the Batman world was depicted made it hard to imagine how a sequel could accomplish or cover anything more. Every single element that defined the character was spot on, from his gadgets to his combats.

Even his detective skills that he had previously neglected are displayed in the most spectacular fashion in Arkham Asylum. At Rocksteady, the developers featured a few of Gotham City's greatest villains and then added hidden references to almost thirty more as mere fan service. A morbid setting was created with enough detail in efforts to capture the horror of the comic, but with enough scope to fit a Batmobile, Batwing and Batcave.

Rocksteady's developers thought of Arkham Asylum as 'practice' from the moment the Arkham City project was underway. Considered as the best ever superhero game, Asylum was the 2009 Game of the Year. However, in comparison to Arkham City, it seems like a demo - a draft or a blueprint for the most amazing Batman and superhero game ever created.

Improvements to Arkham Asylum

Any questions regarding how much better and bigger Arkham City is from Arkham Asylum can be answered by the sensational list of villains mentioned in the latter, but never seen before.

These names include Ra's al Ghul, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, Two-Face, Scarface and the Ventriloquist, Clayface, Firefly, The Injustice Gang, Professor Hugo Strange, Mad Hatter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Black Mask, Hush, Killer Moth, Calendar Man, Prometheus, Maxie Zeus, The Creeper, The Ratcatcher, The Great White Shark, Humpty Dumpty, Amadeus Arkham, Martin "Mad Dog" Hawkins, The Spirit of Arkham and the Mystery One-Armed Inmate.

Half of these villains play big roles in Arkham City. In addition to that, all but one of the villains that were introduced in Arkham Asylum makes a return appearance in the sequel.

The developers and writers of the game could barely have done a better job, having successfully developed and justified the place of each character in narratives that make total dramatic and logical sense. The story is something special, blending the Animated Series episodes' humanity, Frank Miller's comics' brutal darkness and Christopher Nolan's films' confident risk-taking.

The innumerable moments of shock, awe and squealing will make a fan overpowered by these emotions in a matter of minutes of playing the game. The incredible quality of graphics makes the characters almost life-like, and the sound effects add to the intensity of the game.

Other features of the game

The magnitude of the game's atmospheric intricacy and epic scale is sure to leave you floored. Each building is unique and countless rooftops with distinct neon signs can be seen. A huge Ferris wheel reveals hidden bodies in each compartment when scanned using Detective mode.

While you may not be able to get your hands on the Batmobile just yet, climbing and diving and leaping and gliding across the vast playground using Batman's tools and cape offers incomparable exhilarating freedom, making Arkham City the best superhero game ever.

Bottom LineBatman Arkham City does everything Asylum did but bigger, brasher and with more freedom.

Video Games Positive Impact on Learning

Can Video Games Create a Positive Impact on Learning?

I believe trying out something new is good as long as it is beneficial and enables you to succeed in life. This is true in case of learning as well. As we can see, internet has drastically changed the way of imparting education that our previous generation have been used to; attending classes at specific days of the week, reading text books either purchased or borrowed from the campus library, and through sharing notes. Today, learning has gone hybrid, moving beyond the age old format of teaching within the classroom. Now anyone from anywhere can listen to your lectures and watch you speak via the internet and subsidiary multimedia elements. Moreover, the recent trend in online learning is introducing social games within classes. Children are addicted to video games and this addiction is compelling educators to launch the concept in classrooms too.

While many argue introducing games in the classroom will hamper studies, I support the majority views that are in favor of launching it in schools and at universities. Of course, we have to develop games keeping in mind the purpose, i.e., helping students to acquire knowledge quickly and in an interesting way so that they don't get bored. Many developers are also creating games that can be played on Smartphone's and such other mobile devices.

If you are still unsure whether games actually are a useful tool that enables children and teenagers to grasp important concepts in a range of subjects, then do have a look at some of the current facts.

In June 2012, the Institute of Play, a non-profit organization promoting game-based learning, has created a project - the "Games, Learning and Assessment Lab" (GLASS Lab), based on a $10.3 million grant received from the reputed MacArthur, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Electronic Arts, and the Entertainment Software Association. The project aims to create next-gen educational games for students as well as work on the existing ones to make them more learner-friendly.

According to a May 2012 publication, Zynga, the leading social gaming site and the maker of FarmVille, has teamed up with Grockit, an online social gaming service provider, to help teachers and tutors prepare students for a variety of tests using collaborative training, social charts, points, and achievements.

The U.S. President Obama has already appointed an expert adviser to frame the first national policy initiative on the role of video games in education, health, environment, and such numerous other areas.

In 2011, the University of Pennsylvania declared 2011-2012 as the "Year of Games". The University has started providing grants to all selected staff, students, and departments to create programming relevant to sciences, social culture, public policy, and such other significant fields.

Jonathon is a professional trainer. He employs latest technology for online class registration and online training registration that results in more attendance and ROI.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Video Games Actually Help Eyesight

McMaster Study Shows Video Games Actually Help Eyesight

Your mom was wrong — not all video games are bad for you.

A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University indicates that playing first person shooter games can help improve the eyesight of people with conditions like amblyopia or cataracts.

“Parents are always concerned their kids are playing too many video games,” said Terri Lewis, a vision scientist who was part of the team that conducted the study.

“Now, many people are saying 'well, I'm not going to nag my kids anymore.'”

A paper by Simon Jeon that outlines the results of the study was published in the journal Seeing and Perceiving in August.

Researchers at McMaster had seven people with preexisting eye conditions play Medal of Honor, which was released on the Xbox 360 in 2010.

Participants were all born with cataracts that were removed — but because of their condition, their vision never developed to 20/20. Six of the seven were not gamers.

They played the game for 10 hours straight in a controlled environment, and then two hours a day only until they reached 40 hours of play.

“We brought them back four weeks later and they all had improved vision,” Lewis said.

The participants found improvements in detail, perception of motion and in low contrast settings.

In essence, players could now read about one to one-and-a-half more lines on an optometrist's eye chart.

“We were thrilled,” Lewis said. “It's very exciting to open up a new world of hope for these people.”

Researchers don't know exactly how playing the game was able to help restore some vision for the patients.

They hypothesize the adrenaline created playing the came creates dopamine — which when combined with the level of attention to detail players need in a Medal of Honor match — can actually rewire visual connections in the brain.

“You're required to be extremely alert when playing,” Lewis said. “You have to be ready to shoot to kill at all times.”

Interestingly, the team didn't get the same result from other, less intense games like Tetris or The Sims.

Lewis says that without the urgent adrenaline rush that comes from playing a first person shooter, the results just don't happen.

She said her colleagues are now trying to develop something less aggressive that has the same sort of characteristics so the treatment can be used on children, too.

“We don't feel comfortable administering these games to children,” she said.

Lewis says the treatment wouldn't work on individuals who have physical eye problems, like a detached retina.

Armed with these results, the McMaster team is trying to challenge the belief that a person's vision won't improve past childhood.

“Now maybe even as an adult, you can do things to improve your vision,” she said.

For more on the Visual Development Lab and their work, visit http://psych.mcmaster.ca/maurerlab

Friday, August 31, 2012

How to Purchase Video Games Online

Do you still purchase your video games from your local retail game store? Whether you have a PC or gaming console it is now a lot cheaper, faster and easier to purchase online video games and download online on to your system. Before the introduction of the internet technology, computer game lovers used to purchase games from several places. For examples places such as would be through mail order catalogues, from big department shops where they have small collections of steam, RPG, MMORPG and other games and electronic items etc and specialist shops and several other places. However, even with the specialist computer game shops, it was very difficult to find almost any game which was available on the market during that particular time.

In retail stores there is some limitation in storing stocks and rent expenses, employee salaries, overheads and other expenses etc. With the evolution of the World Wide Web, all the things have changed almost totally. The net has given increase to the businesses which only have their online presence on the internet. The savings made on shop overheads, rentals, etc is passed onto buying a much larger degree of stock, thus providing a huge options of games. Which has resulted in several people to purchase online RPG, MMORPG, call of duty online, multiplayer and several other online computer games.

Generally, online game store and websites offers those games at cheaper rates when compared to that are sold in the retail store. For example what you would have bought for 50 dollars from your local retail gaming store would probably cost less and sometimes considerable less from the online games store or website. Also, with the huge availability of games online, you could quite easily find an obsolete game which you were hunting for or interested, or even simply research into latest versions of games. This could not have been possible by going to a shopping mall or local game stores. There are huge numbers of online stores and websites are available on the internet providing services to download wide varieties of games for your PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PSP, Nintendo Wii, and your computer or PC.

However, which websites, you have to use and which websites you have to avoid? You should also remember that there are several scam websites are also available on the internet that is providing poor quality services and games. These types of websites only aim in making money and not providing good customer support and quality products. Therefore you have to avoid using those websites. You should always make use of the genuine and reputed online game stores that has registered office. Make sure that the website you choose provides high quality products with safe downloads. Check whether the websites has the certification on all the games and software. Also ensure that it provides online support and customer service support.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Careful Consumption: Video Games, Corporate Greed and Power to the People

Now, I don't want to start pointing fingers or making unfounded claims, I'm merely following through a pattern of reasoning that seems valid to me. My point is this: that bias, small as it may be, is likely powerful enough to make or break a game and thus even an entire company could boom or bust based on a general opinion shift in the consumer market. So how can a company go about protecting themselves against a negative bias generated by the press? Two ways, either they make a great game, or they take the more reliable option: financially persuade the press that the game deserves a better score than initial impressions suggest.

Granted, that's a pretty strong claim and I'm not claiming to have any solid evidence that would guarantee the truth of it but in the interest of your own company and thus you and your co-workers' livelihoods, wouldn't you at least consider it? Despite the lack of solid evidence however, there's noticeably been plenty of big budget games recently that have failed in the eyes of the consumer and yet they maintain great MetaCritic scores. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes level powers of induction to come to the conclusion that certain publishers might be buying review scores from certain publications.

Subjectivity being what it is however, who's to say those reviewers didn't just have differing opinions to the general consumer base? We're certainly not in a position to refute someone's opinion if that's what it truly is. But here's the issue, what value does a review have to a consumer if the reviewer has a regularly inconsistent opinion with that consumer? Now of course, not everyone is going to agree on everything, that's human nature but when a review tells you a game is great, you buy it, it sucks, how likely are you to trust that publication again? How likely are you to trust games journalism at all when most of the major publications all laud praise on to a game you consider puerile garbage?

Parallel to feeling let down by the review, you're also likely to find yourself with a negative opinion of the developer and/or publisher. So the total damage of buying reviews now comes to: consumer distrust of a games review publication and perhaps even the entirety of games journalism, combined with: consumer distrust of the developer/publisher. It doesn't stop there however, as Swen Vincke mentioned in an interview with Sean Ridgeley of Neoseeker.com:

"Say you have a bad RPG that's getting initial 85 or 90 Metacritic rating, and people buy it and say 'I don't like RPGs'. You've basically done a disservice to the entire RPG developing and publishing community."

And to make matters worse, this can be broadened further to someone buying a game for the first time, they decide they're going to try a game based on its deceptively high metascore, that person is now likely to think 'if this is among the best games available, games aren't for me'.

Who would have thought bribery and fabrication would damage an entire industry? Tssh. One might want to argue that it's all simply the inevitable result of a capitalist economy and that there are no individuals who truly deserve the blame; everyone's just looking out for themselves: developers have to keep on the good side of publishers, publishers need the game to sell in order to make a return and thus continue to fund games in the future and games journalism have to keep on the good side of both of them in order to get those early review copies or be invited to press conferences.

That doesn't mean though, that we as consumers have to accept that the system is flawed and live with it. We really do have the power to change things. All that's needed is for us to find reviewers that we each trust to be honest and fair and show them support, buy games with more caution, don't get caught up in the hype. Search out reviews from lesser-known sources, even if they're just user reviews, check to see if they compare with the mainstream press. Even Reddit, the gelatinous blob of diluted opinion that it is, has become aware of the trend of buying the latest triple-A title, shouting from the rooftops about how god-awful it is and swearing to never buy from *insert publisher/developer of choice here* and then 12 months down the line they're buying the latest release any way and the cycle starts again. This is one instance in which we really do have power as a collective, vote with your wallet.