Archive for the ‘ Video Games ’ Category

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1: Faith

 

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After the success of their “Walking Dead” game, Telltale games was consistently asked one question – when is season two coming out? Rather than answer that right away, they decided to make a different game based in the world of Bill Willingham’s graphic novel series “Fables,” entitled “The Wolf Among Us.” Continue reading

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State of Decay: Video Game Review

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“State of Decay” is Undead Lab’s foray into the zombie horror genre.  I had started playing this game several weeks after it came out, so I was not exposed to the many bugs that plagued the game on release. But that’s not important.  What you want to know is whether or not this game is worth playing, and the short answer is yes.

The game starts with you at a campground with your friend being swarmed by zombies.  After you “break their fucking skulls” (a phrase you will hear often throughout the game), you make your way to a nearby ranger station to see if you can find some help.  Don’t expect to stay too long.  The game has you do some very simple missions that serve as a tutorial and once you’re finished, you’ll quickly find yourself escaping the campgrounds and making your way to a nearby church where other survivors holed up.  From here, the zombie-infested Trumbull County is pretty much open to exploration, scavenging, and zombie slaying.  Continue reading

Review of “The Walking Dead: 400 Days”

the-walking-dead-400-daysLast year, Telltale games made a game based off the Walking Dead comics (not to be confused with Activision’s game, based on the TV show), which was immediately praised as being one of the best games of the year. The choices were tough, the story was great and it had a huge emotional impact on people.  Since its finale, all fans have been able to ask is, “When is season 2 coming out?” Telltale has said they plan to release it later this year, but in the mean time they have released DLC for the first season entitled “400 Days.”

400 days takes place at different times during the apocalypse, showing the stories of five different people, doing what they need to survive. None of the characters from the first season of the game return, or any of the characters from the comics or TV show, though there are a few subtle references if you’re looking for them. The whole thing feels like a short film anthology, showcasing different people all at roughly the same location.

The stories are gripping. Often, players are forced to make some very tough choices in limited amounts of time. There’s no “right” answer, but you still find yourself wondering if you’ve made the correct decision. Continue reading

The Wolf Among Us: Why You Should Care

Telltale games recently announced that it would be releasing a game called “The Wolf Among Us,” based on the hit graphic novel, “Fables.” I’m not one to normally buy into hype, or get excited before I see a preview of a game, but the source material and the company working on this project have done very impressive work in the past. Here is a little info on both “Fables” and Telltale, to show why you should be excited too.

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Behaviorism and Monsters

So I read a completely fictional book a while ago called “John Dies at the End” and part of the hilarious, but nightmarish plot was an idea that monsters from an alternate dimension are currently training Earth children to become a fighting force numb to empathy and remorse. The way they did it was by introducing video games that were increasingly violent. That’s what started my mind turning.

A (not so) quick psychology lesson on behaviorism before I go into the thought that’s been festering in my mind all morning and has finally burst, spreading it’s pus of paranoia and hormonal imbalance and becoming this article.

These days we call behaviorism ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis. You break each task you want to teach, or maybe learn, into small steps, and focus on each step as a goal until it’s achieved, then move on to the next step, reinforcing presenting behaviors as appropriate to your overall target. It’s really operant conditioning that I’m talking about, the proverbial “carrot and stick.” I’m also talking about shaping, one of the most powerful tools psychologists have.

With operant conditioning, you encourage each step with a reinforcer of some sort, prearranging that behavior. With shaping you look for naturally occurring behaviors that you want to reinforce to ensure they are the ones happening more often until maybe a competing behavior is gone completely.

The point is to change a behavior one very small step at a time. However, this approach is used in a social context, so it’s not just scientists screwing with rats and pigeons and whatnot. So we use it to teach kids with autism how to follow routines in school, though conditioning is truly a part of everything we do to teach anyone anything. How often do you tell someone who helped you that you appreciated it? Guess what, you just conditioned that person to help you again in the future. And you know what? The reason you said thanks is because you’re conditioned to praise behaviors you’d like repeated. Like I said, it’s everywhere.

Now onto what’s really on my mind: the brain-washing alternate dimension monster and the shooter games I so enjoy. I love shooter games, and believe that even people who don’t give a crap about video games can still rock a shooting game and ask for more.  Why do I like shooting things in video games? Because I don’t get to go on out on the range anymore, and because I still like  the fact that I can hit a target or because I’m instantly rewarded with points, and a rating, and maybe I’ll get more than the other players. This “liking” is a bit of dopamine and adrenaline my brain sends along like a favorite drug dealing uncle.

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Review of “Resonance”

I’m a fan of puzzle games and adventure games. I love feeling clever when I figure out a well-crafted puzzle in a game. Sadly though, in recent years, the genre has died off a little, making releases few and far between. When the games do come out, they’re often made to be a little easier to appeal to a larger audience. Indie developer Wadjet Eye Games has ignored this philosophy though and made an adventure game that deserves to be ranked up with other classics like “Monkey Island,” and “Day of the Tentacle.”

It is called “Resonance.”


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Gamer Review of “The Walking Dead: A New Day”

I have been reading “The Walking Dead” comics since the first few issues. It’s an ongoing story about people living in a world after a zombie apocalypse, focusing on their lives instead of only the killing of the undead the movies tend to focus on. When the adaptation for television was announced, I was excited because it’s a character driven series that lends itself perfectly to the small screen. In reality, the TV show has been hit or miss but overall still enjoyable. Then I heard they were coming out with a game and I was just confused.

When you think “zombie game,” usually you think one man against a horde of the undead, arming yourself to the teeth to kill as many of them as possible. “The Walking Dead” did not fit this genre. Even more surprising, it was developed by TellTale Games, the company responsible for bringing the adventure game back into the public eye with their recent series such as “Tales of Monkey Island” and “Back to the Future” (both of which I reviewed favorably). “The Walking Dead” seemed like an odd choice for them, but having faith in the company and the source material, it was still a highly anticipated title for me.

The first episode is out now, with four more coming out over the next few months. The results were not what I was expecting, but this is in no way a bad thing. Rather than call this a game, I’d say it’s more like interactive storytelling along the lines of the PS3 game “Heavy Rain.” You progress through the story and have to make some tough decisions along the way (and every once in a while you have to fight off a zombie by mashing a button). There are a few small puzzles that move the plot along, but nothing overly complicated. Continue reading