Category Archives: Videogames

Other than metal, we like to play videogames. We also like to talk about videogames. Since playing games in an expensive hobby, we tend to not have as many posts as we do for metal. From time time we come across something cool in videogames we will share our experience with the enlightened ones of A Metal State of Mind.

Console Review: Nintendo 3DS XL

asdaEver since the release of the Nintendo Gameboy I have had a Nintendo handheld in my home (or car, on the plane, train, bus, etc).  And with every release of a new handheld console from Nintendo they find a way to outdo themselves and crush the competition with their device which always has boasted a lot less graphical power than the other options on the market.  But with some kind of gimmick and insanely superior libraries of games, the big N always comes out on top.  After nearly a decade a proud owner of the Nintendo DS Lite I decided it was finally time to upgrade and find out what all the hub-bub about the 3DS was.

Well, first off, from the console’s name you can deduce that the big gimmick of the current handheld is that it displays games in 3D.  What makes this really special is that special 3D glasses are not needed at all.  Something I wished that the movies did as I wear glasses all the time and having to put another pair over my own is quite cumbersome.

The 3D effect is something that really does need to be seen first hand to believe, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s cool as all hell, albeit with some drawbacks.  The 3D effect isn’t really things popping out of the screen, but what it does is give an incredible amount of depth that really sucks you into the game world.  That is, when it is developed for properly.  I own 4 games (Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D Land, Bravely Default, and Fire Emblem: Awakening) for my 3DS and to see more of what the 3DS library had to offer I downloaded a bunch of demos.  The quality of the 3D effect really varied from game to game with Nintendo first party games really doing amazing things with it and others just giving me an immediate headache (namely Castlevania and Monster Hunter).  On the plus sided, there is a slider on the side of the console where you can adjust the intensity of the 3D effect or turn it off completely.  No game suffers from playing in 2D as the 3D just really adds to the ‘wow factor’.

You also need to keep the console somewhat aligned with your direct eyesight for the 3D to work properly which wasn’t a problem for me until I tried out some action games where I’m hitting buttons like crazy and knocking my 3DS all over the place.  Mario was about the max in action I was able to play without jarring things around, but games like Castlevania became unplayable in 3D mode.

As far as design goes, I opted for the XL model of the 3DS since I’m a 30-something adult with big man hands and deteriorating eyesight.  The design is outstanding for me.  Buttons fall comfortably where my thumbs would land and the console rests in my palms comfortably with its nice rounded edges.  The analog circle pad controls wonderfully for precision controls and the d-pad is extremely responsive.  I really liked how the abxy buttons have a clicky feel to them and the l and r triggers feel good to press.

The best part about the XL model is the larger screens which are 90% larger than the standard 3DS and DS Lite models.  Coming from a DS Lite, these screens are amazing and really help me see my games much better.  Add in the 3D effect, they really help immerse me into the game I’m playing by pretty much consuming all of my focal points real estate.  I love ‘em and really see why one would settle for the other 3DS models unless they really need the smaller form factor.

The weight is also very nice with a tad bit of heft, but not enough to make my wrists ache during longer play sessions.  I also like the matte finish which prevents the scratches that the glossy finishes are notorious for.  And the sound!  Wow, I was really surprised how good the stock sound system in the console is.  At mid volume it produces a rich and detailed level of sound very rarely heard on portable gaming systems and rivals the quality of my earphones.  Which brings me to my only big gripe, the position of the earphone jack.  It’s located on the bottom left of the console and since my earphone input jack is rather large, it really gets in the way of my left palm.  I have a pair of earphones with a smaller jack I’ve been using exclusively with the 3DS, but while not as annoying as the larger one of my better earphones, it still is annoying.  Placing the input port on the top or bottom center would have been the optimum design choice in my opinion.

As far as the available library of games for the 3DS goes, I’m more than impressed.  My first 4 games have left me very happy with their quality and variety.  Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is a sequel to my favorite game of all time, A Link to the Past, and is just nothing but pure classic Zelda joy to play; Super Mario 3D Land is one of the best Mario games I’ve played since Mario 64; Fire Emblem: Awakening is hardcore turn-based small encounter strategy at it’s finest; and Bravely Default is just a really badly named Final Fantasy games (seriously, it’s Final Fantasy in everything but name, phoenix downs, 4 crystals, turn based combat, cheeky and cheesy characters, epic quest, it’s all there).  Then there’s a ton of games that are high on my radar all boasting an incredible amount of diversity and critical and public renown.  Plus it’s backwards compatible with my old DS games so I can continue playing my Tetris cart on the crapper, now without fear that the top half of the console is going to finally break off and fall into the toilet.

If I did notice one thing from the demos I played though, is that if it wasn’t designed for the 3DS specifically, it’s not going to be too hot.  Metal Gear 3 3D had some serious frame rate issues and Rayman Origins simply looked like shit compared to its console/PC counterparts.  So if a game is available on another platform, that may be your best choice.

All in all, I’m extremely happy with my new 3DS XL and highly recommend one if you are in the market for a new handheld console.  A strong game library has something to play for all ages (even a nice and super bloody REAL Resident Evil game) and the design makes it optimum for adults with big hands and bad eyesight.

PS, Screenshots of the games on the internet really don’t do much justice to how good the games look.  I recommend going to your local game store and playing one for yourself to see what I mean.

Gaming System Review: Playstation Vita

81Q2w6E+ULL._SL1500_I was never one to truly appreciate a handheld gaming system.  I tried the Nintendo Gameboy and that was short-lived.  I tried the Sony PSP and that was also short-lived.  I guess I have been spoiled by loud, heavy consoles and the power contained therein displayed on a large HD screen.  But, here I am trying another handheld system, this time the Sony Playstation Vita.  I do have a reason though.  Due to pending work-related requirements overseas, I felt it best to leave my console and all its accessories at home with the kiddies and opt for something more portable, something I can use on a plane and pretty much any time I want.  After (some) extensive research I felt the Vita was best for me.  It arrived in the mail recently, here are my thoughts on what it has to offer and its portable power.

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Game Review: Call of Duty: Ghosts

call-of-duty-ghosts-xbox-360-game-medium_507869ef5b4d6e3d60f16bf3411472bdJust in-time for your preferred end-of-year holiday festivities, the makers of Call of Duty released its 10th installment in the series, Call of Duty:  Ghosts, the sixth with Infinity Ward.  Instead of continuing on with the Modern Warfare or Black Ops games, Ghosts introduces a less complicated story line which is nice considering the myriad of plot twists, locations, and playable characters from other games.  You still get some of that with Ghosts, but it’s far less complicated to follow.  As you would expect, the 2013 version has much of the same mechanics and same terror-infused storyline, but there are some new tweaks.

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Top Ten Video Games I Played In 2013

Hipster_22013 has been one hell of a great year for gamers.  New consoles (which I probably won’t buy for quite some time, long live the PC master race!), the continued rise of independent games, and a ton of AAA publishers releasing quality titles that broke ground in what can and should be done in big budget games.  Seriously, right now is such a great time to be a gamer.  Of all the great games I played this year, the following ten stood above the rest not only in quality, but also in creativity, refinement of their respective genres, or just were flat-out fun.  A couple of entries on this list were games released during 2012, but since I wasn’t able to get into them until 2013 I’m qualifying them for my list.  So, enjoy reading and let me know what were some of your favorite games that you played this year.

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Game Review: Saints Row IV

showposterHas something happened to you that when the event was over you thought to yourself that you’ll never get that time back?  You know what I mean, like when you spend 3 hours stuck in traffic or had to sit in a meeting discussing the previous meeting and plan agenda for the next meeting.  You think how you could have better spent your time and that those hours are lost forever in a black hole pit of nothingness.  I think it happens to all of us at one point or another and sometimes way too often.  If you have ever done the Four Lenses personality assessment, I will say that my primary color is “Green” which means I can’t stand to have my time wasted.  Having said that, let me tell you about this piece of shit game called Saints Row IV.

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Game Review: Driver San Francisco

$(KGrHqF,!lME5Yy,9wTFBOeJDDQ(sw~~_35I picked up Driver:  San Francisco for my kids.  They caught wind of it somewhere and wanted to give it a try.  I do remember playing the very first “Driver” game and thought they might dig it based on my past experience…what kid doesn’t like fast driving games?  I had no real interest in trying the game and when I saw my son leap (like Sam Beckett) out of his car and into another one actually becoming that driver, I thought the franchise lost it.  Driver:  San Francisco was nothing like I remember the old classic from 1999.  Then, I decided to give it a try and I realized the leaping from car to car was not only innovative, but integral to the story line…though it is silly, it worked.  Let me tell you about it.

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Game Review: Metro: Last Light

showposterArtyom is back a year after the events surrounding Metro 2033…the activation of the D6 silo and the ensuing missile attack on the Dark Ones.  As a result, Artyom is promoted to Ranger.  Controlling D6 has become a primary concern as it has been discovered there are enough resources to sustain the remaining population for a lifetime.  It comes to Artyom’s attention that one Dark One has survived the attack and instead of setting out to finish the job, Artyom is led to believe that the remaining Dark One is the key to the future.  Thus, the quest to find the Dark One again places Artyom in both above ground and in the Moscow Metro combating not only mutants, but other rival human factions determined to seize the rumored D6 stockpile of sustenance.  Seems easy, but Artyom is faced with conflicting orders.  1 – Artyom’s commanding officer Colonel Miller sends him to find the Dark One and kill it and 2 – Kahn the mystic nomad advises to make peace with it because it is the key to the future.  And so the adventure begins.  Decisions will have to be made.

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Game Review: Amnesia- A Machine For Pigs

2530420-wwgbwzTwo years ago a tiny indie game developed by a Swedish game development company called Frictional Games unwittingly created a game that took the gaming scene by storm.  That little game is called Amnesia: The Dark Descent and not to long after its release became hailed as one of, if not the, scariest games of all time.  Gamers long pining for a true return to survival horror gaming rejoiced with glee and Youtubers were quick to start a trend of creating videos of themselves being scared shitless by the game.  Even myself, who has extremely tough skin for all things horror, found beads of sweat forming on my brow as I explored Brennenburg Castle and was genuinely unsettled and nervous while playing.  To call the game anything other than a massive success would be a gross understatement.

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Game Review: Silent Hill Downpour (Xbox 360)

showposter (1)I’ve sort of developed a love/hate relationship with Silent Hill:  Downpour, the eighth game of the survival horror series.  The main thing I like about this game compared to my other favorite horror survival game, Resident Evil, is that the developers of Silent Hill remembered to include challenging, though sometime confusing, puzzles.  The hate part of this game is the frustrating controls and (mostly) whacked out story line.  No matter how hard I try to pay attention to any Silent Hill story, it ends up being a head-scratcher.  Though, this time the storyline is a bit simpler, it’s hard to follow at times because of how it’s told.  I have no problem with lengthy cut scenes, but having to read all the notes you find can be time-consuming.  However, reading will enhance the overall story experience if notes and journal entries something you don’t mind sifting through.

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Game Review: Civilization V: Brave New World

2481848-box_civ5bnwAfter spending nearly a century building a solid relationship with my Mayan neighbors it all pays off as they inform me that their spies have discovered that Napoleon and the French empire are planning on staging a surprise attack on my coastal city of Seoul.  This bit of information couldn’t have come at a better time as I have been guiding my people down the path of culture and science commissioning the building many world wonders and using my funds to search out great scientists.  My military is somewhat of a laughing-stock and as I have ignored the words of my military advisory telling me that the French wield an army that could wipe us off the planet.  Luckily I have been following the path of rationalism and those wonderful rationalists have discovered that through commerce and building trading posts I can also enhance my scientific resources, so let’s just say, the Korean empire has a few coins to rub together.  Which I do and build an instant modest army just strong enough to defend my land from a strong military push and then, since I have already denounced Napoleon a few times in the past for bullying my diplomatic buddies, declare war on the French.  And they fall into my trap.  Filled with the hubris that a massive army brings they go through with their set plan to attack Seoul seeing as that I have just a small defensive army.  What they didn’t know was that I had timed the production in my cities to release a bevy of high-powered units to eradicate them even before they hit my shores.  I wipe out more than a quarter of the French army on their first push taking minimal casualties due to my superior battle tactics and positioning and then push production to one more wave of military units composed of submarines and high-powered ballistas from my superior scientific advantage and then push back to the French shores accosting them of one of their major cultural cities and then south to liberate the French occupied city-state of Milan who will now provide me with and endless supply of cultural artifacts to keep my hard-working scientists happy as I move focus into winning the space race.  Ya, I must be playing a Civilization game.

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