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    Oct 19th, 2009 at 14:17:03     -    Pokemon Red (GB)

    Hi all! Tony here again writing yet another entry about a game I have played. This one I am doing a little different though. Instead of choosing a game that I have just recently started playing, or something more modern to the times, I went with a classic, the first game I ever played on a video game console. I'm referring to, of course, Pokemon red version. It's a classic, most kids from the 90's and 00's generation can confirm, it is not only a must have video game, but an absolute essential for every kid growing up. I'm not going to do two reviews on this game like I did the first two, instead I will just try to cover all of the material in just one entry.

    Gameplay

    Now the game pokemon is a role playing game where you are a character in charge of like pocket monsters, hence the name pokemon, and you level up your monsters continuously throughout the game to make them stronger, so you can progress through the story. Eventually in the story you travel to an area where you must challenge five strong opponents, all who have acquired five ridiculously strong pokemon you must beat in order to continue and win the game. While playing the game, players get very involved in the story right away. From the beginning of the game you have the option to fast forward through parts of the story, when people are talking to you and what not, but you can’t skip these all together. Most of the time I just found myself reading everything, just so I could follow along with the story. The story progresses really well and it keeps the player highly entertained, motivated, and enthusiastic.

    Now the characters of the game are very interesting and very well thought out. The main character is Ash, who is a small town boy who grew up just hearing about pokemon and is now interested, and finally old enough, to go out on his own adventure with pokemon. Each of the eight boss battles referred to as gym leaders in the game, have different personalities too. The game consists of pokemon of fifteen different elements such as fire, water, grass, electricity, rock, ground, flying, ghost and so on, all which have strengths and weaknesses just like the game of rock paper scissors. . Each of the gym leaders, and the other battles inside the gym, are restricted to just one of these types. So for instance the first gym is a rock type, the second is of water types, etc. The character for the gym leader in the first gym, the rock type, has a very hard, rough and tough attitude, just like we would imagine a rock type to be. The gym leader for the fire gym has a very short temper and is always angry at something. The psychic’s gym has all sorts of mind tricks, and she can even read ash’s mind! The characters are extremely well thought out in the game, leaving the player very interactive with the other characters, and leaving me very impressed with this aspect of the game.

    The story, as I discussed before, is very easy to follow and adds a lot to the progression of the game, and leaves desire for a player to continue playing until the end, and sometimes a little afterwards. You start in your hometown where a professor lives who has 3 really rare pokemon, which without cheats you can only get once in the game, and only one of the 3 of them. You have this as your main pokemon throughout the story, and it is usually the strongest. Now you have a rival who is also from your town who chose a pokemon from the professor as well. Both of you are trying to be the strongest trainer in the land, and so you keep bumping into each other as the story progresses, as you keep crossing similar paths to each other. Little side stories are also included in the game, and all in all you are left wrapped around this imaginary world you want to conquer so badly, leaving the player physically unable to set the game boy down.


    Design

    Now I want to change it up a bit. I had my fun describing all of the awesome aspects that the creators of the game included to make the game play exhilarating. Now I think I want to talk about how great the design of the overall game was. Just as before I want to talk about some topics that I have personally learned about in my gaming class at North Carolina State University, and I will probably leave out a bunch of topics. First I want to talk about the innovative elements of the game. Being that this game is from the early 90’s, 1996 I believe is when it was released to the United States, the graphics are a lot different (worse to be straight forward) from what we are used to today. This set aside I still play occasionally and I barely even notice the graphics because I am so wrapped up in the developmental aspects of everything else. One thing pokemon does that not a lot of other games have done before is the use of the link cable. Players were required to use the link cable to get all 150 pokemon available to complete one of the side missions at the end of the game; otherwise it was impossible to do. This did leave me a little frustrated when I was younger and couldn’t afford another game boy another game, and a link cable, but now I love that aspect of the game. All of the new innovated design elements other than that was absolutely genius for the time of the release of this game.

    The game does require players to acquire different varieties (elements) of pokemon, and train them (leveling up) vigorously before the story is able to be completed. This keeps the player from getting bored with how easy it is, but they don’t make it too difficult to where you are frustrated that you can’t get anything done and you just train and train and train. Now you do a lot of interacting with all of the characters in the game. Every single one of the characters, and even stray pokemon, you see in the game you can walk up to and talk to, and some are important to the final outcome of the game. This keeps a very high level of social interaction when playing in single mode. Back to the link cables, another thing pokemon red innovated was the use of link cables to challenge another player. This would be almost identical to challenging someone in the game world, but you were playing against another player with a limitless amount of choices for actions. This was so exciting to me, and always left me trying to be the best out of my friends, leaving me training for hours on end, trying to level up those pokemon. This game definitely show emergent complexity in that the story is forever changing based on the decisions you make, and it is pretty difficult to get the same outcome in the story every time you play the game. I was very happy with the reward structure of the game as well, being that I still occasionally play today, some ten plus years later. Many magazines, gaming sites, and review companies rate this game one of the best of all time, and probably the best role playing game of all time. Stats have shown that it is one of the most desired by children, and the best selling role playing game of all time! I completely agree with all of that and will close by saying pokemon, any version but especially the red and blue versions, are an extremely well thought out, well planned, well designed game that you will absolutely love, and if you are unfamiliar with these games please do yourself a favor and go try one of them out. You will get addicted very quickly!!

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    Oct 5th, 2009 at 13:07:52     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    I recently wrote about Need for Speed: Carbon, two times, one an original review, and then another which was a re-review. The reason I had done that is because in one of the courses I am currently taking at North Carolina State University is teaching me a lot about game design, the principals of game making, and basic game level ideas. Well I have already written a basic review about this game, but after playing a few more hours I decided I want to write another review about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The original review I wrote consisted of two parts, a summary of the game, and a section about game play. I decided I want to write a little more in detail this time, and I want to incorporate a new section. I will briefly discuss a summary again, I will talk in a little more detail about the game play and then will discuss some of the brief ideas of the design of the game.


    Game Play
    First off, for those not familiar with the Grand Theft Auto series or with my previous review, I would like to explain how the game works again. Players are gang members in the story who run through the city completing missions for your gang. Missions can be varied anywhere from stealing a car or items, burning fields of illegal drug plants, capturing headquarters of enemy gangs, or even spray painting bridges and buildings all around the city of San Andreas. There is an excellent variety of missions in the game and no two missions are repeated twice. Players also have the option of not going from mission to mission, and in between objectives can run freely through the city doing whatever they please.

    As a player of this game, for many many hours now, I will say that it is very difficult to get bored with this particular game. Players stay extremely amused with the actions and reactions of everyone in the game, and how they all react to your every move. The stories of the game apply to the missions very well, and keep the players very entertained with what is happening. From a narrative standpoint, I was not very interested with being a gang member, trying to complete all of these missions of killing off people and other chaos. That was probably a personal option though, and I do still agree it enhances the effect of the mission’s excitement, making the game impossible to put down. Although this version of Grand Theft Auto doesn’t support online play, there is a lot of social interaction with the built in people in the game world. Every single person in the game world has a different action and reaction to everything you do, and this leads to a variety of different things one can do in free play. Overall the play of the game is extremely entertaining, and doesn’t get dull after a few hours of play like a lot of other video games do.



    Design
    So enough about the basics of the game, I want to talk a little bit about the game from a designers standpoint. First off, I love how every aspect of the game is different from every other second of game play before it. Creating a game with that much attention to detail takes a lot of work, strategy, and knowledge of programming to create. Putting this much attention into every detail allows players to play freely just as they would in the real world. It takes a very high level of design to be able to design a game like this, and I am very impressed with Rockstar Games™. All sorts of challenges are present in the game, which ties in perfectly with the story of your gang career, which present the player with many opportunities for enjoyment. All of the missions in the game also require the player to be skillful in a huge variety of ways as well, adding more challenge then a typical game would require.

    Now all of the social interaction, as mentioned earlier, is not with real humans, but people designed particularly for the game world. All of their actions, emotions, and everything revolve around what the player is currently doing, although they do not show you any attention unless you call it to yourself. I love that aspect of the game and think it is setting a new direction for video games to go in the future.

    I have seen many people play the more recent versions of Grand Theft Auto, and more specifically, GTA IV. This has the online, multi-player version that the first games of the series didn’t have, and is a great addition to the game. Players not only have missions they can go through and accomplish, as they follow the story. Players can also now free play by themselves, or with other real human players online. This just allows for more hours and hours of entertainment as one reeks havoc in the cities they tear through. Now I have not made it to the ending of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas yet, but I have seen it done a couple times, and would lastly like to talk about the ending. The story ends when all of your goals and missions have been completed, and you are left in control of the whole cities gang territories, and there is no other objectives left to complete. This alone would probably take 40+ hours of game play. With that aside, players still are left wanting to roam the cities and create chaos just as they would before. The only difference is players are free to venture anywhere they please in the whole map after everywhere has been unlocked. Hours and hours of entertainment can still come after the game is complete, and I think more games should make it a goal to make this happen more often. All in all this is one of the best games I have ever played and give it a 9/10!

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    Sep 28th, 2009 at 17:42:26     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    Hey, Tony writing here again. This time I decided to expand my game analysis to something outside of my usual box, kinda. Instead of doing the typical racing, mainly Need for Speed games, I would like to write a little bit about a new game I just acquired, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. The game is overall pretty terrific, and I would recommend it to pretty much any game player. Just like usual, I will break my summary into two sections, summary and gameplay.



    Summary

    GTA: San Andreas consist of many aspects of gaming never seen before in the gaming world before the GTA series came about. In GTA: San Andreas players are gangsters who go through the fictional city of San Andreas completing a variety of missions requiring the player to steal items, kill other people and the authorities, and other miscellaneous tasks. The missions get more and more difficult as they go on, and as far as I have gotten in the game, all seem to start taking a lot of time and near perfection to complete.



    Game play

    The game play of this game was very realistic and left me feel very enthusiastic about continuing to play. All of the missions were so different from one another, I wasn't left bored with the missions, or feeling like everything was very repetitive in the game. These games are always very talked about because of all of the violence they represent and all of the trouble that is caused by them, and I do agree they are very violent games, but when in the appropriate hands, the game is nothing but pure entertainment. The story of the game (being a gang member, taking over the city by doing these missions) is very entertaining if you watch all of the cut scenes and do all of the side missions.

    I do also like the multiplayer/online interaction of the game available on other versions (not on the ps2 console I was playing on). So far the game has kept me very interested in doing all of the missions, and the creators of the game have done a great job in making the game good for a variety of people interested in different things. Everything from the weather, time of day, and actions of people are always different so everything is always new in some aspects. The free play is just as good as doing the missions in the game as well, and leads to the game being even more exciting. Their was a very good flow with the story and progression of the game, and overall I would recommend this game to any fan of video games with the appropriate console and give it 9/10!!

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    Sep 28th, 2009 at 15:15:17     -    Need For Speed Carbon (PS2)

    Game Play
    I recently played Need for Speed:Carbon again, and decided to rewrite my original submission for the game review for two reasons. One mainly because I know a little more about gaming now and am able to more intensely analyze the game design, and two I have put another hour or so of game play into critiquing the design. After realizing how much work and effort has to go into every little detail of designing the game I realize, it is way too easy to get bored with poorly designed games. I will initiate the game play description the same way my last post was started, just for review. Need For Speed, for anyone not familiar with the series (or an expert like I see myself), is the biggest name in racing games for gaming consoles for the last ten or so years. Players drive cars of their dreams through big cities, designed by the NFS makers of course, racing around avoiding cops, racing rivals, and upgrading the car of your choice to your exact wishes throughout the whole game. The main purpose of this game is to race everyone in a certain city until they are all defeated at which point the “boss” or “leader” or whatever you want to refer to him/her as, becomes available for a boss challenge race. If this race is one your crew now controls the city. Periodically you must defend the cities you capture, and you continue defending/capturing until you control the whole map at which point you win.

    Now recently I have learned about a lot of new ideas including game exhaustion, the difference between games and play, how rules make each game different, and the different types of games (emergence and progression). I will talk more about all of that in the design portion of my review, but for the current article I want to forget all of that and just be another player of Need for Speed. Just as before, things do reoccur often in the game, especially after putting another couple of hours into the game. The game only has a few limiting tracks, so after about 2 races at each, which will take you a good two to three hours, you start to memorize them. At that point of memorizing the tracks, the races start to get ridiculously difficult, and you because you stress and get angry at the game because you know the tracks so well, but you still have to do everything absolutely 100 percent perfect to win certain races. I do always get annoyed with this aspect of not only NFS, but most racing games in general. Although upgrading and painting and modifying your car in almost anyway imaginable is a blast for a bit, there is still only so much time you can spend doing such, and then the irritating part of attempting perfection is back to your only goal. All in all the game play is terrific for the first hours (usually up to ten or fifteen, depending on how long it takes you beat the game and how many side missions you do afterwards), but then tends to get extremely repetitive, leaving the user completely bored with the game.






    Design
    Alright, now to the more analytical aspects of the game, the design! As I stated above the game all in all is very exciting for the first few hours you play it, and you keep glued to the game and can think of nothing else the entire time you are playing (which unfortunately led to me to missing class a few times). I have learned a lot more about game design since my last review so I want to rewrite this section of my aforementioned review as well. This game is definitely classified as a game of progression. You can use a walkthrough to tell you exactly what you need to do to complete the game, which races to do with which cars, which bosses you need to beat in which order, and the best strategies for side missions as well. The design of this game is terrific, or at least at the top of the line as far as racing games is concerned. So much effort is put into every small detail, including car information, attention to gravity and friction, and even the opponent’s effect on your outcome of driving. The game was well designed from this aspect because it really makes you feel like it is a real life racing event, as compared to the original driving games where the car only really has four sprites, one for each direction you are driving, so you feel as though you are driving a box on a square circuit.

    As mentioned before, the game can be quite challenging to a new player. Racing your opponents, especially the “bosses” requires near perfection, and the slightest slip-up can cost you the race, and the overall goal for your outcome you had desired. This does keep interesting, like I mentioned above, for about ten or fifteen hours, but then you get to see the same stuff over and over again, so you are left with nothing to do except setting the controller down, finally! Unfortunately, with this version of NFS multiplayer is available if you are sitting in the same room, but still not available online. If players were allowed to compete online, the game wouldn’t get boring after you defeat all the bosses and control the cities. This is one of the biggest things I look forward to in the upcoming NFS series games.

    The last thing I would like to discuss is the ending of the game, and your overall impression after completion. I beat the game in about twelve hours the very first time I played it. I missed a few classes, and almost called into work sick one day because I was so caught up on beating the game. After everything was complete, I was really let down by the fact that all I got was congratulations, you win!! All the cars were unlocked for me, I had a lot of money, and all upgrades and tracks were available too. The only problem with this was that I had no other races I needed to do anymore, all of them had been completed at least once. Therefore I had all these cars, money and upgrades, and no desire to use them what so ever. I played some of the side missions not dealing with your career, which kept me entertained for another hour or two, and then played some multiplayer, and still do every now and then. All of this said still left me not very entertained after a while, so one thing I do wish NFS would do is allow players to do missions online with other players to keep the game going with all of your cars and upgrades and money you earned from beating everything in the single player game. I am still very impressed with Need for Speed:Carbon and love how they pay attention to all the details, everything down to the cut scenes in between almost each race to keep the story going. Keep rocking, Need for Speed!!

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