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    Apr 25th, 2011 at 13:07:05     -    Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (360)

    Intro:
    The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a single player adventure role-playing game (RPG) for the Xbox 360 that was released in 2006. The game has a sandbox game-world and an epic main quest with a linear storyline. The main story of the game is that demonic gates to other dimensions, called Oblivion, have opened in an attempt conquer the peaceful world of Cyrodiil. The main quest is to close the gates and stop them from opening and taking over Cyrodiil.

    Game-world:
    The game-world in Oblivion takes place in the realm of Cyrodiil, on the continent of Tamriel. The game-world is massive and occupies around 16 square miles. The game-world has several major cities as well as hundreds of different places-of-interest spread throughout the world. These places-of-interest include dungeons, small villages, Oblivion gates, and many different and unique places.

    Features:
    One of the unique and most interesting features of Oblivion is that the player is free to explore and interact with the world in a wide variety of ways. There are several different classes, as well as different skills that can be leveled up which gives the player perks. Besides the first quest, the player is free to play the game in any way they desire, such as become a thief, assassin, merchant, or just explore the many dungeons for loot. The back-story of Oblivion is huge with over a hundred different books in the game that give history of the game-world and how it ties in with the previous games. Oblivion has two downloaded content, DLC, packs that expand the game; however, the game comes with a plethora of content and the DLC packs are primarily for people who have beat the game several times. Another one of Oblivion’s major unique features is the level up system. The only way for a character to level up is to use the particular skill that they want to level up. This usually equates to holding down or pressing a button repeatedly just to go up one level, which is especially tedious for higher levels.

    Play sessions:
    I had two major play sessions for this review. The first session composed of setting my character and completing the first quest then starting to explore the game-world. The second session was used to level my character up and to become a thief and a mage.

    First session:
    During the first game-play session, I started the game from the beginning by complete the tutorial mission that teaches the player how to play the game. The tutorial is quite long but interesting, and it is structured in a way that it still provides challenges for both experienced and new players alike. Once the first level was done, I exited the dungeon and began to start exploring the world. Almost every part of the game-world can be accessed after the first level is completed. Since I have played the game before, I knew of a couple of glitches which will allow my player to duplicate objects. So I spend most of the first session getting a lot of money then buy houses, weapons, armor, and potions, that a new player usually cannot afford; however, because most of Oblivion’s content is available from the start, I was able to acquire many high level items for my character rather quickly.

    Second session:
    The second game-play session was primarily spend progressing my character even further than the first session; however, this session focused more on making my character and the character’s items more powerful. The first part of the session was spent joining a thief’s guild so that I could more easily steal from NPCs who sometimes have powerful items that cannot be made by the player with magic. The second part of the game-play session was spend accessing the mage’s guild so that I could charm my weapon’s and armor to make them more powerful. Joining the mage’s guild requires a significantly higher effort than the thief’s guild. In order to join the thief’s guild the player only needs to complete one simple quest, but the mage’s guild requires a recommendation from each of the major cities in the game, which can take well over an hour even for someone who knows exactly what to do. The game-play session ended when my character’s items were maxed out as far as the game would allow.

    Overall:
    Overall, Oblivion is a fun open-world that allows players to approach the game from many different perspectives, which allows for many different replays of the same game. The game follows a standard RPG style approach by providing an epic main quest with a lot of back-story and side quest.

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    Mar 28th, 2011 at 21:51:09     -    Animal Crossing (GC)

    Intro:
    Animal Crossing is a life-simulation/role-playing game that was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. Animal Crossing has a two dimensional game-play, but is represented in a three dimensional world. The game is single player, but allows multiple players to play in the same game world at different times.

    Game world:
    In Animal Crossing, when a player starts the game for the first time, they must create a new world by giving it a name, each time a world is created the world is assigned random NPCs, non-playable characters; however, some NPCs are recurring in every game world, such as the shop keeper Nook. One of the most unique attributes of the game is that the game world reflects the setting of the GameCube’s clock. If the clock is set to winter, the game might have snow, but in the spring and summer the game would have rain. Also, the game world changes based if a month has passed from the last time the player has played the game, then the player’s house will have cockroaches and there will be weeds growing around the game world.

    Players:
    Animal Crossing supports multiple players, with up to four players, to play in the same world, but only one world can be created at a time. So if a new world is created it will destroy and replace the current world. Everything that a player does, good or bad, in the game world is reflected in every player’s game world because they all share the same world.
    Play sessions:
    I played two different play sessions. The first session involved me setting up the game and getting familiar with some in-game concepts. The second game-play session was focused more on customizing the game world and testing the system’s clock dependant feature of the game.

    First session:
    The first game-play session started out naming my character and naming the game world. Then, the store owner, Nook, sold me a house to live in and require me to perform some tasks to help pay the debt. The tasks were meant as a tutorial to show several of the different opportunities for making money. Most of the tasks were “fetch quest”, Nook wanted me to deliver something to or get something from another NPC who then sent me to another NPC. Most of the first session involved learning how to do different activities in the game such as fish, chop down trees, plant tree, and catch insects. After a short time, I was left to pursue my own ways of making money with a promise that I would pay off the house eventually. The first game-play session ended with me trying every different type of activity at least once.

    Second session:
    The first game-play session took place at night, so in the game world was also dark with lights on insides houses and some of the stores eventually closed. The second game-play session took place the next day and as with the night before reflected the time of day by being daylight, although in the game it was now raining. I spend the majority of the time chopping down trees, adding things to my house, and changing my clothes and umbrella design in an attempt to make the game world appeal more to me. Despite my efforts, the simple world was very mundane even after playing the game only a short while, and the ways of making money were very repetitive with very little reward. I started to use the in-game clock to cheat by changing the system clock to skip to different dates in the game. This worked nicely at first, but had some interesting consequences. The game world was littered with weeds, and my house was infested with bugs. I soon found that playing the game every day in an effort to maintain a very simple and limited game world is asking too much from a player, which is probably why most games have a faster game clock than normal time.

    Overall:
    I think that the most unique and interesting feature of Animal Crossing is the ability to make changes to the in-game world based on the date and time of the system’s clock, but the game punishes the player for skipping forward in time, also playing the game at specific times is pointless because all of the shops are closed. In the end, the game was fun, but putting an in-game event for Christmas, December 25, but punishing the player for skipping to that date is a bad design choice because it assumes anyone will rightfully be playing the game on a holiday even though playing the game without cheating would be very boring after a couple of consecutive days of play.

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    Jan 27th, 2011 at 18:37:05     -    Texas hold'em (Other)

    = Game =

    Texas hold'em is a variant of poker. Like most non-video games, Texas hold’em is for 2 or more players. It has the same basic scoring system as poker, but the difference being that each player receives only two cards. The game progresses through rounds which involve betting after the first cards are dealt, and then the dealer deals three more cards to the community, for every player to use. The community cards are placed in the center of the table and the objective is for each player to use their cards as well as the community cards to beat the other players. The community cards are dealt followed by a session of betting. The community cards are called the flop, turn, and river.

    = Strategy =

    Texas hold'em is played, like poker, on a point based system. All players start with a certain amount of points. The objective of the game is to gain other players’ points through betting. A player gets points by risking their own points against the other players. A player can win in two different ways. The first way to win a round is by having higher scoring cards than their opponents. The second way for a player to win a round is to "bluff" or convince their opponents that they have high scoring cards; therefore, the opponent will fold or quit the round because they do not want to risk losing points. The first tactic of winning is based purely on luck; therefore, it is a much more uncommon strategy because a player cannot master a game based on luck, and a game based entirely on luck rarely is capable of holding the player's attention for an extended period of time. In contrast, the second way of winning is based on skill and strategy. The skill involves controlling involuntary reactions such as happiness or disappointment to the cards dealt. Also, strategy is a major aspect of the game because a typical game involves several rounds where the final objective is to get all of the other players’ points. A common tactic is to get caught bluffing when the stakes are low and use it later to manipulate your opponent into "overplaying their hand" because they think the player is bluffing again, but the player will raise the stakes so that if they win they are gaining more points overall.

    = Game play =

    The games played are between two opponents using "chips", which are in game representations of money. Each player has 100 points worth of chips. Each chip is worth 10 points. The minimum amount that is allowed to be bet is 10 points, or one chip.

    First Session:

    In the first gameplay, both players were very cautious; therefore, the majority of the game was low betting and folds. The reason for this tactic is because both players were trying to figure the other player out and find a weakness or "tell". After a couple of rounds, one of the players started to loose most of their money, mostly due to bad luck so that the score was 150 versus 50. The first player, who was losing, starting raising the stakes and used a "rush" or "all in" strategy to intimidate the second player, who was winning. This strategy worked very well, and the score was almost tied up at 110 to 90, but once the first player started to catch up to the second player, who wanted to keep his lead, he started to call the bluff. This call resulted in the first player to lose every more chips which resulted in a 130 to 70 lead. Then, the losing player used his bluffing strategy to lure the winning player into calling his bluff. The losing player went all in and won the round which resulted in him having a score of 60 to 140, which eventually resulted in him winning all of the chips, and the game, a few rounds later.

    Second Session:

    The second gameplay was an unusual game of Texas hold'em for two reasons. The first is that, like the first game, winning a round with 30 or more points gives one player a significant advantage over the other player. The other reason is because both players had relatively high scoring hands throughout most of the game. Since Texas hold'em is based partially on luck, a player having a high scoring hand most rounds is a relatively low probability. For these reasons, the game was much shorter than the previous game. Another reason for this shorter game session is because both players felt more comfortable betting high, whereas the last game both players were nervous and cautious. The majority of the game was played with one player having a significant advantage over the other, such as 140 to 60. Eventually, one player decided to go all in while the score was 110 to 90, and the player with 90 lost the round which ended the game.

    = Overall =

    Texas hold'em is a fun game that is simple but challenging. Like most poker games it favors a person with a strong or aggressive personality during the game, which is ideal for a game based on gambling. The game is usually played with more chips, but both players found it fun and exciting to have a strong see-saw effect which added more excitement to the game.

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    1Animal Crossing (GC)Playing
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