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    Dec 7th, 2012 at 13:26:27     -    League of Legends (PC)

    This week the new free-to-play champion rotation included a champion I’ve had my eye on for a while but decided against purchasing as he’s fairly expensive.

    Brand, The Burning Vengeance, is a ranged mage type character who is able to burn the map up, and then some! His passive ability Blaze sets the target on fire, dealing damage over time for 4 seconds. His “Q” ability Sear shoots a fireball at the target, dealing magic damage. What makes Brand so cool is that each of his abilities has a different secondary effect in addition to the primary effect if the target is affected by his passive ability, Blaze. The secondary effect of Sear is a stun that lasts 2 seconds. His “W” ability is Pillar of Flame. This ability does area of effect damage to several targets at a time. If the target is set ablaze, Pillar of Flame will deal 25% additional damage. I like dropping this ability in front of running enemies if possible—it’s a sure kill if they are low on health and aren’t smart enough to flash away from it! His “E” ability Conflagration instantly deals magic damage to the target and sets them ablaze. If the target has been previously set ablaze, Conflagration will have an AoE effect and spread the Blaze passive effect as well. His ultimate ability, “Q,” is called Pyroclasm. This is basically a huge fireball that does a lot of damage to the target, and bounces from target to target up to four times. This ability is absolutely amazing in a situation where you are fighting several champions at once because it will nuke all of them via bouncing! This is where you begin to notice his amazing AoE damage. When you combine Pillar of Flame, Conflagration, and a Pyroclasm together it’s extremely hard for someone to survive.

    Today was my first time playing as Brand, but I must say, I loved it. I am seriously considering purchasing him now, even though my first game could have been against unskilled opponents or I had beginners luck. Either way, I can now see the potential that Brand has and the insane damage he can dish out quickly. In the game I played, I wasn’t even able to make it to level 18 before the opposing team surrendered, so I wasn’t fully built by any means. Seeing the damage I was putting out mid-game, I can’t even imagine what a monster Brand is late game, but I intend to find out!

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    Dec 7th, 2012 at 13:25:29     -    Halo 4 (360)

    The newly released Halo 4 from 343 Industries came out on November 6th of this year; however, I haven’t played a Halo title since Halo 2 came out with online capabilities via Xbox Live. As everyone was making such a big deal about it for different reasons, I decided that I’d take my girlfriends little brother to the midnight release thinking that others would share my level of indifference towards the series.

    I couldn’t have been more wrong—we got to GameStop about an hour early and there were already over one hundred people in line. Needless to say, I regretted my decision about this midnight release adventure.

    After several hours of shooting through hordes of aliens and online players, I felt slightly better, though. From what I remember about the series years ago, there were grunts, elites, and a few others monsters including bosses to kill. In Halo 4, 343 Industries has introduced several new types of enemies including the dog-like crawlers, which are aligned with the Forerunners (the aliens that want to kill you in this game). As always, the player still runs and guns through the eyes of Master Chief, but this time the heads up display literally has you looking out of his eyes—you can see the edges of his glass face plate while playing.

    In Halo 4 they also changed up the controls a little bit. They are now more like the infamous Call of Duty series, which I actually liked. I felt used to the controls already because they took after another widely played FPS that came before it, so I had no difficulty adjusting. The online mode didn’t seem terribly different than before, with the exceptions being new maps, better graphics, and one of the best new features, in my opinion, the loadout selection.

    I’ve read both positive and negative feedback on this feature, but I like it. Sure, it makes Halo 4 all that much more similar to Call of Duty, but that aside, it gives players much more diversity and more options when playing online. Customizability is everything nowadays, so if you’re given the option to change something about your character for the better, why not?

    I haven’t beaten the game yet, but I hear the campaign is very satisfying as well. I’ve gotten through several hours of it, so I can agree so far. Again, it doesn’t feel like an entirely different formula in comparison to the Halo I knew years ago, but it’s enough to keep me plowing through both the online and offline content. Shoot a LOT to kill stuff, jump REALLY high, and talk SUPER dramatically to Cortana—yep, still Halo, but definitely better than before.

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    Dec 5th, 2012 at 14:07:52     -    Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360)

    Recently I got the chance to play the newest installment of the Call of Duty series, Black Ops II. To me, Call of Duty has always been satisfying, but almost every time I bring it up amongst friends I get dirty looks and laughs. After reading a couple articles and reviews by others, I’ve come to a few conclusions that I’ll include in my own review below.

    Black Ops II is the umpteenth game in the Call of Duty series. Over the past couple years players have been picking up on static gameplay ideas and argue that each game is the same game that came out the year before, but with a new coat of paint laid on. After playing, I can validate this—but at the same time isn’t that kind of the point? You can’t hate a dog for being a dog. I’ve been playing Call of Duty since Modern Warfare 2 was released, so I suppose I’m not a veteran of the series quite yet; however, when I log on to play CoD I get exactly what I am looking for—mindless run and gun action! If I wanted a deep story or some emotional attachments to an in-game character I wouldn’t play CoD. Call me shallow, but the subtle changes in gameplay/guns/skins are just enough to keep me interested and get my sixty dollars each year. Honestly, I picked up Guild Wars 2 this August as well and haven’t had the time to play it because I can easily sink three to four hours of time into a single sitting of it. I can’t afford to do that during school semesters so I simply don’t play often because I know I don’t have the time to get hooked on the story/characters/gameplay like I want to. That alone leads me to other games with generally shorter play sessions. While on the topic, League of Legends is one of the most popular games in the world and is extremely repetitious. They do a good job of masking it through frequent character releases and little DLC, but it’s essentially Team Deathmatch on a smaller scale with magic and swords instead of guns.

    As for Black Ops II, I obviously like it. It handles a bit differently than its predecessor Modern Warfare 3, but that is to be expected as Treyarch and Infinity Ward shift each year putting out Call of Duty. The multiplayer is fundamentally the same as it always is with the usual game modes, but again, that is the formula they became successful for in the first place.

    Recently I have been trying to set up some customizable classes to get used to. Originally, I was disappointed to find that there is little to no recoil in Black Ops II. After playing around with some gun/loadout combinations, I realized that there IS recoil, it’s just poorly reflected through the crosshairs. This makes it difficult when running and gunning and confronting an enemy that is slightly out of the close range combat zone. A good player will retreat and draw the enemy to them, assuming they aren’t quicker than you and just shoot you in the back. That is about my only gripe with Black Ops II, other than the fact that I always get used to my old loadouts and killstreaks and need to adjust, but that is expected.

    Other than that it’s the same Call of Duty you’ve always loved (or hated). Guns, explosions, killing stuff—fun.

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    Nov 24th, 2012 at 11:39:17     -    Cut The Rope (iPd)

    Cut the Rope is a touch based iOS game in which the objective is to get a piece of candy into the mouth of an adorable little alien, animal thing. Seems easy enough right? Wrong!

    Similar to Angry Birds, Cut the Rope uses a 3-star rating system. The difference is that the player needs to collect the three stars within the level in Cut the Rope. You only need to collect one to advance to the next level, but I usually try for three unless I am truly stumped. The more stars you collect within the level, the higher your score will be at the end. There are also achievements to be had for certain things as well.

    One thing I really enjoy in Cut the Rope is the amount of thought and creativity put into each “box,” or theme that contains sets of levels. Each of these different themed boxes contains levels with specific mechanics, beginning with the simplest mechanic—cut the rope!

    As you progress through levels and boxes, you will find things like magic hats that teleport pieces of candy from one hat to another, objects that blow the candy in certain directions, and even bubbles that will cause the candy to float upwards. When you combine all of these together, it can make for quite a difficult puzzle.

    Currently, I am playing through levels in the “toy box.” The mechanic introduced in the toy box is bouncing via bounce pads. This basically lets you swing the candy from a rope into the pad in order to bounce it into another object. I’m not particularly fond of these; however, they can be quite useful in some levels and are amusing to watch when the candy can bounce freely between several of them.

    I picked this game up over a year or so ago, beat all the levels they had developed, and put it down. Just recently I picked it back up and found myself playing through all the new content—I’ll enjoy it just as I did before and can’t wait for even more levels!

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    Entries written to date: 16
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    1Call of Duty: Black Ops II (360)Playing
    2Cut The Rope (iPd)Playing
    3Guild Wars 2 (PC)Playing
    4Halo 4 (360)Playing
    5Jetpack Joyride (iPd)Playing
    6League of Legends (PC)Playing
    7Skylanders: Giants (Wii)Playing
    8Zenforms: Protectors (iPd)Playing

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