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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:33:16     -    Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (N64)

    Session #2
    Gameplay:
    For my second round of game playing I decided to utilize the “Career Mode” on “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.” And after playing a little while I came to realize that finding the letters in the word “skate” is not the only way to obtain a tape (needed for level advancement). You can also earn tapes by reaching a specific point goal, which can arise from doing an array of tricks. When you do a trick (by pressing a combination of buttons on the control panel) you gain a specific amount of points depending on the difficulty of the trick, the amount of rotation involved and the rarity that the player performs the trick. When doing a trick the number of points earned and the name of the trick is displayed. Trick names include “360 Rocket Air,” “Switch Madonna” and “360 Finger Flip” and on the side of the screen tips and suggestions pop up such as “Finish tricks before landing” and “land straight to avoid bailing.”
    After “Career Mode” I tried the “Single Session Mode,” which I actually like better. “Single Session Mode” is the perfect combination of the difficulty and limited atmosphere that “Career Mode” provides and the free-roaming practice that “Free Skate” provides. While I felt I had to do well and improve, I also felt that I had room to make mistakes and try new tricks without a lot of consequences. It is in “Free Skate” that I noticed that after using the same trick multiple times its point value diminished. This is a very clever and effective way to make sure the players aren’t just racking up points with a single move and actually exploring the variety the game has to offer.

    Design:
    The first thing that I was drawn to about the design of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” was the fact that I could choose the location that my skateboarder skated in. The location options included familiar places such as my home of San Francisco and many other skateboarding havens. The fact that they provide these realistic locations makes the game not only appear more life-like but it also appeals to a person’s human side. It makes me think that, “maybe I recognize this area,” or “I have been there before.” The three-dimensional look of the game, in addition to the effective camera angles, only add to the fun experience of wielding around obstacles and doing innovative tricks.
    Another aspect of the game that caught my attention was the real-life skaters that where the characters involved. At the beginning of the game you are able to choose which character you want to perform as and all of the names are those of actual professional skaters. From Tony Hawk himself to lesser-known professionals, the game is filled with talent. You can look at their statistics and make a personal choice as to whom you want to play as. While I am not an expert with skateboarding and those involved I can tell that this aspect of the game could greatly appeal to actual skateboarding aficionados.

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    Mar 6th, 2008 at 02:07:51     -    Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (N64)

    Session #1
    Summary:
    “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” is a game in which the player can pick a character and location and skate around. The player earns points by doing tricks and completing levels within a specific time limit.

    Gameplay:
    For the initial forty-five minutes of playing “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” I attempted to merely get comfortable skating in the direction I intended to go, jumping and maneuvering around obstacles. Because I knew that I simply wanted to get used to the feel of the game I chose the mode “Free Skate,” which allows you to try tricks, skate around and practice in an environment without a time limit. This mode made it far less stressful than it would have been otherwise for a person who is playing the game – or a game like it for the first time.
    If had not chosen “Free Skate” for my first forty-five minute session I had the two other options of “Career Mode” and “Single Session.” In career mode, instead of just skating around a skate park, there is a goal and a way to achieve this goal. The player must obtain five tapes (reflecting professional skateboarders who have to create video footage of their skating in order to make money) by locating and taking the five letters S-K-A-T-E in the chosen skating environment. When the player finds the letters and gains the prize tapes he/she is able to move ahead in the levels. The “Single Session Mode” is a mode in which the player has two minutes to do as many of the best tricks he/she can in attempt to gain as many points as possible. While I only briefly explored these to other options within my first forty-five minutes of playing I looked forward to delving more into them within the next session.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 18:13:30     -    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)

    Entry #2
    Game play:
    My second session of for-five minutes of playing “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” I attempted to focus more on accomplishing tasks. I tried to find ways to complete missions because I knew from talking to other “Vice City” gamers that the only way to unlock additional areas of the city was to improve and complete tasks. However the missions were confusing and far more difficult than I had anticipated. This not only made me resort back to just cruising around the 1980s version of Miami, it also made me respect the abilities of those who play this game more avidly because it is not that simple.
    Another thing that I noticed during my second round of “Grand Theft Auto” is that the more havoc I create (from stealing a motorcycle to killing a gangster) the more attention I attract. So depending on whether I want to spend my time running from police men and gang members out to get me or I want to peacefully mosey around the city I can easily make the choice for myself. And while I think that it is possible to get positive reactions from gang members, I was not able to create this relationship and found that the behavior of other criminals were equally destructive as my own. I found that my actions helped dictate the outcome of the game (whether or not police chased me and whether or not other criminals attacked me).

    Design:
    The first thing that came to mind when I was simply tooling around the dated city of Miami, Florida was how much it reminded me of Google Earth. I have always enjoyed scoping out my house, my friends’ houses, our schools and favorite landmarks in our individual cities on the amazing system of Google Earth. And playing “Vice City” (with its realistic-looking streets, houses, beaches and parks) I felt like I was cruising through satellite images of Miami.
    The colors and images of the game are key to bringing us back to the 1980s (when the game is supposed to take place). By using bright colors, sunglasses, shirts, and cars reminiscent of the time period the game takes the players in and really completes the package. The game takes images and ideas from the hit television “Miami Vice” which could possibly broaden the target demographic by including older generations who were not only around for the television show, but also possibly were big fans.
    Another aspect of the game that attracts me is how different it is from any other game that I had previously played. In most games that I have played there is a specific task or goal involved. In this game it almost seemed like the goal of the game was just to check out the city and take on the role of someone far different than you. It was only after the second session that I realized that it is possible that that is the exact reason so many people are so interested in the “Grand Theft Auto” games. It gives you the unique opportunity to step outside of your own life and act as a person that lives in a world with no consequences for your actions.

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    Feb 20th, 2008 at 18:12:19     -    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)

    Entry #1
    Summary:
    “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” is an action filled game in which the main character kills and steals in order to win back what he feels has been taken from him. Just getting out of jail the main character, Tommy Vercetti, is running from cops, murdering bystanders and stealing vehicles throughout the city of Miami, Florida.

    Game play:
    When I began playing “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” it was difficult and confusing to say the least. Getting used to using the different buttons to create distinct actions was hard to master, so I focused my first forty-five minute session on just doing simple actions such as stealing a car or motorcycle or hitting and beating up strangers. While it is fun and interesting to cruise around the city of Miami (seeing sites and beaches that actually reside in Miami) I have never played a game in which the goals are so violent and mean-spirited. Although I thought that watching myself (through the character of Tommy) beating up prostitutes would depress me and bring me no joy, I found myself getting excited and enthusiastic every time I found a new weapon or stole a new car. With a group of people surrounding me I was able to work through the game and not feel sad or guilty about the images I was seeing. It made me reconsider my critical outlook on games like “Vice City.”
    I used to think that violent games were unnecessary and even harmful for children (also teenagers and adults). However after playing my first round I came to realize that the killing and stealing do not really affect me and that it is not far different than any other game that has activities and a goal. Instead of dwelling on the negative aspects of the violent “Grand Theft Auto” I got interested and became excited when to find more victims or vehicles – whether or not that is a positive thing is beyond me.

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