Where can I get a towel that allows me to run from a serial killer all sexy-like?

As I sit here, in a cold doctor’s office, waiting for my name to be called, I found my mind drifting off to the events of the Playstation Experience. I was able to play some of the demos that were available on the show floor, and thanks to the “scary moments montage” from my Evil Within montage, several friends urged me to play the Until Dawn demo.

I am a fan of the Oreo effect, so I will list my opinions as such: good, bad, good.

Also note, I understand that this is just a demo and that gameplay is subject to change in the final product and I also understand that there are more characters you can choose in the final game. My opinion is strictly regarding the demo and I how I felt about what was chosen to be experienced by the public.

I love video games when they allow you to become immersed in their environments. I also love cheesy horror flicks as well. First impression of Until Dawn is that the graphics are beautiful. The voice acting was great and the environment of “you are a mouse in a huge maze of a house” was established early. If you love horror slasher films, this is right up your alley. The gameplay itself reminded me of Indigo Prophecy. I don’t play a lot of cinematic interactive games but you basically are placed in a situation and you choose option A or B. It’s not as involved as say, Walking Dead, and I was only able to experience one playthrough but you’re given options such as “hide”, “run” and “throw vase” and the character acts accordingly.

My biggest issue with the demo was not that a typical horrified female character was selected and being chased around a huge mansion by a serial killer in a clown mask. My issue was that there was a typical horrified female character being chased around by a serial killer in a clown mask and she was wearing nothing but a towel the whole time.

Come on. Any woman who has stepped out of a shower and wrapped herself in a towel knows full well that said barrier of flimsy fabric does not stay on for more than a minute even standing still. Almost every response I heard from a woman who played the demo was “is that glued on her?” That should not be the first thing we think when giving feedback on a horror game. You want the feedback to be “holy crap, that have me a heart attack!”

I’m not even angrily arguing that a barely clothed woman took the main stage and is a near helpless victim in the demo. We have to give some leniency to video game logic (like where the crap did Ada Wong keep that rocket launcher in RE4), but the lack of realism in the Until Dawn demo really took me out of the experience. It doesn’t take much to get cut out of an experience. In some cases, it’s bad dialogue, a misplaced scene, or a character that brings absolutely nothing to the table. In this case, it’s a damn towel.

That being written, I did enjoy the atmosphere of the demo. I’m a very aural person, so the jump scares came when the grandfather clock chimed and the anxiety built up when I heard…nothing. The mansion or vacation home you are placed in is HUGE. Of course, all the lights are off and hearing the character freak out while walking around was a nice touch. The area shown in the demo would be a great place to play hide and seek so long as the person who is “it” isn’t trying to kill you. There’s footage of me jumping and screaming so the atmosphere really got me (thanks for the video Keanu and Bret.) It would have been great if the demo was somehow enclosed so people playing it could get that sense of isolation. But the headphones that were available at the demo were fantastic so it made up for seeing tons of people walking around in my peripheral.

And I did think to myself that I wanted to continue playing but it was more for the mechanics of the game. The demo was maybe 6-7 minutes. I cleared it in ten because I had to readjust direction/controller habits since I’m so used to playing third person over the shoulder games. Until Dawn has a very early Resident Evil feel to it.

You may or may not ask “so if you’re complaining about the towel issue, what’s your resolution?” Easy. Bathrobe.

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Functional piece of clothing that a woman who has just gotten out of bath will wear. It makes sense. It’s still “appealing” if the game devs were worried about the sexy factor rather/more than the horror factor.

The other playable characters will determine if I purchase Until Dawn. On the bright side, the demo character will be easy to cosplay.

Either way, I will be looking forward to future reviews and maybe even some let’s plays. Horror is still an entertaining genre in the video game culture, and I would like to see the final product of this game in particular.

If you don’t have a copy of Southpark: The Stick of Truth, then roshambo somebody to get one

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I was going to write this as a “first impressions” post, but I was completely sucked into this game and before I knew it, I had logged almost 12+ hours on my Raptr account. Those who follow me on Twitter pretty much received a butt-ton of spam because I was very excited to get my hands on this game. I’m a huge fan of Southpark plus I love the games that Obsidian Entertainment have dished out over the years. One of the most common questions I have been asked over the last day was “so how much of it is like the actual show?” The answer? EVERYTHING. The characters are the same, the voices are the same, you are truly screwing around in what feels like a long episode of Southpark.

You start out creating a character, playing the new kid (who is seemingly mute) and just moved into town. From there on out, you are caught in epic fantasy RPG goodness. You are recruited by Cartman who has assumed the role of a grand wizard, and he and his human army are battling the elves for ownership over the Stick of Truth. Of course, this is Sourthpark we are talking about, so things are hardly as simple they seem in the beginning. I do not want to spoil anything for you folks, so I will just say that you can easily go from leveling up your class (Fighter, Mage, Thief or Jew… yes, Jew) to acquiring friends on FB, possibly getting probed by aliens and getting teabagged in the worst possible way in a very short amount of time.

The gameplay. You are free to roam around the town of Southpark, meeting new people, and collecting new quests along the way. Exclamation points on your town map indicate that you have active quests that need to be handled. Throughout the game, you will run into random battles that will definitely help with leveling up.

A nice little feature that is added into the game is the benefits of social media. The more friends you gain, the more battle perks you can choose and receive. On your main menu, you can see your FB page and random posts made by your new friends. While you cannot like posts or create your own, the interactions between all the characters is well worth this feature.

The battle system is classic turn based and SoT does a wonderful job of implementing all the features that players love to see in an RPG. If you’ve played Dragon Age, then you will feel comfortable with the “ability wheel” interface that SoT uses. It’s very simple to use, and it doesn’t clutter your screen. The creativity behind the weapons and armor you come across has really floored me. This is an amazing RPG but you reminded that your character is in the 4th grade. One of my favorite weapons is the Axe of Stopping. It is essentially a stop sign that is cut into the shape of an axe and it causes Slow in battle. Love it.

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Courtesy of nowgamer.com

I’m only on my first playthrough, and I’ve chosen Fighter. What can I say, I love to tank.  Eventually, you will be equipped with a melee weapon, a ranged weapon, and “magical abilities” that come in the form of gas. Not the natural kind, the gastrointestinal kind. You are also accompanied by one companion though once you acquire more than one, you are given the option to switch out companions during battle. You can also use an item and attack an enemy in the same turn. This really makes up for the lack of a third party member.

Surprisingly, the music is magical. Stepping out into the neighborhood, you feel like you’re listening to a mixed soundtrack of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. And if you step into Cartman’s room and you switch on his radio, you can listen to that turd sing about Kyle’s mom. Link provided in case you somehow forgot that classic Cartman composition. As essential as the visuals are, the game really caters to the audio experience as well. Don’t forget to stop and listen in on what’s going on in your current location. Characters will even “bark” at you during battle and when you are roaming the streets.

Everything added into this game pays excellent homage to tons of Southpark episodes. You will even be able to hear Chef’s sultry tones during one point of the game. I’m only 12 hours into SoT, and I’ve come across Mr. Hanky, crab people, underwear stealing gnomes, probing aliens, noncomformist Goths, and ManBearPig. As new as seeing the Southpark boys becoming RPG characters is, there is a ton of throwback in the game that makes you remember why you fell in love with the series. The team at Obsidian really did their homework, and I couldn’t be happier with how this game has turned out. I do have to agree with IGN’s Ryan McCaffrey when he writes, “if its first couple hours are any indication, then we may one day soon look back on The Stick of Truth as the best and most authentic licensed game ever made.”

In short, this game makes up for Team America 2 never being created. I’m being super cereal, guys.

Congrats to Team Obsidian, Team Ubisoft and to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. You all have created one hell of a gem. 

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TellTale Games’ The Walking Dead rips out your heart in a good way. Honest!

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THIS WILL CONTAIN MILD SPOILERS. I will not include huge plot reveals, but some spoilers may sneak in here. 

If you are on the fence about playing The Walking Dead game created by TellTale Games, here is another review to push you in that direction. Even if you haven’t seen the show, you can still enjoy everything that the game offers. Like any zombie game, the undead are around every corner waiting to sink their teeth into you. But even though the end of the world is apparent all around you, that is not what this game is about at all. It’s all about choices, decisions that you make based on your logic, morals and compassion (or lack of these qualities).

You play as Lee Everett, a seemingly average guy that is being hauled off to prison in the intro of the game. Clichéd as it is, your escort runs into “something” and your car crashes. You experience your first confrontation with the undead and you manage to escape. Terrified and lost, you come across an abandoned neighborhood and find a little girl named Clementine surviving on her own. You are now her protector and you both take on the path of survival against the undead.

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TWD plays out just like a TV show; it is set up to progress in episodic intervals. In total, there are five episodes and a special episode that can be played afterward. I completed the game in just over four hours, and while short, the game packs one hell of an emotional punch to the gut and there is high replay value. Every time you start up the game, you will see a message like “the game is tailored to how you play” so you can have a different experience each time you go through the story.

I played TWD on the PS Vita though it is available on the Xbox 360, PS3, Ouya, PC/Mac, and iOS as well. The gameplay is simple enough as it is mostly just walking around and clicking on items and people to interact with. The core of the game is how you decide to progress. The simplest decisions you will be making is who you want to save and who will die because of that choice. You will not get all the time in the world to make these choices either. So read quickly, process your thoughts and hope that you make the best choice possible in your situation. No matter what you choose, you will make allies and you will make enemies.

You will be responsible for cooling tempers/adding to the fire, saving lives/not saving lives, deciding if the group will stand together or be destroyed, and above all else, you are responsible for Clementine. How will you raise her? Will you make the best parent? Do you treat her as a child or an adult given the circumstances? TWD will constantly test your morality and will make you realize that there is no right or wrong, just survival. Will you be sympathetic to your fellow survivors or will your emotions get the best of you and make you snap? TellTale does a fantastic job of making you responding quickly to situations and experiencing immediate backlash from your group whether positive or negative.

This game may even make you question your own morality. Why did you choose that? Did you really make the best decision you could or did you panic? Is that what you would really do in that situation? If anything, TWD is an eye opener into yourself and what you consider worth saving and fighting for. So grab your tissues and maybe down a drink or two because TWD will pull at the heartstrings. And guys, this is just Season 1.

Heroes of Dragon Age mobile game receives 3/5 stars from me!

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I was so excited when Bioware/EA launched the Heroes of Dragon Age mobile app back in early December. That and another replay of Origins and DA2 would hold me over until Inquisition is released later this year.

What is the point of the game? You acquire various “heroes” and journey through the history of Thedas starting with the First Blight. There are ten maps to clear (that I have seen so far), and each map contains five areas that must be unlocked by destroying the enemies that stand in your way. The heroes that you control range from familiar faces like Morrigan, Sebastian, and Anders to Desire Demons, Revenants, and Abominations. Yes, you can have characters that are normally known as enemies and villains in your party.

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To start off, you are given four heroes and a large animal or magical creature as a fifth member. The picture above shows a typical PvP match. The blue bar on the top left displays the party’s overall level, the yellow meter (energy) divided into squares indicates how many times you may visit a map and battle , and the pink meter (stamina) shows how many times you may participate in PvP matches.

How do you acquire more heroes? After each quest battle, you win gold and experience in typical RPG fashion. Head on over to the store and you can purchase a hero pack. Each hero has a colored pedestal that indicates the rarity and quality of said hero. Here is a basic breakdown of those colors:

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Brown = Common Hero

Silver = Uncommon Hero

Gold = Rare Hero

Red = Epic Hero

Green = Legendary Hero

The common and uncommon heroes can be purchased with gold while all other heroes can be purchased with gems. There are two ways to gain gems. One, you can win them by clearing challenges and maps in the quest lines or you can (you guessed it!) buy them with real money. It is extremely difficult to get an epic of legendary hero if you are not willing to spend real money. I have been playing the game since it launched in December and I have yet to get a legendary hero. It is, however, possible to get a rare hero by purchasing the uncommon pack; the chances are just very slim.

The heroes have their own stats and unique abilities that come into play when you create your ultimate party, but there is a feature in this game that really surprised me.  The actual fighting is on autopilot. When you enter battle, you click and watch. You don’t control your party in any way. This feature really takes away the experience of the classic turned based battling system in an RPG and it sometimes makes me rage quit in PvP matches. I somehow lost to parties ten levels lower than me, and I have no idea how that was possible. The only option you are given during battle is to fast forward through the battle and pick up your rewards seconds later. A positive to note is that your party’s health is completely restored after each battle.

The only other downside I’ve experienced with this game is the unbalanced leveling system. It takes quite a long time to level up and once you believe you can progress in the game, the next challenge in your way knocks the ice cream cone out of your hand and leaves you crying in a corner. Not literally, but you feel that way. I just cleared map five, barely surviving the boss battle at level 30 and the first battle (the easiest on every map) on map 6 has level 50 enemies. Sad face.

I believe in the Oreo effect, so I will end this review on the positive note. You do get a camp! Here you can have your primary heroes “consume” ones that you will no longer use and in turn you gain more experience! There is also a combining feature as well in case you happen to have identical heroes. Again, this helps your hero gain more experience and become even more badass.

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Overall thoughts.

Visuals: LOVE THEM.

Characters available: LOVE THEM

Music: Loops a bit, so I use my own playlist. HUZZAH INON ZUR.

Gameplay: Good

UI: Nice. Easy to use.

Battling System: Bioware, you owe me an ice cream cone

Zelda: A Link Between Worlds has stolen my heart!

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THIS REVIEW WILL CONTAIN MINOR SPOILERS. I do my best not to ruin key points for anyone, but there are some things that I will discuss that may be considered “spoiler-ish”, so this is my warning to you.

Too often have I said that revamps and remakes of great classics have come up short. My opinion on ALBW couldn’t be more opposite. I couldn’t put my 3DS for four days, and I managed to beat Ganon two days ago. Yes, my Christmas wish was to save Hyrule.

Just like Link to the Past, you take control of  Link, a seemingly innocent and average young man that is destined to wake up late to work every day for the rest of his life. However, in ALBW, there is no uncle that charges into Hyrule Castle to save Princess Zelda. In fact, the house you wake up in is yours, you have a friend named Gulley and you work for his father, the Blacksmith.

The foundation for a story has been set. While A Link to the Past did have its own story, it did seem to lack substance. It thrust you into the role of hero very early on and suddenly, you were on your adventure to save the kingdom. ALBW did that in a much more subtle manner. It grounded you first before you came to everyone’s rescue.

Gulley wakes you up because you tended to sleep in on your work days, and you both rush to the Blacksmith’s shop. The captain of Hyrule’s guard forgets his sword at the shop and you are tasked with tracking him down and giving it back to him. You end up in the Sanctuary (ALttP players will recognize this structure very well) and you run into one of the main villains of the game. Yuga, who we assume replaces the Wizard character from ALttP, kidnaps a woman named Seres by turning her into a painting and takes her away.When I saw Yuga, I immediately thought of Kefka from FFVI. Yuga explains early on that he wants to remake the world into his own image, a place of a destructive beauty.  

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You can guess what happens next. He goes after Zelda. Here, I will stop explaining the main story arc and talk about the main similarities and differences between the two games. One of the biggest differences is your interaction with the NPCs. I loved that you could talk to them and get a better feel of the world. When you enter Hyrule Castle, you learn of Hyrule’s history and of a prophecy that a hero will emerge, conquer evil, and save the kingdom. You even get to interact a little bit with the witch that brews your health potions and the sea queen that gives you flippers so you can swim.

Just like ALttP, you are must acquire the three Pendants of Virtue, the Master Sword and save the seven victims who were kidnapped and sent to various locations in the dark world. In ALBW, the dark world is called Lorule. There you meet Princess Hilda who saves you from Yuga. She is a dark version of Zelda.

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At this point in the game, you are not strong enough to take him on. There is no large Pyramid that you have to break into in order to fight Ganon. The iconic Pyramid is actually not needed at all thanks to the brilliant writing in ALBW.

Each of the seven people you save in Lorule has a background, they have personalities and they each directly influence you in some way. This is something we never saw or experienced in ALttP. We saw seven women being kidnapped and we knew we had to save them. That’s it. With ALBW, you interact with each person before they are kidnapped by Yuga, so you have more of a reason to want to save them other than obligatory hero objectives.

Another huge difference is a new character named Ravio. While you are adventuring between Hyruleand Lorule, Ravio sets up a shop in your house. This is where you can rentor buy items needed to progress in the game such as the ice/fire rods, bombs, the boomerang etc… Everything you need will be in your house. However, items such as the shield and Power Glove, you will have to find elsewhere, but I don’t want to spoil much for you lovely people.

How you are transported between Hyrule and Lorule is quite different as well. At one point in the game, Yuga turns you into a painting. You manage to escape but you find that you are capable of merging into walls and traveling along them. This simple technique/power opens up unique gameplay in ALBW.  You need to find cracks and crevices in both kingdoms in order to reach certain areas. Dungeons have also been revamped to accommodate this new skill. Some dungeons and bosses are very similar and others are a brand new experience. 

Overall, ALBW is an excellent remake of the 1991 classic RPG. There is a such a fantastic balance of old and new, giving the player feelings of nostalgia and surprise. The main story arc is beautiful (I even cried at the end), and the music is so reminiscent. I didn’t think it was possible, but I stand by my opinion that A Link Between Worlds surpasses A Link to the Past. However, it could not have been done without a strong foundation to build upon.

If you haven’t played either of these wonderful games, please do so. They are special gems that will stand out in every game library.

New Guilty Pleasure: A mobile app called Tiny Tower

Thanks to technology, I find my attention span shorter than my 4’11” mother. I absentmindedly reach for my phone and open the mobile apps that currently litter the first two pages of my “iphone desktop”. Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I found myself downloading Tiny Tower, a free mobile app available for iOS and Android, created by NimbleBit. It starts off with a very easy to understand 2 minute tutorial and then off you go to build your tower full of 8bit sims or bitizens.

It’s a basic concept. In order to add more floors to your tower, you need to build shops, restaurants, etc… and in order for those levels to be successful you need to hire competent workers. When you build a residential floor, five bitizens can move in, and they each have their own skillsets. Match their skills with a suitable business, and you will receive a discount whenever you need to restock your inventory. Three bitizens can be assigned to one business floor and five bitizens can move into a residential floor.

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One of the hooks for me is that you can rename the floors, customize their colors, and you can also customize the colors of the clothes your bitizens wear. If you are feeling particularly mean or evil, you can also evict bitizens that do not fit your business needs.

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How do you get money to build more stuff? Once a floor is created and workers have been assigned, random bitizens will make purchases on that floor and that is how you obtain income. Once a day, you will also receive rent money from the residential floors.

How does real money get involved? There’s always a hook to make real life purchases with these apps. If you notice in the above picture, there is a little green rectangle that resembles a standard cash bill. You can accumulate these in the following ways:

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1) Random bitizens will enter an elevator and request that you send them to a certain floor. There will be instances when that sim will “tip” you a Tower Buck.

2) Occasionally, there will be a “find the sim” moment where you are given a picture of a sim that needs to be located and you must look through each floor to find that sim. A Tower Buck is rewarded to you once the target is found.

3) If a bitizen is assigned to their dream job, you will be awarded two Tower Bucks.

4) If you build a new floor, you are rewarded a Tower Buck.

5) And of course, if you want to, you can pay real money to get Tower Bucks.

Why are Tower Bucks so special? The gold coins are used for restocking inventory and for building a new floor. Tower Bucks are essential because they affect the time factor of the game. Example: if a new floor is being built, it may take a couple of hours (in real time) to be completed. You can use Tower Bucks to speed up the process so that the floor is finished immediately. It is the same concept for restocking inventory of your businesses. Out of sushi? It may take 30 minutes in order to restock the ahi tuna; however, if you spend a Tower Buck, your stock will be replenished immediately.

Special note: Sometimes you will have VIP visitors and each of them have a different function. Some will buy out your entire floor’s inventory while others will help find bitizens to rent rooms from you. Be sure to use them wisely.

And of course, the higher the tower, the longer it will take to maintain everything. All in all, I really love this game and it has kept me entertained for days.  And if I’m ever caught waiting for something to be built or restocked, I just head on over to Candy Crush or Dungeon Raid for puzzle goodness.

Special observation: If you have an iPhone 5, your tower will look longer. Just sayin’.