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What to look for in a gaming laptop

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Buying a gaming desktop or laptop is a big commitment. However, if you get a machine powerful enough, it can provide years of entertainment. Desktops are cheaper and easier to upgrade so if you don’t need portability, you can get more machine for your money that way. No matter which route you go, the advice in this article is applicable for both systems.

Generally speaking, with gaming laptops, you have the classic 'pick two' rule: Power/Specs, Size/build quality, Affordability - pick two. The slimmer and lighter something is, the less powerful - unless you are willing to pay more for it. There are relatively affordable gaming laptops that are significantly less expensive than the thin and powerful variety, but they are usually an inch thicker or more. It's only on the very high end where no matter how much you spend it won't be thin (like SLI video cards and such).

All system types discussed herein are assumed to be Windows computers. Macs can play some games, as can Linux, but they are sadly limited. And while Linux can actually use much of the same hardware as Windows, so most of this guide still applies (with the caveat that OS and hardware support is all on your own), you are still limited on game selection (though you may learn other useful technology skills!). On Mac, you are limited to the maximum of a midrange gaming GPU - for their top of the line Macbook Pro prices. Typically, I would say that people who purchase Mac computers do not or should not choose them with primarily gaming in mind. This is something that Apple Corp. has simply chosen to ignore; they do have the power to fix it if they so choose. Instead, Apple has pre-chosen size and build quality as their sole focus, which is dandy, but they do not make gaming capable laptops, and what they do offer is extremely expensive.

The first step in purchasing a gaming machine is to determine your budget. Faster machines are more expensive and there is no way around that. Most laptops come with Intel graphics but if you want to do some serious gaming, you’ll have to pay a premium for AMD or Nvidia graphics. If you plan on doing VR with your system, you’re going to want a GeForce GTX 1060 at least. Anything faster is, you guessed it, more money.

Another thing to consider is current year vs. previous models. Generally the rule I follow is that it's okay with CPUs, but tread carefully when comparing last generation GPUs. While in principle older models are okay and a decent compromise if the price is right, realize that each new GPU model year, especially when there is a new process node or architecture, dramatically decreases power usage while simultaneously increasing performance. For example, the NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB is in most cases more powerful than the GTX 980M - and uses far less power doing it, at a much better price to boot. The GTX 1070+ naturally blows the doors off of anything available in the mobile space before.

The best resource available, when comparing notebook graphics chips, is this tool from notebookcheck.net:

https://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benchmark-List.844.0.html

As you can see, at the time of this publication, NVIDIA owns the high end space, and it's been that way for several years.

When it comes to the CPU, newer models are still better, but not nearly as dramatic as it is when comparing GPUs. For example, the Intel i7 6700HQ is only about 200-300MHz difference between that and the newer i7 7700HQ. There is a difference, but it's not worth spending a lot more for, though at similar prices, obviously get the newer one.

When it comes to gaming, the priorities are GPU first, then CPU, then RAM and storage. You would want no less than 8GB of RAM (and 16GB is better). More is not necessary. I highly recommend a SSD drive for the OS, but that can sometimes come later as an add-on if you are technical enough to clone it there, though it should be standard on any laptop >$1000. There are other considerations, like whether you hope to hook up the computer to external monitor(s) or not, or whether built-in speaker sound quality is important to you or not.

For the record, almost all gaming laptops lack a touchscreen.

Generally, the price to performance brackets go somewhat like this:

<$800: There are significant compromises. Typically you only find integrated video for less than $800, or last year's models of dedicated GPUs. AMD has the brand new Ryzen Mobile CPUs, and they are quite competitive. They seem like a good compromise platform for lower priced systems, though laptops with NVIDIA GTX 1050 GPUs would be slightly faster, if you can find one in this price range, though they often only have 2GB of video ram, which impacts higher resolution gaming. Intel integrated GPUs work okay these days, but are generally to be avoided for a primary gaming PC. (As a companion to a gaming desktop, they can be quite decent, however.) If they have a GPU at all, they will likely come equipped with an i5 CPU, which is a very reasonable compromise to reach that price point, and if this is your budget, go for that.

As a general rule, games will run:
Intel Integrated: low settings only.
AMD Integrated: low to medium settings
NVIDIA GTX 1050 2GB GPU: medium settings

These recommendations generally assume a 1080p resolution (1920x1080), though honestly, integrated video (both Intel and AMD) will have a much better experience with less than a 1080p resolution, as even some games at the lowest settings aren't playable at 1080p, or simply will not work at all on any resolution if the computational requirements are too high, especially on Intel. This is why, generally speaking,

$800-$1000: This is probably where the best price to performance gaming laptops are. Almost all have i7 CPUs (with the occasional i5), and most have NVIDIA GTX 1050s, 1050TIs, or the occasional 1060 on a good sale. For the record, I would choose an i5 CPU with a 1060 over an i7 with a 1050 (either version) any day of the week. AMD GPUs in this price range do exist, but are pretty rare. Most of the laptops with 1050s are a bit thinner, but not thin and light. If you want something with these GPUs that are thin(ner) and light, add several hundred dollars.

NVIDIA GTX 1050 4GB version: medium to high settings
NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti 4GB: mostly high settings
NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB version: mostly high settings (there is a case to be made for 1050Ti over 1060 3GB... and vice versa too)
NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB version: high to ultra settings; performs well in VR.

$1000-$1300: This is pretty much the exclusive range of the i7 with NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti or 1060 6GB. These should perform comfortably in most games at 1080p. They often come with a bit more 'bling' at this price range, with things like G-Sync screens and extra DisplayPort outs, for multiple monitors. These are the big and heavy gaming laptops, not the thin and svelte ones. Automatically add several hundred dollars if you want thin.

Up until this point, I have assumed that we are talking about playing games on the integrated 1080p screen. None of the above GPUs will work well at 4k, and only the GTX 1060 6GB is acceptable for entry level Virtual Reality (VR). Generally speaking, VR compatible gaming laptops demand much more from the system itself, the thermals, and naturally, the GPU. You may find switchable graphics on the 1050 model laptops; once you enter the VR ready space, this disappears, as VR requires a direct connection to the GPU, which switchable graphics, which tend to optimize for battery life, cannot provide.

Three USB 3 ports and an HDMI 1.4 (or DisplayPort 1.2+) connection are required for VR. Thunderbolt 3 is nice to have since that allows you to connect an external GPU to your laptop at some time in the future if you choose. Not all gaming laptops have these, even if they have USB 3.1 ports. Read the specs carefully!

From here, you have the higher end. If you plan on driving a 1440p external monitor, you can probably get away with a GTX 1060 6GB, but a GTX 1070 is much better here. If you are not going to enjoy VR with your laptop, and you only stick with a standard 1080p screen, then a GTX 1070 is almost certainly overkill. If you are going to play extensive VR or move up to a 4k screen, then a GTX 1070 is practically a bare minimum. 4k gaming is very taxing on the GPU.

$1300-$2000: This is typically NVIDIA GTX 1060 or 1070 territory. One of the only stores to buy a laptop with a GTX 1070 at less than $1500 is at a Micro Center. They currently are selling on one sale for $1299; suffice it to say I count my blessings being able to drive to one. (At our house we have two laptops with GTX 1070s inside thanks to our local Micro Center.)

NVIDIA GTX 1070 8GB: Can play anything at ultra settings at 1080p and 1440p. Medium to high settings at 4k. Performs excellently in VR.

$2000+: This is the high end, and prices can get pretty crazy. There is everything from thin and light notebooks with 1070s to huge fat SLI desktop replacements. These are no holds barred, but I have a hard time justifying the price personally (as at that point you can get a desktop and a 1060 gaming laptop and come out ahead).

NVIDIA GTX 1080 8GB: Can play anything at ultra settings at 1080p and 1440p. Mostly high settings at 4k, but not ultra. Performs excellently in VR.
NVIDIA GTX 1070/1080 SLI: Yup, it's fast.

Optical drives are not standard issue in laptops anymore. Since many games and applications are digital these days, chances are you won’t miss the DVD/Blu-ray drive that much. I do recommend picking up an external drive for the rare moments you’ll need it.

Depending on the size of the laptop you’ll be considering, there may be room for two hard drives. The ideal configuration is having an SSD for booting up your operating system and frequently used apps the fastest and a standard spinning drive for data storage. SSD drives are great but costly in comparison to mechanical ones. Thankfully, this is a pretty standard configuration for most gaming laptops over $1000.

If you want to use your laptop as a desktop replacement or only computer, consider how many video out ports there are. HDMI supports only a single monitor, so if you want two or three, that option will not work. If you would like more, look for laptops with either several video ports on the side, or ones that support DisplayPort MST, which allows you to daisy chain multiple monitors off of one DisplayPort connector. This can also be in the form of a USB 3.1 port, as long as DisplayPort (or Thunderbolt 3) is wired internally. This is how I run two monitors off of my laptop with only one cable.

There are some ways to save money on laptops. If you time it right, you can buy the previous model as they are being phased out by the latest and greatest. Another option is to buy an open box. Before spending any money, check the return policy. As gorgeous as some screens are, many may have some dead pixels. Thoroughly check your laptop for any defects before the return period is up. If possible, open up and power on your laptop at the store to spot any noticeable dead pixels or defects.

Once your machine is purchased, keep an eye on the price for any changes. Some stores will refund the price difference in your favor if it changes within fourteen days of purchase.

I find that the best way to get a great deal on a gaming laptop is to check out a local Micro Center if you have one, and/or check out slickdeals.net. At the time of this writing, there are some killer gaming laptops on sale, being the beginning of Christmas shopping season. If you are lucky or keep an eye out, you can often find fantastic deals.

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Undertale: Strings of Determination

Thank you Materia Collective for sending us this digital album to review!

I reviewed Undertale shortly after its 2015 release date and this game continues to stay popular, with many kids still talking about and playing it. I can see why since it’s a fun game. While I did beat the game once, I haven’t had the time (or determination) to revisit the other endings. What impressed me most about Undertale was the wonderful soundtrack composed by the very same game developer, Toby Fox. Although the game was gifted to me, I purchased the soundtrack and Ferdk’s symphonic metal rendition as well. As great as those are, I truly feel that String Player Gamer’s digital album, Undertale: Strings of Determination, is the definitive soundtrack to buy if you have to choose one. Of course, I recommend picking up all three!

The violin and guitar work is top notch and the production quality is as good as it gets. The songs don't stray too much from the original soundtrack, but the instrument work really does stand out. In total, there are forty-six songs and they are all well done. All of the tracks are arranged by Diwa de Leon and the song ‘Temmie Village’ has a guest acapella singer, Tera Catallo aka TeraCMusic on YouTube. It’s hard to believe that this album was made by a couple of people!

The asking price is a very reasonable $14 and this album can be listened to and purchased on BandCamp, Spotify, and on iTunes. Before this complete album was released, String Player Gamer released four Undertale volumes so if you only want a few of the songs, that’s a cheaper option. Each of the volumes cost $6 so getting the complete set is still a better deal. I now consider myself a fan of String Player Gamer’s work and will continue to follow and look forward to his future masterpieces.

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Our Experience At GDEX

The GDEX was our second conference and it was much bigger than Gamer Grace. We enjoyed our stay in Ohio and felt at home there. I arrived on Friday and got our booth set up as much as I could given the 30-minute unloading time limit and lack of power. Since I had some time to kill before I could check into the hotel, I decided to try some local cuisine and was introduced to fried corn nuggets - those were yummy! Once checked into the hotel, I was planning on utilizing the swimming pool, but some kid threw up into it and it was closed for a few hours. Despite some obnoxious neighbors and kids in the hotel (not mine), I did manage to get some much needed sleep until Jay arrived at 12:30am. Thankfully, on Saturday we had enough time before the doors opened to the public to finish setting up our laptops and Oculus Rift.

Even though they had a nice VR exhibit with several games, our VR setup got a fair amount of use on Saturday. On Sunday, the attendance in the exhibitor hall was much lower and it was only used once or twice that day. I don't know how many people attended the seminars but the exhibitor hall didn't seem to have 4,000 people as advertised. On the other hand, the classes were scheduled back to back and didn't give guests much free time without sacrificing a class to attend.

The GDEX

One highlight of the conference was meeting one of our reviewers, Gamer4Christ, there. Until this year, she never heard of GDEX! We also met a couple of developers (Hullbreach Studios and Schell Games) whose games we have reviewed (and they were still happy to see us!).

There were a lot of exhibitors present and many promising games being shown. Some charities like Extra Life and Able Gamers were there as well. We were not the only gamer reviewers present and we handed out plenty of business cards and made some new contacts. Our review queue has grown because of this conference! That’s a good thing though as many of these games are family friendly and deserve to be promoted.

Many Christians stopped by our booth and offered appreciation and encouragement for what we're doing. We were not the only Christian exhibitors as representatives for The Bible Project were two booths down from us. Some of the game developers we got to know are Christian too!

The GDEX

Our biggest goal at this convention was promotion and awareness. So many people stopping by our booth did not know that we existed! Many of our business cards were taken and people wanted to tell their pastors/priests about our ministry. Despite a few Bibles being returned with (broken) promises of picking them up later, we still gave away about a dozen to good homes. We didn’t want to force them on people and we hope and pray that the people who took them are blessed by them.

Although we didn’t sell any shirts or action Bibles, I still consider this conference a success. I’m smacking myself for forgetting to bring the bumper stickers that we have. In the end, it was great interacting with the gaming and game development community. I look forward to returning next year, Lord willing.

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Our First Convention Experience

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As many of you are aware, we’ve been preparing for various gaming conventions and finally attended our first one, Gamer Grace, this past weekend. It was quite an experience and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

The Oculus Rift was a hit and many people enjoyed their first VR experience with it. Watching a six-year-old think he was falling in space was priceless. I kept the headset sanitary by using mask covers and offering disposable shower caps if anyone was interested in head lice prevention. Our family dealt with head lice and it was a total nightmare. Only one person bothered with the shower cap. I’m open to suggestions on what to do with the leftover shower caps.

Setting up the Rift didn’t take much time, so in the future I think a half hour of prep time should be sufficient for placing our tablecloth, Rift, business cards, t-shirts, and Bibles. We offered Bibles to people but didn’t force them. The last thing I wanted to see was them in the garbage can. Although we couldn’t give any away (didn’t realize how hard this would be), we did sell an Action Bible. One thing we will add is a whiteboard to explain that the Bibles are free. I was thinking of writing this on our future whiteboard:

Free Bibles!
Great for:
Reading
Salvation
Changing lives
Bookshelves
Night stands

We had one mother consider buying a t-shirt but her son seemed rather indifferent about it so it never happened. We do have some shirts available online if anyone wants one. Hopefully, more people are interested at future conventions.

Speaking of more people, that’s what Gamer Grace REALLY NEEDED. During our three-day stay we probably had about seventy-five visitors at our booth, total. It wasn’t just us either. There was some amazing artwork, leather crafting, and gaming accessory exhibits that probably didn’t break even from their booth cost. We did get to meet some nice game developers and followed each other on Twitter. Those were probably my only new followers from this convention.

It’s a real shame since Gamer Grace had lot going for it. Unlimited and coinless arcade games, interesting panelists and competitions, board/card games, crafts, and foam weapon/armor battles. My kids plus their friend had a blast and I rarely saw them. My husband and I enjoyed playing some In The Groove and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade games. My son was really happy to meet one of the creators of Terreria, one of his favorite video games.

Other than the Rocket League tournament, the multiple Xbox Ones sat untouched. Many of the vendors, us included, played on our mobile hand held devices. The Microsoft rep was knitting! I managed to get some good play time in for some upcoming handheld game reviews.

Gamer Grace was a learning experience for sure. I won’t mind attending as a patron if they do it again in the future. To consider it as a vendor I’ll need to know specifics on their game plan on getting the word out next time around. I look forward to better results at our future exhibits!

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Shadows of Mordor's Sequel, Gaming and Gambling

Shadow of Mordor 2

So the sequel to the popular Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor has micro-transactions. They are loot boxes; for folks who may not know, they are randomized rewards. You have no control over what you'll get. Now you'll find opinions, fact articles and many other thoughts on the sequel in general and micro-transactions. Yet here I want to talk about gambling. No matter your stance on gambling, I feel this will slowly become a more prevalent thing in mainstream gaming, adding random loot box prizes or card packs. So here we are going to talk about gambling from a faith based and business perspective.

Luke 12:15: Take heed and beware of covetousness - for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. It is this quote that fits gambling best I would say. Too often people associate gambling to the slot machines and roulette wheels only. Remember, no matter your stance on gambling, it will lead to covetousness: you will want that skin, that rare card. Those who delve into this vice will risk becoming enveloped in the sins of envy and greed. Do not write it off as a phase just because it's not gambling for money.

Whether you feel gambling is a vile thing or not, understand that activities that involve playing the odds in anything requires a certain amount of mental toughness. If you let yourself get addicted to gambling, you won't have any medicines or physical therapies you can do to get it out of your mind. Gambling is a very strong addiction if you let it become one. Yet whatever's making money is going to follow in business. These game publishers know people will pay to make a game faster and they will exploit that without a care about someone's risk to gambling addiction. On record I’ll say that I am against loot box style micro-transactions in retail priced products that are not cosmetic only. These randomized rewards are usually designed into the game to test the gamers patience in earning them by grinding in game. Also on record, keep in mind whether you hate gambling or not, casinos are regulated in many ways including age restriction and government regulation to make sure the casino isnt cheating folks out of their money. The exploitation of those who will spend money to take a gamble at getting that "legendary" prize will most likely become more common in the games industry.

However, if you're a parent with a little gamer, keep these things in mind if they are spending that allowance on any loot box micro-transaction no matter the game.

Talk to your kids about the odds and reality: teach them that unlike buying a in-game skin or toy directly, they might not get what they want if they take the risk. Tell them if they spend their whole allowance on a loot box or card pack and they don't get what they want, that's on them. Don't let them expect an extra twenty if they didn't get the prize they wanted. Make sure they understand as well, unlike a investment or solid item, if the game shuts down, all that money they invest in randomized digital items gets flushed down the toilet.

Consider monitoring what your kids are spending money on: hey, I get kids need a little bit of room and trust, especially when learning the value of a dollar, yet if you know your little gamer has a bit of a self-control problem, keep watch on what they are buying. If they are spending a bit too fast on loot boxes or card packs, intervene as necessary.

Teach them about the tough sides to the value of a dollar early: tell your kid that if they spend their allowance fast they lose out on a lot. This can be things such as not having enough for a bag of chips on the way home from school or missing out on a sale. They are out of luck, aren't they? If they learn fast then responsibility will surely follow. Some people may find this a bit mean, but tough love can work.

So while a lot of discussion is already going on about the Shadow of Mordor sequel or loot boxes in general, please at least keep in mind that one way or another any randomized micro-transaction is still gambling. No matter your stance on if it's OK to spend money on these things or not. Please be responsible. After all if you can't provide for your family, according to Timothy 5:8, maybe that makes you worse than a non believer? Even if you're not a person of faith, sure would stink if you couldn't eat that day because you spent your money to try and get some "legendary" equipment or a skin in-game, right?

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Retrogression: Vol.1

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was truly innovative on many levels upon its launch. So many great games were available on that console and given the success of the recent NES Classic, gamers still love them. Besides the fun gameplay, many of the most popular games had stellar soundtracks to go with them. Stemage has done something interesting in their recently released digital album, Retrogression: Vol.1.

In Retrogression: Vol.1, Stemage plays four popular theme songs backwards and then reverses them (individually) so you can recognize them again. To stay true to the NES’ limitations they used drums, two guitars, and one bass. The songs performed backwards are really well done and are fun listening to, even if I’ve only played 3/4 games being represented.

The four games paid homage to include Ghosts N’ Goblins, Punch-Out!!, Super Mario Brothers, and Tetris. Since the album is available on Bandcamp, you can listen to each track individually and pay what you want for it. The songs are available to download in MP3 or FLAC format. Since you can set your own price, I won’t complain about the length of the album as it can be heard in its entirety in less than fifteen minutes. While the reversed/forward songs are neat, I would have loved to hear the jazzed up songs played in their proper direction. Other than those minor nitpicks, I recommend picking up this album if these NES games hold a special place in your heart.

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The Most Thrilling And Mind Blowing Video Games Of 2017

The Most Thrilling And Mind Blowing Video Games Of 2017

What was just considered as a hobby a few years back that some freaks used to play sitting in their living room or any other place is now an art that every human being in the world enjoys participating. Whether it’s your friend next door or your elder brother who is working in a firm, everyone is now playing the astounding video games.

So, with reference to the sneak peaks and the interesting early gameplay footage, 2017 launched many breathtaking video games and is proved to be one of the best gaming years of the era. Moreover, the well-known technology stores around the world also made it sure that you can grab the latest games at any point of time as soon as those are launched in the market. So, you can find these stores always updated with their stocks.

But with so many games around you, it might be too perplexing for you to choose the one that stands out. Thus, without further hassle, here are the top and mind blowing video games which you’ll be much excited to know about.

  • Platform PS4

It is one of the most surprising and striking video games of the year which is a sequel to the very famous Vita adventure. It leads you to battle evil in a captivating imaginative world with an ability to turn the world upside down. The Gravity Rush 2 walks through with a creative streak which runs across the two heartfelt heroines of the game i.e., Kat and Raven. And moreover, the fascinating land of Heskeville will be a wonderful place to explore.

Running short of time to hop into a store for buying this amazing game? Then you can order it online from various leading stores of the UK like Argos. And on doing so, you can purchase and get it delivered to you both in a frugal way through various deals, discount offers, Argos free delivery discount code etc. 

  • Dandy Dungeon

 It is a brilliant mobile game where you’ll be brave Yamada, an upcoming games developer and a defeated lothario who is trying to impress his beautiful neighbor with his skills in coding. In this puzzle game, you must find the right path for the hero to the exit while avoiding all the traps and beasts on his way. It’s a funny yet an extremely interesting game. 

  • She remembered Caterpillars

It is an eccentric and adventurous puzzle game where you’ve to build bridges and make paths through the nominal insects. The logic puzzle in the game is appealingly wicked and enthralling with various unique elements added in a smart way. Thus, this game will certainly lead you to end up unwinding yourself into a whole new world.

  • Nioh

It is a fantasy RPG which lets you to explore the vast battle-field, hunting Yokai. It might be hundreds of hours that you’ve played but new excitements and discoveries will always keep on coming towards you. You’ll be continuously finding fresh an rewarding things to do. It is an absolutely fantastic game which includes a strong sense of charm.

So, if you’re a yet another teenager or someone in his or her 20’s, 30’s 40’s or of whatever age who is one of the biggest fans of video games and still now haven’t tried your hands on these phenomenal new-ones in the market, then you should explore those soon. And moreover, browsing through Dealslands you can even save your huge bucks as you can grab the lucrative deals from the UK’s high-end technology and games selling stores in this money-saving voucher site. 

*This post has been provided by Dealslands*

 

 

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Should You Still Play Fallout 4?

When you work for any games publication, you're gonna play a lot of games. Shocker right? As games have evolved over the years, one of the biggest game changers is story. Long gone are the days where you simply had to pretend the pixilated dots on screens are airplanes and missiles. Sure we have great indie games that can draw you in with even the most minuscule or goofy plots on a meaningful level, yet how much of it is the gameplay and not the story? Likewise, can a game be ruined by a mediocre story, or can the gameplay carry the experience? I thought I'd do a few look overs of older games and see if they are worth playing purely on gameplay vs story. The first game I will look at is Fallout 4. This title has already been reviewed by our big boss lady Cheryl Gress, you can look at said review here. Today is just a journey to see if this game is good as a game despite supposed controversies of the story.

So let's start with the game's story. Long story short? It wasn't fun. In previous Fallout titles, whether the early top down RPG games, or Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas, you can easily pretend your character is whoever you wanted it to be. Yet Fallout 4 decided to do a fully voiced protagonist with a large backstory. It doesn't pan out well. The more you give a character a face, the more you have to put effort into emotional investment. Allowing me at least 10 minutes to enjoy my apparent married status and child before the nukes are dropped doesn't help me get invested in my fake family. Sure I am a married man in real life, so I tried to pretend that I was playing as myself and it did nothing to help the investment. Trying a different character file did nothing to help immersion either. Whether I was male or female, I was a lone parent hunting for my child that might not even be alive.

Some people may say, "wait were the previous stories in Fallout games really that good?" If they were stand alone books or movies, no, they would be rather mediocre. Yet by giving the player choice on how to approach a game you manage to bring that much more interest in the investment of the story. Previous Fallout games made you the story; Fallout 4 does not. Wide focus doesn't work for a book or a movie, yet we have many famous games that tell rather fun or compelling stories when it allows you to choose how much you want to care.

The reason character builds in previous titles helped define the character was due to that use of imagination. When I made the person with one strength but 10 agility in Fallout: New Vegas, it was not about playing optimally or providing a challenging. It's because I was playing as the skinniest, weakest gunslinger in the post-war west. No matter what gender, shape, or build I had in Fallout 4, I was a concerned parent that had to get by while dealing with other people's problems. It doesn't help that unlike the other games, you'll have to deal with most of these problems from other people whether you like it or not. If the game is still a ”RPG” then at the very least let me find my son first.

Now let me do another long story short. As a game Fallout 4 is still a top notch experience. I find the settlement management side of the game rather relaxing for when I don't feel like exploring. The loot system is fun, crafting is a joy and the game combat is enjoyable. Exploring the world just to loot and survive is still just as fun as in previous Fallout games. This is a case where I can say the weak story did nothing to prevent me from enjoying a game  as a game. Maybe one time I'll run through Fallout 4 on mute with my own music and I will just make up my own dialogue for the characters.

Modding communities should not make or break a game's review score, yet that doesn't mean modding isn't valuable. Fallout 4 has thousands of mods to extend the life of the game; this includes new quests and dialogues for characters. Even at the age the game is now, you'll get your money's worth from the game and its DLC.

The story is not good, yet the game is better than people may give it credit for. It can have some interesting thinking points in the game as well. Fallout 4 is still a great game to pick up to this day despite its problematic story.

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Battle Princess Madelyn First Impressions

The way of the knight is a path of honor, duty, and cute graphics. At least that's what it is according to Battle Princess Madelyn. This knight in training and her kingdom fall under siege to the forces of a cruel wizard. With her ghost dog Fritzy, fight, jump and bite your way to saving your kingdom.

The first thing this game says is that it is heavily inspired by the Ghosts and Goblins franchise, and this is true in every step down to the way Madelyn runs. While she tosses spears, she can either have her dog shoot balls of energy to stop her foes or she can channel his power to charge at enemies to devour them whole. 

The first impressions are great so far. The story isn't trying to be some deep and complicated trek into Madelyn's world and yet I was invested into the introduction of the game. The combat was simple, but it felt satisfying and fun. My spear wasn't too weak and the trusty ghost dog didn't make the enemies in my way super easy. The artstyle is visually pleasing; people may say doing retro graphics is a lazy indie trope, yet the team behind Madelyn worked hard to make sure the world pulls you in. 

The most important aspect of these sorts of games is the challenge. Despite my own experiences with Ghosts and Goblins, I had a hard yet fair adventure with Madelyn. The enemies were paced well, I didn't get to a point where I felt I could just rush through the game. The enemies were varied and unique. This game doesn't suffer from “enemy recolor number 1000” syndrome. I started my journey with Madelyn in a unkempt graveyard. I had to climb through an Underground Mausoleum and it ended with a boss battle with a giant skeletal knight. When a game is challenging, the satisfaction of beating a level or a boss is all the sweeter. 

I can't completely critique a game that is far from finished so I’ll talk about what should be improved or what I hope stays strong. The music for the first few stages was not what I’d call memorable. While the artstyle pulled me in despite being based on retro graphics, the old school music just didn't do the same thing for me. I hope that the rest of the tracks are more immersive as the game progresses. While the enemies were varied in my playthrough of Madelyn, I hope this stays true throughout the game's development. Recolored enemies can make or break a game; that's why I hope enemy design remains unique throughout the levels. 

Morality wise, you'll see themes of necromancy, and evil magic being used against this girl. Some people may also be bothered by the idea of her loyal friend coming back from the dead with the same evil magic. Though it could also be seen as a pure dog willing to help the hero. From the preview build, Madelyn didn't use any magic herself, this may or may not change. Though as it is now, I have a feeling that this game will be for most people.

I have confidence in Madelyn's development team; I have a feeling it will join Ghost and Goblins in my yearly halloween knight charity run. Best of luck to Casual Bit Games.

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Nintendo Switch Event impressions

For being a loyal My Nintendo member, I was offered two tickets to attend the Chicago Nintendo Switch demo event.  My husband and I planned on going without our kids since tickets were limited.  Thankfully, 360 PR was able to let us bring our three kids along and they had a blast testing out the upcoming console and launch titles with us.  The turnout was good, and I’d guess that there were three hundred or so people there.  The staff members were easy to identify with their red Switch shirts and warm smiles.  They were also very knowledgeable about the game demos and were happy to teach and assist if you got stuck in a game. 

Out of all of the launch games, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the most in demand and you had to grab game session tickets to schedule your twenty-minute play session.  Headphones were provided to help drown out the loud electronic dance music that the DJ was playing, as well as the substantial crowd noise throughout the event.  I really enjoyed my time with the game, though like many open world games, twenty minutes was barely enough time to get a good feel for it.  I was very impressed with the art style, the beauty of the world, and how much there is to do.  The clearly less than 1080p pixels on TV was rather annoying, but you do get used to it.  It looks gorgeous on the small Switch screen.  Combat was also fun, and there is a lot of variety as well.  You constantly pick up new weapons either found outside, or as dropped loot.  Items, including weapons, wear down and break, which is a bit of an adjustment from previous games.  Arrows also seemed hard to come by, but I can understand that given how powerful they are.  I definitely look forward to playing this game more once we get it, since we pre-ordered it along with our Switch.  

Some classic games like Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and Sonic Mania added retro feels, but didn’t show off what the new console system was capable of doing visually.  ARMS was fun and looked good on the flat screen TV/monitors we played it on.  I thought it was one of the highlights of the show, but it's hard to say if it is worth full price, since it's somewhat of a one trick pony.  Some games like Splatoon 2 were playable on TV/monitors as well as the Switch itself.  In all honestly I was disappointed with the pixelated visuals of this title on the TVs there and while there are new weapons, I don’t think it’s different enough to warrant buying it at full price.  On a positive note, this did spark some interest in our kids playing the Wii U version we already own.

Super Bomberman R is a challenging co-op game that allows up to eight players.  The CPU players are pretty formidable and they won more matches than the humans did.  I wouldn’t mind owning this game, but I’ll be waiting for a sale on it.  

Another game I enjoyed was Fast RMX which is a fun racing game that adds a color matching element to change the color of your car’s exhaust to take advantage of speed boosts.  If your car is the wrong color, it will slow you down instead!  The graphics were decent in it but didn’t blow me away.  The local four player multiplayer is fun, and if you’re online, you can race against eight players.   

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looked well polished, though I only got to play it on a hand-held screen.  I do look forward to checking it out on a big screen.  This game is still a blast to play and the included DLC and added levels and characters make this title worth picking up, especially if you missed it on Wii U.

My son enjoyed playing Skylanders Imaginators and like the Wii U, the controller base has an IR reader for importing your favorite Skylander characters into the game.  One of the games that did not resonate with me was Has Been Heroes.  I enjoyed the row-based combat from Grand Kingdom, but the way this game implemented it didn’t seem to click with me.  

Skylanders 

One of my favorite games I played with my oldest daughter was Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!  It’s been a while since I got a good laugh from playing a game with someone.  In this puzzle game you must cut the paper based characters to rotate and fit into specified shapes.  This game requires good team work, communication, and accuracy when cutting.  Just when I was getting close to getting my daughter into the proper shape she’d snip me and I would have to start over to do my part.  This title will be available for $19.99 and I’ll be picking that up as soon as our Switch arrives.

The whole family got to play 1-2 Switch and thought that it was okay.  It had a guessing game where you and your partner had to guess how many balls were inside of a box.  Whoever was closer to the correct amount would win or in our case resulted in a draw since both parties were off by one.  The cow milking simulator was fun to watch as a bystander and the winner is determined by who can get the most cups of milk from the udders.  My husband and I faced off in a Western style shooting match and I shot my hubby down first.  No blood is shown, just the shadow of the loser kneeling before the winner.  I like how the speed in milliseconds is shown at the end.  While this game is alright, I’ll wait for it to hit the bargain bin before purchasing it.  (I still think this would have been a perfect pack-in title.)

We got to check out some games that we anticipate getting review codes for since we’re on good terms with Ubisoft, NIS America, and SEGA/Atlus.  I’m happy to report that I earned a score of 5 stars in Just Dance 2017 to Joan Jett’s 'I Love Rock N Roll'.  Puyo Puyo Tetris is a fast paced and fun mashup of those two games and it switches between them every ten seconds.  Sadly, the CPU whooped me.  I had fun though, and that’s what counts.  Disgaea 5 Complete looks sharp with modern visuals, along with fairly revealing outfits when it comes to female attire or lack thereof.  While the gameplay is fun, I really am spoiled by the accuracy of a mouse from playing PC ports of the first two games.

Puyo Puyo Tetris 

Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews from us as we get to spend more time with these games after they are released.  I’m looking forward to the arrival of our Switch!

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Civilization Revolution 2 Review

Since the dawn of time, humans have strived to build vast civilizations on earth. Rulers have sought to leave their mark on history by making advances in construction, culture and technology and by taking as much stuff from their neighbors as possible. The civilization series depicts this struggle from the Stone Age through to the modern era and beyond.

The PC versions of Civilization have given me more than a few bouts of ‘one more turn’ fever over the years. They are compelling classics that are epic in scope. But what of the trimmed down version for consoles and mobile devices? I played Civilization Revolution 2 on the iPad to see whether it could recreate the complex joy of the PC experience.

The game starts as all Civ games do. You control a group of wide-eyed settlers looking for the perfect spot to found their first city. Once the foundations of your soon-to-be great civilization are laid, it’s time to turn to the serious business of world domination. Explore your surroundings, choose technologies to develop, train units, and build municipal buildings for your city. The choices you make determine how quickly your civilization develops, scientifically, culturally, financially and militarily. Each of these four areas can lead to victory, so it is important to decide where to focus your efforts.

Civilization Revolution 2

You encounter rival civilizations along the way with which you can trade, swap technologies or fight. Most of the fighting occurs as a result of direct competition for land. Everyone is vying to found their cities in the juiciest spots, and this is where friction arises. There can be rewards in combat - If you manage to capture all three enemy capital cities, you win the game. But it also comes at a great cost - war is expensive, after all. Get bogged down in a long, protracted war and more peaceful civilizations will outstrip you in other areas of the game.

Though stripped down from the PC version, Civ Rev 2 manages to pack in a lot of features. Games can last for many hours and there is great pleasure in seeing your people rise from stone huts to build great wonders and powerful cities. There is a lot of replay value with many civilizations to choose from, each with their own bonuses and special troops. You earn achievements for winning in various different ways and unlock new civilizations to play with. There are also a variety of scenarios to play through that change the gameplay up, such as focussing solely on the space race, or defeating barbarian hordes.

Civ Rev 2’s graphics are crisp and clean with a style that supports understanding of gameplay. Units are slightly cartoonish without being too kiddy, and the UI is easily readable if not beautiful to behold. Given the platform, the scope of the terrain is pretty respectable and different land types and city bonuses are easy to make out.

Civilization Revolution 2

The menu music of Civ Rev 2 has the same orchestral world music vibe of the original games. It can sound a bit like a mixtape in a massage parlour, but is pretty unobtrusive, which is no bad thing. In game the ambient country noises and city sounds can get a little repetitive but they do add some character. There is very little music in-game, which is a good thing as any track would get stale over three to four hours of play.

Civilization Revolution 2 is obviously not as deep as the PC versions of the game. There are some great design decisions that have simplified it in a way that makes it easier to handle on the smaller screen but also a few more questionable ones. City management is mostly automated, which is great - I often found myself bored of moving workers around in the PC version. The stacking of units into three-strong armies is a little bit confusing though. At later stages of the game, individual units are pretty worthless so you have to wait till you have built three. When units become obsolete you cannot build them any more so any individual units not in armies are left in limbo. Curiously you are unable to disband these units so they just hang around, getting in the way.

Minor issues aside, Civ Rev 2 is a very strong iPad game. There are lots of features and oodles of replay value. This is a great introduction to the Civilization franchise for those who haven’t experienced it yet. Even if you have played the PC version, it’s still good for long train journeys or away days when you need to get a Civ fix.

Andy Trowers is a game design consultant, freelance ne’er do well and staff writer for www.canada.for-sale.com

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Lost and Found

Thank you Riverdale Ave. Books for sending us this e-book to review!

When Micky Neilson was eight months old he was kidnapped by his schizophrenic father and lived as a nomad in the desert.  He didn’t attend school until the seventh grade and his only socialization with other kids was in Boy Scouts. Although Micky thought his father’s stories and notions were strange, he loved him regardless.   

Sometimes Micky and his father would take refuge in Mormon churches, but religion didn’t last with Micky.  His life was pretty rough with being asked to steal or even point a gun at someone from a distance.  Before he was a teenager, he was in a foster home and would continue his relationship with his father via letters.

Micky goes into detail about his experience at different foster homes, jobs, serving in the Gulf War and even his love life.  As a gamer I found his experience at Blizzard Entertainment to be the most fascinating, though his pranks as a teenager are pretty hilarious as well.  I like the prank where he swapped out his boss’ telephone number with a customer's and had a new hire at the telemarketing company call him.

Some of the language in the book is a bit much for children to read and there is some mature content in terms of the war experiences and Micky’s first time with a prostitute.  There are also several references of drinking and partying.  Though Micky got baptized as a teenager his faith didn’t last long and he dabbled in using the Ouija board with his friends on several occasions.  

If you don’t mind those moral issues, this book is a very good read and has a happy ending despite the turbulent childhood Micky had.  The kindle edition sells for $9.99 and the paperback is twice the price.  I highly recommend it for fans of Blizzard games or great story telling in general.  

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With Skate 3 Added To Xbox Backplay, Is It Time For A Sequel?

Microsoft has celebrated the anniversary of the backward compatibility feature for its Xbox One consoles by adding a fan favorite to the list of available games. Anyone who owns a physical or digital copy of Skate 3 by EA Black Box can now play the classic 360 game on their Xbox One or Xbox One S console. Check the ‘games’ screen of your console for more information on this and other available backplay titles.

When backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games was announced at the E3 segment, there was an instant demand for Skate 3 to be among the available titles. The third installment of this cult EA skateboarding series instantly became the most popular yet upon its release in 2010, plus the game had something of a revival in 2014 after YouTube boosted its popularity. It rose to become one of the most demanded titles in fan forums for the backplay feature, and is a very welcome addition to the growing catalog of compatible 360 games.

Grab a copy if you missed it the first time

Backplay is available to any Xbox One owner - if you didn’t own a 360 game originally, you can still pick them up for just a few dollars in second hand gaming stores or online. Research Team at Frugaa (a leading coupon provider in the USA) saw a sudden surge in searches for deals on Skate 3 games right after the update was announced, and the game also became a featured product on Amazon’s front page for a short time, because of the boom in demand.

Not only is the game included in the list of compatible titles, but you can get to all the DLC extras as well! From extra tracks and courses to fun merchandise and additional tasks, many of the add-ons have been free to Xbox 360 users for some time and can be added directly from the menu when you load up the game. Some versions of the game include all of the extra features within the disk - these can be ordered online or found in most gaming stores.

What is Skate 3 and why should I get it?

Skate 3 is like many other EA sports games in that it will appeal to skaters and gamers alike. It combines the real world physics of skateboarding with the bright colors and crazy tricks you want from a video game. The whole landscape can be skated and the game is entirely open, with missions and goals to achieve or a simple freeskate mode. Players can also take on others in one-on-one online skate battles, or work together in teams to defeat opponents. The game features pro skaters from the real world, and combines a fictitious city with actual brands, events, locations and competitions.

In addition to the skating itself, an in-built video editor allows players to take photos and create clips during play, which can be edited and uploaded to the community boards. Unfortunately, this community area is one part of the game that has succumbed to time: EA have turned off the main servers and many online features are no longer available to play around with. That said, the online world is still a whole lot of fun, and thanks to a revived interest from Xbox One players there are always plenty of opponents to take on and skate with! Set up a team lobby or stay offline and freeskate privately: you can take on the environment in your own way.

Demand for a sequel keeps growing

EA are probably better known for their bigger sports titles, such as FIFA, Madden and NBA. Skating is a niche sport in itself and while Skate 3 has a strong cult following, the series has only achieved modest sales. This might be why they have so far declined to make a fourth game. However, fans feel that Skate 3 was the best game in the series, and that an updated game for the current generation of consoles would be well worth investing in. The company has also stated that the market for skateboarding games has declined - though fans argue this is due to a lack of games, not a lack of interest in them.

The web has been filled with rumors of a Skate 4 release for several years now, and this release of the backward compatible third installment has added fuel to the fire. Fans are taking to social media to push for a new title, and encouraging new players to buy the game and show some support for the cause. Will this renewed interest be enough to convince EA that a sequel is worth making? Watch this space for news as we hear it.

Disclaimer - The article is brought to you by team of Frugaa, but all the opinions are of my own.

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2016 Christmas Buying Guide

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most family friendly games we have reviewed in 2016. More reviews can be found on ChristCenteredGamer.com! Each game is given a gameplay score for the overall gaming experience and a moral score for how suitable it is for younger gamers. The Amazon and Humble Store links will benefit Christ Centered Gamer by giving us a small % of the sale.

System Game Game Score Moral Score Buy it!
Mobile
Mobile
The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance
(Android, iOS, PC)
86% 93% $24.99
Mobile
Mobile
Dungenious 86% 93% $2.99
Mobile
Mobile
Galaxy Zega 80% 94% $149.99
Mobile
Mobile
Peppy Pals Farm 82% 100% $3.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Blasting Agent: Ultimate Edition 84% 95% $2.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Noitu Love: Devolution 90% 92% $9.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Parascientific Escape: Cruise in the Distant Seas 90% 94% $4.99
Nintendo 2DS/3DS
Nintendo 3DS
Sega 3D Classics Collection 90% 90% $19.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Ashes of the Singularity 86% 94% $24.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
King's Quest Series 86% 93% $24.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
Overcooked
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
86% 100% $16.99
PC/Mac
PC/Mac/Linux
The Order of the Thorne: The King's Challenge 90% 93% $9.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Organic Panic 
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
80% 89% $14.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Ratchet & Clank
87% 88% $19.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Trackmania Turbo
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
90% 94% $29.99
PlayStation 4
PlayStation 4
Hue
(PC, PS4, Vita, Xbox One)
88% 96% $14.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space
86% 74% $23.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Green Game: TimeSwapper
(iOS, PC, PS4, Vita)
80% 94% $4.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X 84% 77% $39.99
PlayStation Vita
PlayStation Vita
Laser Disco Defenders 86% 96% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Cubikolor (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
82% 100% $7.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
The Flame In The Flood
(PC, Xbox One)
88% 85% $19.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Uno
(PS4, Xbox One)
80% 100% $9.99
Xbox One
Xbox One
Valentino Rossi
(PC, PS4, Xbox One)
82% 96% $38.50
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
The Climb (Rift) 84% 100% $49.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed (Vive) 90% 86% $19.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live (PSVR) 84% 87% $14.99
Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality
Quar: Battle for Gate 18 (Vive) 84% 94% $19.99
Hardware
Hardware
BuddyPhones N/A N/A $24.95
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hephaestus II Surround Gaming Headset N/A N/A $59.99
Hardware
Hardware
Gamdias Hermes 7 Color Mechanical Keyboard N/A N/A $59.99
Hardware
Hardware
Mionix Alioth Large Mousepad N/A N/A $19.99

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Counter Strike: Global Offensive was released to the public in 2012 and can be played on various platforms such as OS X, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Steam, Linux and PlayStation 3.

Counter Strike is a multiplayer game in which a player can join either the Counter-terrorist or the Terrorist team. Its main objective  is to eliminate the opponent. The game is over when all the players in one team are dead, or the objective of the team is completed.

Development of Counter Strike: Global Offensive

A year after the release of the game, cosmetic items were added like weapon finishes. These cosmetic items were obtained through opening virtual crates and game-end drops that could be purchased through microtransactions just like in Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2.

Another update was made in October 2014. This time music kits were added, thus replacing the default in-game music.  The kit could also be borrowed, exchanged or sold within the community market.

The good thing about the new version is that the player needs not download maps by using third party sites. It’s because in Global Offensive, the player can upload content such as weapon finishes. They can also map and customize gameplay scenarios.

Game Modes

The game features five different modes namely:

•    Competitive or Classic Casual – This is the most played mode of the game and it involves Hostage Scenario and Bomb Scenario missions. The players can buy gear and weapons using the money earned after completing the objectives.

•    Arms Race – This mode gives the players a new weapon as a reward for each kill that they make. The first player who gets the golden knife will win the game.

•    Demolition – In this game mode, the player is given rewards, such as new weapon after each round. The reward can be used for the next round.

•    Deathmatch – The player can earn points from each kill that has been made using different weapons. This game mode consists of 10 minutes of matches, and bonus weapons can be obtained if the player chooses to respawn.

Global Offensive also offers offline game modes such as the Weapon course and Offline with Bots. Playing the game online is more exciting because it allows the player to filter the game modes, adjust the built-in system and use maps. The player can also use cheats and have the opportunity to find the player that can match your skill levels, making the whole experience extra enjoyable. Playing Global Offensive on PC is also supported by private dedicated servers that let the player connect with the community server.

Game Tournaments

The creator of Counter Strike: Global Offensive is offering events and tournaments. The prizes are bigger as compared to other online games tournaments and the fund is generated by the community through different sources such as special in-game cosmetics and open in-game cases. Likewise, merchandises are sold during the tournament.

Last October 2015, Counter Strike: Global Offensive tournament was held and more than $7.5 million prize money was awarded. There are major tournaments that are attended by huge audiences watching live and millions of people watching through the internet.

Conclusion

There's no doubt that Counter Strike: Global Offensive has become more popular. With a lot of games, both new and old competing in the market, it has managed to stay on the top. To access more games, you can try JoyLand Free games online.

*Disclaimer - this is a sponsored post*

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Your Brain On Video Games

Thank you Daniels Murphy Communications for sending us a screener for this special!

It has long been debated about the effects of video games on the human brain.  Do they make people more violent?  Can they be addicting?  Are there practical uses for them?  The BBC’s special Your Brain On Video Games which premiered on the Science Channel on November 1st, 2016 set out to answer all of those questions.

More and more violent video games are coming out every year and despite the bad press they are receiving, they only account for 5% of the games that are released.  There are 1.2 billion people in the world who play video games and a majority of them are over thirty-five.  Many of them have been gaming since their childhood and video game addiction is only attributed to less than 1% of them.  Gamers who play extended gaming sessions every day (on the tune of 20 hours a week) did not scientifically qualify as addiction through both the use of personality tests and brain scans.  According to Valerie Voon from University of Cambridge, one of the indicators of video game addiction is requiring instant gratification in many real life scenarios.  

Many professors including Craig Anderson and Doug Gentile from Iowa State University and Brad Bushman from Ohio State University have studied the effects of playing violent video games and how they raise levels of aggression.  Their findings indicated that after playing a violent video game the aggression level of college aged students showed an increase between 4-9%.  Studies have also revealed that gamers are desensitized to real world violence after playing violent video games.  

Despite the desensitizing and slight aggression level increases there is no direct correlation of video games influencing violent crimes.  In fact, many of the professors featured in the special believe the opposite.  They believe the routine activities theory is taking place where less opportunities are available for potential criminals since they are too busy playing video games instead of committing crimes.  

Besides possibly preventing crimes, video games have been shown to restore cognitive brain function in three different areas of the brain.  The game used in the study was Super Mario 64.  Therapeutic games have also been developed to help retirees restore brain functionality. To prove their effectiveness, the patients have scored better than twenty year olds playing the same game for the first time!  

Video games could possibly save lives too.  A custom game has been developed that is used to train prospective keyhole surgeons.  Be warned that there is some surgery footage shown and it’s pretty gritty.  I guess I haven’t been completely desensitized in my thirty plus years of gaming.  I recommend this show to any concerned parent or gamer interested in the impact of video games on their friends and family.

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ZORP (Zombie Oblivion Response pack)

 

ZORP (Zombie Oblivion Response pack)
Developed by: Carl Sommer
Price: $35

Thank you Wonky Rhino Games for sending us a review prototype!

ZORP is a table top strategy game that utilizes fun weapons like flame throwers, grenades, cars, and bazookas against hordes of zombies that are blocking the way to a cure.  Up to four players can play and there are only nine turns for the humans to make it to the limited number of cures available.  One player controls the zombie hordes while the rest focus on clearing a path to the coveted cure.  

Each turn has two movement phases and one action phase and they can be taken in any order.  After all of the humans take their turn, the zombie master gets to move all of the zombies and play an event card if applicable.  The possible zombie events include super zombies, explosive zombies, zombies armed with slingshots, and resurrecting zombies.  

Humans have events of their own including the chance to mow zombies down with a car, throw a grenade, wear faster shoes for increased movement, gain an extra turn via a distraction or recruiting the help of a rescued human.  There’s a wide variety of weapons available at their disposal including bazookas, shotguns, flamethrowers, and pistols.  Each weapon does different damage amounts and has a unique firing radius.  Intentional or not, humans can be hurt by them as well.  In our play-through, my daughter shot me to slow me down and ensure her victory of reaching the cure first.  If nobody makes it to the cure in nine turns, the zombie master is declared the winner.

All of my kids enjoyed playing the prototype of this board game.  Because of the guns and possibility of leaving piles of zombie parts behind, this game is rated 12+.  I can’t comment on the final build quality, but the artwork of our review sample is nicely done.  If you’re looking for a fun and unique kind of board game, then ZORP is worth checking out on Kickstarter.

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Man O' War: Corsairs First Impressions

corsair

To my understanding, the version I have is not the review versions so this is the first impressions write-up.

Man O' War Corsairs is one of the latest Games Workshop licensed games.  Set in the Old World of Warhammer it mainly focuses on the waters off the coast of the Empire and my beloved Bretonnia.  The player takes on the role of the captain of a privateer ship and combines resource management with ship combat on the high seas.

The combat at sea is fast paced.  Very fast paced, and to be honest it felt more like I was driving a speed boat than a tall ship.  The vessel turns rapidly, moves fast and reacts very rapidly to enemy movements.  It's real time, so no time to plan moves or devise strategy between commands.  The primary opponents, at least in the early stages, are Orcs, though there's plenty of room for different adversaries as the campaign goes on.  I learned quickly how aggressive Orcs are, with a ship ramming my own and sending over a boarding party.  At that point the game turns into an almost over the shoulder FPS style game as you defend your ship against boarders.  I have to admit, it was pretty awesome when the Orcs started to pour onto my deck and the camera pulled back and the captain drew a flintlock pistol to dispense a little justice on the invading greenskins.

The game is still being polished and getting the finishing touches, so I'm eager to see how it all settles in!

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Layton v Wright: Dawn of Puzzles (Batman v Superman Parody)

New video out! It's a bit different from our usual Sonic Sitcom cartoons. Any Professor Layton fans out there? How about Phoenix Wright fans? I think you guys would enjoy this one:

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5 Reasons to Play Slither.io

slither.io

Fresh on the heels of Agar.io is a new, exciting multiplayer game: Slither.io. Challenging for casual and advanced gamers alike, Slither.io is one of many free titles available at Poki.com. It's essentially a highly competitive and fun multiplayer version of Snake. Below, we've outlined five of the best reasons to play Slither.io.

5. It Really Is Free
Not every "free" game is truly without cost. Many of the most popular online games are free to play, but inundate gamers with invasive advertisements. Or, all too often we start a game at the beginner level, and have a difficult time progressing due to competitors that have paid for upgrades and special abilities. Slither.io doesn't incur any of these issues, because it's completely free, and there's absolutely nothing to pay for. Everyone is on an even playing field.

4. Quick to Start
Slither.io is a casual multiplayer game. By casual, we mean that every player can begin a game within seconds. When you're done playing, simply close the game or your browser, and start fresh next time. There's no lengthy registration process or progress to save. There aren't any introduction videos, cutscenes, or ending credits. Slither.io is one of the most convenient games to join and leave whenever you wish. That's why it works great on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices alike—try Slither.io and see.

slither.io

3. Easy to Grasp
There's nothing more frustrating than reading a game manual, memorizing complex controls, and losing because you accidentally pressed the wrong button. Slither.io has an extremely simply control scheme and practically no learning curve. During the game, your snake will follow your cursor. Point the slithering reptile in any direction, and it will go there. For a quick speed boost, simply click and hold—that's all there is to it. This type of one-button gameplay is the key to attracting all types of players. Young, old, casual, and hardcore gamers can master the control system instantly.

2. Healthy Competition
Multiplayer games are extremely popular because they bring people together. In Slither.io, there are no teams, but everyone shares the same arena. Every second of gameplay is shaped by individual players. Certain parts of the map may be inhabited by gargantuan snakes, and other sections may be filled with smaller, more defensive snakes. Each player chooses where they want to go and with whom they interact. The always-visible leaderboard is a constant reminder of how you currently compare to other gamers. Jump into the competition, and feel the joy of thriving!

1. Fun, Fun, Fun
The best reason to play Slither.io is for sheer entertainment. It's an undeniably fun game that uses simplicity as a vehicle for addictiveness. Crawl, eat, slither, and grow. The bigger you become, the more you have at stake. Sometimes it takes a minute to climb the ranks, and other times, well, it just doesn't happen. The most important thing is that you have fun trying. Be the best snake you can be in Slither.io!

 

Disclaimer: This article has been provided by one of our donors - Poki.com

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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