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The best use for an Ipad yet..the ICade!


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Happy 12th birthday Sega Dreamcast!

I never owned one of these consoles but it was truly ahead of time and died a premature death at only 18 months on the market. It sported many innovations present in modern day consoles including multiplayer gaming, a web browser and portable hand held support.  The 480p resolution was impressive back then too.   Many of the popular Dreamcast game series are still popular today including Unreal Tournament, Phantasy Star Online, Resident Evil, Soul Calibur, Quake and Dead or Alive.  At last many of the games have lived on, I wonder what console will go extinct next?

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution makes Pacifism boring

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a satisfying game. It scratches my sneaky Metal Gear itch, a frothy mug of root-beer to quench my thirst for Mass Effect's interactive conversation, and eases the ache for Elder Scroll's open world exploration, though on a small scale.

 

Deus Ex even weaves an intricate and poignant narrative, exploring questions like,  "What is it to be human?" and "Should arms be replaced by gatling guns?"

 

But 10 hours in and I am bored. Well, not bored, but restless. I am tired of sneaking around in the shadows, tranquillizing mercs and dragging their unconscious bodies into the shadows. 

 

I want to shoot folk in earnest, but it seems Deus Ex was designed with sneaking in mind because a fragile health meter makes firefights extremely dangerous, with the option to "go loud" only viable when things really fall apart. Normally I would just change my play-style and relish the  challenge but the game does such a good job of making your actions feel weighty. When you use the stun gun, an icon indicates the enemy is sleeping and awards you the "merciful soul" experience bonus. This feels the Christian way to play video games. And yet, I am restless. Is this an urge to fight against, a battle for morality, or do I just need a different game to scratch this guns-blazing itch?

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Multiplayer Etiquette and My Witness

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I can be a better witness when I’m on the Internet, specifically when I’m playing a multiplayer game. While the opportunity rarely comes up to share ones faith during a death match or an epic quest, we should always be ready to answer those who ask. In Luke 9:26 Christ has some strong words for those that know him but don’t tell others: ‘For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.’ This is an area that I struggle with all the time, feeling I should say more than I do about my faith. The best thing I know to do is to keep studying the word so that I will be ready when an opportunity presents its self. And when it does I trust that God will give me the courage to speak up, remembering Paul’s words in his second letter to Timothy Chapter 1:7 ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’

But until they ask there is another way I can silently let my light shine: through my behavior. Even though I may never see the real faces of people I meet in games I still a responsibility to live my life in a holy manner. The Apostle Peter, in his first Epistle, gives us an idea of what that means in I Peter: 1:13-16:'Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.'

Holiness is a matter we should always take seriously, even when playing a game. But what does that mean on a practical level? How can I be holy while on the game grid? I think the first thing thing that’s important to remember is the “golden rule,” found in Matthew 7:12: 'Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'
While the in-game persona may be an orc or a faceless space soldier, on the other side of the avatar is a person that I should treat with the same respect that I would want to be treated with myself – even when we’re trying to frag each other.

It mostly comes down to common courtesy and politeness, traits that are scarce enough on the web as a whole. People seem to feel that, just because they have a certain anonymity, that they can act however they want, without any thought to others. But it is my duty as Christians to be different from the world, as Romans 12:2 says: 'And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.'

Since most of my communication with other players in games will either be written or verbal, one way I can set myself apart by not using profanity or insulting other players. For I am an ambassador of Christ, no matter where I am, and a dirty word can soil a good witness - which is why Paul gives us this command in Ephesians 4:29: 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.' And also in Colossians 3:8: 'But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.'

But even if I don’t use any “bad” words, I can still be in the wrong if I reply to an insult or nasty comment in anger. Remember the wise words of Solomon, in Proverbs 15:1: 'A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.' Often just ignoring a “troll’”will make them get board and move on. But if I must speak I try and keep it civil to defuse the situation as best I can.

However, I think there is more to it than just being nice (or at least not being rude). Often times new players are scorned and excluded because of there inexperience. But ignorance is not the same thing as stupidity: just because a player doesn't know where the flag capture zone is, or that clicking on the glowing stone obelisk is a bad idea, doesn't make them dumb. It can be hard to remember what it's like not to know things that we take for granted. Experience will cure ignorance in time, but I can help it happen faster. In Matthew 25:45, Jesus says: 'Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye diditnot to one of the least of these, ye diditnot to me.' The verse here is referring to physical needs, but I think the principal applies: if you see someone in need, can fulfill that need but don’t, you displease God. I'm not saying that we have to hold the hand of every noob we meet. But it wouldn't hurt to help someone along that is struggling, so that everyone can have more fun in the long run.

“I’m not a teacher,” I hear myself say. Well, that's what wikis are for! Most every major online game has a wiki these days. Giving a new player a link to one is easy enough and gives them access to the combined knowledge of dozens, even hundreds, of players. Or I could just quote from it whenever they ask a question and look really smart. Either way, a little display of kindness can go a long way towards opening doors.
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What is the most amount of time you put into a game?

I have over 35 hours into Dragon Warrior VII and I'm still on the first disc.  I think I will have to sink 100 hours into this game before I finish it.  It's really a shame since this great game is riddled with swearing, quite a difference from the Nintendo versions I have been playing until this point.  I'm not exaggerating that every time I load up this game I encounter a swear of some sort.  da*n, bas*ard, son of a......, and hell is thrown around pretty casually too.  "Get the hell out of here" etc.  The Nintendo versions may have had 1 or 2 da*n in it max.  :\ 

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Sonic's 20th Anniversary

I am a huge Sonic fan who loves playing the blue blur's games despite their critical reception. I love the fast-paced action, catchy music, and great graphics of the series. I know that some of his games have had weird gimmicks such as the werehog in Sonic Unleashed, but I found most of his games enjoyable. Actually, the only Sonic game that I officially hate is Sonic Labyrinth. Still, games like Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity made me think that the blue blur could do a lot better. Once Sonic Colors and Sonic 4 came out, I knew that the blue blur was done with gimmicks. For Sonic's 20th anniversary, SEGA is giving us Sonic Generations and Mario and Sonic 3, both I think look excellent. Sonic Generations features both Classic and Modern incarnations of Sonic, while Mario and Sonic 3 features both series' iconic characters and party games based on the London Olympics coming next year.

2011 is actually not only Sonic's 20th anniversary, but also Mario's 30th, Zelda's 25th, and Halo's 10th! Weird huh?

Reviews to Sonic Colors and Sonic '06 coming soon.

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PSP: The bargain hunter's dream

I'm a sucker for bargain bin games and try to avoid paying full retail price when possible.  There are many great games to be found in the used game sections of GameStop and the prices of many classics are $20 or less.

For my birthday I got a used PSP 3001 for $50 and the came with Fifa 2009 and a UMD movie Treasure Hunter 2.  I had to buy an AC adapter for it.  So $65 out the door with a game and a movie isn't bad.

Since I don't play sports games I traded in Fifa 2009 and took advantage of GameStop's recent buy 2 get one free sale and picked up.  Jeanne De'arc, Final Fantasy: Crisis Core and Patapon.  All of these out the door was less than $15.  We went back the next day and picked up Parappa the Rapper for $6 and Lumines 2 for $5.  My last purchase was Half Minute Hero for $10 out the door after using a 20% off coupon I got for my birthday.

We also got two free games from the PSN Welcome back pack (Kill Zone and Little Big Planet)

 

So a system, AC adapter and 8 games for $101..not bad at all

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Wii U unveiling

I was very surprised at this years E3. I wasn't too crazy about Sony and Microsoft's conferences, and I didn't think the Nintendo one would be any better. I was shocked at the new console, Wii U.

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The best Jesus-free critique of CCG

I don't take criticism easily. Especially when it comes to my personal beliefs or the things I'm passionate about. So when a secular game site takes aim at both video games and my faith, I am quick to reach for my righteous rage.

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Gaming on a Quad-Core Tablet

The Nvidia Kal-El quad core powered tablets are looking pretty promising..I wonder how much they will cost! Check out this video where they demonstrate the difference between a dual and a quad core tablet.

 

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Play classic DOS games in Google Chrome!

It's been ages since I played Lucas Arts' Tie Fighter.  NaCLBox is a DOS box that runs right in your Google Chrome browser and does not require you to install any plugins.  All you have to do is enable the Native Client by typing about:flags in your address bar.  Once you do that you can play demos of The Secret of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Duke Nukem 1 & 2 (I don't remember the content in those!) and more.

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First two months with the iPad

If you had asked me two months ago if I would ever have an iPad, I would have laughed.  I already had an iPod Touch for two years and could not understand why anyone would want an oversized iPod.  Well, my wife ended up getting a fantastic price on one from someone at my office.  I was so blown away by all it was capable of, I ended up getting one for myself two weeks later.

Now, two months later, I am hooked.  I absolutely love the iPad. It is not just a large iPod, as I had thought.  The apps look gorgeous on the screen and are developed to take into account the screen size.  I am able to do so much more than I was with the iPod.  Other than for work, I am rarely on my computer anymore.  Does it replace my computer?  No.  But it certainly covers a lot of the same areas and can even go beyond what I do with my personal laptop.

Spiritually - It has allowed me to go deeper in my Bible studies with a split screen for a commentary.  Clicking on words, I can perform a lookup in a Bible dictionary.

Photography - I am able to download photos from my camera.  No more need to take my laptop on trips to handle downloading my day's worth of photos.

Music - I can keep all of my sheets of music stored on the iPad.  I can create worship sets for the week and can even annotate my music with markups.  There is almost no need for printed sheets.  There are some really great apps to write music as well.  I can now grab the iPad and get a musical phrase recorded or come up with an electronic jam sequence.

Games - There are so many great games and they look beautiful on the iPad.  It has been a wonderful gaming device.  I have some fun in-depth strategy games, a few 3D RPGs, sudoku, time management, space sims, and more.  They cover everything from the casual to the harder core gamer.

This just covers a few of the reasons I so enjoy the iPad.  It has made me more productive.  I don't look at it as just a device.  It has absolutely transformed the way I do things.  From drawing diagrams for work, reading a technical book, and even listening to the songs for this week's worship set while I'm in bed, I continue to find useful apps to fill a need.

You can expect more blogging on the iPad over the months.

And, yes, I wrote this entire post on the iPad.

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Wii HD to recapture the Hardcore?

 

 

Industry guru Michael Pachter has been forecasting a "Wii HD" for some time now, but it looks like Nintendo has finally shed some light on its next home console, codenamed, "Project Cafe."

 

IGN recently received word that the Wii 2 will usher Nintendo into the High Definition era with a 1080p ready machine, suggesting the console is, "significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and that Nintendo's intent is to recapture the hardcore market." It's also expected to be backwards-compatible with current Wii games.

 

The Wii successor which will feature a new controller with dual analog sticks, a d-pad and trigger buttons. However, it will also include a 6 inch touch screen capable of streaming game content from the console.

 

That's all we know for now, but E3 is two months away and Nintendo will likely make an official announcement and at the very least have video footage ready for the public.

 

Nintendo is apparently already showing the console to publishers in hopes of generating interest for a late 2012 launch.

 

Thoughts?

 

Is the screen on the controller as gimmicky as connecting your gameboy to the gamecube?

 

Were you just getting used to home consoles at a reasonable price?

 

How powerful will it be compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360?

 

 

 

 

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M rated games a minority in 2010

 

 

I couldn't wait to turn 13.

 

Driving at 16? Drinking and voting at 18? Didn't care, because 12 years old meant video games with the big "T for Teen" could never join my collection.

 

Can I play Goldeneye? Nope, Metal Gear Solid? Not a chance. But after the big 1-3 I finally had some leverage in the violence vs. Mom and Dad debate.

 

Even now at 23, parents and well meaning relatives can point out the depravity of Bulletstorm or the abiding debauchery of Grand Theft Auto with just the most peripheral knowledge of the industry.

 

But I can't blame them, because the mainstream news coverage only extends to the next Halo or Call of Duty. So it's no wonder people assume the majority of video games exist to teach children how to make people/aliens/prostitues die.

 

Turns out, we were wrong.

 

The ESRB broke down their assigned ratings for 2010 and out of 1,638 games, the frown inducing 'M for mature' rating only accounted for a measly 5%.

 

Five per cent. That's like assuming lucky charms are mostly shooting stars. In fact, people have gone around calling it "Shooting Star" cereal. That's just not accurate. There's rainbows and moons and horseshoes swirling in a sea of toasted oats.

 

T for Teen came in at 21% and E for Everyone accounted for a whopping 55%.

 

The ESRB said around 6 in 10 games released over the last two years received E for Everyone ages six and up.

 

"In fact, three quarters of the ratings we assigned last year were for games that are appropriate for those under the age of 13, so there's a huge variety of games available for players of all ages."

 

That's a whole lot of toasted oat chunks.

 

ESRB ratings for 2010

 

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Another View: Dragon Age II Impressions

Having just (finally) finished Dragon Age: Origins, I was dismayed to see my colleague's comments on the newly minted demo for the upcoming Dragon Age II.

The beautiful thing about Dragon Age has always been the versatility of play: if a player wishes to tactically play the game they can, utilizing different powers and setting traps, as well as combining powers and attacks in an effort to be the most effective; however, if the player wishes to just play the game as a hack-and-slash, they can too, and this is what Dragon Age II recognizes.

I fought with the battle system and control scheme from Dragon Age: Origins from the first. After buying the game at launch and hitting a series of snags, I was unable to review the game as planned, first from the difficulty of the proceedings (I, like many gamers, don't like to knock down the difficulty because of a little challenge) and then because I encountered a disc read error on my 360 that would not resolve.

So I sold the game, finally repurchasing and finishing it almost two years later (and discovering that I was something like four hours from the end when the game stopped working).

Coming from that experience, with its jerky combat woes and long areas of disconnected grinding, Dragon Age II was a welcome change. You press a button... something happens. This was not what Dragon Age: Origins did, and the change is good. Things feel solid. Combat carries weight. And the writing is great.

Another welcome change is the protagonist, who is actually a character this time. I understand the nostalgic feel of the silent protagonist, but the inclusion of that made it hard to care about what happened in the last game. Here, however, I do care. And not only that, I'm fascinated by the way that they're telling the story. Framed narratives, such as the one presented in Dragon Age II, aren't a new thing, but they aren't often done well in games. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

Ultimately, I came away very pleased, and anxious to get my hands on the new game. I don't know if Deep's comments were because of a static control scheme or the lack of familiarity with the original game, but I do know that on the console, Dragon Age II is looking to be the first great RPG of 2011. If that's the case on the PC, I don't know, but I wouldn't doubt it; the combat has lost none of its depth, it's just far more accessible.

For Bioware fans, for fans of any significant story or action game, that's a very good thing. And it means that Dragon Age II is going to be excellent.

As an aside, there were several sexual references in the game, along with a focus (unnecessary, actually) on large breasts, and tons of blood and gore flying everywhere. This is seeming to be a pretty hard M, so if you're not old enough or don't want to deal with that stuff... don't play it.

-Drew "Drewsov" Regensburger

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Dragon Age II demo impressions

So a few days ago, I was able to download and play the demo for Dragon Age II. My first impression was "This is really stripped down." I wasn't surprised, as this is a demo. So I watched the opening cutscene, and thought that was decent enough. Then the game started. When I first started controlling, I noticed a serious flaw: The mouse does not rotate the camera unless the left mouse button is held. The problem with this is that the left mouse button is also your action button. You attack, move, select and do more with it. This may not seem like a huge issue, but when the enemies are constantly moving away from the screen, the only way to reliably adjust the camera for attacking is to pause the game. While this is a fairly common feature in Bioware games, this scheme was incredibly awkward. If I so chose, I should be able to actively control and fight without having to pause the game to readjust my viewing frustum. There was no such option that I could find. I can excuse the lack of customization since it is a demo, but the control scheme is a battle to use effectively.

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Tron Revival!

Over the weekend I finally saw the new "Tron: Legacy"...twice.  I enjoyed it so much, I took my younger daughter with me the 2nd time.  One night later, she went again.  This time with my wife.  I'm hoping to see it one more time before it leaves our theater.  The music, the visuals, the sound.  I absolutely loved the movie and came back with my first real 'movie experience' in years.  It's one of those movies I'll remember when I saw it in the theater.

I've been a fan of Tron ever since the original was released.  It really made an impact on me at the time.  It was such a great idea and concept.  A world inside a computer or video game.  I also pumped many quarters into the arcade game.  Over the years, it had become a fading memory.  Though a memory I would reference every so often.

In 2002, I bought my first DVD.  It was the 20th Anniversary of Tron.  My wife was like, "I"ve never even heard you mention this movie before.  That's what you want to buy?"

In 2003, my hopes were raised as the PC game "Tron 2.0" was released.  I swooped it up and really enjoyed it.  The beginning of the game was frustrating and hard, but once I worked through that, the game ended up being a really exciting time.  I still have fond memories of many of the levels and puzzles.

The following year (2004) I bought "TRON 2.0: Killer App" for the Gameboy Advance.  I enjoyed it, but the shining part were the minigames and port of the Tron arcade game.

There were rumors of a new Tron movie in the works, but nothing ever came through.  But ever since then, I've been waiting patiently for the Tron sequel.  Well, "Tron: Legacy" met my desires for a sequel.  I love the many references to the first movie and the updated Tron world looks SO good.  Different enough you know it's an update, but similar enough you know you are in the world of Tron.

This last weekend saw a Tron revival inside of me.

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My new Android phone

I recently got a new T-Mobile G2.  Any time I get a new gadget, I always investigate its gaming potential, whether it's intended by the device creators or otherwise.  I still remember writing a simple Final Fantasy-like game for my old calculator in High School.  I've also always installed solitaire on even the most basic cellphones when possible, because, well, you never know when you'll need it.

Fortunately, this device doesn't make gaming so hard.  In fact, with the fast CPU, capacitive touch screen, and physical keyboard and trackpad, it doesn't get too much better for a cellphone.  And the Android Market doesn't disappoint when it comes to variety.  And last but most certainly not least, it's not a closed system like an iPhone.  Closed off systems drive me nuts - I will only accept openness, and Android provides that in spades.  But that's perhaps for another blog post.

As for games themselves, I have downloaded around 30 so far, but I have mostly played just a few of them so far.  I have played Angry Birds the most by far.  I highly recommend it.  And since the Android version is ad supported freeware, there is no excuse - grab it now.

Other good ones include Frozen Bubble - which is a classic ported from desktop Linux.  Bonzai Blast is also high quality, as is PewPew.  My wife likes Glow Hockey, and of course I had to load the requisite Solitaire Free Pack.  OpenSudoku is also nice.  Please beware of violence and scantily clad ladies (only in the menus), but Gun Bros. is a very high quality game, which reminds me of Ikari Warriors somewhat.  But I'm not too thrilled with the menu 'decoration', so we'll see how long I keep it on my phone.

I could talk about others also, but suffice it to say that I don't need much more convincing on one point - Nintendo and Sony should definitely continue to make sure that they offer compelling portable gaming experiences that are worth bringing along another device for, because since getting this phone I've been trying game after game, and playing little else.

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Games I am playing

Wii: Epic Mickey (I'm playing in small doses, I'm not a console gamer!)
PC: Magicka (frustrated over stability issues) Baron Wittard Nemesis of Ragnarok (stuck and no walkthroughs yet for this adventure game)
On the go: Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls (GBA) Beat FF1 playing FF2 need to grind.  I got DQVI on pre-order!

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One game off my bucket list!

I beat my first Final Fantasy game.  I just finished the GBA version of Final Fantasy.  It was pretty easy, I got my characters up to level 65 before tackling the final boss who I beat on my first try.  Next I'm going to play a few PC games courtesy of GamersGate and I look forward to Dragon Quest 6 coming out next month.  After those I'll tackle Final Fantasy 2!

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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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