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Thread: The Gamer's Gazette - Volume I, Issue VI

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    Default The Gamer's Gazette - Volume I, Issue VI



    How are everyone's wallets doing? The Steam Summer Getaway Sale is upon us (has been for a few days now), and with its glorious cheap games, groups revolving around trading cards to each other, and games I want losing the community votes. Such is the circle of life Steam game sales. To go along with your newly expanded stockpile of games, the Gamer's Gazette is proud to bring you more articles on your favorite video games. Gen.Chris and newly added Diamat use their sharp intellect (well, compared to other flying creatures) to review Tomb Raider and the latest addition to the Magic the Gathering series respectively. Meanwhile, apple takes a look into classical music in modern media. Leonidas the Lion continues his epic treck across the galaxy in episode three of his Mass Effect Marathon. Finally, Gen.Chris and I try our hand at the latest fad of Let's Plays with the first entry into the TWC Staff Let's Play series. Portal 2 seemed like such a good idea...until we skipped the starting levels without noticing them. We here at the Gamer's Gazette are true professionals indeed. We hope you enjoy the rest of our summer, the dwindling of your income as you throw money at your monitor, and the sixth edition of the Gamer's Gazette!

    Gamer's Gazette Editor
    Confederate Jeb



    Contents






    Mass Effect Marathon Episode 3
    Mass Effect Marathon Episode 3
    Mass Effect Marathon Episode 3


    Tomb Raider Review
    Tomb Raider Review
    Tomb Raider Review

    Tomb Raider (2013)


    Twenty-one year old Lara Croft and a small group of people are stranded when a savage storm wrecks their ship, the Endurance, off of the coast of a small island in the Dragon’s Triangle. Landing on the island, Lara is captured by a savage man, and though she soon escapes and reunites with some of the survivors, the nature of the island begins to show itself. After one of their own, Sam, mysteriously vanishes from the camp along with another supposed survivor and the rest are attacked and many killed, Lara escapes capture and experiences her first taste of the islands savagery, killing a man who threatened her. Lara manages to hail a rescue plane, but when another storm suddenly rises and destroys the plane, Lara begins to realize that this is no ordinary island. Unknowingly, she has been pitched into a centuries-old cult centered around the island’s deity Himiko, the sun goddess that controls the weather around the island, ensuring that no one can ever leave. The cult has gained a new follower in the form of Mathias, a mysterious and insane man who came to the island three decades before. Gathering followers from other wrecks, Mathias rules the island with an iron fist, and believes that by sacrificing Sam to Himiko, the island may become safe to leave. Lara must set out to confront Mathias and his cult, gaining skills and weapons along the way, and negotiate the island and its inhabitants before it consumes her and what is left of her party.



    --

    A reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise, this game is an origin story for Lara Croft. Instead of beginning the game as an experienced adventurer, Croft is a simple archaeology student who is only out for the discovery of the Kingdom of Yamatai. She has limited survival training, and has never even killed anyone before. Her experiences on the island change her from the student to the raider who is the centerpiece for the whole franchise. The primary antagonist of this game is the Solarii brotherhood, headed by Mathias.

    Mathias and two of his henchmen

    First of all, the setting of the game is an absolute masterpiece, in my opinion. The island that the game takes place on is exceptionally well crafted to be a unique experience. The island has multiple locations, from forests to caves to buildings to even giant gondola systems. Every single location offers a variety of challenges, such as landscapes that need to be traversed, as well as enemies that need to be killed. The island is very detailed, with even things such as wooden planks on bridges given high detail. And speaking of detail and graphics, the developers really spent a lot of time developing them for this game, having perhaps the best graphics that I have yet to encounter on PS3. They really went all out. Lara even gets dirty when she falls in the blood as well as bloody when she falls into a veritable river of blood, and she can even become clean again by jumping into water.

    The island is exceptionally well detailed
    Movement throughout the island is indeed a treacherous venture in this game. Using something called “Survival Instincts”, Lara can often find her way out of situations. This instinct is triggered by pressing a button, and highlights enemies, animals, and landscapes and objects that can be used in a variety of colors. Lara encounters gorges, rivers, broken bridges, cliffsides, wrecks, and all manner of obstacles that hinder her. I feel the movement throughout the game is one of the games’ centerpieces, attempting to be as realistic as possible. If Lara falls but manages to catch herself, her grip will not always be as true as, say, any of the Assassins in the AC games. If the fall is large enough, or if the object she grabs is not particularly stable, the player must press a button in order to make Lara right her grip to keep her from falling. Lara also must climb dangerous cliffs (made of both rock and ice at times) with her climbing axe, or survive dangerous rivers. At one point she even has to use a parachute and glide her way through dangerous tree tops. One wrong move in many of these cases results in instant death. Finally she can use her bow to shoot arrows with rope attached, forming quick bridges that she can either slide down or climb up.

    Lara's survival instincts are telling her this plane is important.


    Lara using her climbing axe to climb in the middle of a large snow storm.


    Using the rope the move across the terrain quickly
    One interesting addition to the game would have to be the salvage and upgrade system that Crystal decided to implement. Throughout the game Lara acquires a lot of extra material from looting lockers, chests, and even dead animals and enemies. This material is known as “salvage”. Lara utilizes these scraps of material in order to upgrade her weapons. Starting out with an improvised bow, for example, Lara can use this material to strengthen the bow and the string, making it more powerful. She can also do the same to guns (when she acquires them later in the game), giving them larger magazines, improved sights, or even sturdier builds. Lara also occasionally acquires new “parts” for her weapons, which will allow Lara to completely upgrade her weapons into brand new ones, keeping the salvage upgrades and unlocking more. In the same vein, Lara gains experience by killing and looting, traversing difficult landscapes, and other things that give Lara skill points, which she can utilize to give her improved fighting capabilities, carry more ammunition, salvage skills, and more. In order to upgrade her weapons and improve skills, Lara utilizes base camps that are unlocked with each new area explored. These basecamps also function as save points. These sites can also be used for fast travel to other unlocked sites.


    Using salvaged parts to improve the recurve bow.


    One of Lara's many base camps

    Combat is quite a large part of the game, and Crystal put a lot of work into it. Essentially a third person shooter, Lara can use a variety of weapons at her disposal in order to survive hundreds of enemies. The combat mechanic is mostly free aim, though you can lock briefly onto an enemy if they are within sight when you use the “aim” button. Though you do eventually encounter better weapons, the primary weapon you will use is the bow. From hunting to forming a rope bridge to fighting off enemies, the bow is far and away the weapon of choice throughout the game. Its ammunition is retrievable from enemies, it is quick and deadly, and you will almost always find ammunition for it. The Solarii brotherhood use a wide range of weapons from bows to assault rifles to explosives (molotovs and dynamite). Utilizing a cover system, Lara can efficiently kill her enemies with relative ease. The enemies also have a very good AI, and will take cover, reloading or preparing explosives, emerging only to throw their explosives or fire off a quick burst of gunfire or arrows (some lit on fire) before taking cover again. Lara can also use exploding barrel and other objects to her advantage in combat. Some of the enemies are exclusively melee, and will charge towards Lara. Melee combat is one of the few bad spots in the game I feel; armed with only her axe (which can be upgraded just like the other weapons just in much more limited fashion), Lara only has a few moves. Mostly when engaged in melee combat, Lara must utilize dodging and countering. This type of move set is sometimes the only way, as some enemies are heavily armored in the front or have large metal shields (and will always keep you in front of them), so you must dodge and counter them in order to get through their armor. These counters can be anything from stabbing them in the knee or the face with an arrow to shooting them in their back to hacking at them with your axe. Finally, if an enemy is down but still alive, Lara can move up to them and “finish” them with an axe to a vital part of their body. Though limited in terms of melee, Lara is still quite capable; she just cannot block attacks. Lara can also use stealth attacks to quietly deal with enemies, typically consisting of hacking into the poor souls collar bone or strangling them with her bow. As I said, the combat happens often, and the fights can be quite fun, especially the final battle.

    Lara using a WWII era gun to combat her enemies.


    Using the cover system.

    Besides trying to save yourself and your friends while unlocking the mysteries of the island, there are also a fair amount of side things to do. Keeping with the nature of the franchise, there are several optional tombs to raid throughout the island. Typically the player must solve a puzzle before finding the “treasure”, but these puzzles are rather simplistic, yet still enough to make you think. Some of them involve proper timing, as well as a bit of luck, to solve. The tombs are not hidden…you typically run into them without going out of your way. But they are not necessary to solve in order to advance the story. There are also other things to find as well. As she makes her way across the island, Lara can find various documents and relics that are scattered throughout the areas. They provide interesting insight into the history of the island, all the way back to its glory, as well as insight into the present situation. These documents and relics are from a variety of categories, from ancient times to more modern ones, and will paint a great backstory for some of the characters, seen and unseen, providing more depth to the story as well as showing the motivations for many of the characters in their pursuits. Additionally, along with the various documents and relics, there are several GPS caches scattered throughout the island. These do not provide any sort of background story or information until you find them all, though. Typically with these collectibles, you will have to go out of your way to find them. Some you will find without going out of your way at all, but I probably found less than a quarter of them by accident. When you discover a tomb and complete it, you will have some or all of the collectibles revealed on the map, but other than that, they are hidden. However, with certain skills purchased, Lara can use her survival instincts to find them more easily, with them being highlighted in gold, and can be seen through objects such as walls. Sometimes Lara does not have the means of obtaining certain collectibles until later, with obstructions too difficult to overcome until the acquisition of a certain item. Luckily, all locations can be returned to by using the fast travel option at campsites.


    One of the numerous relics that you can find on the island.


    Solve the puzzle


    This game is absolutely riddled with positives, as I have stated above, but the best part of the whole game has to be the story. It is the story of a rather naďve girl who simply wishes to rediscover a historical Japanese civilization who is forced to confront a dark side of humanity. A girl who is forced to kill or be killed, to watch friends as well as enemies suffer or die due to the whims of a centuries-old divine queen who once ruled the island. She is forced to mature from college student to hardened adventurer in the blink of an eye. When she feels fear or sadness, it feels so real that you can feel the fear and sadness as well. This game is just that good. Through the killing of hundreds of enemies, to barely surviving falls, near drownings, combat, wolf attacks, and even a river of blood, she becomes hardened to the world. This story has tremendous character development, not only for Lara but others as well, even for characters that are not seen (the documents). The story as a whole, I find, is not only a suitable jumping off point for a rebooted franchise, but an amazing tale overall.


    From a frightened girl...


    Into a fearless one.

    Overall, I would say this game is among the best I have ever played. Hands down, full stop. It has a tremendous story, a fantastic degree of character development, incredible combat, and a realistic setting and style to the likes I barely could have imagined. Everything about it is great. Really. The only thing that really was bad about it at all was the limited amount of melee combat, as well as a couple small glitches that only affected one small part of one location. Additionally, were it not for the optional tombs, there would be very little “tomb raiding” I the game, but since it is an origin story, and the fact that Lara quite clearly states that she “hates tombs”, that small flaw can be forgiven. Everything else vastly make up for these small issues. Of particular note is the score by Jason Graves. Graves constructed a vital part of the game in his story, really setting the atmosphere of many of the situations, from the desperate to the intimate. In the bonus stuff unlocked throughout the game, you learn that Graves had a piece of equipment simply titled “The Instrument” that he uses for much of the soundtrack, and this “instrument” is essentially a hodgepodge of various improvised percussion devices that quite clearly form the backbone of much of his soundtrack. I honestly have a hard time of choosing a particular song to point out, but “Escape from the Endurance” is definitely an iconic piece from the game. The setting is fantastic, the score is an amazing addition, and just everything about it is right. I have heard that the multiplayer is not good at all, but I have not played it at all.



    This is an amazing game, whether you are a Tomb Raider fan or not. I highly recommend it.




    10/10




    Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 Review
    Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 Review
    Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014 Review


    Just in time before the official release of the new Magic 2014 cards, Wizards of the Coast have released their newest title, Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014, the fourth installment in the series. For Magic fanatics, it eases the torture of having to wait until July 19th to play the physical game. For newcomers, however, the game also has much to offer.

    What is Magic?
    For those of you not familiar with the game, it is a trading card game similar to the popular Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh series. However, Magic has a much longer history, a successful business model that has endured many years. Each player draws seven cards, cards which consist of creature, sorcery, and other types of spells, and the one who can make his opponent run out of life the quickest wins. The game is infinitely complex, given the variety of cards, card combinations, and abilities listed on cards. Thus, the learning curve can be rather steep, but it will continuously keep you engaged. You may even decide, by playing this electronic version, that you want to buy some real cards. This actually happened to me, after I played the predecessor to the game reviewed here. Any fan of tactics games, or games that involve lots of thinking, will probably get a kick out of Magic.

    Multiple Platforms, Same Game?

    First of all, like last year, the game is multi-platformed, available for the purchase price of $9.99 on PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Google Play Store, and iTunes. There is also a free demo version available for all these platforms, which is sufficient enough to give those of you in doubt enough taste of the game to decide whether or not to buy it. The problem with multi-platform games, usually, is inconsistency in terms of performance and features. Magic 2014 is not free from these issues. Most definitely, the game runs smoothest on the PC, as long as your PC is powerful enough. Loading times on the Android version can be quite vexing. Even when the AI perpends his next move, it can take up to ten seconds! Moreover, the Android version is the only version not to have general multiplayer capabilities. Although Bluetooth multiplayer with another android device is possible, you cannot play against other players online, which basically defeats the whole point of the game for Android users. The fact that the publishers decided to charge the same price for a game that has only half the features of its cross-platform counterparts is truly atrocious. Therefore, if you are thinking about buying this game for your Samsung Galaxy tablet, do not do so, unless you are satisfied with singleplayer.

    Singleplayer
    Playing this game, one has to keep in mind that it remains a trading card game, thus being limited in terms of creativity. As a result, in the single player campaign, you will battle opponent after opponent with a deck of your choice, and after each victory, you will unlock a new card for your deck or unlock new decks altogether. These decks are pre-built, meaning that the cards you unlock are predetermined. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. If you are a newcomer to the series, this will be of immense help to you, because you don’t have to build a deck from scratch. These decks were carefully thought out by the developers, and can teach you quite a few tricks about deck-building. There is still enough wiggle-room for you to be creative and make these pre-constructed decks unique and powerful. You can choose what cards you want in your deck and which ones you don’t, as long as you do not go under the sixty card minimum. Each deck has plenty of cards to unlock, which will take you a considerable time to accomplish. Of course you can always pay $1 to unlock a deck instantly, but where is the fun in that?
    As was demanded by many fans of the series, this year’s game includes, for the first time, sealed play. Sealed play means that, similar to the real game, you can open booster packs, containing 15 cards each, and build custom decks from scratch, the only rule being that you have at least 40 cards in your deck. The interface to do so is rather intuitive and extremely user-friendly. You can even decide how many land cards of each type you want in your deck, both sealed and pre-built decks, something which is also new to this installment. The sealed component of the game also features a campaign, allowing you to battle a few opponents and unlock a couple of booster packs along the way. While all this might sound like fun, sealed play is fatally flawed. First of all, you are only allowed two deck slots. Each additional deck slot costs $1.99 extra. To make matters worse, you can’t reset your decks and start from the beginning. Once you have opened all the booster packs for a single sealed campaign, that’s all the cards you will get, and there is no way to reset it. Sealed play is further limited by the miniscule inclusion of only circa 150 different cards. Thus, the possibility for variation is extremely limited. In short, sealed play seems like more of a gimmicky addition to the series, in the hopes of appeasing and attracting fans.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Only two deck slots? Seriously?

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    An extremely user-friendly interface.


    Despite the shortcomings of sealed play, however, the rest of singleplayer is solid. For newcomers, a tutorial mode was also included. In addition, you can enable hints, which will help tremendously if it is your first time playing. Moreover, all card effects and abilities are explained when clicking on the “info” tab, which is easily accessible, making the game a breeze to learn.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Newcomer-friendly


    The main campaign itself is lengthier than in last year’s installment, which is a good thing. It will keep you occupied for hours. Upon completion of the main campaign, you will unlock the so-called revenge campaign, which means fighting some of your old opponents whose cards are now stacked in their favor. There is also a challenge mode, which can indeed be quite challenging and may teach you a few tricks.

    Multiplayer
    Multiplayer is ultimately what this game is about once you have completed the regular campaign, the revenge campaign, and the various challenges. Although you can select between three different difficulty levels in singleplayer mode, there is nothing more demanding than a human adversary. Think your deck is strong? Well, put it to the test in multiplayer. Even if you lose, which happens to me quite often as someone rather new to the Magic series, you will learn more quickly about different tactics and approaches to the game.

    During my play, I have encountered no technical issues with multiplayer. The game runs smoothly and there were no sudden connection drops. Hence, I feel comfortable calling multiplayer “solid.”

    Graphics, Sound, and Technical Stuff
    Again, I should reemphasize, this is a card game, thus limiting the possibilities. The visuals of this game are smooth and beautiful. Granted, I played this game at the highest graphical settings, but even on the tablet versions, this game looks crystal clear. Granted, the special effects are wanting. The developers basically recycled all the sound and graphical effects from the previous installment, which is rather disappointing. Whenever one of your creatures attacks, all you will see is a short attack animation corresponding with the type of creature you are playing. For example, when a creature with fire attacks, you will see a fireball flying across the field, or when a creature with claws attacks, you will see scratch marks. Given these unspectacular visual effects, the 1.2 GB installation size for tablets, which is huge, seems rather overdone.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Nothing special here


    Conclusion
    For only $10, the game is well worth your money on all platforms except for Android, given the hours of entertainment you will get out of it. Another potential reason to buy the game now, rather than wait for it to go on sale, is that it comes with a code which you can redeem for a 6-card promotional booster pack at participating stores. I have to be honest, I had a blast with this game. Yes, it has shortcomings, but considering the price tag, you are getting your money’s worth.

    Score: 8/10
    +Fun factor
    +Complexity
    +Replayability
    +Newcomer-friendly
    +Solid multiplayer
    +Price tag
    -Sealed play is inherently flawed
    -Recycled effects
    -Android version has no online multiplayer




    Classical Music
    Classical Music
    Classical Music Here is a spotify playlist to go along with the reading. This is not a "best of orchestral music in games" as that would be huge project on it's own, but rather a collection of some good examples. Happy reading/listening. http://open.spotify.com/user/virito/...mU6KDuJDbO5f2x

    I have been meaning to write this for some time, but this is not something you can just hammer out. Since my early childhood I've been immensely fond of classical music, so much that I indeed held Eros Ramazzotti duet with Andrea Bocelli's Musica č as one of my favorite songs for a number of years and even started playing the trumpet until I could not stand my own non-existing talent for it.

    One could say I was starstruck with the idea of classical music and all that it includes, especially the part where I would play it. As the years passed by I saw myself moving further and further away from my musical roots, ending up in metal and classical rock, and then towards the indie scene. Certainly these genres have taken inspiration from the classical world more than once, but none of them really sounded or was performed in the same ways and arenas. It hit me that while rock and pop songs were played on the same radio channel here in Sweden, classical music was not to be seen. Instead it was left hidden in its own channel with sleepy radio talkers and programs for the really, really old people.

    How did this happen? Wasn't classical music the pinnacle of western culture just 70 years ago. What happened?

    The time of the great wars was over, even though a few considerably smaller ones were still to happen, the world was in a new phase. Freedom in different shapes spread, forming the western world. The old imperialistic ways were discarded and space was made for democratic and socialistic ideas. Classical music had been part of the top hierarchy before the imperialistic era, but it had always been something for the rich and nothing the poor population had the time or money to delve into, so the fact that the fall of classical music happened during the years after the great wars may not be so strange after all. While people without musical education could form bands that range from simple pop and folk all the way up to rock, it's considerably harder to start up a full orchestra.

    The European courts had financed the great composers like Beethoven and Mozart, thus giving them the financial stability to work on their masterpieces. That was no longer a possibility and thus the classical music was dragged into the ditch like so many other things in the years after the war.

    But there was still light at the end of the tunnel. The film industry exploded and with it came high production movies that needed epic themed music and what better place to get it from than the classics? Of course plenty of it was the old classics re-recorded for the silver screen but the artform itself was kept intact and the profession lived on.

    Today people around the world consume classical music like never before and have been since the late 90s. This may very well sound strange to many people, just like how I have received comments from my last article, stating that over 80% of Sweden’s population play games regularly and yet the answer is just as simple this time. Of course is the increased used of classical music in epic Hollywood film a big piece in it all, but what people disregard is the part games have. After all, how many AAA titles these days do not have a full orchestra performing the newly written compositions?

    The phenomenon has become so great that there are multiple orchestras touring around the world playing gaming music in full seated arenas, selling out in a matter of hours if not minutes. The fact that many reviewers and players both wrote and complained when Nintendo choose not to have the full score for the Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess performed by an actual orchestra, but instead generated by computers, shows just how passionate gamers truly are about the music.



    TWC Staff Let's Play Portal 2 Episode 1
    TWC Staff Let's Play Portal 2 Episode 1
    TWC Staff Let's Play Portal 2 Episode 1




    List of Contributors/Other
    List of Contributors
    Confederate Jeb - Editor/Writer
    News and notes from the interwebs.

    - Episode 5 of The Patch, Rooster Teeth's gaming podcast, takes a fairly intricate look at DRM policies on current generation consoles. It's an interesting discussion and worth watching. The first half of the video contains the relavent discussion.






    apple - Writer








    SturmChurro - Writer









    Daily- Writer








    Manco- Writer








    frozenprince- Writer








    Akar - Writer







    Diamat - Writer








    Gen.Chris - Writer








    ☩Lord Inquisitor Derpy Hooves☩ - Writer








    Leonidas the Lion - Video Content Master








    Chloë - Contributor
    Special thanks.








    Check out the other Content publications!





    Last edited by Omnipotent-Q; July 21, 2013 at 06:23 PM. Reason: content pub links update

  2. #2
    Gen. Chris's Avatar BatHex
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    Default Re: The Gamer's Gazette - Volume I, Issue VI

    Well, if no one else will say it I certainly will.


    Those two members doing the Portal 2 Let's Play sound like some pretty awesome dudes.
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    Settra's Avatar the Imperishable
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    Default Re: The Gamer's Gazette - Volume I, Issue VI

    Great issue overall. Portal 2 LP was especially awesome, well worth the 51 minutes.
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    Default Re: The Gamer's Gazette - Volume I, Issue VI

    Great issue overall, once again !

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    Default Re: The Gamer's Gazette - Volume I, Issue VI

    Good job Content Team.
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