Infinitely captivated…

Bioshock: Infinite – First Impression
(as previously written for Players In CTRL)

Has a game ever gripped you and held on tight?

Bioshock had this effect on me. The first one had me…the second one had an obviously different feel however it, like most sequels, wasn’t terrible.  Bioshock: Infinite released today and I must say, it was worth the wait. Yes, I was greatly disappointed when it was pushed back from late last year until now.  However, as I have grown to know, if a game simply isn’t finished, it is not ready to be released or else you end up with products like Aliens: Colonial Marines or even more recent, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. The outer shell made a spectacle though a mere facade; a product that lacks the hearty substance that was promised in trailers and promos.

So yes. The wait was most definitely worth it. Right from the get go you can see the effort invested in this project, already making me attached and in even deeper awe at the genius of Levine and team Irrational Games.

So far it is NOT disappointing at all. The atmosphere is one hundred percent present. The game has already been given so much praise and it is definitely well-deserved. The voice acting is genuine, even from the NPCs. The music adds so much life to the surroundings with its classic ambiance. The gameplay is fluid and the graphics are gorgeous.

I am looking forward to delving deeper into the story. As it has already been said: do not rush through this game. Take a stroll, take in the environment and immerse yourself into this game.

It is amazing…

Blood Witch Revealed!

Not gaming related, but still AWESOME!
This book is coming soon, written by a friend of mine, and anyone who loves paranormal romance reads should check it out.!

Blood Witch (Opposite Side book 1) – By Ellie Potts
Paranormal Romance

Welcome to the Opposite Side where monsters really do roam the night, but The Supervisors make sure that the monsters don’t get noticed by the normal humans. Meet Leslie, a Supervisor and a blood witch, one of four in California. Blood witches are said to have powers that rival gods, that’s why they were almost hunted to extinction. Leslie came into her power late, and fell in with the wrong crowd before she became a Supervisor. Nathan is king of the local werebear clan, and he has plans for the future of his pack, the other local shapeshifters, but also has his eyes set on Leslie. She is not your ordinary Blood Witch, and together they can stir up power that the world has never seen. But nothing is as it seems in the Opposite Side, and Leslie’s already different world is going to be shaken as a new case starts a chain of events that can lead to a feud war.

Coming out this Spring from No Boundaries Press.

You can keep an eye out for it and other book news at her blog.
http://authorelliepotts.blogspot.com/

Welcome Back, Lara

She’s back!

I was already hooked to this game when I received the Game Informer with the new face of Lara Croft on the cover.  Over the past few weeks I have watched this gorgeous game unfold, from the interviews with Camilla Luddington, the inquiring mind of Zach Levi who takes us backstage, and the insight given to us by those at Crystal Dynamics… and I never lost interest.

Last night was the first time I put Tomb Raider in the system and let-er-rip.
WOW.

The visuals are absolutely stunning.  I stand and watch the water sometimes. Don’t judge me. The music is entirely captivating.  My heart races whenever the music picks up, and simple yet eerie melodies haunt some of the best/chilling moments.  Lara looks great, the game is fantastic and in my opinion I’m happy that she is a little more realistic. NOW. Purists, don’t get it twisted.  I am a Tomb Raider fan, and was prior to this title.  Regardless of how I am a woman and don’t appreciate polygonal chests and unrealistic proportions, this Lara has substance and I’m only in the first part of the game.  It is called a reboot for a reason.

I look forward to finishing this game, and with the collectables and other to-dos along the island, I forsee a replay value on this title.

NOW is the time…

…FOR JUDGMENT! 

The silence is broken.  How exciting is this?  Very.  I signed my life away to silence for the past four days.  I’ve been so excited, I wanted to explode!  My fellow IC members and I got to experience Gears of War: Judgment FIRST HAND.  Good news is, Fred Tatasciore returns as Baird.  Bad news?  There was no bad news. 😀

It all started Thursday morning.  The trip to San Francisco was a fairly easy drive, and we even arrived on time.  Actually, no, about an hour and a half early.  After wandering about the town, we found ourselves back at the studio waiting outside with other gamers.  Retail representatives, socialites of the media and so forth, talking with a few reps from Microsoft about the upcoming titles, especially the game of the hour: Gears of War: Judgment.  Little did we know what was waiting for us behind the doors.

After a few minutes of waiting for the entire crew to arrive, we found ourselves heading up a set of stairs into a very surreal setting.  The room was beautiful! Televisions set up to the Gears press start screen.  Posters of the protagonists Baird and Co. on several walls, the torn COG banner immediately to the left of us waving in the incoming air from the open door.  There were about fifteen of us, the humble players, standing there in awe.  A lot of us were able to snap a few photos and grab some snacks and drinks before we were summoned over to the back area where there was already a game getting started, and the Epic representatives welcoming us warmly. Kendall Boyd (Director of Marketing at Epic) taking control of the game, and Alan Van Slyke, Senior Producer, stood aside and patiently waited for us to get situated.  He explained to us the improved system and some new features we could check out while the game was being played to us on the screen.  They gave us a brief rundown and before we knew it, we were able to sit down at our very own station, slip on a set of headphones and grab our controllers.

The Gears of War: Judgment Studio as you walk in…breathtaking.

Now to the (even more) amaze-balls part.

The campaign is told in a testimonial format; the part we got to experience was Baird’s recollection.  I won’t get into any detail story wise, and if I do, I promise to put [***SPOILER***] beforehand.  Right off the bat, as I sat down in the extremely comfortable chair and sat back, I put on the headset and could already hear how clean and crisp the sounds are.  The music is just as eerie and dark as the soundtracks prior, and the sound effects of your weapons are ever present.  There were a lot of times where I’d find myself simply standing in one spot (between waves of enemies of course) staring at the sky, watching the buildings crumble, the enemies flying overhead and zoning in on every little detail in the character and building textures, taking in the ambiance that Gears of War is known for.  For me, gaming is a sensory experience, and with the sights and sounds, come the smell and feel.  Not entirely sure what wretch gibs smell like, but I could only imagine.  The controls are close to what they have been in the past, aside from a couple of buttons switched around for a more fluid and intuitive control scheme.  Simply said: The trademark “Gears grit” is absolutely intact.

A new feature is “Declassify”.  Upon your journeys, you will encounter large COG symbols on the walls.  As the story is told, it plays out as the government wants you to know the “facts”.  Declassifying allows you to understand what actually happened in the story, changing some of the details to Baird’s actual experience.  Declassifying ramps up the difficulty pretty good, but shifts the experience to a whole new extreme.  It also allows you to rank up in your rating faster.  Another new feature in game is the 3-star rating system which is a meter filled by carrying out tasks including: obtaining ribbons, performing executions, gibbing your enemies, and completing the declassified objectives.  Filling this meter allows you to obtain unlockables; character skins, weapon skins, and so forth.

Kendall Boyd (left) and Alan Van Slyke (far right in his “Chicks dig the Baird shirt”) doing a last walkthrough before we left to make sure the room was set for the next test group.  Two great guys! Good sports, team players, and awesome to play GOW with them!

Then came the Multiplayer mode.  This was the epitome of badassery.  Nowhere, in any of my years as a gamer, did I believe I would be able to actually play the game with the developers!  First, we played Free-for-All on a map called Library.  I have played my share of online multiplayer, but this by far was the best experience I have ever had online.  I almost never play free-for-all, but the mechanics of the online play was balanced, and other than the near-heart-attacks suffered when getting executed with a retro-lancer by the devs and Microsoft reps (thanks, guys), it was too much fun.  They rewarded the top player in the match, and that top player was none other than IC Marcus himself!  The guys we were in-game with were so pumped from that game, we played a re-match.  It was excitement (to the max) to actually be playing a game with Kendall, Will Kinsler (Community Manager) and Alan.  Entirely unreal!  In Free-For-All mode, we were given the chance to explore the other maps called Streets and Gondola.

After a short break, we dove into a new mode called Overrun.  Think: Horde mode meets beast mode.  Though the game type felt similar to others I had played before (in other titles), it was extremely fresh, exciting, and entirely interactive.  Alan sat down next to me and was on my team! How awesome is that? I’m still trying to wrap my head around it! There’s nothing quite like calling out commands and tactics, and even getting complimented by one of the developers.  As we learned the hard way, playing this mode takes a lot of in-squad communication and a lot of creative tactics.  Cogs defend and assume one of four roles: Medic, Soldier, Engineer and Scout.  Each class is equipped with two weapons, which can be swapped out with ease using the Y button.  They also have a special ability (that subs in for your grenades) which can be accessed using LB.  Enemy forces are the attackers and take on the roles of the beasts, including the Ticker, Mauler, Serapede and Corpser.  Each team is timed to see how fast you can destroy bases A, B and C before switching sides.  Unfortunately we lost that round but Alan was a good sport and coached us 100% of the way.

Krys, Chris and Marcus of Insert Controller after the preview party

All-in-all, this was an experience that left me shaking with excitement.  To this day, I am still in disbelief of the couple of hours I got to spend with the Epic Games devs, the Microsoft Team and my cohorts from IC.  Before this experience, I was simply looking forward to this game, but now I am chomping at the bit until it comes out.  I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did, (and will, as I will absolutely be picking this one up!)

Gears of War: Judgment launches March 19th, 2013