A Holiday Gaming Guide

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So it’s another year of holiday gaming as parents try and figure out just what they should get their kids (or themselves), and I’m willing to bet that a console might be on the minds of those willing to camp out storefronts in Black Friday or battle each other for the last copy of Super Mario Bros. Wii left on the shelves.

With Sony’s new pricing policy for their PS3, Xbox 360 bundles, and the Wii joining the moneymaking fracas, it’s as if it were launch day all over again.

A few days ago while browsing, couple had asked me what kind of games they could get their thirteen-year old daughter on the Xbox 360 and told me what kind of titles she loved to play. They were buying an Xbox for her because her brothers were living elsewhere and wanted to keep her connected, but were wondering what she could play on her own.

After hearing them gush about Guitar Hero, I pointed out Beatles Rock Band. They said she already had it for another system. I asked if she liked to play first-person shooters or sports games and they said no.

I didn’t know what to tell them, only that it was tough finding something for their daughter’s tastes on the Xbox 360 that wasn’t a first-person shooter or a sports game…both of which they said she was not interested in it, but her brothers were. In the end, they opted to get a flat screen TV instead. But if she had been a huge shoot ‘em up fan like her brothers, she’d find more than enough to be happy about on the system.

Her particular needs were very specific, but the question remains the same for many parents and newcomers unfamiliar with all of the gaming jargon that kids, and perhaps as many adults, speak as a second language.

So here’s a little help from Tech-Out on what to look for when you head out into the busy shopping season and are trying to decide which console, and what extra games, you want to bring home.
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Review: Left 4 Dead 2

Hold on to your undergarments, Left 4 Dead 2 has you going for an adventurous romp through a variety of zombie wastelands. Four different survivors and five new campaigns, with one purpose – stay together stay alive.

Stranded in the swamps and townships the south, you control the fate of four survivors, Nick, Rochelle, Coach and Ellis. Like the original, Left 4 Dead 2 has you battling your way through hordes of common zombies and special infected and only staying alive with the help of a surplus of weapons, ammunition and much needed health packs. Once again goal is the same – survive long enough to make it to the next safe house, or helicopter and move forward in the game.

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Movie: 2012

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Director Roland Emmerich’s movies are usually hit or miss, usually in trying to explain just what is going on to try and suspend your disbelief. It also looks like he’s looking to become King of the Disaster Movie. His other film which froze everything north of the equator, The Day After Tomorrow, was just a warm up…no pun intended…for this one.

But when you forget that there’s supposed to be a story behind all of the snazzy CG that he uses to wreck his worlds with, it’s almost as fun as watching Sean Connery and Natalie Wood nearly drown in chocolate milk in 1979′s, Meteor.
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Bioshock 2′s CE edition brings turntable love

The first Bioshock CE came with a Big Daddy statuette and plenty of support from developer, Irrational Games, in providing freebies such as a digital art book, soundtrack, and free replacements for the Big Daddies that didn’t survive their trip in the mail.

They wanted to do more for the fans, but at the time, no one was sure just how well the game would actually do to justify going all out with a full blown CE. Just offering what they could was a surprise in and of itself (as well as turning those Big Daddy statuettes into something of a collector’s item) to everyone anticipating it.

But Bioshock was a huge success and now it almost looks as if they’ve been given a blank check to pull out all of the stops for the sequel’s CE.

Looking at it, I could go for the hardcover art-book, but the other items are also interesting for those wanting to dress up their homes as if they were living in Rapture. Also included are three retro, 60′s-styled posters, a CD containing the orchestral score and get this…a vinyl LP with the same score with its own album sleeve. Now you can laugh at everyone else that had thrown out their turntables for little platters of overpriced, shiny plastic!

But the price is just a wee over what I had expected to spend for this fan pack. The console version is going for about $100 (the PC version is ten dollars less) on Gamestop and Amazon, and here’s what it looks like courtesy of the official site:

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Review: Demon’s Souls

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It’s nearly winter here. The trees are mostly bare, cold winds rustle dried leaves, and everyone is getting ready to deal with the ice and snow that it inevitably brings. Around these parts, it’s a yearly ritual that brings both pain and joy to our particular corner of the world.

Demon’s Souls comes off as the season of winter pressed onto a blu-ray disc with the freezing rain, white outs, and ditched cars stuck on the side of the road that help define it. It’s usually below freezing and salted ice forms up on your mudflaps like barnacles before breaking away to leave behind a surprise for the person following you, just as an eighteen wheeler did for you a few miles earlier. Many loathe it with the kind of hate that would defrost their cars on their way in to work.

But it’s also the favorite time of the year for others that love snowball fights, ski trips, snowmen, and warming up with a mug of cocoa. I loved it when I heard that my school was one of those closed, usually because the roads had gotten so bad or that the same water main that had broken the year before had done the same thing again. But in our small world, it was a temporary reprieve, and Demon’s Souls is filled with just enough of these to find joy within its brutal season of gameplay.
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“Dragon Age: Origins” review

We should all be used to compelling, immersive role-playing games from Bioware by now, but “Dragon Age: Origins” stands out even while following in the footsteps such games as “Mass Effect” and “Knights of the Old Republic.”

“Dragon Age” sets its roots in familiar swords-and-sorcery territory, but Bioware’s always-great writing and wonderful design set the game apart from its genre competitors. You’ll enter a world in a time of crisis, and you’ll have to get your hands dirty to have any hope of making things right.
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Review: Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a one night stand of flying bullets, explosions and cool moments. It pushes you forward with guns blazing, hoping to God you don’t stop to realize how confusing it all is.

Because for all of Modern Warfare 2′s awesome action — and it is indeed deserving of whatever superlatives you can throw at it — the game also suffers from a disorienting absence of sense in its storytelling. You do things, but you don’t know why. All you know is that it all looks badass in HD.
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Angry PC Gamers are still irked over MW2 (and We Love Moon Gravity)

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Despite having one of the biggest launches in history and collecting over $300 million in one day, PC gamers are still upset over the feeling of being shortchanged on features, not that it’s going to tarnish the runaway success that MW2 is currently experiencing. This also sent Activision’s stock price surging allowing its controversial CEO, Bobby Kotick, to exercise his stock options netting him a cool $20 million plus in the aftermath.

And now that Amazon has officially opened its rating system, PC players have let their version have it. Surprisingly, several of the top entries lambasting the title make excellent points on why they don’t like it. Some sound as if they have even played it. There’s even a new petition out, although I doubt its success after the first one was basically ignored.

It’s hard not to think that MW2′s massive economic success has closed the door on whatever the PC crowd wants to bend Infinity Ward’s ear over with the game at this point. As upset as many are, it is a business and with that much money in tow along with the millions of sales made in one day for consoles alone, any complaints about dedicated servers will be marginalized.

Still, I’ve already seen posts talking about a tool that unlocks the console and several commands unavailable on the stock version of the title, allowing ways to kick players from games or change the field of view among others. On some days with Xbox Live, I wish I had the option to vote-kick certain players from a game, if only because of the sewage usually streaming across my headset when I take it off mute just to get a sampling of what it’s like to hear everything.

It’s only one game, though id is also considering to not include dedicated server support for their upcoming apocalyptic game, Rage. Whether others follow suit on the PC front remains to be seen, but it is clear that with MW2, Infinity Ward and Activision won’t be losing any sleep over dedicated servers.

Update 11.16.09: Those tools I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it appears that they work. Mind you, this isn’t the only thing that they’re meant for, but it does show off the kind of weirdness that having the freedom to tweak the online experience allows for. Ah, moon gravity…brings back the good ol’ days of beaching a destroyer halfway up Normandy in Battlefield 1942. Now if only they can get more players into the game…

Also, it’s not just one person doing this. Everyone on the server is affected by the rules set up by the admin, so its moon boots and unlimited ammo for everyone!

Modern Warfare release

Gamers rejoice, the much anticipated Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 game is finally out. Over 150 people waited out side the Best Buy store in San Bernardino for the Midnight release.

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Dominic Diaz of Highland waits outside the San Bernardino Best Buy for the midnight release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

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Lines wrap around the Best Buy in San Bernardino during the Midnight release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Halo Reach?

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Some pictures have shown up on a message board by a poster named ‘Tom Morello’ that purportedly show some of the weapons and HUD from Bungie’s upcoming Halo Reach. The poster allegedly took the pictures at Microsoft headquarters. Follow the link to see the pictures and make up your own mind as to their validity