Sultryminxzoe's Blog

PAX East 2010: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 400 Series April 4, 2010

As I waited patiently in the queue line for the NVIDIA Presents panel at PAX East 2010, staff came around to pass out 3D glasses. If nothing else, I knew this panel would be interesting. Drew Henry, GeForce General Manager at NVIDIA, took the stage to introduce the newest GPU series for PC gaming. The GeForce GTX 400 series graphics cards offer 3D Vision to provide a fully immersive gaming, photo and film experience. The improved technology and processing power provides smooth, realistic effects and the interactive ray tracing really amps up the photo-realism.

The crowning achievement in the GTX 400 series is the GTX 480, which boasts as many transistors as 4 Intel Quad-core i7 processors and 2x the performance of the previous GTX 200 series graphics cards. Game releases that will be optimized for 3D Vision include Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Need for Speed Shift, Metro 2033, Mafia 2 and Just Cause 2. The folks at NVIDIA are proud of this latest improvement and are happy to make gaming for the PC more enjoyable for gamers who like to blow things up. With such a large presence at PAX East, they coined this year’s motto: CRANK THAT S#!T UP!

To prove they are more than hype, NVIDIA shared game demos for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Metro 2033 and Need for Speed, as well as World of Warcraft, to show off the 3D Vision technology. The GPUs will also ship with two built-in games to allow consumers to see what the graphics processor is capable of. Supersonic Sled allows players to set up and destroy a train test track. Zoom in and out of the landscape; create obstacles or shoot things with chickens; players can even view the track construct in a blueprint mode. Also shipping with the GPU is Design Garage, which allows players to create custom cars. Design Garage will show off the astounding detail and accuracy the GTX 400 series cards provide. The GeForce GTX 400 series GPUs will be available for purchase in mid-April 2010. Visit the NVIDIA website for more information about the GeForce GTX 400 series GPU.

 

PAX East 2010: Game-play from the Show Floor

Last weekend I was one of the lucky 50,000+ gamers to attend the first PAX East event. Held at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, PAX East created a community, no, a home for like-minded geeks who like to play games. PAX East is a gaming convention, so the biggest draw was the game-play.

The 1-1/2 hour line to play the demo, clearly made Red Dead Redemption the most anticipated game of PAX East. The third person western shooter from Rockstar Games looks to redeem the disappointment players felt with Red Dead Revolver. Immediately players will be drawn in by complete and expansive landscapes. The beautiful landscapes come fully inhabited with wildlife such as coyotes, rabbits, horses and bears, all of which you can hunt, but be warned, they can hunt you too. One of the new features is Deadeye, letting the player slow time and mark targets to improve accuracy and create adrenaline-pumping shoot-outs. Look for Red Dead Redemption to be released May 18, 2010 for Xbox 360 and PS3.

Another game with a large presence was Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands from Ubisoft. I know what you are thinking . . . another video game/film tie-in. No need for concern, the game has no ties to the upcoming movie release. The third person adventure is reminiscent of the original Prince of Persia game and combines aspects from original game players will appreciate, such as acrobatics and classic wall-run movement, with a more powerful gaming engine and the ability to control nature for some interesting game-play. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is scheduled for release May 18, 2010 on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

Perhaps war games are more your speed. Atomic Games has you in mind. With roots in creating military simulations, the company looks to put you into the action with Breach. A first person, multi-player shooter where you play as an elite member of a CIA field team – the kind the government sends in when no one can know. This game uses real world tactics. One of the most exciting features is that just about anything you can use for cover in the game, you can destroy. Shoot through brick to create the perfect sniper position, punch through ceilings to get the drop on enemies, Breach will have you looking at FPS action in a whole new way. Breach will be available exclusively for download on Xbox Live Arcade beginning July 1, 2010.

One of the things the Penny Arcade crew feels is important is giving independent game developers a voice. One way they help is by sponsoring the Indie Showcase. Indie game developers get space on the exhibit floor to demo their games as a way to get their games in your hands. With enough people talking about their games, the hope is the interest and the demand will grow.

One such game is Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley from Twisted Pixels. Have you ever wanted to play the superhero in a comic book? Here’s your chance. Accompanied by your snarky costume and your lovely sidekick, you will fight and shoot villains as they threaten the peace of your city. Wreak havoc on hordes of ladies as you make your way to face off against your arch-nemesis, Brad. Comic Jumper brings back a bit of nostalgia, is funny and fun to play.

Shank is another indie game that everyone, including myself, is excited for. Developed by Klei Entertainment, this is a no-holds barred, 2D, side-scrolling bloodbath. Parents, I do not recommend this game for children. If you like a hack-and-slash game, this is for you. There is not a whole lot of information out there about the lead character, but here is what you need to know. He has a score to settle, there are a lot of guys he has to kill and he is very good at killing. As far as the weaponry goes, he has pistols, a chainsaw and knives. Truly, you do not need any more, you can create more than enough damage to quench your blood thirst. The game-play is gory and fantastic. The art is simple, yet gorgeous. Shank proves you do not need over the top graphics to make a good game. Unfortunately, I did not get a released date, but keep your eyes out for Shank to be released for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC.

There were, of course, many more games that graced the exhibit hall. This article is only a quick overview of the games I got to experience hands-on. One thing is sure, no matter what kind of gamer you are, there is a game being developed for you. So far, 2010 has me excited to spark up my console and upgrade my gaming PC.

 

PAX East 2010 Keynote: “Welcome Home” March 31, 2010

Players along the east coast, descended upon Boston last weekend for PAX East 2010. In the largest event of gaming solidarity to hit the east coast, gamers came together to share a common bond, frag one another in game-play, get a hands-on feel for some of the latest technology and experience for themselves soon to be released titles.

Who better to open the inaugural PAX East event than a man recognized throughout the gaming community as an Ambassador of Geekdom, Wil Wheaton. Best known to mainstream audiences as an actor and writer, Wheaton has been a gamer most of his life. As he began his speech, he recounted some of the gross misrepresentations faced when politicians and the media demonized games and the gaming industry. He also highlighted the industry’s triumph as gamers refused to sit and be silent.

In his keynote, Wheaton helmed a trip down memory lane, detailing the many faces of  games as they have evolved over the years. Sharing his own love affair with games, he emphasized the importance gaming plays beyond entertainment.

“Game are important. Games matter. PAX is where we come together to celebrate that.”

Many players are met with confusion and ridicule when outed to friends and family members that do not play, particularly those of us over the age of 25. Those that do not play games, do not understand the appeal. They do not see how the imagination is sparked, how critical thinking skills can be honed and emotional bonds can be formed simply by sitting in front of a gaming table, or console, or PC. We become the Freaks, the Geeks and the Outcasts to the “normal” people.

Wheaton’s keynote was a call to arms, a call to be inspired. His words fostered pride in our identity as gamers and strengthened the bond that players attending PAX events will share always.

“When you create something together, you are building bonds with your fellow gamers that could last you entire lives.”

Never have I heard the passion felt by gamers and the virtues of games so well extolled. For that, I thank you Wil Wheaton.

With reports coming in of attendance in excess of 50,000 gamers, not all of us could squeeze into the Main Theater for the keynote. Thanks to YouTube user Cheshyr, everyone can watch Wil Wheaton’s keynote (10 minutes at a time).

For more information about PAX East, check out the website.

If you do not currently read Wil Wheaton’s blog, do yourself a favor and go!

 

SultryMinxZoe’s 2010 Convention Schedule February 15, 2010

If you’re looking for me this year, I’ll be geeking out at the conventions listed below. If you happen to see me in a panel or wandering around the exhibitor’s hall, be sure to stop and say “hello.”

TempleCon ~ February 5-7
PAX East ~ March 26-28
Anime Boston ~ April 2-4
Boston Comic Con ~ April 10-11
ConnectiCon ~ July 9-11

and, of course

Dragon*Con ~ September 3-6

I hope to see you there!

 

Bringing Gamers Out To Play: TempleCon 2010 February 10, 2010

Courtesy of TempleCon

TempleCon kicked off the 2010 New England gaming convention schedule this past weekend. Taking over the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, Rhode Island, 2010 celebrated the event’s fifth year, bringing players together from all forms of gaming. Billed as an event experience unlike any gaming convention, TempleCon paid particular attention to gamers and what we like – extending beyond gameplay. Here you were likely to see belly dancers, musicians, and filmmakers, mixed among the gaming and panels. Arr, there be pirates too! This is Rhode Island after all.

Board Games, Collectible Card Games, Role-Playing Games and Video Games were all represented. There was something for everyone. Without a doubt, some of the biggest draws at TempleCon were the Miniature War Games. This was clear as soon as you registered for the event. All pre-registered attendees received custom imprinted Dog Tags to commemorate the event. Even if you aren’t into War Gaming, Dog Tags just make you feel bad-ass.

Privateer Press, one of the major sponsors, maintained a dedicated presence in the main ballroom with plenty of space for miniature gaming. Among the games and demos running all weekend were WARMACHINES, HORDES and MONSTERPOCALYPSE, including championship gameplay with prizes to boot. Sharing the space was another sponsor, The Warstore. The Warstore packed lots of product for popular games and ran Malifaux demos throughout the weekend.

So miniature gaming isn’t your thing. Don’t worry, there were lots of other gaming opportunities. From tabletop Role-playing games such as Unhallowed Metropolis to Collectible Card Games like Vampire: the Eternal Struggle, or casual games like Apples to Apples, gamers of all skill levels found themselves at home. PC and Video Gamers like myself, could lose ourselves in the LAN Lounge day or night. Even better, if you brought your Xbox 360 or PC, all you had to do was plug and play. Still not what your into? How about some good old-fashioned Arcade games? Neo-Geo games were on hand with Samarai Shodown & Kings of Fighters tournaments.

TempleCon began as a small regional convention. Over the past few years, it has drawn more attendees from an international audience, growing so much, the event had to change venues for 2010. With all the gameplay, it’s no wonder. Gamers are the target audience, but TempleCon is not just for gamers. Like most conventions, there are attendees that come to show off their costuming skills. With its retro-futurism theme, TempleCon openly embraces cosplay.

We all know it just is not a convention with some Star Wars cosplay.

What better way to show off costuming skills than with a costume contest? Saturday night, that is just what we got. The Penny Dreadfuls scoured the crowd at the Deco, Dance & Design event to find some of the most creative costumes.

Half the reason for attending conventions is all the great performances and after hours fun. Friday night’s Diesel, Deco & Dance event was all about music, featuring The Dirge Carolers, Sasquatch & the Rock-a-billys, Emperor Norton’s Standing Marching Band and DJ Delicti.

The Mad Hatter served as the Master of Ceremonies for Saturday’s Deco, Dance & Design event. The show opened with a Godzilla-inspired interpretive dance performed by Ameena. Following her performance was Neylan with a Firefly inspired belly dance routine and Paloma showing off her skills in a gothic number. Additional dance performances included Happy Hour Burlesque, Samara, Troupe Moirea, Tempest and Ela Rogers. All these lovely ladies certainly know how to put on a show. Rounding out the performances was a bit puppetry from Rick Sardinha with his creations Terrance Redbone & The Great Grimpen Mire.

Happy Hour Burlesque featuring Eddie Paradise, Margarita de Ville & Tommie Gunn

Samara, Tempest & Ela Rogers

Terrance Redbone & The Great Grimpen Mire

Watch out the videos below to see performances from Ameena, Neylan and Paloma.

Being a fan of video games, and being blessed to have friends who game, this event was right up my alley. As soon as I heard about TempleCon, I knew I had to attend and I am glad I had the chance. At the end of the weekend I found myself curious about other types of gaming and intrigued by retro-futurism culture. There may be belly dance lessons in my future and I will definitely be calling on my new found friends to introduce me to some other games.

The best part of the weekend, by far, was the people. I got to spend some time with Nicole Wakelin of Nashua, NH (visit her blog at TotalFanGirl.com), to get her thoughts on Templecon. Attending the convention with her husband for the second year, it was board games that caught her interest. Though she confessed, one of the main reason she attends is also because of the people. As a very social person, TempleCon affords Nicole the chance to meet up with friends throughout New England she does not get to see often. She has been to larger conventions like Atlanta’s Dragon*Con, as well as smaller events such as Carnage Con in Vermont. As Nicole explained, each convention is its own event – large conventions can be somewhat overwhelming, and the smaller events have the benefit of seeing the same people each year. TempleCon seems to be the best of both worlds. The event is full of fun people and events. With its location within New England, it is a convenient event, making it easier for fellow gamers to come together.

So, if you find yourself in New England around this time next year, be sure to make time to hang with the gamers at TempleCon. Better yet, break out your calendar now and plan to see me there!

For more information on TempleCon, visit their website at www.templecon.org. Please be sure to check out the websites for some of the sponsors and performers below.

Sponsors:

Privateer Press

Warstore

Diesel, Deco & Dance Performers:

Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band

The Dirge Carolers

Sasquatch & The Sick-a-billys

DJ Delicti

Deco, Dance & Design Performers:

Ameena

Neylan

Paloma

Happy Hour Burlesque (featuring Eddie Paradise, Margarita de Ville & Tommie Gunn)

Samara

Troupe Moirae

Rick Sardinha (Terrance Redbone & The Great Grimpen Mire)

Tempest

Ela Rogers

The Penny Dreadfuls

 

Mark your calendar: 2010 New England Gaming Cons January 20, 2010

New England is typically thought of as the land of thick accents and snow plows. However, with three gaming conventions in the first quarter, 2010 is out to prove it is good to be a gamer in New England. Today, I’m highlighting TempleCon, TotalCon and PAX East happening in my own backyard.

 

Kicking off the this year’s gaming convention schedule is TempleCon being held February 5th – 7th in Warwick, RI. TempleCon welcomes gamers from all walks of life with a retro-futuristic theme. Its emphasis is on the gamers, offering a fully immersing social experience. Sure gamers come to lay down cards, throw dice, wage war with miniatures, engage in some LARP action or logon in the LAN lounge to compete in video game competitions, but that is where the fun begins. TempleCon pays as much attention to special events, guests and parties as they do to gaming. Showing they are serious in their love for gamers, TempleCon has made it their standard to charge only a registration fee. Registrants attend all events and performances without paying additional fees.

 

Pre-registration is closed, but you can get your steampunk on with day passes starting at $15.00 and full weekend passes at $50.00. Military and students are eligible for discounted weekend memberships at $35.00. All tickets are available on-site. For more information and event schedules, visit the TempleCon website at www.templecon.org.

 

 

 


Total Confusion enters its 24th year, hosting the 2010 convention February 18th – 21st in Mansfield, MA. Touting itself as New England’s largest gaming convention, TotalCon indulges gamers of all kinds and is looking to break their attendance record once again. Highlights of the convention include events targeted to young players, workshops and underground indie film screenings. Some events and scheduled games may require event-specific registration at an additional cost.

 

Pre-registration continues through February 12th, 2010 with day passes at $10.00 and 4-day weekend passes at $30.00 (children ages 6-16: $5.00 per day or $25.00 for weekend passes). Pre-registration is available by mail or online with Paypal processing. Registration will also be available on-site with adult tickets costing $15.00 per day or $40.00 for weekend passes
(children ages 6-16: $7.50 per day or $20.00 for weekend passes). TotalCon registration includes admission to the Exhibit Hall, Awards Ceremony, Amphitheater, and general open board & video gaming areas.  For more information and a schedule of events, visit the website at www.totalcon.com.

 

 

Gamers are already familiar with the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, WA. In 2010, PAX expands the festivities with PAX East to be held March 26th – 28th in Boston, MA. Transforming the Hynes Convention Center into a gaming mecca, PAX East is already on target to sell out. This 3-day event provides plenty of gaming opportunities, panel discussions, concerts and an expansive exhibitor hall highlighting game developers. Event schedules and sponsors have yet to be announced, but it’s sure to be an event to remember.

 

Registration is now available online with day passes at $30.00 per day or $50.00 for 3-day weekend passes. Provided the event does not sell out, on-site registration will also be available with day passes priced at $35.00 or weekend passes for $55.00. For more information and event updates, visit the website at www.paxsite.com/paxeast.

 

 

No matter what kind of gamer you are, New England is sure to offer a gaming convention to suit your style. Pack your bags, bring your laptop or consoles and I’ll see you at a con.
 

Game Review – Bayonetta (Xbox 360) January 17, 2010

Filed under: Gaming,Media,Reviews — sultryminxzoe @ 8:15 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bayonetta

Publisher: Sega

Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3

Game Rating: M-Mature

Review Rating: 8 out of 10; BUY

Game trailer courtesy of Viso Games [YouTube User, Games]

Lately, I have given my PS3 all the attention. Bayonetta provided the perfect opportunity to show some love to the old 360. “To the GameStop, Alfred!” After opening the eyes of a young clerk to the reality of female gamers, Bayonetta was mine. Now, I have heard raving reviews of this stylized game. I even played the PS3 demo and knew I had to play this game. With all the hype surrounding Bayonetta one has to wonder . . . is that all it is? My answer – Yes and No.

Who could help being drawn to the female lead? Sega was reaching directly into the stereotypical male fantasy here. Sexy librarian in a skin-tight catsuit anyone? Bayonetta was raised by, but set apart from, Umbran witches. Magical powers – check. Umbran withes represent the dark or evil in the world. Along with their counterparts, Luman Sages which represent light and all things good, they possess the “Eyes of the World” which act to maintain balance in the world and create history. Danger of world domination – check. The biggest problem Bayonetta faces is her amnesia. That is right folks, the woman cannot remember who she is and she is looking for answers. Mysterious – check. What she does best, is kill. She is a hired gun that makes her living disposing of a whole host of angelic forces. Violent tendencies – absolutely.

On to the looks. Bayonetta is a raven-haired beauty who dons a catsuit, made of her own hair, that hugs in all the right places. She is of the magical persuasion and uses her hair to summon demons to aid in dispatching heavenly creatures in battle. Freaky and a little kinky – double-check. Rocking out the outfit are the most fantastic set of boots to make this gamer drool. Seriously, what angel does a gal need to kill to get some of her own 5″ boots equipped with auto-firing gun holsters? Add a lovely pair of glasses, a british accent and a few innuendos and there you have Bayonetta. Oh, did I mention the stripper pole?

About those magical powers . . . I’ve already told you about the hair demons and that truly is the most awesome of her magical powers. Right from the intro cut scene you learn Bayonetta has the power to open portals to alternate dimensions which she uses to communicate with people in the “real world” and call demons from Hell. She does have a few more tricks up her sleeve, like the ability to change form;  make her jump and she morphs into a butterfly. Soon you discover she can release her “beast within” and become a panther, providing essential speed and agility. When she evades an enemy just before it attacks, she engages “Witch Time” which allows her to freeze time to finish off her enemies or walk on water. In the moonlight, Bayonetta can engage “Witch’s Walk” to walk up walls, in some environments.

As for the supporting characters, there are few. The developers have created just enough extraneous characters to tell the story and that is it. There are few extras here. Even as you travel through the world, everyday people are mere shadows of those walking around in an alternate dimension. Here’s a quick summary of the supporting cast, without giving away too much plot:

Rodin – a large black man, Rodin is owner of the night club, Gates of Hell. He is also a gun-runner with a personal portal to the underworld, where he makes or procures Bayonetta’s weaponry, and lollipops, of course.

Enzo – a short portly italian man, Enzo is a rat. He is loud and obnoxious, moreover he looks out only for himself.

Jeanne – a tall blond with an affinity for motorcycles, Jeanne is a sister Umbran witch. In this game, she is the proverbial cat with 9 lives. Jeanne knows Bayonetta and she knows what is in her past. She has the answers Bayonetta needs. If Jeanne is a sister witch, why is she always fighting you? Is she a friend or foe?

Luka – a charming ladies man and journalist, Luka has been chasing after Bayonetta almost his whole life. At an early age, he saw Bayonetta murder his father. A great part of him would like to bring about her demise and see justice done, yet he is afraid of her, or is he overwhelmingly attracted to her?

Cereza – a small girl, wandering alone in the town of Vigrid, Cereza believes Bayonetta is her mother. She does resemble Bayonetta quite a bit, but it is hard to envision the gun-toting heroine as a mom. Along with her knit stuffed kitty, Cheshire, Cereza is the key to Bayonetta’s future. The true question is what can she reveal about Bayonetta’s past.

Gameplay is good and actions are fluid. There is not a lot to master in this game and it does not require any great skill. I am actually excited about this. I am not a huge fan of massive kill moves that need strings of commands. Bayonetta does not require a 15 button code to execute a single move. That is not to say there are no combo commands – there are. There are many combo sequences to try and I highly suggest you do. They are not necessary; however, it is what makes the game so much fun. Get on a combo kick and watch the hair fly. Aside from utilizing her own weapons, Bayonetta can take advantage of the weaponry her fallen enemies leave after their death. Firing a gun is fun, but wielding a battle-ax is great too.

The graphics are gorgeous. Characters are bright and vibrant. The developers took full advantage of the light and dark concept. After this game, you will never think of heavenly entities the same way. Archangels look like relatives of pterodactyls in colorful robes, some even carrying musical instruments as weapons. Bosses are truly twisted incarnations of cherubin children. The Demonic hellbeasts of hair are creative and differ with each angelic host they are called to defeat.

The world you travel through is in decay after hundreds of years of destruction. Most “real-world” locations are in some level of ruin, or are actively being destroyed. There is a blending of old world styling with new world convention. Most locations are set among cobblestone roads and antique brick buildings. Meanwhile, there is a modern-day air base, highway and a glittering metropolis on an island in the sea. The locations throughout the world and dimensions are well done, if sparse. Do not travel far from your appointed task, you will not get far. I can appreciate the limited environment. Too often developers create a vast environment with little purpose. In these cases, the world looks great, but gamers can spend the better part of an hour wandering an empty village, breaking jars to collect magical coins to find they were 20 paces from the Boss at the beginning of the level. That is not to say games that encourage exploration are not good; however, that is not why I picked up this game.

The storyline is interesting and amnesia as a device to encourage our desire to know more was a good idea. What was more curious was how the information is revealed throughout the game. The basics of the plot can be gleaned early on; however, there is a bigger story being told and you will find more than a few WTF moments, wondering how it all ties together. The dialogue, particularly in the early chapters, is dreadful. Thankfully, as the game continues there is less trying to make us laugh and more of a wish to progress with the story. That being said, the dialogue sequences can get lengthy in the latter chapters. The biggest mystery has to do with the cut scenes. In my opinion, cut scenes are just as important to some games as the gameplay. Unfortunately, this is where the game let me down. The cut scenes are flashbacks, that is not the problem. The majority of the cut scenes consist of stills, presented as scenes from a film. This is a mistake on the part of the developers, particularly with a game being praised for its slick cinematic feel. Something I loved about this game is the camera control, or lack of. I will admit, I dislike games that require gamers to control the characters actions and perspective. I find it annoying and unnecessary. Bayonetta allows you to control camera perspective; however, you will not miss a thing if you never change the angle.

All in all, Bayonetta was a great way to spend a day for this hack-and-slash lover. The brilliant graphics, easy gameplay and a bevy of attack options (especially the hair demons) made this an excellent game. To my dismay, I ended the game with a general sense the developers did just enough to make the game. The sparse locations, still photography cut scenes and inspired button-mashing do get tedious and the game loses some of its momentum.

If you still aren’t sure you want to lay down the $59.99 to buy Bayonetta, download the demo available on Xbox 360 and PS3. For more information, visit the official game website.