Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Final Fantasy XIII-2 demo strategy guide (FREE)

Thanks to gamer "Safer Sephiroth VII", we are blessed with a "Final Fantasy XIII-2" demo strategy guide to help the new and old RPG fans who happen to be curious about the world of "Final Fantasy XIII-2". How in-depth is it? Trust me when I say you will fully understand how the game plays!!

Download "Final Fantasy XIII-2" demo strategy guide HERE!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)

The Kraken
By Doug Beaver

Many pirates tell the tale of a beast so grand that they only dare to whisper its name.  It’s a monster so powerful, ye scallywags, that it even makes the mighty Google herself hoist her anchor and head for bluer seas.

This new-aged Kraken that has come up from the depths of Hell – aka bowels of Congress – is the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

But when the myth is separated from the monster, this animal is just another bloated government jellyfish, full of formless regulation, with nonspecific goals.  It’s an internet business owner’s nightmare, but a lawyer’s wet dream.

Even the mission statement on the first page of the Act trails off at the end:  “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes.”

And for other purposes” is more vague and ambiguous than a Netflix business plan.

It’s not as though the idea of protecting intellectual property (like music, games, movies, and even pictures) is a new one.  We all know the drill, if you’re a pirate, you’re stealing.  In the long-term, pirates can ruin the market that creates the work you love.  Pirates take away the biggest driving factor behind all this popular art: profit.

While many artists claim that their work is for the masses, and that they stand out against greed, they are referring to pieces that would be distributed for free anyway.  These pieces aren’t in danger of being pirated.  That art will always be safe.

SOPA is trying to protect Lindsay Lohan’s breasts.

Lohan’s rack hit the internet right in the face (which doesn’t sound too bad) before the magazine went on sale at newstands, costing Playboy revenue, and forcing them to release the issue ahead of schedule to prevent major damage.

Playboy still does rather well for a gentleman’s magazine when there are fewer gentlemen in the world than ever before, but piracy could threaten to shut down The Mansion for good – and no one wants that before we get a chance to party there.

While it’s tough to be a business that has to constantly find new and innovative ways to protect its content from piracy, SOPA is also attacking entrepreneurs from the opposite angle by placing costly and time-consuming regulations that are difficult to enforce.

Internet companies will have to constantly monitor its own users’ actions to ensure no copyrighted material is even linked to, or access to the whole site could be immediately blocked.  That’s like shutting down a Target store if a customer were to show his friends a leaked trailer on his iPhone at the checkout line.

The government has placed internet businesses at a real disadvantage, because sites are responsible to follow traditional business rules and regulations (like Sarbanes-Oxley) as well as the PRO-IP Act, which is the forerunner to SOPA.

There will be a lot of winners if SOPA were to pass.  Lawyers and bean counters love these regulations, as it gives them purpose with a paycheck, and keeps them in business.  True pirates see PRO-IP and SOPA as a challenge, and internet geeks love nothing more than to be challenged and demonstrate holes in existing systems.  The government would get to collect on fines and fees. 

The only ones that don’t win in a SOPA controlled internet are the businesses, and that’s why sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Facebook are against it.  It made perfect sense that GoDaddy was boycotted for supporting SOPA, because the businesses that get their domains from GoDaddy are facing additional hurdles.

Instead of congress creating these acts that benefit everyone except the businesses they effect, a better solution would be to have the companies that need piracy protection laws – companies that support SOPA, like the MPAA, Viacom, and Nike – work with companies like Google to create a system to combat internet piracy without government interference. 

After both sides of the argument come to terms that can be agreed upon, the government can be consulted to ratify it.  Other than that, congress should stay out of the internet’s way, and keep the krakens they are trying to implement away from private enterprises.

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help,” are still the nine most terrifying words in the English language… and the attempt to the internet by implementing SOPA is just another great example.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2011's Game Of The Year

We have now come to the end of the year and we have seen the best the industry has had to offer. Now, we must decide, what were the games this year that really pushed the industry forward, what made us say wow, what will we still be playing for years to come. Ladies and gentleman, let us begin.

Sound Design:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

In gameplay you can actually use the sounds in the game to locate bad guys, make yourself harder to find, make enemies investigate curious noises, and identify what’s running toward you, trying to eat you (bears and wolves announce themselves from a ways off, dragons shout challenges, skeletons rattle like old bones should) . All this plus weapons unsheathing have different sounds (which change based on which enchantments you place on them), arrow’s impacts sound differently based on what they hit, and no loud annoying click announcing that you just scrolled through a menu. Games like this are the reason people bother to hook their consoles up to surround sound.


L.A. Noire

If you really read the above description, you would have to know why this game had to win this award. The facial motion capture improvements used in this game really put people to shame. This was the first time that a game really fooled me into believing that what was moving on the screen wasn’t just normal mapping and pixels, but human flesh, muscle, and skin. There were prettier games this year (Battlefield 3, Uncharted 3, arguably Crysis 2) but this game has now reset the bar for facial animation in engine (that is to say, not a cutscene) and their advances will no doubt disseminate into the rest of the industry.

Best RPG

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Multiple main storylines, interesting NPCs, almost unlimited builds and play styles possible, and more enemies than you can shake a six foot glass warhammer at. This game is quite possibly going to be the Final Fantasy VII of its console generation, the new official heavyweight champion of RPGs. And its not from Japan! Bad news though: not that many hot chicks to cosplay as (except Aela).

Best Mulitplayer

Super Street Street Fighter 4 AE 2012 Ed

Yeah, I went there. Call me a fanboy, but when you look out over that room, and all you see are faces of people who paid through the nose, and waited forever in line just to sit (or mostly stand) and watch people play a game, you have to give props. Ask yourself this, have you ever cheered while watching someone play a FPS like this roomful of people cheer while watching Daigo play?

Don’t get me wrong, Mortal Kombat 9 has more players, and lets not even talk about MW3, but the design of Street fighter really does allow for great multiplayer fun through the integration of big comeback moves (Ultras), enhanced moves that significantly change the characters abilities for a moment, the ability to save your online matches to watch again in the future, spectator mode, and mostly lag free online. Plus, at high level, the game is still fun to watch: not just who gets first hit wins, or who picks Bob first, or who has the best near-infinite combo. Now that Yun, Yang, and Fei have been put in their places after the new update, we should have some great matches for the next year.

Best Shooter

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Think of a big Hollywood movie. Got it? This game made more money than it. How about a book? Still more money. Game? Same answer. CD or record of your favorite artist or group? Not Even close. In the first day of sales, MW3 sold $400 million plus, and in a week, blew right past $1 billion. And guess what, the game ain't bad either. Kinda settled the MW3 vs. Battlefield argument right there, huh?

Best Fighting Game

Mortal Kombat

While Street Fighter is traditionally always the better gameplay-wise, Mortal Kombat has been more fun. And while Mortal Kombat once again borrowed heavily from its fighting game counterparts (Ultra vs X-ray, Enhanced vs Ex, 2d gameplay with 3d characters, Tekken juggle system and four limb control…), the package they came up with is well, fun. With the challenge tower, and deep story mode, Mortal Kombat even added value for people who didn’t have friends. Granted, at high levels, the game basically becomes less about fun, and more about meter management, first hits, and 40 to 60% combos (yeah, really); but really, who didn’t want to watch Kratos fight Freddy Kruger?

Game of the Year

The game of the year is not the game that had the best graphics, although they were pretty good. It’s not the game that sold the most copies, although it did ship more than $450 million worth of copies in the first week. It’s not the game with the best multiplayer or co-op, because it has neither of them. If there was an award for most ridiculous glitches, it would win easily. This is game of the year, because it exceeded what we at J1 Studios thought was possible to do in a game. It won because there will never be a good reason to trade it in. It won because it simply blew everything out of the water as far as sound design, attention to detail, story, and depth of gameplay.

Our Game of the Year is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Here’s how it broke down for the top ten list of 2011 GOTY Nominees (and conveniently, the last ten games for 25 Days of Begging)

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

2. Batman: Arkham City

3. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

4. Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

5. Assassins Creed: Revelations

6. Rage
7. Portal 2

8. Battlefield 3

9. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

10. Gears of War 3