Aiming In Video Games: Auto VS. Manual

Obviously, the most important aspect of First-Person Shooter gameplay is the aiming. You can’t spray and pray forever, so you might as well learn to lock on to your targets. Continue reading Aiming In Video Games: Auto VS. Manual

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Hands-On With The DualShock 4

Today I was able to get my hands on the DualShock 4 (PlayStation 4 controller) for the first time! I am not sure anyone will understand just how excited I was. I was ten kinds of giddy when I found out I was going to hold one; giggling and smiling like crazy. Does this show just how far I have fallen into the nerd world? Yep, you bet it does.

 

 

So first off, WOW! This controller is amazing, and that is not just my PlayStation fanboy-side talking. It literally kicks the crap out of the DualShock 3 in every single way. The moment it was actually in my hands I knew it was going to be something special.

 

 

Weight:

 

 

At first I thought the DS4 weighed less than the DS3, but I was deceived. It only felt like it was lighter because it’s a little wider; the weight was distributed a little differently than I was used to. When I say that the DS4 is heavier, I don’t mean that it’s as heavy as a brick; it’s heavier by just a smidge which makes no real significant difference in the long run.

 

Overall: Little heavier, but not bad in any way.

 

 

Analog Sticks:

 

 

(DualShock 4 above, DualShock 3 below)

 

 

This is one of the most controversial parts of the controller. People have been worried: will it be better than the DS3? Can it compare to the “amazing” Xbox 360 controller? My answer is both yes and no. Comparing the DS3 and DS4 next to each other, you can tell that the sticks are a little further apart on the DS4. This by itself is a huge improvement because gamers have been complaining for years that their fingers hit each other when they are playing FPSs. The tops of the analog sticks are no longer convex (dome shaped) like they were on the DS3—a trait that led to a slippery feel. The DS4 changes that by having the top of the sticks more concave with a raised center. This allows your thumbs to grab hold of the analog sticks at a much higher success rate. It feels really nice and I have no doubt it will please the FPS fans, as well as other gamers. The height of the DS4 analog sticks are also different from the DS3—they are closer to the controller. This means that it takes less time and effort for you to move each stick to either side. I believe this will make controls much tighter in games that need it, such as a high action FPS. There also appears to be more resistance to the sticks on the DS4.  

 

Overall: The sticks are amazing; a huge improvement over the last DualShock.

 

 

Triggers:

 

 

(DualShock 4 above, DualShock 3 below)

 

 

The second major complaint about the DualShock 3 was that the R2 “shoulder buttons” suck. On the DS4, they were also made to be concave like the analog sticks. They “bulbed out” like any normal button would; a trait that lead to many issues such as your fingers slipping off of the triggers unexpectedly. The DS3 used the R1 button on most FPS games because it was hard to shoot with the shoulder buttons. I was never personally bothered by it, but I know that it isn’t popular among most gamers. Hardcore gamers, you can rest easy; the DualShock 4 triggers feel amazing. They feel natural for some reason. The R2 triggers are now curved to be shaped like a trigger would be on a gun, or more like the Xbox 360 controllers triggers. This makes it much better for shooters. Killzone: Shadowfall will be the first FPS game on the PlayStation 4 and it has already made the R2 button the “shoot” button because of how much better it is.

 

Overall: They are so much better than the sticks on the DS3. It cannot be expressed enough. This will change the perception of FPS games on the PlayStation.

 

 

Touchpad:

 

The touchpad is interesting. That is about the only way I can describe it. It is a slick giant button in the middle of the controller. I am not sure how I feel about it because I haven’t had the opportunity to play a game with it yet. Apparently you will be able to swipe your fingers across it if the game developers choose to implement it. This seems like a gimmick to me, but I may be horribly wrong when I get a chance to actually play with it. It doesn’t take up enough space to change how you play the game as far as I can tell.

 

Overall: Not bad, will take time to determine if this is just a gimmick or not.

 

 

Share and Option Buttons:

 

There are now a “Share” and “Options” button on each side of the touchpad. These take the place of the “Select” and “Start” buttons that have been on the DualShock series of controllers since they started. Again, I am not quite sure how this will change gaming, but it is cool that they are trying to change things up. The Options button will now take the place of the start button for the most part and allow you to access most of the menus in games. The Share button is for showing off gameplay videos and pictures you took while playing.

 

Overall: I like the idea of these buttons. It is cool that they are implementing the idea of streaming videos onto the controller now.

 

 

Light Bar:

 

 

The Light Bar sits flat on the top of the DS4. It takes up absolutely no space that you would need for anything because it is built inside of the controller. It was made so that the PlayStation camera can detect your controller movements better for motion control in games. It emits a light glow, hence the name “Light Bar” and can change colors if the developer chooses to use it. Killzone will be using it to show you how much health you have. Green will mean that you are at full health, yellow and orange will mean that you are being shot and losing health, and red will mean that you have died. That is pretty cool in my opinion, but I honestly won’t use it—I never look down at my controller when I am playing a game.

 

Overall: This is something that probably won’t affect me as much as it could other gamers, but is still a cool addition to the controller.

 

 

The Conclusion:

 

The DualShock 4 is amazing. It is better than the DualShock 3 in every way. There may be a few things on it that will be unnecessary if developers don’t find a way to use them the right way, but that does not change the fact that it is awesome. I cannot wait to finally get to use it on games like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Killzone: Shadowfall!

 

Escape Goat Review

Intro:

 

Hi, my name is Lou Contaldi and I’m addicted to 16-bit 2D platformers. Call it what you will: hipster, nostalgia, retro—I don’t care. There is just something about NES copycats that harkens back to the cartridge glory days. So while the clever title of MagicalTimeBean’s Escape Goat pulled me in, the real draw was the encapsulation of a 90’s era style—a tool the game employs at any chance possible. Paired with addictive twitch gameplay and masterful level designs, the game gave me the retro fix I was asking for.

 

 

Story:

 

Escape Goat’s plotline can be described with little fanfare. You are a goat that has been imprisoned for witchcraft. Using the help of your magical mouse, you awaken the sleeping sheep around the prison in order to find the exit.

 

 

Escape Goat is a game that derives more of the story from their tongue-in-cheek title than any other source. Adequately named, the game focuses on a goat trying to escape a prison—not much more to it than that. On one side, historically platformers lack intricate stories. The kings of platformers (Mario, Sonic, Crash) infamously had the most basic of plot lines. On the other side of the argument, this was often due to technological limitations. Within the platformer genre, stories have become increasingly intricate. Indie blockbusters like Fez and Braid steal the limelight, making Escape Goat seem pale in comparison.

 

Presentation:

 

Escape Goat tries to capitalize on the 8-bit motif within all of its various elements. The graphics and sprites aren’t going to win any awards, but it is clear that it is to fit the style rather than for lack of trying. The environment is, at times, reminiscent the Castlevania series—a connection the developers were undoubtedly going for. Following in tandem, the menus are rudimentary serving their essential functions.

 

 

While the graphics of 8-bit games are generally underwhelming by nature, the music is anything but. The soundtrack, crafted by Ian Stocker, hits all of the high points of 8-bit music. The heavy synth and retro midi tracks have the Castlevania feel—a high bar to meet and a feat within itself.

 

Gameplay:

 

While the story and presentation are generally low-key items in Escape Goat, the true bread and butter of the game is found in the gameplay. The game can boast on three major points: addictive twitch gameplay, clever puzzle design, and amazing level design.

 

The task of Escape Goat is always the same—get from the starting point to the exit door in a room by collecting keys and not dying. Do this enough times until you get to the last room with the sleeping sheep. Like normal platformers, the main action of the game is jumping from obstacle to obstacle avoiding various things that may kill you. In this case, it includes anything from grim reapers, wall-saws, or fireballs. One of the quirks of the game is that there is no direct way to injure things—the goat has a dash function but it does little other than add some speed and distance to the jumps. The game therefore has more of a focus on avoidance, puzzle solving, and sometimes stealth than other components.

 

The beauty of the game comes around its learning curve. Though the game starts with basic puzzles, soon the game transforms into avoiding pillars of fire and luring enemies to their own deaths. Whether you are a first-time gamer or more experienced, expect to die—a lot. In my first play-through, I died somewhere in the triple digits. This is expected though; dying is hardly a punishment as the game will just restart the room over again.

 

 

Additionally, it is evident how much work and love the developers put into the level design. Each room, while containing the same flavor of the overall group (fire, mechanical, ice, etc.), will have its own individual puzzles that would keep me constantly on my toes. While other platformers may have you jumping from ledge to ledge, Escape Goat makes you first uncover that ledge through various moving parts.

 

Due to the care that MagicalTimeBean put into the game’s development, the game will only last a few hours—on my longest playthrough it was three hours and on my shortest 45 minutes. However, completing the game unlocks the blistering “All Intensive Purposes” mode that will have the most seasoned veteran playing for hours on end. Additionally, the developers include a level creator to allow an endless possibilities for levels.

 

Verdict: 7.5 of 10

 

Escape Goat, while not being the most technically impressive, is a fun game that will test your brain and reflexes. While it does little to add or improve aspects of the tried-and-true platforming equation, it is a great fix for those missing the 8-bit games of an earlier age.

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