PAX East 2013 Game Demo Reviews

paxeast-10-5-2012

I know that PAX East in Boston, MA was a little while ago (this past March), but I didn’t get a chance to write about my wonderful experience there. Until now. As a whole, PAX East 2013 was one of the best PAX East events I’ve ever attended. I met a lot of great people, saw some great games, and most of all, I have memories that will last me a lifetime. Since my blog is all about video game reviews, I thought it would be a good idea to share my experiences of game demos at PAX East 2013. Below is the list of games/technology I demoed:

•Warframe
•Daylight
•Metro: Last Light
•Gears of War: Judgment
•NVIDIA: Project Shield
•Rise of the Triad (2013)
•Remember Me

WARFRAME

Warframe is a F2P (free to play) third-person action game for the PC made by Digital Extremes. This demo was at the NVIDIA booth and for a free to play game, I was blown away. Graphically Warframe is built very well and the environment has great visuals all around the player, which most importantly, works very well with the open gameplay. The game is in a sci-fi setting and the player has several options of planets to choose from to battle others. The character I played as was equipped with a sword, pistol, and special abilities. The gameplay was impressive in the third-person view and I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the combat. Overall, Warframe is a great multiplayer game for you and a group of friends to hop on a server and destroy the enemy team. I’ll be looking forward to playing Warframe again when it is out of beta.

Daylight-logo

Daylight is a first-person horror survival game made by Zombie Studios, powered by the Unreal 4 Engine. This demo was at the ASTRO Gaming booth as it was showcasing the actual game and audio from the game on the ASTRO headsets. What I like about Daylight is that is not your typical first-person game. The player does not run around to find weapons and shoot things. This is a game where the only things you have at the start are a flashlight/phone and compass. You as the player have to figure out where to go and where that path will take you, as the whole environment around you is pitch black. Oh and that horror survival part of the game? Yeah, ghosts pop out of nowhere randomly to scare the bejesus out of you. The other element I really like about Daylight is that the game is always changing to give the player a different experience every time they play. The game definitely has inspiration from Amnesia but it has its own game mechanics to make it unique. I’ll definitely be looking out for Daylight when it drops on Steam.

metro-last-light

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter developed by 4A Games, published by Deep Silver, and is the sequel to 2010’s Metro 2033. I never played Metro 2033, but I was very impressed how Metro: Last Light was presented. This game was also at the NVIDIA booth and looked great on their PC’s. I probably only played 45 minutes of the game but I was instantly pulled in by the rich story and thrilling gameplay. You play as Artyom, a soldier placed beneath the ruins of post-apocalyptic Moscow, in the tunnels of Metro. The remnants of humankind are hanging by a thread and Artyom is the “Last Light” of hope. Metro‘s cinematics were also very visually stunning. I cannot wait when it releases.

GOW-Judgment

Gears of War: Judgment is, obviously, another Gears of War game developed by Epic Games as well as People Can Fly. I’ve never played any of the previous Gears of War games, but I had a lot of fun playing the multiplayer. Judgment is mainly a multiplayer game, but I was able to catch on quickly of how the game is laid out. Graphically, the games looks similar, if not the same, as the previous Gears of War games. The demo was a multiplayer FFA (free-for-all) match and combat was straight forward, to the point. I bet all of my Xbox friends have a copy of Gears of War: Judgment or are thinking about purchasing it.

project-shield

NVIDIA’s Project Shield was a very impressive piece of technology. Project Shield features portable handheld PC gaming with NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 processor, Android Jelly Bean operating system, wi-fi, and HD video and audio. Other than PAX East, NVIDIA has Project Shield on the down low. I spoke with an NVIDIA rep at their booth and he said more info on the Shield will be released Q2 of this year, especially the price point and how much storage it will have.

Rise-of-the-Triad

Rise of the Triad is a first-person shooter for the PC, developed by Interceptor Entertainment, and an update of the 1994 classic. It has a lot of similar elements to Quake, as the game is very fast paced, is an arena shooter, and can be very competitive. The game originally was supposed to be the sequel to Wolfenstein 3D, but it still retains the setting of Nazi Germany (I think). Rise of the Triad will be coming soon to Steam this year.

Remember Me

Remember Me is a third-person action adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Capcom. You play as Nilin, a “memory hunter”, who was betrayed and must recover her lost memory of why her former employer wants her dead. I was very impressed with the gameplay from Remember Me and it probably was one of the best demos I played at PAX East. What I like about it is that the game is not an average third-person action game like you would expect, aka button mashers. The combat system makes the player think as opposed to giving them the option to button mash to produce random moves and combos. The game has very strong visuals and the player must figure out where to go in the environment, using abstract clues and Nilin’s free-running skills. I see Remember Me kind of like Mirror’s Edge with the free-running options but in a third-person setting. I think Remember Me will be another strong female lead game of 2013 in addition to Tomb Raider and Bioshock Infinite. I definitely will be picking up Remember Me when it drops in June.

Well that’s all for now, but I leave you with an inspiring message (hopefully): If you like video games, you have to attend PAX. (PAX East is the best!) Until next time.

– John

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My website is now live!

Hey guys,

I just finished putting the finishing touches on my official online portfolio. So without further ado, please visit http://www.johnkrupa.com

Here are two pieces from my portfolio that I particularly like the best:

lightsaber_hilt

Modeled in 3DsMax

drhorrible_printad

Print Ad created in Photoshop

If you have any questions or want to provide feedback, please email me at email@johnkrupa.com

Thank you!

– John

Grim Shadows

Here is the trailer for the game Grim Shadows, created by nine Daniel Webster College seniors. I was fortunate enough to work on this project alongside with eight other talented students and one of the best Game Design and Development professors I’ve had here at the college, Lauren Farrow. Making this game and trailer was our final for our Fall 2012 Game Design and Development class. This project was in development for over three months and we utilized various 2D and 3D programs (such as Flash, Photoshop, and 3DsMax) to bring Grim Shadows to life.

Far Cry 3 Review

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Hey guys! I’ve been away for a while but now I am back to using my blog again. The purpose of this blog is now for reviewing video games that I’ve played. Feel free to post your thoughts about the games I review in the comment box below and also suggestions on what I should review next! With that being said, one of my first video game reviews will be about Far Cry 3.

I know that Far Cry 3 came out over a month ago, but the game still deserves a review. You begin the game as Jason Brody, a normal guy in his early 20’s, and you are literally running for your life. You are captured on an island by its crazy inhabitants along with your brothers and friends. You are introduced to one of the best video game villains of all time, in my opinion, Vaas. Vaas is the ruthless leader of these “pirates/mercenaries ” who captured you and shows no remorse to anyone that shows up on “his” island. You as Jason Brody must escape Vaas’ deadly schemes and save your friends. Not to mention, you must also survive the island and other deadly foes. Are you up to it? Good luck.

What I love about this game is that the game itself is its own entry in the Far Cry series. It has nothing to do with the first Far Cry, nor the second game. The island you are on is like a vast, open world playground. You can go anywhere and do pretty much anything that the game will allow. It’s like having a fresh new game presented to you. The voice acting is also top notch. Michael Mando delivers excellent voice acting and truly makes the character of Vaas come to life. Also, the visuals you see while playing the game are beautiful. The Far Cry 3 engine utilizes realistic time changes. So if you are working on a mission for a while, you will see the day grow into the afternoon and then eventually into the night. Playing Far Cry 3 makes you feel like you are part of a movie. All of the cinematics are presented well and the story is very good. It is not your average “Oh, I gotta survive this part to get to the next level.” It is also one of the best shooters I’ve ever played. The possibilities of outcomes in the game using all of the different weapons are endless. I have not tried the multiplayer yet, but the Co-Op mode is pretty fun when playing with your friends. Co-Op can get repetitive for some of the levels, but this does not even take away from the gameplay. All in all, a well done game from Ubisoft and I hope they do continue to make Far Cry games. 9.5/10.

I have posted the official trailer for Far Cry 3 below:

-John

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Hobbit-An-Unexpected-Journey-The-poster

I couldn’t resist posting my review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Let me know what you guys thought of the film as well. My review can be found below:

Last night, I attended the midnight screening of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in IMAX 3D. Wow, it was an absolutely spectacular movie and it blew my expectations away! What a wonderful adaptation of Part One of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Although the style sort of felt different from the previous Lord of the Rings films, the magic and presentation of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey does not disappoint. I loved the link they created with The Fellowship of the Ring with this film with Ian Holm and Elijah Wood. The acting was very good and the casting was spot on for all roles. I couldn’t think of anyone better as young Bilbo Baggins than Martin Freeman. It was great seeing Ian McKellen as Gandalf again as well as Christopher Lee as Saruman, Ian Holm as Old Bilbo Baggins, Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Hugo Weaving as Elrond, Cate Blanchett as Galadriel, and Andy Serkis as Gollum. Peter Jackson did an excellent job of directing a film on such a large scale again and the cinematography was beautiful. Great job and congratulations to the cast and crew. Definitely one of the best adaptations I have seen from book to film. I cannot wait to see the other two films of The Hobbit. Middle-Earth is in good hands.

THE-HOBBIT-AN-UNEXPECTED-JOURNEY-Poster

-John

Microsoft’s Concept of 2019

While browsing social media sites and doing research on Microsoft, I came across a video on YouTube titled “Microsoft’s Concept of How 2019 Will Look Like.” This peaked my interest because I haven’t seen any video of Microsoft’s Future Vision Concept at all for the year 2019 (roughly). I had no idea that Microsoft thought that far into the future for technology either. It’s interesting how a company will formulate a “vision” or a plan of what the future has in store for us and what sort of things we can expect. The YouTube video itself is clever and pretty spectacular.

The video opens with a girl and boy interacting online internationally with (what looks like anyway) a holographic board. They exchange messages through writing text and pictures using their fingers to produce lines. After a couple of scenes, it cuts to a wide shot of a classroom and someone interacting with a full holographic or surface “smartboard.” The video goes on to show touch screen displays in airplanes, businesses, at residential homes, and pretty much everywhere you turn. Some of these touch displays are used on glass tables and windows. They also show interactive displays on coffee mugs, note cards, and even newspapers (reminds me of the Daily Prophet and the moving pictures from the Harry Potter universe) showing information such as news and weather. Incredible magic indeed.

It goes without saying that the technologies showed in the video are pretty ambitious and that Microsoft will have a lot on their plate (trial and error, lots of testing!) if they want to produce these ideas in the next seven years. But there is hope because some of the “future tech” shown in the video is plausible even by today’s standards. Microsoft has released their Surface tablet and I can see airlines having touch screen displays on their planes in the very near future for customer convenience. There are some refrigerators that are out today that have touch screen panels and even have cameras to take inventory of what you have.

If most or even half of this technology is possible by the year 2019, the social media and networking scene will explode with the amount of new possibilities. Imagine waking up or walking into your business and seeing news feeds, sports, and/or social networking updates displayed on glass. Or even presented on interactive newspapers. Retail stores could have a whole new way of displaying product to customers. Social media experts will have new ways of getting the information to its customers. I’m even sure its possible in the future that people could pay online bills without having to go to a computer monitor and using a web page. 2019 is seven years away and Microsoft sure does have work ahead of them if they do want to have their complete “Future Vision.” Microsoft’s Concept of 2019 video is posted below.

http://www.microsoft.com

-John

What are key realities of the new social economy?

The social economy is always changing in our country. Like new technology, people who invest in the social economy should familiarize themselves with the new social economy policies and where they stand. Not to mention social media sites are always adapting to the economy and are prone to big changes for public use. The key realities of the new social economy that I think are the most important are understanding your consumers – their wants needs and desires, allow customers to shop whenever and wherever, understanding and recognizing new technologies either for marketing and/or sales purposes, treat customers with respect, and give the consumers straightforward pricing when advertising.

If companies get stuck in the “old” mindset of the social economy what it was like in the past, they will seriously have issues and struggle to stay in business due to the new social economy. This happened to Circuit City and they are not a company anymore. People are shopping online more than ever. Companies must be open to fulfilling online transactions and supporting consumers with their purchases. This includes offering impartial, professional advice on the latest and greatest technology and answering questions so that the consumer feels confident when making his or her purchases. Doing these simple steps helps to build trust with customers and customers will have a better experience shopping online and/or utilizing social media to buy.

Online sales are especially crucial during the holiday time. Depending on the company/brand, Black Friday could very well make or break consumers’ trust with a particular company/brand. Selling the products or services to customers that they need either online or physically in a store is very important. This is a step of understanding your customer and customers dislike when they are pushed to buy something that they do not need. Every dollar counts in our current economy and this is a perfect way to turn people away from buying from you if you “just sell” instead of selling the right solutions.

I found an article that was published earlier this year on The New York Times website and the author says, “Things like improved communication and collaboration from social media in four major business sectors could add $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value to the economy.” He goes on to say, “There are challenges to using social media effectively, the main challenges are organizational and personal, as managers have to develop non-hierarchical cultures, where data and knowledge are exposed and shared, not hoarded.” So there is major potential to put more money back into the economy but sellers in the new social economy need to use some common sense. They need to learn and respect their customers. They also need to understand upcoming technology and more importantly, recognize the updated social media technologies to further support the new social economy.

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/mckinsey-says-social-media-adds-1-3-trillion-to-the-economy/

-John

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

The long anticipated wait (for some people) for the next Call of Duty entry is finally over. Treyarch is back at it yet again and takes the reigns as the development team behind the title, making this their second entry of a Black Ops game. This is also the ninth video game in the award winning Call of Duty franchise. Call of Duty: Black Ops II takes place in 2025, many years after the first Black Ops game. Technology has become a major focus in the United States military and is a dominant force. The official campaign overview from the Call of Duty website for Call of Duty: Black Ops II is as follows: “A time-spanning, generation-spanning narrative, Call of Duty®: Black Ops 2 introduces players to an insidious villain named Raul Menendez who hijacks the US military infrastructure to further his own agenda. Harness the power of near-future technology and advanced robotics to pull the world back from the brink of annihilation.”

In addition to the game’s campaign, Black Ops II will of course have a multiplayer mode where players can go head-to-head, using the most cutting-edge weaponry and equipment from the year 2025. From the gameplay that I’ve seen, I’m happy that the development team went back to making the multiplayer look like the multiplayer from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Call of Duty 4 arguably has one of the best FPS multiplayers out there. Also, no Treyarch game would be complete without a Zombies mode either! Players will be able to use their future tech and take on the undead throughout different maps in the very popular Zombies game mode. It has been said that 4-8 players will be able to play Zombies at a given time, depending on the actual game modes.

I’m working one of Best Buy’s midnight releases tonight of Call of Duty: Black Ops II but not gonna be picking up a copy. I’m skeptical of the game itself and not sure if the game will be a hit or miss. I have faith that the game could do well but I keep thinking back of a game that already did the idea of “future technology” in a war setting. Battlefield 2142 anyone? Granted, 2142 did not have a campaign but I’m wondering why Black Ops II feels the need to be in a future setting? Also, Treyarch could of very well made the same game without the Black Ops title (Call of Duty: 2025). Boom, done. Why does this Call of Duty game need to be a sequel? This is the point where I think some developers slap numbers on the end of games that have done well with the market, which should not be the case at all.

Anyway, the ad campaign and marketing for Black Ops II is getting the true Call of Duty experience. On Facebook, advertising and marketing is done under the Black Ops page and the page is filled with information and content for Black Ops II. It shows pictures of people standing in lines waiting for the midnight release, screenshots of the game, and clever banners. This could be a disadvantage though because I don’t know why the Black Ops page had to be taken over when they could have just made a new page for Black Ops II. Anywho, the Call of Duty Twitter account has been busy with updating info about the midnight release and communicating what players will receive if they pre-order the game. They also tweet status updates of players waiting in lines for the game and respond to people’s feedback/mentions.

There are numerous videos on YouTube advertising Call of Duty: Black Ops II as well as TV commercials. These include cinematic videos of in-game footage as well as live-action advertisements. I’m surprised to see that Wal-Mart does not have their usual “Call of Duty midnight release” commercial on TV for Black Ops II. Instead, the very popular “Surprise” live-action advertisement is circulating on TV, featuring some famous celebrities and web personalities. This commercial is another “There’s a Soldier in All of Us” ad campaign that Call of Duty is known for on TV. The “Surprise” live-action video can be found below. Call of Duty: Black Ops II releases tonight at midnight and officially tomorrow, November 13th.

http://www.callofduty.com

-John

How should marketers behave in social media environments?

In this new age of technology, there has to be experts for almost every line of work. For instance if a new laptop comes out, chances are there is someone learning all there is to learn about that specific laptop. If a new gaming console hits the market, there has to be someone present to help consumers to explain the new technology to them. Same holds true for any social media interaction. There must be experts in the social media environment. Without them, interacting on social networking sites would be impossible/frustrating/almost like pulling teeth. Also without social media experts or marketers, information would not be updated and sites would just be jumbled with all sorts of information all out of order. With that being said, all marketers need to first recognize and understand the social media environment they are in.

All marketers (and every business person for that matter) should act professionally in a friendly manner and adhere to ethical business decisions. This goes along with the subject of “Who do consumers trust in social media?” Marketers should take time to learn each of their own environments and know how to mold interactions to what they are promoting. I personally wouldn’t want someone to tell me certain “facts” that turn out to be false on social media sites when I request additional information or just asking a simple question to get an answer quickly. If that happened, I (as well as many other people) would not trust that particular marketer and the negative response would reflect towards that brand. People would say, “Why would you trust someone that mislead you with the wrong info and essentially just wasted your time?” Consumers are good at dropping products or services in an instant and moving onto something else because of a negative experience. Marketers should be swift to answer questions and basically move conversations along in a positive interaction that leads to consumer interest toward their brand.

On a business side, I found a blog that outlines some behaviors marketers should demonstrate (particularly close to the holiday season as well). “Understand customer behavior on all channels: Marketers must integrate customer profiles from offline transactional data with digital and organic/owned media channels. To maximize the benefits that come with the social channel and with all channels, marketers need to understand how customers behave through each using all types of data.” Marketers also should use integrated social media for both offline and online interactions and not on a “case by case” basis. “To really see the benefits of social media, marketers must coordinate all offline and online campaigns. Social media must be as much a part of your in-store campaign, as it is your digital campaign.” Finally, marketers should set content up that is easily accessible for their consumers. Nothing drives a customer more furious than having a new product’s info hiding in a weird place on a social media channel. “Make it easy for your customers: Marketers need to create an environment in which it’s easy for customers to amplify the good news about your brand.”

http://www.adexchanger.com/data-driven-thinking/does-social-commerce-really-matter-this-holiday-season/

-John