Mohammed Taher is Brave Wave

Posted by Mark

Mohammed Taher is a Kuwaiti music director, producer, writer and the guy behind the music label Brave Wave. I posted about him last year after the popular gaming blog Joystiq posted about his then upcoming album, World 1-2 which featured 21 video game composers. Recently though he was invited to give a talk at Bit Summit, an indie game festival held annually in Kyoto, Japan. My brother managed to score an interview with him and just posted a feature story on him in the gaming section [Here]


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Minecraft as part of class

Posted by Mark

minecraft

Minecraft is an insanely addictive video game and one I stopped playing some time back since whenever I played it I wouldn’t be get any work done. A local school teacher on the other hand has been using Minecraft as an educational tool in his classrooms. Intel recently conducted an interview with Eric Walker, a teacher at the American International School of Kuwait on how he uses Minecraft to teach his students. You can check out the article on the Intel Free Press website [Here]


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Best Video Games 2013

Posted by Patrick

2013 was a pretty good year for gaming consoles since there was a pretty large variety of AAA and indie games to enjoy. I’m generally not very picky when it comes to video games and I enjoy a wide range of genre’s but when one genre is over-saturated (like first person shooters), I tend to choose something that tries to offer something unique. My time was evenly spent between four consoles, the Wii U, the PS3, the 360 and the 3DS and picking my favorite game was not as challenging as I originally thought it would be. But, two games in particular stood out from the whole range of games that got released this year and both these games deserve more awards than any of the other games.


1 – The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

What’s not to love about this game? It’s Challenging, beautiful to look at and features a captivating world filled with secrets and dungeons.


2 – The Last of Us

A brutal, intense and emotional roller coaster. There really hasn’t been a game (in a long time, or really just ever) that has affected some of us like The Last of Us has. I used to just play it two or three times a week because I knew there was always something bad around the corner. You would find and pick up a journal entry or a note you to either read a great story of survival or a really sad story about death or loss. The amount of detail that went into the environments to support these stories were also impressive. This is one game I loved, but would probably never play it a second time.


3 – Super Mario 3D World

When the E3 trailer was revealed, most of us had written this off as a quick-cash in before Nintendo released the true successor to the Galaxy franchise, but since its release its been getting rave reviews. 3D World includes some of the most unique and entertaining level designs while pushing the series forward making it one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences of the year.

Read the rest of this entry »


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The Playstation 4 Review

Posted by Patrick

The Playstation 4 was released in North America on the 15th of November and sold a million units in 24 hours. We’ve had to wait until earlier this week to see the PS4 officially released in Kuwait and the Gulf and as of this post, it’s pretty much sold out with supposedly no new shipments arriving until early January. So what’s the noise all about? Do you need to own the PS4 now? Are the launch games worth it? These are some of the questions I’m going to be answering in this post.

The PS4 itself is designed nicely, it’s as small as the slim Playstation 3 (maybe even a bit smaller) and it’s pretty light. Complete opposite of the first iteration of the Playstation 3 which was huge, bulky and ugly.

The second thing I’m going to talk about is the new controller, the Dualshock 4. I wasn’t a big fan of the Dualshock 3 and preferred the 360 and Wii U controllers over it. The Dualshock 3 felt light, cheap and didn’t fit well in my hands. I also wasn’t a big fan of the design as it was difficult to clean due to the dirt getting caught on all the edges. The Dualshock 4 changes all of that – the design is nice, sleek and clean, it fits comfortably in my hands and it doesn’t feel cheap. The small touchpad on the face of the controller works well and isn’t overly sensitive to touch (unlike the Sony Vita’s rear touchpad). The controller also features a mono speaker that plays some sounds as you’re playing games. It takes a few minutes to get used to the fact that the controller doesn’t feature a “START” and “SELECT” button like the majority of controllers have had throughout the years, those buttons have been merged into one “Options” button. One of the new additions that’s been making some headlines is the “SHARE” button. When you press it, the PS4 will create a screenshot of the moment and a video clip of the last 15 minutes of gameplay. You then decide where you want to upload them to Facebook or Twitter. If you also feel like broadcasting what you’re playing to the rest of the world, you can also do that through the services of Twitch or USTREAM. All this is done seamlessly and I was surprised to see how Sony have simplified the process.

One thing I dislike about the controller is the light bar which is located on the back of the controller. The light bar displays different colors to alert you on things like low health (it’ll glow red), but it’s kind of a useless feature unless you’re looking at your controller as you’re playing. If you sit directly in front of your television as you’re playing, the controller creates an annoying reflection on your TV when the games you play feature dark levels or segments – it just breaks the immersion. Hopefully there’ll be an update in the future that’ll allow us to choose whether we want to keep the light on or not.

The next thing I want to bring up is the Playstation 4′s user interface. This is another feature that I think could be improved. I’ve never been a huge fan of Sony’s user interfaces, whether it’s the Playstation 3′s menu or the Vita’s terrible use of bubble icons. The Playstation 4′s user interface has three sections. The first is the main menu; icons for your games, the browser, music, video, etc are all accessed from there. The second section (when you press down on your D-pad) is specific to the application or game you’ve selected. So for example, if you press down when Killzone: Shadow Fall is selected, a menu will appear that shows your recent activity, a shortcut to the community, multiplayer modes, and the game manual. If you press up on the main menu, the third section of the menu system appears and this is where you can access the Playstation Store, Friends List, Trophies, Settings and a few other options. I just don’t find this system to be intuitive at all. Why is the Playstation Store icon not located in the main menu and instead hidden in the upper section? Why aren’t the menus customizable? Nintendo and Microsoft both offer menus that are somewhat customizable, so why can’t Sony?

Moving on to launch games. I was given two games to try out by Sony that were launched exclusively for the Playstation 4, Knack (a 3D platformer adventure game) and Killzone: Shadow Fall (a first person shooter). Knack was developed and designed by SCE Japan Studio and Mark Cerny, both have an impressive repertoire of games and so I was surprised to see the below average reviews for this game. An hour into the game and you could see why it’s been getting poor review scores. First off, all the characters (especially Knack) are bland. Think of all the great characters in 3D platformers that we’ve seen in the past; Super Mario, Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Banjo-Kazooie, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, These games featured a whole cast of colorful, interesting characters and most importantly, the main characters were memorable. Knack’s design is forgetful and pretty ugly. He’s made up of all these tiny pieces and shapes and as you progress through the levels you start to grow as you gain more of these pieces until you’re huge and you’re able to do massive amounts of damage. The combat in this game is just “X, X, X” repeated, until you fill up your special power gauge and then you can perform a special move. The level designs are incredibly linear and lack any sort of inspiration. How linear are they? Well, there’s only one path through the level – no little deviations, no hidden paths, no shortcuts. There are “secrets” behind walls that have very large cracks to visually tell you that the wall can be smashed. Those are placed along the paths so they’re not even really hidden. There’s literally no sense of exploration and the platforming segments aren’t even challenging. Very young kids (younger than 10) might enjoy it, but I recommend most of you to skip this game if possible.

Onto Killzone: Shadow Fall. Before playing this game I had only ever played and beaten Killzone 2 which I thought was fun with very intense firefight, but also had a forgettable story with forgettable characters. The characters were beautiful and had fluid animation but the level layouts (which were well designed) were visually boring to look at. Everything seemed to be just a variation of grey with some brown tacked on. Shadow Fall seems to continue the trend of having forgettable characters and horrid writing but has much more beautiful and varied level layouts. The first level you play is vivid and colorful (there’s a bit too much lens flare for my taste though), the second level is the opposite, it’s dark, gloomy and kind of freaky. The shooting and firefights are really fun. Graphics? Not a massive leap from the PS3 but for a launch game it looks really good. You’ll enjoy this game if you go in expecting a straight up first-person shooter with a fun single player experience and multiplayer modes. But, you’ll be disappointed if you’re looking for a FPS that has an interesting plot with memorable characters.

Now the important question, is it worth buying the Playstation 4 now, or should you wait? The controller has been improved, the console is designed nicely, it isn’t heavy, it isn’t bulky and it has a promising line-up of upcoming new games. There’s no doubting the potential of the console, just one look at Killzone: Shadow Fall will tell you that. 2014 will be a good year for gaming with titles like Tom Clancy’s The Division, Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes coming out. My issues with the PS4 are minor. The light bar on the controller, the menu system and the lack of a media server wont affect my enjoyment that I’ll get from playing games on the machine. Still though, I’ll wait a few months before purchasing one. None of the exclusive launch games interest me and the ones that aren’t exclusive I’ve already played on my 360/PS3/Wii U. If you can’t wait and want to pick one up now, the games I recommend are Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Killzone: Shadow Fall, FIFA 14, Battlefield 4, and Lego Marvel Superheroes.

Posted by Patrick


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Do you have any PS4 questions?

Posted by Mark

I passed by Sony today and picked up a Sony PS4 to review for the blog along with two games, Killzone and Knack. My brother is going to be reviewing it since he’s in charge of the gaming posts on my blog. If you need to know anything about the PS4 just leave a comment below.


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Xbox One Prices in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

The Xbox One is now available in Kuwait and surprisingly it’s priced KD20 cheaper than when the PS4 was available on the first day even though the PS4 is actually a cheaper console. The price is also slightly more consistent across the store with the Xbox One selling for KD260 at Rihab Complex and Blink while Digumz is selling it for KD270. This is the PAL version that includes a digital copy of FIFA 2014 as well as the Kinect sensor.

Like the PS4, the prices should drop considerably once the console becomes more readily available.


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The Official PS4 Release Date and Price for Kuwait

Posted by Mark

According to the local Sony dealer, the PlayStation 4 will launch in Kuwait on December 13th and for just KD130. That’s less than a month away.


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Sony PlayStation 4 Prices in Kuwait

Posted by Mark

The Sony PS4 is out in Kuwait already but the prices as expected are pretty high right now. In Rihab they’re selling it for KD245 including a game while online you have:

Blink KD229 (Sold Out)
Souq KD239
Digumz KD255

People who had pre-ordered directly from Amazon to Kuwait (not via a US forwarding mailbox) have already started receiving shipping notifications. Finally, I have a friend who ordered directly from the online Sony store to his MyUS account and he received his PS4 today.

The PS4 is currently sold out at most online retailers in the States including Amazon and people are selling them on eBay for around KD180 [Link]

Update: Turns out Xcite is not selling the PS4 yet so I’ve updated the post.


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Kuwaiti Runner iPhone App

Posted by Mark

Kuwaiti Runner is a new iPhone app that came out yesterday. It’s a simple side scrolling running game where the aim is to avoid various obstacles while collecting different power-ups. What makes this game interesting is the fact it’s based in Kuwait and features the characters and sound bites of Kuwaiti rappers Sons of Yusuf whom I posted about just the other day.

Not the best game in the world but it’s free and available to download from the Apple Store by searching for “Kuwaiti Runner” or you can download it by clicking this [Link]


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Octopus City Blues, a locally developed video game

Posted by Mark


[YouTube]

Firas Assaad is an expat born and living Kuwait and works as a software developer in a small company in the city. Firas had always wanted to make games and so for the past 2 years he’s worked on a side project called Octopus City Blues.

I found out about Octopus City Blues last night when I got an email from a reader telling me about a Kickstarter project based from Kuwait. Firas went on Kickstarter to secure funding to help pay the other team members for their time and was hoping to get just $7,000 but with 6 days left he’s already gotten pledges of nearly $17,000. The game looks super cool and trippy plus it’s 2D which I love. You can watch the trailer on top to see the style of the game and below are some links with more information on Firas and the project:

Octopus City Blues on Kickstarter
Octopus City Blues Interview: Grab that Tentacle!
Octopus City Blues website

Thanks Hish


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