Game Review: No Man’s Sky

Post by Patrick

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No Man’s Sky is a exploration and survival game that takes place in a procedurally generated universe that features 18 quintillion planets. You have your own space ship that allows you to fly from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, discovering new planets, animals and plants, while trading with various different races.

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The game starts off by placing you on a random planet with a broken spaceship. Your first task is to look for resources to help you repair your ship and take off from the planet. This first area serves as a light tutorial that should help you get a grip on the games loop. After you successfully take off from the first planet, the universe opens up to you and you can either choose to follow on the games set path to the center of the universe or you can choose travel to any galaxy and any planet you like as long as you have the fuel.

The problem with having procedurally generated content though is that a players experience is based off luck and chance. I’ve seen people complain that planets look the same, feel the same and there is truth in that, but my personal experience has differed. I’ve been lucky enough to discover a wide variety of planets, ranging from planets that have nearly zero life on them with intense weather to planets teeming with life. So even though I’ve seen planets that look similar, I’ve also been lucky enough to see enough variety that I’m still interested in exploring and taking screenshots of planets I like.

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No Man’s Sky is Out in Kuwait

Post by Patrick

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The long awaited indie game ‘No Man’s Sky’ was supposed to come out in Kuwait yesterday but got held up at customs so I only was able to get my hands on it a few moments ago. The official worldwide release date is August 9th so Kuwait wins again with another early release date. If you want a copy, I got mine for KD19 from @q8_complex

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Playing Pokémon Go in Kuwait

Post by Patrick

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Over Eid holiday Pokémon Go was officially released in the U.S. For the uninitiated, Pokémon Go is an augmented reality (AR) mobile game, released both on iOS and Android. The point of the game is to walk around your environment to find and catch Pokémon. When you reach level 5, you’re able to fight at Pokémon gyms that are scattered across the country. The first time you do this you get to choose the faction you want to be a part of, Team Instinct (Yellow), Team Valor (Red) or Team Mystic (Blue). Once you choose a faction and beat the gym boss, that gym belongs to your faction. The game is a massive hit in the U.S. and is about to surpass Twitter in daily active users. It seems to be encouraging adults and kids alike to go outside and walk around, and in some cases make new friends. There are a lot of great stories coming out thanks to this game.

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Sadly since we are in Kuwait we can’t really go out for long walks at the moment because it’s super hot outside. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t still play it. I’ve noticed that the game works in our malls and other places we spend a lot of time in. My wife was shopping and I decided to try out the app indoors and I ended up catching Jigglypuff and a few other great Pokémon while she was doing her thing. I’ve also used the app at traffic lights but please don’t use it while you’re actually driving unless you’re on a Pokémon date. Mark had a power cut at his apartment over the weekend so he was forced to leave the house and ended up killing time by walking around his neighborhood looking for Pokémon until the power came back on. Kuwait has loads of Pokéstops and Pokémon gyms scattered throughout so we aren’t missing out on anything really.

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Here are some quick tips for first time users:

– In the bottom right side of the screen you’ll find icons of Pokémon that are in your vicinity. If you click on the icon you’ll find up to 3 little footprints under each Pokémon. 3 footprints means the Pokémon is in your area, but not close to where you are, while no footprint means the Pokémon is right next to you.

– When you try to catch a Pokémon you’ll find an AR slider on the top right. Switch this off to switch off your camera, which makes catching Pokémon easier.

– As you’re trying to catch Pokémon, hold the Pokéball and twirl it on screen to add a curve to it which will give you more experience points if you’re successful at catching the Pokémon.

– If you have duplicate Pokémon, click on the ones you don’t want and transfer them over to the Professor to get items necessary to make your Pokémon stronger.

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So how is the quality of the Pokémon Go app itself? Well, to be honest, average. The UI is badly designed and the game is known to crash for a few users. The “game” itself is pretty thin, besides walking around and trying to catch Pokémon, there isn’t much else to do. The only time you ever battle is when you find a gym. There is no way to interact with friends, no way to trade Pokémon and no way to challenge a friend to a battle. But ultimately, the quality of the app itself means little when the experience of using the app is making people happy. At the end of the day, Niantich can update the app some time in the future to add the features that are still missing from this game.

If you’re interested in trying out the game it’s available to download in the U.S. iOS App Store and Android devices. You won’t find it in the Kuwait store since it hasn’t officially launched worldwide.

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Double Jump: Episode 2

Post by Patrick

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After a long break, Double Jump podcast is finally back. In this episode we discuss Doom, Uncharted 4, Overwatch, Pocket Jockey and a few other things. Since it’s been a long time let me re-introduce what Double Jump is. It’s a gaming podcast I co-created with Yaqoub Al- Hussaini who is one of the hosts of LuckyGG and we’re also joined by Abdullah Boushehri also from LuckyGG. The goal of Double Jump is to discuss games we’ve been playing, news that we find interesting and regional news that we feel our listeners would be interested in.

We’ll be recording episodes every other Tuesday and each episode will be around two hours in length. In between our group shows I’ll be recording a solo show on Mondays so there will be content coming out every week.

So hope you guys enjoy the show, feel free to give us some feedback and don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast.

iTunes | Android | Play in Browser | Download | RSS

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Game Review: Doom

Post by Patrick

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Doom was one of those games that I wasn’t allowed to play when I was a kid but I did anyways. It was dark, atmospheric and kind of scary. The games were unique at that time and basically laid the foundation for future first person shooters. Since then Id software tried to recapture that magic with various other games like Doom 3 and RAGE but were never really were able to reach the heights of Doom I and II…until now.

There was some hesitation from fans when the new Doom was announced since the market was oversaturated with first person shooters and it would take something special for the new Doom to make a dent. The development history of the game was troublesome, Id Software had completed a Doom game, didn’t like what they had created and then restarted the development process from the beginning. So there were a lot of questions that needed answering, would the new developers be able to design levels as good as John Romero and co.? Would the new developers be able to create the same fast-paced action that were present in those original games? Would they try to create a more immersive narrative even though those older games didn’t really rely on one? Even then, would a first person shooter with a reliance on gameplay over narrative even succeed nowadays when narrative seems important to the consumer and the players?

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I was able to get my hands on Doom a few days before its official release and even though the multiplayer beta was disappointing, I was really looking forward to the single player campaign. As the games release date got closer, it was revealed that no review copies were sent out to any of the major websites so many people were expecting the worst. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I put the game in, I hoped for the best though. Thankfully what I got was nothing short of incredible. The game has incredible visuals and art direction, the environments look great, the monsters look extremely detailed and the animation is top notch. The music and the sound design are also fantastic and suit the game perfectly. Another aspect of the game that adds to its value is it doesn’t take itself too seriously. The developers built a ridiculous and amusing lore surrounding Doom-guy. They took this generic guy and turned him into this legendary warrior that demons fear. He has a personality even though he doesn’t say a word, it’s all in his actions. The game plays fast, it’s brutal and the music accompanying the action is memorable. The way the game starts is brilliant and probably one of the most memorable introduction to any game I’ve played.

The developers were successful at modernizing Doom in a couple of ways. First off is you can now upgrade your weapons, thankfully it’s not convoluted. Each weapon has two upgrade paths and the manner in which they’re presented is simple and straight forward. Your armor can be upgraded as well and like your weapons, the process is simple. You can also upgrade the amount of health, armor and ammo you can carry. You’ll also come across demonic runes that present a challenge and if you complete the challenge you’ll unlock a rune that you can equip that will also help you out in some way.

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Other ways the developers were able to modernize Doom is the games level design. The original Doom games had complex level designs that were maze like and contained plenty of secrets to discover. The developers were able to take that feel and successfully modernize it. Levels have a lot of verticality to them and you’ll be jumping around quite a bit. It sort of feels like a Metroidvania kind of game in some ways. You’ll get lost in the levels the same way players did in the original game. The levels have secrets and even when you know where they’re located, some secrets are still tricky and challenging to get to.

The game also features two other modes besides the single player campaign mode which are multiplayer and Snapmap modes. Multiplayer is self-explanatory and I haven’t really touched it since release because I’ve been spending all my time playing through the campaign while the Snapmap mode is where all the user-created content will be. Snapmap lets you create and share your own levels and challenges. I’m actually impressed by how much content Doom has to offer.

Its been a while since I’ve enjoyed a first person shooter as much as I’ve enjoyed Doom. It might just be the best single player first person shooter I’ve played. It’s memorable, it’s fun and it’s very violent. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fast-paced action game that doesn’t take itself very seriously. I’m relieved it turned out this good since I chose to play Doom before Uncharted 4. I don’t like giving out perfect scores (I’ve only given 5 games perfect scores), but Doom deserves it.

Score:

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Event: GX 2016 & Kuwait Battle Royale

Post by Patrick

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This weekend gamers in Kuwait are going to be treated to two events revolving around video games that will be taking place simultaneously at the Millennium Hotel & Convention Center. The first event is GX 2016 which is a general video game convention where people will have stalls selling video game merchandise and where you’ll also be able to check out cosplayers (famous cosplayer Tali xoxo pictured below will be there) and take part in some competitions to win prizes. The big news here is that two renowned video game companies will also be taking part: Tecmo Koie and Square Enix. Both will be holding mini-press conferences to announce some important news for this region and Square Enix will also have a special video message for us.

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The other gaming event taking place will be the Kuwait Battle Royale. The Kuwait Battle Royale is a local video game tournament featuring 7 of the biggest current fighting games: Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Mortal Kombat X, Pokken Tournament, Dead or Alive 5, BlazBlue and Guilty Gear Xrd. The cool part about this event is that the organizers have flown in the official EVO commentators to take part and the contestants will be a mix of regional and international talent so it should be pretty fun to watch.

The event will start on at 5PM on Thursday and end on Saturday. The full schedule can be found on the organizers website.

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Game Review: The Division

Post by Patrick

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The Division has been out for quite some time now and it’s taken me this long to write about it because I wanted to make sure my opinions didn’t change the longer I played the game. The game has generally been received well by critics, but as always that doesn’t reveal the extent of a games quality. If you don’t know what the Division is, it’s a cover based shooter with RPG mechanics, that’s a quasi MMO. Think of Destiny, yeah. It’s sort of like that.

The set up for the Division is simple. A lethal virus breaks out during Black Friday and spreads across New York City, ravaging the city and killing thousands. Manhattan is quarantined and the US Government activates sleeper agents known as the Division to assist emergency responders to bring stability and order to the city.

The game puts you in the shoes of an unnamed Division agent. You create your character and you’re forced into action. After a few missions you unlock your base which is split into 4 distinct sections. You have the general area where the stores and your stash are located. You have the medical, the security and a tech area. Whenever you upgrade each section you’ll see your base grow, with more personal and more people populating the base. It’s a great thing to see and very satisfying to observe. Each base upgrade also helps your character by adding perks or abilities. So you have more then one reason to upgrade your base. It also makes you think about what upgrade to choose first. Think of these three sections and the abilities they unlock as different play styles: If you focus on the medical section you should consider yourself a healer, if you focus on the tech, a rogue and if you focus on security a tank. Obviously you can mix and match, but generally this is how I thought of it.

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I enjoy enemy A.I. that is dynamic and that are smart. Bar some inconsistent moments the A.I. in this game is that. The enemies will try to outflank you so seeking cover in one place isn’t going to guarantee you safety. Your best bet is to shoot, cover and move. Staying out in the open will most likely lead to your death. The game features different groups of gangs that each offer different challenges. Within these gangs you’ll come to be familiar with the different types of enemies you’ll face. There are your melee enemies, who are probably the dumbest of all enemy types. They’ll just run up to you and try to hit you with a bat. They’re easy to kill, but if they do end up hitting you, they’ll deal a lot of damage. Then you have the other typical enemy types: a sniper, a shotgun, and regular grunt who uses automatic rifles. Depending on what gang you’re facing you’ll face more types of enemies. For example there is a gang called the Cleaners. They usually come equipped with flame-throwers and will burn anything that comes close to them. Then you have the boss-type characters who have a ton of armor and take some time to kill. Sometimes you’ll have to fight more than one and these fights can be pretty intense.

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Gaming Podcast: Double Jump Episode 1.5

Post by Patrick

The official second episode of Double Jump has been delayed indefinitely because one of my co-hosts just got married. So until things settle back down with him, here’s a solo episode I recorded a while back. In the podcast I discuss a few 3DS games I’ve been playing, the closure of Lionhead Studios and the Nintendo Direct. Recording solo was a challenge since I’m used to having discussions with co-hosts, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless. Talking to myself for half an hour felt like I was back in school presenting a project to a class.

We’ll be recording “.5” episodes whenever there’s a lull in recording either due to busy schedules or if we have a few ideas that don’t fit into the main show. Recording this episode made me realize that I’d have to use a different format than the one we use for our full episodes so instead of discussing what I’m playing and the news, solo episodes will focus on one specific topic. So until we get back on track with our main show, I’ll be recording more solo episodes and should have another one recorded this week.

Until then, enjoy!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

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Introducing Double Jump!

Post by Patrick

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I’ve been interested in Podcasts for the longest time but I was always hesitant to get into it because I’m more of a writer than a speaker. But then I ended up meeting some of the guys from the LuckyGG Arabic gaming podcast who encouraged me to take a chance and start my own Podcast especially since there aren’t many English podcasts about video games in this region.

I co-created the podcast with Yaqoub Al- Hussaini who is one of the hosts of LuckyGG and we’re also joined by Abdullah Boushehri also from LuckyGG. The goal of Double Jump is to discuss games we’ve been playing, news that we find interesting and regional news that we feel like our listeners would be interested in. The goal is to record an episode a week and publish it every Wednesday. These episodes will be two hours long.

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I’m also planning on recording Double Jump episodes where I’m on my own and some episodes with a different co-host each week but this is still a work in progress, hopefully I’ll be able to start publishing those episodes sometimes mid-March.

We recorded and published our first episode last week and I’ve linked to it at the end of this post. We’re learning as we go and I think Yaqoub and Abdullah both did a great job especially since English isn’t their first language. I also appreciate the fact that they’re willing to go out of their comfort zone for me. I’m learning a lot after listening to just this one episode and feedback is always welcomed so feel free to leave a comment with suggestions or thoughts.

In this first episode we discuss a variety of games, mainly The Division Beta and Street Fighter V. We also discuss some major news that came out these past few weeks like the pricing of the HTC Vive. Our first episode is available everywhere!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

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Review: Sphero BB-8

Post by Patrick

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With the release of Star Wars Force Awaken, a lot of new Star Wars merchandise has gone on sale like clothing, Lego’s (the Millennium Falcon is KD170!), new figurines and now a new addition, the Sphero BB-8. Being a big Star Wars I’m pretty much on cloud nine. Not only was The Force Awakens a great movie, the new toys look great and even the clothing isn’t bad at all. So I was excited to test out the BB-8 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

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So what’s so cool about the Sphero BB-8? You can control it using your smartphone and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices so no one is left out. This little guy can move fast and can take a beating. When I first tested it out, the first thing that popped into my head was that BB-8 would make a great (albeit expensive) toy for my cat. It was impressive watching it speed across the floor especially that the BB-8’s head is attached to the body using a magnet and two little wheels so it stays in place while the rest of the body rolls. It has barely fallen off, even as I’ve hit the wall multiple times and the legs of chairs. The body itself has an “upright” position that corrects itself with the help of the stabilizers that are part of the internal mechanism. There’s also a gyroscope and accelerometer that will assist in controlling BB-8 by being aware of its movements and make subtle and slight adjustments to help you out.

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If you get tired of controlling it you can set it to patrol mode. Patrol mode works similar to the way a Roomba does. The BB-8 will roam around your room on its own and will move around objects, like chair legs or people. What’s cool is that there is an event log that that lets you know if BB-8 hit a wall or detected an object.

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The price tag for the BB-8 is steep, it costs KD69. Ultimately, this is a cool piece of tech, but it’s not something I would play with everyday. Right now I have it on my shelf next to my Samus figurine and my Super Mario Amiibo and sometimes I’ll tease my cat with it once in a while, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified figurine. House guests will find it impressive and it makes for an interesting topic of discussion. I love the BB-8 and it’s unique in a world of cheap toys. It’s a Star Wars toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

If you’re interested in the Sphero BB-8, it’s available at the Avenue’s branch of Fantasy World which has a new section catered towards adults called THE EDGE. Fantasy World also has the largest collection of Star Wars toys that I’ve seen in Kuwait so far, including nice figurines of Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey.

Post by Patrick

Full Disclosure: The Sphero BB-8 was provided by Fantasy World to review on the blog.


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