Archive for Video Gaming

It was always gonna be like this…

Hey guys,

In true Josh Barker fashion, this blog has fallen by the way side. It has severely suffered from a lack of updates.

Well no more!

I am going to try in earnest to be a lot more productive with not only this website but with my life in general! So if you see me, make sure i am doing something!

To kick off this new productivity i have here a little game review, the next in my 60s Series. I talk very quickly about Rogue Legacy. There will also be a new “60 Minutes of Starcraft” video going onto YouTube very shortly. SO check back for that.

If you want to know more about any of this, leave a comment and i’ll get back to you.

Enjoy the review.

Paradigm Shift

As many of you are probably aware, I love playing games. I think that is one of my main characteristics. I have always enjoyed games and always seek out new ones and a chance to play them. I don’t particularly have a favourite type, i will play anything from video games to board games and of any genre, racing, strategy, first person shooters and more. Yes obviously I have favourites…but in general I’ll play most things.

I have played games much the same way since I was younger but just recently there has been a change in my game playing habits. I’m going to have a look at that and why that has happened.

Way back at the beginning  I had a NES and a SNES and I loved them and it was great. I will never forget leaving my SNES on for over 24 hours just so I could complete Super Star Wars as it had no save system. Back in those days I had a real passion for platformers and puzzle solvers, playing Lemmings, Earthworm Jim, Star Wars, Puzzle Bobble and the like. I also dabbled with RPG’s which is started to develop a taste for. As time went on new systems were introduced, we got a family PC and my sister received a PlayStation One for Christmas (I was so shocked and disappointed that it was hers, not ours or mine. She didn’t even really play games). With the new technology came new games, I moved on. I discovered the wonderful world of strategy games on the PC, not before a stop off at the Magic School Bus ;-), platformers and RPG’s stayed constant with me eventually acquiring Final Fantasy VII for the PS (this remains one of my favourite all time games.). This was the time that I shifted well and truly into games.

Image from Final Fantasy VII

My favourite RPG of all time. Got me well and truly into the Genre

I enjoyed games, I liked the story telling, the mechanics. I revelled in solving problems, figuring out quests and beating my opponents. This stuck with me as I grew up, I never moved on. I played games with friends or I played games on my own, I didn’t care as long as I was playing. The next major stage was the acquisition of my PlayStation 2, on release day. Although I didn’t really use it till about a year after, the launch titles didn’t excite me. I don’t want to think about the countless hours I have ploughed into the box of electronics. It was an exciting time for games with a lot of them coming out and I played as many as possible, I still played my usual sample but also branched out into the racing and sports genre, as they had good multiplayer potential and a lot of my friends played them.

All the time I played games on the family computer, highlights include Age of Empires, Medieval: Total War, Machines, SimCity and Total Annihilation. I found myself using the PC purely for strategy and simulation games (that’s a lie i played Turok as well). I even managed to rope my family at times. I was furious that my dad worked out the secret to a successful SimCity 2000 city before i did!

This structure stayed the same until recently, Strategy and Sims on the PC/Laptop and all others on the Console PS2/PS3. I always preferred the controller for things like FPS games and the like (I know shoot me, but that was my opinion.)

This all changed in September of 2011, I graduated from University and decided to reward myself with the purchase of a proper Gaming PC, I had never had one of those, making do with a cheap laptop throughout Uni (I always attempted to optimise my game playing potential when picking a computer though). My new PC was fantastic! I could play anything, all the PC games my laptop couldn’t run now became available, services like Steam made it easy to get hold of them and I played furiously! I would even go so far to say that i had too much, every waking moment I was playing stuff and to this day my console has fallen by the way side. Although this may be some sub concious value for money thing.

This was spectacular for the first few months. Games like Skyrim, Civilisation V, Shogun 2: Total War absorbed as much time as i could spare, and then something changed.

I tried League of Legends…

League of Legends

A group of my friends had discovered it, this game is a DOTA clone, it’s a copy of an old mod for Warcraft 3. Essentially you and your team select a hero each and you do battle in an arena with another team, first team to kill the other teams base wins. No story progression, not complex puzzles to solve, no grand strategy (people with argue with me on this) just you 4 other people manipulating your champions and their abilities to best the other team. Of course there is strategy, what stat augmenting items do you buy, when do you engage, which heroes make a balanced team but you aren’t trying to design a transport network or plan a countries military strategy.

Usually this game would not interest me, perhaps hold my attention for a week or so but in the last 8 months or so i have logged more than 685 hours of gameplay, that’s 20 hours a week! So what has lured me into spending to much time playing this game.

Well having I think about it and looking at my normal game playing habits, it’s the social aspect. Whenever I am playing League of Legends I am on Skype to at least one other friend, usually 2 or 3. This is the really appealing aspect. We can chat about work, things in the news, recent games tournaments results all while playing my game. It’s like going out for a drink, well without the face to face bit or the alcohol but you get the idea. No longer is it just me and the computer. Gamers have an unfair stereotype that they are all unsocial, live in basements and just eat pizza, but that’s completely untrue in this day and age. I spend several hours each night on Skype to at least 2 or 3 friends…if I don’t it’s usually because I’ve gone out to see other friends. I think that is far from unsocial, and this has what has hooked me, I like talking to people and I like games and I can combine this. I think this is why I have recently got back into board games.

This is obviously not just applicable to League of Legends, I do the same thing when I play Team Fortress 2, Starcraft 2, DOTA 2 and so on. It’s not a new thing either, communicating while gaming has been around for an age! BUT, it’s the first time I really have done it.

This has now affected my other game playing habits, i now find it really difficult to play single player games on my own. Just doesn’t feel right, I recently played Bastion (60s Review coming very soon) and I played through it all while having a conversation with a special lady via Skype. Not sure if I would have stuck with it  if I’d have been on my own.

This has been a big revelation to me, it’s why over the last few months i’ve tried several free to play MMO’s with my Friend Fred (go read his blog!) because we can sit and chat on Skype while playing games.

I still play single player games, don’t get me wrong but I have now moved to a stage where playing with other people makes a game more appealing. These is a possibility that now I’m older I am finding the single player experience less rewarding, so I am looking for something else to add to a game, it will be interesting as a couple of big games are coming out in the next year or so, and these don’t look to include much time for Skype based multiplayer, so I will be interested to see how much time I plough into them.


So there we go, i’m playing much more social games now. You should totally join me, we can chat and game and stuff. Just get in contact and we’ll play together. Also if you are interested in League of Legends (and you should be it’s a great game to play with friends) then let me know before hand, I can send you an account invite, we both get some goodies :) SO e-mail me or leave a comment and I’ll sort that. Let me know about your gaming habits, would be interesting to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, or even gone the other way.

Happy Gaming.

E3 2012 Checklist Update

Just a short entry. In the last post i didn’t update you on E3 bingo.

I did quite well i think, i predicted:

2 x Annoying presenters over the course of the live keynotes Achieved: Ubisoft…say no more.

4 x Botched demos Unsuccessful: I didn’t notice any.

5 x Jokes fall completely flat Achieved: I’m counting the whole Ubisoft set.

6 x Celebrities bought on to help publicise a game Final Count: 6

1 x Completely inappropriate reference Possibly: There was a woman wearing an inappropriate shirt, it had buttons in exactly the right place to be nipples. Also i’m sure the Ubisoft pair said something.

Hope that clears that up.

E3 2012 Reaction

Well the dust is still settling from the opening keynotes of E3 2012 and in fact there are more announcements and revelations still going on. With the big 5 over, I thought I would put together my reactions to the keynotes from the opening 36 hours.

Overall this has been a good E3 in my opinion we have had substantial service developments from multiple companies, a new console, a raft of excellent look sequels and some killer new brands announced. I was worried that this year was going to be quite disappointing with a lot of big sequels already announced, either at last years E3 or over the previous 12 months. This made me concerned that we might just have new trailers relating to those games, which while good to see progress can get a little stale. I was pleasantly surprised and we saw, I think, an almost perfect balance between new and returning.

I’m just going to stick to the highlights in this entry. If I don’t cover something you want to talk about, stick it in the comments.

So my highlights from the big press conferences that opened E3 2012.

First of all comes Microsoft’s SmartGlass for the XBox360. This is a service that looks to combine tablets and smartphones with the console experience. The general gist of it seems to be that it is the main selling point of the WiiU without the need for extra hardware (assuming you already have a table or smartphone or both.) The example shown was that it can be used to pull up extra information or control the game in a different way. Specifics were in Halo 4 upon reaching a waypoint the table flashed up with extra info about the environment and location the player found them self in. It was also demoed that game invites can appear and be accepted from the tablet. The smartphone example they gave was the ability to use it as a track pad to control the new XBox live internet browser. All in all this seems like a cool add on and almost a direct response to some of the functionality of the WiiU, it does make me a little jealous that i don’t have an XBox.

The other stand out points were mainly the games on offer. Some exclusives, sequels and some new IP’s that look exciting.

The Watch Dogs logo shown at E3

If connection is power i need to stuck up on USB hubs.

The game i am probably the most excited about was the announcement of ‘Watch Dogs’. This is a new IP that is being touted as multi-platform, consoles and PC. The basic premise is that you play a character who is part of an organisation that can hack into the computer systems that control cities. So the network that controls bridges, traffic lights, water, etc.. In the demo the player sneaks into a club by cutting out communications in an area, scans the people in the club for personal information, makes his way outside and causes a car crash by meddling with the traffic lights, and in the extended version he proceeds to escape by jumping over a bridge he has triggered to open to prevent followers. It looks really good and the potential flexibility using the hacking system really interests me. It seems to have a very GTA inspired style, big open world, violence, car jacking and all the usual bells and whistles. I guess one reservation i have is that there is the potential for the solutions to missions being very scripted, this would drain the excitement from the premise. If the developers give the player a chance to be creative i think this game could have huge success. I’m certainly excited.

Another new IP i was excited about was ‘The Last of Us’, this is a survival based game in which you play a man in an abandoned city escorting a small girl around. The demonstration given seemed to suggest a shortage of weapon ammo, so combats would be a mixture of firefight, melee and stealth based takedowns. The ability to ‘craft’ items was shown, in game a bottle and a cloth were mixed to make a molotov cocktail. This grabbed my interest , a good survival game is always fun, especially if it was that promotes the balancing of strategies through careful thought. When mentioning this to some of my friends i was told that is almost identical to an older game, although i can’t remember the name of it. If it rings any bells feel free to let me know. I might even do a 60s review of it.

Splash art from E3 2012

Why is the little girl holding the 'penis compensation' rifle, is that a hidden twist?

Quantic Dream revealed their new project as well. This was ‘Beyond:Two Souls’, this was revealed with a very creepy trailer in which a women in questioned at a police station. It was very atmospheric and culminated in apparent poltergeist activity and then the arrival of a SWAT team. The first thing that struck me was the quality of the graphics present in game, but then this is a follow up to Heavy Rain so i guess it was to be expected. I have subsequently seen another trailer of this game, in that one it played up the supernatural element, and it was made clear that you possess the ability to wield these powers, i felt this diminished it slightly but not enough to disinterest me. It will still be interesting to see where it goes. Not only that but it has prompted me to play Heavy Rain which i have been told is excellent and still haven’t got round to playing.

That about covers the new IP’s which takes us on to sequels. There were 3 that really stood out. One of these is Simcity, i am extremely excited about this but i’m not going to talk about it to much. I am going to plan some stuff around the launch of that, maybe some pre-launch plays of the precursors, 60s reviews and all sorts of other goodness.

The other 2 are Assassins Creed 3 and God of War:Ascension. These stood out for different reasons. Assassins Creed i was not excited about at all, not only that but it’s been announced a while and i think it was shown in 3 of the 5 conferences. It looked dull, there i said it, sorry if you are a fan but that’s what i thought. They showed some gameplay of you stalking through a snowy forest, being attacked by wolves and then an assault on a fort, and it just looked a little dull and samey, and i was not interested. Then Sony showed it, now it’s not because i’m a Sony fanyboy (i am a bit, but ignore that for now), but my opinion changed. The reason it changed was that they showed something new. They showed part of the game that involved commanding a boat in the Caribbean, this section had navigation and broadsides as well as up close and personal boarding operations. It was something that was new and fresh and it looked really cool. It was mentioned that there was a dynamic weather system that could change at will (surprise surprise it changed at that moment of the demo, coincidence?), and that was shown as the nice calm blue waters turned grey and almost mountainous swells rose and fell. That clip was enough to awaken my interest in the franchise and i will be watching it more closely than i previously was.

Splash art of the latest God of War game

This could be the splash art for 'God of War:Gymnast'

This leaves us with God of War:Ascension. Now don’t get me wrong i love God of  War, i have played the PS2/3 versions not the handheld ones and loved them. One of my favourite series of games without a shadow of doubt and i am super excited about the new one. That being said, i have to admit…i was a little disappointed (please forgive me o mighty Kratos). The reason i was disappointed was that it’s the same, and i think after 3 games same needs to change. The first one sets the tone/scene/style, the second one develops that/experiments with ideas and the 3rd one nails it shows off the polish (It must be noted that the Metal Gear Solid series is the exception to this, it needed 4 and 4 was a masterpiece!). I feel God of War is losing it’s edge, yes it looks amazing, yes they have refined the combat again, yes they have added new powers, yes IT NOW HAS MULTIPLAYER! OMGOMGOMGOMGWTFBBQ! …BUT they are on very delicate ground. It’s true i don’t want a complete overhaul, i’m not looking for God of War:Accountant but maybe some big changes could really reignite interest, i know it’s risky but it may pay off. Although in conclusion i am still very excited and i will still get it at launch and i will still rave to everyone has amazing it is, but still change can sometimes be good.

So overall i think there was some interesting stuff and i am now excited about the next year of gaming, which before E3 i’ll admit i wasn’t, except for Simcity.

Well that’s what i think, let me know what you though in the comments.


PrE3! Pre-E3, Clever? no? ahhhh leave it…

Well to quote Andy Williams, It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No folks it isn’t Christmas, but E3 2012!!! Hoorah! The Electronic Entertainment Expo is a big date on the calendar of gamers. With it potentially being the date that a lot of exciting gaming news is released. This annual trade fair has seen huge announcements in the past from consoles being debuted, the Play Station 3, to long awaited sequels and reboots being announced, Castlevania and God of War, and even the revelation of exciting new peripherals, Microsoft’s Kinect and Wii Balance Board. And these announcements were just in the last couple of years.

Shot of the front of the E3 expo

E3 has a long pedigree of being the go to place for big games announcements. That being said the reverency of this trade fair has waned slightly over more recent times. This was due to a decision to move to invite-only during 2007 and 2008. This meant the public could only watch from afar, this pushed publishers to use the other games fairs to show off their new products. That being said E3 is still considered one of the best and still attracts the big announcements.

With these big announcements being made you can start to see why Gamers like myself get quite excited around this time of the year. As such i will be watching the press conferences with baited breath… interestingly you can follow along here by either clicking this link: or by clicking the “Liveblog” Menu button…but that’s all the way at the top of the page, so i recommend the link.

I also though i would put some of my hopes for E3 2012 up here for you guys to look at and discuss. So here we go!


E3 2012 Predictions

So i’m going to discuss some of my ideas and predictions for this years E3, some of them i have thought about and i think are serious, others have been mad flashes of inspiration so enjoy.



Well Microsoft are starting the show (5:30pm Monday 4 June) so i guess it is only fair to begin my predictions with them.

Xbox 360 Logo

If i’m honest Microsoft has been the company that i have thought the least about in the run up to this years E3 this being said i have a few ideas. First of all it’s worth noting that Microsoft have come out and flat out said that there will be no announcement of a new console this year. So the XBOX 720 Next  3 looks unlikely, i guess there is always the small chance they were lying but i doubt that. Which means they are going to be focussing on their current console with them having no handheld to flog. Microsoft have always been about integrating the XBOX into the living room. Last year saw integration with Twitter and ESPN this added to their compatibility with Netflix meaning that not only can you use the console for games but films, sports TV and social networking. I think this is a really good focus and will draw people in, i can’t wait for the day when i have one box that does everything, it will make things so simple (People will argue for the PC at this point, but shhhh!). I feel that this culmination of “things you do” will continue to be pulled into the XBOX increasing it’s status as the hub of your living room. Quite how they will do this i am not sure, maybe more partnerships will be announced. I certainly see a big push on streaming media as well, it can already stream films and you can download games and this functionality will only be increased and improved, the age of physical media is on the way out and adaptation is important to stay relevant.

Regarding games, we will certainly see more of Halo 4, Gears of War maybe a new Fable and a raft of new Sports games but not being an XBOX gamer myself i won’t attempt to tell the XBOXer’s what they should be excited about.

Another announcement i wouldn’t be surprised with would be the revelation of Kinect 2. This piece of hardware was something quite revolutionary on release and it still receives a lot of attention, but there are products that are beginning to compete so an update could well and truly be on the cards.



Sony are next up! Now i am a Playstation child so i’m quite excited about this conference, but i will do my best to try and avoid Bias.

Sony Ps3 Logo

Once again just like Microsoft, Sony have stated there will be no next-gen playstation at E3, again i guess they could be lying but let’s not go there. So with no new console improvements may be announced for either the PS3 of the PS Vita, Sony’s handheld device. I think we may see a Vita price drop, it seems to be at that point in the product lifecycle, try and capitalise on a less than stellar performance of the 3DS but i can’t see any major changes coming in for the Vita. Regarding the Playstation 3, well this is a difficult choice, it’s starting to feel like it has been round forever, Microsoft keep updating the XBOX with bigger storage and other minor changes, but this helps keep it fresh. The Playstation hasn’t really had this, there was a form factor change but not much else. There have been renders recently of the Playstation 4/Orbis so maybe another change in form is coming. One crazy idea i had was fuelled by the rumours of there being a “Steambox” console made by Valve. Well Sony partnered with Steam to bring it to the PS3, and this has been used very little. So what if we get a Sony/Valve joint console, that can play PS3 games and download PC games from your Steam account! Crazy yes, but it would spread Gabe Newell’s Empire, it would mean some of the money could come from Valve rather than cash starved Sony and in the age of the All-in-one solution could be a bold step forward…who knows. Just remember you heard it here first!

With games we will no doubt see another raft of amazing sequels. Metal Gear Solid, God of War, LittleBigPlanet and Something awesome from Naughty Dog. Although a lot of these have been announced already which is great to build buzz but it means E3 runs the risk of just being one big trail rerun. I’m holding out for some exciting new IP’s. We will no doubt see some more from the Playstation Move although apart from a slew of new games i think that will stay quiet on the hardware front.

Again we could see some improvements to the Playstation Network which has (and will) always play second fiddle to Microsoft’s XBOX Live. I think it’s likely we will see similar directions from Sony with a push on integration and streaming coming in. Maybe this year we will see Television receivers in them, partnerships with SKY or something, who knows.


And that leaves us with Nintendo. Nintendo are interesting, they either announce something that is amazing and sells a million billion copies (Nintendo Wii) or they announce something and everyone goes “Wha????” and it disappears into obscurity (Wii Vitality sensor). Although i am lead to believe the Vitality sensor is being fine-tuned in development.

Ninetendo Wii Logo

Either way Nintendo have the potential to be the most interesting and the most surprising. That was until they released a load of information about the Wii U (their new console) in a Pre-E3 event. Overall the Wii U looks a little disappointing, with reports it’s just about up to current generation speeds while we are on the cusp of having a new generation announced. Saying that the Wii was considered technologically underwhelming and that sold like figurative ‘Hot Cakes’. So the verdict is still out on that one. Personally i think it will struggle, the Wii did so well because it appealed to everyone, it was and still is a fantastic family party game and has some brilliant games for the casual gamer and even has a few titles ‘hardcore’ gamers can enjoy. It was pitched at a perfect price and as such it worked. The Wii U, well i don’t think it can capture the market in the same way, but i may be surprised.

Games wise, we will see sequels for Mario and Zelda almost certainly for the new console. What will be interesting is if they announce much for the Wii itself or if they get right behind the Wii U. The same can be said for the DSi and the 3DS as i am aware of a couple of games that are being released on the DSi but not the 3DS. Nintendo often get badly credited with being predictable and not doing new things, but i am sure they will announce at least a handful of new games focussing on using the various pieces of technology they have at their disposal and i could actually see them announce more new IP’s than Sony and Microsoft.


In conclusion i think E3 this year has a couple of paths it could follow. We will see lot of games, but whether these games are new brands or direct sequels is still up in the air. There will be a lot of sequels, there always are but i would like to see a few attempts at new concepts and games, endless sequels tend to drag a bit and personally i think a trilogy is long enough, except for a few exceptions. That being said i am sure i will be quite excited about a couple of the sequels announced and as long as the game is good, i don’t care.

Hardware wise, we will either see a small amount or loads! We are definitely getting a new Nintendo console, what Microsoft and Sony decide to do is a mystery but i think if one does something the other will as well. With that in mind, i think any new hardware announced by these two will really need to add something, either as a concept to test or to push the market somewhere, i think that will be towards streaming.

As a generic rule we will see:

2 x Annoying presenters over the course of the live keynotes

4 x Botched demos

5 x Jokes fall completely flat

6 x Celebrities bought on to help publicise a game

1 x Completely inappropriate reference

Thanks for reading, i know it was a long one. Feel free to leave some comments below, tell me i’m wrong, have i missed something, are my ideas bang on the money, are you disappointed there won’t be donkeys. And tune into the live blog! comment on that, Tweet me during the conference etc. Also if you are reading this after E3 has happened let me know your reactions what you like/didn’t like.

A picture of a Donkey, that you won't see at this years E3

This is the donkey that won't be at E3!

Cheers Guys, Happy Gaming!