inMotion Gaming http://www.inmotiongaming.com Online Gaming Magazine! Fri, 05 Jun 2015 01:06:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 FIFA 14 Previewhttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/fifa-14-preview/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/fifa-14-preview/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 02:47:58 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=6053 ]]> EA Sports are back with their twenty-first strike at the soccer game genre. Last year they brought a lot of new and interesting improvements to the long-lived franchise with FIFA 13, from intelligent defending and attacking to more realistic first touches and player ball control. FIFA 13, all things considered, felt like a well polished game and was much more realistic to boot. So, what could EA possible do to make FIFA 14 worthy of our hard earned cash? Well, quite a bit apparently.

The first big change seems to be the introduction of ‘Pure Shot’. This is being heralded as an innovation to how players shoot on goal. Apparently, shooting has been transformed since the last game, giving players the intelligence to adjust their stride, positioning and timing to strike the ball with precision. It seems as though this will make striking the ball more accurate and realistic, leading to more satisfying goals and, most likely, devastating misses. This also seems to go hand in hand with the new ‘real ball physics’, meaning that a well struck shot will leave the soccer ball flying through the air like an arrow and a poor shot will leave it bobbling around the pitch.

EA have also stated that players will now be able to ‘protect the ball’ to help dictate and control play in midfield. This is a welcome addition to the FIFA series. It was something that they attempted with the realistic dribbling and close control of FIFA 13, but it was far too easy to barge the players out of possession. This often left midfield feeling over crowded, with as much free space as my six year old 20GB XBOX hard drive (not much space at all). Hopefully, now players like Arsenal’s Wilshire, Juventus’s Pirlo and Barcelona’s Iniesta will actually be able to control play, make powerful runs and pick those characteristic pinpoint passes with enough room to swing a proverbial cat.

In previous FIFA titles, scouting was incredibly passive, allowing your scout to jet to far off lands and bring back players like some exotic animal that was best seen and not used. These players often took an age to improve and were never really overly useful for the team. Now it seems as though the players you’ll be bringing in could have a real effect on your squad. Hopefully this will enable you to choose players with attributes that will actually help refine and boost your squad rather than just sit on the bench, sucking away at your precious budget. Finally, EA have promised that AI players will have attacking and defending intelligence. Now, this was a change that they initially brought to FIFA 13 but, sadly, it wasn’t overly effective. Players did seem slightly more intelligent, true, but they still made idiotic mistakes that, in professional soccer, would leave a player benched – probably for eternity.

FIFA 14 Preview

It looks like FIFA 14 is shaping up to be the best the series will have ever offered. I’m pretty sure that I said that in last year’s FIFA preview. Keep an eye on inMotion Gaming for all of the latest information on EA’s next instalment to the FIFA series.

Written by

Alec Ward

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Dead Island: Riptide Previewhttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/dead-island-riptide-preview/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/dead-island-riptide-preview/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 16:06:50 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5983 ]]> Release Date: 26 April 2013

Released in late 2011, Dead Island debuted to much hype because of its stunning trailer. Many players waited for the same gameplay and off-scale drama that the groundbreaking trailer exemplified. But the reality was far more prosaic. This was a marketing move, and had nothing in common with the game itself. Dead Island was a brutal, bloody action game, where the only priority was to destroy zombies with any materials at hand. No need to say that the plot and characters played only a minor role in all this carnage. However, this fact did not stop Dead Island from finding its fans and selling 5 million copies. But all those players who wanted to see drama in zombie apocalypse decorations has got it a year later from other developers.

In its essence, Dead Island: Riptide is the attempt of Polish studio Techland to show the world what the original game should have looked like: improved, with no bugs and other irregularities that plagued many gamers to fully enjoy the survival on the cursed island. To say it briefly, the developers promise us almost a “perfect Dead Island” with all the ensuing consequences. Only the absence of major gameplay changes hasn’t allowed them to add a number “2” to the title. At the same time, the amount of in-game content increases so much that you will unlikely call Riptide a simple addition.

Dead Island: Riptide Logo

No Escape

Dead Island: Riptide will continue the story of familiar characters established in the first game. Four survivors safely landed on the deck of a warship, but a nasty surprise waited for them instead of peace and respite. Not only did the military give them a very cold reception, but the nightmare from which they tried to escape from reached them again. The deadly infection that gives birth to zombies entered the ship, and soon the whole crew became infected. Enveloped by chaos and storm, the ship eventually loses control and crashes near a new tropical island.

Fate decided to play a cruel joke with the characters, having returned them to the usual decorations. Palanai, the setting of Riptide, looks uncannily like the island Banoi from the previous game: the same beaches, sea, sun and sand, and the walking dead out there, no less. Techland has stated that the new island will still have some distinctive features, such as the abundance of flooded spaces. The fact is that Palanai was badly damaged by monsoon rains. Even the island’s lone city, Henderson, was unable to avoid this natural disaster.

Dead Island: Riptide Zombie

Incessant rains have turned the tropics into a swamp, so the only convenient way to travel will be via boat. If you felt invincible in a car back in Dead Island and could scoff zombies as you wanted, that won’t work with a flimsy motorboat this time. In Riptide, the infected learn to cling aboard, interfere with your movements, and try to get inside. To avoid becoming an easy target, it is necessary to bat them down with oars or whatever makeshift weapons you could find. A bat studded with nails or a sharpened machete will be very useful in such moments.

Water will interfere with players greatly, while the living dead do not experience any discomfort of being in it. The developers decided to add a dynamic system of weather change to the game. For example, a heavy rain may suddenly appear, and it will be difficult for you to even see. A zombie may suddenly jump out of this rainy wall and attack you with its heartbreaking cries. Walking through knee-deep water slows all your movements down, and a ghoul in the river will definitely choose the worst possible moment to catch hold of your heel.

These are just small tricks of the ordinary infected, and you’ll get used to them eventually. But don’t forget about new zombies species too! As for now, the developers mentioned only a couple of new freaks: Grenadiers and Wrestlers. The former are covered with terrible abscesses, and they use them as grenades. Tearing away a hefty chunk of itself, a zombie will throw it straight in the direction of the players, and the explosion won’t be possible to avoid. But everything is much easier with a Wrestler. This is a massive, hulking thug with a hefty hypertrophied hand. He will shake the ground with his club and knock out anyone who comes too close.

Dead Island: Riptide Teamwork

Back to Hell

Gamers who are familiar with zombie invasions will find themselves in a familiar situation: the army of evil dead around and only one vague goal – to survive at any cost. And as we know, the easiest way to survive is a good company. Just like its predecessor, Riptide will be primarily designed for cooperation. You will have a great opportunity to gather a good team and go into a tropical hell once again. Moreover, the developers allow you to import all the characters you played as from the previous game.

All those players who prefer playing alone, or newbies who are just beginning their acquaintance with the series, won’t be left without attention too. They will be able to test a new character – John Morgan. John was a cook aboard the aforementioned military ship and joined the four survivors after the wreck. In general, he’s a really good guy: professional military, and a martial arts master.

Dead Island: Riptide Finisher

Dead Island: Riptide follows in the footsteps of the original game, and looks as if it just might a better experience. The landing on a tropical island will be held on April 26. Have a good time with friends and zombies!

Written by

Alex Strike

This article was provided by Alex Strike, a copywriter of writing-help.com. He is a passionate gamer who can’t live without his Xbox 360.

 

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Pokemon X and Y Previewhttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/pokemon-x-and-y-preview/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/pokemon-x-and-y-preview/#comments Sun, 07 Apr 2013 12:08:42 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5777 ]]> Release: October 2013

Update: 7 April 2013

In a quite shocking turn of events, Nintendo has revealed a new Pokemon–one that looks uncannily related to the classic Pokemon Mewtwo. It is unclear at this time if it is a new Pokemon entirely or an alternate form to the famous monster. Nothing else has been revealed, including its name and typing.

Pokemon X and Y New Mewtwo

Original Article

Every few years, the power couple that is Nintendo and developer GAMEFREAK ushers in a new era of their uber-franchise, Pokemon. For nearly two decades now, the series has introduced a horde of games and nearly seven-hundred of the titular pocket monsters. The most recent ‘generation’ of Pokemon games, Black, White, Black 2 and White 2, were critically acclaimed for moving the admittedly stale franchise forward in an exciting and fresh direction.

Pokemon X and Y Logos

It now seems that the Pokemon franchise is moving forward once again. Pokemon X and Y have been announced for a simultaneous worldwide release sometime this October. This 6th generation of Pokemon introduces some truly huge departures for the series, as well as more Pokemon to catch, train and battle.

Pokemon X and Y will have fully-realized 3D graphics. The series will no longer be sprite based, as it has been done since the original games, Red and Blue. Everything, from your player character to the Pokemon themselves, has a unique character model. Despite this, movement in the field appears to still be grid-based. That means your player character will only move up, down, left or right, with no diagonal movement possible.

Battles are also fully realized. For example, Pokemon will react to being hit by certain moves. This builds on the previous generation’s gameplay enhancements, with Pokemon having moving sprites during battle. Attack effects have also been enhanced and look even more dynamic than ever. The environments in which battles take place are even fully three-dimensional.

Pokemon X and Y will be exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS, and unavailable for any incarnation of the Nintendo DS. Both games will be available to download directly to the 3DS via Nintendo’s popular e-Shop application. It should be noted that this is the first time a Pokemon game will be available at the same time in Japan as the rest of the world. This means Pokefans across the world can experience the new games together.

Pokemon X and Y Official Reveal Trailer

This new, dynamic world looks to be very detailed and very fun. Pokemon X and Y will be set in a new region, the name of which is currently unknown. It does appear to at least be inspired by Europe (more specifically, France) the same way the previous generation’s region, Unova, was directly inspired by New York City.

Pokemon X and Y will return to the series norm of including older Pokemon along with brand-new ones in the main part of each game’s story. In Black and White, by contrast, the player couldn’t even witness Pokemon of past generations until finishing the game’s main narrative.

With every new set of Pokemon games comes, of course, new Pokemon. As of this update, there are six known official new Pokemon being debuted in X and Y. They are:

Froakie, Fennekin, and Chespin

Pokemon X and Y Starters

These three constitute this new region’s starter Pokemon. Like all starter trios in the Pokemon series, they are typed as Water, Fire and Grass respectively. These are the only new Pokemon whose types are officially revealed. At this time, there has been no official reveal of each starter’s evolution family. Chespin appears to be based on a hedgehog and/or porcupine, making it the first Grass-type starter to not be reptilian. Fennekin most likely uses the real-life fennec fox for its inspiration, while Froakie is obviously based on a frog.

Xerneas and Yveltal

Pokemon X and Y Cover Legends

These formidable looking creatures appear to be the stars or ‘version mascots’ of Pokemon X and Y, respectively. Virtually nothing is known of them yet, including their types. You can see the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ motifs that each beast is designed after, however. Xerneas and Yveltal may be the most confusing Pokemon names yet; proper pronunciation of each is ‘ZURR-nee-us’ and ‘ee-VELL-tall.’

Sylveon

Pokemon X and Y Sylveon

Arguably the most controversial new Pokemon so far revealed is Sylveon. It is the newest in the ‘Eeveelution’ family of Pokemon, or different creatures that share a common base form in the classic Pokemon Eevee. Due to their designs, this collection of Pokemon is incredibly popular, and Sylveon is already forming a fanbase all its own. Like Xerneas and Yveltal, its type has not been officially revealed.

Little is known about Pokemon X and Y, but the games are already shaping up to be nothing short of revolutionary. As the October 2013 release date approaches more information will be made available. Keep it here at inMotion Gaming for Pokemon X and Y news updates you can trust.

That being said, I think Chespin is the coolest starter out of the new three, by far. Disagree? Let us know which your favorite is in the comments below!

Written by

Christopher A. Carlson

 

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A Farewell to LucasArtshttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/a-farewell-to-lucasarts/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/a-farewell-to-lucasarts/#comments Sat, 06 Apr 2013 18:48:25 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5891 ]]> The closure of any games developer is both regretful and telling. In an era where video games are becoming more and more accepted by mainstream society, the news of one shutting its doors is distressing. With the popularity of gaming on the rise, shouldn’t these developers flourish?

As of April 3rd 2013, one of the biggest names in the gaming industry—LucasArts—is no more. Rather, it won’t be creating games anymore. The studio’s staff of 150 were laid off and its new parent company, Disney, is using the name LucasArts as a licensing firm—so that third party companies can create games having to do with Star Wars, Indiana Jones and so on.

Although the studio was never as large or successful as say, Electronic Arts, it will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of modern video gaming. Out of respect for LucasArts’ brilliant minds and people, we at inMotion Gaming have compiled a list of some of our favorite games to ever be developed and/or published by this truly legendary studio.

The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)

The Secret of Monkey Island

When it comes to point-and-click adventure games you could easily make a strong argument for LucasArts as the be-all-end-all when it comes to developing the best of them. Nothing could be truer of this than the Monkey Island games; the first of which, ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ has to be my favourite.

Monkey Island is a game with wit; its humour is a wonderful blend of deadpan comedy and outlandish situations that go together so well with its characters that seem so blissfully un aware of the idiotic of the world they inhabit.

It has truly earned its place in the nostalgic memories of the older gamers who originally played it and has been discovered by a new generation thanks to its HD revival. Perhaps its biggest strength is that you can talk about how much fun it still is to play without needing to ever spoil the plot, which I’ll summarise for those who’ve yet to experience this marvel.

You are Guybrush Threepwood, a wanna-be mighty pirate, who to become a full pirate has to undertake several trials. Things get out of hand when he falls in love with Governor Elaine Marley, who’s quickly kidnapped by a ghost pirate. Guybrush then embarks on a high-stakes rescue mission to save his love.

Play it for yourself and maybe 20 years on you’ll still remember how you wanted to be a mighty pirate, too.

-David Wyatt, Video Features

Zombies Ate My Neighbors (1993)

Zombies Ate My Neighbors

This gem of a game defined multiplayer for me as a child. In a game which was as weird as it was challenging, having a buddy blast zombies with waterguns with me was truly a childhood memory I’ll never forget.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors was released on the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis in 1993. It was developed by LucasArts and published by Konami. For those who have never played it, I highly recommend that you do. The game is best described as a zany top-down shooter overflowing with personality.

The game had you control either Zeke or Julie—or both, in multiplayer—as they struggle to fight hordes of demons invading their neighborhood. That is basically the extent of the story. There’s no mythical blade to collect, no ancient demon come to life—just two kids, miles of zombies, and enough weaponry to rival that of the Worms games.

On their quest to rid their neighborhood and the rest of the world from the clutches of evil, Zeke and/or Julie must rescue at least one civilian per level. With 48 regular missions and 7 bonus levels, Zombies Ate My Neighbors lasted a good long while. Grabbing a buddy to play the game’s 2-player mode with is encouraged, as the game gets incredibly hard towards the end, in true Super Nintendo action game fashion.

I think that the kind of spunk Zombies bore defined gaming in the mid-90s. It was weird, yeah, but it was also really fun and very unique. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is fondly remembered by those who played (and were terrified by) it in their childhood. It had a sequel, entitled Ghoul Patrol, but that ended up how most sequels do—not nearly as good as the first.

-Chris Carlson, Editor

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

When I was a mere 8 year old lad I wasn’t lucky enough to have my very own PlayStation. We had a PC and an old Saga Mega Drive but the ‘new generation of console’ wasn’t on the top of my Christmas list back in 1999. As a young boy I had always been fascinated by the Star Wars franchise; to be honest, I liked the lightsabers. So, when I stepped into the kids play area of my local restaurant after a lovely meal I was, understandably, drawn towards the PlayStation in the corner of the room. The PlayStation was neglected as the other children opted for the climbing frames and foam swords. I, however, was enticed by the look of the game loaded on the console – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Developed by the short-lived Big Ape Productions and published by LucasArts, the game itself was incredibly detailed for its time. The graphics seemed smooth, the game play was quick, responsive and exciting. It goes without saying that attempting to play the game now would probably give me a headache but, at the time, I was captivated. I played for a good hour, slowly drawing a small crowd to watch my slightly pixelated adventure unfold. Sadly, I had to leave the quest unfinished as I was eventually torn away from the screen by my parents. However, after a few months of patiently waiting, my parents eventually bought me my very own PlayStation with a new copy of the game.

It was LucasArts that introduced me to the joys of console gaming. The Phantom Menace still is one of my favorite games. I am sad to see LucasArts go; it’s a loss to the gaming world indeed.

-Alec Ward, Assoc. Writer

Star Wars Galaxies (2003)

Star Wars Galaxies

Star Wars Galaxies was developed by Sony Online Entertainment and published by LucasArts on June 26, 2003. Its servers were online until December 15, 2011. For seven and a half years, the game captivated subscribers like me with its limitless options and paths for players to pursue. You could be a gunslinger of many varieties, such as a marksman, or a pistoleer. “But wait,” a lot of gamers might say, “that sounds like every other sci-fi MMO ever made!” Au contraire, ladies and gentlemen.

Where SWG broke the mold was with its introduction of noncombat classes. You see, players could decide to be artisans. But within that path, they could also choose to focus on tailoring, droid building, gunsmithing, armorsmithing, mining, architecture, furniture, medical supplies…the list goes on and on.

And if that didn’t strike your fancy, but you still wanted to skip the nitty-gritty of combat, then you could take up the role of Medic. When players died, they accrued “wounds,” limits placed on their three status bars (Health, Action and Mind) that could only be healed by Doctors (Health and Action) and Entertainers (Mind).

While the game went through multiple redesigns and eventually suffered the fate of many an ailing MMO by turning into what was essentially World of Warcraft with Star Wars textures, it maintained a strong, loyal community that loved it to the very, very end. I played it from release to shutdown, and it provided me with many of my very favorite memories of gaming, and helped me develop friendships that I continue to maintain now.

The closing of LucasArts is like a pinch of salt dropped onto the wound left by SWG’s server shutdown last December. Knowing I may never again have an experience like the ones I had in SWG is a hard thought to bear, and I tip my hat in the memory of LucasArts as an oft-troubled, yet doggedly determined presence in the gaming industry.

-Will Brunelle, Assoc. Writer

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (2003)

Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Sure, it wasn’t the greatest Indy game to ever grace our consoles, but let me tell you—she’ll fool ya. Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb was a great game, even if it wasn’t a ‘great’ game. Emperor’s Tomb was developed by The Collective and published by LucasArts in 2003. Featuring several long levels and a surprisingly good Harrison Ford impersonator, Emperor’s Tomb did its best to capture all the adventure and suspense that is Indiana Jones.

And it achieved that, for the most part. The story was excellent, and the game leads right in to the classic movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The levels were partially interactive, as Indy could bash enemies with whatever he could find—chairs, barrels, and so on. Unfortunately, the game was weighted down by poor controls and an even worse camera system. One level—the clock tower in Prague, for those who’ve played it—was a notoriously hard challenge due to the lackluster camera angles the game presented.

I remember Emperor’s Tomb so well because it took my best friend and I years to finish. Part of that was due to the aforementioned clock tower level, part due to conflicting schedules as we entered our college years. Even today, we’ll occasionally call each other up to talk about how much we hated—yet loved—that damn game.

-Chris Carlson, Editor

Star Wars: Battlefront (2004)

Star Wars: Battlefront

In a time when the only games I had known were Ratchet & Clank, Need For Speed, and a handful of other games of similar styles, Star Wars: Battlefront was very refreshing. Not only was this little gem my first shooter, but it also introduced me to the idea of using strategy in any game I’ve played since. Hearing my friends talk about blasting droids to a million pieces, fighting for command posts, and zipping through the battlefield on Speederbikes instantly had me intrigued. LucasArts and developer Pandemic did something that is a rare find indeed in the gaming world; they made a great licensed game.

Frankly, Battlefront wouldn’t have been nearly as great if it weren’t for the Star Wars title and setting. It was splendid for a Star Wars fan such as myself to explore the popular worlds and battlefields from the movies. Half the fun was just walking around taking in the sights as the sounds of battle echoed in the distance. Back then, that was the ultimate shooter experience for me. I set the camera to first-person and went to town with my blaster rifle. After all these years of playing Halo, Call of Duty, and all the other more refined shooters, Battlefront didn’t age very well. However, the nostalgia never fails to wash over me when I pop that disc into my Playstation 2. I have LucasArts to thank for the memories, and for the game itself, and I’ll never forget that. You will be missed LucasArts. May the Force be with you… always.

-Jonathan Gipson, Assoc. Writer

Star Wars: Republic Commando (2005)

Star Wars: Republic Commando

Developed and published by LucasArts, Star Wars: Republic Commando is an oddity in the Star Wars game library. It mirrors the experience of playing a modern Call of Duty or Battlefield entry, but covered in the livery of the Star Wars universe we all know and love. Rather than having you jump around with lightsaber(s) drawn and chairs being Force-thrown every which way, LucasArts threw you into the boots of RC-1138, “Boss,” as he leads his team of three fellow Republic Commandos on covert assignments to sabotage the Separatist’s campaign.

The game was gritty, visceral, and challenging. Enemies spurted blood onto your visor when you took them down with your wrist-mounted knife, and shootouts were intense, forcing you into cover and testing your ability to deploy your squadmates effectively and tactically.

By the end of the narrative, I found myself attached to my teammates, laughing at Scorch’s jokes and Sev’s dark, deadpan sarcasm. I cared about the outcome of my team’s efforts. I would throw myself into harm’s way if I saw a team member being outgunned, and consciously tried to protect them (something I don’t bother to do in Call of Duty, that’s for sure).

Republic Commando offered some of the most compelling FPS gameplay in a while, and it remains in my memory today as an example of how both a Star Wars game and an FPS in general should be made. I’m sad to see its creators close their doors, and I only hope that some other developer will pick up the reigns in the future and carry on the legacy of such great games.

-Will Brunelle, Assoc. Writer

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

I think LucasArts will mostly be remembered for its Star Wars games in the same way that any branding of a Lucas-owned company will be mostly related to Star Wars. Skywalker Sound was a nice name variation at least. For me the fondest game I have in memory that came from them was the more recent Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. In my opinion it has the story that any of the prequel films should have had; telling a tragic story that ends with hope (Episode IV: A New Hope if you’ll forgive the pun).

It was the most cinematic Star Wars game every made up to that point and at times felt like it was one of the films. The Force Unleashed told us the tale of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Starkiller, and the birth of the Rebel Alliance. I could leave it at that, but it would do the game a great disservice. There were many other things the game did that hadn’t been done before.

Using the new Euphoria engine developed at LucasArts you had a game where enemies and environments would dynamically react to your Force powers; for example, Lift a Storm Trooper and he would flail around. Move him near another Trooper and he would grab on to him (if you had the power you could lift even more up and watch them grab on for dear life).

On the gameplay side things were kept simpler, with a more hack-and-slash feel when it came to lightsaber combat. You were encouraged to use your force powers at every opportunity to wreak havoc upon the Empire. The Force has never been as destructive as what you can achieve in this game, with it shown as a vicious and spectacular power unlike its more down to earth portrayal it receives in other media.

The second game never received the praise that this one got but at over 5 million copies sold worldwide ‘The Force Unleashed’ no doubt has its share of fans across the world who will mourn the passing of LucasArts and the potential loss of Star Wars 1313, though I’d place my bets on it being acquired by another company.

-David Wyatt, Video Features

LucasArts Logo

With an exceedingly large catalog of games the studio has either created or published, LucasArts will always be thought of as one of the most prolific games companies ever to grace the industry. We here at inMotion Gaming would like to wish the laid-off staff the very best of luck, and we hope they’re able to find new homes throughout the gaming world.

Written by

The inMotion Gaming Team

 

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Pandora’s Tower Previewhttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/pandoras-tower-preview/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/pandoras-tower-preview/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 18:00:18 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5851 ]]> Release: 16 April 2013

JRPGs, or Japanese Role Playing Games, have always been a touchy subject within the gaming community. They were (and to some, still are) insanely popular, especially in the 90’s and early 00’s, with such classic masterpieces as Chrono Trigger, most of the numbered Final Fantasies, Secret of Mana, and so on. They are directly responsible for some modern gaming trends. At least two or three of them usually fall on the average gamer’s best games ever made list. Despite all this, the JRPG subgenre has been the target of multiple recent criticisms. Most claim this style of gaming has gotten ‘stale,’ with the cliche’d plot of ‘teenage boy and girl fall in love, save the world’ running rampant throughout many titles calling themselves JRPGs. If the plot bears at least some originality, then it’s the character design being called out; both males and females in this flavor of role-players end up looking awkwardly feminine most of the time.

As much as this editor loves the JRPG genre, he has to admit that most of those aforementioned criticisms do ring true. However, some titles released over the past few years do give us some hope. Despite some criticisms due to a very linear story, Final Fantasy XIII was a fine game; its sequel was even better. Two JRPGs released state-side last year, The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles, were both brilliant titles that brought some much-needed ingenuity to the dying genre. And now another promising title, Pandora’s Tower, is being localized for the United States, and is due for an April 16th release on the Nintendo Wii.

Pandora's Tower Logo

Pandora’s Tower is an action/RPG that was released in Japan about two years ago. It was developed by Japanese studio Ganbarion, and will be published in North America under XSEED Games. Pandora’s Tower is the third in a trio of games being localized due to the continuing efforts of Operation Rainfall, a fan-mounted movement asking for the localization of quality JRPGs. The other games have already been brought over; they were The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles.

Although Pandora’s Tower dips into the cliche’d ‘boy must save his girlfriend’ trope, the game offers so much more than a fantasy love story. Pandora’s Tower follows a young man named Aeron as he sets out to break a terrible curse placed on his love, Elena. This is achieved by traversing thirteen towers and slaying certain beasts within each. Aeron must work quickly, however–he only has a limited time before Elena is lost for good.

If Pandora’s Tower is already sounding like a JRPG version of Shadow of the Colossus meets Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, don’t worry–that’s a good thing. Both were incredible games; the former being the primary argument for games being art, with the latter as one of the more unique titles in one of gaming’s most iconic franchises.

Pandora’s Tower Trailer


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Pandora’s Tower looks to be a rather enjoyable spin on the JRPG genre. Check back with inMotion Gaming after the game’s April 16th release for a full review.

Written by

Christopher A. Carlson

 

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Injustice: Gods Among Us Previewhttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/injustice-gods-among-us-preview/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/injustice-gods-among-us-preview/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 10:26:07 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5627 ]]> Release Date: 16 April 2013

Update: 3 April 2013

The demo for Injustice: Gods Among us is now live for the PS3 and Xbox 360! No word yet if Wii U players will get access to it. The demo contains playable versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor. Get it now to hold you over until Injustice’s April 16th release!

Original Article

When they hear that a game focused solely around super heroes is in the making, gamers tend to be skeptical. Developers continue to fail in meeting our expectations of superhero games and in doing so their efforts flop like a fish fresh out of water. Now, there are some great licensed games out there, such as the Batman Arkham games and Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions. However, they’re so few and far between that the term ‘superhero game’ is usually associated with something mediocre-to-terrible. Remember last year’s The Amazing Spider-Man?

Thankfully, NetherRealm Studios’ latest fighting game looks to defy that stereotype. It shows that it’s very much possible to have a game featuring our favorite heroes, which is both exciting and high in quality for a modern video game. This is Injustice: Gods Among Us.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Title

I may be putting a lot of faith in the success of this game, but the plentiful trailers and the genius idea of having the characters face each other in a tournament is doing wonders to build up hype leading up to the April 16th release. NetherRealm has had a lot of experience with fighting games with its successful Mortal Kombat franchise from before Midway Games filed for bankruptcy, and it isn’t their first time using DC characters either. They released the title Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe a few years ago, albeit to mixed results. Fans were psyched about pitting Mortal Kombat characters against popular superheroes such as Superman, but in the end were disappointed by the lack of violence that the Mortal Kombat brand is known for. NetherRealm learned from their fans and are making a second attempt; one that will hopefully satisfy both comic fans and Mortal Kombat vets alike.

DC still prohibits NetherRealm from using that Mortal Kombat brand of graphic violence when it comes to their characters–no decapitations, no fatalities, and no unique ways of splitting someone in two. You might think that puts a damper on NetherRealm’s signature violence, but they’ve come up with a new style of action that will not only keep everything just as intense, but fits the concept of super heroes fighting each other like a glove. For what it lacks in over-the-top violence, Injustice reciprocates with crazy jaw-dropping action.

When first seeing a fight in progress, you can definitely tell this is a NetherRealm game. The characters and environments are realistic and dark, every punch is felt as it connects, and the familiar HUD is in the corner, containing a bar that fills up with each attack landed and taken. However, underneath the familiar exterior are several new mechanics that make Injustice stand on its own from other games in the fighting genre. All the characters–heroes and villains–are split into two different classes: Power characters and Gadget characters. Power characters are the over-powered fighters who can throw cars like cardboard boxes, while Gadget characters rely on their speed, agility, and as their name states, gadgets, to take down opponents. The one question that everyone has been asking is how can someone like Batman stand a chance against, say, Superman in a fight? There’s definitely a reason for the balance among the characters, but NetherRealm hasn’t revealed what it is, as it’s likely an important plot point. Just know that there’s a reason for everything. Check out the video below for the official Injustice story trailer.

From what we can tell so far, the story revolves around the ‘human’ characters standing up against the superheroes. The why of it all is beyond me, but the circumstance is uniting heroes and villains to form a resistance. Hopefully the story is stronger than NetherRealm’s previous games, as that’s been a constant downside to their games for years.

Let’s get down to the gameplay. From what you can tell from the videos, the game seems to focus on being equally entertaining and jaw-droppingly epic. This is evidenced by the way you can utilize the environment to your advantage. Power characters can smash cars over their opponent’s head, while gadget characters can use cars to hop behind their adversaries. Lasers, rockets, robots, portals; just about anything can be used to turn the tide of a fight. Stages are much more than a couple of tricks though. Characters can be smacked straight through a wall, floor or ceiling if hit hard enough. This commences a cringe-worthy (and sometimes hilarious) sequence showing the character hitting objects and hazards before landing in a whole new area of the stage.

If you watched the videos above, you may have noticed the insane moves that the characters pulled off. When you fill up your battle meter all way, you can perform what’s called a ‘super move’, which naturally deals a copious amount of damage. I’m not going to announce any of them, because they’re such a blast to watch for the first time, but that’s just one of the things you can spend your battle meter on.

If you have at least one segment filled, you can use the classic combo breaker to get out of a nasty situation. Or, you can initiate an epic clash between the characters, which has the players bet a certain amount of their bar. Whoever bets the most wins the clash and gets significant damage dealt to their opponent.

Netherealm has a knack for having lots of characters, and a healthy amount of bonus content outside of the story and multiplayer. Injustice is no exception! So far twenty-two characters have been announced, with potentially more on the way. Also count on there being tons of collectibles and minigames to play on the side from the main story.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Cyborg vs. Batman

Injustice: Gods Among Us comes out April 16th and it’s building up a lot of hype. What do you think? Does it look like a smash hit, or a dud? We at inMotion Gaming love to hear from our readers, so leave a comment below and give us your opinion!

Written by

Jonathan Gipson

 

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Why You Should Play: Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaverhttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/why-you-should-play-legacy-of-kain-soul-reaver/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/why-you-should-play-legacy-of-kain-soul-reaver/#comments Sun, 31 Mar 2013 18:23:43 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5741 ]]> Welcome to ‘Why You Should: Play’, a monthly video series where we explore games from the past and why they’re still worth playing if you haven’t yet. This column has a sister series called ‘Why You Should: Watch,’ which can be found on and is exclusive to the same YouTube channel, as well as Ryatta Reviews. This accompanying article will be exclusive to iMG so you there’s always a good reason to check the videos out here, but if you’re interested in the ‘WYS’ show then I suggest you subscribe to the YouTube channel where you’ll get episodes more frequently.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

The Legacy of Kain series may possibly fall on deaf ears for those of you who’ve only come into gaming within the last decade. The Legacy of Kain franchise contained five vastly different games. It consisted of two main characters and a whole TV series’ worth of supporting characters across different ages in the fictional realm of Nosgoth.

The plot of Soul Reaver takes place a few millennia after the original game of the series, entitled Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The eponymous Kain has become the leader of all vampires, with his children serving as his vampiric lieutenants. Raziel, his second in command enters a stage of evolution before Kain does–he grows a pair of wings, which Kain does not approve of. Kain destroys Raziel’s wings and tosses him off of a cliff to his doom.

After a long time of suffering, Raziel is revived by a mysterious voice known only as the Watcher, who guides souls of the dead along their correct path. The Watcher reveals that Kain has corrupted his ability to do this and tasks Raziel with the job of saving the world by destroying Kain and his own brothers, who have grown further corrupted. In doing this, Raziel would also avenge himself.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Raziel

For the most part, each game in the Legacy of Kain series has a widely different style of gameplay. One exception to this is Soul Reaver 2, which retained many of the key elements of the first Soul Reaver sans the open world elements, forcing it to be more linear.

Soul Reaver’s gameplay could almost be compared to that of 3D Legend of Zelda titles; it has a similar combat system to the famous Z-Targeting, as well as open world exploration elements.

While I like to remain positive about every game I cover there are a few negatives to Soul Reaver. For one, it hasn’t aged well. The sound effects and in-game cutscene animations look and sound quite bad. Despite this, the voice acting will be forever be remembered as some of the best from any video game series—a trait that continued throughout the Legacy of Kain series. The game was also unfinished when it debuted, which meant a number of things were removed from the game. For example, one of the brothers was never included in the game and was left out completely (though thankfully this was dealt with in future re-releases). Perhaps the biggest example of this is the ending. Soul Reaver just ends with a rather quick and boring boss fight. It’s a major shame, especially when compared to the rest of the main game. The sequel picks right up from there, but at the time that was another console generation away.

A lot of the open world elements are sometimes unclear, and many extras you find along the way feel like they should have had more explanation of gameplay use. Cheat codes also reveal variations of the Soul Reaver that can’t be found in the main game, as well as a bigger use of your other spirit guide, Ariel, who you meet through the game.

Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver Gameplay

The story is a big theme of the series as a whole, and in the efforts to make a good game a lot of narrative sometimes takes a backseat so the gameplay can shine. The balance of the two would become better in future games of the Legacy of Kain series, but it leaves Soul Reaver with a skeleton of a main story and it writes Kain in as a full villain. In all other games, conversely, he’s more of an antihero and/or outright protagonist. However, this fits newcomers to the Legacy of Kain series well as they’ll identify with Raziel more while players of the original game will be interested in Kain’s fall from grace as the Scion of Balance and saviour.

With its preconceived story over and complete, the Legacy of Kain series is a collection of games that are unlikely to get a sequel; and since the possibility of an HD update seems unlikely at this time, it’s worth getting the games as they are to try. The Soul Reaver games play out more like standard action/adventure games while the Blood Omen games are more experimental in gameplay; the final game in that miniseries plays out more like Devil May Cry. You might want to stick to Raziel’s story and just play his games to get the gist of Legacy of Kain’s central narrative. Regardless, it’s a series that shouldn’t be missed and I hope you feel a need to give it a try. You can pick them up very cheaply these days.

That’s ‘Why You Should Play’ Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver!

Words & Video by

David ‘Ryatta’ Wyatt

 

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Dude, Where’s My Sequel?http://www.inmotiongaming.com/dude-wheres-my-sequel/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/dude-wheres-my-sequel/#comments Sun, 31 Mar 2013 00:36:34 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5711 ]]> There’s no denying it; we all fantasize about a sequel to our favorite game. Most times reality sets in and game developers will pop out the next game. While other times she’s a harsh mistress, and our sought after sequels get suspended in development hell. Either way, we end up in the developer’s hands to come through for us, whether they do or not. Sitting on your hands while waiting sucks, but it’s also fun to think about what could be the most epic sequel ever. This is a list of games we’ve been waiting for and what developers could do with today’s technology to make us happy.

Star Wars: Battlefront 3

Star Wars Battlefront 2

I never realized how much of a following the Battlefront series had picked up in its two game run until relatively recently, when it was revealed that the third game was painfully close to being finished when Pandemic went under. Maybe if they hadn’t wasted their time on Lord of the Rings Conquest they could have squeezed it out.

Now that Disney bought Lucas Arts, we find a speck of hope in the darkness. It’s been quite a while since Battlefront 2 came out for Playstation 2 and Xbox. It was considered somewhat of a failure to fans of the first game. While the battles were larger, there was more diversity in class options, and you were even able to play as Jedi or Sith, it suffered from framerate issues that the systems of the time couldn’t handle. Now what if we saw a Battlefront 3 for this generation of consoles, or even the next? Framerate wouldn’t be nearly as much of an issue if handled correctly, whoever developed the game could make a much deeper system of class options, and even create a customization feature. Can you imagine creating and customizing your own Jedi and personally plunging him into an epic battle?

Why stop there? Space battles were introduced in Battlefront 2, but it was a shallow, unsatisfying experience after the glamour of the concept wore off. If the hypothetical developer could just learn from Pandemic’s mistakes, they could make it so much more. Here’s another fun thought: grant the ability to do an orbital drop from space to the battlefield on the planet and vice versa.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts

This is the one that I have a strong personal investment in. The Kingdom Hearts series is based off of a crazy idea of having a game with Disney and Final Fantasy characters mixed together to weave an epic tale through space. Personally, there isn’t too much improvement needed on my end. We all just want to see more of the story unfold. Since the release of Kingdom Hearts 2, Square Enix has done nothing but dance around the third instalment by making mediocre side-games that just fill in some of the gaps that were left by the first two games. While taking their sweet time is more than irritating for die-hard fans like myself, I can’t help but see the plus side of them taking all these side ventures. Square has been learning much about what works with fans in terms of gameplay and they’re doing wonders to build up tension leading up to the hopefully-soon-to-be-announced third instalment of the main story.

Half-Life 3

Gabe Newell - Half Life 3

What’s with all of the threes? Here’s yet another case of the developer taking their good time making what their fans clamour for. Valve’s CEO Gabe Newell has become infamous over the years for teasing Half-Life fans about a sequel. He even released a photo of himself holding a couple of knives while standing in front of a television that has a Half-Life 3 logo on it. Not cool Gabe.

Valve is best known for their innovative and outside the box ideas for their games. Half-Life 2 had an amazing physics engine for its time, the concept and execution of the Portal games is genius, and Left 4 Dead takes zombie survival to a whole new level. It’s their knack for making unique games that makes the wait for Half-Life 3 all the more intense. What amazing new innovation to gaming will it bring with it? Perhaps that is what’s making Valve take so long.

Mirror’s Edge 2

Mirrors Edge

Mirror’s Edge was an amazing idea that fell short due to a lack of planning. The game was way too short, combat was shallow, I can’t even remember the story it was so lacklustre, and the beautiful graphics were wasted on a pale, colorless city. Even the cutscenes were replaced by cartoon/anime graphics. I have all the faith in the world that Dice could learn from their mediocre first outing with the IP, and sling out a sequel that could be one of the most breathtaking experiences you can find in a game. We just have to hope that they’re given another chance.

Another Burnout

Burnout Revenge

Burnout games are insanely fun. While I love the games that Criterion is pumping out for the Need For Speed series, I miss the ridiculous, fast-paced, crash-fuelled experience that is a Burnout game. The racing game genre just doesn’t feel the same without it.

It may very well be that all of these games will eventually be announced some day in the future, and I certainly hope that that’s the world we live in; where all the games we desire are made. What sequel are you dying to have put into production? Sound off in the comments below!

Written by

Jonathan Gipson

 

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Top Five Co-Op Gameshttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/top-five-co-op-games/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/top-five-co-op-games/#comments Fri, 22 Mar 2013 18:05:15 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5689 ]]> There are a lot of stereotypes floating around in our society these days. For gamers it’s the classic, ‘over-weight man clad in white vest stained with coffee, pizza sauce and Mountain Dew playing games, alone, in his dingy bedroom’. I would like to believe that there are very few people out there in this bright, wonderful world, that actually exist in such a way – but I’d imagine there are a few. Gaming, however, doesn’t have to be an anti-social experience. Why, some of my fondest gaming memories stem from playing them with my brother, or my dad, or my friends (or all of the above). Be it storming objectives in Battlefield 3, scoring left footed volleys from 40 yards out on FIFA or building grand castles from blocks of glass in Minecraft – I truly believe that solo-gamers are missing out on a lot of co-operative fun. So, in that spirit, here’s my five all time favourite games to play with others.

5) Call of Duty 2

Call of Duty 2

What’s that you’re asking? “Why, Alec; there are so many Call of Duty games, what made you pick number two?” Well, intrigued reader, I’ll tell you. It’s because the second Call of Duty was the best. Hands down, it gets no better than this. A good friend and I used to play Call of Duty 2, back in the day, on our old 20GB Xbox 360s. We were an unstoppable online team. We’d rack up the headshots with the Kar98k and tear people a new one with the PPSh – Rambo would literally eat his heart out. The reason that I loved it so much, and prefer it to the other CoDs, is because it’s simple. The teams were small (4v4) and the game modes were uncomplicated. There were no fiddly achievements to struggle to unlock, or unnecessary perk systems, it was all about having fun. And that’s what gaming with a friend is about, having fun … and winning, of course.

4) Army of Two

Army of Two

With the pending release of Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel on the 26th of March, I’ve come to realise how much I loved this game. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much of the story. All I can really remember about the game are a few of the main missions and key boss fights, that and dying a lot. What really sticks in my mind, though, was the fact that I played this with my brother. My brother and I love a good game or two, especially if it’s a co-op, and Army of Two is really built to play with a friend. If anything, the game seems sad when you play it alone. I’m pretty sure EA made the AI intentionally unresponsive and generally useless, just so that gamers would be forced to play it with a buddy.

3) Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 - Game Locations Images

Battlefield 3 has a whole bunch of stuff going for it. Its single player campaign was surprisingly fun and incredibly well designed, the game is responsive and realistic and you can blow the hell out of buildings – which is always fun. However, where it really shines is in its multiplayer modes. Online play is incredibly enjoyable, just because there’s so much to do. You can play the game in so many different ways that it’s almost impossible to be bored. Have your friend pilot a helicopter whilst you parachute out and capture objectives. Drive a tank whilst your buddy plays ‘let’s make that guy a colander’ with the mounted machine gun or bale a truck into a gas station and kill all of your friends onboard – Battlefield 3 is endless amounts of fun. The squad system makes it easy to play online with your friends and even easier to make new friends – as it randomly adds you to a depleted squad. You never know, you might just make a gaming buddy for life.

2) FIFA 13

FIFA Soccer '13 Goal

There are so many reasons as to why FIFA 13 is both the best thing ever created and, at the same time, the bane of my life. The online play is one of those reasons … or all of those reasons. I’ve spent many an evening playing ‘Pro-Clubs’ with two of my best friends. If you’re not aware, ‘Pro-Clubs’ is an online game mode where players are able to create a ‘Virtual Pro’ and join a club with other friends. In this club of pros you will be able to pick a position and then play against other teams of like minded gamers. This is both an amazing experience and, I’d imagine, one of the reasons a person might turn to drink. It’s rewarding and frustrating, enjoyable and gut-wrenchingly painful – but it doesn’t half feel incredible when you win. But FIFA 13 is just as fun to play locally as it is online. Grab a few friends together and make yourself a little tournament or sit down with one other person and play against them to your hearts content. I shall warn you though; it will inevitably end in tears, so maybe stick to playing on the same team.

1) Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead

So, here it is – my favourite game to play with others – Left 4 Dead. This game is incredibly well done. It doesn’t profess to be something it’s not. There’s no complicated story arcs or character development, nope – just shooting zombies in the face. Some of my fondest memories come from playing this game online with three of my school friends. We would band together, shotguns and machine guns in hand, and face hordes of the undead – side by side. This led to some of the funniest moments in my gaming history as well as some of the most frustrating. Valve have done such a great job with this game that my old gang has banded together once more and we’ve started playing it again – it’s just that much fun! It’s still as enjoyable and just as frustrating, even 5 years after we initially bought the game.

There you have it, my favorite five games to play with others. I won’t lie, there are tonnes of other games that could have been in here and I really struggled to choose the final five. I’m a firm believer that gaming should be a sociable pass time. There’s no need to play a game on your own if you can play it with friends – picking that special someone to sit by your side, grab a controller and play away will really make the experience that much more rewarding. But hey, I don’t profess to be a co-operative gaming guru. These are my favourites but not necessarily yours. Why not edit my list in the comment section below and tell us your favourite games to play with friends. Also, be sure to keep it here at iMG for a full review of Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel following its release on March 26th!

Written by

Alec Ward

 

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Playing for Keeps: The Rise of Professional Gaminghttp://www.inmotiongaming.com/playing-for-keeps-the-rise-of-professional-gaming/ http://www.inmotiongaming.com/playing-for-keeps-the-rise-of-professional-gaming/#comments Thu, 21 Mar 2013 15:59:50 +0000 http://www.inmotiongaming.com/?p=5571 ]]>

“This is gonna go so wrong.”

“No it’s not; it’s going to go so well. Anyone got eyes on?”

The voices banter with one another with that particular subtlety unique to British accents. A rifle scope pans along a runway, a rusted and deserted group of military buildings standing across from the sniper’s position. Voices chatter back and forth until a truck horn interrupts them. A bright blue cargo truck races for the open runway, horn blaring.

The sniper adjusts his aim.

“Can you smash it with that gun?” one voice asks.

“Oh my God, Chris, do it!” another says.

The rifle fires with a deafening roar, and two shots later the speeding truck’s tires are shredded. The driver bails out and attempts to run, just as the powerful rounds cause the truck to burst into flames. Moments later, compliments ring out from the sniper’s comrades as the driver goes down in a hail of gunfire.

Then the video cuts out, and the sniper’s voice comes in as his name is displayed in bold gray letters on the screen:

“SACRIEL.”

“Well, there we have it,” Sacriel says, inviting viewers to “give [the video] a thumbs up” or a “favorite” if they liked it. Then Sacriel signs off, saying, “I’ll see you next time.”

Christopher Ball, 29, who uses the handle “Sacriel” on his YouTube channel and social media sites, is not a real sniper. His weapons are not long-barreled rifles, but a mouse, headset, keyboard, and top-of-the-line computer.

When he plays his games, Ball is dead serious. His performance determines whether or not he makes a paycheck for the week. Video gaming is Ball’s full-time job.

With the rise of social media and content sites like YouTube, Twitch.tv and own3d.com, many gamers have taken to the Web. They produce videos of their gameplay with voiceovers, to teach other gamers strategy or simply to show off their own experiences, for a laugh or for bragging rights. If they get enough people to watch, these media websites will offer them what may seem like a dream come true: the chance to make money from their content by running ads in their videos.

Ball records footage of his gameplay, records commentary into the video, and uploads the final product to YouTube for fellow gamers to watch. He also streams video on Twitch.tv, showing video of his gameplay live.

For many, the amount of income made from ad revenue is miniscule. It usually adds up to a small, supplementary paycheck compared to a salaried, career job. Christopher Ball is an exception to the rule. He has found his niche in the gaming community, and built a fanbase over several years to reach this point.

Roughly a month ago, Ball took a leap of faith into the arms of his fans.

Ball quit his job as Project Manager at a British internet company to make playing games and producing videos of his gameplay a full-time job. Now he focuses all of his efforts on streaming as regularly as possible, and on landing sponsorships from companies that make computers and computer accessories.

“It was quite scary,” Ball said, to actually commit to a future of uncertainty. His company had recently been taken over by a competitor, and he faced a promotion that offered a 25% raise. He was already making, in his own modest words, “a decent wage for someone my age,” and it terrified him to turn away from the money in order to chase a dream. Despite all this, he found support, and jealousy, in those around him, and it encouraged him.

“My father was proud of me for working so hard and getting said wage, and he was supportive of me chasing my dream,” Ball said. He and his father both also recognized that Ball could “easily” get another professional job if need be, due to the hard work he had put in for five years at his company. His coworkers jokingly mocked him, jealous that he could afford to walk away from his job to play video games all day.

“I needed time away from nine to five,” Ball said, and mentioned that issues in his personal life also prompted him to take the plunge.

ARMA 2 - Operation Arrowhead

Ball doesn’t meet the popular stereotype of gamers. He’s skinny, with clean cut features and a well-trimmed head of short brown hair. He’s of average height, and dresses like any other 20-something: in a hoodie and jeans. He’s soft spoken yet charismatic, light-hearted, and has pitch-perfect comic timing. He had a great job that paid well, and since the summer he’s been dating a young Canadian woman who traveled to England to visit friends and family and wound up staying to eventually move in with Ball.

Ball’s girlfriend Shannon, 29, who asked that her last name be kept private, runs the chatroom that is open to viewers of Ball’s live streams. Their relationship began in July, when Ball noticed Shannon, who goes by the handle “ShannonZKiller” (for “Shannon, Zombie Killer”), answering questions about Ball and his stream by the dozen. He recognized her as a knowledgeable fan, and they started talking about the games they played. It wasn’t long before the friendship grew into a romance.

Shannon said that she “resents how the gaming world is painted,” and that the idea that people should be doing something “better” with their time is unfair. She said that as a woman who is self-admittedly “alright on the eyes,” it’s frustrating to encounter so many social stigmas surrounding gaming, when in reality it is a passion for people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.

“People say gamers are socially stunted. That’s simply untrue,” she said. “I choose this life, because I find it fun…creative…exciting…and provoking, at times,” and other gamers share her perspective.

Tina Amini calls gaming “an escape.” Amini, the 24-year-old Reviews Editor for Kotaku.com, a major gaming news site, says gaming gives players “a new world to explore. Entertainment. Education.”

Blas Garcia, 24, a Dallas-based writer for That Videogame Blog, says that social media has helped video games into the mainstream. “10 years ago you wouldn’t see big actors, much less actresses, in a Call of Duty commercial,” Garcia said. “The generation that grew up with video games is now working adults. Now it isn’t your nerdy kid playing video games, but your average Joe.”

Kaila Streichert, a 21-year-old employee of Albany retailer Jay St. Video Games, says that “gaming means different things to different people. It can be a teenage boy wanting to form a bond with peers, or an adult having an escape from stress.” Streichert has gamed since age six. With thick frame glasses and multi-colored hair pinned up with black chopsticks, and as a woman, she defies the gamer stereotype just like Ball.

Jay St. Video Games sells classic, plastic cartridge Nintendo games alongside the new, high definition discs, in a store where young and old, tried-and-true and experimental all come together.

In a way, the store represents the modern gaming community at large. Gamers are no longer socially inept kids that spend their afternoons pumping quarters into arcade cabinets. Now they are children from preschool to college, and adults with kids, men and women of all backgrounds that, in one way or another, find amusement and solace in the artificial worlds of games.

Now they are Christopher Ball.

Streichert believes that while there “will always be some bias,” it’s “becoming more acceptable for different social groups and genders to play video games.”

Major League Gaming Expo

One of the strongest forces behind gaming’s shift into the mainstream is the rise of a competitive gaming world, driven by the company Major League Gaming, Inc. Based in New York City, Major League Gaming (MLG) sponsors massive competitive gaming events where thousands of gamers gather to battle it out in all genres of games. They compete for thousands in cash prizes, and come with big name sponsorships sewn on their uniforms.

In 2012 the four MLG Pro Circuit Championship weekends had over 11.7 million unique viewers, based on information provided by Katie Goldberg, a spokeswoman for MLG. These people didn’t just sign in to see what the hype was about and then leave, either. The average viewer watched for more than three hours of competition. It was the ninth annual Pro Circuit since the organization’s founding in 2002, and since 2010 the amount of Pro Circuit online viewers has increased by more than 600%.

From June 8-10 of 2012, MLG hosted the Spring Championship in the Anaheim Convention Center in California. 20,000 people went to watch the tournament unfold, and all 20,000 erupted into roaring applause when gamer “DongRaeGu” won the $25,000 grand prize for his final victory in the game StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty.

The highest paid professional gamer in the world is 32-year-old South Korean StarCraft player Lim Yo-Hwan. It’s estimated that Yo-Hwan makes almost $500,000 a year in winnings and sponsorships.

Amini views this rapid growth of the competitive gaming world as a natural expansion on gaming itself. “Gaming is a competitive environment,” she said. “We’ve been competing since arcade days. The tournaments are like a modern, bigger expression of that.”

Why do people watch? Garcia believes it has something to do with comparing your own gaming style to those of gamers online and in competitions. “Just like sports fanatics…yell at the quarterback to throw the ball, you get that same excitement pointing to your computer screen for the guy to shoot the guy hiding behind the wall,” Garcia says.

StarCraft 2 - Heart of the Swarm

Garcia and Streichert also said that the use of “walkthrough” videos to teach gamers how to complete challenging games popularized videos of gameplay online.

“Sacriel” fan “Sikoras” (who asked that his name be kept private) watches because he loves Ball’s personality. As a fellow live-streamer (on a much smaller scale, with only 149 followers on Twitch.tv), he learns from Ball, and gets a kick out of watching the gameplay.

When Sikoras finds out that Ball is streaming, he gets a hot mug of tea ready, sets up some homework (he’s a 20 year old university student from Plymouth, UK) on his secondary computer monitor, and settles in to watch the night’s events unfold. He likes to pitch in and chat in the chatroom during the stream, and “sometimes…but not often,” he’ll grab a beer to enjoy during the stream.

Ball currently has 57,515 subscribers on YouTube, and a total of 7.6 million video views. On Twitch.tv, where he provides his live footage, he has 19,044 followers, and has been watched by 1.5 million people. Ball allows YouTube and Twitch to place ads before and during his videos, which earns him a small amount of money per 1,000 viewers that see the ad.

Ball also asks for donations to support his Internet content. From Oct. 16 until Nov. 16, when his webpage stopped showing the total amount donated, he had made exactly $4,500. The average viewer donated $22.50. Now Ball also allows people to “Subscribe” to him on Twitch, giving fans the option to pay $5 every month in order to avoid watching advertisements during live streams.

ARMA 2 - DayZ

“I am blown away by the support my subscribers have shown me, it blows me away every day,” Ball said. He said that some people donate over $150 to him, and others donate any small amount they can afford just to show support.

“I feel like I can relate to Sacriel’s situation, and this donation makes more sense to me than donating to big companies I feel nothing in common with,” said chatroom user “Burbsi,” a 27-year-old factory worker from Switzerland who has been watching Ball for over six months.

“I watch for entertainment,” said “Caboose7778.” “He quit his job. He deserves the money.”

“It’s how Youtubers and livestreamers make their money,” said Sikoras. “People like the idea of someone being rewarded for what they do.”

Ball admits that after the first couple months, donations may slow down as donators may either lose interest, or not have more to give for a while.

“I have had a massive burst of donations, but that will drop off sharply. Then I’m back to living off [ad] revenue.” But he’s confident he can make it work. “I have enough savings to get by for a year or two. My goal at the moment is to generate enough to comfortably live off, and my livestream and YouTube alone I can currently live off.”

The switch hasn’t been completely easy. “I randomly edit. I randomly stream. My sleeping is still all over the place,” Ball said. “Once everything settles down, I hope to put some structure in place to help my career grow properly.”

Two weeks ago, Ball was granted his first sponsorship by the company ROCCAT, which makes computer accessories. He also recently “shout-casted” from DreamHack Winter in Sweden, a major gaming convention and competition, and has been invited back to shout-cast the summer event in June.

While his life remains unbalanced by his new career, Ball is optimistic. As for what he looks forward to the most?

“I look forward to developing my already awesome community to continue to support me and make me smile at the end of each stressful day.”

Written by

Will Brunelle

 

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