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Massachusetts town ends 32-year ban on arcade games E-mail
Written by Munk   

 

 

Marshfield, Mass. residents this week voted to overturn a 1982 bylaw that banned coin-operated arcade games from all businesses in the town. A majority vote was required to overturn the bylaw, and it was a close one. The final tally was 203-175.

Town resident Craig Rondeau brought forth the petition to end the ban, which he says never made sense to him. "I was sitting thinking, 'why is this illegal in my town, to have fun with my friends," he told The Patriot Ledger (via Joystiq). He maintains that video games can help children learn social skills and practice problem-solving.

Not everyone agrees with the end of the ban. Marshfield resident Sue Walker said arcade games can disturb family gatherings at public restaurants. "There is gaming all over the place, and there's nothing fun about it," she said.

Marshfield originally banned arcade games in 1982 on the grounds that these games were too addictive for children. The ban gathered national attention and local business owners even attempted to have the case heard by the United States Supreme Court, but that never happened.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
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Donkey Kong Country - Rolling in the Jungle E-mail
Written by Munk   
Footage from the first few stages of the classic Super Nintendo game, Donkey Kong Country.
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Xbox One game preloading still on Microsoft's wishlist E-mail
Written by Munk   

In the wake of the latest PlayStation 4 firmware introducing the ability to preload unreleased digital games, Microsoft says it's an Xbox One feature that remains on its wishlist.

That's according to Xbox Live director of programming Larry Hryb, better known as Major Nelson, who responded to a Reddit post (via CVG) requesting this very feature. Hryb said in a comment, "All I can say right now is that yes, we want this feature as well." In a later comment, he refused to elaborate on how high a priority this is for Microsoft or whether it's something that's currently in development.

The most recent Xbox One update was released in April. It brought back Xbox Live friend notifications and added support for 50Hz Blu-ray content.

Preloading, which is simply the ability to download a game ahead of its release, provides a number of benefits. Among those is the fact that it allows gamers with slow Internet connections to have to wait less time before being able to play a newly released game, and it also lessens the likelihood of download servers being overwhelmed at the launch of a game.

As first reported last month, yesterday's PS4 1.70 firmware update added preloading support. The feature is also available for certain game releases on Steam and other digital PC game distribution services.

How important is the ability to preload games to you? Let us know in the comments below.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
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CT lawmaker wants extra tax, warning labels for violent games E-mail
Written by Munk   

 

 

Connecticut lawmaker DebraLee Hovey, whose district includes Newtown, has written a new opinion piece in which she claims playing violent video games leads to "observable behavioral changes." Also in this piece, she calls for violent games to carry extra warning labels and be taxed in the state.

This isn't the first time Hovey has rallied for increased awareness of violent video games. Following the Sandy Hook massacre, Hovey (R-112nd District) put forth a bill that would have enacted a excise tax for violent video games. This bill did not pass, but Hovey isn't giving up.

"I am disheartened this bill did not pass," she wrote. "Assuming Connecticut lawmakers are truly serious about changing the culture of violence in our state, taxing violent video games is a common sense start to achieving this goal."

The Entertainment Software Rating Board already provides ratings for video games, but Hovey says if mature-rated games carried an "extra warning label," and if there was an extra tax applied to such games, "a parent might think twice before purchasing that game for their young child."

Hovey says educating parents about the potential mental health implications to their children from playing violent video games is "as common sense as warning pregnant women about the dangers of drinking alcohol."

"If the children, teens, and adults who play these games (alike) were aware of the risks of violent video game play, they could moderate their exposure to such play and seek help if needed," she said.

Hovey goes on to say that numerous studies, including recently published research from Iowa State University, point out that playing violent video games can lead to noticeable increases in the frequency and severity of aggressive behavior.

Hovey points out that the Sandy Hook shooter was "known to play these violent video games for hours a day." Indeed, a game called "School Shooting" was discovered on his computer. However, numerous other non-violent games were found in his residence, including Super Mario Bros. and Dance Dance Revolution.

Still, Hovey said, "The science is clear and overwhelming; the playing of violent video games by children and teens does lead to observable behavior changes." Citing data from the Iowa State study, Hovey adds that even children with no previous signs of violent tendencies were likely to show signs of increased aggression after periods of playing violent games.

"It should be the duty of the State of Connecticut to ensure parents and players are aware of this information. Labeling and taxing mature rated video games is an obvious way to achieve this. It is clear that violent video game play alters the psyche of our youth and induces violent behavior," Hovey said.

"Spreading the word about the effects of violent video games brings the issue of aggressive behavior to the general forefront of parent and player minds. Most importantly, recognizing and getting help for individuals who display patterns of violent behavior is a key step in preventing mass acts of violence before they occur," she added. "Therefore, I ask you as a Legislator and fellow citizen, let us work together to eradicate our culture of violence, and let us start with spreading the word about the harmful impact of violent video game play across Connecticut."

 

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
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Here's what Driveclub's free PlayStation Plus Edition includes E-mail
Written by Munk   

When it's released in October, a free version of Driveclub will be available for download by PlayStation Plus members. Even with the delays Evolution Studios' new racing game has seen, the developer claims this free version has not been scaled down, revealing its contents in the process.

Over on the PlayStation Blog, a user comment spotted by CVG expresses the perception that the free version has begun to sound like a less feature-packed edition of the game than we were originally led to believe it would be, "almost as if it's a demo or something. Sounds like there's a massive reduction in scope on the Plus version to try and push that retail copy."

In response, game director Paul Rustchynsky denied that this is the case. "The PlayStation Plus Edition hasn't changed," he replied. "It's hardly a demo because you get access to all of the game's features online and offline." He recently said something similar to GameSpot, telling us it's "feature-complete."

His comment went on to confirm precisely what will be included in the Plus Edition: "The difference is that you only have 10 cars and you can only race in one country (which gives you access to 5 tracks with 11 distinct variants)."

The Plus Edition was first revealed at last year's E3. Later in the year, Evolution described it as "the full game minus a few cars/tracks" and announced plans to provide a discount to those upgrading from the Plus Edition to a digital copy of the full game. GameSpot has contacted Sony to find out if this is still the case.

Driveclub was hit by yet another delay earlier this week. The game was originally scheduled for release last year before being pushed back until early 2014. Following this latest delay, it won't be available until October 7 as Evolution strives to improve the social elements of the game, which Rustchynsky told GameSpot the developer had found itself unhappy with. Driveclub won't reach the vaunted 1080p, 60fps numbers that many games are striving for; instead, it will run in 1080p at 30fps, a concession Rustchynsky says allows for the game to be home to some of the "most detailed cars" and "biggest tracks" ever seen in a racing game.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
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Xbox One | Dead Rising 3's Ridiculous Combo Weapons Revel in Capcom Nostalgia E-mail
Written by Munk   

We look at some of the more absurd weapons you can cobble together in this Xbox One launch title.

 

Has Dead Rising 3 become too serious for its own good? We'll put it this way: this is a game where you can outfit yourself in a flowery summer dress, and then twirl in circles as you mow down zombies using crudely modified gloves with machine gun barrels for fingers. But as crazy as that visual is, some of the coolest and most ridiculous weapon combos in Dead Rising 3 are those where the development team at Capcom Vancouver offers a very absurd wink and a nudge toward the history of its parent company.

One of those weapon combos is a handy little number called the Dragon Punch. Take a pair of boxing gloves and a motorcycle engine, slap them together using the type of mechanical prowess you can find only in video games, and you've got an ultra-powered pair of boxing gloves capable of letting you live out your inner Ken or Ryu. Dead Rising 3 protagonist Nick Ramos shouts "Shoryuken!" as he uppercuts a throng of undead foes, or "Hadoken!" as he dashes toward them with arms extended and hands held together.

All the while these poor zombies are getting the living daylights clobbered out of them thanks to the extra power of that motorcycle engine. It's a sight to behold, thanks in no small part to just how ridiculous those makeshift gloves look in concert with whatever Nick might be wearing at the time. Now if only Nick had the lower-body strength to pull off a convincing Tatsumaki.

If Ryu and Ken aren't really your thing, you can always craft an item called the Roaring Thunder. This guy requires you to find a Blanka mask and a car battery, and from there you can pretty much use your imagination as to what might be the result. But here's a spoiler: it's a mangled monstrosity of a mask, with pulsing electricity and exposed metalwork bolted atop Blanka's otherwise handsome visage. Trigger your attack, and Nick will crouch down and zap any nearby zombies with a rather impressive rendition of Blanka's signature special. Almost makes you wonder why Capcom hasn't given Blanka his own zombie survival game yet.

It's worth noting that Dead Rising 3's weapon-crafting system won't always require these specific combinations of weapons. As you work your way through the role-playing-game-inspired leveling system, you'll be able to unlock expanded crafting in over a dozen different item categories, ranging from melee weapons to novelty items. What this means is that you no longer need that specific pair of items, but rather a pair of items with similar traits. So instead of crafting that Roaring Thunder with a car battery, you might be able to use a flashlight, since they both share the electrical trait. Capcom's aim is to make it so that you can eventually combine one item with any other item in the game.

It's good to see that Dead Rising 3 hasn't lost its penchant for silliness. Yes, the story and setting are dark and gloomy, but the humor in this series has always stemmed from the contrast between the dire situation you're faced with and what you choose to do with the sheer assortment of items around you. And in this case, it's clear that Capcom Vancouver wants you to be able to do some very silly things.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Xbox One | Dead Rising 3's Ridiculous Combo Weapons Revel in Capcom Nostalgia" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Thu, 22 Aug 2013 09:28:45 -0700
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Wii U | How Call of Duty: Ghosts' New Multiplayer Mode Balances Chaos With Strategy E-mail
Written by Munk   

Blitz mode may seem simple, but it comes with its own unique twist on teamwork.

     

There's something deceptively complex about the new Blitz multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Ghosts. Sure, it looks simple enough: two teams try to defend a magical glowing circle within their base, and if anyone from the competing team manages to dash inside that circle without getting killed, that sneaky player will earn one point and find himself instantly teleported back to the safety of his own side of the map. It is, essentially, CTF without ever needing to pick up a flag.

And wouldn't you know it, combining that straightforward rule set with Call of Duty's frenetic pacing can lead to some pretty chaotic action. With the ability to teleport right back to your base, you can charge headfirst into the enemy stronghold knowing you need only the slightest shred of health in order to score a point and make it back alive. Once you've got your eyes on that circle, you know you've got to go for it.

And that's exactly what you wind up doing...at first. But spend more time with Blitz mode, and you'll find a competitive multiplayer experience that balances that chaos with a pretty substantial need for team strategy. For one thing, scoring a point triggers a 10-second cooldown period on the enemy team's circle. There's nothing worse than being that guy who runs into the circle immediately after his teammate scores a point, only to find himself surrounded by enemies without the ability to teleport home to safety. You've got to coordinate the timing of those attacks, spacing them out enough to make sure no one gets left high and dry.

Of course, coordinating those attacks doesn't have to be a clean and precise endeavor. Say you've got your gaze fixed firmly on the enemy circle with too much ground to cover before getting gunned down by enemies. Just throw a flashbang while dashing toward the circle, and as long as you continue a fixed line, you may just distract your enemies long enough to score yourself a point--blindness and all. It's those little ways of buying a quick route into the enemy base that makes Blitz such a chaotic but entertaining endeavor.

Then there's the need for defense. If everyone is attacking the enemy base, that means you're leaving your own base completely uncontested. Success in Blitz mode requires at least a few players to hang back and guard the fort, preferably those who've outfitted their character with enough claymores to surround the circle with deadly stopping power. And given that scoring a point automatically teleports you back to base, there's a very fluid distinction between attacker and defender. You can reel off a few quick points in a row, and find yourself in a position to hold tight and play defense for a bit.

Or maybe you just use defense as a decoy. Don't kill the enemies attacking your base--that would just send them back to their side of the map where some of your teammates might be working on scoring points. So instead, you just distract them for a bit. A spray of gunfire here and there to keep them pinned behind cover. That keeps them away from their base, giving your guys enough breathing room to score a point or two.

It's situations like these that make Blitz a surprisingly rewarding game mode for how straightforward the match parameters are. Sure it's chaotic, but to find success, you need to manipulate that chaos to your advantage.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Wii U | How Call of Duty: Ghosts' New Multiplayer Mode Balances Chaos With Strategy" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 14:51:54 -0700
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Xbox One | Forza 5's Career Mode Is About Exploring Cars, Not the Life of an Eccentric Billionaire E-mail
Written by Munk   

With a more open-ended career mode, Turn 10 is aiming to let you explore every style of car however you choose.

 

If there's one thing Forza Motorsport has always done a good job of simulating--besides, you know, the actual driving--it's the rags-to-riches character arc of an increasingly wealthy billionaire. You start off with a modest little city car like the Nissan Micra or Ford Ka, and then proceed to build up a garage full of faster and more luxurious supercars. At least, that's how the career mode progression has worked in previous Forza titles. With Forza 5, Turn 10 is aiming to mix up the routine.

Forza 5's career mode is no longer focused on starting with cheap cars and working your way up the economic ladder. Instead, it's a sort of choose-your-own-adventure novel spanning numerous styles and eras throughout the history of motorsports. You can begin in any of eight leagues, which are basically categories like exotics, vintage, and sport compact. But within those eight leagues are 42 much more specialized events. Sound confusing? We'll explain.

Take the sport compact league, for example. Housed within this umbrella you'll find events such as hot hatches or rally sport. Turn 10 describes these events as mini-career modes in themselves--each spanning enough races to last roughly 90 minutes--which have been designed to let you progress all the way through with a single car. Sure, you can still mix it up with different cars that fit the event restrictions, but you're no longer forced to say goodbye to a car that you've grown attached to once those more powerful models begin filling the starting grid.

Once you've completed an event, you can choose any other you'd like--there's no predefined event arc. Turn 10 wants you to be able to immerse yourself within a family of cars, and then jump to whatever strikes your fancy once that event is complete. You can bounce from demanding supercars to sensible coupes right back up to hulking American muscle--the order doesn't matter. Add in Top Gear commentary spread through each event, and you're not only learning how these different families of cars handle, but also hearing Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May explain the cultural significance at the same time.

Of course, there is still a progression to all of this. You're still earning credits, buying new cars to add to your garage, and spending that money on performance upgrades. All of that is still there. But given the career mode's more open-ended nature, you'll be leveling at a more steady rate--what Turn 10 describes as a "metronomic" cadence of level-ups hitting roughly once per hour of gameplay. It's their way of saying they don't think that exotic league you played through at hour 20 of your career mode should take eons longer to level up in than the grand touring league you chose right at the start of the game.

We're eager to see how this idea pans out. The advantage to the old system is obvious: starting with cheap cars and working your way up to the fancier ones provides a nice, clear progression system to follow. Can Turn 10 keep your attention with this more free-form approach? We'll find out later this year.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Xbox One | Forza 5's Career Mode Is About Exploring Cars, Not the Life of an Eccentric Billionaire" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 21 Aug 2013 11:43:04 -0700
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Xbox 360 | Can Dying Light Freshen Up a Rotting Genre? E-mail
Written by Munk   

The thrill of first-person parkour can be a game changer to zombie-killing action games, but developer Techland needs to work out its technical kinks.

 

Dying Light is quite a surprise; it blends the first-person free-running mechanics of EA's Mirror's Edge with a zombie apocalypse open-world concept. Combining the two may seem unorthodox, but the game's day and night cycle gives it a good reason to do so.

While your player character is out in the day, he performs a supply drop collection here and a stash-recovering objective there to get supplies and weapons, as well as gain skill points to bolster his current abilities. Melee options aren't in short supply, as you have access to a baseball bat, a machete, and a sledgehammer to take down zombies coming after you.

Be it a big one that can dish it out as much as it can take it, or a green pus-filled one that explodes upon death and unleashes corrosive goo, swinging at enemies and knocking them down is satisfying thanks to responsive controls. However, you can't swing irresponsibly because doing a melee attack drains your stamina meter bit by bit. When it's empty, you can't even deal a full-brunt swing on even the slowest of walking corpses.

Running, jumping, sliding while running, and dropkicking a zombie while doing a running jump feel great too, though the gamepad controls have taken us a while to get used to. You get access to handguns too, but their loud booming gunshots will alert nearby undead that will relentlessly pursue you.

All of the above may remind you of Techland's other zombie game, Dead Island. When nighttime hits, however, that's when it differentiates itself from its cousin. Your free-running skills are put to the test; the zombies become more aggressive, slightly more intelligent, and tougher to kill.

With ammo being scarce and weapons not having much of an effect, you don't have much of a choice but to run like hell. Fleeing from the undead horde to your safe house is really thrilling and tense, as zombies can pop up wherever and whenever, as well as pursue you to kingdom come. A couple of tricks come in handy: you can push away zombies by holding the X button while up close to an enemy and then flick the left analog stick to any direction, or you can use a zombie as a platform by double-jumping over its head.

Even with the thrill of the chase, we had some trouble with the game's camera. While a game like Mirror's Edge reduced head-bobbing effects and had a white blip in the centre of the screen to minimize potential nausea from the free-running, there is no such luxury in Dying Light. We foresee players getting motion sickness easily with the constant motion your player character has to go through to survive and complete story objectives in the game.

Dying Light's melding of gameplay ideas could make it a surprising success, thanks to its day and night open-world mechanic. This being the studio that did Dead Island: Riptide and Call of Juarez: The Cartel, however, it may be dealing with an uphill struggle. Zombie game fans can expect this undead genocidal concoction in 2014 for next-gen consoles, the Xbox 360, the PS3, and the PC.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Xbox 360 | Can Dying Light Freshen Up a Rotting Genre? " was posted by Jonathan Toyad on Wed, 12 Jun 2013 12:16:09 -0700
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Xbox One | How Forza 5 Is Crowd-Sourcing Artificial Intelligence E-mail
Written by Munk   

Thanks to some ambitious cloud-based technology, you'll never race against vanilla AI in Turn 10's latest racing sim.

     

With features like assisted steering and a driving line telling you how to approach each corner, the Forza Motorsport series has always excelled at giving newcomers the tools to overcome racing barriers. And with the latest iteration in the franchise, Turn 10 Studios is aiming to let players overcome the greatest barrier of all: how to continue playing Forza when you're not actually playing Forza.

The approach? A cloud-powered upgrade to the Drivatar technology that debuted way back in 2005's original Forza Motorsport. In this latest game, Drivatar is constantly keeping track of your driving habits: how aggressive you are in the straights, how prone you are to cutting corners, and whether or not you're afraid to trade a little paint when the situation calls for it.

Forza 5 takes all of this data and sends it to the cloud after every race. In doing so, Forza 5 is storing a virtual representation of every single player in the world. If you play Forza 5, you'll have your own doppelganger living in the cloud. And the more you play, Turn 10 says, the more accurate that doppelganger will be.

Here's the most interesting part: these cloud-powered representations of human players are the drivers that make up every event in the game, whether it's an online match that needs to fill out a few extra slots or a single-player race deep into your career mode. That means you'll never be racing against vanilla AI. Every driver you encounter in the game is based on the actual driving habits of another human being.

The game does this by pulling data from the cloud and matching other players' skills with your own. Turn 10 insists that you'll be given plenty of control over what types of drivers you're matched up against, with various settings and toggles to fine-tune the matchmaking in terms of both skill and driving styles.

In doing all of this, Turn 10 is aiming to create a more human driving experience. It wants to move past the days where every AI you face just sort of blends into the other. Instead, Turn 10's goal is to let you face off against a grid of racers who each boast their own unique personalities and eccentricities.

So what happens once you've turned off the system and your Drivatar finds his or herself downloaded into Xboxes across the world? Well, you'll get paid for it, of course. Every race that your virtual doppelganger takes part in will earn you in-game currency to buy new cars and upgrades. You may be lying in bed reading a book, but you'll be making sweet, sweet virtual credits in the process.

For more on Forza Motorsport, check out GameSpot's video feature about the history of the franchise.

Read and Post Comments | Get the full article at GameSpot


"Xbox One | How Forza 5 Is Crowd-Sourcing Artificial Intelligence" was posted by Shaun McInnis on Wed, 12 Jun 2013 09:20:24 -0700
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