Transformers Devastation: Bringing Back Saturday Morning Cartoons

devastation-transIn late 2015, Activision released Transformers Devastation, a brand new Transformers video game. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish), Transformers Devastation did something bold. No, not just creating a decent Transformers game (it is in fact fantastic), but it wasn’t based on any Michael Bay rubbish; instead they went back to the beginning of the franchise: Generation One.

For those not familiar, Generation One was the original Hasbro toy-driven cartoon and comic series that started in 1984. Although it only lasted 3 years, it was a worldwide success that spawned an animated movie that has a huge cult following, and countless now-collectible toys. Although that series ended almost 30 years ago, there have been multiple reimagining’s over the years, and it’s fair to say that the afore-mentioned Michael Bay monstrosities have indeed rekindled the memories of the original (and indeed best) series.

Despite the quite frankly surprising news of a Generation One based video game in the works, I was initially met with mostly scepticism. Transformers videos games largely have a terrible record, as do many series/movie tie-ins, unless Lego appears in the title. The news of Platinum Games as the developers certainly helped alleviate those initial fears; Bayonetta and its sequel are 2 of the best video games to ever grace a television screen, so I became swiftly confident they could deliver. The result is more than meets the eye…..

tf_devastation_teaserPlatinum’s somewhat traditional third-person ‘hack n slash’ formula is adopted well here; incorporating both physical attack combos and artillery-based projectile attacks. There are 5 classic Autobots to choose from, and once you get over the cool factor of being the original Optimus Prime, with his original Peter Cullen voice once again, you soon discover the other characters (Grimlock, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack) have enough variety between them to offer different experiences. Grimlock in particular, in his Dinosaur form, unlike everyone else’s vehicle forms, offers different combos and attacks.

But by far the most amazing factor of Transformers Devastation is the fan service, the nostalgia factor. It is by no means a perfect video game; it doesn’t have the combat depth of Bayonetta, or the consistently flawless backdrops of Vanquish, nor does it try to reinvent the wheel in any other way. But don’t be mistaken into thinking it is a poor game with just great fan service, like many other anime titles.

91BPBIsaxyL._SL1500_The characters and combat style is interspersed with the storyline and boss-ridden levels delightfully, and of course the bosses themselves are recognisable favourites such as Starscream, Soundwave, and of course Megatron. Each and every character even has their own heavy metal theme from the excellent accompanying soundtrack, which surely has to get a release. Believe me, I’ve asked, but it’s a ‘no’ for now.

The perfectly nostalgic cast and characters come together with a plot that easily fits in canon with the series, and plays out much like any typical episode would. It’s the perfect Saturday morning video game derived what was once everyone’s favourite Saturday morning cartoon series. Everything about this package is any Transformers fans’ dream. The beauty of the game is its appeal; it knows why you’re playing it before you’ve even booted the game up: you love the 80’s Transformers, so you are going to love this.

5 Excuses People Use to Avoid Video Games

Sometimes, people snub video games as an entertainment medium, often judging them without even trying them first. A lot of effort goes into making video games, the goal being not only financial success, but making a quality product that as many people as possible can enjoy. Nonetheless, there are still those with somewhat foolish and unfair views about video games that may block many from seeing the hours of fun they potentially could have, or just don’t realise what they’re missing. Here are 5 reasons why people won’t give video games a try.

1. “The games are so expensive”

They can be, but like anything else, shop around and you can easily save a few pounds. Better still, do what I do – wait a couple of weeks and the prices start to drop, or picking up older titles can save you 75% of the cost in some cases. The issue here is the new titles, but for those whomust have it, most will be willing to pay £40+ easily. The prices of the latest video game releases, unlike DVD/Blu-Ray, have not steadily reduced over the years so it’s something to be mindful of. Be patient and do not just buy from the first retailer you see. Also, online retailers are nearly always cheaper than the high street. In short, quit whining and make those pennies count!

2. “The games will cause fights”

Ok, I’ve been here myself when I was a youngster, and more applies to the younger generation anyway. But to be fair, you could give both your kids the same meal for dinner and they will find a reason to bicker over it. That’s life. Should a video game indeed cause further sibling rivalry or grief between friends, then this is where parent points come in. It will only cause fights if you let it do so. Like any activity, create clear boundaries and timescales if required to ensure nothing gets out of hand. If you’re adults and fighting over video games, there’s probably alcohol involved. You’re on your own.

3. “In the end, you’ve accomplished nothing”

Yes, I have genuinely heard this one. You could argue this for any form of entertainment, but how does playing a video game accomplish any less than vegetating in front of a cracking TV show or movie? You’re telling me watching 10 hours of soaps a week is more productive? Video games are interactive entertainment and, although not to everyone’s taste, most people have played a video game and enjoyed it at some point in their lives, whether they are proud of it or not. Video games can fit into life just like anything else, and any game could leave with you with a sense of joy/sadness, like any great movie/TV show.

4. “Playing too many video games may be bad for you”

I can’t deny this one. But everything in life should be explored in moderation. Drinking too much beer is bad for you. Eating too much fast food is bad for you. Doing nothing but watching TV is bad for you. Anything can become unhealthy for anyone, when abused. When it comes to children, it’s important to limit their video game time reasonably to ensure home, work and social values are not forgotten.

From experience, it’s incredibly easy even for pre-teens to become bedroom-ridden slobs, and even more testing with a world engulfed with tablets and mobile phones. But on a positive note, it prevents you from being a lazy parent, certainly from my experience, as there is now more to worry about than looking at the clock, waiting for your kids to return home at the time you gave them.

5. “Video games are just for kids”

The worst one of all, for various reasons. Some games, particularly Nintendo’s Mario games, are aimed at ALL ages, and are superb in executing that exact goal. The problem is, the kids don’t want these games. They are playing (and want the video games they SHOULD NOT BE PLAYING. In theory, anyway. Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row are among many games designed and tailored for the adult audience, and suitably rated as such, yet many parents appear to ignore this. 1, because their kid wants it, and 2, it’s ‘just a video game’.

Being a parent myself, I treat video games like other mediums; should he/she be watching this? Should they even be in the same room if it’s on the screen? It’s harder with video games, but I take the time to study a game, because the ratings aren’t always right. I’ve been there when my kid – who shared the exact same birthday as his friend – was deliberately invited upstairs to be shown how to sleep with a prostitute in a car on GTA. They were NINE years old at the time. I flipped, as that should not be happening, and it certainly won’t again on my watch. Video games are not JUST for kids; it’s a multi-demographic medium, so parent the shit out of your kids with video games as you would anything else.

Bottom line: It is now 2015, and its arguable there are now more games for adults than universal ones. For the adults, there is a truck-load of superb entertainment out there to enjoy, from interactive stories to the more complex, hard-core options. If you don’t like them then fair enough. They’re not always cheap, but don’t judge them till you’ve tried them.

5 Reasons Everyone Must Buy God of War III Re-mastered

From my original listing at The Average Gamer (check out the site!)

God of War III, released for PS3 in 2010, is a thing of beauty. Bloodthirsty, brutal and brilliant beauty. Easily one of the finest games to grace the PS3, and now, thanks to the power of the PS4, it will be re-mastered and re-released, no doubt more beautiful than ever. Following Sony’s announcement, many are sceptical about yet another re-mastered last gen title. So, here are 5 reasons why, whether you have already sampled this pinnacle of persecution or not, it’s time to get your cash out this July.

1. The glorious, satisfying violence

If you haven’t sampled a God of War video game before then, spoiler alert, they are violent. Veryviolent, which is the point of the series given it’s a ohgod_of_war_3_helios so very angry vengeful ex-god (also a spoiler) trying to take down the mighty Zeus, et al. Unlike the Mortal Kombat series, whose disturbingly obscene fatalities mean less and less as the years go by (try Injustice as a better alternative), here it is of significant importance and relevance, given the nature of the mythos the God of War series is based upon. It is brutal but never out of context or character; particular highlights being the death of Helios and my personal favourite, the final QTE segment with Poseidon, the best use of the L3 + R3 buttons if ever there was one.

2. The beauty will be even more beautiful

Although few details have been announced so far, Sony have stated it will output at 1080p HD and the developers are targeting 60 FPS, so fingers crossed the fierce brutality will somehow look even better. The original was a beast of game in terms of graphical detail; Kratos himself was often heralded as the finest looking character in video games. If it has anything close to the graphical detail of the series prequel God of War: Ascension (and we all expect better from the PS4 as a given), then it will look incredible.

3. It was the best game released on PS3. (No really, it was)

Ok, so this is my opinion, and make of that what you will, but God of War III is not just renowned for its violence; the whole series is a fantastic fusion of fluid combat, awe-inspiring visuals and dignified storytelling. The combat is so fluid and accessible that the only comparison to give is the Bayonetta series; for me it’s the only combat mechanism that can claim victory over Sony’s Santa Monica studios achievements here. The pacing of the campaign is delivered to perfection, with the opening and ending acts among the best I’ve ever experienced. Oh, but don’t forget the violence too.

4. It’s a celebration

The release of this re-master is to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the God of War franchise, so it’s only fitting that the best game in the series is the one to be re-packaged. I’m hoping there will be a recap included for newcomers to the series, to widen its appeal, and of course plenty of extras for long-time fans to chew on, of which is usually a certainty.

god_of_war_3

And finally… That sex scene

I always find that of the very few sex scenes present in video games, they tend to feel a bit awkward (I’m looking at you Fahrenheit/Heavy Rain), but God of War III’s take on Kratos’ carnal desires is arguably more interactive than either of David Cage’s efforts. I expect a wry smile as you read this (for those that know it well), as it is a moment that is as provocative as it is hilarious. It is a moment that, alongside its famous brutality and chaos, is the embodiment of the series’ character.

As more details surface between now and its expected July release, it’s difficult not to be excited by this. Although the PS4 is probably one more re-master away from emulating Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, this is my most anticipated re-master so far. As I am yet to even own a PS4, this is seriously making me consider my options. I cannot wait.

God of War III Remastered is coming to PS4 in July 2015.

The Benefits of Kids Playing Video Games

Kids and video games is an often talked about subject in today’s world. My teenage son’s gaming habits are growing just as the industry is becoming more appealing than ever before. On the flipside, I also have a young daughter, being brought up in a world where technology is growing faster than the human race developing it. With so many games and devices to play them on today, I’ve been asked if and how I limit my kids’ playtime, or more specifically their overall ‘screen time’.

I was both surprised and amazed by such questions. Some parents seem to think that if their child spends long periods of time doing just the one activity, then something maybe wrong, as they would not behave that way themselves as an adult. I’m a firm believer that children need to be able to make good choices on how they spend their free time, and that choices are they for them to do just that.

Kids shouldn’t be brought up on ‘do this, don’t do that’ rules, except for those instances where they are instructed to complete a share of chores, or that they must not do things that will hurt themselves or others. Kids should be free to play and explore in the many possible ways they can, and if that results in them only doing so in only the one way, then that just means they are getting something out of it, and are comfortable with it. The last thing we should do is put up a barrier that says: “I don’t think you can control your own life” before they have even had the chance to.

Kids also need to learn to know what is best for them; after all, we are all different with different tastes. Why would anyone want to limit our children’s computer or video game time? Today’s computer technology provides the most important tools in modern society, and children today are born into this culture. This is only good for our children, who are born designed to take in what is around them, in order to decide what is best for them, or what they need to succeed. It’s instinctive.

Five-Nights-at-FreddysCertain media outlets are among that side against video games through fear; they cause depression, attention disorders, even obesity, and more. This has been happening since video games first entered our world and isn’t letting up. But the very same negativity was branded upon mediums that came before: television, music, reading and even writing.

Now I’ve never known a parent admonish their child for spending hours reading a book, and why would they? Furthermore, if you look at research literature and surveys, they not only debunk those very claims, but in fact show that regular games players are less likely to be obese, enjoy outdoor play more, and are more socially engaged and well-adjusted.

Then there is the matter of violent content. I find it hard to believe that pretend murder of characters in video game stories should be likely to provoke real murder; certainly no more than reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet for example, a piece of literature often placed as compulsory for students in our schools. It is my view that video games actually reduce hostility – for me there is nothing better than to forget a stressful day at work by unwinding with a game of FIFA, or maybe something combat oriented which serves as my punch bag of frustration.

My daughter, an avid Thomas & Friends fan, spends some of her time on iPad activity apps, such as Thomas, which haveThomas-and-Friends-App certainly helped her develop speech, recognise colours, and she can easily count to 50, all at the age of 3. I see her playing out her own Thomas adventures with her engines, which comes naturally, but has also been benefitted from YouTubers’ own uploaded adventures, expanding her imagination to the point of playing out her own adventures.

I’m not saying screen time is solely responsible for this by any means, but she often wants to pursue more of these activities, of which today’s technology can provide. It goes without saying of course that any such use and behaviours are supervised; that’s when parenting comes in, as and when required.

For my teenage son, he has a steady social balance; multi-player Minecraft team sessions that benefit from group chat, with the very same friends he will then socialise with at his football team training sessions and other gatherings in between. He isn’t a huge gamer (unlike me) but I believe his participation only to be positive as he moves forward into adulthood.

So should anyone ever ask if I (or should I) restrict my children’s screen time, my answer would be NO. They make their own minds up whether to use the technology that is there, I don’t encourage or discourage either way. I believe they are both better prepared for the world’s social pressures, and only benefits their development, just like any other medium can.

How about you? What are you views on this, do you feel the same? Do you do things differently for your children? Or the parents to-be amongst you, will your approach be the same?