Archive for the ‘RikaStead’ Category

Girl on Girl : Rika on Miranda Smith

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Miranda Smith

Girl on Girl is a series of interviews with girls involved in gaming culture. Rika finds the girls, lures them in (with the promise of video games), gets them talking (about video games) and documents the action. Forget what you read on the Internet. It’s time for a window into the minds of the fairer nerds. (Disclaimer: Rika is only responsible for the opinions that come out of her own mouth. Check out Rika’s You Tube for more!)

Miranda Smith already knew what she wanted to show me in her interview. She wanted to show me a good time, and she invited over some friends and their 360′s for a Modern Warfare 2 party. Xboxs, controllers, and TV sets were carried in, furniture was moved, and Miranda picked up an M16 and became her alter ego- VivaciousSaggi.

As I found out more about Miranda’s life and activities outside of gaming, I became even more appreciative of the time and effort it takes to get a house full of gamers together on a weeknight. Miranda maintains a 3.9 GPA at the Art Institute of Ft. Worth, as well as making a living. “I currently work building software installation wizards, doing web work, designing product packages (graphically), doing administrative work, all for the same company, and on the side I am a musician photographer,??? she says. Since the interview, she’s also been hired as a blogger by indie game maker 24KT studios. She’s also a mommy to three-year-old Layla. “I’m a busy person but wouldn’t change it. I hope my daughter can learn from me to find a healthy balance between work, education, family, and fun.???

Miranda and boyfriend

Being a mom means that sometimes new games and consoles have to take a backseat to all the things that kids need, but Miranda makes time to devote to gaming, and getting other people excited about gaming. She has also, of course, shared her love of gaming with her daughter. When asked if she worries about what Layla sees watching her play, her answer was clear- “I don’t really worry about what she sees when we play, although I do worry about what TV shows/movies she is exposed to. She loves playing video games too and she is as competitive as I am. She may be a little young for me to be letting her play FPS games but I am a definite NON-believer in the theory of FPS games causing high school shoot outs, violent temperaments, etc. A person’s behavior is a reflection of their need for guidance, and some people that have no guidance will withdraw and internalize themselves— and what better way is there to get away from the world than playing video games? Gamers are misunderstood by society, and many mistakes some people make are blamed on the fact that they play video games when the issue clearly lies deeper.??? But she does believe in using a bit of caution. When Layla is old enough to start asking for her own games, Miranda says she will definitely play them herself first. “I would play any game she would ask for before she does, just to make sure it would be suitable for her. I’m not so much worried about the violence as I am sexual content.”

“Layla picked up the colors Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green very quickly, lol. And on the Sonic racing game she played when she was two, she learned the directional difference between left and right.??? Miranda sees benefits beyond the easily measurable as well. “Gamers see the world in a different way… from a vantage point. They are trained in problem solving, and they always find a better way to do something as well as a way to get what they want or need. This will be advantageous to her as she gets older.???

Miranda loves getting everyone in on the video game action- whether it’s instigating her friends who game to put together MW2 or Halo nights, or converting her non-gamer girlfriends into new gaming buddies. If you’re a girl, and you think you don’t like to play games, be forewarned- stay away from Miranda, or she will have you addicted to FPS before you can resist. According to her, all you need to really enjoy a game is a little practice. “I think it’s growing rapidly,??? she says of gaming among females, “but just like men, being a beast takes skill. There are some guys I can’t beat, and there are some girls that I can’t beat, sex doesn’t have anything to do with it.???

IRL, she’s the friendly, cool instigator who will have everyone in the house join in the fun. But in game, she will shoot you in the head. She frowns upon cheating and exploits, believing instead in the accomplishment of succeeding through skill. But she does ask that you don’t judge her by her kill/death ratio- it seems she’d rather go out in a blaze of glory than be safe in the shadows. “I shoot straight M16, but I also have a fault among gamers-??? she confesses, “I enjoy playing more than I care about my scoreboards. I will run out there even if I know there are four people of the opposite team waiting for me and think “NINJA!!!!” and try to take them all on myself, sometimes it works and sometimes I am defeated… badly. I genuinely enjoy the rush of running out there  knowing I may kill or be killed in an instant, so if you are ever looking at my scoreboard.. just don’t pay any attention to my K/D ratio.???

Watch the video to see her enthusiasm in action.

Girl on Girl: Rika on Kimmie Britt

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Girl on Girl : Kimmie Britt

Girl on Girl is a series of interviews with girls involved in gaming culture. Rika finds the girls, lures them in (with the promise of video games), gets them talking (about video games) and documents the action. Forget what you read on the Internet. It’s time for a window into the minds of the fairer nerds. (Disclaimer: Rika is only responsible for the opinions that come out of her own mouth. Check out Rika’s You Tube for more!)

Kimmie came to meet me at her door in jeans and a nerdy tee shirt. With her long wavy dark hair she reminded me a little of Olivia Munn. Through the doorway behind her, I could see musical instruments, all manner of nerd memorabilia, and movie and game posters on the wall of every room- Star Wars, Final Fantasy, Dragon Ball Z, 300, The Big Lebowski, Army of Darkness. Two dogs, Luke and Leia escorted us in. There were swords on the living room wall.

Kimmie Britt costumes it up!

Kimmie grew up with Star Wars and Nintendo, but she felt she had to hide her nerdiness from the outside world. “It was “uncool” to be ‘nerdy;’ the guys I was crushing on usually didn’t go for my type, and the girls would make fun of that fact,??? she says. “So I would keep quiet about it. I never let any boyfriend or girl friend I had know about my real interests. It got tiring after awhile to have to be fake and constantly worry whether they were going to find me out or make fun.???

Eventually, she had to let it out. “I just decided to make it known, come out of the nerd closet. I wear my it all on my sleeve now, and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t feel this need to hide who I am because someone might not like it. If they don’t like my interests or try to change me, they’re not the kind of person who is worth being with anyway. And I finally found someone who appreciated not only my nerdiness, but all of those qualities I learned from being the ugly duckling.??? After giving herself a little dose of honesty and a few nerd tee shirts, Kimmie began to enjoy being comfortable in her skin.

Kimmie can spin a deadly web we bet...

Perhaps because of the liberating experience of “coming out of the nerd closet??? and going against the grain, Kimmie seems to be a bit of a rebel with her gaming. She likes what she likes, and not necessarily what is popular. Her all time favorite is Final Fantasy VIII, a game which many gamers (myself included) failed to finish, but she has only recently relented to the pressure to play VII. “I am very much someone who doesn’t like to play/watch/read something that has too much hype, and FF7 is always being talked about as one of the greats. It really put me off of playing it for some reason,??? she says, explaining her current conquest of VII. All hype aside, I think she’ll enjoy it.

Living with two other gamers- her boyfriend and his brother- means not only a house gloriously decorated with cool posters and almost every game console worth owning, but also means some controller-sharing is in order. “We do share the major consoles, and that can create friction. We’ve definitely had some arguments over turns. I try to limit my gaming on the PS3 or Xbox to when no one else is home, but all of our work schedules are so similar that I’ll only get an hour or two of good gameplay in, then have to give up the PS3 because someone wants to go play COD… Aside from the arguments, it’s quite fun.??? And all that gaming under one roof also causes expanded gaming horizons- “We’re all very different types of gamers. I’m the RPG/strategy nerd, my boyfriend Sam is more of the Action/Fighting type, and his brother Ryan mainly goes for the Sports/FPS, but ever since we started living together, we’ve started slowly branching out to the others genres.??? Kimmie notes that she’s not always easy to influence though. “I’m probably the most resistant because I’m stubborn and hate change, but it is growing on me, lol.???

What else should you know about Kimmie? She doesn’t care too much for Valentine’s Day, but she can get on board if it involves action figures, Power Ranger Lego sets, and gaming. She’d rather put her money on games and Star Wars paraphernalia than shoes. Oh, and don’t back-seat game while she’s playing: “Stop telling me what’s in what room or to look over here or what is coming up next in the story! It’s severely annoying and makes me want to hurl my controller at your head as a distraction so you wont see me back kick you in the throat.???

Kimmie and Luke!

And if you happen to be a game developer, listen up. She knows exactly what her dream game would be like. “Something turnbased with a short, black haired heroine. A good story, very dark, no damsel in distress. Some sci-fi elements. Lots of amazing weapons and a huge twist at the end. Really awesome costumes, for the cosplayers out there. And a good voice cast with lots of swear words.??? Swear words- that’s something we all can enjoy. Kimmie also believes that girls enjoy many of the same aspects of gaming that everyone else does- “Just make an interesting game, don’t stereotype by gender. If a girl wants to play, she’ll play. Just leave it at that, stop trying to cater to a man’s idea of what women want, because you’ll usually get it wrong.???

When asked what she wants to be known for, Kimmie says, “I would want people to remember me as a blunt, quirky tomboy who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, even when it was on the brink of being asshole-ish sometimes with a temper like a whip lash. A very independent, very different, individual girl. A fiercely loyal friend, a good listener, and a hell of a sense of humor. A person with a tough exterior, but with a sweet demeanor underneath, and once you get around that, you have a friend for life. I think I’ll always be a combination of best friend, little sister, and one of the guys, and I wouldn’t wish for anything else. :]??? And the thing I want you to know about Kimmie is that she talks good. She’s got plenty of opinions and can put them neatly into words- watch the video to see her in action.

Girl on Girl with Rika Episode 1: Kimmie Britt

Girl on Girl Teaser Video with Rika Stead!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Game Review: Bayonetta

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Bayonetta: BusyGamer Score 3 of 5

First Glance:
Sexy character, sexy action and gameplay, A varied world full of pretty environments and visually well-designed enemies. Hails of bullets mixed with fighting game-style hand to hand combat, mixed with God of War or Prince of Persia-style adventure, delivered by a colder-than-James Bond English witch.

The Short Story:
Let’s address it straight off- yes, Bayonetta has a sexy female lead character. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not enough to carry a bad game. The good news: Bayonetta isn’t a bad game. The gameplay focuses on action and the execution of over-the-top combat moves to propel you on a tour of an eye candy heavy world populated with antagonistic angels that are both grotesque and stereotypically heavenly at the same time. The game is all about the battles, and the battles happen nearly constantly. But there are also scattered puzzles to solve, items to collect, secrets to find, and lore to unveil. It’s fun, it’s pretty, it’s full of action.

The Score:
Bayonetta’s gameplay is divided into chapters, which are divided into verses. The game will autosave at the completion of each verse, so even if you can’t finish the chapter, you can come back to it with a minimal amount of replay. However, your enjoyment of the game, as well as your performance, will suffer if you don’t have the time to complete a chapter continuously most of the time. A player with average skills should be able to complete a chapter in under two hours generally, but for optimal enjoyment, you will want to have time to play in longer stretches at least sometimes. You can also put Bayonetta down for a day or two without completely forgetting where you are and what you’re doing, and if you do, the fact that you can practice your combo moves on the loading screens should help you pick it back up. Because of this, I am giving Bayonetta a Busy Gamer 3. Players will enjoy the game most if they have the time to play about four three-hour sessions a week.

Reviewer Rika Stead by Jim Brown

Body of Review:
Bayonetta is one of the most pleasant gaming experiences I have had in a while, just for the simple reason that there isn’t much in the game that gets in the way of your enjoyment. It’s easy on the eyes, both Bayonetta and her world were designed with attention to detail. But the game also doesn’t err on the side of pursuing the philosophy of “sex sells.. so we don’t need anything else.??? While much has been made of Bayonetta’s sex appeal, she’s not just a cartoon sex doll. Yeah, she’s sexy, but she also has a uniqueness to her that makes her more of a real character, less of a vehicle to bring tits into the game. (BTW, in case you can’t use Google image search yourself, there are no flotation-device-like boobs on Bayonetta, and no perceivable boob bounce animations.) Bayonetta’s character is endearing in a way. Some of the lines they gave her are a bit cheesy, as are some of the moves, but they are delivered in a way that makes you feel like Bayonetta is quite aware of the cheese factor and is dropping her lines with just a hint of irony.

And the combat doesn’t suck either. Bayonetta executes over the top combo moves, and can learn special techniques, such as turning into a panther for bursts of speed or dodging while in the air as the game progresses. The combos are made up of martial arts-style moves accompanied by the constant hail of bullets from all four of Bayonetta’s guns. The most important concept in Bayonetta combat is the dodge. Not only is it necessary to avoid damage, but dodging at the absolute last second also triggers “Witch Time???- AKA time stops for everything around you, enabling you to pummel your enemies without risk of reciprocation or to make your way across obstacles that you otherwise cannot.


Getting the Upper Hand on Bioshock 2 Pre-orders

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Bioshock 2 available 02.09.10

The long awaited Bioshock 2 will be out Febuary 9th, and there are plenty of gamers already planning to snatch it up at the first opportunity. But don’t just run into the first game retailer you see and buy it! I’ve sorted through the pre-order deals so you can get your game at the earliest possible moment AND get something extra too.

Here are the retailers who are clamoring for your Bioshock business:

Steam: The pre-order price is 44.99, plus they’re throwing in the original Bioshock for free. And as always, if you buy from Steam, you can get your game right at release without having to wait in line with all those other losers. Or, if you like other losers, and have three friends who also want Bioshock 2, you can get the four pack- four copies of Bioshock 2, plus four copies of Bioshock. If you consider the Bioshocks to be freebies, that’s 33.74 per Bioshock 2. Of course, the problem I see with this bonus is that most people who want to pre-order Bioshock 2 probably already have Bioshock- especially after Steam put it on the holiday sale for $4.99.

Gamestop and EB Games: Both retailers are offering two bonus multiplayer characters with pre order- Blanche the actress and Zigo the fisherman. If you buy in store, you will get a card with the code to unlock the duo, much as you would expect. The price is also about what you’d expect: $59.99. If you’re really hardcore, you also get this bonus with pre-order of the $99 Limited Edition. Amazon is offering a pre-order price of $54.99 or $55.99 for X360 or Playstation, plus you’ll also get a $10 credit towards future game purchases. That brings the price down to around $45 in a way, but they are twisting your arm to buy more games later. (Which of course you totally weren’t already going to do.) That’s not so inhumane, but they also reserve the right to charge you an indefinite amount for release date delivery- you’ll find out the amount at checkout.

Consumables, IRL

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Gamer Consumables: +5HP or -3HP?

I knew gaming was becoming a part of the larger culture the first time I encountered a World of Warcraft poser. (He said he rolled a level 42 Orc. I said I’d always wanted to play an Orc and asked how he liked it. He said Orcs are the best..)

But now, not only do people want to seem like bigger gamer geeks than they are, but companies also want to sell products that say “I’m such a gamer that even my _____ is specifically for gamers.??? Headsets? Sure. Mousepads? Okay. Tee shirts? Been there… now what? Well.. we’ve come to expect consumables in game. Now we can have them IRL too! While I am yet to encounter a product that can truly increase my fire resistance, during a recent expedition to Fry’s I was able to acquire a Mana Energy Potion, a Health Energy Potion, and a little snack pack called Gamer Grub. I fearlessly tested these products on myself, and am now back with my report.

Gamer Grub:
Gamer Grub at first glance seemed to be nothing but a title slapped on a product as a marketing ploy. But on closer inspection, I realized that the pouch it comes in is functional- its meant to be poured into your mouth from the pouch, thereby avoiding greasy fingers and crumbs in the keyboard. That’s something that my abused keyboard is definitely pleading for. It comes in flavors such as Pizza, “PB&J???, Wasabi, and Chocolate.

Tested during: World of Warcraft dungeoning and Mini-Ninjas.

Taste: Very good. I chose the pizza flavor. Like pizza, but with sort of a trail mix feeling of wholesome-ness. It doesn’t suck.

Gamer appeal: Eat out of the pouch- easy to eat while gaming. Scientifically formulated to “support fast cognitive performance.??? I couldn’t tell if my brain was working better than normal or not, but the pouch system works well, and it has MAJOR hunger fighting power.

The verdict overall: It’s a good product. I’d eat it again, and I’d try some of the other flavors, but at about four bucks a pop for a 4oz. pouch.. well, I’d rather you bought it for me.

Rika Stead by Brian Hilson

BG Writer Rika Stead by Brian Hilson

Mana Energy Potion
Mana Energy Potion gains instant appeal because it’s cute. It’s blue, and it comes in a little potion bottle. It has 25 calories per serving, and contains various B vitamins, vitamin C, caffeine, and taurine, among other things. Basically, it’s an energy potion because its a single-shot energy drink, and its for gamers because it knocks off WoW without quite being a copyright infringement and non-gamers probably think it’s dorky.

Tested during: L4D.

Taste: Bleh. Popsicles, flat soda, and somehow, Red Bull with dirt in it. It doesn’t make you gag, and it’s easier than a shot of say Rumpleminze, but its not that good.

Gamer appeal: We all need energy for late night marathons of course. Cute potion style bottle. It’s called Mana!

The verdict overall: Mediocre. An hour after taking it, I felt energized but jittery. Two hours afterwards, I got hit with a hard crash. It’s a nice novelty, but aside from that, I don’t see much of a reason to buy this as opposed to 5 Hour Energy, which in my experience, works better.

Health Energy Potion
Health Energy Potion is the counterpart of Mana. It has slightly different vitamins, and its red, but its packaged in a similar World of Warcraft-reminiscent style. I went into the Health trial a bit more biased however, because Health got me in trouble in the airport- I got detained at security because I forgot it was in my laptop bag.

Tested during: CoDMW2, WoW leveling, and editing some nerd videos.

Taste: I thought Mana was lack luster.. then I tasted Health. Its the same popsicle and dirty Red Bull flavor, but with syrupy red food coloring and a dash of cinnamon. It’s not over powering cinnamon like Hot Damn, just enough to be unexpected in an annoying way.

Gamer appeal: Once again, energy for late night gaming, and cute potion packaging- but this one’s for tanks!

The verdict overall: So so. After getting jittery off of Mana, I decided to take this one in increments instead of in one shot. It kept the jittery-ness at bay, but I never felt a distinct surge of awakeness. Much like Mana, the only inspiration I see for purchasing this is novelty. If you are putting together a gift package for an obsessed WoW player (esp. if they were a tank during the pot chugging era!) then get it. If you want energy, get 5 Hour Energy.

Game Review: Polar Panic

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Polar Panic : Busy Gamer Rating 5

Polar Panic : Busy Gamer Rating 5

First Glance:
Cartoon-y, winter-y, arcade style puzzler. Kind of like trying to solve a puzzle while playing Pac Man.

The Short Story:
Polar Panic has you playing as a polar bear, trying to navigate through a world filled with ice block puzzles and the goons of an evil corporation on a quest to save your bear-napped family. Choose from Story Mode, Puzzle Mode, or Survivor Mode (which can be single or multi player)- whichever way you go, its going to involve sliding and smashing blocks of ice, smashing blocks of snow, and with the exception of puzzles mode, smashing goons. FYI- Those trappers might look kinda like Santa, but they’re only jolly after they bash your skull in.

The Score:
The phrase “it is what it is??? comes to mind… Polar Panic is an arcade-style game, so it should be judged as such. But its not an arcade game so phenomenal that it would tempt hardcore gamers to get caught up in it. It fails to transcend its’ genre. That said, its not an absolutely awful game. I won’t pretend that I didn’t start to enjoy watching the swell of blood as I smashed an enemy with a block of ice.. but I didn’t start to enjoy the game until about an hour in. Up until then, the negative aspects of the game were more apparent to me. I give Polar Panic a Busy Gamer score of 5, with the caveat that you probably won’t want to play it for more than an hour a day anyway.

Body of Review:
I get excited about a game when I hear someone say “I usually don’t play (game genre here), but I really loved (game name here). Now I admit, I am not a huge fan of arcade games aside from those that trigger my nostalgia, and I tend to view puzzles more as an obstacle I have to get across to get to the next part of my game than the fun of the game. But I went at Polar Panic with an open mind, hoping I would find myself surprised at how addictive it was. It fell a bit short. When I brought in a second player (one who is more fond of puzzles than I) to help me test the multi player, his most memorable quote was actually, “Well, looks like that’s about it. Can we stop playing now????

Click to see more articles by Rika Stead

So what was so unremarkable about the game? The controls largely consist of directionals and XXX..X..X…XXXXXXXXX… and the game itself is overly repetitive. The level of difficulty also seems arbitrary- some levels are so easy you think you’re playing a game for toddlers, but they may be preceded by a level that is so frustrating it really is “mind-numbing???, to quote the game’s own copy. The story is extremely childlike but not in an endearing way, and is more of an encumbrance to the game than anything. In puzzle mode, every puzzle you solve unlocks- surprise- another puzzle, which isn’t problematic in and of itself, but they could have thrown in some different sorts of rewards or different ways to unlock the rest of the puzzles to make it a bit more interesting. In story mode, the save system is such that one small mistake can set you back to repeat quite a bit of game play, and if you quit before you beat every level in the chapter, you have to start back at the chapter’s beginning. Which wouldn’t be so bad if the game weren’t already repetitive. Also, it seems as if the darts fired by the hunters behave a bit inconsistently, sometimes killing you when you think they are too far out and sometimes letting you escape by a very narrow margin.


WoW gets BG friendy with Dungeon Finder queue!

Friday, December 18th, 2009
WoW Random Dungeon Queue gives badges!

WoW Random Dungeon Queue gives badges!

World of Warcraft just got more Busy Gamer friendly. Now that the new dungeon finder has been in use for a little while, I think it’s safe to say that it has made playing WoW with a busy schedule much more productive.

Basically, the Dungeon Finder puts players together in automatic groups across server lines. This means, of course, that there are now exponentially more players looking for the dungeon you are looking for. Unlike the previous incarnation of the automatic group maker, the Dungeon Finder has you select the role you will fill and it only forms groups with all roles filled. You can also select the random dungeon option, (which most of the time means you will be in a group nearly instantaneously) and gain bonus perks such as Emblems of Frost, gold, and a chance at getting a special non-combat pet. And forget about flying to dungeons or summoning. When you use the Dungeon Finder, you will be ported there automatically once your group is ready.

The full details of the Dungeon Finder can be found here, but the highlights of the new system for those of us playing on a time crunch are as follows:

º Less time spent trying to put together a group because there is a greater pool of potential players, and no need to spend a lot of time pst-ing back and forth with would be group members.

º No travel time to dungeons.

º The added bonus of being able to run a dungeon and make some money at the same time instead of having to chose one or the other.

º You and a friend can join as a group if you choose- you get to run with your buddy without having to spend a lot of time putting together the rest of the group.

º In my experience, most of the time you are in a group within three minutes of getting in the Dungeon Finder queue.

º My unscientific estimate is that I can now run three PUG dungeons in the time it took me to put together and complete one. (This is assuming no use of guildies or friends in my group assembly.) This makes my time far more productive which in turn makes my gear far more respectable.

Author Rika Stead by Jim Brown

Author Rika Stead by Jim Brown

One thing that has been getting some complaints in the forums is that you don’t get to check gear on your group members. Personally, this doesn’t concern me much. To be a truly good player you need to have some experience making up for weaker players. And a lot of the time, people checking gear for dungeons seem to be inordinately fixated on that. I can heal heroics with Shard of the Virtuous on (and thats experience talking, sadly, not hypothetical) but a player who no one will give a chance to can’t run anything. If you are a “non-hardcore??? player with not as good gear this is advantageous to you because you won’t be turned down to take someone with better gear. I have seen some horror stories about parties heavy on grossly undergeared players, but personally I haven’t yet encountered a situation that the other players were unable to compensate for.

The only major concern I have is that dungeoning across servers may effect how players find and form guilds in the long term. Meeting other players by running pug dungeons has always been the basic way to meet other people you enjoy playing with. Now we are running most of the time with people who we can’t stay in contact with and what that means remains to be seen.

Wal-Mart vs. Gamestop: Holiday Wars

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
Gamestop tries to compete with Walmart's rollbacks

Gamestop stays competitive with Walmart

(Dec 2 2009 Wal-Mart Newsroom) – Wal-Mart has just announced extra savings on video games now until December 24th. These new “rollbacks??? include Uncharted 2 for PS3, Dragon Age: Origins for PS3 or Tekken 6 on 360 for 50 bucks each. They also are running a special offer on the Wii from December 8th through the 12th- buy a $199 Wii console, get a $50 gift card.

Market Watch reports that Gamestop’s shares have tumbled upon the announcement of these new prices, and it is speculated that Gamestop may have to match these prices to stay competitive. Gamestop’s current price for any of the three games listed above is 59.99.

But of course, the report that is now being regurgitated on every website that has anything to do with gaming, stocks, or shopping doesn’t tell the whole story. On many other games the two have very similar pricing- on the Left 4 Dead Game of the Year Edition for 360, Gamestop’s price is three cents higher at $29.99, and Gamestop is seven cents higher on Resident Evil 5 for PS3. Gamestop has Valkyria Chronicles for PS3 for $19.99 (new) whereas Wal-Mart’s price is $29.96. Gamestop has Borderlands for $59.99 on either 360 or Playstation, and Wal-Mart… doesn’t appear to be selling Borderlands.

Gamestop also trumps Wal-Mart on DJ Hero for Wii- Gamestop’s current price is $109.99, about ten bucks less than Wal-Mart’s $119.99.

Game Review: Quake Live

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009
QUAKE LIVE: Busy Gamer Rating 4

QUAKE LIVE: Busy Gamer Rating 4

First Glance: The reincarnated spirit of Quake III, but downloaded and launched through a browser plug in- and totally free to play.

Short Story: Shoot, blast, explode, or gauntlet your friends, automated opponents, or complete strangers! Fast FPS action with five main types of matches, around forty maps, a skill matching system, and a social networking style system of profiles and friends lists.

The Score: While I could definitely craft an argument for rating Quake Live a 5, I’m going to go with a 4. It is definitely possible to log on and play just one match per day, but I don’t think many gamers will actually play the game in such a manner. One of the best uses of Quake Live is playing with friends, and limiting such play to only an hour at a time would deny the tangled web of matches, vengeance and grudge matches which naturally should result from fragging your friends. You also will most likely not go to the top of the leaderboards putting in an hour or two a day, but most busy gamers will not need that kind of validation to enjoy the gameplay. Being free also gives Quake Live major points- you have to spend exactly zero hours at work to afford it!

The skill matching system means that you can enjoy yourself without getting pwned too hard, even if you are on the wrong end of the learning curve. Its not impossible to stay alive long enough to improve your skills when you are playing matches at your level. It is also perfectly possible to pick the game back up after a long absence. Even if you do get a bit rusty, you’ll still be able to enjoy the game.

Quake Live is perhaps best as a binge game- its best played in segments of more than an hour, but you don’t need to play everyday. (Barring any addiction you may develop, anyway.) It’s great for lan parties and tournaments as well.

Quake Live boasts 5 types of matches and 40 maps! Plus it's free to play!

Quake Live boasts 5 types of matches and 40 maps! Plus it's free to play!

Body of Review: All you need to do to get started playing Quake Live is to take a little stroll to Create a free account, and quickly download the plug in. Then you play a match against Crash, who also shows you around the game a little. The rest of the files you need to play are downloading as you play this match, and this match also places you in the skill ranking system. Once your account is created, you can log in and play from any computer with only minimal time spent downloading content.

Once in the game, you can choose to practice against computer opponents or you can select a match. Types of matches include Capture the Flag, Clan Arena, Free For All, Duel, and Team Deathmatch. You can filter matches based on type, or with criteria such as players on your friends list or maps. Matches appropriate for your skill level are automatically suggested, but you can also choose to play matches at a higher level if you wish. The player base is very good as well, no long waits for matches to fill. You can log in and get to shooting pretty much immediately.

Gameplay is much as you would expect- fast and violent. You pick up weapons such as rocket launchers, lightning guns, grenade launchers, and chain guns, and various armors and power ups. Then you take your new arsenal and try to reach out and touch someone. Techniques such as rocket jumping and strafe jumping will greatly improve both your deadliness and your lifespan, and there are tutorials on both if you need a little help.

Check out more of Rika's Reviews! Photo by Jim Brown.

Check out more of Rika's Reviews! Photo by Jim Brown.

Quake Live also has a built in system of friends lists, and player profiles somewhat similar to a social networking site. Each player profile lets you see a pretty intense amount of information on that player, such as a detailed match history, stats like accuracy and favorite weapons, arena, ect., and players they have recently competed against. Public records keep smack-talking players honest. There is also a built in chat window where you can converse with players on your friends list. Also in social networking fashion, you can use your email contact list to find people you know who play.

The only word of warning for busy gamers is that it is of course not in your best interest to go afk during a match, and any matches you leave without completing do go on your record, so you need to know for certain that you have time to complete a match once you join. Regardless, Quake Live is still one of the best suited online games for those of us with jobs/lives/other games to see to. And did I mention that it’s FREE?