Archive by Author | Sean Marraffini

Gaming on a budget: Holiday shopping guide for the money conscious gamer

Because of the sparse availability of the the new consoles, I thought I’d compose a list of gift ideas that won’t break the bank and will still get the most use out of last generation’s consoles. I’ve listed items, games, and services I have used personally that I think will make great gifts this holiday season, along with the blockbuster titles.


IL*2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey – Xbox 360/PlayStation 3

In an era where flight sims are seemingly a forgotten genre, this entry by 505 Games gets it right. Set during World War II, players take to the skies to as Allied pilots working to stop the Nazi war machine. Jump in the cockpit of Spitfires, B-52s, and other era craft as you follow the narrative from those who lived it. The game, while a fun and strong title, looks like something off of the History Channel. Its sound and imagery are very fitting for the time period. It is a good game all around, with some fun history to be learned as well.

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron – Xbox 360/PlayStation 3

From the creators of Okami and Devil May Cry, this visual mindtrip is mixed with a hack-and-slash combat style and story almost literally out of the Bible that is not going ever be forgotten by those who play it. Taking control of the great grandfather of Noah, Enoch, you are tasked by God to defeat fallen angels to prevent the end of humanity. Working alongside the Devil, players will fight and platform their way to help save human kind. This is a game that is not well known, but should not at all be missed. Read More…


Capcom hires the right guns with Resident Evil Mercenaries multiplayer

Since the release of Resident Evil 4 in March of 2005, it seems little has gone right for Capcom–with the lackluster reception of Resident Evil 5, followed by last year’s Resident Evil 6 which came with many mixed reviews, resulting in a fairly quick price drop.  This is in addition to issues with other titles like Street Fighter, their fallout with game designer Keiji Inafune, and the consequential canceling of a few Mega Man games, even those that were almost finished.

Yet, in the wake of these many poor decisions, there is one facet of their games that they have gotten right: The inclusion of “The Mercenaries” multiplayer and 3DS game.

They took the stages, characters and weapons that existed in the games they were producing already and created a multiplayer mode in a series that had little to no multiplayer options. This worked, due to the fact that a major selling point of the later titles is the FPS gameplay and weapon customization. Read More…

Soulcalibur II HD Online coming to PS3 and 360 on Nov. 20

Fans of the very popular fighting game will be happy to hear that Soulcalibur II is being re-released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 under the title Soulcalibur II HD Online.

This HD title will host updated visuals and graphics which, from the trailers and screenshots, look good, yet still hold the art style and feel of the original title.

Namco Bandai has confirmed that Spawn and Heihachi will be featured in the game. Read More…

Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V to have two free content updates for GTA Online

Those who have spent many, many hours in the city of Los Santos and surrounding Blaine County will now have even more to do. On top of the now delayed “stimulus packages,” which are two payments to all GTA Online players active though October, of 500,000 dollars in-game money. Players can now look forward to the “Beach Bum” and “Content Creator” updates.

Beach Bum will add new vehicles like dune buggies and new weapons, as well as jobs, races, and customization options that can be carried over to both the campaign and GTA Online.

The second update is Content Creator, which will allow players to create their own races and deathmatches. Those that Rockstar like the most will be highlighted in the Rockstar Newswire and at Social Club events. Read More…

Sony reveals day one update for PlayStation 4

Those earlier adopters of the PlayStation 4 will find themselves in need of installing some updates before getting the most out of their console.  On November 15, before playing games or using any feature of their new console, PlayStation 4 owners will be required to download Update 1.50, a 300MB download required to use many of the functions of the new PS4.

Those functions include:

  • Remote Play- Enables gamers to play PS4 titles on their Vita via Wi-Fi.
  • Second Screen- Using the PlayStation App, this allows users to use their iOS or Android device as a “second screen” and interact with titles (Think like the Wii U tablet, or as demonstrated by Ubisoft at E3 with The Division, the drone support offered by a friend on their iPad.)
  • Taking Screenshots/Recording and uploading gameplay – The ability to take in-game screenshots, while also uploading game footage to sites like Facebook and Twitter (For which you have a free account for already). Read More…

Nintendo 2DS review

Release date: Oct. 12, 2013 (In US, Australia, New Zealand and EU)
Color options: Red or Blue with black trim
What’s in the box?: Console, charger, 4GB SD card, stylus, manual, AR Cards, Club Nintendo Registration info
Price: $129.99 (US)

With another entry in Nintendo’s highly successful handheld market, the Nintendo 2DS is a more affordable, “kid friendly” version that launched with seemingly little fanfare on October 12th along with Pokemon X and Y. I picked up the unit due to its low price point and the 2DS’s biggest, selling point: While the game console will play 3DS games, it has no 3D display option.

The system still comes with outward facing 3D cameras for things like capturing faces for making Miis, or for opponents in Face Raiders, a tech demo game that is pre-installed and a fun way to waste time.

The Nintendo’s 3DS has a 3D feature that is not recommended for children under the age of seven, so it appears that one of their main target demographics are those who are not able to use their product safely. It seems Nintendo has gone about addressing that issue with the 2DS, as it allows kids to play the most recent 3DS games as well as “over 2,000” previous DS game types without the potential for eye damage caused by the glasses-free 3D visuals. Read More…

Microsoft’s ‘Games with Gold’ has been extended “indefinitely”

GamesWithGoldLogo-610It was recently announced by the Seattle-based software company that its extremely popular ‘Games with Gold’ promotional program will be extended “indefinitely.”

After being announced at this year’s E3, Xbox 360 Gold subscribers have been offered two free game downloads a month, one title starting on the 1st and the second title beginning on the 16th of each month.

A poll of 360 gamers said that 97 percent of users approved of ‘Games with Gold.’ Since the majority of 360 users approve of it, Microsoft will be continuing the promotion.  I do hope they might step up in terms of some of the games being available, with there being mostly older titles and indie games to choose from currently. I hear rumblings that PlayStation Network users are getting more interesting titles. Read More…

Pokemon X and Y review

Developer/Publisher: Game Freak/Nintendo
Genre: Role Playing Game
Available on: Nintendo 2DS/3DS (reviewed on the 2DS)
Modes: Single player, online multiplayer
Release date: Oct. 12, 2013

Writer’s Note: I did not write a separate review for Pokemon X, as the games will play very, very similarly, with the big difference being the difference in Pokemon you can catch in the wild.

The Pokemon fad started with me when I was younger. I won’t forget where I first heard about them. It was a typical classroom day in second grade (so this would have been 1998, the year in first arrived in the states). I was sitting there working on some project, with all my classmates conversing amongst themselves, when a classmate near me was looking at this cardboard cutout of this thing called Squirtle. I had recalled seeing this on Lunchables boxes at the store but had no idea what they were.

“What is that thing?” I asked. “They are called Pokemon, it’s a TV show and card game,” they replied (details are fuzzy). “Is it fun? “Uhhh…DUH! I wouldn’t have them if they were stupid!” So, I went home, and told my mom I wanted Pokemon. She looked at me like I had six heads and had no idea what I was talking about. I told her it was a TV show and card game. “What’s it about?” “Monsters that fight each other!” I yelled as a scurried off to find when the show would be on so I could watch it before school the next day.

I watched the hell out of the show many mornings, catching reruns at night, where along the way I learned about the game Red and Blue. Being the consummate nerd that was, I had, HAD to have Pokemon Blue for Christmas. Read More…

GameStop’s Black Friday circular has leaked

With the holiday season right around the corner, it is no surprise that major retailers are preparing for their busiest time of the year. The major video game retailer, GameStop, is no exception. Like many stores, GameStop will be opening at midnight on November 29 to allow shoppers to get an early start on their gift shopping.

The 2013 GameStop Black Friday circular has been leaked to and is now in the eyes of the viewing public. Yet, this is not the final edition as it still touts that Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs will be available, but, as announced this week, Watch Dogs has been pushed back until 2014. So, while this isn’t the final edition, it is most likely pretty close.

Of course, the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are highlights of the flyer. It also shows sales on many new or older hit release games, such as the EA sports titles for 39.99 on the PlayStation 3, BioShock Infinite for 20 bucks, and Assassin’s Creed III going as low as 15 dollars. Read More…

Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 review

Developer/Publisher: PES Production/Konami
Genre: Sports (football/soccer)
Available on: PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (Reviewed on the 360)
Release Date
: Sept. 24, 2013


Konami’s answer to FIFA, Pro Evolution Soccer (or PES), also launched on Sept. 24. Being a big FIFA fan, this is my first time with its rival. I can say that while it is markedly different, it’s not exactly better. It’s not a bad game, but it lacks the flair and polish that comes with the FIFA series. I find the game poorly suited to the North American market. From the lack of recognizable licenses to the awkward wording of menu screens and limited game options, it feels slightly lost in translation.

Right after putting PES in my Xbox, I noticed the menu title has classical music playing over it; a song akin to theme of Phantom of the Opera. This is a very noticeable difference from the indie pop and rock used in the FIFA series. But, just when it starts to be different, it then noticeably stops.

The music choices are very limited, with only a few operatic tracks and menu beats composed by the development team. There is the option to use a flash drive and then import songs of your choice; it clearly tells you how to do it and it was easy to do. However, I paid 60 bucks for this: Why do I have to do your job? I like that it’s customizable, but it really feels phoned in. This would be okay for a PC title where modding is a way of life, but not on a console. Read More…

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