Nov. 28, 2013 | 12:19 p.m.
You don’t have to take your broom to Diagon Alley, cross the Bifrost, traverse the Misty Mountains or steal a vortex manipulator to find the perfect gift for the Trekkie, Whovian or Westerosi-wannabe in your life. We’ve done the looking for you in our annual Hero Complex Holiday Gift Guide. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or another gamer, a comics enthusiast or film buff, we’ve got you covered. Click through the gallery above for a peek at our selections. Items are listed below, sorted by cost. Happy shopping, and happy holidays! Under $25 Millenium Falcon guitar pick, $2.49: Here’s a song for you: The Millenium Falcon, it’s a smugglers’ ship. It can make the Kessel Run in “less than 12 parsecs.” Han Solo and Lando Calrissian use it, but neither has it as pick to strum and make rebel music. […]
Nov. 27, 2013 | 2:03 p.m.
This month saw the release of two high-end home video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft. But competitor and long-standing game powerhouse Nintendo has a surprisingly effective countermove: cats. Yes, cats. The Italian caricatures of Mario and Luigi, who may be the closest thing the video game medium has to a Mickey and Minnie when it comes to brand awareness, have returned in the Wii U exclusive “Super Mario 3D World,” now with the ability to morph into feline form. It’s one tweak among many, and it turns out that putting paws on the plumbers more than livens up a trusty formula. Mario and Luigi now chase rabbits, climb trees and attack enemies with claws out, a number of seemingly small design changes that when taken as a whole results in one of the more inventive Mario adventures. Like the […]
Nov. 25, 2013 | 4:43 p.m.
Bilbo Baggins and his short-statured traveling companions are joining forces against Lego baddies in a new video game. “Lego The Hobbit,” from TT Games, will be based on the first two films in Peter Jackson’s planned “Hobbit” trilogy — “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and the upcoming “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.” The family-friendly take on the franchise will offer gamers of all ages the ability to play as Bilbo (portrayed in the films by Martin Freeman), Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and all 13 dwarfs in the company. The game features Lego versions of key locations from the films, including Bag End, Bilbo’s Hobbit hole, the Misty Mountains, Mirkwood, Rivendell and more. Like the previous Middle-earth-themed installation “Lego The Lord of the Rings,” the Hobbit gameplay will focus on solving puzzles, finding treasure and battling dark forces, including […]
Nov. 21, 2013 | 9:44 a.m.
The Xbox One hits stores on Friday, and the reviews are pouring in. Game critics are weighing the pros and cons of Microsoft’s next-generation video game console, and, much like last week’s reaction to Sony’s PlayStation 4, the reviews are overall positive, with a few notable shortcomings. Critics praised the Xbox One’s ambition, its relatively seamless integration into existing media centers, its launch game lineup and its potential as an all-encompassing media hub, while complaining about its seemingly uncreative console design and several flaws with the Kinect’s voice-recognition capabilities. Reviews were divided on the elegance and functionality of its new user interface. The Times’ own Todd Martens notes that the PS4 and the Xbox One focus on different aspects of a video game console’s potential. “Their presentation — the arguments they put forth about how games can and should be […]
Nov. 20, 2013 | 5:07 p.m.
With the release of the PlayStation 4 and XBox One consoles a week apart, the few undecided gamers who haven’t thrown their support behind one console or the other may have given rise to Machinima’s newest mini-movie, “The Console War.” The piece starts off with Master Chief, a popular character from XBox’s “Halo” franchise, taking out Kratos, a popular character from PlayStation’s “God of War” series. It’s a battle that parallels consumer console wars that are sure to erupt during this holiday season when the new generation of consoles — including 2012′s WiiU — will be pitted against one another. The video only focuses on PS4 and XBox though, and follows Machinima’s narrative productions of “Halo Reach,” “Mortal Kombat: Legacy” (and the sequel), as well as live-action fan pieces like the Skyrim project and the “Dead Island” video game trailer. […]
Nov. 20, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.
“Go ahead,” the screen on Microsoft’s Xbox One will tell you, “say ‘Xbox.’” “No,” you may very well think, “I am an adult, and I will not talk to my video-game console.” Oh, but you will. That’s because Microsoft’s $500 all-in-one entertainment system is the first video-game console ever made that can utilize your voice to go from zero to playing Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video in 47 seconds. One simple command, “Xbox on,” brings your hardware and television to life; three more commands and you’re on YouTube watching her get fierce with a sledgehammer — all without pressing a button. The Xbox One terms such ability “automagical,” and while that’s a marketing buzzword that probably shouldn’t be attached to anything that doesn’t involve Tinker Bell, it’s admittedly pretty neat. But what does it have to do with games? Well, […]
Nov. 16, 2013 | 6:00 a.m.
After thousands of gamers waited in line for the midnight release of PlayStation 4, Sony’s next-generation video game console is finally out. Reviews for the highly anticipated machine are pouring in and for the most part, they’re positive. Game critics tout the PS4′s sleek console design, intuitive controller and improved user interface while lamenting the relatively slim lineup of original launch games to show off the powerful new hardware. The Times’ own Todd Martens notes that the new console is evidence of Sony’s laser-focus on its hard-core gamer audience. “The highly sociable PS4 sidesteps attempts by competitors to capture a more casual player and subsume all home media options with a machine that offers no-nonsense gaming professionalism,” Martens writes. “If it the PS4 weren’t $400, it could be seen as a love letter to Sony’s core audience.” Console design The […]
Nov. 15, 2013 | 1:29 p.m.
It was one hour after the West Coast’s midnight launch of Sony’s PlayStation 4, and there were 100 channels live-broadcasting the event. On one, a “Call of Duty” player confessed to just randomly pushing buttons, and on another a group of college-age kids engaged in trash talking in “NBA 2K14.” Riveting stuff? Probably not to most, but arguably no console out-of-the-box has felt as laser-focused on its audience as the PS4. New for the PS4 is a button on the controller labeled “share.” Players can use it to upload video to Facebook or tap into Twitch, a popular streaming video site. This new generation of video games may not offer the knockout graphics that once heralded a new console epoch, but the content will be televised and shared. Though communal gaming is just one feature in the PS4’s tweaked and […]
Nov. 14, 2013 | 6:30 p.m.
Sony’s PlayStation 4, which will be released Friday, is the successor to 2006’s PlayStation 3 and the first of two major video game consoles out this holiday season. Microsoft will release its Xbox One on Nov. 22. Both consoles are technologically comparable, but each offers a diverging theory as to the future of gaming. Sony’s point of view is apparent after spending just one hour with the PlayStation 4: Tomorrow’s gaming experience will be, above all else, a shared one. Today’s consoles, including last year’s Wii U from Nintendo, are increasingly seeking ways to hold the attention of the player at a time when the fastest-growing area for games is the mobile phone. REVIEW: Sony’s PS4 is communal, connected PlayStation 4, like the Xbox One, requires an always-on Internet connection to be used to its fullest potential. Part gaming machine […]
Nov. 14, 2013 | 5:00 a.m.
The word “simulation” often gets tossed around when discussing the “Arkham” series of Batman video games. The implication is that these digital re-creations of Gotham City and its freakish cast of villains and antiheroes are the closest any of us will get to experiencing the adrenaline rush of cape and cowl vigilantism. An exaggeration, sure, but there is realism to be had in unexpected places throughout “Batman: Arkham Origins.” In “Origins,” one of two new games for the Bat franchise released in late October by Warner Bros. Interactive, players can experience at least one true-to-life aspect of Batman not captured in films by Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan: The daily grind of having to go to work each night. The task of ridding the streets of crime becomes a little less fun and a little more like a job filled […]