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. 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. 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 […]
Nov. 08, 2013 | 10:54 a.m.
The first Neil Gaiman-authored video game may not have many words from the celebrated fantasy writer. But that’s exactly the way Gaiman wants it, said Matt Korba, co-founder of developing studio the Odd Gentleman. “Wayward Manor,” initially unveiled this summer and due in 2014 for the PC and Mac, puts players in control of a ghost on a haunting spree. When the L.A. studio and Gaiman first began discussing the project, said Korba, Gaiman had an early request: no lengthy in-game cinematic sequences. The story, requested Gaiman, would be told via player actions rather than scripted, plot-heavy moments — what the gaming industry refers to as “cut-scenes.” This, said Korba, is when he knew the collaboration would work. “From the start,” Korba remembers, “Neil said, ‘We’re not telling the story through cut-scenes.’ Like, ‘That’s boring. Nobody plays games to watch cut-scenes.’ This is […]
Nov. 06, 2013 | 5:54 p.m.
In the late 2000s Walt Disney Imagineers were tasked with solving a problem that doesn’t typically crop up at Walt Disney World theme parks: How do you make the place more kid-friendly? Answer: Give it something that resembles a video game. That initial question led to what is now known as Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure, a real-life game that dates to 2009 and has players traversing Epcot’s series of country-themed pavilions to trigger hidden interactions within the park environments. The Florida attraction, said designer Jonathan Ackley on Tuesday, was inspired by the narrative-driven LucasArts games of the ’80s and early- to mid-’90s. “There was the perception at the time that there wasn’t enough stuff for kids to do at Epcot,” said Ackley, a former LucasArts employee. The location-based game has a spy theme and deviates from the international flavors […]
Nov. 06, 2013 | 12:18 p.m.
Ubisoft writer Jill Murray has a simple piece of advice for game designers who are struggling to find compelling female protagonists. “There’s a trick to finding inspiring women,” Murray said at a game industry conference on Tuesday. “You just type anything, and then you type ‘women’ into Google. So if you want women warriors, just type ‘women warriors.’ This is a piece of cake.” But scan the launch titles for this month’s Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and you’ll find lots of sports titles, lots of action games and lots of dudes. “I hope that we can fix this epidemic and oversight that’s been existing in games,” said Murray, “and when we do, it’s going to be fun.” Murrary, whose credits include the just-released “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag,” the female-centered “Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation” and the young adult novel […]
Oct. 15, 2013 | 12:30 p.m.
“Watch Dogs,” which had been one of the most anticipated new games of 2013, just became one of the most anticipated new games of 2014. Ubisoft announced Tuesday that the release of the title has been pushed back until at least spring of next year. “Our ambition from the start with ‘Watch Dogs’ has been to deliver something that embodies what we wanted to see in the next-generation of gaming,” read a statement attributed to the “Watch Dogs” development team. “It is with this in mind that we’ve made the tough decision to delay the release until spring 2014.” Set in Chicago, “Watch Dogs” presents a world in which governing forces are spying on citizens with hidden surveillance systems and guns are easy to come by. Gamers play as protagonist Aiden Pearce, who has the ability to hack into the […]