Month: July 2014

Time Is Money

Wario with Money while Ben Franklin sits idly by, from Minutebuzz

“Time is money.” Benjamin Franklin used this phrase in Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One. This phrase rings true for everyone with or without jobs. People who work full- and part-time positions truly know the meaning of this phrase. No matter our hourly wage, we are doing one thing: using our valuable time to earn money. However, this phrase can also relate to video games purchases. It sounds improbable, but our time spent playing a video game is worth a significant part of our money. I want to show everyone how it is possible to budget video games with my equation: “Playtime is Money.”

The Equation

Purchase Price ÷ Hours of Game Content = Hourly Cost of Game

When you purchase a video game, do you ever think about how many hours of playtime you accumulate? For example, one of your favorite video games comes out and you purchase it the day it is released. The video game is priced at $60. You realize that it is within your budget and decide to purchase it. But, if you play your favorite video game for only 4 hours, was it worth it? In reality, you spent $15 per hour of playtime which sounds like you wasted a lot of your money for no playtime.

If you are wondering where all of the hours compiled for each video game come from, you can visit HowLongToBeat.com to search for the average playtime for all of your favorite games.

How It Work by HowLongToBeat.com

How It Work by HowLongToBeat.com

What if you knew the game was only 4 hours, would you have rented it instead? There are many questions that warrant you to either buy a video game or rent one. In some cases, it may be more fiscally responsible to rent a video game, but your options are limited. There are only a few renters currently, which include Gamefly and Redbox. Instead of buying a $60 video game, you could use a subscription service like Gamefly and spend $16 a month and save $44 with how much time you spent playing your favorite video game in the scenario above. You need to know that not every video game warrants a purchase. I want to break down a few different types of video games to show you how to estimate a fair price for a video game.

Action/Adventure

The Action/Adventure video game genre is very popular today. You may find that the story in these games are unpredictable when it pertains to how many hours it takes to beat one. However, many Action/Adventure video games encourage you to explore and collect an absurd amount of items that can greatly extend your playtime.

For example, The Legend of Zelda for the NES takes roughly 10 hours to complete. It is currently $5 on the Wii U eShop. If you were to play the game for 10 hours, you are paying $0.50 per hour of playtime. That is a great deal for this classic game. How about The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? Ocarina of Time is priced at $10 on the Wii U and roughly $35 on the 3DS. Both games take around 30 hours to beat, but the difference in price is substantial. Would you rather spend $0.34 an hour for the Wii U version or $1.17 an hour for the 3DS version?

The Legend of Zelda Series by CT

Another video game we can  look at is the new Tomb Raider that was released for all platforms. The main game plus side missions takes roughly 15 hours to complete. If you want to do everything in this game, like find the collectibles and complete every side mission, then it can take nearly 20 hours. The PC version of Tomb Raider goes on sale all the time and is currently $7.50. The main game plus side missions would cost you $0.50 per hour while completing every task would cost you $0.38 per hour of playtime. Those are incredible deals when you look at it from the perspective of the “Playtime is Money” equation.

The last game under Action/Adventure video games that we should examine is Watch Dogs. Currently, the game costs around $50 for both the PS4 and Xbox One. Watch Dogs can take around 18 hours to complete without touching any of the side quests. However, if you played the main game and completed the side quests, it could take up to 32 hours to complete. For only the main game, you are spending $2.78 per hour while doing many of the side missions will cost you $1.56. This game leans more toward renting for me since I am not into free-roaming worlds as massive as this.

First-Person Shooters

The next type of video game, and personally one of my favorites, is the First-Person Shooter (FPS). Many of the single-player campaigns in FPS video games feel like blatant copies of each other with different stories painted over them; your missions is this, you must accept, go kill this person/alien/terrorist/zombie/gangster/Nazi, now escape, rinse and repeat. I realize some people enjoy playing the single-player campaign more than the online multiplayer, but I am not one of them. The “Playtime is Money” equation can illuminate a massive difference in the worth of a game if you only play the single-player campaign compared to someone playing the virtually endless competitive multiplayer.

The first game I want to review is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. This was one of the last FPS video games that had a decent story. I believe this game helped start a trend of online competitive multiplayer video games that others have copied extensively (as well as copy itself with Call of Duty games releasing every year). Players could finish the single-player campaign in 7 hours. If you were to buy this game at launch, it would have cost you $60 which would set you back $8.57 per hour on gameplay; that sounds like a rentable title to me. However, this video game’s competitive multiplayer was very addicting, and many players put hundreds of hours into it. On average, some players played 30 hours online while other went upwards to 100 hours. Based on those numbers, if you put at least 37 hours into the game, it cost you $1.62 per hour of playtime while 100 hours cost you $0.60. I know I had over 100 hours in multiplayer alone, so this game was well worth the purchase.

Call of Duty 4 Sniper by Coolchaser

Titanfall is a new, online-only multiplayer game for the PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. If you do your research, you can buy this game for $40. Amazon has it listed for $39.96 and Xbox Gold digital deals had it listed for $39.99 last week. I have put over 80 hours into this game and I bought Titanfall for $60. In other words, I spent $1.34 per hour of playtime which has been worth every penny. I continue playing this game and will most likely not stop until the next big FPS video game comes out.

Role-Playing Games

Finally, the last type of video game that deserves mentioning is the infamous Role-Playing Game (RPG). RPGs are relentlessly long. They need to focus on their story and most of the gameplay takes time to master. Another reason for their length is that, oftentimes, there are RPGs that demand that you grind through character levels and go on ridiculous quests, while some have mini-games thrown in so you can earn special items and awards.

The first RPG I want to dive into is one of my favorites of all time, Final Fantasy VII. This game is massive and since the turn-based combat takes time, the game lasts for hours on end. The main story will take you roughly 39 to 40 hours to complete, but if you want to complete the entire game 100%, it could take upwards to nearly 100 hours. At the time of its release (1997), the game was around $40. If you bought the game at this price, completing only the main story would cost you around $1 per hour of playtime, while completing all the content it has to offer would cost you $0.40. In my opinion, this game is worth the expensive purchase. Luckily, you can go buy it on Steam for $12 or even less when they have it on sale.

The next RPG that deserves a mention is the entire Mass Effect franchise. There are three games within this expansive franchise. Each game was longer than the last and, in my opinion, better. The entire Mass Effect franchise can take you nearly 65 hours to beat. The good thing about these games were the side missions and multiplayer mode in Mass Effect 3 which could extend the playtime. If each game cost $60, you would shell out $180 for an entire franchise. Without the extra content, this franchise would cost you around $2.77 per hour of playtime. That seems like a reasonable deal to me.

Mass Effect Trilogy by The Classic Gamer

Rent or Buy?

There are tons of games out there that would be worth renting, especially with the newer generation of games. For example, the main story for Ryse on the Xbox One can take you 6 hours to beat. Is it worth paying $60 though? You are paying $10 per hour of playtime. Instead, you could rent this game and save nearly $50.

Another game that comes to mind is Murdered: Soul Suspect. This game received mixed reviews and was released on every console imaginable. The worst part thing about this game is its length. It takes roughly 6 and a half hours to beat the main story. The game was released at $60 and has now dropped to $15 through the Humble Store promotion that Humble Bundle is running from July 28 – August 1 on different Square Enix video games. Instead of wasting the same amount as Ryse, $10 per hour of playtime and $60 total, it would only be feasible to rent Murdered: Soul Suspect, or at least wait and buy it at a greatly discounted rate.

Humble Bundle featuring Square Enix video games by GameZone

Wait For It

When using this equation, ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do I need to own this game right now?
  2. Should I consider renting this instead since everyone is saying how short it is?
  3. Will it go on sale in a few months?
  4. Does it have multiplayer?
  5. Is it worth it?

There are too many video games on the market. Unless all you do is sit in front of your television or computer screen and play every video game ever released, it is pointless to justify buying a multitude of games. Instead, budget accordingly and base it on the time you have available to spend on gaming. If you work 40 hours a week, is it worth buying every game that comes out in the next few months?

There are 8 games that I want to play by the end of this year that are releasing too closely together. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on games I do not have time to play, I asked myself the questions above to help save me money. I wanted to purchase Alien: Isolation for the Xbox One, but it sounds like it will A.) be too short, B.) go on sale within a month or two and C.) release too close to other games I find more important like Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Sunset Overdrive and Destiny.

Your time is a valuable commodity; do not take it for granted. When looking at the “Playtime is Money” equation, be careful when budgeting. You do not want to be overburdened with video games, unable to complete any of them, while exciting new games are scheduled to be released right around the corner. Instead, rent a video game every now and then, wait for that single player game you want so bad to go on sale, and consider how much money you are really spending on video games.

Stacks on Stacks on Stacks by Supernova125

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Early Impressions: The Destiny Beta

The Destiny Beta by Destiny Wikia

Since its release for the Xbox One, I have played the new Destiny Beta at every opportunity because I am still unsure if it is worth buying. You would think that after Bungie created one of my favorite video game series of all time, Halo, that I would trust their creativity and upcoming video games, but that is not the case with Destiny. After over eight hours of playtime, I still harbor some doubts. I wanted to share my positive and negative opinions about Destiny. Again, this is only the beta.

Destiny functions like an Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) video game and gives nods to some of the great games that have come before it. Bungie can deny this all they want, but I intend to present evidence to prove this otherwise. Destiny is being compared to other video games, but that is not necessarily troublesome. Before I start, you need to know a little background about the Destiny beta. There are currently two places where you can explore: the Tower and Earth. The Tower is a wonderful “one-stop-shop” for all your needs, while all of your missions play out on Earth. Additionally, there was a special event that included one more mission available on the Moon for two hours on July 26 which added more gameplay.

Halo Easter Egg by Halo Wikia

The Halo Feeling

This game looks and acts like the Halo franchise that put Bungie on the map. The aesthetics are incredible. I love the environments and character visualizations. I do wish that we were able to see our face without a helmet when we travel to Earth, but that is not my primary concern. The problem is that I view Destiny as Halo, and I do not think I am supposed to do that. There are too many similarities that make it hard to differentiate the two. On one hand, Destiny has the potential to become as successful as the Halo franchise, but, in my opinion, this could be far out of its “Reach” (Halo pun intended). I understand that Bungie has said that this game is not Halo, but the striking resemblances imply otherwise. While playing the beta, I noticed one weapon that reminds me of Halo: the shotgun. (Not that it is a bad thing, since the shotgun in Halo was brilliant.)

Call of Duty and Borderlands Livelihood

Like it or not, Destiny gameplay reminds me of Call of Duty, while the exploration, loot and weaponry remind me of Borderlands. First, take a look at this clip that I captured from the beta:

See anything similar to Call of Duty? If I wanted to, I could literally play this game like the Call of Duty franchise where I aim down my sights too often, wait for enemies to appear and either hold down the trigger or shoot in bursts. Call of Duty did not invent this type of gameplay, but with the weapon sights in Destiny, it reminds me a lot like Call of Duty. Hopefully, this will not be the only way I play since the powers in Destiny are pretty great.

For my next clip, watch how easy it is to pick off some of these enemies:

This is me nitpicking, but it does still bother me. I remember when I played Borderlands and pulled off easy kills like this. It was not a major problem, but it did get boring after awhile. I could say the same thing about Halo, but that game was not based on the characters level. Destiny and Borderlands have the same mechanics that end up being mundane after hours of playing. In all honesty, Destiny is what I wanted Borderlands to become, but that did not happen. Instead of considering Destiny at face value, I feel the need to compare the two, which could make it difficult for me to purchase this game.

Loot, Loot and More Loot

The loot in Destiny reminds me of Borderlands, but instead, I would rather compare it to the Diablo franchise. I love loot. It is addicting and fun. When I was exploring in Destiny for fun and finding chests, I was fascinated. I never knew what I would find. Because this is the beta, most of the players are still a low level, so most of the weapons, armor and loot were unusable, but it was still fun. I like how the game will have normal, uncommon and rare items. Also, I had to identify some loot at the Tower before the stats for the loot were revealed to me, like how it is in Diablo, which makes the loot even more of a mystery. One thing that was upsetting about the Destiny beta was the fact I cannot trade loot with another player, but I read online they are working on making this a possibility.

A Loot Chest in Destiny by IGN

More Optimism

I absolutely love the Hover Bikes. Here is a clip of me driving one around “Earth”:

It is fast and very easy to control. Plus, I hated all the running I had to do in Borderlands. Once the “Moon” was open on the Destiny beta, I was able to try out the other Hover Bike that had weaponry. I really hope there are more types of bikes because it is really fun and useful to move around so easily. The Tower is another great area. Instead of doing everything in menus, I had a place where I set up shop to purchase new items and ships, identify loot, dye my armor, and more. It takes a little getting used to, but overall, I like this. Another thing I am excited about is some of the weapons. For instance, the Semi-Auto Rifle feels great and shoots incredibly well from a long distances, but my favorite weapon is the Fusion gun. This thing packs a punch and can disintegrate enemies. The first time I used it, I was amazed. Here is a clip of me using the Fusion gun:

Negativity for Nancy

This is not deal breaker, but I felt like the character customization was lacking. Compared to the insanely detailed customization available in Wildstar, I realize how limited I was when creating my Warlock in Destiny. I made a pretty cool cat (he looks just like Cable from the comics), but I wish I could have done more. Another troubling aspect of the Destiny beta was the incredibly slow loading time between missions and going to the Tower. Load times need to be fixed by launch. I am sure they will not be as long as they were in the beta, but really, waiting for a level to load usually took a few minutes which threw off the pacing. The troubles do not end here…

Character Customization in the Destiny beta by She Attack

Questing like World of Warcraft

One scary thought came to my mind: Destiny is just like World of Warcraft. The questing upon questing could easily overshadow any interest I have in my other games, which does not make this game very appealing to me. I am not a fan of MMOs and never have been keen on the endless questing. If I was to buy this game, I would lose interest quickly like I did with World of Warcraft. However, if MMOs are your favorite style of game, then the Destiny beta might be right for you.

Call Me Guardian

My biggest issue with this game is being a nobody in the wide world of Destiny. I was called a “Guardian.” Everyone in the entire game is called a “Guardian.” I want a name. At least in Halo, I was called Chief or Master Chief which made me feel like someone important. In Destiny, I feel so disconnected from my character that there is nothing to distinguish me from any of the other players. One of the best parts about playing an MMO is being an individual with a real connection to the character, and Non-Playing Characters (NPCs) call players by their screen name. I would be happy even if they made me choose from a list of names, but I feel like “Guardian” is just a title and my character is just a character. I have no attachment like I did in other games similar to Destiny.

My Warlock from Destiny Beta

My Warlock from Destiny Beta

Conclusions

I believe this game will be a big deal when it releases, but it may not be right for me. It has lots of positives, but I am still on the fence. There are some great things that this game hits, however it misses opportunities for me. I will say this, if you set up attacks, they make for some really amazing scenes and excellent gameplay. I will leave you with one more clip that made me really want to buy this game. When you get into firefights like the one I show below, the game feels refreshing and fun. Bungie is creating a Destiny that I might want to be a part of.

Defense of The Twin Snakes

Otacon: Have you ever… loved someone?

Solid Snake: That’s what you came to ask?

Otacon: No, I was wondering if even soldiers fall in love.

Solid Snake: What are you trying to say?

Otacon: I want to ask you. Do you think love can bloom even on a battlefield?

Solid Snake: Yeah. I do. I think at any time, any place, people can fall in love with each other. But if you love someone, you have to be able to protect them.

I love something, but I never asked someone if I should. Yes, even Playstation enthusiasts can fall in love with this something. There are two factions on this battlefield: Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. Like Solid Snake said, “…if you love someone (in this case, something), you have to be able to protect them.”

Metal Gear Solid on the Playstation was an incredible video game. It received high-praise after it was released from nearly every gaming outlet and publication. Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) rated the game a 40 out of 40, Playstation Magazine Volume 42 gave it a perfect 10, and GameTrailers even said in their Top Ten Best Games of All Time video that, “…[it] invented the stealth game.”

Spring forward to 2004 with the release of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on the Nintendo GameCube. Many people were excited to see what this new graphic overhaul would do for the already-near flawless game. With the addition of new controls based on the controller scheme from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, I thought everyone would love this updated game.

Solid Snake and Liquid Snake by G3AR

Metacritic.com has many favorable reviews from well known magazine publications such as Nintendo Power claiming that, “It improves on the original in every aspect…” GameInformer Magazine mentioned how it is, “Something that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.” However, some critics had mixed reviews. Edge Magazine stated that, “…some of the reworked sequences end up interfering with the game’s pacing while failing to bring anything of substance to the experience.” GamePro Magazine thought that the new Metal Gear Solid 2 control scheme was unnecessary.

Like it or not, this game exceeded my expectations. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes was the first game in the definitive series that introduced me to the story of Metal Gear Solid. I knew little about the story going into it, but the twists and character development was incredible. I cannot believe that this game was originally created in the 90s, because many of the story elements still work in modern games. Simply put, this game has one of the best stories ever told.

Defending this game is no easy task. I have had countless discussions with people who say Twin Snakes is an abomination to the Metal Gear Solid franchise. Many of them back up their claims with little facts and forceful opinions, yet they have an abundance of knowledge of the controller schemes from the original Metal Gear Solid 2. I will bring up multiple arguments I hear about and defend them to the best of my knowledge.

Solid Snake by KONAMI Blog

One thing you cannot argue, or I will not let you argue with is the graphics improvements for Metal Gear Solid. The graphics for the GameCube are far greater than those on the Playstation. With no official Metal Gear Solid HD remake in sight, the graphic in Twin Snakes could be the closest thing we get to an HD remake. One great thing was that many of the scenes used motion capture, which shed a new light on prolific scenes. Ryuhei Kitamura worked as the cinematic director for the game, but Hideo Kojima, the creator of the Metal Gear Solid series, probably helped extensively since this was a very important game for him. I do wish that they would try another remake so everyone can play it with newer controls.

Which brings me to my second argument, the Metal Gear Solid 2 controls for Twin Snakes. The new game engine brought new controls for Metal Gear Solid fans. Many newcomers to the series, like myself, really enjoyed these controls. They were intuitive and easy to use. The first-person camera helped out with trying to tranquilize enemies and hanging from the rafters was nice, but I will agree that it was probably unnecessary most of the time.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes Controls by IGN

Many people state that the added first-person shooting mechanic ruined the flow of the game, but I believe it just made it better. The way I see it, Metal Gear Solid was all about navigating certain areas, trying to use your stealth and plan your next moves accordingly. I did all of that, and I believe better, with the new controller scheme. I planned when and where I would put enemies to sleep, I tried to remember which areas I could hide in when enemies chased after me, and sometimes, I just enjoyed taking out waves upon waves of enemies for fun. I do not like how the Playstation controls limited you from doing this and more.

When arguing the merits of Twin Snakes versus the original Metal Gear Solid, people often use the cutscenes as a point to argue on. I can bet you that the developers decided in the very early stages of the project that they wanted to have “Matrix-like” cutscenes. You either love them or you hate them. I thought they created beautiful moments that are still relevant. The Metal Gear Solid franchise has been known for doing slow-mo scenes. Ryuhei Kitamura probably insisted that these scenes needed to be changed, and I have no problem with that. Part of that reason could be that I never played the original Playstation version, but with how the Metal Gear Solid series has played out, I think I have developed some fondness for the slow-mo cinematic tool. Sure, it made the game a little more unrealistic, but nearly the entire game is unrealistic. I do not feel like this would ruin the game, so I will agree to disagree based on how people often have differing tastes with regards to this cinematic tool.

Metal Gear Solid still proves today that it can withstand any generation of gamers. I was nearly 10-years-old when the Playstation game came out, and I was a teenager when Twin Snakes arrived. Once I make time, I will replay the entire Metal Gear Solid series in chronological order because I really love the story, gameplay, and characters. I have to thank Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes for getting me into this wonderful series. If it never released on the GameCube, I may have not ever discovered the beauty of Metal Gear Solid. As Solid Snake said in my opening dialogue, “But if you love someone, you have to be able to protect them.” I will forever protect Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes until my last dying day.

Snake and Otacon Bro Hug

My Love/Hate Relationship with Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed Cast by thn.com

I hated the entire Assassin’s Creed series until the world premiere trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity was shown at E3; I was very surprised. The idea of roaming an entire city with a group of friends sounds like a dream come true (the real dream would be 4-player-split-screen, but we all know that will never happen). That first trailer intrigued me enough that I wanted to revisit the series. Long nights of Assassin’s Creed-peida and video story arcs kept me up until 2 a.m. some nights. After surveying the series, I came to a conclusion: I will give one game in the series a try before purchasing Assassin’s Creed Unity.

One thing I will point out before you heavily invest in this blog post is that this piece is not about the recent exposure Assassin’s Creed Unity is receiving. The astronomical amounts of press coverage when it comes to women in video games is astonishing, but I do not want to cover that today. I will rather show you a man who hated the entire Assassin’s Creed series, but through countless hours of research and entertainment, now adores it.

Once upon a time in 2007, a historical fiction action-adventure game that involved stealth, story and badass graphics debuted. I remember watching the first Assassin’s Creed trailer; boy, did it blow my mind. I could not believe that this new franchise is the next big thing. I was not heavily involved in many stealth games (the Metal Gear Solid series was in my sights, but I wanted something new and fresh), but Assassin’s Creed looked like a game that was giving me something that I never knew I wanted. The worst was yet to come: it was the game that I never wanted.

Desmond Miles by Gamerperspective.com

Enter Desmond Miles and Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad. Assassin’s Creed started strong. Desmond was captured by Abstergo and forced to enter into the Amnius to explore the momentous Third Crusade. The struggle between the Assassin’s and Templars sounded great at first. Roaming around in the cities felt like nothing I have ever experienced. The free-running felt fluid and the combat was simple. The only decent free-runner I played before Assassin’s Creed was Mirror’s Edge, but at least that had a better story and character. I realized at the very beginning of the game that I hated both Desmond and Altaïr.

Desmond complained more than any character I have seen in a video game. He was arrogant, needy and came off as foolish. The game was very vague about Desmond being captured and he never once stood up for himself. Sure, if I was kidnapped, I would be intrigued about experiencing someone else’s past through the Animus, but once I realized what was going on, I would have done everything in my power to get the hell out of there. Desmond was more focused on experience life through Altaïr than caring about his own. I am positive security was tight in the facility that locked up Desmond, but I hated how there was nothing I could do to except listen to him complain and enter into the Animus; the single player experiences when you control Desmond was the absolute worst.

Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad by MoviePilot.com

Now, Altaïr was entirely different. He was headstrong and egotistical. If I told him a barn was on fire with Templars who had families inside, he would most likely not listen and wave me off. As Jesse Schedeen said on IGN when they polled their readers about the most overrated video game characters, “Altaïr is like a poor man’s Prince of Persia.” I understand that Altaïr was trying to be a rebel and do what he thought was right, but I hated how he came off during dialog scenes. Each time he spoke, I wanted to throw him off a building, hoping he would change his ways.

While I hated the two main characters of Assassin’s Creed, the worst part was the missions; I hated how repetitive this game was. Go do this mission, then do this same exact mission with more or less guards. Sneak around, blend into the robotic crowd, kill this historical figure, sprint away and hide or kill hundreds of guards, rinse and repeat. Also, I remember looking for the millions of flags and I hated how they meant nothing. Those flags still give me nightmares; so many flags.

I finished the game after struggling with the boring story and mundane missions. After I played it, I thought the games could get better after that. I tried to play Assassin’s Creed 2, but thought it was too repetitive for my taste as well (I understand some people consider this game the best in the entire series, but I also hated Ezio Auditore da Firenze; I have a real problem connecting with these characters within the Assassin’s Creed series).

Every game after Assassin’s Creed was spoiled for me. I was normally at a friend’s house and they were at the very end of the game each time. I decided to watch, it was not like I was ever going to play them. Each ending sounded worst from the last, everything was too farfetched. Throughout the years, I claimed that the entire Assassin’s Creed series was crap. However, something changed when pirates came aboard (pun intended).

I remember seeing the preview for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. I thought it looked exciting and different from the entire series. The gameplay actually looked fun. Sailing the high seas looked beautiful and daring, random encounters with whales and other ships, too good to be true again like the first Assassin’s Creed. It was not until recently that I decided to take the plunge into another Assassin’s Creed game and I am glad I did.

Before I started Assassin’s Creed IV, I researched the entire backstory. I read about the hundreds of games that featured Ezio, Subject 16, the huge plot twist with the triple agent, and even Ratonhnhaké:ton (aka Connor). While doing the research, I found out that I finally had a character in the Assassin’s Creed series that I loved: Connor’s father, Haytham Kenway.

Haytham Kenway by IGN.com

Haytham sounded like the most interesting character in the entire series. Not only was he a secondary antagonistic that you were able to play as, but he had a meaningful life. He found love with a local Native Americans that he saved, which gave us Connor. Plus, I saw him like a double edge sword, he could have been either an Assassin or Templar. This family man persona helped me connect with him and I actually cared about the outcome of his consequences. The more the story progressed, it sounded like you knew that he and Connor would have to sort out their issues, which made for an excellent relationship between them. Also, I enjoyed a video that discussed the book called “Forsaken,” which featured Haytham’s first-person account of his life. In my opinion, he should have been the main character in Assassin’s Creed III. One reason I wanted to try out the next installment was because it involved Haytham’s father.

After all the endless nights, the research was done. Finally, I was interested in the complete Assassin’s Creed story arc. Everything that led up to Assassin’s Creed VI sounded interesting and I did not have to sit through three characters that were in nearly in every game that I loathed. I recently bought a Wii U and looked at the sales for the week. To my surprise, Assassin’s Creed IV was on sale; instant buy.

The gameplay was top notch in Assassin’s Creed IV. When I was behind the helm, I felt like I was on an adventure. I never knew what I would find and lose myself in the beautiful Shanties. Each time I saw an enemy ship, there was a good chance I would do everything in my power to board ship and take as my own. Not only was the gameplay superb, but I really enjoyed the missions (except the one’s where you had to tail a person). I liked some of the missions so much that I used Ubisoft’s rating system even though they are probably not tracking anymore. Thankfully, the game had my second favorite character in the series: Edward Kenway.

Edward Kenway by IGN.com

Edward was easily relate-able and had many hardships that created an excellent character. His main goal was finding himself, which created a decent story where you see man vs. self flourish. The story’s pacing was very slow, but I still enjoyed it. Before Edward could live with himself, he needed to understand the meaning of life and others lives that could be affected by his actions. The conclusion showed me a man not living with regrets and caring about riches, but a man who knew how to take responsibility for himself and his daughter.

The more and more time I invested into Assassin’s Creed IV, the more I was interested in the story elements revolving around the Assassin’s Creed series. Every time I hacked a computer, I observed every video and read all the text which revealed a behind-the-scenes story that captivated me. One problem though: the game created more questions than answers. I wanted to know more about Subject Zero and possibly see a video that revealed some of the testing. Another random question was looming around in my head: Who is on Eve’s side of the ancestry? And what was the real reason why I was gathering all this information for the Assassins?

After the ending, I was astonished. I had way too many questions that needed answers. While this did not ruin the game for me, it made me more excited to play Assassin’s Creed Unity. It is right around the corner and everyone should be excited to see it being on the new, current generation of systems (Xbox One and Playstation 4, plus the superior PC version). Ubisoft released a handful of trailers that were great at first, but the most recent trailer made me upset.

The newest trailer was a tease. It showed everyone a decapitation, a revolt within the beauty of computer graphics (CG) scenes. While it looked great, I was left wondering where my story elements were. I want to know how the story is going to progress and not watch gameplay or CG scenes. I know Ubisoft has the story trailer in their grasp, but this teasing in video games needs to stop. It nearly ruins the game before it has even been released. People are left wanting, hoping, urging for something tangible, yet they will continue playing up the negatives in those games that are teased (such as the women in Assassin’s Creed and violence).

Assassin’s Creed Unity is not far from release. However, I want to know about the story right now. It is strange that if I was ten years younger, I would not care about a story trailer. I would want a gameplay trailer and lots of killing. It makes me think that Ubisoft is trying to appeal to a younger audience, and the older I get, the more I care about story and gameplay both. Luckily, the entire Assassin’s Creed series has progressed into something that I truly love. I will not let the newest trailers deter me from wanting the next installment in the series. Instead, I will count down the days until the game releases and accept all news about Assassin’s Creed Unity with a grain of salt.

Dying To Your Own Tune

What is the perfect song to die to? A question that could only be revealed to me when driving home in reckless weather listening to my favorite Gorrilaz song. As morbid as this sounds, connecting music to the time of death is key for many video games. You need a well-composed song for a fitting end.

Think back to the video games you love, adore and praise; how many times did you die in a dire situation? Do you remember the music playing in the background? I am not talking about the music after death, I am talking about the penultimate tune upon death. That song can make or break a game for me, because the more mundane the song, the more frustrated I become when dying.

Final Fantasy VII image by PSU.com

A colossal Role-Playing Game (RPG) comes to mind when I think about the music right before I die: Final Fantasy VII. The importance of this game is well-defined by the music in my case. Yes, I enjoyed the story, setting, characters, you name it, but the music had a greater effect on me. What is funny is that I did not play this game when I was first being introduced to the music, my brother was. He was single-handedly the biggest influence when it comes to this game. I watched him play for hours before I picked up the game for myself.

Final Fantasy VII released on the Playstation in late 1997. My brother and I never owned a Playstation, but luckily for gamers, this was the first time seeing a Final Fantasy game coming out on PC. Final Fantasy VII released on PC in 1998. During this time, my brother was in college; three hours away from home. The only time I was able to watch him play is when he came home with his ancient laptop. It should be known that my brother and I were Nintendo fans through and through. We both owned the NES, SNES and N64, but one thing was missing for my brother that the N64 could not offer: a Final Fantasy game. He played every single Final Fantasy game that came out for the SNES and wanted more. I remember watching him play those games as an energetic child who cared more about going outside than ever playing a video game.

When he obtained Final Fantasy VII, I was instantly jealous. I remember looking through old video game magazines that showed off the graphics and character design. It looked like one of the coolest games I have ever seen in my life, but the problem was that I did not own a Playstation or computer that could run it. Once I knew my brother purchased it for his laptop, I watched him the few chances I got. After my first sitting, I could not believe what I was watching and hearing; the music was perfect.

My fondest memory when exploring the music of Final Fantasy VII was when he entered into the Sector 7 Slums. This place is run-down, dank and dark, but the music struck a note with me (pun intended). The mixer of acoustics and heavy bass was intriguing. I found out that the song is called, “Underneath the Rotting Pizza.” The song was catchy and up-beat to the point where I can still hum it by memory.

A little fun fact is that I was beginning to learn how to play the Trumpet during this time. After hearing the song over and over again in my head, it hit me, “I can play this!” From ear, I wrote out the notes on sheet music I obtained from my father, and wrote out the theme of “Underneath the Rotting Pizza.” I transposed my first tidbit of music by ear. Talk about a glorious day for me as a kid who is learning how to read music, not even considering how to write it. I played and played and played that theme over and over again. I was so proud of myself. The best was yet to come though; the music did not stop there.

After my brother beat Final Fantasy VII, he handed down it down to me. I was excited to play it for the first time, but was weary that my computer would not be able to play it. To my dissatisfaction, I was correct. My family’s computer could not play the one game that would truly open my ears up to one of my favorite soundtracks to a video game ever made.

Years passed and I stopped by a local Blockbuster. To my surprise, they had the Greatest Hits version of Final Fantasy VII for $20. I sat on this find for awhile, never appealing to me at the time. I owned a Playstation 2, but did not play on it all the time. I kept going back to Blockbuster, week after week, month after month, and finally decided to buy it. This was easily one of the best video game decisions of my life.

I finally had the game of my dreams. I was not particularly fond of Role-Playing Games at the time, but the combat was and still is one of my favorites. Final Fantasy VII’s turn-based timed combat always sat well with me and part of the reasoning behind that was its theme and victory dance.

The only way you can die in Final Fantasy VII is by losing a battle. With many video games, especially in the Role-Playing genre, the most heard song needs to be the best written piece of music on your video game. Final Fantasy VII composer Nobuo Uematsu wrote the most perfect theme song to die to.

The “Battle Theme” is orchestrated to create a tense moment with drive. As the notes progressively build into a near-chromatic fashion, the music never stops. Even though the theme is repeating on end, I still feel like I am on the edge of my seat. I lose myself in this theme during each battle. Occasionally, I will start singing with it because of its catchy style and components that make me feel excited to do battle. My goal is to defeat the monstrous foe I have in front of me at all costs and this theme never got old for me.

This penultimate theme is the perfect song to die to. You get that rush of adrenaline when you realize, “I am out of potions. I have no magic points. I am going to die.” Yet, you still put up the fight. You never know what could happen. Maybe a critical strike will hit and you win the battle? It is possible for your foe to miss you with their deathblow, and that dodge gave you one more hit that finishes off your opponent. There is a never-knowing sequence of events with the perfect song behind you. The perfect song to die to.

When all is said and done, the Final Fantasy VII “Battle Theme” is the perfect song to die to. To this day, it is still one of my favorite video game songs ever written. The “Battle Theme” and other countless video game songs can sync your death with the most perfect song. No matter how many times I hear this theme, I will always remember the battles I outlasted, died and triumphed in Final Fantasy VII.