Top Ten Games of 2013

2013 was a great year to gaming!

One Last Farewell to the Ouya

Cya, wouldn't wanna OUYA!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Become a Game Journalist in The Middle East

In my two year career, working under the banner as a Game Journalist I often get asked this one question: "how do I become one?" That's the wrong question. Instead ask, "why should I become one?" I'm here to tell you to avoid doing what I'm doing because it ain't worth the hassle. Run away, don't look back, and if you still love games do this as a hobby. So to make matters easy: if you live in the Middle East I'm going to be listing three key points on why you should avoid this profession from now and probably forever.

1. No time

If you haven't guessed by now from the title I don't particularly find this job worth it time wise. I've been sort of fighting a two year battle trying to find a proper balance and, heck, any start up requires time to grow and become something. The problem is I don't particularly have much time for myself. I'm 26 years old and have been married for 2 years. I'm typically a family man who likes to spend time with his parents, brother, and of course my wife. The problem with that is this job, Game Journalism, is practically a 24/7 job. People tell you to take the weekends off but the fact is you still need to report the news, you need to keep the community engaged all the time, and you need beat the competition (who probably have more money and people working). It's that sort of environment you constant have to deal with in order to become recognized. Couple that with another job which you NEED to have in order to survive money wise and you're looking at a life that honestly lives to work and sleep. Of course, one could say that if you enjoy doing what you're doing you wouldn't call it work, I would say the same except, again, I don't have that time. I don't have the luxury of time to script videos, edit them, write articles, write funny stuff on social media, and do an Instagram video all together. Even when I'm relaxing there's a certain limit to how much I can relax before going back and tending to my duties. Again, this is also a job meaning you would need to constantly keep producing a good amount of quality which again takes time.

This has resulted in many bad consequences from me not being able to see my family, and worse, barely spending time with my wife. Honestly, and I'm not exaggerating, I'm lucky if I'm able to spend more than 2 hours a day with my wife. My social life is practically dead, I barely see my friends like 3 times a month, and my personal health has dropped to an all time low thanks to long hours without sleep and not exercising. It's a drag and a huge time waster.

2. No money (at least not enough)

Previously I mentioned how I needed to have two jobs in order to survive and it's true. To put it bluntly Game Journalism in the Middle East doesn't pay you jack shit. I conducted an anonymous survey with some Game Journalists in the region and their average salary ranges from 500-1000 USD per month. That's pathetic especially considering the amount of time putting in. It also depends where you live. Certain regions such as Saudi are more generous thanks to companies such as STC and Mobily giving good budgets and even paying for trips to E3. The Saudi gaming community (which is the biggest) also support their channels and sites more for obvious reasons which result in a better pay off. As a person living in Bahrain, I can't begin to describe how jealous I feel. Yet even then the value is diminished thanks to irregular working hours. Again, I stress the fact that at times I would need to balance my life but doing that has become increasingly difficult thanks to my two job life style.

3. Politics

You'd think working as a game journalist will end up making you live a fun go happy life when it comes to dealing with publishers, well that couldn't be farther from the truth. This section is a bit touchy so I'll play it as discrete as possible. You see, as you slowly begin developing relationships and growing in the industry you will occasionally run into, what I call, Bullshit Walls. Walls created to usually play favorites with competitors and usually end up screwing you in the process. All the hard work and quality in the world won't save you from these BS Walls and when they appear, they hurt. Because you will naturally feel entitled to get that coverage, to get those ads, to be recognized, and when it doesn't happen it feels like unfair reality biting you in the ass. That happens to me and to others ALL THE TIME. At times it can't be helped. It's no surprise that the gaming industry in this region is still in it's infancy. As such as its fair to expect late review copies, late press releases, and almost no budget for ads. But, that being said, something needs to happen. I've been at this for two years and seeing the same shenanigans happen over and over again is just an insult to my intelligence. The BS Wall needs to come down. We need to grow. We need to live. And this has to stop otherwise we won't grow.

These are just 3 of the major points on why you shouldn't become a Game Journalist in the Middle East. It's not that I hate this job, I'm just exhausted. I'm tired of waking up everyday realizing that I'm still stuck in this limbo lifestyle of work, sleep, eat, and occasionally rest. I want to live my life but I can't escape the fact that working as a Game Journalist, here, isn't what it's cracked up to be. What actually made me jump on this train is because I hated my previous job. I fully believe that most companies in the Arab world that's more than 10 years old will likely suffer from corruption and poor management. I don't want to go back there. I truly enjoy doing what I do. I love writing a piece and hearing people's reaction, I love engaging with said community and talk about my favorite subject in the world: video games. I'm afraid no matter how much I hate it, I simply can't avoid the fact that I love it even more. So while it may be too late for me, you still have a chance. Think about those three points I mentioned and understand that you're not entering a fantasy job where playing games for a living earns you money. You're getting invovled in some greasy shit that will get you dirty and may make you hate life itself. Just know what you're doing and don't be like me. Don't be a fool. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

E3 2014: Flying Sheep, Hiding in a Box, and Building an Army is What MGS 5 is All About

The Metal Gear Solid series has always been known for its surprises. Ever since the debut of The Phantom Pain, many wondered if this would a new IP from Kojima himself. Even after it was revealed as MGS 5, many were still skeptical and worried that this new entry deviated from the previous ones for being too serious. After a quick look behind closed doors I'm here to put those worries aside. The Phantom Pain is as ridiculous and silly as any of its previous entries.

The demo that was shown took place in Afghanistan a couple of years after the events of Ground Zeroes. This appeared to be the first mission of the game as Ocelot was recounting the events that took place during Big Boss's coma. Naked Snake or Big Boss now had a prosthetic or should I say robotic arm and had what appeared to be a piece of metal lodged in his skull. His first mission was tasked of finding his comrade Miller who was captured. Snake needed to gain intel about his whereabouts by exploring the world. This is where The Phantom Pain shines as it gives fans the first real open world MGS experience. The world was vast and can be explored in any order according to the rep.

In the demo we got to see similar gameplay elements from Ground Zeroes. All the control layouts seemed to be the same. Of course there were some new additions. Some were minor such as using Snake's robotic arm noise to attract enemies. Others were major such as the fulton recovery system which played a big role in Peace Walker. Players would be able to knock out enemies and send them back to mother base where they could be recruited to do missions. This element also played similar to Aassassin's Creed Botherhood's mission mode except here soldiers would be able to do recon and missions in the same map. One cool instance was when Snake approached an enemy base. He called his troops and requested for reconnaissance to get a full map layout along with enemy positions. The fulton could also be used to grab objects animals as well. This is where things get ridiculous as the demo showed us Snake taking out a sheep and sending it back to Mother Base because, why not? This could also be used to transport heavy objects including trucks and containers. I wondered if this could also pick up tanks as well.

Throughout the gigantic map, Snake would find small bases where he could do his regular espionage action. For the sake of the demo we only got to see him infiltrate one base. Here we got to see another major element of MGS 5--weather and time. They both seem to dynamically change over time and can quickly effect gameplay. A sandstorm, for instance, showed that enemies would not be able to see Snake but this also made traversing more challenging as finding your way could be confusing. Perhaps night vision could help? In terms of time, this effects enemy positions. All enemy bases have shifts so knowing where each enemy is will also depend on what time of day it is. We were shown that Snake could also wait for the perfect time to sneak, which in this case was night fall.

We later got to see Snake running around in a box (finally!). The box was actually ordered from Mother Base which landed via parachute. We were also shown that these parachute drops can be used to knock out enemies as well. The box, while usually only a staple in the MGS series, is now actually quite resourceful. Snake could pop up from the top and strike enemies and quickly go back in like some deranged killing mole. He also could jump through the front of the box to elude enemies into the thinking it's empty. It's a nice trolling move and I can see it being quite useful when trying to escape. The mission ended with Snake saving the player, yes THE very same player who was showing us the demo (nice one, Kojima). While escaping, Snake requested an airstrike and helicopter pick up. This again demonstrated the capabilities of what players can do when they build an army.

The end of the of the demo gave us a sneak peek at Mother Base. Here Snake could interact with his army and spar with them. From what we were told, the base can be built anyway you like meaning every player will have a different kind of Mother Base. This also sort of hinted that players would be able to visit other Mother Bases via multiplayer. Everything, yes including the Sheep, was found in the Mother Base. This showed the level of depth and interaction players could have with the NPC and proved to be the full concept Peace Walker tried with its mini-menu version of Mother Base. The weather also shown to be dynamic here as well with rain randomly falling. The last tease we got was an invasion. It seems your Mother Base will randomly get attacked. It wasn't clear if it was NPC or players only, but it's an interesting concept.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain seeks to dramatically change up the a very good, flying sheep, sort of way. I'm glad the game hasn't taken itself too seriously and gameplay still appears to be the game's strong suite. I wasn't too wowed by Ground Zeroes' content and value but seeing the sheer scale of The Phantom Pain makes me feel glad and excited for Snakes next big entry.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Next Resident Evil Will Be Revealed at E3. Will Not Be 7 But Similar to Revelations.

A new rumor has surfaced on NeoGaf which suggest the next Resident Evil game will not be 7. Instead it will be spin off that will play similarly to Resident Evil Revelations. The game will be revealed at this year's E3.

The rumor has been posted by user 'News Bot' who claims to be an infamous "insider" and knows what Capcom is planning. What's interesting is that, according to him/her, the next entry will focus more on background characters in the franchise and that fans will look forward to playing with them. Could this be a hint of Hunk or maybe Clair (who has recently dropped off the radar).

[click to enlarge]

And here's the confirmation of the E3 reveal. 

Take this with a grain of salt but chances are Capcom will reveal the next Resident Evil game this E3. It needs to recover its legs after the lackluster Resident Evil 6. What ever happens I just hope it takes more lessons from its mistakes as opposed to chugging forward as an action game. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Next Battlefield Game Will Be Called Battlefield: Hardline. Will Pit Cops vs Robbers.

Several leaks have appeared on EA's server that suggest the next Battlefield game will be a spin off that features urban warfare. This leak included a new game logo (above) and sever new information regarding game modes and achievements.

The title will be called Battlefield: Hardline and will feature new game modes such as Bomb Squad, Blood Money, and Carrier Assault. These will no doubt play similar to Pay Day or Counter Strike's game modes which revolve around bank heists, bombs, and hostage take overs. It'll be interesting to see how that will play with the Battlefield formula. I suppose this also means that maps will be generally smaller unless they include some crazy car chase sequences. More to be revealed at this year's E3. 


Watch_Dogs (PS4) Review

First revealed back in 2012, Watch_Dogs wowed people for being the first true next-gen game reveal. Now, 2 years later after multiple delays Watch_Dogs is finally out. Is it the open world next-gen experience we were hoping for or were our expectations too damn high?

The game’s main protagonist Aiden Pierce is a rogue hacker living in crazy and yet slightly believable present day, Chicago. Everything is practically controlled by computers, more specifically the ctOS which gives Aiden control over the entire city and puts it in the palm of his hand using his trusty phone. Naturally this makes him a target which eventually ends up getting his niece killed by accident. Living with grief for 11 months, Aiden is set on finding the one who tried to kill him and avenge the death of his niece. All of this sort of happens within the game’s first 10 minutes and it’s kind of a bit too much to take in. The intro feels a bit rushed and that sort of makes it hard to connect with the some of the character mainly, Aiden. In fact I sort of felt that Aiden had this coming and that by perusing this killer he is putting his entire family at risk. There’s also a rush of random characters that are important to the story but aren’t introduced properly at all. Who BADBOY17? Who’s this random Asian guy? Again this ends up feeling rushed and fails at making me have a connection with any of the characters.

What does end up feeling slightly more believable is the city of Chicago. The hacking mechanic opens a range of possibilities such as listening in to people’s conversations, manipulating random traffic lights and barricades. This essentially makes Watch_Dogs a sort of trolling simulator. For instance I was able to manipulate the bridge to make random pedestrians fall or making random circuits explode using security cameras. That sort of experience made me feel incredibly powerful. Even though it affected my hero status similar to infamous it did feel incredibly satisfying and easy to do with literally a push of a button. Hacking is hands the best feature in Watch_Dogs.

The game does stumbles in a few areas however. The driving mechanic feels heavy and isn’t particularly good and the side quest mission are repetitive and boring. The graphics while stunning especially on PC does not match the quality we’ve seen at the first E3 reveal. It’s a bit sad though expected considering how scripted that gameplay trailer was. That being said the visuals and presentation are very detailed and still impressive, especially the NPC animation.

Multiplayer is also a mixed bag. One of the best online features is spying.  At times you may be visited by a random player who needs to spy on you. If you manage to spot the player through their actions you would be rewarded and vice versa. Surprisingly the smart phone mini games such as the acid trips end up offering a more replayable experience than the actual multiplayer component.

Watch_Dogs is great but it could have been so much more. The story isn’t very memorable and honestly if it wasn’t for the hacking mechanic the game would have easily blended in as another GTA clone. I feel that Ubisoft have learned a lot while developing Watch_Dogs and the inevitable sequel will no doubt surpass it. For now if you’re looking for a great open world urban game this summer than Watch_Dogs shouldn't be missed.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fans Hope to Revive Mega Man Legends 3 By Making it Themselves

It's been more than three years since Capcom cancelled its last big Mega Man project (Xover doesn't count). Legends 3 was more than just another entry in the franchise, it was THE sequel fans have been waiting for after Legends 2's cliffhanger ending.

Now rather than simply petitioning to Capcom, dedicated fans in Japan have decided to take matters into their own hands and develop the game themselves.

The team who are heading the project will be using Unity as its main engine. This opens the possibility of porting the game to multiple platforms including mobile phones. Another interesting fact is how one of the developers of the project is fAB, who is already working on another Legends spin-off/fan game titled Tuttles Legendary Travels.

Those who are interested to see more of the game's development progress can head to the official site and Nico Video Playlist. Be warned though, all the content is in Japanese.

The only concerning thing is the budget. Mega Man Legends is an open world 3D game which can be quite challenging. Regardless of the results it should at the very least prove how dedicated fans are to this underrated series and maybe wake up some business folks at Capcom.

Please support the Mega Man Legends community by liking the GetMeOffTheMoon Facebook page. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

New Shenmue Game Gets Trademarked by SEGA

The sharp eyes at NeoGaf have spotted a new trademark for the cult classic, Shenmue. This could finally mean that Shenmue 3 is happening.

Even after a decade, Shenmue fans have been eagerly awaiting the annoucement for a Shenmue 3. Shenmue 2's cliff hanger did not wrap up the story and it's fair to see why many of them (including me) demand to see the series completed.

Yu Suzuki and Sony have also been hinting at Shenmue 3 for quite some time. Could this mean we'll get an E3 reveal? Let's hope so.