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Thứ Ba, 6 tháng 12, 2016

Here Are Two Free Mythical Pokemon You Can Claim Right Now

Through a pair of unrelated promotions, you can claim two Mythical Pokemon right now.

For Pokemon Sun and Moon owners, Magearna is available--provided you've finished the main story. If you have, you can open up the in-game QR scanner and scan the code at the bottom of this post (you can also find it here). Once you've done that, head to Hau'oli City and talk to the deliveryman at the Antiquities of the Ages store to obtain your Pokemon.

cIf you haven't yet completed the game, you don't have to rush to do so. The Magearna code will stick around indefinitely, letting you collect it at your leisure.

Separate from that, you can also grab Meloetta for free right now in Pokemon X/Y and Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby. This comes as the final part of the Pokemon 20-year anniversary celebration that has seen a Mythical Pokemon given away every month dating back to February.

December's freebie doesn't require you to visit a store, as some of the past ones did. Simply choose the Receive Gift option from the main menu, receive it via internet, and you'll then be able to collect a level 100 Meloetta at any in-game Pokemon Center. Step-by-step instructions are available here. Unlike the Magearna giveaway, you only have until December 24 to claim your Meloetta.

Thứ Hai, 21 tháng 11, 2016

Pokemon Sun and Moon Review

From Dusk 'Til Dawn

With a twenty year tenure under its belt, the fact that the core gameplay of Pokemon has gone relatively unchanged and has retained a broad appeal through multiple generations is a testament to the quality of the series. Content additions and tweaks have graced each new entry, but Pokemon Sun and Moon have easily used the broadest brush stroke of feature alterations. The purest Pokemon diehard fans may cling to nitpicky criticisms, but the fresh perspective and simple improvements provide relief to some of the series' redundant foundations. And yet for all the uproar of change, there are still many familiar and comforting elements that should assure lifelong fans they have not been cast aside.

The game starts you off in traditional fashion, as a young boy or girl recently relocated to a new region, with an eager spirit, a flair for adventure, and an innate proficiency at handling Pokemon that catches the eye of the local Professor. After a short introduction to some key characters, you are given the arduous task of choosing your Grass, Fire, or aces up type starting Pokemon, and with your mother's blessing are set free to uncover the mysteries of the gorgeous Alola region.

This Hawaiian inspired paradise consists of four main islands. Each contains specks of terrain that match the various Pokemon types, though you are never too far from perky palm trees, golden sandy beaches, and translucent blue ocean waters. The laid back atmosphere permeates into the personalities of the region's inhabitants, with most of the people you encounter infused with vigor and a lust for life. The antagonizing Team Skull could have brought a severe contrast that befits their moniker, but most of the goons who attempt to impede your progress are full of bumbling bluster, with more bark than bite.

You'll find more of a challenge in the Island Trials, the game's major replacement of the Pokemon Gyms of old. Each of the four islands presents a selection of activities that culminates into a marquis battle against the Kahuna of the island as well as Totem Pokemon (essentially regular Pokemon stuffed with steroids). Trials consist of chores such as foraging for ingredients, following clues to solve mysteries, and taking snapshots of Pokemon. It lacks the gladiatorial spectacle of taking on a gym leader to taunt your prowess to the audience, but the varied tasks provide a multifaceted approach which breaks up the linear structure veterans have grown accustomed to.

It becomes apparent early on that Pokemon Sun and Moon pays heavy attention to the narrative, with cutscenes and conversations at nearly every turn. For the most part it is a predictable plot, with a few moments that will surprise and confuse only those who have been spamming the A button through all the text. Despite the vanilla storyline, it still provides some exciting showdowns and introduces a few characters with enough style and personality that I hope to see them in future Pokemon adventures.

Another thing I would like to see going forward in the series is the wonderfully laid out user interface. The breakdown of menu screens is still categorized into familiar headings such as the item screen, Pokédex, and summary pages, but the ease of access in navigating these screens, especially during combat, is a smooth process rather than a time consuming chore. For example, a Poké Ball icon located right on the main touch screen allows you to quickly choose and toss a Poké Ball at a weakened wild Pokemon rather than fumbling through menu screens to grab one. But perhaps the simplest and most welcome addition, especially for newcomers, is the move effectiveness indicators. No longer do you need the encyclopedic memorization of what element types are vulnerable to others. After a single battle against a new Pokemon, your entire move list will indicate which moves are "super effective" and which are not effective at all. This glorious sight persists even when swapping Pokemon mid-battle, allowing you to choose the most valuable Pokemon in your party to tackle the opponent across the field.

Thứ Năm, 17 tháng 11, 2016

Pokemon Sun & Moon Break Shipment Records

P-Day is upon us: Pokemon Sun & Moon are set to launch at midnight tonight in North America. It seems that the game is already destined for success, because Nintendo has announced that the games have shipped over 10 million units worldwide. This breaks the record for highest initial shipment of any 3DS software. Nintendo attributes the widespread demand for Sun & Moon to Pokemon Go, which renewed interest in the series for old fans worldwide while bringing in newcomers thanks to its accessibility.

Also of interest to would-be Pokemon trainers is the commencement of a special distribution for Munchlax in Sun & Moon. This Munchlax is available via online download with the Mystery Gift function and carries a Snorlium Z crystal. The crystal enables it to use the Pulverizing Pancake Z-Move upon its evolution into Snorlax. Distribution will end on January 11, 2017, so be sure to get yours before then.

Finally, if you can't contain the Pokemon hype, you can download one of two new 3DS home menu themes starting tomorrow. One has a tropical motif, while the other features legendary Pokemon Solgaleo and Lunala.

I'll be among the crowds heading out late tonight to pick up my copy - how about you?
Play Classic game Pokemon at : http;//webofsolitaire.com

Thứ Hai, 14 tháng 11, 2016

Microsoft Celebrating Halo's 15th Anniversary With Big Event Next Week

Here's something to make you feel old: the Halo franchise celebrates its 15th anniversary this week.

To celebrate, developer 343 Industries is holding a livestream event and more this coming Tuesday, November 15, which is 15 years to the day after Halo: Combat Evolved came out in 2001.

One part of the celebration is a Twitch livestream, beginning at 3:43 PM PT.

"During the jam-packed show we'll have a special walkthrough of the Halo Museum, talk Halo Wars 2 with Dan Ayoub & Max Szlagor, hear about some of the team and community's fondest Halo memories, play Halo 5 with fans, talk HCS with Tashi & Strongside, take a look at the upcoming Halo Loot crate with James, answer your tweets and whatever else we end up doing when we inevitably stray from script," 343 said about the event in its newest weekly blog post.

343 is also launching an "Anniversary Throwback" playlist for Halo 5, featuring Combat Evovled maps re-made in Halo 5 with the Forge tools. There will also be "free stuff."

"What kind of birthday party would it be without goodie bags for attendees!? I don't want to spoil the surprise but I think you'll dig it," 343 said.

Also in the blog post, 343 teased plans for Halo 5 even beyond the anniversary event. As 343 has said before, more DLC is coming.

"Plans are being made for some big holiday playlist updates as well as the release of the next big Halo 5 content update," 343 said. "I know you're eager for those juicy details and we look forward to being able to share more soon."

As stated previously, Halo 5's next major update will add more maps for Warzone Firefight, new Forge canvases, an "improved spectator experience," and the ability to join live custom games on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

The game's newest free content update was September's Anvil's Legacy, which was the ninth free expansion. Halo 5's other expansions included The Battle of Shadow and Light (November), Cartographer's Gift (December), Infinity's Armor (January), Scorpion games (February), Ghosts of Meridian (April), Memories of Reach (May), Hog Wild (May), and Warzone Firefight (June).

Thứ Tư, 26 tháng 10, 2016

Civilization 6 Review

We are the world.

The original Civilization came out in 1991. I was five years old at the time. I didn't fully grasp the game's historical underpinnings or strategic subtleties, but I do remember playing with my dad and racing to build catapults before other leaders had a chance to expand their empires too far. Because even though the first game laid the groundwork not just for future Civ titles but for the strategy genre as a whole, it was, essentially, a glorified arms race.

Yes, you could found cities, build world wonders, and unlock new options through technological research, but inevitably, combat played a central role. Just like a real civilization, however, the franchise evolved over time, gradually grafting new ideas onto its classic framework--a process that’s now culminated in Civilization VI: the deepest, most well-rounded base game the series has ever seen.

Regardless of how you feel about the "cartoony" art style, its detailed animations make busy areas easier to parse.

More than ever, every win condition feels equally rich and equally viable, whether you’re pursuing culture, religion, science, or domination. You can build arts districts that allow you to more quickly accrue culture points and attract great artists. You can create new religious units like apostles to more efficiently spread your gospel to world. You can use the builder unit in new ways to better capitalize on the resources that surround your cities, accelerating humanity’s ascent into space.

And of course, you can still amass a formidable army, but even warfare presents new considerations that force you to lean on other systems beyond battle tactics. Maintaining military units, for example, is expensive, but picking trade routes with a high gold yield helps mitigate the financial impact. War weariness will eventually lead your population to revolt, but using diplomacy to squeeze luxury resources out of your allies can quell rebellion. And espionage, now deeper than ever, lets you not only place spies but pick specific missions for them to carry out.

Civ 6 is packed with added nuances that enrich existing systems, but it also makes some major changes, the biggest of which is “unstacking” cities. Rather than occupy a single tile on the world map, cities now sprawl outward, allowing you to capitalize on each city’s specific surroundings--assuming you exercise some serious foresight. Certain structures, for example, function more efficiently on specific types of land, while others can only be built if certain typographical demands are met. Not only does this change the way you consider the board, it also adds a new strategic layer that fills a gap and creates greater variety in the types of thinking Civ demands.

Along with planning each city’s long-term development, you must also manage its housing and amenity needs. These replace the global food and happiness levels of previous Civilizations and make individual turns more engaging in the process. Where previously you could mentally check out for a few turns while waiting for your big picture decisions to pan out, you must now actively monitor and improve each city’s condition. It can be a little exasperating and tedious, but ultimately, I realized each and every city contributed to my overall success and, consequently, provided unique opportunities for strategic gain.

You’ll find a host of slightly smaller but equally smart changes as well. You can now tailor your government to your specific playstyle by earning various policy cards that impact everything from war weariness to cultural output. Civics replace social policies and now function identically to technologies: pick one from an expansive tree, spend a few turns researching it, and unlock new cultural possibilities like theocracy or globalization. And with the addition of active research, you can cut research time in half by meeting specific, logical conditions tied to individual Techs and Civics--settling next to a coast will boost your research in sailing, for instance. This practice ensures an advantage for vigilant players.

Smart though these changes may be, they are accompanied by several notable imperfections. Tourism, for example, is the metric by which Cultural Victories are measured, yet the math behind it is esoteric at best. Missionaries and other religious units are similarly opaque. Though I did manage a Cultural Victory during one match, it required some frustrating trial-and-error guesswork, and Religious Victories seem slightly too easy to achieve once you uncover the ideal method for maximizing your output. And while you could argue that commerce and diplomacy facilitate every win condition, it’s a shame neither serves as a win condition itself.

The UI could also use a few refinements. There's absolutely no rhyme or reason to "Unit needs orders" notification, for example. Rather than directing your attention to units already on screen, it arbitrarily whips around the map, seeming highlighting units at random. I experienced a few performance hitches as well, like noticable delays between selecting the Civics menu and the menu actually appearing on screen. Nothing I experienced ever became intolerable, thankfully; my frustrations generally topped out at "annoyed." And other aspects of the presentation--most notably the instrumental score and Sean Bean's excellent voice work--definitely won me over.

Perhaps most crucially, though, opponent AI proved to be a bit of a mix. Catherine Medici was clever enough to preemptively declare war against me when she saw my troops massing at her border, and even brought anti-cavalry units to take down my tanks. Cleopatra, on the other hand, seemed to capriciously switch strategies--from religion to domination and back again--and just floundered uselessly as a result.

If nothing else, the new agenda system does imbue each leader with a discernable playstyle, and when one denounced me, the game explicitly told me why, making diplomacy a more straightforward affair. And even on higher difficulties, none of opponents broke a treaty or attacked me arbitrarily. In fact, I spent an entire match trading with Norway without issue.

Of course, you can avoid the AI altogether by playing online--just one of Civ 6’s many options. There’s a tight, well-executed tutorial for newcomers that briskly runs through the game’s major mechanics, as well as a “New to Civ 6” tips option that focuses specifically on everything that's changed since Civ 5, which should soften the learning curve for veterans looking to jump straight into the deep end. There's a lot to account for, but the fact that every new system slots logically into Civ's established structure makes the game relatively accessible despite of its depth.

Adjustable match parameters return as well, allowing you to adjust not only the difficulty but also the number of opponents, the presence of barbarians, and the overall map size. That last one is especially crucial since the "standard" size has decreased, most likely to force more interaction. Playing on larger maps with fewer opponents seems to work just fine, though. International trade takes longer and territorial expansion is far easier, but the game still plays largely the same.

Civ 6 has a few rough edges, but they’re pushed far into the periphery by spectacular strategic depth and intricate interlocking nuances. Any frustrations I experienced were immediately eclipsed by my desire to continue playing. Just one more turn, every turn, forever.

Thứ Sáu, 21 tháng 10, 2016

Medieval Engineers "relaunches" with a major gameplay update

Big changes promise to make the game a lot more interesting (and destructive).

We talked about the Middle Ages construction/destruction sim Medieval Engineers a bit last year, in part (speaking for myself, anyway) because it's so much fun to watch great stone structures get smashed into little tiny pieces. That doesn't necessarily make for a great game, though, and so developer Keen Software House has rolled out a major update that "re-launches" the project with a multitude of new features including a more detailed planet, an improved rendering engine, and the ability to claim territory and ally (or go to war) with other players. 

"Having a planet in Medieval Engineers creates a play area that is many times bigger than the flat worlds that we had before. The planet can have many plants, animals and barbarians with plenty of room for players," studio founder Marek Rosa wrote on his blog. "We’ve designed areas of the terrain so that players can build fortifications to defend their territory. The planet and all of its settings can be modded and shared through the Steam Workshop." 

Player may also create their own customized banners that can be used to identify themselves or mark off territory, and like most of the rest of the game's content, they can be modded and shared with others. Smaller improvements to the game include the addition of doors, new particle effects, a wardrobe, and the ability to play as a female engineer. 

Taken together, the update sounds like it will bring Medieval Engineers into a much more game-like state than it was previously, and that's reflected in the new gameplay trailer, too. Whether it will be enough to satisfy the recent Steam commenters who have decried the game as abandoned is another matter entirely, but at the very least it looks like a good start. A full breakdown of the changes is available on the Keen Software House forum. 

Thứ Năm, 13 tháng 10, 2016

Play These Two Games for Free on Steam This Weekend

Saints Row, Metro, and Dead Island are among the games on sale this weekend.

Sleeping Dogs developer United Front Games released its new multiplayer-action game Smash + Grab on Early Access a couple weeks ago, and now it's completely free to play for the next five days.

You can download and play Smash + Grab on Steam for free from now until Tuesday, October 18, at 12 PM PT. And if you want to continue playing it after the free event, you can pick it up at a discounted price of $17. It's important to note that this discount ends on October 17, before the free event comes to a close.
United Front plans to release the full version of Smash + Grab in about six months. According to its Steam page, it currently has "two maps and modes, seven playable Leaders, 13 Lieutenants, 20 different stores and vending machines to smash, and 12 base weapons with 18 weapon mods." United Front says "the full version will have more features and content, like maps, modes, characters, weapons, vanity items and more."

Raw Data, an Early Access first-person shooter that's "built from the ground up for VR," is also free this weekend. Its weekend event lasts from now until Sunday, October 16, while its discounted price of $30 is available until October 17. You can download and start playing it here.
In addition to free weekend events, Steam has a number of sales on for this weekend. Plague Inc: Evolved is going for $7.50, Offworld Trading Company is discounted to $13.60, and Deep Silver has a number of its games on sale as well.
Both Metro games are available in Metro Redux for $7.50, Dead Island and Riptide are discounted in Dead Island: Definitive Collection for $24, and every game in the Saints Row franchise for $60.90. Each individual game from the aforementioned bundles are also discounted.