Friday, October 25, 2013

Papers Please.

 Hi all,

Not to long ago, I happen to stumble upon a game that took the number one spot for a brief period on Metacritic. The independent (indie) game is called Papers, Please which is available on Steam.

Papers, Please is a puzzle video game that puts you in the role of an immigration officer of the fictitious communist country Arstotzka. The storyline takes you into the life and job routine of an immigration officer.

Now if you may begin to feel that the game could possibly be boring due to the job scope, I will have to stop you there.

 Glory to Arstotzka!

The game gives an eerily real feel of how Cold War Communism could have been like. The dystopian atmosphere is pervasive and distinct in the graphics and game play. Life as an immigration officer may seem to sound dreary and lifeless. On the contrary, the gameplay makes things very much more interesting that it seems.

The requirements to monitor, screen, approve and reject travelers passing through Arstotzka increases as time goes by. Furthermore, there are moral decision that need to be made to sustain the livelihood your family. On top of all that, the relations between Arstotzka and neighboring countries will affect the procedures of your work in many ways. Created from the perception of going through immigration as a very tense experience, the creator of Papers Please wanted to turn that perception into an interactive fun game.

 Oh Jorgi!..

Mustache Man... What is your purpose of visit?
 Fun Fact: Prior to the release of the game, Lucas Pope, the creator of Papers Please, set up a name submission form for the public, where people could submit their own names to be randomly assigned to scripted characters in the game

The concept and gameplay is simple. And yet, there is a "feel" and "experience" to it that I really enjoy. If you are a fan of Cold War Communism and love to hone your skills in being meticulous and working through social problems, this game would be just the thing for you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thor (Hot Toys)

Good day to all!

For all those comic book fans out there, it would be of no surprise for you all to know that Thor: The Dark World would be coming to theater screens real soon! In fact, it premieres in London today! And so, I thought it would be more than appropriate to feature Hot Toys Thor from the Avengers Movie!

Firstly, I got to say that the quality of this figure is superb. From the head sculpt to the props, the figure is down right awesome! Furthermore, this would be my first Hot Toys Movie replica that I have unwrapped and I am thoroughly impressed by its quality.

I must state that the lighting and angle of the camera shot plays a part in really capturing Thor's "epicness". However, I am not sure if my Camera does Hot Toys' Thor full justice. Furthermore, I was unable to provide full background for Thor as the figure is huge. I must admit that I am not use to taking shots of 1/6 scale figures and this has resulted in picture shots without the usual background you are so use to seeing.

Despite my best effort and short comings, I do hope that you enjoy the pics.

 Mjolnir, The Hammer of Thor

 More often than not, Hot Toys provides an accurate depiction of the Movie Character/Replica figure that they are doing and Thor is not an exception. The detailing on Mjolnir is phenomenal. On top of that, the Hammer is made of metal and is pretty heavy which adds to the realism.

 "Whosoever holds this Hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor"

 Definitely Hemsworthy.

Hot Toys goes an extra further mile with the detailing putting Nordic runes inscribe on his circular chest piece. The inscriptions are so small, I can really show it through the pictures here. But if you check out our Toyconstruct page, I have a zoom up shot on it in the Thor album. It is pretty crazy awesome that Hot Toys would add details even the normal collector would not be very particular about. Definitely impressive by my standards.

"Do you want me to put the Hammer down!!??"

It is good to know that Hot Toys has come a long way from developing gear and doing WWII and Modern Military 1/6 scale Figures to specializing in Movie Replicas. And now, they are the dominant force in 1/6 Movie Replicas.Getting back onto Thor, I must say, the sequel to his introduction film looks great. From the trailer, it does show promise to succeed the first film in a good way.

Thor: The Dark World

Impress much?

Not too sure if anyone noticed but Thor and Loki's hair length grows longer from Thor to the Avengers to this sequel.

In any case, the villain Thor faces this time round is Malekith, the Dark Elf Ruler of Svartalfheim or Svartalfar in the Prose Edda of Norse Mythology. For Warhammer Fans, you all would be familiar with this name as Malekith is the Witch King of the Dark Elves of Naggaroth which is also very loosely based on Norse Mythology too.

Thor Odinson, Protector of Midgard

The film takes place a year after the Avengers and probably occurring after Iron Man 3 in chronological order too. The plot revolves around a darkness that existed before the universe. It focuses on Malekith, ruler of a primeval race who intends to exact revenge on the universe for its wrongdoings on him. Thor has to wield his Hammer and protect the nine realms from this evil which gets him consequently involved in Earth's affairs and reuniting with his love interest Jane Foster.

Side Profile

The Asgardian Warrior

A Close-up on the Bearded Manly Warrior

Looking at the trailer and at Hot Toys Avenger version of Thor, I am loving it all. The Head sculpt for the prototype received much skepticism but Hot Toys took in the comments and improve greatly on the final sculpt. While I cannot say the same for the quality of Hot Toys Thor from the first Thor movie, this figure gets my stamp of approval.

If you are a hardcore Marvel Fan Collector who enjoyed the Avengers Movie very much, I recommend you get this figure. But who am I kidding right? If you were a serious Marvel Fan, you would have probably got the pre-order. Unfortunately if you are still keen on wanting to get this, the only way to get it now is via ebay. Please be prepared to pay a higher price as these guys increase in value.

Now, it is time for me to don my fanboy shirt and continue to ride along the Marvel Universe with Thor! I do hope it won't be as underwhelming as Iron Man 3. In any case, have a great one with this film fellow Marvel fans!

Stay tune for more Toyconstruct posts! Will be featuring more from the other categories soon!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Call of Duty - Campaign Memories

Hey Everyone!

Unless you're living under a rock, you must have heard of the Call of Duty series, the FPS giant that has become the "FIFA" or "Madden" of FPSes...always leading in sales, and always updated every year. October 29th, 2013 will mark the 10th anniversary of CoD's first release, and its latest title "Ghosts" will be hitting shelves soon. Looking back, the series has indeed come a long way since its 3D accelerated WWII roots. I was crazy about the first CoD, and I fondly remember playing the single player demo repeatedly due to its engaging D-Day mission.

Just some thoughts on Ghosts: I am disappointed that the campaign is about some South American coalition invading the United States, using hacked satellites to wreck destruction throughout the world, a plotline that is too cheesy for me. The plot sounds awfully similar to Cobra's attempt to world domination in GI Joe: Retaliation, doesn't it? What I was expecting was a game that featured Ghost from the Modern Warfare storyline, even if his backstory was covered in a comic book. Of course, there's always a possibility that Ghost isn't dead...and it's pretty obvious that Ghost will somehow be involved.

I just completed CoD 2 and stated the single player campaign for BF3. Yes, my backlog of games is approaching ancient history. Strangely, playing both games in close proximity has given me a clues on the formula behind CoD's success as a single player game, which might partially explain CoD's enduring "Apple-like" appeal in the FPS genre.

Even if BF3 far surpasses CoD 2 in terms of graphics, the older game's campaign was a much more enjoyable experience for me. BF3 is a functional shooter, it plays just as it was made to and its destructible environment adds variety to the game. Of course BF3's campaign was thrown in as an "extra" to its multiplayer, but its comparison to CoD will be inevitable. (Also, there are other FPSes that are well-known for their campaigns, such as Halo, Resistance, and Killzone.)

However, the main difference between the campaigns of BF3 and CoD 2 lies in presentation and panache. BF3's story is a meandering mess of backflashes, you get dumped into the campaign without any context, and I couldn't care less about its protagonist. In CoD 2, the missions are presented in a sensible fashion, you get moments to take in the settings (like the long truck ride in North Africa), the briefing videos provide context, and your friendly AI help in making you feel part of a team. In short, CoD 2 made me feel like I was fighting alongside comrades, but BF3's campaign made me feel just playing on a computer.

Do note that I've only played Infinity Ward's entries in the CoD series, so I can't really state the same for the Sledgehammer ones. From what I've experienced, it appears that the developers have used a consistent formula in the making of their campaigns, which includes character development of its main characters, dramatic twists in the storyline, a slight nod to realism, moments that let the player soak in the locales, and providing proper context to each of its missions (videos, briefings, small talk etc). While CoD's storylines are not the pinnacle of literature, they consistently deliver a solid and exhilarating experience for players.

In light of the impending release of Ghosts, I'd like to share top memorable moments I've had while playing the various CoD campaigns. Do let me know what are yours!

Memorable CoD Moments (IW)

Call of Duty: Stalingrad

You begin the mission as a pitiful private in the USSR army, and all you're given to storm the formidable MG42 nests is just a clip of rifle rounds, and when I first played that I thought it was a bug! Also, if the Germans didn't get you and you faced the wrong direction...your friendly neighborhood Commisar will be ready to kill you for "defeatism."

Call of Duty 2: El Daba (End of the Beginning)

The "demo" mission for CoD2 started off with an incredible scene. You're sitting in a truck within a British convoy, taking in the sights of the Egyptian desert, a calm moment before jumping into the hell the Germans have prepared for you.

Modern Warfare: Shooting Zakhaev (One Shot, One Kill)

Cpt Price is perhaps the most popular character of the CoD series, and what can get better than playing as him? While the mission ended up as a failure, it made me feel like a total badass: infiltrating enemy lines, shooting Zakhaev's arm off, taking a Havoc down, and surviving long enough to escape.

Modern Warfare 2: Prisoner #627

I should have seen this moment coming, but I was surprised out of my pants when Cpt Price (previously assumed dead/MIA) punches you to the ground when you breach a wall. Normally, you'd expect to be in full control of the situation, taking cronies by surprise, but this time...not just someone beat you to the punch, and it's none other than Cpt Price!

Modern Warfare 3: Down the Rabbit Hole

I hate to leave friends behind, and this one did hit've played with Team Metal under Sandman throughout the campaign and you've got to leave them behind. While the theme of sacrifice may be cliched in a military settings, it takes on a different feeling when you identify with those you leave behind.

And most difficult mission? Mile High Club in CoD4, easily.

As CoD reaches its 10th birthday soon, it still remains one of the juggernauts of the FPS scene, rising from its single player campaign to blossoming as a multiplayer game. The series will always have its detractors, but it is undeniable that their single player campaigns consistently deliver awesome experiences.