So I Bought a PS4…

Hey guys!

As many of you know, I have been growing interest in video games and gaming in general. For a long time, I spent my hours watching gaming play-through’s on YouTube and listened to the commentary of many of my favorite gamer’s. However, once I began college I began a game collection of my own and quickly fell in love with this media genre.

Earlier this year, I had decided that I was interested in building my own gaming computer. I have about twenty games on my laptop – which is not built for gaming of any kind – and used an Xbox controller to make the experience easier on me, seeing as I am a newer gamer. There was one thing holding me back from building another computer for myself: the price. I did a mock build on online and the total came out to $1300 – about double of what I was willing to pay for a computer.

In April, as I was having a mid-semester crisis (per usual), I stumbled across the idea of getting a Playstation 4 instead. I hadn’t previously thought about getting another console (I have two DS’s, a Wii, and that was enough for me), but after weighing the costs and thinking of all the games that I wanted to play that were exclusive to this console, it was the better option for me at the time.

Plus, Amazon is my best friend, after all.

I ended up finding a PS4 bundled with Uncharted 4 on Amazon for a whopping $250. After getting my tax return, it was very easy to justify the cost of such a deal. Honestly, I have no regrets about purchasing this console. It runs faster and smoother than my computer (as it should), the graphics are beautiful on the television, and I’m able to do a lot of streaming through it. (If I’m being completely honest here, I use my PS4 to watch more shows than play video games. Shh, it’s my little secret.) The only downside is that it only has 500GB of memory, so I’ll have to purchase an external memory drive at some point.

Currently, I have six games for the device: Witcher III: Wild HuntThe Uncharted Collection (Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves, Drake’s Deception)Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and Until Dawn. I’ve started playing Witcher IIIThe Uncharted Collection, and Until Dawn, but haven’t made much progress on any of them. I hope that I’ll be able to get through at least The Uncharted Collection by the end of the summer, but it will all depend if I get my hands on Horizon: Zero Dawn (literally I am lusting after that game, but I can’t justify the $60).

All in all, I am very happy with my decision to purchase the PS4. Although I am struggling to find gaming time (due to working two jobs this summer), I hope to get some hours clocked soon.

See you next time,
Nicole

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Pokemon Sun [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Pokémon and I have had a love-hate relationship, ever since I was little. I own Pokémon XD for Gamecube, Pokémon Red for Gameboy, Pokémon Heartgold and Black 2 for the Nintendo DS, and now I own Pokémon X and Pokémon Sun for 3DS. HOWEVER! Never, in my life, have I ever finished a Pokémon game.

Until Pokémon Sun, that is.

My roommate was insanely excited about this video game release, as Legend of Zelda and Pokémon are her two favorite series for the Nintendo (3)DS, and she quickly won me over with the commercials they had produced for the game. INSERT LINK. They were heartwarming, made me nostalgic for my childhood days, and highlighted the adventure to come in the 20th Anniversary game.

But I had one problem – I didn’t own a Nintendo 3DS.

At this point in time (November 2016), I had long since grown out of my Nintendo DS phase of life (or so I thought). I only had a meager DSi (I used to have a DS Lite, but my little sister broke it completely, which quickly made me regret selling my Gameboy Advanced SD when I was 11. I was uncultured and didn’t know what I was doing then.), which got me thinking – with the new Nintendo Switch coming out soon, wouldn’t this be the perfect time to get my hands on a 3DS? Surely they don’t go for that much.

Thus began my eBay search and adventure. I hadn’t bought anything from that website before, so it was a grand adventure into the unknown. And my inexperience definitely showed. I found this amazing eBay shop that had exactly what I was looking for, and was selling 3Ds’s at a decent price (honestly, better than anything I would get from GameStop). But this was where the mistake was made – as an inside joke, I bought a beautiful aqua blue, regular 3Ds, but it was set to the Japan region. Me, not doing my research, bought the thing and did not realize that Nintendo had region locked the devices; this means that depending on which region the device is set to, only games released in that region would work on the device.

This quickly lead to me desperately trying to find a way to make the device work for me so I could get English and play US region games on my consol. Unfortunately, that proved to be too much work, and I had to send the console back. Which sucked, because it wasn’t scratched and dented or anything. Still working with that shop, I instead bought a used 3DS XL, and I have happily been playing on it since the day I got it. (I even got Pokémon themed stickers to decorate it and hide the abuse the console had been dealt before.)

With the console acquired and in working condition, both my roommate and I preordered the game at GameStop in our hometown and were able to attend the midnight release of the game. (Yes, this meant a 90 minute round trip from our campus to GameStop and back to our campus.) But it was definitely worth it and we stayed up to four in the morning playing that game.

Unfortunately, due to college classes, I wasn’t able to finish the game until two weeks ago (whereas my roommate played through the entirety of Sun and Moon in that time frame). But the important fact is that I finally finished a Pokémon game! I’ve gotten close to it once before, but the Elite Four proved to be too strong for me and I ended up giving up on finishing the game.

Anyways, now that I’ve made you sit through this long, drawn out story time, why don’t we get to the good stuff?

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Opinion

Being completely honest, this is probably my favorite Pokémon game of all time (next to Pokémon XD, that is). I believe that falls to two different things: the story line and the graphics.

When it comes to any sort of video games (the Sims being the sole exception), I always look for the ones that have compelling and immersive story lines. I don’t want to be bored when playing a game and I always want to be guessing as to what will happen next. Although Pokémon falls on the lighter end of the storytelling spectrum, I found that Sun had a more story infused than normal. I believe that’s a result of us being in a different location than normal – we were on various island’s, inspired by Hawaii – which brought about new customs, traditions, and world building to be infused.

Not only that, but the battle structure was slightly different. In terms of mechanics, it remained the same. What I mean is that instead of having gym’s to battle your way through, you had trials instead. Personally, I loved the changes from gym battles to the trial battles – not only where they easier to get through, but many of them came with mini-quests to do before you faced off with the totem Pokémon (the replacements for the gym leaders). Honestly, I loved this changed and I hope their games in the future continue to play around with this concept.

I also found it very easy to level up, thanks to the EXP Share applying to all of the Pokémon in the party. This was first introduced a few games ago (I don’t remember which one exactly, I think it was with Pokémon X and Y [which I am currently playing]) and I fell in love with this feature. It made it easy to balance having six Pokémon in my party – I know that you really shouldn’t do this, but I couldn’t resist leveling all of them up at one time – while knowing that they are all basically getting the same treatment as my primary Pokémon.

By far, my favorite feature happened when it came time to catch Pokémon. When you had six Pokémon in your party and caught a new one, you were given the option to either trade out a Pokémon in your party or simply place the new catch into your PC Box. That feature was lifesaving for me, as it saved many trips to the town center to react my PC Box. I relied on it to the point that when I started playing Pokémon X (backwards order, I know), and was a little deterred when I realized that feature was only for Sun and Moon. Again, I hope this is another concept that they keep using in the future, as it really saved play time and made things easier on the user!

Overall, I have to say that I adored this game. It was fun and easy to get through, and there is still many things to do after the end of the game! Although I might have set the game aside for Pokémon X, I still look forward to returning to Sun – and maybe Moon – in the future.

Final Recommendation

If you are a fan of the Pokémon series and haven’t picked up either Sun or Moon yet, I highly recommend it! Although I took my time with my play through, the game could easily be finished in a matter of hours. The gameplay is smooth, the colors and location is simply beautiful, and I can’t wait to restart the game and dive back in all over again.

Dragon Age: Inquisition [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

Dragon-Age-Inquisition (2)I have recently fallen in love with the Bioware games; however, since winter of last year, I have been playing their Dragon Age series. Although I haven’t finished a play through of the first game and I recently purchase the second game, but the third game – oh my goodness, when I say I am obsessed with this game, that’s putting it lightly. Like with most things, there truly aren’t words to describe how much love I have for this game. For a long time, this game was the only thing I could think about and the only thing I wanted to do daily, which is dangerous for a college student!

Game Summary (Taken from Dragonage.com):

A cataclysmic event plunges the land of Thedas into turmoil. Dragons darken the sky, casting a shadow over lands on the brink of chaos. Mages break into all-out war against the oppressive templars. Nations rise against one another. It falls to you and your allies to restore order as you lead the Inquisition and hunt down the agents of chaos.

Explore, lead, and battle: Tough choices define your experience, and even one decision can change the course of what’s to come.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Opinion

As I stated in my introduction, there are no words to describe my love for this game. The graphics are flawlessly beautiful, the story line was written by true fantasy masters, and it has just the right amount of difficulty to keep you invested in the game. There are a variety of enemies to take down, plenty of areas to explore, and more.

Although I had never played the first two Dragon Age games, this one drew me in. I was also fortunate enough to get the game of the year edition, which included all of the DLCs and extra armor and other goodies. When I first started playing this game, I wasn’t sure what to expect. My roommate had played through Dragon Age: Origins and loved every moment of the game, so I thought I would give the third one a try.

And I’m so glad that I did.

Dragon-Age-Inquisition-All-Characters-HD-WallpaperHonestly, there is not one part of this game that I don’t enjoy. But if I had to pick one aspect of the game that I love more than the other, it’s definitely the story line. Its not too long, its not too short, and it can venture of into different directions that add more dimensionality to what you’re doing. Of course, you can’t forget about Bioware’s signature move either: romancing other characters in the game.

In addition, they added a neat feature: the war table. From there, you can see a map of the world (Which is big! We get to explore two different countries in this game: Thedas and Orlais), set your council on operations, and more. But be warned: the operations are in live time, so they can take anywhere from five minutes to twenty four hours to complete.

Along with this, I highly recommend doing every quest that comes your way. Every decision and major or minor quest you are assigned adds story, decisions, and a more thorough game play experience! I blew through the first game play I made, which led me to missing a lot of crucial things (more areas in maps, important loot, etc.), so I have started a second play through of the game! I am finding more quests to complete, more enemies to slay, and even better loot than I found the first time.

Final Recommendation

If you are looking for a kickass, perfectly paced, (almost) chose your adventure fantasy game, I highly recommend this game! I mean, I put 100 hours on it in a week in a half (During finals of my fall semester – oops), so it’s really easy to fall into the story and want to stay there.

But, if you aren’t completely sold on the game, feel free to heck out Jesse Cox play the game over on YouTube! I have enjoyed his play through so far, and hope he updates it soon!

Here are Some Images from the Game!

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The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim [Review]

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

The_Elder_Scrolls_V_Skyrim_coverNow, many of you might have heard about Skyrim. It’s one of the most popular fantasy games out on the market, in my opinion. Or, you might have heard of the company, Bethesda, who creates The Elder Scrolls, and popular first person shooter series, Fallout.

Many of my friends were raving about this game, and I started playing it in summer of 2015. It took me about 24 hours of game play – across a five month span – to finish the main story line, but I have yet to return to finish any or all of the side quests and DLCs. But, I will return to it eventually! I’m just too busy with my school work and other activities to continue play at the moment.

Although another game has stolen my favoritism (yes, I’m looking at you Dragon Age: Inquisition), this game will always have a special place in my heart, considering it was the game that morphed me into a gamer.

Game Summary (Taken from The Elder Scrolls Official Site)

The Elder Scrolls told of their return.

The Empire of Tamriel is on the edge. The High King of Skyrim has been murdered.

Alliances form as claims to the throne are made. In the midst of this conflict, a far more dangerous, ancient evil is awakened.

Dragons, long lost to the passages of the Elder Scrolls, have returned to Tamriel.

The future of Skyrim, even the Empire itself, hangs in the balance as they wait for the prophesized Dragonborn to come; a hero born with the power of The Voice, and the only one who can stand amongst the dragons.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Opinion

This game had me hooked from the get go. What’s better than getting to personalize a character (from a handful of dynamic and detailed species), and slay at being an archer, swordsman, and mage? On top of that, you’re Dragonborn – a rare category of people that can speak the language of the dragons, slay them, and absorb their souls in order to grow stronger yourself. Wicked, right?

Map_of_skyrimNot only that, but the game is huge. You can spend hours exploring the world, fighting wild animals, and defeating dungeons (which there are many of). The stronger you get, the easier it is to defeat dragons – which pop up out of nowhere constantly. At first, I was terrified to fight those royal creatures, but after defeating the main quest line, you get a feel for how easy it truly is.
One of the neat aspects of the game is getting to know the towns and the people within them. You can help the Jarl’s, the leaders of each town, on the quests that they have for you. If you gain enough influence within a town, you can even buy a home, get married, and adopt orphan children that are scattered across the game. In addition, you can buy horses and have followers (you’re allowed one, unless you mod your game).

For a fantasy lover, this was definitely the game for me. You get to take part in world politics, shape your hero or heroine into any way that you want, and just have fun. Now, I haven’t played the previous games within this series (but I do own them), but I really enjoyed the story line and the adventure! I can’t wait to go back into the game and play it again, or finally finish more of it.

Story Time

the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim-horseNow, unintentional jump scares are very much a thing in Skyrim. You’re constantly traveling through dungeons, being attacked by the undead (one of the biggest sources of scares for me), and, of course fighting off giant spiders that love falling from the ceiling. Just so you know, arachnophobia? It’s real for me. One of the few things that I am actually afraid of is spiders. Anyways, I digress.

One of the best jump scares and saddest moments of my game involved myself, a horse, and a saber tooth tiger. My horse (affectionately named Horse because I had no other ideas otherwise) and I were out in one of the multiple mountain regions, on the hunt for dwarven ruins, when suddenly the fight soundtrack began to play in the background. I didn’t think much of it, since no red dots were appearing on my radar. Surely, nothing was around to attack me. So I continued on my merry way, the music continued to grow louder and didn’t disappear, and I finally thought to turn around and see what was going on.

Low and behold, there was a saber tooth tiger that was pouncing on me. Now game character me jumped off her horse and I began attacking. Real me screamed like a little baby and jumped so high in her chair that she almost fell out of it (My roommate was very concerned at this point, and after defeating the animal, I explained what had happened). After that saber tooth tiger finally died, I surveyed the scene and noticed that not one, but two animals had died during the battle.

That’s right. My noble steed, Horse, had died in my attack.

I’m still recovering from that loss.

Final Recommendation

If you are looking for a fun game to play, or want to take that first step into the gaming world, I highly recommend this game. The game play is smooth and the commands are easy to follow – whether on PC, or on XBox, or other consoles. Most importantly, I found it to ease me into gaming and help me fall in love with this hobby.

However, those with arachnophobia be warned – those jerks are everywhere in this game!

Here are Some Images from the Game!

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*****

“I got to thinking, maybe I’m the Dragonborn and just don’t know it yet.”

The Guards, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

My Gaming History and Recommendations

Very recently (as in, this past summer), I have taken my status as nerd to a whole new level. Now, I don’t find the term nerd to be insulting (it’s more of a term of endearment), so exploring more aspects of that term was definitely one of my goals outside of high school. What better way to explore being a nerd, than through the use of video games?

One of my good friends – and current college roommate – got me absolutely hooked on gaming over the past summer. Previously, I hadn’t been all that interested in heavier gaming. Sure, I’d play the occasional Wii game with my family, and I owned The Sims 3 (and every expansion pack that you could possibly buy), but I had never been interested in games outside of virtual reality simulations.That quickly changed when I was introduced to two very important products: Steam and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

These to programs revolutionized the way I was gaming. I began to expand my gaming through Steam and Origin, and truly discovered a passion for it. Although I mainly stay within the fantasy RPG genre, I do sometimes travel into the MMO genre. My favorite games to play are: Skyrim, Dragon Age, The Sims, and League of Legends. I’m also a PC gamer, which comes with its own pros and cons (I hate using PC controls, so I ended up buying a knock off xbox controller – works like a charm). I know that means that I’m not a true PC gamer, but for me, all that matters.

However, gaming can also be an expensive endeavor, and I definitely don’t go around throwing my money at brand new video games. It’s a patience game, and usually the longer you wait after a release, the better a deal you can get. Saving money is also a reason why I use Steam and Origin as platforms to purchase games.

Gaming Platforms

Logo Steam

Steam is an online video game store, much like Origin, but not limited to its content. What I love about this platform is that is serves so many purposes. Through your account, it will track achievements for every game you have, and share them with your friends. It also holds onto all your games in its own library – so instead of having all those annoying icons on your desktop, you can just go through Steam and it’ll open the game for you! And it’s unlimited downloads, so if you get a new computer, no worries there. But my favorite aspect to Steam is the deals that you can get. They have flash deals, seasonal deals, Black Friday deals – and the amount off ranges from 20-90% off games. Those deals aren’t limited to just the games either, the DLCs also get in on that action as well.

origin-logo.png

Origin is the other platform that I use to purchase games, though I don’t use it as often as I use Steam. This is EA’s store and way of creating a library of their games that you own. You can find anything and everything that EA and Bioware has created through this service, but it is much harder to find deals. They will have sales around the major shopping seasons (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, etc.), but usually they aren’t as good as deals you may be able to find elsewhere. But it is still a nice platform to have!

Another place to find game is on Amazon.com. That website is my crack, and I usually purchase disk versions of PC games from there, simply because disks are usually cheaper than direct downloads. But always make sure to check everywhere before purchasing a game. You never know where a deal may be found!

Gaming Consoles

Being a PC gamer, I am more biased towards using a computer for gaming. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t use other consoles! I do use the Wii to play some of my favorite games and series, such as Mario Kart and Just Dance. I also have a Game Cube, but that’s stored away since the games work on the Wii just as well. I also have a DSi, but that device is in a genre of its own. I do hope to expand this library of consoles in the future!

So… What Comes Next?

Now that you all kind of know where I stand on gaming, I hope to expand from here! I do plan on writing some reviews for the games that I have played to share with you all. In addition, maybe I’ll be finding some new games to play and recommend! I don’t know. But what I do know is that I hope to grow as a gamer and a writer through this section on my website.

Thanks for taking the time to read my musings, and I’ll see you next time!

*****

“A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.”
― Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World