Valiant Hearts: a hit with kids & dogs

Gamer Dude’s playing Valiant Hearts — released today on XboxLive and there’s a valiant dog protagonist that’s caught our dog Astrid’s attention. She’s watching the screen wagging her tail and offering her computer game dog friend the lacrosse ball she pinched from the ball bag! LOL

Valiant Hearts was released today for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Steam.  Powered by the same engine as Rayman Origins the game was developed by Ubisoft Montpellier. I’m already a fan. The game art, storyline and musical score is compelling and has a arty feel to it. It’s not an epic war game, but this game has plenty of heart. From the looks of things, the puzzles are satisfying too.

According to Hayden Dingman from PCWorld.com,

Far from a detriment, the silent-film nature of Valiant Hearts is one of its greatest strengths. The game is able to support a multicultural cast—French, German, American, Canadian—without any one culture dominating. And still, these are some of the best characters I’ve played in recent memory, thanks to some strong archetyping and brilliant animated cutscenes.

You also fall in with a trained war dog early in the game, and it’s this dog that most of the game revolves around. The story is the primary draw here, but play revolves around solving a cadre of puzzles more than actual combat.

I’m literally watching Dude play as I write. I’ll update later after the game’s done!

 

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No relationship between mood & attention deficit in kids who play video games

APPY Geek<<read @lukekarmali‘s story here!!

“A decade-long study of over 11,000 children in the UK has found no association between playing video games from as young as five, and mood or behavioral problems in later life.”

 (IGN)

The study, known as the UK Millennium Cohort Study, by Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting, Daniel Wight, and Marion Henderson (British Medical Journalfound that there was no causal link between playing video games and watching TV, and mental health issues. The authors found that watching TV more than three hours per week at five years of age resulted in behavioral problems for kids between five and seven years. However, there were no effects on hyperactivity/inattention, emotional symptoms, or social problems in these kids. Further, there were no problematic results in the kids who played the same amount of video games.

As you may or may not already know, I address some of these issues in my reviews and discussions of video games. My findings are anecdotal, but relevant, I think.When I read findings from studies like the Millennium Cohort Study, I’m seldom surprised at the findings. My personal belief — based on personal experience with GamerDewd — is that there are some games (and TV shows for that matter) that stir up and impair frontal lobe function. Check out this super-cool interactive brain map, which shows that the frontal lobe is where all the planning, organizing, impulse control, problem solving, and control over emotions happens.

I’ve developed a feel for the kinds of games that cause game-raging and you may be surprised to find that it’s not always the violent FPS-style games. One of the worst offenders remains to be the Lego video game franchise — sorry Lego…your blocks are the coolest, but I banned Lego media in my house years ago. 😛

South Park takes on next-gen console war

As console wars kick into high gear in time for the holidays, the passion behind both sides was played out on the popular Comedy Central TV show, South Park, reports Wesley Yin-Poole (Eurogamer).

GamerDewd has been after me for over a year about watching South Park, but it’s still an M (17+) rating as far as I’m concerned. He’s also itching to play the soon-to-be released game, South Park: Stick of Truth, which is slated for a March 4, 2014 release.

Published by Ubisoft and developed by Obsidian Entertainment, this RPG is targeting a Mature to adult audience. The goal of the game is to assist Stan, Kyle, Kenny and Cartman as they attempt to save South Park and to become cool. The action starts with the player as the new kid in town who is faced with the task of making friends. The kids of South Park are in the midst of a live-action-role-playing-game which turns into a universal fight between good and evil, reports IGN.

Like most South Park plots, the simple story arc seems fitting with the protagonists’ age (Grade 4), but the target rating of M or AO suggests there will be plenty of the boundary-pushing scenarios the South Park TV show has become (in)famous for. Still, like all games that are on GamerDewd’s radar, when it comes out, I’ll have a look and make a judgement call at that time.

The console war clip above is hilarious, and, while there’s one bleeped swear (the F-word, I believe), I’d say the clip is  ON for 12 and up. And like Cartman, Kenny and Kyle, it looks like we’re going to start with Xbox One in this house. We’d like to have both, but the economics of the situation demand that we make the choice (and then save, save, save for the PS4!)…because, as Stan says, “that’s how Xbox people are.” 😉

Shank: Gorgeous animation, questionable narrative

Gamer Dude: Can I play Shank?
Me: No
Gamer Dude: Awww, why not?
Me: Because it’s a game called “shank,” I don’t think I need to elaborate.

As you can see from the clip above, it’s a beautifully animated game done in a dramatic comic book style. The story of Shank can be told from two different perspectives: single-player campaign and cooperative campaign. The protagonist, Shank, is a mobster hitman whose MO is avenging the death of his girlfriend, Eva.

Players control Shank and can choose from three different kinds of weapons: melee weapons (including a chainsaw — sigh), firearms (of course), and a pair of knives (to shank with, I imagine). The cooperative mode activates Shank’s able sidekick, Falcone. As in many multiplayer campaigns, this game requires players as the characters to collaborate and combine moves to complete “hits” and advance the story.

EA Games, who released Shank in 2010 calls the game “a side-scrolling beat ’em up” game and I say this is an accurate description. Designed by Klei Entertainment, the game is available for play on Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

Some may call me hypocritical because, as you’ve seen in other reviews, I’ve allowed Gamer Dude to play similar storylines (eg. Assassin’s Creed). Maybe I am, but for me, it’s all about context for the violence. Also, Shank is no Assassin’s Creed. Case in point, the action of Shank seems to center exclusively on executing violent deaths as part of Shank’s revenge plot.

CONCLUSION:

Shank is a straightforward, one-dimensional game with graphic violence at the forefront. While I love the art and animation in Shank, I can see little benefit to having this game in my home, and no value in allowing my kid to play it.

VERDICT: NO DICE