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4-D Video Gaming

How would it be to actually be inside a video game? Rather than sitting watching the game on a video display, what if you could actually hold the weapon you were firing, ride inside your vehicle, and shoot at actual targets. Even better yet, you could earn a score and use it for bragging rights.


A few years ago, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters appeared first at Walt Disney World and then at Disneyland. As both a Disney and video gaming aficionado, I found this attraction a lot of fun. The strategy guide author in me of course had to learn which shapes where the highest scoring targets—the triangles and diamonds are worth a lot more than the squares and circles. And if they target is lit up, you earn even more points. This game is literally a rail shooter. You can turn your spaceship around in order to aim at the targets which are located on aliens, robots, and other objects. What makes it even cooler is that you can email a photo of yourself in the attraction along with your score to your home account, and then forward it to your friends to show what an awesome space range you are. I must admit, my “top ten” score photo stayed as the background on my computer for several months.


If that were not enough, Disney has done it again. Today, Toy Story Mania opens at Disney’s California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort. Like Astro Blasters, this is another shooting gallery attraction. However, this time, you don 3-D glasses and shoot at targets with a spring-loaded weapon which makes it feel like you are actually firing a carnival type game launcher. While you have 3-D graphics, what does the 4-D mean? As a Prima Games author, I have taken it upon myself to find out for you. I am going on assignment to discover the fourth dimension. Watch for my blog next week when I return to report.


If you have had the opportunity to experience this Disney attraction, please let me know what you thought about it.


Just One More Turn

Last week the demo for Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution popped up on Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. I admit that I have played Civilization in the past. While I built up empires in Civ II and III, I was able to steer clear of Civ IV—not because it was not a great game, but I wanted to continue to have a life. So when I saw the demo for the console only Civilization Revolution was up, I hesitated a bit before downloading it. That fact that it was for consoles helped push me over the edge. How in depth could it be? Plus a demo can’t take that long to play all the way through.


Once the demo was completely downloaded, it started it up. As an added safeguard, I picked up my 7month old daughter who was being a bit fussy and set her on my lap. Two hours later, I was still playing. The baby was asleep and I was still working my way through the game, trying to conquer Egypt with my legions and armies of archers and horsemen. Unfortunately, you can’t save your progress in the demo, so I had to shut down the 360 so I could take kids to practices and other places they had to go.


Though I have yet to get back into the demo again, I was impressed with Civilization Revolution. While not as deep and complex as the previous PC Civs, Revolution has just the right amount of detail and control to make this game accessible to new players as well as keep veterans satisfied. At first look, this game looks to be as addictive as its predecessors. Also, Sid Meier has once again implemented his patented time warp as my two-hour experience illustrated. So whether you play the demo or buy the complete game when it is released in July, be sure to have some link in the normal space time continuum to pull you back. Otherwise, your life may pass by you as you play for just one more turn.




Varsity Video Gaming

As video games become more popular and respected as a legitimate form of entertainment, and organized tournaments offer large prizes and global fame to world-class gamers, when can we expect to see high school teams competing against one another in virtual combat? High school students have many opportunities to get involved in their schools. While there are the standard sports of football, basketball, baseball, softball, and wrestling, many new activities are gaining popularity. Have you seen the cheerleaders today? Some schools teams that compete at chess; they debate one another, or even engage in mock trials. With all these activities, why not have a video game team?


This concept is not as far fetched as it may first seem. Craig Waechtler, a math teacher at Rocklin High School in northern California, has created a console gaming club. This team competes against a couple other schools in the Sacramento area. For the past two years, these tournaments have included GRAW, GRAW 2, and even Guitar Hero III. The club provides another opportunity for students to be a part of the school culture. Just like for sports, the team members must pass all of their classes in order to stay on the team. Furthermore, they also learn valuable skills such as teamwork and cooperation just like they would on a sports team.


As these clubs expand to other schools, how long until we see letterman jackets with a controller emblem on them? With network gaming available through services like XBOX Live, teams from all over the country, even the world, could compete against one another from the comfort of their own classrooms.


If anyone is a part of a school gaming club, let me know.



Destruction in Bad Company

In case you were wondering where the Tuesday blog has been, I apologize. I have been out on assignment in Eastern Europe working with B-Company (aka Bad Company) looking to find all of the gold bars. I am proud to report all have been found and you can get the full report complete with locations in the Battlefield: Bad Company strategy guide along with the locations of all collectible weapons. (Okay, I wasn’t really in Eastern Europe physically, but the game takes place there.)


For those who did not get in on the Bad Company beta, the demo will be out June 5th. If you pre-ordered through certain retailers, you can get a code to download the beta on May 29th. No matter when you can get your hands on the demo, give it a shot. One of the cool new features is the ability to destroy buildings and other forms of cover. This provides a whole new way of playing a first person shooter. If you have played the Rainbow Six Vegas games, you know how dangerous doorways can be. In Battlefield: Bad Company, just use a grenade or rocket launcher to blow a hole in a wall and bam, you have a new entrance. Someone hiding behind sandbags, blow them away and you will usually take out the person behind them as well.


The key to success is a destruction mindset. Even if you don’t have grenades or other explosives, the maps have lots of fuel drums or explosive crates that blow up real nice with a couple of shots from your weapon. Therefore, if you are having trouble taking out a machine gun position, aim for the red crate near the gun and shoot it to blow up the gunner and gun alike. The game also includes some very powerful gadgets which allow you to call in mortar strikes or even guide an airdropped bomb right onto the target of your choice. Forget about blowing a hole in a wall. How about taking out all the walls of a building as well as the roof!


Don’t forget to check out the demo and see just how destructive you can be!


The Next Battlefield

Hello all of you in the blogosphere. Since this is my first blog in this venue, I thought I would take a few lines and introduce myself. My name is Michael Knight and I have been writing strategy guides for 12 years. During that time, I have seen a lot of changes in the video game industry. That was back in the days of the PS 1 and the N64. Things have really come a long way.

My current project is writing a guide for Battlefield: bad Company. I have been a fan of this series since Battlefield 1942. The latest incarnation takes things in a new direction. In addition to the infantry and vehicle multiplayer action which is a given for the series, Bad Company also includes a great single player campaign with a storyline and related objectives. Therefore, if you don’t want to play against other players, you can still enjoy the game without having to resort to playing the multiplayer games against AI bots. However, what really makes this game stand out is the destructible environments. While other games have offered this, it is usually only cosmetic. Bad Company’s destruction can totally change the tactics of how a mission or match is played. Tune in next week and I will share more about how to advance through the battlefields in a rain of devastation. Right now I have to get back to the game….

January 2019
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