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World of Warcraft in Popular Culture?

Posted by Susan on December 1, 2008

Marge Simpson Playing Earthland Realms

Marge Simpson Playing Earthland Realms

The time has come – With these posts coming to an end, I thought I would share how mainstream WoW has become in popular culture.

Aside from the internet, the other vice that people seem to be addicted to is television. Personally, I find pretty much all I want online, so my television sits and collects dust. But that is beside the point. Last season two major network television shows aired parodies of the World of Warcraft player.

Warcraft and The Simpsons

Marge has played it – Will you? The Simpsons aired an episode in which Marge begins her foray into the Internet and plays a game called “Earthland Realms”. She creates her character in her image (don’t expect to see that in WoW cause most of the girl players are actually male, or so its been said).  Its pretty funny cause she begins to learn how to interact with the other players like Apu, a vendor in the city, Moe, and Chief Wiggam. The episode is relatively clever, with a slight understanding that is actually WoW they are trying to depict. Others say that it is a mocking of Everquest, another MMORPG, the similarities are interesting, and there is a slight joke that while others go outside to enjoy the world, Marge decides to stay inside and play the game – feeding into her own new addiction. I will not divulge the episode, you should watch it for yourself online at http://www.zath.co.uk/world-of-warcraft-simpsons/

Warcraft and South Park

Well, Blizzard actually gave the writers of South Park authority to write their episode, and allowed them to actually use the game on their show. The characters

South Park Episode Make Love Not Warcraft

South Park Episode "Make Love Not Warcraft"

of South Park make actual players, and are attempting to defeat a superpowered player, who threatens the game itself. Its actually very humorous to watch this unravel, and a little discusting since the boys become what people seem to think are the stereotypic WoW player – you know, the troll that lives in the basement and sits infront of his/her computer all night. This one is a cult phenomenon for the WoW player, the detail to the game is amazing, and since Blizzard gave rights to it, makes is authentic. There is even a picture of Azeroth in the background, and the boys party up like a real group. Yes, WoW players actually do that, we bring PCs over and all play in the same room. It actually makes for a fun night! The small things in this episode make it cool – However, the animation in the episode is modified from the gameplay of World of Warcraft, and contains elements that do not exist in the game: talking animations, controlled NPCs, Humans in the Hunter character class, the ability for a player to kill another without restrictions, and increased gore. But other than that – Totally Cool. Check it out at: http://videoutopia.smartvideochannel.com/media/playvideo.aspx?f=flash7&cid=28D323DD11C14FDB9BDCF21BC876A1F1&v=mostviewed

 

Warcraft Commercials

I will admit it, I started playing WoW – from a commercial. But not just any commercial, I saw it from a clip of a cult classic movie – Office Space. The commercial got me so intrigued that I was like – wow, I can try this for free? Why not give it a shot! So I started playing, and actually come to think of it – that was 2 years ago today! Yup, thats right my little Druid is 2 years old. Anyway, I am heddging bets that most of you, if you watch any cable television, have seen a WoW commercial – and man they have some cool ones now – With people like William Shatner, Ozzy Osbourne, Verne Troyer, Mr T., Jean Claude Van Damme, Steve Van Sandt, and Vic Mignogna – I think that the cult base is growing. Now, I know that these are commercials designed to promote the game – but come on, we have Coke commercials with WoW in them and Toyota Tacoma commercials with WoW in them. World of Warcraft is a cult phenomenon with millions of players and its growing everyday! Ok, wanna see those commercials? So Do I – So I will post em all!

 

THE ONE THAT GOT ME HOOKED!!

 Mr T’s World of Warcraft Commercial

 William Shatner’s World of Warcraft Commercial

Verne Troyer (Mini-me) World of Warcraft Commercial

Ozzy Osbourne- World of Warcraft Commercial TV Ad

Steve Van Sandt (Silvio) World of Warcraft Commercial TV Ad

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Is it really a Dream: Eternal Sonata for the PS3

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on November 20, 2008

After a year of waiting Eternal Sonata made it's debute on the PS3 last month

After a year of waiting Eternal Sonata made it's debut on the PS3 in Oct.

As I said earlier I’ve been spending a lot of time playing Eternal Sonata lately after I rented it for my PS3.  Though it’s been out on the XBOX 360 for a year now I’ve been religiously avoid propaganda and information on the game to keep my impression of the game pristine.

Now there are many reviews of the content of Eternal Sonata so I’m gonna gloss over that a bit, but there’s some new content for the PS3 version of the game that I found really fun!

So Eternal Sonata is a J-RPG based loosely around the life of pianist and composer Frederic Chopin.  Don’t worry aside from some educational cinematic there’s very little in the game that is directly related to the life of Chopin.  Instead the gameplay takes place in a dream had by the character Chopin as he lays dieing in Paris.  I haven’t finished the game yet so I don’t know if this is true or not, but it makes for a neat premise.

Prince Cresendo is now playable and joins the party wielding a Mace and Shield.

Prince Crescendo is now playable and joins the party wielding a Mace and Shield.

Anyway, the usual multiple characters from different backgrounds with different purposes make their appearances and eventually you have a nicely balanced crew to choose you battle party from.  The characters are a little stereotyped but all have compelling stories and personalities. Eventually you have to go and defeat evil and change the world and save everyone.  The usual hero story with a romantic subplot or two.  This particular game features strong overtones of nationalism (this being based on Chopins life in exile) and personal integretity.

Like I said, I’m glossing over the storyline quiet a bit.  I’d love to review it, but it’s been done before.  So on to the new PS3 content.

Princess Serenade has also become playable fighting with a staff and magic

Princess Serenade has also become playable fighting with a staff and magic

Prince Cresendo and Princess Serenade are key players in the game’s storyline as thier titles suggest.  In the orignal realease of Eternal Sonata these characters were not playable but that has been changed in the PS3 version.  So far I’ve spent about 3 hours playing with them (that includes a lot of leveling up and the like) and though they didn’t stay in my party I have a feeeling they’ll be back.

There are new dungeons too; mostly quick levels with pretty backgrounds and have a few helpful items mixed in.  I’m having a hard time seeing which are original and which are new, which is impressive that they blend so seamlessly into a complicated game.  These new levels also give us new scenes which further explain character origins and the mechanics of the game world.  I’m somewhat surprised they weren’t in the games first version because they’re really helpful and expand the game quiet a bit.

Theres very few images available of the new costumes yet.  This is Polka in her new green dress (normally wears pink as seen on game cover)
Polka looks great in green!

The look and sound of the game got a tiny tweak for the new system with new musical versions of Chopin’s music being put in and new character portraits.  Of course there’s all the new art seen in the new levels, which shouldn’t be sold short.  Graphically this game is PRETTY!

Lastly, and staying in line with the PRETTY look fo the game, you can now but three of the game’s main characters in to new costumes.  I’ve only found one so far.  😦

So that’s the run down.  Pretty major stuff eh?  Almost makes it worth the year wait.  Almost… I’m not a patient woman Namco-Bandai.  Don’t let it happen again, or there will be no dessert for you.

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Get out your Boomstick! Here comes Left 4 Dead!

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on November 9, 2008

Choose from 4 characters and watch them change over time

Choose from 4 characters and watch them change over time. When I played all the character wee clean shaved and in summer clothing.

This weekend I had the privilege of playing the Left 4 Dead demo and dear lord, I’m in love.  Let me say first that I’m terrible at shooters.  I dislike the plots, the gameplay and the whole experience in general.  And yet, I’ll be borrowing this game from my boyfriend as soon as he can part with it.  (I may be waiting a while… he’s even more in love with the game than I am).  That’s how impressive this game is.

All of the above being true, let me explain what drew me to this game.  I’m a Zombie Survivalist, and for those not in the know that means that I think about what would happen if the world came to an end and there were a bunch of Zombies of various types running around.  I plan how I could survive in various places and discuss these, admittedly crazy, topics with like minded friends.  Now, take all the things I’ve planned and make them come true in the Left 4 Dead videogame.

A Boomer can attract hundreds of zombies with it's foul breath

A Boomer can attract hundreds of zombies with it's bile

Valve, makers of Portal, Half Life 2 and other fantastic games went in to this project to design a zombie survival shooter that would appeal to a wide audience without taking itself too seriously.  They planned on character variety as well as good team and enemy AI as well as good quality graphics.  And they delivered on everything.

I’ll do a full review of this game when I get it to play the full version (see title, hint hint) but don’t worry, I’ll give you a peak at what I saw:

– 4 charters to play
– Team AI makes the game playable by even the worst shots.  I normally HATE shooters but even I can play this, I just use my teammates as meat shields! (Yup, I’m horrible like that).
– The ability to heal your teammates after you use them as meat shields.  Or yourself should the need arise.
_ Special zombie types add depth to the game.  The Smoker explodes and destroys your vision, The Boomer can vomit on you and attract hordes of zombies, The Tank is basically a zombie version of the Hulk, The Hunter jumps on you like something out of Alien and  The Witches… well… they rip you apart if you look at them funny.  Beware what sounds like the sobbing of children, no matter how much you want to be the hero.
– Zombies can entangle characters who must be rescued by other characters, including the Team AI’s.
– References to other Zombie classics.  “Groovy”.
– Character appearance evolves overtime.
– Stellar use of audio cues.  Teammates call out when they’re reloading or when they spot a special zombie.  Zombies make noises specific to their type, alerting the player before the encounter, and drawing them closer to the fight all at once.

Though Witches appear meak don't let thier cries fool you.  These ladies are cold killers.

Though Witches appear weak don't let their cries fool you. These ladies are cold killers.

– Don’t let the screencaps fool you, this game is not as hard to see as you’d think.  Though it is dark, you have a flashlight to use as well as light from billboards and the like.  However, the light and noise attract zombies so BEWARE
– Though it wasn’t available in the demo, YOU CAN PLAY AS ZOMBIES!

This is set to be one of the most fun shooters out this season, especially for those who don’t want the time commitment of Gears of War 2 or Fallout 3.  It’s simple pick up and go game play and group based play make it the kind of game you want to play with your friends, or even enemies.  Valve proves once again that simple formula done well can create the most enthralling games.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the full version of this one!  Assuming the Zombie appocolypse doesn’t happen first…

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Shannon’s Latest Addiction: Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquillity

Posted by Shannon O'Grady on October 29, 2008

Yup, another videogame review.  I know it’s not my normal gig, but it’s been taking up so much of my time lately that I’ve got little else to write on!  😄  Oh well!

Harvest Moons first game on the Wii

Harvest Moon's first game on the Wii

Basics:

System: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Natsume
Rating: Everyone

Concept:

Your character has a farm or a ranch and must grow crops and raise animals to make money.  Using this money you build a bigger and better home and woo a mate to start your family.  In addition to this “life simulation” aspect of the game there is a plot/subplot that adds a more magical element to the game play.  Your goal is to restore the rainbows to your new island home and help return the Harvest Goddess to her rightful home in the island’s sacred tree.  The major theme is persevering nature and restoring economic prosperity and happiness to the island residents.

Controls:

There aren’t many games designed to be played with either the Wiimote and the Nunchuck or the Classic Controller, thus the motion sensing aspects of the game are limited.  There are a few place in the game where you can optionally use motion sensitive controls, but it’s never necessary.

New character design is cute, but gives a new maturity to the game

New character design is cute, but gives a new maturity to the game

Graphics:

Graphically this game is a tough one to describe.  From a technical standpoint this game suffers from low end graphics.  The Wii just isn’t a graphics friendly machine.  However, the designers have once again made the best of things.

This installment of the Harvest Moon franchise brings in a new character designer who keeps the very cute look of the past game but gives the characters distinct ages (you’re not a 12 year old running a farm anymore), races and personalities.  That’s an amazing feat when your working with low end detail and Mii inspired character models, but it works.  This is mostly due to distinct and colorful costume and hair design.  Realism is out the window on this one (lime green hair on a 40 year old grocer anyone?) but who cares!  It’s CUTE!

Background trees and shrubs blend with cartoony characters in beautiful harmony

Background trees and shrubs blend with cartoony characters in beautiful harmony

The biggest improvement in the graphics has come from more natural looking environments.  Items you can interact with remain somewhat cartoony but the texture foliage is far more realistic.  It’s quiet nice.  The background blends in but at the same time, is a distinct entity all it’s own.

Sound:

Sound isn’t a big element in any of the Harvest Moon games, and this is no exception.  Fluffy, wispy music plays in the background and changes based on both the season and the location you’re in.  The music and most of the sound effects are unobtrusive.  I swear that Harvest Moon designers want their game to be the kind you can play with the sound off.  And you can.  No gameplay elements are cued by sound.  However, the sound is nice filler.  I don’t like it, and I don’t hate it.  It works well and that’s cool by me.

Gameplay:

Time is the main reference point in this game and everything you do changes bases on the day of the week and the season.  All characters in the game keep a weekly schedule that the player must be aware of to effectivly interact with story characters as well as with the townies they may wish to someday marry.  By the same token shops in the game have days that they close and festival days require the player to keep a mental

Yes, that IS an Ostrtrich and yes, you can have one!

Yes, that IS an Ostrtrich and yes, you can have one!

tally similar to the one they keep for their real life activities. Thus, organizational skills are a must to get full enjoyment of this game.

With everything you do in this game you can do the bare minimum to survive or you can go out and try to raise every crop, every kind of animal, catch each type of fish and cook every possible dish.  Neither way will change the story but changes the game play based on player tastes.

This version of Harvest Moon brings in new animals, and new crops, as well as a new cooking implements and a few other things miscellaneous things.  All in all this game is great and super addictive.

There are many roads to saving the Harvest Goddess

There are many roads to saving the Harvest Goddess

Replayability:

That’s really where this game makes it’s money.  There are so many small day to day interactions that can change how the game is played that there are infinite outcomes and experiences.  Obviously, you can play as either gender, and then marry several different spouses to get different endings, but there are so many more ways the game can change that there is no end to the fun in this game.

Overall:

A+ Wicked game and I love it.  This is the most in depth Harvest Moon game yet.  If you played one of the previous games and felt it was silly to spend so many hours farming this game will rekindle your interest with more acitivities to do in your character’s free time as well as optional ways of earning money.  More characters to meet in this game provides a ton of virety and incremental additions of characters and items keeps the game interesting for hours.

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Unthrilled

Posted by 1forfun on October 27, 2008

So, once again, my post is late, but in my defense, I’ve already spent upwards of 24 hours at work this weekend, not exceptionally good for getting other work done. The game I was playing this week is Thrillville on the PS2. Though saying that I played it this week is a bit of an exaggeration, because I lost interest after about an hour.

Now I won’t say that I know much about this game from an hour of play, but it really doesn’t seem like the game would change much over time. The game involves designing and operating an amusement park. You are in charge of talking to guests, doing research and development, maintenance, building rides and attractions, and the other various business aspects of amusement parks. This to me seems like an educational  video game in disguise, and is far too much like work. Granted the minigames seem pretty cool, and there is a multiplayer mode from which you can access them (though I haven’t tried-my second controler is toast) it really doesn’t make up for the fact that the only reward for being good at managing is getting more to manage.

Thats not to say that this type of video game doesn’t have a fan base, I played an almost identical (though simpler) version of this game years ago, and enjoyed it immensely, and games like Diner dash and Parking dash have a certain appeal to them, so perhaps it’s just a bad time for this game, but I just can’t see myself returning to play it again any time soon.

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