LEGO Lord of the Rings

Every time I pick up a LEGO video game, I know what I am going to get, but it always seems to surprise me anyway. Lord of the Rings was the biggest surprise I have had with any LEGO game so far. While the gameplay doesn’t stray too far from the normal platforming fare, it has certain RPG elements like quests and upgradable items which, while tedious at times, definitely add to the game’s replay factor. Also adding to replay value are the many side quests all around Middle Earth and over 80 unlockable characters with unique play styles, from archer to berserker.

If you have played any previous LEGO games you will basically know what to expect, but here they have taken it to a new level. The various levels in the game evoke all the feelings of the movies. As a word of caution, if you don’t feel comfortable letting your child WATCH the Rings movies, then you may want to wait a bit on this game. Like the films, it can get a bit dark at times and even uses actual dialogue from the films in game. That being said, this is what I would consider a perfect family game. It has a simple play style that will appeal to gamers of all ages, with a bit of creative puzzle solving and challenges for the more experienced fans. Even non gamers will enjoy this reimagining of the Lord of the Rings universe.

The graphics, while being mostly comprised of LEGO, were very nice and crisp. Certain areas had a very appealing depth of field, almost like tilt shift photography, and everything was equal parts bright and cheery and dark and gloomy.

But the game is not without its flaws. In free roam the camera can be freely moved around, but in story missions, the fixed camera offers little wiggle room, and at times, climbing and jumping onto small platforms can be a bit of a hassle as it is hard to judge depth appropriately some times. Switching characters can also be a problem. Sometimes when you need to switch to a specific character, it will automatically switch to player two, which can cause you to fail certain puzzles where quick changes are necessary. Also the in-game map only has two levels of zoom, either far away (not allowing you to see the various missions and characters), or zoomed in to the point where just crossing the map is a chore. There are also certain subplots of the film that have been glazed over, to keep the game from being too long. Most people may not notice this, but if you are a die hard fan of the films, it may be apparent that these pieces are missing (LEGO joke).

Overall, I had a very enjoyable experience with this game, and the problems I encountered hardly detracted from the fun I had playing it. I would definitely suggest this game to anyone who is a fan of platformers, Lord of the Rings, or just LEGO in general. LEGO Lord of the Rings is a great way to spend time with your children or family, and will appeal to both young and old alike.

Surviving the First Days of Minecraft!

Minecraft can be a daunting experience for the first time player, but luckily we will give you some tips to get you started on your first few days of playing Survival Mode. If you are playing the 360 version, the game offers a nice tutorial to get you familiar with the mechanics, and the PC version is more advanced, as you need to memorize the construction patterns to create your tools. Read our bullet list and learn how to survive your first few days!

When you first begin, look for trees and begin punching them. A good idea is to leave the bottom stump, jump on it and then punch upward to get the most from the tree without having to use steps, and then remove the stump. After gathering a few stumps, make some wood planks and a crafting table.

Having a crafting table, you should begin creating more wooden planks and a few sticks. Use these to create wooden axes, a sword, and a few pick axes. Continue gathering wood and making wood planks, you will need these to create a makeshift house before the first nightfall.

Mine some stone (grey blocks) so you can create a furnace. This furnace can be used to create some charcoal, so you can make some torches to light the inside of your house. Ensure that your house is fully enclosed and you have a few torches inside and maybe even outside to keep enemies from spawning so close.

Create a door for your house so you can easily enter and leave your house at will. If you choose to build inside the earth, then construction of your home will be easier than an above ground house.

Having a fully enclosed house with a door, torches inside and out, with a furnace and crafting table inside will be good enough to begin your first night. Once night falls you will encounter creepers, spiders, zombies, and skeletons. Creepers are the most dangerous, because they will explode and damage any terrain in the explosion (except for highly resistant material, which you won’t have access to this early on.

On your second day, you should begin gathering meat by slaying cows, chickens, or pigs. You should also begin constructing a farm nearby too. For this you will need a wooden hoe and a nearby water source. using natural earth you can till near the water to create a small farm. start attacking grass to gather seeds you can plant on these tilled and watered farm grounds. It will take some time for wheat to grow, so be patient. After the wheat is fully grown you can create bread out of it.

If you are lucky to find brown and red mushrooms about, you can create a bowl out of wood, and make yourself some mushroom stew to stave off your hunger bar for a bit.

Finding sugar cane about is another good quick farming option to create sugar and paper for ingredients.

After you have a farm or two with seeds planted, you should create some chests to store your items inside your house. have two chests together to create a big chest, which contains greater storage space. If daylight is still in your favor, you should gather more wood and cobblestone, so you can create better tools, and perhaps expand your house further.

Once you have more wooden material, you should create more sticks so you can build a fence around your farm. Animals can trample upon your farm and destroy them, so its a good idea to create an enclosure around it, and fences is usually a good idea. Once you have an fence enclosure and a gate to enter and leave, place torches on top of the fence for good lighting.

On your third day, you should be self-sufficient for the most part, so you should now be able to explore and discover your world. If you find iron, you will need a stone or better pick axe to mine it. Once you have gathered enough iron, and usually coal is find in close proximity too, so eyes open! Place your iron in the furnace to get iron ingots, and if there is sheep around, make a shearing tool! This shearing tool will let you gather wool from sheep so you can create a bed. This bed will allow you to sleep at night and set a spawn point, in case you get killed out there.

Fez Review

I was lucky enough a few days ago to run across a fantastic documentary on Netflix called Indie Game that closely followed the late stage development of two groundbreaking Indie titles, the first one being Super Meat Boy and the second being Fez. The movie covers the release of Super Meat Boy but Fez was still in development at the time of the movies’ release in January of 2012. It was amazing to see such small dedicated individuals or small groups of people creating unbelievable gaming experiences, much in the spirit of Braid which broke records and I believe really opened the doors for indie games to find real success.

Fez was in development for five years and was originally announced by creator Phil Fish on July 17th, 2007 and the game wasn’t released until April 13th, 2012 after being pushed back. After the extended development and being pushed back many gamers were wondering if the game would actually ever be released, and upon the games release it would meet extremely high expectations. Fez finally was released in April of 2012 and it meets and exceeds the high expectations held by fans and critics alike. The concept of Fez revolves around the protagonist, Gomez, who is an inhabitant of a flat two-dimensional world but through the discovery of an artifact called the Hexahedron which provides Gomez with a magical fez that allows him to see a third dimension.

The pixelated art style for Fez works in a beautifully fantastic way, and the unique integration of a third dimension only makes the game that more beautiful. The aesthetically pleasing lighting and the overall visual appeal of the game create a ridiculously artistic experience that you won’t soon forget. The soundtrack is varied and beautifully ambient making the audio aspect of the game up to par with the amazing visuals. The combination of the two definitely engross you in the eye popping world.

The gameplay in Fez revolves around a series of puzzles in which Gomez must complete in order to collect the missing pieces of the Hexahedron before the world collapses and Gomez along with it. You will also collect 32 “anti-cubes” scattered throughout the world. As the player collects cubes and anti-cubes, doors become unlocked and allow the player to access new areas. To collect the cubes and anti-cubes the player must take advantage of the 3D component of the game to solve the various puzzles which are varied and keep you pulled into the game, never getting stale or bored and always offering something new for the player.

There is no real consequence for dying as you are automatically transported back to your last living position, but the puzzles offer such a challenge that this design decision works perfectly within the game. Fez offers up a challenging experience with online leaderboards that will have you playing through the game more than once, if for nothing else just to relive the visual experience that Fez offers. Fez is an experience that deserves to be in the same echelon as such amazing indie games as Braid or Super Meat Boy which is what you would hopefully expect from a game with such a long development cycle that portrays Phil Fish as a sort of perfectionist and it shows in every aspect of Fez. This is definitely a title that should be in every gamers library, especially fans of superb indie games in which case Fez is an absolute must-have.and for the equivalent of $10 this game is worth absolutely every penny.The indie development scene has been growing into a big deal over the past few years and Fez only furthers the belief that the indy games are capable of offering amazing experiences.