Joshua Smith


Finding the Perfect Game for Christmas – Part 4: Multiplayer Capabilities

Welcome back to the 4th and final installment in our series helping you find the perfect games for yourself or loved ones this holiday season. This last post will focus on multiplayer aspects within games. Before you read on, however, click here to read part 1, click here to read part 2, and click here to read part 3.

The limitations aren’t severe; however, several games have strict multiplayer rules. For instance, games such as Destiny or Titanfall will REQUIRE online services. This means that if you aren’t paying for Xbox Live or Playstation Plus subscriptions, these games are glorified drink coasters to you. There are several ways to figure out the limitations before you buy, however.

Video game developers don’t want you to buy their game and not be able to play it just as much as you don’t want to buy something you won’t be able to play. To get around this, most games guilty of this will print in text at the bottom of the case something to the effect of “This games requires an internet connection to play.” Note that this is code for “Buy an Xbox Live or Playstation Plus subscription to play,” as simply having an internet connection will not be enough. Here is a picture of that signifier on a couple of Xbox One games and a PS4 game.

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Games depicted are The Division on PS4, and Titanfall and Destiny on the Xbox One.

The biggest problem is this is often difficult to see, sometimes even if you’re looking for it. Perhaps the most reliable place to look will be the back of the game case.

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Games depicted are Alien Isolation on the Xbox One and Alekhine’s Gun on the PS4

This is a single player only game. Xbox One puts their information in a chart on the back, however Playstation 4 favors large icons. The “1” next to Players underneath “Xbox One” in the top half indicates that there is only one player mode locally – meaning on the same console. In the bottom half, the “1 Player” icon means there is also only one player local play.

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Games depicted are Call of Duty: Ghosts on the Xbox One and Call of Duty: Black Ops III on the PS4

Here are examples of games with multiplayer options. On the top half, the “1-2” players refers to the amount of player that can play locally. 2 players local multiplayer means that one Xbox One can play two players on the same console, but not online. In the bottom half, “1-2” players indicates the same thing.

Additionally, you can see a lot of other information on the back of the case that doesn’t pertain to multiplayer aspects, such as Kinect capabilities, microphone options, and remote play.

Look for these things, you don’t want to be stuck disappointed and in the return line because you didn’t notice a few words or symbols. They are easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention, but if you know what you’re looking for, you will never make the mistake again.

 

Closing thoughts:

As I close this 4-part blog series, I ask you to keep something in mind: associates at Matt’s Game Exchange are trained to help you. If you have any doubts on ANYTHING listed here, do not be afraid to ask. We are here to help you, and even in the hectic holiday season we will be here for you. The loyal customers of Matt’s Game Exchange are why we prepare for hours, and why I sat here writing these posts. We want you to be informed so you can make the best decision wherever you shop, but if you run into a jam know that we here at Matt’s Game Exchange will help you out. This was a joy to write, and I can only hope it helps someone make a good choice for the holiday season.

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Finding the Perfect Game for Christmas – Part 3: Console Exclusivity

perfectgamechristmas

 

Welcome back to Part 3 of our game finding guide. Today’s guide will be a little shorter, but vitally important for figuring out what games to buy for the holiday season. If you missed Part 1 on game ratings, click here and if you missed Part 2 on game genres, click here.

Everyone has heard the debate between Playstation and Xbox. Which is better? Which should I buy my kids? Which should I buy for myself? Which has better games? The thing is, with all of these questions, you decide. Both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 have such similar internal specs that trying to compare their performance would just be splitting hairs. Instead, there are a few questions you should ask yourself, listed in order of importance:

  1. What do my friends play?
  2. What kind of games do I like?
  3. Will I be playing online?

What your friends play will probably be your most important factor because – let’s be honest here – no one likes to feel left out. On top of that, even if you have no plans to play online with friends, you can still borrow games back and forth between friends to maximize your gaming experience for little money! So if most of your close friends play Xbox One, then that may be the choice for you.

However, the kind of games you prefer might affect that just a little. For instance, Sony’s Playstation consoles often have access to many many more RPG and adventure titles that will never come out on the Xbox One, and Microsoft’s Xbox consoles often have access to their own shooters and racing games which will never see the light of day on Sony’s consoles. These console exclusive games might just seal the deal for you. A full list of exclusives can be seen here. Note that Playstation 4 has about twice as many exclusives as Xbox One.

The Uncharted series is an example of a Playstation exclusive title.

The Uncharted series is an example of a Playstation exclusive game.

The Halo series is a prime example of an Xbox exclusive game.

Finally, online play might have an impact. Currently both Playstation Plus and Xbox Live subscriptions will run you $59.99 for a full year. A decently steep price tag, however you get perks for it. You can check out this TechTimes article for a full run-down of the comparison between the two, but I can give a little summary here:

The subscription price for both per year is the same, so they both tie on that front (Note that at the time of the TechTimes article being published, Playstation Plus subscriptions only costed $49.99/year. They have gone up to $59.99 as of now). However, with both options you do get a selection of free games: 2 free games a month on Xbox One’s Xbox Live Gold, but a total of 6 free games under Playstation Plus. Additionally, for streaming services, Playstation Plus has the upper hand. So if you are deciding based on online subscriptions, Playstation 4 would be the console to go with.

That’s about all that you need to know for console exclusivity. Those three questions should be able to narrow down which console you should buy, which will in turn have an effect on the games you can buy. Sleep easy though, exclusive sounds scary and makes it sound like you’re losing out on a lot, but the truth is most of the major gaming experiences will come out on both consoles. But be sure to read over all the options and use that to decide, here at Matt’s Game Exchange, we want to help customers become informed on their purchases, and are willing to help in any way we can.

Tune in next time for the final chapter where we will discuss multiplayer capabilities within games!

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Finding the Perfect Game for Christmas – Part 2: Genres 1

perfectgamechristmas

 

Welcome back to our 4 Part Blog Series on Finding the Perfect Game for Christmas! If you missed Part 1, click here to read!

Today we will be discussing genres, and what genres might be perfect for your gift recipient. There are about 10 major genres, each different from the last. Keep in mind that sometimes defining a genre of a video game can be tough – it’s just like movies or books. Sometimes genres can mix – creating a brand new genre. It can also be difficult to pin down a specific genre to a game. It happens, and it can get confusing. Always know that if there are any questions you have that this blog does not answer, you can always call our stores and ask an in-store associate what might be best for you.

This is a chart generated by statista.com breaking down the most sold genres in 2015. These are the 10 most popular and will be the ones we will explore today.

statista

Let’s get down to it!

Shooters

The best-selling video game genre of 2015, and for good reason! Shooters have a wide variety of content in them and often end up blending many different genres into them. They can be first person – where you see your hands and guns, or the game be third person, where the camera zooms out to show your entire character.

In this video game image released by Activision, special forces try to repel a Russian invasion of Paris in "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3." (AP Photo/Activision)

This is an example of a first-person shooter.

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This is an example of a third-person shooter.

Shooters usually involve, well, shooting! So on that note, please consider that most shooting will involve shooting other virtual people, and as a result of that violence, will be considered an M rated game. Shooters often have a strong emphasis on a multiplayer experience with minimal single player options, so note that you may need to invest in Xbox Live or Playstation Plus subscriptions with these games to get the full experience! Some notable titles in this genre would be Call of Duty, Halo, Gears of War, and Battlefield.

Action

Here is another broad genre. Games in this genre usually involve lots and lots of action and usually little story or slow moments in the game, though that isn’t always true. These games often include lots of challenges including but not limited to shooting, platforming, and puzzle solving. Games of this genre can include gun or swordplay, but can also be fun, silly games for a younger audience. Ratings on action games can be all over the board. Notable action titles are Batman, Grand Theft Auto, and Dark Souls.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an example of an action game.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an example of an action game.

Sports Games

These games are virtual recreations of popular sports. A vast majority of these games will be rated E for Everyone. The gameplay is usually simple, dynamic, and most importantly – fun! Easy to pick up for most people, and they come our annually! Notable sports games are FIFA, WWE, NBA, MLB, and Madden NFL. Note that these games will be followed by year titles for the sports year their rosters will represent.

Fifa 15 is an example of a sports game.

Fifa 15 is an example of a sports game.

NBA 2K16 is an example of a sports game.

NBA 2K16 is an example of a sports game.

WWE 2K16 is an examoke if a sports game.

WWE 2K16 is an example 0f a sports game.

 

Role Playing

Also known as RPGs (role playing games). Sometimes, nothing can be more fun than getting home from work or school after a long day and pretending to be something you aren’t – an epic, well-known hero who travels distant lands, or a nameless adventurer dodging arrows and taking down dragons. Role playing games are often long, time consuming games that can spread a little bit of money out a LONG way. I’m not kidding. You can spend $7 on a copy of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and be playing until the cows come home. Spoiler: That’s a LONG time. Role playing games often have a strong single player emphasis and often little-to-no multiplayer aspects. These games are also often set in a fantasy or sci-fi universe. Ratings in this genre tend to be spread all across the board. Notable games of this genre are Pokemon, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Tales of Xilia and other Tales games, and Dragon Quest.

Final Fantasy is a great example of an RPG.

Final Fantasy is a great example of an RPG.

 

Adventure

Adventure games often include a stronger emphasis on story than action games do, but often include a lot of the same conventions. Adventure games will often move slower than action games, but still include the same elements such as platforming, puzzle solving, and shooting. Adventure games will be more about an experience – like RPGs – but not inherently quite as long. Adventure games can have multiplayer aspects, but also focus mainly on a single player experience. Notable adventure games are The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft, Heavy Rain, and The Walking Dead Game.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a great example of an Adventure game.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a great example of an Adventure game.

 

Fighting

Yes! We all need to let out some steam every once in a while, and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t remember playing some sort of fighting game as a kid? Fighting games often require a lot of technical skills and memory, being able to react quickly and pull of counters and combos. They aren’t for everyone, but if you are willing to put in a little bit of focus you can get REALLY good at them. Most popular fighting games also have a strong community following, so getting into some of the bigger fighting games can make you some very great friends. However, sometimes not knowing what you’re doing and just button mashing your way to victory is the best way to win. Fighting games often have a VERY strong multiplayer focus, and are some of the only game still around that have two-player local gameplay, as well as online. That being said, most games also have a decent story mode used to get the player invested in the world of the game. Ratings range all across the board on this one. Notable fighting games include Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Killer Instinct, and Injustice.

Mortal Kombat X is an example of a fighting game.

Racing

Racing games are all pretty simple in idea, and pretty broad in design. If you like high speed and always being #1, try one of these on for size. Racing games also typically have a fair balance of multiplayer and single player functionality, however some recent games are giving up on local multiplayer and only allow online play. Most racing games will range from E to T, with the kicker often being mild lyrics in the songs used or suggestive themes – no one wants to endorse reckless driving after all. Notable racing games include Forza Motorsports, Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, and Mario Kart.

NASCAR Heat Evolution is an example of a racing game.

Mario Kart 8 is a great example of a fun racing game.

Strategy

These games require time, patience, and a capacity and love for learning. Strategy games can be huge times sinks, in fact there is someone out there who has been playing the same game of Civilization II for the last 10 years! (Note: NSFW material such as inappropriate language may be present in the comments of the thread) The catch is that strategy games are NOT for everyone. And that’s not bad, but if you can learn to love one and curl up with it, it can very quickly be the most played game in your library. Most strategy games are solely single player experience with limited multiplayer aspects. Most strategy games will range from E to M. Notable strategy games include Civilization, SimCity, and Red Alert.

Battallion Wars 2 is a classic example of a strategy game.

Family Entertainment

These games are built for families, and as such will mostly be rated E or E10+. These kinds of games will be meant for family games nights and will include virtual board games, card games, trivia, or unique challenges. There is almost solely a local multiplayer aspect to these games, often between 2-4 players. These games will include the Family Game Night series, You Don’t Know Jack, Monopoly, and Just Dance.

Family Game Night is a perfect example of a family game.

Just Dance is another example of a family game.

Casual

. These are games – mostly mobile games but many still do make appearances on console – that you boot up because you’ve got some time to kill or want to keep the kids busy. These games often have a minor story and are meant simply to relax. These include puzzle games, mobile games, or creative games. These are games that you will put some times into, but you probably won’t notice it because you’ll be playing them for half an hour or so at a time rather than for whole hours. Ratings on these games are usually on the lower end of the spectrum, ranging from cE to T for the most part. Popular casual games include Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, LittleBigPlanet, and Chocolatier.

Plants VS. Zombies is a fun, favorite casual game.

And there we have it! Using these descriptions, you should be able to decide what games will be best to make the perfect gift! Do you like long drawn out single player experiences? Or do you prefer shorter bursts of fun multiplayer battles with friends? You can find everything you need up there and remember – sometimes genres are hard to track down. If you need help, call or stop by one of our stores and ask for an associate. Until next time, when we talk about Console Exclusivity!

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Finding the Perfect Game for Christmas – Part 1: Game Ratings 1

Finding the perfect game for Christmas

It’s nearing Christmas time, and you’re shopping around trying to find the perfect video game gift for your kid, friend, or someone else. But there’s only one problem – you don’t know much about video games. We understand, it happens, and you shouldn’t be ashamed. Instead, you should learn the science behind picking the perfect game, for you, or for others.

Welcome to our series of blogs dedicated to helping you find the best games during this time of year to assist in your Christmas holiday shopping! This series will be broken down into several parts, making it easier to digest:

 

Part 1 – Game Ratings

Part 2 – Genres

Part 3 – Console Exclusivity

Part 4 – Multiplayer Capabilities Within Games

 

The very first thing you will want to keep an eye out for is the rating. A company called the ESRB, or the Electronic Software Rating Board, has placed a rating on each and every licensed game on the market. You can find this rating in the bottom left hand corner of most video game cases.

 

Always check the ESRB when Christmas shopping for others.

 

And again in the bottom right of the back of the case, this time with more information.

 

Always check the ESRB when Christmas shopping for others.

 

This rating has been determined by a board of members who dedicate their jobs to assisting people in finding suitable games for people of all ages. There are three factors parts within each rating:

  • Rating Categories suggest age appropriateness
  • Content Descriptors indicate content that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern
  • Interactive Elements inform about interactive aspects of a product, including the users’ ability to interact, the sharing of users’ location with others, if personal information may be shared with third parties, if in-app purchases of digital goods are completed, and/or if unrestricted internet access is provided.

Courtesy of ESRB’s Rating Page

 

These ratings range and give a broad idea of what age group should be playing it. Here’s a basic breakdown:

  • eC – Early Childhood – These games are created for the sole purpose of teaching and entertaining small children. Most commonly found on mobile, PC, or on learning based consoles such as Leapfrogs.
  • E – Everyone – These games are suitable for people of all ages. Contains minimal cartoon or fantasy violence.
  • E 10+ – Everyone 10 and Up. These games may have slightly more mature themes than E-rated games. May contain slightly more violence, mild language, and suggestive themes.
  • T – Teen – Games are generally for people 13 years of age or older. May contain more violence, crude humor, mild language, occasional use of strong language, minimal blood, etc.
  • M – Mature – Reserved for people 17 years of age or older. May contain strong language, blood, strong violence, sexual themes, etc.
  • AO – Adults Only – Content in these games are suitable only for adults. Games may contain intense violence, intense sexual themes, or gambling with real money.
  • RP – Rating Pending – The game in question has yet to be released, and is still being reviewed by the ESRB to find the best rating for the title.

 

For each game, the front rating will give you the base rating, and to find out vaguely why the game has that rating, you can check on the back. For a further in depth reason for a game’s rating, the ESRB has a rating synopsis for most games available on their website(http://www.esrb.org/ratings/search.aspx).

 

Keep in mind, the ESRB rating policy is NOT legally binding – however big box stores have deals with the ESRB preventing them from selling a game to someone under the age of the game’s recommended rating. Although we here at Matt’s Game Exchange are not legally obligated to do so by deals with the ESRB, we will not sell a game to someone who is younger than the recommended rating. In addition, we will do our best to steer you in the right direction when Christmas shopping for others.

 

As the Christmas season grows nearer, we hope this has helped you start your journey on finding the perfect game for family and friends. Check out next time when we break down games into basic genres to discover what genres your friends and family might enjoy best.

You can find out more about the ESRB at http://www.esrb.com/.

 

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And don’t forget – we just want you to play games and have fun!

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