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Friday, January 30, 2015

Project Spark First Impressions

I was finally able to start playing Project Spark on the Xbox One. Had some troubles playing it earlier this month due to connectivity issues on Xbox Live.  Anyways I now have played it a few times and have some first impressions of the game.  Have you ever dreamed of creating your own video game?  How about go on an epic adventure where you can choose he elements, quests, enemies you fight and even the end boss for a level?  Project Spark explores these concepts.  There is a main quest you can start, though you can also play games other players create, go on a "crossroads" adventrue where you on an Action RPG quest where you can help influence the storyline, enemies you fight, what the villages look like, what you encounter in the field, and even what people say.  In addition, if you are feeling creative and inspired, you can always create your own world and game using the elements the game offers.  Today, I even created a "cheesy" adventure game I dubbed as Squirrel Hunter, where you play as this ranger and go up against hostile and rabid squirrels, bandits, and even goblins.

Things I like so far about the game
- Open ended style game.
- It does have some educational value to it considering that the game teaches you how to create your own worlds or even modify existing ones too.  There is even an in game tutorial that teaches you the basics of creating a game
-   If you have ever thought of video game design, Project Spark can be a good way to learn without having to go to college and getting a computer science and related degrees.
- In game codes are done for you.  You con't have to know c+ or similar programming languages to create words and games.  Though it can help to have some familiarity with programming (for example, modifying the behavior, or "brain" of animals in the world, what happens if the hero dies, how to finish a level, etc).
- I also like how you can play games other players create.  Lets you see what others are making and get some inspiration for your own games.
- I also loved the crossroads adventure.  Made a few funny ones too.

Things I did not like about the game so far:
- The game requires Xbox live and valid internet connection to work properly.  If Xbox live is down or you don't have an Xbox live gold accunt, the game will not work properly.
- There do seem to be some bait and switch things going on in the game considering that you have to unlock certain elements or even accessing new levels in the main adventure and that may require you to pay money out of pocket.  I wish they made it easier to unlock things without having to spend alot of money.
- The game can be confusing at first, especially when it comes to creating levels

I will post more information about Project Spark as I get more experience in the game.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Interesting new addition to Grand Theft Auto 5 for the Xbox One - Peyote plants

In case if you don't know, I have traded in the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 at Gamestop and got Xbox One version instead.  Sure I will have to start over in the game, but I think it is worth trying out the newer version of the game.  Xbox One version definitely has several changes, including better graphics, a new first person mode (much like how it is in games like Skyrim, where you can switch off between 3rd person and 1st person modes).   They also have new dog breeds in the game too (though Franklin's dog remains the same), including poodles, golden retrievers, pugs, saint bernards and even siberian huskies.  Aside from all of the changes, I have come across what is called, Peyote plants.  Much like the letter scraps and space ship parts, the peyote plants are scattered across all San Andreas and you have to explore to find them (though alternatively there are strategy guides online that list the map locations).
One Peyote plant turned Franklin into a coyote near Los Santos (though it can also turn you into other animals too such as a cougar).

In the middle of the great Sonora Desert (near Sandy Shores), another Peyote plant Turned Franklin into a siberian husky.  Had some fun playing as the husky as he treked across the desert and entered Sandy Shores, but he was a naughty husky (you can attack people as huskies, though it will also cause your wanted level to go up) and got put down by the cops in Sandy Shores.
The Peyote plant can be a fun new addition to the game (by the ways I don't remember seeing the peyote plants in the Xbox 360 version of GTA 5).  Whenever you eat them, your guy (such as Franklin) will have this wierd hallucination where he literally turns into a random animal that you can control and roam around the map, get into mischief, or even try to find hidden areas in the game.  The animal you turn into is randomized (even when eating the same plant more than once, which you can do by saving before eating the plant and reloading), so you never really know what you will control.  In my experience as Franklin, he has turned into a cougar near Los Santos (can't you imagine a wild cougar roaming the streets of Los Angeles in real life, an actual scenario from the "Los Angeles" in GTA 5 with the peyote plants).  I have also controlled a poodle, coyote (see picture above) and even a siberian husky once (huskies do exist in GTA 5 for Xbox one by the way, though I do not remember seeing them in the Xbox 360 version so they are new).  My favorites so far were controlling a siberian husky in the middle of the Sonora Desert (area near Sandy Shores), treking across the desert and even making it to Sandy shores, though he ended up getting "put down" by Sandy Shores police after getting into some mischief in town (such as attacking people, which you can do when controlling animals which does raise your wanted level, especially if you attack multiple people in the game).  The coyote was pretty fun to control too near Los Santos, though coyotes are weak (I though the husky had stronger attacks) and people try to kill coyotes in the game.  I also liked playing as a cougar in Los Santos, though he died after "jumping" into a pool (apparently animals can't swim in the game, so entering a pool kills your animal instantly).  The change lasts till either the animal dies or if you exit out of that mode by holding right on the dpad and when you change back sometimes you can be back at the location where the peyote plant was or other times, you can end up in a different place (such as where the animal plant dies).  Definitely a wierd and yet fun addition to the game.

By the way, there are some Youtube videos about Peyote plants.  Check them out here:

There are many videos like the one above.  For more peyote plant videos, look them up on Youtube.

Stay tuned for more updates on GTA 5, Xbox One.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Top 5 Kingdom Hearts 3 Secret Bosses

Kingdom Hearts 3 is supposed to be released almost a year from now here in America (not sure when it is supposed to be released in Japan) and I have been checking out some of the videos for that game.  What secret bosses would you like to see in the game?  Here are some ideas the poster below has?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

What worlds would you want to see in Kingdom Hearts 3 and future KH games?

Official Trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3

Hey everyone.  In this post I thought I would talk about the upcomming Kingdom Hearts 3 game that is supposed to come out later this year (which is supposed to be released to both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4).  I have recently completed a replay through Kingdom Hearts 2 (the third time I have played through the game since I got it for Christmas a few years ago) on Playstation 2.  Kingdom Hearts 3 will be the official sequel to Kingdom Hearts 2 (besides Re: coded and Dream Drop Distance) and will be the first console version of Kingdom hearts since Kingdom Hearts 2, considering that Birth By Sleep, 365/2, Coded, and Dream Drop distance were all on the handheld game systems (DS, 3DS and PSP respectively).  I think the new game is supposed to mark the return of the evil Xenohort and Ansem Seeker of Darkness (the main villian from the first game) in an addition to other familiar elements and characters.  Note that I don't really know the full story so right now, I can only speculate what the story will be about.  By the way, Kingdom Hearts 3 will assume you have played through the previous installments of the series.  In case if you are not familiar with the series, basically the series combines elements from the Final Fantasy Universe (particularly Final Fantasy 7 and 10 style games) and Disney universe and follows Sora as the primary protaganist from Destiny Islands who teams up with Goofy and Donald in his heroic quest to save the the universe from the hands of various Disney Villans (like Malificent along with others like Hades, Jafar, Oogie Boogie, Scar, Pete, and others) along the forces of darkness, called heartless and nobodies lead by various antagonists including Ansem seeker of Darkness (basically an evil counterfeit version of Ansem the Wise), Organization 13, and others.

Main Characters:

Protaganists and allies:

1. Sora -
He is the main protaganist in the series.  Sora starts out on Destiny Island along with Riku and Kairi and ends up in Tranverse town after the darkness takes the island.  Soon after, he meets up with Donald and Goofy (who become his primary side kicks) and sets out on a quest to defeat the heartless, Disney villians, and later Ansem Seeker of Darkness and eventually Organization 13.  He also searches for Kairi (Sora seems to have a crush on Kairi, which is especially evident in KH 2) and Riku after they get separated.  He is also the primary hero that stands in the way of the various villians he encounters on the different worlds he visits and often foils their plans no matter how diabolical or heinious.  Sora also becomes a thorn in the side of Organization 13 along with Pete and Malificent as he often stands in the way of their plans.

2. Donald - Sora's side kick.  He specializes in magic attacks and is great a support character too (such as healing when needed).  He also has a temper and can get into mischief sometimes too.
3. Goofey - another side kick of Sora.  He specializes in strength and melee attacks.  He is probably the wisest in the trio and often brings common sense into things.  Sometimes he is good at explaining otherwise hard to understand dialogues, such as the time in KH 2 where the trio learns about Ansem the Wise from Miki
4  Riku - Sora's friend from Destiny Island.  He acts as Sora's "elder brother" and they do tend to be rivals at times.  In the first game, he become jealous of Sora (in part due to him being the keyblade bearer) and even sides with Malificent and other villians, eventually becoming posessed by the evil Ansem seeker of Darkness, though he seems to change his ways at the end of the game, though not before getting trapped in the darkness at the end of the game.  In KH 2, he takes on the forom of Ansem Seeker of Darkness after the events of Chain of Memories and 365/2 and has a role in the game's prologue.  He also seems to make an appearance in the Land of the Dragons world during Sora's second visit to the world as a cloaked figure (though the sword the cloaked figure has definitely belonged to Riku), though he and Sora don't officially reunite till towards the end of the game.  He also helps Sora take on Xemnas during the final boss fight at the end of the game.
5. Kairi - another friend of Sora from Destiny Island and is one of the few ladies on the island.  She gets separated from Sora after the darkness over takes the island and Sora sets out looking for her.  At the end of KH 1, they get separated again and don't reunite again till the end of Kingdom Hearts 2 (after getting kidnapped and imprisoned in the World that Never Was by Organization 13).  She and Sora seem to be crushing on each other.
6. King Mickey - Mikey Mouse makes an appearance in the series as a king type figure and often helps Sora in his journeys.  He also helps Sora take on Organization 13 during Kingdom Hearts 2.
7. Hercules - from Disney's Hercules.  He is the son of Zeus and lost his immortality after Hades had him kidnapped and makes him drink a potion that strips him of his immortality (though ironically, he fails to take his superhuman strength away).  Hades hates Hercules and plots ways to kill Hercules and take him to the underworld.  He makes a powerful ally for Sora and his gang.
8. Simba from Lion King, along with Nala, Pumba, and Timba - from the Lion King.  Much like in the movie, Simba was destined to become king of the pride lands, but his evil uncle, Scar usurps the throne after murdering Simba's father and framing Simba for his death.  It is up to Sora to help Simba to challenge Scar and take his father's place as king of the Pridelands.
9. Aladdin - Based on the Aladdin trillogy, Aladdin starts out as a common thief and begger (aka street rat) in Agrabah and gets his life radically changed after meeting Genie from a lamp he gets at the cave of wonders, especially after turning Aladdin into a prince to try and win Jasmine's heart).  Sora comes and helps Aladdin foil Jafar's plans to take over Agrabah and help Malificent conquer the universe.
10. Various characters from the final fantasy series, particularly Leon, Tifa, Cloud, Yuffie, Cid, and Aerith.  Characters from some of the final Fantasy series make do make apparences in the game, often as allies.  They have a bigger role in Kingdom Hearts 2 as they work on restoring Hollow Bastion (aka Radiant Garden) after the events of Kingdom Hearts 1 (being a former stronghold for Malificent).  In the Olympus Collesium, Sora does engage them in duels on various occasions (with the craziest one being when he has to take on Leon, Tifa, Cloud, and Yuffie in the Hades Cup towarrds the end of KH II).
11. Roxas - he is the nobody of Sora after he temporarily becomes a heartless towards the end of Kingdom Hearts 1 (he "sacrificed" himself to save Kairi after she gets kidnapped by a posessed Riku, who was under the influnce of the evil Ansem and tries to use a special keyblade to try and steal her heart).  Much of Roxas' story is explained in Kingdom Hearts 365/2 and he even appears in Kindom Hearts 2's prologue before the game shifts over to Sora.  He was originally a part of Organization 13 but later betrays the organization and eventually helps Sora during the course of KH 2.
12. The Beast from Beauty and the Beast -
Based on the movie, Beauty and the Beast, he was once a prince that gets turned into a beast with a temper out on a quest to find true love before time runs out and remains a Beast for life.  In Kingdom Hearts 1, he is an ally of Sora in Hollow Bastion and in KH 2 he has a much more bigger role as Sora travels to Beast's Castle and aims to foil Xaldin's plans to turn the Beast into a heartless.
13. Peter Pan -
Based on the movie Peter Pan, he is an ally of Sora (who helps Peter defeat Captain Hook during the first game) and later becomes a summonable ally in KH 2.
14. Pinnocio -
Based on the movie, Pinnocio, he is a puppet that comes to life with aspirations of becoming a true human and in Kingdom Hearts 1, he gets kidnapped by Riku (who was under the influence of Malificent and later the evil Ansem) and literally gets trapped inside Monstro the whale (who was flying in space and even swallows Sora, Goofy and Donald up when venturing around in their gummy ships), and it is up to Sora to rescue him.  He doesn't make any appearences in KH 2 as far as I can tell.
15. Jimminy Cricket.  From Pinnocio, Jimminy keeps records from Sora's journeys, including missions, people of interest, Ansem's reports, information on heartless and nobodies, as well as any side missions to complete or treasures to find.
and many other disney characters.

- Ansem Seeker of Darkness.  Primary villian in the first game
- Malificent.  Evil sorceresses from Sleeping Beauty (not to be confused the Angelina Jolie version of Malificent by the way).  She wants to take over the universe and even commands her own variety of heartless.  In the first game in the series, she is really just a pawn of a much bigger plot set by Ansem Seeker of Darkness (aka Xenohort's heartless if you have played KH2).
- Hades (from Hercules).  He is the the villian from Disney's Hercules and even has his own underword.  Like Satan in being the arch nemesis of God in real life, Hades is the arch nemesis of Zeus (he is jealous of Zeus) and if you have seen Disney's Hercules, he basically wants to send Hercules to the under world and to do so, he wants to rig the gladiator style games that Hercules competes in so that Hercules inevitably loses and dies.  The only people standin in his way are Sora, Donald, Goofey, Meg and Hercules.
- Jafar.  Villian from Disney's Aladdin.  He wants to take over Agrabah and kill off Aladdin.  Interestingly, he seems to have a crush on Princess Jasmine and wants to make here his queen.
- Other disney villians, including Oogie Boogie (from Nightmare before Christmas), Queen of Hearts (from Alice in Wonderland), Captain Hook (from Peter Pan), Scar (from Lion King) and others
- Pete (the villianous version).  He is Mickey's arch nemesis (ever since Steamboat Willie) and becomes a cronie of Malificent in Kingdom Hearts 2, though perhaps not as intelligent as Malificent.
 - Organization 13.  It is a villianous organization in Kingdom Hearts 2, lead by Xemnas (created by Ansem seeker of Darkness when he became a heartless) that pretty much want to take over the universe and plunge all of the worlds into darkness.  Of course, Sora and his friends are more than happy to become a thorn in their sides.
- Riku (at least during KH 1).  In the first installment, after getting seperated from Sora, he finds himself under the influce by Malificent and becomes jealous of Sora and even helps the villians in their plans.  It is not till after he is posessed by the evil Ansem seeker of Darkness when he realizes the error of his ways.  Eventually he does get redeemed at the end of KH 2.

Other recurring characters:
- Ansem the Wise.  Not to be confused with the "Ansem" at the end of Kingdom Hearts 1.  Basically the good version of Ansem.  He was a scientist who studies hearts and helps King Mickey.  In KH 2 he aims to help reunite Roxas with Sora and later help foil the schemes of Organization 13, even sacrificing himself in the process.
- Final Fantasy characters, especially Cloud, Yuffie, Tiffa and other final fantasy 7 characters.
- Sephiroth.  He is the main villian from Final Fantasy 7 and returns as an optional boss character you can fight both in the Colliseum in Kingdom Hearts 1 and later at Radiant Garden towards the end of Kingdom Hearts 2.  He is arguably the toughest boss fight in both games given his huge health bar, dueling techniques and attacks that can easily kill Sora within a few hits (most notably the infamous "Descend Heartless Angel" attack which drains almost all of Sora's health bar when executed uninterrupted).
- Summoned characters, such as Genie from Aladdin, Mushu from Mulan and others.
- Moogles.  These are bird like creatures from the Final Fantasy series and are used to  save the game or leave worlds.  They can also synthesize materials Sora and his gang find into useful things, such as potions, power ups, and even weapons (like the Ultima weapon Sora can get).

For a full list of characters and more information about them, visit http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Kingdom_Hearts_characters.

I won't get into all of the details about previous games in the series, for for the full story so far, you can read it at the Kingdom Hearts wikipedia at http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Kingdom_Hearts_(series)

Anyways, with the new game in the works, my question to you is, what worlds do you want to see featured in the new game.  Obvously more Disney shows, cartoons and movies have been made since the last game. such as Disney's Up, Malificent (basically an alternate version of Sleeping Beauty with more of an anti-hero version of Malificent, not quite as evil as the original version), Finding Nemo, newer Pirates of the Carribean movies (in KH2 they featured Barbosa as the primary villian in the Port Royale level on the game, but there was also Davy Jones, who was a bigger villain in the original 3 movie), Wreck it Ralph, and many others.  Disney has also acquired various movies from Marvel (most notably the Avengers series) and now they have acquired Star Wars too, with Star Wars Episode 7 scheduled for release towards the end of this year (2015), so there are lots of possibilities.  They can also do worlds based on the Final Fantasy series too considering that there are some recurring characters from the final fantasy series too.  Final Fantasy 7 could definitely be a good world to do in KH3 if they wanted to.

Here are the worlds I have seen so far from Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2.  Note I have not played handheld sequels and prequels in the series yet so I am not familiar with the worlds in those games, though a full list of worlds that have been done so far, you can check them out on the wiki page at http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/Kingdom_Hearts_(series):

Kingdom Hearts 1:
- Tarzan
- Tranverse Town (home of the 101 Dalmations by the way along with Donald and Goofey)
- Destiny Islands (appears in the game's prologue and disappears after Sora is teleported to Tranverse Town)
- Pinnocio's world (literally takes place inside Monstro the Whale, with the main boss fight taking place right in the whale's stomach)
- Halloween Town (Nightmare before Christmas version)
- Hercules
- Peter Pan (yes Hook is a boss character you fight
- Hollow Bastion (Malificent's stronghold)
- Agrabah (Aladdina)
- Atlantica (little mermaid's world)
- Alice in Wonderland
- 1000 Acre woods (yes Winnie the Pooh does make appearances in the series)

Kingdom Hearts 2:
- Returning worlds includes: Halloween Town (even has a christmas version), Hercules (even has Hades' underworld, which was not in the first game), Agrabah (the end boss is a giant genie version of Jafar), Atlantica (this time around, it mainly follows the storyline of Little Mermaid featuring Eric as Ariel's love interest), and Hollow Bastion (a completely different version of the world though)
- Pridelands from Lion King (Sora even "becomes a lion cub" in that world)
- 1980s style Tron (with Sark and the MCP as the primary villians).  By the way, events on Tron seem to have an effect on Hollow Bastion (aka Radiant Gardent too) such as the incident later in the game where the town's security system (aimed at stopping the heartless) gets corrupted and gets aimed at Sora, Donald and Goofy as well as Sark's attempt to have Sora and his friends arrested and derezzed after a mishap occured when Donald was messing around with the main computer.
- Twilight Town (replaces Tranverse town).  By the way, Xaldin from Organization 13 shows up and tries to sabatoge Beast's effort to break the spell that turned him into a beast the first place (probably in an effort to turn him into a heartless).
- Beast's Castle (based on Beauty and The beast)
- Timeless River (basically 1930's style disney, and based on Steamboat Willie).  Interestingly there are 2 Petes that make appearances (past Pete and Present Pete, with the latter serving as the primary boss for that leg in the game).
- The World that Never Was (this is where the final boss fights are too)
- Disney's Mulan (pretty much follows the storyline of Mulan, where she disguises herself as a "man" and joins the chinese army and is eventually found out by the leader of the army).  Sora actually encounters Riku for the first time here during his second visit.  He comes as one of 2 cloaked figures and was disguised as Ansem seeker of Darkness (which is the case till the end of the game).  You actually don't see Riku's face but the weapon the mysterious man belonged to Riku.  Note Xigbar (from Organization 13) also makes an appearance there too.
- Port Royale.  Based on the events of Pirates of the Carribean, Curse of the Black Pearl (the first movie in the series) with Barbosa being the main villian (along with Pete).
- 1000 acre woods (again).  This time around, Pooh has a case of amnesia and forgets everything (after an incident involving heartless stealing pages from the Adventures of the Winnie the Pooh book), including everyones' names and it is up to Sora to help him regain his memories.

So those are all of the worlds I have seen so far.  Some possible worlds I can think of in the game includes:
Note: these are some worlds that would be cool to see, but unlikely to happen (hey I have no control over what the creators do of course).

1. Pirates of the Carribean (again). 

 This time based on the 2nd and 3rd movie in the series.  Remember there were several other movies made in the franchise and more possibilities are there.  Personally, I think Davey Jones would make an awesome villian (more so than Barbosa) in the series. Of course there would have to be more ship sailings than in Kingdom Hearts 2.

2. Halloween Town (the version with Debbie Reynolds, Kimberly Brown, etc).

We have seen the Nightmare Before Christmas' version of Halloween Town in both Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2.  Since then I have seen all 4 moives in the other Halloween Town franchise and think the first 2 movies (especially the first one) would make an awesome setting for a version in Kingdom Hearts.  Sora could team up with Marnie and her siblings as they take on the evil Kalabar.  Pete or Malificent could make good allies for Kalabar too.  The world could probably follow along the timeline of the first movie.  I am not sure if the original actors or actresses would reprise their roles for the Kingdom Hearts version should that happen (especially considering that all of the actors and actresses are older and may or may not be interested in doing another Halloweentown installmend), but it would definitely cool to see.  By the way, a Kalabar and Malificent team up would be cool to see considering that they are both evil magicians.

3. Wreck It Ralph.

In case if you are not familiar with the movie, it was a filmed release about 2 years ago about this video game villian named, Ralph that wants to give up his villianous ways and sets out on humorous and daring adventure visiting other video game worlds and even ends up meddling in a racing game and taking on an evil king too.

4. Marvel Universe.
Lots of possibilities here, including Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man, X-men, etc. Even if Kingdom Hearts did not do a movie version of Avengers, they also have Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Avengers Assemble, and Ultimate Spiderman they can do too.  Villians could include: Doctor Doom, Loki, Red Skull, Modoc, Venom, Green Goblin, or others.  If Organization 13 wanted to get involved, they could even exploit the Civil War storyline too (trying to tear the super hero community apart by inciting them to be at each others' throats).

5. Disney's Up.

Definitely a classic.  It is about an old man and a boy scout who turns a house into a hot air balloon goes on an adventure to a foreign country (Australia?) and encounter an evil hunter.   The villian on the movie would be awesome to have in the Kingdom Hearts Series.

6. Kim Possible

Kim is basically Disney's version of James Bond.  She is a high school cheerleaderthat takes on various villians and criminals much like what you would see in say, James Bond, Austin Powers, Perfect Dark Zero (btw I wouldn't be suprised if the shows were inspired by the PDZ series given the similarities to the 2 series).  Sheego would make an awesome ally of Malificent (for example), while Drakken would make a cool ally for Pete. Organization 13 could probably shake things up in the world too.

Other worlds that might be cool includes:
1. Expanding on the 101 Dalmations
2. Worlds from Final Fantasy series (FF7 would be awesome to do considering that many of the recurring FF characters in Kingdom Hearts come from that particular game).
3. Frozen (haven't seen the movie yet though)
4. Brave
5. Shrek (the first movie would probably be best to do)
6. Hook (the sequel to Peter pan featuring Robin Williams an older Peter pan who sets out on a quest to save his kids after they are kidnapped by Hook).  Sora and his friends could try and help Peter Pan regain his memories and defeat Hook once again
7. Bringing back Twilight Town and World that never was
8. Transverse town.  It would be interesting to see how that town changes after the events of KH 1.

And many others.

Worlds I don't really care for in the new games:
- Atlantica (can get redundant after a while, unless if they do on based on Little Mermaid 2)
- Agrabah (unless they do one based on the 3rd movie)
- 100 acre woods (Winnie the Pooh can get redundant after a while)

Well, that is all for now.  I will add to this list as I can think of more.  At this point, I will turn this post over to you all.  Are there worlds you want to see in the new game?  Are there worlds you don't care to see again?  How about recurring characters?

On a side note:  What do you think about the idea of doing Star Wars as a world in Kingdom Hearts 3?  I like the idea though it seems like that could almost be its own spin off (much like Lego Star Wars) considering that the movies are 6 movies long (will be 9 movies long by the time the new trilogy is done) and there are so many storylines that the creators can based the game on as well as worlds they can explore too.  Could they follow the prequel era of Star Wars (such as the Clone Wars)?  How about the original trilogy.  Sequel trilogy?  Expanded Universe? I have no idea.

Important disclaimer: The worlds I came up are based on pure speculation from other disney shows and movies I have seen and may or may not end up in Kingdom Hearts 3 or future installments.  I don't work for Disney or the Kingdom Hearts 3 developers, so I have no idea what the final installment will look like.  Of course, I will share updates whenever I come across them.

Further reading: http://kingdomhearts.wikia.com/wiki/The_Keyhole

Want to catch up in previous games in the series?  Here is a widget from Amazon you can use to get the games you want.  Note that KH 3 will assume you have played through Kingdom Hearts 2, Re:Coded and Dream Drop Distance, so it might not hurt to get those ones if you can to see the whole story up to KH 3.

Xbox One first impressions - system needs work

For Christmas, I got an Xbox One and have been able to try it out and familiarize myself with it.  While I am impressed by the graphics and games the system offers, I feel like the Xbox One needs work, especially when it comes to Xbox Live connectivity.  I put away the Xbox 360 I have (may rehook it up again someday) and hooked up the Xbox One in its place.  

Games I have for the Xbox One:

- Spark.  It is a fantasy game where you can design your own video game worlds.  Note: the game requires Xbox live connectivity to work properly.  My system has wifi issues and doesn't always seem to connect to Xbox Live properly so I haven't really been able to try out the game yet (also, it appears you need a license to be able to play the game which should come automatically with a Xbox live gold account).  

- Lego Movie game.  Definitely one of my favorites so far

- Assassins Creed: Unity.  Haven't played it yet, though I think I have to download it from Xbox Live

- Lego Marvel Super heroes: haven't played that game yet

- Grand Theft Auto 5.  Traded in the Xbox 360 version at gamestop last week and bought the Xbox One version instead.  GTA 5 is probably my favorite in the bunch despite not being to access the online mode yet, though the only other thing I didn't like about GTA 5 is that I encoundered the 

Things I like about the Xbox One so far:
- Better graphics
- New wireless controllers.  They run on AA batteries, but they do last quite a while before expiring
- Internet connectivity
- Ability to record videos when playing games (I've encountered this several times when playing Grand Theft Auto 5)

Drawbacks of Xbox One:
- Poor Xbox Live connectivity.  Interstingly on the same day I got the Xbox One, the Xbox Live network was suffering from the hack attack that was reported on the news.  Since then, connectivity to Xbox live has been hit and miss. At one moment, it works, and at another moment it does not work.  Some games don't work properly without Xbox Live, such as Spark, haven't really been able to try it out because I can't get a license to play it (which should come with Xbox live).  May have trade in Spark for a new game if the problem is not fixed.  Also, while I have been able to play the single player mode on GTA 5, I haven't been able to access the online mode yet due to the connectivity issues.  Hopefully they will be resolved at some point and I am not sure if it is just my system or not that is having those issues, but it is worth mentioning.  
- Cloud storage is good, but sometimes connecting to cloud can be tricky too
- The Video capturing system could be expanded more too.

Well, those are all of my first impressions for now.  Will offer a more thorough review of the Xbox One at a later date when I have more experience with it (probably before summer at the latest).

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Grand Theft Auto 5 for the Xbox 360 Review

On Friday, I traded in the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 and got the Xbox One version in its' place.  Will post my experiences on the Xbox One version on a later post.

I remember almost a year ago, I purchased the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto 5 and beat the game back in November 2014 (even got the 100% completion rating).  This game was definitely a fun thrill ride for me.

Overview of GTA 5:

This game is the official sequel to Grand Theft Auto 4 and takes place in San Andreas / Los Santos.  Just as GTA 4 makes you feel like you are in a virtual version of New York City, GTA 5 will make you feel like you are in Los Angeles and Southern California.  The map is pretty big stretching all of the way from the city of Los Santos in the South and of the island to the smaller coastal city of Paleto Bay at the north end.  Lots of terrain changes too, as you have city, coastlands, mountains, farm lands, and even a good sized desert to trek through in the game.  Like GTA San Andreas, airplanes and helicopters are back too (besides helicopters in Grand Theft Auto 4, planes were largely absent in that game).  Unique to the Grand Theft Auto 5, you will be playing as 3 protaganists that you can switch off using the d-pad on the controller: 1. Michael Santos - family man with a criminal past that seems to be living a seemingly normal life, at leas till the events of Grand Theft Auto 5.  2. Franklin - he is an African American man who lives in the heart of Los Santos and was a former grove street gang member and repo man looking to move off the streets and live am more fulfilling lifestyle.  3. Trevor Phillips - a psychopathic kind of guy with a short temper..  The game follows the trio as they live out their lives, get back into the life of crime (what is a GTA game without crime after all?), and eventually go up against corrupt government officials.  Several unique features GTA 5 offers includes:

- Single Player mode and online mode
- Heist missions.  Heists are fun and yet challenging too.  Throughout the course of the game, the players have to peform various heists and they usually come with their own unique planning, set up, challenges, difficulties and rewards.  Besides the bank robbery mission that takes place in the game's prologue, the game's first real heist takes place relatively early on in the game.
- Working with 3 protaganists instead of 1.  This seems to be the first time since 2D era gta games where you control more than one protaganists.  By the way, one of the 3 can be killed off at the end of the game, depending on what you do for the final mission of the game
- 3 possible endings.
- Some choose your own adventure elements (such as choosing how to perform heists, how the game ends, how some side missions end, etc).
- Open world adventure, aside from storyline missions, side missions, etc, you are on a huge island Los Santos on the South End, Paleto Bay on the north end.  In addition, there are many roads and highways to explore, my favorite is probably the Great Coast highway that goes up the west coast, much like highways 1 and later highway 101 (North of the Eureka area, onwards to Oregon and Washington) do in real life.  Like GTA Andreas, the island also features a vast country site, farm land, mountains (with the biggest one being Mount Chillad), and even a large desert area to explore too.  Lots of collectable items to collect too, including hidden packages, UFO spaceship parts, letter scraps (there is a murder mystery you can solve in the game by getting all of the letter scrap), along with stunt jumps, under the bridge locations (there are achievements you can get by going under under bridges) as well as knife flight locations.
- There is a military base you can check out too (at your own risk, since going onto the base will increase your guy's wanted level), called Fort Zancudo
- There are several paranormal elements in the game too, including UFOs (though most won't appear till you have gotten 100% completion and you have to know where and how to find them), at least one sasquatch roaming the woods and even a real ghost you can find when exploring Mount Gordo on the north east side of the island
- GTA Online mode: if you thought that story mode was too short, that only covers 1/2 of the game.  You can also access GTA Online (assuming you have an Xbox Live account) and do more missions, competitions, and it even has its own storyline you are following.

Here is what I liked about GTA 5:
- Tons of things you can do.  Besides the missions and all, you can explore the land, play golf, rob gas stations, go on rampages, participate in races (including a triatholon events), play online, browse the net, do activities with fellow NPC's, go on a Vinewood tour (basically GTA 5's version of Hollywood), watch movies, play tennis, visit a movie studio, spot a ghost (yes there is at least one confirmed scary ghost in the game that you may come across if you know where to look or when to look, see http://rjvideogamer.blogspot.com/2014/10/halloweenish-moments-in-grand-theft.html for more info), drive on freeways, swim in the ocean and much more.  Plus by being able to switch between characters, there is much more you can do if you get bored playing as the same character every time (for example, if you get tired playing as Fraklin, you can always switch to either Michael or Trevor assuming they are available).
- Stunning graphics.  You definitely feel like you are in Southern California.
- More variety in missions.  I remember in Grand Theft Auto 4, Nikko was often an errands boy and doing other peoples' dirty work (like the many assassinations you have to do in GTA 4 where you have to chase a target down and shoot him/her).  Sure you might get a few errands boy style missions (especially some of the "Strangers and Freaks" missions), but you also get other kinds of missions too, including: performing heists, being a repo man (as Franklin at the beginning of the game), going on races, running an arms business as Trevor (where you drive a dune buggy or fly a stunt plane delivering weapons to customers for cash as well as taking out competition), and many others.  My favorite was as Michael where you can join a cult (the Epsilon Program) and take part in the missions they give you and possibly earn $2,000,000 in the end (depending on how you play the final epsilon mission).  There are so many different kinds of missions you can do, so it would be difficult to list them all, but I won't spoil the game for you.
- Some characters from previous GTA games make appearances too.  Perhaps the most notable one is Packie McReary from GTA 5 and he does prove to be extremely valuable for heist missions.  Even Nikko makes a cameo appearance on a Life Invader page (GTA's version of myspace).
- I also like how you can switch between 3 different players.  Besides the bank heist in the game's prologue, you start with one character (Franklin) and as you play through the storyline missions, you can also unlock Michael (he appears rather early in the game, about 4 missions in) and later Trevor (he appears after the jewlery store heist).  You can switch off between the 3 characters, have the characters hang out, and some missions do require the trio working together too.  It can be amusing when switching between characters too as you never really know what the other character is doing when you switch.  Michael can be hanging out with his family (being a family man himself), stuck in traffic on one of the several freeways in the game, or even going on a stroll in Los Santos.  Franklin can be hanging out at his safehouse (moreso after he unlocks his second safehouse which comes available as the game progresses), hanging out at the vanilla unicorn strip club, going on a drive somewhere, or even interacting with Chop (his rottwieller dog).  Perhaps the most random is Trevor.  When switching to Trevor, you never really know what he is up to as he could be hanging out at one of the airfields he owns (like the one he uses for the 2 arms delivery side missions you can do), hanging out at his trailer in Sandy Shores, get into fights with random NPCs (like scenes where he seems to throw someone off a bridge), or rarely getting pursued by cops (when that happens, you will have a 2 star wanted rating to evade).
- Long an interesting storyline too
- Online mode extends the gameply significantly too since story mode can get dull after a while (especially after beating the story mode portion of the game) and run out of things to do.
- I also like the new structure the game offers when it comes to failed missions.  In GTA 4, if you fail a mission, you usually have to start over from the beginning, buy more armor and ammo if needed,  and if you get busted during a mission, you lose the weapons you have which means you have to buy more.  In GTA 5, whenever you fail a mission (such as getting killed or busted), the screen will say mission failed and you automatically get options to retry a mission, restart a mission, quit a mission (which means that you will have to start over and if you were killed, end up at a nearby hospital, or if you were arrested: lose all of the ammo you have), or sometimes (though not always), skip a mission (can be useful if you are struggling on a particular mission).  Obviously hard core gamers will probably not like the new structure (though they can opt to start missions over if they want as well as resist the temptation to skip a mission), but I do like the new structure (especially when it comes to the harder and more frustrating missions).
- You can also win medals from missions from completing extra requirements (by completing missions you automatically get a bronze medal, but you can also go for silver and gold medals too by meeting extra requirements, such as completing a mission within a certain time frame, not getting scratches on your car, doing head shots, etc).  By the way, you can replay missions if you want a better score.
- If you get busted by cops, they don't confiscate your weapons like they do in previous games.  Instead, they confiscate the ammo you have.  While you still have to buy ammo, you don't have to rebuy the weapons.

Drawbacks of GTA 5
- Obviously being at typical Grand Theft Auto game, Grand Theft Auto 5 will likely be offensive to some.  I am a 32 year adult, and I can handle it, but I am sure that the same cannot be said for everyone.  The game does have some dark elements to it too.  Some examples includes: Franklin performing home invasion robberies (like the one he does at Michael's house early in the game where he has to "steal" a car in the garage), Michael's family issues (as well as dark past), issues with Trevor and is he is probably the most violent out of the bunch and does not hesitate to commit murder, (especially when he is in a rage mode, which does happen on more than one occasion during the course of the game) get into fights, and commit other crimes.  Plenty of other potientialy offensive stuff too, including being able to use alcohol (players can get drunk or even pass out), use drugs (such as smoking a bong in a safehouse, going on acid trips, and even huffing gas and blacking out), kidnap hitch hikers and deliver them to a cannibalistic cult (aka Trevor taking passengers to the Altruist cult near Mount Chillad), racial slurs, getting mauled by cougars, getting attacked by sharks and many others.  Definitely the type of game that mothers will hate (from personal experience) and may make you look over your shoulder sometimes.  Even in the online mode, people don't always play nice, they can troll, accuse you of being a "bad sport", and rarely, try to kick you from the game, even if you have done nothing to me wrong (almost happened to me once when I first started playing on the online mode, I guess somebody didn't like newbies).
- Replay value is kind of limited.  There are some missions and side missions where you will probably want to do again and see how they might end differently (for example: in the merrywetther heist mission where you can choose between using a submarine for the mission or infiltrating a freighter ship at port).  Also, there are 3 possible endings for the game too.  However, eventually you probably will run out of things to do (moreso after 100% completion) and then the game can get real dull,  Luckily the online mode can extend the gameplay significantly.
- Getting wasted (killed) in the game can be painful moneywise.  Unless if you are an expert at not dying in games like GTA 5, you probably will get wasted (i.e., falling of buildings, getting shot, getting attacked by animals like cougars, dogs and sharks, car accidents, etc) on various occasions and when that happens, you will respawn at a nearby hospital or clinic (like the one at Sandy Shores) and they love to charge you lots of ingame money each time.  At first they don't charge you very much, but as your money accumulates in the game (especially $100,000 or more), the fee goes up significantly, capping at $5000 each time you get wasted.  Obviously if you die alot in the game, that can get real expensive fast.   Saving the game often can be useful here (especially if you are in a situation where death can come very easily, like attempting the "under the bridge" side mission).  Also, when you fail a mission, I always try to resist the temptation to "quit" the mission, especially if my guy gets wasted or busted during a mission.  Also, if you decide to go on a rampage in the game, you will probably want to save first and reload later to avoid losing too much money or getting your weapon ammo conficated if you get busted.
- When playing online, watch out for trolls.  Some people online can be jerks and sometimes will try to kill your player, talks smack, etc.  There are also occasions where people will try to kick you from the game even if you have done nothing wrong (and I have seen stories online about people getting kicked for no reason).  I have only encountered a kicking attempt once (ironically, I was just starting out on the online mode when it happened, not sure why other than the fact I was a typical newbie at the time), but it seems to have tapered off (possibly because people are migrating over to the Xbox One and PS4 versions of GTA 5).  Also, people can place bounties on your characters too.
- Switching off between characters will definitely take getting used to for some.
Well, that is all for now.  Despite the set backs, GTA 5 for Xbox 360 definitely makes a very good final installment for the Xbox 360 era GTA series.  By the way, Rockstar has already released GTA 5 for both Xbox One and PS4, so you may want to opt for that version instead.

Official grade for the game: A

Want to get your own copy of GTA 5?  You can buy them on Amazon.com by clicking on the links below

Important disclaimer about Grand Theft Auto 5: this game is rated M for mature and is not advised for people under 17 or people that are easily offended by violent video games (considering that this game will likely be offensive to some).  Also, for your own good, anything you see on Grand Theft Auto 5 (and any other game in the series for that matter) should never be recreated in real life.  Like all GTA games, grand theft auto 5 does seem to glorify crime in many ways (even in comical ways too), such as rampages, heist missions, stealing cars, drugs, and just about any other thing you can't normally get away with in real life. Obviously getting ideas and recreating things you see in GTA 5 may lead to serious consequences, including trouble with the law, lengthy prison sentences, or even death.  Never try anything you see in Grand Theft Auto 5 at home.  Being a fellow gamer, I take no responsibility for making poor choices as a result of playing GTA 5 (i.e., stealing cars, committing other crimes, murder, etc).

Similar Games:

- Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (also features Los Santos, regular Xbox era)
- Grand Theft Auto 4 (in that game, you play in Liberty City, which is basically a virtual version of New York CIty).  By the way, GTA 5 assumes you have played through Grand Theft Auto 4, so if you haven't played through that game, feel free to check it out.
- Red Dead Redemption (wild west style game that has some GTA style elements).  By the way, there is an easter egg in GTA Online that lets you make a character that has John Marston as one of his/her parents.

Gamer to Gamer tips:
1. Money.  If you are a typical newbie looking for ideas on how to earn money in the game, there are several ways you can do so, including:
- Killing pedestrians (often times they do drop cash when killed), though killing people is risky since it will cause your wanted level to go up and cops will try to arrest or (more likely kill you) when that happens.
- Robbing stores: you can hold up stores in the game and earn cash that way, though like killing people, it will almost always cause your wanted level to go up and so you have to deal with cops as a result
- Buying properties.  As you progress throughout the game, you will be able to buy various properties (such as the Mckenzie air field, scrap yard, downtown cab company, etc) and they do generate income for your characters during the course of the game. As Trevor, you will be able to acquire this airstrip near Grapeseed where you can do side missions where you can deliver weapons via buggy or plane as well as taking out rivals and get paid that way too.  Some properties earn you more than others
- Driving a taxi cab.  Like in other GTA games, you can opt to drive a taxi cab and pick people up and drop them off at various locations for easy cash.
- Heists.  If you do heists properly, you can score lots of extra money (especially the final heist in the game, which can yield up to $30,000,000 for each character).  Poorly setting up for heists (such as choosing helpers that are not qualified for the job) can cause you to lose money though.
-  Buying the scrap yard.  This property can also yield good money as you get $150 per ingame week for every car you destroy in the game (or $1500 for every 10 cars you destroy).
- Diving in the ocean and finding hidden packages.  These often yield money.  Warning: sharks do lurk in the ocean (you will know when one is nearby because they will appear as red dots on your in game map and radar) and will try to eat you.  What happens is: if you dive in the ocean, and a shark is closeby, it will swim around you for a little while back and fourth like a typical fish, but after a while, a cut scene will occur showing the shark eating your character (much like Jaws) with one hit kills.

2. Dealing with cops
- Hiding can be useful for getting away from cops, but not always (sometimes they can find you and you and try to shoot you or arrest you when they do).
- Between getting killed or busted by a cop in the game, I'd rather get wasted by them.  I they bust you, they will confiscate your ammo and you will have to go to the nearest ammunation to buy more ammo.  If you get wasted, you keep your weapons and ammo, though it will cost you money each time though.
-  The higher your wanted rating is, the more aggresssive cops become.  Also, shooting officers will automatically result in a 3 star wanted rating.
- Restricted areas (like Fort Zancudo): enter them at your own risk.  Usually trespassing at restricted areas will result in your wanted level going up and will probably inevitably end with your character getting wasted (or busted).  At Fort Zancudo, for example, trespassing on base will result in a 4 star wanted level and tanks and military personnel going after you.  If you really want to explore restricted areas, you might want to consider activating invincibility cheats.
3. Skipping and retrying missions:
- Only use skip as a last resort.  If you find a mission too difficult, you can usually skip after several tries (though not every mission has a skip option).  Some missions will probably take several tries.
- I don't recommend quitting a mission unless if you have to since then you will have to start the mission over.  If you die during a mission and quit, you will be taken to the nearest hospital by he way.  Get busted and quit, you will be taken to the nearest police station and stripped of ammo.

4. 100% perks:
- when you have beaten the main storyline missions, the game is not yet over.  I recommend getting 100% at least once.  Plenty of perks for 100% completion too.  By the way, if you want to see the hidden UFOs in the game, most won't appear till after you have gotten 100% completion.

(more tips will be added over time).

That is all for now?  How was your experience with Grand Theft Auto 5?  Do you have a different take on the game?  Feel free to leave your comments below.

Note: I got the Xbox One version of GTA 5 recently, so I will share my thoughts on that version on a later post.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Got an Xbox One for Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone.  I have some exciting news from my end.  I just got an Xbox One for Christmas.
Picture of the Xbox One I got this morning.

Yes, it is official.  I now have an Xbox One.  I haven't set it up yet, but will probably do that sometime this evening.  Honestly, I had no idea I was going to be getting a new game system for Christmas (it is always hit and miss when it comes to getting new consoles).  It is the first new console I got since getting the 3DS about 2 years ago.

Here is the initial lineup of games I have:
-Lego Movie Game
- Assassins Creed Unity
- Minecraft for Xbox One (by the way, I have still yet to play through the Xbox 360 version)
- Lego Marvel game (yes a lego verision of the Marvel Universe)
and several others.

Other games I am considering buying when I have the extra money:
- Grand Theft Auto 5.  Yes I do have a 360 version and even beat the game a few months ago (though still working on the online mode), but I am curious about how the Xbox One version compares with the predecessor version.
- Halo Master Chief addition
- Kinnect for Xbox One (the bundle I got does not include a Kinnect)
- and others.

By the way, are you jealous?  Why not get your own Xbox One?  You can buy them at Amazon or Walmart here: