video games

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Save Up Special: Star Wars: Battlefront

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Is a column written by 15 year old Nate. Nate reviews inexpensive games and lets your geeklings know if it’s worth spending their hard earned allowance on. Have a game to suggest? You can email Nate here.  My parental perspective appears at the end of the article.

Star Wars Battlefront (3) – Closed Alpha Access

Genre: Action, First person shooter, Third person shooter, sci fi

Developers: EA, DiceStarWars

The Star Wars Battlefront series started 2004 and there is now a new title in the series with improved graphics, and new gameplay, but it differs a little bit from the series. The game is currently in alpha so its not completely finished, but so far it has 4 weapons, two classes and obviously the empire and the rebels. If you were to peruse this page, you’d know that the game draws concepts from Diablo 2 and overlaps a lot of gameplays. The two classes, one being a more maneuverable scout class wielding a  jetpack and burst fire grenade launcher, and a shield carrying heavy class that has a lock on missile launcher and they can both choose from a sharedarsenal of weapons from the light blaster to the heavy machine gun blaster (its star wars so… its all blasters and sometimes a rocket). There are lots of vehicles for there only being one map; so far there are x-wings, tie fighters, AT-ATs, snowspeeders, and AT-STs. My favorite vehicle is the AT-ST, because it’s a walker like the giant AT-AT but faster and more mobile and you can actually control it unlike the AT-AT where you can only control the head and shoot.

The graphics are beautiful and very life like, the detail is amazing from things like AT-ATs leaving foot prints that can be used as fox holes to the sounds of blasters, x-wings, tie fighters, and the walkers being the same from the movies. When i first booted it up i was amazed at how beautiful it was, it is like you’re really on Hoth and you really are fighting the “rebel scum”. I think that game could be good for everyone because there is no gore, there is violence but nothing horrible.

Though at least for now I think that the first game is the best.  I miss being able to be a stormtrooper and steal an x-wing, because in this game instead of actually getting into a vehicle you can pick up special battlefield pickups.  However they are team specific and you call them in. In the case of the first game, with the map Kashyyyk docks, if you play clone wars, the C.I.S (confederacy of independant systems, or droids) have an island where all there vehicles spawn and if you’re playing as a clone and manage to get to it, there is a free supply of droid tanks and speeders. The space battles from battlefront 2 were amazing, but I don’t think they will be include them in this game. I would love it if they did include space battles, Being able to fly through space it was very original for a first/third person shooter to have space battles in a full 3d environment, and I think the game could have really benefited from adding details like this that have been implemented in the older titles of the series. (Editor’s Note: They have since added space battles. They were not part of the closed Alpha, but footage has since surfaced, see the Update at the end of this article to see video)

This game will probably be about $60, but since it comes out on November 17, 2015 you have time to save up. I think it will be worth your allowance.

So far I think that this game gets a 5/8, but it’s still in alpha so changes are to come.

Parent’s Perspective:  This is a hotly anticipated game, and we were fortunate to get into the closed Alpha last month.  While not all the features were available or fleshed out, it was already an immersive experience that should excite all Star Wars fans.  This is an online shooter, but I appreciated the lack of blood and gore.  All in all, I think it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up with supervision, and ages 14 and up solo – because of the interactive, online nature.

Update: New footage shows Fighter Squadron Mode.  Yay!!

Is it Worth Your Allowance?: Grow Home

Is it Worth Your Allowance?: Grow Home

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Is a weekly column written by 14 year old Nate. Nate reviews inexpensive games and lets your geeklings know if it’s worth spending their hard earned allowance on. Have a game to suggest? You can email Nate here.

Game: Grow Home 
Genre: sandbox, climbing, adventure, casual
Cost: $7.99

Grow Home is a game where you play as B.U.D. (botanical utility droid) who is a small red wobbly robot made to grow and climb star plants. Your objective is to grow a star plant into space. Along the way the star plant will create a tangled web of branches that you bring all the way up to your mothership. 
The artstyle is very colorful and charming. Its low poly count creates a blocky look, but makes for a smooth game play experience, because there is less strain on the hardware. The game is easy to play but still challenging. At any second you could fall off of a mile high floating island and either have climb back up or use one of the teleporters scattered around the map. But if you do fall you can die, though the only punishment is that you’ll have to climb up again, this can be prevented by using things like your jet pack or glide leaf or fall flower (giant daisy that acts like a parachute). I like that you can go out of your way to collect energy crystals and have a different experience than if you didn’t, because when you collect enough crystals you get upgrades. I have a lot of fun using the glide leaf and the jet pack together to fly around the web of branches that I have made. I recomend this game for ages 8 and up.
Overall, my final rating for this game is 8/10 and I definitely think it’s worth your allowance.

Parenting Geekly’s PAX Prime 2014 wrap up.

Parenting Geekly’s PAX Prime 2014 wrap up.

Our PAX experience was a bit abbreviated this year.  We missed out on our chance to purchase tickets (they were sold out within 25 minutes!) and due to the break I took from blogging, I didn’t even bother applying for a press badge this time.

We did wind up getting two badges for Sunday and two for Monday. Super Dad and Nate went on Sunday (when the gaming floor remained open until midnight), and SD and I did Monday (when the whole thing closed up at 7, way closer to my bedtime). Due to a raging headache, I didn’t even make to the convention center until about one in the afternoon.  So it was kind of a PAX Fail this year.  I buzzed around the expo halls and tried to take in as much as possible, and so now I present to you:

Parenting Geekly’s very brief PAX Prime 2014 Wrap Up:

Highlights for the kiddos:

Cartoon Network Studios has the Adventure Time Game Wizard coming out in time for the holidays. Cartoon Network has partnered with Pixel Press and this game will be based on the same technology as Pixel Press Floors, a game in which you design a platformer by drawing it. This could be a really cool licensing partnership that helps introduce kids to game design principles. I’m excited to check this one out with the kids once it’s available.

On Monday I played Shadowrun: Crossfire, a cooperative deck building game from Catalyst Games.  As with many modern tabletop games, there was a bit of a learning curve, but it was fun and I *loved* the cooperative aspect.  It reminded me  of Upper Deck Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, where the players are essentially playing against the board.  We sometimes play the Shadowrun RPG, so it was fun to see that world in a tabletop environment.  This one is probably well suited for teens and up.

Nathan had a lot of fun playing a BattleTech expansion called Alpha Strike.  It was a quicker, faster
to get started version of the main game.  Combat is simplified and it was a great introduction to the popular miniatures game for a young teenager.

Super Smash Bros. comes out for the 3DS in early October and for the WiiU during the holiday season.  Nate spent a lot of time in the console gaming room playing older versions of Super Smash Bros. for the N64 and the Gamecube.  This was one the big highlights of his PAX experience.

Sega was pushing their new Sonic BOOM series, which will feature the speedy hedgehog and his friends in a television show and in games for Nintendo.  I am long time Sonic fan, and giddily ran up to have my picture taken with him. He doesn’t seem as impressed as I was.

While the line to demo the game was too crazy long for me to wait in, we are pretty excited about Borderlands the Pre-Sequel.  I even got up close and personal with Handsome Jack. Definitely not for the little kids, but the Borderlands franchise is one of Nate’s favorites. We also picked up some cool Civilization merch while at the 2K booth.

We spent a lot of time, as we do each year, in the retro arcade.  They have lots of pinball and retro arcade games, all free to play.  It’s great fun for the adults and it’s a great place to take kids who are bored of the expo hall. Thanks to Ground Kontrol, one of our favorite spots in Portland, for hosting!

I’ve been hearing a lot about Habitat recently.  From the game’s Steam Page:

“Habitat is a successfully funded Kickstarter game from indie developer 4gency. It is a real-time, physics-driven orbital strategy game where you build, fly, and fight with the unique space stations that you create out of space debris orbiting earth. In its simplest terms it is a strategic space survival game.”

Our friends who have played have raved about it and reviews are all pretty positive.  What really got me interested though, was 4gency founder Charles Cox’s incredible enthusiasm.  For me, this is what PAX is all about.  I really enjoy learning about new games from Indie game developers.  I plan on purchasing a copy of Habitat this weekend, you can expect a full review soon.

*Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that if you buy from that link I make a few cents (literally cents, but every little bit helps!).  All other links are just there so you can check out some of the things I saw.

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