A neccessary relocation

Dear reader,I have decided to move the contents of this blog to a new address :– http://armoredphoenix.blogspot.in. This relocation was driven solely by necessity. I sincerely hope this doesn’t cause you any inconvenience.

Games that can turn anyone into an avid gamer

Sure,Videogames are amazing,but the general consensus about games are not so positive,in fact quite the opposite.Many point their fingers at videogames as a real factor in criminal behavior,violence or any social evil they can come up with.What’s worse,gaming is associated in the minds of the many as just another “unproductive” way of killing time.It’s really disappointing how people are so quick to pass judgement or blame something which they do not understand.Sure games use violence & generally involves killing people,but that violence is always used within a context to depict something of a greater value.Really,can anyone say after completing a game that it was nothing more than a simulation of manslaughter?

The games mentioned in this list are all the reasons to prove those wrong who have such hatred or negative beliefs towards gaming without ever knowing how it feels to play even a single game.So the next time you see one of your friend,parent,teacher or anyone saying that videogames are nothing more than engaging in ultraviolent activities or something ‘taboo’,just encourage them to play any one of these games for at least an hour & they will be succumbed helplessly to the power of the supreme interactive entertainment that videogames truly are.And yes,remind them to pick up their jaws from the floor due to the sheer awesomeness that these games will throw at them at an unrelenting pace.

on your command

on your command

5.Marvel Ultimate Alliance:The definitive game for all the comics fans out there.A game where you can control characters like Spiderman,Iron man,Thor,Doctor Strange,Wolverine and many others in an entertaining plot consisting of almost all the super villains in the marvel universe & visiting all the memorable places ranging from Atlantis to Asgard–this game is simply a must for even the most casual fans out there.Not the best action rpg(obviously),the game still provides many hours of engaging gameplay & lots of collectibles.

4.Batman:Arkham Asylum:This is simply the game all Dark knight fans needs & deserves.Rocksteady’s masterpiece grants the player to literally get into the cowl of the caped crusader in one of the most intriguing batman stories ever conceived.The game pits Batman in the iconic Arkham asylum against many of his foes including the likes of the Joker,Bane,Scarecrow,killer croc,has diamond polished level of gameplay & nails pretty much everything else.It’s really hard to find faults with this game.

3.Mass Effect:Let’s face it,EVERYONE loves stories and this is what the Mass Effect series has in abundance.The original mass effect from 2007 in my opinion,is the strongest in the series in terms of storytelling.The story of organics & synthetics,all the different species,the mass relays,the mysterious machine race known as Reapers & a fully realized galaxy with vast lore is enough to get lost in for anyone no matter how much disinterest he/she might hold for gaming.By the time someone finishes this game,they simply cannot wait to play Mass Effect 2 & 3 & proudly call themselves a fan.

2.Portal:Playing Portal is a realization of what interactive mediums such as videogames are truly capable of.Through the use of mind bending fun gameplay & clever narrative,portal packs more than enough punches to win anyone’s heart(and mind) and convert them to a gamer.Puzzle solving has never been this much addictive.Gamer or non-gamer,it’s literally impossible for anyone to play Portal and not love it and the credits song just serves as the icing on the cake(pun very much intended).

1.The Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim–Skyrim is the creme de la crem experience of anyone looking for an adventure and simply put,that’s pretty much everyone.This is a game that not only converts anyone into an avid gamer,it makes a slave out of them.College semesters,Office schedules & all other mundane activities simply disappears into the wind as the player looks at the far horizons from the peak of High Hrothgar.And even if they manage to get on with regular life,the mysterious cave in the forest they found last night or how to forge a dragon armor cloud their thoughts.Skyrim casts a spell on anyone who plays it & doesn’t let go,not before consuming more than a thousand hours of their lives,maybe even more.No matter how much negativity anyone holds about videogames,after getting a taste of Skyrim he/she will wonder what they have been doing all these years & what took them so long.Yup,that’s the power of videogames.

The Most Important games of the 7th generation gaming(PC)

Here we are,at the closing end of this generation of gaming which started around 2006.This generation has been one of the longest in gaming history & certainly one of the most remembered one.Many great games have been released in this period but only a few of these have left their mark on gaming history and changed the perspective of games as a true form of art.Below is a list of these games which I personally believe,has been most influential,most important in this generation.So without further ado,here goes:

7.Call of Duty 4:Modern Warfare:  Let me be clear,I believe that the COD franchise hasn’t seen much significant innovation since 2007 & with a cod-game-every year move of the franchise,it’s true that this franchise no longer holds the same seal of unmistakable quality that it once did.But can anyone disagree that COD4,released in 2007,which played a key part in making this franchise a pop culture phenomena it now enjoys,is a Beast?It was a breath of fresh air into the franchise & created the perk based deep,engaging multiplayer that has become a staple of the series.It started the whole short-but-memorable filled with scripted events linear single player and increased focus in online multiplayer model that has been viciously used in the majority of fps’ in the past couple of years.While I am not overly fond of the short campaign design of fps’,but it is undeniable that the COD franchise left it’s mark on this generation.The fact that it’s the best game in the franchise earns the game it’s spot on this list.


6.Portal 2: The original portal,which was released with the Orange Box back in 2007,showed a glimpse of groundbreaking,mind bending fun gameplay previously unseen in the fps genre.Released in 2011,Portal 2 released the full potential of it’s predecessor & delivered one of the greatest fps experience ever.It improved over it’s predecessor in every possible way.A terrific narrative(we all know when it comes to fps storytelling,the mighty Valve is second to none,they invented it in fact),some of the greatest level design ever seen all held together by awe inspiring gameplay that makes the gamer feel smart & you know it ‘s gonna take a place in gaming history.Portal 2 has greatness written all over it.Easily one of gaming’s most revered creation.


5.Batman:Arkham City:Possibly the finest 3rd-person action adventure game of this generation,Rocksteady studios have hit the home run with Arkham City.Engaging narrative with phenomenal presentation–check,meticulously polished & constantly enjoyable fluid,seamless gameplay that creates a sense of empowerment & freedom–double check,terrific longevity—check.Arkham city is one of the few games that has not a single moment that is not enjoyable.The impact of the Arkham games on other 3rd person action adventure games is huge,see in this link how the combat of Arkham games has helped shape the gameplay of Assasins creed 3.A game that achieves this much truly belongs so high in this list.


4.The Elder Scrolls V:Skyrim:In the wake of short single player games in the industry,Skyrim takes you out on a journey of unparalleled freedom to a whole new world filled with enough adventure to put all those games out there to shame.Skyrim offers the gamer to carve their own adventure in their own way.It’s massive & yet personal.Skyrim creates a bond between the World & the player in a way that no other open world game has managed to do.You can pour over 1000 hours in the game & still not be anywhere near when you can say it’s done.The World seems almost organic—memorable moments & surprises lurk around every corner.There’s always a glimpse of shimmering light in the distance or an undiscovered village with secrets vying for the gamer to indulge.Play as any type of character you like,go anywhere,do anything you want & by the the time you fight a dragon for the first time in a blizzard or climb up a mountain and stare at the sunrise,you’ll know the game belongs in this list.


3.Grand Theft Auto 4:There has been plenty of open world games in this generation,but in my opinion,none came close to deliver an experience as memorable as GTA4.But GTA4 is so much more than a great open world game.The story is surprisingly dark & mature–it’s a tale of an immigrant war veteran & his cousin seeking fortune in America,where they find the real truth behind the land of oppurtunity as their hopes & dreams turmoil.Liberty city(GTA’s version of New York) is the most detailed & lively virtual open world I’ve experienced.From T.V advertisements,comedy club shows,the radio station,the internet & even your cell phone,Liberty city makes you feel one of the citizens. I also find GTA4 as a powerful(& sadistic) reflection on the popular culture.From the reality T.V shows(I’m Rich) showcasing the spoiled & misleading celebrity culture to the election campaign commercials on the radio,the game explores every crack in the modern world in it’s own twisted view(in my opinion).The presentation & narrative is some of the best I’ve seen in a videogame  with truly memorable characters & the gameplay is as frantic as anything in the series.GTA 4 is not just one of the best games ever made,it’s a class act.


2.Bioshock:If there was a single game that validates the whole videogames-can-be-art argument,this would be it.Bioshock is like a melting pot of some of the greatest ideas ever introduced in gaming.A breathtaking art deco underwater city,emergent sandbox gameplay,arguably the best narrative in gaming,memorable characters & of course,Ayn Rand.The narrative of Bioshock is the best I’ve ever seen in an fps & the plot twist is so bewildering that it has to be experienced to be believed.The game is the finest example & showpiece that videogames can craft narratives that can be unmatched by any other media.Rapture is built of many intricate layers & the deeper the gamer explores,the more compelling it becomes.Bioshock is one of those timeless experiences that demands revisiting and getting something new out of it each time.


1.Mass Effect 2:This is it folks,the game that to me,sums up the whole 7th generation of gaming.Memorable characters,unforgettable story,addictive gameplay,sky-high longevity–Mass Effect 2 is so much greater than the sum of all these parts.Above all others,it puts the gamer at the center of it’s universe–never been player choice has so much important in gaming history.The gamer gets to shape the whole story in mass effect–every little aspect of it & this emphasis on the player is what makes the Mass Effect series so unforgettable.It’s your own sci-fi adventure to direct & experience.Many years from now,Mass Effect 2,the best in the series will still be remembered as a beacon in gaming history as one of the greatest gaming experiences ever & will continue to influence countless games in terms of storytelling.It’s easy to write countless words describing the greatness that is Mass Effect 2,so I won’t go any further and leave it to the gamer to experience in all it’s glory.

  It’s only my opinion & I look forward what you think about all this.write it at the comments section…


The Legacy of Mass Effect

As everyone knows,the last entry of the Mass Effect Franchise,Mass Effect 3 was released back in march.While the ending was incomplete and after a lot of protest & campaign Bioware released the Extended cut free dlc which did fill some plotholes of the original ending.Though it was far from perfect,it did give some sort of closure to the franchise.Nearly a month later,looking back at the journey of the 3 games brings some great revelations to me.

The first game,Mass effect,released in 2008 for pc was more on the rpg side.The cover mechanism was a bit unpolished and the inventory system could’ve been a lot better but the rest of the things introduced in the game was so much mind blowing and ahead of it’s time.The Galaxy,the mass relays,the various races,intergalactic counsil,everything was so detailed it felt a truly realized universe with vast lore & culture.I still remember my first visit to the citadel.Unforgettable.The intergalactic species-Turians,Batarians,Krogans,Salarians each had their distinct characteristics that all made sense.Just like the Humans evolved from the apes,the Turians is a species evolved from the birds,Salarians evolved from amphibians and Krogans evolved from lizard.It all  made sense.For the first time in gaming,ME was a franchise that was comparable to major other series like Star Wars & Lord of the Rings in it’s scope & originality. The story was regarded as one of the,if not the greatest stories ever told in gaming.The characters-Tali,Garrus,Liara,Wrex was truly believable & had their own personalities.They weren’t just any average squadmates with conversational abilities,they were fully realized beings.I consider the supremely crafted characters in the ME franchise to be one of the milestones in gaming.

The Normandy crew

The People of Normandy

The story of the trilogy was unlike any other in gaming,period.The storyline involving the destiny of the galaxy with all organic & synthetic lifeforms,the sentient machine race known as the Reapers,the galactic lifecycles,the extinct race called Protheans & their technology is something that sits atop the gaming hall of fame.In Mass Effect 2,back in 2010,Bioware stripped down the rpg elements a bit too much & it was more of  a cover based third person shooter with rpg elements cleverly intertwined.But it was also a title which contained none of the weaknesses  and all the strengths of it’s predessessor manifold.ME2 is rightfully regarded one of the greatest game ever made(IGN named it no1 in their list of greatest games of all time).ME2 was more of a character centric game than ME and what a terrific bunch of charcters it brought.Mordin Solus ,in my opinion is the greatest character introduced in the history of gaming.His character devolopment through ME2 & ME3 is something that is previously unseen in gaming.

ME3 was the culmination of the trilogy which tied all the knots of the previous 2 games.ME3 brought back some of the rpg elements from the first game including weapon customization & some more skill trees.The cover & shooting mechanism was improved from ME2.While it was a bit linear than ME2,it contained some of the greatest narrative missions and moments in the history of gaming.The Genophage mission in Tuchanka in my opinion,is one of the finest written narratives in gaming.Shephard & Garrus’ shooting bottles in the top of the presidium is one of my fondest memories in gaming.Makes me smile every time I play it,it made me realize how far gaming has come.Not in terms of producing more polygons or realistic physics,it all all about the thing called narrative. When a game conveys some emotions in the player,it elevates in level of Art.How many games in the market makes you feel that way?While ME3 had it’s faults and missteps,it is undoubtedly one of the best games of 2012.

Games can be a form of art–perhaps no other game can signify this like the ME trilogy.Never before has player choice been so important in gaming.The narrative of a game can be as moving as anything like a movie or a book.ME series sums up the entire 7th generation of gaming to me.Just looking at all the enraged reaction about the ending of ME3 shows how much impact the series has on the gaming population.If I don’t like how the story of a game ends up,I don’t & I move on.It was’nt the case with ME.This trilogy & it’s characters have struck such a chord with gamers all over,it was not only Bioware’s creation,it was the gamer’s own sci-fi adventure,the one they created with their own choices & consequences over 5 years.It’s totally shows how revered this series is.

The ME trilogy is a triumph of gaming overall—it shows a game can deliver a narrative that is unmatched by all the other forms of entertainment in scale & interaction.It will always continue to be a legacy of gaming advancement–not just in terms of technicality but in terms of one of the basic elements that is called storytelling.Mass Effect trilogy is truly the Star Wars of gaming.I have high hopes for whatever Bioware cooks up next in the Mass Effect universe,the bar has never been higher.


AMD Radeon 7970:A new era?

AMD will be releasing it’s 7 series of graphics cards on Dec 22.What’s so special about it?NVIDIA & AMD releases their new lineups around every year.Well for starters,if the recently leaked slide obtained from OBR hardware is to be believed,the latest card from AMD is not just an upgrade like the previous 6970,it’s more like a generational differerence between it’s previous bretherens.It seems to boast some previously unheard features & specificifications available in a Graphics card.

It seem to house a massive 384 bits of memory bandwidth coupled with full 3GB of GDDR5 memory.Not to mention 925MHZ clock speed,32 ROP’s,128 texture unit & a whooping 2048 stream processors.Now that’s some serious firepower.AMD currently claims the raw power of 7970 is a total 3.5 teraflops,enough to put older super computers to shame.This baby sure can pack a punch.3.5 TFlops,that’s just unbelievable.

But here’s the best part:It is the first chip to be manufactured in the newest 28nm fabrication process.It allows the card to feature a record 4.31 billion transistors(wait while I pick my jaws up from the floor.They just dropped).It also means much lower heat dissipation & lower power consumption.AMD claims the card will be under 300watt in full load and & an incredible < 3w in idle mode.All made possible by it’s 28nm fabrication process.

While I personally think that this beast will smoke the GTX590 superclocked & 6990,but by how much?It’s the main question.While NVIDIA will also release it’s next gen line of GPU’s,meanwhile AMD gets the early bird’s advantage & to gain share in the DX11.1 region.AMD is really trying to retain the performance crown which it lost to the ‘Fermi’GTX 580.All this horsepower is more than enough to run titles like BF3 & Crysis on 2560*1600 with all the settings to the max.

Looks like a new king of the ring is coming.Can’t wait to see the benchmarks.What do you folks think about all this?Sound off in the comment section below.

The end begins:The Dark Knight Rises


Christopher Nolan is arguably one of the greatest director of this            generation.Memento,Inception,the Prestige are evidence enough.The Batman movie franchise was left dead in the water before Nolan rebooted it with the brilliant Batman Begins.It was the first movie which really captured the true essence of this iconic character.With an unmistakable cast of Christian Bale(best Batman & Bruce Wayne ever),Sir Michael Caine,Morgan Freeman,Gary Oldman,Nolan created the definitive Batman film.Gotham City felt like a living,breathing Metropolis & it realistically explained every tiny detail of Batman like the gliding mechanism on his cape,the Batcave,how he got his Batmobile & other gadgets.It all made sense.It became as real as it can be.Nolan shifted the Batman saga from the world of comics to the real world.

But it was just the begining.Along came The Dark Knight in 2008 & changed everything.It won 2 academy awards,became the 4th movie to gross over 1 billion & earned universal acclaim.It is called one of the greatest movies ever made & one of the best movies of the decade.(Currently #9 on IMDB top 250 so don’t bother arguing).But it did much more than that.It changed the way we looked at comics to film adaptations.TDK is a high watermark  in every possible way.In a famous moment in the movie,Commissioner Gordon said about Batman–“He’s the hero Gotham deserves,but not the one it needs right now”,as true as that was,TDK was THE movie this iconic character deserved.TDK also boasts the unforgettable,menacing performance of the late,great Heath Ledger(R.I.P).As great as Jack Nicholson was in this role back in 1991,Ledger was THE Joker.”I am an agent of chaos”-Ledger captured the true essence of this iconic villain in one of the rawest,finest performance seen in a very long time.

After watching this epic movie for the first time,I thought-“Man,how can they ever top this?”Many thought Chris Nolan was done making Batman movies after this when he began work on Inception.But here’s where it gets interesting.After release of Inception,Nolan confirmed The third & final chapter is in the works & the title will be ‘The Dark Knight rises’.Nearly an year after,as of the writing of this article,the production of the film has been completed.Only the editing process remains & the movie will hit the theaters in July 20,2012.Several trailers have already hit the internet & they all hint at several huge changes in the setting & characters.Most notably the trailers claim this film as the end of the line for Batman.Now in all probability,Nolan will not kill Batman in the movie,that’s not gonna happen.It remains a bit mysterious at the moment.

In case you’re wondering,The Big guy is called Bane,a fearsome villain who relies on his awesome physical ability & equally capable intellect to wreak chaos.The cowl/mask of Batman lies broken,probably the result of a brutal 1on1 fight which is also hinted on the trailers.Bane,who uses a mysterious drug called Venom to enhance his strength to inhuman level, made his debut on the acclaimed Knightfall story arc which continued through 3 comics in which through a calculated series of events,Bane beat a weakened Batman to a bloody mess and broke his back in a unforgettable moment in DC comics history.Take a look–   TDKR takes place after 8 years from the aftermath of TDK.After taking the blame for the crimes commited by Harvey Dent,Batman is viewed as a criminal & vigilante to the people of Gotham City.Bruce Wanyne hangs his costume & retires permanently after TDK.As a result,he becomes a bitter man frozen in time when crime & corruption climbs higher than ever in Gotham and a whole  new villain(Bane) emerges.This is the premise of TDKR.

The most important fact is TDKR is the last Batman film in Nolan era & will also be the most challenging movie for Nolan in the sense that it has some really big shoes to fill.Rises is the most anticipated film of 2012 without a question.This is the movie where the expectations are so high that hasn’t been seen in Hollywood since a very long time.It’s the successor to the peerless Dark Knight & promises to deliver an ending to the trilogy.The movie doesn’t need to be just great,it needs to be something that’ll go down the history & remembered and talked by people for decades like The Star Wars saga,Lord of the rings for example.Delivering an epilogue to the Batman story arc which is both satisfying & true to the spirit of the character is easier said than done.

Batman is arguably the greatest comic book character.One who is as real as any human can get.Why,you ask?Because besides striking terror in the hearts of criminals,deep down Bruce Wayne is a flawed character tormented by raging inner demons and who holds himself responsible for the death of his parents & his love interest in TDK,Rachel Dawes.On the surface,he is a millionaire playboy & head of Wayne enterprises,one who spends his time dating gorgeous supermodels and living a luxurious life.But as very few knows,it’s all a big disguise for the people of Gotham and villains so no one can connect the dots between him & the caped crusader.Under it all,he is just as lost as anybody else.He is torn between being a legend & finding his own personal happiness.His only family is his trusty old butler Alfred(played by Sir Michael Caine).There is no Bruce Wayne,his only existence is in Batman where he channels his rage & anger to make the world a better,safer place.Bruce Wayne lives in pain & Batman completes him.

Bruce Wayne in his Mother’s graveyard
In his Father’s graveyard

These vulnerabilities are what makes Batman so endearing.Because what possible  engagement is there in a totally competent,totally fearless & totally righteous character?Human frailty is what makes us feel something for other human beings,weather in fiction or reality.All the best superhero stories are about the failings & flaws in their character,the things that make them not super heroic,but human.This is what I personally like about these icons.Anything they achieve comes at a cost,how they respond to that cost is what makes them heroes.

Delivering a satisfying conclusion to this iconic character is quite possibly one of the biggest challenges Nolan & David.S.Goyer have faced.But we Batman fans have every reason to believe in Nolan.If there’s any director capable of this task,it’s him.We hope that Chris Nolan will blow us away on 20 th July & deliver a movie that is as immortal as Batman himself.

References: IGN.com,wikipedia(Bane)

What do you folks think about all this?Will Dark Knight rises become what it aims for?Sound off at the comment section.

My first blog.

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