Murdered: Soul Suspect – Game Review

Read before going on:

This review is strictly written from my own personal opinion, and in no means is to be used to promote or demote the game or product.

Logo-Wallpaper-Murdered-Soul-Suspect-for-WindowsPlatforms Available: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Platform played on: Xbox One

Mode: Single Player

Genre: Action-Adventure, stealth

Publisher: Square Enix

Developer: Airtight Games

Plot:

Murdered takes place in Salem, Massachusetts and follows the story of a detective named Ronan, who is thrown from a two-story window. He awakens only to realize that he is dead, and is looking at his body from the other side. Not being completely dead yet, you witness the killer shooting Ronan’s body to finish him off, as seen in the E3 trailer.

Ronan watches as a police officer examines his body

Ronan watches as a police officer examines his body

The main purpose is to figure out who killed you through finding clues around town in places like the church, museum, cemetery ect. During Ronan’s journey he stumbles upon a girl named Joy, a medium who can serve as Ronan’s link between realms. Despite her gift, Joy isn’t willing to help you at first, but with some pestering and “stalking” Ronan is able to get her to come around in exchange for helping her. Together Joy and Ronan work together to find clues as to who his killer is, also dubbed “The Bell Killer”.

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The symbol of the bell killer

Gameplay:

murderedsoulsuspect03murdered-soul-suspect-3 As a spirit, Ronan is able to do the usual things that spirits do, like possession, walk through objects, and teleport. While Ronan is unable to interact with other people aside from Joy, he is able to possess people to get information that he needs. During a possession, he has several options, like seeing through the persons eyes, reading their mind, and showing them memories. While most people are able to be possessed, about 90% of them prove to be useless unless they are specified as of some kind of importance. However, humans aren’t the only thing you can possess, a few times during the game Ronan is able to possess a cat who, unlike the human NPC’s, can move and be controlled. Doing so helps the player get to places that they otherwise couldn’t such as ventilation systems.

Ronan is unable to enter houses and buildings unless the door is open, which doesn’t make sense in reality but from a developer perspective had to be done in order to split areas of importance from unimportant. When the player is ready to enter a building, a button prompt is shown and a short cut scene shows Ronan entering the building after someone opens the door either entering or exiting themselves. When in an area, a smaller marker in the distance indicates where the player needs to go in order to progress. If the player wants, they can explore the area and can find collectables that pertain to each area. However, I didn’t search for said items in particular but found a good majority of them anyway. The player will also run into lost souls who need help, which serves as tasks that are unrelated to the main story(side quests).

Murdered shares a similar, less in-depth, playing style seen in L.A. Noire, where the player enters a specific area and scours it for clues. The only enemy you encounter are demons that take form of a sludge that blocks your path, or monsters.

Ronan and a demon

Ronan and a demon

Ronan and Joy standing behind the demon mass on the floor. In order to get across, Joy lets Ronan possess her since demons don't exist in the living realm.

Ronan and Joy standing behind the demon mass on the floor. In order to get across, Joy lets Ronan possess her since demon sludge doesn’t exist in the living realm.

In order to survive the demons, Ronan must sneak up behind the monsters and press button prompts. As the game progress’s, more demons are seen together in a smaller area which forces the player to think up a strategy to take on one demon at a time, since taking on more than one at a time is difficult. The player also has an option to hide in mists or shadows (I am not entirely sure what they would be considered) that are virtually EVERYWHERE to escape the demon. However, the demon cannot see you enter one or they will pull you out and kill you, instead you need to run far enough in front so they do not see you vanish into a mist. Once hidden you can vanish into other nearby mists to escape, however, the demon will search around and can potentially still find you. While it is possible to still be found, in my experience I have never had a demon find me after I already confused them and was in the clear.

The demon sludge is impassable, so in order to pass the sludge on the floor Ronan must trick a person to cross the room over the sludge. Such tricks include preforming a poltergeist on an item like turning on a radio, which alerts the person in the room to walk over and turn it off. Doing this gives Ronan the opportunity to possess them as they get close, hitching a ride inside of the persons body. The person then walks back to where they were, allowing him to pass over the sludge. Demon sludge is nonexistent in the living realm, so when he possesses a living person he is then able to cross the path.

Setting:

Murdered takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, most popularly known for the Salem witch trials.

Review:

I first heard about Murdered when I was working at Gamestop, and ever since then I have been eagerly awaiting its release. Being a part of a paranormal team, I knew this game was going to be right up my alley, and jumped on buying it as soon as my classes were over for the quarter. My first thought was that the beginning of the game starts out similarly as the E3 trailer, but much faster without an emotion connection. What I mean is that I wanted to feel the desperation and fear someone would feel if they realized they were staring eye to eye with their own corpse(similar to the E3 trailer), but I didn’t feel any of that. The next thing was to try to align Ronan’s spirit with his body in an attempt to enter it and come back alive, that was the moment I felt like this game might just consist miniscule, pointless tasks. Luckily, that was the only part of the game where anything like that happened.

While playing through the game in the beginning, I felt excited to be able to explore the world as a ghost, only to realize as I went on it didn’t exactly feel like a privilege. Possessing people is cool right? Not exactly, most of the people who you possess have random, stupid thoughts that are unhelpful. While I get that not every person is going to have thoughts relating to the bell killer, a lot of the NPC’s are duplicated, leaving you running into the same person over and over again with the same thoughts.

While Ronan can walk through most items such as desks, there are a lot of things he CAN’T walk through. These things are outlined in a bluish glow, similar to the one that outlines Ronan. These items usually consist of objects that once existed that are no longer there and in a sense ghosts themselves. For example, there are ships that you can find in the middle of alleyways, buildings that are no longer there, and even a moving train. While it seems like this is a negative point, it really didn’t bother my game play either way, in fact, it was pretty cool to see an interpretation of what Salem used to be.

Murdered is not a difficult game, and may be appreciated by those who prefer a game focusing more on investigation and drama. There is a slight sense of character development throughout the game, but not much since a lot of the information about the  main character is given away right at the beginning. Instead, it would be cool to see a lot of his former life unfold as the game went on through him reliving memories. Doing it this way would make me feel like he still felt disheartened about his unfortunate situation, and therefore adding depth to his character. The enemies are not difficult, but can be a pain if you don’t plan your actions beforehand, leaving you restarting the scenario over and over again. The game is very short, and could probably be beaten within 6 hours of continuous game play or less. When I played this game I played it on the Xbox one, however I don’t feel like the graphic difference is significant enough between the 360 and One, so in my opinion I would just buy it for the Ps3 or Xbox360 and save money.

Synopsis:

Murdered had a lot of potential that I do not feel was utilized, and felt disappointed. This game is best bought on a Xbox360 or Ps3 since the graphic difference from last gen to next gen consoles isn’t significant enough. The game has an interesting story, but lacked in proper character development which leads to forgettable characters. I feel like this game is going to be in the $10 or under rack in stores a few years from now, which is sad because like previously mentioned there was so much wasted potential. Great for one play-through with no replay value, so once you beat it you will pretty much be done with it unless you are serious about getting collectables.

Rating: 6.6/10 Okay/Good

Thank you so much for reading! I hope this article was helpful to you. Feel free to add me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Theladypwnage Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/emilie.goralski and/or Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/theladypwnage

Happy Gaming!

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Why blaming video games soley for violence is wrong

Video games are fun, exciting, and can even have educational value. However, some people believe video games may provide more harm than good. Some critiques of video games include increased violence and ideas that gamers are lazy, overweight, and socially impaired. In fact, video games have been used as a scapegoat for the recent rise in school shootings. While it is true that there are some games that are excessively violent, it is incorrect and illogical to blame video games as the sole reason for violence and aggressiveness among people.

There are many views on what good video games bring to the table in terms of mental stability. Few killers such as Aaron Alexis, a gunman who went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, and Adam Lanza, who killed 26 children in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, were people who were fans of violent videogames. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/18/opinion/bushman-video-games/) While the fact that these gunmen have played violent video games in the past may be true, it would be foolish to blame their behavior on that alone. An enlightening way to put it would be, “Does the gun kill people or the person holding it?” Does everyone who owns a gun kill people or even use it? These gunmen were already proven to be mentally ill in the first place, and were most likely unstable for a long time.

It is true that videogames tend to over-glorify violence which can lead to desensitization of the player; however, it is also possible that such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception.

“This is particularly true for shooter video games that are often violent, the authors said. A 2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills, according to the study. This enhanced thinking was not found with playing other types of video games, such as puzzles or role-playing games.”- (1. Par. 2)

With that being said, even role-playing games have their benefits. A study published in 2013 found that adolescents reported playing strategic videogames have improved their problem solving and school grades the following year.( http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-new-study-shows-benefits-of-violent-video-games-for-kids-learning/2013/12/02/9363c008-56c8-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html)  Another study by the Education Development Center and the U.S. Congress-supported Ready To Learn (RTL) Initiative found that those who involved digital media into their life such as video games can improve literacy skills while under the supervision of parents and teachers. The research that is being done by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) shows that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems. (2. Par. 10) In fact, that same study shows that show that video game players will perform higher in of perceptual and cognitive ability by 10 percent to 20 percent more than non-game players. Video games can even help in the medical field, by helping surgeons preform laparoscopic surgery according to a study by the February edition of Archives of Surgery. The upside to this is that medical students have the ability to practice with no permanent consequences. Simulations offer health care providers several upsides. Chief among them, Taekman says, are the abilities to make choices, see results and apply information immediately.(2. Par 14)

So what about those violent video games? If you knowingly knew someone was mentally unstable, would you want them to be influenced negatively by anything? The fact of the matter is, if you put a video game that is “glamorizing” violence in the hands of someone who is known to already be violent, that is a negative influence. If you are putting a violent video game in the hands of someone who isn’t mentally stable, that still doesn’t mean they won’t get a negative influence from it. What about violent movies? What are the differences? When you play a violent video game you have the chance to take on the role of the person doing the killing, and it feels like YOU yourself doing it. So is this a problem or not? The vast numbers of people who play video games do not engage in real world criminal violence.

“Despite the growing global popularity and engagement with incredibly violent videogames and extreme media portrayals of violence, violent crime rates in many Western countries have actually been falling over the last decade.” –( 3. Par. 7)

Violence has been a part of our world since the dawn of time, video games have not. Benefits like moving, thinking, cooperating, helping, learning, empathizing, growing, and seeing the world from other perspectives are a few upsides to video games. Not to mention that not all video games are violent, some games actually require you to help others, take care of “living” creatures, and learn how to responsibly manage money. It is the matter of learning how to balance what really influences a person in their life, whether or not a person plays video games a good support system and education helps people develop healthy minds in the long run.

Works Cited:

  1. “A new study shows benefits of violent video games for kids’ learning”. American Psychological Association and Brown University. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/a-new-study-shows-benefits-of-violent-video-games-for-kids-learning/2013/12/02/9363c008-56c8-11e3-8304-caf30787c0a9_story.html. December 2nd 2013. Web. December 9th 2013.
  1. ABC News. “Benefits of Video Games”. ABC News Internet Ventures. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2011/12/the-benefits-of-video-games/. December 26 2011. Web. December 9th 2013
  1. Julia Shaw. “Time to rethink the video games and violence debate”. Cable News Network. http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/05/time-to-rethink-the-video-games-and-violence-debate/. December 5th 2013. Web. December 9th 2013
  1. Brad Bushman. “Do violent video games play a role in shootings?”. Cable News Network. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/18/opinion/bushman-video-games/. September 13th 2013.

XboxOne and Playstation4 Console Wars: As the battle rages on, who has the upper hand?

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The time as finally come, the release of the new generation gaming consoles has begun. On November 15th 2013 the Playstation 4 (its predecessor being the Playstation 3) released in the United States, with fairly positive reviews. As with any game console however, the release can always be a bit of a bumpy ride for first time users. The Xboxone will be releasing the 22nd of November, the Playstation 4’s rival in the gaming industry. When it comes to deciphering which system is truly worth your money, it can be difficult to choose. My goal is to one day work for one of these companies, so I find it very important to be able to tell the two systems apart from each other.

  • The Playstation 4 costs a whole $100 cheaper than the Xboxone, but the Xboxone comes with the Kinect camera built in which is probably where the extra cost comes from
  • The Playstation 4 is lighter than the Xboxone by three whole pounds, making it a bit easier to transport if need be
  • PS4 can tend to be more power-hungry than the Xboxone, meaning around 20 to 30 watts higher even if the system is on idle
  • With comparison to the Xboxone, the PS4 tends to be slightly louder. Meaning while both are fairly silent machines, the Xboxone is virtually completely silent while the PS4 makes little noise
  • Those taking a closer look at the inside of the systems claim that both systems, in terms of specs, are nearly identical. “The CPUs share the same architecture and multi-core design, the GPUs vary only slightly in clock speed and number of compute units, and while the PS4 has a faster unified pool of GDDR5 RAM, the Xbox One makes up for this (at least partially) with a small cache of ultra-fast ESRAM.”

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(The inside of both systems, The Xboxone on top and the PS4 on the bottom)

For those who aren’t as savvy with new generation technology, the main differences that we as consumers will notice are

  1. Xbox is a platform created by Microsoft, and Playstation is created by Sony
  2. Each system has special “exclusives”, meaning some games are released for one system but not the other
  3. A three pound weight difference
  4. Controller preferability
  5. Different services such as apps

The people who I have talked with about the console wars talk about their pick of system coming from what company (Sony or Microsoft) they prefer. Some people simply chose one system over the other for the system exclusives or price.

Playstation 4

Like previously mentioned, the Playstion 4, also known as PS4, is a video game and entertainment system that is designed, manufactured, and supported by Sony. Like the title says, the PS4 is Sony’s fourth generation of gaming consoles. Many people ask the question, “Can I play my Playstation 3 games on my Playstation 4”, and the answer is yes. While you may not be able to use physical game discs to insert into your system, Sony has instead made it available to use a cloud service by Gaikai technology. Cloud servicing is a service provided by a company (In this case it would be by Gaikai technology) that allows users to share servers with them instead of local on-premises servers. At this time this feature is unavailable, but Sony has announced that sometime in 2014 they will release PS3 games that all utilize the cloud streaming technology.

The PS4 isn’t just a game system, but an entertainment system as a whole. Some services that the PS4 will provide are the ability to use Netflix, Verizon’s redbox instant, Flixster, Amazon Instant video, and many more that are yet to be released.

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(The XboxOne trumps the PS4 in size)

XboxOne

The Xbox one is the third generation of console designed by Microsoft, with the Xbox, and Xbox360 being the main systems before it. The Xbox360 was well known for its entertaining online service called XboxLive, where a lot of the 360’s success came from. It was because of the 360 that online multiplayer became so immensely popular. While the PS3’s Playstation Network was free, users still migrated to Xbox and didn’t mind paying extra for the amazing services the 360 provided for fans of the multiplayer universe. The reason for this could be because it was rather simple to connect and play with friends, with the ability to create a Xbox Live Party (a group of players selected by the party leader to be in one single chat room where they communicate by using the Xbox360 headset), which makes it a lot easier to play games together online if the players are able to communicate gaming strategies.

This time around, Microsoft has added the feature to be able to play Blueray, a feature that was missing in the 360 but not the PS3. A feature that the Xboxone will offer is the ability to use apps right alongside the game you are playing as a quote from the Xbox websites says, “Forget about having to switch inputs to watch TV or play a game. Now you can run a host of apps right alongside your game without any loss of performance.” While advertising their most anticipated system yet, Microsoft gushes over the new controllers saying that it delivers precise feedback for more realistic experiences. If you have never heard of the Xbox’s Kinect, it is a camera that allows you to use your body to play games (specially made for the Kinect), and the Xboxone comes with it built in, which is probably the reason for the $100 price between the two systems. The Xboxone, unlike the PS4, will not utilize backwards compatibility for Xbox360 games.

The decision on what console to spend your time and money on is a difficult one, and if you are lucky you might be able to buy both of them. For the rest of us, however, we may only be able to afford one for the time being. So what one to choose? While there are some differences between the two systems, your main question for yourself should be what kind of games am I looking to play? In the end, the chance of you being happy with either system is very likely, with both companies being very dedicated to the happiness of their customers. When it comes to what system to buy, it is all about personal preferences. For me, I think I will happily accept the Xboxone into my home, since I adore my 360 so much, but that doesn’t mean I am turned off to the Ps4.

No matter what console you choose, you will have a blast with both of the systems upgraded graphics, apps, and games for years to come.

Side by side graphic comparisons:

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Blog # 2: Knowing is half the battle, mostly. A short, in-depth essay of the beginning of my Game Art and Design Career track

I have been through the notions of what career I would like to pursue just like anyone else, but I can truly say that if I didn’t follow my intuition on becoming a Game Designer I would spend the rest of my life wondering if I did. So far, I have gotten a lot of opinions from students on whether they believe the industry is worth getting into, whether I wanted their thoughts on the subject or not. I have had people tell me that it is a very hard industry to get in to, and that it really isn’t worth it. I find that there are people who say that for any profession, so I don’t really take it to heart. Then there are those people who say something like, “If you love what you do, you will be good at it and be able to find a job”. I find this to be true, however sometimes the world doesn’t always work that way in our favor. You should always go with your intuition when you recognize it as such, and don’t let anyone else negatively influence who you want to be. My goal is to create something that brings joy and happiness to others, as well as entertainment and fun.

An informative page from creativepool.com says that Game Designers require skills like being creative, have storytelling ability, have basic drawing and 3D design skills, be well developed with presentation and communication skills, and also be fluent in a number of different software packages. Salary and benefits include around 19,000 per year for new designers, those with experience 25,000 to 35,000 per year, and those considered lead designers can earn 35,000 to 55,000 per year. This number seems a little sporadic for me, but I refuse to let it scare me or make me reconsider. Like with any job, you need to take into consideration that you have strong points and weak points. I may not be the best with public speaking, but I have a crazy imagination that I would love the world to see. Just because I am not good with the public speaking, doesn’t mean I can’t change that. I plan on doing whatever it takes in order to be the best I can possibly be.

Games designers may work from their own original idea, or use various elements that have already been decided upon. They develop:

* the rules of the game

* the setting

* the story and how it develops

* the characters

* the weapons, vehicles and other devices that characters can use

* different ways the game may be played.

I am aware that there may be a slim chance of me being able to work on my own ideas from the get-go, and I am perfectly fine with that. In fact, I find pleasure in knowing that I may be helping someone else with their story and bring it to life. I am lacking in the software department

for sure, but instead of worrying myself too much about it, I know that I will have teachers and classmates willing to help me understand and master whatever it is that I need to do.

According to a study by Interactive Software Developers Association, the average development company grew by 18 percent between 1997 and 1998, with about 50,000 people working in video game development in 1998. My specific interest lies with the art of character creation and animation. According to incredibleart.org under an article called, “Video game Artist”, the definition for character artist is the person who builds creatures, including the one the player becomes. Animators make those creatures move, and sometimes, the same person does both tasks. Although one doesn’t need to be a player to truly understand the way video games work, it really does help if someone has some past experience with them. I have been someone who has played video games since I was 3 years old, and was on a computer at 2. With that being said, I can still use pointers when it comes to computers. I hope that I am a good enough artist one day to be able to create a likeable character for those to truly enjoy being or fighting against, with a beautiful story to go along with it all.

If there is something that you want to do or become, don’t let anyone do or say anything that can get in your way of doing what you want. I find myself pretty negative about some things, but I feel very lucky to have a positive outlook on clearly one of the biggest decisions of my life. I know there isn’t a whole lot of people who can say that, since there are people who go their whole life without knowing what they want to become or even who they are. I believe a career is turning yourself into the person you want to be for the rest of your life, for me it is a job that will use my imagination and creativity, and I would have it no other way.