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    by Published on May 15th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 1597 
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    The term "walking simulator" is a new development in the gaming industry. It is used as a label, a tag, and often times an insult. In this article we're going to examine the origin of this term, how it's used, and why it's misleading.

    We cover this subject in our "biggest myths" article but quite frankly this deserves its own separate article.

    The origin of the term "walking simulator" is intertwined with the game Dear Esther. This game caught attention for several ...
    by Published on April 29th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 4193 
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    The 1990s was a decade of breakthroughs for video gaming. It is the decade in which serious, immersive games were born thanks to technological advancement. Some of the greatest games of all time were released in the 1990s, especially when it comes to role-playing games (RPGs) which were generally far more advanced and complex back then compared to now. 1998 stands out as one of the best years in gaming history, with a plethora of amazing releases.

    In this article we will look at the greatest games of the 1990s (1990-1999 specifically), giving out awards similar to our Game of the Year awards and our previous Game of the Decade article. This will be the last Game of the Decade article until the 2010s are over, so you don't want to miss this one! You may notice some awards were excluded, including an overall Game of the Decade award. Some awards were excluded because gaming was very young at this time and some genres were underdeveloped, while an overall Game of the Decade award was not chosen because it's too subjective as there are so many different games belonging to different genres.

    Best Sound Effects

    Game Title: Thief: The Dark Project
    Release Date: 1998
    Developed By: Looking Glass Studios
    Published By: Eidos Interactive
    Platforms: PC
    Genre: Stealth

    Many 1990s PC games had surprisingly advanced sound processing, beyond what most games today have. Our winner is of course one of such games, and that game is Thief: The Dark Project (1998) and of course its re-release Thief Gold (1999, we only ...
    by Published on April 8th, 2016 08:00 AM  Number of Views: 3014 
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    The horror video game genre has been revitalized in recent years and it now strongly populates Steam's indie game section. Even mainstream horror games are being released again, such as The Evil Within. We all see this, but how many of us wonder why? What caused this horror revolution? These horror games are quite a lot different than the classics like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

    This revolution was sparked by Penumbra, a first-person PC exclusive episodic horror game released by Frictional Games in 2007 and 2008, and it is currently within our lists of top ten horror games of all time (where it's top 3) and top ten best stories of all time. It was the first game from Frictional Games, who later brought us Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA (and no, they did NOT develop Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs). But Penumbra didn't directly cause this surge of new horror games, it indirectly sparked it. The game that directly resulted in the rebirth of horror video games was Amnesia: The Dark Descent, which uses the same formula as Penumbra.

    In this article we're going to review Penumbra in its entirety. That includes Penumbra: Overture (2007), Penumbra: Black Plague (2008), and Penumbra: Requiem (2008). We're going to look at what makes this game so special, why its formula is what revived the genre, and why Amnesia: The Dark Descent was the one that directly sparked this revolution instead of Penumbra. We're also going to score Penumbra relative to how we would have scored it in 2007-2008, although really the only score that is affected is Audio & Visuals since we have new ...
    by Published on March 25th, 2016 08:00 AM  Number of Views: 7450 
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    Another Friday, another article. Today we're looking back at a very special game, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete, as we approach the ten year anniversary of its original release. This is a collection of a PC exclusive pause-and-play RPG and its three expansions, developed by Obsidian Entertainment, except for the final expansion Mysteries of Westgate which was developed by Ossian Studios. Neverwinter Nights 2 was released in 2006, its first expansion Mask of the Betrayer in 2007, its second expansion Storm of Zehir in 2008, and the aforementioned Mysteries of Westgate in 2009. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete is available on GOG.com for only $19.99, and it often goes on sale for half that. That's quite the bargain for some of the highest quality RPGs out there with hundreds of hours of content even without mods.

    In hindsight, this game seems too good to be true. This isn't entirely because of our lowered standards, which are the result of industry standards lowering greatly since those times. Neverwinter Nights 2 was the culmination of traditional video game RPGs. Everything was building up to it. It features nearly every playable race, class, skill, and feat offered by prior D&D RPGs, and then many more on top of that. The amount of content offered by it and its predecessor, Neverwinter Nights, was staggering at the time of their release, and even more staggering by today's standards. And that was just the base games, not even including the expansions which added more races, classes, prestige classes, feats/abilities, spells, and more. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete features 12 races with 17 sub-races, over 300 spells, well over 300 feats, 40 different weapon types (not individual weapons but types like longsword, war axe, shortbow, etc.), 15 base classes, 24 prestige classes, and much more.

    To put it in perspective, there is more variation, more ways to play Neverwinter Nights 2's Wizard class, than most modern RPGs have in total classes/playstyles! And Wizard is just one of 15 base classes. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not, especially when you consider the possible prestige classes that a Wizard can become.

    Furthermore, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete isn't just one game, it is a saga in itself. The base campaign is about 60 hours long, the first expansion 30-40 hours, second expansion 30-40 hours, and final expansion 20-25 hours. Custom campaigns created by modders exist as well, including unofficial remakes of legends like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale, as well as adaptations of various highly praised pen and paper D&D modules such as The Temple of Elemental Evil, The Keep on the Borderlands, King's Festival, and more.

    A list of campaigns, both unofficial and official, taken from the main menu. Not shown: many, many others!

    All of these factors, along with the quality of its campaigns and its amount of possible role-playing (only rivaled by one game in the 2010s, that being Fallout: New Vegas) give just cause to claim that Neverwinter Nights 2 was the last great fantasy RPG, although anyone claiming this must have extremely high RPG standards in order to discredit Dragon Age: Origins.

    So in this article we're going to break down this gargantuan that is Neverwinter Nights 2, including all of its expansions. Yes, we're going to review all of them, something we wish we had the opportunity to do. Although for what it's worth, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate released about one month after GND-Tech was created. That was when we weren't yet reviewing video games, and we weren't even called GND-Tech yet!

    Since we are essentially reviewing four games in one article, we are using a different layout this time around. Gameplay is first and foremost because Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions obviously share the same basic gameplay. There are some exceptions in each, but those are discussed on the pages for each individual campaign.

    At its core, Neverwinter Nights 2 is a tactical stat-based pause-and-play RPG built upon Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 which is its foundation. Most things like attacks in combat (chance to hit), damage given, damage taken, almost everything is determined by a dice roll which happens in the background. Combat is partially turn-based; not fully like the classic Fallout games or XCOM, but more on an individual basis. When characters are engaged in combat, turns are in play just like a tabletop RPG in which players take turn rolling dice. Here in Neverwinter Nights 2 the turn-based mechanic is much more seamless than a full fledge turn-based game, you have no controls over the turns and a turn only lasts mere seconds. It's like Pillars of Eternity and the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic games but slightly slower, although it speeds up as you level up and gain more attacks per round.

    Whereas other video game RPGs make up their own simplified stat/rule system, or take what they want from an existing one like D&D, Neverwinter Nights 2 is unique for taking the most from its pen and paper origins. It is like the developers just copied over D&D 3.5 into a video game, and omitted things that don't fit well into a video game (although they also admitted some skills that would've been a nice inclusion).

    By having a stat for so many different things, Neverwinter Nights 2 simulates more aspects than other games, making it seem far more realistic and far more logical than other video games. That's the whole point of the original pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons after all; to role-play, to pretend to live a different life, so in order for it to believable it has to be realistic and account for many different things, hence the different attributes, saving throws, abundance of skills, and how they're all tied together. Role-playing games are meant to simulate an actual life to some degree, and both Neverwinter Nights games go farther than any other video game.

    Neverwinter Nights 2 essentially integrates a D&D 3.5 handbook into the game. Every single aspect of character creation, every feat, every skill, every spell, every innate ability, every race, every subrace, and much more have complete, detailed descriptions. So, despite its complexity, ...
    by Published on March 9th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 3230 
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    We talk about it often, but now we figured it was time to write an article dedicated to discussing and pointing out the degeneration of gaming. Today, the video game industry is one afraid of innovation, and one that looks to milk consumers like cows. Most modern mainstream games are barely even a shell of the pioneers.

    How and why did this happen? The truth is, there were multiple causes that led to the degeneration of the gaming industry. Continue on to the next page to find out why.

    In order to understand the video game industry, one needs to understand its origins and follow its timeline. Without getting into an in-depth history lesson, video games were initially created for distraction; to kill time and offer a brief reprieve from boredom. Many games still exist for this same purpose, like virtually every mobile game and many casual games (many sidescrollers and shooters), but they are a bit more complex today than Pong.
    by Published on February 19th, 2016 07:00 AM  Number of Views: 9056 
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    Time for another Flashback Friday article! You don't want to miss this one. We are just past the half way point for this decade, the 2010s. This article takes from all of our Game of the Year articles, but instead of looking at the best games of one year, we're looking at the best games of the previous decade, the 2000s! More specifically, we're looking at all games from the years 2000-2009.

    It was an interesting decade with a lot of experimentation and change, with many changes being for the worse primarily toward the end of the decade. Still, 2007 stands out as one of the best years in gaming history with many great releases.

    The awards given out are mostly the same as the ones we use for Game of the Year, although some will be excluded since it's too hard to choose a single game for some of these awards. This includes an overall Game of the Decade award, as this is just too subjective and there are too many games belonging to too many different genres to choose from. Also, expansions and even mods that equate to a whole game (like Natural Selection mod or Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer expansion) are now eligible for awards. We're even including a few new awards! These new awards may even be included in future game of the year articles. But for now, go on to the next page to continue reading.

    Special thanks to InfaRedd, aka Valkayria for the basic idea behind this article.

    Best Sound Effects

    Game Title: BioShock
    Release Date: 2007 (2009 for Mac)
    Developed By: 2k Boston / 2k Australia
    Published By: 2k Games
    Platforms: PC / Mac / PlayStation 3 / XBOX 360
    Genre: FPS

    This award was extremely closely contested. BioShock (2007) takes home the gold. While Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason uses higher quality sound recordings/files for things like object collision, it is the advanced OpenAL sound processing and EAX 5.0 that puts BioShock ahead of perhaps every game. It is one of the absolute best demonstrations of hardware accelerated sound (3D object based sound) and EAX (along with Penumbra which came out at around the same time). The reason it wins the award over Penumbra is because Penumbra has no support for subwoofers, outside of integrated 2.1 PC speaker setups. On a 5.1/7.1 surround setup, Penumbra will not use the subwoofer while BioShock will.

    But it should be noted that Penumbra's 3D HRTF is actually slightly better ...
    by Published on February 18th, 2016 06:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Peripherals
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    It's been over two years since we last reviewed a QPAD product, and more than 5 years since we reviewed their QPAD 5K as part of our Gaming Mice Mega Test where it took home the prize for being the most comfortable mouse! Now we're back with the QPAD 8K which continues with their iconic palm grip design. Available for 59.99 the 8K has a laser sensor which a maximum DPI of 8200 and 7 programmable buttons, of which 2 are to change ...
    by Published on February 5th, 2016 09:00 AM  Number of Views: 2349 
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    Time for another Flashback Friday article. We created these types of articles in order to write about things we never got a chance to before, like our upcoming Game of the Decade article, or reviews of games that were released before GND-Tech was around. In this article we bring you a review of a hidden gem, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason. It is a psychological horror game developed by Action Forms, published by 1C Company, Aspyr, and others, and released exclusively for PC in 2009. It was also a nominee for Dark Horse of the Decade in our aforementioned Game of the Decade article, it won Best Sound Effects of the Decade, and it has earned an entry in our ten best stories in video games article.

    In our Flashback Friday reviews like this one, we score its graphics quality with regard to its time period in order to make it more fair. So keep this in mind! Continue to the next page for the review.

    Art by Hell Site.

    Once upon a time, Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason was actually well known. It was marketed heavily by NVIDIA for its use of NVIDIA's PhysX engine (originally AGEIA PhysX before NVIDIA acquired and expanded upon it). It was also promoted heavily by EVGA, a company ...

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