Category Archives: Video Game

Marvel Ultimate Alliance (video game)

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance

Ultimate Marvel Alliance (video game) ISBN: 047875821316

Overview: You are Marvel superhero, interacting with other characters from the Marvel universe. The story begins with an attack on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier by Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil. Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. sends out a distress call and Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, and Spider-man respond and save the Helicarrier. Nick Fury then puts together a task force to confront the Masters of Evil. As a team of heroes, either playing cooperatively with other local players or alone, you travel to several places and battle villains. There are 140 characters you can play as, though some players become unlocked the more levels that you beat. This game was released in 2006, and has since been followed by a sequel in 2008.

Critical Evaluation: This is a fun game that should definitely appeal to Marvel and comic book fans. The plot is generally well developed and authentic to the comic. Almost every Marvel main character shows up at some point during the game, whether you are able to play as them or encounter them in your travels. Probably the biggest change is that some of these characters never cross paths in their actual storylines. And with each different player comes different skills that are related to the skills they actually have in the comics. Characters talk a little bit during sequences, with voices that seem authentic to each character, though they can repeat themselves a lot.

The plot is also a little repetitive, in that at each level, you are doing basically the same thing, and fighting villains. Each level is in a different place and with a different villain, but there doesn’t seem to be much development beyond that. Besides the main battles, there are other ways of earning points in the levels, like by collecting coins that happen when you smash particular items in the game. But that only adds a momentary distraction from the main objective. I would warrant that this is a somewhat common problem for role player games like this.

Reader’s Annotation: Battle Dr. Doom and the Masters of Evil as your favorite Marvel superhero!

Information about the creators: This game was developed by Raven software and published by Activision. They were founded in 1990, and acquired by Activision in 1997. Some of their other video games include Call of Duty, Star Wars Jedi Knight, and Singularity.

Genre: Action Role Player Video game (RPG)

Curriculum ties, if any: None

Booktalking Ideas: I would emphasize the variety of Marvel characters that are involved in this video game. Besides the particular characters, there is nothing terribly unique about this game, but those who are interested in Marvel Comics should enjoy the plot tie-ins.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  This is categorized as a YA video game at my library.

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with the video game. As I’ve played this game, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a game I had not played, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this game is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the game.
    • A description of who the game is best suited for.
    • A summary of the game and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the creators.
    • My justification for including the game. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the game
    • Alternative works a student could play
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

This game meets the recreational needs of teens. As with other games that incorporate violence, it may also be a healthier outlet for aggression.

Why did you include this video game? : I wanted to demonstrate an example of a role player game that was based on popular characters and more storyline driven.

Reference Page:

Raven Software (2013). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raven_Software

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Halo: Reach (video game)

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halo reach

Halo: Reach (video game)

Overview: Halo is set in the year 2552, on the planet Reach. An alien race called the covenant has invaded. Players control an elite squad of soldiers as they battle the Covenant and a third race of Zombie-like creatures known as the flood. This game is considered a prequel to the other Halo games, on which there exist Halos that are designed to wipe out all existence. In other games, you are learning more about Halos and subsequently destroying them. In other Halo games, you are the master chief, a cyborg elite soldier. In Halo Reach, you are a regular human soldier on a highly trained operative team.

There are several ways to play Halo: Reach. The first is the campaign, which is single player or local multiplayer, meaning that you have to be in the same room as the other player. The other is the online multiplayer version, which in addition to a copy of the game requires an Xbox Live subscription. In this version, you are playing against other players. The most common way to play is the Slayer game, where you are on teams and try to be the first team to reach 50 kills. Rounds must be over in 12 minutes, but sometimes can be over in a matter of minutes. There are also games called Capture the Flag, Headhunter, Generator Defense, Firefight, and Stockpile.

Critical Evaluation: This is a very popular game, especially among teens and new adults. People tend to play this game obsessively and get really good at it. That makes it a hard game to play as a beginner, which I most certainly am. I am most familiar with the Slayer game you can play within Reach, which is fast and easy to understand. The campaigns are more story based than the other methods of playing, and contain more cinematic elements involved that convey the storyline. I must confess that I was a little confused about the plot of the campaign, but it would probably make more sense if I knew more about the other versions of Halo. Since this is a more individual version of the game, it does provide you with more opportunities to practice the game on your own before attempting to square off against other players.

For me, this first person shooter type of game raises a couple of issues. I wouldn’t say that I think video games like this make people more violent, because I think that would lend credence to the idea that books with controversial elements can make you more likely to do those controversial things. However, I personally have a hard time playing something that is so rooted in the idea of killing others. In conversations with gamers, I haven’t gotten a satisfying answer yet about why these violent games are more fun than say, a game where you solve puzzles or play soccer. My initial impression is that there is a violent part of people that needs an outlet, whether it is in video games, or in a kickboxing class.

Reader’s Annotation: You are on an elite team of soldiers, trying to save the planet Reach from an invading alien force. Can you defeat them and keep the planet safe?

Information about the developers: This game is developed by Bungie. They are currently located in Bellevue, Washington. Bungie was established in 1991 and originally based in Chicago, Illinois.

In 2000, they were bought by Microsoft, but split from them in 2007. They now have a publishing deal with Activision Blizzard. Besides Halo, they have most recently released Crimson: Steam Pirates and are working on one called Destiny.

Genre: First Person Shooter Video Game

Curriculum ties, if any: None

Booktalking Ideas: This game basically sells itself. If I was talking to a teen about it, I would emphasize that it is fast paced and exciting, and talk about the plot of saving the earth from aliens and zombies.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  This game is rated Mature, which means that technically, it should not be sold to minors. However, in practice, I believe that most of the people playing this game are teens and new adults. Therefore, it is important to look at to help teen librarians be aware of the kinds of materials their teens are consuming.

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with game. As I’ve played this game, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a game I had not played, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this game is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the game.
    • A description of who the game is best suited for.
    • A summary of the game and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the creators.
    • My justification for including the movie. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on players.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the game
    • Alternative works a student could play
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

This game meets the recreational needs of teens. It may also be a healthier outlet for a teen’s aggression in that it does not actually harm anyone else.

Why did you include this video game? : It is really popular, so I wanted to learn a little more about it. It also represents the first person shooter genre of video games.

Reference Page:

Bungie (2013). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bungie

List of Bungie video games (2013). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Bungie_video_games

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (video game)

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need for speed

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (video game)

Overview: Explore the fast paced, dangerous world of street racing with “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.” You can play in two modes: the career mode, which is single player or the online mode that is competitive and multiplayer. In career mode, you are shown a map and can choose between races. Only a few are available at the beginning. There are two types of races: one where you are a racer, one where you are a police officer trying to stop the races. In both categories, you can race against other cars or simply race for the best time. Within each race you choose your car based on the specifications provided. The point of each race is to earn bounty. You must finish in first, second, or third place to receive bounty and be allowed to unlock more race courses.  As a racer, you can also earn bounty for wrecking police cars.

During the race, there is a map that shows turns coming up, a speedometer so you know how fast you are going, info about which place you are in, how long you’ve been racing and how far you have left in the race. There are also shortcuts available, so it helps to be familiar with the course ahead of time so you know where shortcuts are and which are the most beneficial. The game also has different race conditions like night or day, sunny or raining, which makes it more slippery.

Critical Evaluation: This racing game has been compared to “The Fast and The Furious” movies in terms of the type of racing going on. This features illegal street racing, where you are not only trying to beat the other drivers, but also avoid getting caught by the police. It is also a more unrealistic racing game, which means that you can do things you wouldn’t be able to do in real life, like take curves at 100 miles an hour, or crash your car and begin driving again immediately. Some players seem to prefer this because it makes the game easier and more exciting.

The really interesting element of this game for me is the glorification of dangerous driving. That may seem obvious when you read that it portrays illegal races, but to me, this takes it to another level. You receive more bounty when you total police cars, and are encouraged to drive recklessly in the oncoming traffic lane to receive more nitrous for your turbo jets, which then allow you to go even faster.

Reader’s Annotation: Do you have a need for speed? In this game, you test your skills behind the wheel as a racer or police officer trying to shut down the races.

Information about the creators: Criterion Games developed this game. They are based in Guilford, UK. They have created the Burnout series of games, as well as Black, a first person shooter game. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is an award winning game.

Genre: Racing Video Game

Curriculum ties, if any: None

Booktalking Ideas: If I was encouraging teens to use this, I would draw parallels to “The Fast and the Furious,” and highlight the high speed and excitement of this game. It also provides an outlet for speeding that won’t have any negative reprecussions.

Reading Level/Interest Age:  At my library, it is catalogued as a YA, which refers to the level of violence and language. There is no language in this game, and rather abstract violence, which makes it more appropriate for teen players (Though that isn’t to say that teens aren’t still playing more mature games. See my review on Halo for more on that.).

Challenge Issues:

  • Illegal and dangerous activities

Defense Strategy:

  1. First, I would want to be familiar with book. As I’ve read this book, I’d be aware of potential issues that could be challenged. In the case of a book I had not read, I would want to have access to reviews.
  2. Then I would put together a rationale for why this book is included in the collection. This rationale would include:
    • Bibliographic Citation of the book.
    • A description of who the book is best suited for.
    • A summary of the book and applicable other information, such as biographical information about the author.
    • My justification for including the book. This would include how it fits in with the selection policy and library mission statement, and include its educational significance if applicable or the impact it could have on readers.
    • Copy of selection policy and library mission statement at my library.
    • ALA Library Bill of Rights
    • Good and bad reviews of the book
    • Alternative works a student could read
    • Reconsideration form if patron is not satisfied with rationale
  3. When talking to patron, I would listen to their concerns without getting on the defensive and attempt to sympathize with their concerns. In some cases, all an upset patron needs is to be able to vent and know that someone is listening to them.
  4. If needed, I would send the challenge up the chain of command.

This video game meets the recreational needs of teens. As I mentioned in my ideas for promotion, this does provide an outlet for teens and others to “try out” racing and these dangerous activities without causing physical harm to anyone or damage to anything.

Why did you include this video game? : I wanted a representative sample, as much as is possible with three video games, of the kind of games teens are playing. Racing games are one popular kind of video game.

Reference Page:

Who we are (2013). Criterion Games. Retrieved from http://www.criteriongames.com/about/