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Thai gov't closes dozens of gaming sites after boy commits suicide

Apparently, after being banned from playing PC games, Pongsathorn Wattanabenjasopha jumped from the sixth floor of his school. This is certainly tragic news, but the bigger news story is the actions of the Thai government. To prevent other suicides, Thailand's Criminal Court ordered 72 online gambling and gaming websites to close.

Pongsathorn Wattanabenjasopha, a Prathom 6 (sixth grade) student at the Sri Witthaya Paknam School, jumped to his death on Thursday after his father banned him from playing computer games.

Dr Taweesilp said the suicide rate was rising in the kingdom. The majority of those taking their own lives were mostly in the 30-40 age group, followed by teenagers aged 12-13.

There were several factors that drove people to commit suicide. Family problems topped the list. Other factors included physical and mental problems, economic hardships, poor income and unemployment.

Bundit Sornpaisarn, director of the Rajanagarindra Child and Adolescent Mental Health Institute, said the boy's suicide reflected that children who were addicted to games and had an aggressive mentality were more likely to commit suicide than others.

How this will save lives is debatable (at least on these shores), but according to GamePolitics, Thailand has a history of heavyhanded treatment of games and the Internet.

Interview with Alec Holowka and Derek Yu, creators of Aquaria

First off, allow me to introduce myself as this is my first "official" blog post. The name is Richard, and I've been here about two months and it's been fantastic so far. I think that's enough about me for now, so let's talk about something that's actually cool.

Recently I reviewed Aquaria, a fantastic title from indie developer Bit-Blot and winner of top honors at the 2007 IGF awards.

Interview with Alec Holowka and Derek Yu, creators of Aquaria

Aquaria is currently available only on the PC and Mac, through both their website and Steam download. The minds behind the game, Alec Holowka and Derek Yu, were kind enough to speak with me about their work and their company.

No sequel for Indigo Prophecy

Indigo Prophecy Screenshot

Those of us that were looking for some real closure to Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit)—the ending didn't live up to expectations—will have to put our hope to rest. While publishers have approached David Cage, co-founder of Quantic Dream, about publishing a sequel—something I find really hard to believe—Cage himself has no interest in going back to that well.

Maybe it's for the best. That leaves him all the time in the world to focus on Heavy Rain. All accounts point to Heavy Rain as a worthy, spiritual successor.

Fallout 3: Broken Steel Review

Rewriting history with DLC

Fallout 3: Broken Steel Screenshot

HIGH Finally fixing the utterly illogical and contrived original ending

LOW Not enough new gear, though the Tesla Cannon is pretty fab

WTF Was there no way to save and carry over exp. from the last two add-ons?

Velvet Assassin is NOT a game about killing Nazi vampires.

I can't stress that strongly enough. It's an attempt to make an utterly serious stealth game about a sexy lady killing Nazis who are in no way vampires. Here, just take a look at the screenshots.

Velvet Assassin Screenshot - Too dead to enjoy the view.

Aquaria Review

Your goldfish is jealous

Aquaria screenshot

HIGH The dreamlike charm that permeates the entire game.

LOW Having to stop in the middle of the action to sing.

WTF Underwater fire?

Video: Square-Enix shuts down Chrono Trigger fan project

To the creators of this project, I applaud you for all of your hard work. It looks like it was on par with the RPG classic, at least graphically. However, what did you think was going to happen? Was Square-Enix going to let someone rip content from a ROM and then just release it? Mods are a largely American phenomenon and one that is almost entirely the domain of the PC. Should (Japanese) game developers be more hands-off with projects like this? That's the question we've all been asking ever since our favorite games (Starfox, Super Mario 64, etc.) were released without a proper sequel.

As a fan I would have loved to see the project reach completion and play it for myself. But you have to live in the real world and in the real world, there are copyrights, patents and trademarks. These things are not just here to give the finger to the fans; without them there wouldn't be much of the content that fans flock to. Square-Enix may have been a little heavy-handed, some would say cruel given the groups' not-for-profit claim, but Square-Enix is well within its rights.

I could be callous and say, "Fans should stick to writing fan fiction" but I won't. This was obviously a labor of love and its sad that it had to end the way it did.

Video: Duke Nukem Forever gameplay footage

Duke Nukem Forever may never see release, but I know that, like me, you've been dying to get a look at the actual game. Whether it was ready for release or not, you want to see something. And here it is.

Now, graphically, it looks like it stands up. I love seeing Duke's legs, arms and hands when he climbs, runs or falls. Lots of shiny sweat on said arms and legs. It looks like they were incorporating all of the visual bells and whistles. And (most of) the enemies look nice, but it's the AI that doesn't seem at all smart. What definitely don't stand up are the one-liners. I don't know if they were added for this demo or what, but they sound canned. Imagine that, the bread and butter of the Duke Nukem franchise just sound out of place and antiquated.

Again, this is a demo and isn't necessarily indicative of the entire game—but having nothing else to compare it to—we have to look at this brief look and come away a little disappointed. Ah, well.

Navigating streets of NYC easier when they resemble "Halo"

Jack Schulze and Matt Webb's Here and There mapWho could have imagined that the next evolution or revolution in maps would have been influenced by videogames?

We could, actually.

Of course, ours involved three-dimensional, cybernetic, holographic overlays ala Dead Space or Grand Theft Auto.

Jack Schulze and Matt Webb, creators of the "Here and There" map, were indeed influenced by games—even some not so obvious ones—but games were just one of many influences. (This is probably a good thing given how limited most in-game maps actually are.)

So far it is simply available in poster form, but a 3D-perspective melded with a top down view would seem to have profound applications outside of gaming. Not that gaming wouldn't see a benefit. Gaming worlds are getting bigger and navigating them can be as daunting as navigating the streets of Manhattan for some of us. A "Here and There"-influenced map would be a godsend.

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