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Plugged In

  • The 10 coolest video game Easter eggs

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In7 hrs ago

    Once a year, millions of kids transform into amateur detectives sleuthing for hidden treasures. But all year round, millions of gamers do the exact same thing in their favorite video games. Digital Easter eggs have become as commonplace as that ‘extra’ scene at the end of a Marvel movie, though some are more interesting than others. Here are ten of our favorites.

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  • PS4 outsells Xbox One, Titanfall tops charts in stellar March

    Chris Morris at Plugged In1 day ago

    Gamers may not be buying a ton of games these days, but they're sure gobbling up game systems.

    Sales of video game hardware in March were up a massive 78 percent in March as compared to a year ago, according to The NPD Group. Console sales more than doubled as demand continues for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. That surge in hardware sales led to a 3 percent climb in overall sales versus March 2013.

    While NPD does not specifically break out sales numbers by system, the company's analyst Liam Callahan noted that PS4 sales once again outpaced the Xbox One.

    “In March 2014, Sony’s PS4 led hardware sales for the third month in a row,” he said.

    That's bound to be a disappointment to Microsoft, which bundled EA's critically-acclaimedgiant mech shooter Titanfall with the Xbox One to promote sales of the system. Many retailers offered discounts of $50 on top of that bundle.

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  • Review: Amazon Fire TV checks the boxes but misses the mark

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In1 day ago

    Amazon has become a hard company to define. E-tailer? Yep. Tablet maker? Sure. Cloud streaming service? Okay, why not. The company hasn’t met a business idea it doesn’t like.

    Now add ‘set-top box manufacturer’ to the list, with a side of ‘video game console maker’ thrown in for good measure. It earns these monikers courtesy of the Amazon Fire TV. Much like the complicated company behind it, the new device does a lot of things, but not necessarily better than the competition. How much you’ll like it is inextricably tied to your budget, how much you use Amazon’s suite of services, and what kind of other electronic gadgetry you already own.

    The Fire TV is an internet-connected set-top box that lets you stream content to the TV from a variety of services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and of course Amazon’s own store. At a mere $99, it’s priced to compete with the likes of Apple TV and Roku. And at first blush, it’s a winner.

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  • Missing Nebraska boy found inside claw machine

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In2 days ago

    There are few things more alluring to a kid than a claw machine. One three-year-old in Lincoln Nebraska, however, got a little too close to the prizes tucked inside.

    According to local authorities, the child’s mother called Nebraska police on Monday to report her son had left the apartment when she was in the bathroom. After canvassing the area, the cops found the kid in a most unusual spot: inside the claw machine at a nearby bowling alley.

    Authorities believe he got in through the central prize hole.

    "You have to weave your way in and out, so he had to work pretty hard to get in there," Jim Lakey, the owner of the machine, told local station KLKN-TV.

    "It's kind of a rarity."

    The boy was uninjured and was apparently just playing with stuffed animals and ignoring passers-by, who presumably were ignoring him, too. Or perhaps they figured this was the creepiest claw machine in the world and thus averted their gaze to avoid going straight to hell for considering playing a game in which a three-year-old boy was the grand prize.

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  • LEGO robot plays free-to-play games while human creator sleeps

    Chris Morris at Plugged In3 days ago

    You may think you're a dedicated player of your free-to-play game of choice. But no matter how often you go on raids in Boom Beach or send help requests to Facebook friends in Candy Crush Saga, you won't come close to Uli Kilian's dedication.

    Kilian, a 3D production director, loves Jurassic Park Builder. But like most free-to-play games, it requires players to check in regularly and tap on a dinosaur to earn in-game currency. The alternative, of course, is to pay real world money, but who wants to do that?

    Certainly not Kilian, who developed a ridiculous plan to keep his expenses low: he built a robotic arm using a LEGO Technic set to do the tapping for him at night.

    "It's a really nice game with nice graphics," Kilian tells Wired. "But I thought you could easily automate the tapping."

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  • Space is the place in Civilization: Beyond Earth

    Ben Silverman at Plugged In4 days ago

    The long-running Civilization series puts you in the shoes (or boots, or sandals) of a famous historical leader and tasks you with guiding a culture to world domination.

    But according to the newly announced Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, there's a lot more out there than just measly old Earth. Developed by legendary developer Sid Meier and his team at Firaxis Games, this spacefaring take on Civ is due out in fall 2014.

    “The Civ team was excited about the opportunity to continue the story of Civilization into the future, because it allows the team to break free of historical context,” said Civilization overlord Sid Meier. “We’ve always let our fans create the history of mankind, and Civilization: Beyond Earth will now let them create the future.”

    If this sounds familiar, it’s because you wisely played 1999’s Alpha Centauri, a fantastic, Sid Meier-produced Civilization spin-off set in the stars. Civilization: Beyond Earth isn’t related, however.

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  • The rebirth of the space sim

    Gordon Cameron at Plugged In7 days ago

    Space…the final frontier? Actually, in video games, it was pretty much the first one.

    No sooner had the concept of electronic gaming popped into some clever university students’ heads than 1961’s Space War hit mainframes, and in the 1970s a text-based Star Trek strategy game was all the rage. By the early 1980s, a series of ambitious titles were putting gamers in the cockpits of virtual spacecraft: Star Raiders, the original Star Wars arcade game, and the epic trading/combat sim, Elite.

    It’s odd, then, that today’s top-shelf video games seem a little earthbound. It’s not that sci-fi franchises aren’t still around -- Halo, Dead Space, Titanfall, and Killzone come to readily to mind -- but you tend to spend less time flying spacecraft in these titles than running around wielding laser guns. Niche titles like EVE Online, the X series, and Darkstar One have continued to appease the hardcore over the past decade, but the mainstream success of hits like Wing Commander and X-Wing seems to be a thing of the past.

    So what happened to the space sim?

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