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4v4 gears of war 3 champs

Table of Contents


Academics | Staying in School


Entertainment | Top T.V. / Top 1965


Entertainment | Award Season Wrap-Up


Entertainment | The Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge 7 Entertainment | Darkness 2


Entertainment | 2012: On the Horizon


College Prep | AIB: Degree in 3


College Prep | AIB: Competitive Dance Team


Good news, readers - I’m bringing you legit news involving the

gaming world! The Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge is took place

here in Des Moines last weekend, and I secured a press pass to

keep you updated on the event, and let you know what you may have missed out on!

While it’s not exactly GDC, competitive gaming has been

gaining steam lately, and Des Moines is no stranger to success in the field, two-time World Pokemon Champion Ray Rizzo

attends my school, Drake University.

This particular competition has been going since 2007 and

has amassed quite the following and a ton of sponsors. Prizes

include a ton of cash (over $10,000) and various gear and

accessories from sponsors. One of those sponsors is Epic Games, the guys behind Gears of War.

The three games that were played included Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, Gears of War 3, and Halo: Reach. Each bracket

encompassed multiple game types, forcing players to get

versatile. All games were 4v4. The Call of Duty supported both Search and Destroy and Capture the Flag. Gears players will be

tested into playing Execution and King of the Hill. Halo: Reach

players played through Team Slayer and Capture the Flag while following the Major League Gaming rules. Double elimination

separated the winners from the losers.

2928 Ingersoll Ave. Des Moines, IA 50312 PH: 515.283.1933 FAX: 515.283.1646

Volume seven | Issue two

Big attendance was expected, and delivered. There was space

for 32 MW3 teams and 16 for both Gears of War and Halo. The

event was also held livestream via the Focus Fire feed on Twitch. tv, with over 300,000 viewers looking on.

I was very impressed with the event and wrote all about it here

Mike Rickord | President

on the High School Assembly digital magazine. Check it out

John Streets | Business Consultant

you should look into my blog Musing on Gaming, a blogspot

Lisa Pringle| Sales Representative

Tim Weideman | Editor Ethan Clevenger | Staff Writer ADAM OESTREICH | Graphic Designer


Volume 7 Issue 4

on page 7, (with lots of great pics too!) If you don’t already

product and follow me on twitter @ethanclevenger to read more about all the excitement that took place Saturday in downtown Des Moines.


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Aca Staying in School Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer The leading cause for students dropping out of college today are financially related. From rising tuition costs to other expenses and sometimes even dependents, college students are facing way more financial stress in many cases than is healthy. Unfortunately, a bachelor’s degree is becoming the new high school diploma, meaning it’s almost necessary to make a career in today’s world. So aside from moving to Sweden and going to school for free, what are some ways you can get ahead of the game? For seniors looking at college, if financing is going to be an issue, consider attending a community college for a much lower tuition for two years. This will allow you to get your general education credits out of the way while saving for a bigger school and figuring out what exactly it is you want to do. Most of these credits will transfer and

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give you a leg up both financially and educationally. You might miss out on the traditional “freshman experience”, but it’ll be worth it in the end. Avoiding room and board by staying in town for a couple years isn’t a bad idea. To everyone – take advantage of free money. There are tons of scholarships out there, and you need to start looking now. A lot of scholarships with essay requirements are rather similar, so save a basic draft to be submitted for these and reuse it a lot. Also, make friends with your school counselor, as it’s his or her job to keep an eye out for these sorts of things and send them your way. Once you get to school, know when enough is enough. Some students stress financially and then work tons of hours to try to make up for it. While having a part-time job is a good strategy, trying to split

time between a job and school can often be just as stressful as making ends meet to pay for school. If you feel things starting to fray, drop a few hours each week, especially during heavy test times. Many employers will be pretty flexible with scheduling for college students – especially if you find an on-campus job. And finally, start saving now and keep saving. Avoid going out to eat, partying, excess driving and other money pits. While I’m not suggesting you don’t go out and have a good time with friends, you can always skip the burger and fries and simply enjoy the company. Trade the coke for water. Movie theaters are also really expensive. Go to matinee showings. Every little bit helps. As they say, watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Volume 7 Issue 4


Enter Top TV Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer If you’re looking for something to watch on television, check out the ten most popular television shows running right now according to TV Guide. • X Factor (FOX) Premise: Solo artists and music groups compete for a $5 million recording contract. Based on the hit British competition series. • Revenge (ABC) Premise: A young woman returns to the Hamptons to make those responsible for ruining her family pay. • Bones (FOX) Premise: A scientist with an ‘uncanny ability to read clues left behind in a victim’s bones’ solves murders in a procedural series. • NCIS (CBS) Premise: A successful ‘JAG’ spin-off about criminal cases involving Navy and Marine personnel, handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. • Dancing with the Stars (ABC) Premise: Celebrities are paired with professionals in a ballroom-dance competition, with one pair typically

Top 1965 eliminated each week. • Modern Family (ABC) Premise: A mockumentary-style sitcom chronicling the unusual kinship of the extended Pritchett clan. • Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) Premise: Surgical residents at a Seattle teaching hospital hone their bedside manners on and off the job in this medical drama, • New Girl (FOX) Premise: Sitcom centered on Jess Day, a sweet but naive twentysomething, who shares a loft with three single guys. • Two and a Half Men (CBS) Premise: A hit sitcom built on oftenraunchy material, who starred Charlie Sheen and, Ashton Kutcher who replaces Sheen, playing a billionaire with a broken heart • Criminal Minds (CBS) Premise: A procedural thriller about the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, which profiles criminals to solve crimes. It’d be an understatement to say I’m surprised by Ashton Kutcher’s success on Two and a Half Men, but aside from that, a pretty good mix. New Girl is my personal favorite, with a couple of my other favorites like Pawn Stars and Storage Wars being left off.

Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer Sick of what you’ve currently got going on on your iPod? Check out these Top-10 songs from the week of Feb. 20, 1965 according to Billboard magazine. • • • • • • • • • •

“This Diamond Ring” Gary Lewis and the Playboys “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” Righteous Brothers “Downtown” – Petula Clark “My Girl” – Temptations “The Name Game” – Shirley Ellis “Jolly Green Giant” The Kingsmen “All Day and All of the Night” The Kinks “Shake” – Sam Cooke “I Go to Pieces” Peter and Gordon “The Boy from New York City” The Ad Libs

While many of these may not be your style (certainly some aren’t mine, but one and two are fantastic songs), it’s never a bad thing to jump outside your comfort zone on occasion.

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Enter Award Season Wrap-Up Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer The award season came to a close with the 84th annual Academy Awards. Let’s take a look at the big titles in both film and music to come out of this award season. The Artist, an ambitious silent black-and-white film, took Best Picture at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, while director Michael Hazanavicious and actor Jean Dujardin also took home many awards for their work in the film. This overshadowed many other films poised to do rather well, including several book adaptations. George Clooney’s The Descendants, Emma Stone and The Help, and Brad Pitt and Johan Hill in Moneyball were generally snuffed while consistently nominated. Meanwhile, director Martin Scorsese, popular for thrillers like The Departed and Shutter Island, garnered many technical awards with his family film Hugo and a Best Director award from the Golden Globes.

Best Actress at the Oscars went to Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady while she took home the Best Actress in a Drama award at the Golden Globes. Other ladies to win big for both lead and supporting roles include Octavia Spencer in The Help and Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn. Homeland was a bigger winner on the television front at the Golden Globes, with Downton Abbey and Modern Family bringing home awards in their respective categories as well. At the Grammys, Adele took home an award for almost every time she was likely played on any given radio station during the course of the show. Bon Iver generally swept the alternative awards and Skrillex did the same for the dance categories. Taylor Swift’s song “Mean” took home a couple of awards with Lady Antebellum grabbing Best Country

Album. Big jazz artists Chick Corea and Pat Metheny also took home awards. Prominent bluegrass artist Alison Krauss and Union Station took home the bluegrass award, though actor Steve Martin and his band The Steep Canyon Rangers were nominated in that category. Stephen Marley took home the best Reggae album, but it seems worth noting that Shaggy (yes, “It Wasn’t Me” Shaggy) was nominated in that category. Popular musical “The Book of Mormon” took home the award for Best Musical Theater Album and the score from The King’s Speech took home that award. Betty White took home the award for Best Spoken Word and Louis C.K. nabbed Best Comedy Album.


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Volume 7 Issue 4

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Enter The Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer “This is their Mecca. This is where they can go to meet like-minded people who understand.” So says Ben Black, owner of Focus Fire, a company that puts on around ten video game tournaments every year, including the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge in Des Moines, Iowa. 48 teams flocked in from 15 states by car and by plane to try their hand at cash prizes – for some, thousands of dollars. THE TEAMS Players showed up to get their game on at “Halo: Reach”, “Gears of War 3”, and the industry stalwart “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”. Participants ranged from firsttime tournament attendees to teams headed to Columbus, Ohio next weekend for the next big tournament to Major League Gaming (MLG) legends. Many of these teams expected great things – few succeeded. Coco Bros. was one such new-comer. Their first tournament, members Nick, Shaun, Brandon and Frank sought to see how they rank and get a feel for the atmosphere, while at the same time, as they put it, not be “those guys” who show up and have no idea what they’re doing. The four gentlemen went to high school together near Jackson Junction, Iowa. Call of Duty players since “World at War”, they also have to focus on bigger things. Shaun

works part time at the KWAY radio station studios while attending Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa and Brandon attends the University of Northern Iowa. Similar fates have befallen their teammates, leaving them time to practice only after nine o’clock by scrimmaging other teams from the Iowa League clan online – many of whom were at the tournament. The team went on to win their first round before dropping two straight and heading home on Saturday. GZ Relapse is a team from Mason City, Iowa with big hopes. They practice every other weekend at their sponsor Gamer Zone, a cyber café near their home. Individual members Luke Haujy, Alex Meyer, Dylan Ross and James Perez had all participated in smaller tournaments where they met each other and then formed the team that showed up for the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge. They are more experienced that Coco Bros., as Haujy has been playing Call of Duty since the second installment and other teammates expressed similar sentiments. The team would lose to State of Mind in the first round, but take four in the loser’s bracket before dropping yet another match

to State of Mind. Team Gaming Generations, Team GG, would play well into Sunday after predicting a top 10 or 5 finish. The team drove eight hours from Wisconsin to make the tournament. The team varied in age quite a bit – youngest member Jordan Holzem is 15 in comparison to oldest member Mitch Meyers, 20. The team met through mutual friends having previously been on separate teams in smaller local tournaments. The team put lots of practice time in focusing on communication, developing strategies and learning maps. While Meyers has made money playing in tournaments before, the team would go home empty-handed on Sunday. Family Elite is more than a simple team – they’re a group with over 25 members across the country celebrating a year and a half of existence and preparing for a new chapter in the United Kingdom. The team shows up to many tournaments, sending the closest residing members to represent. Six members were in attendance for the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge – two as coaches, including engaged couple Ashley Harris and John Kite and brothers Dorian


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Volume 7 Issue 4


the set-up at all-play in downtown dsm

team gz relapse

team gaming generations

team repeat

and Damien Minter. The Minters hail from Des Moines, while Ashley and her fiancée are from Luana, Iowa. Teammate Will Gray drove from Boscobel, Wisconsin. The team came together “hoping to win it all”, said Dorian Minter. Two months of practice went into their preparation and a lot of time was spent at the tournament observing other teams playing to maximize on their mistakes in future rounds. After that bold prediction, the team dropped their first two matches. Unlike most teams in attendance, FamElite’s members aren’t entirely “COD heads”. Kite enjoys playing “The Show” series, an annual baseball title from Sony, while the Minters are anticipating “Assassin’s Creed 3” later this year. THE WINNERS With such a wide range in caliber of players, it can be tough for amateurs to get a leg up. The winning teams were dominated by industry veterans like “Nadeshot” and “Big Tyme”. Nadeshot is a member of Team OpTic, a legend in the industry that won $400,000 in the Call of Duty XP Million Dollar tournament held in Los Angeles last year. Big Tyme is a former member of OpTic who signed up as a fourth to help them out in Iowa. The team would lose to Faze, another team that is no stranger to winning these sorts of tournaments, twice – once leading up to the finals and again in the finals themselves. That final contest ended in an interesting series of events. A monitor on the main stage lacked a stand and had fallen three times over the course of the day. During the first match, Capture the Flag, the monitor dropped once more – this time dragging more with it. An audience member quickly snagged the monitor, but not before Faze had dropped their controllers and held onto theirs. They quickly got back in the game, shouting at the referee to just keep going. The match ended with Faze on the losing side, but they argued fiercely for a rematch considering the circumstances. Nadeshot quickly jumped to his feet to argue both that the call to start over should have been made beforehand and that the rules explicitly state: If a game/series is completed, it may be considered final. This rule includes if a setting for a game is incorrect and the losing team waits until after the game is complete to dispute the result. A team may bring the dispute to the Bracket Manager if they disagree with the original Staff Member’s Decision. At the same time, this was is in contradiction with rule 22, stating “In the event of equipment failure (TV/360 losing power, etc.), the game will be restarted unless a team has mathematically won the game based on time remaining,” with no mention of whether or not a team must express that sentiment before the match is over, as most cases of equipment failure prevent the match from being played to completion. Nadeshot also cited that in their previous match, a lag issue had afflicted Faze, but they played through that and went on to win that match with no contest to the discrepancy. During all of this, the room eventually fell silent as it was revealed that a member of Team OpTic had received a phone call regarding the death of an acquaintance. All told, play stopped for over 20 minutes. (WHAT HAPPENED) The other matches were comparatively low-intensity, but you wouldn’t know it from the pictures. The “Gears of War” final featured NSANEZ versus illigan. illigan would drop two straight, but come back to tie it in two astounding rounds of execution. They would tie it again at 3-3 before illigan wrapped it up in another execution match. After each victory, illigan member Nick Kolcheff, Detroit, would leap to his feet and scream at the other team. At one point he raced down into the crowd and high-fived everyone within his reach, whether he knew them or not. He said that his intensity, while natural, is in some ways a show. “My teammates feed off of that. When someone does

competitors at the iowa pro gaming challenge

nick kolcheff aka nickmercs celebrates a victory amazing work, I’m pumped the [expletive] up, and I want them to be pumped the [expletive] up!” On that note, despite in many ways stealing the show, he raved about his teammates. He began with Guy Spencer, saying “He will never give up” and moving onto Jakob Patterson, who he described as a lion. “He doesn’t have his mane yet, but he’ll fight you!” Kolcheff said. The team had never played together before this tournament. While Kolcheff and Patterson are both from Detroit, Spencer is from Gary, Indiana and fourth man Jesse Rodriguez is from Chicago. They are all members of their own teams and have met through various tournaments. Each individual has experienced success at the Major League level in both team-based tournaments and freefor-all with over 10 national championship victories between them. Regardless of never playing together, the members said they knew from the start they would win it all. On the “Halo: Reach” side, team Repeat came in looking to do just that – repeat. The team won it all last year and came out on top once again this year. Another team that got tossed together, the team also expected to win coming into the tournament. “They were already talking about second place. We were in their heads,” said Dickey MicWilliams of Omaha. “Five months ago, I was already planning on a paycheck today,” added Kyle Lieving of Iowa City. The team met through previous tournaments and after coaching each other, keeping in touch via Xbox Live. Like illigan, they had all experienced previous success, but expressed that playing the way they do does come with sacrifices. “It’s hard to get in and out of the weight room sometimes,” said McWilliams, while Aaron Boczkiewicz from Mukwonago, Wisconsin, added that he has to make time for friends and family. With the money they won at the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge, the team is headed to Columbus, Ohio for the Pro Circuit Winter Championships through Major League Gaming where they expect tougher competition. THE FOLKS WHO MAKE IT POSSIBLE Behind any good competition, there are a slew of people making it possible. The Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge starts with Ben McDougal, owner of Jet Set Studio, a company that does video game event management across the country. The company is based in

m.c. ben mcdougal breaking down the rules Des Moines, but has affiliates all over the United States. McDougal graduated from Loras College in Dubuque with a degree in Computer Science looking to get into video game development. After little luck in California, he came back to Iowa to get a hand in web development. An entrepreneur at heart, McDougal began putting on a threeon-three soccer tournament every year, stemming from a longnurtured love of the sport. In 2007, when he set up Jet Set Studio, he sold off the soccer deal. “I’ve preferred this instead of working at a big company at the lowest position,” McDougal says of his drive to be his own boss. Jet Set Studio established Gathering of Gamers at the same time, a social network for gamers making use of McDougal’s web development skills. The site is has over 7,000 users with a longterm goal of 10,000. While this is the third annual Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge for the company, their Des Moines events started before that when they started putting on Guitar Hero competitions at the IMAX in the Science Center. “From there we got more events and now I get contacted from all around the country,” McDougal said. “There’s a magnetism to video games. Corporate America liked Guitar Hero, too.” McDougal does events large and small – from corporate events for people like Microsoft to county fairs. His next adventure is prepping for the Ultimate Gaming Challenge Niagara in Niagara, Canada, his first international event, where Halo will be replaced with EA’s NHL games. The winning team from the NHL tournament will take on real NHL players. Of course, tournaments like these take equipment and networking as well, which is where Ben Black comes in. Focus Fire supplies events like the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge across the country. Black is the owner of the Lacrosse, Wisconsin-based company and puts a lot of time into setting up profiles, sponsors and marketing for tournament organizers like McDougal. This means manipulating hex code and making sure every player is maxed out. This was their second year helping out at the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge. The outlook was not always that of a successful small-business owner for Black. All of the people involved with tournaments like

Enter these are gamers at heart, and Black is no exception. A PC gamer, Black has had to swear off Blizzard games after a battle with popular massively-multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft, more commonly known as WoW. On parole several years ago, Black found himself with a lot of free time, and so he began the quest for the Grand Marshal achievement in the WoW universe – a quest that had him playing 16 hours a day, seven days a week for four months. Before that, he’d been averaging 12 hours a day, six days a week. The end of his parole and his acquisition of Grand Marshall coincided, and he went out to the bars to celebrate. There he met Mari, his former girlfriend and now wife with little patience for video games. “She thought I was absolutely bananas,” Black said. With that, he dropped World of Warcraft and sold off his profile for over $2,000. Today, he’s planning for a massive event at the Mall of America in July to celebrate its 20th


Volume 7 Issue 4

anniversary. The tournament will feature a two-story screen and a remembrance of the games of 20 years ago with plans to feature Sonic the Hedgehog and Namco, the creator of Pac-Man, already on board. And finally, there’s the talent on screen. featured a large portion of the event on their website, and to keep that interesting, they’ve got commentators like Nick Overton. “I started commentating on YouTube videos of my own stuff for practice and for fun,” Overton said. “People started asking me to analyze their tape.” Overton went on to work for Twitch. tv’s parent company JustinTV. That job landed him trips to E3 and PAX East – huge gaming conventions – where he interviewed representatives from Dell, Alienware and League of Legends among others. But it’s not all fun and games. Overton consistently works to make his broadcasts better. “Last night I went and watched the broadcast from yesterday,” Overton said. “I noticed that we focused a lot on players we expected to do well and ended up missing a

lot of other stuff.” Overton said that things like this are a common battle that commentators like him have to fight. At most MLG events, he has a view of all eight screens in front of him, while here, he and co-commentator Alex Mendez are only seeing one screen unless they look up to the main stage. This also becomes a struggle when becoming familiar with teams in an attempt to stay neutral. However, this familiarity also allows him to focus on things that make the broadcast more interesting – things like grudge-matches between big rivals. To be where he is, Overton stresses you have to be good at the games. At one point, Overton was first in the world for Black Ops based on points and maintains a kill-death ratio of 3.2. He also spends time playing Halo, focusing on first-person shooters. THE GAMES AND THE FUTURE One might think “Why the narrow focus of games?” The Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge focuses on shooters, while many other tournaments feature racing and fighting games. “The games depend on the market,” said Black. “Des Moines is an established shooter market, whereas in Minnesota we see many more fighting games.” Black says it can be hard to gauge those sorts of things, prompting him to work closely with tournament organizers. “We’d love to open this up,” McDougal said. “We could present a couple great divisions where people ask for more. We’re really open-minded, but we want to avoid

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Enter dilution. We don’t want to have something here, but push it in a corner and not give it the respect it deserves.” Overton talked about difficulties in introducing something like StarCraft, a title with a mostly professional competitive following. “It would be hard to attract pro players to a tournament like this,” Overton said. “You would have to go online, which isn’t a bad thing, but people here aren’t familiar enough with how to make that work.” The teams expressed mixed feelings about the one-sidedness. Team GG talked about the variety at other tournaments they go to, but said that it’s more interesting to watch when everyone is playing the same thing. Other teams expressed interest in racing games or variety in general, while Kite of FamElite suggested FIFA. “That would bring bigger crowds,” he mused. Could we see these in the future for the Des Moines tournament? McDougal doesn’t

rule it out, but he has other plans first. “It seems like we could do this twice a year,” he said. “But the amount of work that goes into it, and you also have to get financial support.” What about the industry as a whole? Overton has made the rounds, and says he expects it only to get bigger. “3 years ago, there were like 400 million players and fans of eSports in the world, which is more than many other sports combined,” Overton said. “It’s just hard to bring people into it.” He sees streaming as a way to overcome this difficulty. Citing Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, he sees the internet opening the sport wide open. WALKING AWAY - MUSINGS I’ve always rolled my eyes at the Call of Duty crowd – the guys who dedicate their lives to the game without exploring the other games out there. I’ve struggled with the term gamer and what that means. This tournament has opened my eyes in some ways. While I still hold that there are better shooters out there, I’ve come to appreciate the dedication they have. For me, video games are a medium and an art. For these guys, they are a sport. For me, my console is a gateway to another world. Their Xbox is not a console – it’s a piece of equipment. It’s the ball or a set of

pads they utilize to compete. They don’t care about the plot – they want to beat the other guy. Sporting my Mass Effect 3 t-shirt on Sunday, I was hardpressed to find someone with the same appreciation for the series I had. It’s like comparing someone who reads books to someone who plays football. It’s not the same thing. “Gamer” is too broad a term – we’re different breeds within the community. “These guys eat, sleep and breathe it,” said Black when asked if the ‘COD-heads’ were gamers. “It’s a testament to their dedication. They’re as hardcore as I ever was.” And so while I’ll still argue Call of Duty is the inferior game of the day, I have grown a new love for live Gears of War, and will refrain from calling out competitive gamers. I have friends who are academics and enjoy citing sports as “distractions for the proletariat masses”, and I hate to be that guy, because I also love a good game of football. And so to quell the elitist gamer in me, I say congratulations to the winning teams at the Iowa Pro Gaming Challenge and wish them much success in the future.

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Enter Darkness 2 Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer Platform: PS3*/Xbox 360/PC Genre: FPS Players: 1 (Online: 1-4) ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Drug References, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content) The Darkness 2 is a bit rough around the edges. While the core game is there, the presentation and plot do little to solidify it, making it difficult to keep the drive to complete it going. Let’s dig in from the outer layers. Reviewers praised the first game’s story, but I can’t imagine the sentiment stuck for the sequel. While I definitely laud the efficiency with which the story is told, it’s not one that’s all that great. Often in a first-person shooter, the player gets trailed along some plot without a lot of information. It’s easy to miss key points, forget where you are or generally ignore everything but “I’m here. Shoot now” (here’s looking at you, Call of Duty). Jackie Estacado, the main character, has a voice, which certainly helps. He asks lots of questions so we always know what’s going on, even if we’ve been passed out

on the ground. The story itself, however, isn’t very compelling and the intricacies do get muddy. I think I’ve got the gist of it, but I can’t say for sure. Additionally, Jackie has terrible motives. He’s sad about losing his girlfriend Jenny and seems to believe the Darkness has trapped her soul in hell. For this reason, even though she is already dead, he thinks he needs to save her. Somehow, this constitutes running headfirst into traps he is fully aware of. This is incredibly frustrating and can make it feel like you’re constantly taking steps backwards in the game. It’s also rather linear, and while I recognize the need for such titles on the market, I can imagine we’re reaching a point where games have become so immersive and player-driven that linear titles lacking a unique and pleasing graphical presentation or unique style of play will soon disappear altogether. But I digress. As a result, there were times at the beginning where I wasn’t sure if I was playing as Jackie Estacado or the Darkness itself, a real identity crisis that made it very frustrating to continue

playing along with all of Jackie’s idiotic decisions. To top off the weird and frustrating story, the game ends with a choice. Choose one option and you watch a quick cutscene before credits roll. However, a lack of the ‘ping’ of a game completed trophy will quickly tip you off that “Oops, I picked the wrong one”. It will also make the plot pretty much impossible to ascertain. Before going further, I’d like to say that the option to choose the “wrong” ending is a bit counter-intuitive. The ‘Continue’ option from the main screen will give you the chance to choose the other, and another 20 minutes of gameplay ensues before credits roll again. Here comes the satisfying ‘ping’ and the satisfying conclusion of having at least some idea of what was going on. But wait, there’s more! If you sit through the credits, one more cutscene rolls – one


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Enter which topples the already flimsy Jenga tower that has been tied together over the last six hours. I will say that I enjoyed the majority of monologues from Jackie between various missions. They do a lot to develop Jackie’s character, but unfortunately, this isn’t capitalized on. The plot is too confusing to give the player a chance to emotionally bond with the emotionally torn Estacado. The graphic style is a bit odd, owing to the game’s comic book roots. It takes on a Borderlands-like appearance without the outrageousness of Borderlands, making it hard to take all that seriously sometimes. Also, cutscenes are avoided nearly entirely, leaving most conversations in first person. This works well in most cases as they’re kept short and often take place while traveling, but this makes a couple moments where Jackie is getting intimate with this vision he keeps having of Jenny very awkward. For the most part, gameplay is tight and fun. The whole “avoid the light” thing can get rather frustrating, and ammo is pretty limited, so it’s not rare to find yourself dying a couple times

before deciding on a better course of action. This results in a big video game taboo – a short cutscene after dying and before restarting from a checkpoint. This is really annoying because it happens a lot and is in no way, shape or form interesting. The two Batman games are similar transgressors here, but the variation of scene, less-common deaths, and the villain speaking directly to you make it a little less frustrating. The Darkness will make you want to scream. Not to mention that I was on average difficulty with two ranks left to go. Kudos to anyone willing to tough that out. Combat is fluid and better than your average shooter in many ways what with the demon arms and all. This puts some variety into combat. However, the lack of a cover system is glaring. An RPG-esque talent tree allows you to upgrade several of Jackie’s abilities, including the arms, but you’ll never notice some of them as they require much more focus on the direction of the right control stick during swipes than anyone should have time to devote amid the bulletstorms that often occur. I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of voice-acting. Everyone (other than Jenny, oddly enough) embodied

a mobster rather well, not that there’s a whole lot to capture. Johnny Powell in particular is great fun to listen to – especially his opening monologue recapping events so far. A potentially cheesy pitfall was avoided here. To wrap up the single player, can someone please explain to me the obligatory meandering through a brothel in games like this? Perhaps it’s simply an aspect of mob-life I don’t understand, but there just seem to be a lot of games out there trying to be edgy and gritty that put you in a strip club or brothel for the sake of being in a strip club or brothel, offering up sex scenes and moaning as though someone has picked up the game for that one sequence. It’s not the softcore porn that was Duke Nukem Forever, but still seems pretty unmotivated. There is also a co-op mode called “Vendettas” in which up to four players can play through a number of scenarios with varying characters, all which encompasses other short story arcs. I didn’t dabble much here in my time with the game, but it’s a bit more lighthearted and fun-focused – something this game desperately needs. Unfortunately, this is online-only. I’d seriously love to see way more local co-op from games. Seriously. BOTTOM LINE: 7.5

The leading cause of death in young Iowans, aged 16-20, is fatal car crashes. The Iowa Department of Public Safety-Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) is focused on helping deter one of Iowa's and the nation's bleakest statistic: Nationwide, a total of 58,000 drivers ages 16-20 were involved in fatal crashes; crashes which took the lives of 6,400 individuals. Additionally, in 2009, 41 young people ages 15-20 were killed in Iowa fatal crashes.

Several factors contribute to these unfortunate statistics: Distracted Driving - Texting While Driving - Alcohol Use Speeding - No Seatbelts - Inexperience

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Volume 7 Issue 4


Enter 2012: On the Horizon Ethan Clevenger Staff Writer Check out some of these big game releases set to hit this year: Mass Effect 3

Out March 6, Mass Effect 3 will wrap up the storyline of Commander Shepard and his Normandy crew as they take the fight to the alien race of Reapers. If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, pick up 1 and 2 on Xbox before the big release. If you’re a Playstation person, you only get to experience 2, but you’ll get the idea. This is a can’t miss. I rarely pickup games on release date, but this is one everyone should be on. A new multiplayer mode should make things interesting as well. Early demos are promising.

I Am Alive

This downloadable releases March 7 on Xbox Live Arcade, with a spring release pending for Sony Entertainment Network. Ubisoft has been working on this one for a while and finally decided on a download-only release. Your character traverses a post-apocalyptic world with a huge focus on a realistic experience. Ammo is limited and the human body is under heavy stress. Climbing a ladder too fast may even result in running out of breath and falling to your death.

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Nintendo is bringing back Pit and the Kid Icarus series for release on 3DS March 23. If you aren’t aware, Pit is a young angelic figure with a bow and arrow and wings saving the world from Medusa. There’s not a lot to say about this one, as is


Volume 7 Issue 4

often the case with Nintendo titles, other than it will be interesting to see how the series holds up with its last title releasing in 1991.

Max Payne 3

Rockstar last let Max Payne loose with two titles on PS2. He’s coming back to PS3 and Xbox 360. Max Payne tried to get out of the hitman lifestyle, but is being wrapped back in. This third-person shooter focuses on run-and-gun tactics among some other gimmicks like ‘bullet time’, which have worked well for the series in the past. Look for it May 15 on consoles and May 29 on PC.

Borderlands 2

The first Borderlands was outrageous in every way – from the opening Cage the Elephant sequence to the cartoony art-style to the plethora of guns available from its unique weapon-generating system. Borderlands 2 tosses a new class into this action-RPG, and will otherwise probably be very similar to the game that critics raved about. It released September 18 on consoles and PC.

Bioshock Infinite

Ken Levine has decided to leave Rapture behind and has instead taken the Bioshock series to the sky-world of Columbia. The story follows protagonist Booker and a young woman named Elizabeth who has been held captive in this city for twelve years. Get ready for underlying sociopolitical themes and much more than meets the eye, as is to be expected from Levine, an English major. This title will likely be released sometime post-August.

The Last Guardian

Designer and director Fumito Ueda recently left Sony Entertainment, but has assured audiences that he is still working on The Last Guardian – spiritual successor to Ico and Shadow of the

Colossus. The focus will be on the main protagonist, a young boy and a griffin-like creature called Trico. This game will likely be focused on feel and art, as is common with Team Ico games. If you haven’t played the previous two titles, grab the HD collection for a real treat.

The Last of Us

Not much is known on this title from Naughty Dog other than it revolves around a man and a young girl in a post-apocalyptic setting in which a virus has infected most of humanity, turning them hostile. We can only expect great things from the Uncharted developers.

Luigi’s Mansion 2

Luigi is headlining again, tackling more haunted houses. This 3DS title will be a lot like its Gamecube predecessor, so no surprises here. The big gimmick is that it’s in 3D.

South Park: The Game

This is the first South Park game developed with the help of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creative minds behind the South Park series. Developer Bethesda will bring its RPG skills to Colorado while also mimicking the torn-paper art style. Factions will be based on favorite TV show groups like the crab people, goths and vampires, while classes are derived from classic RPG favorites with an added twist of the “Jew” class.

Tomb Raider

Crystal Dynamics is rebooting Tomb Raider. A younger and more modest Lara Croft, abandoning the Angelina Jolie prototype, will be the focus as we experience the events that shaped who she is. Croft is shipwrecked on an island and must endure until she can find a way off. The game is expected to be grittier than older titles, but maintain the adventure and puzzle solving aspects.

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College What a concept: Get a bachelor’s degree in three years! Rodney J. Brown and Jane Schorer Meisner

AIB Communications The attraction of a three-year degree to students is this: By eliminating the fourth year, graduates start bringing home paychecks much sooner. They’re earning salaries while their peers are still paying tuition or amassing student loans. Here’s the latest college news flash: While average tuition costs across the country jumped as much as 7.9 percent at public universities across the country in 2010-2011, some U.S. colleges are successfully tempering the trend of rising education costs by offering three-year bachelor’s degree programs. In fact, the nonprofit AIB College of Business in Des Moines provides a proven working model for proponents of threeyear bachelor’s degree programs, which are the norm in Europe and some other countries – and it’s slicing costs of the degree almost in half. “Our college has always been innovative and nimble in the sense that we can accommodate change quickly,” says Nancy Williams, president of 91-year-old AIB, which quietly implemented its “Degree in 3” program five years ago. “We introduced the bachelor’s degree program thinking that students would earn associate degrees, get full-time jobs (perhaps with tuition-reimbursement benefits for furthering their education), then take classes on a part-time basis to complete their bachelor’s degrees. But we discovered the students preferred to continue their studies full-time, completing the bachelor’s degree in three

years.” The attraction of a three-year degree to students is this: By eliminating the fourth year, graduates start bringing home paychecks much sooner. They’re earning salaries while their peers are still paying tuition or amassing student loans. AIB’s bachelor’s degree can be attained in 11 terms – just less than three years – for a total tuition cost of $48,180. According to data compiled by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission for the 2010-2011 academic year, the average annual cost for tuition and fees at Iowa’s other private, nonprofit colleges is $23,988. Disregarding inflation, that totals $95,952 for eight semesters over four years. This more-affordable bottom line has not gone unnoticed. The most recent statistics released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) listed the net tuition cost of the Bachelor of Science degree program at AIB as the lowest of all private colleges in Iowa, and as one of the lowest of all private, four-year colleges in the United States. In its early years, AIB was well-known for providing quality training in a variety of business skills. It evolved to junior college status in the 1950s, awarding associate degrees long before such programs became popular across America with the creation of community colleges. AIB now offers associate degrees in more than 20 majors. Full-time students can graduate with an associate’s degree in 21 months, then re-enroll to spend 12 more months earning a bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Business Administration or Court Reporting. AIB is accredited by the

Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools [30 N. LaSalle, St., Suite 2400, Chicago, IL; phone (800) 621-7440]. Critics point out that year-round classes prohibit students from working summer jobs to earn tuition money. But AIB strategically designed a work-friendly daytime schedule with no regular Friday classes, plus numerous evening classes and online courses so students can maintain part-time jobs. To minimize student and instructor burn-out, the school schedules one- to two-week breaks between each term and during the December holiday season. Support for three-year bachelor’s degrees may be growing. At a 2009 meeting of the American Council on Education, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) challenged schools to save money for recession-stricken families by creating three-year bachelor degrees programs, and he continues his campaign. He wants students to minimize the size of their education loans and get a year’s head start on their lifetime income. Last spring, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio also took up the cause, ordering state schools to prepare “pathways” to threeyear programs. Ohio’s push follows legislation in Rhode Island that instituted three-year degrees in its state schools. Tuition shock still may strike each time the bill arrives for a new term of classes. But shaving an entire year’s cost off the total expense of college and propelling students into the workforce sooner can offer a very effective antidote.

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Volume 7 Issue 4


College AIB to award scholarships for competitive dance team Jane Schorer Meisner AIB Public Relationss AIB College of Business will add competitive dance to its expanding list of athletics, beginning in Fall 2012. Scholarships are available for AIB student athletes named to the team. The chance to participate in this sport at a college level is a great opportunity for dancers, says AIB dance coach Allison Bugg. “There is something very special and exciting about performing a dance routine as a team,” Bugg says. “There are so many moving parts to a dance, and every member of the team is a crucial part of the performance. Being on the dance team is also a great way to meet new people and represent the college in a positive manner.” Bugg previously worked with dance teams at high schools in Hampton and Ames, as well as in Edina, Minn. She was a member of her Ames High School dance team and co-captain of the pom squad at Iowa State University. “It was imperative to us that we start this program with a coach who has strong credentials,” says AIB Athletics Director Terry Wilson. “Allison has the experience and enthusiasm to coordinate talented young dancers and energize the team.” Extracurricular activities are important to a well-rounded college experience, Bugg says. She wants the dancers to love what they are doing and enjoy being a part of the team. “Being a new sport at AIB, we will have a lot of hard work and a lot to prove,” Bugg says. “I want to make this a team that the dancers are proud to be on and that the school is proud to have representing them.” Initial plans are to have 10 to 15 members start the team, but more may be added, Bugg says. She will announce tryout dates later this year. “Previous dance experience or experience on a high school or college dance team is beneficial,” Bugg says. “Candidates should have strong pom, hip hop and jazz dance techniques and strong technical skills such as leaps, turns and jumps.”


Volume 7 Issue 4

management, accountability and how to Athleticism is a very important part execute expectations. I value the confidence of dance, she says. “Even though dance routines may last only two minutes, they are it instilled in me to conquer goals and strive to become better. Dance team members packed with complicated dance moves that are able to see the direct impact of being a take a lot of energy to perform.” positive role model and see how leading by The AIB team likely will compete at example impacts organizations to become the Iowa State Drill Team Competition in far more successful.” November, Bugg says. It also will perform at AIB’s athletics program in the NAIA AIB events – including basketball games – currently includes basketball, golf, and additional competitions in Iowa. volleyball and “There are cheerleading, opportunities with soccer to compete at also beginning the national this fall and level, and as softball and the program baseball grows, there competition could be starting in opportunities spring 2014. to perform on Nearly 900 a larger scale,” full- and partBugg says. time students She foresees are enrolled practice time in AIB’s day, being around evening two hours and online a session, classes. AIB with practice students can sessions two earn associate nights a week. Coach Allison Bugg at ISU: AIB competitive dance coach Allison degrees in Kayla Bugg (left) chalked up experience while co-captain of Iowa State 19 businessGratopp of University’s pom squad. related majors, Marshalltown including is a basketball financial services, leadership, insurance cheerleader at AIB who plans to try out for services, sales and marketing, sports and the college’s first dance team. event management, international business, “I can’t wait to try to be part of information technology and or travel and something that involves what I love to do,” hospitality management. They also can says Gratopp. “It’s always good to stay earn bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and in shape, and dance is a very great way Business Administration. to do so. You meet new people and learn Through AIB’s “Degree in 3” program, new ways to connect. Dancing is such a full-time students can graduate with an rewarding activity and something that associate’s degree in 21 months, then relets you let go of everything when you are enroll to spend 12 more months earning a performing.” bachelor’s degree in Accounting or Business Kristin Sieren, Director of Retail Services Administration. Upon graduation, more at AIB, says being part of Iowa State than 97 percent of AIB students succeed in University’s dance team helped prepared getting jobs or continuing their education. her for her professional career. For more information about AIB’s “As a captain, I developed skills to curriculum, activities, scholarships and become a strong leader to the dance financial aid, visit or call (800) team simultaneously with being a 444-1921. devoted teammate,” Sieren says. “It not only strengthened my commitment and dedication, but it also taught me time

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HOW MANY? How many empty seats in the class room does it take to change your mind? How many empty seats at graduation does it take to change your behavior? How many times do you have to grieve the loss of a friend, classmate or relative? You’ve heard it all before: the leading cause of death in young Iowans is fatal car crashes. But did you know that many of these teens were speeding or using alcohol or driving distracted and not buckled up? Start being a leader now and set the example- Buckle up, Drive the Speed Limit, Don’t Drink & Drive and Don’t Text while Driving!

You have the power to save your life and the lives of others:

IOWA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY Identify traffic safety problems & thereon, develop & implement traffic safety programs designed to reduce death & injury on Iowa’s streets and highways through partnerships with local, county, state and private sector agencies. Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau

High School Assembly - Volume 7 Issue 4  

The iowa Pro Gaming Challenge 2012, comes to Des Moines Iowa bringing some of the best gaming competition in the nation!