Sunday, November 7, 2010
Part Six (Part 1 can be found HERE; Part 2 HERE; Part 3 HERE; Part 4 HERE; Part 5 HERE)
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Part Five (Part 1 can be found HERE; Part 2 HERE; Part 3 HERE; Part 4 HERE)
Monday, October 25, 2010
Part Four (Part One can be found HERE; Part Two can be found HERE; Part Three HERE)
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Part Three (Part One can be found HERE; Part Two can be found HERE)
So, thus far we have thumb steroids, cumming, erratic ducks, and many, many hours spent playing in 8 bit glory. Time, however, has a way of marching on, and, as it did so, my brother and I found ourselves moving into the future: the 16 bit future (albeit a bit late). (Note: magx01 still thinks the 8 bit generation was better in a lot of ways.)
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
- Temporary Quick Saves
- Fully Customizable Controls
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Enlighten an ole dude. I have been computer literate longer than many people are old but I lost interest in games with pinball. What is the point other than time consumption and fighter pilot training?
Monday, July 5, 2010
NOTE: This blog was intended to be a short discussion of my feelings regarding whether I should rent or purchase Crackdown 2, as I am feeling uncertain on this point, and the slate of reviews that have just come out don't seem to have helped in this regard. However, it ended up blossoming into this monstrous post regarding a bunch of other stuff including this big realization that gaming is a religion, and that, furthermore, gaming is MY religion. I, the most avowed atheist in existence (lol), an ardent antitheist, who blogs about his disdain for religion on a regular basis, have realized that I am indeed religious!
So, I will do this in sections. Look for the large, bold, red text to signify a new section, and sorry for the rambling. Hopefully the content more than makes up for the form....and the content.....lol!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Leaked email details Rockstar's extreme sensitivity to negative coverage
So, Rockstar is pressuring writers to be very positive, even if they feel otherwise? They are trying to tell the journalists what and how to write?
According to a news.com.au story, a deputy editor for Austrailian publication Zoo Weekly has been fired after publishing an allegedly internal email from Rockstar regarding Zoo's coverage of the upcoming Red Dead Redemption. The alleged email from Rockstar, which former deputy entertainment editor Toby McCasker posted on his Facebook, contained the following:
This is the biggest game we've done since GTA IV, and is already receiving Game of the Year 2010 nominations from specialists all around the world, it read.
Can you please ensure Toby's article reflects this — he needs to respect the huge achievement he's writing about here.
What's the implication here? What are they saying, if you read between the lines? You better play ball, if you know what's good for you.
If Red Dead Redemption is so damn good, why do they need to do this? Are they lying about how good Red Dead Redemption really is?
I think so.
And what's with GOTY nominations already?
What the fuck really goes on behind the scenes in this industry?
Super Street Fighter IV, which already doesn't need to exist, apparently isn't enough milking for Capcom, as there is DLC for the game. Really? Like people buying your game twice isn't enough? You can't at least be somewhat decent and make sure that the gamers whom you have already manipulated and taken advatntage of at least get everything there is to offer from your now $110 game? You still have to sell them more shit?
We've got this shit, DLC releases on day one, DLC being announced well before a game ships, different pre-order bonuses for different stores, further fragmenting a game, Ubisoft holding back 2 levels from Assassin's Creed 2 for sale as DLC, Capcom removing content from Dead Rising 2 to repackage as a prequel (if you believe that they are legitimately developing this content and selling it separately you are a sucker, I'm sorry), and Capcom (again) selling fucking costumes for SFIV at a couple of bucks a pop, which, while already ridiculous, is made 100 times worse when you realize that these costumes were already developed, as they were in the arcade version of the game.
I don't like where this industry is headed.
I could go go on and on and on and on. In fact, I will! In another blog.
I promise it will be worth the wait. I will do a well thought out list of things that I feel are wrong with gaming. It won't be an off the cuff blog like this, so it will be of a higher quality.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
So, hardcore vs. casual gamers........
As far as I see it, there is no such division. They are merely labels placed upon people by some who feel the need to differentiate themselves and assign some sort of......rating to their skill and devotion to video games. It's stupid. They're freaking video games. GAMES. Do you hear people talking about casual vs. hardcore swimmers? bowlers? card players? stamp collectors? It's a hobby. Some enjoy it and do it more/better than others.
Now, if you INSIST that there must be these labels, I would assume it's pretty obvious. Hardcore gamers are supposed to play a lot, be fairly proficient at most games, follow gaming news, and play only real or traditional games, no mini game, super easy, or family oriented games for the hardcore gamer. The casual gamer plays here and there, doesn't follow all of the goings on in the industry, buys what's popular or easily accesible.
But then the lines blur.
If someone buys Halo 3 because it's popular, and plays it online a few times a week, but isn't very good......are they hardcore or casual? What if they are awesome at it, but only bought it because it was popular and don't play very often? What if they know everything there is to know about Halo, buy all the games, but play seldomly and aren't very good? What if someone buys only casual games but is really, really good at them, and spends lots of time playing them? Are they a hardcore causual gamer?
If you ask me, we're all just humans who spend some part of our lives playing video games rather than doing something more constructive. Or destructive. They probably keep some people from going absolutely nuts and shooting a dozen people!
I say we just enjoy the games and keep the labels out of it.
See you later. I'm off to play something hardcore.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The art style, as drab as some people may accuse it of being, serves to lend the game a really gritty, realistic look, which, when this game was released, was an absolute benchmark setter for consoles, and even now impresses. One negative aspect of the graphics, other than the distaste some have for the art style, is the fact that they impressed so greatly both before and after the game's release, that some would argue that the issues with the game, such as the control problems and repetitive nature of the combat, were glossed over by people in awe of the visuals.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Your ship is only equipped with one gun, and, unfortunately, it cannot be upgraded. However, by grabbing powerups that enemies drop upon death, you can pick up secondary weaponry to utilize in your quest to rid the galaxy of the galactic scum who re trying to take you out. Among the available secondary weapons you will find a beam which shoots straight and in a fixed path, but destroys enemies and enemy fire on contact, an EMP pulse which disables enemies, a shield which deflects enemy fire back at them, and heat seeking missiles.
In a bit of a twist for the genre, one hit does not result in automatic death; rather, you have a health bar, and can take a few hits before you meet your demise. This does serve to diminish the challenge somewhat, although it remains far from easy. This was likely a concession on the part of the developers for the behalf of players new to the genre. Once you do die, you lose a life, and respawn right where you were at the time of death. However, lose all of your lives, your score resets to zero, and it's back to the start of the level with you. On Normal mode. On Insane mode, you have no lives.
In typical old school shmup fashion, the game presents you with a high level of challenge and pattern based AI. The enemies fill the screen, shooting at you in tandem. The game also uses the environment to add to the challenge. In addition to the enemies, you must also look out for the mines that are placed throughout the levels. These detonate on contact, and serve to further keep you on your toes. This may not be the hardest shmup ever conceived, due in part to the aforementioned health system, and also the fact that the enemies don't fill the screen with fire as they do in many other games of this type, but it will definitely present a tough challenge to anyone who plays it. The hardest difficulty should suffice to present even those hardest of the hardened genre vets with some difficulty.
As I alluded to earlier, Aegis Wing features multiplayer. Both local and online co-op modes are available for up to four players. The way lives are handled is as follows: if a player loses all of their lives, they can re-enter the game upon another player picking up a powerup (which is then discarded). If all of the players die at the same time, or the last remaining player dies before reaching a powerup, the players are returned to the start of the level, and their combined score is reset to zero (as it is in the single player mode). Online runs well enough, no major issues are present, although there have been a few instances where it seemed as though a player was killed by something that seemed to miss them. This is likely due to lag, but fortunately, it doesn't seem to be a very common occurrence.
Overall Score: 8/10
Friday, March 5, 2010
So first, the review guideline.
Points of Interest: This should be fairly obvious. Story, Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, Overall/Summation. Should they be done in explicit categories, or just worked into the text in an implicit but clear manner? On this point, I have mixed feelings. It looks more professional and cohesive without categories, but categories really aid with navigation, and they also tend to make the reviews look really structured. I could go either way on this one, although since most professional reviews tend to take the uncategorized approach, it must be more desirable.
Length: Certain games merit a certain amount of effort, and while you could get away with a 500 word review for something like Tetris, something like Mass Effect 2 requires much more detail.
My idea of a rough outline for review lengths:
Indy game/DLC/Arcade game: At least 500 words.
Full retail or full downloadable game: At least 1500 words.
I like to write lengthy reviews, because I am all about detail, but I recognize not everyone wants to read (or write) 3000 word reviews. This, however, brings me to my final point:
Detail: Detail is very important. Certain games warrant more detail than others, as do certain genres, and where that detail lies is also genre specific. If you're reviewing a hack n slash game with a heavy focus on action, don't glaze over the combat system. Describe it in detail. Explain the mechanics of it.
If you're reviewing an RPG, don't just hastily mention that there's a skill tree. Describe it in detail. Explain how points are assigned, whether or not you can respec it once you're in game, etc. If the game is a combat heavy RPG, explain the combat system. If you're reviewing a survival horror game with a focus on puzzles, don't just mention that it's puzzle heavy. Describe them in detail. How numerous are they? Are they challenging? Do they make sense in the context of the game, or are they completely nonsensical? What types of puzzles do you encounter, and are they repetitive? etc.
There's nothing I hate more than a review that skimps on detail. Not to brag or anything, but compare my Tokyo Beat Down review, which I just submitted to this site on Friday, to gamespot’s review for said game, and tell me my review isn’t far superior. The author skimped on the details and obviously rushed the review. That’s bullshit, especially for a supposed professional. You can still write a detailed review without going overboard on the word count. The reader should be left with as few questions as possible after a review. That’s how I see it at least.
Now, I would like to briefly discuss reviews in general.
Game reviews are a tricky thing. Reviews in general are a tricky thing. You want to be as objective as possible, but, while there certainly are objective elements within a game, the overall nature of gaming preferences and enjoyment is absolutely subjective. I can play a game like Modern Warfare 2, be completely underwhelmed, and more inclined to notice the faults of the game, while a fan would likely glaze over them. I might say ascribe a 7 or an 8 to the game, which is still a great score, but where I see redundancy and lack of innovation (not to mention technical flaws and broken promises), others will see FPS greatness, and disparage my ‘’low’’ score. I could then face being ostracized by the gaming community at large, for what is effectively my opinion.
This is why I hesitate to fully trust professional reviews for big name, hyped games. Are you telling me that not one of the dozens of reviewers was underwhelmed by MW2, and saw fit to score it much lower than the high 9’s it was pulling everywhere? I suppose it’s possible, but I have my doubts. And when you throw in the conflict of interest that is advertising (and freebies/goodies/trips/dinners/parties, etc) one has to wonder how truthful they really are when it comes to some games.
As for review scores themselves, they are arbitrary, and this is more evident the more specific you get. I mean, clearly there’s some objectivity inherent within the scoring system. A 2 is a far cry from a 9. But what’s the difference between an 8.5 and an 8.8?
Go ahead, try and qualify that for me.
I’ll wait here.
That being said, most of us like scores (although I hope you all focus more on the content of the review than you do the numerical score) and I use them myself in my reviews.
So what’s my scoring system like?
Note: Keep in mind that this isn't terribly serious, it will differ from person to person, and I didn't put exceptional amounts of thought into it. It's an on the spot, rough outline of how I see it.
1-Broken.The worst a game could ever be. Avoid, even if paid to play it. In fact, burn on sight.
2-Dreadful. Not worth it, even for free. Punch the person in the face for even offering it to you.
3-Very bad. Maybe play for the lulz, if you can get it free. Maybe. On a dreadfully boring rainy day.
4-Pretty bad, but some redeeming qualities. Sort of. Rent if you have no other options.
5-Mediocre. Few things done right, but buried amongst much bad. Decent rental, nothing more.
6-Decent. The bones of a good game here, but many flaws. A rental or bargain bin purchase.
7-Good. A good game that doesn't particularly stand out, and has some flaws, but is worth your time.
8-Great. Few flaws, mostly positives. Doesn't quite stand out, perhaps held back by a few little issues.
9-Excellent. A game that must be played. Very few discernable flaws. Nothing seriously wrong with it.
10-As good as you'll ever get. Does everything right. Seemingly flawless; what devs should aspire to.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Still here? Alright, let's rock.
So, there is an article on gamespot today, detailing where exactly the evil empire, the leviathan, the bloodsucking entity known disaffectionaltely as Sequelvisi-......er, rather, NoArtisticVisio-, um....sorry, no....Activision (that's it!) is on their quest to homogenize and then eventually destroy gaming and make as much money as possible before they do so.
Here's the link:
So what does the article detail, exactly? Well:
MW2 is getting two paid DLC's this year!!!! Yes, exciting, isn't it? Maybe they'll include some dedicated server support and upgrades to their innovative text chat system in the PC version of the DLC's.
Here's an excerpt:
Activision now lists the Encino, California, developer as working only on the two downloadable expansions to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, due out later this year.
But just wait folks, that's not all!
Acitivion confirmed that Treyarch is currently at work on a new COD title to be released this year (as we all already know). They then, however, went on to say the following:
The company is also for the first time announcing that a new game in the Call of Duty series is expected to be released in 2011
Oh BOY!!!!! A second Call of Duty title in the same fucking year? Yaaaay!
But wait!!! There's more!!!!:
Sledgehammer Games, a newly formed, wholly owned studio, is in development on a Call of Duty game that will extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre.
So there are currently 3 Call of Duty titles in development, plus the 2 DLC's for MW2, and of course the as of yet unannounced but inevitable handheld titles, iphone game, facebook app, blah blah blah.
They didn't say in the article, but it's possible that in 2011, we'll see 3 major COD releases.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Now there's this:
This game follows the same basic pattern. You pick one of four characters:
and then you start out in an area, blast away everything in sight, then move on to the next area when you clear the one you're currently in. There are 7 different environments, and you move from one to the other and back again over the course of 50 days (each level is a different day). And of course, like the games of old, you work to increase your score, which goes up higher and higher via a multiplier. You earn 1 to your multiplier for every 5 zombies you kill. You do this until you survive the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.
So, you do this, along the way picking up various weapons, which include a shotgun, dual SMG, rifle, molotov cocktails, flamethrower, grenade launcher, and rocket launcher. Your default weapons are an assault rifle and a chainsaw, which you can use in two ways. Normal, and execution. Executions add 3 to your multiplier for each one you do, so they are very useful, but they also leave you open for attack for a second after you do one, so you must use them wisely. When the shotgun toting sheriff zombies (yes, seriously) show up, you don't want to be stuck doing an execution when one of them is nearby, you'll be open to a shotgun blast.
Speaking of shotgun toting sheriff zombies, these are the enemy types to be found in the game (weapon or attributes in brackets):
Dodge Zombie (side-stepper)
Shambler (regular zombie)
Big Boy (construction worker, can't break)
Puker (puke piles, slows you down)
Dynamite Guy (blows you up)
Infected Human (not attracted to bait)
That last one refers to two things I have not, as of yet, mentioned. There are survivors that randomly appear, and if you protect them for a short period of time, and they get picked up by helicopter, you get a score bonus. If they get attacked, they turn and then attack you. The bait mentioned is a talking C4 filled teddy bear (again, seriously) which you can throw to get the horde off of your back, and then watch as they gather around the lovable teddy bear.....and then BOOM, they explode into a pile of bloody gore. Well, this works on everything except the newly turned zombies.
The game starts out with one mode, and then you can unlock some new ones through normal play. They are as follows:
All Weaons (you carry infinite versions of every weapon, which you can cycle through with the dpad)
Blackout (limited light)
Hardcore (start with one life)
Chainsaw Only (self explanatory)
7 Days of Hell (a long and very difficult mode)
As for the difficulty, it starts out easy and then ramps up, gettting quite difficult later on, although this is offset by infinite continues, which you can use if desired. Any score earned after continuing does not get posted to the leaderboards. You start with 4 lives, and you earn more as you gain score.
There is 4 player co-op, both online and off, in addition to the aforementioned leaderboards. The game is really fun, especially at first, but it's not perfect. So, a few downsides to the game:
1) Only 2 bosses, and it's really the same one twice
2) It gets repetitive, seeing as how it's a fairly shallow arcade game.
3) At $10, I don't think it's overpriced per se, but at $5 it would have been a sure bet for more people.
4) There isn't a huge community for this, at least on the xbox 360 version (I can't speak for the PS3 version). It's been out a few days, and the most people I have seen online at once is maybe 40.
Overall, this is a good looking, fun, modernized take on an old arcade standby, the top down shooter. Very fun, especially with friends, and it has a decent amount if unlockables, which is refreshing. It can also get stale fairly quickly. If you're a high score junkie, then you'll find more replayability out of it. The price is fair enough, and it really is fun. For the price of a movie ticket, you'll get two (or more) times the amount of hours of enjoyment. So, despite the inherently repetitive and shallow nature of the game, it's definitely a recommended buy for arcade shooter and zombie fans.
Final Score: 8/10.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Bejeweled 2 Deluxe was released in 2005 for the xbox 360. It's a sequel to the hit puzzle game Bejeweled. The concept of Bejeweled, as is the case with most puzzle games, is really quite simple. There is a board filled with gems, or jewels, of various shapes and sizes, and your goal is to swap places, two gems at a time, in order to cause three or more of the same kind of gems to line up. This results in them disappearing from the board, only to be replaced by the same number of a random selection of gems. Also as is the case with most other puzzle games, this simplicity is deceptive, as there are various strategies to be employed en route to clearing the requisite number of moves in order to progress. At least, this is the case for some of the modes. The end goal changes depending on which of the several game modes you are playing. We'll come to this momentarily, however. I'd like to describe the basic gameplay in just a little more detail before we get to the game modes.
There are seven main types of gems: the red square, the green circle, the yellow diamond, the white circle, the orange hexagon, the blue rounded (Reuleaux) triangle, and the purple triangle. When four of these are matched, a Power Gem is created. These are special versions of the regular pieces that explode when matched with other gems, destroying the surrounding pieces. When five gems are matched, a Hypercube is created. These special pieces destroy all of the gems of a given variety on the field when matched with one of that variety. For example, matching it with a purple triangle results in all of the available purple triangles being destroyed. These Power Gems and Hypercubes become focal points of the gameplay, as they play heavily into the strategies employed in the game.
As alluded to earlier, there are several game modes found within Bejeweled 2 Deluxe. There are nine modes, to be exact. The standard mode is as described above. The Action mode is a timed version of the standard mode. Puzzle Mode is a mode in which you are presented with various puzzles which need to be solved by matching specific gems in a certain order, thereby clearing the board. Another mode available in the game is the Endless mode, which is comprised of a series of levels, which increase in length as you get farther in. The hook in this mode is that you can never lose, hence the title 'Endless Mode.' Unlike in the regular modes, you will never get the dreaded no more moves text popup, which signifies a game over. The rest of the modes are hidden, and are up to the player to discover.
Visually, the game is pleasing to the eye, especially in high definition. Nothing ground breaking, but it's a nice clean, simple look, with sharp detail and beautiful backgrounds. The gems have a shine to them which catches the eye.
The game, like many other in the genre, is seemingly innocuous at first, but gets devilishly harder as time progresses, and if it grabs you, will hook you in for many, many hours. The developers tried to play to this with the achievements, which are very, very difficult to attain and almost incomprehensibly time consuming for the most part. The one for reaching level 280 in Endless mode, for example, will take about 100 hours to complete. Then you add in the 10000 power gems/1000 hypercubes achievement, and you have yourself a lot of gameplay ahead of you, if so inclined.
As far as negatives go, there are but a few. It's not incredibly complex, but that seems to work to its advantage. There's just enough depth to keep you interested, while at the same time remaining simplistic enough to be accessible and fun. However, this lack of depth may be seen as a downside to some gamers. Another possible downside is that there is no multiplayer. This is a single player only affair. The game design is not one that strikes me as particularly conducive to multiplayer, but some people may feel otherwise.
This is a good game that will appeal to most puzzle game fans, save for those few who require vast amounts of depth in their puzzle games. Other than that group, this will be a good purchase, and at 10 dollars, it's a good value, especially considering the gameplay hours you can squeeze from it. It's the type of game that's good for those times where you don't want to play anything too engaging, but rather, just sort of zone out and play something that will help you unwind after a long day. And if you're an achievement hunter, you've got your work cut out for you.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Ubisoft backing off new IP's as holiday sales slip
In recent years, Ubisoft has launched a bevy of new series with varying degrees of success. Since 2006, the publisher has introduced gamers to Assassin's Creed, Shaun White Snowboarding, EndWar, HAWX, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Call of Juarez, and Haze, among others.
Assassin's Creed paid off for Ubisoft, but the publisher's looking to take fewer risks of that sort in the future. The flow of original intellectual properties from Ubisoft will be stemmed in the coming years, as the publisher is shifting its focus away from new franchises. In reporting its final results for the third fiscal quarter (three months ended December 31, 2009), Ubisoft confirmed a reduction in new creations investments.
The scaling back on new franchises is one part of a Ubisoft plan to ultimately have its major franchises seeing more frequent and regular releases.
UGH. WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!
When I saw the headline on gamespot, I went into cynic/anger mode. I was ready to rage. What the fuck Ubisoft? Your new IP, Assassin's Creed, has sold in the MILLIONS (AC2 has sold 8 million....well, shipped, but still). All of your big hits were new IP's at one point. We're already suffering from sequelitis in this industry, and now you're going to make it worse?
This feeling was amplified by 100 when I read this:
..reconfirms Oct.-Dec. earnings fell 3 percent to $682 million.
WHAT? You earned 682 MILLION fucking dollars in one quarter, and you're cutting IP's because that represented a 3 fucking percent drop? HOW GREEDY CAN YOU GET?
But then I read on:
For the full year ending March 31, 2010, the company expects to post an operating loss of €50 million ($69 million) off sales of €860 million ($1.19 billion).
Now I get it. It's hard to believe, but damn, they're losing money.
This perfectly exemplifies the fact that it's possible to be be a huge corporation, raking in billions of dollars in sales, and still be in the red. Many people (myself included) often critisize these companies for what we perceive to be shady (some DLC) or just unfavourable (cutting new IP's in favour of sequelitis) practices. I happen to do this a lot. It's hard to think that these companies can make so much money, yet still post losses at the end of the year.
I guess I'm going to have to be careful from now on, and try not to be so reactionary when I hear news like this (that will be very hard, I'm sure, as it's going to be tough to seperate the legitimate moves from the lazy/greedy ones, unless full financial data is disclosed).
BUT HOLD ON.
It's unfortunate that things are going this way, and my initial reaction was to blame us, the gamers. We're not buying new IP's. It's our fault. And this is partly true. However, as I said earlier, Ubi just released the news that they have shipped 8 million copies of AC2. Now, I don't know how HAWX or Endwar sold. I don't know how the Raving Rabbids spinoffs of Rayman are selling. The thing is, if they aren't, maybe it's their fault.
Maybe they need to make better games.
Companies are so quick to deem something unfeasible or unprofitable once it has been tried unsuccessfully. ''People didn't buy enough copies to warrant a sequel.'' Well, maybe that's because it fucking sucked? Doesn't mean the IP isn't viable. It just needs to be done better.
Sure, some great new IP's go overlooked. Okami and Psychonauts are two commonly touted examples of this. Often though, the new IP is mediocre, and the sales reflect that. Or perhaps, as is likely the case with Okami and Psychonauts, the game just doesn't appeal to a wide range of gamers.
Does this mean we cut out new ideas? Sure, a proven success is a proven success. But that's short term thinking. Don't they realize there won't be any industry left if all we have in ten years is COD, GH, Madden, Halo, and Assassin's Creed (extreme exaggeration, sure, but I think you get my point)?
Then again, every friggin new iteration of these games sells like hotcakes, so I guess gamers are getting what they deserve.
I don't know. I understand the sentiment. If people seem to want sequels, well, let's give it to them. We need to make money, and when we're losing money, we can't afford to take risks. But at the same time, I worry about gaming as a whole, and also, the creative/artistic aspect if it. I'm not some naive idealist, I understand that the companies are in it for the money, but damn, there should be more to it than that. It's better to create and earn then to rehash and really earn, in my opinion.
I'm starting to ramble now. When I started this I had a clear conclusion in mind, but now I don't know what to think.
What do you think?
Friday, February 5, 2010
I am now on staff at a gaming website. We're still working on defining roles, but it appears that I will be the Lead Content Editor, or something akin to that, as well as a writer (primarily xbox 360 related content, I imagine, but as I said, roles are still being defined), and a forum moderator. We are throwing together ideas for a podcast, a video service, and some other cool stuff like integration with and support of, professional gaming teams, and some other neat stuff.
The site is also going to feature a discussion forum that allows basically any and all discussion in regards to gaming. None of that ''blog it'' or ''no vs. threads'' shit. If you want to post a topic extolling the virtues of one game over another, go for it, but at least try and be constructive about it. If you think the DS is better than the PSP, say it. We're not little children who will jump to rally behind our little plastic devices and act all indignant upon hearing a dissenting opinion. And if you act like one, you won't have mods to protect you from others' opinions, so you'll have to either grow up, or leave.
Of course, if this is too idealistic, and it turns into a shitstorm of crybaby bullshit, then we might have to implement some changes, but that's not the vision we have for the forums.
The website is http://www.gameronfire.com/
I have an offical blog there, which can be accessed @ http://www.gameronfire.com/index.php/blogs/magx01
So, come check us out, join the forums, and help us grow. Keep in mind, the place is still under construction, and things are still being sorted out, but it's basically fully functional at this point in terms of forums and such, but there is plenty of work to be done yet on the content and infrastructure implementation side of things. The admin/webmaster, Tyler, seems to have a good vision for the site, so I have much confidence in it and him. Also, he's looking for staff, so feel free to apply if you feel you would be an asset. You can do that on the website itself, or in the forums.
l) I am now on staff at a gaming website. I'll put up a post on that momentarily.
EDIT: That post it now up. See HERE
2) It appears that I am going to be writing a monthly corporate newsletter for my buddies' business, as well as editing and proofing their written proposals and other such documents. I was given their current proposals to look over as a sort of test run, and, having submitted them to him tonight, I think he's going to be pretty happy with what I did :)
And if he's not.....I'll kick him in the balls and make him cry :P
Bye for now.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
So, for the first edition, we're going to start it off with a BANG, as I have secured an interview with the ever present, beloved mascot of video gaming, Mario!
So, without further ado, let's get the the questions, shall we?
Editor's Note: This interview contains much foul language. Reader discretion is advised. This is no joke.
magx: So, Mario, before we begin, I just want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I'm going to try and maintain a calm, neutral demeanor, but I mean.....wow, you're freaking Mario, man! [pause] Okay, okay. I'm collected. So, yes, thanks for sitting down with me today.
Mario: It's a me, Mario!
magx: Yes, but actually, as we spoke about, this series of interviews has the cha-
Mario: That's a so nice!
magx: Uh......Mario? We're actually looking for an out of character interview here. So please, if you would kindly drop character, as much as we love it, we'd be much obliged.
Andrew Dice Clay: Ah, fuck, finally. That's a fuckin relief, you know what I mean.
magx: Uh.....you're.......Andrew Dice Clay?!
Andrew Dice Clay: You're fuckin surprised? What the fuck, I thought it was obvious? Where'd you think I'd been all these years?
Editor's Note: For those unfamiliar with Andrew Dice Clay, see the following video:
It's a minute or so long clip of Mr. Clay (sorry, Diceman) on CNN, telling off the reporter. His comedy routines can also be seen on youtube. To sum up his act, it's very vulgar, misogynistic, racist, and all around raucous.
magx: [long pause] Well, okay.....ahem....Alright, so I guess we'll get started. So, Mr. Cla-
Andrew Dice Clay: Andrew, please, or Diceman, none of this Mr. shit, you know what I mean? [he pauses to light up a cigarette]
magx: Okay, sorry about that, Andrew. So, please, explain how you went from the comedy stage, selling out Madison Square Garden, to playing perhaps the most beloved character in all of video gaming?
Andrew Dice Clay: Well, that's pretty easy. I was backstage after a show, getting my dick sucked, you know, I mean, this chick was really working my shit, you know? So I blow in her hair, and as I'm lighting up a cigarette, I hear this little voice. I look up, and there's this little Jappy yappy in front of me, you know, like 4 foot 2, and he's got a translator with him, and next thing I know, he's offering me this gig.
magx: So, you decided right on the spot?
Andrew Dice Clay: Well, ya, you know, I mean, I was still the best fucking comedian who ever lived, but my numbers maybe weren't like they were a few years before, you know? And I got this guy offering me a long term deal, big money, and all I gotta do is rescue some fucking mopy idiot from a fire breathing piece of shit once every couple of years? And along the way I get to do mushrooms, and jump on stupid fuckin turtles, which is great, because I hate stupid fucking turtles. I mean, who the fuck invented those useless, slow pieces of shit? I fuckin sat there for thirty minutes once, watching this big dumbass turtle fuck walk from one end of my bathroom to the other. Thirty fucking minutes? I drowned him in the toilet, just for being so fucking stupid.
magx: [pause] Well.....I don't know if I would have drowned him......
Andrew Dice Clay: What are, you some kind of liberal pussyfuck? Oh, save the turtles? They're life too? Fuck that.
magx: ….....Okay, okay, well, let's get this back on track. So, Mr. Miyamoto offers you the role of Mario, and you take it. Now what?
Andrew Dice Clay: Well, I started out in some shitty games, donkey kong, and shit, hell, I was even called Jumpman at first. Then, in '83, I get this retard brother and we have to save New Yor City from these little fucks running around the sewer. At this point, I'm wondering what the fuck I'm doin, here, you know? Like, I'm ready to stomp that little Jappy yappy into the ground, money or no money. Fuck this shit.
magx: But then Super Mario Bros. happened.
Andrew Dice Clay: Ya, suddenly, I'm running free through these trippy world, doing shrooms and shit, rescuing this fucking broad, who doesn't even give me any by the way, so I have to take it later on, you know what I mean? She wanted to quit the first time, and go to the cops, but I set that bitch straight. So, anyways, there was the piece of shit second game, but then the third one was awesome. I mean, I'm traveling all over the place, I'm on airships, I'm so high everything looks like it's gigantic in the one place, I mean I'm just tripping out, you know? [pauses to light another cigarette] This is a pretty good gig.
magx: And then you get a dinosaur.
Andrew Dice Clay: And then I get a dinosaur. You know how much the broads love that fuckin tongue? I mean, I was getting pussy before, but now? Fuggedaboutit! Even that frigid bitch couldn't refuse anymore, at least, not behind the scenes. Sure, in the games, she's still little miss innocent, making me cake in Super Mario 64, but you know what happened backstage? I ate that cake off her tits and she did a line of coke off my balls, and then I used that dinosaurs tongue on her for three hours. It was fuckin beautiful, I mean, I'm having the time of my life, you know what I mean?
magx:Ya....it sounds like it, although I have to say, a lot of my childhood illusions are being shattered here.
Andrew Dice Clay: Hey, everybody has to grow up sometime, you know?
magx: True enough. So, tell me, what's your favourite Mario game?
Andrew Dice Clay: Super Mario Sunshine was a lot of fun. I loved playing with my hose.
magx: [pause] Of course. So, anything you want to say to the fans before we end this......rather.....illuminating interview?
Andrew Dice Clay:Ya, go fuck yourself.
magx: Great. Well, thanks for the interview, and we hope to see yo-well, Mario, soon.
[End of Interview]
Well, there it is. For better or for worse, that's the real Mario, folks. I think I am going to need some time to digest it all. I mean, that was one of my childhood heroes, and to know that, this whole time, it was really Andrew Dice Clay behind that smiling face.......I don't know. I think this Mario fan is disappointed. Be sure to let us know how you feel in the comment section.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Care to Open Pandora's.....Vault?
[Note] This review is for the xbox 360 version of the game.
Borderlands in the latest game from Gearbox software, the developer known for making FPS games, namely, the Brothers in Arms series. They have always prided themselves on being just a bit different. A bit more cerebral and thoughtful in their approach. They have brought that mentality of innovation and fresh experiences to Borderlands, which is an FPS/RPG hybrid, that finds the player alone on a vast wasteland of a planet known as Pandora.
Pandora is a hostile place. You find yourself there on a quest to locate the oft rumoured Vault, a place steeped in myth and legend that is said to contain unnamed riches. You are not alone in this search, as many other individuals and some greedy corporations have tried over the years to locate the Vault. So far, none have been successful. Does the Vault even exist? This question haunts you on your quest.
Does that sound compelling? Well, I didn't think so either, but it's enough to drive the action forward. The story is definitely not a highlight in this game, and it's shallowness is definitely one of the few flaws. The emphasis in this game is on gameplay. Namely, combat, looting, and leveling up your choice of one of four available characters. So, is the game compelling enough to succeed despite a paper thin story, and other issues?
This game utilizes an intriguing art style that has been described as a moving comic book. It's really quite stunning in motion, despite a few occasional flaws (jagged edges and shadows, and some minor clipping). It features black line borders around characters and objects, and a very vast colour palette. It's a game who's look speaks for itself (which is likely why the developers changed it midway through development. It really helps differentiate it). There is a small issue with the engine, as texture pop in is evident when loading a new area, similar to games like Mass Effect and Gears of War. I'm not sure if this game utilizes a modified Unreal III engine, but I know that engine is known for pop in so it is possible. Overall, despite the few flaws, this is a game that will, if not outright atop you in your tracks, at least have you acknowledge it's proficiency and uniqueness. The look is also complimented by some nice special effects, including fire and explosive effects, lightning, and exploding limbs. It's really quite beautiful to see.
The game's soundtrack is largely forgettable, and the audio mixing seems a bit off, as I have difficulty finding a balance between audible but not overpowering musical accompaniment, and clearly defined sound effects. It works for a while, but the music has moments where it grows either too quiet or too loud, and, at least for me, needed to be occasionally adjusted. Then again, when playing, I always have a wife and baby sleeping nearby, as I play at night, so it definitely may be a player specific concern. The gun sounds are adequate.
Voice work is good, although there isn't very much of it, which brings us to another one of the game's flaws: largely inactive NPC's. Most of them don't have all that much to say to you, which can leave you feeling even more alone than you already did at times (assuming you aren't playing this co-op). I'll expand upon this later.
As stated earlier, this game is an FPS/RPG hybrid. It plays like a very adequate FPS, and the RPG elements fit right in, and do not feel at all tacked on, although NPC interaction and story are on the weaker side, as I mentioned earlier. What is done right on the RPG side of things is the experience/leveling system and the loot system. Essentially what you have here is a Diablo style game that plays like an FPS. There are an incredible number of weapons and different items to be found, most of which are procedurally generated, giving you almost limitless combinations of things. Enemies drop guns, shields, money, health packs, class modifications, and other items when they expire, leading to the infamous loot drop addiction: What cool stuff can I acquire next? Let's kill something to find out! You also obtain things as rewards for completing quests, and also, you'll find items through chests located throughout the world. All of these are staples of the RPG genre. Take that, but play it from a first person perspective and with guns, and you have the basic blueprints for Borderlands.
Ah, loot. Glorious loot!
The game is structured similarly to an MMO, although an MMO it is not. There are several areas in a huge world, separated into different zones (with a load time between each). In each zone, you'll find people waiting to doll out quests to you, both of the main story and side variety. You accept these quests, and then go forth to kill things, hunt items and people down, repair things, etc. Standard fare, and of course, along the way, you fight enemies scattered throughout the environment. Speaking of enemies, there is a good variety. You'll find yourself fighting human bandits, giant spiders, rat like creatures (skags), giant scorpion like enemies, flying bat like creatures called Rakks, huge bosses, and a few others I won't spoil here.
You start the game with an introduction to the four playable heroes. You have the Soldier, the Hunter, the Siren, and the Berserker. Each of the classes is more proficient with certain weapons, although anyone can use any weapon they like, with no penalty. Each class has specific abilities, which can be unlocked via a skill tree (different for each character). Using this skill tree, you can specialize your character, so, for example, as a Soldier, you can spec yourself to be a medic, or a support character. Or you can go Commando style and focus on damage abilities. You can also mix it up, and refreshingly, you can redo the whole build for a small in game fee, so don't be afraid to invest points, you can always redo it later on.
Each character also has a character specific action skill. The Hunter can release a bird of prey, which hunts down enemies, the Soldier can throw down an automatic turret which provides cover as well as shoots enemies (and can be spec'd to heal the player(s) as well as regenerate ammo, the Siren can turn invisible and run very fast. Activating this also damages all enemies in the vicinity. The Berserker goes into Berserk mode, which is a rage mode that makes him damage resistant. In this mode, you can rush enemies and melee the hell out of them.
So, you do the aforementioned quests, and you collect weapons and armor. You build up an super powerful version of your original character, kill countless enemies, and try to find this Fabled Vault. You can do this alone, or you play with up to 3 other players online, or 1 more in splitscreen. Co-op increases the fun exponentially in this game, as playing alone can make you feel bit lonely in the vast wasteland that is Pandora, and the fear-of-public-speaking NPC's don't help this feeling.
If it helps, just picture me in my underwear
Co-op works very well, and it is drop in/drop out, so no need to wait around in lobbies. People can join and leave mid game. The only negative to co-op is that the loot system does not incorporate rules for loot drops. It doesn't randomly allocate things to players, or take turns giving each person something. It doesn't split up or share the loot in any way. It's totally everyone for themselves, which means, if you are playing with the wrong people, someone may hog it all. If you are playing with friends, or decent people, it's easy to share, even after someone picks something up. You can just drop it for them, or even trade. You can also fight over loot if you wish, as there is a duel feature implemented into the game. Just melee someone, and if they melee you back, it's on. The fight leaves one person close to death, but no one dies. You can also go to various arenas located throughout the world to engage in 4 player round based skirmishes.
The developers hyped up the amount of guns in the game, and they weren't being deceitful. It's almost endless. You can get shotguns that shoot rockets, snipers that do lighting damage, assault rifles that set people on fire, rocket launchers that shoot 3 rockets at once, ect etc. Now, of course, there are archetypes that the guns fall into, and more often than not, you'll find yourself dropping, ignoring, or selling the guns you see, as many of them won't be better or as good as something you are already carrying. The guns fall into the following types: Combat Rifles, Pistols, Shotguns, Rockets, Submachine guns, Snipers, and Eridian Weapons. There is a proficiency rating for each, and this is leveled up as you earn experience while using one of the different kinds of guns.
There are these little robots called Claptraps, and they can be located throughout the world. When you find one, you will have to find a nearby repair kit to fix him, and upon doing so, are given a backpack expansion, which adds to your inventory space. By the end, you can carry as many as 42 items/weapons.
The world is very huge, although it is broken up into zones, as said earlier. To traverse the land, you can walk, sprint (you have an infinite sprint and do not need to hold the button down, it can be toggled). You can also approach any of the vehicle spawn locations and order up a car, which can be outfitted with either a rocket launcher or machine gun. You can also change the colour of the vehicle, but that's it for customization. And that there is another flaw in the game.
One great aspect of RPG's is that they often allow you to customize your character's appearance. In Borderlands, this is restricted to colour, just like the vehicles. It's not a pressing issue, but it is one that demonstrates how the game is a bit weaker on the RPG elements than some may like.
So, to sum up, the combat is fast, fluid, visceral (even with the more ''cartoony'' presentation) and fun. Leveling and loot collecting is very addictive. This game is absolutely recommended for anyone who is into both types of gameplay. This game, despite the few flaws, is a fantastic new intellectual property, and, for my money, is one of, if not the game of the year. If the gameplay hooks you, be prepared for countless hours of exploration and looting. Co-op adds to this replay value, as does a new game mode type mode called ''Playthrough 2'' (inventive, I know) which is unlocked after beating the game for the first time. Boderlands is a fantastic game that should not be overlooked.
Overall score: 9/10