Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stay Frosty

So, we all know that games are supposedly one of those great forms of art that allow people to bring their own experiences along for the ride and as such enable each person to have their own favorites. 
But gaming is not like movies or a book or a painting, because games need an exhaustive amount of effort invested simply to ensure that the game is able let you play it. Then the game designers have to apply what is possible with some form of story and experience to make gameplay exist. Simply if a game fails on a mechanical level it would be the equivalent of what would happen if Leonardo had decided that the public wanted to see Mona Lisa so bad that he would simply have it put on display with only half of her face drawn in. 
As such games that fail to do this are usually derided by gamers and critics alike because they are not fun, even if the story is great or at the very least intriguing. 
But when certain local print publications begin posting their best of 2008 and put games with such glaring flaws in them, I begin to question that publications quality. To be fair a local newspaper is not the best source for hardcore gamers to go. Newspapers are literally the source of gaming info for the casual creature. 
There was a few grievous titles that were left on this list that make me question the quality of the list in general. 
First up, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Good game. Not best of the year by a long shot however. Especially in light of the fact that one mission is utterly broken (Dtar Sestroyer). This moment completely ruins the game. Also the fact that the game is basically God of War in Star Wars without blood or dismemberment, or the superb calibre of God of War's combat fluidity. Or considering that Ninja Gaiden II came out in July maybe you would think they'd at least try to compete with that.

Sure the maybe if you were a hardcore Star Wars fan you might call it one of the best of year, but then you have to explain that you are a hardcore Star Wars fan. This was not present. The story was good, but not superb.

Next up, Fable 2. Does advertising that you can jump fences, even though you really wont be able really qualify a game for best of the year? Or does shipping the exact same game with a slightly better combat engine? Maybe if you did this in 1 year. But if you did it over 5 years and said that the game will make you feel love and blah blah blah. I cannot reiterate Peter Molyneux's words here for fear that I may summon him, and listen to him hype me into oblivion.

Now maybe it isnt fair for me to bash the game because, well I never played it *wink*, but I will give this game credit for at least not being completely broken, well minus that thing that can break the game that needs a patch that still needs to come out, oh and there is the issue of the DLC that was planned to ship before Christmas that smacks of coulda made it into the gold code but Microsoft decided it would look better as 800 Microsoft points. 

really I'm just sore because games like Valkyria Chronicles, No More Heroes, The World Ends With You, Boom Blox, Burnout Paradise, Ninja Gaiden II, Rock Band 2. Hell they did not even include Metal Gear Solid 4 for fucks sake. I mean I'm sorry but the role of the gaming press should not be to hype the fuck out of what is already gotten 2 months worth of press coverage. At a year end best of the year you should remember the games that you played and you know other people did not play. I mean could drone on and on about GTA IV or Gears 2 or Mario Kart Wii, but i know they all sold in excess of 7 million copies and everyone who played them knows what I would say about them. But if I talk about games that less people played maybe they'll go out and grab those games, maybe they wont because I'm bashing the fuck out of the game but at least I'm giving the game something. But if people buy good games, more good games get made. If we praise adulations upon games that are technically broken, that exhibit signs that they dont know how to playtest (looking at you Star Destroyer pull down sequence) then they treat their paying customers like idiots.

I mean Force Unleashed and Fable 2 weren't bad games, they pretty fun. But they are mediocre games being included in list that is leaving out vastly superior games, that may only be lower profile. And that doesnt slide with me. Oh well at least the enthusiast press is a little better. I mean IGN gave Sins of a Solar Empire GotY, that gives some hope.

Oh and I've decided to simply put quotes from my favorite shows in the Title. Its fun that way.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Just In Case You Are Curious

My gaming-esque presents were:

Chrono Trigger on the DS. Awesome.

Thats it. I'll prolly get Resistance 2 for PS3 if I see it cheap ever. 

Oh, but I did get Seasons 4-6 of Scrubs; Futurama: Bender's Game; Sphere (Novel); Doctor Who: Series 4 (Since I have the first three already).

Also got socks, and pajama pants.

Oh, and $500. It was nice.

Played Rock Band with relatives, and got to feel good about being the second best player there, as well as the only one with the confidence to actually sing when no one else would. I believe I even boasted that if necessary I would simulataneously play the Drums, Guitar, and vocals. But quickly realized I lacked the number of limbs required to do that.

My next post I plan to talk about games I'm looking forward to in 2009. I doubt I will talk much about the Blizzard franchises though. They dont exactly need the coverage.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I'm Told the Holidays Occur at this Point in Time

Quick update. 

Finished Fire Emblem on Wii at long last. Game time registered 70 hours played. But taking into account resets and start overs a time of 100+ hours is more likely. Good game though. 

Now I am currently trying to track down copy of the new DS Fire Emblem that is not yet out in north america but is out in the UK. I've found a few copies. But I'm not tossing $100 out for it a month early. I'm willing to spend about $50 max. But I think I'll prolly just wait till it arrives here in february or whenever. No release date is regrettable.

In other news I am debating what game to play next. I continue to play nightly rounds of DotA and L4D, but my days (holidays = time to play games in the day!) were filled with Fire Emblem. My main games I'm debating are currently Valkyrie Chronicles, No More Heroes, or and number of other PS2 rpgs that i have yet to finish (list includes Star Ocean 3, Persona 3, Dragon Quest 8)

Also playing a decent amount of time with Rock Band 2, which is very fun. Suck at the drums ( my foot doesnt like being involved and gets very painful ) but vocals and guitar are always a blast. Slowing working through things on Hard, but playing on medium as well to unlock stuff.

In pseudo-gaming news, I'm getting a new PC pretty damn soon. I'm thinking of an Core i7, Nvidia 260. prolly get an Asus motherboard. Hopefully for the first time in my life I will get a computer that can actually get upgraded too. I almost always get a motherboard that doesnt support newer CPUs, or that forgets something rather important (this time it was PCI-Express, so no new graphics cards).

Should set me back around $1500, which is a savings of over half of what i paid last time. But then I wanted bragging rights on a Voodoo PC. 

So i better get to L4D right now. Ciao.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


So I put in a new Wii game, No More Heroes, and was shocked to find a game that uses the Wii to amazing effect. You dont waggle your remote excessively, although you do use the waggle for a reload/recharge, you dont have dumbed down controls, you dont have needlessly pathetic looking graphics. 

The game came out like a year ago or so, so i'm kinda late to the game, but the entire presentation of this game makes me glad i got it. I mean the main character wantonly chops limbs and heads off with a bastardly "FUCK YOU!". There are so few games that do what this game does on any system. 

My favorite moment however was when your characters cell phone rings, you dont know what button to press to answer it, but you quickly realize it want you to press '2' and then the call comes in entirely through the speaker in the remote. You put it up against your ear just like a cell phone. Why hasnt anyone else done this? It is awesome! I've never felt such immersion in a game as when the sound came entirely through this fake cell phone.

Also, I really need to get back into Fire Emblem on Wii, i was doing so well in it but then shit hit the fan.

Also i need to get back into Valkryie Chronicles. Oh and the Witcher... It's gonna be a busy holiday. 
Oh. Also Rock Band 2 is quite fun. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Get It Off! Get It Off!

Words you will hear alot playing Left 4 Dead, perhaps the greatest co-op game ever built. The game oozes with quality, and is simply full of the trademark Valve-isms that Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2 have begun to make standards of gaming. From the thousands of lines of dialogue that may potentially be spoken, that dynamically re-acts to the action unfolding around you. (Although I've yet to find any dialogue as funny TF2's Spy being lit on fire "I seem to have spontaneously combusted.") Get your friends together, plug in your microphones if no one is in the LAN, and start killing off the zombie hordes.

Okay so perhaps you'd like a slight explanation of what Left 4 Dead actually is. Well it is a game that occurs in the zombie apocalypse. You and 3 other survivors find yourself trying to escape the hordes and well survive. The game does not try to be realistic, which works well. Pistols never run out of ammo, but do have a significant reload, and fairly significant damage-distance ratio making them fairly ineffective at long range. Survivors can take punishing brutality from zombies and never become infected. (The game explains by saying that you are the random element of humanity that is immune to the infections, at least I think it says that somewhere...)

Anyways, you start at point A, you need to get to point E. Which is your rescue. The levels are fairly linear, but have enough variety in the paths to make it possible for minor route changes to have significant impacts on gameplay. For example a shorter path may be known, but is guarded by a witch. You can take the longer route and therefore avoid her completely. Or you can just headshot her with the shotgun; but to be fair that is pretty damn hard. So along the way to Point E you stop at Safe houses which basically serve to slow the pace down, and also are when the new level loads. 

The standard co-op is great fun, assuming you have somewhat decent teammates, but the game only truly comes to life when you play in VS mode where the boss zombies are played by real live human opponents. This mode is brutal. The normal mode gives you brief respites every after intense fights. But VS mode is constantly intense. New players spawn as the boss monsters. Although the Boss monsters always spawn in the same frequency. Two Hunters, fast leapers who fully immobilize their prey but must get to their target. One Smoker, long range tongue user who brings his prey to him. And One Boomer, who vomits on survivors which brings in the horde to assault the survivors, Oh and he can also go boom! when shot. Basically they will fuck you over. Badly. So badly that you will want to leave the game right away. It will be that bad.

But you should not. For after the hordes are done feasting upon your tender flesh you will get you hunt those who only moments ago slaughtered you. And you will make them feel the exact same as you felt.

Well, I should clarify, this is assuming your team knows what it is doing. If not, well it is not doing to be pretty. Although there are few things that are as redeeming as outsmarting a human opponent. Hell thats why we play multiplayer games. Beating real people just makes you feel superior.

So who should get Left 4 Dead? Um... well most people who should get it already have it. But if you like zombie movies, or enjoyed Valve's previous games but was unsure of this one. Well just get it. I'd recommend PC over the 360 version. But then I am very Biased towards the PC. (Or am I? I mean I dont exactly own any companies that directly benefit from the  sale of PC games, and I'm not in the hardware industry. So I suppose I'm really not biased. Meh, go figure.)

So yea. Left 4 Dead is awesome. I hope you get it, and enjoy it.