Archive Page 2

09
Sep
08

Gears of War 2 vs. Resistance 2 on Blend Games

There’s a rather entertaining “debate” going on at Blend Games over whether Gear of War 2 or Resistance 2 will be a better game when they’re eventually released. I put debate in quotes because really it’s just a fanboy flamewar. It is rather entertaining to read, if you enjoy reading unsubstantiated claims by a bunch of idiots. Which I do. There are some rational  people posting in the comments section, but their comments go largely ignored.

I played both original games, offline only. I couldn’t really get into Resistance, so I didn’t finish it. Story was cool, but the controls felt kinda sloppy and the early weapons in the game felt uninspired. Also, I’m sick of gray and brown color palettes. Ugh. I considered buying a PS3 when I first saw Resistance: FoM, but I wasn’t impressed enough with it to drop the $600.

I actually bought a X360 because of Gears. Some of my best gaming moments came from playing its co-op mode with a buddy. The story was spotty on the details, and the characters are mostly one-dimensional testosterone junkies. But it PLAYED really well. Plus, it has A CHAINSAW GUN. Awesome.

I didn’t play either of the games online. I don’t own a PS3 and I’m a PC gamer at heart, so paying $50 a year to play games online seems like a rip-off. And 60-player online modes may make you console-exclusive guys go nuts, but that kind of capability has been around in PC games for a while. I’m glad the console guys are getting that kind of experience now, though.

Anyway, only time will tell. In the meantime, go laugh at the flamewar.

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09
Sep
08

The derivative nature of games and art

Sometimes gamers just need someone to give it to us straight. It helps if it comes from a fellow fan, as is the case with Pete Haas’s editorial over at the games section of Cinema Blend, instead of some blowhard like Roger Ebert.

Haas begins by explaining that although RPG’s are his favorite genre, there are some conventions that need addressing. These are the things that pop up in almost every RPG. Everyone knows they’re outdated methods for moving the story along, but everyone just accepts them as a standard of the genre and there’s nothing to be done about them.

In reality, this is something that plagues the electronic entertainment industry as a whole – most everything is derivative, at least to some extent.

The worst offenders, of course, are EA’s annual sports titles, but they’re an easy target. Every Japanese-style RPG is using methods that are over two decades old. Western-style RPGs have their roots in Dungeons & Dragons, a game that’s been around since the birth of Jesus. Now D&D’s new rule-set is pulling in aspects of the MMO’s that it originally inspired. Yeesh.

I’m not saying that being derivative is always a bad thing. The derivative nature of games allows gamers to pick up a brand new title and play it with reasonable ability if you’ve played a game in the same genre before. You may have noticed this puzzles non-gamers. When I first popped Dark Sector in (I only rented it, don’t worry) to play, my girlfriend happened to be sitting in the living room with me. When I started running around and shooting without any prior instruction, she said, “How do you know to do that?”

Also, take a look at Braid. It is an absolutely wonderful and inspired game. The art direction is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The puzzles are great, the story is mature and left open to individual players’ interpretations, etc. But, when you get down into the nitty-gritty, the game mechanics, there are clear roots to the game. The platforming comes straight from Mario, the time shifting mechanic arguably from the recent Prince of Persia games. The key here is he takes those two elements and twists them together into something completely original. Spore, which essentially compiles stripped down versions of 5 different games also comes to mind.

We find that the derivative nature of games extends across most mediums – film, music, painting, architecture, sculpture, etc. When is the last time you heard a rock song on commercial radio that didn’t involve guitars with a lot of distortion and a Intro-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus construction? Or the last time you saw a movie that wasn’t based on a (graphic) novel or comic book?

We are all building upon the creations of the greats who came before: Garriot and Carmack, Picasso and DaVinci, Hemingway and Dickens, BB King and Van Halen. The way that a medium evolves, though, is to recognize the things that just aren’t working anymore. These RPG conventions no longer capture audiences’ imaginations. There must be better ways to show the story and portray the action in this genre and in all video games. Hybridization/genre-mixing has been a recent popular means of creating fresh experiences for gamers. But soon we’ll all be tired of RPG-FPSes (Fallout 3) and Puzzle-Platformers (Braid) and Puzzle-RPGs (Puzzle Quest).

Makes me wonder what the next big splash is going to be.

05
Sep
08

Do you suffer from NOOBITIS?

Then HAX may work for you!

Watch more CS Source Videos

Via Gaming Today via WeGame.com

19
Aug
08

Teen Wolf gets lampooned

I think Teen Wolf is one of those movies that everyone loves at one point or another in their lives. I mean, Fox was as big a star as you could be in those days. But, admittedly, the movie is dumb. I mean, really dumb. If you want to see exactly how dumb, and laugh a lot in the process, watch the below video. I found it linked on Kent Nichols’ blog (of Ask A Ninja fame). I’ll let him explain:

Okay I’ve watched this video five times in the last 12 hours.

I’ve known about Summer of Tears since we started AskANinja.com when we saw them at Comedy Cocktail, produced by the fabulous Jay Leggett and Amber J.  I loved their stuff, and they’ve been doing solid sketch stuff for a while.

But they haven’t really broken out.

It took this video, which violates a lot of the common sense rules of making a financially successful online video: it completely infringes on copyrighted works, it had to be very expensive and time intensive to shoot, and it’s probably only a one off thing.

But.

It’s funny and it will get them noticed and appreciated way beyond the circle of fans they have now.

So, if you enjoy the below, seek them out, and buy stuff from them.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die
18
Aug
08

PREVIEW: Too Human

So, I just finished playing through the Too Human demo, and I’ve got to say, I’m not entirely sure I want to redeem my pre-order of the game. Early reviews of the full title aren’t looking so good, and my personal experience with the demo mirrors the criticisms on 1UP.

Even in the demo there are long and overwrought cut-scenes, although they are interspersed during game play which makes them slightly less tedious. The combat is somewhat satisfying, but I could see getting bored with it after long stretches. Too Human‘s control scheme is just different enough from about every other third-person action game I’ve played to be slightly frustrating. Using the Right Stick to swing my melee weapon around was horribly unresponsive. I was never quite in control of when and where it goes, and my natural propensity to use the right stick to control the camera was a hard habit to break. Once I got the hang of it, though, I could imagine doing some pretty slick stuff in battle.

The gear/loot system will be attractive for fans of the Diablo series. I was already checking my inventory every time I got a drop to see if it was more powerful than what I had equipped. The skill trees also offer some opportunity for customization, but you can pretty much guess what kinds of skills you’re going to get based on the class you choose.

All-in-all, I’m still on the fence on this one. I think I’ll wait for a few more reviews to roll in before making my final call; however, this could end up being like playing through Mass Effect, sans engrossing character development. I think part of the reason it looks attractive at this point is I’m hard up for fresh games to play, having resorted to finally playing through Unreal Tournament III.

12
Aug
08

Major summer update!

The nice thing about going a while in between posts, there’s a lot to talk about when I do finally get around to it.

First off, there were a couple more disturbed individuals who blamed their criminal behavior directly on video games. A 18/19 year-old (stories differ on his age) man in Thailand stabbed a taxi driver to death either because he could not afford to purchase GTA IV or because he was copying behavior in the game (again, the stories vary), which has led to the banning of the title in that country. Spain and Malaysia are also considering a ban in light of the crime.

It’s already been said elsewhere. Blaming the media a mentally imbalanced person consumes for their actions is alarmist bullshit. Why isn’t anyone asking if this kid’s parents were abusive? Why aren’t they held accountable? The kid played a violent video game that millions of reasonable and well-adjusted men his age have played without incident. But because this killer called out the game by name, he’s suddenly less accountable? Le sigh.

Then two arsonists in Atlanta cited GTA IV as their source for how to make molotov cocktails. And obviously, they wouldn’t have been able to firebomb cars if they hadn’t played GTA IV. Again, where the hell are the parents of these little hooligans?

On to less infurating news.

The 20th anniversary of Madden NFL was released today. I don’t really care about this franchise, since they just rehash the same game every year. Go somewhere else if you want coverage of Madden ’09. Anywhere else, really.

The episodic adventure games based in the Homestarrunner universe debut this week. I honestly lost interest in the eponymous website a while ago, but SBEmails used to be a staple of my Mondays. The humor just isn’t as fresh these days. I’d love to see an episodic adventure game based on Zero Punctuation. Essentially you’d just go around as Yahtzee, and the puzzles would revolve around deconstructing a game for being clichéd, implementing clumsy game-mechanics and calling JRPGs stupid.

I rented and played Soul Calibur IV and Ninja Gaiden II in the past couple of weeks. I wasn’t terribly impressed with either of them. Both games are good, in their own right, but just aren’t my thing. I feel like Soul Calibur IV would require way too much of my time in order to be brilliant with any one of the characters. Ninja Gaiden II is essentially the Devil May Cry series minus all the spikey-haired heros and melodrama, which are replaced with a lot more dismemberment and gore. And tits. See Yahtzee’s review below of Ninja Gaiden II. He says it better, faster and more British than I ever could:

The Olympics are in full swing, and you know what that means! Another horrendously bad multi-platform Olympics video game tie-in that you PRAY your grandmother won’t buy you because she doesn’t know any better. I have caught Olympics fever though. It’s nice to know that no matter what time it is, no matter how many infomercials and crappy soap operas are on daytime television, somewhere, there are world class atheletes competing. And I can watch them do it.

The big video game highlight of the past two weeks has been the release of Braid. This game was completely under my radar, but is now one of the top-ten rated video games on the X360 platform on Metacritic. Which is an especially big accomplishment considering it’s a puzzle platformer released through the Live Arcade. The big controversy surrounding its release has been the $15/1200 MS Points price point. Trust me, the game is worth every penny. I played the demo, and then immediately went to GameStop to buy a MS Points Card with my store credit. It’s beautiful, it’s unique in it’s game mechanics and story line. It’s this year’s Portal. Seriously, if you love video games, even if you don’t typically enjoy this genre, you must play Braid.

That’ll wrap it up for gaming news!

Movie news right quick: Go see Wall-E if you haven’t already. It is adorableness in its most pure form. The Dark Knight is worth seeing despite mostly ho-hum ham-fisted performances, because Heath Ledger’s Joker is one of the most powerful and disturbing performances I have ever seen.

On a personal note, I have taken a job in NJ and will be moving at the end of August. Wish me luck!

18
Jul
08

I guess that’s, er, neat…?

So, there are a lot of you out there who DON’T read Penny Arcade, for different reasons. But they’re the reason I found this video. Anyone who’s ever played Halo can appreciate this. I’ll let Tycho’s words speak for me:

What really sets the presentation apart, though, is his frame by frame, physical recreation of each item’s animation. That’s what elevates it beyond merely a source of lunchbreak entertainment and into the realm of fascination and mystery.

Here’s the video:

Yeah. I’m not sure what to think.

Original Penny Arcade Post




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