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AceFlibble's blog

4:52 PM on 05.06.2014

10 long-winded things you never cared to know about AceFlibble

I've been around for a long time now, but not too many people on here actually know that much about me. Since it's trendy at the moment, in no particular order...

I passed up free pizza so I could play a video game for longer.

I maintain that Enslaved is the most underrated game of the generation.

When a message was sent out to the DtoidUK e-mailer that people were needed to preview Enslaved: Odyssey To The West at Namco's London offices for Destructoid, I jumped (not literally; see below) at the chance. I didn't know anything about the game, but I'd always wanted to write about games (again, see below).

The result was what Dale North later called "the most flowery piece of writing we've featured." To say I loved the game would be an understatement. However, in order to cover as much of the game as was possible in the three hours we were given, I had to make the ultimate sacrifice: I did not partake in the free pizza provided by Namco.

I could smell the pizza. I was very hungry, having travelled two and a half hours to play three hours of video game without pause.

I had a preview to write. I did not stop playing. Everybody else stopped. Everybody else ate the pizza.

This is the true meaning of JOURNALISM.

I have started Legend Of Dragoon eight times but never completed it.

Get the reference, win a prize!* *prize is metaphorical

I've never gone further than the ghost pirate ship. Every single time, something happens to stop me from playing. The first time, I was only renting the game and had to return it; my parents weren't persuaded to extend the rental. The next time, the TV broke. The time after that, the PlayStation. The time after that, the memory card corrupted. And so on. I've simply never gotten to the end. Something always gets in my way. Currently, my copy is scratched and freezes.

When I was 12 I convinced my school to start a newspaper, just so I could write a video game section...

I say "newspaper". My school had never had such a thing before, so the result was actually a bunch of A4 print-outs crudely stapled together to make what would be more accurately described as a "newspamphlet". Still, as it had been my idea and I had pushed hardest for it to be made, I was allowed to write the video game section I so desperately wanted. I averaged two sides of A4 per edition, though the teachers in charge not-so-tactfully reduced my pieces down to a third of one page each time. I was the first person to write for the 'paper' and I was the last person to stop, after all others had lost interest. I actually wrote for two editions after the paper had been stopped; apparently, nobody had the heart to tell me, so I sat in the IT suite every lunch break, writing away.

... and I left school at just 14, when a teacher said "writing about video games is not a real job"

'General studies' were lessons in which teachers with no particular area of expertise would try to prepare us for "adult life", whatever that is. During one of these lesson, aimed at teaching us how to apply for work, a substitute teacher informed me that, despite me waving several copies of PlayStation Power in his face, writing about video games was not a legitimate career path, that I was "stupid" for thinking so, and that I needed to choose a "real" job for the purposes of writing a mock job application letter destined for no real place of employment. I stood up, walked out of class, out the front gates and home. That was the last straw for me. I never went to school again.

My school wasn't especially good. One teachers put me in detention because my brother had annoyed them; he was Head Boy of the school, so they couldn't be seen to punish him himself. I dealt with the headmaster telling me that they weren't moving me forward a year in English simply because "it would make class numbers uneven." I survived arguing with a Religious Education teacher who told a whole class of children that Christianity was "the only correct faith." I fought against the sports teachers forcing us to have communal showers. (One of them frequently "supervised"; yes, he did turn out to be a paedophile, to the surprise of nobody.)

"Don't be stupid, writing about video games is not a real job." That broke me.

I'm think pretty handy with a camera

Destructoid EU Community Manager Beccy Caine with Dtoider JJMcCallum being shown one of Rami Ismail's new games at Rezzed 2013. Shot with an all-original 1977 Canon A-1 using Ilford XP2 400ASA black & white film, in near total darkness; the iPad's screen was the only light source. 1/15th of a second is not easy to shoot hand-held.

I was given my first camera when I was 4- or 5-years-old. Some random point-and-shoot 35mm thing. I don't know why it was given to me; I had probably shown some vague fascination with my father's photography equipment, which dominated our garage. As I recall, the only frame I took with that camera which came out clearly was a photo of our kitchen cupboards. Hardly Cartier-Bresson, but some 20 years later, I've had photos of various styles published in international magazines, on many websites and on... boring packaging for some supermarkets. Okay, it's not always glamourous, but it's something. The thing I really like doing is on-location, spur-of-the-moment portraits, not that a plate of crabcakes cares about such things.

I'm probably best known for taking pictures of people wearing weeaboo Halloween costumes, aka cosplay. Not a scene I would have gravitated towards naturally, but I have many friends within that community and when cosplayers know you have a camera, inevitably they're going to ask you to take pictures of them. Sometimes it's good, clean, silly fun. Other times it ends up with me spending three weeks staring at Photoshop—a programme I detest and refuse to use on any of my own projects or jobs—for someone who's not actually paying me. If you're thinking of getting involved with this community in any way, here's a pro tip: learn to say "no".

Professional alternative model and cosplayer Masubi at London Film & Comic-Con. She wasn't actually posing for anyone and I was just shooting whatever looked interesting on the show floor; I noticed how she kept flattening her wig at her shoulder, anticipated and snapped. Luckily the light happened to be perfect at that moment, too, and she really liked the image.

For two years, I could barely walk. That didn't stop me from working at gamescom for Destructoid.

The DtoidEU team arriving in Germany. I'm the dick in the Squidbear t-shirt.

I woke up one morning with a horrendous pain running down my left leg. I spent most of the day laying on the sofa, thinking I'd just pinched a nerve and would be okay by the next day. A year later and even just getting out of bed was a struggle; leaving the house was absolutely off the cards. Eventually, after far too many scans, the cause was found. Two vertebrae and two nerves had shifted, coincidentally at the same time, leaving all the nerves leading to my left leg and parts of my right leg crushed. No particular cause; it can happen to anybody at almost any time. Just pure bad luck.
I went through pretty hardcore surgery, requiring such specialised skills that the NHS could not provide a suitable surgeon anywhere in the UK; I had to be taken private, instead, and waited for a man from France to have a spot available on his one-month-per-year trip to England. After having nerves repositioned and vertebrae sliced up, I could walk again, albeit with some permanent loss of feeling in my left leg and a very weak back; it is inevitable that I will be in a wheelchair by the time I'm 50.

A couple of months before I was due to have my surgery, gamescom 2011 rolled around and Destructoid wanted a few more people to help cover it. Hollie Bennett knew I knew my way around a camera, so I was asked to be a cameraman. Having always wanted to go to a large game show like this, and not wanting to let the team down, I said of course I could do it. I didn't think to mention that, actually, I was struggling just to get to the bathroom. Ordered a new camera, flights were booked and off we went. I didn't intend on spoiling the trip or our coverage by telling anybody that I wasn't really in any fit state to do it.

When we arrived at our hotel, the first thing I did was throw up.
On the first day of filming, I was so delirious from pain that I forgot to press 'record' for the first two videos we did.
I exhausted my supply of painkillers within the first 48 hours; we were out there for a full week.
My camera overheated at the end of the second day, corrupting the memory cards and losing every interview we had done. Hollie Bennett re-booked all the interview for a single hour the next morning, before filming the third day's regular schedule. We had to run between appointments to fit it all in. Ever try to run when one of your legs and your back don't work?
It turns out gamescom is roughly three and a half times the floor size of E3. You know how every games journo says covering E3 is hard work? Gamescom is literally more than three times that. That's a lot of walking. I was carrying all of the video and audio equipment for our two-person team, every day.

Suffice to say, after getting back home, I told the crew I was done, quit Destructoid (I was also writing as a front page intern at the time) swore a lot and didn't get out of bed for several days.

Still did it. Every interview was done. We arrived at each appointment early. All the content came out fine. It hurt, it could have permanently crippled me, it was stressful and we all were sick of the sight of each other by the end of the week. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I rate gamescom 2011 as the best week of my life and if I was asked to go through it all again I'd agree without hesitation.

I make/fix/wreck electric guitars

Latest creation, a few spare bits and pieces and a friend's unwanted body, bolted together and given a quick paint job.

Everybody needs a hobby. Since my knees gave out and put a stop to my teenage dreams of being a professional wrestler, I picked up guitar. I very quickly became obsessed with knowing all the different models of electric guitar and what every difference means. Within six months of first picking one up, I had bought additional guitars to take apart and 'experiment' on. Now, when I want a guitar for a new sound, feel or look, instead of buying one I get my tools out and make one. Sometimes I make instruments entirely from scratch, other times I make them by buying parts of broken or unwanted guitars and fix them up together. I've now been making, fixing, modifying and writing-off instruments for nine years. There is no part of any electric guitar or bass which I can't fix, remake, clone or, as is sometimes the case, fuck up further.

I have never played a Zelda or Metroid game for more than 10 minutes; I have only played one Mario game for longer.

Though the original Game Boy was my first gaming system, it is fair to say that I have very little love for Nintendo. In my town, owning a Nintendo home console system automatically made you an outcast; everybody bought Sega, until the release of the PlayStation, at which point everybody jumped to Sony and never looked back. I have never seen a NES or SNES in person and have only seen and used a Nintendo 64 once. I have seen, but not used, a GameCube, and I have used a Wii approximately twice. I own a 3DS, which I bought exclusively for Dead Or Alive Dimensions and have not turned on in over six months.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins is the one and only Nintendo 'staple' which I have played for any real length of time. When various other Mario, Metroid and Zelda games were given out on the 3DS as part of Nintendo's Ambassador Program, I played each for approximately 10 minutes before deciding that no, they weren't for me after all, and promptly deleted them.

Sorry, Nintendo fans, but I just don't "get it". Though I do still love me some Kirby and Pokémon Blue.

I begin every year by playing Final Fantasy VIII again

What a 70-hour game amounts to.

Most people go to parties on December 31st. I sit at home, hover a curser over 'new game' and press 'X' at midnight. The very first thing I do each year is watch that opening FMV, confirm Squall's name and fight Ifrit. FFVIII is the first game I play each year and I don't play another game until I have completed that file. I have done this every year since the game was released here in 1999, and will gladly continue to do so every year forthcoming. This is the video game which really started it all for me, and so it does, every 12 months.

I have Mr Destructoid tattooed on my arm.

I don't have a lens which will focus close enough, so enjoy my attempt at using a PS Vita to photograph my own arm in a room with a single working lightbulb.

I've been meaning to write a blog post about this for months, but never got around to it. Possibly because I feel that it doesn't actually require explaining; anybody who knows Destructoid and knows me will know why I had it done.

I've not always been terribly happy. To cut a long story (slightly) short, I used to be on a prescription of antidepressants so strong that it is now considered harmful and no longer legal to prescribe such an amount in this country. Bad times. A few years ago, my friend and Destructoid alumni Hollie Bennett told me to check out something called a "podcast" she would be on, called "The Podcastle", on a website called "Destructoid". Listening to that podcast genuinely changed my life.

Every day, when I wake up and stretch out or rub my face or reach to open the curtains or whatever, Mr Destructoid is there, grinning at me. He is my reminder, at the start of every day, that there are good people out there, people who make me happy, even the ones whom I barely know. It is a daily reminder that no matter what happens that day, we can always STFUAJPG!   read

8:17 AM on 04.08.2012

"Here are some breasts" is not a good advert (let's get angry)

[Sorry, no pictures with funny captions, no well-planned structure. I wrote this as a stream-of-conscious rant, that I originally intended to merely be a 140-character angry Tweet but which spiralled out of control. Posting it here because why not, we don't get angry enough these days.]

I can't believe I am the only person sick to sodding death of games' promotion being built on tits. And I say this as someone who buys consoles and even new TVs solely for Dead Or Alive, has played every Tomb Raider and never plays as a male character if he can help it.
Bullet Witch had a cool design. The only promotion for the game being having the character rendered in Playboy wasn't cool (the game sucking is irrelevant).
Soul Calibur 5 was looking great, then Namco decided the best way to advertise the game was a full-page close-up of Ivy's tits and arse. Because apparently they think so little of their game that they believed the feature that stood the best chance of selling the most people on the game was some CGI breasts (again, the game being sub-par is irrelevant; it looked like it was going to be great).
Lollipop Chainsaw looks really fun and I've been prepared for months to name it my 2012 GOTY before I've even played it, but good job Warner Bros you've fucked up, resting the majority of your public promotional material on the shoulders of a half-naked girl. And yes, I know Jessica Nigri's whole MO is she turns up at conventions half naked, but before that was just her doing her thing and whatever, there's lots of people that do that big deal. This time it's a game's primary promotion. This is the thing Warner Bros believes has the best shot at generating interest in the game. Not the crazy trailers, not a demo. Nope, paying a cosplayer to get a little more naked is apparently what Warner thinks is the best advert for the game.

Yes, I know this is nothing new. But it feels like this generation has been far worse than before. Rayne was in Playboy, but at least that was the first and it was done after the fact, it wasn't the big driving force behind Bloodrayne's promotion. Romero carted Killcreek around every chance he got, but at least when it came to promoting Daikatana they kept her out of it (sure, they fucked up that game and its promotion in many other ways, but the point remains). Tecmo ran some shadey ads for Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, but you look at that game and it's no surprise, in that context it was almost a surprise they didn't try and get a deal with Playboy too.
This generation has been much worse. Has your game got a female character in it? Better flog that busty horse for all it's worth then. Is your game lacking a female character? That's okay, as Bungie found out with Halo Wars, you can always just hire some random girl to stand about in her pants to promote the game.

It's insulting, more than anything. It's insulting to the customer, who is being told by the publishers that I'm too stupid to pay attention to anything which doesn't have a massive pair of breasts slapping me around the face. It's insulting to the developers, as publishers tell them that they have so little faith in their work that the best thing about it they can think to promote the game with is some bird's arse. It's even insulting to the publishers, as the MO is no matter what great ideas anyone might have to advertise a game we're going to ignore it all and just cash in on the boobs again. It must really suck to work in PR for a publisher when you are told you're going to be working on promoting an exciting new title and oh no wait it's just tits again. Cram as many pictures of breasts into as many magazines and blogs as you can because god knows the game won't sell a single copy otherwise. Warner must really think Lollipop Chainsaw is a steaming pile of shit if they're stooping to paying Jessica Nigri to get her tits out at PAX to advertise the game. It's a good thing she got thrown out. Well, it's not fair on her that she personally got chucked, but it's damn right that Warner should have their shitty advert removed for being too damn shameless.

I get it, sex sells. I'm a heterosexual male, I appreciate an attractive female just as much as the next straight guy. But I have some fucking respect for myself, I like to think of myself as being, at the very least, bright enough to not be tricked by and solely focused on the sight of a bit of cleavage. I don't appreciate publishers telling me that I'm a gamer so therefore I must prioritise digital T&A above all else. I can't believe it is so hard to come up with ways of advertising video games that every publisher has to fall back on tits to get them through every time. No, this is a choice they make, this is what they go for above other options. This is what they think is best, this is what they're saying we gamers need, this is what they're saying their games must rely on. God forbid you advertise gameplay to the masses. God forbid you show some support for a developer's hard work, for the months and even years the creators have put in to a game. No, no. Tits it is. Every time.

It's a pathetic state of affairs when EA and Activision are two fo the few publishers doing things right. They make slick trailers for Mass Effect and Call Of Duty and get them on prime time TV slots. EA could very easily fall back on ME's tepid sex scenes and army of tightly-clothed, well-proportioned female characters, but they don't. CoD doesn't have the slightest sniff of skin anywhere near it and look at that, it's the best selling series around, breaking sales records constantly.

Bayonetta had the most hilariously over-sexualised character possible, but good on Sega for leaving that as the game's joke and not making it the focus on the advertising. DOAX2 relied on tits in its adverts, but that fits because you know what, the gameplay is just tits too. Resident Evil 3 has Jill Valentine running around sewers in a tube top and miniskirt with no explanation why, and it was amusing, but Capcom still had the decency to fill the adverts with the Nemesis looking scary and wrecking shit and that was grand. There is a time and place for these things. It's absolutely fine when it's handled well. But nine times out of ten in this generation it hasn't been handled well. Publishers stamp all over the joke, they ignore what the game is really about, they take this one element and abuse it for all it's worth.

Tits are great. I like 'em. Playboy should be advertised based on tits. FHM should never pretend anybody buys their magazine for the articles. Hentai games? Go wild, put tits everywhere. Just having a bit of a joke? Fine. Telling us that your game is worthless without tits? Not fine.

Publishers, stop insulting consumers, stop insulting developers, stop insulting this industry. Have some respect, have some standards, have some fucking faith in your products, your audience and your medium. Stop telling your developers that their latest, probably very fun game, has no value beyond the CGI chest hams. Stop telling us that we're dribbling morons who are so desperate to see a bit of arse that we will pony up £40 on launch for the newest bit of digital bum. Stop telling the industry and everyone else in the world that video games are so shallow and worthless that a virtual approximation of a female body is the best they can offer society.

Publishers, show us how fun a game is, show us how beautiful video games can be, show us you have some respect for your customers and your staff.

Or at the very least, show us some digital cock too.   read

3:41 AM on 08.24.2011

gamescom 2011 or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Room 414

Monday the 15th of August 2011, roughly 6PM. I arrived at the home of Hollie Bennett and Daniel Seto with two large suitcases, packed but in no way prepared for the week that would follow. We were bound for Köln, Germany, to visit and report on gamescom 2011, the world's larget video games trade fair.

Hollie Bennett and Daniel Seto, of BritToid fame, get some hands-on time with Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS

By now you've undoubtably seen the many videos and articles that we've produced for Destructoid's front page over the last week or so. If you haven't then go look at them now; there's links to them at the bottom of this blog post as well as throughout. As such I'm not going to talk about the games we saw and played. There's no further insight I could offer into what to expect from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim than our video interview already provides; I'm not going to tell you how Lollipop Chainsaw looked when there's a preview of it already on the site. If, however, you would like to indulge me as I ramble about why going to gamescom with Dtoid EU is the best decision you could make, read on.

Publishers gave out tons of goodies to the public all week

The Community

If I have to tell you why the Destructoid community as a whole is so good then you must be very new here. It takes all of five minutes to work out that this is probably the best collection of video game fanatics in the world. What may not be quite so obvious at first glance is how great the European portion of the community is.

I had the pleasure of meeting most of the EU community at last year's Eurogamer Expo, but there were still a few faces I had not met before now. Having now met almost everyone, I'm glad to report that I like every single one of the cheeky bastards. This trip really would not have been remotely the same without them. Obviously there's too many people to name individually; just know that if you went to gamescom, if you're part of Dtoid EU, then I love you. I thank you all, for the late night bullshitting, the meals out, for helping me with my ridiculously large suitcase, for helping me keep up when I was sick that first day, for being the only people with the balls to risk looking stup-er, sexy, on the dance floor.

Dtoid EU lands in Germany

The Team

By now you should be well aware that it wasn't just community members that went to Germany and we weren't all there for a holiday. Seven of us went as an official event team to see the latest games and bring you all the news, previews, impressions and interviews from gamescom.

Hollie Bennett and Daniel Carneiro have been your presenters in front of the camera, myself and Royston Malcomber were their cameramen, Jamie McGinn and Maurice Tan have been writing up a storm and Ian Roberts, poor bugger, spent the best part of a week sat in a media room editing everything together for you and barely got an hour on the show floor for himself. Daniel and Roy also did a lot of video editing.

Obviously I think Hollie and I did a good job, but having now been able to sit at home and properly go through everything else that's been put on the front page, my congratulations go to the rest of the team as well. There's a hell of a lot of great content on there for you all and it's these six (and me!) you have to thank for that.

Three guesses why's booth was everyones' favourite

Room 414

I don't like sharing rooms. I like quiet, I like to have my own space away from any other people. I like to get a solid eight or more hours of sleep each night.

Sharing room 414 of Hostel Köln with Daniel Carneiro, Royston Malcomber and Ian Roberts, as well as the many other members of the community and team who selected our room to be the group hangout area at 2AM, was by far and away the highlight of the week for me. I have never laughed so hard and so frequently, I've never cared so little about living on three hours' sleep each night.

My only regret is that I was not able to bring a computer with me so I was not able to help with the workload on those very late nights. How the other three managed it, I have no idea. Every night I was falling asleep while the others were still putting the finishing touches on the videos you've all been watching on the front page. I was rarely the first to wake either. I'm telling you, those three are superheroes of video editing.

Even during the last hour of the last day, they didn't stop working

Köln and gamescom

Having never been abroad before I wasn't exactly looking forward to this trip, especially since I have endless problems with food and don't speak a single word of the language. Rather fortunate then that Köln would turn out to be such an easy place to stay in. If you're at all tempted to go to gamescom but put off by the idea of staying in Germany, don't be. The food's great (and cheap!), everywhere's friendly, the majority of people there do seem to understand English and it's surprisingly pretty for a city. The cathedral in particular is quite a sight, greeting you as you leave Köln HBF station.

Best of all though is how the city welcomes gamescom. Tickets to the event grant you free transport, the city is covered in posters, flyers and flags for both video games and the event itself are everywhere and on one particular night a street was taken over by Nintendo trailers and booths. Despite their reputation for banning anything operated by a controller, Germany really appreciates video games.

Marcus Fenix, as modelled on John Travolta and Sylvester Stallone's lovechild

The Industry

A big thank you has to go to all the lovely developers, publishers, the men and women in PR, writers, artists and even bar staff who all made gamescom so enjoyable. I have no doubt I would have keeled over had it not been for your supplies of caffeine-heavy soft drinks (though I apologise to the guys at CD Projekt RED that I somehow managed to get quite tipsy after one beer. I'm a total lightweight when I haven't eaten. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

People often complain that the video game industry is full of money-hungry evil overloads of doom. Everyone who is reading this has, at some point I'm sure, thought that a particular publisher or developer consists of twisted angels of the netherworld who would stab a newborn child in the throat in order to get another penny. In reality, having now met what feels like a giant chunk of the most important people in the industry, I'll happily declare the games industry to be the most enjoyable to work within.

As much stress as everyone was clearly under, I never heard a single raised voice or argument, everybody did their respective jobs and most importantly every single person we met very, very clearly really cared about the games they were showing off. Obviously they have to say they think their game is the best thing to come out all decade, but refreshingly and surprisingly none of them ever came across as though they were forcing it.

I've seen behind closed doors, we spoke bluntly and both on and off the record with PR managers, community managers, developers, designers, artists, writers, directors and publishers. Every single one of them obviously loves what they do. You could not hope for a friendlier working environment.

Who says everyone in the games industry is evil?

Hollie Bennett

I love this woman. Working with Hollie through the week was an absolute pleasure; I doubt I would have coped had it not been for her guidance, confidence and boundless (if cola-fueled) energy. Whether it was certain publishers not keeping to our booked appointments, ridiculously early-morning starts, the insanely packed show floor, putting up with my clueless behaviour or horrific technical setbacks, she greeted everything with a smile and maintained her professionalism constantly (okay, except when we visited the Wappy Dog booth).

Never was this both more apparent and vital as when, halfway through filming the wrap-up video for the second day of gamescom, the memory card I was using corrupted. It wasn't until some hours later that we discovered the card had corrupted so badly that we couldn't even format it or perform data recovery; everything we had filmed on the second day was lost for good. Hollie, ever fearless, immediately got on the phone to the various publishers whos' interviews had been lost and booked us in to do every interview again in a measly two-hour slot the following morning.

When we set out the next morning for our hastily-booked 9AM start, I honestly did not think we would be able to get everything done. We had just two hours to film every interview from the second day again plus get to the first of our many day three appointments. When we arrived the crowd waiting to get in was so large that it wasn't until ten minutes after our first appointment was supposed to have started that we were even able to enter the main building, and that included waving our press passes and pushing through the masses.

We started late with two days' worth of work packed in to one. We finished an hour ahead of schedule. Every interview we re-shot was even better than the original take.

Ms. Bennett is an incredible person and talent. I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have worked with her and Destructoid is very lucky and privileged to have her.

Girl loves her some Ezio

It was exhausting, stressful, frightening, at times physically painful and towards the end I think I began to lose my mind a little. I wasn't able to eat or sleep properly, I've never sweated so much and if I see one more Coke bottle it will be thirty years too soon.

If I could go back and do it all again I wouldn't want to change a single second of it.

Destructoid, Dtoid EU, Köln, gamescom and Hollie Bennett: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the very best week of my life.

I sorely regret not scheduling in time to play this

All our gamescom 2011 coverage

Day One wrap-up
Day Two wrap-up
Day Three wrap-up
Ridge Racer Unbounded
Modern Warfare 3
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded
Soul Calibur V
Guild Wars 2
Mass Effect 3
Joe Danger: The Movie
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
Wappy Dog
Battlefield 3
Prototype 2
Far Cry3
Anno 2070
Borderlands 2
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Gotham City Imposters
Need For Speed: The Run
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Binary Domain
The Witcher 2: Assassins Of Kings
Lollipop Chainsaw

gamescom 2011 Community Choice award
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded
Mass Effect 3
Black Knight Sword
Escape Plan
Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Anarchy Reigns
Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning
Lollipop Chainsaw
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
Anno 2070
Dragon's Dogma
Borderlands 2
Binary Domain
Naval War: Arctic Circle
Risen 2
Two Worlds II: Pirates Of The Flying Fortress
Raven's Cry
Sine Mora
Masters Of The Broken World
Wargame: European Escalation
King Arthur II
Dragon Commander   read

3:32 PM on 05.20.2011

Obviously unofficial review: Dead Or Alive: Dimensions (3DS)

Following the departure of their outspoken and infamous studio boss, Tomonobu Itagaki, many doubted whether Team Ninja were capable of producing any more worthwhile titles. The first outing with new team head Yosuke Hayashi, Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, didn't go down quite as well as its 2004 predecessor or even its Itagakai-led version. The second major title to come out of the studio without Itagaki, Metroid: Other M for the Nintendo Wii, also didn't fare too well.

Hoping to break the studio's run of slightly disappointing offerings, Team Ninja return to their first series, fifteen years after its first outing. The last actual fighting game in the series, Dead Or Alive 4 for the Xbox 360, was released over five years ago and softcore fiddle-aids Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2 and Dead Or Alive Paradise failed to be little more than less sexually charged simulators of Top Gun's volleyball scene. Now Team Ninja has released Dead Or Alive: Dimensions on the Nintendo 3DS, touted as a kind of "'best-of' compilation" of the series, intending to cater to newcomers while offering a trip down memory lane and more refined gameplay for the series' more hardcore fans.

With the Nintendo 3DS lacking any real 'must-have' titles since its launch two months ago, can Dead Or Alive: Dimensions give 3DS owners a reason to wipe the dust off their technologically advanced paperweights?

Dead Or Alive is one of the easier fighting series to get into, using a rock-paper-scissors system: strikes beat throws, throws beat holds (counters), holds beat strikes. Controls are kept simple with just one punch button, one kick button, a button for throws and a button for holds. The D-pad and circle pad are used mostly for movement with attacks being performed using a combination of the punch, kick and throw buttons. Anyone who has played the likes of Virtua Fighter, Soul Calibur or of course previous Dead Or Alive games should feel right at home with Dimensions.

The placement of the 3DS' controls is far from ideal though. Tsize and stiff, clicky feel of the 3DS' X, Y, A and B buttons means that it can be awkward to enter longer and more complex attack strings. The placement of the D-pad is also a problem, leaving your hands at two different heights. The circle pad is a more comfortable option but it's not really accurate enough.

For the most part Dead Or Alive: Dimensions is easy to pick up and the game features tutorials and a practice mode to guide new players, but make no mistake: Dimensions is not a mindless button-masher. There is plenty of depth to be found here and the sheer pace and ferocity of the game means that random jabs at the controls will likely be met with swift defeat. For players who take their fighting games seriously, there is the option to display frame data on the touch screen during fights; more casual players can use the touch screen to display a list of their character's moves instead. Tapping on a move in this list will make your character perform the action which may help new players pull off flashy attacks quicker, although it is a little awkward to use for a whole match and before long you'll want to learn how to perform moves manually.

Dead Or Alive: Dimensions does have an awful lot to offer. One of the longest story modes of any fighting game to date, other classic fighting game modes such as Survival, online play, the largest roster in the series' history and with over one thousand items to unlock, Dimensions could keep you busy for a very long time. With free DLC rolling out each day for a month, one thing you can't accuse Team Ninja of is skimping on content.

Chronicle mode takes you through the history of Dead Or Alive, from the prologue of the first game right the way through until the end of the fourth with the player using specific characters in key fights. Most of the supporting cast and their scenes are left out, however, and so for the most part you will only be taking control of the main ninja characters, Kasumi and Hayate.

Fights in Chronicle mode are preceded and followed by cutscenes scenes, some of which are fully animated while others are made up of the characters in freeze frame poses and these progress almost like comic book panels. The animated scenes are very nicely done, even featuring surprisingly close lip syncing for the Japanese voice track, but the static scenes are quite boring and you can't help but wonder if they were put in to add some stylistic flavour or if these scenes were left frozen just to cut down development time.

Many of the game's other modes are your standard fighting game fare: Arcade, in which you try to beat a series of CPU-controlled characters in the shortest time possible; Survival, in which you attempt to defeat as many opponents in a row as possible; Tag Challenge, similar to Arcade but using 2-on-2 battles instead of 1-on-1; Free Play, your basic endless player-vs-CPU mode; the obligatory Training mode; and finally player-vs-player, both local and online.

All are as you would expect, although the online play does leave a lot to be desired. There is no lobby system and no real player searching. You can simply search for players within your region or worldwide and you are automatically matched up to whoever you have the best connection with. You have one fight and then you're back to the search page; there's no rematch option.

The lack of search and lobby options is the least of the online mode's problems, however. Of the twenty three matches I have tried to join only four have managed to actually connect and those were marred by horrendous lag. This, combined with Team Ninja's decision to include the story mode's super bosses as playable characters, means that online play really isn't worthwhile, at least at the time of writing. If very laggy mirror battles are your bag though, have at it.

The recent Dead Or Alive Xtreme 2 and Dead Or Alive Paradise games have featured photography modes and Dimensions is no different. Showcase mode allows you to pick static models of each character that are unlocked through gameplay, place them in any stage and use the 3DS' gyro controls and buttons to take images that can be saved and viewed later. There's exactly 1000 figures to unlock, covering every character in pretty much every pose imaginable. The 3DS' gyroscope is so sensitive though that it's incredibly hard to get the angle you want and once you've taken a picture there's nothing you can do with it. There's really very little point in the Showcase other than to provide you with a large amount of unlockables.

DOA is a series known for its visuals, including very fast and fluid animations, and Dimensions does not let the side down. This is a very impressive game graphically and when in motion doesn't look any different to its original Xbox counterparts, Dead Or Alive 3 and Dead Or Alive Ultimate 2. Even when playing a 2-on-2 tag battle on the most detailed and largest stages, the frame rate never seems to drop. Somewhat blurry textures and a lack of anti-aliasing, typical of the 3DS, can be noticed during the game's static scenes and the Showcase mode but during actual gameplay neither of these are that noticable, let alone detrimental.

3D does work very well in Dimensions although the frame rate does dropped to half when 3D is turned on. In a game that's as fast and as slick as DOA you really will miss the full 60 frames per second and I doubt many people will want to play with the 3D effect on for long.

The hybrid techno-rock soundtrack for Dead Or Alive: Dimensions has mostly been lifted from past DOA games, although the Aerosmith songs that accompanied many of the previous games' opening and closing sequences are absent. While there is nothing new on offer, older fans of the series will likely appreciate the inclusion of certain iconic themes and fresh players are unlikely to be put off by the series' tried-and-tested 'Greatest Hits' backing.

The game includes both a Japanese voice track and an English one. The English track isn't too painful, with a couple of genuinely good performances. However a handful of the characters' English voices are highly annoying and most players are going to want to hit the options menu and switch over to the Japanese voice track.

Dead Or Alive: Dimensions does do a lot of things right. The gameplay is as solid as ever, it's got a lot of content with more free DLC costumes on the way, it's got a nice variety of game modes and it's got some of the best - if not the best - visuals on the system. However it does just as many things wrong: broken online play, tag battles might as well not exist, slightly poor controls and most of the unlockables are for an utterly useless mode.

With Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition already available on the same platform and countless superior fighting games on others, it's hard to recommend Dead Or Alive: Dimensions as a purchase. Dimensions is certainly worth a rental to any existing DOA fans or fans of fighting games in general that want to get a bit more use out of their 3DS but even the most hardcore DOA fan will probably be done with it within a week. Newcomers to fighting games may actually get a little more out of it thanks to the extensive tutorial sections within the story mode and the option to use the touch screen for moves, but it will likely still leave a lot to be desired.

Totally pointless score: 6.5 (rent it)

[Just treating this as a little writing exercise for myself - constructive criticism appreciated]   read

7:54 PM on 09.12.2010

When did it become unacceptable to enjoy videogames?

As I lazily flicked through gaming magazines from years past in front of tonight's Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I came to two realisations. The first was that I would pick Khloé over Kim or Kourtney. The second was that I miss the days when it was okay to say you love a videogame.

This actually first struck me one month ago, when I wrote my preview of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. If messages around Destructoid, posts on GameFAQs, messages sent to me on Xbox Live and several people who spoke to me about it at Eurogamer Expo this past weekend are to be believed, I "jumped on the hype train", what I wrote was "ridiculously glowing", I "must have been paid off by Namco" and I "should write more objectively". Yes, these are all genuine complaints that various people have had with my preview article. According to one clearly very intelligent chap, I "can't get enough of Namco's jizz" (thanks, Xbox Live. I knew there was a reason why I keep paying for you). Apparently it was incorrect of me to have an opinion about a videogame. God help me, it was even a positive opinion.

Of course I'm not the first person to come under fire in this way. Jim Sterling has often been on the receiving end of much hate because, apparently, people expect purely objective reviews.

I just don't understand where and when this mentality began. Must we all be apathetic towards every videogame that is released? What is even the point of playing videogames if we can't be excited by them?

[This is what you get when you reference a ten-year-old magazine and then lose your original copy before you're able to scan it]

A little under a decade ago, the Christmas 2000 edition of Playstation Power - or just Power, as it had become rebranded by then - was published. Playstation Power was a large but ultimately independent Playstation magazine. It was one of the few Playstation magazines which wasn't afraid to call Sony out on their bullshit when need be, its staff were happy to praise the Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft systems and it was sold on its personality rather than Official Magazine-style polish. In many ways it was the Destructoid of the time; you bought it because you liked its writers, you bought it because you were passionate about videogames and so were they.

This particular issue of Power was mostly dedicated to the game Dead Or Alive 2: Hardcore. One of the game's characters, Ayane, graced the front cover and the review of the game was given three whole pages. Meanwhile, Tekken Tag Tournament - which was much more of a "triple-A" title than DOA was - was given merely one page.

Were the staff of Power on Tecmo's payroll? No, although they got the exclusive review they were still an independent publication and even slagged off other Tecmo games within the same issue. Were the staff of Power big Dead Or Alive fans, did they have some kind of "Tekken BIAS" as many people on blogs these days are want to scream? Not at all, Power had previously slated the first Dead Or Alive game and they ranked Tekken 3 as one of their top 5 beat 'em up titles (as they were known in the UK then; the term "fighting game" hadn't reached our shores quite yet). Did they do it for controversy? Not at all, since while controversy may gain you a few more hits online, in the world of print media it does nothing but lose you subscribers.

No, Power gave more space to DOA2 simply because that was the game they had more fun playing. It was faster-paced than TTT and that's what they preferred. The world kept on spinning and that's how it should be.

These days though, it seems you can't say a single positive word about a game without being jumped on, let alone really express how much you enjoyed a particular title. If you say you like a game, people call you a fanboy. If you say you love a game, people shout "BIAS!" (or in my case, even - and I quote - "obviously employed by Namco". Yes, really). Gamers are a little more accepting if you say you think a game is a little bad, although of course the shit hits the fan if you say you really dislike a title. That's not to mention how developers and publishers react to a negative opinion of a game.

Why do we do this? Why is it so hard to believe that someone simply really, really likes a particular game? Why should they put aside their personal opinion of a title and write an "objective" preview or review, what would even be the point? What is so wrong with enjoying videogames? After all, isn't that why we're all here, why we read these blogs and magazines?

I can't speak on behalf of other people of course, but I would like to believe that I'm not the only person who feels this way. I grew up playing videogames, I love videogames. I read gaming magazines because I love videogames. I read gaming blogs because I love videogames. I post on gaming forums because I love talking about videogames. Ideally, one day I would like to write about videogames for a living; reporting on and reviewing games has been my dream job since I was 9, 10 years old. I'm in awe of those that get to do that already and I am thankful that we live in a world where this is a viable career.

I suppose I must have missed the "you must be a disenchanted, lackadaisical golem if you want to write about videogames" memo.   read

8:35 AM on 11.24.2009

UK getting absurd internet policing; internet tax; new video game ratings (NVGR)

Last week, plans were announced for several new laws in Britain concerning file sharing and piracy on the internet. The details (or rather, the scary lack of details) have been picked apart this week and the potential reality of the proposed bill is very scary. Jim Sterling's-worst-nightmares-come-true kind of stuff. I want to rant about these for a bit, but I suppose I better get the game-related part done first.

Within the next two years, the British government is going to introduce a new video game age rating system for all games rated 12 and over. They've yet to say much about it and it probably won't have much impact, other than finally making it actually illegal to sell these games to people under the age specified by the rating on the box. Interestingly, the few bits of information we have on this so far specify "boxed video games." What is to happen to downloaded games?

Well, many households in the UK may soon not be able to download any games anyway. As broke shortly after, the new laws (proposed to be put into place by the middle of 2011) will give the government the power to create legislation against internet piracy virtually at whim. Peter Mandelson (and/or his successor) would be able to make up punishments - including limitless fines and jail time - for the mere accusation of a crime; you could be behind bars before they've even tried to actually prove you've done anything. They won't even have to try to get it passed either; once the core legislation is in place, they will be able to amend it further without the chance of opposition. Mandelson could write in, unchallenged, "anyone who vists the website could potentially be a file sharer and thus has to give me £20 every Tuesday". And you'd just have to hand him £20 every Tuesday.
The government will also have the power to bring the banhammer down on anyone it believes to be a repeat offender; your entire household could be subject to restricted internet access, or have internet acces removed entirely - permanently. Think about that: because Little Timmy downloaded the theme tune to his favourite TV show without paying for it, Daddy Timmy could become unable to use the internet.
Bear in mind, Mandelson was not elected into this position. He's not there because the British public support or trust him. The proposed laws will give this unelected, effectively random person the power to imprison people merely on the suggestion that they may have been illegally downloading music or films. Because of what this one (again I must stress, completely unelected) man decides, you could be fined, have your internet access restricted or entirely stopped, face jail time or any other punishment he cares to dream up, all for the mere accusation that you may have downloaded something illegally.

Another even scarier aspect of the situation is how they will monitor people and enforce these laws. ISPs could be forced to monitor how every single person in the country uses the internet, right down to the details of every file they search for, view or download. It's not just ISPs either - Mandelson's own plans detail using "militia", financed by rightsholder groups (e.g. record labels), who will be given the tools and legal access to also monitor your online activity. These groups will (if Mandelson has his way) have all (or certainly most) of the power he has - to demand ISPs block you form viewing specific websites, to force you to remove files from your computers, disconnect you entirely, etc. So not only is this unelected official hoping to have laws implemented that will give him virtually limitless power over internet use in the UK, but he wishes to then confer those powers (which he would be able to do - anything he wants would get passed automatically) to as many of these third party, private "militia groups" as he wants.

Nothing will be exempt from this. Popular file hosting sites like Megaupload and Rapidshare would be forced to remove the ability for users to make files private. User-generated content (including that in video games or even extending to the files people create for such websites as deviantArt) could be monitored and reviewed by lawyers before being available online. We're talking full internet policing here. Nothing private, everything controlled by people we don't know.

Oh yeah, and in 2010 they're going to start taxing every household that has a broadband internet connection 50p a month, with the goal to use this money to go towards providing better connections to the more remote areas of the country, with the hope being that 90% of the UK will have broadband connections (at a minimum speed of 2mb) by the end of 2017. I hardly see the point, by the time those families get their connections in 2017, our internet won't even be able to access the government's websites in case we pirate their .GIF banner.

There is currently an online petition running at - the official website of the Prime Minister's office - against the proposed laws having the ability to terminate a person's internet access. While the petition sadly does not include all of the potential legislation, it is at least fighting for peoples' right to have a fully working internet connection, at least until actually proven guilty in court. People living in the UK can sign the petition HERE.   read

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