Hello, I am a walrus with an afro. Pleased to meet you.
I'm a cheapo gamer. I won't buy a game unless I'm absolutely sure that I'll get my money's worth, or it's free. My laptop is terrible for gaming, and I'm hoping to one day own a super-gaming computer that will take over the world unless I'm playing video games on it.
Consoles: PS2, Xbox 360, laptop
Games I Enjoy:
Shadow of the Colossus
Metal Gear Solid 1+2+3=6(?)
Rainbow 6 Vegas
World of Gooooo
Final Fantasy 6/3
Team Fortress 2
Kinect is doing some sort of marketing strategy aimed at small children and grandmothers, which really is a bad idea because any small children and grandmothers who play games already have a Wii. Unfortunately all this does is give the impression that Motion Sensing Technology is for casual gamers.
But Kinect has plenty of applications for interesting gameplay. Here's an idea I had:
Imagine a game where, perhaps, you're a spy, or a soldier, or maybe just Joe Average. At some point you get captured or kidnapped. The bad guy, on your TV screen, points his gun at you, and orders you to put your hands above your head. You, living breathing you, must actually kneel and put your hands up or Bad Guy blows your brains out and you lose.
If Kinect can do everything they say it can, it should be able to tell the difference between arms up and arms down. The point would be to make you feel like you are the actual person on the screen. You yourself would be put into a position of vulnerability, so it feels like there's more at stake than if you were just lying on your couch eating potato chips.
Maybe at some point you get a chance to grab his gun, or run away, or otherwise escape. Maybe it could be like a quicktime event, but instead of pushing buttons you have to jump, or mimic opening a door. What Kinect should do is make gaming less a watching experience and more a doing experience. Kinect should be doing things that buttons, even waggle wands, can't do.
There's a lot of potential for this. I just hope they don't waste it all on Kinect Circus or Bobblehead Racers.
Most people here want video games to be a super-respected medium up there with Movies and Books and Oprah, yes? Yes, so do I. We often talk of interactivity, or immersion, or atmosphere, or choice. "One day," nerds across the world whisper to each other in the dark tunnels of the Internet, "One day video games will be respected by everyone. And then we will say 'Told you so'."
Only not, because game players can't agree on anything, ever.
United we Stand, Divided we Fanboy
Video games, as far as I know, is the only medium which divides itself into multiple, completely different ways of enjoyment. The lines are so thickly drawn between the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii that the community has been plunged into a guerrilla civil war. The three main consoles (with a tip of the hat to that old veteran, the PC) are so vastly different that they might as well be separate mediums themselves.
It's a situation unique to video games. Books don't have the Book 360 or the Super Book Advance or the Book Portable. There's just... Book. People don't argue what DVD player they use to watch movies because in the end they all do the same thing: play the gosh-darn movie. You watch a movie, that's the end of it. You read a book, that's the end of it.
Comic books. Comic books are books, right? But they aren't the same as a 500-page novel. They're a different way of doing the same thing in the same medium. The same thing is true of the different consoles. They all play video games, right? But the difference between a Wii and PS3 is sort of the same between books and graphic novels.
What the Hell is a Video Game Anyway
In fact, when it comes right down to it, what is a video game anyway? There's things like Modern Warfare 2, with a sweeping storyline and 3D graphics and music and lots of buttons to push. There's things like Canabalt with only one button, 2D graphics, and no story. Do we define video games based on interactivity? If so, we'll have to include those minigames that come with movie DVD's where you push one button every two minutes.
Is it based off of the platform it comes out on? Many hardcore gamers dismiss Wii games for being "shovelware" and "carp". They aren't real video games, because there isn't ten buckets of blood and chainsaws. Others say that Metal Gear Solid 4 and Uncharted 2 aren't game-y enough because they are too much like movies and should be more interactive.
Where are the Brakes on this Rant?
I guess the moral of this story is: video games are such an evolving, changing, innovative medium that it's hard to pin it down long enough to give it any respect. It's like a small child that keeps bringing you tidbits, but runs off again before you can congratulate/berate it, and eventually brings you the Mona Lisa and a sample of Uranium-235. It's like a bird dropped out of the nest that's trying all its different muscles before it finds the ones it needs to fly.
I'm not saying video games shouldn't branch out and try new things, because innovation is great. I'm not saying we should consolidate consoles (alliteration ftw), because the industry needs competition to keep itself going. But I do think that constant bickering between ourselves over which console is better, or which games aren't really games, isn't going to bring us any closer to a world where video games are respected.
So I was voting my way through the Spike Video Game Awards, voting based on personal experience or from what I've heard (Plants vs Zombies beat out Dragon Age: Origins only because my laptop can play one and not the other).
Then I came upon this:
I know Modern Warfare 2 is a great game, but really? Did anyone else see this? I'm sure it's just a mistake on the website's part, but it's still funny. So without further adieu
OMG SPIKE IS BIAS ACTIVISION PROBABLY PAID SPIKE TO PUT TWO MODERN WHOREFAIRS UP THERE IF THIS WAS WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE AND SOMEONE PICKED THE LIFELINE AND ONLY MODERN WHEREFORE WAS LEFT WHAT THEN I AM SO PISSED WHY ISNT THE CONDUIT UP THERE OR HALO STD THOSE WERE BOTH GOOD BETTER THAN MODEM WEAKFART THATS BIAS OMG THIS MAKES ME SO PISSED THAT I AM GOING TO GO EAT A SANDWHICH SCREW INFINITYWHORED BRIBING THIS WEBSITE THEIR GAME WOULDNT HAVE EVEN GOTTEN ONTO THIS LIST IF THEY HADNT SUCKD SPIKES VAGINA CUZ THEYRE PUSSIES OMG I AM GOING TO WRITE A LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT AND TELL HIM HOW MAD I AM
This blog features SPOILERZ for Dark Forces II. Don’t read if you haven’t played. Use the time to play the game instead.
Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first “big-kid” game my parents ever let me play. Before that it was Croc: Legend of the Gobbos and The Incredible Toon Machine. Screw Gobbos! I wanted to shoot aliens!
The Falling Ship is one of the greatest levels in a game, ever
The game was great. For those unfamiliar, here’s some background. Rebel agent Kyle Katarn intercepts a coded message from his father, which gives him a map to the lost Valley of the Jedi and a lightsaber. The game follows Kyle as he attempts to track down and stop the Dark Jedi Jerec from using the power of the valley for Unspeakable Evil.
As the game progresses, Kyle learns to use the Force. At first your powers are basic: running faster, jumping higher, and seeing in the dark. Eventually the skill tree branches out into the standard Light Side and Dark Side powers. Curiously enough, you can pick from both sides. If the goody-goody powers are a bit too wimpy (seriously, what does Blind even do?) then just come back to them later, after you’ve mastered Lightning and Choke. They’re not going anywhere.
Lightsabers and Force Powers. What more do you need?
The other thing about Jedi Knight is that there are usually civilians scattered throughout the levels. Depressed citizens of Nar Shadaa and Baron’s Hed will mutter things like “Mind your own business” and “Leave us in peace” if you bump into them. Ugnaughts at the refueling station will ignore you in favor of wrenches and pipes.
Many of these civilians happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and will find themselves inadvertently blasted or lightsabered during Kyle’s fight with the Empire. Occasionally one will be standing next to a grate that needs slashing, or an exploding barrel that needs… exploding. It’s great fun to push them off of endless cliffs or punch them to death with your bare hands or trap them under an elevator.
Pictured: A Civilian
So! You’ve got your awesome Lightning and Choke powers, and enough Force Stars to put towards Heal and Cloak which will undoubtedly help during the final boss fight. You’ve taken out garrisons of stormtroopers, and if a few innocent souls were killed, hey, it’s for the good of universe. Time to go stop Jerec!
One elevator ride later, and Kyle meets an unpleasant fellow named Maw. Maw taunts him, describing how Kyle’s father died. “I had the honor of taking his head and thrusting it on a spike for everyone to see!” he says. Kyle does the manly thing and kills Maw in cold blood.
He's actually collecting money for the Disabled Persons Foundation
Suddenly, Jerec arrives with Kyle’s love interest Jan. He says something to the effect of “You’ve taken your first step towards the Dark Side! Strike her down and your transformation will be complete!” The Force Power screen pops up, Light Side glowing green and Dark Side burning red.
“Well!” thinks you, so comfy behind the computer screen. “I’ll choose the Light Side this time around, and maybe later I’ll see how the evil decision goes.” But you realize something horrible, something terrible. You can’t select any of the Light powers. Your only option is to put more points into your evil side. You click OK. The cutscene resumes, Kyle cuts off Jan’s head, and the quest changes from Stopping Jerec and Saving the World to Killing Jerec and Taking the Power for Yourself.
At that point, there was no choice. By killing enough civilians, by putting enough points into the Dark Side, you had already made the decision to do The Wrong Thing.
Just like Solid Snake, this past week I managed to infiltrate Koj*ma Headquarters to get a look at the next installment of the Metal Gear Solid series. Let's take a look:
STORY Remember Sons of Liberty? Remember how you were excited to play as Solid Snake again, and all the trailers and screens implied that you would? And then Koj*ma put in some new effeminate character named Raiden instead? Well, he's done it again. But in reverse.
Yes, everything about Rising makes you think it's going to be about Raiden, but that's just what Hideo Koj*ma wants you to think. The story begins immediately after the events of Sons of Liberty, as Raiden is left standing in a ruined Manhattan, having just killed his adoptive father in a sword fight or something. Raiden goes to the apartment he shares with his pregnant robot girlfriend Rose, and finds out that she was Laughing Octopus disguised as Decoy Octopus disguised as Rose the entire time, and that she's here to kill him to hide any evidence that the US was involved with the Big Shell/Arsenal Gear incident.
Raiden escapes the apartment complex and goes into hiding with Otacon, who wets himself. Raiden and Otacon have a conversation and decide that the only survivors of the Big Shell incident are themselves, Snake, and Olga's daughter. Raiden decides to go after Sunny while Otacon goes to warn Snake about the danger.
The cutscene ends, and then I got to see some of the gameplay.
GAMEPLAY Meanwhile, Snake is infiltrating a grocery store to get some food, because he gets tired of eating nothing but rations all the time. This serves as the tutorial stage, where Snake must avoid security cameras and sneak past the checkout aisle with some macaroni, because he never actually got paid for that Shadow Moses gig.
Snake is back to the PS2 control scheme, because of course in terms of story continuity he hasn't learned how to aim and move at the same time yet. This is in order to increase the "challenge". Higher difficulties will change the control interface rather than enemy count or damage taken: for example, "Big Boss Extreme" will remove analog stick functionality, as well as forcing the player to hold down the start button before inputting any commands.
MORE STORY Snake is attacked by a new Metal Gear as he leaves the grocery store: Metal Gear Diet. Otacon appears and helps Snake escape in an armored motorcycle, and then follows the standard Metal Gear Motorcycle Rail Shooting Scene (MGMRSS). Otacon explains that Ocelot is sending Octopus after them in order to cover up the existence of the Patriots.
Meanwhile, Raiden finds Sunny in the care of the real Rose, who has never seen him before in her life. Raiden becomes depressed and jumps off the balcony of the building, shattering his body. He is recovered by Patriot agents and given his new robotic body, but he needs special fluid to survive.
The Patriots contact Snake through Campbell, telling him that they have his friend and that he must collect the fluid from a heavily guarded remote South African camp. The fluid will be used both to power Raiden's new body and to power the new Gecco the Patriots are working on. Snake agrees on the condition that they release Raiden, Rose, and Sunny if he does.
GRAPHICS Here's where things fall apart a bit. As we all know, Rising is going to be a multiplatform game, on the 360 as well as the PS3. Unfortunately, the two consoles are not the same, and Koj*ma had to make some concessions to fit his huge game onto the weaker 360. Take a look at these screens, both of the same part of the game, on the 360 and the PS3:
I guess it's only to be expected, but I really was hoping for more on the Xbox 360 end, even if Koj*ima has to put the game on two or three cartridges to get the same experience. As it is, I overheard Koj*ma say that the 360 version will be the same price as the PS3 version, which to me seems a bit unfair as the Xbox version won't be getting the multiplayer.
Anyway, that's all I was able to see and hear before I was caught and removed by the guards. I was threatened with court martial if I ever spoke a word of what I had seen to anybody, but screw it.
*Well, it could be real. We never know with Koj*ma.