Games I have enjoyed over the years: Metal Gear Solid Series
Half Life Series
Ratchet and Clank Series
Ace Combat 4-6 (and X)
Mass Effect Series
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
The World Ends With You
God of War Series
Grand Theft Auto Series
Call of Duty: MW & MW2
Need for Speed Most Wanted
Sonic 1-3 and Knuckles
Die Hard Arcade
All Time Top 10 in no particular order Half Life
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Metal Gear Solid
Ratchet and Clank: Going Commando
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
Call of Duty 4
OutRun 2006: Coast to Coast
The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
Consoles Currently in my room PS3
PC Gaming Rig
Currently Playing (By System) PC - Batman: Arkham Asylum
360 - Shift 2: Unleashed/Dead Space
PS3 - Sly Cooper Collection
PS2: Persona 4
PSP - Persona 3 Portable
DS - Pokemon Black
iPhone - Infinity Blade
This is actually quite a tough choice. Do I pick Fallout 2, with its incredible player interactions, or maybe Portal, with its humor and creative puzzle solving? Maybe I should pick Deus Ex (which you just reinstalled) or Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, in all of its criminally underrated glory. There are many other choices but only two really stand out. I almost picked Counter Strike, as I probably have spent six months of my life playing that game, but no, it had to be the game that got me into PC Games. The game that has led to me building PCs. The game that helped shape my love of storytelling. That is right, the original Half-Life, which used a silent protagonist to build an incredible universe.
I remember the first time I saw Half-Life back in 1998. I was at a friendís house when he broke out the infamous line of a great friend. "I just got a new computer game and you have to try it!" So I sat down, and my journey into Black Mesa began.
Half-Life was a revolution from every standpoint. And even better, it came from nowhere. It was not hyped anywhere near as much as other titles of that year, in fact, from my personal recollection, SiN was supposed to be the PC Shooter of the year, and during the early hype, was already being pushed as a game of the year, matching games like Fallout 2, Metal Gear Solid and Ocarina of Time. But then Half-Life dropped. I still remember the GamePro review glowing about how the game was a revolution and a must play. Still, I ignored it. I was a console kid. I didnít even think my computer could run games. But after trying it on my friends PC, I didnít care if I could run it. I made my mom stop on the way home and I bought the game. I didnít even check the specs. I knew my computer could run and do so online, but Half-Life seemed like something else entirely.
Luckily my computer could run it, and it ran Half-Life surprisingly well. And so my journey began for real. Now until this point, every shooter I had every played, in fact just about every first person game I had ever played was here is a gun, kill everything. Half-Life changed my life by making me Gordon Freeman. Valve created a way of immersing the player in the character. You are told your credentials and information, and then you're placed into the literal shoes (and shortly thereafter the HEV Suit) of Freeman, a simple scientist at the beginning of the game on his way to work. You didn't even begin with a gun! What kind of shooter had you start without a gun?
As Gordon, I got to explore Black Mesa and see it in itís day to day operation for a short while before the Resonance Cascade. What was so incredible was that I could walk around and talk to people. It was the first shooter I had played where not everyone was trying to kill me. And further, everyone had something unique to say. You got yelled at if you blew up the mac and cheese or pressed buttons you weren't supposed to press. The other characters, the NPCs, actually reacted to you, it was an incredible experience and truly immersive to find myself in a world where my actions had consequences. And this carried through the whole game. Your actions continued to have an effect on the environment, even after the opening of the game.
Just the fact that Valve took the time to build up a world for a shooter was impressive. It was not Doom or Quake, but rather, it really felt like I was Gordon Freeman. But then the Resonance Cascade hit. I was already impressed, but seeing the resonance cascade first hand, as everything that could go wrong went wrong, the visuals blew me away. Suddenly I was teleported from dimension to dimension, seeing all sorts of aliens and other freaky stuff. But even that wasn't as awesome as stumbling out of the test chamber and seeing a scientist giving CPR to a security guard, and further, the guard standing up. The fact that the game had AI Allies was another incredible thing. Sure in console games and other PC games you had other characters on you with missions, but due to the lack of a mission screen or anything that took you out of the eyes of Gordon, the security guards and Scientists actually felt like companions, stuck in this facility together. It also didn't hurt that they were competent.
But then the game goes on, and you donít have a gun. You meet one of the most iconic weapons of the gaming world. The always-helpful Crowbar, now, an old friend, but then it was a case of "Aliens are invading my secret base and I STILL donít have a gun!?" Luckily that didnít last long, but Valve's ability to pace the game so perfectly still resonates, and they followed this style of pacing perfectly in their other games, including Opposing Force, Half-Life 2 and Portal, and this progression has also influenced many other great games, including the Call of Duty series (where in one game you start with a clip of bullets, and no gun). Sure other games all have you earn better weapons as the game goes on, but few felt as well thought out as Half-Life. Further, few games have made their weapons have as much personality as Half-Life gave the Crowbar.
As the game progresses and the monsters get tougher, and you see that your actions still have consequences (such as calling an elevator and causing it to drop down and explode, killing the scientists inside), you soon encounter something else. Smart enemy AI. The soldiers were enemies unlike any other game I had played until that point. They gave each other covering fire. They moved. They flanked. The attempted to outsmart the player. They also had grenades. Sure, now it seems a bit simplistic, but at the time, it was uncanny. You had an AI enemy that was actually tactical. Further, it created an enemy that wasn't like the aliens you had fought who stood there and attacked or charged you. Valve had given us an enemy that was more mobile and required a whole new set of tactics. This would repeat again when they introduced the black ops troopers. Each enemy of Half-Life felt unique and each required a different strategy, from your basic head crab (dodge!) to the amazing Tentacle sequence (sneak!). They were so much more than the enemies in other shooters, who tended to boil down to strafe and shoot. Half-Life's enemies each felt unique. It was also something else when you stumbled upon soldiers fighting aliens.
Half-Life was one of the first games I ever played where it really felt like you were just a person in the world, rather then the one thing the world revolved around. From a story perspective, the ambiguity as to what was happening around the rest of the facility meant a lot. It was one thing to have cinemas tell you a story, and not a bad thing by any means. But Half-Life felt unique because it let the player figure out the story and what was going on from the bits and pieces it drip-fed to you. It almost reveled in the confusion going on at Black Mesa. Half-Life had a lot of respect for the player, as it trusted the player to figure out what was going on rather than spell it out and ruin some of the mystery behind Black Mesa.
These are just some of the reasons why Half-Life is one of my favorite games of all time. The quality of the game is astounding. The entire game was clearly lovingly crafted, and what is more impressive is that the quality is reflected through the entire game, from the opening tram all the way through Xen. It also played very well, in spite of itís early first person box puzzles and the platforming of Xen. Though the characters were never fleshed out at all, it really added to the atmosphere and made the G-Man stand out that much more. The shooting mechanics were incredibly solid, and it controlled very comfortably. The graphics at the time felt revolutionary, mainly because of the unique designs. Each area of Black Mesa felt different and new from the last, whether you were in the harrowing waste processing plant in the bowels of the facility, the enormous rocket test chamber or fighting soldiers on the dam.
All in all, Valve did something incredible with Half-Life. They changed a genre. They showed us that you could fully immerse a player in a character and still tell a story. Even if it was just that one manís story, it was still incredible. The excellent pacing, wonderful designs, great controls and clever scripting created a shooter that is still being emulated today, 13 years later. As much as I loved Deus Ex, Far Cry, Riddick and others, they likely wouldnít exist as we love them without Half-Life. The fact that Half-Life not only holds up, but holds up well is a testament to the 1998 games legacy, and for the reasons listed above, that is why Half-Life is my favorite PC game of all time.
Before I say anything else, let me list a disclaimer, I think it will depend more on the price than any argument either Mr. Sarkar or myself can make. I still think the 3DS has to sell itself better to me for it's $250. I will reserve judgment on the NGP until the price is announced.
The amusing thing about the 3DS is that it's lineup seems to have an awful lot of console based games, something Mr. Sarkar uses against the NGP for (specifically he muses that people dont want the console experience on a handheld). Ocarina of Time came out in 1998 for N64, MGS3 was a console game for the PS2, and yet the possibility is ignored that the 3DS offers a similar experience to the NGP, if one that switches graphics out for glasses-less 3D. My problem is that you seem convinced, without any real evidence, that the NGP will fail because it offers a console experience. The problem is that from what I have seen of the 3DS, the 3DS offers the same thing, just with older games in a new light (not a bad thing per se).
I personally trust both Nintendo and Sony to get it right. They're both very good at what they do and myself and many others loved each company's last handheld. I think the Price will be the thing that makes or breaks the PSP2, as I'm still unsure if the 3DS will be able to succeed at its current price point, but I wont get into that discussion now (or later really, I want them both to succeed). I will personally be buying both, though I might wait for the eventual 3DS Lite, but to write off the NGP for the reasons listed above seems very narrow minded.
I will grant you the cell phone market is a tough nut to crack, but a portable PS3 in your pocket should be enough to differentiate the device, especially because the fully functional dual analogs on the NGP defeat any comparative controllers on many of the Smart Phones (the one possible exception is the "PSP Phone" from Sony Erickson. As a sidenote, I view the PSP Phone as the only true threat right now to the NGP from the Cellphone market, due to it's control scheme. I know if I didn't love my iPhone so much, I would be getting that. Still the NGP is aimed at a different market sect. I'm sure part of the plan is for Sony to draw fans away from the cellphone gaming market, but they are also aiming it at gamers, who want a fully fleshed out experience on the go.
Why should we settle for simplistic games on the go like Angry Birds? It is a great game to be sure. But I find it hard to believe that the prospect of a fully playable Uncharted game on the go is anywhere near a negative for a system. We've been collectively dreaming of a full console experience on handhelds since the Gameboy came out. Now we have the opportunity to finally have our miniaturized consoles, and people are arguing that it is a bad thing? The advantage here, is that the NGP, and the 3DS as well, are at a point where they are the perfect blend, despite the touchscreen and 3D gimmicks. Both Systems are poised to allow us the experiences of all gaming worlds, from the quick and casual of a mobile game, to the quirky yet refined goodness of a core handheld, to the fully fleshed out experience of a console.
I started Alan Wake with high expectations. It was hyped up, and had good reviews. And frankly, Alan Wake started out awesomely. The first few chapters of the game were amazing. I loved finding the foreshadowing novel pages. The one in the forest was my favorite moment in the game (The one that foreshadowed the first chainsaw guy). The combat was initially fun, the story started driving. And then they introduced Agent Nightingale. And I realized something. All of the characters, except Barry, were flat. Some of them still had interesting aspects, but they never felt like developed characters. Nightingale had no motivation, just hated Wake as a plot device. The artists' mental home owner had awful justification and no explored motivation. It was hinted at, but never explored deeply, which is a shame. Both him and Nightingale could have been great villains to add another threat separate from main villain (darkness). Instead, these characters were never fully fleshed out as true threats and weakly defeated during the course of the story.
Barry was a good character, but served as underdeveloped comic relief. The policewoman was never really made interesting other than the cliche "small town police officer doubtful of the FBI." Overall, the writing read like one of the books that Stephen King throws out when he needs money. Weak characters, weak plot, and eventually, weak gameplay. While the gameplay started off good, the Flashlight (and the somewhat annoying ENERGIZER BATTERIES [and other obnoxious and somewhat unnecessary in game ads. At least the batteries made sense, even if it was a bad way of advertising batteries because they ran out so quickly]) became nothing more than a weak gimmick by the end. It never made combat interesting or challenging.
The combat was bland as hell towards the end, mainly due to the generally uninteresting set pieces never changing and the extremely linear level design. They clearly realized this and tried a bit of a change in the big driving stage at the end, but even that remained linear and disappointingly straightforward. There was often the illusion of nonlinearity, due to the forest or the "wide open" road, but it was just a false sense that kept you confined to small paths to lead you through a level. Once I realized these things, my enjoyment of the game dropped.
No matter how many times I tried to care, or how many great references there were, after about chapter 3, I just found myself playing it in the hopes that the ending could at least be satisfying and that the endgame (I imagined it would be a crazy rush to the lighthouse, as the opening sequence faux-foreshadowed). Instead, I found myself going through the paces, seeing the hackneyed plot device of the magic object from his childhood reappear. Wake was much more interesting when I was wondering if he was just descending into insanity, rather than having magic and evil explain everything.
That isn't to say the mid to late game did not have its moments. The two old metal heads were awesome, and the concert scene was a lot of fun because it was such a drastic change from the rest of the game and was so far out there. The police chase through the woods was fantastic until they backed off and it became another standard action sequence and you no longer felt pursued. The chase through the actual town was another refreshing moment, though the helicopter take off ending battle was weak. But then, we get to the worst offense. The final boss. At this point, I'm going, "okay, finally get to see what the hell is happening, because I'm pretty sure even the writers don't know anymore." What had started off as a great psychological thriller became a bland action plot with a generic evil at its center, rather than something actually interesting. And I fight the tornado. And it is surprisingly easy to drop. I figure, there must be more, cause that was godawful. But there isn't.
And it still gets worse. Rather than giving me an end for my $60 game, I end up a godawful cliffhanger, that resolves NOTHING. Then I find out if I want to find out the ending to the game, I have to spend $14 (or $7 per episode) for episodic DLC? Let me preface this section by saying that planned DLC is something I'm generally okay with. It is annoying, but I will accept it if it truly expands the game and more importantly doesn't interfere with the core content. Mass Effect 2 got this right. None of the DLC was necessary and did nothing but resolve questions outside the scope of the main plot and simply expanded the universe. Borderlands got it right, with General Knoxx containing a huge swath of land to explore unrelated to the main game's vault story. Red Dead Redemption gets this right, having the DLC be almost a brand new game. But to have to spend extra money so I can see the end of my game? Screw that. Everyone who had a hand in deciding that should be fired. Alan Wake doesn't have a climax. It builds up to one, and when you pass what you think is the climax (the tornado showdown, which as previously stated, is incredibly anticlimactic), it is revealed that it was not the climax, but rather some weak excuse of a cliffhanger that offers no insight, no resolution and no closure. Then you're told that you can spend some extra cash to finish the game you already bought? Hell no.
It is for these reasons that I did not enjoy Alan Wake. It was a waste of potential, sloppy and unfair to the people who purchased it, with weak gameplay, bland characters and the worst excuse for an ending I have ever played. If you enjoyed it, you're entirely entitled to that opinion, but I have to disagree.
And it is too bad, because the literary allusions really tended to be pretty good. Chapter 2 ends with Haunted, a phenomenal song about House of Leaves, my favorite book.
Much like last year, the DToid Forums are hosting some fantasy football! Our 10 person league is all filled up and drafted, so I decided to make a short blog post showing how awesome we are and the cool things up for grabs this year, and also a bit of info on how our draft went!
I always figured Fantasy Football was pretty much a game. It may fall a bit short of a video game, but it is generally played on computers so... close enough. This year, myself and 9 other people, bbrigg, smurfee_mcgee, ChillyBilly, blehman, Kauza, JT IceFire, WarZombie, norm9 and gatorsax2010 will be put into 1 on 1 confrontation of raw physical and mental skill, as we watch players do things we have no control over and gamble on their success!
What are we gambling? Well someone could win a sweet, familiar looking hat from JT
Some stuff Kauza found in his basement, next to the chained up girls!
Some amazing toys from ChillyBilly including an old school Gameboy!
Or even my own personal PSX copy of Parappa Tha Rappa (with a bonus of FFXIII thrown in for good measure!)
Or pictures of blehmeng's junk!
Who can resist? I know I sure can! Still, last year it was a lot of fun, and the prizes always help keep people from dropping out!
The draft was fun and full of shenanigans, as we Skyped and Drank and told jokes. Mostly at the expense of myself! Doesnt matter, I still got to pick just before Blehmeng and steal all of his players! Good times were had! Now, I will post the first two rounds of our draft for the hell of it!
Round 1: FIGHT
(1) Hollywood Mouse Ears (GatorSax) - Chris Johnson RB
(2) Magic City Skunk Apes (WarZombie) - Adrian Peterson RB
(3) Almost in a box (Smurfee_Mcgee) - Ray Rice RB
(4) Buseyville Buseys (JT_IceFire) - Maurice Jones-Drew RB
(5) Murderville Baby Punchers (bbrigg) - Frank Gore RB
(6) Swamp Donkeys (Kauza) - Steven Jackson RB
(7) Rediculous Taints (ChillyBilly) - Michael Turner RB
(8) Joe Theismann's Leg (norm9) - Drew Brees QB
(9) Jim Sterling's Country Buffet (ArcticFox) - Aaron Rodgers QB
(10) Metro City Moustache (blehmeng) - Andre Johnson WR
Round 2: FIGHT
(11) Metro City Moustache - DeAngelo Williams RB
(12) Jim Sterling's Country Buffet - Shonn Greene RB
(13) Joe Theismann's Leg - Randy Moss WR
(14) Rediculous Taints - Reggie Wayne WR
(15) Swamp Donkeys - Peyton Manning QB
(16) Murderville Baby Punchers - Roddy White WR
(17) Buseyville Buseys - Ryan Grant RB
(18) Almost in a box - Tom Brady QB
(19) Magic City Skunk Apes - Larry Fitzgerald WR
(20) Hollywood Mouse Ears - Cedric Benson RB
I will likely keep this updated throughout the year. Or not.
I've been meaning to do this blog for a while. Ever since I moved into my new apartment last summer. But each time, something new was coming out that I knew I'd have have to get. In November it was the Prestige Edition of Modern Warfare Two. In February it was the purchase of a Wii. More recently it was the Giant FFXIII poster that hung in the window of my local game store and the Commander Shepherd cutout. But I could wait no longer. I finally had to make this blog, primarily cause my place is clean and who knows when that will ever happen again.
So without further ado, my setup.
Rocking a 50" HD Rear Projection Hitachi I got off a friend for 200 dollars and copy of Wii Sports Resort. It only goes up to 720P, but I don't mind at all, the thing kicks ass.
I've picked up a number of posters and such over the last couple of years. The MotorStorm thing is actually a bandanna, the Dragon Age real inflatable sword, my PAX East badge signed by Tycho and the Tank which was part of a Battlefield Bad Company 2 promotion, as well as my Vault Boy Bobblehead.
Here you get to see my cheap bookshelves and such. Most of this stuff I will go discuss later. Though the Niko license plate from GTA4 is here because I'm afraid of it getting stolen from my car for being so awesome.
My Resistance Standee was really the first piece of this whole collection. The FFXIII poster, regardless of my thoughts on the actual game (I liked it, but it is not my favorite by far), is one of my favorite things in the room. That Nintendo Poster is actually from the box of my original Nintendo bought in 1989. So I guess that was my REAL first piece.
The Entrance to my tiny kitchen. In case you didn't realize, I love Mass Effect. It is one of my favorite games of all time.
There is the game collection, at least the 360 and PS3 (plus Blu Ray and PSX games)
The Consoles. There you will meet (and I am such a nerd) Teddy from Persona 4, the Blue Knight from Castle Crashers, K.K. Slider from Animal Crossing and Kiba, from the anime Wolf''s Rain. Oh and a 60 gig PSTriple, a Wii, a 360 and my Ace Combat 6 Flight Stick for my 360. There is no better way to play that game.
Ahh yes, my horrendous, yet strangely comfortable couches that were granted to me by my old roommate. Thanks to him I had more cash for games, cause I didnt have to spend it on furnature!
I love my companion cube. Also, NVG from MW2 (they are actually a lot of fun and work too), my Kisuke Urahara hat and a buzzer from MadWorld that makes an impossibly annoying chainsaw noise when pressed.
Finally, the pinnacle of my collection, or at least the thing I love the most , because it is the most personal. At PAX, the lead artist for Shank was doing promotional drawings of his character. My friend had the bright idea to get him to draw Shank killing him. I stole the idea and he ran with it. So that is Shank killing me. It doesn't hurt that the game was also a lot of fun. But yeah, best piece of schwag ever? I consider it so!
A final picture to pull it all together! And there you have it! My gaming setup! Hope you guys and gals like it!
Eve Online is monolithic. It is huge in its complexity. It is one of those rare MMO's that has staying power in the face of games like WoW. Eve had always intrigued me, both in its play style and in its progressive nature, to let the players dictate the general atmosphere and path of the game and to turn PVP in to a capitalistic art form. So I gave it a try after hearing that the developer, CCP, was going to make players suffer the consequences of falling for a scam. And I lasted less then a week before being overwhelmed remembering that I dont like the non-active combat of MMO's. And a year later, once again, some new thing that happened in the word caught my eye so I tried again. And lasted about a week. Then, in this past year, I heard about one of the most major in game corporations was toppled through a clever act of in game sabotage. And CCP was going to allow this to continue.
"A game that has consequences," I thought for the third time. But this time, I was going to go in prepared. I was going to do research and figure out how to actually play the game. I decided this time to start doing research. So I browsed the wiki and instead of doing research, I looked at all the cool ship designs and imagined myself piloting them through an asteroid field while attacking pirates. Then I stumbled onto the soundtracks page. And I had an epiphany.
Eve's music consists of a unique genre. It is ambient, but the use of percussion and 1980's-esq droning synthesizers (like something out of Blade Runner or Alien) in conjunction with the theme of space exploration paints a vast soundscape. On Last.fm, I have seen the genre simply called "Space." How appropriate.
But Eve's music isn't just perfect for the game. Again, like Persona, it is listenable in real life. However, while the majority of Persona's soundtrack is good for a sunny day or music while driving, Eve is great for thinking. The songs are relaxing and so far, have gotten me through at least two rounds of finals. They are the perfect study music. Upbeat enough to keep you interested, but subtle and relaxing enough to not be distracting. Seriously, I don't know how I would have survived my finals if it had not been for the Eve Online OST.
So after the spring semester finals, I decided to be proactive. I found out one of my friends has been playing Eve for a while. We hung out, and he literally directed me through the opening tutorial, and further, directed me as to the proper way to level up skills. The gameplay still has a lot to go to grow on me personally, as I need to remember that it is not all about the space combat, but the fact that I know what Im doing, combined with my new found confidence that I will actually be of use to some corporation makes the game much more enjoyable. Having a mentor definitely helps as well, as he got me into a corporation with the expectation of me playing. I'm nearing the end of my free trial, and this time, I think I will stick with the game.
By and large, one of the highlights of being in the game is the contextual music. While exploring space, you end up with relaxing and slower paced songs, and as soon as you hit combat, in comes songs with distortion guitars and harder percussion, as well as more active synth work. It truly speaks to the writing of the music that whatever song is playing seems absolutely perfect for the situation. It was a bit of a wake up call when I first hit combat and heard a song that had been primarily associated with studying come in and kick up the pace while I was destroying some pirates in an initial training mission. Seriously, if you like ambient music at all, or you just want some tracks to chill out to, do yourself a favor, and check out Eve's music. As for me. I will be training my skills in game and trying to earn a legitimate missile boat.
Seriously, check out Eve's music, http://www.eveonline.com/download/music/