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Arsenic13's blog

6:09 PM on 03.26.2014

Shut Up, Kid!

12 year olds are the most detestable group in multiplayer gaming. The moniker 12 year olds is not representative of the actual age of the children within this group, but the connotation is quickly and generally associated with asshole kids to those in the gaming community. When someone complains about children in multiplayer games, youd be remiss not to hear them called 12 year olds.

There are some despicable kids out there across Xbox Live, PSN, and PC vile children whose parents should be monitoring them and washing their mouths out with soap when they hear a stream of expletives or verbal attacks come from their offspring. Racist and homophobic remarks get bounced around like a playground ball, and personal attacks are commonplace in online communities where children are present. There is a troubling issue at hand that stems not from the children, but from those they share their online communities with: the adult gamers. These children are merely a product of their online environment and its about time we stop calling for their exclusion and take a stand against those that act so vehemently toward them.

I can go on and on on how vulgar and offensive the adult gaming community can be as a whole especially online, and how we need to change (which we do), but my focus is on how we treat kids. Many of those terrible 12 year olds were created by us. In a way, we are responsible for the high pitched swear words we hear so often in our online matches and lobbies.

My first multiplayer experience was in 2006; I was 15 years old. I had just received an Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter and couldnt wait to try out my first game (and only game at the time), Perfect Dark Zero. The prospect of playing with other people excited me so much I hoped to make friends, enemies, and prove my skills in a multiplayer arena. Now, while all of that did happen eventually, my first experience online was not a pleasant one. As I tried to come to terms with the games rules and online features, I asked others players for advice and information. I had heard that Perfect Dark Zero featured voice modulation of some kind and wanted to toy around with it. With the first words I spoke, I was immediately attacked and made fun of for simply being a kid.

How do you use the voice effects?, I asked my team.
Why? Because you sound like a bitch?, said someone.

You can imagine how quickly my perception of online gaming changed with that comment. What could have possibly drove this person to be so aggressive towards someone clearly younger than he was? Well, I suppose the same reason why anyone would choose to be rude to kids online: the desire to humiliate and abuse.

The humiliation of children is something Ive heard first hand over my many years playing online. Attacks such as the one that happened to myself are often unprovoked and simply a result of a kid speaking over a headset. Ive heard male children called fa**ots, homos,bitches, and quite often told to shut up until their balls drop. Regardless of how medically incorrect that last insult is, its thrown around a lot! Evidently its an offense to be a game-playing child online; the mere presence of a prepubescent voice is enough to spur insults from fellow players.

There is a prevalent trend in online gaming culture that revels in the humiliation and disrespect of others. Whether that be with children, women, LGBT individuals, or what have you. My concern regarding the abuse of children is that not only is it nonsensical (as well as hypocritical for older teen and adult gamers) to attack someone because theyre younger and share the same passion as you, but the act sets a precedent to online behavior. What are we teaching kids about social interaction online if we allow them to be verbally insulted and humiliated when ever they try to play a game? Are children not impressionable beings that are prone to pick up behavior that theyre exposed to?

This calls up the old saying, Monkey see, Monkey do, because hate is something that I believe is learned. When a child goes online to play a video game and instead gets called a series of insults, we cant expect all of them to maturely shrug it off and focus on the game. Some will adapt to the toxic environment thats been created. Some children will begin fighting back using the same tactics that theyve learned within their online environment.

Asking for better behavior online is a massive request, but one that I think is worth repeating, especially where children are involved.

I grew up as an only child. Ive spent many days of my childhood bored and wishing I had a sibling to play with someone to make up stories with and play games with. As I got older and became an adult, I found that I really wanted to become a father. Ive always liked kids and saw no need to be mean to them if theyre simply looking to have fun. Kids are enviable in what little they need to concern themselves with in the world and how much fun they get out of things like video games.

As someone that has grown up around video games and online gaming communities, Ive seen how bad things can be for kids. In the future, whenever I become a parent, its going to be difficult seeing my kids experience be soured by those out there with hostile personalities. Yes, this is the way of the world and I dont plan on sheltering my kid, but the concern is there for online abuse. Id like my child to share the same hobby as I without some idiot disrespecting and harassing them because of their age.

To be honest, Ill probably pick up the mic and say some nasty stuff of my own but I digress!

Ive never seen the need to disrespect a kid playing in a multiplayer game, because I was once in their shoes! It would be hypocritical of me to state that a child shouldnt be playing a video game in my adult presence I did the exact activity at their age. Despite the clear hypocrisy behind this, I still see it happen: kids getting shunned from communities because of their age. Even friends of mine that I respect seem to share this stigma against kids. They believe that kids will often ruin a gaming space with poisonous language and profanities, but is that not overly presumptuous and perhaps helping perpetuate the stereotype? It most certainly is.

This argument does bring up the concern over mature games and whether children should be playing titles rated outside of their age range, but as far as Im concerned, thats up to the parents to decide not some angry teenager or adult that cant stand the presence of a kid in their match. Regardless of the games age level, this does not mean a kid is not allowed to some respect from older players when they play alongside them. Let the parents decide what their kids can play, and lets make an effort not to harass children merely for trying to enjoy the same hobby that we do perhaps even a hobby weve enjoyed since we were around their age.   read

6:16 PM on 03.24.2014

A Plea for Penis - Striving for Realism and Maturity in Games

Nudity in video games has been a mostly one sided affair with the amount of visible female anatomy far outweighing that of men. Video games have featured women completely nude, breasts and groins exposed. Similarly to the movie industry, men - pardon the pun - get the shaft and rarely have their parts visible on-screen even during nude scenes within mature-rated content.

The absence of male nudity within games is ignorant, dismissive of a variety of demographics, and in some cases, nonsensical. A variety of scenarios across a breadth of genres have equal opportunity for tasteful and non-sexual nudity as a means to show maturity within the medium.

There is an issue of inequality present. Publishers believe that the targeted male demographic can only handle seeing women exposed in video games. Bare penises in video games are few and far between. I'm not talking about the occasional suggestive joke image or dildo. Nor am I calling for more sexually explicit games with on-screen sexual activity. Logistically, we should be seeing far more male nudity than the game industry is willing to show us. Penises can be a vital storytelling tool to evoke an emotion out of the player whether that be fear, comedy, or simply displaying a fact-of-life situation within a sophisticated narrative. But there is still a hesitation: a lack of contextual male nudity in popular media, especially in video games.

Let's start with my favorite genre; horror. Consider this scenario: an evil corporation has transformed human beings into terrible, disgusting monsters. The mutations have ravaged their forms and the need for clothing no longer applies. All body parts are intact, but transformed. However, there is a distinct lack of monster dong.

Let's look at this image of Resident Evil's Tyrant. Its arms, legs, and body have increased in mass, and its skin a dull gray tone. The Tyrant is completely naked, but upon examination of its lower region, no trace of genitalia can be found. Sure, we can say that it was removed during experimentation, but where is the visible markings of removal? Resident Evil Remake has brilliant texture work, so any intent to suggest that the Tyrant had genitals prior to experimentation is not apparent. The Tyrant was simply designed to disregard this aspect of basic human anatomy. But why? Did Capcom's designers fear that the inclusion of male genitalia, or even a slight suggestive mark, would make players more uncomfortable than gore and death? Apparently so.

Looking at a Naked Zombie, also in Resident Evil Remake, there is a distinct lack of markings where the family jewels should be. As with the Tyrant, it's as if someone simply airbrushed or covered the area with flat skin, removing any detail or suggestion that parts are missing. Code Veronica's Naked Zombies actually had visible damage to their genital areas, which didn't imply that the designers were afraid to acknowledge the existence of male parts, but merely had a lack of a desire to include them. The PS1 era Resident Evil titles wouldn't have been able to render these parts if they wanted to.

If this matter is strictly due to the potential discomfort of players, then why wouldn't a horror game make use of something so simple within the design of a nude male creature? Frictional Games' 2007 episodic title Penumbra features a monster type called the Tuurngait Infected. Tuurngaits are naked, zombie-like creatures with mutilated genitals. This phallic and tubular body part that connects its stomach to its groin is the Tuurngait's most striking feature. Had the monster not been equipped with such a strange-looking willy, its scare factor would have significantly been reduced.

Nudity makes most people feel uncomfortable. It's socially unacceptable to go out completely nude in public. Being nude somewhat creates a feeling of vulnerability. Being confronted by a creature or person that disregards the social taboo to nudity and the feelings of vulnerability it creates, is frightening. When it comes to monster designs that are derivative of the human form, the more anatomically correct the creature is, the more discomfort it creates for players.

Seen above is an image of the two brothers in Red Barrel Games' Outlast. These two men are not creatures, but simply homicidal maniacs that lack clothing. The two brothers have a calm but threatening demeanor. Their disregard for the faux pas of public nudity further exemplifies the harsh conditions of the chaotic environment in which they reside and their troubling mental states. Their exposed winkies have a far deeper connotation than simply being obscene.

Penises don't have to be scary, as much as some publishers and developers believe they are. They're simply a part of the male body. If game creators want to strive for mature, contextual, and non-nonchalant displays of nudity in their games, theyre going to have to realize that the depiction of male genitalia won't literally burn the eyes of immature and insecure adult gamers clearly breasts and lady-groins haven't produced those results.

Let's look at a few games that have featured male nudity in a light of a non-sexual nature. One of the most universally recognized examples would be in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and the Damned. In a meeting with Congressman Thomas Stubbs, protagonist Johnny Klebbitz (and players) get an eyeful of flaccid man-meat after several intentional close-camera shots. Rockstar intentionally danced around the showing of a penis in a video game as if proudly boasting that they were brave enough to do so expecting players to drop their guard at the possibility of ever seeing a penis so clearly in their game.

I have yet to play Grand Theft Auto V, but I'm told that male and female nudity is in no short abundance. GTA Online players have the choice to run around without pants. It may be crass and humorous to some hoping to be edgy, but Rockstar's inclusion of a natural element of the human body shows progressive and mature thinking whether or not it's used as a comedic tool by players.

Rust, a recently released Steam Early Access title by the creator of Garrys Mod is a game about survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Rust features a whole lot of male nudity as all player-controlled characters in Rust start out as naked, bald men. Rust is not trying to say anything or be groundbreaking with its inclusion of nudity; it merely presents the naked male form as a fact of life. In context of a survival game where hypothermia and radiation exposure are constant threats, nudity and all of the vulnerabilities and handicaps associated with it, exist to accentuate the realistic concerns that one would have while living in harsh conditions.

The Metal Gear Solid series is no stranger to acknowledging the frank and beans found between a man's legs. Countless times throughout the series attention to a man's parts have been used to bring comedic value to a scene - or even a means to confirm someone's identity. I'm sure we all remember Raiden's nude adventure at the climax of Metal Gear Solid 2, right? Comedic situations such as this can be found in a few older games as well.

In the past, during the arcade and pixel graphic days, some games humorously showed nude males and their pixel-by-pixel length wangs and/or butts. Rampage, which starred two men and a woman as playable monsters, would revert its mutant characters back into human form if they incurred enough damage to their health. The original Rampage had its characters cover up their special parts and nervously walk off screen. In Rampage: World Tour, graphical improvements gave developer Game Refuge Inc the raw technical power to render tiny pixel penises for their naked characters. River City Ransom featured a spa scene where the main character's butt was exposed. But where there's one semi-nude video game guy, there's 100 times more instances of exposed women.

Women have been subjected to objectified female video game characters for decades. A scantily clad warrior with impractical armor, the damsels in distress, etc. The fact that when we do see some skin in games, it's mostly female characters retreading the same lazy and offensive path. Women are marginalized and ignored when it comes to the dominant demographic that most games cater to. Who's to say that women don't want to see some skin as well? I'm not asking for reverse objectification, mind you, but an effort to make the playing field equal. Games are largely designed to cater to a male hetero-normative demographic, despite reports stating that women make up 45% of gamers [Sales, Demographic and Usage Data, ESA]

In contrast to other countries (especially European ones), American sensibilities are still prudish we're a culture that's far more supportive of violence in media than acknowledgment of human sexual nature. Murder, gore, and violence in gaming is less appalling - less challenged by consumers, than a female protagonist having a love interest, or optional gay character relationships, or something as simple as seeing a fake penis.

For the medium to grow and to be all-inclusive, we must drop the stigma of male nudity within games. If a game developer sets out to feature nude women for titillating reasons, all the while purposefully ignoring their male characters, they're not only perverting and abusing an artistic medium in hopes to appeal to a perceived male-only demographic, they're promoting a double standard. A standard that considers their male demographic immature, perverse, and moronic while showcasing their own aversion and fears towards male nudity.

Brothers, sisters, let us embrace the video game penis for all that it stands for: growth, inclusiveness, acceptance, and equality!
Note: the images are censored so the article can be safe for work. The uncensored versions are one click away!   read

8:58 AM on 12.31.2013

My Top 5 GOTY List: Twink Edition (Dante / Raiden)

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So, like all the cool kids have done, I too have written my own GOTY list. There are five games listed in no particular order, and you may or may not agree with them. Check em out!

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parablesnuck up on me and impressed me more than I could have imagined. I had never heard of the original mod, nor the hype prior to the release of the standalone version, but once I saw how people reacted to this game, I had to try it. I launched the game, not knowing what to expect, because a lot reviewers avoided spoiling the magic (much to my appreciation), and I became transfixed and highly amused by what I was seeing and hearing. The only way a person can recommend this game without spoiling it is saying that, you should just play it as soon as possible. So go do that, and also read myHonorable Mention in Horrorarticle aboutThe Stanley Parable, on Rely On Horror.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Its not often that I find myself so in love with a game that I replay it numerous times back-to-back. Before I did so withMGR, I played throughDmC: Devil May Cryabout two to three times. Before that, I powered through several replays ofSilent Hill Downpour. Before thatI dont remember a time when I could muster up the drive to do so, outside of my childhood.

My first playthrough ofMetal Gear Risingwas a tad disappointing. It wasnt that I was hoping it would be more likeMGSor even have some proper stealth elements, but I just didnt get into it. Perhaps, this was because of how I was playing the game stepping right off ofDmC, I probably jumped into it seeking high number combos and flashy moves. I beat the game, loved the last fight (despite it being pretty difficult), and then replayed it. I then replayed it again. And Again. And again.

Once I understood the game wanted me to play with Zandatsu in mind eliminating enemies through my cuts rather than my combos I started to become deeply invested in the games combat system. I finished one difficulty and then moved on to the next. Out of all of my friends, I am the only that can say that I completed the game on Revengeance difficulty. Im not an expert player at anything, but I think I got damn close withMGR!

As of writing this, I am pumped to replayMetal Gear Risingon PC. I dont know how many more playthroughs Ive got in me, or if Ive lost my ripper skills, but Im excited to hear more goofy dialogue feel the satisfaction of turning cyborgs into sashimi.


Outlastwont win any awards for originality within the horror genre. It takes place in an asylum, and its got an evil corporation in it; andthe enemies are crazy deformed people that want to hurt you. The game also has got its fair share of gore as well, and theres a heavy usage of familiar gameplay mechanics. But despite all of this, its a hell of a good game. I reviewedOutlastand gave it my very first10/10on Rely On Horror.

Outlasttakes a bucket full of horror cliches and tropes, freshens them up, throws an extremely polished coat of paint on them, and them confidently thrusts players into its wonderfully realized world of horror. The gameplay is simple but tense. The imagery is not original, but it is expertly designed to produce a foreboding and ominous asylum that is both impressive to look at and terrifying to be in.

DmC: Devil May Cry

Ill start by getting this out of the way: Im not a diehard fan of theDevil May Cryseries. Ive purchased and completed each game in the series as they were released since the very first, but Ive never been extremely invested in the characters or world. I enjoyed the firstDevil May Cryas a child it was somewhat creepy but also very exciting to play. Plus, at the time, a game about shooting and fighting demons was on the top of my thats cool! list.

As Im sure many others will say, I didnt likeDevil May Cry 2very much at all. As forDMC3, I loved that game when it released (so much so that I completed in a handful of days), but ended up selling it rather quickly. WhenDMC4was announced for the Xbox 360 (the only console I had at the time), I celebrated like many others. But whenDMC4released, I was left disappointed by what I got; I didnt like Nero, and I didnt enjoy yet another game in which Dante acted like a reserved cool guy that felttoo coolto tell anyone what he was planning (DMC2), and I most certainly did not like the games plot.

While the internet went ablaze when the line My name is Dante was spoken in the first teaser trailer for Ninja Theorys reboot, I recall enjoying the trailers song and making a comment about how New-Dante looked a bit too much like Hilary Swank. Once I got my hands on the game for review, I fell in love. Ninja TheorysEnslavedwas quite the beautiful and charming game. My only issues with it was that the combat system was a bit simple and unsatisfying. WithDmC, they crafted something much, much better. LikeEnslavedbefore it,DmCfeatured a rich and colorful world and striking level design. The style of the game, heavily influenced by anarchist and rebellious behavior, along with its soundtrack by Combichrist and Noisia, won me over. In fact, I used to play a custom Combichrist playlist while playingDMC4,because the in-game combat track got of my nerves fairly quickly.

DmCs combat was deeply enjoyable, and new Dante has pinchable cheeks. Both of these features are among the top reasons why the game was one of my favorites this year. IfDmC2is ever sanctioned by Capcom, no matter how unlikely that scenario seems, I hope for a better story and deeper, more complex characters along with a slew combat improvements.

The Last of Us

The Last of Usis a fine game to play and witness. With combat thats as grim as its narrative, it explores mankinds penchant for violence. It may be yet another zombie title about humans being the true monsters, but it handles this theme masterfully.

Naughty Dog has given us a story thats filled with hope and despair. Hope for a world to return to what it once was: a mask of order and civility that hides what humans are truly capable of when all structure is lost. Hope for a father figure to save the world (or maybe just his).

The Last of Usis a culmination of a quantity of powerful, brilliant, and engaging elements that come together to forma fantastic piece of interactive storytelling.

Breaking someones skull with a brick is pretty fun, too.   read

7:13 PM on 10.18.2013

Getting Thoughtful, Alright?

It has been a month since Grand Theft Auto V released on consoles. Millions of copies were sold in a matter of days, making this game the biggest entertainment property to date. As I watch friends and internet communities rant and rave about all of the things Los Santos has to offer, my desire to play the game ever increases. I havent purchased GTAV. I havent played it at all, actually. Criminal? Surprising? If you spoke to some people theyd say either-or, or both of those things.

Im just sitting here waiting for the headline Rockstar Announces GTAV PC. Ive previously written why Ive opted to favor PC gaming over consoles this gen, so this post wont focus on why Im waiting for the PC version of GTAV (those reasons are fairly obvious anyway). Instead, I just wanted to remember and reflect on my experience with the series.

My first Grand Theft Auto game was GTA3. I remember hearing great things about it from friends. I was in elementary school at the time it released (lets avoid the children playing M rated games debate for now). I dont recall much about convincing my mom to get this game for me despite news reports at the time after all, she bought me BloodRayne despite the boxart being sosuggestive. What I do recall is picking it up a few months after release from a game store in Harlem called GamePlaza. Gameplaza would shut down and reopen a lot due to what I assumed at the time was breaking so many streedates. Maybe they were just poorly managed. Who knows? Anyway, I went to this store a lot over the years to buy and inquire about new games. My mother and I were both known by the clerk that worked there throughout the week. He had no issue with selling me mature games after a while. What did he care? A kid got to shoot and run over people in a video game. Why deny a child happiness, right?

GTA3 was a delight to my wee-little senses. I never actually beat it due to an extremely difficult mission near the end, but I did play it numerous times and spend countless hours free roaming. There was nothing about Liberty City that looked like New York, but that age I pretended I saw familiar locations anyway. At that time GTA3 was so impressive that it was hard for anyone not to look at it in awe.

Fast forward to October 27, 2002: the day of Grand Theft Auto: Vice Citys release. By then I had become much better informed on things happening in the game industry. I anticipated that day feverishly. I remember being antsy in class, itching to leave school and run to the store with my mom. If I recall correctly, a friend of mine got his copy when his mom picked him up from school with the game already in her possession. When I got to the store the familiar clerk had my copy prepped, bagged and waiting to be traded for a cool $49.99 plus tax. He was a nice guy from what I remember. Although, I think it was just because he had the hots for my mom.

Fast forward again to the release of San Andreas and the cycle restarted. I got the game on release and played it to my hearts content. I remember my friend Jeremy not being allowed to because his mom disapproved of its mature content Im sure the Hot Coffee debacle didnt do the situation any favors, either. We used to play the game when he would come over to my dads place or when I was at his and his mom wasnt. My dad didnt care one bit. Hell, he probably encouraged it; some boys will be boys reaction to the medias protect theprostitutesand children shtick.

I really enjoyed San Andreas. From the main character sharing my name (so that I could get the full effect from my success or failings at missions) to the feature rich gameplay and large world, I had an all around good time. My fondest memories from that game have to be the randomized pedestrian aircrafts falling from the skies and landing in the streets. Those were always a fun surprise that gave my imagination a little kick, making me wonder what fictional turn of events led to that NPC crashing his or her plane. Depression? Engine failure? An accident? Its better not to think of it as an AI shortcoming.

GTA4 released when I was in high school not exactly at a point worth reminiscing. I wasnt too impressed by GTA4′s campaign, but its online free mode gave me many hours of fun with friends. While I was a bit homesick and dorming for my first year at college, running around a fictional New York City made me feel a lot better. Playing GTA4 for hours on end and munching on free (with tuition) cookies and brownies were definitely the building blocks behind my freshman fifteen (more like thirty).

And this brings us to GTAV. As much as Im aching to play it, Ive gotten much better at resisting video game spending. Well, I wouldnt count those Steam sales because they save me so much money (I think)! Its so weird seeing all of these people enjoying this massive game and I havent even touched it yet. I think Ive changed as a consumer, as a gamer, and as a person. I used to feel compelled to get games at launch. Now I hardly do it. The last two times were Kingdom Hearts HD (still not finished) and BioShock Infinite (which I regret). Now I just sit back and play a bunch of games that Ive accumulated on Steam. Finishing them one by one and procrastinating on completing my morecolorful games. But you can rest assured that once GTAV hits PC, I will be picking that up on day-one at retail so I can rub my face on the cover and say its been a while. Maybe the wait will be worth it? I hear GTA Online, a mode I may end up playing more than the campaign, still needs some work from the server issues, lost characters, and angry players. I dont mind hopping in once thats all been settled.   read

9:58 AM on 09.19.2013

Rated E for Me

I remember a time when I could become fixated on a video game for weeks, months even. Hour upon the hour counting down as my childhood imagination became satisfied by what I saw on the screen and accomplished with a controller. I may only be twenty two years old, but I miss that feeling of wonder fondly. What happened to it?

As if Im already suffering from some sort of midlife crisis (more like quarter-life), I long to become captivated with games like I used to be. Most recently Ive been hoping to rekindle that feeling of glee by playing titles like Ni No Kuni and Kingdom Hearts HD. And its working alright. I have lots of fun, I smile, I laugh at the cute stuff, but every now and then when in combat I call the cute, little monster that Im fighting a fucking asshole or a prick. As if I was hoping to end their lives, not incapacitate them. Im a terrible person, I think!

Now, Im not resistant to charming games or happinessif I was Id probably not be blogging about this but seeing a professional. What I merely mean is that its hard for me to become enchanted and transfixed into these games like I had been when I was younger.

A lot of the times I need to be in the right mindset to play these type of games. If Im not, Ive noticed that I begin to gravitate toward games that my twenty two year old self is more familiar with. Games with shooting, violence of some sort, or angry things. Thats pretty depressing if you ask me. When I was younger, I got lost in Double Fines Psychonauts (at one point I even wanted to be called Raz). Id spend hours in the original Kingdom Hearts killing Heartless. Id replay Bob Omb Summit in Mario 64 with the flying hat and show the secret teleporting flower patches to friends. I didnt need to return gunfire in a game about angry people with angry problems and their angry tools of peace. Id just hop around for awhile, revisiting levels that I had already completed just because. Is it overexposure to similar-minded type of games and not enough happy stuff?

Its really a shame that Im not a Nintendo fan. They produce some of the finest games in the happy and charming genre. Maybe I just need to put aside the shooters, the horror games, the hyper-violent titles that I play on a regular basis and create self-restrictions on what games I should occupy myself with. Maybe just for a week or two. Its not like Im playing GTAV right now, anyway. A big problem behind this though, is my willingness to drop money on games that Im not sure Ill love. I want to love games like this, but the financial risk is a bit too high for me to take the plunge. Its a cycle of evil! This goes with Nintendo as well. Ive played Mario Galaxy, Zelda, Pikmin, Animal Crossing, but Ive not been compelled to add them to my list of games that I must play.

In the future, occupying myself with all these sort of games will reset the balance (I hope). It must mean something that despite being more comfortable and interested in a lot of these grittier games that I still wish I was as a fan of feelgood happy stuff. Persona does a good job of making me go yay, friends and happiness! but that probably doesnt count because its supplemented with tragedy and deaththe sustenance that fuels my current gaming interests (to my own chagrin it seems).

Anyway, now is the time that I ask you, my infinitely deep pool of people that are interested in what I have to say, what do you think? Have any of your felt similar? Can I learn to love again? Someone help me get my groove back.   read

10:22 AM on 03.14.2011

Horror Game Pitch: Venom

Venom has to be one of the most interesting Marvel characters ever created. Since I was a kid, hes been my favorite. Eddie Brock and the black alien symbiote used to give me child hood envy and I wished I could have a cool alien costume just like him. Being a huge Spider-Man fan, I found Venom to be my favorite character in the series. Since Venom branched off from Spider-Man and has had several independent series, I think the guy deserves some much needed attention.

After finishing the first comic in the new Venom series this week, a sudden re-interest in the character hit me. Venom needs his own game. Not just another comic game adaptation. Venom is a creature that inspires fear. His image and abilities have the potential (and have) to scare the crap out of people. Originally just a buff guy in a blue-black costume, over time, Venoms appearance changed into something monstrous. Razor teeth, claws and brute feral strength have become a part of the character over the years. Venoms character and history has the potential to be one brutal M-rated action horror title.

Eddie Brock and his alien pal have had harsh, scary moments together. Venom, once an evil creature became a lethal protector over time. His nobility may have involved eating some brains and slaughtering criminals, but his heart was in the right place. It would be unfair of me to not mention Mac Gargon, or any other of the Venom hosts. While they all had their own unique experiences as Venom, Eddie Brock holds the most potential for a riveting tale. The time between Lethal Protector and Eddies rebirth as Anti-Venom holds a great opportunity for a dark tale to be told. Whether new, or based on one of the other mini-series.

Perhaps even a game as Eddie Brock and his newly formed Anti-Venom symbiote against an evil threat would be amazing. Spider-Man: Web of Shadow had a good story to give, but its presentation was lacking. Nor was it a horror game. The time after Venom created a truce with Spider-Man holds the best opportunity for riveting tale. Eddie Brock is a disturbed individual and his weak mental state combined with the alien symbiote host gave way for a good dramatic tale over the years. Brocks sanity was in question during his independent series. His time gone may not have been fully covered. Here lies a empty spot for a game to take place. Perhaps even the mini series called The Hunger can be used.

Making Venom a deep dramatic horror tale would require the game to be severely brutal. Im not talking of any game rated below a M for Mature. Venom, as a character, is a monster. There is no need to sugar coat his horrifying appearance. But what kind of game would benefit him? What comes to mind is a mixture of The Darkness -in terms of brutal comic style- and Prototype -brutal as well, but similar in combat style-. The Darkness is a game about a character enduring a bonding with a demonic being. Eddie Brock co-exists with the alien symbiote. Here lies potential to create a narrative driven story with a battle for control, sanity and free will. Prototype has Alex Mercer as a guy infected with a virus that allows him to transform and use his tentacle appendages to kill foes in brutal ways. I am hesitant to think of an open-world Venom game, but perhaps it could work. Getting the lack-luster Spider-Man games from Activision out of my mind will require some time.

Venom to me is a Marvel character that is worth exploring in a videogame. His dark past, and weak sanity has driven him to do horrible things. He is literally the victim and the perpetrator in one. A dark story that delves into his and Eddies mind accompanied with brutal gameplay could create a great psychological action horror title. Just please, dont bring back Topher Grace.

Have an ideas for a Venom game? Let me know in the comments.

Originally posted on my horror game site,   read

8:48 PM on 03.01.2011

Defining Survival Horror

What defines a horror game as survival horror? What aspects differentiate the genres? I wanted to take a look at how people view the survival horror genre in whole. I’ve sent out a request to several people behind horror games to find a common ground. I wanted to see the differences and similarities in their definitions, and perhaps figure out what the genre means to them. This is all in hopes to analyze the aspects of what makes a survival horror game.

This article will be somewhat “episodic”. Overtime I will post another response from a different developer on what they think about the genre. Hit the jump for the full article.

Alan Wilson
Vice President of Tripwire Interactive.
Known for: Killing Floor

Being pedantic, just divide it up into the constituent parts – “Survival” and “Horror”. For the horror part to work, you need a good combination of setting, monsters, shock, surprise and some suspense. Doesn’t really matter what the monsters are – zombies, vampires, the large hairy tentacle thing from Call of Cthulu. And the setting doesn’t matter that much either. It is how you use the setting. To get a good “horror” feel, it needs those peaceful moments, combined with the suspense – you just know something is going to happen and, when it does, it should be a shock. Rather than “slower” paced, I reckon it is more about varying the pace. Amnesia: The Dark Descent, for example, does it by keeping the base feeling slow and unhurried. But dark corners, noises off, spooky hints all go to build the suspense. You just know stuff is going to happen, but you can’t tell when and how. And when it does, it is often sudden – so it is shocking. Just hiding in a corner gets scary. Combination of sound, helplessness, dark corners – it gets scary. It is horror. There are times when you feel perfectly safe – but that is just the start point.

Then, “Survival”. You have to veer between feeling safe and feeling like you are genuinely threatened. If there isn’t any credible threat, how can there be any big buzz in “surviving”? The horror elements certainly should amplify that feeling. When I’m under pressure from a bunch of monsters in Killing Floor, a crawler popping out of a ventilator or somewhere, or a stalker uncloaking behind me, can still make me jump. The surprise/shock immediately amplifies the “survival” part, with a lot of “crapohcrapohcrap” suddenly in my skull. The tricky balance is to induce moments of pure panic – but they have to be survivable, or they are just “give up and walk away” moments, when they should really lead to “Woahhhh – how DID I get out of that?”.

Alan brings up several points at keeping a horror game in a survival zone. The threat of death must be apparent when enemies arise. He also says the threat must be accompanied by peace. The player must feel isolated and alone for the incoming threat to be scary. Whatever threat it may be, it must be substantial and strong enough as to get the drop on the player. He also mentions that a pure feeling of accomplishment must arise when the threat has been dealt with.

This is starting to sound right. Classic survival horror games were plentiful in this respect. Resident Evil pits you against sudden powerful zombies after numerous quite areas. Silent Hill did the same, but in a supernatural aspect. The feeling of isolation being suddenly ended by an encounter with a beast much stronger than your protagonist is what many attribute to survival horror. Killing Floor contains many of these aspects, but I’m sure many will be quick to call it an action horror game due to it’s large arsenal of weapons and multiplayer.

Tomm Hulett
Producer at Konami
Known for: Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Silent Hill: Downpour

Survival Horror is a specific type of horror where the player character is underpowered and vulnerable. The player should feel like their death is a very possible risk. To accomplish this, enemies need to be threatening in a real way—not just scary looking or deformed, but actually able to kill the player. In most action games you are only “afraid” of the enemies if your life is low. In a Survival Horror title, you should be afraid as soon as you spot the enemy. (It’s not Survival Horror per se, but Left 4 Dead’s special infected do this really really well. As soon as you hear a Witch or Tank, your flight response kicks in and you are scared.) But it goes deeper than just the actual, concrete threats—in a Survival Horror game players need to feel like the world itself is against them. This means heavy, suffocating atmosphere. No mushrooms in question blocks here—if you find a weapon or health pack it’s because you lucked out, and you’d better hold onto it because you’re going to desperately need it.

Tomm stresses preservation just like Alan did. The need to survive is what makes a survival horror game; not complicated since survival is part of the title right?

The two both bring to light that survival horror enemies must be stronger than the protagonist. Their presence must bring terror due to their strength. Both Alan and Tomm mention that the appearance of the enemy does not have to be disturbing or monstrous to be terrifying if these survival horror elements are apparent.

Think about this for a second; what games have you played where the enemies were incredibly strong and your only way of advancement was to be sneaky and by conserving your available resources. Personally, Minecraft comes to mind. This cutesy building block game was not meant to be a horror title, but when the nighttime creatures appear, and you’re resources are extremely low, there is a strong sense of fear and anxiety. Now take this simple mechanic of vulnerability, and add some intense ambiance, disturbing visuals, a great story, and voila, you have something resembling a survival horror game. But is it really that simple?

Director at Access Games
Know for: Deadly Premonition

Survival horror is an exercise in escapism, but the player must furthermore escape from the world he has escaped to.

It’s sort of a self-contradiction. I think this is the fascinating thing that really appeals to its audience.

Here we can see SWERY’s definition of the genre, while shorter than the others, he touches on the symbolic aspects. We have discussed the gameplay with Alan and Tomm and their ideas met in most areas. But here we have SWERY, the man behind one of the strangest games this generation. His views accentuate the the meaning behind a survival horror game and the core emotional aspect which is created to disorient the player.

This quote brings to mind Silent Hill; the players leave their world behind and in turn must escape this new place which they have wound up in; perhaps this is what SWERY means. In Deadly Premonition York enters this strange “otherworld” which he seems to never disclose to anyone else. He enters this place and must proceed to escape. Not to mention Greenvale; York arrives at this small town in hopes to find a killer and in turn must solve the mystery that somehow relates to his own past. Only then can he leave this new place. York’s previous cases were in cities, and he expected this small town mystery to be relaxing, but the story was much deeper than anticipated. Here we can see in some way what SWERY meant. Escape the old, arrive at new, escape the new.

I also asked some fans of survival horror what they thought the genre meant. Nearly everyone mentions weak weapons to non at all.

“A nice mixture of disturbing scares and jump out scares (we know we love the latter). Also greater focus on weak weapons, scarce ammo and when the enemies should be frightening as one enemy just as much as large groups.” says Manuel. He later calls Amnesia a “near perfect” horror game due to absolutely no weapons and being completely powerless even when hiding. Manuel pushes for powerlessness just as Tomm and Alan stated.

Ryan and Cody both state that sound is key to a survival horror game. That the atmosphere must produce an orchestra of sounds to envelop you -the player- into the world of the game. Erasing all ties to the real world and genre awareness, just the pure sense of anxiety and fear is what a horror game should be.

Sound design and visuals are becoming part of the definition. Along with SWERY’s symbolic interpretation of the genre, I am starting to see more and more sides of this aging genre. In the next part of Defining Survival Horror, I talk to Devin Shatsky, the producer behind Silent Hill: Downpour.

Devin Shatsky
Producer at Konami
Known for: Silent Hill: Downpour

Sur-viv-al –noun: the act of surviving, especially under adverse or unusual circumstances.

Hor-ror – noun: an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting.

The label Survival Horror specifically refers to the emotions that a game is intending to arouse inside the player. I think it’s one of those things that’s fairly easy to define, or quantify. Yet extremely difficult to actually execute on or qualify. I believe the main reason for this is because fear is completely subjective. The kinds of things that scare me may not scare you, and vice versa. So the results of the experience completely differ from each perspective. I’ve talked about this in past interviews, and I want to reiterate it here, that reality is a necessary component of horror for me. Things need to fall somewhere into the realm of believability for it to really have an effect (on me). I like to be able to immerse myself completely in a horror game or movie, and really try to identify with the main character(s). I want to be able to feel that “what would I do?” feeling during the experience.

Surviving, is the key word to define a proper Survival Horror experience. It’s not the environment, its not the setting, it’s not the atmosphere that’s most important. It’s that overwhelming anxiety that one can only experience when they are inches away from a horrific moment. So, the crux of the equation is ‘empowerment’. How powerful does the player feel at the moment of truth. If the degree of empowerment is little to none, I believe THAT is when Survival Horror is truly experienced. This can be experienced in a sandbox at a childrens park, or it can be experienced in a dark alley. All it takes is the proper equation. Dangerous Antagonist + Powerless Protagonist = Survival Horror. Of course adding a foggy, quiet town into the equation never hurts.

Thanks for asking!

A great definition by Devin Shatsky. He immediately jumps into the core component of Survival Horror, and that is surviving. Alan, Tomm and Devin all agree that empowerment is key to extracting horror from a survival situation. An immediate sense of incoming deadly situations are what unnerves the player and reminds them that their protagonist is just as frail as any other human being. If one of us were to be attacked by some shrieking beast, would we really have the ability to stomp its legs off without breaking a sweat? Perhaps not. Instead most of us would be ripped apart in seconds, unless we ran. The same should apply for a Survival Game.

The protagonist of a game within the Survival Horror genre should be an everyman (or woman). I don’t mean this in the sense of occupation, or social status, but by actual physical limitations. Classic Survival Horror games were downright hard. This was due to your character being highly susceptible to damage. Before Chris Redfield was punching boulders, he was as weak as any other human. Several zombie attacks and he would be down for the count. Same with Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 5; before she was a ninja with a breast machine, she was a normal person will very little physical defense. The same can be said for the Silent Hill protagonists. Harry, Heather, James, Henry, and Travis were very easily killed. Alex was a little more defensive due to his “soldier” past, but not many hits were needed to take him out either.

So what about a protagonist that has a little more luck on his side? Perhaps a nice armor suit and a wide variety of weapons? Does his adventure qualify as survival horror? Stay tuned for our next part of Defining Survival Horror with John Calhoun, Producer on Dead Space 2.

John Calhoun
Producer at EA
Known for: Dead Space 2

Making good survival horror games is like making a good cocktail: you only need a few ingredients, but they have to be perfectly balanced to hit that sweet spot of “I can’t go on” and “Give me another!” The main ingredient is a protagonist who is less powerful than the threat he faces. In Dead Space, the hero is Isaac Clarke, an engineer by trade who’d be more comfortable fixing a shockpoint drive than dismembering a Necromorph. He’s not a soldier, not a hit man, and definitely not someone who’s trained to confront an undead scourge. When the character you’re controlling has a legitimate reason to doubt his chances of survival, then players are likely to experience similar pangs of fear and dread.

Another key ingredient to survival horror games is a relatable setting. People are very attuned to their surroundings, and can sense when something is wrong or off in a familiar space. The best survival horror games play off this phenomenon. Games like Dead Space 2 feature environments that we can relate to – apartments, schools, churches, hospitals – and effectively toy with players’ expectations. It could be something as simple as having a hallway be eerily quiet, or having a door locked and shuttered for no apparent reason. Players pick up on these small details because they’re both familiar and “not quite right,” and that enhances the horror experience dramatically.

The final ingredients are measured in dashes. You need a couple Boo Moments to keep your heart racing now and then. You need to keep the ammo count down just a bit, so you always have the fear of running out of bullets right when your back’s against the wall. And finally, like a good cocktail, you need to appreciate the experience slowly. Pacing is key to the survival horror genre, and the game should be designed so that players want to creep through it carefully. This lets them appreciate the atmosphere, and soak in the little details that help craft the horror experience. Serve it all up in an attractive package, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a scary game!

John hits the nail on the head. We previously discussed the vulnerable protagonist with Alan, Tomm, and Devin, but John brings us back the realm of what SWERY was talking about. John discusses the other “ingredients” to a survival horror title, which is about the atmosphere: the location of a survival horror game doesn’t take place in an area that is completely foreign to us, instead it’s something we are familiar with. A small resort town, or home, or the city is something we are all familiar with. But when these locations become perverted by monstrosities of either human or supernatural origin then fear become apparent.

Pacing is also a key component to a survival horror game. Running around jumping past enemies is not scary. In my first playthrough of Dead Space 2, it took me around 11 hours to complete the game. After I learned of all the scares and became a powerhouse due to NewGame+ it took me around 5 hours. This is not a bad thing at all. This shows the the game forces players into fulfilling an expected pace. The ambiance and scares considerably slow down players and forces them soak in their environments. An environment must be filled with details that slow the player down because they find something wrong with it; John states this in his definition. The world must seem familiar, yet disturb the player for multiple reasons.

The Dead Space series has gotten some flak for it’s label of survival horror. The sequel, while agreeably great, has been called an action horror title. The accessibility of Dead Space 2 has made many horror purists claim that there was no sense of survival. Isaac Clarke may have a large arsenal of weapons to choose from, but does that make the game any less survival horror? In my own playthrough, I stated that the sense of survival was strong. It has a slightly different air to it than say Silent Hill or Resident Evil, but it contains many of these aspects which we have discussed. Isaac may wear a suit which assists his combat, he may have a wide variety of weapons, and the game may have many action scenes, but does break down the core survival horror aspects?

In the next part of Defining Survival Horror, we talk to Thomas Grip of Frictional Games. He lends us his ideas on why Dead Space 2 is not considered true survival horror to some fans.

Thomas Grip
Co-Founder of Frictional Games
Known for: Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent

First of all, I am not that fond of simply discussing if something falls into a certain category or not. This because these kind of categories rarely are very clear (see “no true Scotsman fallacy”) and that it is even very interesting to debate it. Instead what I do find very interesting to discuss, is what kind of feeling a game strives to evoke, and how successful it is at doing this.

Taking Dead Space 2 as an example, I think the first question would be: what are the designers intent with this game? This is of course hard to know, but as long as we focus on something that is a somewhat related to the game, discussions can be very fruitful. For example, say the intent was to make the as scary as possible; does the game live up to this? One can then discuss if the game should really have things like the stores and upgrade benches, and how these affect the end experience.

Now, from what I can tell, being as scary as possible was not the top priority for Dead Space 2, but simply framing the question that way can give rise to a deep and interesting discussion. This regardless of the correctness of our initial assumption.

With the above in mind: Why do people not call Dead Space 2 a survival horror? The answer is then that one need to look deeper then simply answering the straightforward question. It must first be established what players perceive as the intent of the game; did players expect a scary game and so on? The next step is then to find out what it is that make the game fail at living up to these expectations. One can then also wonder if going in with different expectations would make the player enjoy the game more and so on. I find that all sort of interesting things can spring from these kinds of discussions.

Here I had asked Thomas about some people’s issue with calling Dead Space 2 true survival horror. Because of Isaac’s access to many weapons, and his more combative approach to situations, many are left with a feeling that Dead Space 2 resides on the action side of horror. In my personal playthrough of Dead Space 2, I started on the survivalist difficulty. As the name suggests, I did a lot of struggling with surviving. I frequently ran out of ammo, I was killed multiple times a level, and I would run from many encounters to prevent a loss of supplies. Aren’t these the same qualities that we have established as a survival horror game?

Of course not everyone may have jumped into Dead Space 2 on a harder difficulty, but is it fair to call Dead Space 2 action horror with no survival whatsoever? I think the issue is that many believe that because Dead Space arms you appropriately and contains intense scenes of action you are given the upper hand on situations; frequently throughout the game, you are empowered. Empowerment seems to be a violation of the survival horror formula. We’ve discussed weakness with Alan, Tomm, Devin, and John, and for Isaac to even be momentarily empowered, fans become influenced into seeing the game as action oriented. Defining Dead Space 2‘s genre is up to the players it seems. Personally, I considered it a survival horror game in my first playthrough. But Newgame+ gave me a much bigger advantage. What about Hard Core mode? Do I look like a masochist to you?

We’ve received definitions from leading people in the horror gaming world. From Silent Hill to Amnesia, the survival horror genre contains many core qualities, but how it’s executed seems a bit subjective. What we do know now is that the feeling of a survival horror game should bring not just fear, but displacement. The protagonist must also be vulnerable to the world and enemies. Everything that seems familiar to us must be flipped upside down, figuratively (and physically). Survival horror is a dieing breed, but with upcoming games like Silent Hill: Downpour, Dead Island, Resident Evil: Revelation, Amy, etc. We have faith in seeing the genre flourish once more. I hope you enjoyed this long article, and please leave some feedback in the comments!

Originally posted on my website,[i]   read

11:22 AM on 02.21.2011

Suitable Mention in Horror: Breakdown

In this installment of Suitable Mention in Horror Ive decided to go back a few years and talk about one of my favorite games of all time. The game is Breakdown. Ive always stated that this game deserves a sequel, and discussing the horror elements within the title will hopefully let me vent my frustration in never seeing one.

Breakdown is a psychological thriller JFPS with a lot of unique elements unseen in other FPS titles. This game was deep, mysterious, emotional, and fun as all hell. Director Masataka Shimono made a unique title that will sadly never get the sequel that it deserves. Breakdown released in 2004 for the Xbox and was published by Namco. While it did not get all positive reviews, I loved its mind twists and complex story involving time travel. This engrossing title stole my interest so many years ago, and I find myself going back to time and time again.

You played as the only survivor of an experimental super soldier program. As Derrick Cole, you awake in an underground facility in Japan with no knowledge of who you are. From the get go, you notice that the entire game is in first person. Punching, kicking, shooting and even eating is all done from the eyes view. The game does an amazing job of putting you into Derricks head. Every action requires a prompt. If you wish to pick up health, an item, energy or ammo, you have to actually set up the situation. Derrick must extend his arm to pick it up, then continue with the task of grabbing said item. It may seem cumbersome, but its a take it or leave it form of first person immersion.

Derrick isnt a deep character with a lot of feedback, but he does speak. I guess the developers thought it would be an way easy to force the player to feel like they were Derrick. Shortly after the tutorial level, you are drugged with a delicious looking burger and a can of a Coke-like juice drink. In a haze, you see a woman warp into reality moving backwards in time and then a break-in occurs. Before unnamed soldier can take you down, the woman reappears moving in normal time and she quickly dispatches the soldiers.

There is a war going on between humans the alien Tlan. These hulking organic-cybernetic creatures look humanoid, but are far from such. Derricks new friend Alex saved him, and tries to remind him of what is going on, but you are as clueless as your protagonist. Alex has been sent back in time to rescue you. She is surprised to find that you have no recollection of who you are. You soon find out that Derrick is the only survivor of mixing Tlan DNA with a living human being. Scientist extracted Tlan DNA which they concentrated into Tlangen and Derrick was the only host to adapt to it. Derricks amnesia is also the result of the harsh experiments.

Throughout the game Derricks powers start to manifest in the form of glowing white veins extending up his arms. Breakdown is a First Person Shooter / Brawler. With these powers, Derrick can lay waste to enemies with his hands and legs. You may be thinking that this cant possibly be a creepy game if you have mega-arms, but it is. The environments in Breakdown are cold, sterile and desolate, that for a last gen game look real and unnerving. The graphics while slightly stylized, are realistic and clean. The later levels also bring you to the dark world populated by the Tlan. Here things are black and lifeless; organic looking environments layered with almost cyborg-ish flesh become the norm. Let me not forget to mention the random occurrences where reality seems to break-down in front of Derrick, and only to him. These moments are marked by the appearance of a cat. One little meow, and it breaks away as does the following path: mind screwing at its best. The true reason behind this cat will provide an amazing twist.

Not only are the environments unnerving, but the enemies. They lack any personality. Hulking bald men with no expression or souls lumber around killing all humans. The first few levels make you powerless against them. Solus is the embodiment of the Tlan leader Nexus; his first appearance is a sign of future scary encounters. The game has fantastic pacing. From the start, pure survival is key, but as you progress within the story, you become a more powerful opponent against the Tlan. I loved how these power-up moments occurred. They felt well written and not forced.

The entire story of Breakdown is just fantastic. The game swings through time, reality, and worlds. The story is a thriller at its best, but the environments and scenarios evoke a real emotion that I have not felt in many games. Its not the monsters or gore that makes this game scary, in fact, I dont recall much gore at all. Its the ambiance of the entire game. It just feels authentic yet foreign. This was an overlooked gem on the first Xbox. The story alone will leave your jaw wide open and heart in yearn for a sequel. I have tried to contact the director in hopes he can shed some light on the game, but nothing yet. I at least hope this article will drive some of you to check out this fantastic title. It truly only suffers from some small control issues and difficulty.

Originally on my horror gaming site   read

8:58 PM on 06.15.2010

Dead Space 2 E3 Trailer Analysis


Visceral Games has released the latest Dead Space 2 trailer, and let us tell you; its epic. Theres loads of things going on and you might miss some of them, so we took the time to delve deep into the trailer and try to squeeze as much info as we could. Hit the jump for our analysis of the newly released Dead Space 2 trailer.

The Sprawl is a large colony and its vast and pretty. We can see here Isaac taking a good look at his new location. Most likely this scene is close to the beginning of the game. Around the :30 second mark, Isaac says, Where the hell am I?! He must have been transported to the colony for some reason against his will.

Isaac is crazy. Plain and simple. The Markers psychological effects can be seen more clearly in the Dead Space animated comic and Dead Space: Extraction. People start to see things and eventually go completely mad. The only person that is know to be immune is Lexine Murdoch. Isaac is not. While we may not have seen much hallucinations in the original Dead Space (besides the whole ending twist), Dead Space 2 seems to be all about Isaac and his unique form of dementia. Hes seeing symbols, so is an unknown survivor that can be heard at around :54 seconds. The Marker seems to have..well, left its mark on the survivors of the Aegis VII incident. Isaac also looks a lot spiffier, as well skinnier this time around. Being crazy is a great diet we hear.

Isaac is receiving help from a mysterious woman, we believe it to be Lexine Murdoch from Dead Space: Extraction due to her similar accent. The whole Aegis VII incident has also been covered up, no record or signs of what happened exist, The Government being behind it all. Necromorphs arent the only threat either as it seems. Isaac can be seeing being fired upon from 1:15 onward. Perhaps the very same people who created The Marker, and employed Kendra have erased Isaacs memory and now want him dead after he escapes their captivity. Right now a sort of Aliens Resurrection thing is on our mind. The hero survives, leaves with something from the incident, in this case severe dementia (perhaps something else), and now the people behind it want to study him or just keep him shut. But if they did have him in captivity, why not kill him? As you can tell, weve seen way too many films.

There will certainly be some epic boss battles. Look at these ugly bastards. The one above has saggy tits!, scary. The one above seems to us like a miniboss though, not quite a full fledged fight, but taxing enough to not be considered an average enemy type. The 2nd (the first image) looks to be a full boss. During the E3 demonstrations Isaac can be seen fleeing it. Necromorphs has certainly gotten bigger and more vicious.

And now for the hidden messages in the Unitologist language that Visceral loves using for cryptic messages. Lets go through the three we found.

The word Ignition can be found at :37, :41, :49, and :50, 1:07 and at 1:12.

The following two lines were spotted twice. As far as we know we have found everything. If not, join the forum and leave a comment.

All in all, Dead Space 2 is looking to be a very good game. The action portions are intense and create lots of tension. Its scary action! Something Resident Evil 5 couldnt wrap its head around. Look for Dead Space 2 in stores January 25th.

*Original Post On*   read

8:15 PM on 04.29.2010

CONVERGE Message Hidden In Dead Space 2 Trailer

O.K., we know that we have obsessive issues, but we cant help it! Looking back at the trailer, we found the message CONVERGE flash onto Isaacs face. It makes sense with the whole Make us whole again. line. So yeah, we spent about half an hour decoding that. Those Unitologist characters all start to look the same after awhile you know? The text can be seen at the :59 second mark.

Original Post On   read

5:15 PM on 04.25.2010

I Just Found Out I Won A D-Toid Contest...(3 Months Ago)


Allow me to actually "blog" this time instead of posting my own articles, or what ever you wish to call them. Seeing as I just started to look at the underbelly of Destructoid when I posted my first blog post about the latest Dead Rising Trailer. I guess I never payed attention to anything other than news. To my surprise, I just noticed that I had won Serious Sam HD: TFE for Xbox 360. How surprised am I? *Awesome Face*

Well yeah, that's about it. Check out this Saints Row 2: Drag Queen Vs Pimps video I just made (NSFW).
Unrelated? Yes. Funny? I certainly think so.   read

11:58 AM on 04.24.2010

Backwards Compatibility Is Important

I have decided to bring up the issue of Backwards Compatibility. Something that was important to many, but has slowly slipped out of our minds. When a video game console is Backwards Compatible it can play games from its previous iteration. Think of how a DVD player can still play CD's. This is an important issue to me and many gamers and consumers alike. Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 offer up limited backwards compatibility to previous iterations but will the inevitable PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 (Not official) drop support for all previous software?

With the launch of the PlayStation 2 back in the year 2000, gamers were delighted to find out that every single game for the PlayStation 1 would work on this new machine. As a consumer and gamer I found this an amazing feature. For one I would not have to keep an older console somewhere in my home for when ever I wanted to play a PS1 (PlayStation 1) game. Secondly there was some financial return when I sold my PS1 to an electronic store. There was five years worth of software that would still play on my newest console. Who wouldn't want to have their investments to last as long as possible? The Xbox launched a year after the PlayStation 2 and while not having a massive install base like Sony's PlayStation brand it brought a handful of unique I.Ps (Intellectual Property) to the market such as Halo. The PlayStation 2's ability to play PS1 games was a contributing factor in making it the highest selling video game console of all time.

November 2005 brought about the release of the Xbox 360; the Xbox's successor. To many gamers dismay the console was not fully backwards compatible. Only a limited number of titles from the Xbox were playable. The method of backwards compatibility that Microsoft used on the Xbox 360 was emulation. The games were playable through the software rather than hardware. Periodic updates to the emulation were released to allow more games to work. While emulation is better than nothing I and other gamers were upset that our favorite lesser known games wouldn't work on our brand new console. As a company, Microsoft allowed for big selling titles to still be fully playable offline and online using their internet service appropriately named Xbox Live. The ability to play the top selling Xbox games on your new machine with friends was a huge hit. Halo 2, the most played Xbox game to this date still has a vast online community that can continue having fun because of backwards compatibility. To deny your consumers the ability to continue to enjoy your products on new hardware is foolish.

The PlayStation 3 thought to challenge the Xbox 360 by offering up full backwards compatibility to not only PlayStation 2 games but PlayStation 1 games as well. This was a godsend to gamers. That is eleven years worth of games that could still be playable! This meant that those games would still be bought from stores. Due to high production costs Sony soon removed the feature from its PlayStation 3s. Microsoft also began to stop updating the emulation software. This leaves both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 at a place where backwards compatibility is an afterthought. The Nintendo Wii on the other had blew everyone out of the water by its unique Virtual Store. You can purchase games from the very first Nintendo console and play them on your current one. While it may not be physically taking your old Nintendo Entertainment System's cartridge and putting it in a slot for the Wii, Nintendo allowed us to replay any game we wanted from out past. This is what both Sony and Microsoft have failed at. But my hope is not lost. While the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 may have limited backwards compatibility to their previous iterations the next generation successors have a chance to redeem the companies.

Now both Microsoft and Sony say that their current consoles are built in mind with a ten year life span. This is great to here because who honestly wants to buy a new console every three or four years? I certainly don't. But this is where the issue resides with backwards compatibility. I and other gamers alike will have ten years worth of software for my consoles and if this trend continues consumers will have to fight for free space in their homes. The online communities that have formed on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network will also suffer. Judging from Microsoft's recent decision to shut down Xbox Live for the original Xbox in April, it makes it rather easy to assume that they would be willing to do it again when the Next Box arrives.

I see no reason why support for earlier consoles software can not be compatible. It underminds the consumer, it divides the online community backing those games and it creates probable clutter. The more the technology develops the better those old games can be as well. Currently the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 up converts the resolution for older titles. This allows them to take advantage of the high definition televisions they may be played on. If the technology permits by the time the next generation video game consoles arrive, both Sony and Microsoft can not just increase the resolution of older titles but increase their performance. Like a computer they could allow the games frame rate to increase, increase anti aliasing and reduce load times. Basically make them look and work better.

Listen to the Podcast here.

*This was written as a proposal of my final project for my COM class in college. The accompanying podcast was made by me (Cj Melendez) and co-hosted by (Zev Levit-Ramos) for the presentation.   read

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