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Brandon Kelly's blog

6:49 PM on 04.15.2010

A Salute, To Halo 2

It's a weird feeling to turn on your console, PC game, whatever, and go to the main screen, and realize that it's not supported anymore. Helpful messages are gone, unable to connect to the servers; it feels like you walked into a barren wasteland, but you can remember everything that was there before. It becomes a shadow of its former self, a hollow shell. I get this weird sinking feeling, "eventually, is this going to happen to everything I know and enjoy? In 10 years, can I fire up my Xbox 360 or my DS and will they still operate? Could I still check my friends list and get updates for the games?" It's weird to think about, especially for games and systems that you hold a soft spot for.

For me, one of these games is Halo 2. Last night was the last night you could ever play it online. Being one of the primary games that got me into gaming, it left an empty feeling inside of me. Something akin to (but not as serious) a relative dying, or a friend moving away. I felt that it needed something, a nice toast to send it off into the vast expanse of dead electronics. A true gem in the pile of nothing.

Halo 2. I salute you.

"The movement felt tight, like as in Halo 1 and 3 where it seems you can jump 30 feet in the air. You feel like you've got fluid motion" -Codey Blevins

Before achievements, before dedicated unlockables, before any of that, there was Halo 2. Good, classic, wholesome, human competition. Nowadays, people won't even touch a multiplayer without some reward system, and let's not even get started about achievements. It forces developers to move time to developing some crazy unlock and rank system, and away from making the actual game worth playing (cough cough F.E.A.R. 2, Modern Warfare 2). If you wanted a test of skill, character, and manliness, you both grabbed an oversized Xbox controller and booted up Halo 2, arguing about the map and variants. It was winner take all, and that usually meant finding where the hell the shotgun, sword, and rocket launcher were located.

You didn't hop into a match against people higher level than you knowing that you would get obliterated simply because you were a lower rank. It was a test of skill, and sometimes even luck. People twenty ranks higher than you didn't have superhuman abilities like extra grenades, no fall damage, faster running speed, etc. They had experience. They were battle-hardened veterans that didn't need overpowered weapons to kick your puny ass from here to Zanzibar, and would teabag you every opportunity while doing it.

Each weapon had a distinct usage, sound, look, and feel. The rocket launcher, for example, was an extremely dangerous tool, but it only had two bullets per clip, and had a long reload time. You reacted differently to each weapon as well. You see someone running at you with a sword or shotgun, you immediately backpedal. It was the reason players who used those weapons would always be so damn sneaky. You see someone with a sniper rifle, you duck and cover. You see someone in a scorpion tank, or warthog, you either run the hell away or try to jack it. Each weapon was balanced to perfection, and no one weapon was the "go to" weapon. I mean you would run for the shotgun every chance you got, but drop into an open area with people at middle range and you might as well be a turkey with a broken leg on Thanksgiving weekend.

"Slayer. Killtacular. Game Over." -Announcer

Halo 2 invented matchmaking. Hell, Halo 2 reinvented the console multiplayer experience. It took what the Xbox Live service could do, and peered into the future. Lobbies, voice filters, matchmaking, stat tracking, these things were unheard of! Jumping into a Halo game meant jumping into streamlined, lagless multiplayer, and it knew it. Not only that, but dedicated playlists that would change and vary weekly with special events made you feel like you were playing in an organic world. Throw in "social" matches that would allow you to bring in up to 3 other people that didn't have Xbox Live accounts, and you have yourself a party. Big Team Battle 4EVER!

Speaking of stat tracking and big team battle, creating a account allows you to view every single thing you ever did while connected to Xbox Live during Halo 2. My last game was in 2007, Big Team Battle, on containment, the map you see detailed above. I had two guests, my best weapon was the battle rifle, and i took the other team's flag a whopping total of 1 time, my nemesis was akaDAMAGEINC. Clicking on his profile, I can see that his last game was today, April 15th, 2007, at 10:50 AM. He was in Big Team Battle on Coagulation and killed 11 people. If that doesn't make you want to walk up to Bungie and give them a big hug, I don't know what can. That kind of stat-tracking, as far as consoles go, is only available on 1 game, besides Halo 2, as of this writing. Halo 3.

Remember that puppy? 9 Multiplayer maps, bonus interviews, deleted scenes, and a free update, for only $20. Activision just got done charging $15 for 5 maps, 2 of which are simple remakes, for their big multiplayer shooter, Modern Warfare 2. If you want all the Fallout 3 DLC without the GOTY addition it's $40! Bungie was clearly 5 years in the future during the development process of Halo 2. What other game had DLC?! We take it for granted now, but back then we had to go to the store for our DLC.

"You told me there wouldn't be any cameras." "And you told me you were gonna wear somethin' nice!" -Master Chief and Sgt. Johnson on "Cairo Station"

Try to not read it in their respective voices. I dare you.

Halo 2's campaign was nothing to shake a stick at. It was overshadowed by everything else, but in no way was it a pushover. Fully featured 2-player co-op comes to mind. Remember, back in 2004, it was a technological masterpiece to support a whole 2 players in a dynamic setting. The story and characters weren't very good by today's standards, but you liked them anyway. It didn't even really capture the B-movie feel that a lot of games try to run with today. It was just some badass super-soldier in a suit popping one-liners and killing some communist aliens. Extremely original. To this day, i can't imagine to hear the words "Halo" and "Covenant" without immediately thinking of the big ring that could destroy everything and the failed alien pact that tried to do it. I played through the story god knows how many times, with god knows how many people. I will admit that I never beat Cairo Station on legendary, I doubt that anyone actually did. But the campaign was just... fun. Something about how it felt, maybe it was the epic soundtrack, Sgt. Johnson, setpieces, or the Easter Eggs. Halo 2 had an awesome campaign, it just gets left out to dry amongst everything else.

Easter eggs you say? Hidden secrets? Glitches? Super jumps? Skulls? Don't even bring me there. Halo 2's singleplayer and multiplayer was chock full of goodies for us to search for, some intentional and some not. There are sites dedicated to the weeding out of these little boogers. Some say that everything has been found. Some still believe there is more to be seen. Whichever side you're on you have to admit there have been some damn good things to find. Scarab gun anyone? Come on, you remember. Grab the banshee right as you go through the loading area so it doesn't dissapear? Yeah don't give me that, you know exactly what I'm talking about. What about ling ling's head, pictured above? The giant soccer ball on Metropolis? Or maybe getting out of Delta Halo and driving around that huge lake? Don't you even mention the skulls. IWHBYD (i would have been your daddy) is by far the greatest skull ever. It adds a dumpster load of new dialog lines that are ridiculous and awesome. It also appears in Halo 3, but getting it in Halo 2 is man's work. You have to fight off 7 waves of ultra elites using only a plasma pistol. Tell me that's not impossible.

Finding all the super jumps, getting out of maps, searching for easter eggs and clues; all this occupied countless hours of my life, alone or with friends. It was just innate curiosity and pure joy. There were no achievments or stat-tracking awards for finding these things. I felt like an archaeologist digging through ancient relics, and getting to school or my friend's house the next day to describe in detail my findings, with their eyes wide and their hands nearly trembling with excitement, it was something no other game had offered me before. Normally, open world games hold the top spot for Easter Eggs, because those things could be ANYWHERE. But, somehow, Halo hid them in places so far out, that it took hours just trying to get there even though it was ten feet away.

I can still remember the drill. Boot up the game, start co-op, go to the "Quarantine Zone" level and right at the start, run left. Grenade jump, grab the Sputnik skull, save and quit. Now you're in business. The Sputink skull would increase the physics of grenades and rockets, so it was much, much easier to get to higher places. View a nice montage of old Halo 2 glitches, secrets, and eggs, here. And that barely scratches the surface.

"there are no games where you can get together and play lan like you could in halo 2" - Mitch Sturm

So many awesome games these days are dropping LAN and splitscreen support. Bad Company 2 and Starcraft 2 come to mind immediately. Halo 2 simply screamed LAN Party. Two of my birthday parties growing up were completely dedicated to Halo 2, and I remember them with complete detail. Soda, chips, microwaveable pizzas, nearby bathrooms, and T.V.s within close proximity of each other are really all you need for a fun night. There was the one "classic" Red Vs. Blue match, 3 vs. 3 on coagulation, no time limit, flag must be at home to score, that will always be remembered That game must have lasted hours, with a back and forth war complete with tanks, long drawn-out battles, sniper rifles, unison "AAGGGGGGGGGH!!!! "s, and best of all, true gaming nirvana, where your neck hair stands up, and you just think to yourself, "man... that was f***ing awesome."

I won by the way.

Halo 2 will be missed for a bevy of reasons. I have mine, you have yours, and that's the best part. It was one of the most important shooters to come out ever, and it nearly single-handedly brought gaming into mainstream culture. It was everywhere, news debates, reports of gruesome murders being linked to it, getting 10/10 nearly everywhere for fear of raging internet mobs, the list could go on and on. It had some of the best graphics ever on an old console, and those still hold up today. It had some of the greatest soundtrack songs ever, and if you can't visualize the monk-sounding "AHHH OHH EE AHH AAHH AHH OHHHH", then you should never have read this. From start to finish, Halo 2 never stopped being exciting. And it is with great honor and sadness that I see it go away. More words need to be said, more remembering needs to be done, it can never be enough to remember the huge cultural grasp Halo 2 had on the industry. Bungie could have launched their own console and had Halo 2 be the only game, and it would have put Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to shame. Still today, the indistinguishable green of the Master Chief is the Mario of Microsoft.

As a final farewell, and to salute Halo correctly, listen to this nice medley of songs from the Halo 2 credits, and read some comments and inputs from all across the globe. Halo 2, you will be missed. I salute.

" my first time playing, I picked up an energy sword. my best friend was so damn pissed off at me because I kept camping and sorting him out with a sword that he wouldn't play it with me for a week at least after that day."-sonofkorol, Gamefaqs message board

"Eating chips and wiping your hand on your pants between deaths is like, the definition of Halo 2 multiplayer. xD" -sonofkorol, Gamefaqs message board

"I put in alot of hours to halo2 online. good times." -Slamfunk Gametrailers message board

"I played Halo first, that was the key
Then Halo 2, and Halo 3
And after a time, then ODST
But Halo 2, was a killing spree

Halo 2 I left you, but that game it was so sweet
I always followed my BR, and I never missed a beat
Destiny was calling, I just couldn't stick around
Halo 2 I left you, but I never let you down

Halo 2, was always fun
With every single game of slayer that I won
We rocked all night, we all looked tough
Until I found, they would turn it off

Halo 2 I left you, YES that game it was so sweet
I always followed my BR, and I never missed a beat
Destiny was calling, I just couldn't stick around
Halo 2 I left you, but I never let you down

Now that I know, they will turn it off today
This could be the last chance, for me to play
So with a 20 oz., of Mtn. Dew
I played those last games of Halo 2

Halo 2 I left you, I honor you with this humble ode
I always followed my BR, shooting coils that did explode
Destiny was calling, I just couldn't stick around
Halo 2 I left you, but I'll never let you down" - xDylan1Kenobix, forums

"My best memory is my first game ever played, Big Team on Burial Mounds. I did well and got two friends immediately, something which Halo has that no other game can match. I've made more friends through Halo than all other games combined, and the community and atmosphere of Halo 2 is something that no other game can match" - Ace 237, forums

"I thought Halo 2 sucked. That's just me" -Matt Papic

"Halo 2 I salute You" -Prometheus-plus-fire, message board

"Damn, I could shed a tear, oh how I loved Halo 2 multiplayer. How great the game still stands today. Love it, Miss it, Loved it."-Dreamingreality, message board

"hmmm...all the weapons were so balanced and each felt distinctly different. none of them were like overpowered. like the rocket launcher is really powerful but it only has two shots and has a long reload" -Mitch Sturm, STURMN8ER

"I remember a time when I was a kid, and had practically no friends. I would make up for my lonliness by playing Halo 2. Turns out the kids next door layed it too. We met up and played custom games, and we would scream and laugh, and you know what? Those kids I played Halo 2 with ended up being my best friends for 5 years now.

The first few games I ever played on was Waterworks, a very under-appreciated map. I'd play for hours on that map. It's potential limitless. Lock on rockets, sniper duels, flipping hogs, I'll carry those nostalgic memories forever.

The first time I played Xbox live, I was in love. It completely redefined my definition of gaming. 8v8 battles on Coag, Headlong, and Waterworks was the best. What used to be just me and my two best friends, quickly turned into me and my buds, and 13 other strangers. We played practically everyday during summer time. CTF, Assult, the works. I look back now and I recognize I'll never get to experience that feeling of astonishment again. Nothing will replace the authenticity of Xbox live and Halo 2. I've gone though so many accounts and Xbox's it's impossible to estimate how many games I've played.

As time went on, and Halo 3 came out, I eventually migrated over to the newest Halo. But even then I knew that Halo 2 was better. I missed it. But so many people abandoned halo 2, Finding a game on BTB was near impossible. So I left it. If there was any good that came out of it's servers getting shut down, it's that it's been glorified once more. I can relive it for just a breif amount of time.

Halo 2, you were what motivated me into wanting to be a game designer. Within the next few years I plan on going to college to get my degree so I can make games that motivate other gamers the way you motivated me. Halo 2 is my favorite game, and always has been my favorite game.

Thank you for everything you did for me.

-Jacob" -Spartan H90, forums

"At the time I don't remember anything like it, and LAN parties with that game was a lot of fun." -Tyler Crisp, RAD3WhiteNinja

"fuck halo 2 all halo games suck with the execption of the first" Mark Cottrell, Alfonzthegreat

"The memories." - Codey Blevins

"The memories you have shared will live on in our hearts and minds. Thank you for such a kick ass game that truly dominated the world." -Retromonster, forums

"Halo 2,

What can I say about you that already that hasn't already been said about Jessica Alba? You were beautiful from the moment I laid eyes upon you. Fresh from the dentist on launch day, just a Sophomore in high school, I made a trip to the store just to purchase you, numb mouth and all. Oh, the times we had were amazing.

I'll never forget before the first patch how my immature 15-year old self thought I was cool because I could ghost only to turn around once I grabbed the flag and walk two feet to the base. Yes, they screamed "Cheater!", but you never judged me, Halo 2. You stood by me knowing that one day I would grow out of being a jerk and a cheater.

I'll also never forget being dominated by everyone from 6 year old kids and once being BXR'ed by someone's 42 year old mother. Oh, Halo 2, you were such a jokester then, letting that lovely woman handle me so rough. What about whenever we had that modder let us shoot trains all over Terminal? It was wrong, but it felt so right, and I know you felt that too.

Out of everything, though, what I won't forget is how you stayed with me even when I hated you, cried out in anguish over double shots, etc. I won't forget how great you were then and still are today. Most of all, I won't forget how you have made me into the man I am today; valorous, noble, strong, and extremely quick to drop the crouch teabag over any foe I defeat in my life." -Random Hero 807, forums

"You brought me great joy for my first XBL experience. Trying to find you that holiday season of 04 was difficult but the journey was well worth it.

Thank You Bungie for Halo 2." -doch teck, forums

"You weren't the first Halo game I ever bought, but you were the first I noticed. You shall be missed my dear Halo 2. Rest Assured me and my friends will be keeping you alive through LAN parties for years to come. xx" -JaHawk2009, forums

"im sad :( Halo 2 got me into videogames." CHOCOLATE CAKE, message board

"lol just play halo 3 its the same F---ing game online." -crazeeavery. message board

"Nothing will ever match Halo 2's online experience for me. I made knew friends, bonded with the ones I already new, and had an all-around awesome time. Thanks." IIDWells55XI, forums

"Thank you Halo 2,

For all the memories of fun and hours of joy. For being the second part in an epic trilogy. For raising the golden bar for FPS's once again from Halo:CE. For all the long nights and days of play with my friends and family in campaign and multiplayer. For helping to evolve xbox live into what it is today. For some of the greatest moments I have ever had over xbox live. For helping me to become the person I am today. For bringing Bungie one step closer towards world domination.

You will always hold a special place within my very soul, R.I.P Halo 2 Live Multiplayer. May the memories of you never be forgotten and LAN parties continue for many years to come." -Cyco Halo Fan, forums

"I salute you Halo 2" -rushx5, message board

"(Cracks open a 40) One for me , One for my Homie. R.I.P Halo 2" ADadWithAGun, forums

"I would. I'm gonna miss Halo 2. My favorite map of all time to plai on live and off live was containment. Me and my friends used to have some of te best matches ever" -JChurch13, Roosterteeth forums

"Thanks Halo 2:

-All the nights staying up late and gaming

-Bringing a way bigger community into XBL

-Making me almost fail school classes

-Being the BEST FPS ever!" - HC Hern, forums

"Well, I played my last matchmaking game on Coagulation, got a good amount of kills on it, had fun dicking around after the deadline, and it's waaaay past the time I should have gone to bed.

Bye, Halo 2." ZayneH, Neogaf

"Time is so old and love so brief,
Love is pure gold and time a thief.
We're late, darling,we're late,
The curtain descends, everything ends,
too soon, too soon....

Good night sweet prince." -Cerrius, neogaf

"Halo 2, you were the reason I got XBL. You are the game that gave me the most possible memories on XBL a person could ever have. You reunited me and my friends every day after school, and you introduced me to the gaming universe as a whole. I would still go on to play you even as the newer Halos came out. All of the glitches in your game, and all of the failed attempts into the Gateway To Hell will be dearly missed, as well as your extraordinary maps, gameplay, and outstanding campaign. Halo 2, I bid you to Rest In Peace for all the time you would like to, because without you, 'Earth Will Never Be The Same'.

Halo 2 Rest In Peace. November 9th, 2004 - April 15th 2010" -Dario S, forums


8:22 PM on 03.23.2010

10 Bad Things About Bad Company 2

Before I start, just let me tell you that I LOVE and ADORE Bad Company 2. This game has changed first person shooters for ever. From now on, after playing Bad Company 2, every time I load up a game, that isn't Red Faction: Guerilla, I sigh at every wall and fence I happen to come across. No amount of RPG fire or tank bursts will be able to take that wall down. Either every company that manufactures walls for video games needs some serious props, or something is missing. There are just some littttle problems that should be addressed.

10. The M60

You unlock this little mother f***er about halfway through the medic tree. You'll reach the end of the medic tree still using it with a guilty pleasure, wanting it nerfed but loving it at the same time. The M60 will kill your family when you are sleeping. It is not your friend. A squad of medics with defibs and M60s are like a band of Gods casting holy vengeance upon non belivers, smiting the foolish mortals for trying to fight back with all their pitiful might. You unload into them, and they fall over, seemingly dead, only to be jolted with a couple thousand volts of electricity back into full fighting strength, shrugging off all wounds, and their over powered gun that has 100 bullets instead of 30. I wouldn't be surprised if sustained fire from an M60 could knock out a tank or two, you know Rambo used an M60.

9. Shotguns

Shotguns are like gambling. Every time you open up point blank at someone, the bullets will either reach their target as they kill you, or every single slug will stop midair, mere feet from the target, and fall to the ground. DICE hit the nail on the head, or the shotgun to the face if you will, with Shotguns. You can drop someone in one hit 30 feet away, but according to science, shotgun bullets take at least 10 feet to reach full speed, and ones fired at close targets will either be blocked by their knife, stylish hair-do's, or simply be ignored altogether.

8. Helicopter

UH60_600Apparently, every other video game that has designed a helicopter has done it wrong. Helicopters NEED, and I mean NEED, to be completely over-complicated to drive, and anyone without a proper flying license or 6-months equivalent work experience needs to crash every goddamn time they get in one. And not just a normal crash either, the crash needs to be completely horrific and over-the-top, such as the helicopter somehow flipping itself over MID AIR, and crashing into the nearest object, be it an ally, an ally's tank, an ally's helicopter, or an ally's building. Even if the helicopter is flying over the enemy's main headquarters, military protocol strictly dictates that each helicopter must crash directly into friendly property, to prevent data loss. Also, military protocol STRICTLY dictates that every member of the team must curse out the pilot of the helicopter, as if he had no idea that he crashed.

7. UAV

The UAV is either the Helicopter's midget brother who over compensates for everything by completely over doing it at every opportunity, or that annoying as hell mosquito in your house that you know you want to get rid of, but don't want to spend twenty minutes hunting and chasing, for absolutely nothing other than personal gratification, I can't decide which. So I'll call it the Undersized Annoying Vagina. While flying it, people either completely ignore you and go back to sniping, or think they were put on this earth for one reason and one reason only: hunt down and destroy all UAVs. They will follow you to the ends of the map, and waste every single one of their bullets, as long as you blow up. The UAV can also run into helicopters, sending them spiraling out of control and into the nearest friendly unit, call in giant missiles from god knows where, run over unsuspecting Recon, and cater a 278 person party, all while constantly firing its extremely powerful, yet somehow the quietest in the entire game, minigun.

6. Magnum Ammo

Might as well call it the "always on" perk. As Confucius once said, "man who turns off Magnum Ammo, is man who fool." Once unlocking it at rank 11 something, turning it off means your guns revert to pea-shooter status. Everything you shoot becomes more powerful and accurate, casting useless the "MMN [insert class weapon here]" perks. It's like turning on hardcore mode weapon damage, but just for those people who use it! Revolutionary mechanics my friend.

5. The Server Browser

It must have been opposite day over at DICE when someone said, "hey let's make the server browser work!" and then they all high-fived. Now they seem to completely ignore it like the child they didn't really want to have but are forced to deal with. When you click "Full Refresh," or "Search," just go file your taxes, the servers will be listed when you get back. And the best part is, by the time you actually get it to display the servers, all the info you have is old and useless! So you hit refresh again! It's an infinite cycle of AWESOME.

4. Base Raping

Now, it's awesome that every single building is destructable, meaning the precious houses of the MCOM stations can be blown to smithereens, completely taking away the need for the attackers to risk going into enemy territory altogether! So someone thought, "hey, why don't we just sit in out base and bomb the living s%&t out of their MCOM station buildings using mortars and tanks? That way, the defending team will have absolutely NO way of defending their point, lest they be killed for 'leaving the area'!" and they all high-fived. Granted this doesn't work for EVERY point, because some are even more out in the open and not even protected by buildings, but when the attacking team can spend about 5 tickets taking out a single station instead of about 50, the defending team now has a mighty hard time defending the smaller area. Especially when everyone goes...


If you're not Recon, you're bitching about it. Recon are the most useless class, period. There is no argument. If you try to argue, you look like an idiot, and worse, a recon sympathizer. Erk, it hurts just thinking of those people. "NO NO ITS USEFUL BECAUSE UM.. I KILL PEOPLE AND I UM... CALL... STRIKES.. OH AND I CAN SPOT PEOPLE AND THROW LITTLE MINES THAT YOU KNOW WHERE PEOPLE ARE IN A 10 FOOT RADIUS!" Yeah ok, real cool Recon. Meanwhile the engineer is performing magic vehicle healing powers on a tank by mashing it with an electric drill, the medic is zapping people back into consciousness no matter what the wound, and the assault has the grenade launcher! Oh, they can restock people too... but they have a GRENADE LAUNCHER. Recon is about as useful as having your unemployed neighbor watch over your house every night. They know that they have a purpose, but the temptation to be completely f#@$in useless is just too great for people to handle.

2.EA servers

When EA was about to launch their biggest AAA title yet, they must not have actually expected anyone to buy it. They must have shut down all the servers that allow more than 4 people to play online at once. And they must have left their flimsiest servers running. Everyone at EA acted as if they were surprised, no dumbfounded, that people logged on day one and tried to play. A quote from Bad Company 2's Twitter:

"EA Online is currently investigating an outage of the servers that affects a number of EA games. A fix will be done as soon as possible."

What they actually said:


The fact that a bunch of people that just wanted to play their game was enough to crash most EA games for awhile says something. At least, I think it says something.

Oh, and did I mention that it's STILL not completely fixed? Yeah there's that too.

1. Lack of Auto Balance

You fought past all the EA account bulls#%t. You managed to find a good server despite the horrendous server browser. You're in a game and loving it. The audio design is spot on. Helicopters are being hit by UAVs and spiraling into the ground into a jaw dropping explosion, until you realize it was on top of the tank you were running to get in. Everyone has Magnum Ammo enabled, medics destroy with M60s, you will dodge shotgun shells, but none of that matters. The game is brilliant once you get into it, until this happens. Someone realized that there is a "switch team" button. DICE was nice enough to implement a "AUTOMATIC AUTO BALANCE" option for all the servers, but some little trickster over there decided that it shouldn't actually do anything. Is your team losing? No problem buddy, just hit the switch team button! Bring half the team with you! The only people who won't switch ironically are the recon, because they're too busy eating grass and masturbating to notice that the whole team has suddenly vanished!

EA and DICE, hear me out, I love this game. It is inching closer and closer every day to my #1 game of all time. Every time I play it, I'm hooked more. Half the time is me gazing in complete awe at the masterpiece before me. But things can go so horribly wrong, and the fix should be easy.   read

9:05 PM on 03.19.2010

My Review: Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver

Pokemon HeartGold/SoulSilver Version -- Nintendo DS -- MSRP: $39.99 -- Release: March 14th, 2010

10 years ago, the original Pokemon Silver/Gold sucked up months of my time. The interlocking regions, the addition of a cell phone and radio, updated visuals, the list goes on and on as to explain my obsession. At this time, people also started to put on their nostalgia caps and claim that Red, Blue, and Yellow were the best, and nothing could beat the original 151 Pokemon. Years went by however, and the number of available Pocket Monsters has reached almost 500. Some people claim that these Pokemon over-saturated the platform, and turned people away, while others enjoy the additions of new faces.

Where you stand on that debate, does not matter. For the past few days, I have been completely bed-ridden after a surgery, with only Pokemon games and Antibiotics to keep me company. These remakes bring you the best of both worlds, literally, with the Kanto and Johto regions, the original and the second respectively.


The Pokemon games were always known for their old-school feel. 2D sprites, text boxes, and thousands of trees that look exactly the same all come to mind. The games have been building upon each other ever since their first introduction, and this one definitely looks the best. Everything has a pseudo-3D look to it, while still retaining that good old-school feeling. The sprites and character models still look as charming as ever, but everything could look a bit better with a little effort. The very first town you start in has some real nice wind blowing effects and windmills, but after leaving the world mostly seems very static and unmoving, save for a few really nice atmospheric exceptions.

The menus are a little nicer, but become pretty cluttered as you collect more and more objects. The buttons for items are much larger than before, supposedly for easier touching, but seem too big and bulky for such a small screen.

In battle and out, all the Pokemon are very vibrant and detailed, with little details of personality that the artists meticulously created. The combination of cuteness and character provide the feeling that Pokemon, and only Pokemon, can provide.


If you have ever played a Pokemon handheld title, you know the sounds. The little jingles and chimes have been implanted and burned into your brain. The Pokemon Center (duh, duh, deh doh DUH!), receiving an item (duh duhduhduh die die die doh!), even the battles (deh, doh, deh doo doo dah! repeat 50 times). I could continue, but trying to read those sounds out loud is tough enough.

All the songs, noises, cries, jingles, and chimes have been remastered. Each new region you waltz into plays a highly catchy tune, be it somber, upbeat, or even foreboding. You can feel the music digging into your soul every second. Its unnerving, yet satisfying and graceful.

When you reach Kanto (the "original" region, but it is the second region you visit within the game), there is an item that will play the original, untouched music, instead of the slightly remixed ones. You can feel the nostalgia oozing into you, provided you played any previous Pokemon games. If you haven't, then you likely won't care about the audio, and frankly, you may find it annoying.


The bread-and-butter of the Pokemon series largely remains the same. Run around, beat gym leaders, obtain badges, stop Team Rocket, save the world. You have been doing this for years now, yet somehow, it still does not get boring. You know that the mysterious man looking into the window is up to something, you know that Team Rocket will be doing something every 10 minutes to impede your progress, you know your rival will pop up at any time and fight you, lose, and complain about how weak you are, yet you don't care. This is even a remake, with story left untouched, and you still won't care. There is something completely unexplainable about the Pokemon formula, with its complete innocence and charm, that everyone grows to love. All the good things present in the games return, the berries, the apricots, the HMs and TMs, even grinding for hours walking around tall grass may not get boring, because of the sense of personal achievement. Every one of your creatures depends on you, and you raise them from birth to become killing machines. There is something immensely satisfying about leveling your starting Pokemon all the way to 100. What could they possibly add to make the formula better?

The Pokewalker. The name sounds ridiculous, it looks ridiculous, and by all means it IS ridiculous. It is a pedometer that communicates between the game cartridge and itself, transferring Pokemon and items between them. You choose a Pokemon from a box to take out on a "stroll", and it measures your steps and turns them into "watts", for getting items, catching Pokemon etc. It is quite possibly the nerdiest thing to ever grace the Pokemon franchise, but I'll be damned if I didn't carry it around everywhere with me the past week. This little gimmick will keep you entertained for awhile, as it levels up your Pokemon, catches new ones, and gets you items, but it is not good at keeping your attention, and may prove more work than its worth. Still, it is always nice to pull it out and mess with it at a party.

Online Play:

Saying that this has some of the most innovative and interesting Wi-fi options currently available on the Nintendo DS is almost an understatement. The online component is shoved to the side, completely optional, and most people will probably never try it, but it is completely genius.

There are 3 main portions to the online play, building off of the previous titles. There is the GTS (Global Trading System), a Craigslist type system for Pokemon, the Wi-fi club, where you can meet a few friends, battle, and trade complete with voice chat, and the all new Wifi Plaza, which returns from Platinum, the combination of Diamond and Pearl.

The Wifi Plaza is a theme-park style place where you go to... I haven't quite figured out exactly. You cannot battle or trade your Pokemon while visiting the plaza, you simply walk around dazzled and amused by what is going on around you. That is not to say there isn't much to do. There are players everywhere, mini games, surveys, annoying instruments you can play, fireworks, parades, chats, and more I can't begin to describe. You can talk to people, exchange information arbitrarily, play minigames to boost the size of your "tap toy" to make louder noises, take part in surveys asking about the game, check the news, see locations where people are connected from, and in about half an hour the lights go dim, fireworks go off, and you are brisked away on a float during a parade. The first time I went through the whole process and I was returned to the Pokemon Center, I just sat there, completely speechless for a few moments. Then I quickly ran back and joined again.

Is it pointless? Sure. But it is hours of entertainment like nothing I have seen on the DS, much less a Pokemon game.


Overall, this is the definitive Pokemon version. It includes 2 regions, the ability to acquire every single Pokemon, Wifi play, radio, upgraded visuals and audio, and a number of improvements that will go completely overlooked but taken for granted. If you were to go out and buy one Pokemon game, make it HeartGold or SoulSilver.

Graphics: 8.5/10

Audio: 9.0/10

Gameplay: 9.5/10

Online Play: 10/10
Overall: 9.5/10   read

8:25 PM on 03.03.2010

Something About Sex: Only Manly Men Have It

Above, from left to right.: "I dun know what zis 'coffee' is" "Wrex." "I'm so ripped."

Mmm mmm. Sexy. My muscles are so large women practically leap out of their clothes and into my arms. I make them sign a release form before sex because my dick is a liability. I smash peoples' skulls in with my bare hands, get huge, mysterious scars that people don't want to ask about but can't help but notice how manly I look, and successfully court every girl within a 12 mile radius of my location. Who am I?

That's right, I'm a manly man.

Let's take our three fine manly men for examples here, and we will simply cross-reference the data between "muscle size" and "no. of women attained", allowing us to hopefully find a correlation. Then, we can take that data, match it with over 300 surveys from across the game industry, and Eureka! Problem solved. No one will bother to ask where or how I got my numbers or information from, because that is irrelevant in the game of politics.

Niko Bellic. The embodiment of the American dream. Fast cars, high stakes, big titties, and the ability to sleep with FBI agents and women you meet over the internet. Forget going out and talking to someone on the street, for they are just simple fodder for when he decides to drive on the sidewalk instead of the road. Niko Bellic is a man of class, before every date he puts on his finest pair of track pants, always makes sure to wipe the blood off of his clothes, and always is courteous enough to drive the woman around town, that way he can avoid traffic, and women's inability to drive. Who knew traffic light and telephone poles were so flimsy? But those damn bus stops. Those bus stops ended more than one date for Niko Bellic.
Did I mention prostitutes? Eastern Europeans have a thing for prostitutes.

NERDY UNMANLY STATS: Avg. sexness per day: 26.7 (measured in the metric system, so I have no idea how to convert it)
failed attempts at getting with women: at least one
successful attempts at getting with women: dear god.

Now Shephard is an interesting pick, as nearly every aspect of his/her (tranny) appearance can be changed. But does that stop this astro"nut" from getting all the space pussy in the galaxy? Hell no it doesn't. To this day, Shepard can still count the number of testicles, breasts, genitals, faces, and orifices with each species he/she (tranny) has slept with. When he/she (tranny) is not saving the galaxy, or listening to people's sob stories about how their life sucks but now that they are with Shephard it is all better blah blah, Shephard is off banging some different life form, going bodly where no man/woman/transgender has gone since college.

NERDY UNMANLY STATS:Avg. sexness per day: 82352-3.123 (This is in space numbers, so they might look daunting, because that's what everything in space is.)
failed attempts at getting with women: very few
successful attempts at getting with women: one at a time.

"DOM! DOM! DOM! DOM!" It doesn't matter that his name is Dominic, Marcus is badass enough to say it. And he does say it, about 37 times a game. This is just the beginning of Marcus' assertiveness, as he has been able to 'slip' himself into just about any situation, using his 'gun' to 'weasel' his way out of 'things', and into 'things' as the case may be. Now that the joke is successfully killed, let us move on. Marcus is another interesting pick, while he is the very epitome of manliness in video games, he lacks a strong female 'partner', if you catch my drift. Yeah, that's right. You wonder why the brothers Carmine keep getting themselves 'killed'. There's no way 'out' once Marcus gets his 'grip' on you. Damnit, I said I would stop. When he's not taking a ride on the 'Cole Train', Marcus is either killing aliens, or doing 'group-bonding' activities with his squad. Why else would they be so emotionally 'attached'? It seems that Dom is the only one able to escape his 'grasp', but you should have seen the glint in Marcus' eye when Dom had to put his wife down. Buttsex-1 Women-0.

NERDY UNMANLY STATS: Avg. sexness per day: 6 'innuendos'
failed attempts at getting with women: he never attempted
successful attempts at getting with 'women': it hurts just thinking about it.

If these are the kind of people getting laid, where does that leave the rest of us?   read

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