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Caitlin Cooke's blog
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12:13 PM on 04.04.2012  

10 Donks About Caiters

Since I’ve been MIA for a while I certainly owe you guys some juicy tidbits. The problem is, I don’t think I even know 10 things about myself. So I thought real hard, asked some friends, and here’s what I came up with:

I drive a stick

People seem surprised when I say this. I’m not really a car person (cars are kind of like sports to me; I’ll never understand them) but I enjoy playing a “game” while I drive. That game is changing gears and trying to avoid stalling.

I was on The Price is Right

Okay, well, I wasn’t a contestant but I was in the audience! For my 21st birthday I wanted nothing more than to see Bob Barker live before he retired. My birthday is in May and he retired in June, so my boyfriend and I booked tickets to Las Vegas to celebrate, drove 4 hours to LA, and waited in line for another 12 hours before seeing Barker himself. I walked out hungry and exhausted but with a shiny new signed picture of Bob (the very last one they were giving away, I’m pretty sure I pushed a small child to the ground to snatch it). It’s now framed on my wall.

I don’t have any piercings, tattoos, or emotional issues

…that I know of. But seriously, I’m blessed to be boring.



I didn’t start wearing make-up until I was 22

I can only remember a handful of times I wore make-up before then (prom and…okay maybe that’s it). I started because I figured it was time to grow up and look like everyone else in my mundane cubicle life. Now I work for a company that could care less about looks, but make up is something I’ve come to enjoy – kind of like art but on my face.

I was on campus during the Virginia Tech shootings

This is something I’m hesitant to share, mostly because I don’t really know how to talk about it. Also because when people find out I graduated from VT in 2008 it’s automatically the first thing they ask. And now that I’m writing about this here, you may feel obligated to say something but don’t worry about it. I’m a-okay!

Anyway, I was a junior living on campus that year and that day I was running late to my 10am class in the building adjacent to Norris Hall. As I was running outside, I noticed people running at me in the opposite direction. That’s when I also noticed that A) it was snowing (in April, wtf) and B) there were police officers on all sides of me yelling for me to get back inside my dorm. I ran inside along with another girl, who had just come from that side of campus. We watched as students continued to run, and she told me that she heard gunshots. I immediately went up to my room to warn my close friend and roommate, and a few minutes later we were told by our RA to stay inside our rooms, lock our doors, and close our shades. I remember not being able to reach the outside world (if you’ve been in a crisis or environmental disaster before you know what I mean), and also eating stale french fries to sustain me for the next 8 hours. A few days later I visited my friend in the hospital, who (thankfully) got away with only a bullet in her hand. This event is still very surreal to me, and as the years go by I still think it’s a bad dream. Speaking of dreams…

I have some intense sleep times

I’m a vivid and lucid dreamer, but I’m also known to sleep walk, run, and punch. I also talk in my sleep, and I don’t mean just mumbling. I have had full-on conversations with people that I will never remember. Some things I’ve said include:

“I’m the queen of England!”
“We have to get ALL the guys!”
“There’s something flying around. It’s a thing. zzzzzzz”
“(points up at ceiling) I’ll have one of everything!” (I actually remember being inside an ice cream shop in this dream)

My three favorite things are wine, video games, and Chipotle

I could solely live off of these things for the rest of my life.



I once lived in a haunted house

All right, I know what you’re saying: but Caitlin, I have logic in my brain and ghosts don’t exist! Well I’m here to tell you that your brain is wrong. When I was in elementary school my parents rented out this sweet house that included a treehouse and creek in the backyard. Here are things that happened in that house:

I was locked inside of the basement in the middle of the night after turning Christmas lights off when everyone in my family was asleep. My mom had to bust the door down to let me out. Did I mention there were no locks on these doors?

One day while cleaning and listening to music, the radio dial started moving back and forth on its own (and the lights were flickering), so my mom shouted out “PLEASE LEAVE US ALONE” and it immediately stopped.

My closet light was known to turn on in the middle of the night. (I actually thought this was pretty cool as a kid).

My brother slept-walked outside to the creek in the middle of the night, and when my mother found him she shook him awake and asked why he did this he said, “I was following the voices”(no lie).

I hate things that people commonly love such as ketchup, coffee, and babies

These are just not my things. Other things I hate include nuts in brownies, marinara sauce, and Garden State.

Bamamnas are my favorite flute

I will leave this up to you to interpret.

  read


10:28 AM on 12.31.2011  

End of Year Thoughts

Wow, it's been a full year since I began posting on the cblogs...time flies. I know everyone's heard it a billion times from me and everyone else, but I truly am grateful for this community. Thank you for being you.

Anyway, 2012 is almost here so I’d like to touch on some gaming themes that have been in the back of my mind all year.

#1: Gaming as a variable, not a constant



Growing up, it's always been one way for me: I played video games constantly and slotted out time for the other things in my life like homework, friends, and playing outside (whatever that means). In other words, gaming was my constant and the other things in my life were variables to fit my mold. Literally, if a friend called me up to see a movie on a Saturday night but I was already playing NWN with internet friends, I would decline. Every time. Sure, it put strains on my friendships and I became somewhat of a caveman in my basement, but there was no way I was giving up my gaming time. I guess in some sense people would call that being anti-social, but in my mind gaming was a priority and internet friends counted as real people.

However, my gaming habits started to have a shift in college. I had barely scraped by in my honors/AP classes in high school and missed honors society by .01 of my GPA, so I made a commitment to myself to push harder in college. I know it sounds extremely corny, but it worked: I had higher marks than anyone I knew from high school, and I was top 5 in my major's graduating class. But my constant changed - I was no longer prioritizing gaming, and it was instead used as a reward to get myself to do the work. At least then, I still had the time (although less of it), and for a holiday or a long weekend I could again place gaming as my priority.

Unfortunately though, as most of you are aware, once you become an "adult" with a real job it becomes near impossible to place priorities at all. This was officially the death of gaming as my constant - and the beginnings of it becoming a variable in my life. With a full workday, social obligations, and other projects there just wasn't time for much else. And now with my added commute, gaming has officially become a "to-do" in my mind - something that I constantly need to remind myself to get to when I have free time. It's a strange shift, and I know I'm getting old because I look back to college and high school and think of them as my golden gaming years - something I won't ever have again.

#2: Gaming and the new (female) Generation



I honestly hate placing people in Generation [insert letter here] categories. Every person is different, and while the majority do tend to have similar qualities it by no means indicates that we're all the same type of person. Apparently my generation is known for being computer and technology savvy, but I can honestly count more friends that still use aol.com addresses and IE than those who keep up to date with technology. That being said, I do think there is a trend in regards to gaming with this latest generation - something I only started to realize once I moved closer to my teenage cousin.

Jess has an interesting outlook on games. I've seen her play Mario Kart (on the DS and Wii), blast through old PS2 games like Sly Cooper, play through a few of the Lego series on 360, and she's definitely obsessed with Dance Central. She's played all of these with her other female friends. But she adamantly rejects the fact that she plays video games. And not just around her guy friends - but around everyone. Jess has kicked my ass multiple times in Mario Kart, but the second I begin to talk about her Kart skills in front of her friends she shushes me. I'm also realizing that none of her friends, whom she plays all of these games with, ever talk about it around their other friends - specifically male ones. It's like some big secret that they don't want people to know about. They feel like there's some kind of stigma attached to the gamer label, and they want to distance themselves from it as much as possible.

It's a well known fact that gaming is reaching even more people nowadays. It's no longer some secret society, a hobby for the weird or anti-social as it was once pictured. But I feel the majority of people, including young gamers, are still treating it as such. Obviously, observing one girl and her friends isn't definitive proof, but it's a theme that keeps cropping up this year - and I'm curious to see what happens in 5-10 years when these kids grow up. Will they continue to be gamers, will it continue to be a secret, and if not will it just be a silly past time?

#3: Modern FPS can be fun!



I used to love old-school FPS - they had interesting themes (TimeSplitters, Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie multiplayer, etc) but most of all they were a blast to play through - especially with other people. Maybe it was the fact that the mechanics and graphics were so simple, or maybe it was nostalgic youth speaking, but I was always under the impression that these older games were a lot more fun than the modern, more manly and war-themed FPS. So as more and more FPS started to come out, I slowly inched away from the genre as a whole. I held an outlook that these games were too complicated and completely uninteresting and left it at that.

Recently though I've had a shift which began when I started playing MAG with Elsa and the other 'toiders. At first I thought that it was out of my league - so many customization options, so many guns and tasks, and not to mention 255 other people. But they walked me through it and after a few plays I felt I could actually make a contribution - I could fix up tanks, take control of a turret, heal others, or just run around like an idiot shooting people. That's when it clicked - modern FPS isn't about complication or manly-ness - it's about being a team player, about contributing your skills for the greater good (which happens to be winning some kind of war, but whatever).

Unfortunately though, I moved away and had to leave my PS3 behind - but with losses come great gains, and my gain happened to be at work. Just recently, I found a group of people that play COD periodically in the break room. Instead of shutting out the game and walking away like I probably would have earlier in the year, I approached them and asked to play. For the past few weeks I've slowly been gaining confidence and skill in FPS, and I've not only won games but I've also had loads of fun doing it. I'm glad I've gotten into modern FPS, and although I still miss my old FPS I'm very excited about the improvements made to the genre as a whole.

So that's it for me - what are your themes from 2011?   read


8:27 AM on 10.21.2011  

A Tale of Two Cities

Boston is a breathtaking city. The history, the vibrancy - I'm in awe every day when I depart from my train and look up toward the skyscrapers. The city isn't clustered, creating perfect spacial planes where people flow between buildings like tiny rivers. There's a life of its own hidden in the Charles river, the side streets, the suburbs. There are unique stores, amazing food, and eccentrics - none of which I've experienced. I ferry myself across three modes of transportation to get here and yet I feel as if I'm instantly transported, every day, in my office. For me, there is no story - I purely exist in this plane.



The City of Angels calls out to me in a similar way. Despite the glamour of the 1940's, I'm finding myself struggling to etch myself into the city. The pieces are all there - the people, the cars, even the music. The architecture is at its peak - I see people drift between the structures, all chattering the same 5 phrases. Everything sits in its place, beautifully carved from an era that is no longer with us. But in this city I'm standing alone.



I discover landmarks, but for many of them they're just that - a mark of land, a pretty picture to stare at for a few seconds before it disappears. Just like my ride over the Charles, I am a spectator and nothing more. There is no need for unwarranted exploration, and when I have the opportunity it fades quickly as if I wasn't meant to be there in the first place.

In fact, my life as a 1940's detective is so linear that I can rarely visit places that were open to me before - as if I've transcended into another lifetime with each case. Even the phones are governed within the story - when I have to make a call it often has to be with a certain phone. I'm never uncertain about where to go because with a press of a button the game can ferry me there in seconds. The hand-holding is draining, and uninspiring.

The only venture is held within interrogations, and even then responses run dry. I'm almost a non-entity, a robot that spits out three functions, two of them almost interchangeable. My only fear of death comes in combat, but it's rarely a close-call experience. I watch myself as I shoot criminals down and before I know it, it's over.



Maybe the city knows I have no reason to venture - just like my life in Boston, why would I travel across the street to make a business call when I have a phone sitting in front of me? Why would I run 3 miles to a storefront that I have no need to enter? Why would a detective travel back to the scene of a crime knowing that the body has long been cleared away?

Maybe we're meant to exist within the tale of a city - weaving ourselves into its story rather than the other way around.

Or maybe it's time to cross the river and explore what lies beyond.

  read


7:13 PM on 09.20.2011  

Perspective

I hate to be PC sometimes - I really do. It makes me look like the stickler, the grouch, the person who's blowing something silly out of proportion. Really I feel none of these things, yet at times I encompass them all.

I have nothing against Jonathan or his new series - I think he's cute, quirky, and definitely deserving. But I just can't help but feel something crawl out of me when I watch this show - not the PC, but a familiar girl. One who couldn't quite fit in here or there and ended up in limbo.



And it's that feeling that I want to talk about here, not an agenda, not a manifesto, or an attack - just a feeling tied together with a thread of thoughts.

When I watched these videos for the first time, I mulled it over a bit. Why wasn't I laughing? The subject matter seems funny - a guy walking up to a (supposedly) random girl and asking questions that the industry and gamers as a collective never fail to blow out of proportion. But for some reason a pang hits inside me - something isn't happy, something doesn't feel right.

Is it the fact that the woman is probably an actor or friend, told to play stupid and flit her eyelids in fake naivety? Is it the title of the series: "Talking to Women about Videogames"? Or is it that there are plenty of women out there who understand video games, that have had to go through this stereotype countless times, only to end up at square one?

I really can't answer that. Like I said, all I have is a feeling - and without being able to describe it, I don't think it's fair for me to point fingers. I don't want to besmirch anything Jonathan's worked hard to create. In fact, I'd love for this series to flourish.



Now here's where the thoughts come in. I'm trying to think of things that maybe would make more sense, that would make me (or perhaps other women) feel less of this pang. Maybe if Jonathan interviewed actual strangers on the street, maybe if he chose candidates that were unlikely to be gamers from a glance (old people, cats, and yes - even pretty women), maybe if it were more authentic instead of fabricating a stereotype it would make sense in my gut.

I'm not going to lie - Stereotypes are funny sometimes. To see it occur naturally can be even funnier. And who knows, maybe Jonathan can find an old lady that schools him on 360 add-ons or a cat that truly enjoys sleeping on a PS3 controller. Or maybe a real girl, one who's completely unaware of a handheld after the Game Boy.

But until he tries, I'll still have this feeling.

So tell me, what do you feel?   read


2:03 PM on 09.14.2011  

I'm doing Science and I'm still alive

I've been planning a "real" blog post for a while now but seeing as moving, vacationing, job change, moving again, and vacationing again has gotten in the way…I figured I'd just make a regular update since I haven't really posted anything in a while.

I've felt more out of touch these past couple of months than any other time in my life - and not just with the community, but with gaming in general. Right now I'm stuck in a time when LA Noire is waiting to launch, the Dead Island box art is all censored and effed up, and I'm striving to get through Deus Ex not only because of Nostalcast but also for my own personal glory before Human Revolution arrives. All of that has come and gone, and I'm still stuck here trying to sort everything out. I feel slightly ashamed as a gamer that LA Noire is still in its wrapper, I'm struggling to hold onto my Assassin skills in MNC, and I've only played about an hour and a half of Trenched (and most of that has been in my sleep - ask Trev).


Unfortunately, I'm not this adorable when I sleep

I had hoped that moving to Boston would grant me more time to spend writing, gaming, and overall participating in online shenanigans. I figured without friends around me it'd be like high school again - going home, spending hours on end gaming and chatting online, small doses of occasional necessities. Boy was I wrong. Not only do I have an insane commute (I take three modes of transportation to get to work, four if you count walking to the train station), but the hours at my new job are a bit crazy at the moment, and I find that by the time I get home I have just enough time to make dinner and then get enough sleep to wake up in time for my train in the morning.

So needless to say, I've been completely out of the loop. So far out of the loop that even the recap team can't save me. I need a recap of the caps that were capped in a fappity fashion, to say the least. Apparently I missed approximately 50 million shitstorms, some of them revolving around female topics that I would have loved to debate, but by this point it's that whole dead horse thing. I've also missed my beloved FNF - something that's apparently dying lately. Imma try to put some CPR in that biatch when I get the chance, because I couldn't stand to lose one of the best parts of my week.

I'd also hate to lose AlphaDeus. I wasn't here last week, but I'm going back in time and giving you a big hug. We love you!

Anyway, that's where I've been and I hope to be around a lot more now that I'm (kind of) settled into my new life. Now that I'm in Boston, my goal is to attend a PAX for the first time and actually meet some of you in person. So make sure you poke and prod me when the time comes to buy tickets! :]   read


9:44 PM on 06.09.2011  

Shortblog: I won something?

My dog, Tali, flipped her shiz when she heard a loud THUNK at the door. “What’s that?” I thought. I don’t remember ordering anything from Amazon recently…



Tali was obviously more concerned with escaping than with the strange package at the doorstep.

Anyway, to my surprise it’s a box from Destructoid! Written in (I assume) Hamza’s lovely handwriting. He even misspelled my zipcode, how adorable. :]



So what the Chell is in this package? I completely forgot that I had won something!



I took some scissors (no, not you) to it.

Yes, this is how I open things and yes, I still have all my fingers.

Drumroll please…



Rift? Oh yeahhhh, I won a collector's edition of Rift! EFFING SWEET!



It’s so heavy that I leaned it against my chin to keep it from falling out of my hands! I guess this is why it made a loud THUNK noise when the mail carrier decided to toss it up the stairs, that bastard.



This collection comes with some pretty cool stuff! I’m totes using this mouse pad at work, where no one has any idea what a video game even is.

Alas, while I did not open a rift into anyone’s heart as promised to win this entry, I am very grateful to have won. Thank you Dtoid, you truly are the happiest place on Earth (at least in my mind – I used to work at Epcot so I may be biased).

P.S. - wish me luck tomorrow, I have an on-site interview with Google and may or may not be joining the New England Dtoid group in the near future! ;]

P.P.S. – I promise a real blog is coming soon! I have it (mostly) written up and everything, for realsies!   read


9:07 PM on 05.11.2011  

Happy's Flea Market

Between planning my Sonic vs Mario birthday party, receiving awesome blog headers (thanks falsenipple!) deciding on if I should get bangs or not, interviewing with Google, and working my ass of in general at work, I’ve paused on my daily interaction with the ‘toid.

In particular, I’ve had an itch to post a blog and now I’m finally able to scratch.

Honestly I don’t have any kind of topic or thoughts about a particular game. Rather, I’d like to share with you my adventures at Happy’s Flea Market down in southern Virginia. I visited some friends down in Roanoke a few weeks back (no, not the lost colony…the city) and while I was there came across a huge sign that said HAPPY'S FLEA MARKET – 2 MILES. I couldn’t pass this up.


I don’t know if it’s the Walmart-esque smiley face or the missing “p” that scares me more

This place was filled with the most delightful people. I mean that in a both sarcastic and completely honest sense. On one hand there were creepy white boys giving me the southern glare, and on the other hand I had some great conversations with genuinely cheery people. It was a unique experience to say the least.

Anyway, the picture above does not do this place justice. It’s insanely HUGE on the inside. As in, I-got-lost-in-a-hallway-with-broken-lights-and-spiders-and-thought-I-was-in-the-Haunted-Mansion huge.

Eventually my sixth gaming sense lead me to an electronics store full of older games. I saw a case full of N64 games and my heart leapt at the thought that the owner may just be dumb enough to not double check the rarity on ebay. Sadly, I was wrong.


The good case: $25-$40 each :[


The crap case: ˝ off (forever)

So I moved onto the SNES games, thinking that maybe I’d be in luck and find myself a Chrono Trigger or an Earthbound. Again, no luck.


There were 5 more rows of games labeled at $19.14, which left me with so many questions. Why all the same price? Why not .15 cents? WHY HAPPY, WHY?!

However, I did find a pretty sweet Poison cassette tape!


I'm having a lot of trouble trying to figure out which one is Bret Michaels

I moved onto other stores, each one worse as I walked deeper into the market. I eventually got to a toy shop with old action figures from my childhood and reminisced for a few minutes. Until I saw this thing:


I. FUCKING. HATE. E.T.

I seriously considered buying it so I could send it to Occams because…well…it was creepy and reminded me of him, but I couldn’t bear to pick it up. So he sits there lonely and without batteries, for eternity I suppose.

Unless one of YOU wants to take a trip to Happy’s Flea Market.


I dare you.   read


9:42 AM on 04.21.2011  

Co-op Virginity

Before I begin, I just want to thank everyone at Destructoid who wished me, Supermonk, and Jesse luck in the Kmart E3 contest. Sadly none of us won -- my thoughts are here if anyone is interested.

Recently I was talking with my co-op buddy about Portal 2. I wish I had saved the transcript because it was pretty interesting, but essentially we ended up having a conversation much like being in a relationship...but with video games.

He asked which platform I bought Portal 2 for, and when I told him that in addition to Steam I got it for PS3 he recoiled -- he was never a big fan of the PS3. When I explained that the PS3 copy was for co-op I could picture his face drop through the chat window. “Why with someone else?” he essentially said. “We’re co-op buddies…right?”



I elaborated and said that because Ed (my boyfriend) and I share almost everything, including a Steam account, that we needed to consider another co-op option for Portal 2 and the PS3 fit the bill. He immediately brightened up and e-breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, your boyfriend, I was worried it was someone else,” as if I were cheating on him with another co-op partner. He wanted to save his Portal 2 co-op virginity for me, and made me promise that I’d do the same for him – that after Ed I would "save" myself for him.

The concept of co-op virginity has never really popped into my head before. I’m familiar with “saving” myself for other means of entertainment, like promising a friend that I’ll go see a specific movie with them – but I’ve never really thought too hard about first time experiences with co-op games.

To be honest, I have had really bad first experiences with some co-op games. One of my friends took it too fast – he had been extremely experienced with the game before I met him, and I was all bright eyed and bushy-tailed wanting to soak everything in. He sped through as I was trying to read the background materials, get a feel for the characters, and understand the plot. It eventually got to the point where we had to stop playing – he was tired of waiting on me, and I was sick of him pushing me.



Then again, I’ve had some great first co-op experiences, especially when the other person is a “virgin” as well. And with some of my friends, it feels natural to play co-op with them even if it’s not their first time. Sometimes it’s worth waiting for the right partner before you play the game.

I think it’s funny that my happiness with a co-op game rides completely on the experiences and personalities of those I’m playing with. It is in fact a relationship of its own – there’s jealousy when the other person is playing with someone else instead of you, there’s longing with they’re busy with another game, and there’s happiness when you accomplish something together.

A good co-op game will provide entertainment; a fantastic co-op game will give you a relationship.

  read


2:00 PM on 03.28.2011  

E3, Cait Style

This year Kmart is bringing three gaming bloggers with them to E3. I want to be one of those people.

I’ve been a gamer my entire life. I started with my parents teaching me how to hold a joystick for the Atari. From there I grew -- I would sneak onto the computer and play my dad's PC games like Wolfenstein 3D and Duke Nukem (shake it, baby). After receiving a Nintendo one Christmas I wanted nothing more than to have the latest consoles, and when I wasn't gaming I'd spend all my time discussing games with my friends. Playing video games isn't just a hobby for me; it's always been a lifestyle and one that I hold dear.


Lil’ Cait! (all the cool kids got Game Gears for Christmas ;] )

In college I took my life’s passion for playing video games and finally started to write about them with a linguistics study on gaming terminology and moved on to a 40 page undergraduate thesis about the art and aesthetic within video games. I dedicated my senior year assisting a professor with video game research in my university’s media lab. But I didn’t want to stop there, after I secured a full time job I began to dedicate my free time to writing for Gamelemon. Eventually I moved on to create my own site, C8-bit, but wanting to interact more with the gamer community I started a blog here on Destructoid. I realized that for me, writing was more important as a tool used to interact with the community rather than to gain an audience.

I did this because I'm a big people-person. My profession is recruiting, and I love it wholeheartedly. I talk with programmers every day to get a feel for what their interests are and align them to the right place. I feel that this skill would be extremely helpful if I go to E3 -- speaking with developers and interacting in a way that I feel most comfortable.

It's more than a dream for me to go to E3. It would be a goal I've had for years to interact with the gamer community up close and personal; to be on the front lines instead of the back end. I’d particularly be interested in what’s coming for gamers like me – those who enjoy console as well as PC gaming. Is the market going to continue to shift towards multiplayer, or will there be a safe haven for those who enjoy solo play? Will there be any new “true” RPGS or are they dying out? Is motion gaming here to stay or a novelty? Is it time for a new generation of consoles?

There are a lot of specific things I want to find out, too. I'm hopeful to hear mentions of GTA5, Fable IV, or the latest buzz on Fiv5. I’m also interested in seeing more of The Last Guardian, Skyward Sword, and Silent Hill: Downpour. I’d like to see where Blizzard is at with Diablo 3 and if they’re going to surprise us with their next-gen MMO (World of Diablo, anyone? Anyone?!). What kind of content is Bioware developing for Dragon Age 2, and what updates are coming for SWTOR? How is their progression with Mass Effect 3 coming along?


Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

It would be a blast to go to E3 with Kmart. I’ve seen bits and pieces about what Kmart has been doing in the market, and I think it would be up my alley to represent them at E3. I like that they’re not just setting up deals – they’re implementing something that a lot of their competitors haven’t thought of yet. They’re creating a community for gamers to post their opinions, peer reviews, and have the chance to be a part of the scene as a whole. And I totally dig that.

I know I have the personality, aptitude, interest, and ambition for this opportunity. So, my fellow Destructoid peeps, wish me luck and (hopefully) I’ll be able to provide you some E3 coverage, Cait style!

  read


4:10 PM on 03.11.2011  

Braid Breakup

When I start up a game for the first time I get all giddy inside, but sometimes the feeling lasts for only an hour or two. Shortly after, I begin to act like a total curmudgeon – for every likable aspect, I end up smothering it with twice the amount of negativity. My relationship with Braid fits this mold.



It started out beautiful. The music was delightful – in fact it was so charming that I’d let it run in the background while I was online. The art style was amazing and I often found myself staring at the detailed scenes before attempting to solve the puzzles. I thought it was neat how I could rewind time and erase my mistakes with ease. I adored the tiny suited man you play, Tim, and his story…at first.



After the first chapter my feelings began to change. I started noticing tiny flaws, which in turn grew into huge complaints. Instead of charming, the story turned convoluted and pretentious. I became sick of staring at Tim’s stupid smirk. Rewinding time became less of a novelty and more of a pain. I wanted to smack that dinosaur silly every time he stepped out of that castle and told me the princess was nowhere to be found.



The puzzles were getting harder, but not the kind of challenge I look forward to in puzzle games. Rather, they depended on my ability to understand how to manipulate the world around me and not my ability to use the specific skill at the time. I often had to seek advice from outside sources, and it eventually got to the point where I couldn’t complete a puzzle without receiving help first.

I felt like I had no choice but to abandon Braid.



Braid’s story focuses on Tim’s relationship with a princess as he struggles with what he did to her, and how he compromised his morals in the process. As I was going through the push and pull of Tim’s story, I found myself playing tug of war with my relationship with Braid -- and I eventually had to give up my end of the rope. Unfortunately I won’t ever know what happened to Tim or his princess, or even if he felt at peace with his decisions in the end. And part of me doesn’t care.

But I don’t want to adopt this attitude with the rest of my games – I want the giddiness to last, or at least the satisfaction to continue. Perhaps I need to be less critical and enjoy the good rather than let the frustration get to me. Maybe it’s time to reconcile and give Braid another chance.   read


9:25 AM on 02.22.2011  

Alan Wake (Bacon is Better)

The other day I remembered that I had Alan Wake hidden somewhere in the nethers of my incomplete game pile. It’s kind of silly that I took so long to pick it up again, because once I put the game in it only took another 5 minutes to beat (I had stopped playing right before that evil tornado bullshit). So now, I can breathe a sigh of relief and can finally put my thoughts on e-paper.

Let’s begin with the good.



I’m not sure if this makes any sense, but the story was interesting despite the plot being a bit convoluted. For example I enjoyed playing as Wake pre-Bright Falls in his apartment, listening to the radio show, reading the manuscript pages (although they were pretty horribly written), etc. It provided for a nice atmosphere.

I also liked how the game mirrored pop culture icons -- I think the shining achievement was the Night Springs TV show in the game (which of course pays tribute to the Twilight Zone).

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“Quantum Suicide”

There were also a few startling moments that got to me – the trailer that gets picked up while you’re inside and you have to escape, a Taken storming out of a bathroom stall, bulldozer of death, etc. But they were few far in between to make the game thrilling for me. That brings me to…

The bad and the ugly



Trees. I used to love trees. But I don’t think I like them so much anymore. In fact, I’m thinking about burning down some forests in Minecraft to wipe my head clean of forests. I think there was a grand total of one chapter where you didn’t have to walk through a forest. It was a farm surrounded by trees.

The flashlight idea. At first, I thought it was cool and added a neat aspect to a game that I haven’t seen before. But after killing the 300th Taken I wanted to throw the effing thing over a mountain. It got so repetitive, so boring that I started running past the Taken just so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.

The plot. I’m not going to spoiler anything here, but to me it seemed like they tried too hard to make something out of nothing. I mean I got it, I understood what it was going for, but it set the audience up for something that wasn’t there. I thought that maybe the DLC would cover the missing piece (which, in my opinion, is not what DLC should be used for), but when I read about it, it seemed to be a continuation of the same bullshit. Anyone who has played through the DLC please tell me if you found otherwise.

So in summary, if someone offered me a copy of Alan Wake or a fresh plate of hot crispy bacon, I’d go for the latter.   read


8:25 AM on 02.11.2011  

Lego RB Rocks Your Minifigs Off

Nothing beats drinking an entire bottle of wine and playing Lego Rock Band.

Last night was the first night this week that I didn't have to work late, and in which I had the chance to work from home the next morning -- so I took the drunken Rock Band route. And it was fantastic. (Although on a side note I did end up having nightmares last night about possessing cocaine...)

I haven't had the chance to pick up RB3 yet -- I'm still working through Lego and Beatles (although that seemed to drop off the edge of the planet) and even a bit of RB2 honestly. But I have to say -- Lego, despite some its really shitastic songs, is my favorite. The overall game features are easy to use, the avenues are neat, cut scenes are delightful, and MINIFIGS!

[embed]193795:36061[/embed]
I love the octopus at 1:30 -- I was so hoping that he'd be our drummer but apparently there are no octopi allowed (this rule bites you in the ass later ;] )

Okay so I admit -- I've been drinking every time I play LRB. But that doesn't change the fact that it's a pretty adorable game that brings a feeling of nostalgia as well as some hilarity mixed in. I got it on the cheap during some goldbox deal on Amazon, and I think it's only like $15 bucks now. You can export the songs to any of the regular RB games, and vice versa into LRB -- although it will only import the family-friendly songs from RB which kinda blows. Regardless I think it's worth the $ if you're into Legos or just want to build up your tracks in RB. Rock on!

[embed]193795:36062[/embed]   read







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