I realize that nearly every retailer (on or offline) sporting game preorders has sold or will continue to sell people out from under their placeholder copies. It's a common practice, but this is the first time it's happened to me - so naturally, I'm effing cheesed! Especially when it happens on what is figuring to be the game of the year (maybe century), Bioshock.
So I used a birthday gift card I got for Best Buy to place my preorder. I think you can all guess where this is going - I arrive at my local Best Buy to discover that whoever did the preorders "didn't order enough." (Translation: "We couldn't wait 24 hours to hold your copy when a half-dozen walk-up customers were salivating over it.")
I figure since this thing is obviously selling like a free griddlecake special on a street corner full of hobos, that my chances are slim. Sears: Nice try, cigarless. GameStop: No dice. FYE (and perhaps the best denial): "Are you looking for Bio-something? No, we don't have it."
Finally, I stop in the Bellevue Fred Meyer. I saw the answer written on the faces of the clerks before I even asked. But this time, I told my sob story to the two guys in the Electronics Department. Defeated, I rejoined my wife several aisles down and resumed food shopping. "At least maybe I can get some ice cream out of this," I thought.
One of the clerks caught up with me and said, "Hey, were you looking for Bioshock on 360?" I nodded, slightly more hopeful. "I was holding a copy for myself until I got paid on Friday," he continued, "but I'll sell it to you." Here was my ray of light, but not wanting to be a total douche, I replied, "No man, don't sell yourself out of a copy for me." He insisted and led me back to the register and I walked away elated.
I write this article for that kind, kind clerk (you know who you are dude, if you're reading this). Anyone in the Greater Seattle area, please: Drive, even out of your way, to give these guys in the Bellevue Fred Meyer your business.
Have you ever played a game just to get to the next cut scene? It's a bit like watching a marathon of your favorite TV show, or taping your eyelids open late at night to reach another chapter in your favorite book.
I can remember as far back as Final Fantasy IV on the SNES being absolutely magnetized to the story bits, even if they were only being acted out by 8-bit sprites who spoke through captions. And now, with technology as it is, I'm further entranced by games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic where competent voice acting and compelling developments keep me glued to the screen for hours.
Coming up, are titles like Mass Effect where my decisions will affect the story – effectively bridging the gap between role playing and fabrications. Some developers obviously have a grasp on the story interactivity needs of our generation. The same kids that grew up borrowing Choose Your Own Adventure books from the school library are seeing their cravings evolve.
One thing worries me though. Subservient as game play is to an encompassing cinematic experience, it could be that game studios are trying so hard to bring us striking scenes that we lose any semblance of control over them. Take Microsoft for instance. They made headlines by announcing Peter Jackson's involvement in penning game stories for them. Will they pander so much to Jackson's writing that our analog sticks get rusty from lack of movement? I wouldn't be surprised.
Still, there's a potential for this genre to hold the gaming world hostage, and I'm hopeful that it'll further our collective entertainment experience. Imagine with me for a second: Quentin Tarantino writes another Kill Bill script with a dozen different endings meant for an Xbox 360 release where we, the gamers, can carve our own plot twists with a katana and some furious button mashing. We can dream, right? It might not be as far off as you think, but it's going to take a careful balance by the major publishers and some patience on our parts for cinematic gaming to reach its potential.
It's well documented how I feel about the Xbox 360 and the two painful red ring incidents I've been suffocated with. I won't rehash that. After all, my pals at the Microsoft Customer Service Team have been more than adequate in their dealings with me and every other 360 owner encountering this problem.
My question is: When does is stop becoming about how Microsoft has treated us (extended warranties and such) and start becoming about how much gaming time we're losing to multiple console failures? My coffin is on the way for my second broken machine and the estimated time it'll take for my third box to reach me, with the current influx of dead machines barraging Microsoft, will be 4 to 6 weeks.
With games like Bioshock, Mass Effect, Eternal Sonata, and Blue Dragon on the horizon, having my console gone for upwards of a month is just crippling. And what happens when i get a hard lock in the middle of one of these upcoming titles? Can I keep trusting these shoddily refurbished models and throwing away more time I could be playing these drooltastic games?
I ventured, in jest, that my console will get back just in time to break again before Bioshock. I really hope I'm wrong.
I've read all the bad reviews everywhere about how Square shouldn't have meddled in the shooter genre, but I decided to pick this up anyway in the $19 bargain section - and am I ever glad I did.
The cut scenes in this are nothing short of glorious and on par with the CG in the Advent Children movie. Once you get used to the play controls, and customize your weapons a bit, this title really is blissful.
Sure, it may be fan service, but who do you know that isn't (deep down somewhere in the depths of their soul) a Final Fantasy fan?