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11:26 AM on 11.26.2012

Re-Arranging the Game...Music.

Some video game themes are perfect. They have the perfect blend of harmony, melody, and catchiness to instill within us a warmth that only music can provide. Like all music, however, you can have fun with it and mix it up a bit, re-arranging a song by changing its instruments.
So you know those first two sentences? We're going to be messing that up royally (with some actual good ones)!

Game/Franchise: Pokemon
Song: All
Re-Arrangement: Orchestral

I'm going to get this one out of the way first because I was really impressed with the fan project, “Pokemon Reorchestrated”. However, I would do it a little bit differently, in that I would want the team that did the "Super Mario Galaxy theme" to do this. The acoustic guitar in the background, the quality of the sound, and the quirky sounds they created could really add to the Pokemon universe. However, there are the “darker” tunes (like the Battle vs Red) tune that would best be left up to the “Reorchestrated” fellow.

Game/Franchise: Bastion
Song: “Build That Wall (Zia's Theme)” by Darren Korb
Re-Arrangement: Dark Bar Blues (Piano, Guitar, Vocals, and Soft Drums)

That simple humming and acoustic finger-picking. It's extremely catchy and calls to mind a nice little blues tune. I know that after I heard this, I couldn't help but hum it wherever I was. There isn't really a drastic change that I would want here, but an awesome re-arrangement would be to give it the feeling of a “dark bar”. In movies that feature a lone female singing on stage with some instruments on the side, amidst the smoke and fog of corruption, you could hear these types of tunes. I'm probably messing the name of the “genre”, but that's the general idea.

Game/Franchise: Halo
Song: Main Theme from Halo 2 (could do the rest I suppose)
Re-Arrangement: Marching Band

Did you see that Ohio performance of the video game themes? Their version of the Halo theme, though it seemed a bit jumbled in the beginning, was pretty nice. I would love to see the main theme re-done to have those marching snares in there, to add some pop and liveliness into the tune.

Game/Franchise: Metroid Prime
Song: All
Re-Arrangement: Tom Morello

Not really something I would want to see being sold, but I'm sure as hell sold that this man could figure out how to get some of those quirky sounds with his guitar. Shout out to Brad Nicholson. Tom Morello.

Game/Franchise: The Legend of Zelda
Song: Main Theme
Re-Arrangement: Bagpipes.

Not even joking, it could be interesting. Hell, have it in the background for just one pass-through, but it could be good. Especially if they do something similar to Wind Waker again. Or, hell, just get this guy:

Game/Franchise: Super Meat Boy
Song: All
Re-Arrangement: Meshuggah.

Plus This:

I think the music is great as it is, but yes. Yep. Meatshuggah. Danny Baronowsky, the rest of the world: You're quite welcome.

Game/Franchise: Skyrim
Song: Main Theme
Re-Arrangement: Just add Valkyries.

Seriously, how awesome would it be to add in some screaming Valkyries on a refrain or something? I really have no way to change this song, as it felt great to me.

Game/Franchise: Borderlands 3
Song: All
Re-Arrangement: Me.

Just saying. I'll give Butt Stallion the theme she deserves. This may or may not be it:

That's all I've got for now, and thanks for reading! What are some rearrangements and mixes that you would like to see/hear?   read

3:28 PM on 10.27.2011

Plight of the Rural Gamer

The Plight of the Rural Gamer

I live in a town in southern, central Texas (go ahead, get the jokes out of the way) and I like it here. Sure, our governor is an idiot, I'm surrounded by more idiots, and the education system isn't the best. But I live out on some awesome land and needed to move back home. Money's tight after going to college and I'm helping the folks out. That, and I'm trying to get a job in the video game industry. So things are moving a bit slowly in that ground. How can you argue with a view like this though?

Now for the down and dirty: How does 60kb/s for an average download speed sound to you? Does it fill you with hatred and memories of the sounds of dial-up? Well, it's a sight that plagues me every day when I try to download games on Steam.

Welcome to the great world of a piss poor Internet infrastructure for the outskirts of a medium-sized town. As such, I'm unable to play many of my games that feature online multiplayer modes, and even “Minecraft” chugs unbearably when I try to connect to a friend's server. It's been a recent trend that many developers are looking to put more focus into online modes, and it kind of disheartens me.

I read Jim's review about “Battlefield 3” and was pretty appalled. It wasn't because of the review score (I figured it would be something like that) or the actual review. It was that the singe player campaign was just “meh”, if not worse. It really chafes my taint that developers are devaluing the solo experience in games, or that publishers are pushing this so they can try to meet the numbers made by “Call of Duty.” I wasn't too committed to getting BF3, because of Origin (just didn't see the point in having it for BF3 only), but the campaign having too much of a “meh” factor sealed the deal. I can't pay $60 for a game where most of the enjoyment is found in the online experience. Maybe when I am able to move and afford faster Internet, I can purchase it. There's a growing sense that more videogames are going to start including online modes to either justify online passes, or that they're just thrown in to make a bit more money, with Bioshock 2 being a nice example for this. It just feels like Lisa is tearing our single-player campaigns AH-PART.

Not pictured: The reference I just made

I know that the single player element in videogames is here to stay (and Battlefield isn't exactly the series to express my views about single player experience, I know), more and more resources that could be used to build interesting worlds and tighten the experience are being used to make modes that I and probably a good number of other gamers can't use. Don't get me wrong, I love multiplayer. When I've been able to play online, I've enjoyed my time and I think multiplayer should still be around. However, it shouldn't be the bulk of the game, nor should it be an after-thought. If a game is going to have a single-player element, make it worthwhile.

As for what makes a single-player campaign worthwhile, that's tough to say, since each genre (and brand by comparison) has their own take on that question. If you want to gauge my interests in single player campaigns, I thought “Portal 2” and “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” did a great job (as far as this year goes, I'm not even going to include the classic examples, such as “Half-Life 2” and others). It needs to be well-written, whether it is a sandbox game or not. As far as hours go, if it's going to be less than 10 hours, it needs to be pretty damn good. That seems like another topic for another blog though.

I could hold the videogame industry accountable for this, just as I could (and probably should) hold the telecomm industry for making me use “wireless” DSL that couldn't get slower if it approached an event horizon. The point that I hope came across in this poorly written rant is that single player campaigns are still the focal point of most games, and developers need to cut the crap of throwing online modes in every chance they get.

Please developers, from a guy who plays games after playing the SimFarm LARP and lives out in the country, show a little more interest in telling a story or making a fun world without resorting to online features. Or put back in the option to battle bots. That's always fun.

Thanks and Gig'em.


8:38 PM on 06.02.2011

Pretty Fly (For a Kaz Hirai)

Let me preface this by saying I DO NOT have "BIAS" against Sony. This parody song just came from a weird idea while working, and how Sony hasn't had the best image as of late. Kaz Hirai fit really well in the song title, and I just went from there. I'm also not making the lyrics rhyme as in the original song. It takes a bit too much of my time, which is currently devoted to sleeping, writing music, or playing games. So enjoy the super rough draft of this thing that is like a misheard lyrics but totally isn't. Maybe.

Play along to "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" by The Offspring, since that's where I got the idea, obviously. All credit to them for the real song and such. [especially since the original lyrics fit so well that I kept a good chunk of them]


"Pretty Fly (For a Kaz Hirai)"

Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
And all the gamers say I'm pretty fly
For a Kaz Hirai
(PS) uno, dos, tres, update, update, firmware

You know it's kind of hard
To sell PSP Go's today.
Our image isn't cool,
But we fake it anyway.
We may not have a clue;
And we may not have style.
But everything we lack
Well we make up in firmware.

So don't debate, or PS Hate
You know we really do not get it anyway.
We're gonna play the field, and keep it real.
For you no way, for our 401k.
So if you don't pay, just send us your blame.
At least you can blog on your geocites page.
The world needs PS3.
So (Hey! Hey!) do that blu-ray thing.

Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
And all the gamers say I'm pretty fly
For a Kaz Hirai

We need some new games
Not just any will suffice.
But we don't have a space marine
So we brought Firmware Thrise.
Now cruising in our jetpacks, we see hackers as they pass.
But if they hack us twice
We'll sue GeoHotz's lily ass.

We gave Infamous, and LB Planet
We know you don't have those games anyway
We're gonna hype our brand, and keep it real.
For you no way, for our 401k.
So if you like us straight, to N4G navigate.
At least you'll know you can always love us anyway.
The world loves PS3
So (Hey! Hey!) do that brand new thing

Now we're getting a new firmware.
Yeah we're getting it done.
We want respect, but we sue anyone.
Blogs say we're trying too hard
And we're not quite hip.
But in our own mind
We're the dopest trip.

Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
Give it to me Sony. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
(PS) uno, dos, tres, update, firmware, loading

So cut us slack, and give us back
Our Other OS is ours to keep from you
We're gonna cut a deal, 599 a steal.
For our own wave, for our own waverunner.
So if you don't hate, shut up and play our games.
At least PSN gives you Wipeout HD Remake.
The world needs PS3.
Oh the world loves PS3.
So let's get some more PSP Go's.
Kevin! Butler! tweet this brand new thing.

Also, while it is kind of game related, I tagged it as such just so I wouldn't have the higher ups in the community raining divine Destructice (Destructoid + justice, and yes you can use it) on me.

Depending on how creative I feel, I'll try to tackle Microsoft and Nintendo, but we'll see.

Don't worry Sony. You'll be super cool someday. I'll still play on my PS3. Just get me PS2 backward compatibility and God Hand HD (so I can actually play it since my PS2 is busted). We'll call it even.

Thanks for reading everyone.


12:03 AM on 05.22.2011

P2 Press Start: The Night Amensia Was Changed


It all started with the above infamous video, where a guy was reduced to pure panic over Amnesia as his friends were doubled over in laughter through voice chat. It was then that I decided to get the game, and came up with my cunning plan: I would set it up like a horror movie series, but combine it with the experience I got from the video. (Throw in some "role-playing" for believable reactions)

In its first run, most of my roommates and I watched "The Walking Dead" and were enthralled. The atmosphere was palpable at times and I wanted to do the same thing with a game. I then voiced my idea of doing something like this with Amnesia. At first I was met with quizzical looks, since they didn't like the idea of crouching over my shoulders. Bu I fed my baby birds some sweet goodness. I would hook up my laptop to our living room TV via HDMI and play from the computer. We could turn off all the lights, blast the sound, and enjoy some sweet horror gaming. If they could lift me above their heads and parade me around, I think it would have happened.

So the first night, I set up everything. I planned to play the game as if I was the character, reactions and all. I kept my movements very believable, looking in all the crevices of the world to just explore and get everyone immersed in the game's narrative. To put it another way, I played as if I was RP'ing (which I had never done before, but when I get involved with great games, I do it passively and get even more engrossed). So that was the setup. What followed was one of the oddest, but best gaming experiences that I've had.

"Poor guy, must have seen Courtney Love come out of the shower...

As I started to encounter the monsters, there were indeed some startles and screams. I think the most panicked moments were the "water demon" parts, since you couldn't see it. I had a case of tinnitus I think for a day or two after that. But what really struck me as odd was that I was getting help from my roommates that were versed in games like this, especially since they were supposed to be a passive audience. We've all probably had something similar. I'm sure the following phrases will be familiar, in a game's context:

"Hey man, check that out. No, not in that bookcase, the other one."
"There's an item over there, grab it."

Having 3 knowledgeable brains helped make the experience better. But it was always an ego boost to figure something out while as the character. Until I got about halfway through, where the game became too involved for them to do anything other than grip their sheets tighter or crack jokes to avoid being scared, I was thinking as if I had a collective super mind.

That was another thing, the joking. I think in any "high stress" game, whether it is because of scares, tricky spy missions, or an incredibly close multiplayer game, we all need another person or source of attention to give our mind a break. I play a lot of online shooters with music on, but I'll invite friends to watch so I have someone to relax a bit. It's a great cathartic experience that doesn't involve raging (and if so, it's comedic) or becoming a piss-ant. For Amnesia, one section with patrolling monsters became an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

"Oh man, he's late for his plastic surgeon appointment."
"I bet that guy could totally reach his dick with his mouth AND cut it at the same time"
"This British guy can fuck right off"

By the end of the game, Amnesia had gone from being a survival horror to an exercise in atmosphere and great comedic timing practice. I wish I had better examples, but my mind isn't pulling any gems out of its ass. But a game, so glorified for its intense mood and scary moments, had become a comedy movie with some scary moments. I think if I had played the game how I was supposed to first, I would have had scarier moments. That's not to say I didn't create some, such as when I went on a Benny Hill-type chase scene, only to be clotheslined in the face by two monsters. With nail/knife hands.

That's just one moment I can think of where my experience with a game has been completely changed. I'm interested to see what other people do, and hopefully can be a part of some online meta games, like doing a "survival" run of the Carmageddon Mod for GTAIV. What about you? Get on your C-Blogs and start posting away!   read

12:50 AM on 03.17.2011

A Poem for Destructoid

So this is something I'm going to spit-ball as I type.

Is this a poem of love for a great site? Yes
Is this one devoted to both editors and the people that have made me laugh over the years? Yes
Is this a cheap cash-in?, probably not.

In times forgotten, without names
because it makes me sick,
I found a website for games
that had a phrase involving dick

With a feeling of wonder
and a gleeful bound,
I clicked the link, hyper
and enjoyed what I had found

A community of gamers,
united by a cause.
To just stfuajp games,
and journalism, because.

(Just so you know,
the rhyme scheme might not flow.
Just like it did now,
breaking the 4th wall lol)

The editors were sarcastic,
the readers even more.
Sometimes even vitrolic,
it tickled my Armored Core.

And the faps and years went by,
some editors said their goodbyes.
But we're all still here,
around our robot leader, Nier...o.

So here's to you birthday boy,
and our robot's anniversary.
Live the dream of gaming and writing,
and keep being so damn fly.

And here's to us, my fellow members.
Keep being awesome and remember:
Though we have different systems and styles,
we are all gamers, gamers for life.

Yep, this is what my English degree gets me. Thanks for reading this probably lame thing. In all seriousness though, I'm glad Destructoid is still around and I hope it stays that way. It's one of the best sites to give me news, and the people here have written amazing things that have made me think about gaming in new ways (story, how to make things better by doing simple things, etc.). Love you guys, love Destructoid.

Eventually, now that college is done, I hope to go to NARPS, attend conventions, and meet as many of you crazy bastards as I can. And hopefully be more involved in the community, since it is clearly one of the best. Chalk that up to shyness and writer's block when it comes to writing blogs. So I hope to do all of the above. Then I'll suffer some memory loss due to a convenient game trope, and do it all again!

A special shout-out to Steamtoid for helping me be a part of the community, even if my only claims to fame include CSI puns and my acronyms (acRonins). Without you guys, I would've never ripped on the VGA's and played copious amounts of Left 4 Friends. My life is more complete.

Now insert an in-joke of Destructoid to finish this off, and then go play some games (and rock on)!

-Thomas R. aka Ronin Zero   read

1:10 AM on 06.30.2010

Split/Second Review: A little late to the party

So I realize I'm a little late with reviewing this. But after having such a great time with it, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on it. I also pulled more than this review away from the experience, so hopefully I can talk about that at another time. In the mean time, here is my review of Split/Second and I hope it does its intended purpose: humor and information.

Developed: Black Rock Studios
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Version Played: PS3

The air is saturated with the roaring of hyper-charged engines and cripplingly heavy debris thrown in the air, and my head is constantly thinking to avoid certain crashing. I charge up the bar and take out the needle tower in the city’s downtown area. As it falls like a chopped tree, I can almost imagine the scream coming from the racers in front of me as they veer to get out of the way. But it is too late and the tower has fallen, taking out five rivals. The tower’s innards have collapsed as well, giving way to a shortcut that takes my silver streak of a car across roof tops until I get to the route below. I’m suddenly in a different area of the city and the lap I had just completed has chunk of it under the ass end of a tower. A smile enlightens my face. I am having fun and up to the brim with glee. This is the action and absurdness that I’ve been craving for in a racing game for a long time.

Read on to see how Split/Second fondles my nerd frenulum, even despite some nags and snags.
Split/Second is a racing game from Black Rock Studios, with a lot of action in that revolves around (time to take care of this pun), split second timing. For those that haven’t heard, the main “attraction” to Split/Second is the destructible events and environments. Think of it as a banana peel in Mario Kart, except the events only happen in certain places and the result is usually a crushed or blown up vehicle rather than a cutesy spin. While you are limited to where these things can happen, don’t worry: there are PLENTY of places to dish out the pain to your rivals. Whether it is an exploding barrel or a tanker ship wanting to broadside you, you can be sure that there will be thrills.

Split/Second has a story, but not a very strong one. You are a new contestant on the Split/Second TV show, a type of game show where contestants race and rank up to eventually take on the “elites” of Split/Second. These elites drive all black, carbon fibered cars. They’re fast and they know these roads inside and out. Let’s not beat around the bush: they are here to screw you over…hard. As the newest contestant, you have to start from the bottom of the pack and work your way to the top. Consisting of 72 races (60 of these being “normal season” and 12 being a part of the “bonus” races), Split/Second’s latest TV season is set to test your wit, bravado, and balls-out luck. This isn’t story, as much as it is just background to the game. There will be no cut-scenes or in-game dialogue to tell you otherwise. But there was a thing mentioned after the game was beaten, which I’ll save for later. Just know that Black Rock Studios could have done without it.

The gameplay found in Split/Second is nothing short of arcade: Drive, take out rivals with explosives and falling architecture, and drive faster. Don’t come in expecting Gran Turismo or Forza’s simulation levels. Let’s get this clear: AIRPLANES FALL OUT OF THE SKY TOWARDS YOU. There is nothing real about this, and that makes it so great for me. Your job is to go through the race, beat everyone else, and use your environment to take out rivals. You can use whatever is at your fingertips on the course. One level may let you blow up a big rig in the middle of the road, causing it to flip and land on someone, while another level has you hopping aboard the PAIN TRAIN, as it falls from the rails onto the road, clearing out a shortcut and route change (as well as anyone in the way). Very simple, but pretty complex in practice and devious in execution with said practice. A big plus for this game is that shortcuts opened with a level 1 power play, will close behind you. While this means you can steal a short cut activation that someone else used, it can be a bit risky. At the same time, get far enough ahead, and rivals will be crashing face first into tons of metal blocking their way.

There are only a few buttons to know, perfect for rookies. You have two “Level 1” action buttons, which will detonate the small stuff. This was a good choice, considering you’ll be using these the most, unless you’re a glutton for glorious punishment. In that case, the “Level 2” power plays are what you’re after. Next are steering, acceleration, and brake, of course. You can move the cameras during a race to get some nice angles, although why you would do this when towers are falling on you, I have no clue. If you nail some people with a power play, a quick prompt will let you watch it from several cinematic angles. After viewing, it will send you right back into the race. One thing I noticed, was that if can take out a rival in one of these ways, and you’re about to crash, if you view the replay, it will right you on course, without having to worry about said crash. Not sure if this was an intentional thing, but it can be helpful if you aren’t concentrating on pesky things like turns. While you have the power play moments like dropping an airport's radar dish on someone, helicopters hover over some spots, ready for a level 1 power play to drop an explosive barrel. This game may not have physical blue shells, but this is as close to dick move as it gets. In the campaign, these will be your best friend. In multiplayer, they will be your enemy. Luckily, the later cars either go too fast to be affected, or are too heavy to even flinch.

Split/Second isn’t just blowing up courses. There are different modes to take on in the campaign, each with their own twist. There is a time trial mode called Detonater that really tests how well you know a course. You drive by yourself, trying to beat the target time. While doing this, power plays are triggered by the computer, hoping to take you out. While very fun and helpful to plan future strategies, I really wish they would’ve gone with a dynamic A.I. here. After you’ve crashed and restarted a few times, you’ll know your way around each obstacle with ease. Survival is a mode where you must rack up the big points by passing big rigs that drop exploding barrels on the course. Blue barrels will only stun and throw you around a little. Red barrels are instant death. You’ll only get 3 tries, and in order to complete this mode fast, you’ll want to go flawlessly to get the multiplier up quick. There will be some cheap deaths, because the debris can really cloud up your vision. At the same time, it really racks up the tension, which can be a good thing if done correctly. Air Strike and Air Revenge feature the Split/Second helicopters, bent on taking you out. Instead of avoiding power plays, you will be avoiding missiles. In Air Strike, the pilot will be firing rockets that you must avoid. The crosshairs on the ground indicate exactly where they will hit. It is up to you to dodge as cleanly as possible. Strike is about striking up a score. In Air Revenge, you gain power play points by dodging, which will let you “return to sender”. My advice for this mode, save up power until you get to the red and drift like hell. This mode is about taking out the helicopter in a set time, so bounce that crap back quick. Elimination is a standard race mode where every minute or so, the racer in last place is taken out until only one is left. It will make you think twice about your power plays and even your strategy could switch.

As a musician, I tend to be picky about the audio, specifically music, in games. For Split/Second, I think they did a good thing with the music. Instead of licensed tunes or SUPA DOPE BEATS, they decided to go with a kind of “symphonic rock” track, that is choreographed to how you are doing in the game and your surroundings. When you near a falling hazard or an explosion triggers, the music fades back, as if signaling your heart is taking over for the beat. When you’ve avoided it, the music comes back in. They are very smooth transitions and really immersed my head into the game. Unfortunately, there are not too many different songs, so it can be a bit repetitive. But you’ll be too busy focusing on the sound of gnarled metal and exploding apartments to take notice.

When I played the demo, I thought the cars were too “heavy” and “stiff”. After buying the full game, I can safely say it was just the car that you had to use. In fact, many of these cars will be too buttery to use, although if you can use them, prepare for insane speeds. The farther you go, the better the cars. Standard racing motif. Let’s talk about these cars a little more though.

Those wanting a lot of customization will be disappointed. You can only pick from a small pallet of colors, mostly consisting of “cool” colors. So if you were wanting to fire up a sun-colored bringer of death, you will be out of luck. They do have healthy doses of black and red, though. Bodies cannot be modified, and the only other visual aspects that can be changed are the “trophy stickers” that you will collect throughout the campaign and multiplayer. But you cannot even place these. The game will automatically put the stickers on in pre-determined locations. The stickers’ requirements range from taking out a certain number of other drivers at a time, to airborne time and more. Some are easy to obtain, some will have you grinding your teeth to the jaw bone if you’re a hardcore completionist.
Split/Second’s graphics, even if car color can’t be changed, will leave jaws dropped. Explosions pop and debris is scattered everywhere. Crumbling buildings thanks to the Havok engine really have a weight to them and the blurs of speed create and even more intense atmosphere. At least once a race, you will be dodging engines and car skeletons, hoping they do not take you out…and it still runs at a very crisp pace (I want to say 60fps, but I’m not an expert in the department). My experience was with very little to no lag on my PS3 and the load times are pretty short.

While it looks great, underneath Split/Second lies a hideous beast…and its name, is rubber banding. If you thought it was horrible in Mario Kart, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve had it in here. I know it is arcade in its gameplay, but if I take out 5 people with a falling 747, I want none of those 5 people catching up to me. Usually, it only takes about twenty seconds and 2 out of the 5 have found me. It’s pretty damn ridiculous and it is something that needs fixing…immediately. In the first few “episodes” of the game, it is extremely bearable. But right at the sixth season mark, the rubber banding becomes tighter than a nun’s vagoo. When you face the elites, it becomes apparent that they are just the elites of rubber banding. There were times I had to restart races because I would get fed up with it. Luckily, the rivals can be taken out pretty smoothly if you time your power plays right. Sure, it does make for a more “intense” experience, but I also like to be rewarded for taking out more than half of the competition. If I mess up while driving out in the lead, it should be my fault that they catch up and/or pass me, not some bullcrap system.

The menu system in Split/Second can be a little cumbersome, since if you want to change your color during a season, you have to actually exist to the main menu, and then go back into campaign in order to get the color you want. Not too big of a deal, but a hassle regardless.

If you like traveling to many exotic places in your games, Split/Second is also not the game to endulge in your delights. There are only a few locales here, but each has different sections that you race upon. However, after repeated races, I’ve noticed the short cuts take you to some of the areas that are open in other races and your area is locked (if that makes any sense). While I understand they might have done this to perfect their power plays and traps in the courses, it becomes pretty tiresome to see the same nuclear power plant cone again and again. If retreading your steps in an action game irked you, Split/Second will drive you up a wall (no pun intended…ok, maybe).

For the first foray into this franchise, Split/Second makes a solid step out of the gate, although it may be a bit wobbly at times. Yes, I said franchise. Let me remind you of that prior thing about the story.
Earlier I said that the game tried to have a story. Spoiler alert is happening now, but I can almost guarantee that even if you read this, it will ruin nothing.


We good? Sweet. Anyhow, after beating the game, you are treated to a small cut scene, where the city set pieces are starting to be destroyed. You can hear the announcer talking to someone else, saying “they should have been taken care of” and other such lines. Apparently, this was an old show or something. I’m still confused as hell about it, nor will I try to make any sense of it. It’s stupid and unnecessary.


Now that Split/Second has established its name, I’m hoping it can only go up. My experience was one of pure bliss when things were going smoothly and hair-pulling when I would be beaten by stupid reasons or rubber banding. I have finished first in all races and it was worth it. I will warn you that to get first place in all races will require a lot of patience. If you have that and the balls-out attitude of a driver on the edge, then this game will be in your collection, without a Split/Second thought. Okay, I’m done with the puns.
While I will not give it a score as an official statement (reading reviews is always more important than a few digits), I would give it a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10. The moments of frustration are worth putting up with for the many monumental occasions.

*I would like to point out that I have not tried online multiplayer, because of technical limitations (read as: Rural Internet blows). Splitscreen was fun and fast paced. So that will keep you and your friends enjoying the explosions locally.

How was this review? Too BIAS? Too slow and/or unfunny? Let me know, because although I hope to get a job in the industry, I need to improve my writing (I’ve written a lot of things, but not really any video game revies). Thanks for reading, and hope to game with you fellow Dtoiders soon.
[img]   read

10:59 AM on 03.03.2010

The Secret Armory Gets My Knoxx Off

The 3 most wanted on Pandora...and Brick who is 1 dollar less on the most wanted list...

Borderlands had a formula that was a stronger stimulant than a taint laced with cocaine: "Kill, Loot, Level, Repeat". With the Secret Armory, it stays the same and that, folks, is great. I have not completed the pack, so this is more of a first-impressions than anything else.

Something witty about difficulty goes here
My first run through of Knoxx, I died from a damn security drone, the first enemy I faced. After preparing a bit more, and leveling up (also using WillowTree to change my outfit colors to something cooler, and boosting from 47 to 50 because I was really tired and wanted to just play), the difficulty got a lot easier, but it wasn't a walk in the park. The new enemies, such as the assassins, really change up the pace. For example, I can walk all over the Crimson Lance with just my Pestilent Defiler magnum (x4 corrosion, yeah!), but these ladies in red will, for lack of better words, RUIN YOUR SHIT if you're not ready to deal with their speed. While some can be frail, the leaders are always tough enough to get me to panic a little. My first powered armor mech sighting was thrilling, but slightly disappointing. I'm playing as a Soldier, and although my turrent couldn't take him out, it's lvl. 4 explosion shot really lays the heat and keeps him from pelting me with a shotgun spread that reminds me of the Unreal Tournament gun, the Flak Cannon.

What I'm really enjoying besides the difficulty is how they have fleshed out Pandora. While I know a lot of people are not fans of the driving, I find it to be really fun. I had a few mishaps with the handling of the little racer car, but all of those complaints were subverted by the fact I ramped off an overpass, only to land directly on a midget. Man I love videogames. These scenes, however, can grew to be a bit tiresome, which is why I really miss fast travel. But at least adding some new vehicles helps to keep things from getting too stale. However, these roads could have been shortened...or at least add a few damn Quick Travel stations. Also, Scooter's mom is a MILF. Seriously.

Like this, but Crimson...and with 776 damage, and just better.
Guns, Guns, Guns
Yesterday, I found a sniper rifle called the Crimson Lance, which has probably the coolest paint job I've seen in the game. It is literally crimson. Damn great stats too. Today, I found another sniper rifle that fires like a machine gun. I'm trippin' balls in delight here. The new additions to weapons are pretty damn powerful. If you've played Borderlands extensively, you know the feeling of joy when you find a new weapons box. However, you haven't felt anything until you open one of the "armory boxes". These things get my heart pounding and my pants tight. They usually have really big payloads, with one I found containing an Orange, two Purples, and a class mod. I recall the Burning Savior SMG being the orange, but can't remember the others. Regardless, although there might be some rehashes, the simple knowledge of the POWER in these things is pretty intense.

Well, we have something in common after all...still going to kill us though...
The Red Rocket Lance...not sexual at all...
The Crimson Lance itself is an interesting group. Among standard infantry and defenders, the company has decided to throw in elemental soldiers. Pyro, Shock Troopers, and Chemical (?). These guys really make you think about the shields you are packing, as most of these guys won't go down without a fight. I also appreciate how the badasses of Pyro group (only have encountered that kind, unfortunately) will ignite if you blow up their backpacks, instantly killing them. Let's strategy be a part of the game, even if it is only very minor. I'm enjoying fighting these guys. Also, the cores that they drop (see Marcus as soon as he asks for you. It'll help!) really add to the fighting. Shock, Power, and Speed. These add a kind of "random" mentality, but it can help with changing your game plan. I was about to die against 3 soldiers, and luckily, one dropped a shock core. After picking it up and instantly charging my shields, I found a power core and destroyed the other two with quick shotgun blasts...from a Blast Shotgun. Pretty fun stuff. Also, the assassins are hot...and lethal. Anyone else remember the name of that old show of the hit-woman? La femme Nikita, is that right?

I would let her assassin my crimson lance, if you know what I'm saying

Wow! You're Not Dead!
The writing is pretty damn great. From Knoxx sharing small talk before declaring to kill you in the most nonchalant way possible, to Scooter's dialog, Moxxi's sexy voice, and back to the lovable Claptrap, the writing has been pretty damn funny. I've enjoyed listening to these characters. But damn it to hell, those talking drones get really damn annoying. Not that their writing is bad, but they are everywhere...seriously, it is hard to get away from those guys. Gearbox seems to know this, because they have a lot of varied lines that they use. Unfortunately, they still end up on my complaint list. Claptrap is as lovable as ever and really shines. I've only seen the original in this new pack, but I've seen the hints of a jailbird Claptrap. I'm looking forward to it.

Overall, I'm really enjoying this stuff. Seriously, if you have the cash, do not hesitate. This is the best pack to hit Borderlands, hands down. Also, it's more addictive Borderlands...what's not to love about that? Slaughter Midgetville today!

Does anyone happen to know what the box with arrows by the "World's Largest Bullet" does? I'm thinking a secret weapon store, but not sure.   read

9:46 PM on 02.12.2010

My Expertise: Luck, Sticky Grenades,& Rockets

Lady Luck...what a great, mysterious, and messed up force. Luck happens to also be my greatest ally in games, especially in open-world, racing, and first-person shooters. Combine those, and usually, my opponents are screwed.

Not very related, but it gets the point across.

If there is a kill that comes out of the middle of nowhere, it is usually mine. If by some odd accident, a piece of the level falls and blocks someone from killing me, I was probably responsible. What I have is an uncanny expertise in sheer luck and weird shit.

For example:

There have been many times when players will wonder "What the Hell just happened?". The answer is me. Somehow, by the grace of the video game gods, they have foreseen that I will champion during at least one round, and during that round, something unexplained will happen. Whether freak lag, a very well-timed bounce off an invisible wall, it could even be a ricocheting bullet.

Here are some examples of my tales. While there are luckier shots and things done in games, I think I have the most frequent of these occurrences.

Burnout Paradise: I'm in last place, going down the east side of the island by the damn. Everyone else takes the curves of the road while I haul ass towards the ramp off of the dam. As the pole position comes right out of the wide right turn, a barrel-rolling vehicle, with an echoing "SHHHHHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTT!", flies off the dam damn ramp, flips 3 times, and lands on the second place car. The second place car, having been catapulted by the impact, spins out of control and hits the first place driver, sending them into a spin. Being that I did a vertical take-down, I receive no damage, and take home the first place prize.

Last thing 3rd. place and onward saw of me:

James Bond 007: Nightfire:

I don't remember if this was the exact name, but I'm 90% sure this is it. Regardless, I was playing split-screen with some friends on the PS2. Well, the level we played took place in a snowy mountain top, with ski lifts going to either side, and castles as bases. One of my friends decided that he was going to camp and wait to ambush me, since we each only needed one kill. He seemed to know that I was going to make the first move. But, he never accounted for one thing: my extreme skills with rockets and luck. At that moment, I happened to pick up the Sentinel Rocket Launcher. For those that don't know, think of any other remote/video-controlled rocket launcher. There ya go. Let the raping of egos commence.
I fired the rocket, guiding it into a loop-de-loop, for show and because the controls were slightly wonky. He laughed and jumped up and down, proclaiming I would never guide it into the castle. I decided to take him up on that. At that moment, I corrected and piloted the rocket for the door. He looked down, only to see a piloted rocket go straight through the door, right in the middle no less. He panicked and jumped, thinking I would miss and undershoot. Upon luck and reaction, I tilted up on the rocket, and it's trajectory made it's mark: Right in the balls. My rocket busts balls. You've been warned.

Games with Sticky Grenades:
Believe me, you are boned if this option is available. I don't even need to go further.

Grand Theft Auto 4:
Only one of many, but I'll keep it short and sweet: Swingset of Death -> bailing out in midair -> sketching on the ground and off of a person -> bouncing high into the air -> with a sliver of health, I land in the pool. Yeah. It happened.

You might be asking yourself- "Tom-Tom, how can I go about getting better with luck and such?" Well, that would be very easy, my fellow Dtoider: Play the game. A lot. But do things differently. For example, don't take pre-determined paths where you KNOW what will happen, such as choke points, normal roads, weapons with no special features like grenades or explosives, etc. Play these games with a different mindset. Play to be goofy in other words. It is not guaranteed. To get luck, requires a metric ton of it. But the results are worth their hilarity value in the time you spent getting to that point. You might laugh hard enough to get ripped abs, a la Chet. Science has proven this. Maybe.

So next time you enter a game with me, be aware if you are on the opposing side. There will be a force that will always be watching...waiting...stalking...and will eventually luck-fuck you in game.


3:07 PM on 01.05.2010

The Future: A Not-So-Quick-Hit Look at Videogames of the Future.

Where else can video games go? I'm sure many people are thinking this. We keep retreading the grounds of World War 2, pushing the limits on graphics, battling as grizzled space marines, waggling our wiiwangs, and battle amongst fellow gamers over who has the better plastic box. What can video games do different now? Here is a "non-so-quick-hit" overview of what can be improved upon, changed, or innovated...maybe...

IMPROVEMENT--1. Less Waggle = Much Less Nag(gle): Games that rely too much on waggle or motion control aren't very fun. However, the opposite type of game can be taken (that is, with too little waggle) and we'll be clamoring for more. Why not make waggle optional? A menu setting can be added to games, turning off motion control when the player decided to not worry about it, leaving it to use at a different date. There were many times when I would come home with arms aching from moving irrigation pipe, and I wouldn't want to play a Wii game because of having to waggle. If we could use it at our discretion instead of all the time, it might make for a better game. Also, there would be less frustration at accidental deaths because of said waggle. (hell, if I had 2 dollars for every time I spin-jumped in the new Mario game because I decided to change from sitting on my bed to sitting in a chair, or just sitting there, I could buy a computer capable of running Crysis on maximum settings...which, I'm certain that if you are capable of running Crysis on maximum power, it can turn into Skynet...we have been warned.)

OK, maybe waggle isn't bad...

INNOVATION--2. A Cross-Platform War & Fan Boys: Let's assume a new Wii comes out (I'll call it the Nii...yes, I'm a knight as well). How about a cross-platform war, in the vein of say maybe M.A.G., but with more scale like WoW. The game would be available for all platforms, with a world made of many lands based on different genres. In each of these "genre continents", battles would take place as they would in their respective genres (F.P.S. (First Principality of Shooters) would be like all of the shooter games we know, R.P.G. (Republic of Paladins and Gnomes) would have turn-based battles) [yes, I realize my acronym powers...Steamtoid chat goers know of some of them, including my Destructiod one]. In each of these genre continents, there would be a 3 pronged war, each side being a different system. Do you see where I'm going with this? Results would affect the look of each land, with the console with the most influence having the land resemble more of the company (Sony power would have black monolithic structures, while the Wii would have lots of movement, etc.). A bit ambitious, yes. But it could be done.

CHANGE--3. Taking the Scenic Route: This is not in the same vein as taking the phrase would have it. I mean exploring more territories. Space is not necessarily played out, but space marines are. What happened to the ocean? Arctic showdowns? Deserts where a delirium meter and mirages can occur, leading you astray from a real oasis? Just a thought.

(Courtesy linked by Wasteland Traveler, ogled by Steamtoid chat)

IMPROVEMENT--4. Story Time: Gather around kids, I want to tell you how the Wanderer saved a beautiful princess from the Colossus. While it didn't spill the story out for us in pure words, it gave it to us a very meaningful way. Sure, not ALL games need blockbuster stories. But the ones that set themselves up to have such should deliver.

INNOVATION--5. Close Your World Hole!: While I love them and they're very casual friendly, I miss mission styled games. What would be cool is a mission-based game, and after completing it, you can free-roam, completing other things, picking up items you missed or couldn't get, etc. I could go on, but I would repeat like a lot of open world games now.

These are quicker hits that I really can't formulate into bigger discussions at the moment, but might give you something to think about.

-One music game to rule them all...made by Harmonix and adding in lots of GH's improvements over the past few times (yes, I've played GH5 and VH since the last blog...I like it)

-Super Smash Bros. game with Mr. Destructoid, Gino, and Mega Man. That is all.

-Lastly, fucking MEGA MAN LEGENDS 3 (I could go on forever about it)

3:57 PM on 12.29.2009

A Hopeful List for Harmonix

Harmonix has brought out the best plastic controller music game, of all time. Guitar Hero can't even compare with it's 500 versions. However, one thing it has been lagging on is hard rock songs.

So, Destructoid, I offer up my list of hopeful Rock Band songs for the future.

Alestorm - Because we want Power Metal...made by Pirates.

Alice in Chains - Especially with harmonizing vocals...that would be off the pun intended

Alter Bridge - Probably one of the greatest hard rock bands to come out. Awesome guitar parts too. Seriously, why is this not anywhere?!

Arch Enemy - Just for guitars...pretty much

Black Stone Cherry - Great southern hard rock band. Would be GREAT for RB.

Breaking Benjamin - The 3 songs they came out with played great. From Phobia on, the new drummer has only used one kick pedal (and I must say, it's damn hard to play). Perfect for RB. Also, "Blow Me Away" from Halo 2...this should've been in there automatically.

Capcom - Get some of those classic Mega Man tracks and spice them up! Examples: Mega Man 2 Wily's first level, intro to Mega Man 3, "We're the Robots" from MM9 (bonus points for using "We're the Pitchermen"), etc.

Chevelle - Easy stuff, but they would be good for parties and such.

Dethklok - Just because

The Eagles - Get to it

Gorillaz - Seriously guys...come on...

Goldeneye 007 soundtrack - Especially the Cradle

Kamelot - Good "symphonic" type of metal. Wouldn't say they are bound to it, but that's all I can come up with.

Lamb of God - I like 'em. Very hard guitar parts at times too.

Led Zeppelin - Just use their songs already...

Limozeen - It would be funny

Los Lonely Boys - Get some cultural education in this bad boy

Meshuggah - Ok, maybe not them. Their song "Bleed" would kill people from the power of its heaviness and sheer brutality. Honestly, I'm surprised people's heads haven't imploded from it.

Metallica - Not going to happen probably, but you can't go wrong with a bit of them.

Muse - I need more of these guys.

Nickelback - Guilty pleasure. Also because more girls would probably play if they were on.

Nightwish - One of the most "epic" bands out there. I say epic as in, epic soundtrack, not the term commonly used by frat douches.

Nobuo Uematsu - It would be cool to have some FF tracks to play. "Otherworld" from FFX being among them.

Off The Zodiac - my band...please?

A Perfect Circle - don't know what to write, but "Judith" would be cool to jam.

Pink Floyd - You better include the trippy RB scenes

Primus - Just want to play bass on "Winona's Big Brown Beaver"

Rush - MOAR

Seether - solid band, could use some.

Shinedown - good hard rock band

Stone Temple Pilots - older stuff

Tenacious D albums...oh yeah.

Trans Siberian Orchestra - Doesn't have to be their Christmas stuff

Type-O Negative - Mostly to see people try to sing that low

The Who - I know people want this

Van Halen - I know GH did it, but still

old classics like Chuck Berry, Elvis, Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and others.

Classical music, but the "neo-classical" variety

That's my list. What about you, Destructoid?   read

2:21 AM on 12.13.2009

Destructoid: One of My Favorite Places

[Warning, wall of text] Few pictures will appear.

Lately, I had been feeling that I was just "another user" on Destructoid. "Lost in the crowd" if you will. I probably still am. But damn it...tonight...I had fun.

(Thirsty, but having fun)

I haven't been a long-time member of Destructoid. I would come here for my news because I really liked the writing, the header images were funny, and the community seemed good. I decided to become a member and shortly after, made stupid mistakes (posted a very short, against the "code" c-blog and something else I think). Regardless, I wasn't too thrilled with how things were going and retreated to just watching, but posting occasionally. Podtoid and Retroforce go, however, have kept me endlessly entertained, and for members of each, I thank you. Also, bless you for Samit for putting up with that shit. Don't forget the Bill Murray tattoo as well.

Tonight must have been my night. With the VGA's on, an announcement went up to join the Steam chat. I had been on several times prior and seemed to get along with the other people that frequented there. I also had been meeting some fellow gamers through the forums for some multi-player gaming. I signed on and greeted everyone. As the night went on, we all had a blast ripping on the VGA's, taking bets on who would win, and commenting on future games. I even, by chance, got our very own Jim Sterling to give some of his views in the chat. That was quite pleasant, and thanks again to him for stopping in for the short time. As the night wore one, we had some great ideas come along (I totally get money if Rick Astley: Rock Band ends up coming out). I really felt as a part of the community. Then we decided to game, and I think found my calling. (By the way, check out Doomsday Forte's blog for the chat log of the Steamtoid room)

We had some intense games of Versus going on. Lots of fun for everyone, and it was great meeting up with other Destructoid members (or as Samit would call us, mongoloids...or Italians). Then someone got the idea for Left 4 Friendz. This is when the fun began. We got some friends together and had a "boom" playing. We got Jim in again too, and that was very fun. I don't know if he was talkative, as I wasn't on his team (although I think he did talk like Cowboy probably would). He had to go later on, which was cool. It was good for others because it gave them a chance to hop into the hot server of the night, apparently. Soon we were off again, making plans to bring the boomer to safety, all while the familiar steps of "whup whup whup" were trailing behind. A sight to behold is 4 people firing upon zombies in the front with a boomer to their backs and punching common infected.

(And now...)

Now that the night is done and I look back, I can safely say that this was a Saturday well spent. I'm going to, hopefully, start making plans to go to the next PAX that everyone (aka, the most people) will go to. I hope to meet everyone I can, editors and everyone else. Maybe even more-so everyone else because the editors seem to be very busy.

It feels great to be a part of a community like this. Sure, I could have gone to the Steam forums, or anywhere else and found a community to be a part of. But I know as soon as I would play, they would call me a n00b because I don't know how to do their stupid shit. Here, it was very casual, great, and most of all...FUN. That's something a lot of people forget, it seems. It was fun. It was also great being somewhere I fit in. As you can see in the first picture, I go to Texas A&M. While we like to say we have "diversity", it isn't as common as they would like it. Being a bit shy as I am, it is tough to find other gamers that share similar tastes, or even gamers for that matter. Especially with Steam. So this has been a great opportunity for me to meet new people, and hopefully, make some really good friends. I would love to meet everyone at some point and be friends. Not just "facebook-lol-you-add-to-my-friend-count-and-I-can-spam-you-lololololol" friends. But people I'll actually give a damn about wishing happy birthday and such too. Maybe I'm just blissful from a goodnight and ignorant to the fact that maybe we aren't all friends or whatever. As long as this feeling lasts, I'm sticking with the above.

Thank you Destructoid for giving me a damn good reason to get online to play games and have fun again. I hope to meet and friend everyone soon!

*end sentimental blog*

Now, back to rocking. Thanks for reading.


9:54 PM on 06.18.2009

Red Faction: Guerrilla Fun Times List

I must say, this game is one of my favorites. I'm an explosion-holic, so this is right up my alley. Here are some events that have transpired in my play-through this far. Share your fun stories too! Post however you want, a list, dramatic retelling, campfire sing-a-long (Internet win for someone who pulls that off), whatever fits your story.

1. Tutorial level, half of the roof of the science lab flew right above my head. If he had an afro, it would've looked like a slanted plate.

2. Decided to make a remote charge line to ambush the EDF (one of the first missions in Parker where you can ambush from a bridge). Set them up, and as they drove over them, I set it off. The second car went hurling backwards, while the front one barrel-rolled into the bridge, taking out three citizens in the process. At least the bridge went down.

3. Wanted some demo. work done. I drove a car next to a building, but didn't realize an EDF truck was right next to it. I decided to just gun it. Happily, I took out the gunner on top with my car, and as I hit the building, the top collapsed on the truck...and then I blew it up just for laughs.

4. Tagged a soldier. Watching them run with a remote charge on their face/head (I swear it looks like a head crab with a blinking light on it when you place it right) is funny. Its funnier when they return to their squad, only for their squad to run away. Cue obligatory Benny Hill music and you have the funniest situation. Well, until the remote charge fell off. Then I just blew up the EDF group.

5. Made a remote charge line. An EDF carrier was rolling by, and blew it up. The resulting explosion hurled it upwards into a backflip. When I realized it was off the screen, I looked around. It then crashed on my head just as I had looked up.

6. M.O.A.B's are fun. They're really fun when you have 3 trucks following you and you jump out, run across the bridge, and trigger the 9 charges you put on it. What, I had like 30!

7. Nano Forge is the tits. I nanowned (trademarked as of now...maybe) a soldier by destroying the bridge he was on. As he fell, his comrades in a tank just nails him in the back. EDF soldiers fly far.

8. Guerrilla reinforcements are a pain in the ass. I threw a remote charge from behind cover, and I saw it was moving on the mini-map so I detonated it. Turns out a woman decided to be rambo and ran out to attack the EDF, only to be stuck and then blown up. Her explosion took out a group of EDF though, so that was nice. It was like a suicide bomber, but unintentional.

9. Homing rockets are nice. Thermoberic Rockets are better. Trust me when I say this, Wrecking Crew mode gets a lot funner (and shorter) when you use unlimited ammo of those.

10. One of the greatest moments I can remember at the moment. I decided to be a bad ass and chased an EDF troop with my hammer. As I hit him, an EDF truck came by. The troop hit the truck and from the force damaged it. I had already nearly blown the truck to smithereens. When the soldier hit it, it blew up too.

Post away Dtoiders! (picture from G4, I believe)   read

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