Rage is a game that has interested me, though I have yet to play it. I've been reading and watching reviews all around the internet, and I've become somewhat annoyed by a common trend in video game reviews lately.
The biggest criticisms for Rage have been about it not being an open world, about not being RPG enough, about not having a compelling story. Almost every review has made a comparison to Borderlands or Fallout 3, even though it is not either game. Gears 3 wasn't criticized for not being RPG enough or for being too linear, so why is Rage? Because it is post-apocalyptic, and other post apocalyptic games have been open world RPGs? Will Battlefield 3 or MW3 be knocked for not having an in depth crafting system? Rage should be praised for adding these light elements, not knocked for not being deep enough.
I recognize that games should not be reviewed in a bubble. At the same time, games should be appropriately compared. You wouldn't compare Mario Kart to Gran Turismo simply because they are both racing games. You wouldn't compare Vanquish to the Armored Core series simply because they both have you fighting robots.
As I said, I haven't played Rage yet, so maybe these reviewers are in the right. Perhaps comparing Rage to Fallout 3 and/or Borderlands is appropriate; after all, they all take place in the first person and are set in a post-apocolyptic world. I'm not saying Sterling's review is wrong, or that his score of 7 is too low. A 7 is still a solid game, and as I said, I haven't played it yet so what do I know?
I'm late to the game. I know this. Up until a little over a month ago, the only Star Wars movies I've seen were A New Hope, and the Phantom Menace. I'm also almost 27 years old, so something had to change. So I decided I was going to watch the movies in chronological order instead of order of release. Why this way instead of just focusing on the original trilogy? Well, I heard that the prequels weren't all that great. At the same time, I recognize the potential for some bias and nostalgia impacting people's views on the films. Being a bit of a nerd, I knew much of the necessary background info for the films. So I "acquired" some HD copies of all six movies. As of last night, I just finished Episode 3.
Episode I, as most people here know, really was unnecessary. The first time I saw it was when it came out in theaters. A friend invited me opening weekend. After viewing it again years later (sometime in Feb 2010), I see why people complain about it. Jar Jar is annoying. The story tries too hard, and the acting is pretty wooden. After seeing the other prequel movies, it does set the stage and introduces characters, but it still felt a bit unnecessary. That being said, it still had it's moments. The pod race in particular was pretty bad ass.
Episode II was much better. You really get a much better feel for how the characters fit into the story, and what the overall plot actually is! It has it's faults, but it was still solid. Like that factory that Obi-Wan and Anakin fought there way through... what was up with that? It was almost like a level out of a video game for crying out loud! The wooden acting was still present, but not as noticeable. And the Yoda fight seemed to be there for the sake of humor (yeah, I know, he also trained the bad guy and there are parallels and crap). I did find it a little creepy (and forced) that Anakin and Padme got "involved," but whatever, I knew it was coming. It was still a cool movie, with some pretty good action scenes, as well as some decent, if stereotypical, character development.
Episode III is by far my favorite thus far. Action packed throughout. Great story too. Anakin's final turn to the dark side felt a bit contrived, but it still worked. And the Chancellor just felt awkward with a light saber. But I liked all the backstabbing and questioning and stuff. And pretty much every fight scene/action scene was badass. The fall of the Jedi and the rise of the Sith was just plain fun to watch.
I am now even more excited about seeing the original trilogy. I hear they are even better. It may take me another month an a half, but that is small bones compared to 27 years! I'm glad I saw the prequels first, as it definitely has a grand stage set for this space opera. When I finish the original trilogy, I'll be sure to post my thoughts once again.
The year was 1995. My family just bought a new PC with a CD-ROM drive! At the time I was in the 6th or 7th grade, and I thought that since we have this new PC, I should be able to get a game for it. At the time, I knew nothing about computer games. Yes, we had a bunch of video game consoles before this, but the only computers we had were an old Macintosh my mom used, and an Apple IIc that my siblings and I messed around with. So when I went to the store to purchase a game, I picked up one that looked like it had photo-realistic graphics. I also noticed the Sierra logo on the box that I recognized from playing Kings Quest on our Apple IIc. And of course, the game had to be a CD game to take advantage of this amazing format. The game I purchased was none other than Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out. I knew nothing of the series, and I'm guessing neither did my mother.
I booted up the game, and was introduced to one of the most catchy theme songs ever! It will forever be engraved in my brain. So I watched the intro cut scene that sent me to La Costa Lotta resort, where I wasn't allowed to leave unless I paid, but was unable to pay since I won stay from the gameshow I was just on. So I started wandering around the hotel, trying to figure out what to do next.
I met numerous gorgeous looking women. They were practically photorealistic. One was covered in mud, but was otherwise nude. Another was wearing a cutoff shirt, just barely teasing you to the point where you knew there was more under that shirt. I messed around in the hotel, stealing supplies, talking to the chicks, and messing around with effeminate pricks. The game was funny as hell, and even though I was pretty young, I understood most of the jokes. But I still had no idea what the point of the game was. The women in the game seemed to be a focal point, simply because when you talked to them, you were treated to a fairly detailed picture of them. Much like in real life, they were puzzles to be solved.
In messing around, one of the women that I ran into was a woman named Rose. She was this beautiful Spanish woman who worked in this strange room, doing something called a "High Colonic Treatment." Whatever that was. I talked with Rose a bit. She tells me she wants a gift. So I start giving her things. Yet she turns them all down. I wander around the hotel a bit. I go back up to my room. Hmmm... there is a flower on the table. Rose's room was full of flowers. I think I'll give her one!
I go back down to Rose's room, excited that I have the answer to at least one of the women. I hand her the flower, and I learn just a quickly as Larry did was "high colonic treatment" was. And I got a flower in return. What bullshit! And when I tried to go back and talk to her, she was gone! I was once again confused as to what to do next. But at the same time, I will always remember Rose Eleeta, as she was my first of many.
I was determined to beat the game. It may have taken me years to finally beat the game (this was before gamefaqs). In fact, I don't think I beat it until high school. But there was something about Rose. Unlike the other women in the game, she was pure. She had no strange intentions of screwing me over. Hell, she gave me a free colonic, as terrifying as it was! The other women in the game burned me (except for Shamara, who burned me in the next game). With Rose, it was simply mis-communication, simply because English isn't her first language.
After I beat LSL6, I went back and beat all the other Larry games, including Softporn. Hell, I even programmed a version of Softporn for the TI-86 graphing calculators that actually spread around my high school. But Larry 6 will always be my favorite, and Rose my first. By succeeding with Rose, I learned in real life (and in the game) that sometimes, you need to fail with chicks before you get lucky. I learned that being the nice guy and trying to be helpful will put you in a woman's favor, but the end result may not always be what you want. I learned everything I know about chicks from Larry, for better or for worse. I barely even knew what sex was at the time (I went to a private school that did not teach sex ed), but because of Rose, I learned more than school could have ever taught me. I also learned a bunch of wine names too, because the women of LSL6 were all plays on types of wine.
I know this blog is supposed to be something about sex. And while I didn't necessarily have sex with Rose, I'll always remember her as my first.
We all have sequels that we wish to see come out. Here are ten that I would like to see come out that have either not been announced yet, or that have been briefly mentioned without any update in a while. So I present to you, 10 games I would love to see sequels for, in no particular order.
Star Tropics 3
I used to have own the original cartridge back in the day. I got my hopes up that a sequel would be popping up after it was released on the VC, but Iím pretty sure that isnít going to happen anymore. I know Star Tropics 2 came out, but we have gone way too long without the next game in this franchise. The game was basically a more action oriented, less open world Zelda set in present day. If Nintendo can find some way to intuitively control a yo-yo with the Wii Remote, than this game could really be the bees knees!
Again, a game that I have been a fan of since the original. Now, I realize that the GC and Wii are pretty close in terms of graphical power, so we wouldnít really get much more in terms of visuals than we did out of F-Zero GX. The Wii Remote is nowhere near accurate enough for such twitch racing as the GC controller was. So what I say is this: make a DS game, complete with online and if possible, a track editor. Hell, simply port the N64 game and tweak the controls a bit so the analogue stick isnít necessary, and you will have me sold!
Syphon Filter PS3
The first Syphon Filter was amazing. It contained some of the best level design Iíve seen in a game. Honestly, I would love to see a remake of this, complete with updated controls and visuals. At the same time, Bend really left us hanging with that ending of Loganís Shadow, so I think just to complete the story, they really have to get cracking on that. Rumor has it that they started working on a PS3 sequel, but nothing really has been shown. Hurry up! ;)
Resident Evil 6
Yes, RE5 was only released a year ago, and the DLC just came out. I have yet to play RE5, as I just made the jump to the current gen, but I did love every canon RE game before it. As wonderful as RE4 was, I would love to see RE6 return to the original style of gameplay. Imagine something like REmake or RE0, but in full 1080p. I probably would shit my pants.
Leisure Suit Larry 8: Lust in Space
No, those crappy 3D ones donít count. I want the real prince of polyester, the original lovable loser, not his dumbass nephew that canít seem to get laid even on a college campus. What I want even more than that, however, is to get Al Lowe back. That man is the heart and soul of the series. I can just hear the jazz track in my head right now, as I fail with yet another womanÖ I learned all I know about picking up chicks from Larry Laffer, and I can still use some more tips!
Earthworm Jim 4
EWJ3D was a joke, apparently. I never played it. So lets go back to the roots and make it 2D. Make it a Wii Ware, PSN, XBLA, whatever; just bring back Jim and some of the most original design Iíve ever seen. It had a boss named Professor Monkey-for-a-Head, for crying out loud! I want Psycrow back. I want to kill Queen Slug-for-a-butt again. I want to face Evil the Cat while listening to elevator music. Yes, this is basically asking for a remake of the first game, but only in terms of characters. Whoever owns this license, hire Doug and David back on and make this happen!
Why this never received a sequel, Iíll never know. I mean, the entire point of the game was to destroy shit with a bunch of trucks, tractors, and robots for crying out loud! Bringing this to any current system, from the DS to the 360, would be a guaranteed hit.
San Francisco Rush
This series had some of the best arcade racing ever. Crazy physics, insane shortcuts, and, with 2049, wings to improve your stunts! Keep it futuristic like 2049 just to make it as creative as possible. And remember to make it like an adventure game, with little goodies hidden all over the place. With Midway gone as we know it, I doubt this will happen, but you never knowÖ
Ahhh, the NES classic jeep game. Now imagine a current gen update with this. Driving around in a jeep, rescuing POWs, running over enemy infantry, shooting from your unlimited machine gun, blasting missiles. Two player co-op available via online or split screen. This has been done in numerous games, but nobody has made a complete game out of the concept since Jackal. It would be amazing.
Iím cheating with this one. I donít want another sequel. What I do want is a portable compilation of all the early games in the series, up to SotN or RoB. It could be on the PSP or DS. I know, it isnít anything spectacular, but admit it, you would totally buy this. No need for any fancy graphical upgrade or anything, just release it so I can play it on the go.
Video games are a wonderful form of entertainment. Whether it is a free flash game you are playing, or a $60 MMO with a subscription fee, the amount of entertainment per dollar one gets out of video games is practically unrivaled. Even if the game "only" takes 10 hours to beat and if you paid a full $60 for the game, six bucks for an hour of entertainment is pretty damn good, especially if you replay the game in the future. Personally, I don't think I have ever paid $60 for a game. The main reason for this is because my primary goal when I'm playing a game is to have fun, and a game that is a year or two old can be more fun than a game that was released last week. However, this blog is not about being a cheap ass gamer. It is not about avoiding getting swept up in hype. It is simply about knowing how I have fun with games.
Like many visitors here, I keep up with video game news. It is fun reading about gaming culture. I read about the latest and greatest games. I'm entertained by trolls and fanboys. I get intrigued by rants regarding video games as art and I have my own ideas on the topic. But when I sit down to play a game, I simply want to have fun! I've been playing games fairly regularly since the late 80's, so I have a general idea of what types of games I will find fun.
This all depends on my mood too. Sometimes, I really want to be immersed in a game, and that really entertains me. Once in a while, I just need a quick mindless gaming session that simply will boost my adrenaline. Other times, I just want to kill some time. Or I simply want to wind down before bed. The good news is, the industry is pretty damn innovative, and there seems to be something out there for every gaming mood that I have so that I can be entertained.
So when I'm playing something like Team Fortress 2, my goal is not to increase my K/D ratio or gain an achievement. Sure, both of those may put a smile on my face, but really, I'm playing for the joy of playing a game. When I'm playing a Metal Gear Solid game, I couldn't care less about the post-modern themes Kojima is trying to put forth. However, I will be entertained by the cinematic and story, and the game play is pretty damn fun. When I play a fighting game, I could lose every single match and still have fun, simply because I know arcade style games entertain me.
I don't get caught up analyzing a game's themes. The only time I ever care about my own skill at a game is when it gets in the way of my entertainment. If I get frustrated during a game, I may try to find a solution online. Or I'll just take a break from the game and revisit it later (or never!). I don't care that I don't have something that all my friends are playing because I'm plenty happy with what I'm playing! Arkham Asylum may have been one of the best games last year, but I don't care because I'm laying on my couch playing Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Last summer, when everyone was playing some big game that I wasn't playing, I was busy having the time of my life playing the original Red Faction on my PS2 (seriously, it may have been one of my favorite games I played last year).
I guess what I'm saying here is that as long as I'm being entertained in the moment with what I currently have, then I am perfectly content. When I pop that disc (or cartridge) in, I know I'm in for a special treat that no other medium is capable of offering. No matter how serious the gaming industry might be, for me it is still simply entertainment. I don't care that New Super Mario Bros might be too short or too easy or a retread of older Mario games, I just know that when I'm playing it, I'm grinning ear to ear. Metacritic may say that Gran Turismo PSP is "average," but that doesn't matter to me because I still find the races fun, and I'm entertained with pretending to drive a Benz. Jim Sterling may think Assassins Creed 2 sucks donkey balls, but I still may find it fun if I ever play it. Anthony Burch may find some crappy indie game to be a wonderful experience because of the art or innovation, but to me it may be crap. Whatever, I'm not going to get swept up in it. What I am going to get swept up in is my own take on how I'm being entertained for the moment. I would argue that I am an expert at making sure I am entertained, which is the main reason I play games.
Right as October hits, I almost always dig right into scary movies and video games. It's only the fourth of the month, and I have already busted out the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eternal Darkness, and my "demo" of Undead Knights. I'm sure I'll get to many more by the end of the month.
I realized something this year. Movies don't scare me. I'm not sure if they ever have really. Yes, some can be creepy, but I cannot remember the last time I was legitimately frightened by a horror movie. I love them, and I'll continue to watch them, but I feel like something is missing.
I think part of it has to do with horror video games. If you ask me, they are a much better medium for providing horror than film is, and it all has to do with video games being more active than the passive movie experience. Take a movie like The Exorcist, which many argue as one of the most terrifying movies of all time. Why is it so frightening? I personally think it is frightening because of the potential for it to happen in real life. Possession is something that we are all familiar with, and many people believe it can really happen. However, we aren't in Regan's shoes in being possessed. We aren't Father Dyer trying to perform an exorcism. We are merely witnesses to the events.
Which is where video games come in. While most horror themed video games are not in the first person, the fact that you are directly in control of the character makes you directly responsible for their well-being. You are the one that has to deal with the consequences, be it from running away, spending your ammo, or even failing and getting that dreaded Game Over screen. (Want to make a survival horror game truly suspenseful? Don't save your game!) A first time play through, you have no idea what is behind that corner. It could be a handful of zombies that are easily made to waste. Or it could be a terrifying monster that will rip you to shreds. Being overly hasty could lead to disastrous results, and it would be all your fault. Control has everything to do with why horror video games succeed more than horror films. You have to react to a terrifying event, not just sit back and wait it out. Also, how many times have you seen a scary movie and wanted to shout, "Why the hell did you do that, you dumb bitch!?" It gives you the chance to "prove" you could do better.
Music is incredibly important in creating a suspenseful atmosphere. Movies have great atmospheric soundtracks, but the way video games handle it is much better, especially more recent games. I particularly think about Resident Evil (the old ones), and how there is that creepy isolation music. Then there is the "Watch your ass!" music. Go into a safe room, and you get music that automatically lowers your blood pressure. Yes, movies are similar, but when you are in direct control it can affect the way you play so much more. Can music affect the way you watch? I guess so, but it definitely does not have the same effect as when you are playing a game.
Even in this day and age of CGI effects in movies, video games have been much more creative in creating a horrific visual experience. Even the use of camera angles seems more effective in games than they do in movies! Environments tend to be more unsettling in games. Creatures are given much more creativity than in movies. Just look at Silent Hill or Dead Space for proof of that! When have you seen anything like those in movies? Even Resident Evil's Nemesis can be used as an example here. In the game, he was terrifying. In the movie, cheesy!
One of my favorite games this gen is Left 4 Dead, which clearly has some Romero influences. Yet, in my opinion, it beats out anything Romero has done. Utilizing a first person perspective, being overwhelmed by zombies and other creatures is much more terrifying than watching characters in movies. Losing a teammate actually affects the game instead of just being a plot item.
Maybe it is because horror movies tend to have lower budgets than horror video games, but I still feel that the direct connection to a video game character can help facilitate feelings of fear and suspense better than any movie can. That being said, horror movies do have one thing over horror games; promiscuous high school sex. It never gets old, and it is never in a video game!
Anyways, I can continue ranting on this topic forever. Maybe as the month goes on I'll think about this some more and create a part two of this blog that is a bit more clear.