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2:19 PM on 03.19.2013

Gifted Guesswork: Predicting the scores of the biggest upcoming games

There are those in this world that might lay claim to psychic or supernatural ability; wiccans, wizards, prophets, and prognosticators. The blood that courses through these veins of mine, however, is not divine. I was not sired by some benevolent god descending from his throne divine, nor have I established a link with spirits from the ethereal realm granting me untold wisdom and a lense through which to discern visions of events yet untold. Within the following paragraphs I will attempt to make predictions regarding the scores that will be assigned to some of the most anticipated or high profile games releasing over the course of the next month. I advise those brave enough to read further to remember that I am only a man, and as such, any of the accuracies or innacuracies that follow are nothing more than the guesswork of a deranged mind.

Subject 1: Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon

Perspective: I was as surprised as anyone when, at 2011's E3, a sequel was announced to the stand alone IP of Mario's misfit brother. What surprised me more than the announcement, however, was the fact that I was actually excited to play it. When the first game was released back in 2001 I beat it and liked it, but I can't say that it made much of an impression. Somehow, however, in the years that have intervened the game has settled into a softer place in my heart. Maybe it's because Nintendo so rarely branches out and takes real risks with their core franchises, or maybe it's just the nostalgia I associate with the Gamecube, which to me represents one of the truly golden eras in gaming. Either way I've got a Luigi shaped itch that I'm confident this game will scratch.

Heritage: With only one other title in the Luigi's Mansion franchise it's impossible to follow past trends to try and predict a score for this upcoming title. In keeping with Nintendo's pedigree, however, the original game received a respectable 78/100 on Metacritic which bodes well for the sequel's chances.

Prediction: This game's predecessor was hindered by the fact that it had to be rushed to meet the launch of a new console generation. It was short and the concepts behind it, while fun, never felt fully fleshed out. It seems with this new title that good ol' Ninty is attempting to correct these past mistakes and as a result I predict higher scores across the board with averages coming in around 8.5/10 (85/100)

Subject 2: Dead Island: Riptide

Perspective: The original Dead Island got me through a rough transitional period in my life. I had just moved into a new house and away from a lot of the familiar sights and friendly faces I'd grown accustomed to. Any drastic environmental shift can be accompanied by a certain sense of isolation, an isolation that for me was alleviated by immersing myself in a tropical and zombie filled paradise. Through the middle of winter in an unfriendly climate I huddled under a blanket in my unheated basement, finding warmth while mercilessly decapitating and electrocuting endless hordes of the undead.

Heritage: As much as I might have personally loved the first game, and as much as it resonated with me, it didn't do quite so well with critics at large. Due to a number of bugs, a rough ending, and a certain degree of repetitiveness the console versions came in at a satisfactory, but not amazing, 71/100 on Metacritic (the PC version faired quite a bit better with an 80/100)

Prediction: As this iteration is more of an expansion or addendum (I expect we'll see a full on Dead Island 2 debut not too far into the next gen console's life span) I fear that perhaps it might play things a little bit safe, hurting its chances at bettering the score of the first game. I predict an average score of 7.0/10 (70/100)

Subject 3: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Perspective: I'll admit without any reservation that this is the game I'm looking forward to least on this list and the one with which I am the least familiar. It's got super heroes, I guess, though it's severely lacking the type of clothing customization options that might REALLY suck me in. What if I could make Superman wear a funny hat? Or a fake mustache? The possibilities are endless and until NeverRealm Studios realizes that a Batman character without suspenders and a monocle isn't one that I want to see they won't be getting my hard earned cash!

Heritage: Developed by the same studio who brought us 2011's well received Mortal Kombat reboot, this game is in solid hands. That title defied my expectations receiving an above average 85/100 over at Metacritic.

Prediction: As talented as the men and women in charge of placing this product into our grubby nerd hands surely are, I fear that perhaps the disadvantages associated with adapting any known property might hinder this games chances at being truly amazing. It's been done well of course with such examples as the Arkham games standing as shining examples. Pushing boundaries and innovating, however, can be hard for any dev when the backgrounds and motivations of every character are already so rigidly defined. I expect Injustice to perform well though, if not quite as well as its predecessor coming in at perhaps an even 8.0 (80/100) at most major outlets.

Subject 4: Bioshock Infinite

Perspective: Crazy as it might sound Bioshock was the first game that I played and beat in the current console generation. I won't go into specifics, but suffice it to say I lived outside of the country for a period of two years during which I had neither the time nor the opportunity to do much gaming. Due perhaps to the long duration of my fast from this oh so addictive hobby of ours, the impact of Bioshock when I played it was all the greater. Never before had I experienced the level of atmosphere and immersion that I felt when I wandered into the world of Rapture. It single-handedly reignited my love affair with video games.

Heritage: Irrational Games' first entry in this series is frequently advertised as "The highest rated FPS of all time" a quick glance at various score aggregating sites shows such titles as Perfect Dark and Metroid Prime eking out slightly ahead of it, but the fact remains that with an average score of 96/100 it was an astounding game with near universal acclaim. The second title (outsourced to developer 2k Marin) marked a return to Rapture for the series but unfortunately not a return the same level of praise, achieving a still very high but not as astounding 88/100. Personally I loved the game but i'll be the first to admit that it failed to meet the same standard of originality and depth as the original.

Prediction: Ken Levine and his cohorts have had nearly six years since the release of Bioshock to tune and perfect there newest endeavor. I'm confident that this is going to be another fantastic entry in the series but am slightly off put by the degree of turnover and turmoil within the studio over the course of the last year or so. Will this game exceed the slightly lower bar set by Bioshock 2? I believe it will. I don't think, however, that it will be able to recapture lighting in a bottle as the first game did and as such I'm predicting an average across most sites of around 9.0/10 (90/100)

Hey everybody! Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read this little post of mine. If you disagree with any of the assertions I've made or have any of your own predictions to make I'd love to read them in the comments below! - JaMoMaN   read

2:14 AM on 03.17.2013

From Nightmare to Normal: Why I lowered the difficulty, and never looked back.

From the earliest days of my youth I've been an avid gamer. I progressed from the Atari 2600 to the NES, from the NES to the SNES and on through every subsequent console generation. I spent entirely too much time leveling my sorcerer in the original Diablo and literally thousands of hours perfecting my strategy with the Zerg in Starcraft. Coupled with such an unhealthy obsession in any hobby comes a certain sense of elitism. I was good at the games I loved and I knew it. I felt it was my duty to crush other players in the online arena and to play every game I owned unceasingly until I was capable of conquering it soundly on even the most intense difficulty. It is with a certain level of shame then that I come to you now, crumpled Mario hat in hand, to admit that in the past few years I haven't beaten a single game on hard... hell, I've even played some of them on easy.

"How could such a paragon of gaming virtue, such a digital titan have fallen so far?", you might ask. Admitting that you play games on normal or easy in this subculture of ours is oft considered nigh unto heresy, but for me it's been a change for the better, and the reason is simple enough.

My masochistic gaming habits persisted throughout the entirety of my primary education career, and even on into college. Late nights of gaming followed by early mornings at school didn't seem like much of a sacrifice when compared with the sense of achievement I was gaining by mastering and conquering games. A sense that, whether due to my own lax studying habits or the shortcomings of the education system in general, I hadn't felt anywhere else up to that point.

After years of this lifestyle, however, the world played a cruel joke on me. It seemed that in order to be perceived as an adult and to become a so called "productive member of society" I was expected to move out of my parents house, and adding insult to injury, get a full time job.

Suddenly there was an element of stress that I had never experienced before in my day to day life. I had to worry about how I would be paying my monthly bills, and at some of the harder points in that first foray into independence, where I would be securing my next meal.

I quickly found the role of video games for me had drastically changed. Instead of mountains to be climbed or obstacles to overcome they became a release from the real obstacles that I was already facing.

Previously I had been an ardent disciple of John Carmack's old adage that story in a game was akin to story in a porno, expected but unnecessary. My perception shifted, however, and I found myself enamored with the very aspects of games that I had previously despised. The story and the characters became paramount to my enjoyment of the experience and bashing my head against ceaseless and nigh unbeatable waves of enemies became a hindrance to that enjoyment.

I'm sure there are some of you that might read this (if anyone actually does) and think that I'm just a quitter, or that I'm simply not good enough at games. To that I respond with a hearty "probably". I'm sure that many if not most of you are capable of gleaning full enjoyment from games and fully absorbing the story while still playing on the most insane difficulty. To you I offer a round of applause and a healthy serving of envy. For me personally, however, the time commitment and stress required to continue gaming at an elite level was too much, and I find myself enjoying games at my new found normal difficulty level more than ever.

Well guys and gals, this was my first attempt at a blog here on destructoid, let me know what you think and if you have any criticisms or suggestions, thanks a billion! - JaMoMaN   read

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