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2:14 PM on 06.15.2012  

I Do Not Like Nathan Drake.

I always wished that I’ve written more, yet the same obstacles always spring up at me whenever I do make an attempt; college work, lack of ideas and poor grammar being the main culprits. Fortunately summer is upon us, at least I think it is (There’s enough rain to convince me otherwise), and with exam result passed there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be blogging more. Except for that big stack of games I have that has been piling up since February. Games which were put off because of college work, lack of ideas and poor grammar. One of those games being Uncharted 3.
Now I’m not the biggest fan of Uncharted series, but I will admit the improvement between the first two was notable so I figured that Uncharted was one of those titles that with eventually win me over or at least exhaust me until I’ve have no other option. Unfortunately Naughty Dog’s third installment has failed to do so, well for me anyway. I can see others complimenting its’ visual and set pieces, even if they seem forced at time and the dogfights are something I can really admire if I weren’t so busy glued to walls. There are games with more flaws that that I forgave and games I have praised games which lacks the polish and shine that Uncharted 3 presents itself in. Then again a majority of the polish and shine comes from the unkempt hair of Nathan Drakes, who is one of the biggest plebs of all of video games.
Escapism is always what drew my into computer games, donning the shoes of someone else and marching onward for an adventure where the skies, or the invisible walls, are the limits. However it’s very hard to appreciate the adventure and the good times to be had in it because I’m controlling a person who probably would have made fun of me up for playing video games in the first place. It’s not the fact that Nathan is unlikeable, but there are genuinely interesting people in the Uncharted universe that ignored in favour of Drake. For example Charlie Cutter, the double agent who aid Drake and Sully on their quest for the mystic maguffin. He’s polite, tough, knowledgeable and has a great taste in films yet whenever it Cutter has something interesting to say it always seems to be interrupted for Nathan ‘clever’ one liners.
I’m not saying Nathan should stop being a jerk but if I were to have it my way things in the Uncharted series would differ in certain ways.


In retrospect, I do like the moment when the gang went on about mobile phone contracts

Have someone genuinely hate Nathan.
Honestly I’m fine with playing as a jerk as I’ve done so in the past. However, the problem isn’t that I’m playing a jerk but rather I’m controlling a jerk in an alternate dimension where everyone doesn’t realise who much of a pillock he is. Take alpha-jerk Bill Murray for example, Hollywood’s go to guy for a tosser. However what differs Bill Murray from others is that whenever he acts in a rather unpleasant manner he dislike for doing so. But Drake just says whatever he wants whenever he wants and the rest of his friends just accept what spawned out of his mouth was the fried gold of wit.
Villains don’t count, in fact the antagonist of Uncharted 3 don’t really seem to mind Drake as a person. In fact one person looks like the kind of guy that would hang around with drake in his school years, helping him to beat me up for playing videogames.
What I want is someone who is forced to hang around with Team Nathan so I can personally refer back to know that I am not away with the fairies.

Have someone regularly insult Nathan.
Standard dialogue of Uncharted goes as follows; someone makes the setup, Nathan steals the punchline, pause for laughter, rinse and repeat. Humour is opinionated and if you find Nathan worthy to split your sides to, power to you. My gripe is why is ‘he’ the only one to poke fun? Every game he takes a swing at his comrades and they just absorb the insults. Why? It’s not like Nathan is flawless, there’s lots for Sully to poke fun at. For an adventurer and an extractor of the world’s most valued possession, he’s pretty accident prone. Nathan Drake? More like Nathan ‘Break’! There, that is the Hindenburg of awful puns but at least it shows that funnies aren’t in favour Nathan.

Have Nathan Drake Learn a Lesson.
Ok in fairness Uncharted did have good intentions and had a moral to teach at the end of Uncharted 3. At certain points of the game the gang decide to use that frontal lobe and question Nathan’s goal and whether or not the juice was worth the squeeze. This is good question, they’re not risking anything and the opposing team are willing to risk the worst case scenario to get it. ‘This is great’ I thought, this gives Nathan firsthand experience of what peril he is putting everyone when the worst case scenario does happen, when he then realises what a massive spanner he is. Unfortunately Nathan doesn’t come to terms with this, ignore the idea and proceeds onward for more hijacks.
I suppose that would be a radical for this to happen since it’s a thought that could terminate the series as a whole. Then again Uncharted have other morals that it could teach; one-liners don’t suffice as a comeback, your wealth is directly proportional to how evil you are and stop ditching Elena Fischer*. (*seriously)



Perhaps it is rather petty for me to moan about a game and its’ main character. Also odd, after all, he ‘is’ the main character. This isn’t the daring tale of how you saw your best friend found the mystic maguffin. Uncharted is really about the adventure and the Nathan is simply vessels that allows you to experience in it. But that’s the thing, it is about the adventure, one which I would like to experience but can’t Nathan Drake isn’t the kind of guy I’d want to take an adventure in the first place.
I’ve the same problems with Uncharted as I do with The Cather in the Rye, I want to support the idea of the rebellion and angst but it’s very hard to when the protagonist is a smug, spoilt dullard. If I can’t enjoy and support The Catcher in the Rye if it means agreeing with Holden’s viewpoint I certainly can’t enjoy Uncharted if it means going by the World according to Drake.
They say that it’s not the destination that makes the person but the journey and this one made me a bitter and less tolerable with for weak sarcasm and more appreciative of the mute button.



- Sorry for the weak title. An alternate would of been For F**k Drake but I felt I couldn't pass it off without sounding like a pleb myself.-

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11:51 AM on 04.05.2012  

Lost Without Translation.

This entry is in relation with the North American release of Xenoblade Chronicles and I use the term ‘North American’ because I myself have already played it back in November and it is indeed worth all of Operation Rainfall’s effort. It’s rare to see a JRPG in this day of age to do its’ own thing and simultaneously pay hómage (French for homage) to does who thread the path before it.
Sorry, have you played it? If it makes you any better it’s not nearly as good as The Last Story. Not that one either? Oh well, never mind...
It’d fair to say that Xenoblade is taking its’ precious time to get to party. In fact by the time it got to our party here, I’ve already left. Only to end up finding it lying in a HMV at Heathrow airport last November on the lowest rack. Y’know? That one that is positioned after Z section but before the gates of Hell? Localisation seems to be the main culprit as to why games like these games are being delayed. And I know that I may sound daft in mentioning this but; why?
Of course I don’t mean disregard localisation completely. It’s hard enough to understand a Hideo Kojima game, imagine playing Snake Eater with only a Rosetta stone as a reference. I’m particularly more focused on the concept of dubbing.



I know that dubbing is only a fraction of the localisation process. But it always gave the impression that it was the most expensive fraction, the kind of one that would represent golden stardust in a pie chart.
Suppose form a monetary point of view, dubbing would be the best option. And I can’t recall a Japanese spoken game aim at children break the million marks outside of the land of the rising sun either. Yet what’s Xenoblade Chronicles’ excuse? Expand their potential audience? Sorry I don’t buy especially from a game that was even planning on coming out of here. Just think of all the benefits that come with (or to be precise, without) them.

- It technically counts as reading.
Get your daily reading in manageable bite size chunks. This also benefits as a great work out for the eye.

-"Gradually" learn a foreign language.
Well not a language in its’ entirety, but I’m sure I would be able to pick up and master the essentials like; Oniichan, Yatta & Saaki.

- Games come out earlier.
Ok maybe this fact isn’t as concrete as I like it to be, but there are those games that are delayed put the blame on localization. Look at the Legendary Shenmue II for the Dreamcast. Released in both Japan and Europe with only Japanese audio, both with a release date of three months difference.



Maybe I’m missing a crucial part here and if I am please do mention. I don’t want to give the impression that I am against dub because the Xenoblade Chronicles’ in particular is really, really good.
Even at the risk of wasting near 800 words of typing, I won’t deny.Alright it’s not perfect mind you, I was convinced for a majority of the game that Reyn was a Alzheimer’s victim seeing that he slurred the same sentences every second battle. Nevertheless the dialogue is top notch which shows no signs of cringing material. Credit also goes for the game delivering bearable British accents. Certain people would regularly nagging on how there is a style to dubbing and before Xenoblade I didn’t believe them.
I know in the Anime circuit that there is preference between dubbing & subtitle and it can be almost to the point snobbery. Yet you never see that division with the computer games? To be fair a majority of the games do give us the option with audio, so there's never a dilemma well, at least between English and Japanese. Most of the central Europeans countries wouldn't have the luxury of there native language in audible form. So if they can put up with subtitles, why can't we?
Take either the Resident Evil or Silent Hill for example, both series with North American references so clear it’s a wonder that Silent Hill 2 isn’t about 120Kg James Sunderland looking for a Subway voucher. And with that, both franchises only featured English audio throughout. Yet with games like Xenoblade, with show Japanese influence, gives the option of both. And I liked to emphasis on the word option one more time. Option!



I’m not trying to persuade people into my train thought; again, I’m perfectly fine both original and English dubs. But is there a real need for a dub for certain games, especially if it means (in most cases) a prompt release date?
Maybe there is and I’m being more blunt than usual if so, don’t hesitate to tell. I should be playing Pandora’s Tower by then. Sorry? Oh that’s right......

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1:27 PM on 03.28.2012  

Bad Game's Redemption.

Even with the controversy surrounding it in the last fortnight, Mass Effect 3 is still widely regarded as a quality game with standards more pristine than the regular slop. Despite this thought, people will forever claim that it was the ending that tainted what could of been a ‘Return of King’ of conclusions and reduced it to a ‘Matrix Revolution’ - esque train wreck.
Personally I’m satisfied with how the trilogy fell together; I already went into this subject matter and frankly I’m exhausted.
To be honest I’m more fascinated about how no matter the player went through, the final moments in a computer game and alter anyone assumption and make them absent to anything prior. Once anything: Endings are important. Pretty much writing 101: When starting a story, end. Preferably the two sandwiched between some meaty middle. While could go on about the great games with bad endings. Then I thought, ‘What about the polar opposite?’
If stating that a developer’s games is ‘bad’ is like a stabbed to the heart, then telling them that it was not ‘worth it’ must be forcing them to listen to Nickleback ‘s entire Discography. And while this games aren’t (in my opinion) great, they certainly were worth it.

Persona 3-



I can’t really speak for everyone in Europe, but in Ireland if you want to keep in touch with the anime and JRPG scene, really have to work at it. Bit of a daft thing to say with the internet now but if you want to be honest about it you’ll regularly burn 500 calories in the process. I choose not to do and for that I will forever be on the verge of being out of the loop what may be the coolest/lamest thing possible (I have no idea).
Persona 3 is pretty bad. Actually, I take that back, it’s a topic which I am one the fence about. It may be long, repetitive, exhausting, confusing at certain points, cringe worthy at many points, clichéd, unforgiving, tedious and downright boring, all the negative words in the Anglo Saxon dictionary might as well be in Vietnamese because Persona 3 is an unbelievably addictive game. 80 hours has been fed into the PS2 and in the final 3 hours of it all I was muttering to myself is that “It better be worth it” over and over again.
Persona 3’s finale consists of you and your squad mates facing the apocalypse if it were thought up by a much more family friendly version of Tim Burton. This particular battle where the fate of the world is at stake is exactly how a battle where the fate of world should be; long, challenging, nerve wrecking. Really putting all what you have learned to the test (granted most of the stuff you have learned is ‘how now not to rage quit after your fiftieth cheap death’).
After the final boss where the game should end, the game doesn’t end. Because there are a few more days until the school year is complete. It is then you can reconnect with class mates, love interests and town drunks. Revealing to us that it was never about saving the world to begin with, but rather your world. (Isn’t that just lovely?)

Then Again – Persona 3 is a culprit of giving at one point all the characters amnesia. An action that should be punished with highest form of finger wagging.

Castlevania: Lord of Shadows-



While indulging (and loving) in most of its’ heavy hitters, I am not confident enough to say that I am a huge fan of the Castlevania series. However I do share the same traits of most diehard Castlevania fans by not really liking Lords of Shadow at all. Is it really a Castlevania game? I mean, it this was release eight years ago under the Universal license, it could pass for a Van Helsing video game tie in. It’s a bit strange how the development team will focus on minor details that reference the series like level design and then ignore much grander ones like, Dracula. Y’know? The whole reason why there’s Castlevania to begin with!
While we could go all aggressive nostalgic with LoS, it‘s important to note that all of it was a reimagining of the series as a whole. This couldn’t be more prominent than in the ending.
Apparently, vampires weren’t enough for the Belmont family. Gabriel (the protagonist) does and Dante and takes on the devil, where in this depiction he looks like a someone who just gotten out of a bubble that was made entirely out of charcoal. After all that he gives penance which was all in vain the credits then roll to is followed by the game doing (pseudo) M. Night Shyamala. Not a twist, but is an odd way to the end the game. And you have to respect that, you are going to mess with some this delicate, make sure people are going to remember it.

Then Again – I haven’t talk to anyone about the ending but it’s one of those ending where you could go beyond and make a sequel but if you did you would be really taking the piss. LoS being true Castlevania game is debatable, but if a follow up title convince it’d be to keep to what’s true to Castlevania’s nature. Old pork chop and 45 degree angle jumps.

Tekken Series –



Fighting games. Do they even have an ending? Isn’t that their charm? Well of course that’s one of the many perks of them, that their longevity is only matched that the player’s interest. While not being particularly good at them myself, I always find comfort with twenty minutes of Street Fighter, Soul Calibur or Tekken every now and again.
Now I love the early Tekken games mind you, but the series seems to be the Pearl Jam equivalent of fighting games, refusing to change with the progression. And it seems to be showing its’ age ever since four. That said while the latest Tekken hasn’t been awe inspiring in gameplay-wise, their concluding cutscenes are brilliantly pointless as ever. Ranging from either ‘abnormally cheesy’ to ‘downright goofy’, Tekken really knows how to the ease the tension to what could be a stressful. Fighting games should never be taking seriously, which is a peculiar thing for me to say as it is one of the most competitive ways of fighting people. Ranking just above ‘betting on people fighting’ and below ‘actually fighting yourself’. But as long as games like Tekken are being made with made the same amount of heart and daftness, I need not worry.

Then Again – No matter how hard Namco Bandi tries, they will never top King’s Ending in Tekken 2. Everything else looks like a cheap imitation in comparison.


I’m only scraping the surface (at least I think I am) but these as the few games that stick out for me and I’m sure there are more like that out there. For every game that you may think is bad, don’t fret. There may be a silver lining and it is not concealed in the form of an off button.

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1:35 PM on 03.17.2012  

Mass Effect 3: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Appreciate the Ending.

Decided to break my two year hiatus and type again. I'm dreadful at keeping up with these blogs.

Endings are important. I know the journey in between is what makes the story, but there is nothing for satisfying than to see all the time and effort that you put into a story leading to an ending that leaves you heartfelt. This goes for double for video game as it demands triple the time and quadruple the effort, so the conclusion should be fourteen times more satisfying. Unfortunately a majority computer games nowadays don’t live to that promise.
This is of course all is in relation with the Mass Effect 3Not and its’ notorious ending, leaving fans confused, agitated and primarily disappointed. While it took a moment for myself to digest it, I’ve comes to terms with it and actually spawned an appreciation for ME3. And it seems that a majority of people with an internet access and frontal lobe also have a warm approach to it. So don’t take this as new information. I’m just here to feed the fire that was already made and hopefully singe some haters along the process.
What’s wrong with how the franchise wrapped things up? The only way to approach this subject is by extracting apparent problem and what I felt. However before I dive in, allow me to cover my backside by mentioning the important factors that revolves around the idea of spoilers, personal opinions and speculation as in there may be some.




Best place to start probably would be choice segment. The Paragon/Renegade aspect is most certainly one of Mass Effect’s most defining traits as it one of the few games that does morality system justice. The choices that are made throughout only alter events that revolve around the story rather than the plot as a whole. Yeah, characters and alignments come and go but maguffins and objectives remain intact. Never in the game are you allowed to make a giant U-turn in priorities to take down Joker and his robosexuality is what I mean. This all leads to the first argument against the ending.
From what I have gathered is the reasoning behind the rage is that all possible endings were planted in front of you from get-go, all of which leading to similar results. Regardless of what choices you made throughout the game.
This is all very similar to Deus Ex, more specifically Deus Ex: Human Revolution where we are given button A, B, C or D to choose from which in turn activate the Deus-Ex Machinia machine followed by the (mandatory by law) crap cutscence.
Now hold on to your flying buttresses as I may rock the foundation by saying ‘I think they're missing the point’. I know it a fantasy and the choices that made as an avatar wouldn’t necessarily be the ones that you’d make in the carbon world. But I never really agreed with the idea that you should be rewarded with what what path you took. If you want to destroy a civilization in its’ entirety or punch a woman in her entirety, the only thing that should motivate you in doing so is the self-satisfaction. Not because it gives you the best armour or the angriest feminist group. And with the final decision of said game, you shouldn’t need a clip to comfort you that you had a mass affect on the ending. (Lord did I just say that?)

If the audiences weren’t complaining about the grey cloud that shrouded ME3’s linearity, it was the lack of a silver lining that didn’t follow after it. Bluntly: no happy ending.
This all bogs down to what you’d call a Happy Ending. I always thought that not having the galaxy located near shit creek in your epilogue would qualify as being a good call. But other people aren’t easily persuaded.
At this point, anyone who is reading would be well aware of both the petition for a DLC ending as well as my potential spelling errors. A solution that still doesn’t make sense.
Why? The fact that it made you a verified tear duct isn’t enough of a reason. If anything people should commemorate it. In the case of my playthrough, many of the characters that died in Mass Effect 3 were indeed my favourite. That said I never felt it was unjust, all of it had meaning that lead to the inevitable outcome (despite what people think). Take the Suicide Mission of ME2 for; this was a section that I played more than once to ensure that the Normandy’s population was far away from zero as possible as it was suggest was suggested that it wasn’t their time. While in the ME3 the lingering notion that they will die would always be present and all you could hope for that it wasn’t all for vanity.
While it didn’t concluded with the entire crew chugging some frosty chocolate milkshakes in Purgatory, but it was by no means A Requiem for a Dream 2.0. And you can’t fault a developer for making you emotionally invested into a character that will have to sacrifice themselves for the need of the many.



I was going to dedicate this slot to the final image in Mass Effect 3 but chose against it. So here's a fraction of space in all its' glory

Personally, I’m satisfied with how it all wrapped up. Certainly, I would end a whole lot different with a whole lot of lightning bolts and frosty chocolate milkshakes.
Yet while I didn’t get the ending I wanted, I certainly got one that I needed; which was one that embraced closure. Y’see this problem with saving the galaxy, even if you thought it was under whelming. No matter what follows afterwards it will always be diminished in comparison because, well, you saved the Galaxy! Can’t really imagine spin-off where Garrus shares an apartment with a surly Elcor now can I?



Now I still stand by what I just said, but this Kid's purpose made sense the same way a Monty Python joke doesn't.

Admittedly I would of loved to of seen a ‘Where are they Now’ epilogue. Yet, for a series as vast as Mass Effect, I always felt that it best to fill in the gaps yourself. Lazy I know, but assuming what lies beyond the stars is what started the idea Mass Effect franchise to begin with.
The premise of Mass Effect was about a commander named Shepard who as his/her names would suggests, herded all the races into one galactic pen to stop the Reapers. In the return, the Reapers were stopped and his/her name was written into history.
I would like to end with an emphais on endings and their important. That said, not all ending are the ones you want and if you’re unable to accept that the outcome will always be

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9:36 AM on 06.20.2010  

The 'Mother' of all Father's Day Post.

Father’s day should be approaching upon us, and whenever I’m on a site like this it always make me think of the fathers and the symbolism that depicts fatherhood within videogames. Silent Hill, Heavy rain, Bioshock, Psychonauts, Pong, Tekken and many others except pong are all riddled with father figures and frankly (yet fortunately) I feel that it’s not going to stop anytime too. While Dads in videogames maybe common thought (particularly because of the upcoming ‘celebration' ?) , respectively I think about it’s other half of the within the gaming world.
Mothers (or Moms, Mums or my preferred choice Mams) in computer games isn’t a rarity, however I don’t think that people take and truly discuss it, except for the odd top ten list. Which is a shame because when back on the subject matter since it has an interesting timeline, interesting enough to make me type about it with my writing skills, which is coincidently also interesting enough for you read through with enthusiasm or with no regrets (I hope, I pray).

The earliest recollection that mothers were going to a stable were in the RPGs of the nineties, they didn’t much that would catch someone eyes other than get the protagonist out of bed and sending them off to their inevitable quest of macguffin collecting, so they do get brownie points for playing the role of a catalyst. Then they’d be off to sit next to the table doing nothing for the next forty hours (like most housewives). Not to say that all of them were pixel infused alarm clock, for me the one that stood out was the mother Series, where in Earthbound deliberately forces your character to call its' mother on occasion other you’ll get homesick and be useless in battle. This might be a subliminal message about keeping in touch with our own parents might develop some kind of connection, but the fate of the world is in my bloody hands. I haven’t got time to be talking to Mam about how well my sister doing with her job and how she‘s better off than me. The third instalment, the mother plays a quintessential role for the being the Lucas’ inspiration to be a braver person and get over his timid nature. There’s a chapter in the game (people who played the game should know what I’m talking about) really exposes the desires of a child needing a mother in their lives which was executed greatly on the GBA (or Emulator thank you very much Nintendo). This was a scenario that really made game shine in which developers showed you can stir so much emotion and doing so little. Yet, it they must of thought that the chapter was tad sappy because in the next chapter you fight a guy infused with a saxophone in a volcano for a golden sword in the ground to prevent the end of the world! Lord how I wish I made up that last sentence.
Not to say that all mothers were the bliss saturated housewives always on the edge to replenish your health. Meanwhile the other side of the spectrum, there would forebearers were the ones to jeopardise the world, probably the most notable one being Final Fantasy VII’s Jenova who was inspired by the death of his biological Sakaguchi’s own mother. While not necessarily his biological mother, Sephiroth was brought up to believe that she was his predecessor and to cleanse the world they must combine within the life stream. Oedipus Rex syndrome is hinted at but I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, despite the fact of what those fans. Y’know, those fans, with their weird fan fiction and fan art and homemade mugs saying Sephiroth wants to Fuck his Mom! Y’know, those fan who when they aren’t found doing that are in caves scavenging for fish heads!
Back to the topic, another one within the Final fantasy series was Nora in XIII and frankly (if I may get another thing off my chest) I wasn’t too keen on her. Not because she’s half the reason why Hope exists, but because Nora is the name of my own parent. Which wouldn’t be half as bad but there is both a resistance team and operation after her! So I have to endure lines like: “For Nora!”, “Commence operation Nora” or “We must abort operation Nora”, it was so uncanny that the game was making those innuendo at my expense , I quit the game the moment I got to grand pulse. More than likely she was mention again but I can’t force myself though the hassle again.



NORA: "It's a stupid acronym. Their little code. Stands for "No Obligations, Rules, or Authority."-Thanks Lighting, that makes me feel better.

I personally like Brigid Tenebaum of Bioshock. Not necessarily a mother, actually we are given the impression that she is a career driven woman who would tinker with genetics of the little girls in order to climb the corporate ladder. I mean she couldn’t be more cold hearted unless she told a harsh truth about you and then she celebrated with a drink of your bitter tears out of your favourite mug. On your birthday.
Naturally, she eventually see the wrong in her doing and then devotes her life in protecting the children, so it impossible to bypass the notion that there is some motherly attributes to her name.
I’ve yet to play Metal Gear Solid 4 yet even I knew that Eva was Snake’s (sort of) parent I’ve very little to say about it but I thought I should just reference that, incidentally I didn’t know that the boss was Revolver’s mother (thanks curiosity). So there’s two tough child-bearers for the price of one game.
While looking back on the variation of procreators in videogame. Good one, bad one and even one with chickenpox, there is never a stand out game where they were the hero. Which is a shame since there many where dads are the heroes and the people are responding positively to that concept. However, I feel that the people who praise these games are men who were once young greasy awkward kids and are now less greasy awkward adults who tackle the challenges of everyday life who can play a game like say Heavy Rain and go “Here’s a hero: saves both the day and kid and is now off to finish the project for his firm, that‘s a standard could reach if I was bothered”.



In Ico there is Yorda’s mother the Queen. Who wants to sacrifice her daughter in order to cheat death. This is a concept that I always reminded me of those mothers who forces their daughter in those beauty pageants for “There own good”. Or should I ignore that concept…..

Sure Nina Williams had a game, but that didn’t really reference the subject matter that so much, plus that game had a serious fault of being a bit too shit.
Only thing that comes across in my mind is Samus Aran where the orphaned metroid just decides that She’ll just be biological property like that. However I feel that this really just a reference to Ellen Ripley to the Alien series more than anything else who has also struggled with her role as a Baby Maker (I ran out of alternate word for mother, can you blame me?).
I pretty sure there is more to take in, but I think I shall put a halt to it right about here. I tried not to give an image of an arrogant pillick who over analysing into things that aren’t really there. But I think that happened Around two paragraph ago. Plus me mocking those dedicated Final Fantasy VII fans doesn’t help it either.
So in retrospect, I didn’t think that motherhood wasn’t a much covered topic, but like most things in life I turned to out to be quite wrong and not only that be they’re has been multiple variations of them with traditional, strong willed and one I haven‘t even covered. So now if you excuse me, I have to find the meaning to each type of bubble in Bubble Bobble!

Exhale.

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10:40 AM on 06.09.2010  

Thoughts "1001 video games you must play before you die" in under 1001 words.

Once every blue moon when the planets align, I tend to take a brief scan around the Amazon website to see if there is anything in there worth buying/mocking. Usually my searches are unsuccessful, however this weekend I came across something that caught my eye that I would be an embarrassment to the legion of moaners, an elite group of pessimistic that I just made up.
For those of you who are not in the know, “1001 (blank) you have to (blank) before you die” is an ongoing series from ‘Quintessence Editions Ltd.’ Where they form a list in the form of books of (blank) you have to (blank) before you die, ranging from the obvious ones ( films, paintings and book) to the obscure ones (food and golf courses?). Thus, according Amazon, on the 0ctober 12th this “1001 Video Games you have to Play before you (blank’n) Die” shall be release. Personally, Interested, Yes, Excited, not necessarily, sceptical, indeed. After the announcement, this lead to ask myself all sorts of questions but more importantly: “Was it right of me to use those commas in the previous sentence where question marks were much more appropriate?”.



Well that's one we know, a thousand more to go.


The question which I assume (because I’m arrogant as well as a moaner) that people would be asking is “Will it be a good” list. Me, being a veteran of the previous books I can safely ‘No, but in it’s defence will be a balanced list’ . This isn’t like a top 1001 list (games will be listed chronologically), this is a book will suggested titles to give a general idea of the progression of videogames through history that moulded to it the behemoth that it is today . So expect alot of the obvious landmark titles: Pong, Doom, World of Warcraft (maybe, I mean there are a lot of games out there…). These videogames aren’t particularly great (whilst not being awful) videogames but they are ones that “must” play.
My love for Mirror Edge is between that fine line of ‘hating it’ and ‘Wanting to snipe down the developers from a clock tower’, yet I will admit that it should have some place in history and the list. Also Silent Hill is a whole bunch of greatness and all, yet I can’t see them including anything beyond 1 & 2.



Mirror's Edge: Despite the fact I think it looks like a Screen Aver Project gotten out of hand, i'd be surprised if it didn't make the list.

Which nicely links us to the question: “Who are these smelly people that are letting “Mirrors Edge” on this list and not ‘Megaman: Battle Network’ ?” Beyond Tony Mott (Who is current Editor of ‘Edge’ Magazine) as general editor, I have no idea, even after a brief internet search checking. I can imagine a few people from ‘Edge’ critics being apart of the project. Which is decent, if I was true I don’t have to worry about an enslaught of a twenty Ultima games. Edge have a reputation of being harsh with Critique (eight years ago, take that media industry!). And of course there is of Peter Molyneux, prefacing the thing, which I’m not for but not really against. I think it was just a matter of finding the biggest name in computer games who can speak passionate about the medium for ten thousand words within walking distance, and if that’s the case I can appreciate choice . Jokes on them when they can’t shut him up and they die of the toxic smugness he emits.
Finally, there’s ‘the’ question that I ask myself, the ‘first’ one I asked myself the moment I seen the title and urged me type this. “At this particular moment, can you honestly admit that there are 1001 title use must play? Not good games, but games that you must play if you want to earn the title Computer game connoisseur? If you can, fair deuce to ya, but I on the other hand can’t imagine a list of 505, let alone 1001, but along with global warming this is just something I’m hoping that I proved wrong with.



Another Hint: Some of these games may of been playable on the this so call "Playstation"

But if I keep on going like this I’ll be missing the point of why I like these book like a suicidal bomber misses his potential future….I’ve friend who is currently trying to downloading all the films that appeared on the movie edition (he’s been going t it two years and is somewhere within the seventies), he knows in his mind (or at least I hope) that he’s not going to watch then all but enjoy just checking out what does make it within the book and then putting his analysis on it. Which would then lead to gentle criticism, debates and hopefully enjoyment instead of the usually eye gouging . Obviously there’s no need to take the opinion of superiors literally (wait, what). I’ve haven’t played the original instalment of Gran Truismo, but I don’t think the Gaming community is going to snub me just because I have play the later ones over the first.
All in all, while I do think it’s a book that’s coming out ten years too early, it’d still be one of those books that are over a thousand pages and you can have enjoyment with for five minutes. Plus it would be interesting to see what games will be on the list, we’ll the obvious ones that would be on it, but I can’t imagine a kick I’d get we’ll see a game that you wouldn’t expect and you almost get that proud father son moment (for me, it’ll be the case of the Oddworld games). Anyway we still have five months to bet and argue about it until it‘s get here.
It’s ready to be ordered on Amazon and Amazon.co.uk, with both a paper and hard cover edition. Here are those if you just want a look and save the five minutes clicking.

For England and Ireland

For America

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7:44 AM on 05.03.2010  

They're the Greatest Games of All Time, but for how long?

Firstly: Even though I been talking about videogames since the moments I could form words and an opinion, I still manage to underestimate the thoughts that which belongs to the public*. So this made me think about my approach of chucking my two cents into the pool that is the internet along with the others. Normally, I would whinge about what I thought is wrong the gaming industry, but this is different, well kind of...... This more in the lines of me noticing something and wondering if it is just that thinks about, whilst not whinging ...





The reasons for this rant leads back to the numerous gaming magazines, websites, programmes, articles, blogs and the occasional banana sticker with their “Top 100 games ever list”. Don’t worry this isn’t a thousand word essay about me ranting how my opinion is the one and only while EDGE magazine has gotten soft with their ratings** because with a statement like that, my only means of survival after this would be literally a flame shield to defend myself from the sharp tongued and easily burnt . I’m talking about those games that keep on popping up in the top ten of the list, y’know: ‘OOT’,‘SM64’ , FFVII, WOW and another one that can be reduced to an acronym (“T”, for the tertis there). Again, I’m not stating that these games are by any mean bad, it’s just as time goes on really deserve the title as best game ever?


Obsolescence: Once feared by technology, trees, super models and now vvideogames.

Prime example would be the “Legend of Zelda’s Ocarina of Time”, probably gets the title “Greatest Games” more times than football itself. Praised for its unique gameplay and innovation, then the Wind Waker ‘blew in’ (sorry about that) for the Game Cube and though it had positive response, some panned it for looking childish. Which is strange because it keeps to the same formula which what made Ocarina so good. Fortunately, for that minority, Nintendo responded with Twilight Princess, which also received praise but ironically accused of trying to rekindle that Ocarina has started. Who are these people? Probably the same people who failed to see that Ocarina of Time is just 3D version of Link to Past. You may of realised that I didn’t mention Majora’s Mask, unfortunately I’ve yet to play it (Hold your stones until after you finish the article) but from the way people I been raving about it, it should be the equivalent of two Ocarina of Times combined displayed on a golden pillow which is delivered to me be a naked Anne Hathaway!
So this made me believe that the fact that Ocarina is favoured over the later additions because of the “First Time Wow Factor” rule, which is understandable. Games like Zelda, Street Fighter, Modern Warfare and more recently Street Fighter always face the challenge of constantly keeping their franchises both fresh and consistent, and if they fail to do so it will then be consider it repetitive like Street Fighter and more recently Super Street Fighter IV. Look at Modern Warfare instant, remember how everyone with a gaming blog considered the Nuke scene as one of the best moments in recent gaming. But then Infinity Ward came to the conclusion that human emotion works like clockwork because Modern Warfare 2 came with enough Nuclear Explosion to eradicate Christian Slater’s Forehead three times over and people found it as appealing as the loading screen for Dora the Explorer’s in the queue for the PS2 . As you can’t recreate the same moment twice.


Experiencing the "First Time Wow Factor" via Third Person, Like this except much Sadder and half the people.

I myself remember playing Super Mario World at six year olds constantly turning off the Super Nintendo when I was fighting Bowser, back then I was a dim child who understood the concept of heart attacks and death but not adrenalin. And for that reason I do tend not to accept a better Mario game. It’s kind of obvious that I didn’t grown up with a N64 (couldn’t get to grip with that bear claw of a controller), but that said I have play 3D Mario games in order and Galaxy is the superior one, It’ might of beaten the nostalgia factor out of Mario World for me and dare I say it’s becoming more obvious? When I read about a retrospective on the Mario 64 on how it is one of the best games ever, the conversation seem to be about how it perfect controls in a 3D environment. Fine, good on ya! But how long can use that as an argument? Being the first will get you in the history books but it certainly doesn’t means it’s the best. Is Tron the best sci-fi film to be situated in a virtual reality that was populated with blue people just because if was the first to use computer aided effects?..... Alright that’s probably a bad example.


I was going to point out I perfered Galaxy after playing Sunshine, but with a statement like that I might well of said "Oh that game that was the equivalent of two Ocarina of Times combined that was delivered to me be a naked Anne Hathaway was far better than that punch in the balls I got eariler in the day".

I know it may seems that I may be ragging on about only Nintendo games. But I’ve been the common debates where people would go in favour of the original GTA and it wonky controls over Vice City and the obscure ones were I would have to prove that Breath of Fire II is better than the first one, despite the fact that no matter how much I debate or put off studying by typing this, it bears down to personal taste. And I write about is that will these games be the one we‘ll be talking about in years to come? I mean what‘s the point of making Tekken games if people are just going to keep on talking about the third one. And I’ m not a big Mega Man fan so from listening to internet gossip the only two Mega Man games that I‘m that certain exist are II and III.
Some may be say that the games that brought up are classic in their own rights and we will praise them for all time and that I should shut up. While they may be on to something in that third point, I would have to disagree. Go on about it as much as you want, but if Video Games hasn’t been around for long time, about forty years, which is pretty short if you compare it to likes of films or the day that they invented breathing. That fact that Ocarina of Time (even after mere years of its release) is constantly considered the one greatest of the all time if not the one makes either really lucky or really old, if that’s the case I have t-shirts that can be consider ancient artefacts and parents that are fossils. Yet I'll have to wait to see if these games will stand well against time, all great pieces of art are only truly appreciated years after their exposure. Citizen Kane though was well received, lost out on many awards back then , it was only years after it’s release it was recognised and forced down the throat of art college students (in a good way). Same thing can be said for It’s a Wonderful Life, Pixies and Super Street Fighting IV........

And Exhale.



*For all nine and a half people that read my last article on franchises rehashing the same premise. If this does come off as hypocritical, I’d like to retaliate with that ‘this is discussion on games an their stance against time. While the previous article that franchise with their onslaughts of sequels that has been unenthusiastically forces out every three years.
Oh yes, a lot of comment back then states that every shooter are the same. True, even those have some gimmick that make them stand out of the crowd, predecessors and successors , like Half-Life (that game with great pacing with loveable characters) and Half-Life 2 (that game with great pacing with loveable characters and a gravity gun) or Battlefield: Bad Company (that game with the destructible environment) and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (that game with the destructible environment and Dust)!

**Edge Magazine, like you and all but no way did Bayonetta deserve that 10/10.

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10:31 AM on 03.17.2010  

The fine line between Video Games and Storytelling.

It’s been three weeks since Quantum Dream’s “Heavy Rain” have emerged from the bland swamp that is the videogame industry, introducing to us in what I like summarise as a combination of “Zodiac“, “Se7en“, Simon says and a flow chart. The game that boast about it’s Story telling and intuitive game play has been both welcomed with open arms by some, but other seems it welcome it with open arms coated with razor blades by the remaining. Personally, I still can’t decide where I should set camp in this debate.
Sure, it handles like a space hopper in a bouncing castle, has more bugs than a spider’s dinner plate and contains more plot holes than a chewed screenplay of “Back to the Future: Part II”, but I surpass all that because “Heavy Rain” is a game that attempted in one thing : telling a story that you felt apart of(even if the plot is questionable). Still, after playing it, I asked myself : Did it succeed? And I couldn’t type the “well, yes and no” any faster. I will applaud it’s appealing characters and the emotion that it sometimes produces, yet I it still felt like I wasn’t in control. It felt more like I was the younger brother forced to play with his older brother and friends (cut scenes) by my mother (Heavy Rain), making me join in(via Quick Time Events). However, when I did something ‘right’ in the game, I felt like I only suggested what to do in the process rather than helped. There is a fine line between good game play and good story telling, lack of a story makes the challenge pointless while having a lack of game play would technically count as a €50 film.
Granted, there are games that work just well without story and I don’t think I need to mention which one that this applies to (take a hint, Soul Calibur!) . But what about the ones that do try to tell a story, why do some succeed, while many fail. I know this is absurd posting this on a site that people won’t relate to, I’d be better off sneaking into Kojima Productions and slamming this o the bulletin board (again, hint).
I just want to express my thought because I my eyes there are a lot of games that do brag about this, I there’s nothing I love more than to pointing out the flaws of the successful. Plus, maybe some aspiring game developer made read this and can thank me years to come, yeah, that‘s the plan……



"Heavy Rain":'A combination of “Zodiac“, “Se7en“, Simon says and a flow chart.'

Characters:

Characters are to be handled with care, they are essentially the only thing that guiding you through the plot some at least they should have the common courtesy of making them interesting. I may be making this easier than it sounds, but they are games that give them the same traits as a sponge.
Let’s go back to the game that brought up the rant: “Heavy Rain” and lets take an even deeper look at Norman (sorry, Nahmun) Jayden , and who I think is the weakest character to work with. Was it bad enough that Quantum Dreams cut and paste some of the most iconic scene of “The Matrix” for “Fahrenheit” (“Indigo Prophecy” for you timid Americans)? Clearly not, because not only does Nahmun looks as if he was modelled after Neo, but I also have the sneaking suspicion that Keanu Reeves has provided the voice, personally written his own dialogue and then threw it away and started adlibbing for the character.
Putting that aside “Heavy Rain” does achieve in this department. Making a character appealing is one thing, and now if I may take a paraphrased quote form the Queen herself : “How does one make us ‘feel’ for the imaginary videogame character?”.
Lets take a example of bad character development , how about “Gears of Wars 2”: Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago. Problem is that it’s hard for me when they show a sign of despair caused by death (“Oh my God . Death is, everywhere) when they spending the last half an hour through game play and cut scenes show clear signs of joy that were also caused by death (“Oh my God. Death is, FOOKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!”).
How about the cast of character, this problem can be related to Final Fantasy VI. How many characters are in that you can control? Something in the high ‘teens’ anyway, this makes it very difficult get acquainted with and actually having an interest in them (Gau, I hate you so much). Not to mention that this involves more level grinding and the last time I checked level grinding is to computer games what waiting in queues is to everything else in life.
Characters can be the saving grace of a game, look at “Half-Life 2”. People may constantly go on about the story, but frankly, it pretty basic . Fortunately the characters that bring story to life along with it’s writing.



I repeat, making computer characters should be handle with care and respect....

Game Play -

All that “Heavy Rain” has to offer quick time events and timing the control of your movement, there wasn’t anything wrong with them, infact there where done well opposed to other games (there was never a more intense moment than setting the table with the plates that my mother-in-law gave me). The problem for me was that there wasn’t enough of it. Let’s go back to Nahmun, shall we? Particularly the interrogation scenes with fellow cop Blake. Without spoiling anything, there are particular scenes that involves you intervening with a fellow workmate. The term intervening should be used the lightly like alcohol on an open wound. A lot of these chapters are occupied with (workmate) Blake getting out of order and you sometimes telling him, which does fuck all so there’s no need of straining your thumb every time the ’intervene’ action show up. Fine, “Heavy Rain” is a game that tells a story… No wait, “Heavy rain” is suppose to a game that that let me act out the roles in a story, an it is these scene with Nahmun that let the game.



Finally, Nahmun interesting! And all it took fist fight in a junk Yard.

Pacing and Emotion-

I can’t use Heavy Rain as a example unless go back to the twice beaten dead horse (Plus, other than that they do a damn good job), so lets use other examples.
Seeing that on average you are spending ten hours at most with game, you should feel some sort of connection of the with the characters, unless there are as appealing a cold sore or as annoying as a cold sore with a smoke alarm attached to itself. But Game developers still manage to try to cock it up. Normally, I wouldn’t find fault in this, but when it’s so damn clear that they try you have to impose. What I’m talking about is Final Fantasy VII defining scene. Now, if you are going to have a scene that leads to a tragic death that we as people are suppose to feel sympathy for, don’t have the game have multiple paths that are based on your relationship with the characters. If I make choices to hang around with Tifa or Barret and then neglect Arieth, you can’t expect me to feel heartbroken for her when she’s put to an end. I don’t know how emotion work in the cold building of Square-enix, but humans normally need to connect with characters if we are to sorrow when we departed. It would also help, if the PAL game didn’t have still picture of the death scene on the back of the box (it’s right fucking there)!
Finally (and quickly) pacing, y’know that thing that allows you to take in the game as a journey if it’s done well rather than a visit. Multiple example of games that have good pacing are Half-Life series, System Shock 2, Eternal Darkness and Bioshock. But of course there are bad examples and who’s better to take the biscuit than the successor to the System Shock 2’s Successor, Bioshock 2. In fairness, there are times the it is done extremely well, but if I may the last chapter was beyond a disappointment. Having a broken endurance battle instead of a final boss (without spoiling there’s a bit where they could of have a decent one, if you played it you know what I’m talking about) and then finishing off with the “world most abrupt ending” and you are suppose to take this all in the span of five minutes. Boos and Hisses all go to 2K for that.



It's right there, can you see it!?

- And there, and that’s what I think and now, I sound like a prick (Bioshock 2 conclusion is still more half-arsed).

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11:06 AM on 12.31.2009  

It's Just Karol's Top 10 Games of the Decade.

On account that it’s the end of the decade that we referred to as the “Noughties”, it seems that magazines and websites alike have been doing a lot of top ten lists in the form of Albums, films and videogames. And, well frankly I never seen a list that I can personally say “That’s a good list”
So I thought to myself “why not join on with the fun” and do my very own top 10 to celebrate my love for the medium. Keep in mind of the usual things when facing this blog ( i.e. my opinion on the best etc.). And I guess I hope you enjoy (along with the other “greatest games of the decades” list), I took my sweet time with this, it was either this or study.





#10: Tales of Symphonia (GameCube/PS2) (2003).
(Namco)

If you’re going to do a JRPG that leaks with JRPG clichés that would make big JRPG tycoons “Square-enix” feel small by comparison , at least do it in a way that doesn’t make the players cringe or shake their in sheer embarrassment like what JRPG tycoons “Square-enix” tend to do nowadays. Yes, “Tales of Symphonia” is saturated with the obvious JRPG traits like: being first introduced to an protagonist as he sleeps who later suffers from the guilt of destroying his village, the girl who is the key in saving the world, speeches about morality and idealism and the mercenary who has (altogether now ) “a hidden past”.
Yet simultaneously, it tries so hard not to follow suit of the others with it’s real-time battle mode that actually works and absences of random battles and well developed characters that don‘t give me the urge to strangle them with a piece of twine. The story is located on that fine line between ‘understandable and enjoyable’ and ‘spaghetti-like’, and by that I mean: it’s easy and a thrill to go through yet it’s constantly changing for the better. Your current objectives, location and antagonist may not stay the same, but you’ll play just see how it ends, which makes feel more like an Anime-RPG than a JRPG. I’ll give you one nanosecond if you can give another videogame that got a anime spin-off in the last decade (No? didn’t think so).
I’d also like take this moment to compare it to another (overrated) game “Skies of Arcadia” . Sure, I love the characters and the airship battles, but the main story is as boring as chips, which wouldn’t been a problem if they didn’t ram it down your throat, which it does (a lot).“Tales of Symphonia” on the other hand, keeps its story in the passenger seat, which gives you the feeling that “it’s there, but you do your own thing first”. Also, the Anime FMV sequences is breath of fresh air than most CGI sequences nowadays where it looks as if all the npcs had use paint instead of makeup on there face. The lowest point is just the obvious writing in dialogue, then again it’s a JRPG, so I wasn’t going to expect the quality of Oscar Wilde. If you can get by that , then surely you can enjoy a game with a balanced battle mode, great look, a story that isn’t forced on to you like what other games tend to do of this genre.




#09: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Old Door (GameCube) (2004).
(Intelligent System)

Maybe it’s because I’m just from a different era of dinosaurs and Vikings, but even after twenty years that contains over sixty games with the “Mario” label on it, only two come close to the greatness that is “Super Mario World”: “Super Mario Galaxy” the definitive 3D Mario experience (I have about as much interest in “Mario 64” as I do with the fans that nag on about it) and “Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Old Door”.
Being European and N64-less at the time, I missed out on the first two Mario RPGs at the time, so I made it my objective to play. And who would of guessed Intelligent Systems would have made not one but two achievements in a single game.
#1: Taking a series universe like Mario and then recreate it with a look that seems to be inspired by children’s after school art projects. Everything is drenched in colours that most video game enthusiasts have forgot that exist. Even though the 2 dimensional character (literally! h-yuk h-yuk h-yuk…… sorry)seems to be a cop out in design, I couldn’t see the game any other way than it’s storybook appearance. Granted, the original “Paper Mario” succeeded in doing this as well, but shut up I’m trying to make a point!
#2 Giving the characters within the universe both charm and humour that develops as you progress through the game. Again, this was done in the original but just simply not as good. A special mention has to go to Luigi, where he is constantly rambling on about his own adventure that is near parallel to Mario’s own. And it’s not just Luigi that has been effected, character like Princess Peach and Bowser are also fleshed out with their own story. It would be cop to only include old characters, so I’d like to mention the brand new characters like Hooktail: A papier-mâché dragon who is has a psychological suffering from crickets. Doopliss: A ghost who was so bored he turned villagers into pigs and steal Mario’s outline. And Lord Crump: The goon who can break the fourth wall.
Putting the creativity of the game aside, the game play is just as well done, on second thought no it‘s not. At most points there can be an overload of enemies on the same screen, so there points where you’re constantly in battle.
While the battles are done in turn based style combat (which could bother some people) , at least the game does give you the courtesy of giving you the object dodging and countering instead of the usual options of “Looking“ and “enduring“. Yet, the badge system so paper thin (again, sorry) it might as well not be there. These are minor complaints that are out numbered by the many pros that this game has to offer. So for fans of Mario, you’re in for a treat. For the people who loathe him, well you can always roll him up into a ball a make him go into the water.





#08 Bioshock (PC/Xbox 360/PS3) (2007).
(2KBoston/2K Australia)


I never thought that there could be another game that could pull the very same emotional strings that Ken Levine‘s cyberpunk classic that is “System Shock 2” once did. And it’s no surprise that the game to perform this achievement again would be none other than “Bioshock”, another game by the Ken Levine. Sure, it ‘is’ “System Shock 2”with a steampunk feel rather than a cyberpunk one. Then again, what’s wrong with that (except for the whole not encouraging creativity thing)? It was immersive, subtle, evenly paced, well written and a bunch of other words that can be used to describe “System Shock 2” as well.
But, one can’t ignore the captivating universe that is Rapture, the proclaim utopia that collapse due to the psychotic greed that is man. Unravelling the stories and tragedies that developed within the place by means of poltergeist and pre-recordings, eavesdropping on the splicers the ADAM driven maniacs that were once human., it’s all there to enjoy in “Bioshock”. And where “System Shock 2” failed, “Bioshock” succeeds. Another example of this example is the weapons, even though “SS2” is set 200 years after “Bioshock”, it seems that the future forgot how to make a gun that doesn’t break down after two shots. Yes, I’m aware that it is so it can truly enhance the already high scare factor. But are you telling me that if there is a world out there where narcissistic A.I. and space station that can travel at the speed of light exist, but no engineers that can manufacture a peashooter that doesn’t need maintenance after ten shots? And if that isn’t enough “Bioshock” triumphs for allowing you to shoot bees in out of your hand. Y’know the old saying: “You can do only so well, but you’ll never be better than a man who can shoot bees of their hands”! Too bad the game is crippled by it simplicity of the hacking system that would embarrass most players. I also didn’t really care for the hype that the game was constantly getting throughout it’s production.
I would like to take this opportunity to tip my hat to Ken Levine, the man who is also responsible for “Thief” series and “Deus Ex”, both equally fantastic games*.
Also, a round of applause has to go out to whoever took a term like “Big Daddy” make it into an iconic videogame character of this generation.





#07 Okami (PS2/Wii)( 2006-2009).
(Clover Studios/Ready at Dawn)

And if “Bioshock” wasn’t bad enough ripping off a game, “Okami” ripped off an entire franchise, except that you play as a wolf instead of a …… Wait forgot about the “Twilight Princess “ so never mind.
Ok, that was a huge understatement and lets remember that “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. Beside, Okami has many things to be proud of like Cel Shading (like Wind Waker…. Ok, I’m just being annoying now), a creative battle technique, unique power-ups, a beautiful Japanese score, mini-games that are well spread out through the adventure, characters that are amusing to listen to and the fact like allowing a player to take the role of something like a wolf who has no outstanding physical feature (apart from being white with red tribal marks) and still manage to make him a loveable character to role play as.
Personally I’d advise players to pick up the PS2 version over the Wii one, you’d think that the console with the controls that allow you to draw on the screen would work with better ease. But frankly, the game tend to be strict and doesn’t want to acknowledge my ellipses as circle. Plus the PS2 has that whole washed down look makes it feel that the game “is” in fact a moving water paint picture. It’s also helps the game controls well in battle and the special are easy and effective to use. However, at most of the special technique are rather pointless to have and forgettable. I mentioned that the hit detection is a bit off and this becomes a nuisance in cut scene that doesn’t let you progress until you do it right, which also interrupts the game pacing.
And I can’t forgive the game for making me fight the longest boss in the entire game three times, in such a small space of time. Surely one game developer must of went “Surely this might be tad bothersome”.
Now that I finished my rant, it obvious that I like the game, why else would I put it on my list. If I’m going to as far as complaining about it having too many power up, then I must be a good game as I’m ‘that’ desperate in finding fault in it.





#06 Ico (PS2) (2002/2006).
(Team Ico)

A game that was wanted so badly, there was a reprint of the game in 2006 and yet I still have to resort to eBay with this one. According to the many blogs that are littered around the internet , if there were to mention one game by Team Ico it would have been the rightfully acclaimed “Shadow of the Colossus“. Yeah, that game was pretty good yet you can’t compare that to the confined yet illusive world we explore within “Ico“.
Most of the complaint that was brought up with “Ico” is that it was a game surrounding the one side mission quest which lead to the girl constantly kidnapped , personally I didn’t find that to be that big of a problem to snub the game (but hey, maybe I’m actually good at it!). Rightfully so it is a game surrounded by the one side mission, but you have to think of it not as a side mission but more of a relationship between the two main characters: Ico and Yorda. The game is littered around puzzle that are challenging, yet not frustrating enough to distract you from the awe that the game present itself with.
I do admit that guiding Yorda by hand is tedious and annoying to see Ico pausing every now so se doesn’t trip, but I can take that and turn into something that an Artsy sap would say like: “It’s there to represent the burden that Yorda become to Ico in order to escape the prison, yet he cannot leave without her”.
It‘s fair to mention that “Ico” is also one of the two game (The other being “Shadow of the Colossus”) that I know that has been praised by artist of different medium for it’s style. The artist that I’m referring to is none other than director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth , Hellboy) who states (that if I’m quoting wikipedia correctly) both games a "masterpieces" and part of his directorial influence. Namedropping aside, the game is feat in directing, art and simplistic yet emotive storytelling about a quaint love story (probably the sappiest thing I ever said about a game), and if that isn’t enough ,“Ico” has one of the most pleasant feel good epilogue to grace the virtual screen.
Quite possible the best PS2 exclusive that was made*.





#05 Portal (PC/Xbox 360/PS3).
(Valve)

"I can’t think of any criticism for it. I’m serious, this is the most fun you'll have with your PC until they invent a force feedback codpiece" these are the direct word from acclaim videogame critic Yahtzee
of Zero Punctuation. And it is understandable why it is near impossible to find a fault to the game. Probably it was due to the fact that most people were first introduce to the game as just the extra on the orange box. Nobody had expectation for Portal the hybrid frogspawn of a FPS and puzzle games, the majority of us were too busy getting psyched up for the new instalment of “Half-Life 2” and the online favourite “Team Fortress 2” again. And it came, the unassuming bullet to the stomach of black humour and amazement that was “Portal”, which result to abnormal amount of praise by fans and critics. Perhaps too much.
It seems that anyone who has dipped their heads into a videogame website was aware of the game and it’s story, characters, inside jokes, quotable lines, phone numbers and dress size thanks to the aggravating fans, it was admittingly both irritable and intoxicating. Which you’d think it would be fine, however when the year 3000 comes and astro-archaeologists are trying to unravel what was the definitive gaming experience back in the day and according to their calculation it was “Portal”, they’re going to be a tad peeved that this game wasn’t the crème brulee we made it out to be.
Personally apart from all the praise the game has gotten and rightfully so. The game’s quirks and charm feel that it is painted on rather than filled with and putting the ending credit song aside, I felt empty inside. Of course it is still astonishing achievement of a game, with Glados the ditzy A.I. stealing the show with her mundane tone of pessimistic comedy that can be a smile to the most serious of stock brokers. I feel like I should write more for this games like how it recreates it‘s own world, and simultaneously tries to be videogame that attempts to establish in the context of Erving Goffman's dissemination on dramaturgy, “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life“,
but what I would be just repeating others, Wikipedia and myself with the thing about the other games. And that’s the main problem “Portal” no matter how much you try, there’s not a lot you can say about it. It’s a game that filled with admiration, jokes that are offbeat and some the best few hours you’ll ever experience! So just take my word (and the others who actually matter on the internet) that calling is a really good game isn’t generous enough.





#04 Metroid Prime (GameCube/Wii) (2002/2009).
(Retro Studios)

Metroid Prime was first frowned upon when it was first introduce to the to the public. Fan insulted saying it was taking the from it’s exploration roots for a First person Shooter style to attract a mainstream audience. Metroid Prime wowed everyone with it’s self declared First person Adventure style Adventuring. While most people (and by people I mean my friends, and by friends I mean my one particular friend who won‘t stop following me) still makes joke about the scan mode of Samus Aran, which does make even opening doors a choir (thought this is to cleverly hide the slow loading of the little console that almost could ).
I personally like how the game gave you the choice of the researching within Tallon IV and find out the back story of the forgotten race and how the space pirate emerge for the fuels of Phazon, or you can ignore all that and go for the “Aliens are bad with big teeth are here so killed now” approach. Plus, for a GameCube title, the attention of detail is remarkable, from Samus’s visor fogging up when’s it cold to the movement of the suit to respond to even the bounty hunter’s breathing.
It’s a fascination that Retro Studio went to arm lengths into making a not only a world, but a wildlife that looks like they come from a the sketch book of art prodigy/meth addict to go along with it. “Metroid Prime” may not be classified as an FPS, but has some of the smoothest control of that uses the First person perspective and shooting element and complete with a lock-on system, why most FPS chameleon tend to imitate “Halo” over this Gem still baffles me to this day and is the one question that is the source of my sleepless nights.
Like Legend of Zelda, Metroid is chock filled with over the top , jaw dropping epic boss battles except for the tiny twist that these battle can be somewhat challenging, where at some point you even have to
analysis the arena surrounding, and that were Metroid work best the observation, exploration and the taking in of the environment around you.
I read this new article recently where an IGN editor comparing Metroid being compared to the Citizen Kane. After a good long hard laugh of IGN.com trying to look seriously, I calmed down and I more I hear his argument, the more clear it stand. Of course, it’s no way the prime (no pun intended) example to represent director perfection in the videogame industry……. But it’s up there.





#03 Mother 3 (Gameboy Advance) (2006).
(Hal Laboratory)

I have to admit, when I first told people about this game, most people didn’t take me seriously that the Mother series is one of the most compelling and charismatic game ever. I even showed this game to my sixteen year old sister and her first words were :”It look childish”.
This is the point where I tell them about the wonder and charm that is seals within the cartridge (or in this due to my lack of knowledge of the Japanese language, emulation) but I’ let them go around walking around in the ignorance blitz while I go around in totally aware-blitz (which like ignorance blitz except I have to spend more time in being more knowledgeable of one particular game, yeah that sounds bout right and totally worth it).
I could go on about the charm and the compelling story of the game, but I would ashamed of myself if I went on and not mention the cleverness of the game.
I like think of The Mother series as the Sunday comics of the videogame industry: Deep, intellectual hidden with a children theme of cuteness. Here we have story (without spoiling anything): Despair, conformity, identity with a hint of a environmental message to top it off. It’s easy to connect with the interesting and diverse character as you get a each control each one and experience the story from their point of view.
Discussing the actual gameplay, it’s approve par. Enough though I always wonder why they got the rid of the instant battle cancellation-thingy (?**) is beyond me, but there is no point in the game where level grinding is essential to progress.
Yes it’s a shame that Japan is self conscious about their critically acclaimed game series, and the only means for those who are outside out Japan to illegally download it (Shame that’s how low we sunk to play the game).





#02 Eternal Darkness: Sanity Requiem (GameCube) (2002).
(Silicon Knights)

Scaring people is easy. I mean, my friend got scared when I lost the tickets to Arctic Monkeys, so did my room mate by making them think he was shrinking (long story). In videogame game it’s no exception, most survival horror games rely on shock horrors ( i.e. Deep Space, Resident Evil, F.E.A.R etc.). While there are other games that went for the aspect of constantly keeping the playing “in fear” (Silent Hill, System Shock), you know something is to happen and you are just waiting for the inevitable . But “Eternal Darkness” is different, it’s a game that made it their objective to freak out the player but only whenever the game feels like. With its trademark “Sanity Metre”, you didn’t know what to expect from the game, you never knew whether the game was going to go with it’s random head explosion or zombie morphing. Or worse, it could just mess with you and not let anything happen at all, building up expectation that the end is nigh for you only to make you into a laughing stock (and screaming and mourning sound effects didn’t really help either) . Eternal Darkness was a game that truly lead you to your insanity, or did it?
A lot of reviewers were complimenting the game for it controls in term combats as it stood out from most of the survival-horror games for having actually having good controls. When I first heard, I bluntly went “Really, I didn’t even notice the controls ” and that right there is when you know the control are good, when you can play a game for two hours a day for a week and not once you’re not aware of the control (as if you were having “fun”?) . Some, would say that this go against the genre as the Survival Horrors controls are suppose to be shite as you are suppose to be defenceless as it enhance the thrill of being in the a survival horror and that’s when I use my memorised statement which is :”Fuck off”!
I have to mention (Again, without spoiling) the clever way of how the story allow the game makes each chapters seem fresh and exciting as the next and connect each character spiritually with the games macguffin .It a shame that most only will recognise this game as “Nintendo’s first Mature game” while it is much more that. It’s deep, immersive and down right freaky.





#01 Half-Life 2 (PC) (2004).
(Valve)

To many, this is not an surprise. The game is one of the few that has been crowned as an achievement in gaming in the eyes of developers, critic and the general public with it Havok physic engine and Source game engine. And what better way to show off the physics of the game with the gravity gun or if you want the zero-point energy field manipulator, where your ammo is anything isn’t attached to the ground!
You’d think that a game that is complimented about it’s mechanics wouldn’t have a heart, yet valve proves us wrong with their uncanny ability of making us care for the npc’s.
These aren’t you’re run of the mill npc’s were they always get in your way and have to tell you that “They’re old” before anything else, they’re Barney Calhoun your favourite security guard from Black Mesa or Eli Vance*** your aging co-worker who is now head of the lambda resistance. These are character that you grow attach to with their witty banter and playful insults towards you (Gordon Freeman) and each other, which is always a joy to listen as the dialogue is top notch.
“Half-life 2” is one of those games that is riddled with moment of sheer amazement that would make Francis Ford Coppola take notes in location and in direction, like the first time entering Ravenholm, or the marsh chase scene however none can compare to the moment of infiltrating the citadel, it just one of those moments in video games where you just have to take it in and just stare at the surroundings in sheer awe. There’s never been a point in the game where I can say that “Hang on. Something feels out of place….”, the pacing is extraordinary the characters feel genuine, the location are beautiful, the game mechanic is solid and some other fifth thing that I sure it can be found at gamespot.
I didn’t know whether it was cheating to include the two following episodes along with Half-Life 2 so I’m excluding it from it the countdown …Probably for the best, as the universe might implode might implode with sheer amazement if we did count all three games as one!!! I want to end this with ““Half-Life 2” isn’t just the best game of the decade, but one of the best games of all time” but I would have to
kill myself.”




* I’m currently playing other games of the 00’s that are also solid candidates for the list: “Shenmue”, “Thief II” and “God of War”. I didn’t want to talk about a games that I didn’t complete, but if the games keeps their steady pace, “Thief II” Would be definitely taking the tenth spot in the list.

**The instant battle cancellation-thingy was a thingy introduced in “Earthbound” that if you got into a battle where the computer is so sure that you’d win, that it skips the battle and gives you the Experience points immediately. Seriously, why did get rid of it?

*** The guy who did the voice of Eli Vance in “Half-Life 2” is also the guy who did the voice of Rafiki in “The Lion King”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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