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6:07 PM on 04.22.2015

Next-Gen is Finally Here!

Next-generation gaming has official begun! With the launch of Mortal Kombat X, we finally have a game that was completely impossible to run on Xbox 360 and PS.....

Wow; I couldn't even finish that sentence before noticing MKX on last-gen hardware. Well, whatever. The game is probably terrible on those consoles. Thank god, though, that Metal Gear Solid V is only...

C'mon! Can't I make a statement without getting cut off? It's not like you see Bungie doing...

Really? Well, that one was close to last-gen, so I'll let it slide. It's not like we're seeing 5 years old games...

Okay; this is insane! Where does Next-gen begin and last-gen end? So many games are still getting multi-platform and generation releases that I'm beginning to regret even wanting a PS4. Not only does my PC still manage to play games with smoother framerates than Sony's next best thing, but almost every game I want on the PS4 is available somewhere else.

I'm not even talking like Xbox One; you can get these damn games on PS3. Some even come with cross-buy support, meaning I could wait years before getting a PS4 and finish the game multiple times. What was the point, again?

I know that these multi-generational releases have benefits on next-gen, but I can't remember an era of gaming where developers were so afraid to let the past die. Nintendo, at least, isn't still releasing Wii games.

More importantly, these last-gen versions are only compromised visually. In terms of Metal Gear Solid V, the game is virtually the same. It's missing the realistic lighting and weather effects, but there aren't chopped up game areas or more load screens. Everything is the same as it's next-gen brethren.

I remember when Splinter Cell was first released on PS2; that was a sorry excuse of a port if I ever did see one. Sure, it had an extra level that was pretty neat, but the main campaign had to utilize compromised level structure to even get the engine running on inferior hardware. Don't even bring up the Gamecube release, either.

Sticking with Ubisoft, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter on PS2 and Xbox was a disgrace to the 360 version. Ubisoft had plopped together something that vaguely resembled a map and called it a day. They didn't even change the dialog to reflect places that were absent in the last-gen versions.

It's so bad, I couldn't find an image without a watermark! Now I'm Capcom!

We are long past those days now. Currently, the main difference is that the last-gen games run at sub-720p resolution. Their target framerates are typically 30 FPS and the textures usually have quite obvious draw distance problems. If you can tolerate that, then the game is functionally the same.

So, why should we as gamers even bother with next-gen versions? At least Turn 10 Studios produced two distinct games with Forza Horizon 2 on Xbox One and 360. The fact that you can get it on either system is dumb, but you do have some benefit to grabbing the next-gen version.

With something like Mortal Kombat X, what could be different? The last game ran at 60 FPS on PS3 and Xbox 360, so why wouldn't the sequel? Unless High Voltage is going to purposely nuke the game code, the game will basically be the same.

About the only real difference I can see with next-gen is the switch to Blu-Ray. I know PS3 always had this disc capacity, but games were hampered by the 360's DVD limitation. Microsoft even had to create a smaller copy protection method to extract more space out of their DVDs.

Now that both next-gen consoles are utilizing Blu-Ray, developers have more free reign to include higher resolution textures or bigger game worlds. Judging by the size of Dead Rising 3's map, though, neither of those advantages are really being utilized.

Even with the release of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, we're seeing next-gen consoles struggle to produce an experience that is vastly superior. When the original PC release from 3 years prior still looks better, something is wrong.

At least we're in real HD, now!

So honestly, I don't believe the next-generation has started. Until I see a game that is virtually impossible without next-gen hardware, I'll just let out a sigh when I notice a PS3 or 360 release alongside the "new" and "superior" versions.

It's also really sad how Nintendo was able to make a game run at 1080p, 60 FPS with 8 players on screen. That console is basically an Xbox 360.

  read


11:16 AM on 03.29.2015

The Linearity of Time

Game developers have made great strides in providing gamers with multiple choices for a game's story. This has resulted in many critics and players labeling games as "non-linear" or "open-world." They all allow you to tackle events in any order of your choice.

An idea occurred to me over my vacation; as time seemed to stand still while I relaxed in the sun and heat, I thought about the Futurama episode where the Professor creates a time machine. In that plotline, he actually moves so far forward in time that he ends up seeing the creation of the universe.

Good news, everyone! We made it to Destructoid!

Time was on an indefinite loop. While the Professor could not move backwards, he could go to any point in history as long as he kept proceeding forward. This line of thought then lead me to the game Virtue's Last Reward. In that game, you deal with a similar phenomenon.

While the game talks a lot about Schrodigner's Cat and the Many-Worlds Theory, it allows you to skip between different parallel dimensions to progress farther in the game. Effectively, the game gives players a non-linear control over time.

I'm truly surprised that we haven't seen more games attempt this idea. While developers are so anxious to showcase their graphical advancements and claim their game is "innovative" and "cinematic," they never really deal with the way time affects our world.

Some other notable examples would be Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Braid and (weirdly enough) Forza. All of those games have a rewind function that will let you undo simple mistakes. Braid and Forza aren't really concerned with challenge, so their mechanic is unlimited (though you can thankfully turn it off in Forza for realistic effect).

Sands of Time incorporates this time shift into it's story. The dagger which the Prince holds can only store a certain amount of time altering sand before being worthless. This deftly explains why one cannot simply undo every mistake.

As much as that may be total dominance over time, those games are still set on linear paths. That quick rewind can only go one direction; resuming control only allows one path. None of these games question whether or not your different choice truly deviates from a pre-determined course.

No no no. My story included more paths...and naked women.

Virtue's Last Reward revels in that type of manipulation. Characters will refer to your physical appearance as "strange" and "decrepit" before you get to the final twist. Certain elements in the background will stick out, but have no real meaning until you swap to a different dimension.

The game crafts a tale in which every single possible choice is the only true path. It gets the mind thinking about every decision you've ever made. What if I said yes to that girl or what if I studied harder in school? (or as Peter Griffin said, "you don't want to spend your life wondering what if".)

I know the predecessor to that game, 999, had many similar themes. The mechanics of that game only allowed you to see one path through before exchanging consciousness and charting a new course. The sequel seems more concerned with granting access to every possible experience.

The closest I can think of a game coming to this type of focus is with Papers, Please. While that game doesn't place emphasis on you having knowledge from multiple timelines (or even acknowledging that different universes may exist), it does let you move backward in time to live out every possible outcome.

Papers, Please bases its gameplay on multiple choices. Every time a new person comes up to the border, you can either quickly let them through, tag them for search, properly check their ID or even forge their documents. All of these decisions result in a distinctive conclusion.

The game features multiple endings, even if most of them are not satisfactory. As with life, you may not like where your course of action has brought you. Unlike life, you can always undo the change (and without reloading a save file). Now, I realize there are more games with this style of gameplay, but even Papers, Please isn't fully non-linear as far as time is concerned.

To me, I wouldn't mind seeing more games like Virtue's Last Reward in terms of narrative structure or gameplay. How about an adventure game in the vein of L.A. Noire where you get to switch dimensions to figure out clues? Maybe a shooter where allowing key characters to live can result in various conclusions?

All of these ideas don't really nail non-linearity of time. Maybe the real reason we haven't seen more games tackle this style is because everything has to move forward. You cannot undo time, no matter how hard you try. Our lives are set on linear courses from the day we are born.

Given that power to move backwards, I think most of us would just stick to a single day or two in our childhood. Why move on when you can always redo? This might ultimately be what gaming is trying to tell us; the choices you make are the ones you must deal with.

I could also be misunderstanding my own point of time flowing linearly. Maybe I just never pieced together that games allowing you to flow in reverse are really non-linear. If that is the case, then a game like The Bouncer is the most non-linear a title can get.

Whatever the case, I feel like developers should try to focus more on continuity and time. Shake things up with your franchises by allowing us to skip forward and backward at whim (but not pre-determined). The worst that can happen is we erase the history of Resident Evil 6. =)

I will gladly pick no.

  read


7:54 PM on 03.11.2015

The Convention that Changed it All

Absence makes the heart grow fonder; while the origin of this quote is unknown, the impact of those words can be profound. Removing yourself from your favorite place can be quite difficult. Sometimes the change is needed, other times the change is made from an irrational viewpoint.

About two years ago, I asked Andy Dixon to remove me from Destructoid. I noticed I was getting into fights in the comments section and writing crappier blogs in some vein attempt to get noticed. I just wanted to be liked, if not help people view games in a different light.

I still visited the site, but I refused to comment or make any blogs. I wanted to be done with the community and everyone around the site. I felt like I had failed them by being a petty child. I didn't want to stain the good name of their community.

After returning to the community blogs over on Screwattack, I started to realize a lot about myself. I had changed over those few years. I was more level-headed and less angry. I was more willing to discuss instead of assert my opinion. Most importantly, I missed the communities that helped me fall back in love with gaming.

I just wasn't ready to return to Destructoid. On Screwattack, I actually never lost respect. People accepted that I was on hiatus and the crew members looked forward to my appearance at their yearly cons. I ended up volunteering and feeling empowered and happy. I was glad to give back to a website that kindled a passion in my heart.

I never got that chance with Destructoid...that is until this past weekend. I never expected that PAX East would be the place that I would finally understand what I seek from my writing, but funny things happen to us humans. One minute can be a mundane cycle of repetition while the next is the catalyst for the fire in our minds.

After a hectic first day, my friend clued me in to a DToid meetup for Saturday night. While I skipped out on the photo in the afternoon, I made damn sure that I was able to get to the planned restaurant for that evening. I never expected to be the only person there, but life likes to throw funny curveballs our way.

When the crew ended up being late, I began to panic. I thought I had either wasted my time and money or just misread the location. I didn't want to say no to the whole situation, so I decided to put myself on the waiting list and get food.

About 10 minutes later, Jed walked in with some friends. Seeing his Twitch shirt, I figured asking if he knew Jonathan Holmes would be a safe bet. Not only was it safe, but it was rightfully founded; Jed was with him for that evening.

This began a very surreal night for me. While I'm not afraid of meeting "celebrities" and talking to them, I never expect to get into a more personal conversation with them. I was also caught by surprise when we sat down for dinner.

This is how it looked like in my head!

Nothing felt out of the ordinary after the talking got started. It was almost as if I were a part of their crew. It seemed like old friends catching up with their non-stop lives. We talked about games we had seen that day, films that were interesting to us, how stupid Cliffy B is and awful interviews.

I also volunteered myself to hand out community awards on the show floor. For all you guys who voted back at home, know that your voices were heard. I went around with the motley crew of DToid members and we handed out those little foam cards with pride and joy.

While the award for the Witcher vanished mysteriously, everyone else was genuinely surprised and happy to be getting these plaques. Seeing their smiling faces and getting to speak with them made me feel accepted. For once in my life, no one looked at me like a psychopath; now I was the bearer of good news and a "golden" trinket.

After we managed to tear up the PAX show floor, we needed food (as most humans do). So, who could turn down a bit of lunch with Mr. Holmes? Not only did I end up meeting and dining with him the night before, but I got to do it two days straight.

Really, what more could a DToid member ask for? I finally got to put faces to the people I have been following for years. Their words and analyses have given me hours of entertainment and introspection that I am thankful for. I cannot imagine myself being alive without such a website.

So while I may have neglected DToid and been an angry little basted for a few years, I feel that I've finally matured into the person I wanted to be. Seeing the struggles and challenges that these people go through to give us the content we take for granted really put a lot into perspective for me.

LIKE A BOSS!

So thank you Holmes, Caitlin, Jed, Kyle and Rob. Shout outs to Jared and that partially Asian sounding guy (I'm very sorry! I forgot your name). While I may never become a full fledged friend, you guys certainly made me feel like I was important for a few days. For that, I wish you all the best of luck.

P.S. Remember to name your child Jim, Holmes!

  read


5:59 PM on 09.29.2013

GTA V: "Why Go On?"



Grand Theft Auto was a series that blew my mind back in middle school. It was so edgy and violent. It felt almost wrong to be fantasizing about the game, but I wanted to pull back the curtains and look inside at the scandalous nature of the game.

It also felt like something that needed to be played. This was mostly peer pressure rearing its ugly head, but when I was 13, I couldnít be caught dead having not played Grand Theft Auto III. †This was helped by the fact that the game was highly original in its approach to building a game world.

Gamers had never really seen a game set up a city that mimicked real life. You could forget the actual mission structure of the campaign and just go for a walk. Taking a slow, leisurely drive through the streets of Liberty City was a distinct possibility. Tackling objectives in whatever manner you saw fit was unprecedented.

Skip ahead to 2013, 12 years after Rockstar Games revolutionized the games industry, and Iím left feeling hollow. Having played Grand Theft Auto V to 100% completion, I have no idea why I was even really excited for the game. I was overcome with a sense of peer pressure from peers I donít even possess.

Worse still, Iíve been tackling therapy to get a better grip on my own mental state and GTA V revels in the idea of, ďOnce a criminal, always a criminal.Ē There is no conceivable way to change the fates of the protagonists in GTA V. They have committed unspeakable acts against their fellow man and have to just continue the process. It makes me feel hopeless.

Other than a few mean spirited advertisements, nothing about GTA V is comical. The script is angry and unwilling to view things from a new angle. Missions appear steadily, but lack any variety. Some of the tasks are simply, ďSteal this car.Ē There is nothing else to the mission and you can even kill the person whom the car belongs to with no consequence from the police.



There is no real challenge other than battling the awkward controls. The driving is markedly improved over its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV, but the cover system and gunplay feel clunky and outdated. Adopting a Call of Duty style lock-on system doesnít mitigate the fact that I canít aim at the guy to the left if Iím presently stuck on the person to the right.

Even the open world feels devoid of pieces. Random events are a neat way to provide pseudo-procedurally generated missions, but even these fail to mix up their objectives. †GTA V does nothing that television and film hasnít tackled better.

One should not compare this game to other mediums, but when hit TV show ďBreaking BadĒ has characters growing from their actions and even coming up with new situations to throw their leads into every week, why has Rockstar failed to provide new set pieces for their flagship series?

The overlooked Max Payne 3 took the titular hero to new horizons. It swapped the dark, dreary and slick streets of New York for settings in bustling Sao Paulo and drug cartel offices. Max was out of his league and skimming by the skin of his teeth. His anguish felt intense, visceral and utterly hopeless. Conquering a challenge made the player feel like a god.

In GTA V, all one needs to do is simply sit behind cover for a few seconds and wait for the AI to kill itself. Police have a terrible habit of flying their helicopters into wind turbines or driving their squad cars straight into explosive gas stations. You can even mask yourself from them in bushes, dismantling the otherwise clever mechanic of staying in the dark to escape police.

Worse, though, is that no character grows for their troubles. Franklin is the only character that begins the game in a classic GTA style. He is a gangbanger from the hood who is going nowhere and doesnít have much to his name.

By the end, apart from the $70 million dollars, Franklin still has no one. Heís learned nothing from his adventure and will probably fall into obscurity for the rest of his life. His game stats barely even improve, though that feature of the game does virtually nothing.

Michaelís story has him bickering with old friend, Trevor, until the two are told to ďShut the fuck upĒ by Franklin. After that, the plot kind of drops the setup to the game and tasks the player with just finishing their last heist. The ďbestĒ ending of the three possible even wraps everything up like the three characters are all best buddies, despite nearly killing each other a few times.



All of this and I havenít even mentioned how polished the game is and how many extra side missions there are. For something so vapid and shallow, Rockstar definitely included a tremendous amount of meaningless bonus content.

Finding barrels of nuclear waste serves no purpose other than to give you a trophy/achievement. The extra guns and cars that used to come from finding hidden packages are just gone. Now if you collect all of the ďletter scrapsĒ and ďUFO parts,Ē you get a pathetically simple side mission and a trophy/achievement.

Stunt jumps donít even boost your stats or give you a shiny new car. They donít even follow the physics of the game. My car often did backflips while attempting a few jumps or would kill me upon impact with the ground. Rockstar seems to have simply filled the game world with so much extra nonsense to make people believe their $60 wasnít wasted.

Couple this with a soundtrack that evokes no sense of presence or indicates the quality of its era and youíre left with a rather peculiar triple A title. Itís highly polished, runs smoothly and features a vast amount of ďthingsĒ to do, but feels empty.

It makes me realize that Iím probably not a true gamer. Iíve been playing all manner of games since I was 4 years old, yet now I feel like an old man screaming about the ďgood old daysĒ and wishing for something new.

If youíre down with everything this game has to offer, then I could easily recommend it to you. The game may not be the finest example of an open-world game, but one will not finish this within a single sitting (or even weekend). Thereís even an online component that hasnít launched yet, which may change my attitude towards the whole affair.

As my thoughts stand right now, I think I really am finished with mainstream gaming. Gaming has changed so dramatically from the old school era that itís silly to sit here and expect newer gamers to have the same expectations from a game that I do.



Itís also utterly pointless and insensitive to assume that games should be purely about ďchallenge.Ē The controversial ďskip sceneĒ feature of GTA V makes sense to people who purely want to witness a story unfold. It also highlights how not every minute of gameplay is actually worth seeing.

I just donít see what else gaming can do. Weíre entering a new generation which features launch titles that are also releasing on current generation hardware. The next few months sees the release of more shooters than any other time period I can remember.

I just donít know how else to enjoy this hobby. When Rockstar Games canít even provide me with escapism, then I truly believe that no one will ever be able to again. At least I can save myself money in the future, I suppose; silver Linings and all that jazz.   read


5:40 PM on 08.20.2013

The Game That Broke Me



The dream of most writers posting blogs on gaming websites is to one day review games for money. We all make claims like, ďIt doesnít matter if the game is bad. I CAN DO IT!Ē A lot of us even consider ourselves experts in the field of game knowledge.

Well, I finally got my chance to write for a little known website. Going by the guise of NewGamerNation, I was tasked with reviewing a few things and writing some news until I was handed The Curse Of Nordic Cove. Now I feel like my life is for nothing.

I donít think Iíve ever truly played a game as horrible as this. I understand itís an indie title and that no more than 3 people made it, but I just canít do it. Iíve finally met a game that I canít finish. Even Duke Nukem Forever wasnít this repugnant.

I donít know where to begin, seeing as how Iím panicking on how to actually review the game. I donít want to rate something a 1 out of 10, but I feel that this game is just truly beyond redemption. It sickens me to think that people are charging money for what amounts to an amalgamation of the entire games industry.

Itís one thing when a game has no conviction in its own identity and tries to cater to multiple crowds by including different mechanics. Itís another thing, entirely, when a game switches genres in-between levels. If you ever wanted to play an FPS Golf Game, Nordic Cove has got you covered.

The dialog is also some of the worst garbage Iíve ever listened to. One direct quote from the game is, ďFuck, fuck, fuck, fucking fuck.Ē Thatís it. I canít even fathom what that means, let alone how someone uttered this and thought it might work in a story.

What really conflicts me, though, is my own lack of ability. Maybe if I tried making a game, itíd be worse than this? Actually, I should change that maybe to a definitely. I possess no knowledge of programming languages or coding or any kind of idea how to link mechanics together, so why am I being so harsh on this game?

I am just jealous because I canít create something? Do I feel that berating this game will somehow make my life better? Am I just compensating for the lack of emotion that I have? Will I ever truly enjoy gaming again?



I donít know what to do with myself. Iíve wanted, for a long time, to just write about games and let people know how I feel. When the time has come, Iíve become struck with stage fright and afraid to voice myself. I donít want to hurt anyone, but Iíve mastered that skill with little training.

So, I think Iím just not going to write about a specific game ever again. Clearly reviewing things is not in the cards for me. Iíd hate to think of how sad the developers would be if I just belittled their title without a second thought. Theyíve spent countless hours slaving over PCs to get this game running.

What do I have to show for myself? Absolutely nothing; I am nobody and will likely remain that way for the rest of my life. So, I guess I should be thanking The Curse of Nordic Cove. This game showed me that being a professional is not my path in life.

I do believe that path lies at the bottom of a bottle, though.   read


6:04 PM on 08.14.2013

There's V in my COD?!



When Call of Duty made the jump to the modern era, realism wasnít on the agenda. I mean, the game was certainly fashioned after combat with guns in a semi-realistic manner, but the scenarios and settings were clearly fantasy. You would have to be crazy to believe a two man team would somehow survive an onslaught in Chernobyl with one guy incapacitated.

It always struck me as odd that women werenít included. You do save a female pilot in Call of Duty 4, but then you meet your untimely death and she is gone forever along with you. So, I guess it honestly didnít make a difference if she was there (I also canít think of her name and I replayed the game three months ago).

Now with Call of Duty: Ghosts, one can finally be a female soldier. This is something that should have happened six games ago, but progress does take time. Iím happy that we finally can have some diversity in the most popular game of the generation. Iím also very happy for Elsa, since she enjoys Call of Duty.

Now comes the bad part. There was always going to be a bad part. I canít wholly praise something that Activision does. Iím sorry.



To me, Activision is parading the inclusion of women in Call of Duty as an excuse for the lack of originality in the series. Why should they bother changing up the formula? Those games still sell out on release and continually make billions for the company. Activision was able to divorce themselves from Vivendi Universal for $5.8 Billion, which Iím sure Call of Duty was mostly responsible for.

A lot of the features in multiplayer do seem cool. Iím a bit excited to actually try out the new Call of Duty, something that hasnít happened since Call of Duty 3 (I didnít much care for Modern Warfare until I stopped being a cynical prick). I wonít sit here and proclaim that the series shouldnít be loved or played or anything like that.

I just donít understand why, in 2013, including women in a game is a main selling point. Itís very sad that having women in a game even needs to be mentioned as a feature. Shouldnít this be a given? When other shooters like Blacklight: Retribution and Borderlands have had them for years and never promoted them outright, why does Call of Duty need to blatantly showcase the women?

It also doesnít seem like the inclusion is more than a model swap. There is no campaign mode where you play as a woman. There is no real reason aside from broadening the demographic. It just feels like they were added for purely financial reasons. This doesnít feel like equal rights in motion.

Thatís what makes the inclusion sound stupid. Still, as ridiculous as it might be, itís not bad. I want to sit here and hate it, but I canít. If Call of Duty sells like gangbusters, this will only lead to more games being made with female characters. That isnít a negative thing.

I really just wish that Activision would do more than simply include them. Maybe itís too much to ask of Ghosts, but for the next Call of Duty, I want women to have an important role in the game. Maybe even focus the campaign solely on a woman.



Medal of Honor: Underground has a female protagonist. It actually is the only World War 2 game I can think of that acknowledged the fact that women fought in combat in the 1940ís. Weird.

I wouldnít even mind contrived reasons for their inclusion in the plotline. As long as you donít have them focus on the fact that they are women or make their gender their personality, Iím down with more women in Call of Duty.

Now we just need EA and DICE to include them in Battlefield 4 and we can have an inclusive, loving battle for supremacy on the digital battlefront. I suppose we could also make jokes about late alimony paychecks and crash buildings on men.

Or tank through a house, jump out and knife a dude in the face for cheating. Or even reverse that. Have a guy parachute on top of his girl or grabbing the kids in leaving in the night. Holy shit, my sense† of humor is fucking warped.

So more V in COD is a positive thing. For as scummy as the incorporation might be, it will help in the long run.

[i]I also wanted to find out the name of the soldier from COD4 (Cpt. ďDeadlyĒ Pelayo) and found out that the console exclusive Call of Duty: Finest Hour had a playable female soldier. She was named Tanya Pavelovna. Black Ops 2 also featured a female villain in zombies mode along with two female characters to play as and one in the campaign.


[/i]

Sarah Michelle Gellar was included in DLC for the first Black Ops title, but I donít know if a celebrity counts. Maybe Call of Duty wasnít as exclusive as originally thought?   read


5:29 PM on 07.31.2013

Dragon's Crown is Sexist?



Is Dragonís Crown really that controversial of a game? What, exactly, is wrong with the art style? Sitting here and listening to TotalBiscuitís podcast, Iím stunned. Iíve seen coverage of the game on Destructoid, but I didnít realize how bad the public image was.

For starters, I havenít been the most accepting of people online. I typically over-react to situations and condemn developers for their indiscretions. Even this past weekend, I expressed how I was happy that Phil Fish was leaving the games industry.

Still, when I donít have a problem with the sexual depiction of women in a game, you should probably come to the conclusion that nothing is wrong with the art style. I donít care if you find fault with it, but I donít really see the point.

Itís like weíre shouting at our own problems. In the past, Iíve typically lambasted things like Street Fighter and Dead or Alive because of how scantily clad the women are. The real issue; there were no women in my life to talk to.

About the only complaint I can hold up is unfair difficulty curves. Sometimes games just do not teach the player well enough. They Bleed Pixels is an example of such. The first 4 worlds have a steady increase in difficulty, but the last level is maddening.

Regardless, I think we, as adults, need to grow up a bit. Most of the debates come from how insensitive the depiction of women is and how they might traumatize our children. Since we have the power to buy product, you can simply not buy the product.

Thatís a startling revelation, I know. I truly believe, though, that weíre projecting our own failings onto gaming. There is always going to be a game that truly sucks, but if the only problem you can find in a game is how bad the art style is, why are you complaining so much?

Itís a valid complaint and I accept it as the reason you may not enjoy something, but itís not the sole factor for deeming something as bad. Just because you disagree with something doesnít mean itís objectively bad.

My time watching Game Grumps has taught me more about how to view gaming. I even wrote a piece that focused on some aspects of Dust: An Elysian Tail that ruined the game for me. My opinion wasnít based in hatred or even subjectivity.

When you can tangibly call out a feature of a game instead of relying on pure emotion, it feels great. Itís much better than throwing stones at self-conflict. Obviously your own investment counts for a lot, but Iím tired of reading opinions where the only negative is how uninvested someone is.

So, this blog is unfocused and probably totally off base. Regardless, Iím fed up with spreading hate and seeing hate. I just want us, as a global community, to stop being so entitled and righteous. Sometimes, we just need to have fun.
I may be completely unable to have fun, but dammit if Iím not going to spread cheer around!

I also must add, I donít mind the Polygon review of Dragonís Crown, which sparked the debate on the podcast. The reviewer, [font=Calibri]Danielle Riendeau, doesnít focus on the supposed ďsexismĒ. Itís just a minor thing that conveys her opinion to like-minded people. Just find another review to agree with![/font]   read


3:26 PM on 07.27.2013

My Reaction to Phil Fish's Over-reaction



On Twitter today, Phil Fish of Polytron has confirmed that Fez 2 will be canceled. This comes right off the heels of a debate that Fish was having with Marcus Beer from GameTrailers "Annoyed Gamer" segment.

A series of high-school quality insults were thrown back and forth before Fish tweeted, "im done. FEZ II is cancelled. goodbye." This isn't the first time that Fish's mouth has gotten him into trouble.

In the past, Fish was cited as claiming that Japanese games suck. He later clarified that modern Japanese games was what me meant, still doing no good for his public image.
There are also tweets where Fish has insulted fans after they made some snide remarks about the original Fez not being released yet.

My person two cents: I think Fish should cancel the game and disappear. He constantly is making the games industry look like some childish playground with ridiculous antics like this. I understand if he wants to voice his opinion, but instead of throwing a literal temper tantrum, why not act like an adult?

A few hundred thousand people have handed money over to Polytron in support of Fez. The fans are the ones who made you famous and helped you climb out of the rut that was the 5 year development cycle for your only game. Instead of acting high and mighty, I think it's time you were cut down to size.

If I never hear another thing from Fish again, then honestly my life might be better. It's hard to remain optimistic about gaming when imbeciles like him spout off without thinking.   read


8:55 AM on 06.27.2013

Interviews from SGC

I was a bit busy at SGC this weekend. Not intent to sit on my ass and enjoy everything, I got some interviews about upcoming games! These were posted to a site I'm contributing to, Gamer's Association.

Since they deal with upcoming games, though, I figured I'd post them here as well. You guys are more than welcome to check out Gamer's Association. We'd appreciate some more views.

The first interview is with Cassie Chui. She is a level designer for Electronic Super Joy. I really enjoyed my time with the game and even handed some cash over to her for her hard work.



When I saw Craig, I knew I had to chat about the upcoming AVGN Adventures. I like that he gave me a sneak peek of things to come, as well.




All in all, this SGC was definitely a lot better than the previous years. Getting indie devs to come down and showcase their works was a fantastic idea. If this becomes a recurring thing for Screwattack, I'll gladly attend every convention they host.   read


8:14 PM on 01.24.2013

Sex: Sorry, no...



Sexy and video games are just two things that seem to fail together. I cannot claim that I havenít been aroused by a digital temptress, but more often than not, sexy in gaming just falls flat. For the worst possible example of it, look no further than ďHeavy Rain.Ē

Regardless of my disdain for the aforementioned title, I find myself turned on by the ideas and thoughts present in gaming more than the physical characters. The reason for this is that I tend to shift a characterís abilities on to people I know in real life.

I recently began playing ďThe Last Story.Ē Iíll save my criticism of that for another day. Still, one character in particular has captured my interest. One of your party members is a foul mouthed, loud, angry, drunken, strong, bisexual woman by the name of Syrenne (Seiren in the original Japanese script). These traits epitomize the last girl I thought I was in love with.

As I play through the game more, I keep thinking of that girl. Syrenne comes on the screen and Iím mesmerized by the positive thoughts I had with this girl. I feel sorry for hurting her and want to reverse my misdeeds simply because I realize how wonderfully charming she is. Iím aroused by her and its all thanks to this damn game!

But the game itself is not really doing anything to be ďsexyĒ to me. Sure, Syrenne is fairly attractive and is obviously dressed in such a manner to appeal to horny imbeciles like me, but she also has a personality that is incredibly realistic. Now if only she played video games and had brown hair, the transformation would be complete.


She's the one on the left...

Another game I finished late last year, ďLollipop Chainsaw,Ē starred a young, beautiful, quirky, blonde bombshell of a character that had a punk charm and some strong verbal skills. Well, I happened to work with someone like that for the better portion of two years.

Sure, I saw the short skirt, the ridiculous excuse for a bra and the vivacious and limber moveset, but I wasnít picturing Juliet Starling. No, that wonderful girl from work was where my mind drifted. Why would I want pixels (despite how tempting they are) when the real thing was mere feet away from me?

As far as situations go, I donít think video games have really nailed it yet. The most effecting women in games for me are the ones written with pure fantasy in mind; the romance that blossoms in a fairytale manner or where the guy gets the girl after many trials and tribulations.

Film just gives a much more realistic look at interpersonal relationships. I hate to say that, but the quality of storytelling in gaming just isnít on the same level. To me, games are much better at tackling the atrocities of war or giving players a sense of adventure and meaning. Film and literature is better at capturing love and introspective thoughts.

My honest to goodness favorite romance in a game has to be between Link and Ilia in ďLegend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.Ē Link never utters a word and Ilia is never portrayed as anything vulgar or mean. The game focuses more on her attention to Link and how his strength pulls them through. There is even a scene in the game that humanizes Link by tempting him with dark power.



It certainly isnít as strong as the bond that ďIcoĒ forms or even as emotional as many of the Final Fantasy relationships, but the thread between Link and Ilia is so pure and simple. It just makes me happy seeing them together.

I canít say that video games lack the ability to be sexy. Any form of media can take a sexual idea and spin it into a sexual fantasy that tantalizes the right mind. For me, though, I want my sexual visions to be more realistic. Iím still a virgin and Iím pretty much set on the path to being alone. If I keep myself in pure fantasy land, Iím never going to switch roads into reality.

Sadly, I view almost everything through idealized lenses. I have no doubt that at one point in my life video games will be the only thing that I find sexy. It doesnít help that more and more games are beginning to explore sex in a more realistic and mature fashion. Sure, something like ďSeduce MeĒ may be a stupid little point and click, but it definitely doesnít tackle sex with a pre-teen kind of view.

Weíre also starting to me a surge of women in the games industry taking the reigns behind projects and lending their own voices and values to scripts. I fully believe that female characters in the not so distant future will be properly written and wholly attractive.

As gaming stands now, though, I do not find it particularly sexy. I have more respect for sexual content in gaming now than I ever used to, but I still honestly just do not get it (both literally and figuratively).   read


5:20 PM on 12.28.2012

Briskly Walking "The Line!"

So, that ďSpec Ops: The LineĒ was quite the game, right?........Right?.......Ugh, sometimes I hate being me.



Just the other day, I finished my journey through Dubai in what seems to be record time; 5 hours. I played on the hardest default setting, otherwise known as Suicide Mission. This game was far from that.

While I found the narrative very ambitious and intriguing, ďSpec Ops: The LineĒ seems to run at breakneck speed through all of its high points. I mean, in the first hour alone, I conquered 5 of the games 15 chapters. They get considerably longer after that point, but I hadnít even realized how little time I had spent.

I have no problem with games being short, but I just feel a little short changed here. This game was touted as having a very deep and complex narrative and most of the anecdotes Iíve heard from gamers are how affecting they felt the games ďdecisionĒ scenes were. I saw them so close together; I donít even know how the hell Iím supposed to think.

This contrasts with ďHotline Miami,Ē another game that brings up questions of violence and does so in an even shorter time span than Spec Ops. I managed to plunk through that little gem in about 3 and a half hours, but the pacing worked much better.

Some missions gave some breathing room in terms of combat and there was even a break from the constant murder for a stealth mission (even if that level was a little crappy). Hotline wasnít a constant bloodbath and it worked to make me more interested in the combat and plotline.



Spec Ops, though, doesnít give you a single minute to reflect on anything. Even the cutscenes arenít that long, with the longest probably being around 6 minutes. You simply deal with a firefight, walk to the next room and repeat. When a decision comes up, you make it in a snap fashion and then proceed to shoot some more.

I canít say I was disappointed with the game (and I got it for dirt cheap, so how could I truly be?), but I feel like it would have been a greater story if I was just given more time to explore it. Let me sink in the details of the gameís world, let me reflect on my awful actions and give me periods that help build character instead of pushing me directly into the action.

One of the best moments in ďUncharted 2Ē comes during chapter 16. After practically non-stop action, Drake finds himself stranded in Nepal. The only task for the chapter is to walk around and soak in the sights. This gives you ample time to think about how you arrived at this location and reflect on what Drake has gone through.

NaughtyDog understood that packing a game with minute to minute firefights would sully the experience and leave the gamer wishing for a break. While you donít want to have too much time dedicated to simply doing nothing, even just the smallest amount of leisure or padding can create a sense of relieve and a desire to continue.

For all the flack the Zelda series may get for sidequests and lack of innovation, the padding in that series really drives home the desire to press on. The early games in the series (namely Zelda 1 and 2) suffer because there is nothing else to do. You simply proceed with quest or you donít play the game. Without any break of alternate activity, the quest feels longwinded (even being only an hour!).


This is completely related to saving the Princess...trust me!

So honestly, while I wonít deem a game of lower quality because itís short, some titles need extra game time to justify their existence. I canít sit here and whole-heartedly recommend ďSpec Ops: The LineĒ because I feel like itís incomplete. Itís too damn short and leaves too much unexplained.

If I only simply had more time to feel the anguish that Captain Martin Walker was going through, maybe Iíd be in love with the game. As it stands, itís a very ambitious experiment, but one that ultimately doesnít feel as impactful due to a sense of being rushed.   read


8:04 AM on 11.04.2012

KingSigy's Quest - Professor Layton Series



Inspired by Magnalon and his constant destruction of entire game series, Iíve decided to finally jump in the fray and represent a series that is often overlooked: Professor Layton. You probably wouldnít expect someone like me to enjoy Layton games (I often go for shooters), but Iíve been smitten with the series for awhile now.

Sadly, though, Iíve only ever finished 1 game. I own all 4 DS titles and will be acquiring the 3DS sequel in short order. Still, what better way to send off the year then by beating a game that has become a Christmas tradition for me?

Why Professor Layton?

Why Layton at this point in the year? Quite honestly, I lost power a few days ago and just turned on my 3DS. I had left the games out on my desk as a reminder to eventually finish them, but nothing spurred me toward my quest.

Iíve done every Zelda last year, all three Deus Ex games, the 3 main entry Quake games with their expansions and a crap ton of Mario games this year: why was Layton eluding me? I really cannot say.

So while I donít really have a clear motive on why Layton finally got lucky, I just know that Iím happy to be playing them after having the games hang around my house. I always felt bad since I asked my mom to get them for me and just let them sit around.

See, as Iíve become older, Iíve demanded that my mother stop lavishing me with gifts and boil it down to a single thing each year. For Christmas, since Layton happens to release later in the year, I just ask her to grab me that.

Thankfully Iíve been able to pay it forward this year as I currently have money. My mom is now the proud owner of a red 3DS XL and itís all thanks to me! I hope thatís one of the best birthdayís sheís ever had; living with me is a nightmare unto itself.



Professor Layton And the Curious Village [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

I actually did manage to beat this one when it originally launched. I was studying in Florida to become a Chemist (hahahaha) and I was having troubles with my ďfriendsĒ at the time. While Iíve come to miss them, they definitely werenít offering words of advice with my depression or school work.

Regardless, I was able to shut myself away in my dorm and power through some puzzles. The first thing I remember about Layton, though, are the FMVs. I was blown away at how good looking those cutscenes were in the DS screen. How did Level-5 even manage to compress these videos down so well?

Then comes the puzzles. There are just so many of them (130 to be exact). I took this game with me everyone. In class, over to friendís houses, out to eat; I couldnít be separated from it. It was fun having some of my friends come up with solutions with me and us all being completely wrong.

As I replayed it, I missed a lot of that community element, but I really got sucked up in the story again. I love a good mystery and Layton certainly provides that. The characters arenít insanely deep, but they do provide chuckles. I still laugh at how stupid Luke sounds saying Professor.

I managed to beat the game in about half of my previous time, too. I am going by the save file, but 11 hours and 30 minutes was knocked down to 6 hours flat. Thatís not too bad!



Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

I really prefer the Japanese name to this (Pandoraís Box!), but Diabolical also sounds pretty intimidating. Now, I have actually played this, but I never managed to finish it. At the time in my life when the game came out, I just couldnít muster up the strength to sit through a DS title.

That usually happens to me at the end of a consoleís life-span. When Shadow of the Colossus originally came out, I wouldnít be caught dead playing it as I was ready to move onto the 360. PS2 was a distant memory for me.

Iíve since changed my views on that matter, but obviously not before this Layton game came out. What do I remember about the short span I played? WellÖthe graphics were nicer. It also took place at night!

I was having fun with it, but I think I just got stumped somewhere and turned it off. I was heading to my uncleís house for Christmas dinner, I believe, and my aunt was terribly ill at the time. I didnít want to waste any precious seconds playing some game when she was so close to death.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

JustÖ.wow. I really missed a damn good game. Strange thing is, though, my save file was actually around 70% done. I had sunk 6 hours and 48 minutes into the game with around 68 puzzles solved. Holy shit! I remembered a fair chunk of them, too.

For starters, the presentation is just ace. The cutscenes come back with a vengeance and are much better. The lip synching is tighter and the animation is just stronger. There are also some text segments that are fully voiced and itís just much easier to get sucked into the plot.

The plot is also a bit more heartwarming. I am not afraid to admit this, but I shed a few tears at the end. I was just so overwhelmed with the realization that comes during the conclusion. Makes you think about your own life, too.

Gameplay wise, though, this one is strong and weak. For starters, there is much better variety in the puzzles. Youíre almost always doing something new and exciting and most of them actually have something to do with the plot. Most, I must mention.

While the game boasts around 153 puzzles, I think that number isnít quite right. One puzzle about mid-way through the game tasks you with moving a chess piece around a board and hitting each square once. You then do this againÖand againÖ.and again.

There also happen to be a few more puzzles that each have 4 levels. Claiming to contain over 150 puzzles is kind of false when you just come up with one idea and repeat it with variations.

Still, I actually like this one more than the first game. Itís story is stronger and the length is pretty damn good (took me about 10 and a half hours!). Just like in the first title, there are DLC puzzles and a crap ton of unlockables, so Iíd recommend this to everyone.



Professor Layton and the Unwound Future [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

I know the name is different in Japan againÖThatís honestly it. I have not the faintest idea of what this game entails. It follows Luke and Layton solving puzzles. Sounds fine to me.

Iíve heard reviews claim itís the best of the first trilogy of titles. Apparently the puzzles really come together or something. Iím not quite sure. I just know that if it has another great story, then Iím game to waste countless hours on it.

Oh, as the box informs me, there are at least 165 puzzles. Weíve effectively added half another game on top of the original.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

So, Iím a bit indifferent. This was a great game with a long playtime (about 12 hours!) and I was blown away at the story in parts, but there is just something off. It doesnít feel like the soul of a Layton game is there. Everything gets so larger than life that Iím not sure what to think.

We have time travel coming into the equation (even though that later gets debunkedÖand then reinstated) and there are an insane amount of FMVs peppered throughout the story. The plus side is that there is also more voice acting during the text sections.

The polish is just through the roof and there are some very clever ideas that integrate puzzles directly into the story. There also happens to be crap where youíll look at a flight of stairs and Layton will say, ďThis reminds me of a puzzle.Ē

At the same time, I was just more interested in seeing the plotline finish then actually tackling most of the puzzles. I just love the acting and writing, even if this story falters a bit, so I think thatís probably a negative to people who enjoy the puzzles more. Now I understand how a Layton movie would work out.

Regardless, this was a very good game. Iím not sorry I played it and itís probably my favorite of the first three, but there definitely seems to be a small drop in overall cohesion. Whereas the first two games kept things quick and often made puzzles feel organic, this one just throws everything and the kitchen sink into the mix.

I mean, how many games have you played where two Londonís exist at once and one gets decimated? YeahÖI canít name a single one. I did shed tears at the end, though. So itís definitely powerful under the right circumstances.



Professor Layton and the Last Specter [Nintendo DS Ė Owned]

COMPLETED

While I know nothing of the main game, I do know that this DS entry comes with an Animal Crossing style mini-game called ďLondon Life.Ē That sounds pretty killer to me. I doubt it has ď100 hoursĒ of content, but I could see myself wasting time with it until ďAnimal Crossing: New LeafĒ comes out.

Regardless, Iíve heard this entry is fairly lackluster in terms of what Layton is. There are puzzles abound, but they never push farther than the other 3 games. Itís like a retreading of ideas (something Nintendo is glorious at!).

I do know that, canonically speaking, this is a prequel to the entire series. This game details the first time that Layton met his apprentice, Luke. I suppose that makes sense as the two seem acquainted during the beginning of Curious Village. Whatever, I just want more puzzles.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

Well, itís not my favorite in the series, but ďThe Last SpecterĒ is a very solid game. Like I mentioned with the last game, though, Iím far more interested in the plot line. This game tones down the main puzzles, though, giving you more extras instead of just bloating the campaign with needless padding.

The ending is completely amazing, though. While pretty much none of the puzzles flow directly with the plot, the ending has a series of 8 puzzles that all deal with exactly whatís going on. Itís very thrilling.

Thereís even a section where you get to play as Laytonís new assistant, Emmy. I find it strange that a third character in introduced in the prequel trilogy and never mentioned in the original games, but sheís actually not so bad.

Thereís almost an over abundance of cutscenes, though. I definitely love them, but considering the plot is shorter (Only 11 hours this time), it seems like practically half of it is spent watching.

Most of the puzzles are also incredibly safe. What I mean is, there arenít a whole lot of fresh ideas presented during the course of the new mystery. Lots of slider puzzles, marble jumping and a cool little pseudo-puzzle story wrap-up thing. Still, nothing 100% fresh.

Whatever the flaws are, I did like this game. The Layton stories are very well written, even if they are completely far fetched at this point. Iím eager to see what the movie holds, since Iím far more invested in the character of Layton instead of his actual puzzles.

Oh, and London Life is boring. Itís Animal Crossing without the funny, circle shaped people.



Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva [DVD, Blu-Ray]

This is the first film in the series. While I technically canít play it, I would like to watch it to get a full understanding of the series story. The movie is a flashback that takes place after the events of Last Specter. The flashback occurs during the downtime between Curious Village and Diabolical BoxÖThat honestly makes no sense.

Honestly, why bother with this? Well, I love the animation in the FMVs, so Iím sure there will be something I can enjoy out of this film. Iíve heard that itís actually quite good, so why can the harm be? I really canít fathom how puzzle solving works as a film, though.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

...WATCHED?..

HmÖ..I donít really know what to say. Iíve been more interested in the plot lines of Layton games for the last few and then this movie failed to produce a decent plot. Like most anime video game adaptations, the script focuses too much on including every character without actually understanding why they work.

One character from the prequel trilogy, Inspector Grosky, does absolutely nothing with the narrative other than provide his famous line, ďI AM GROSKY OF THE YARD!Ē Itís infuriating. Emmy, too, has no relevance in this movie, despite being introduced and fleshed out fairly well in the ďLast Specter.Ē

Even with these problems, though, the film is an okay watch. As far as game to movie adaptations, Iíd say this is easily the best. The humor is lighthearted, the film has some fun action scenes and the integration of puzzles into a different medium works very well.

The animation is also exceptionally beautiful. I was awestruck at how the Layton universe looks in fullscreen HD. I really would like Level-5 to develop something for the Wii U, now!

Particular mention needs to go to the soundtrack, as well. All of the themes are done by a full orchestra and they sound wonderful. Itís great hearing the tunebox theme and even the puzzle time theme come to life. The main theme is used far too often, but it is very loud, bombastic and high octane, so Iíll let it slide.

So, would I recommend this to the casual anime fan? Eh, not really. The film, on its own merits, isnít worth a watch. For those interested in Layton, Iíd almost say to skip it, too. But, just seeing Layton in a full movie and gasping at the animation can provide some joy to viewers.

So, whatever. Take the good, take the bad, put it togetherÖblah blah. Not too bad.



Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask [Nintendo 3DS]

COMPLETED

The first 3D entry in the series and a launch title in Japan for the 3DS, Miracle Mask is supposed to be aÖfairly typical Layton game. Oh well. Iíve heard that regardless of how comfortable this title is with the series legacy, it does make for some quality entertainment.

Iím not sure how I feel about the characters finally being rendered in 3D, but I donít really have much to complain about. If the only detractor is that the graphics look weird, then I think Iíll be okay.

I do also know that this game had a full year of DLC. Thatís right, some crazy bullshit like THQ promised with Saints Row, but for free and actually decent! Since the game has only been out for a week or so, I think only 14-21 puzzles are available in the US. By the time I get to this game, hopefully there will be a sizeable amount for me to comment on.

EXTENDED THOUGHTS

I donít know why people called this a typical Layton game. For starters, itís the first game in the series to not focus solely on puzzles. There is an extended sequence that plays out similar to Zelda and itís amazing.

Also, the changes made to the way one interacts with the world are incredibly welcome. While I donít mind the old games, it was frustrating to be looking for hint coins and just tapping everything imaginable. Now you can simply scroll over items of interest and a little magnifying glass will highlight if you can click there.

Also, the graphics are incredible. With the 3D effect on, this game just pops off the screen. The colors are vibrant, the added depth makes the world feel huge and alive and the character models (now in place of the old sprites) animate like Wind Waker. Itís wonderful.

The variety in the puzzles is also stepped up, which is surprising considering there are less puzzles here than every game since the first. You do get a few repeats (I guess making cats and penguins jump is just too good to pass up), but for the most part, every puzzle is unique.

The story is also very touching, delving into a time when Layton was younger and dealing with the passing of close friends. I cried again, but considering how depressing this series tends to be getting, I donít think Iíll ever stop. Iím really not sure why Layton hasnít killed himself or how he remains so jovial.

So, Iíd say this one is close to the top of the list. If I had to rank the games, Iíd go: Unwound, Miracle, Diabolical, Spector and Curious. Funny, seeing as how the only game Iíve finished twice is Curious Village.



So while Layton isnít exactly the biggest hitter that Nintendo has up its sleeve, Iíve been a fan of the series for years now. Itís sad that Iíve actually only completed 1 game, but that will soon change. Since no one seems to give this series any coverage, Iíll be the harbinger of progress for Destructoid!

Hopefully Iíve gotten a few of you to pick up your DSí and get cracking on some mind benders! If not, then at least youíve read my thoughts on this wonderful little series.   read


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