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9:25 AM on 09.02.2010

Shortblog - RE: Griff's Games of the Week #3

Hello,

Just a heads up if anyone cares... I've not really played many games this week, so if anyone wants to leave questions in the comments here, I'll try and answer them.

Looking to record and release on Saturday, if you guys want a deadline or whatever. Bit tired so this isn't coming out as well as I'd hope, but it's probably better to give people more time. Maybe.

Not sure if anyone will care, but worth checking maybe. Hope everyone's well and that.   read


12:53 PM on 08.28.2010

Griff's Games of the Week. #2



Hello! Welcome to the second episode of my games of the week podcast! Too much enthusiasm, that ends now. It's about twice as long as last week's episode, due to a 5 minute ramble at the end that my best friend requested/demanded. Lots of games this week. I hope someone likes it.

I also said QTEs like "cuties" or something. Many times. Editing podcasts is more trouble than it's worth, by the way.

The intro music, if edited correctly, was done by my friend Colin, who does lots of music and you can listen to some over at: http://www.myspace.com/papertruth

Please leave comments and feedback, I'll try to react to it for my next one as it's something that's relatively new to me. It missed the end off, where I messed up again, but I doubt anyone will listen that long. Basically said thanks to Colin and thanks to anyone who listened for listening! Hope you enjoy, I'm British and awesome (or so I'm told) so yeah, listen maybe if you want?

All the best, till next time.

Episode 2 Linky

P.S. Podbean failed me, so I'm using Mediafire instead.   read


3:32 AM on 08.25.2010

Slowpoke



Slowpoke (ヤドン, Yadon), is known as a Dopey Pokémon. The name Slowpoke is an insult for someone who acts or moves slowly. Slowpoke's Japanese name, Yadon, has the word don in it which means slow or stupid. This mammalish Pokémon has a tail which gets lighter towards the tip, a tan muzzle, and curled ears.

They use their tails to fish by dipping them in the water at the side of a river. Slowpokes do not feel pain if their tails are bitten and take 5 seconds to feel pain when under attack. They are often vacantly lost in thought and can spend entire days loafing at the water's edge. Slowpoke's tails leak a sweet sap from the tip which make the tails pleasant to chew on, though the sap is not nutritious. If a Shellder bites its tail, it will evolve into Slowbro, and if one bites its head whilst holding a King's Rock, it will evolve into Slowking.

Residents of Azalea Town in Johto place Slowpoke in high regard and the community revere them. The town is home to the Slowpoke Well, a small underground cave where lots of Slowpokes live. It is said that the yawn of a Slowpoke from the well ended a drought plaguing Azalea 400 years ago. Team Rocket tried cutting off their tails to sell in Mahogany Town. In the anime, Slowpoke has never been seen to use an attack. In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time and Explorers of Darkness, Slowpoke is a member of Team Slacker, the zero motivation exploration team.

Score: 10 -- Flawless Victory (10s are as close to perfect as you will get in a genre or on a platform. Pure, untarnished videogame ecstasy.)

  read


1:22 PM on 08.21.2010

Griff's Games of the Week. #1



Hello. I'm Griff. A British gamer. I've been gaming a long time, and listened to a fuckload of podcasts since properly discovering Destructoid. Podtoid, Retroforcego, Brittoid and The Electric Hydra; as well as some old Podcastles. One of the elements common to these podcasts is the games of the week segment, where cast members would say what games they've been playing and what they thought of them etc.

I wanted to do that. I wanted to be on podcasts, and tell the whole community what I've been playing, in my glorious British voice; giving all my opinions and stuff. I'm not good enough for podcasts though (except the TARDIScast one I was on and the E3 podcast fun - I'd namedrop but they're all so awesome I can't order them) so ANYWAY...

I did that. Listen if you want. Please don't think I wasted your time. (This first one's 9 minutes long.)
(If you want me on your podcast, I'd be very honoured and do it in style.)

First episode thing   read


12:21 PM on 03.28.2010

Something about sex: Just do it.



There certainly has been a lot of sex in games, particularly in the last few years. Whether this is meant to shock, excite, attract, push boundaries, keep the medium fresh, there certainly has been a fair bit. But is it mandatory?

Mass Effect 2, or so I've read numerous times, has a sex scene. Depending on the character's interactions with the other characters in the game, I'm assuming Shepherd forms a relationship and eventually has sex with someone. This may seem a reasonable aside to the plot or even part of 'the story' that the player is telling, if they/their Shepherd feels strongly enough towards a character. If you're not interested in that, I'm presuming it doesn't happen, as even going down a relationship path, there's still choice in the dialogue and you can probably take it as far as you want. If it didn't have this choice, and was a scripted event, then that may turn players off to the story that they were previously enjoying, or many other possible reactions. Dragon Age Origins also has the option for it, but I'm sure that, again, it's not "scripted" and if it happens, you've pretty much set out with that intent, and there is also the possibility to carry on the game without ever knowing it was there.

Heavy Rain also apparently has a sex scene. I don't know anything about this one either to be fair, but with the nature of this game it seems to be "sex scene coming up do you want it to happen, yes or no" almost like the option with No Russian; as opposed to the joke with the false interactivity in the cinema in Futurama, and opposed to the aforementioned western RPGs take on it, with dialogue trees and actual direction.

Just imagine if Halo, for example, had a sex scene. There is no way that could possibly work. Moving on.

The only game I can think of that had sex in and that I played, was Edmund. I played this a few months ago after hearing someone on a podcast (most likely Anthony) mention it. Being free and having time to kill, I decided to try it out. Knowing what it was about going into it gave me a certain impression of the game, but I (accidentally) started on the jungle story first, which was strange and seemed a dumbed-down megaman clone as opposed to something about sex; with things waiting to kill you and checkpoints etc. and this sort of "gave a reason" for what would happen in the taxi part. I by no means condone the character's actions, and I'm not sure whether the sex was mandatory at this bit or whether you could kill the victim instead of putting them through that.

When I played the taxi part however, I shot the rapist as soon as I got in the room, instinctively, and it was game over. I retried, with continuing as the narrative would want me to, hearing what he had to say, and I shot him again, knowing full well what the result would be. I can't remember if I tried to walk away, but if the game had just been about rape and that was it, with no reason whatsoever and no alternative outcomes, then that linearity would have reduced player input to essentially pressing right and maybe jump a few times. That sounds odd.

Basically, games by their nature reflect the desires, needs, wants, etc. of the players, and this interaction (among other things) makes them games as opposed to films. Whilst sex doesn't fit into the narrative in every film it's portrayed in, it's generally more accepted as there's nothing we can do about it. In games, we SHOULD have the choice if we want to not do it or not, otherwise the game will remove all interaction, say "look I put sex in this game, look at me", even if it's not integral to the player's choice, story, or interests. Making the player have sex when they don't want to? That's practically rape.   read


5:18 PM on 03.26.2010

I could stay here all day



This morning, I got the shower to just the right temperature, (something that's been bugging me since I got to Spain, but hey) and I thought "I could stay here all day".

I know we all feel like that sometimes, mainly in bed, especially when you've got a busy work day ahead; but here's where I'm going to tie it into gaming: do you ever have a bit in a game that's so epic or fun or entertaining that you could do it all day?

Here are some of mine:


Portal

I love pretty much everything in Portal. I've finished it 5 times, the last of which was just before they changed the ending. As soon as Valve releases its Mac version, this is pretty much never going to be off my hard drive. The atmosphere is perfect, it's fun to hang out with Glados and mess around with Portals. I love the mechanic, and how even I can at least finish the game. I can't do the challenge rooms, but I have enough fun in the main game that it doesn't matter. Flinging things and Chell through Portals is so much fun, I can't wait for the second one.



Klonoa: Door to Phantomile

If anyone's ever played Klonoa and liked it, they'll probably know what I want to say here. If you haven't tried it, I suggest you try to find the PSone version. I've not tried the Wii one, but they've ruined the ending in that version in my opinion. I've got a cblog planned on the subject of this game, so don't want to dwell too much. Again, the atmosphere and mechanics mean I have so much fun that I've finished this game maybe 8 times, each time as interested as the last. I love it. This is probably how some of you feel about Shadow of the Colossus, but for different reasons; and I haven't played that. Hanging out in that world, the characters and the fun, I just don't want to leave it. Wish they'd release it on PSN classics...



Canabalt

For its simplicity, this game gets incredibly involving. I love the art style, and if I didn't have things to do, I would play it all day. The music is brilliant, particularly on the iPod version where there's an extra bit of music. It's challenging, but fun, and dying doesn't frustrate me, it just spurs me on to try again. I could never get tired of this for long. Its pick up play nature and the fact that there's no story to it just make it even better, there's the opportunity to make things up for yourself, or just get on with playing. As a side note: Robot Unicorn Attack is great, with its soundtrack and other things, I just like Canabalt more.



The airboat bit in Half Life 2

Holy crap. This needs a mention. I know pretty much everyone who wants to has played this by now, but I only played up to the bit with the slicey things and then not continued for whatever reason. I am so glad I did this properly last weekend. Now I'm up to the bit in the mines I think. Anyway, as stated above, my favourite bit so far, besides the fun with the gravity gun and the saw blades, was the airboat section. My first thought was "oh god not a vehicle section" but shortly afterwards I was grinning my head off, speeding around the sewers, being chased by all sorts of crap and it just felt really epic to me. The music is just right at the most awesome parts and even the scripted bits didn't feel scripted, I felt like I was only a little bit away from the hunter thing, in my little boat. The bits that broke up the speeding around were well placed too, and I rushed through them to get back into the action. It felt sort of like James Bond, except I was doing it. When I finish the game I'm definitely coming back to this bit a few times.



Bioshock

I got Bioshock gifted to me on Steam, so naturally I had to play it before things I've bought myself. The atmosphere was great, but the aspect I liked the most, as others will probably agree is the plasmid powers mechanic. I liked the electricity, zapping things in the water, and setting fire to splicers, but, like the gravity gun, my favourite was the Telekinesis. Using things to kill other things saved on ammo, was fun, and often downright hilarious. This ended up being my favourite plasmid, and I could play with it all day, pretty much.

Anyway, those were some of my highlights, though I know I have many others. I hope you enjoyed reading this. What are your things you could do all day or just really liked?   read


6:06 PM on 02.27.2010

My lack of imag(es/ination)



Less a blog and more of an explanation. I'm not the most imaginative person I know. I lack creativity and this is probably why I haven't previously included images in my topics. I don't know if the people who have read my few blogs think that having pictures may benefit the blogs, or be unnecessary.

I don't think bad writing can be made up for with an image, so maybe my posts are best left without pictures. I don't know.

Another thing is that most cblogs I've visited have had an awesome header image. Or at least some sort of one. I don't currently, as mine has been in development since before I bothered to scrawl down my thoughts on the reviewer hate. My vision is simple, just I fail at the execution. I doubt it'll ever be done, which is a shame, but not on the same scale as something that matters. Like getting into Uni or something.

I really should stop writing stuff when tired.   read


3:39 PM on 02.11.2010

My expertise: Listening

Alright, so here's the thing. If you asked my parents or my girlfriend or any foreigner I've ever talked to, they would say that I'm terrible at listening. I can listen to people's problems and be there if someone needs me to listen, but if someone's talking directly to me I can't do it. So where does this come into gaming?

Perhaps this audio best describes what I want to say (use headphones):

[embed]163363:27344[/embed]

Well, back in Sixth Form, some friends and I started to play Quake 3, Unreal Tournament and other FPS games in a LAN with some people in the year above. I got really competitive and started beating people who had played the game and others for years. Beginner's luck.

I got Quake 3 Gold for Christmas or something shortly after and went online with it. After a while my Mum got wound up by the sound of gunshots and all the other noise in Quake, so I plugged some headphones in. Here is where my 'expertise' begins.

I played Quake online until I got reasonably good at it, and I realise that headphones were probably the secret to my success instead of any actual skill. I could just HEAR where the noise was coming from and move and shoot accordingly. Later, on the Quake 3 mod "Urban Terror" the general ambient noises were much quieter, as were the gunshots etc. When going one on one or one on many, listening really helped. I could hear them coming, and it was as if they were actually behind me in the room. So I turned accordingly and prepared ambushes. Even if I only got one or two of the remaining team, I was satisfied as I'd done better than I expected.

Left 4 Dead is another example of where my 'expertise' came into play. According to my Aunt who is certain I'm deaf, I've trained my ears so that they hear little noises loudly and vice versa. A pain in real life, but kind of helpful in gaming. On Left 4 Dead, determining which audio cues could be heard, even when quieter or with the mix of gunshots and groans, I could get the general direction of a witch or the incoming tank before my teammates had heard anything (this being on Xbox as opposed to PC with headphones on at the time).

It's seemingly all about direction and hearing things correctly, but this little ability thing can be useful, if only in FPS games. Which is ok, as I like FPS games.

In real life, I can sort of home in on people talking, and block out most other sound, I could hear part of a conversation in a noisy restaurant, upon which I'd say to whoever I was with something along the lines of "she's speaking French" or something uninteresting like that.

Two side effects of this reasonably useful ability: immersion in my games has led me to have subconscious conversations of which I have no recollection; and slight paranoia - hearing noises and thinking people had said something.

Oh, and of course, there's "Gamer's Tourettes".   read


6:31 AM on 01.19.2010

No360 Reviews: L4D2, CODMW2, GOW2, Wet, Terminator

This weekend, I went up North to spend some time with my girlfriend and her family. We played 5 different games during my stay, and seeing as I don’t own a 360, they were all rather new to me.

Left 4 Dead 2
Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 2
Terminator Salvation
Gears of War 2
Wet

Left 4 Dead 2

First of all, having bought Left 4 Dead for her Dad and playing that to death before Christmas, my girlfriend’s Mum bought him the second one. A game which promises “new friends, more zombies, better apocalypse”. Without wanting to sound pretentious, let’s see if it met my expectations.

I really enjoyed Left 4 Dead. The atmosphere, the teamwork, the characters, the action… I liked so much about it. I first tried it around a mate’s house in France, then at my girlfriend’s house, then finally I got it for PC for Christmas 2009. I know I probably should’ve got L4D2 instead or as well – I just didn’t think my laptop would run it and I didn’t know if I’d like it. But I digress.

Left 4 Dead 2 is a game that, one would hope, takes everything it did in the first, and make better, hence the new friends, more zombies, better apocalypse tagline. I really like the addition of melee weapons, and going back to L4D will be a bit depressing in that aspect. I also thought the new campaigns were good, if a bit hard.

There is a fair bit that is new about this game, and yet I feel reluctant to call it better. I preferred the survivors I grew to like in the first, and whilst Nick and Ellis may be good characters, I felt myself yearning to play as Zoey, or Louis, or Bill or Francis. What’s strange about this is that the characters, being essentially equal, shouldn’t really change my experience, and I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s the memories from the first, but that isn’t really long enough ago to be getting nostalgic. I pined for them nonetheless.

The more zombies aspect, with the addition of the charger, jockey, spitter and wandering witch; adds so much to the gameplay, changing strategies and so on, though in my head I see it as being too much. When playing the original, we got used to the musical cues and planned ahead based on that. I even started hearing witches that weren’t there, becoming slightly paranoid – it shows how engrossing the game is, that whilst not scary, the atmosphere really draws you in. Now I found myself asking “What was that?” far too often, and being knocked over by a charger or something similar in an unexpected manner. You would think that this unpredictability would bring good things to the game, but really it just wound me up. All the guesswork at having 7 or so possible special infected to choose from, all with fairly different tactics, and wondering what the game would throw at me next really took away from the experience.

Better apocalypse? That I could agree with. The bridge scene in Left 4 Dead 2 was particularly epic. I really liked the carnival and shopping centre/mall campaigns in particular, and the concert was rather awesome in the sense of what was going on as opposed to what you had to do. For the most part, the apocalypses were bigger, though once again I missed the 4/5 from Left 4 Dead, and I can’t decide whether they were better. Truth be told it can’t be done. Both games have awesome aspects, but there isn’t enough of a pull for me with L4D2 to buy it when I don’t know whether my laptop would run it. I had fun, but I think I’ll leave it for when I go up there again.

Oh, and they need to make a Left 4 Dead set in the UK. And add melee weapons to L4D if possible.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Having played Medal of Honor and not understanding what my Dad saw in the particular “war games” segment of the FPS genre, I gave the first few Call of Duty games a miss. Now, after all the hype and stuff about COD:MW2, and being offered a two player go on it, I thought I might as well give it a try.

Now, I’m no expert, and I didn’t play on Xbox Live, or try any of the single player campaign, I only played the two player splitscreen missions. There’s your disclaimer for my opinion. We tried a couple of those “Special Ops” missions. I thought it was a shame that you couldn’t do a “proper game” in Co-op, as we later did in Terminator Salvation, but I got on with what was on offer.

Anyway, we tried a few of those Special Ops, particular “favourites” included the snowy crow’s nest type mission, the snipers in the snow, and the snowmobile race that I kept winning due to the trees on the last hill. I also liked the petrol station/fast food restaurant waves of enemies and the one where you have to get points in the other restaurant by hiding in the kitchen and working together.

Some parts of this game seemed too hard for me, and deaths were numerous on the breach and snow sniping missions, due mainly to faults on my part. I lack the patience, and that’s what these wartime (albeit modern wartime) games require. For me, the characters move too slowly, and realism translates into boredom. This is not the kind of game for me, but I’m not bashing it (especially not having played single player), and I think my girlfriend’s Dad liked having a teammate for a change.

Terminator Salvation

Next up was Terminator Salvation. We played a few chapters of 2-player campaign. I’ve not seen the film, so it was mainly just a game to me. The graphics weren’t outstanding, and the same things that made the cover scheme interesting (choosing the next piece of cover to run to) also made me pissed off. It just didn’t work when I wanted it to most, and I kept running out of ammo. These things gradually wore me down, and the first couple of levels seemed too repetitive for me and my short attention span, so I was out of there after a couple of chapters.

Gears of War 2

Last of the 2-player games I tried (last to review, probably third or something but nevermind), Gears of War 2 seems a bit less generic than Terminator did, and had some good ideas, like the part that tells you where your partner is, and stomping on aliens’ heads; but again, after a few levels I just got bored, and it was too macho. It just made me think of the stereotypical American soldier you see in all the films, I’m not sure what rank or whatever, but they pretty much act like that. Only in space or something. Fun for a bit, but having my head stomped on by an alien was the last straw for me. Failing like that led to a rage quit, craftily disguised with the meal that was served soon after.

WET

Last but probably deserves to be least, actually, not that as that’s a bit harsh, and someone somewhere probably likes this game a bit. Unlike the others, which with the exception of Terminator, were all rather mainstream big seller types.

WET or Wet or whatever, is a game that’s a bit like Mirror’s Edge, The Matrix, some odd grindhouse thing and probably a whole bunch more things. In theory, my brain tells me I’d like this game. It has a lot of good ideas, like Mirror’s Edge did, but unlike Mirror’s Edge’s slight bits that made no sense or whatever, Wet kind of pissed me off.

I like the soundtrack, it’s great, though the sound effects drown it out a bit. The sword/gunfire elements are a nice idea, but the locking of abilities wasn’t apparent in the PS3 demo or when I tried it at a game expo in Paris, so when I said “Watch this” and couldn’t do what I was expecting it was rather stupid. I like the idea of the acrobatics and flying through the air whilst shooting, but after a while it kind of gets old. It falls down in execution in my opinion. The voice acting is a bit off and when it zooms in on her face or whatever it just looks rubbish, worse than some PS3 visuals.

After the first two chapters or so, I ended up in her base type place, and was told to do some challenges. There was no indication (that I recall) of how to continue with the game besides “do this challenge” and then “do this one”. Weird as it sounds I just wanted to continue with the “story”. I wanted to do mad flips and run about killing things, not be tested on how well I can shoot and run about a set course. Challenges shouldn’t really be forced. Bit of a dick move.

I’ll probably play this one again when I go up there next. That and 2-player Left 4 Dead with my girlfriend. Either 1 or 2 or both on that one, they’re probably the games that I like most out of what I tried this time around, and I just want to finish Wet so it’s done.

Hope this wasn’t a waste of your time, but it probably was. Sorry.   read


3:21 PM on 12.02.2009

Thoughts on review hate

First of all, why do people get so angry over reviews? I know that careers can be over in extreme conditions when a game gets poor reviews or poor sales; what I don't get is why people have extreme reactions to one review, particularly those seemingly catching a lot of shit by Jim Sterling.

I believe that he is (as we all are) entitled to his opinions, and you wouldn't read a review if you didn't want to know how person X feels about a certain game. The idea that you might read it just to get angry is rather stupid.

You would not read a review if you didn't want to know about a certain game. You have a choice to read some reviews or just buy the game. Reviews are there to help guide purchases, depending on how much you agree with what the reviewer has written, they can save you a lot of money and buy something you might otherwise have missed. If a reviewer represents your feelings in general, then maybe you might see them as you if you had bought the game and then you can act according to their reaction.

My main point that I would like to make is this: if you want to know about the game, you read a review, if you already have the game, then what is the point in reading a review? You don't need guidance post purchase, and fair enough you may want to see how others feel about a game you liked or didn't. I don't see how you can criticise a person's opinion, if you have either bought and enjoyed the game or bought and disliked it - as you've already bought it. If you read a review and don't agree and you haven't got/played the game, then how can you be angry at someone for writing how they feel about something you haven't tried yourself... it seems odd to me.

Maybe that's the freedom of the Internet. Maybe people can say what they like because they're protected by anonymity etc. I just don't see the point.

And as you could probably tell, this blog was poorly written as I've not done one before, I'm not a professional writer, and I cannot thoroughly assess a game and write an article about it. What I do do, however, is offer my opinions (I like to think I know a thing or two about games) and people who ask can take or leave my advice. People I've advised haven't always agreed, and that's fine. What they haven't done is told me they never want to hear my opinion again and how wrong I am.

I really hope someone reads this and doesn't feel like it's a waste of their time. Sorry if you do feel like that.   read


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