currently playing: Warhammer online
Dragon Quest IV
Rock Band 2
Little Big Planet
Gears of War 2
Favorite Games: BioShock
FF III (US)
tecmo super bowl
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Star Wars KOTOR
Mario Kart (64)
Tony Hawk 3
TV Shows you should watch: The Wire (best tv show of all-time)
Freaks and Geeks
Favorite Movies Star Wars Trilogy
Children of Men
We live in an age were no one understand they are boring. the internet has allowed everyone to voice their opinion and present themselves to the world. While this has many benefits, it also has just as many negatives. the largest being that no one seems to understand they aren't very interesting. I understand that so i'm not going to pretend i am remarkable because I can afford $40 for broadband.
We are here because we share a common interest, video games, so I am going to focus on that. how i got here in terms of video games.
My first video game memories are playing my parent's Atari 2600 Man, I loved that thing. I don't know if it was just because it was so cutting edge or because I was just a stupid little kid, but I would play any game on that thing for hours. I read lists of the all-time worst games and many include some of the favorites from my youth. I would play E.T. non-stop. I didn't mind that it took me 20 tries to get out of a pit because that was all I had and all there was. I would fly around as superman (while wearing my superman underoos) across nonsense backgrounds and enjoy every minute.
In elementary school I finally upgraded to the NES. I wasn't an early adapter. My NES came with the power pad. But that was the beginning of the end. From that point on I was hooked. My dad would often take me to the video store to rent NES games. that was before the days of blockbuster, so we would go to the local mom and pop rental place. That was also the day before the internet, so it was much harder to get info about games to know which were worth playing. I would hunt through the isle reading the back of every box and looking at the pictures. As a kid your sense of time is skewed but it had to take me at least a half hour to choose a game. I would narrow it down to a few and feel the pressure as my dad told me to hurry up. I still didn't have the discriminating taste I would later develop so I was usually happy with my selection.
About the time of the super nintendo, I started to develop a video game palette, which was great timing because that's when games really came into their prime. Games evolved in terms of story telling, gameplay mechanics, and even multiplayer. As a youth I was also an avid reader and this is the time that games started to match the ability of a good book to whisk a curious youth into strange new worlds. FFIII can hold its own against any classic children's book.
Around this time blockbuster and hollywood video stores began to open. My father worked for the fire department which qualified him for a discount at the local hollywood video. Anytime we would rent a movie or game we would get another rental free. no limits. everytime. my god that was amazing. it doubled the amount of games I could rent! I feel like I played everything back then. this was also the time when home systems began to match some of the arcade games. Me and my friends would rent bomberman for the snes, not to play bomberman, but to get the 4 player adapter that came with it. then we would use that and play 4 player NBA jam until the sun came up.
At this time games didn't have street dates. I would call the video store to find out when they expected a new game and then call them every 2 hours from the day the they estimated the game to come in until it actually arrived. thank god caller ID wasn't prevalent then because the guy at the game store wouldn't have answered my calls the week Street fighter II came out.
By the time the N64 was released I was in high school and had a part time job at a nationwide retailer. As I mentioned above, games didn't have street dates and neither did consoles. I was working the day the first shipments of N64's came in. I called my parents begging them to front me the money (hey, i got a 10% discount). That was some advanced stuff. And the controller was so crazy for the time.
My nintendo 64 took me into college. I don't remember much about that for some reason, but i'm pretty sure If i spent the amount of time studying as I did playing mario kart, goldeneye, mario golf, and fifi soccer, I'd have about 4 graduate degrees.
After a long time in school (I did get one graduate degree) I'm now an employed and have disposable income. As a result I have an 360, ps3, Wii, ps2, and DS. I really think we are in a golden age of gaming and games have taken similar evolutionary step as they did between the NES and SNES.
I hope to become an active member of the destructoid community. I've been reading the blogs for months and hope i can live up to the standard you all have set. If you read all this I appreciate it. If not, I'll understand. It's probably not as interesting as I think it is.
There has been some discussion around here about the over all state of the video game industry. Specifically the quality of the current videogame scene. Nintendoll posted an excellent piece explaining her view on why it would be a mistake to call the current era the golden age. Her piece was a reaction to an article by Sean Sands posted on the escapist website. (steve sands is a co-founder of http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/, I highly recommend their weekly podcast) While I agree with Sands that we are in a golden age of gaming, I agree with Nintendoll that his piece wasn't very persuasive. I thought he missed a lot of major points, so i'll try to add them.
No matter what your favorite type of game or preferred genre you will be able to find games that meet your needs. I'm the type of gamer who enjoys a wide range of game types so its overwhelming keeping up with all the choices and play all the great releases. Just this week there are 4 excellent games released I want to play, Rock Band 2, Crysis Warhead, Dragon Quest IV, and Star Wars TFU. All different types of games and all appear to be quality experiences (maybe not SW:TFU, but I'll save judgment until I play it). This isn't a rare thing. Nearly every week there are more choices of great games.
This influx of great games doesn't even take into account the other ways a gamer can get to the games they want to play. If you aren't interested in the new big AAA titles, you can get online and find a game to meet your needs. You can download new and old games from Steam. You can find a wide range of titles on XBLA or PSN. If you thought games peaked with the NES or SNES, you can download dozens of those games from the virtual console. If you are cheap you can find hours of great gaming online for free with websites like instantaction.com.
If you are a gamer and you can't find a game to meet your needs you obviously aren't looking.
What good are choices if you are choosing from a bunch of mediocre titles. Luckily the games we get to play have taken great strides in the area of gameplay and how we interact with the game.
Some improvements have just been perfecting traditional gameplay. The actual gameplay of FPS's isn't all that different from FPS of the past, but its better. Now we can interact with the environment which creates a new level of immersion. The AI is much smarter. No longer are we faced with just waves of enemies and monster closets, the AI can start to react to the environment and use tactics. As the devs continue to improve these details it creates a deeper and more realistic experience.
Game developers have also improved how we interact with our games. There are interfaces modifications, like with the Wii and DS. When utilized well, these interfaces improve the gaming experience. Try playing Boom Blox on the wii. A really fun game that couldn't be possible without the Wii interface. But we are also given more input too in customization and story. While I think the one area of games that still is in its infancy is the branching story paths, we are still given freedom with-in the games. An example is Mass Effect. The player gets to choose not only the appearance of their character, but how they interact with others and the how they proceed through the story. It allows the player to tailor the game to their specific preferences.
Gamer's are connected like never before to to each other, to information about gamers, and even to the game developers. In the past the best and possibly only way to get info about games was magazines. Now we have numerous websites, podcasts, and tv shows to get info along with the magazines. We have access to information instantly. We can get dozens of reviews of a game before its even released. Soon after a game is released we can find out other gamers' opinion of the game. We have unprecedented levels of info about the games currently released and yet to be released.
We are also able to discuss our opinions and thoughts with other gamers and even the game journalists. The obvious example is this blog here. We are allowed to write about anything we want and a great website like destructoid hosts it and allows others access to it for free. I read blogs here from people all over the world with opinions on every type of game. Plus we can get more instant feedback with message boards and forums. Sure they can be a mixed bag, but its nice to have post a question or comment about a game and have other gamers respond with-in seconds or minutes. Even the game journalists interact with the community. Before this was done in the "letters" section of a magazine. Now they participate in forums and respond to gamers' questions on podcasts.
Gamers are even able to communicate with and influence the people who actually make the games. Good developers listen to their fans and evaluate the feedback. We are actually getting updates to games and new versions of gamers that cater to our desires as a community.
Its also easier to experience actual gaming with others. Every console has extensive online gaming options. People join guilds and spends hours with thousands of other gamers in MMO's. no longer are people forced to game alone.
I could write about this non-stop, but I actually want people to read it. I would have also liked to respond directly to some of Nintendoll's points, but that will have to wait.
In the end, I think that this current generation of video games and the video game community is the best yet. If its not the golden age, I can't wait to see what's coming that could be better.
I really enjoy a good First Person Shooter. Its fun to run around and shoot people or monsters. I enjoy trying different weapons, fragging dudes, and sneaking around. What I don't like are driving games. I don't play them. Why must FPS developers push them on me?
I hate driving levels in fps's. They are at best unnecessary and usually infuriating. I suppose developers put them in the games as a change of pace, but why do they need to change the pace? If you make a good fps with smart AI, I don't want the pace changed. I bought the game to shoot things, not to fly a helicopter or drive a car.
Plus the driving controls and levels usually feel tacked on and gimmicky. Everyone knows the developers will spend most of their resources on the core gameplay and neglect the driving level. So you are stuck with a level that feels like a chore. Even if they do make the controls work well, I'm still forced to learn a whole new control scheme after I finally feel like I'm starting to master the fps controls. Once I do get a handle on the driving controls, the level is over and I'll never need them again.
There are a few FPS games where the driving isn't completely obtrusive, like Half-life 2, but those are few and far between. Most are like crysis, where I come dangerously close to giving up on the game because of the driving levels. Why the fuck am I wasting my time dog fighting with aliens in a fps?
Developers if you want to change the pace of your games, please don't make me drive. Make a level like "Death From Above" from Call of Duty 4. It was fun and different, but it didn't make the player learn a completely different game. And developers, don't forget, your audience buys fps's to shoot things, not drive things.
When a new big title is on the horizon, I become a hype and media whore. I read all the previews and sift through the message boards reading everything I can about the upcoming game. As Spore approached I began seeing some different criticisms. Usually I ignore this stuff as trolling or bullshit, but I gave this a little more attention. The game had been released over seas before north america and had leaked online, so people had played it. The main criticism that was repeated was a lack of depth in the gameplay (besides the bitching about the DRM). I bought my copy on sunday and have played for the past few days. I only got to the Space stage yesterday and have played about 2 hours into it so these opinions could change.
I can't say I was a huge fan of the cell stage. you just swim around eating stuff. Its there to give you a basic primer on how the creature will progress and how the mission structure works, and its effective for that. It looks cool. The graphics are colorful. The gameplay was kind of boring though. Luckily its short so I quickly progressed.
This is where the game starts to give you some freedom. You throw some legs and a mouth on your creature and then you leave the primordial ooze and head out on land. Here you only do a few things. You meet new creatures and try and kill them or befriend them. You look for body parts laying around. You upgrade your creature. That's about it.
I was a herbivore so I didn't fight much, except in self- defense. I would progress mainly by impressing and befriending other creatures. You do this with a simon says type game. They do one of 4 actions and then you copy it, until a bar fills up and they are impressed. You can fail if your skill in the actions is too low and the bar doesn't fill up fast enough.
Its pretty stupid.
As you find or earn new parts and dna points you can upgrade or change you creature. You get a lot of freedom. sometimes too much. The way I expected this to work was as you reached milestones you could, modify your character, but some of your previous decisions couldn't be changed. It doesn't work like that. Whenever you want to change your character you choose to mate. Then you can change whatever you want. So I could be a green duck with no arms, and just change to a blue walrus with 4 arms. No restrictions. A strange design choice.
Next you progress to the tribal stage. Before you entire the tribal stage, you will have the last opportunity to modify the base look of your creature. Once you move forward you are locked in. This stage is a very simplistic RTS style game. The only resource is food and you interact with other tribes in one of two ways. You can make friends with them through gifts or performances or you can attack them. The only personalization options you have in this stage is to put some clothes and decorations on your creature. Once you destroy or befriend enough other tribes you enter the civ stage.
If you are the creative type and couldn't get enough of the creature creator, then you will love the civ stage. You get access to a handful of creators all as deep and fun if not more so than the creature creator. You get to design different types of buildings and air, land, and sea vehicles. The stage begins by you creating your city hall. I probably spent more time during this stage in the creators than I did actually playing.
The gameplay here is still real basic. You take over other civs either through economic, religious, or military might. It might sound like there is variety, but there isn't. All three methods work the same. You send your religious/economic/military vehicles to another civ and bombard them with propaganda/trade/bombs, until they are defeated. Its disappointing because I wanted all the time I spent creating my buildings and vehicles to have a purpose, but its just superficial.
I am early on in the space stage. I've play a few hours. So far it seems to have a lot of promise. The tutorial missions took longer than any entire previous stage. It seems much deeper than the previous stages, but still shallow compared to the average pc strategy games. Things seem more varied, but It could just be because I have experienced everything yet.
Spore is not a particularly good game. I am really enjoying it though. Its a unique feeling to have so much control over the appearance and development (at least superficially) of your creature and the world. You will come up with so much stuff that you never could have imagined. You will then encounter other's people stuff which is so different from yours it amazing you were both using the same tools to create them.
The gameplay elements are Spore weakest points. If you don't have interest in the creative aspects of spore, you will most likely get bored of this game very quickly. Its disappointing and I hoped that the breadth of gameplay would match the creative options. It doesn't.
If you loved the creature creator, then you will likely enjoy spore. You have access to many other creators, all that give you such amazing freedom. Its just a shame that most of that freedom only applies to the appearance and not to how the game actually plays.
I'm hoping the space stage scratches the gamer itch for me, so i could recommend Spore to anyone, but until I get confirmation of that, I would only recommend it people who are interested in ground-breaking creative tools built around a fisher-price strategy game.
We are in a golden age of gaming. No matter your preference there is a wide selection of games to meet your desires. Games have made amazing advances in story telling, graphics, realistic physics, and game play mechanics while at the same time increasing the breadth of options so there are choices for hardcore gamers, casual gamers, and anyone in between. Despite our cornucopia of spoils it seems that no one is happy.
Gamers seem to hate on everything and anything. Some gamers are just curmudgeon who seem to only get joy out of hating. (See Y0j1mb0's blog HERE) Other gamers seem to have certain aspects of gaming they just find unacceptable. What it all comes down to though are people who feel the need to prove their superiority.
WRATH OF THE HARDCORE
Some gamers find the recent expansion of the casual gaming market to be offensive. This is a topic I have previously addressed here. These haters have an extreme superiority complex. They were into gaming first and they only play the best games so everyone else who doesn't play games like they do is inferior. These people need to let it go. Casual gaming doesn't prevent you from gaming and the only people impressed with your act are other hardcore gaming snobs.
I never understood why certain gamers feel the need to latch onto a single console or company. They define their gaming self based on the console they prefer, like they are rooting for a sports team. They love one system and therefore every other system sucks. Its like if another system is acknowledged to be have strengths, then its a personal insult to them. These people need to grow up. (This is double for pc game snobs)
Anyone who has ever visited a game message board is familiar with these wastes of space. They only live to trash what others like and to evoke a reaction. They attack the new popular games because only they are smart enough to see the faults in something that others don't. No matter how minuscule the fault, it overrides anything good about the game. My favorite where the trolls who complain that you couldn't see the main character's feet in BioShock. Here is my reaction: STFU
WATCHING THE WATCHERS
These are the idiots who critique every review of a game. If the review doesn't praise the game like they want, the reviewer is an moron. If the review praises a game they don't like, then the reviewer has been bought off. They don't understand the point of reviews, which is to give an opinion. All they want is something that confirms their opinion. They rarely actually read the review and just look at the score. This group also includes the people who thinks every AAA title deserves at least a 9.5 and, on the other end, people who don't think any game should get a perfect score. That last part really pisses me off. What's the point of having a scoring system that goes up to 10 if its impossible for game to get a 10? Reviews are relative. A 10 means its as good as video games get, not that it doesn't have anything that could have been improved.
THE GAMER HATERS
We all know these assholes. The idiots who preys on the fears of the uninformed. They preach that games are evil and are corrupting the youth. Their tactics include blowing things out of proportion, lying about game content, and scapegoating. Instead of nuance dissection of games or really looking for causes of social ills they just turn to an easy answer. These people hate freedom.
I was a big fan of the first Mercenaries. It was one of the best open world games of the last generation. Since it was based around a military conflict, it had a more open world and bigger weapons than other open world games of its time. If you hoped that Mercenaries would evolve into the next gen like GTA you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a game with the same strengths as the first, but with more destruction, then this is a game you should pick up.
Mercs 2 is set in Venezuela and revolves around a political coup. A man who hired you, uses you to take over the country and then tries to kill you instead of paying. You are set on revenge and work with different factions to smoke out the guy who back stabbed you. There is an oil company looking to protect it profits, a leftist rebel group that is trying to gain control of the country, Rastafarian pirates who smuggle and profit from the black market, and later the Chinese and Americans who intervene in the conflict. The story is thin but it doesn't matter. It's serves its purpose of keeping you moving and giving you reasons for your destruction.
(you play as one of 3 mercs)
Mercenaries 2 has a lot of issues. You will see glitches, bugs, completely unrealistic action, really stupid AI, janky animations, and a lot of pop-in. Motorcycles don't tip over. I drove a motorcycle full speed into an oncoming motorcycle and we just bounced off each other. Neither of us crashed. It is possible to get knocked off a motorcycle, but the motorcycle will always remain standing. Since you are often running around in the country side and through mountains you will encounter foliage and trees. If you are in a car you can tear right through them. If you are on foot they slow you down. Its like trying to run through mud. If you are driving a jeep with a guy standing in the back on a gun, he won't fall off. You can barrel roll down the side of a mountain and when you stop he will still be standing there.
(This bike will never not be standing)
One of the worst glitches is the RPG buildings. Many of your missions will be to secure an outpost. Basically a faction will hire you to clear out an encampment so the faction can take it over. These include buildings full of guys with RPG's. However these guys can't leave the building. They just pop out the windows and shoot at you. The only way to get rid of them is to destroy the building. The animation for these guys is terrible. It looks like they are just morphing out of the side of the building, like a building with a bunch of torsos growing out of it.
I didn't run into any game breaking problems, but there was a few times the game would mess-up and I had to restart to fix it. For example, when you are close to death everything starts moving in slow motion including the sound. Once the sound stuck, so even though I was fine, the sound was still in slow-motion.
You will experience this close to death mode constantly. When you are severely injured you will be knocked down to 2 health. Its easy to get knock from full health to 2, but difficult to get from 2 to death. Your energy regenerates automatically. Often you will be in a big firefight get knocked down to 2 and then you run behind cover so your health can come back. Even if you jump out of a helicopter hundreds of feet off the ground, when you land (often on your feet) you will just be knocked down to 2 health.
The graphics are uneven. Somethings are impressive other things look last gen. Its a mixed bag, but overall they were acceptable. For every crappy texture there is an awesome explosion. And that is what this game is about. When you start out your access to weapons and airstrikes is limited. This can be frustrating since you have probably seen all the coverage of the destruction. As you move through the game however you will be calling in artillery strikes, a handful of different bombing missions, and a nuke. Its all very impressive. You will level entire city blocks. To prevent you from exploiting the airstikes, many goals wills have Anti-Air defenses. You have to take these out before you can call in an air strike.
(you will see things like this a lot)
Despite all its problems, the game does do a lot right. The combat is satisfying. The world is huge and varied. There are a ton of vehicles use, including boats, tanks, helicopters, jet skis, and jeeps. You can hijack tanks and helicopters. Tanks are hijacked by killing the gunner and then pressing a button to starts a QTE hijack game. To keep this from being repetitive each type of tank requires different buttons to press and has a varied animation. You use your grapple to hijack helicopters. You latch on the helicopter, pull yourself up, and then do the QTE game. It never gets old. In shooters usually helicopters are dreaded. In mercs 2 you will want the enemy to bring in helicopters so you can jack them.
(running up the barrel to hijack it)
Besides the main missions each factions will have side quests for you. They all have 10 High Value Targets (HTV's) for you to capture and 13 buildings they want destroyed. There are also collectibles. Through the game there are fuel, bombs, and money to collect. You need fuel for airstrikes and for supply drops. The bombs will give you free airstikes. You locate these and call in your helicopter pilot to pick them up. These can regenerate. There are also car parts to find. You have a mechanic and as you find more parts she can build you new specialized vehicles, like a motorcycle with rocket launchers.
The game also includes online co-op. In co-op you can complete missions or goals in the host's game or just cause random destruction. Its works well with little to no lag. Another benefit is if one of the players dies, the other will have about a minute to revive them. A couple of the missions are difficult and another merc with you can make all the difference.
In the end, the gameplay of Mercs 2 feels more last gen than next. That said its still a ton a fun
(this is more fun with others)
Mercs 2 feels more like a last gen game than a current gen game, but what it does it does well. If you can accept it for its faults and don't expect the kind of evolution you saw with GTA4, you can have a whole lot of fun with this game. So while this game isn't a Terminator 2 or Predator, its a solid Running man. Its cheesy, unrealistic, and unpolished, but its the best kind of junk food there is.
Part of that post talks about my anticipation for Mercs 2. I've really been looking forward to this game (for years!). I loved the first and can't wait to raise hell in the second. As I'm surfing the internets looking for reviews, scanning the message boards, I began thinking: Why do I get excited for a new upcoming game?
(is it really finally here?!)
I doesn't make much sense. I have plenty of games to play that are most likely of equal or superior quality to mercs 2. But there is something about a game that is just beyond reach that is so enticing. It's as if I imagine that this new and upcoming game will stimulate my senses and provide a gaming experience I have previously been denied. I don't understand it. Its like video game kavorka.
(also has kavorka, at least with the whites)
I heard that siren's song and it began to mess with my mind.
Maybe a store near you will break the street date, she said.
I thought, no way, that never happens, plus i can wait a few more days.
It could be your lucky day, she said. you live near a few stores, why not stop on your way home.
Well, i would only take a few mins. why not, I thought.
So I stop by Kmart on my way home. I figured that sinking ship is most likely to place the game out early. I walk around the electronics area, looking and hoping. I see nothing. Well, I do see something, Just not Mercs 2.
I am now the proud owner of both Burnout Paradise and Warhawk. I'm sure they will get a lot of play once 8/31 roll around. DAMN IT