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10:16 AM on 10.11.2009

Hatred towards particular Games.

So recently I have wondered why people hate certain games, by hate I do not mean quietly so, I mean when they vocalise it via either spoken or written word, which usually would imply that they are passionate about it (to an extent). I would like to know why people feel this way.

Often one common reason a negative opinion is given is with console or PC exclusives, which leads to disdain towards said exclusives. For example: the Halo series and the all too common rants against it from both PC and Playstation Fanatics. One cannot argue that the Halo games are bad, Bungie make fantastic shooters and have done so for over a decade. So with this case it seems that it is jealously for those who can play this game, when they themselves cannot.

Another example would be towards popular games in franchises such as Call of Duty. Can see how some people wouldn't like it, due to some elements of gameplay (myself included), which often for some leads to vocalised hatred. While the core game itself is solid there are a few imperfections which leads me to believe leads to the hatred in these cases. While some people can look past these faults and enjoy the game, often to huge extents, these people seem jealous of those that can overlook these problems.

My Final example is when one has followed the game throughout its promotion and development. But the game does not hold up to their opinions prior to the release. Such as it is this would be annoyance or anger towards the developer for not catering to the mentioned player. This is often seems to be the fault of the promotion being slightly off, say such as pitching an arcade-simulation hybrid racer as a racing simulation, such as with Need for Speed: Shift.

So to compare it to another medium: art (yeah it's a little clichéd now, sorry). So with a great piece of art, one of it's main purposes is to get across a message, this message will be likely to illicit a reaction which, dependant on the observer the opinion could range from considering it anywhere between brilliance or believing it to be a complete piece of shit. I am not saying that people should stop vocalising their hatred, but I believe that trying to convince people that they are wrong about their opinion of a game is not a great way to put across your opinion.

People are all different and will always appreciate different things in different ways. I personally cannot enjoy Left for Dead, I can see exactly why people play it, the game just doesn't click for me despite several attempts to play it. For me a excellent game will never have universal praise, one with universal praise would undoubtedly be a good game, but with no split views on it I would never consider it great.   read

8:16 AM on 09.05.2009

Differences between PC and console gamers.

There is often a stigma between console and PC gamers (particularly PC towards consoles). Where a lot of stereotypes held between the two forms, often seen as resentment, I do not know why this is. If a game is only released on consoles a lot of complaints will be made (a recent occurrence of this would be Brutal Legend). I myself have been a both a console and PC gamer, so have experienced both sides of this situation. In-between the current generation and the previous I primarily became a PC gamer, playing many shooters, real time strategy games among other games, I wished I could play some games which were console exclusive, but at that current point in time it was an impossibility.

The problem I see with this is that the games which are the problem are either reasonably niche or they are unlikely to work nearly as well on the opposing platform. Particularly with hardware between generations of console and PC hardware becoming increasingly similar in their architecture, with the strongest difference being the default interface, a decent mouse will give better precision than any current analogue stick, yet an analogue stick will give more accuracy than a standard ‘wasd’ movement key set. The advantage in particular with a PC would be the possibility of the use of ‘hot keys’ making both MMO RPGs and real time strategies ideal for use with the mouse and the keyboard, but with the flexibility with a platformer or other 3rd person game the controller is still the ideal medium to control your character. Some may continue to argue this is incorrect, but how many gamers will spend that much more to add controllers on the PC on top of the actual cost of a gaming PC, a good keyboard, a decent mouse among all the other necessary peripherals.

Often a PC gamer will claim that a console game requires no ‘skill’, which I don’t understand. The majority of genres which would benefit with the greater fidelity of peripherals are often ‘twitch’ games, where one could argue that strategy is stronger in a PC game, I would not agree with this, particularly in a strategy, in a console team based game, a decent team can often do a decent amount of damage and will usually beat those in an uncoordinated team, of random people, if not those that have played together but have developed their team work less.

One argument A PC gamer often holds is that the console will always have a maximum capability, yet a PC can always be upgraded, where the console gamer always has the retort that a game for a specific console will always work. Often those that had both were considered Spoilt, or greedy.

The main problem I see with this is the amount of bigotry held between people for using a different system to play games on, I wonder why this is? People don’t say “I am better than you because I use a Sony CD player but you use a Panasonic” do they? There is no similar bigotry between other things, so why do we have it in games? There may be a slight rivalry between brands, due to preference, but not for any legitimate reason whatsoever.

With a medium which is still fairly young, I believe there should be a common comradery between most if not all gamers. There seems to be a belief or want that every game released could be released on one console but with the concept of non-video games, this is never the case, not all games can be played on a standard deck of cards, yet if you haven’t got a standard deck you cannot play every game ever; so why think the same with video games... Another point I can make is the same argument with different consoles.   read

11:53 AM on 08.20.2009

Multiple Discs on current Generation consoles.

So with the announcement that RAGE may ship on two separate discs on the Xbox 360, one for the single player experience and the other for the multiplayer experience, it brings up an argument which so called Sony fanboys have against the console. This argument is that the 360 needs extra discs to occupy the same amount of space that a Blu-ray disc can hold. With games multiple discs have been used for the majority of its popularity, dating back from the days of the floppy disc. Continuing to the current generation of consoles and I expect it to continue to the next generation (the successors to the 360, PS3 and the Wii).

So onto the 360, there are a few multi disc games current ones include Lost Odyssey, Star Ocean and Blue Dragon, the former uses 4 discs and the latter two use 3. So with upcoming games we have Halo ODST coming on 2 discs one for the campaign and the fire fight mode and the second for the complete Halo 3 multiplayer experience, Forza 3 uses 2 discs where one is an install disc and the other is the rest of the game, and finally the recent announcement of RAGE possibly going down the same route. In regards to the Halo ODST multi disc there is a clear cut reason, the amount of discs is warranted by the amount of maps made for the game.

With the PS3 as far as I have seen is that to get the best out of the Blu-ray format with current technology, an install of the game is necessary, which is why I haven’t heard much of an outcry against Forza 3’s method. With the PS3 I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a game using more than 1 disc in the near future.

With games in the past I didn’t see Nintendo 64 fans claiming that the Final fantasy games came on more than one disc, nope because the argument is fairly silly. Another argument would be that other forms of media do not complain about the use of multiple discs. Look at the sales of films or Television series, do buyers complain if a dvd comes on more than one disc... no. Blu-ray movies and box-sets have used multiple discs also, so why do they complain.

To finalise are you really lazy enough to not warrant getting up, moving a small distance towards your TV and console, opening the disc tray taking out the disc, and replacing it with another disc, it is the exact same principle as changing from one game to another, I have never heard or read of someone complaining that one game isn’t enough for a disc.   read

4:57 PM on 08.13.2009

My Journey With Fighting Games.

I used to love fighters, playing Street fighter 2 at my friends house on his SNES, among others including but not limited to Mortal Kombat. At this point we were pretty at them, not knowing how to perform combos or many moves; at this point it was all guess work, for both of us. This made it more enjoyable, I am sure we eventually figured out simple moves and combos. After a few years this friend moved away, so I played no more Street Fighter 2. After this I discovered that we had a fighting game for my Sega Megadrive, the game in question was Brutal: Paws of Fury, this game was not of the same calibre as Street Fighter 2, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t an enjoyable game for a much younger version of me to play. The characters were excellent for a young child, I will admit that a child would not get the humour contained within which I did not realise existed until fairly recently. So I then played a lot of Brutal, until I got hold of my second games console The Super Nintendo. This lead to a complete lack of fighting games, I spent a lot of time playing platformers instead, such as: Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country and Earthworm Jim; which aren’t particularly relevant to this piece.

For my seventh birthday I received a Nintendo 64, again I didn’t play many fighters until my uncle sent me his console (yeah I have 2 N64s what of it). With his console there were 6 games, which were: Rogue Squadron, 1080 Snowboarding, Turok 2 (bad game to give a 9 year old), Multi Racing Championship (not only a terrible name but the game wasn’t great either), Body Harvest and finally Fighter’s Destiny; which allows me to continue. Fighter’s Destiny was the first 3D fighting game which I ever played, and in my opinion an excellent way to start. The controls were pretty tight, as were the visuals of the game. This game taught me the importance of quarter circles, if you played as Ryuji and played quarter circle forward and punch you got an instant KO move if it connected (which could be avoided by moving away, sidestepping or attacking whilst the move charged). Again another thing occurred with this game which hadn’t in any others, I looked at the move list, then proceeded to learn as many as I could. The cast of the game was excellent, the zany fighters were great, I can beat this guy up... cool, I can do it with an anthropomorphic cow... even better. This was soon followed by what I consider to be one of the best ideas for a game, which would be Super Smash Bros, which along with it’s sequel Melee consumed the most of my time of any fighters. They were balanced, had good controls, a decent single player, and a frantic multiplayer. I will not go into more depth on these games as I never considered them part of my fighting game career.

After I had my Gamecube for a while I got hold of an Xbox, for which I bought the second Soul Calibur (Yes I know the Gamecube version had Link but that is irrelevant). I absolutely loved this game, the graphics were excellent, the character design was near perfect and the move system was great. This game furthered my progress into fighting games, making me understand combos more along with throws. Again this had a strong single player which was combined with an excellent multiplayer, which I played a lot of with several friends. A while after this I picked up the Street Fighter anniversary edition for the Xbox, due to nostalgia. Soon after buying it I realised it felt terrible and disconnected, which I quickly blamed on the game and the next day returned it. This was a mistake, which I only realised recently; it was the fault of the Xbox’s awful DPad (although it is better than the one on the 360).

More recently on my Xbox 360 I picked up the rerelease of Soul Calibur, which is very good, despite the lack of a single player experience. I feel the same way I do about the second with this, with it being a lower quality of graphics, but with a more balanced feel. Next I move onto Marvel Vs Capcom 2, which is absolutely crazy. I am by no means good at this, which isn’t a good thing. Luckily I have a few people on my Xbox Live friends list with roughly the same amount of skill as me (but with a higher level of competence with 2D fighters), which makes the multiplayer experience all the better for me. So following this I have ordered both a copy of Street Fighter 4 along with the standard edition stick, which I intend to modify eventually.
Just a disclaimer to the entire article: I have no claim to be anything above average at any fighting game ever.   read

3:20 PM on 08.12.2009

Gaming Podcasts.

Destructoid’s Podtoid
OK I thought I would start with the site where I would be posting this. I have only listened to a couple of the episodes of this podcast, so this may not be the best judgement of it. I like the Podcast in principle; however I have a few problems with it. Podcasts done by phone sound terrible (I know it is a practical solution), maybe higher quality mics would help but I’m not sure. What the presenters have to say is interesting and reasonably humorous but as I mentioned before the sound quality makes it almost unlistenable to me. The length of the ‘cast is about right too. I just feel that Podcasts with less presenters, which are done in person are better overall.

Giant Bombcast

Another one which I haven’t listened to all of the ‘casts. This one is done by a smaller amount of presenters, in a single room. This makes the whole thing more listenable to me. I myself don’t read the site, but got recommended it by several people from different places, so I gave it a chance. I don’t regret this. The presenters are well informed and put across their opinions pretty well. One problem with this ‘cast is that it is usually too long, for my sweet spot (between 80 and 100 minutes). So by all means not a perfect podcast, but a pretty decent one.

Start Select UK

A UK based video podcast, which in my opinion is the weakest of those which I am including on this article. The Main presenter is a little unlikable from my perspective. They do not put across their opinions very well or even at all. The actual ‘cast itself is short, so cannot contain much content, which is disappointing; this is understandable with video taking up more server space than audio would. I can’t recommend this unfortunately, even though it is done by fellow Brits.

Bungie Podcast
The only one which is a studio specific. The ‘cast is not periodic, but when it is released it is enjoyable. Again it is another one out of my specific sweet spot in length. But they have interesting discussions with regards to what is happening with their projects. Recently (on the most recent release) they had Nathan Fillion in as a guest, who happens to be a fan of the Halo series as well as an actor on both Halo 3 and Halo ODST. If you are a fan of Bungies work I would listen to this as the Humour and information divulged are both in good quantities.

Idle Thumbs Podcast

Finally I will finish with my favourite gaming podcast. This is mainly PC centric, with small segments regarding to console games. The Humour is pretty much perfect for me with both carried on jokes as well as others which are fairly childish. The presenters have got clear and strong views on both current, past and future games, which can be positive or negative, all of which are interesting independent of whether you agree with them or disagree. There are a lot of references to classic games from the old lucasarts games among others. This usually, is the perfect length.   read

6:46 PM on 08.03.2009

Indie Games and me.

I thought I would write an article on a few of the indie games I have played recently. So here it is.

Gravity Bone

A fantastic, despite ridiculously short first person game. You play as a detective doing missions for an unknown agency. Play it.


A Half Life 2 mod, covering adult themes. Game play is interesting to say the least. This is a series of short games, 2 of which have been released, with 4 more planned before the end of the year. Play it if you are interested in playing an arty game.

Research and Development

Another Half Life 2 mod, This time it takes a stab at combining both the adventure games puzzles with Half life’s action game play, there is no gunplay. Most puzzles are physics based, similarly to those in Half Life 2, yet ramped up considerably. There are a couple of flaws in the design and UI (particularly the final level: which can be solved by using the console). Again I would recommend this to most gamers.

The Maw

A nice platformer (how I have missed you), ideally played on a 360 controller. Some pretty interesting game mechanics with the titular Character. Unfortunately this one isn’t free; it costs the equivalent of 800msp, $10 or £6-7. If you like 3D platformers such as Mario titles, Banjo titles, as well as any other similar platformers.

Splosion Man

Another game from the guys who made The Maw, this time a 2.5D platformer. The puzzles in this are absolutely fantastic, the gameplay frantic. The game itself can be frustrating, but if you cannot do a section (and die enough) you can skip it. There is also a co-op campaign which is pretty good of what I played of it. The game itself is pretty quirky with the protagonist using famous quotes from actors and others, including: Arnie and Christian Bale. Again it isn’t free and has the same Price of The Maw (800msp/$10/£6-7). Buy it (if you have a 360).

Ben There Dan That

An adventure game in a similar vein to classic lucasarts games. Some pretty decent puzzle design, which is accompanied by some excellent pixel art for the visuals. Play it if you are a fan of adventure games.

Out of Order

One of the first ‘indie’ games which I played. Another adventure here, very well done. Fantastic artwork, I can’t remember so much about this, but I remember it is well worth playing.

Recently I have been playing far too many of these, despite having a large back log of games to play through, so I shouldn’t really, however these games are often the ones that I enjoy the most, despite being the shortest. Maybe it is because they are so streamlined into the small package that they do not drag as much as many retail or downloadable games. I would urge you to play some of these and look for others, while recommending them to others. They may not be as polished as some other games; although this is not always true as retail games can often be quite shoddy. Remember mods were a strong influence on games in times gone by (capture the flag was originally a Mod, and now is a standard game type in most shooters), so would likely do the same for now and in the future.   read

8:13 PM on 07.28.2009

Music in Games.

To me this is one of if not the most important aspect in a game (which is not how the game actually plays). Consider it this way, do your favourite games have bad or average soundtracks... No they do not, unless you have no opinion on this due to disability (deafness). The soundtrack is often ignored, this is done less these days however the music should be recognised and commended more. If you look at some of my favourite Games they all have fantastic soundtracks: Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, has an excellent soundtrack done by Electronic artist Amon Tobin (he also did the majority of the InFamous soundtrack), the soundtrack captures the atmosphere of the game perfectly, with a change of tempo if you are discovered, if you haven’t heard the soundtrack or remember it fondly it is available to listen to on both and Spotify. Another of my favourite games is Full Throttle, a classic Tim Schafer adventure game by Lucasarts, which featured music by The Gone Jackals, whose music fits perfectly into the Heavy Metal Adventure, despite by today’s standards it is very low quality, which is entirely forgivable due to it being 14 years old, here is a link to said games intro. My final example would be the Halo series (particularly 1 and 3) the fully orchestrated soundtracks work fantastically, despite what your opinion of those games is you cannot knock the soundtracks, the Halo theme is Iconic and clearly recognisable, it feels right, it feels like Halo; which is the exact thing you want it to be.

Unfortunately music in games is not perfect. Not enough games follow in the steps Lucasarts did with their adventure games, a system called iMuse was an interactive platform that allowed music to be synchronised perfectly with what was on screen, whilst seamlessly transitioning from one piece to another: Monkey Island 2: LeChucks revenge includes the best examples of this. The reason that iMuse wasn’t well known was due to how well it worked, generally people will only notice a system such as this if it is done clumsily.

Ideally music in games is unnoticed until you are looking for it; this is not to say you don’t hear it. I consider it a success if it fits into the game perfectly; you notice how well it is implemented as well as orchestrated in later playthroughs.   read

4:44 PM on 07.27.2009

Games Journalism, and who is a gamer.

I really don't like numbers for reviews, particularly with most game reviews considering 7 out of 10 an average (I'm not sure but as a Mathematics University student I consider the average is 5). With numerical values I see no particular advantage, If I am going to see a movie I want to know if it interests me not how good it is for what it is and how the camera work is, if I am buying a guitar I want to know what kind of sound it makes, how much it weighs and how durable it is, if I am buying a Camera I want to see test pictures, weight distribution and how durable it is; and I want the same with a game review (how it feels to play, whether it is completely linear or not, how it compares to its predecessor if applicable). Games journalism need to grow up a little in my opinion, which I reckon should happen soon, with the games industry becoming bigger in recent years, in Britain there are (on average) 40% of people have a console (this is with the consoles sold, so doesn't account for those with multiple consoles, PC gamers or imports). People may argue that gaming hasn't grown up that much in the past 5 years, this I disagree with, particularly those who bring up the addition of casual games to the market (including fitness games), I disagree with people because if you look at most forms of entertainment there will be many genres which different people will enjoy: People don't always consider casual gamers real gamers, but if you don't like all sorts of film that doesn't mean you cannot be a film fan does it? And if you only like art house films, you aren't a film fan? My point here is that if you play games, regularly or semi regularly you are a gamer.

I know numbers will never be out of all reviews in my lifetime with them being a pillar of that style of journalism. With this increased divergence in genres, such as films did as they matured, will hopefully encourage more diverse criticism, reviews now usually only say how it plays not how the gameplay makes the player feel about it. Language is a beautiful and constantly evolving thing, so why not use it in a more eloquent way?   read

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