... Oh! Why hello there, my name is Andy. Welcome to my page! I know it's not much to look at right now, but hopefully soon, with little work, it will become a place you will grow to enjoy. I have been a gamer for my entire 24 years of existence, and I believe it is time for me to get out there and start voicing my opinion about my passion. I had been wanting to start my own blog for quite a while now, but did not know where to go, or what to do. Then one day while listening to a Podcast I heard about Destructoid, and I knew I had a place to call home. The first thing I did was speed here to create a profile, though I am still not entirely sure of myself I look forward to interacting with the community on this site!
My favorite games: (this may seem a little weird)
02. Dark Souls
03. Metal Gear Solid
04. Dead Space
05. The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind
06. Final Fantasy Tactics
07. Zone of the Enders: The second runner
08. Bioshcok Infinite
10. Halo Combat Evolved
11. Pokemon Red/Blue
12. Devil May Cry
13. Shadow of the Colossus
14. Half Life 2
15. The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time
My first impression of Dark Souls was not a good one. I woke up early, at the crack of noon, and walked to my living room to find a good friend of mine sitting on my couch playing said game. The sight of him sitting on the couch did not bother me. I see that every day, but I noticed the game he was playing was one I had never seen before. He said, “Hey, brother! Have you seen this yet? It’s called Dark Souls. It just came out yesterday, and it is fugging awesome sauce!” (Actual quote). Intrigued, I sat in my gaming chair on the other side of the room and began watching. For twenty minutes I watched him slowly walk and roll around while getting utterly destroyed by the low level hollows in the Undead Burg. After the thirteenth time he died I turned to him and said, “This is the worst game I have ever seen. I will never play this.” I then started my day, I got ready for work and left while he sat there playing away.
After a terrible day at work, I came home to him still playing, but now he had made his decent to the Blight Town. By this time, he was complaining about a boss, and pretty much everything else, in this section of the game, and he was ready to quit. I asked him if he would go back to the boss so that I could watch him get ruled because I needed a pick me up. He agreed to the request and went off to meet his doom. Almost immediately upon entering the spider’s den, he encountered a swift death. After his fiery demise, he decided it was time for him to go home, but he left the game, just in case I decided I wanted to play. I assured him there was no chance, but he insisted on leaving it. I set it next to the television and played Portal 2 with my wife, Nicole, until we passed out.
The next day was my day off, and I knew that the game was there. However, from what I had seen I had no desire to try it, so I played Halo Reach until I was bored (which happened rather quickly by the time Dark Souls came out). The game was calling my name; it said “Andy, I’m new and fresh. Play me. Plaaaaay meeeeee. Plaaaaaaaaaaaay meeeeeeeee!” I finally broke down and put it into the Xbox tray. I sat down in my gaming chair, and pressed start. I did not find the character creation screen to be all that impressive; I ended up making a purple haired girl, of Astora Royalty, with a ponytail and the name Randy (this has since become my template for any game that has a character creation option). Her gift was the Master Key, and I decided to go naked with the deprived class. I then proceeded to watch the opening cinematic. It was impressive, but, of course, you should never judge a game by such a thing.
As anyone who has played this game would know, I started my adventure locked in a cell in the Undead Asylum, where a knight was kind enough to drop me a companion, a dead fella who was conveniently holding the key to my cell. I made my way out and headed down the hallway, past the sulking hollows who were too busy making out with the wall and bathing to pay me any mind. As I made my way up a ladder on the other side of the little flooded room, I saw something strange. “LIGHT BONFIRE,” it said. Intrigued I lit it and sat down to discover that my only option was to leave, so I gathered my broken sword hilt and carried on through the large doors at the end of the yard. Once inside, all hell broke loose, as a giant demon landed directly in front of me and began having its way with me. Moments later, I lay dead on the ground, the words “YOU DIED” come across the screen, almost as if to taunt me. After I awoke at the bonfire, I swore that I would not die by that thing’s hand again! I ran in ready to fight only to notice a door open in the corner of the room just as I was defeated again. Respawning at the bonfire again, I swore that THIS was the time I would not die, and ran in again. This time I sprinted directly to the open door. “SUCCESS!!!” I screamed, as if I had just discovered the cure to disease (that’s right not just a disease, ALL of them!). I plopped down at the next bonfire and sat for a while to see if another option would pop up that wasn’t “Leave.” Realizing this was a fool’s errand; I hopped up and continued my quest. As I neared a turn, I noticed an orange scribble on the ground. I approached it with due caution, assuming it was meant to be a trap. To my delight, it was a message to read; “Pick up your shield,” it said. So, I looked around the corner to see an item on a body and one of those hollows standing at the end of the hall, except this one wasn’t just hanging out. Instead, he thought it appropriate to fire arrows at me, as I ran to pick up my crap plank shield and my equally crap club. He ran around a corner but was not fast enough to escape my badassery. I slew him before he could make it up the stairs. As I ascended the steps, I saw a cloud of some kind blocking the way. I, once again, put on the cautious hat and approached slowly. “Traverse the white light” seemed safe enough to me, so I did it. Surprisingly, I was not attacked. Instead, I was given a view of the knight, who so graciously helped me from my cell, but he appeared to be injured and out of reach. After a few tries to break through the door, I decided to go up the stairs. Suddenly, a ball came crashing down on me and busted a hole into the wall. I ran up the stairs and killed the douche who pushed the ball, and rushed back to speak with the dying knight. He told me a prophecy about the “chosen undead.” Then, he gave me estus flasks and the key to the door at the top of the stairs. As a final request, he asked me to leave so he could die in peace.
I ran up the stairs, through the door, and around the corner to an ass beating. When I rose from the bonfire, I was bummed to learn all my souls were gone. However, on the way back, I discovered a door to a shortcut that would make thing easier later. On this go around, I was prepared as I ran around the corner. Without taking any damage to myself, I took down the archer and two hollows with swords. Proud of myself, I picked up my souls, went through the next doorway, and fought a more difficult enemy. Once more, I came away with my life. Realizing the door was locked in that room, I turned around knowing my only option was to go through the white light I had passed, where the archer and the swordsmen were. I walked through to a balcony; confused, I stood there and died, when a giant club from below bashed into me. On the next try, I mopped up the baddies then read the message about falling power attacks. This time, I went in ready, and, after ten minutes of running away from the demon, I discovered it was vulnerable from behind. So, I rolled behind and beat it in the butt to death. Once that demon was dead, I was hooked.
With the Big Pilgrim´s Key, I unlocked the door and ran outside. I followed the path to the edge of the cliff where a giant raven picks you up and carries you to Lordran. This is the moment I fell in love. I was stuck; there was no escape from the inevitable. I played from then on through the night and the rest of my next day off. I did not sleep, and eating was hardly an option considering the only time I got up was to go to the bathroom. By the time I passed out that night, I went from the Firelink Shrine all the way to the Tomb of the Giants. That includes me killing the gargoyle boss, Quelaag, Smough and Ornstein, taking a break to stare at Gwynevere’s boobies for a bit, continuing the killing spree with Seath the Scaleless, Sif the Great Grey Wolf (the saddest part of the entire game), the Four Kings, and playing pitfall (also known as the Bed of Chaos). I was too tired to contend with the tomb, so I peeled myself off of my leather gaming chair, took a shower, and went to sleep.
The next day, I went to work set on playing when I got home. I wasn’t sure if I could because, when I left the house, Nicole was playing The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. I knew it might be difficult to peel her away from it as a result of the fact that, when she started playing a game, she would stick to it the same way I had. Just as I thought, she was still playing when I got home. So, I took a shower and let her play on. It was only fair, since I had taken it up for two days straight. Even though I was okay with her playing, Dark Souls was the only thing on my mind, and I was counting down the seconds until I could get back on and keep playing. Things didn’t quite work in my favor though because I had to work several overtime days that week, and I could not find the time to play until the next day I had off. Still, it worked out in the long run as it added to the excitement of the experience, when I had that controller in my hands again.
When I started, I was a little sluggish because I had to remember some of the buttons again, but that didn’t last too long. Tomb of the Giants here I come! If there is one place more irritating than Blight Town, it’s the Tomb of the Giants. Not for the same reason though. The frame rate is fine through the tomb, unlike the muddy realm of Blight Town. It’s the damn enemies in the tomb. What is up with those damn wheel skeletons??? Or the giant dog things? Also, the lantern can only be used when you hold it in you shield hand, WTF! So, after basically sprinting through the tomb, I came upon Nito. With what it took to get to him, I figured he would be one tough sucker, but he was fairly easy. I threw fireballs at him until he died. That was it, but hey! I have another lord soul! To the Firelink Shrine!
Once inside the Kiln, I made swift work of the knights and walked in to fight Gwyn himself. He almost had me a few times, but I managed to keep him at bay by standing on the other side of a rock and throwing fireballs at him. Imagine my surprise when I found out fire hurts the fire god! After I was out of fire, all he needed were a few good hits and he was dead! Gwyn, your soul is mine! I, of course, linked the fire and gave the world a new era of light!
That was surely not the end of the story though. I bought the game myself and continued to play 120 hours’ worth of new game + on the Xbox. I decided I was finally done with it and took it in for trade. That was a huge mistake because I regretted it instantly. Luckily, I was able to get it again (this time on my preferred console, the PS3). I immediately recreated Randy. Since that time, I have played at least once a week. I have logged another 200+ hours with Randy, as well as 30 hours on a new character, using a different class and gift (a knight named Tony with the pendant). If it wasn’t for the nostalgia involved with Battletoads, Dark Souls would hands down be my favorite game. If someone asks me for a recommendation, I automatically fire out Dark Souls. This usually results in people getting mad at me because it’s too hard for them. I don’t judge them for it because not everyone enjoys the difficulty. When they complain, I just shrug and congratulate them for at least trying. Not everyone is like me, I love this game, and, if the disc hole was bigger, I would make love to this game! I will be playing this as an old man on my television, while my grandkids sit around me and call me old school because I don’t have a game port built into my brain. My last words on my death bed will be “Praise the Sun”. I will be buried with this game. My tombstone will read, “Here lays Andy. He really loved Dark Souls. He also had a wife; she was cool too.” Why? Because, Dark Souls that’s why! DARK SOULS FOREVER!!!
Our story takes place 500 years in the future. We have just exited Shock Space and are swiftly approaching a planet-cracker class starship, the USG Ishimura, in orbit around the planet Aegis VII. The Concordance Extraction Corporation has sent us here to fix what is thought to be a busted communications array. The ship appears to be holding a massive chunk of the planet in its gravity tethers; however, the ship seems to be stagnant. It does not answer to any calls, the engines do not seem to be running, and the ship is swiftly falling to the planet below. As we come in for a landing, a guidance system malfunction causes us to crash into the landing bay. This is where our story begins. A flight team consisting of Commander Zach Hammond, Computer Specialist Kendra Daniels, Ship Systems Engineer Isaac Clarke, and a few flight interns set off to figure out what has happened on what looks to be an abandoned planet-cracker. As things swiftly begin to fall apart, we are left fending for ourselves, fighting to survive, dealing with loneliness, and, above all else, an overwhelming loss of hope.
Dead Space is, and will forever be, the greatest survival horror game on the market. However, understand that I am speaking only of the first game in the series. While I did enjoy the other three Dead Space games (i.e.: Dead Space 2, Dead Space 3, and the track shooter, Dead Space Extraction), they are far cries from the original in that they have evolved into action games and have mostly left the survival aspect behind. I do not judge the series for this, changing is a sign of growth, even if it is growth in the direction some of us did not want. This is off topic!!!
Dead Space, from the beginning, has a different feel to it than most other games, in the fact that the uneasy feeling captures you right from the start. As soon as your ship exits Shock Space you are given a wide view of the most ominous looking planet in the universe. This is followed by the sight of the most ominous starship in the universe. Once inside, the large feeling of the city sized Ishimura instantly disappears with your first helpless run from the creatures that now inhabit the ship. Of course, after this first dash of fear, you are given the delight of walking through tight and winding halls which are filled with the ship’s dead crew. Adding to this dreadful atmosphere is the sound of these unknown creatures crawling through the vents which surround you, creatures which only reveal themselves when you least expect it. Enter necromorphs!
You learn that these creatures have been created using the bodies of the dead crew via a process called bio-recombination. As a result, necromorphs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. The smallest of these are swarmers which are bits of reanimated flesh that attack in large groups. Lurkers are made from the reanimated bodies of babies. Slashers, the most common enemy in the game, are named for the large blade like appendages coming from their arms. Even larger enemies exist, for instance, brutes and the pregnant slashers, which explode with swarmers upon impact. Necromorphs are the most frightening of any monster you can get in a game series. They are far more frightening than a mere zombie, or ghosts, or malformed person you get from games like Resident Evil, Fatal Frame, Alan Wake, or Silent Hill. While these games could surely scare most normal people, none of them left me afraid to walk to the bathroom at night like Dead Space did. I still have nightmares caused by this game. I believe most of the fear comes from the fact that these creatures can only be taken down by dismembering several limbs, involving ammo management skills most of us do not have. Not only that, most combat sequences involve you being locked in a room while it fills with these grotesque, incredibly fast, aurally frightening beasts that only become faster and stronger as the game continues.
The next attribute to be discussed is something quite important to any survival horror game, a feature which needs to be used more often in gaming. This feature is the real time menu system, something that should be separate from the pause button. A battle for your life should not be something you can stop and heal yourself during. You should be forced to think on your toes, at all times. This is especially interesting when you are standing at a store or bench doing your work, and then you start getting pummeled unexpectedly. This greatly adds to the feeling of helplessness, but it also makes the reward of killing a horde of Necromorphs all the better once you have mastered it. The HUD also adds to this experience because it is a part of Isaac’s body. The health bar specifically. If the health bar was just on the top of the screen it would take away from the psychological aspects of the game. Watching him die in this way makes you want to fight more to keep him alive. Not just for game progression, but because it makes him feel more like a real person you need to save.
A silent protagonist is always a better choice in survival horror because it is easier to project yourself into that character. The moment that character begins to speak, they have their own personality, and it becomes impossible to put yourself in their shoes. The entire reason to play survival horror is to feel the fear that the character on the screen feels. I find it difficult to feel that way when Isaac begins to speak in Dead Space 2. A lot of the feelings I had disappeared, when he opened his mouth to speak. Though this is not always the case, Alan Wake would have been a terrible game if no words were spoken by Alan himself because that game was centered on internal monologue.
The storyline for Dead Space is superb. It is difficult to make a compelling story without deep character development. This is something Dead Space delivers through non-conventional means, in the form of logs strung throughout the ship. These logs, be they, audio, video, or text, paint a very vivid and compelling story about what had happened onboard the Ishimura from days to mere hours before your arrival onboard. Though not at any point meeting most of the people who have left the logs behind, you begin to care about them and even worry if you will find any more of their logs in hopes of discovering if they have escaped their fate on the ship. Nicole, Isaac’s lost girlfriend, included. You also learn how deep the rabbit hole is in respect to the Red Marker and Unitologists (the religious fanatics that worship the marker and consider becoming a necromorph to be a holy rite) that caused the downfall of the ship and crew.
Dead Space is a game with a rich and addictive story line, along with some great scares, and a fantastic battle system. The graphics and animations are smooth and the over the shoulder third person camera gives you a good view of surroundings without being fixed in place, which is a big problem with the survival horror genre. The voice acting is pretty good as well, which is something that can be hard to find in this genre. If you have never played a survival horror game and want a good place to start, or if you are a fan of the genre and just haven’t played Dead Space yet, get out there and try it already! If you have played, put down what you are doing now and start playing again! I’m sure what you were doing can wait a little bit.
Honestly, I don't know when I started loving video games because I can't remember when I started playing them. My dad says I came out of the womb with an NES controller in my hands. Though that sadly isn't true, I know I started quite early. Now, at the ripe old age of 24 I have flash memories of being a little tike playing Mario, Star Fox, and Zelda, and I know I had played Metroid to completion by the time I was three.
However, I can tell you about the first game I fell in love with, and that game was Battletoads. I can still remember the first time my dad rented it for me, when we went to our local ice cream/video rental shop, one summer day in 1994. I remember the first time I plopped down on the floor in front of the television. I can even remember blowing into the cartridge before I pushed it into the console, just to make sure it would work on the first try. As soon as Rash set his feet onto that red desert floor, I fell in love. It was only an overnight rental, so I spent the entire evening playing it. I even went as far as sneaking back out after my parents went to sleep to keep playing (only going to bed just before they got up the next morning). After that first night, I had to have more, so I bugged my dad into renting it again, and again, and again. We rented it so many times the store owner gave it to us because we had spent well over what it was worth.
I played that game every day for a year and brought it everywhere with me. Though I had beaten the game several times over, I was never done with it. Sadly, the top of the cartridge had broken it half exposing the chip inside. Soon after, the game would only load into a mash up of colors with a high pitch squeal noise that would drive my parents up the wall, but that didn’t stop me from trying several times a day. I would tell myself, “Maybe this time!” and do it over and over, to no avail. One morning I woke up and could not find the game anywhere. After that, I cried the entire day and only quit once I was told I would get a new copy, though that never happened. It took me months to get over the loss and start playing, as well as enjoying, other games again. Of course, they were fun, but no game would ever hold such a close spot to my heart. To this day, Battletoads is still my favorite game that has ever been made.