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12:32 AM on 08.21.2008  

i smell something burning...

As I emerge from my hidden cave from which I dwell I smell a burning sensation and see the red glow amongst the forums. Seeing the tragic state of the situation I have decided to grab what I can and move out as quickly as possible. The flame war is spreading all over the forest and no amount of fireman can put this flame out. Everywhere I turn I see shrubbery ablaze with a red glow and grass burned down to the ashes. The next thing I knew the flames had engulfed me and become to close in on my and my beloved opinions. As soon as I blinked they had stripped me of all neutrality and brain washed me with chants of "RRoD" and "Lemmings". Once the flames had cleared from me, I awoke in the forest with burns the likes of which Anakin Skywalker couldn't understand.

Unable to move in this hellish place, I have come to some profound realizations I would like to share with you. As I lay here in the middle of a war zone, I will likely be captured or killed. So before they line up into cover with their flamethrowers ready, I will leave you with my dying words. I hate to ever support a theory of the controversial Denis Dyack, but truly, in losing any sense of reciprocity have we become devout of any human compassion we had left. This forum culture has taught us to embrace our fellow fans but to abuse those with a different opinion.

Are we really that different from our fellow games. while our allegiance may lie in different places, our hearts are in the same. We all love video games; whether they be old or new, innovative or a technical wonder, whether it be cooking mama or grand theft auto. It comes from every side so no one is innocent, the whole point of forums is for us to discuss, debate and enjoy the games we love, whether they be for MS, Sony, or Nintendo hardware.
This happens everyday, even the new site, giantBomb, has already become a warzone the likes of which I have not seen in some time. It has the stench of gamespot lingers amongst it, mostly because its majority of members migrated from their. I have nothing against Gamespot but the culture it brings with it is deplorable.

So as my dying wish I would call for a cease fire from all parties. Let us learn to respect one another's opinion so that another devoted member is not deprived of his personal happiness. Hopefully the gaming culture can learn to mature abit, until then sayonara.   read


10:16 PM on 07.20.2008  

we need hoarz

Trophyfags, achievementwhores, boosters ect.. Call them what you will and as much as it pains me to say this I feel that I must.

These new point systems have brought such longevity to our games that we so desperately need. It forces players who prefer campaign to try out the multi-player of a game, and also extends the life of said campaign mode.

In this new era of gaming in which some games are only lasting 6-10 hours, we need something to make it last. Gamers simply can't justify shelling out 60 bucks for such a short experience.


While the boosters and junkies are annoying when they begin to alter our online experience in a negative fashion, they do have a positive outcome. In making these systems so popular they have helped game sales rise as well as bringing in new gamers to enjoy the experience.

Love em or hate em'
In the end I think they will better us as a community of gamers.

Just my short little collection of thoughts..   read


10:35 PM on 07.15.2008  

underwhelming yet satisfactory

In a word; damn. Not pissed off, not overjoyed, not even unhappy really. Just underwhelmed; coming into this e3 I had the highest of expectations as most gamers do. I expected a dynamic duo to make their triumphant return onto Sony's black behemoth, I expected to find new waggling sensation in Microsoft's console. My childhood heroes left a hole in my heart with the worst press conference I have ever seen. Only a few big announcements even remotely grabbed my attention, with Kratos strappin' up for another go

and Final Fantasy swinging both ways now, I did have a few reasons to pay attention.
Should we just face the facts; Is e3 just not what it used to be? Or are we setting the bar impossibly high. A little bit of both in this case, the esa has scaled down the conference, but we didn't get to go anyways so it doesn't matter either way. The basement trolls inside all of us are expecting way too much out of these companies now a days'.

In the end, one thing drives consoles; software and boy is there a lot of software at this e3 thing. I will just touch on a few titles that have left me very unimpressed. Keep in mind this is just my opinion, but the Fallout 3 demonstration left a lot to be desired, it felt much too slow and very convoluted in its combat system. Everything about that game feels very unpolished and disjointed. The textures look very sloppy and while the scope of the game is impressive, GTA IV was able to do a much better job aesthetically rendering such a large world. Being a work in progress I wont knock it too hard but for now, color me unimpressed.

The big N's entire conference was terrible, but what topped it off for me was that the only hardcore game they showed was Animal Crossing, and it looked as if it had jumped straight off of the cube with no graphical changes even attempted by the development team.

I was never a fan, and Sony did nothing to change my jaded perceptions. While home does boast some interesting features and has some wonderful new ideas, I still feel that I will use it twice then it will just take up space on my precious xmb interface.

Interface seems to be critical in this generation, well that's what the "pioneers of innovation(their words not mine)" seem to think. While slightly clumsy, I generally think that the Xbox dashboard works pretty well, it could be optimized to run faster but that's a complaint for another day. Microsoft unveiled their new "original" design for the fall update which will "completely change" your Xbox.

The new interface is sleek enough to where it doesn't bother me. But these pioneers really took the cake for me when they blatantly ripped off Nintendo's Mii service. Don't believe me, take a look.

While not as cute this lack of originality in the big M's business model does bother me somewhat.

Enough griping, whining and contemplating. Their were many impressive games at e3, such as inFamous which I have come to find a new fancy in this electrifying super hero adventure which will drop onto ps3's early in spring. The game boasts some impressive visuals and some new gameplay ideas that will hopefully freshen up the sandbox genre.

The team behind this project made Sly Cooper on the playstation 2 and it was one of my absolute favorite games. I believe the expertise of this team will really begin to shine when we all get to play inFamous.

Love it or hate it, it looks drop dead gorgeous. Its on ps3. The game is of course Killzone 2.

While I can't specifically comment on the gameplay until I get some hands on time with it I will say that I do appreciate the way Guerrilla Games is handling it. They are openly admitting what was wrong with Killzone 1 and promising that they will correct it, and if Killzone:liberation was any indicator, look for this to be the dev team's breakout title.

Two more games I would like to touch on are Fable II and Resident Evil 5. They both had very impressive showings at Microsoft's conference and while Fable isn't the graphical powerhouse that RE5 is, they both share one intriguing aspect. A new found focus on cooperative play which I find to be very enticing, although my friends will probably make me be Sheva in RE5. Fables new way to invite friends is very innovative and I applaud Mr. Molyneux for his creativity.

So those are my thoughts. Sony played it safe but had an impressive line-up across three platforms, Microsoft pulled a big surprise off but only showed a couple of exciting exclusives, and Nintendo disappointed me so much that I cannot even articulate my grief to you good people.

"The Path of Life is not a hike or a race; it is a dance. And, in all dances, there will be a few steps backward.
Just remember -- the steps backward are still part of a beautiful dance. "
-Laura Teresa Marquez   read


1:05 PM on 07.15.2008  

start breathing

On the topic of the "FFXIII Crisis" I must say, calm down everyone. Remember that we all play games to have fun, don't delve into the politics of the console war and just embrace the fact that a whole new audience will enjoy this wonderful series. If you really are feeling like your world is shattering, calm down, you still have versus, infamous, resistance 2, ratchet Online(rumor), Gran Turismo 5, LBP, Killzone 2, socom, wipeout ect....

So everyone, cant we all just be happy that we all can enjoy the most prolific RPG series in gaming?   read


1:46 PM on 07.14.2008  

Megaton

Like a child on Christmas morning, I awoke with the highest expectations when I ran to my computer to watch the Microsoft press conference. They truly started off with a bang showing off Fallout 3, which looked a little underwhelming to be honest. Then it went on to Resident Evil 5 which looks amazing and has been taken to a new level with the online co-op mode which fits very well into the story. Peter Molyneux came out with his usual swagger but once the controller was in his hand Fable II had to do the talking for him. I believe it showed very well, while the graphics were not anything to be really amazed by but the new co-op features that the game boasts look very intriguing. CliffyB came out and showed Gears 2, which looked exactly the same as its predecessor, which trust me, is not a bad thing.

Then the conference took a dive, from a fat chick dancing on stage to a terrible singing performance. While the music games were nice,. they were still more of the same, GH World tour and Rockband 2 both boasted of their magnificent soundtracks.

Thinking I was going to leave underwhelmed and unhappy, Square came out and announced FFXIII for Xbox 360.

World Shattering.....

God Damn, that's all I can say.   read


11:57 PM on 07.10.2008  

Denis Dyack, Shut the F*** Up.

Developers do tend to run their mouths quite often and it usually doesnt bother me. Peter Molyneux does talk alot but hey, the man did create Black and White.

David Jaffe is another that tends to run his mouth off as does the infamous CliffyB, but the amazing games these two have developed in God of War and Gears of War, respectively, they can talk all they want.



Now Mr. Denis Dyack is a different story, this man has yet to really wow me with any of his games thus far. The best thing his company " Silicon Knights " has produced so far would have to be Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes, which as we all know, is a port of a ps1 title. Funny that I bring up ps1 as that leads into my next point. Too human, the game that poor old Denis has been so vigorously defending on message boards. ( http://www.kotaku.com.au/games/2008/06/denis_dyack_tells_too_human_trolls_put_up_or_shut_up-2.html ). Too human has been in development since before 1999 as it was in fact shown to be in development for the playstation 1 (not 2 or 3) at E3 '99. This is getting up into Duke Nukem territory and that is somewhere you do not want to be my friend.

My point is, for a two bit developer who doesnt deserve the praise and accolades he recieves, we should not make an exception. Maybe once you have done something in your career, maybe if that slim chance of too human not sucking is real, than maybe you might get some deserved respect. But until then, stop fighting fanboys on neogaf, going on every podcast and being on every two bit gaming website to try and boost your sad excuse for a career.

So, Denis Dyack, please, Shut the F*** up.
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7:06 PM on 07.10.2008  

Level up

What is it that changes inside of us transforming ourselves from quirky gamer to unbiased journalist. This was a journey I had to make for myself, and one that I have not finished yet. I just thought I would share some of my revelations that I have experienced throughout my life that have shaped me into what I am today.

3AM; family is asleep and I had been in a two hour flame war with some fanboys over battletoads. Staring into the bleak white that is my computer screen I looked at what I had been writing and I began to notice the idiosyncrasies of our personalities. While we were both foaming at the mouth and ready to verbally abuse each other into the wee hours of the morning, neither of us would win and both of us would feel stupid about it later on. This revelation hit me like being drop kicked by a velociraptor. But I sat there and thought to myself, how can I move on from this state of fanboyism and move on to become an unbiased writer.

I actually went to a friend in seek of this answer and being the zen master he is he gave me some wonderful advice. Play as if you are a child again, where everything is amazing and the cynical nature of your thought process withers away. Taking all games at face value and treating every game with equality regardless of lame box art, platform or developer(EA). This new gaming zen has done amazing things for my writing and for my whole state of being. I must thank you for reading through my brief dissertation. It is very kind of you to take out the time and listen to my discourse of my past and where it has brought me today.

ping!
Raspinudo   read


5:51 PM on 07.09.2008  

Trophy Whore

2.41 released and unknowingly unleashed the gates of hell. From all over the world the achievement, er trophy, whores will come together for a splendid burning of my beloved black behemoth.
Sony Says



In a remarkably smart move Sony has decided to not make the trophy system retro-active. Meaning that it wont read your old saves and update the trophies you may have already unlocked. While it may be frustrating to have to replay games that you have already beat. This does prevent people from sharing game saves and boosting their score/level



At least it is finally here.

  read


7:11 PM on 06.17.2008  

Metal Gear Masterpiece

It is not often that a video game blends cinematic flair, eloquent story telling and superb game play into one package. Many great games thrive on the latter while few find a way to excel in all categories. Metal Gear Solid 4 not only meets all of these requirements, it obliterates them without hesitation. Metal Gear Solid 4 is the greatest game I have ever played, period. Snake could not ask for a more fitting discharge.

As a MGS fan I remember having to listen to the boring codecs between snake and his comrades. They could be skipped but the player would be missing out on vital parts of the story. Hideo Kojima has decided to go in a different direction by telling this epic tale through beautifully rendered real time cut scenes. The story is told so amazingly in this game, I have no problem with watching the cinematics on my now third play through. Some biased reviewers will tell you that cut scenes distract from the experience and that 90% of the experience is a movie. This simply is not true and the cinematics only add to the depth of this game. I will not delve into specifics to avoid spoilers. The story starts off with Solid Snake coming out of retirement to help an old friend, Colonel Campbell, the mission is simple, assassinate Liquid. Things get complicated from there but rest assured, this game grabs onto you and doesn't let go until the credits roll. Every loose end, every missing character anything that has plagued us throughout the Metal Gear series has been answered in MGS4, in doing so it has raised the bar for story telling across any medium.

Early on during the development Kojima Productions brought in Ryan Payton, an American developer, in order to bring some western influence. Boy, did it pay off, MGS4 has completely revamped the control scheme while still keeping the stealth elements not only in tact, but have improved upon them immensely. Metal Gear Solid 4 takes in a new over-the-shoulder camera view, Ala gears or re4, and it has opened up a whole new way to play the game. Any worries that this new camera will take away from the core of the stealth game play are invalid, as this adds new depth to the stealth while giving a new opportunity to players as well. The game play also stays fresh as the game has you traverse through five completely different areas throughout the five acts. Another wrinkle that plays along with the new shooting mechanics is the Drebin Points system. Drebin is a weapons launderer and he unlocks ID-tagged guns that you pick up throughout the game. You will find, steal and swipe guns off of enemies collecting points and weapons throughout the story and with over 77 weapons in the game this adds an extreme amount of depth.

Now for those stealth enthusiasts who thrive on CQC and camouflage, there is another new element, and it is probably the coolest thing I have seen in a video game in a long time. Octocamo is an evolution of the camouflage system from MGS3: Snake Eater. Octocamo blends into whatever surface you are primarily leaning against. This comes to be very handy when trying to avoid enemy soldiers.

In MGS4 there is something for everyone, and this new variety of game play options will only entice players to engage in multiple play throughs. On top of all these new additions, MGS4 has an insane amount of collectibles, warranting at least 2-3 play throughs to unlock everything. As if all of this wasn't enough, Kojima Productions and Konami have decided to build upon the success of Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence by including the very underrated Metal Gear Online. My only complaint about MGO is having to create a Konami ID. It plays very similar to the single player game. With about ten hours clocked in, I have had no lag issues or microphone issues. In a word: Solid, no pun intended.

Boss battles have always been a staple of the metal gear franchise and this carnation of the series does not disappoint. The bosses are a wonderful homage to the memorable fights from MGS1. Beautifully designed boss fights fit well into the intricate story and add to the depth of realism that MGS delves into. They give a real taste of the horrors of war and paint a picture of what an atrocity really is. MGS4 sets a new standard for game play, with varied enemies, brilliant AI, and a whole new set of tools at snakes fingertips, its hard not to bask in the glory that is MGS4.

Graphically MGS4 sets a new standard for video games that other developers should learn from. This game is filled with realistic textures and beautifully rendered character models. It offers some amazing lighting along with some nice effects that add to the realism such as the dirt and water that covers the screen in moments of battle. The audio in Metal Gear Solid 4 is second to none, with top notch voice actors and realistic sounding guns, this game has the technical features down pat. The voice work is second to none with David Hayter leading the charge with his wonderful representation of Old Snake. I could discursively drown on about how beautiful this game looks and sounds and it still wouldn't do it justice. It just shows the amount of work Kojima has put in with his team for over three-and-a-half years. Their hard work has payed dividends for this game as it is the most visually stunning console game to date.

Words can not describe what a masterpiece Metal Gear Solid 4 is. You simply have to experience this game for yourself. It is sad to see such a legendary hero as snake go but he could not have asked for a better send off. Goodbye old friend, I salute you.
  read


1:56 AM on 05.11.2008  

Video Games as Art

As I descend through the cascading annals of history, I see the beautiful art that man has created; from Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”

to Michelangelo’s “David”
,
man’s eye has always been cultivated by the emotion evoked by such beautiful pieces of art. Should art only include what we see, or what we hear? Should our society limit itself by solidifying what art can and should be? There is no reason art can not become a culmination of these aspects, bringing them together in an interactive experience that draws the average onlooker in, changing the way they experience the art. Video games bring sound, sight, and interactivity together no other medium of art has been able to do. Games are the art of the new generation. In the 18th Century they had Francois Boucher’s “The Fountain of Love”, in the 19th Century, the romanticism movement took place with pieces such as John Constable’s “View on the Stour near Dedham.”

The 20th Century brought about new meaning to art with its Abstract paintings, mostly made famous by Pablo Picasso who started a subdivision known as Cubism. All of these famous movements throughout history have influenced the games we play today.

The 21st Century became a new wave for innovation and the spread of a new pop-culture. The year is 1971; a small company called Nutting manufactures the very first arcade machine. This was not the start of the mainstream trend however. The years known as the “Golden Age” (1978-1981)

were the birth of the arcade, it brought about such famous titles, most notably “Donkey Kong”,

“Space Invaders”

and “Pac Man”

Soon after the few short years of bliss, the industry was hit with a bombshell the size of Michael Pachter’s Ego. “The Great Crash of 1982” came about and it wasn’t long until video game arcades were all but extinct in America. While still strong in Japan, the arcade industry had taken a serious blow. In 1985 a small Japanese playing card company “Nintendo” introduced the Famicom to America which was soon to be named the NES or Nintendo Entertainment System.
Video games had experienced a new sense of rejuvenation brought about by the “8 Bit” Era. Not long after, the “16 Bit” era came into its own introducing systems such as the SNES, Sega Genesis and Neo Geo. Some of the most memorable games came in this period of gaming goodness; Titles such as Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Street Fighter II. Their was however, a darker half of this generation, when abysmal systems were released, ala Atari Panther, JVC Wondermega, Sega CD, and the utterly stupid 3DO. “32 Bit was brought upon the Americas around 1993, this time around; people are stuck with the atrocious Atari Jaguar. 1993 was a significant year, this was when all the controversy began, and congress noted the violence in video games such as “Mortal Kombat”

and deemed it “inappropriate”. In response to this the Video Game industry created the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) in 1994. It functioned much like the MPAA which rated movies. Also in 1994, SEGA decided to release the 32x in an attempt to stay competitive, while Nintendo continued to push their 16 Bit workhorse. In 1995 Nintendo releases the Virtual Boy
,
simply to tide people over until the Project Reality, now called Ultra 64, is ready for release. Critics line up to bash the system, until Nintendo indicates that the Game Boy's sales have been strong despite its limitations, at which point criticism is muted until the machine's sales fall dramatically below Nintendo's own projections. This was merely Nintendo’s attempt to stave people off until they were ready to release a system that could compete with Sony’s Juggernaut, Playstation. Before we knew it the era known as the “modern age” came to life with systems such as the Gamecube, PS2, and the XBOX. There are simply too many good games to account for in this generation for I feel I would leave to many out (Put it this way I own 230 games from last generation). As we bring my little history lesson to a close, I will leave you with this: Gaming has evolved so vastly over the years it is impossible to predict the future, but one thing is for sure, Video Games aren’t going away for a long time.

I believe this history lesson holds alot of releveance in this debate. Most art has two qualities about it; memorability and history. All famous is art is so memorable that people can recognize it instantly wherever they may be. Art also has its roots deep into history. Video games are no exception, while they may not date back centuries they do have a memorable past that has led them to become the cultural phenomenon they are today.
The 19th Century introduced the phrase “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”. This seems very relevant in the argument of why video games should be considered an art form. Music is an art form, no one really disputes this and most people just accept it as fact. Why is this? Does everyone enjoy all music? My dad is a huge country fan, so if I popped Fifty Cent, into his CD player, he would not be too happy. Wait, all music is art, so shouldn’t my dad be down for a lil’ fitty? No. Just because all people doesn’t find a particular medium or genre of art beautiful does not make it less of an art nor does it diminish its potential as renown artifact in history. I don’t believe all art has to be some extremist piece that causes controversy amongst the ill-informed politicians
(Hillary)

(Jack Thompson).

If this is true than it begs the question: What makes something art; Beauty? No. Message. I think all forms of art must simply have a message to tell. The content and purpose of the message is irrelevant. Art and literature are often grouped together in casual conversation, mostly because in some ways books are a form of art. I think that video games truly encompass many forms of art to culminate an experience that can not be replicated by anything else.


In a Newsweek article from March of 2000, Jack Kroll states that "games can be fun and rewarding in many ways, but they can't transmit the emotional complexity that is the root of art.” Kroll's article sparked a series of angry replies, mostly from gamers writing for industry magazines on the web, but the controversy was not limited to angry nerds on message boards sitting in their mother’s basement while ordering Chinese. In an article published in M IT's Technology Review called "Art Form for the Digital Age," film writer Henry Jenkins criticized Kroll for monumentally underestimating the potential of video games. Outside of academia, Kroll's article was also cited in an amicus brief advising the Seventeenth Circuit Court of Appeals on a case regarding an Indiana video game censorship law. The extent and diversity of the response indicates that Kroll hit a nerve of our beloved industry, and it is worthwhile to dig a little deeper into the issue. Despite the cultural prominence of video games in today’s pop-culture most have completely ignored the area. Scholars in other disciplines, such as film, have taken the lead in the conceptual debate. This is unfortunate, since seldom are there questions in the philosophy of art that have direct, real world consequences. Philosophical inattention to video games has a de facto effect on the multi-billion dollar industry by inadvertently making hasty censorship attempts easier. Philosophers not debating video games as an art form often lead uneducated people to draw the incorrect conclusion that they are not. Without even taking all things into consideration, people are quick to pass judgment.


Throughout the ages art has proven to be many things; blocks, splattered paint on a wall, naked people, statues, silhouettes, architecture, but art has and never will be something that becomes so definitive of what it is that it looses the true essence of why it was created. Art is the purest form of expression ever created. Whether it is interactive like a video game, beautiful like the “Mona Lisa”, or make you tap your foot like Tupac, its all the same. Its all art and its all beautiful to one person or another. The video game industry has been through many phases, and much like a teenager passing through puberty, video games have worked most of their quirks out and come into a new sense of maturity that will guide it to the future. Through the years, gaming has experienced more than its fair share of controversy which will definitely not end soon. As long as there are problems in the world their will be people looking for a scapegoat. Video games have withstood the test of time as many other art forms have and have established themselves as a beautiful culmination of many factors coming together, working to create a beautiful piece that holds relevance in today’s culture, and most definitely solidifying games as a form of modern art.   read


12:44 PM on 05.10.2008  

[h4ng3 1s b4D

Someone once told me, change is good, but not for everyone. This sentimental life lesson while corny may hold true in video games as well. What does a company choose, alter a game just for the sake of change, and risk it tanking in sales. Or, do they stick with the formula, sell well, but never expand the boundaries of what their company is capable of. Its quite the double-edged sword that the developers face, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Its been a while since the Wii released, and I like many, was one of the hopeful few that believed Nintendo would deliver on their promises of satisfying the hardcore gamer. This is where I strike a problem, 4 or 5 games just doesn't warrant a $250 purchase. When you look at this from Nintendo's point of view, its obvious to see that they shouldn't be worrying about catering to the much smaller but still loyal barrage of hardcore gamers who are willing to invest in their little white lunchbox. With sales already reaching over 25 Million, surpassing the 360 in less than a year, and growing hype for games I couldn't give a crap about(wiiFit), they have no reason to question their strategy. They have almost tripled their net value since the release of their two heavyweights in the DS and Wii. In this case, gamers lose and walk away with a sour taste in their mouth left from the lack of games that Nintendo had presented them with. I mean sure, the company is now thriving and I am very happy that Mr. Iwata has found another system that prints money, but..

These situations are tough, because they leave people no choice but to flock to the evil empires of gaming. In these desperate times, a hero will rise, and we will embark on a journey that will lead us into a new age of gaming.
  read







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