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About
Hello ladies, my name is Sir Cucumber. I'm looking for a redheaded woman who likes puzzles, vegetating, and settling disputes with a game of rock, paper, scissors. No persimmons, please.

I've been blogging for a year with my brother, Doomeru Woebashi, at Resigned Gamer, but no one ever comes to visit us there, so I've come here to beg for your attentions.

If I'm not playing the hot new game of two years ago, I'm probably playing a 6/10 bargain game from one year ago. I do this not because I am cheap, but because I would rather live off gaming's long, shit-encrusted tail than face being "between games." God, nothing sucks more than that.

I like photoshopping screen shots of classic games, and, when feeling saucy, have been known to write the occasional haiku.

Please leave a comment. That way I won't feel so all alone!
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it's just one of those things you have to see to believe.









If a quarter-centuryís worth of video gaming has taught me anything, itís that people take shortcuts. Time is finite, and work infinite; itís understandable. We all do it.

But most of us donít do it like this:


no, no thatís alrightÖ



Thatís right, eyeballs. Suikoden Tactics features over 50 playable characters, each with their own semblance of a personality, but I guess there wasnít any left over for non ďplotĒ related charactersÖ


[i]You rich, white, heterosexual males are all the same! With your power, and your privilege, and your eyeballs!
[/i]


I mean, okay, overlook some frame skipping here, unbalanced enemies there, itís expected. Unintelligible interface, unskippable animations, unavoidable loopholes, whatever...


[i]Couldn't have seen that one comingÖOh, wait. I guess he really couldnítÖ
[/i]


But is it that hard to slap a couple eyeballs in an NPCís skull? Itís not like you arenít going to recycle their faces a hundred times anyway!


[i]Doesnít it just break your heart? The young idealistic hero really cared about that guy, in the blue, who was a merchantÖwhat was his name again?
[/i]


Oh and by the way, that plot? It's about a kid looking for a bunch of cannons that turn people into fishmen. No, seriously.
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Anthony Burch did such an amazing video review of Saints Row 2 a couple months ago that when I finally played it, there was nothing to say that hadn't been said. Except for one thing...









Iíve hit a console gaming brick wall of late, so Iíve turned to my trusty XP partition to do a little hardcore PC gaming. Iíve been spending time with some old favorites, System Shock 2, Outcast, and Freespace 2. Running with the Open Freespace Projectís enhancements FS2 looks awesome, but even without the extras this was always a great, polished game. Given the chatter on reddit+destructoid lately, I figured it wouldnít hurt to highlight my favorite part of the gameís main campaign. Apologies for the spoilers.


Frakkin' Cylo- um, I mean Shivans!

The final mission of FS2 is a two-parter, where you and a few squads are working to escort a cap ship to jump node. This takes some work but once done waves of new Shivan ships jump in and you are left to fight it out. You discover a nearby star has gone supernova and the blast wave is heading your way. If you make it back to the jump node you escape, if you donít youíre fried. Either way you get a cool ending that acknowledges your heroic efforts and alludes to a future, final conflict with the Shivans.

Now, lots of games have multiple endings, but what sets FS2 apart is that the way the game ends is performance-based. As open-ended as Deus Ex was, seeing the different endings amounted to saving your game, choosing from a conversation tree, then loading and picking the other ones. KOTOR did the same thing. Throughout the FS2 campaign you can win missions without meeting all your goals and the plotline acknowledges it, so it is fitting that the finale works in this context.


Get out! Get outta there!

I strongly encourage anyone whoís at all interested in flight sims to check out Freespace 2. You can buy it from Good Old Games for $5.99, grab a joystick, and install the enhancements. Go to hard-light.net to find support and mods, including the entire Freespace 1 campaign. After that, check out Beyond the Red Line, a Battlestar Galactica standalone total conversion.
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I seldom have anything nice to say about the games I play, and realize that to a casual observer it would seem I should find a new hobby. But all of you know better. A video game is like pizza- even when it's bad it's good. Or is that sex? Whatever. The point is that there are gems buried in all the shit we play; gems buried in all the shit we do. Sometimes it just takes some digging to find them. That, and a healthy appetite for shit.

Take Vampire Rain, for instance. No, seriously:



Special thanks to kn0thing for the Don LaFontaine impressions. Now there was a man with a healthy appetite for shit...








Yes, it's yet another World War II First Person Shooter. Sniping Nazis, scampering through bombed-out European towns and planting the American flag to the sound of soaring instrumental music. But there's a twist: You won't win if you run and gun, you don't storm Normandy Beach, you've got to utilize fairly smart AI teammates, and for once I enjoyed just about every minute of it.

Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway makes it clear from the start that you are meant to work in teams. Combat revolves around suppressing and flanking, and even in the early missions you'll eat lead if you aren't playing the way the designers want you to. If you stick with it, you'll settle into a nice groove: Spot an enemy platoon, set up one team behind cover to suppress the baddies, then leapfrog your teams toward the enemy until they are close enough to be killed with grenades. Alternatively, you can have multiple teams suppress the same enemy while you sneak around and kill them all yourself, but this can backfire, as often once one group of Nazis are killed another team spawns on top of where they were. You can also use your own grenades to flush Nazis from cover and there are few things more satisfying than watching a bunch of them run screaming their girlish German screams only to get shot up by your heavy gunner team.


There are literally hundreds of Nazis hiding in this idyllic village.


What's so cool about this system to me is that your AI teammates do a very convincing job most of the time of acting like smart, but obedient partners. They shout at you to get behind cover if you are careless, they relay orders from you to each other, and once dug in behind solid cover they won't get themselves killed if you stop watching over them. In many ways this game operates more like a puzzle game than an FPS. You can think of your teams as pieces on a board that need to be moved to the right places and under the correct circumstances, with the solution always being to surmount an enemy position.

Your teams, whether machine gunners or bazookas, never run out of ammo and if some or all get killed, will magically respawn once you've reached a checkpoint, so you don't have to be too anal about protecting them. Your own character can pick up guns along the way but you're given so much ammo that it almost never matters. One less thing to stress about as you're taking down the Hun.

Things aren't all perfect of course. Pathfinding could be better. Every so often, your team will decide to take cover on the wrong side of a barrier and get absolutely shredded.


Please just stay behind the conveniently-placed corrugated metal barrier.


The suppression system doesn't work both ways. The enemy can't pin you or your team down. In fact, your team can be getting shot at with mortars and still run straight toward certain death if you tell them too.

Enemies never try to overrun you when you and your team are dug in or even throw grenades. This really limits the challenge and a lot of fights degenerate into a kind of whack-a-mole contest with you waiting for an enemy to pop up from cover so you can kill him. This in particular is a real shame because allowing the enemies to outflank you would have intensified the combat and added a lot of pressure, similar to how sitting around in Gears of War will quickly get you killed.


"You know, despite the heat of battle, I think we could just stay here together forever."


Although your team does a fine job pinning the enemy down, it seems the game designers really wanted you to do the dirty work of actually killing the enemies. Sure your bazooka team sometimes takes a few out in a blast, but more often than not it is just you and your M1 Garand laying them down.


Two more dead Nazis, comin' right up...


Did I mention all the Nazi troops scream like little girls? It's as if the Germans ran out of soldiers and had to turn to the Hitler Youth to make ends meet.
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