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9:55 PM on 11.29.2011

How to start a flame war on a gaming site

We gamers are an opinionated bunch. Games old and new are routinely compared to titles even remotely similar - and in certain cases, compared to games with zero in common save for their interactivity. As online gaming media has become more and more prolific, ordinary people such as you and i have been given the opportunity to voice our opinions in blogs, forums and the general hype and/or hate machine surrounding our titles of choice. Inevitably, some of us will feel very much attached (or alternatively disappointed) with certain releases, and it seems many of us have little hesistation in putting our vociferious viewpoints forth. Enter the flame war.

Games journalists and ordinary "normies" are often accused of fishing for heated reactions to their opinions, based on how congruent their posts are with the mindset of the person reading on the other end. Depending on whom you ask, "flaming" (or trolling) is often either ludicrously frustrating, or hilariously entertaining. In an inspired effort to gauge the sense of humour readers have, Stephen Pastic presents this easy "how to" guide to starting a flame war on a gaming website. FLAME ON!

Swear ridiculous allegiance to a large company
Sony vs Nintendo vs Microsoft is a basic beginners move here. You should always be looking to pretend that your own livelihood and sense of self depends on a large, faceless multinational development/publishing company, despite the fact that they know nothing of you personally. You alone should know that your lone uninformed voice is far more powerful than an entire company's PR department in winning the hearts and minds of fellow gamers. The antiquated notion that opinions are as varied as people themselves should have zero bearing on your wonderfully phrased analyses and insight into why Nintendo is killing gaming, for example.

Show superiority via comparison
One tried and tested rule of a professional flame-baiter is that nothing proves your point better than comparing your title of choice to one that doesnt resonate with you as strongly. While there are some "informed" people who will use such comparisons to highlight differing features of similar titles, they are clearly just being subjective. You alone are the objective voice who knows the truth of the matter, and also clearly understand the definition of the word "objectively". Just think how many people will buy the wrong title (under the misguided idea that they prefer another game) if you did not take the time to show how Battlefield 3 is objectively better compared to Modern Warfare 3, to take a recent examplar.

Never back down
Occasionally, even the most hardy flamers will encounter one of these "rational" people responding to their well thought out arguments. Many weaker trollers can often be brought around to a compromise on views via a viewpoint which seems well reasoned and well researched - do not be fooled by this ruse! Even if all seems lost, and you believe you are just coming across like an opinionated asshole, a true flamer never loses sight of the fact that they are right and everyone else is wrong. If you can overcome reason, nobody can convince you that some people believe Haze to be a somewhat disappointing title - Fight the good fight!

Know the appropriate response
Here we move into the advanced steps for all you budding apprentice trolls. When you are presented with a counterpoint to your brilliantly lucid prose, you should always be aware of the correct way to respond. Even the most experienced among us can be swayed into believing someone else simply has a different opinion to our own. In the words of Tiger Woods, f*ck that! A true flamer will never utter something to the effect of "well, i personally disagree but i see your point". While there are many ways to counter such an idea, calling someone's mother into question with regard to her sexuality, physical size, or child rearing skills is always a good starting point. Calling someone a "f*ggot" or "retard" as often as possible is the gold standard here - and always remember that such inflammatory remarks can never be repeated too often. Be creative!

Key phrases
There are certain words and phrases which will immediately silence any naysayers with regard to your praise and/or critique. Whilst not a definitive list, gems such as "fanboy", "n00b", "Micro$oft" and the aforementioned understanding of the defintion of "objective" will prove to be invaluable tools to a flaming enthusiast, and are at no risk of painting you as an uninformed d*ckhead. Always remember that your superior knowledge of the intricacies of the english language which you clearly demonstrate time and time again will put you in the position of superiority.

These are just a few of the basic points to consider as someone who totally knows what they are on about. Your opinion and yours alone is the only one which can save the games industry from the deluge of revered titles which actually suck hardcore ass. The road to becoming proficient at inciting the useless exchange of heated opinions is not an easy one to tread, but if you believe in yourself and abandon the outdated ideas of rationality, you too can enter the upper echelons of digital douchebaggery! Fan the flames, my friends!

S.Pastic   read

9:26 PM on 11.21.2011

The Twelve Step Program (Gamer's Edition)

The Twelve Step Program (Gamer's Edition)

Like many of you, i believe i have a problem and now realise that i need help. My actions have caused me to neglect my obligations, created periods of financial strain, and left me with a sense of powerlessness with regard to my situation. My name is Stephen Pastic, and i am a compulsive "day one purchaser". Despite my stack of hitherto neglected games residing in my home, i am compelled to purchase many new releases as soon as they become available, and in doing so, digging my frustrated completionist's hole even deeper. I have given no regard to the fact that many of these titles are generally available for half the cost if i could only wait a couple of months, and thought little of my responsibility to the unfinished games residing with me that depend upon yours truly for completion. Forgive me, fellow gamers - i know not what i do.

In an effort to remedy this mea culpa, i intend to make a positive difference. Taking a cue from those fine "Jesus enthusiasts" at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), i have drafted the world's first twelve step program for sufferers of "Day One Purchaser" (DOP) syndrome. For all whom this resonates with, Stephen Pastic simply wants you to know that you are not alone...and that he is totally not being turbo-douchey in referring to himself in the third person. Let the healing begin, my friends!

The Twelve Steps for the DOP Afflicted

1. We admitted we were powerless over day one purchases - that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves ("butt-hair parting" discounted prices two months from release) could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God - or failing that, Bobby Kotick as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, and our gaming collections.

5. Admitted to either God, to ourselves, and to another human being - preferably Shigeru Miyamoto - the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have either God or David Jaffe remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him (AKA Hideo Kojima) to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, games we had neglected, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others - or where it would collide with experiencing a fully awesomesauce title before spoilers happen.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it, even if we had previously assumed the game to be digital excrement.

11. Sought through prayer, meditation and headshots to improve our conscious contact with God, and our Kill/Death ratios as we understood them, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other DOP sufferers, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

To any fellow DOP afflicted persons who have had the courage to read this far : Congratulations! You have taken the first step to conquering the element of your life which has caused you so much unneccessary pain. I want you all to know that there are people who care, even if those people are not the ones who put you up for adoption 22 years ago. Seize the day, my friends! Your new life in gaming begins now!

S.Pastic   read

10:26 PM on 10.22.2011

The worst sex offenders in gaming

Attention citizens! Coinciding with a marked jump in the incidence of digital deviance in recent years, reports have been made of suspicious characters lurking among game collections worldwide. For your safety, we have compiled a list of some of the most threatening suspects currently at large. If you happen to spot one of these individuals, call your local police immediately - under no circumstances should you attempt to apprehend any of the following sex offenders - most (if not all) are armed, dangerous and several sandwiches short of a picnic.

Name/Known aliases : Pyramid Head AKA Gary
Seen in the vicinity of : Silent Hill 2
Distinguishing features : Large red triangular helmet, huge bugger off knife (often seen being dragged behind)

Primarily operating out of the small town of Silent Hill, Pyramid Head is alleged to have viciously raped several of the local creatures, as well as having killed others whilst in pursuit of one James Sunderland. Witnesses to these events have described sudden appearances of the suspect, usually followed by either extreme murderous violence, forced intercourse, or in some cases, both. Reports show that the offender usually moves very slowly - as such, a hasty retreat is heavily recommended in the event of an encounter. Perpetrator also seems to favour potential victims bearing a heavy conscience, or persons whose names rhyme with "Blames Wunderland".

Name/Known aliases : "Doctor drill" (name unknown)
Seen in the vicinity of : Heavy Rain
Distinguishing features : Balding white hair, seen carrying a drill

Residents of Heavy Rain, be on your guard - persons who offer invitation inside their domicile should be treated with caution. Described by witness Madison Page - this man is of average height, favours white shirts reminiscent of a medical professional, and may offer potential victims a beverage drugged with a powerful sedative. Tethered to a workbench upon waking, Ms Page described her assailant moving toward her pubic region with a large drill, and was only able to make an escape following an interruption of the suspect's activities from an unaware third party. According to the witness statement, people should also take note of middle aged men fitting the above description who speak with a ludicrously over-the-top theatrically creepy vocal intonation. Additionally, individuals harbouring decomposing male corpses in their basement should be considered highly suspicious.

Name/Known aliases : Alma Wade AKA the scary little kid
Seen in the vicinity of : F.E.A.R. 2
Distinguishing features : Long black hair obscuring a blank facial expression, appears/disappears suddenly

Authorities warn people in the vicinity of F.E.A.R. 2 that a habitual stalker/telepathic female rapist is at large. In a victim statement, Mr Michael Becket describes being persistently stalked by what appears to be a young female. Initially rejecting the advances of the suspect, Mr Becket alleges the approaches made became increasingly frequent and violent, culminating in his non-consensual impregnation of the offender. Witnesses are urged to call police at the first indication of the perpetrator's prescence. Things to look for include the apparent mirage of a swing in the middle of a clearing, as well as the entire space time continuum seemingly going "tits up".

Name/Known aliases : Goichi Suda AKA Suda51
Seen in the vicinity of : Killer7, No More Heroes, Shadows of the Damned
Distinguishing features : Japanese male, clinically insane (diagnosis to be confirmed)

Dwellers in the locales listed above, be on the lookout for a game designer who has habitually molested the brains of many with his products. Associated with the "Grasshopper Manufacture" street gang, Suda51 often employs methods such as psychopathy, nonsensical humour and utter disdain for traditional game design to isolate and abuse his chosen victims. Thinking 'outside the box' and the desire to try new things are patterns of behaviour to avoid in order to minimise one's likelihood of victimisation. Authorities advise that keeping a copy of any "triple-a" mainstream title on hand at all times is remarkably effective at keeping this predator at a safe distance.

Name/Known aliases : Michael Jackson AKA the King of Pop
Seen in the vicinity of : Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
Distinguishing features : "Rubber-like" face, fond of walking backwards, likes children...a lot

This guy is DANGEROUS. Downright BAD, in fact. HISTORY shows us this guy is completely OFF THE WALL. He has been spotted in both BLACK OR WHITE, and his favourite film genre is reported to be THRILLER. Recent victim BILLIE JEAN was forced to watch the offender BEAT IT - when asked to stop, Mr Jackson allegedly responded with "it's just THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL". Known to be quite the SMOOTH CRIMINAL, this offender has also abused a STRANGER IN MOSCOW, although given his mental state, would be hard pressed to REMEMBER THE TIME himself.

-S. Pastic   read

11:55 PM on 10.20.2011

So, you want to be a games writer?

*An aspiring gaming writer's look at what like minded individuals should consider while in the process of developing their craft - equal parts self aggrandising, pretentious and (hopefully) somewhat interesting, Stephen Pastic pretends to know what he is talking about.

Gaming culture has come a long way in the last couple of decades. Once viewed as the exclusive domain of socially maladjusted nerds, we now find ourselves at a point in time where certain big release titles are putting more traditional media such as films to shame in terms of gross income. Gaming as a whole has become firmly ingrained into modern pop culture to such a degree that many of our grandparents are even familiar with "that Nintendo Wii thing", and brands such as Call of Duty are modern commercial behemoths. As the gaming audience has grown exponentially in both numbers and breadth, more and more gaming enthusiasts have transcended the idea of seeing their pastime as simply an entertainment product, and have begun turning a more critical and analytical eye towards the industry. For some time now, the gaming press has been moving increasingly away from print media, and towards their online counterparts - this shift has opened the doors for many otherwise "professionally unqualified" individuals to have their voice heard in arenas such as gaming blogs and forums, which for some people has in turn led to turning their pastime into a job.

So, what are the kind of things you should have a grasp on in attempting to emulate this route into games journalism?

First and foremost - read, read, read!
A good working knowledge of the english language is essentially a writer's toolbox, if you will excuse the uninspired simile. A firm hold on syntax, grammar and appropriate punctuation are a base necessity in attempting to convey your ideas and opinions to another reader in print. Good writing is something which becomes more apparent, and easier to replicate the more you are subjecting yourself to examples of other people's work. Much like a bodybuilder's muscles get stronger via working out, a writer's skill improves with exercise.

Know your material
Whilst it would be unrealistic for anyone to absorb absolutely everything within the gaming industry, one should ideally aim to subject themselves to as much as possible. Different people will obviously have varying levels of knowledge of particular aspects of gaming culture, but it certainly pays to have a familiarity with as much as is plausible. From current news and releases to the economics of the industry - the more you know, the more you have to draw from.

Original content is king
Even though there is definitely a place for the "dry news" such as official press releases and so forth, with the multitude of digital outlets for this information, restricting yourself to only writing about the same things as everybody else will make it exponentially more difficult for you to stand out among the millions blogging or tweeting about the same thing. Ideally, one should always be on the lookout for ideas to write about as they occur to you. Granted, it is very difficult to come up with a completely original angle that has never been explored before, but at least you will be showing that you are capable of demonstrating your ability to synthesise your own ideas and opinions on your chosen topic.

Develop your own "voice"
Somewhat related to the original content angle, the vast majority of discussion within the gaming community will be based on ideas which have been voiced many times before. With this in mind, don't be afraid to inject some personality into your writing - unless you happen to have stumbled on a completely new idea, you need to give potential readers some incentive to listen to your opinion or voice - as opposed to any other outlet they could get the same information from. From the more serious, analytical kind of articles to a ridiculous humour piece, there is room for you to try it all. Be creative and consider exploring different ways of getting an idea or opinion across.

Tap your greatest resource
We gaming enthusiasts are lucky in the sense that (in many ways) our greatest resource is our fellow gamers. Get involved in discussions, exchange ideas and keep an ear open to what is happening. Few people know gaming better than gamers ourselves - you never know where the next ball-smashingly brilliant idea will come from!

...and finally
Always take the time to thoroughly proof-read what you have written - do as i say, not as i do! wpugshi39r!   read

4:20 AM on 10.19.2011

Multiplayer - check the use-by date

The current console generation has ushered in many things we gamers take for granted nowadays. From downloadable content to high definition graphics, a lot of what is now common was either something of a rarity or widely non-existent a few short years ago. However, one of the biggest "back of the box" bullet points now ubiquitous amongst console gamers is online multiplayer modes. No longer hamstrung by the need for additional controllers (and people to use them), the modern console gaming landscape is awash with variations on gametypes such as co-operative and versus play over the internet. Within a few short years, we have now reached the point where some titles are now primarily sold off the back of their multiplayer component (think Call of Duty or Halo).

As someone who had never delved into the world of PC gaming, this console generation has been my introduction into the online gaming world. I was initially floored by the ability to kick the living shit out of someone in Texas at Dead or Alive 4 (hey, my standards were quite low at the time), while talking an amount of smack via headset that would make a heroin dealer blush. As time went on, i developed a fascination with certain multiplayer games, and spent many an hour griefing some much better "proper" players at games such as Gears of War (wow - they really hate compulsive chainsawers, don't they?). While my focus has somewhat shifted back toward the more single player focused titles of late, something has recently been bothering me about the bigger picture of multiplayer gaming.

Several months back, i bought Assassin's Creed : Brotherhood for PS3. Upon giving the multiplayer portion a spin, i exclaimed something to the effect of "man, this game is the freaking tits!". Several weeks passed before i returned to the game - and much to my surprise - could not start a game for love nor money...simply not enough people were actively playing that game mode while i searched in vain. Herein lies an issue which has become increasingly prevalent - if there is not a sufficient number of players in the majority of these games, that whole portion of the title essentially becomes useless. Whilst some definitely have a greater longevity that others (COD, Gears, Halo, etc.), others such as the aformentioned AC:Brotherhood and Uncharted 2 effectively come with a built in use-by date (or at least become noticeably much more difficult to get into) - and even the larger games will eventually at some point be completely useless in terms of their multiplayer components.

As time goes on, increasingly more resources are being put into online modes by developers in an effort to capture a slice of this demographic (and the associated sales). Given that these game modes are such a prevalent part of the industry, this state of affairs seems to be completely (if you will excuse the expression), retarded. Especially when some titles have been able to completely nullify this issue via very simple means. Killzone 3 and Gears of War 2 & 3 are just a few of those games who have been able to completely neuter this utter redundance of a significant portion of their content via the option to play against an AI or "bots", with all other multiplayer features intact. In these cases, even the lack of an internet connection will still allow all players to experience most of the entire breadth of content produced.

Putting aside the cynical idea of developers and/or publishers making this move deliberately in order to make a newer iteration more appealing, there really is no excuse for this. If what we are purchasing is essentially a commercial product, do not make access to a portion of that content contingent upon how many people are currently utilising it - especially when such an obvious alternative option exists.

S.Pastic   read

1:29 AM on 05.09.2011

Pastic Surgery - Games which have gone under the knife

Over the last few years of this console generation, we have been seeing a marked increase in the number of older games being re-made, re-modeled and re-mixed. As the development of new intellectual properties becomes riskier by the year (at least from a business perspective), many companies have at some point attempted to leverage an older, more familiar product towards gamers' wallets. Here, we take a look back at some of these titles to have gone under the developer's knife, as well as examining what worked and what came out looking like Nicole Kidman's face.

---NOTE : Only titles i have personally experienced both the original and its remake are up for consideration here. So before anyone tells me i forgot game x, y or indeed i didnt. Im sorry i just yelled. It's not your fault. Im glad we got that out in the open. Friends?

*Conker Live and Reloaded (Xbox)

Released in 2005 following Microsoft's aquisition of Rare Ltd., this re-made version of Conker's Bad Fur Day for the Nintendo 64 was largely unexpected. Released late in the N64's lifecycle, the original game did not garner the kind of sales figures often associated with re-make territory, despite its positive critical reception.

-What it did right-
Having recently played both versions, the visual difference is huge. Compared to the original title, Live and Reloaded simply looks amazing. While still essentially the same game, the Xbox version manages to look a lot less "blocky" than its 64 bit sibling, as well as featuring some pretty damn impressive textures, particularly on Conker's fur. In addition, there are occasional 'fourth wall' breaking segments of dialogue which directly reference minor differences to the original game - to those who are familiar with Bad Fur Day, there are a couple of surprise twists waiting to throw the player off momentarily. Lastly, there is the multiplayer component - as someone who didn't play much of it, my take on this mode is pretty limited. However, what is immediately apparent is that this portion of the game is entirely new, and takes little from the original's multiplayer mode. Featuring game types such as 'Deathmatch' and 'Capture the Flag', this class-based mutiplayer component was supposedly one of the most popular online titles for the original Xbox.

-Where the knife slipped-
For some reason, Live and Reloaded is much more heavily censored in terms of language than Bad Fur Day. Going against historical precedent, Nintendo's cartridge is by far the more expletive laced of the two. Whilst not a deal breaker, there is something that is lost in hearing an "anti-swear word bleep" while a vertically challenged Grim Reaper is ostensibly calling the player character a "twat". Furthermore, some of the words chosen for the new bleep-out treatment do seem a bit arbitrary compared to the more egregious ones, such as the dreaded "f-bomb". Also, whilst the new spin on multiplayer was obviously a welcome one (given its popularity), i couldn't help but get nostalgic for Bad Fur Day's modes - whilst i may be viewing this through retro goggles, i seem to recall personally enjoying the older one much more in this regard.

-Overall- (on a scale of Tara Reid's boob job to ten)
8 - a much better looking, somewhat less filthy sounding version of an oft forgotten classic title. Check those bargain bins!

*Metal Gear Solid : The Twin Snakes (Gamecube)
Coming out eight years after the original Metal Gear Solid, it should come as little surprise that The Twin Snakes is visually leagues ahead of the 1998 classic. Jointly developed by Konami and Silicon Knights (of "Eternal Darkness" and "Too Human" fame), this re-make also features new gameplay elements originally seen in MGS2 : Sons of Liberty, as well re-recorded voice overs from the (mostly) original cast.

-What it did right-
For the most part, everything. Visually, The Twin Snakes makes the original look like Sarah Jessica Parker in comparison...yes, i do mean that insultingly. Whilst impressive at the time, looking at Solid Snake's head in all its heavily pixelated glory does not hold a candle to actually looking like something resembling a face. Whilst this alone would have translated into a 'must buy' for fans of the series, the developers went even further in adding features from MGS2 such as first person shooting, the ability to move bodies around and the ability to hang off ledges. The re-done voice acting also has some slight differences - Snake in particular sounds noticeably less gruff in the original, whereas in the newer game he sounds much closer to the voice many of us have become accustomed to. For the most part though, any other differences in vocal work are much more subtle, and aside from some isolated examples, one would be hard pressed to notice any jarring changes.

-Where the knife slipped-
The one glaring fumble on the developers part are the (admittedly few) added cutscenes. While this may on the surface sound like a good thing, it quickly turns sour when it seems every single one was inspired by "The Matrix" in a major way. From Snake firing at a helicopter after jumping off a missile in mid-flight, to a newfound fixation on slow motion backflips, it becomes much harder to maintain the suspension of disbelief already demanded of the game when one of these scenes suddenly pops up. Absent too are the "VR training missions" from the original - not necessary by any means, but it would have been nice to have them included regardless. Finally, there is one instance of the new gameplay additions making one boss fight laughably easy - Revolver Ocelot is an absolute joke this time around owing to the first person aiming.

-Overall- (on a scale of Michael Jackson's nose to ten)
9 - when a remake causes its original classic to become mostly obsolete, there really is little to complain about. Good luck finding a copy in Australia anymore, though...

*Ninja Gaiden Sigma (PS3)
Much like various incarnations of certain Resident Evil titles, this game has been re-released and re-made several times. Starting life as a 2004 Xbox title, Ninja Gaiden was then re-released with some new features as Ninja Gaiden Black in 2005, and then again after some further tweaking on the Playstation 3 as Ninja Gaiden Sigma in 2007.

-What it did right-
Aside from the improved visual quality one would expect in the jump from the Xbox to the PS3, Sigma adds a sizeable amount of content, especially in comparison to the games first incarnation. Featuring several new chapters as a new playable character, an easier difficulty setting (for what was admittedly a pretty difficult game), and new weapons, Team Ninja at least went above the token graphical upgrade.

-Where the knife slipped-
Somewhat more difficult to quantify than most remakes, as some minor features seen in Ninja Gaiden Black were conspicuously absent from Sigma - most notably the unlockable original NES game, as well as the combo meter. Besides this, gamer opinion does seem to be somewhat divided between the superiority of Black vs Sigma on various minute details, most of which will not be noticed by the vast majority of players.

-Overall- (on a scale of Donald Trump's hairpiece to ten)
7 - in my opinion, the definitive version of a great action game - just a shame that some additional features were cut. Not quite a huge graphical leap either, given the relatively short space of time between each iteration.

*Perfect Dark Zero (XBLA)
The "spiritual sequel" to Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64, Perfect Dark was released to critical acclaim in 2000. One of the most popular titles for the system, it featured one of the most robust local multiplayer modes seen on consoles at the time. Re-released on XBLA in 2010, the updated version featured updated textures and online functionality, as well as new control options.

-What it did right-
Adding Xbox Live functionality to an already impressive list of multiplayer modes and options was an obvious tweak to be made, but a very welcome one at that. No longer hamstrung by the need for 3 additional controllers (and the required people on the couch to use them), Perfect Dark Arcade allows players to re-live the game with the modern conveniences of voice chat and Xbox Live. A slight graphical overhaul doesn't exactly bring the game up to current visual standards, but still helps to make the game much less dated. Perfect Dark Arcade also somewhat updates the original's control scheme allowing for dual stick functionality.

-Where the knife slipped-
Not much to complain about in comparison to the original game - with no modes missing and all original content included, Perfect Dark Arcade is the same game, only with an updated look and some new features.

-Overall- (on a scale of Heidi Montag's entire body to ten)
9 - An updated version of an old classic with all content intact. Whilst the game (much like it's older brother Goldeneye) does not really hold up brilliantly to modern standards - enemies still react to being shot with the infamous "late 90's Rare game interpretative dance routine", for example - at a price point of approximately $10, its difficult to be ultra critical of this package.

*Resident Evil (Gamecube)
A title which has must surely be in the running for "most frequently re-released game" on various platforms, Capcom's 1996 PSX survival horror was updated for the Gamecube in 2002. Featuring a massive visual upgrade, new environments, a particularly powerful new enemy and new audio, Resident Evil for the Gamecube is one of the most substantial re-makes of a game in the last decade.

-What went right-
An awful lot, simply. To say that Resident Evil on the Gamecube looks WAY better than the original is like saying that Forrest Gump is an alright movie in comparison to the works of Pauly Shore. By far one of (if not the most) visually stunning titles available for Nintendo's little cuboid system, it is actually physically painful on one's eyes to play the original game afterwards. The addition of a nemesis-esque enemy in the form of Lisa Trevor is also a highpoint of the re-make. Being an enemy one is unable to go toe to toe with for the most part makes for some particularly tense sequences, as the player frantically attempts to wrestle with the controller to make a quick getaway. For conoisseurs of the series, there are also some new subtle elements of narrative spliced in amongst the existing plot. The addition of new game modes and endings serves as the metaphorical cherry on top of the "way games should be remade" cake (clusmy simile count = 1).

-Where the knife slipped-
To be honest, nothing comes to mind outside of issues endemic to the original, such as a clunky feel to the controls - which some may argue is an inherent component of the survival horror experience. Whilst i may be forgetting some niggles here and there, the fact that i struggle to come up with a viable criticism highlights what a quality product this is.

-Overall- (on a scale of my own genitals to ten)
10 - A fine example of how re-makes should ideally be handled. With lots of new and updated content, all features intact, and a nice visual upgrade, it is little wonder why this title is among the most sought after for Gamecube owners.

Given the current state of the industry, it wouldn't be unwise to assume we will see many more of this kind of reworking of older titles in the coming years. It can only be hoped that developers will take heed of what has and has not worked for the re-makes currently in circulation. Remakes should ideally be seen as not only an opportunity to "tart up" their older titles visually, but also to fix some of the more obvious issues with the original product. Only time will tell if we can relive some more of our favourite titles with sigificant improvements, or if we are to be subjected to high definition versions of the existing flaws.

What are some other examples of re-makes which exemplify either end of this spectrum? What did i miss? Have you seen my wallet?

S.Pastic   read

3:38 AM on 05.06.2011

Stephen Pastic's Worthless Awards (part two)

Back by unpopular demand, I am pleased to present part two of our look back at gaming history dedicated to honouring the titles which never quite received the specific recognition they deserved. From old favourites to more contemporary interactive piles of excrement, no title is safe from escaping our microscope of clumsy metaphors. Now then,let us get on with the show as we resume "S.Pastic's Inherently Worthless Honours for the Retroactive Justification of Questionable Purchases" (working title) awards!

*The "Wine and Cheese" medallion - bestowed upon those games which have an uncanny knack for attracting haughty wine drinking, cheese eating art critic types to dissect the minutiae of its content, but usually only after they have read other more informed people's opinions on the subject matter.

Silent hill 2 (PS2/Xbox)

Allow me to clarify this potentially controversial winner - Silent Hill 2 is a great game in terms of its thematic content. In fact, i would say this title is one of the seminal works of survival horror that we gamers have experienced. However, as someone who only somewhat recently played through it, i never fail to be amazed at the "matter of fact" manner in which many fans will claim how blatantly concrete and obvious the more ambiguous components of the story are. Aside from the main thrust of the story involving James Sunderland's wife (as well as Angela Orosco's subplot), i can't help but shake the feeling that even the developers did not intend for certain minor details to be analysed to the degree that they have. Furthermore, if we are being honest with ourselves, was Eddie Dombrowski REALLY that well written as a character? "Hey James, im gonna come across as relatively normal until the plot makes it convenient for me to suddenly turn on you because people laughed at me". Piss off, you tubby poorly written douche...

*The "Narrative Sewing Machine" badge - an honour generally reserved for sequels of heavily plot-driven games which find themselves desperately trying to tie up any remaining loose ends in the overall narrative. The sewing machine on the badge represents....oh bugger it - you get the joke....

Metal Gear Solid 4 (PS3)

I love the Metal Gear Solid series. Easily one of my favourite works of fiction in any medium, Hideo Kojima and pals deserve credit for making their mega convoluted story with shades of social commentary even remotely coherent. However, at certain points throughout the series (particularly MGS 2 and 4), the story resembles the aftermath of an eight-way gangbang with all the instances of "what the?" moments, ludicrous coincidences and ultra convenient plot points. A terrific conclusion to the main series, MGS 4 still cannot escape giving the impression that Mr Kojima was just running down a checklist of unresolved threads trying to offer any kind of explanation, no matter how inconceivable.

*The "Holy Crest of M. Night Shyamalan" - As something of a recent gaming trope, this accolade is awarded to the titles that feature plot twists which would make the Indian/American cinematic one trick pony proud. If this current trend continues, this distinction is sure to be a very hotly contested prize in the coming years.

Bioshock (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

Released to universal critical acclaim, 2K's underwater objectivist fun fest is regularly held up as an example of the most well written games of this generation. However, almost as universally cited is Bioshock's final act being something of a letdown in comparison. The transition comes in the form of a twist which has become so ubiquitous in gamer culture that the phrase "would you kindly?" is now a meme approaching the level of "the cake is a lie". One of the rarer examples of a well executed plot twist in gaming, and a very worthy recipient of this award - just a shame that the story goes downhill from there. Now M. Night, "would you kindly" make a movie that isn't total crap?

*The "Paris Hilton Self-titled Album" certificate - An award no game should hope to win, this is presented to titles which are released off the back of lots of marketing dollars, only to be critically panned....with very good reason. Just like Paris, developers of these games should have just made a sex tape instead of releasing nominees for this certificate.

Haze (PS3)

Prior to Haze's release, the term "Halo killer" was thrown around the gaming press so often that it almost seems like a cruel joke in retrospect. Routinely described at best as "disappointing" and at worst "digital cancer", to say that Free Radical Design's first PS3 game failed to set the industry on fire is an understatement tantamount to saying that Charlie Sheen doesn't mind the odd bit of cocaine. I'll be honest here - i have not finished Haze. In fact, i have not played beyond the third chapter. It is simply (to put it delicately) quite crap. I aquired this game for $10, and felt ripped off enough to give the good people of Consumer Affairs a call.

*The "Paraplegic's Approval" label - A proposed new label to be affixed to game cases, the "Paraplegic's Approval" denotes a title which does not stand up well over time. Even games once considered to be great and influential on the industry are not immune from having this sticker affixed when hindsight becomes clear.

Goldeneye (Nintendo 64)

Ooh controversial! To anyone having the instinctive gut reaction of "BULLCRAP! GOLDENEYE IS BEST GAME EVAAAR, YO!", we present one simple question. Have you played this game recently? A once overwhelmingly revered title, Goldeneye changed many people's minds about the capacity of consoles to handle first person shooters well...and with good the time. Having recently gone back to do some mega 64 bit "James Bond-ing",
this game really serves as a brilliant example of how far the FPS genre has come over time. From enemies that react to being shot with an interpretive dance routine, to Natalya's frankly laughable/stroke inducing habit of walking in front of the player's crosshair, Goldeneye simply does not hold up anymore. A once brilliant game which heralded the arrival of much better FPS games - to maintain that this 1997 release still beats out more modern titles is quite bluntly grounds for mental examination.

Now ladies and gentlemen - time for the viewer/reader interactivity portion of proceedings - do you want more of these terribly written, overextended throwaway jokes dished out to worthy recipients? Or, just like Guitar Hero, is this series getting long in the tooth? As before, flame away via the toll free number on screen, or alternatively feel free to leave a comment informing me how badly i suck at games!

S.Pastic   read

3:35 AM on 05.06.2011

Stephen Pastic's Worthless Awards (part one)

People love worthless awards, top ten lists and other such documentations of subjectivity. Trust me, i've checked up on it. In the inspired effort to generate message board controversy, here is the first in an ongoing series dedicated to recognising games from our past and present with incredibly dubious distinctions.
So without further ado, let us get cracking with the inaugural "S.Pastic's Inherently Worthless Honours for the Retroactive Justification of Questionable Purchases" (working title) awards!

*The "Gilded Beret" - awarded to a title which despite all odds manages to somehow be both ludicrously pretentious and suffer from subpar gameplay, yet still be seen as brilliant for some unquantifiable reason.

Killer7 (Gamecube/PS2)
With a story that is simultaneously both clever and functionally retarded, gameplay which one could charitably describe as coma inducing and "puzzles" that wouldn't even slow down a Forrest Gump/Rain Man tag team, Killer7 doesn't exactly sound like the kind of title one heavily recommends playing. Whether it has to do with the striking cel-shaded visual presentation, the memorable cast of (mostly) utter lunatics, or the mind-rapingly bizarre plot, there is something incalculable about how Suda51 and co. managed to essentially take a digital dump in my Gamecube only to have me ask for seconds very enthusiastically.

*The "Diamond Cartridge" citation - this honour is bestowed upon the hardest games available for a given system. Diamond is one of the hardest substances known to too is the level of difficulty in completing the titles which carry this distinction.

Battletoads (NES)
Whilst this decision will no doubt be followed by countless posts proclaiming "YO DAWG! THIS GAME IS EASY! YOU SUXXORZ LOL!" in some circles, i don't think it would be overly presumptuous to call shenanigans on the vast majority of this keyboard diahorrea. Quick show of hands - who gave up after trying in vain to beat the speeder bike sequence in level three? How about the snake pit? Or maybe the level in the tubes filled with spikes, blind drops and lots of other things that hate you? I hereby submit to the jury that most people who played this game for any length of time back in the day know EXACTLY what i am talking about. The prosecution rests, your honour.

*The "I Didn't Buy It, But Its Actually Not Bad" seal of backpedalling - Awarded to those titles we own but yet feel the need to qualify our ownership of....usually in the form of some longwinded and transparent routine as to how it came to reside in one's collection.

Uno (XBLA)
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Many a time have i received an Xbox message from a friend online questioning my sexuality and/or personal deviance while enjoying down time in the glorified chat room/griefing haven that is Uno on Xbox Live Arcade. Does anyone really need to justify the occasional urge to sit down with a few cans at the end of a night and talk rubbish with people on the other side of the globe? Let's face facts here - just like self love, most (if not all) of us have done (and enjoyed) it.

Honourable Mention :

Dance Central (Xbox 360)
While routinely heralded as one of the better "Kinect" launch titles, as a metalhead there is definitely something slightly unnerving about working ones way through Dance Central's tracklist only to realise the massive smile creeping across your face. Even more so, trying to convince fellow headbangers to have a bash at flailing like an electrified mongoose to the smooth sounds of one Miss Lady Gaga, Ph.D. Here is a prediction if you find yourself in the position i did : it will not end well. Full points for inclusion of Young MC's "Bust A Move" though - no backpedalling required there....a sadly oft forgotten classic! BUST IT!

Time for a quick message from our sponsors - in the meantime, let us here at Stephen Pastic Inc. know what you think! Call the number onscreen, or alternatively leave a comment. Stay tuned for more incredibly dodgy honours to follow in part two!

S.Pastic   read

4:25 AM on 05.03.2010

Interview - Raymond Herrera of 3volution Productions

Download the interview here :

In this special "flu edition" interview, Stephen Pastic chats with Raymond Herrera (who some readers may also recognise as the original drummer of Fear Factory) about his production company 3volution, which specialises in audio content for game developers.

Raymond tells us of the origins of 3volution, the way that game audio and music licensing has changed and grown since the mid 90's, the difficulties of breaking into the business (even as a professional musician) and the joys of having to fly back to fix a track on your only days off while touring with a band, among other subjects. At a whopping twenty eight minutes, if you have even a passing interest in game audio (or Raymond's other work for that matter), give it a listen.

Here is where you can find some of Raymond's work and other projects:

S.Pastic   read

3:25 AM on 03.29.2010

S. Pastic @ the Mana Bar

Thanks to a riptastic earlier post by Dtoid Australia (The Mana Bar : Australia's first gaming destination), lets keep this short and a midget dipped in sugar.

For the two of you who havent read the aformentioned article, the Mana Bar is Australia's first video game bar whose owners include Yahtzee (of Zero Punctuation fame) and Yug (from Located in Brisbane, the Mana Bar finally opened to the public on Saturday the 20th March 2010.

Yours truly was lucky enough to be given access to the pre launch "friends night" on Thursday the 18th of March, as well as attending the public opening two days later. Whats that, you say? Please tell us about it? Well, okay....but only because you asked nicely.

I had arranged with Yug to meet for an interview prior to the friends night kicking off, but upon arriving, there was a lot of frantic last minute preparations happening between Yug, Yahtzee and a handful of friends/volunteers. Even prior to everyone else arriving several hours later, the place was already a hive of activity. So we decided to postpone the interview till later, and in the meantime, began to help out with getting a few odds and ends sorted out (for all you fans of useless trivia who happen to be there, check out the Ezio figurine in the display cabinet - the screens went up before anyone realised the foam covering his wrist blades hadn't been taken off).

After a brief dinner intermission, i returned to find everything up and running as well as a few new faces hitting up the Jack Daniels slushie machine (i know - i've never seen one either!). While Yahtzee and Yug were busy giving face time to a news crew from Channel Nine, friends began filtering in and wasting no time in beating the hell out of each other on games such as Street Fighter IV, Guitar Hero, Wii Sports and Soul Calibur IV among others. Several wins, defeats and drinks later, Yug suggested we do the interview while going outside for a smoke, so we grabbed our "interview camera dude" for the night - Yahtzee - and (admittedly after two false starts due to technical difficulties) put our media hats on outside the bar. Video Interview w/Yug @ the Mana Bar

Saturday - Public Opening

I arrived ten minutes prior to the 12:00 midday opening to find a line almost reaching the corner of the street. At this time already, i had never seen so many cosplayers in close proximity (special mention to the girl dressed as Princess Peach who did not break character once the whole day - "So what do you do?" "Oh, i just got back from Bowser's castle...i was kidnapped"). A new years eve style countdown began, and the venue was officially open for business. Owing to the fifty person capacity of the bar, the line did not move much initially and i began to prepare for a long wait. Soon after, i was recognised in line by one of the other owners, Shay (their resident Ph.D in mixology) and waved through past the only security dude in the country dressed as Ryu.

To minimise the risk of covering the same ground as Dtoid Australia's prior awesomesauce post on this same day, highlights of the day included : witnessing a mario cosplayer coming out of the bathroom and not having some kind of "plumbing" joke ready, an accapella version of "Still Alive" from Portal which literally came out of nowhere and spread to two other tables (oh yes, you bet your ass i made sure to record that!), some borderline dress code violations (in the good way), running into a Mr. Destructoid head staring you down in the toilets, Yahtzee wiping the floor with anyone who dared pick up a plastic guitar and meeting fellow Dtoiders FooLiz, Space Cowboy, FurySevenSix and Madman0017.

A massively fun day had by all, and surely a place which is sure to become something of a mecca for Australian gamers as a whole - particularly the lucky bastards that live in Brisbane!   read

1:45 PM on 03.03.2010

Are we giving motion controls a chance?

Nintendo Wii. Project Natal. Sony "infringing copyright".

Much has been made in recent months of the "motion control craze", with an overwhelmingly unanimous viewpoint. To put it delicately, there seems to be a lacklustre response from most of the gaming community for these ideas - to put it more succinctly, "fuck motion control in the ass with a brick" is the digital echo bouncing around many of the forums and articles on the subject.

Whilst i would be bending the truth lawyer style to suggest my Wii is not covered in a thin film of dust for most of the year, this general attitude puzzles me. It seems that many gamers (as well as writers) seem to be forgetting that while motion control has done little to win many of us over, the fact remains that it is still in its infancy. To stretch the bad metaphor (like the waist of my pants hey-ho!), the idea is still in the maternity ward of the hospital, and needs time to grow into either a fully functioning being, or possibly, a marketing executive.

On a more practical level - aside from deviations like the Eye Toy, etc. - so far, we really only have the Wii experience as a basis for comparison at present. So while it has been struggling (gameplay wise, anyway) so far, the idea has only been tested in any significant way for one piece of hardware for just over three years - remember how underwhelming 3D graphics were three years in? Now, 3D is everywhere because it had time to grow, to improve - in fact, we no longer even refer to most games as has become the standard. Another thing to factor in is the mind bendingly retarded sales (and as such, install base) of the Wii. With an install base that large comes the inevitable shovelware pumped out by companies worldwide in an attempt to capture a slice of that demographic - which by and large is doing little to push the idea further towards some potential we hadnt yet considered.

I am not trying to suggest that our traditional controller based games should be replaced eventually by motion controls - especially not at a time when my 360 and PS3 account for 95% of gameplay. What i am trying to put forward is that many people are forgetting the basic notion that nobody lists titles such as Bubsy 3D as their favourite example of a 3D platformer. As such we should bear in mind that the idea of motion control has not been explored thoroughly, and the concept should be given a chance to grow rather than be neutered by the online community before the idea has found its feet and learned to walk.

S. Pastic   read

9:12 PM on 03.02.2010

Something about sex: so predictable...

Okay, lets skip the verbal lubricant as we head straight for climax...

Given its increasing prevalence over the last few years, sexual elements in games has become one of the bigger talking points of late. Just find any article on God Of War III, Heavy Rain, Bayonetta or Mass Effect 2 and see how far you can get without a mention of sex in some regard. On some level, it seems both developers and their audiences have some newfound degree of fixation on genitals. What a bunch of dicks and/or tits!

Given that these games generally tend to carry a rating of at least 15+, i will assume most of us are at least of that age. Whilst the idea of sex (and its place within relationships) is definitely something to be explored, are we still all really that fascinated by it? Reaction to any news of sexual content within an upcoming title is very telling of this - if it is announced that "game x" will feature these elements, you can be certain that a ridiculous percentage of any discussion around the game will completely disregard the game itself, in favour of how "real boobs dont look like that!". Come to think of it, why the hell are developers announcing this kind of thing with all the enthusiasm of a "back of the box" bullet point?

The answer is simple - because it will get people talking about their game, irrespective of how borderline non existent the sex is within. Are we really that predictable?

Sex is an element of our everyday lives, whether we are having it or not. As such, yes, it would be terrific if the idea can be implemented in a way where its relevance is not purely restricted to controversy and childlike giggling at the rude parts on screen. Our collective reaction suggests that might be some time off...

S. Pastic   read

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