Who am I? I'm a guy who plays video games, talks way too much about comics and movies, likes Godzilla and Robocop, and lives up in Wisconsin. And yes. We get that much snow. Why should you read my blog? Because when I write I have fun, make up bullshit lists, and when I do get a little serious with some blogs I try to be insightful and use resources and facts to try and back up my opinion as much as I can. And if you don't follow my blog, I'll send you a picture of a sad kitten who wants some love.
Also, I tend to debate a lot and get up on a soapbox a bit from time to time. I like to debate for the sake of debating and I tend to find it fun to get other peoples perspectives on things, and sometimes I like to play devil's advocate a bit just for the sake of it. Basically, don't take me so serious sometimes even if it seems like I am being serious.
It's been a while since I've done any kind of NVGR blog, but elder Destructoiders will know that I have a penchant for talking about movies. Most of you also know that I'm a pretty huge fan of RoboCop, if my avatar didn't already give that away. So why am I writing this blog? The trailer for the remake of RoboCop just came out and, well, let me just post the video here first for you watch in case you haven't seen it already.
So yeah, here's what I think about this. First off, I kind of think the whole idea of remaking RoboCop is completely unnecessary. The original 1980's movie still holds up pretty well even today, yeah some of the special effects are a bit dated but what do you expect form a quarter-century old movie, and some of the movies themes such as greedy overzealous big business still ring pretty true today. Hell, RoboCop even predicted the bankruptcy of Detroit by 26 years. Take that fact and how the Starship Troopers movie oddly foreshadows America's war on terrorism and I'm pretty sure that Paul Verhoeven is actually a time traveler from the future. In short, I think if RoboCop was released in 2013 instead of 1987 I think it would still be a pretty relevant movie.
Beyond being a fairly unnecessary remake, lets talk about the new RoboCop suit since that's the most prominent thing in the trailer. I don't really like it. Specifically, I really don't like the all-black final version of the new suit. They quickly show some earlier versions of the suit during the trailer (including the classic suit) that all retain the classic RoboCop color scheme and I think all of those look much better, because they all still look like RoboCop. Over on Dtoid's forums, I was talking to Trev about this and he said "Black with glowing red eyes so edgy. I bet his XBL name is XxSnIpErHeLlDeMoN666xX."
The all black suit in my opinion really makes the suit look fake and un-robotic, especially when compared to the classic suit or even the more 'metallic' suits found in the trailer. It looks like an unfinished movie prop or some lame Halloween costume. Plus given the success of the Chris Nolan Batman movies and the cult following of Dredd you can clearly see that they're being influenced by the current trends instead of just doing a more faithful recreation of RoboCop. When they're talking about making the suit black in the trailer, I wish they would have actually said "Does it come in black?" since they were pretty clearly trying to steal the same line from Batman Begins.
What I really liked about the classic RoboCop suit was that it looked industrialized and was something that looked like it could easily be mass produced. It had parts of that were sleek looking such as the helmet or the chest piece, but other parts of it were still kept fairly practical and robotic looking. Such as having the joints on the body exposed or having the piston behind his leg visible, it gave the impression that it was set up this way for quick maintenance and repair. Functionality and practicality over style and flash, right? The old RoboCop suit reminds me of a car, it's got flashy cosmetic parts where it can afford to have them but beyond that everything is still kept pretty practical under the hood where it counts. The new suit looks like the polar opposite of that, which makes it look like an unbelievable robot and more like a glorified guy in a rubber suit.
From what the trailer gives away of the story (which, honestly, seems like a lot), it seems like it's missing a ton of the spark of the original movie and is opting for a very "play it safe" version of RoboCop. In the original movie he's murdered by gangsters after being gunned down to the point where he's a pile of shotgun tenderized meat, so there's absolutely no way Murphy is ever able to exist again. In the new movie he's never actually killed, and technically could still live a life as a crippled human (akin to a badly scarred war veteran).
The plot of the movie still seems to involve Murphy regaining his humanity, even though he never really loses it this time. In the original after he dies his mind is (mostly) erased and loses most of his body during the transformation into RoboCop. He's stripped of as much humanity as possible, has no family to comfort him, very faint echos of his past, and all he knows are his prime directives. His programming isn't necessarily 'evil' (well, except for Prime Directive 4), but rather just an obstacle he needs to overcome in order to regain his self identity. The whole payoff of the movie was to see RoboCop call himself "Murphy" again.
Meanwhile this new movie seems to have him never lose his sense of identity, still constantly has his wife and son near him, and is in general a lot more human. He never ceases being Alex Murphy, and the only thing really preventing him from being human again is some programming that is pretty blatantly made out to be "evil" by way of giving false self control. It seems like the writers don't want their audience to feel so down about watching Murphy come so close to the abyss of non-humanity, that they made him as human as possible in order to coddle the audience and go "See guys, he's going to be okay. He just needs to stop the bad guys."
Which gets me to my next point. The OCP guys in this movie seem to be pretty cut and dry bad guys this time around. I know, right now you're going "but the OCP bad guys in the original were pretty evil too". Yeah, you're right. But the thing about the original movie was that the bad guys in it (aside from Clarence Boddicker) all had their own motives that could be interpreted as noble. Dick Jones wanted to bring in money for his company and secure OCP's standing, and The Old Man wanted to destroy Detroit and build Delta City partially because Detroit was a dying shit hole. Bob Morton built RoboCop simply to get a promotion and piss off his boss, but at the same time knew the RoboCop program was an overall better idea for law enforcement.
In this trailer we see Michael Keaton's character talk about how they need something for the American people to rally behind, and later on we hear Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) talking about how human emotions simply get into the way. This makes it seem pretty obvious that RoboCop this time around is only built for OCP propaganda reasons and that if they could get away with a fully robotic soldier instead of a cyborg, the would. I imagine the movie will have some sort of plot moment where citizens are uncomfortable being defended by fully autonomous machines, which is what will prompt the "put a man in the machine" scene we see early in the trailer.
They're cutting out any of the slightly redeeming aspects and making everyone a more cut-and-dry bad guy. Again, stripping away the plot and making it simpler so that they can make sure even the most simplest of minds can figure out what's going on. I'm really getting the impression the new RoboCop movie in general missed a big part of the original movie's point, and the rest of it is simply being dumbed-down for all of the people who were too stupid to figure out what the original movie was about.
And then there's a few minor things that bug me. The trailer has just enough CG in it to bug me, especially in comparison to the practical-effects heavy original movie. I kind of figured ED-209 would be CG this time around since he was mostly stop-motion in the original movie, but his new look isn't entirely meshing with me. I think I like new ED-209 more than new-RoboCop though.
Also, what's up with that silly space-SMG RoboCop seems to carry around now instead of his over-sized hand gun? I don't know many "cops" that carry around fully auto assault rifles, they tend to carry around hand guns. This isn't named RoboSWAT, it's RoboCop. This is another one of those "I think they missed the point" moments. RoboCop was designed to resemble a regular police officer on steroids, his "armor" was set around resembling the typical Detroit police armor in the movie and he still carried around a handgun like a normal cop, just everything was cranked up a little bit because he was a super cop. Hell, the little ventilation window on RoboCop's chest was even shaped like and placed in the same spot as a normal cop's badge would be. I also miss the more slow-paced walk RoboCop had, it was pretty much one of the trademarks of the character, now he resembles a Terminator in his movements more than RoboCop.
On a positive note, I do enjoy most of the cast in this movie. I'm also actually okay with the person they picked to play RoboCop and I'm always good for more Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton. I just think the script and tone of the movie is all sorts of off. But, while I like Samuel L. Jackson, does this guy really need to be in everything these days?
I'll probably still go see RoboCop just in case I end up getting proven wrong, but this trailer seems to display a lot of what I didn't want to see in a RoboCop movie. If this was its own standalone sci-fi action flick and wasn't named RoboCop it would probably look a little better since it wouldn't have the expectations I have with that movie, but alas that is not the case.
MMORPGs are a genre I've dabbled in bunch of times over my gamer lifetime. It's a genre of video game that I think is an awesome concept, at least on paper, and it seems like something tailor made for this multiplayer-focused everyone-has-an-internet-connection era of video gaming. Yet, at least for me, it seems like my interest in MMOs has fizzled out in recent years. There seem to be issues with MMOs that, to a certain degree, I'm not sure the genre can get around and I wonder if it will eventually lead to the downfall of MMOs in general.
No, I'm not prophesying some doom-and-gloom scenario where MMORPGs are gone forever. That's obviously never going to happen, especially if you look at the recent hype regarding EverQuest. However, I have a feeling the MMO genre is going to see substantial downsizing. World of Warcraft's numbers have been on a steady decline for a while now, The Old Republic's numbers completely plummeted a few months after release, and (recent EverQuest news being the exception) when was the last time you heard really huge news or hype coming out of the MMO world? The last time I can personally remember a ton of chatter in the larger gaming world that revolved around an MMORPG was Guild Wars 2.
I'm kind of concerned that there's an issue regarding the entire process of building an MMO, or basically what developers think makes up an MMO. The easy cop-out way of saying it is "they need to stop copying WoW", but I think it's slightly more than that. There seems to be a bit of a group-think that goes into an MMO and what people apparently think needs to be in one to make it an MMORPG or some MMO variation. This is a cruel way to word it, but I can't think of any other way to - it seems like almost every MMO these days is†simply†just no fun to play.
I know that "fun" is a completely subjective thing and that what people enjoy differs greatly from person to person, but please just hear me out on this. I'm pretty tired of MMOs that revolve around you running up to enemies, hitting a certain sequence of buttons to activate abilities X/Y/Z, and watching two characters stand still swinging wildly until one of the two health bars reaches zero, and during the entire "battle" neither person shows any direct effects of the fight. Shit like that pulls me out of a game fast because I don't feel invested in the battle, I feel out of control, I find it boring. I'm a guy who likes games like Devil May Cry, Ace Combat, or Halo. I need to feel involved in the action, I like feeling as if there's some sort of inherent skill needed beyond basic mathematics. I need to feel like I'm actually involved in something besides a glorified war of attrition.
I guess first let me explain a little bit of my MMO background, just so you can get some more of my perspective. Firstly, I've dipped my toes into the pool that is World of Warcraft. I didn't stick around long because I didn't find it especially fun to play, and I didn't like it for the same reason I don't enjoy Coors Light - it feels too watered down and built around appealing towards as many people as possible. I've also sampled Champions Online and City of Heroes, both of which fell to the wayside for me for similar reasons of drab combat. I'll even say that I liked the Guild Wars games a lot, because they do a lot of things very well, but even those games eventually fell out of favor with me as I eventually got bored of doing the boring combat over and over.
There have been some MMOs that have slightly tickled my fancy in terms of MMOs I didn't find painfully boring. Star Trek Online appealed to me firstly because I'm a bit of a Trekkie, and secondly because it has some pretty fun starship combat. Ship combat in Star Trek Online revolves around positioning your ship in order to get maximum firepower out of your arsenal, keeping an eye on your shields to make sure you don't have any holes an enemy can exploit, trying to pound through an enemy's shields in order to torpedo the crap out of them, and also watching your ships energy levels so that you don't lose efficiency in your weapons by firing too many weapons at once. On top of those aspects of ship combat there were also your typical abilities that you could do for offensive or defensive buffs, and the need for all of this attention rises exponentially the larger the battle.
Obviously I'm going to be a little generous due to being a Trek fan, but still, that shit was fun. I was involved, it required more paying attention, more attention to detail, more instinct and reaction. STO's ship combat is close to what I'd want out of a different space-themed MMO I'm going to mention later. The only reasons I ever stopped playing STO were because the ground based combat in the game was your typical MMO bore-fest and the game as a whole was too fucking easy.
Another MMO near and dear to my heart was The Matrix Online (rest in peace, MxO). It was a game that had flaws but also had some pretty great ideas in places. Close quarters combat in that game revolved around what was effectively a super stylish version of rock-paper-scissors. There were three types of attacks, each of which could trump another, and on top of that there were character classes and stats that affected this system as well. It wasn't the most amazing thing at the world, but it was different enough from the typical MMO dirge.
The big problem with this combat system was that characters who were not CQC types could basically pot-shot you while you were kung-fu'ing someone else, which completely broke things. It wasn't perfect but I still give it points for trying. Unfortunately once Sony Online Entertainment got a hold of MxO they revamped the entire combat system into a poor mans version of Star Wars Galaxies, which started the beginning of the end for that game.
Why do MMOs have to revolve around some outdated RPG trope of "watch two people stand there and hack away at each other"? Can't any MMO attempt to be more of an action-RPG like a Dark Souls or perhaps just attempt to be something that's more of a straight up action title? Or how about this question, can MMOs even break out of this funk if they wanted to? Would things like server lag kill a more ambitious MMO?
EVE Online is my favorite game that I don't play. In fact, it pains me that I don't play EVE because it has a ton of things in it that I think are super cool. I like that you can still learn skills when you're not playing EVE, I like that space in that game is large and that it can take a long time to travel from one point to another, I like that players can actually make a huge impact on the game's universe, and since I've always been more of a sci-fi over fantasy type guy it's just the type of thing for me. In a lot of ways EVE Online is the realization of what an MMORPG is actually supposed to be.
The Achilles heel that keeps me out of EVE is that it has some of the most boring fucking gameplay I've ever seen. Most of what I liked about Star Trek Online's ship based gameplay is completely absent when it comes to combat in EVE. If EVE had combat more like STO or lets even go one step further and wish it had gameplay akin to a Rogue Squadron game, I would be in heaven and wouldn't be writing this blog.
The reason I brought up EVE is because it's the perfect example to my question of whether or not a more ambitious "action oriented" MMO can truly exist. Even with EVE's stale ship combat, there's a ton of calculations that are going on behind the scenes. If battles get bigger and bigger, those calculations can slow down the servers themselves to the point where EVE is playing at 10% of real-time in order to keep up. (Ugh, being stuck in bullet-time with EVE's combat is a nightmare idea to me). Can you imagine how much rougher it would be on servers if you introduced a more reactionary type combat system into something like that? Servers would melt, people would rage, ISK would be lost, the internet would explode, dogs and cats would live together, there would be mass hysteria.
Yes, I know Defiance exists and I know it's supposed to be a bit more action-ish than your typical MMO. I'm not talking about it because, truthfully, I haven't played it myself and I've heard mixed things about the game as a whole. If you have anything worth inputting regarding it, feel free to leave a comment.
Getting away from talking about combat, there are a couple of other things that I feel are causing MMOs to be stuck in a rut. The first revolves around the player's actual impact on the world they inhabit. With what feels like 99% of all MMOs, you're just an avatar running through quests and they only things that change during your entire game are the gear you're carrying and the little number that indicates your level. The actual world itself stays completely static unless a pre-scripted event says so. If "role playing" is supposed to make up two parts of the MMORPG acronym, shouldn't people be able to†actually†play a role?
Jumping back to EVE, this is one of the reasons I love the game. EVE is the source for a ton of the best player-based stories in gaming, because players actually matter in that game. I'm always a big fan of the story about a guy who started up his own investment agency within EVE and then eventually ran off with the money, built the best ship he could, and challenged anyone to chase him down. Or the recent story about the huge war-ending battle that just took place in EVE that ended with ships going down in blazes of glory that would make a Klingon proud.
The Matrix Online was going to attempt something kind of similar in terms of "player influence" by actually letting players have impact in certain events and actually have them interact with key story members and get mentioned in the overall narrative of the story. It's obviously nowhere near the scale of EVE player-involvement, but it was at least an attempt. (Note: this was again before MxO got torpedoed into another bland MMO).
If the player feels like what he or she is doing actually has an impact on the greater world around them, whether big or small, I think it would go a long ways towards keeping people around. If there's no sense of that, I imagine a ton of people would get the feeling that they're just playing a really drab RPG with bad combat.
Another issue that I think hurts MMOs these days involves the monetary investments that go into MMOs. Pay-to-play can scare off people because they feel like they "need" to play it in order to justify the $15 a month. Pay-to-play structures are going the way of the dinosaur, however two of the biggest MMO players still use the model (WoW and EVE).
The problem is, the main alternative to pay-to-play isn't exactly much better to a lot of gamers. I'm talking about the "free-to-pay" structure, or as some more appropriately call it "play-to-win", the new model of MMO pricing. Yeah, you're free of the burden of a subscription, but now you're in a world where anything you want that's actually worth a damn is stuck behind a microtransaction pay wall. Welcome to the future, the shark still looks fake.
Guild Wars is the only title I can think of at the moment that bucks the either of these payment structures. I honestly don't know why more games don't adopt the Guild Wars style of paying an up front fee for the game, and then you're free from there. Oh wait, I know the reason, it's called the other ways give out more money. I'd probably test out a bunch of other MMOs if it was a one-time fee and then I'm free to wander the playground instead of worrying about a "pay $2 for the Sword of a Thousand Truths" prompt showing up the moment I found something cool. I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks this.
Hell, if more MMOs adopted the "up front fee" style I'd probably even be okay paying a little extra for an MMO title versus a traditional game (like paying $70 instead of $60), since these games do have additional costs on the development end.
The easy way out is just to say "maybe MMOs just aren't for you". But I don't want to accept that because there are a lot of ideas that go into the whole MMO/MMORPG world that I do find fascinating and want to be a part of. The problem is just that it seems like every MMO follows the same path as the predecessor nowadays, and there's not much in the genre as a whole that leaps out as something new and refreshing. Stuff like this is what's going to eventually cause even die-hard MMO fans to grow tired and leave the genre, and it's stuff like this that keeps a lot of other people out of the genre as a whole. I'm not sure if it's possible truly build a better MMO, but I'd like to see more people try.
I recently purchased Aliens: Colonial Marines for twelve bucks on Steam during the Summer Sale, I figured my admiration of the franchise was enough to warrant twelve bucks. Iíve heard the game had some bug fixes that made the game a tad more respectable, so Iím coming into this game with low expectations knowing most people thought this game was horrible. I figured, for something a bit on the fun side, I would do a little bit of a ďlive blogĒ chronicle of my journey through this bargain bin video game.
The very first thing that irked me wasnít even within the game itself, it was the goddamn desktop icon. The icon is some red, white, and blue military logo which Iím assuming is the symbol for the Colonial Marine Corps in this gameís universe. Still, itís a bright & colorful logo, doesnít that seem pretty out of place for an Aliens game? Shit, if something like that can bug me I donít know if Iíll survive this.
Okay, so, starting up the game. *Gulp*.
Hey, the game opens up with Corporal Hicks! And heís voiced by Michael Biehn, sweet! Wait a minute, heís got the bandages and stuff that he had at the very end of Aliens. Wasnít he unconscious by this point in the story, how could he have gone and sent off a distress message when Bishop drugged him unconscious? Maybe he woke up inside the dropship and sent the message from in there? If so, what a dick, he could have grabbed a pulse rifle and helped Ripley fight the queen! Jerkface!
Anyways, after the Hicks segment Iím treated to the most bland intro to an action game Iíve ever seen. I noticed how all of the opening ďcreditsĒ were all done in what looks like a bolded Impact font, couldnít they even bother to use the proper ďAliensĒ font? Thereís not even a buildup to the title reveal like how the movies did it, the title just kind of pops up with barely a musical queue.
Thatís when it sinks inÖ oh god, Iím doing this.
I saw a couple of marine dropships flying around what looks like the USS Sulaco and then some guy named Cruz starts talking, but I immediately tune him out because holy shit his voice actor is bad. But I canít even marvel at the beauty of the Sulaco mainly because Iím distracted by a close up shot of a dropship and immediately notice that the texture on the dropships hull is horrible even by Xbox 360 standards. I try to focus back in on that Cruz fellow because heíll probably have something important to say I guess. But really, his voice actor is horrible, it seems like heís trying to be some really bad hybrid of Sgt. Apone from Aliens and Col. Quaritch from Avatar.
My attention to the actual plot is distracted again because I immediately guffaw at something else that I donít think should have happened.
Why the fuck do Ashly Burch, Derek Phillips, and company all have higher billing than Lance Henriksen and Michael fucking Biehn?! With all due respect, why do they get higher billing than two people who were stars of the original fucking movie this game is following up on? †ARGH THIS FUCKING GAME!
Alright, so I havenít been totally paying attention to what this Cruz guy is saying. Apparently some rhinos or something are on board the Sulaco? That doesnít make any fucking sense, so Iím just going to assume I missed something. Oh, by the way, so far every voice actor has been pretty much awful.
Oh, and the ship you arrive on is called the USS Sephora. Okay, so we have the Sulaco and the Sephora. Both ships are near identical, begin with the letter ďsĒ, have three syllable names, and end with vowels. Man, I wonder if the writers could have done any more to make it plainly obvious that this ship is pretty much their fan-fiction version of the Sulaco. It kind of reminds me of that one episode of Star Trek: Voyager where The Doctor was writing his own sci-fi story about the ďUSS VortexĒ which was totally not supposed to be Voyager.
Sweet buttery Christ, my word doc for this blog is already into its second page and I havenít even gotten to actual gameplay yet! This is just delightful.
Alright, gameplay finally! Everything seems like a typical first person shooter affair, all of the button mappings make sense for a first person shooter. Oh, Iím using my 360 controller for this game by the way. Yeah, I know, Iím playing a first person shooter on PC with a gamepad. You Master Race purists can go suck it, I like my controller more.
Okay, so, walking through the space hallway into the Sulaco now. Thereís an explosion which makes everything shake and starts breaking the glass of the hallway Iím in. Iím told to head into the Sulaco, but they canít use the umbilical anymore because itís damaged. Whatever, plot device I guess.
I stumble upon a few downed marines. Man, I have no idea what could have done this, maybe it wasÖ I dunno, some aliens. Anyways, Iím told to go find the other rhino people because theyíre elsewhere on the Sulaco. (At this point I remembered that ďRhinoĒ was the squad name or something along those lines, but for the sake of comedy Iím going to pretend that Iím finding rhinoceros marines on the Sulaco).
Oh, hey look, itís the hanger room from Aliens where Ripley fought the Queen! Hey, look, Bishopís legs are still lying there! I bet those smell nice and ripe right about now. This room actually looks decently faithful to what I remember from the movie. My only minor gripes are that not nearly enough of those floor grates are pulled off from the floor (from when the Queen was chasing Newt), and why are there acid burns in the floor when the Queen never bled?
I think right now is a good time to point out that so far I have not been impressed with this game at all graphically. Itís serviceable, yeah, but nothing to call home about. Some of the details in the environments look good, but then there are other things (particularly the humans) that all look like they were pulled from an early 2006 Xbox 360 game. The 2010 Aliens vs Predator game looks noticeably better than this.
So, Iím exploring the Sulaco a little more (at least what theyíll let me explore, thereís been a painful amount of linearity so far), and then I stumble into a xenomorph nest on board the Sulaco.
When did the Alien Queen have time to set up all of this? She was the only xenomorph that got on board the Sulaco during Aliens (by factor of no other aliens came out of the fucking dropship to help fight Ripley), and even if she planted some eggs in the dropship it wouldnít have meant jack shit because there would have been no other creatures to impregnate and make more xenomorphs. The only remaining explanation is that there were a bunch of eggs left behind by the Queen, the marines that just arrived on the ship all got impregnated in a hurry, xenomorphs shot out of their chest already in adult form, and built all of this within an hour. Damn. Well, the whole ďThe Queen left eggs behindĒ thing at least makes sense given how Ripley gets facehugged in the opening moments of Alien 3, but Alien 3 was a shit movie so basing anything off of Alien 3 is instantly a bad thing.
Jesus fucking Christ, Iím not even 15 minutes into this damn game and Iíve already found one major issue with the story.
Iím apparently near the Rhino Marine I need to find, because I got an objective indicator on my screen that says ďCut down KeyesĒ. Iím just going to pretend that Iím playing Halo and that Iím trying to locate Captain Keyes, because Iím already thinking about other better video games I could be playing. I donít free Keyes immediately though, because Iím too distracted by the fact that every other marine currently stuck to the alien walls all look identical to each other. Fucking really, Gearbox?
I finally go to free Captain Keyes, and BAM suddenly an alien shows up to drool and hiss at me. Okay, thatís it, the big fucking reveal of the xenomorphs is done like this? Really? That was a terrible build up! No tension or anything to it! AvP2 strung you along for an entire fucking mission making you think an alien was around the corner for a half a goddamn hour making you jumpy as fuck by the time one actually shows up, and even AvP 2010 did a better job than this. Also, Iím confused as to why thereís only one xenomorph in what appears to be the hive.
*Grumble* Anyways, I go and gun down the xenomorph because I enjoy not having my face eaten off and then go and actually free Captain Keyes. Commander Stereotype chimes in on our walkie-talkies telling us to get back to the USS Fan-Fiction. However, Captain Keyes instead wants us to get the flight recorder so that we can detonate the Pillar of AutumnÖ I mean, erÖ sorry, wrong gameÖ so we can find out what happened to the Sulaco and her crew.
Keyes and I make our way through the Sulaco fighting through a couple of rooms of xenomorphs. Iíve noticed that Keyes has a really bad habit of standing completely still and blankly staring at me with his gun at his side while xenomorphs leap over his head directly at me. He even let one alien punch him in the shoulder before he even realized he should be firing his gunÖ. Man, the entry levels for the Colonial Marine Corps sure have gone down in recent years.
It was right about now that I realized I was also carrying a shotgun, due to the fact that the game at no other point in time gave me any kind of prompt letting me know ďhey, fuck-face, you have a shotgun on your back!Ē. I found the shotgun far more effective in my xenomorph murdering agenda, because the pulse rifle apparently shoots gummy bears considering it takes that gun a little too long to kill things.
Eventually we find the flight recorder and then get back to the hanger room I mentioned earlier. Captain Keyes sees an alien standing on the dropship, so he immediately decides to throw a grenade right at the dropship causing a bunch of warheads sitting next to the ship to all explode (all for just one alien). I also take note that the explosion for this is far too small given everything that exploded.
We make our way towards the hanger room door and two other marines are there waiting for us, their last names are Pulaski and OíNeal, if I remember right. Because Iíd rather them not be mindless automatons, I immediately pretend that Iím fighting xenomorphs alongside Captain Keyes from Halo, Shaquille OíNeal from the epic superhero movie Steel, and Dr. Pulaski from the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Because of Keyesí stupid grenade stunt, the door behind us is locked and now we have to protect Keyes as he unlocks the door. So myself, Dr. Pulaski, and Shaq-Fu promptly invite all of the incoming aliens to shut up and slam and welcome to the jam.
Unfortunately, I got stuck in a Groundhog Day time-loop where I had to repeat this segment multiple times for a myriad of different bullshit reasons. My primary cause of death kept being due to the xenomorphs ignoring everyone else and focusing primarily on me. Now I know that the aliensí primary battle tactic is to fucking Zerg rush everyone, but in this scenario it doesnít exactly translate to ďfunĒ due to the fact that itís just literally impossible for my marine to grow a couple extra appendages in order to shoot three targets simultaneously.
Another cause of death was a result of Dr. Pulaski getting right in the way of me and my target, causing me to again get Zerg rushed. Iím glad Dr. Pulaski is as useful here as she was during Star Trek.
The most awkward and hilarious cause of death for me though was due to the fact that I leveled up midway through this firefight. The big bright ďMaster Sergeant Shooter SergeantĒ prompt obscured my screen just enough to make me lose track of my target and promptly miss two or three shotgun shots.
I decided to summon my inner Owen Hart and declare that enough was enough and it was time for a change, and decided that the corner of the room nearest to all of my buddies was the best ďno bullshit zoneĒ possible. I take no pride in the fact that I simply sat in a corner and shot at anything that moved, but sometimes the best solution to a nasty shit is to take an even nastier shit on top of it.
Eventually Keyes opened up the door and we retreated back through the door. Commander Cruz chimed in again telling us we needed to get back through the umbilical (the cracked up space hallway from before) and get back on the Sephora. Wait a minute, so the thing I was told couldnít be used anymore is totally about to be used again? Oh great, thatís just fucking great!
Weíre heading down the space-hallway back towards the Sephora when Captain Keyes suddenly falls down to his knees, perhaps at the realization that heís in a terrible video game instead of Halo, and immediately reaches to his belt for an explosive. A chestburster blows through his chest (and marine armor), and Keyes blows himself up to kill the alien also causing the space hallway to blow apart which also causes Pulaski to fly out into space.
What made this moment completely stupid was the fact that the marines have no knowledge of the xenomorphs and thereís no way Keyes could know he was impregnated with a chestburster. Yet, the moment he feels even a slight twinge of pain in his chest he immediately knows whatís going on and decides itís time to recreate that moment from Aliens where Gorman and Vasquez blow themselves up. What if he was just having really bad heartburn and just needed a glass of milk?
But really, it was a really bad ripoff of a scene from the movie and it was done in the stupidest and hammiest way possible. In fact, everything so far has been one really bad fucking fan-fiction. Who fucking wrote this shit?
It wouldnít surprise me if that vapid hack was behind this, Iím 45 minutes into this game and already itís giving DmC a run for its money in the horrible writing department. Look at him in that picture, probably all happy over the script he shit out while Andy Serkis is praying to God that Peter Jackson finds some long-lost Tolkien Gollum story so that he can find something better to do with his talents instead of wasting them making video games that less people will see than The Lone Ranger.
Itís at this point in time that I paused Colonial Marines and told my girlfriend that I loved her very much, because I swear the mediocrity of this game could in fact be the end of me.
Shaquille OíNeal & myself manage to drag ourselves back into the Sulaco. After we take a second to re-gather ourselves, Shaq (who, for the record, looks nothing like the real Shaq, but heís going to be called that anyway) tells me with the stiffest character animations he could muster that something wasnít right here.
I realized what wasnít right, it was the fact that I was playing Colonial Marines when I could be playing Strike Suit Zero or Dishonored. †I promptly closed out of Colonial Marines, vowing to return to help Mr. OíNeal a different day.
The old clichť of pirate tales is the fabled treasure map, a sometimes cryptic drawing that leads a person towards a location marked with an ďXĒ which signifies riches or something else valuable or desired. In the world of video games, itís treasure is likewise marked with an X Ė in this case, Mega Man X.
Mega Man X is one of the crown jewels of the video game world and itís the game that absolutely cemented my love for video games. I was into video games well before Mega Man X came along, but this was the right game at the right time.
Iím not going to beat around the bush, Mega Man X is the best and smartest designed video game in history. The only other video game in existence that should even entertain a debate to this fact is Super Mario Bros. 3. Mega Man X is on such a higher plane of existence that it stretches across time itself to become the best game of any year.
What was the best game of 1993? Mega Man X!
Best game of 1985? Mega Man X!
What about 2007? You guessed it, Mega Man X.
If Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade has any historical errors itís that the Holy Grail actually wasnít a chalice used by Christ because it was actually Jesusís copy of Mega Man X. A game that good clearly must have been blessed by some otherworldly being. You know the magical glowing object inside of John Travoltaís suitcase in Pulp Fiction? Yep, itís actually his copy of Mega Man X. The Tesseract in The Avengers is likely just a physical manifestation of Mega Man Xís source code.
Right now I should clarify something, donít expect me to start on some nostalgic trip down memory lane about my first time playing Mega Man X. How I fell in love with this game isnít important, why I did is all that really matters. Why I fell in love with this game is because itís, to be blunt, as close to perfection as games will ever get. Itís the Citizen Kane, Empire Strikes Back, and RoboCop of video games. And I fell in love with video games as a whole because I had now seen how great gaming could be.
Mega Man X was the Michael Jordan of video games in the sense that you knew you were witnessing greatness as it was happening. This gameís greatness stems from how everything in the game is designed to have a very useful role in the game as a whole. Mega Man X is also a relic from an era where developers didnít assume gamers had the IQ of a potato. Do you know how many tutorial-like messages or prompts are in Mega Man Xís opening level? None!Mega Man X teaches you how everything works by building its opening stage around the basic mechanics of the game. What a novel idea Ė teaching you how to play the game by letting you play the game.
At this point Iím just going to bring up Egoraptorís Mega Man X episode of Sequelitis. Iím treading on the same ground as his video already and Iím not going to waste your time repeating the same things as this video, especially when this video says everything I would say (and does it a lot better).
Sequels are a huge part of the video game industry, and always will be. Part of the reason I fell in love with Mega Man X was because itís the definition of what a sequel should be. It looks at what its predecessors did and builds upon that to create a new game that, effectively, renders the old games obsolete. It doesnít strip away parts from past games or change things simply for the sake of going ďweíre different!Ē (like DmC: Devil May Cry), it honors its past while making its own contributions.
Mega Man X, quite simply, did everything right. The levels were designed smartly, the game never got unfairly difficult, it had plenty of replay value, and you could make the game as challenging or effortless as you wanted depending on which robot masters you defeated first.
One of the big reasons Iím in love with video games is because I constantly want to find more video games that do things just as right as Mega Man X did. Once you get a taste of that kind of greatness you simply want more of it, which is one of the reasons I revisit Mega Man X at least once or twice a year.
Are there other games do things right in a Mega Man X sense? Sure, Devil May Cry 3 comes to mind for me. Shadow of the Colossus is pretty well done as well. But they are mere appetizers of perfection compared to Mega Man Xís never ending buffet of perfection.
Another reason I love video games because of Mega Man X was because I could see what the video game world could be like if more games had as much thought put into them as Mega Man X had. Even in this age of multi-million dollar ďAAAĒ caliber video games, I really donít think the people in charge put the same amount of thought into these modern games compared to Mega Man X or games from MMXís era.
As Iíve gotten older my love for Mega Man X has also developed a nostalgic side to it as well. To use the old adage, they donít make Ďem like they used to. Weíre in an era of video gaming where hand-holding tutorials are so frequent they can be parodied (Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon) and has seemingly turned a generation into gamers who are dependent on these things (y canít Metroid crawl?). Even though this generation gave us Demonís Souls I still kind of feel like this generation took away a bit of the thrill of learning and accomplishment from video games. Every time I see a prompt thatís along the lines of ďhit this button to jumpĒ I die a little inside, because I really donít think we always need to so bluntly explain basic mechanics with giant prompts.
Mega Man X is also the reason I feel so sour about modern day Capcom. Capcom went from putting out games that were amazing to now dry-humping the leg of Call of Duty in the faint hopes that one of their games will somehow stick. Itís sad to see, in my opinion, one of the old frontrunners be reduced to a copycat follower.
By the way, did I mention Mega Man Xís soundtrack is fucking amazing?
Iíd make that song my ringtone, but then Iíd never answer my phone.
Iím going to go play Mega Man X now, because not playing it now after jerking off so hard about it would result in the ultimate case of gamer blue-balls. This game is so good.
If youíre reading this that means youíve probably read up on Microsoftís reversal and removal of DRM policies for the Xbox One system †due out later this year. Clearly this is something that should be applauded because itís a win for consumers, and Iíll at least dish out the Chuck Norris thumbs-up gif for it. That being said, the Xbox One-Eighty news doesnít change much regarding my current stance on the console or whether Iíll purchase one anytime in the next few years. The damage is done, and it would take a lot of kissing up in order to make me forget about what they tried to do with the new Xbox.
The removal of their DRM doesnít make the price magically drop down from its stupid $500 price point, it doesnít stop them from ramming more Kinects down our throats, the archaic publishing restrictions for indie games still exist, it doesnít make any of the systemís exclusives look better, and it doesnít free up apps like YouTube and Netflix from the Xbox Live pay-wall. †The DRM policies were a huge part of the problem, but there are plenty of other problems still sitting there.
Additionally, the removal of Xbox Oneís DRM policies means that (in my opinion) the best feature of the system is now gone with it. Xbox One game discs now need to be in the system tray in order for them to run (just like how 360 works), meaning you wonít be able to play your games directly from your hard drive Steam-style. I canít seriously imagine that Microsoft couldnít find a way to keep this feature (or other similar features now axed) because of the DRM removal, it almost feels like a slight smite for not accepting their DRM future. Itís not that big of a deal at first glance, but I think it will have a cascading effect on other features of the system that were also dependent on that.
For example, remember during the E3 demo where they showed someone playing Ryze: Son of Quicktime Events, they had matchmaking for Killer Instinct going on in the background and then quickly paused Ryze and went over to KI in a matter of moments? Yeah, thereís no way that feature is going to be seamless anymore if you need to be swapping discs in between every match of KI or Halo 5 or whatever. Iím sure there will be other features affected by that too, Iíll let you all talk about that in the comments section.
The biggest reason why this change means very little to me is because of why the change is happening in the first place. This isnít happening because Game Jesus suddenly spoke to Microsoft and Microsoft decided customer rights were the good thing to defend. They did this because some Microsoft employee probably looked on Amazon or walked into a GameStop, saw the PlayStation 4 outselling the Xbox One at around a 5-to-1 ratio, saw 3DSís flying off the shelves, and even saw the Wii-U and Vita having some sign of a pulse and went ďoh shitĒ because they were seeing the early signs of an Xbox One doomsday scenario. This is simply a financial move with light traces of PR thrown in. I also think itís an early sign of desperation from Microsoft, which is the only way I can describe such a knee-jerk reaction post-E3.
With that said, Iím not acting like Sony or Nintendo having no DRM was entirely some good natured gesture towards consumers as well. Nintendo and Sony not going the way of Xbox One was a business decision as well, it was just a smarter business decision that also came with the positive PR and good will with customers. †
On top of everything Iíve already said, another reason why this makes little difference for me is because I simply think the PlayStation 4 is still a better deal than the now sans-DRM Xbox One. Itís $100 bucks cheaper, tech-spec wise its equal to the Xbox One (actually, isnít PS4 more powerful?), PlayStation Plus has been a better deal than Xbox Live for a few years, a large majority of the games Iíd play on Xbox One I can get for PlayStation 4 as well, and I think PS4ís lineup of games looks more impressive.
Killzone: Shadow Fall I think looks like the most impressive entry in the franchise yet (plus it so far appears to no longer be BrownZone: Unlikable Cast). InFamous: Second Sonís gameplay demo from E3 wowed me pretty well, everything looked like a smart addition to the series (plus he has a Ghost Rider chain whip!). Knack looks pretty interesting, and while I didnít see much of The Order: 1886 itís being made by two developers that I think have pretty solid resumes so Iím going to go out on a limb and say it will also be pretty great.
Meanwhile Xbox Oneís lineup hasnít impressed me at all, Project: Spark being the lone exception. I donít see whatís so great about Titanfall what so ever, my general interest in Call of Duty has faded so Iím not going to get excited for its mech and jetpack expansion pack. Forza will always be swappable with Gran Turismo (but really, fuck both of those games, The Crew is where itís at). Dead Rising 3 got Capcomíd and now looks like Brown Zombie Shooter 2013, because they obviously didnít learn their lesson after DmC or Resident Evil 6. Iíve already made a joke about Ryse in this blog. Halo 5 will be Halo, and while Iím a longtime fan of the franchise it wonít pain me to bypass the next installment and perhaps adopt Destiny in its place. Killer Instinct is probably going to suck, and if you donít believe me Iíll just remind you that Double-Helixís resume consists of shit like Battleship, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters.
On top of that, the PlayStation brand (at least for me, Iím not sure about you Mr. Reader) has done enough good in the long run to earn benefit of the doubt regarding the systemís overall quality. The original PlayStation was a solid system that managed to challenge Nintendo in their prime after Nintendo had vanquished Sega. The PlayStation 2 speaks for itself; itís probably the greatest home console of all time with the SNES being the only competition. The PSP actually had a pretty solid run and ended up having a good library of games, even if it got overshadowed by the Nintendo DS (which, to be fair, outsold everything under the sun). The PlayStation 3 started off slow, but in the second half of this generation I actually think it overall became a better system than the Xbox 360.
Yeah you can probably try to label me as a PlayStation fanboy if you really want, but I think my logic is pretty sound. †Iíve been pretty satisfied with all of the PlayStation products thus far and I generally think they are safer investments.
In general, my trust in the Xbox brand has been pretty much shattered. Itís not entirely because Microsoft attempted these DRM policies either, but more because I havenít been happy with the direction theyíve been going even with the 360. The last game I got for my Xbox 360 was Halo 4, but beyond that the lack of compelling exclusives to the Xbox in recent years have pushed me over to PS3 and Steam, turning my 360 into a pretty dust collector alongside my Wii.
And Iím not a fan of Microsoftís attempt to turn the Xbox into the mythical omni-entertainment box. Keeping features like Netflix or other features that come free on almost everything else stuck behind the Xbox Live paywall is just moronic. Microsoft has even gotten to the point where they apparently think Iím too lazy to use the input button on my TV to switch over to cable. Iím a gamer and have been for 20+ years, Iím going to obviously appeal more to a system that has a more direct focus on gaming. Iím also smart enough to use common sense and realize that a huge majority of the features I have for Xbox I can get elsewhere, plus I generally donít think Iíd want all of my entertainment features to hinge on one device especially if itís being made by the same people who delivered the comically unstable Xbox 360.
Given that my trust in the Xbox brand is a lot weaker now I feel the need to raise this question, whoís to say the Xbox Oneís DRM policies are going to stay gone? The Xbox One is under a half-year away, if they can so easily ďturn offĒ these DRM ďfeaturesĒ this close to launch whoís to say they canít simply flip the switch a year or so from now after theyíve already gotten a sizeable amount of people invested? No, Iím not implying Microsoft has some sort of dastardly evil plan to screw over consumers and theyíre laughing about it right now up in their super villain skyscraper. Iím just saying that I donít think we should completely discard the idea that they will try some stupid bullshit in the future, given that they already tried some pretty stupid bullshit in the recent past.
Congratulations Microsoft on taking one positive step forward with the Xbox One. However, Iím still going to take my money elsewhere. You couldnít keep your information straight when you had these DRM policies, Iím not entirely sure anything will be different without them. Plus, Iíd rather invest my money towards companies that, at least publicly, didnít consider implementing any stupid policies like this in the first place. Maybe Iíll get an Xbox One down the line in 2 or 3 years, but right now the Xbox One is still near the bottom of the list in terms of systems Iím interested in. Most of the titles Iíd want I can get on either PlayStation 4 or Steam, and I can play them on systems made by people who didnít consider fucking me over in the first place.