Well, my hyper quality "life hack" is especially handy for ignoring those heated forum/site discussions that always seem to bring out the worst in you. You're a nice guy, but sometimes people are just wrong on the Internet. I understand. Or maybe you just simply don't like all the bad stuff you see during a casual browse.
An abused kitten intentionally drowned itself clenching his favorite toy mouse? Boy. Now I'm crying all over my pajamas.
Now, you could use this if you're lazy (and actually want a way to make your day even worse), or you could use my far more complicated, though effective, step program.
Play this through a separate tab, then click the speaker icon until it's on low (it's rather loud otherwise). Next, play this in another tab. Annnnnnd that's it! Around the clock Animal Crossing music that always somehow goes perfectly with the relaxing pitter patter of a minor rain storm.
Do you dudes have any other video game-related life hacks? Better than mine?... hah! I'm a genius.
[Rather than do a general retrospective or Top 10 of the last 7-8 years of gaming, I decided to break each game down into their own little blog. Each of these games has made a huge impression on me as a gamer, so I have a lot to say about them. Confining all of them into a single blog would likely be far too long or not do them enough justice. So, here we are!]
Greenlighting a Bioshock 2, all the while still pertaining to Rapture, made by a totally different studio, was one of the most questionable things to happen in all of these last 7 or 8 years (nevermind impressions upon release). At the time, the thought was just as depressing as it was laughable. How could this "2K Marin" even think of accomplishing anything more than a so-so copycat?
Even just 2 or 3 years down the line, the original Bioshock was already a solidified classic. However, much of it's majesty was in experiencing Rapture for the very first time. Experiencing the cynicism, the oppression, the dangerous Splicers and iconic Big Daddies, the awesome Plasmids, it all came together to form such a unique package.
And we were about to do all that... again?
Oh and it has MP too? Because of course it does.
This was supposed to be an underwhelming, gimmicky ("Remember the tension from the original? Remember those awesome Big Daddies? Well, now we're gonna empower the FUCK outta your PC by making him a Big Daddy! Doesn't that sound just great?!), shameful cash-in.
And, upon first impressions, that's exactly what I thought it was. Even if the gameplay was better and most of the events in-game were wholly new, the cynic in me couldn't help but notice a lot of parrot talk. Monkey see, monkey do. At least several major plot points and events were largely similar.
1.) During your first steps, you're walking through dark corridors, taking in this "Rapture"
2.) You're very first Plasmid is the Shock Plasmid, you insert it, and the PC falls to his knees in pain
3.) You make direct contact with the main villain via a confined space with TV screens
4.) Enemy Splicers attempt to kill you while in said room, but the player manages to escape
5.) You eventually acquire the Incinerate Plasmid and are required to backtrack to a frozen obstacle
It may be all trivial nonsense in retrospect, but considering what I had expected of the game going in, this stuff stuck out to me like mud in a candy store.
However, as the game went on, the cynic turned into the optimist and I started to notice some really fucking great design decisions.
Imagine you're up against a particularly tough enemy like, say... a Big Daddy. In the original Bioshock, you had to keep switching between Plasmids that did damage overtime, distracted, or reflected attacks back at this Rapturian Spartan and weapons that did most of the work. Oh, and all the while dodging other incoming attacks.
That's bullocks now, moyt. Presenting Bioshock 2's ingenious duel-wielding system! So, while you're delivering a quick shock or a flock of BEES(!), you can immediately follow through with a shotgun blast or machine gun fire.
This (almost so simple) addition, in combination with keeping much of the other BS1 gameplay systems and other lovely advancements in gameplay and enemy variety is what, at least when it comes to gameplay, pulls Bioshock 2 leagues above the original. In fact, at it's best, it's just about the most fun I've ever had playing video games.
And it's fun not just because of the core gameplay, but because it, surprisingly, retains strategy and challenge.
"Come at me."
You'd think all these combat possibilities stacked upon nearly a dozen or more passive abilities would vastly overpower your Big Daddy. But, at least on Hard difficulty, you'd be thinking incorrectly. As, sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, careless thinking could easily lead to death or a vast waste of valuable supplies and ammo.
Just when I thought I had braved through the thick of it, Spider Splicers and a Leadhead jump me and I'm down to no heath kits from 2 or 3. I was this close to death, because I wasn't prepared. Or how about when a Brute takes up your attention while a Leadhead fires upon you from an entirely different position? There goes at least 1 or 2 health kits right there. Something that could possibly be avoided or at least kept from getting worse with quick thinking.
Even when things are easy, it's so fun that it must be criminal. And things will only go so easy during the more intense battles if you get creative. At this point, the fights may drastically tip into your favor, but it's hilariously awesome to watch everything play out.
A Splicer makes it through an explosion and a Security Bot, only to walk through 2 of your Trap Rivets. A Brute trips the alarm, 2 Security Bots hone in, I toss a Mini-Turret, I shotgun him from the side, and the poor guy has no idea what to do! I guarantee you'll find yourself giddy with power.
Or how about 2 Security Bots, 3 Mini-Turrets, an Incinerate pool, and my machine gun fire against a Rumbler Big Daddy?
Do what you want! The simple thrill of a perfectly-executed Drill Dash or point-blank shotgun blast, or something more complicated. Whatever!
I've had some especially neat things happen. Like a Splicer dropping a bomb near his side after a lucky hit with my drill, which then froze him thanks to one of my passives, I jump away, then the bomb goes off and shatters him to pieces! Show me another FPS with gameplay/combat this varied and polished.
And because it's so awesome, finding or upgrading a weapon/Plasmid isn't some casual "Oh, well, that's nice.". Reactions are usually more akin to something like:
"Tesla pack for my shotgun!!!!!!!"
A number of smaller things from the original have also been improved. Most notably is the hacking, which is not only now much less about overcoming a slightly annoying obstacle, but, in fact, pretty darn fun! On top of that, you'll be a lot more inclined to participate not only because it's a nice little reflex exercise, but, if you're particularly good, you'll also get a bonus item drop! I always hack anything I can find for extra supplies.
New enemies such as the Brute Splicers are like less aggressive, occasionally elemental Big Daddies and the Big Sisters... who are also elemental, but are just as tough as a Big Daddy and a whole lot more nimble. You also can't run away from them. They're nerve-racking fights, and if there was ever a point in the game where you needed to save (granted you've switched off those pesky Vita-Chambers), it's before these fights.
To say nothing of the game's story, this is one of the best FPS's I've ever played. On a good day, I would even say it's the very best!
But, what about the story? The original Bioshock primarily focused on Adam and EVE, the two components of Rapture's "evolutionary" Plasmids and Tonics, and it's long-term effects on the body. Essentially, it turns you into a crazed, monster-like addict.
Bioshock 2, instead of reinforcing the concept of a crumbling Utopia, focuses on a more inner, revolutionary struggle for the perfection of the human body and mind led by credited psychiatrist Sofia Lamb. Rapture may've previously attempted to evolve it's people solely through the use of Plasmids and Tonics, but Sofia Lamb has a different solution.
Sofia spouts that while Andrew Ryan claims to have created a perfect society rid of the hindrances of law and religion, that the people of Rapture are still greatly under the influence of a single man. A leader. A "God". One that inspires greed, segregation, and so on. And that they also are hindered by a so-called "nature's bias".
Through unity and control of Rapture's Adam and EVE, Sofia hopes to lead (or, as she puts it, nurture) humanity into a new age. An age of harmony and free of sin itself. A truly perfect society.
Or, so she'd have you think.
What makes Bioshock 2's story so captivating is that Sofia's vision and ideals are even more, at their surface, easily sympathized with than with Andrew Ryan's "no law, no religion, just the man". Meanwhile, Sofia points fingers at Ryan's flaws and hypocrisy while justifying her own.
She's a more ambitious Andrew Ryan within Ryan's very own already appropriately realized ambition of Rapture. So even though you can probably already guess there's something sinister going on behind all the flattery and damage control, you can't wait to see how it all plays out.
And, after playing Infinite, I appreciate that Bioshock 2 didn't try to totally blow people's minds with convoluted twists. They, in Infinite, tried to 1-up "Would you kindly?", and, in my humble opinion, failed. Bioshock's twist worked as both a statement on gameplay design and a nice surprise. How Infinite played out was the former without that just as important latter.
The canon introduced in Bioshock 2 may be tame in comparison, but, sometimes, a simpler story is what is needed.
Why, hello there neighbor!
I would delve into the things that I had a problem with in Bioshock 2, but that's not the point of this series of blogs. The point is to explain my first impressions, to then go into exactly why the game was so goddamned awesome. And that's way more fun than trying to find fault with an, overall, perfectly fine experience (although, the PC port is rather finicky).
There's a lot to take away from Bioshock 2, and there are many other great things about it that I never touched upon for the sake of time/length (such as level design, the Litter Sisters, the ending, etc.). It's fun factor is untouched by any other in the genre, and while the story isn't quite as oppressive and atmospheric as the original classic, it's a story worth seeing through to the end nonetheless. It succeeds where it counts, on top of providing the most insanely fun FPS combat around.
What took place during yesterday's "Game of the Year" awards was just sickening. As I am typing, I am vomiting. Still vomiting. Eugh. It's everywhere.
Why did you choose X over Y? Also, Z wasn't even a nominee! WTF? Well, I probably don't have all (or even one) of the answers you want, fellow concerned community members. Because, most likely, I am not Hamza, Steven, Chris, or any other Dtoid staff member. Even better: I am a REAL gamer. I actually PLAY video games. Not like those jerks.
So, here are some REAL awards from a REAL gamer just like you!
Best Platinum Games Game - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
FUCK YOU DESTRUCTOID!!!!!1!!1!1!111
GAME OF THE CENTURY - The Last Of Us
Best Game I Haven't Played - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Best DILF (Down(Loadable Content) I'd Like To Fuck) - The Stanley Parable HD Demo
Most Awesome - Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Best - Super Mario 3D World
Stinkiest Piece of Shit - Bioshock Infinite
Best Indie Game - NOT Gone Home
Best NCILF (New Character I'd Like To Fuck) - Tanooki Rosalina
Most Tolerable Non-Game - Beyond: Two Souls
Most Responsible For The Downfall Of Destructoid - Hamza Aziz
Like most humans end up doing in the morning (or at night, I don't judge), I get up. Although, when I get up, I begin the day with either the Internet or video games. They're my bacon and eggs. Or butter and pancakes. Can anyone else pull off a wank in the morning? Again, I don't judge.
Anyway. To be more specific, this videoed game is...
Being the sleepy Seymour that I was, I didn't particularly enjoy this parodied take on simulation games. Janitorial work? Ahahaha.
I'm, in actuality, well aware of the appeal of Viscera Cleanup Detail (and it's spin-offs). It's like the game knows how stupid it is, as well as you. So it's like you and the game are laughing together at whatever minuscule thing you find yourself doing (whether it be mopping, tossing away trash, making a bigger mess with your limited moveset, etc.).
It's cheap, short, but to the point. You either think it's stupid/ridiculous and you laugh along, or you find it sincerely boring and jump out your chair onto a pile of upright pieces of broken glass.
In mere hours, I will begin life in the first house I've lived in since I was around 6 or 7 years old (currently 23). That's already pretty exciting! But, with that comes new obligations, a new (and much better) primary living quarters, and some big life changes that I hope to have myself stick to.
A new place of living is more than just that, it's also a damned good reason to start yourself off fresh. Like a New Years resolution-type deal. All those awful memories of let downs, bad choices, and unconsummated commitments are now far easier to let go of, and you're ready to begin again.
Now, speaking of which, I'm not exactly known for committing to much of anything. I spent 6 months at college to then reconsider my career choice, for one thing, and I always proclaim many tinier changes throughout the year that never amount to much in the end. I almost had a song appear on Rock Band's indie-friendly Rock Band Network for Christ's sake! I'm just that lazy.
But, I'm tired of that. Tired of being such a fucking late bloomer. I feel as if so many have done so much more with their lives by my age. I hate thinking about that. The most committed I've been to anything is my meagerly successful YouTube channel, my guitar playin', and this here blog (which I'm very glad is as popular as it is within a community of some real quality writers).
Changes are a-comin'.
Jogging for a longer, fitter, healthier life
When I was around 14, I was very unhappy with my weight. I wasn't necessarily fat (nor do I consider myself fat now, despite Wii Fit having me momentarily believe otherwise), I was just pudgier than I would want. And, ya know what? I lost that weight like a champ. Where did all that moxy go? I was so awesome to myself then!
I remember one of the things I had a problem with was my jean size. Funny that it wouldn't be until several or more years later where I accepted that I just had more of a female-type figure rather than being straight up-n-down like most other guys. But, my stomach was also a problem, much like it is now.
Crunches and walking/jogging will surely solve all that. To make things easier, I'll be moving into a community that's far less anti-social and into surroundings that are more minimalist and more in it with nature (we have cutesy deer prancing about everywhere).
The Internet as a career
This is the one that scares me the most, but it's also the most exciting!
In recent years, I've learned that the Internet is a viable way of steady income. YouTube may be slowly becoming a much harder place to make money off of, but there's always Twitch and journalism.
Gaming and blogging are two things I've already familiarized myself with quite well, and I feel I have the chops to become a damn good addition to any gaming site (hint hint hint). Next to music, blogging and commentary are my best skills, and putting those to especially good use would be much easier and far less soul-wrenching than spending most of my week at places like McDonalds or HEB (it's a Texas thing). There's no future there, and with the little experience that I've had at my growing age, unfortunately, those are the places I have the biggest chances of landing a job at.
Until another 3 or 4 years of college are out of the way, I'm either going to have to settle or apply my strengths. And most of my strengths lie here.
Remember that life is rarely ever all that bad
If I can't live an amazingly successful life, I should at least stride to live a happy life.
Just like that. I'm lucky to be as well off as I am, and so sweating the small stuff is pretty stupid. I have close/supportive friends, I have enough entertainment to last me several lifetimes, I'm social, I'm not stuck to a single hobby, I don't foresee much financial trouble...
So what's the big fucking deal if, God forbid, my Internet goes out, or I feel a little sick, or another job potential slips away? Shit happens! It's so simple, but we hardly truly realize how stupid it is to complain about crap like that. Or to at least let it drag us down in the long run. In my case, staying positive isn't very hard as long as I just try.
And exerting just a wee bit of effort is, in of itself, not very hard.
ALSO, VIDEO GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMES!
Go play Not the Robots. It features stealthy, hungry robots and will make you happy. Office desks, shelves, and lamps are the ultimate comfort foods!
It's Thanksgiving today! Or, the American Thanksgiving at least.
Another special day of the year to only think of video games. Because friends and family are overrated. You don't even always have them readily accessible via your living room TV or your pocket. Video games are always there for you. Really, life in general, for the most part, is pointless and inconvenient. Technology is the reason we're happy.
On top of that, video games pacify one's urge to kill. Admit it: You're thinking of killing someone right now. But, it's okay. Video games understand. I love them so much. One of them, more than any other.
Thankfully, I didn't have to do much thinking to nail down which game that is. It's a game I periodically find myself gawking over. Even when I'm not playing it, and even though it isn't necessarily my favorite video game (although, it is up there). It's just the one I can't stop thinking about. And to say that I, of all people, have happily beaten this game twice is saying a lot.
Is that what they call "love"? [He/She/It] might not be the best-looking [guy/gal/thing] I've ever seen, and [he/she/it] isn't perfect, but somehow... [he's/she's/it's] perfect for me.
That is how I feel with Alan Wake.
The moment I first started up a New Game, the game's main protagonist spoke and I was instantly hooked.
Alan Wake, voiced by the awesome Matthew Porretta and modeled after dreamboat Ilkka Villi, has a voice that is immediately likable, yet a voice that is without an equal. How this man sounded was an incredibly important aspect to nail given the game's focus on not only story, but narration. And they fucking nailed it.
He's no Nolan North or Troy Baker-type, he stands out. And accomplishing that with a voice that's also easy on the ears is one the game's many fantastic qualities.
Not to waste such talented actors on drool dialogue and/or amateur storytelling, every other aspect of Alan Wake's story is exceptional (a few minor missteps aside). It's filmic, yet, unlike a lot of modern AAA releases, it feels sincere. It had one hell of a story to tell, it likely had some very talented cinematographers on the team (I just love this shot, though be wary of spoilers), it keeps at a lovely pace (it's episodic format has been understandably praised greatly), and it's all up for interpretation to this day.
"Steven King once wrote that nightmares exist outside of logic and there's little fun to be had in explanations. They're antithetical to the poetry of fear. In a horror story the victim keeps asking why, but there can be no explanation and there shouldn't be one. The unanswered mystery is what stays with us the longest and is what we'll remember in the end." - Alan Wake
And, most surprisingly: It doesn't sacrifice the "game" in "video game" one bit.
People have often complained about the repetitiveness in Alan Wake's gameplay. However, even though it does become somewhat of a problem in the game's final couple hours, I am someone with a very high threshold for that sort of thing (I'm a huge fan of Serious Sam, Dynasty Warriors, Left 4 Dead, and Dead Rising).
At least they went through the trouble of having the game control brilliantly and keeping the combat engaging. Smooth movement, clean dodges, intelligent AI, great audio/visual punch, solid gunplay, an all-in-all very satisfying gameplay experience.
One under-appreciated aspect of the game throughout the last few years, I feel, has been the game's AI. It's ferocious, yet efficient with flanking. A good handful of the combat takes place in open forest, and they will either use the many trees, plants, and bushes to blend their dark bodies into the environment or simply take advantage of said openness with their nimble nature.
Even in enclosed spaces, groups hardly (if ever) come at you in a straightforward manner.
Alan, himself, ain't so nimble. And it's quite tense trying to juggle between 2 or 3 or more spaced opponents. Not because of the controls, but because of the AI and the player having to work alongside the game's sensible mechanics. Sometimes, especially on Nightmare difficulty, running is a valid option. So if even Nightmare difficulty can tend to overstock your ammo supply, it can feel very "survival horror".
But fuck those birds.
Another one of the game's most underrated points of interest has got to be the visuals. I've always felt that video games have hardly ever really nailed the "nighttime" look, often merely looking like someone just switched color palettes rather than it feeling like a natural change in light and shadow. Or it just simply looks way over-stylized.
This game still has the most natural-looking night visuals I've ever seen. The fog, lightning, clouds, shading, moonshine, everything looks just right. And it all lends very much to the game's occasionally very oppressive atmosphere. When that wind starts kicking up, and enemies begin to appear from nowhere out of the darkness glazed against the moonlight, it's something special man.
At the risk of sounding like a mass-friendly back-of-the-box quote, this game truly does feel cinematic.
Must I also mention the game's original music? Even the licensed stuff is all great and incredibly fitting. There's a whole slew of things to appreciate about this game.
Even American Nightmare, for all it's problems, is a game that I just can't, for the life of me, stop thinking about. It's Alan Wake. I'm always on the verge of either playing it or the original Wake. Though, legitimately, it has some amazing-looking locales very different from the core Alan Wake and one crazy awesome villain. And an arcade mode pulled off surprisingly well considering Alan Wake's usual focus on story.
Proving just how good Alan Wake's gameplay can be, and proving how strong the allure of Alan Wake is for me. Remedy could actively attempt to make a bad Alan Wake game, and it'd still likely be pretty alright.
"You wanna know the real difference between you and me? .... I'm not afraid to be the center of attention."
Props to the actors and the rest of the team for properly syncing up two acts for one character. And to Destructoid for making it into the video!
I'm trying to make this as condensed, yet informative as possible. To accurately describe why Alan Wake means so much to me. When, really, I guess it's just indescribable. Like love between two humans, I love Alan Wake even more than the sum of all of it's fantastic parts. I treat it as if it were more than perfect, yet I know it totally isn't.
I could keep typing about the game's individual qualities and why they're as good as they are, but there's an outer layer of appreciation that I can't put into words.
On the real, Thanksgiving is about appreciating your friends and family more and more each year. I don't get to see my family too often, so I'm looking forward to some conversation, a big dinner, and perhaps some fun with my ADORABLE little cousins. However, that doesn't mean we can't also say thanks for some of the things less meaningful to us that just make life a little more entertaining and fulfilling.
Alan Wake, more than any other video game, I just fucking love.