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4:28 PM on 04.19.2010

Not-So-Early Adoptérmon: Prologue

[Cross-posted from my proper gaming blog, because I don't love you enough.]

If there's one thing that can often be said about me, it's that I am rarely on the cutting edge of, well, anything. I've spent most of my life a few steps behind the curve. My family was several years late in switching over from cassette tapes to CDs. DVDs came even later. Even when video games are involved, I'm frequently a bit slow to adopt.

So, this should come as no surprise: I've never played a Pokémon game.

No, no -- that is absolutely true. Hell, I've never even owned a Nintendo-made handheld gaming device. My only foray into the handheld world, aside from a few of those depressing Tiger Electronics games, was a Sega Game Gear. I thought it was the future. I was not a quick-witted child.

Anime has never seriously appealed to me. Sure, I've enjoyed some of the genre, but largely, I just don't get it. And to my young eyes, Pokémon was just another anime, full of wide-eyed, spastic young individuals with razor-edged hair and no concept of subtlety. So, naturally, the video game was also promptly disregarded as some cutesy Japanese import "for babies," as they say.

Well, no longer. In my old age, I have fallen into the habit of enjoying RPGs and leveling and upgrading and being a pack rat with non-existent digital items. Pokémon seems to have all these things to varying degrees. And given the fact that, so many years after the Pokémon craze of the '90s cooled off, gamers are still talking about the series even into their late-20s and 30s -- well, I have to consider the possibility that, maybe, I was mistaken.

So! That's where this new series of blog posts -- something I have dubbed Not-So-Early Adoptérmon, because I am clever and you love it -- comes into play. I'm going to finally see what's up with this Pokémon nonsense, and I'll be documenting my experiences and observations right here, on something that will, hopefully, resemble a weekly basis.

I have started playing through Pokémon Yellow. It appears to be a combination of the first two Pokémon games (Red and Blue) and, thus, seems like a reasonable starting point.

Given my propensity for overindulgence, I'm not entirely sure this is a wise venture. Still, as much as I enjoy RPGs, I also have a tendency to tire of them and not finish them. So, we'll have to see which bright, shining side of my personality wins out: The Addict, or The Quitter. Stay tuned.   read

7:49 PM on 03.16.2010

Happy Birthday, Dtoid!


<4   read

8:14 PM on 03.03.2009

Dante's Inferno: What the hell is the problem?

[Okay, so I decided to start my own off-Dtoid gaming blog, dorkily titled "The Gentleman Gamer," since I apparently enjoy pretentious oxymorons. I figure I may as well cross-post the opinion pieces here, since no one is likely to read the other one, and I've really been neglecting my Dtoid blog. So, yeah. I'm back. Love me. I'm also too lazy to re-add all the links in the article, so visit the site if that bothers you, you freak.]

There’s a lot of complaining and arguing going around — oh yes, on the internet — about Dante’s Inferno, the upcoming EA game loosely based on Dante Alighieri’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy. Many of the complaints revolve around the basic idea of EA turning a classic piece of literature into a third-person hack-em-up. To an extent, this is understandable.

However, I can’t help but wonder if everyone is getting up-in-arms over nothing. I can sympathize with not wanting to see a favorite work of literature massacred in the name of entertainment and sales. I really can. But when I watched the trailer, all I saw was a concept for a game that looked really damned fun (no pun intended). Am I wrong? Is there a place for taking a revered work of art and reimagining it as a hilariously violent video game?

Adapting works of literature to the video game medium is still a fairly uncommon practice. Obviously, we’ve seen games based upon the likes of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, but those were more movie adaptations than book adaptations. Even the Conan the Barbarian games don’t strike me as being as difficult of a choice as The Divine Comedy. And dare I even mention Where’s Waldo?

No, Dante’s Inferno is definitely a stand-out, easily the oldest and most revered work to be adapted. (That is, of course, excluding The Bible. I refuse to intelligently consider something like Bible Adventures, here.) And awkwardly enough, it also appears to be one of the loosest adaptations yet, perhaps inducing a facepalm from anyone hoping to get through this peacefully. But no — if this adaptation is anything, it’s loose.

In Alighieri’s original poem, Dante himself is guided through the three realms of the afterlife — Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. (The video game is likely based solely on the Hell, or “Inferno,” portion of the poem.) The recent Dante’s Inferno panel at Wondercon revealed that the game will revolve around Dante traveling through the nine levels of Hell in order to rescue the princess from Bowser’s cas- er, I mean, to save his late fiancée, Beatrice, from Satan’s clutches. Already, the game is way off-course.

I think that the key, here, is to remember that this is based on Dante’s Inferno. Based on. I don’t believe that EA ever claimed to be developing a strict retelling of the story. And while the title does suggest a direct adaptation — Dante’s Inferno — it actually ends up being a play on words: The game’s lead character is named Dante; undoubtedly whom the title refers to, as opposed to Alighieri. So, while there may be a small handful of literary scholars who will end up feeling dismayed and deceived on release day, I don’t feel that the title is something to be legitimately bothered by.

Is the title a crass marketing ploy? (Well, we all know how gamers go ga-ga over 14th-century Italian literature…) The game is based on Dante’s Inferno, so I fail to see why it’s a bad thing that they’ve indicated that in the title. I guarantee you that three-quarters of the gamers who play this game will not have any prior knowledge of The Divine Comedy. The game may, however, inspire more-thoughtful gamers to actually read the poem. Is that a bad thing? No. It’s just a name. Alighieri’s reputation, and his original work, still remain the same as ever, no harm done.

Is it the seemingly exaggerated ridiculousness of the game? I mean, turning a 14th-century poem into a hack-and-slash game of the God of War/Devil May Cry variety — complete with demons having crucifixes shoved through their skulls, and the lead character apparently slaying Death himself and stealing his scythe within the opening minutes of the game — well, there’s a lot there to find ridiculous. But ridiculous can be fun. Why are gamers dying to get their hands on the forthcoming MadWorld game? Why do people love the Evil Dead films? Because they’re ridiculous.

Many in the industry desperately want to see video games receive the same respect as movies do, and we’re definitely moving in that direction. But I think it’s unfair to decry the game as a huge step backwards. Do we really want an industry filled with nothing but serious games? Has the entire film industry fallen into an abyss of mediocrity because Rob Schneider and Dane Cook continue to star in movies? Is BioShock any less of a masterpiece because Earth Defense Force 2017 exists? No. We cannot have legitimacy and respect at the cost of being able to laugh at ourselves and have a little fun. Gaming is fun, first and foremost.

The God of War series took Kratos and completely changed key aspects of the character. (To start with, in Greek mythology, Kratos was actually a huge Zeus fanboy, and never once attempted to overthrow him.) Did this deviation from the character’s original story diminish the games at all? An overwhelming majority probably wouldn’t even consider it an issue. Granted, God of War deals with mythology, and Dante’s Inferno deals with one man’s work of fiction. Still, a lot of the same general principles apply. When a work of fiction makes the jump from one medium to another, changes usually have to be made, in order for the transition to work well within that new medium. Acceptable losses, etc.

So, I implore you: Relax. This looks, at the very least, like it will be an amusing, ridiculous third-person action game filled with over-the-top violence. Best-case scenario, we end up with an epic, surreal, dramatic gaming masterpiece. I absolutely adore the design and style of what little I’ve seen so far. Whether it’s based on Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy or Matt Groening’s Life in Hell, I don’t care. A good game is still a good game. Even if its tagline is “Go to Hell.”   read

4:51 PM on 01.11.2009

And now, I must ask this question...



10:11 AM on 11.22.2008

I call dibs on telling everybody to STFU about calling dibs

I mean, seriously. If I get into a game of Left 4 Dead with you, and I get ahold of Francis, I ain't giving him up to any of you bastards. I mean, seriously? You think "dibs" is going to do anything? I fart on your goddamn dibs. In fact, if you call dibs, I'm going to gank your shit and wiggle my stupid sexy ass at you. So, there. Stop that goddamn shit, people. "Dibs"... pfft. I've got your dibs right here, and I'm pointing to my penis when I say that.

Also, dibs on Cammy.   read

4:20 AM on 11.20.2008

The Kids In The Hall play "Portal"-- No, seriously


The Kids In The Hall and Portal. Two great tastes that go great together.

In the above video, posted to the Kids' MySpace channel, the other four Kids watch Scott Thompson (the gay one, if you're keeping score) playing Portal on their (really freaking, ridiculously huge) tour bus, from the next room over. Now, I'm going to assume that alcohol and/or drugs were heavily involved, as not only does Thompson seem thoroughly incapable of doing something as simple as placing a cube on a button, but the other four Kids are finding all this ridiculously amusing. It's really not that interesting of a video, but if you love Kids In The Hall and Portal like me, or you enjoy watching middle-aged, Canadian comedians in hysterics over virtually nothing, then you'll like it.

The Orange Box? I've never been more proud to be a Kids In The Hall fan... Even if Kevin thinks that a test chamber is called a portal, and Scott can't seem to stop crouching. And is it my imagination, or is Dave Foley (my favorite, FYI) the only one who definitely isn't under the influence of anything?   read

4:03 PM on 11.17.2008

Francis needs a dispenser here! Left 4 Dead played on TF2's Dustbowl is AWESOME


In before BlindsideDork.

Yeah, not much to say about this, other than that IT'S REALLY FREAKING AWESOME. Someone modded Left 4 Dead to play on a completely opened up version of Team Fortress 2's Dustbowl map. Obviously, it's not a terribly long level, probably not even clocking in at the length of a single L4D chapter, but it's still undeniably awesome. Sadly, my laptop has proven itself incapable of running Left 4 Dead at a playable quality, so I shall continue to miss out on the PC-mods goodness.

Now, could someone please put the TF2 characters in L4D? I would give anything to mow down the infected with the Heavy's minigun, run circles around a Tank as the Scout, or sneak past a Witch as the Spy. Also, sentries.   read

9:18 PM on 09.21.2008

Demo Impressions: Mercenaries 2

Though my experience with them is sadly minimal, I'm a huge fan of sandbox games. The idea of being able to go wherever I want and do whatever I want is one of the greatest draws in all of gaming, for me. Mercenaries 2 is apparently one of those sandbox games, though I admittedly don't know to what extent they take that sandbox. When the demo popped up on XBL this past week, I couldn't not download it.

In Mercs 2, you're a mercenary given the task of blah blah blah, Venezuela, blah blah blah. Whatever. Completing the mission objectives is likely just a necessary evil that allows you to keep on destroying more things in satisfying explosions. The demo certainly makes that clear. You're given around 15 minutes to complete your objective, which involves a helicopter and a listening post and... I don't know. In my several playthroughs of the demo, I didn't complete a single objective, as far as I could tell. Admittedly, I'm stupid, but I felt like the menus and info were a little lacking.

Honestly, I found the demo restrictive, in that regard. The fact that it limited my playtime with the objective timer was a little obnoxious. But I found the gameplay surprisingly strategy-intensive, deeper than I'd anticipated. I had assumed you would just run through levels, casually wreaking havoc. In reality, you actually have to think things through a lot more. Numerous times, I found myself face-to-face with superior firepower, requiring that I either run or strategically, and slowly, take down my enemies. The time limit made these adjustments cumbersome, but otherwise they were welcome.

The game has an interesting in-game currency system. Evidently, you can make money by committing certain acts, such as destroying billboards. You can also lose money by killing civillians. I thought this was a nice touch, even though the reason for the financial loss -- your employers pay off the media(?) to sweep it under the rug -- is a little creepy. I did enjoy the fact that I could fly or drive into the city and hijack sportscars, even using vehicles to go incognito.

Essentially, despite some shortcomings, Mercenaries 2 appears to be a fairly well thought-out game. I was downright shocked to find that I'd actually run out of missiles in the helicopter, and that I didn't have an inexplicably unlimited supply. Even the chopper's bullets had a (generous) limit. Some might say that this breaks the already-ludicrous flow of the game. You can hijack helicopters from the ground, for frak's sake. It wasn't too jarring of an intrusion by reality, though.

Frustration did, however, set in a few times. For example, I picked up a pistol that someone had dropped, only to find that the assault rifle I'd dropped had mysteriously vanished, leaving me with only a pistol and a near-empty rocket launcher. So, it's not without its bugs. But even when I found myself with the short end of the stick in a ridiculously overwhelming situation, I was still having a figurative blast. All in all, a good demo for a promising, though questionable, game.

Does it make me want to buy it? Yes. Just barely. I feel like the (in my opinion) confusing mission objectives could get on one's nerves, but the game should hopefully make up for that with its sheer, glorious "mayhem factor."   read

3:37 AM on 08.29.2008

Valve shows off early Demoman concept art [TF2]

I'm an unashamed Valve fanboy. I love just about everything they do and I would let Gabe Newell spoon me for a full week, if he so desired. My love runs especially deep for Team Fortress 2, as most of you well know. So, it's kind of difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that Valve actually makes "mistakes." In particular, not using any of these early Demoman designs that Valve posted on the TF2 blog yesterday.

Break out the "That's racist!" gifs, because I think they should've gone with one of these more traditional, Groundskeeper Willie-esque Scotsmen, instead of the Demoman we have now. Don't get me wrong, I love the final Demoman, and I love me some black Scotsmen, but take a look at that guy in the header image up there. Take a look at this guy. Tell me you wouldn't love to run around smashing people's heads in with a bottle while looking like that. You can't.

Some of the designs are pretty comical, others downright Sniperesque, but I really like the looks of these guys. Not necessarily a bad choice on Valve's part, just a "could've been" that really appeals to me. I've attached the complete collection of designs below, or you can just read the post here, where Valve talks about their maybe-obvious reasoning behind their choices, and also about how TF2 was nearly "Claymation."   read

7:14 PM on 08.23.2008

Demo Impressions: The Force Unleashed

I don't think I ever realized that I had so much invested in this game. I've loved Star Wars to varying degrees ever since I was a small child, hiding my eyes whenever the rancor appeared on-screen. Naturally, I've purchased the toys, read some of the books, and played the video games. Now, the toys are a hoot, and the novels are generally excellent, but the video games... that's where things tend to get sketchy for me.

Basically, truly great Star Wars games are few and far between. KOTOR is so-so, LEGO Star Wars provides much amusement, and Battlefront is mostly satisfying, but none of them have been amazing. I've longed for a game that made proper use of force abilities, a game that didn't dumb down the Jedi and the Sith even more than George Lucas did in the prequels. To cut to the chase, I think The Force Unleashed just might be that truly great game.

After nearly busting a nut when I heard the demo would be out this past week, it occurred to me that this was it: Possibly, the franchise's last chance to grab hold of me with new content. If this didn't take, I was done. Not done with the franchise, just done being George Lucas' bitch, shelling out money for a taste of the shit he tries to pass off as being worthy of the "Star Wars" branding. In that case, I would be forced to live solely in Star Wars' past. But that future has been held off for a while longer. The Force Unleashed is a fun, interesting game that I cannot wait to play through in its entirety.

By now, you've probably either played the demo or have read extensively about it, so I won't go into great detail about the particulars. It takes place in a TIE fighter factory, and you're fighting both the Republic militia and Imperial stormtroopers. That's it. The first thing I was struck by was the fluidity of the game. From the moment I fired up the "Force Grip Tutorial," I was so very relieved to see how fluid and natural the force powers were. Gripping was simple, moving objects was simple, and force lightning and force push were mapped out as actions as natural as swinging your lightsaber. So, button mapping? Approved!

How did it play? Well, I've heard a number of different complaints about the controls, but I experienced no issues. The targeting was troublesome at times, but I found it no worse than a lot of targeting systems that I've handled in games. It was managable and it didn't hurt the game. I also didn't experience any slow-down, as some have reported on the 360. In a nutshell though, to answer the question of how it played: It played really damn fun.

On the easiest difficulty, one can truly wield the force like the dick that "The Apprentice" appears to be, casually tossing stormtroopers around, dangling them over their friends, making them kiss, etc. The second difficulty, presumably the equivalent of normal, was much more satisfying for me, providing more enemies to knock around, though slightly less room to toy with them. The hardest of the three available difficulties leaves no room for messing around, though it's entirely doable, even for someone with my limited abilities.

The quick-time events are somewhat annoying, as usual, but they're tolerable here and they produce pretty-damn-awesome results. Ultimately, whatever you may think of the game, the goal of The Force Unleashed is to have fun with the force, to be a badass force-user and enjoy yourself. That's it. As such, quick-time events appear to allow for a lot of awesome sequences that just aren't possible outside of cinematics, so they work well enough here.

Bottom line, this game delivered on every key expectation that I had. It controlled well, it was simple, it looked good, it was fun, it was engaging and- well, it was incredible. If they can draw out this level of fun and expand on it for an additional 10-15 hours (at least), then they will have possibly made the greatest Star Wars console game ever. I absolutely cannot wait until the full-length throwing-droids-out-of-windows simulator comes out, even if it means having to slay the hotness that is Shaak Ti.

Verdict: 9/10 sticky bombs (I'm too lazy to make a graphic, right now). Literally my only complaint is that the demo is much, much shorter than the miserable Too Human demo.

Also, in case you were wondering, The Apprentice, A.K.A. Galen Marek, uses the Shien lightsaber fighting style. You know you were wondering. Don't lie to me, you whore.   read

1:12 PM on 08.14.2008

Whoa, wait a minute... Katie Price was Lara Croft? [BOOBS]

So, I was reading a nifty blog called Infinite Lives today, and I read something that blew my mind. Now, keep in mind that this will likely only blow your mind if you're from the UK or enjoy ample breasts or are a Tomb Raider fan. Or maybe this is common knowledge. Whatever.

Apparently, back in ye olde days of 1996, tabloid darling and sex-tape participant Katie Price, she of the obscene, ungodly-sized boobage, was Eidos' first Lara Croft model/mascot. I suppose it helps if you know who Katie Price actually is, but this just dumbfounded me. It's one connection I did not expect to see. One of the UK's premiere media whore-types got her start just like Croydon's favorite daughter Ms. Alison Carroll currently is. So, God help you, Alison. See you on reality TV.

The article that Infinite Lives is referencing is kind of interesting, too. It's a retrospective of all the Lara models coupled with their in-game counterparts. Some foxy polygons indeed.

Update: Oops. Apparently, Price was one of three models, as seen here.   read

7:26 PM on 08.01.2008

Mmmphf mmmnuh mmphf phmmna! [TF2]

Alice, over at her Wonderland blog, found this really freaking amazingly awesome piece of homemade Team Fortress 2 incredibleness: A Pyro candlestick holder. I cannot describe to you the levels of sheer want that this inspires within me. Now, if someone would just make a Spy cigarette case, I can take up smoking again and die happy.

And if you don't know what the hell is going on with the title of this post, you clearly haven't played TF2 and, thus, you must get the eff out. Or play TF2. But no, seriously. Get out.   read

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