"A man without a moustache is rather like a woman with one."
- Nick Cave
Name: Matt Sanderson
Occupation: Habitual Line-Stepper
Location: New Jersey, USA
Date of Birth: June 13, 1983
Place of Birth: London, England, UK
Relationship Status: D.O.A.
Blood Type: Too Rich To Die
Steam ID: Sharptoid
Game Systems Owned Xbox 360
Playstation 2 (sold)
Playstation (gave away)
Gameboy Advance (dim screen)
Nintendo 64 (broken)
Sega Game Gear
Best Vidya Games Ever 01 Team Fortress 2
02 Earthworm Jim 2
03 Left 4 Dead
04 Half-Life 2
06 Earthworm Jim
07 Rock Band 2
Best Vidya Games Characters 01 Solid Snake
02 Anyone from Team Fortress 2
03 The G-Man
04 Gordon Freeman
05 Samus Aran
06 Francis (Left 4 Dead)
07 Francis York Morgan
Best Musics Ever 01 Wilco
03 David Byrne / Talking Heads
04 The Beatles
05 They Might Be Giants
07 Tegan and Sara
08 Paul Simon
09 Lady Gaga
Best Television Ever 01 Lost
02 Arrested Development
03 The Venture Bros.
04 Mystery Science Theater 3000
06 Doctor Who
07 The Adventures of Pete and Pete
08 Freaks and Geeks
10 That Mitchell & Webb Look
Best Ladies Ever 01 Amanda Tapping
02 Ellen Page
03 Thora Birch
04 Anne Hathaway
05 Alison Mosshart
06 Carey Mulligan
07 Kristen Bell
08 Amanda Seyfried
09 Alia Shawkat
10 Anna Kendrick
Best Dudes Ever 01 Steve McQueen
02 Wil Wheaton
03 Paul Newman
04 Conan O'Brien
05 Robert Downey, Jr.
06 Paul Rudd
07 Nathan Fillion
08 Jeff Bridges
09 Zach Galifianakis
10 George Clooney
Best Comic Book Ladies Ever 01 Power Girl
02 Barbara Gordon
03 Stephanie Brown
04 Cassandra Cain
07 Lady Blackhawke
08 Kitty Pryde
10 Miss Marvel
Best Comic Book Dudes Ever 01 Bruce Wayne
02 Vic Sage
03 Dick Grayson
04 Daken Akihiro
05 Booster Gold
06 The Riddler
08 Ted Kord
10 Mr. Freeze
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.
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."
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."
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.
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-sizedboobage, 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.
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.