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Some Jerk
7:21 PM on 02.22.2008

It seems that with DICE over and GDC winding down every site on the internet wants to post a list of “most anticipated games” the baits flamewars like oil baits real wars. As soon as one of these things hits the internet out comes the semi-illiterate trolls to complain about how Little Big Planet got such a high ranking or the fact that Final Fantasy 13 VS isn’t on the list. Said fanboys always have a list of their own, which spawns smaller clusters of arguments.
That’s not to say there shouldn’t be arguments, after looking over the upcoming games this year, ranging from Brawl next month to Gears 2 in November I’ve come to one conclusion. 2008 will have more kickass games than could possible be fit into a short list. Any number under 50 would be unjust simply to the indy scene, what with it’s Fez’s and Audiosurfery.
GTA 4, 2 Days to Vegas, Kane’s Wrath, Halo Wars, Spore, Ninja Gaiden 2, Little Big Planet, Gears of War 2, hell even Duke Nukem Forever’s RSVP’d for the sequel to 07’s stellar lineup. So for the love of fuck-sake stop making lists.

Twisted Metal: Head On: Extra Twisted Edition may be the longest name this side of the upcoming release from Penny-Arcade, but it makes up for it’s mouthful title with equal weight in extras. For long-time fans of the series it might be worth the $20 (US) just for the art book and the free soundtrack.

That’s not to say that it’s by any means perfect. The games, while coming in a trifecta of awesomeness, are incomplete save for the polished up PSP port. Really, how does one review an incomplete game? By looking at what it promises? What it has? It’s all a bit of a conundrum, but know this, the parts that are there serve as their own separate roles in the greater picture.

The piss-poorly named “sweet tour” also known as the much cooler “I Am Sweettooth”, is a manhunt style action game that never was in which you walk around collecting commentary nodes that reveal background and concept art. The first of these makes no qualms about the “game”, it’s incomplete, the art isn’t final, obstacles lack clipping, some of the animations are laughable, but hey, it’s free. If nothing else it serves as a fun if only slightly inconvenient way of viewing the bonus content.

Then there’s Twisted Metal: Lost, which makes me think David Jaffe’s been watching a bit too much of the island-drama that’s been plaguing network TV by faffing about without a plot for far too long. My thoughts on the shit writing of the mainstream aside this half-game is somewhat of a cocktease. Mentioning a free-roaming Twisted Metal and giving characters excellent continuity in their storylines only to have it not actually happen is a bit like David Jaffe promising free cake and then running as far as he can in the opposite direction. I mean, come on! Mr. Grimm becoming a cannibal who patrols the streets of mid-town looking for victims and talking to his friend’s skull whilst slowly developing the dementia that he is in fact the grim reaper is pure unbridled awesome. The game doesn’t really have that though, what it does have is about four levels and a new character who’s pretty neat. The whole thing really serves as more a cog in the overall feel of this compilation though, a cryptic hint at what is to be.

The added documentary, which clocks in at about half an hour, is filled with more Lost-isms you see. Basically what it boils down to is that the series is coming to the PS3, a move so “no shit” worthy that I personally give a thousand face-palms to anybody who’s actually shocked. You can be happy, overjoyed, manically cheerful even, but if you’re surprised it’s time for you to go buy a dunce cap or a helmet. The documentary itself is nice, if nothing else it takes a few pot-shots at the series’ shortfallings (namely Sony’s censorship and anything having to do with 989 studios).

The meat and potatoes of this disk, however, is the PSP port. Part of me wants to just link you to a review of that game and be done with it.

And yet another part of me wants to talk about how the framerate is amazing at all times. Seriously, no-matter how much shit is going on on-screen at once there seems to be a perfect 60fps rate, with the only exception being (oddly enough) when the game’s soundtrack switches between one of its seven songs. The graphics have been tweeked for the PS2, which at this point I’m not sure if that means they’re better or worse, but I do know that watching the missiles travel parallel to the often bumpy ground instead of crashing into the slightest hill as they would in previous entries is a thing of beauty.

Overall I’d say this is how ports should be done. It’s almost as if the folks over at Eat Sleep Play are following the Valve formula and giving me as much value as they legally can, and that’s enough reason for even those who are new to the series to go pick this one up. It’s simultaneously sad and awe-inspiring to see the final games on any given console as you know it’s the machine’s swan-song but they’re often the ones that push it to the limits promised by long-forgotten tech-demos. Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition feels not only that way, but also as a sort of full-circle end to the PS2, which for many started with Twisted Metal: Black and for that it deserves its poetic spot as the chronological bookend of one of gaming’s greatest libraries.

Some Jerk
12:55 PM on 02.01.2008

For anybody who's seen the awesome trailers for Force Unleashed, this should pretty-much rock your tits. Those of you unwashed masses who have neither heard of the game or like penny-arcade can go die in a fire.

I’m Some_Jerk and the views I’m about to express are my own and not those of Destructoid, its sister sites, Ron Workman or anybody else…here…today, but as you might find they could be your own.

There’s a man who works as a lawyer/pundit/democratic presidential nominee, you might have never even heard of him, but you should, because he’s had some pretty nasty things to say about you. You see, he hates videogames and videogame culture. He’s not content to just turn a blind eye to a medium he clearly has no grasp on, actually he doesn’t want you to play them either. For the past several years/months/days he’s lead a one-man campaign against them.

When Penny-Arcade donated a million dollars to various children’s hospitals this Christmas he was busy saying how the world would be best served if we spent that time and money abolishing companies like Rockstar. Every time a Take-Two Interactive or Microsoft Games is proven innocent in a federal courtroom, this douche ignores that fact and writes columns as if he were living in some bizzaro-world where they were proven guilty just so he can continue his petty grudge. He even once referenced to the success of Japanese companies such as Sony and Nintendo as “Pearl Harbor 2”.

But he doesn’t only hate games, he hates gamers. Here are a few things he’s had to say about you and I quote: “Honestly, are all of you gamers on drugs, or what? Gamers are akin to the Hitler Youth. Pixelantes are vigilantes. More than one who wrote me claimed that because he loves gaming so much that I had somehow permanently impaired his world because of the assertions I made in the dangers that sexually explicit games present to the whole of society. You put threats ahead of arguments, extortion ahead of enlightenment. Gamers are considered by normal people to be cretins. Get used to it."

Well let me just speak for gamers everywhere when I say that we don’t enjoy being insulted by publications we take the time to read. We don’t appreciate being told we’re disenfranchised sociopaths. We don’t like a pompous, self-righteous, decrepit old corpse sitting atop an ivory tower that exists in his mind only campaigning to take away rights that every free man is guaranteed to such as freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and the freedom to enjoy whatever form of entertainment we choose. Those are facts, not rumors or blatant lies pieced together from speed-reading blogs, facts. You should try using them sometime as they help add credibility to arguments.

You spend all your time trying to get news outlets like the New York Post and Fox News to air your message. Well I think it’s time to let all the people you belittle on a daily basis get to tell the world what they think of you. You see you go beyond petty ambulance chasing, you leech off of national tragedies. Columbine, Virginia Tech, and even 9-11 are hounded by you, sir, as times and places to get on your soapbox and try to siphon attention from the real issues and problems at hand.

Why don’t you just give up? You should stop being so jealous of those in the industry who make more money or the gamers themselves who live happier more fulfilling lives than you and do something meaningful. Gun control, government reform, and poverty should be top priority in your politics, not videogames. Perhaps you should get a hobby like the gamers you spend so much time hating, maybe kissing girls, it’s quite fun.
The problem with guys like this are that I can’t specify exactly who they are because they’d send lawyers after me if they caught wind of it, or worse, they’d gain attention. And for him to use national tragedies ranging from school shootings to terrorism as an excuse for a call-to-action for your one-man vendetta against videogames is more vile, more repulsive, and more obscene than anything you’ve ever accused a game of being guilty of.

On behalf of gamers, the videogame industry, and anybody who has the balls to admit to it…here…today, I say go to hell you hearse-chaser and try to reform things down there…because we’re doing just fine without you around here.

For each of us there is at least one great videogame we identify with on a personal level and see as an iconic figure for what storytelling in games should be. Often times I’ll read a review of a game which excels in graphics audio and gameplay only to have the reviewer spend most of their time nitpicking the story elements. And it seems, to me, that a lot of gamers confuse story with dialogue. One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about Gears of War is its lack of story. Well that’s bullshit. In fact, it follows a very distinct pattern of storytelling as seen in movies such as Star Wars and The Matrix and even religious tales such as that of Jesus Christ.

The Hero’s Journey is a five-staged narrative which was first described by Joseph Campbell in his 1949 book “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”. The stages are as follows

1. A call to adventure, which the hero has to accept or decline
2. A road of trials, regarding which the hero succeeds or fails
3. Achieving the goal or "boon", which often results in important self-knowledge
4. A return to the ordinary world, again as to which the hero can succeed or fail
5. Applying the boon, in which what the hero has gained can be used to improve the world
PART ONE: A Call to Adventure:

In most stories the protagonist starts off in their own world, living out life as they had been prior to being asked to become a hero. Luke Skywalker is living with his aunt and uncle, farming shit on a desert planet. Marcus Pheonix is a prisoner in the middle of an apocalypse, wasting away the rest of his time in a jail cell. Princess Leia’s message for help, Neo being told to “follow the white rabbit”, these are classic examples of a call to adventure. In Metal Gear solid the retired soldier Solid Snake is called by his former superior to save the world from a nuclear threat. In Portal the player character Chell is awoken by GLaDOS and told to perform experiments in order to escape the test chamber. The call can be internal even as Link experiences upon seeing how Gannondorf’s minions have plagued the land of Hyrule.

This call reveals something to the hero, an entire new and extraordinary world. Sometimes it’s as subtle as Marcus Phoenix leaving imprisonment to pick up arms and fight amongst the same ruins he’s been surrounded by for years, but it might go as far as being an entire different universe with new rules of time space and physics such as that seen in Viewtiful Joe.

In some stories, often trying to make the hero more relatable, the call to action is declined. Usually the hero suffers because of this. Peter Parker’s refusal to use his powers for good leads to the death of his uncle for example. This is perhaps the least seen part of the hero’s journey in videogames simply because of most players gung-ho attitude.

Supernatural aid is given to the hero upon accepting the challenge. Obi-wan rescues Luke from the sand-people, Trinity pulls the bug from Neo’s chest, The Wanderer in Shadow of the Colossus is given a sword by an omnipotent voice. This “supernatural” aid doesn’t always have to be so surreal though, it can be something as simple as getting guided through the radio in Bioshock.

Then comes an important moment in any story, the crossing of the first threshold, when the character takes their first step into the new world. Without this moment there would be no game. Mario would return to de-clogging toilets. The president wouldn’t be rescued from Ninjas. Samus Aran would just go home. These are often the moment that the opening cinematic stops on. The second solid snake emerges from the water and into the presence of the first couple guards he reaches a point at which he cannot return. There’s no snapping necks and chickening out.

This is only part one of what I’m hoping to turn into a five part feature. Feel free to discuss which games you feel have great calls to action and as always STFUJPG.

So it’s about that time of the year that every gaming site in the known universe starts posting long-winded lists of games that they liked, be it because of gameplay, story, PR people sleeping with their editors, graphics or a big cash payout. Fuck that shit, this is Destructiod where the attention spans are short and the guns are shaped like sharks. Thus, I present to you…

2007 In Two Games or Less

Because in a few years you’ll remember this year just as you do 1997, which is to say, as a great year for gaming, but really unsure what games were actually released in 2007 and not 2006 or 2008.

The Orange Box
At this point giving you a summary of what the contents of the opposite-of-blue-box is would be like telling monkeys that flinging their crap is fun. The best deal in the history of gaming, by far, works just like a typical 2.5 children family. There’s Portal, the baby that’s super-cute and full of new ideas and potential. Team Fortress 2 is the oldest, with a development cycle and an end product that attests to the “good game is good eventually, bad game is bad forever” motto. Seriously, I haven’t had this much fun with a class based FPS…well…ever. Then there’s Half-Life 2 episode 2 (Manchester United 1). It’s sort of the middle-child of this collection, offering more than it’s siblings what with it’s prequels but ultimately being neglected and disappointed with despite doing nothing wrong. Really, it’s sort of just the bad luck of being bundled with two of the best games of the year. That said I’ve never played much of the half-lifery and for me it’s a great offer.

Halo 3
Apparently some people bought this game, and you know what, it wasn’t that great. It’s not a bad game, don’t get me wrong. It’s just so very average. Shit, the main character is even a space marine. Everything from its jungle level to its military base levels to its desert level just screams “average” or “ever so slightly above-average” at best. Still, the game had one major thing going for it and that’s hype. Microsoft poured money into every type of advertisement they could from softdrinks to those awesome still-life adverts. Microsoft managed to prove that with enough money mediocrity can hold sway.

And so how telling is that for 2007? Two totally opposite offers for gamers. With the orange box the standard $50 will get you:

-Team Fortress 2
-Half-Life 2
-Half-Life 2: Episode One
-Half-Life 2: Episode Two
(and if you’re getting it through steam)
-Peggle Extreme
-Half Life 2: Lost Coast

Compare that to Halo 3’s Legendary Edition, which, even when marked down to $100 gets you:
-The game itself
-DVDs filled with content you might go through once or twice
-a plastic helmet that might fit your cat

So yeah, that’s pretty much 2007 right there. Overall the games were good, some were great, some were a slight letdown, but it was all gravy and tits. Truly it was a landmark year for the industry. So what do we have to look forward to? The wii will continue to find new ways to entertain us, the xbox 360’s massive library will be even more massive, and the playstation 3 will produce graphics that make are so pretty and shiny they’ll make your eyeballs melt. Fanboys will still be living in the year 2005, with Nintendo and Sony fans screaming about how much potential their respective machines have and Microsoft fanboys acting like the 360 is the only system out. Oh, and GTA 4 will rock all your faces.