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T-rav's blog

3:18 AM on 06.13.2010

The Frustration Unleashed

Soooooo, I'm kind of frustrated.

The first trailer for The Force Unleashed 2 was just released not long ago. I watched it and really enjoyed it. It was full of gratuitous lightsaber usage, gratuitous force power usage and gratuitous It looked amazing, and showed the force, well, unleashed. I mean, the apprentice vaporized the unfortunate Stormtroopers that stood near the radius of his force explosion. That's awesome! Star Wars is awesome! Anticipation and all that! And then it set in.

I recalled the trailers for the first Force Unleashed. I recalled how awesome they were, with a whole Star Destroyer being pulled out of the sky by the sheer will of the apprentice. I recalled the anticipation, and the short Euphoria engine demos that promised revolution. And I recalled the QTEs that transformed what were supposed to be awesome, cinematic, and immersive moments of ultimate force unleash. The disappointment. The repetition. The average game that came in place of these great pre-rendered works of art. It's something that has plagued video games as a whole for a long time. Killzone 2, Final Fantasy both fell prey to this. They weren't bad games, by any means, but they both went through some controversy in the same regard as TFU2.

The Force Unleashed, however, is one of the main offenders. After a couple of hours of gameplay, it became tiresome, and the weight of broken promises pulled the whole thing down. Pre-rendered cutscenes have their place, and they are good to introduce and breakout with a game, but when they are followed up by an undeniably lesser product, things fall apart, fast.

I love The Force Unleashed's trailers for what they are, but as a means of showing off what the game was to be bringing us in the future, I was just left disappointed. And when I see all the anticipation in the comments on this latest trailer, I'm just reminded of the same cycle occurring upon the first game's release. Anticipation, more anticipation, and then disappointment.

So developers, get real with what you're promising. If your game is going to be riddled with QTEs, repetitive fighting systems, and limiting environments, don't show me what you simply can't deliver. So as much as I love the new trailer, I won't be viewing it as a in any way related to, or indicative of the product it is intended to advertise. What place do you feel pre-rendered scenes have in video games? And what do you think about their use, specifically in The Force Unleashed?   read

3:35 PM on 02.06.2010

No More Heroes 2: Past and Present

It's worth noting that in my playthrough of the first No More Heroes, I was oblivious to Suda 51's insertion of themes and statements on gaming, and gamers themselves. I was awakened to Suda's complexity as a developer after reading a great article that analyzed No More Heroes brilliantly by Cowzilla3 (now the editor Matthew Razak). It drew connections between the blandness of the world surrounding Travis and the way some gamers tend to see the world; hyper-visualizing certain aspects of it and ignoring others. The article was exceptionally well written and a fair amount of work was put into it, and it inspired this one. Being newly aware of Suda's penchant for under the surface messages, I began the second game with open eyes.

No More Heroes 2 delivers a number of interesting insights on gaming today. It stands as a monument to gaming's increasing complexity as a medium for entertainment and a medium for expression. It takes us on a journey from video games' infancy, to it's present.This is where No More Heroes 2 shines, more than anywhere else.

Travis hasn't grown much from the first game and is still the same person that the player left him as in the first game. The promise of sleeping with Sylvia at the end of his climb to the top rank initially inspires him to fight once again, but it is the assassination of his best friend, Bishop, that sends him on his most recent blood-fueled rampage through the rankings.

Bishop had no pivotal role in the first No More Heroes beyond being the owner of a video shop that you may or may not go to throughout the course of game. He never truly interacted with Travis, and didn't seem to have any purpose beyond simply being a shell behind a counter. The decision then to have his murder be a motivational tool to inspire Travis to fight his way through what was potentially five times as many more ranks as the previous No More Heroes seems a bit hamfisted and hardly believable. And this is no accident.

The game outright professes its beginning as simple and little more than an excuse to wield laser swords in Travis' hands once again. This is highly reflective of the beginning of video games.

In Galaga, your mission is simple: shoot, don't get shot, get points. In Dig Dug you play as a character with a hat that is supposed to eliminate monsters from underground. This didn't exactly revolutionize story-telling. The story in these early games receives much less focus than sheer gameplay and a means for simple but effective entertainment. This is precisely where No More Heroes 2 begins. Those guys killed this guy. You knew this guy. Kill those guys. It's simple, and it gives you a reason to play the game. Nothing too deep. But just as gaming progressed beyond simplicity, so does No More Heroes 2.

The story gains depth as monologues by Sylvia begin to add a sense of mystery to the game. Travis begins to value the thrill of a good fight, but more importantly, the honor of a good death. Story takes a role just as central to action. Ranked fights become less interesting as Travis becomes more self-absorbed in the thought of ending the battle by beating the 1st ranked assassin. He no longer fights each individual battle as if it were his own, they have become nothing more than shallow steps on his way to the top. His sight blurs red with the blood of those fallen, friend or otherwise, yet his mind burns green, telling him to go, onto rank one--onto victory and revenge in one.

When others attempt to help him he gets angry, believing it is his job and his role to defeat those in his way. With this self-absorption the game worlds become increasingly bland, and increasingly lonely. On his way to the second rank battle, there is a significant time where Travis is forced to walk a long and empty street within the game. At the end of this solitary and silent march there is a large graffiti on the side of one of the buildings of only himself, and yet another level of cut-and-paste enemies. The second ranked assassin has gone down the same proverbial road as Travis, asking only that, upon her death, she would not be forgotten.

Such a level of complexity in storytelling was not even hinted at when the game began. But as you draw closer and closer to the end, a new layer of complexity reveals itself, and Travis becomes a much more involved character. This is where games currently are as a medium. At a level where their complexity has evolved and their legitimacy in any number of categories is still pending. Games still haven't reached that Rank 1 fight, saved the day and gotten the girl. But they are well on their way.   read

3:49 AM on 01.04.2009

I hugged Mega 64...


And I got stalked.   read

10:29 PM on 12.08.2008

The Contest Prize Unbaggening

I came home from a tiring nearly 12 hour school day to be greeted by a delicious surprise. As I entered the house, my brother sat with a white bag next to him. Addressed to “Travis The Pirate” (which is awesome), I automatically knew who it was from. Destructoid, of course!

Yes indeed, today I received my copy of Fallout 3 I won in the WePC contest. So now, I present to you “The Unbaggening” of Fallout 3, presented in still-image format.

Enough with these silly words, onto the images. Awaaaaay!

This is the all important "opening of package" picture. Look at that hand. That is a nice hand!

Fallout 3, in all its nuclear deliciousness.

Wait a moment...what is this?

It is good to see that Destructoid is committed to AIDS awareness and prevention! I lol'd preeeeetty hard when I saw this. Now, time to play Fallout! OH, WAIT.


If only my Xbawks hadn't Red Ringed, I'd be enjoying Christmas just a tad early. Oh well, at least I have something to look forward to.

Lastly, I would like to thank you Niero, for the hilarious AIDS prevention device, the awesome "Travis The Pirate" address, Fallout 3, and creating the best vidja game community on the internet.   read

7:07 PM on 11.23.2008

Rage in the form of RRoD

Third time’s a charm. Somehow, that phrase doesn’t seem appropriate here.

Yes, my third Xbawks 360 has succumb to the fatal Red Ring of Death® (all right reserved by Microsoft). However, this red ring is unique. It is a Red Ring of Once In A While Death, in that it appears about every fifth of the time I power up my console. Of course, my Wii, which I have not used in months, is still fine. It sits lonely and cold, yearning for attention that it doesn’t deserve while I sigh and look away in shame.

Soon I will get the shipping label to plaster onto my previous box that I received for my second RRoD. But for now, I shall enjoy the last few sputtering breaths my 360 has to offer, whilst listening to the metallic grinding of two chainsaws colliding in a conflict for life or temporary 5-to-10 second death.

Also, welcome to the club Mxyzptlk.   read

3:50 AM on 10.19.2008

In Defense of: Mercenaries 2

When Mercenaries 2 launched on August 18th it garnered mixed reviews, at best. The majority of them called it anywhere from average to a massive disappointment. In fact, many of you in the community bemoaned the game. I can still recall the many blogs I read that ripped the game apart and warned people to stay far, far away from it. All this talk of how horrible the game turned out to be and the sheer malcontent for it concerned me. What happened to the series that I had learned to love after playing the first game? How could the developers be so careless with the sequel to one of the better games of the previous generation? I rented the game to see whether everything I heard was correct and if it would make me, too, want to post an all-caps rant on how horrible it is.

A couple weeks back, I went to the local Blockbuster (I know, I know, I hate it too.) looking for a copy of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. There wasn’t a copy in stock and after going through a number of other games that weren’t in stock, despite being displayed as such, I settled on Mercenaries 2. I got home and casually popped it into the disk tray of my 360. I wasn’t expecting much as it booted up. The all-caps rants and bad reviews flashed once more before my eyes, lowering my expectations further. However, I was met by something a far cry from the things I had heard about the game. I was met by a highly entertaining and enjoyable game.

I had played the demo, which wasn’t much fun at all, yet I was now having a blast. What had changed? For starters, my overall knowledge of the game had expanded. I wasn’t simply dropped into a mission and given a new interface to figure out how to use, a massive fault in the demo. However, the biggest change was that there was a motive behind my actions. My motive was to get bigger and better explosives and vehicles as I progressed through faction jobs. This is where Pandemic really got it right. There is always something leading you just a tiny step further into the game. I really felt like I was working towards something that was not only integral to the gameplay, but also something that offered me a new experience. Not to mention that the graphics were nice, I enjoyed the action-oriented gameplay and, most importantly, it was just plain fun.

The fun I was having overshadowed the gripes I had with the inability to call in airstrikes whilst in a vehicle and the often repetitive enemy dialogue. Issues that cropped up always became an afterthought as I dropped more bombs and caused more beautiful havoc. I also felt there was something to consistently look forward to, be it blowing up one of the oil rigs spread throughout the map, or the acquisition of the nuclear bunker buster, which creates one of the coolest explosions in a video game to date. This technique of giving the player a constant goal to not only work for, but look forward to, kept me coming back for more.
However, the game is not without its issues that had a hand in turning many players away. Pandemic seems to have missed the forest for the trees in many cases, as they focused more on the small, less apparent aspects of the game and missed the larger aspects that make up the game like AI and ridding the glitches that occur all too often. I love it when developers put small, seldom noticed, touches with a game, but not at the expense of the game as a whole.

However, when it comes down to it, I found Mercenaries 2 to be highly entertaining, despite its quarks and the issues that so many had with it. The mixture of good ol’ fashioned fun and making sure the player always has something to look forward to, take it far and beyond what I had heard about the game before I picked it up by chance. I urge you to give Mercenaries 2 a rental and try it for yourself. Look past some of the issues while focusing on just having fun, and you may just find yourself enjoying the game more for what it is, instead of what it isn’t.   read

1:57 AM on 09.28.2008

Feel The Hatred: The Public's Portrayal of Gamers

The mass public has an incorrect consensus about many things and people. Be it a certain race, religion, culture or anything else that one may hold dear, the majority views and stereotypes always seem to take a big dump right on top of it, in the name of what is popular.

And you know what? I hate it. Yes, I hate it. I hate it so much. So very, very much. Specifically, I hate society's views on what a gamer is. A gamer is not an antisocial, basement-dwelling, hot pocket-eating, social cripple with nothing on the mind but gaming-- as "the cool kids"¯ would have you believe. I recently had an encounter with these ignorant views.

So the story starts with me, a senior in high school, who designs graphics and whatnot for the school newspaper. I had, about three weeks ago, been given the job of designing the shirts for our staff this year. You see, every year we design a new shirt for the staff to wear to promote the newspaper. I procrastinate (as I tend to) and suddenly, the advisor springs up saying I am to have the shirts done by the end of the week. I set to work.

This is where trouble begins to set in. I am sitting down, at the computer, whilst more than 10 staff members are huddling around me, all horribly eager to tell me what I am doing wrong and what it should look like. They don't care that I have designed shirts before and have a grasp on the situation, they still rabble on, make it black, I hate gray, yeah make sure to have no gray¯, that font doesn't work¯, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. This is not a productive environment, and I get little done, but do crank out an interesting looking use of fonts to work with as a foundation. However, the deadline is the following day. Meh, I can handle it.

The next day I am absent, due to forces beyond my control, but I call in asking to have the design emailed to me so I can finish it up and get it in by the end of the day. That task has been given to someone else.


Fine, I suppose if they feel confident, they can handle it from this point. No biggie. Now, we fast forward to three days ago when the shirts arrive, sporting a completely separate logo, in gray, no less.


My base design and idea was fully scrapped. The reason (here is the kicker): "It looked too much like a video game case thing". That is the exact quote of what I was told. To clarify, I am an outward gamer, and am known as the more tech savvy member of the staff. So when I hear this, I take offense. The design had nothing to do with video games. Nothing. It has a somewhat techie looking feel to it, and people used that as an outlet for their ignorance and misunderstanding. They used the fact that I have a hobby of playing video games as a scapegoat to consider my ideas less than, and just another stupid "gamer thing"¯.

But as a gamer, I don't want to be seen as "that gamer kid"¯, or to have my ideas seen as less valuable because I play video games. I don't go around judging others on what their hobby is. I don't think of the football players as automatically unintelligent or incapable of higher level thinking because they excel in athletics. I want to be seen as another member of society, another mind with which to interact instead of a mind to shun on the basis of ignorant, mass opinion. Opinion that says I am a loser because I am a gamer.

And here I thought that society was beginning to understand that gamers are not just the minority. Here I thought that we were getting past the uneducated views that seem so prevalent on videos games. Here I foolishly thought that we were more intelligent than that.

Silly me.

Games have evolved so far beyond what the public sees them as. A video game plot can be socially relevant and truly moving. The graphics can be artistic and beautiful, just like the people who make them can be. But as long as we have popular figures that make a mockery of games (see: Souja Boy, Jack Thompson, any given British publication) and sheep that will cling onto these fools opinions with their dying (or disbarred, amirite?) breath, stupidity will prevail.

No community makes the fact that we have evolved beyond the simple, less united, and more secluded days of gaming more evident than us, the Destructoid community. We get together and socialize at completely random parties, we lift each other up and help each other out when we are in distress or are just having a rough day, and we have intelligent discussions on video games and beyond. We are the anti-stereotype, and as such, we have to stand up for our hobby and prove that gamers are not what the ignorant public thinks of us.

I do not wear a pocket protector. I do not get stuffed in lockers. I do not feel awkward in every social situation. I do not only want to talk about games all the time.

I do have a life. I do have friends. I do think about socially relevant issues. I am a gamer, and I do not fit the mass public portrayal of me.   read

8:38 PM on 08.23.2008

Delicious Destructoid Wallpaper: Widescreen and Procrastination Edition


(Video unrelated. Besides, it's Mega 64, do I really need a reason to post a video of their's? And why haven't I met these guys yet? >.<)

Hey, hey, hey everybody. After a massive delay, and much procrastination, I have finally decided to post the widescreen versions of my previous wallpaper for your viewing and desktop-background-setting enjoyment.

The 1680x1050 version was requested by none other than the fabulous -PL-, who I thank for the request and apologize to for the delay. Also included are the 1440x900 versions.

As before, it comes in "Gripping Green" and "Ravishing Red", so take your pick widescreen folks!

UPDATE: I have now added 1280x1024 versions as requested by FrozenSpaceMonkey. Thanks for the request!

UPDATE DEUCE: I've added a 1024x768 version, as it was mentioned in the comments by none other than Samit Sarkar! I don't fully understand the difference between just taking it as 1600x1200 if you have a 1024x768 screen, seeing as how they have the same aspect ratio (I think) but a different res. Then again, that is what Samit kinda said, so maybe I should have read more carefully, lulz. Either way, I enjoyed making it and if someone wants it, thar she blows!   read

5:33 PM on 07.25.2008

Delicious Destructoid Wallpaper: Finally Posted

I have decided to finally post the Destructoid wallpaper that I had mentioned in my previous post on the "Metal Gear?!" wallpaper and E3 blog. Ready for an unnecessary amount of words? I am, so let's get into it and GIT SOME!

I finished this wallpaper about 2 weeks ago, but due to circumstances beyond my control, I have held off on the post to introduce it to you, the community, up until now. This was inspired by my previous wallpaper as it was created much in the same way. Similar style and technique was used but on a more complex scale. At first I didn't think I had the chops to make something that would reach my own expectations set forth by myself, for myself. However, I am happy with the final outcome.

I couldn't decide whether to make the background glow green to match the theme of the D-toid logo overall, or to use a somewhat striking red to accentuate the eye's of Mr. Destructoid. The red glow could also add further emphasis on the idea of "The Destructoid Army" that is found throughout Niero's posts, as well as community members'-- it is a rather commanding color, after all. In a way, the red represents the community itself.

Did I go too deep? Probably.

The specs are: --1600x1200 (That is my desktop size. if you want something specific, let me know, and I'll tweak it.) --Two color options: ravishing red and gripping green for the color connoisseur in you (I lol'd).   read

4:00 PM on 07.16.2008

E3 or Bust?

As we know, the convention is now stripped of the beautiful anarchy and flashing lights of yest-year, so this article is my send off to the E3 that so many of us wanted to see, but will never get a chance to. This one is for you guys.

E3 has always been a mysterious event of delight and intrigue for me. It delights me with the new game announcements and intrigues me as to how I would go about making a fake ID to sneak my way in.

The LA convention center becomes the place of mystery and beauty for a just under a week in the year as the gaming giants show off the best of the best that they have to offer. This child-like curiosity, however, came crashing down when it was declared that E3 would become strictly press only with little to no exceptions and spread out to other buildings as well. In previous years, one could potentially be invited even if they worked at the right gaming stores. In fact, I know a lucky, lucky soul that had just that happen. He later disappeared.

I was going to find a way in one year, it was simply a matter of how. Or who I would have to kill (I keed, I keed...or do I?). Here, I have chronicled five things that I was (and still am) willing to do to, one year, to find myself in the LA convention center at that special time of year.

Train laser dolphins to ride through the sewers and attack "The Man"s that placed the restrictions.

This is, admittedly, the most improbable thing on my list. But the explanation can't be denied: Lazars are awesome, as can be dolphins. Awesome plus awesome can only equal one thing. AMAAAAAZING. Dolphins can swim backwards. Backwards. If they can do that, I am sure they can be trained for lazer fighting. We would just get the blueprints to the convention center and make a hole under the male bathroom stalls. Or somewhere close to Mega 64.

Channel my inner Nicholas Cage and pull a "Face-off". Not John Travolta, that guy is a Scientologist. Apparently the word "Scientologist" is a typo in this blogging software. Heh, I wish.

Modern medicine has come a long way. I know this because I have played a fair amount of Trauma Center. And if Nicholas Cage has taught me anything, it is that I hate the movie series National Treasure. Beyond the point, but I had to get that out of the way. Anyway, I think that having my face surgically changed into that of an industry insider is a plausible way of getting into E3. If I can't do that, I have a mean Steven Seagal impression. I could intimidate my way in!

Dress in a rabbit costume and claim to be Cliffy B...Clifford Bleszinski

I think this one really speaks for itself. Who is going to question a man in a rabbit costume that made a game where you can chainsaw people in half? No one, that's who. Except maybe David Jaffe, that guy's a beast.

Become a bacon-wrapped hot dog vendor

They infest the LA convention center front doors, or so I have heard, and someone has to pick up the noble job of feeding the people. I could give diabetes to some of the most well known developers and press people. Yes! Also, unlimited bacon hot dogs for me. Who needs a paycheck when you get a job perk like that?

Fight Ron the death.

Would I lose? Yes. Would I wind up in a dark basement somewhere afterwords? Probably. Would I do it for a chance to go to E3? You bet I would. Though I must say, nearly every photo of Workman I have seen has scared me, so I would hesitate to carry this one out. Though I wouldn't have the Workmang any other way. :D

Would you guys prefer to have the old E3 back, or does E For All fill the gap? Or perhaps the lack of support by companies for E For All in the past (thankfully this seems to be changing somewhat) just accentuates the sting? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

Also, I let on that I was making a wallpaper for Destructoid in the style of my previous wallpaper that was MGS themed a while back. I have been busy, so work has been massively stalled, but I included a sneak peek that can be viewed down below. Enjoy!   read

12:41 AM on 07.15.2008

360 Price Drop: REDUX!

According to an interview by MTV Multiplayer with Shane Kim, Microsoft Corporate VP, Microsoft will be giving the Xbox 360 yet another price drop at an undisclosed date. This goes without saying, so what's the shocker? The aimed price point is said to be a paltry $199. The "Xbox 360 is some time off from hitting $199, but Kim said theyā€™re on their way.".

With the 360 just recently getting a $50 cut and a number of triple-A titles on the way for the holiday season, I can't see this happening soon without Microsoft taking a huge financial blow. It just seems a bit unrealistic to expect this any time soon. Although it would be nice...delicious even. When do you guys think we will see such a massive price drop?   read

9:34 PM on 07.05.2008

Wallpaper of Win?!

(For those wanting to skip the words, the wallpaper can be found below as expected, kthx.)

Alright! So, seeing as how I joined just recently, I thought I would bring a little something along with me to the party. Something to, say, break the ice in a delicious wallpaper flavor.

This wallpaper was lovingly crafted with the help of a Photoshop tutorial, but I wasn't content with yet another tutorial created image. I wanted to make it something a bit more me. With that initiative, an idea sprung to life.

The wallpaper is in 1600x1200 format and can be found for the low, low price of free just down below. I assume some explanation of it is in order, so explain I shall. The symbol present in the wallpaper is supposed to represent the Solid Snake created phrase "METAL GEAR?!" that we all are most likely familiar with in some for or other. I actually have only had a brief experience with the Metal gear franchise when I was young with "Sons of Liberty" on the Xbox. I rented it, wanting to give it a try, but didn't really enjoy it. Now that many years have passed however, I want to give it another go, but an opportunity has yet to present itself.

I will provide a link to the tutorial here, as I don't want to infringe on anyone's skillz. I thought my idea of Metal gear to be appropriate seeing as how it is a brush metal tutorial among other things.

If Metal Gear isn't your bag, worry not, for I have something similar but with a delicious D-Toid twist coming up. The idea is there, I need only to implement it, so look out for that if you like this wallpaper. Enjoy!   read

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