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TheBrain's blog

11:21 PM on 04.01.2008

My Humble Gaming Setup - I Cheated A Little


1:23 AM on 03.13.2008

Future of Rock Band

I compiled a list of some possibilities in future iterations of Rock Band with the help of a cool little interview at

Check it out.

P.S. The article has a complimentary hottie.   read

10:58 PM on 03.04.2008

I Feel Less Ineffectual and Unimportant Now!

While I'm sure my voice will remain almost as unheard as before, I believe I am stepping in the right direction toward making others subject to my opinions.

I am officially a freelance, unpaid, volunteer writer for the wonderful gaming blog, Aeropause. My first post can be found here.

I doubt I'll stop making Destructoid Community Blog entries, simply because I feel more comfortable broaching taboo subjects here (such as boobies).

Wish me luck and such.   read

1:33 AM on 02.07.2008

Good Idea, Bad Idea: Achievements

Good Idea:

There are a variety of good reasons for the inclusion of Achievements both from Microsoft's position and the position of gamers. The following list is but a sample.

1. Bragging Rights: This is the most obvious benefit of the Achievement system established for the 360. In a society where success is highly valued, what better way to feel better about yourself than to have a higher number next to your name than the guy next door. There is nothing that ignites the gamer soul more effectively than the discovery that one completed arbitrary tasks that their friends weren't man enough to handle.

2. A heightened sense of purpose: All videogames have goals to reach, but up until now there was nothing that truly tied together your accomplishments. The Achievement system can be seen as a sort of meta-game wherein a higher calling can be heard. You feel justified in playing a ridiculous amount of games as your Gamerscore climbs higher. You are achieving, and nothing can take that away from you.

3. Simpler purchase decisions: The Achievement system provides added incentive to encourage gamers to purchase the 360 version of multi-platform titles. This is obviously more of a boon for Microsoft than for your average gamer. However, it can be nice to have a simpler choice so that you don't have to endlessly watch GameVideos comparison clips.

4 It wasn't a complete waste: How many times have you played a videogame only to find that it completely sucks? It happens to us all. We are dazzled by the pretty boxart and the hype in the media coverage, but when we finally sit down to play a game, we are often disappointed. However, with an Achievement system, you will likely earn a few points before ejecting a terrible game from your system. This is helpful in justifying the time wasted playing a game that really isn't worth playing.

5. Get more bang for your buck: If you're like me, you often play your videogames through a single time before relegating them to the "collection" where they will remain until the end of time. However, with the advent of Achievements, one can find a reason to give a game a second or even third play-through. As long as there are goals to be achieved, the obsessive compulsive gamer can play forever and enjoy the game in ways they never imagined.

6. Developers can guide gamers to experience new things: The developers know they have us by the balls when it comes to Achievements. For example, I watched the credits to Guitar Hero II today, because I knew I would get an achievement for doing so. I would not have done this otherwise. I also tried the game out left-handed to obtain yet another achievement. It was an interesting experience I would have missed otherwise. The Achievement system allows developers the opportunity to make gamers do what they want with their game.

Bad Idea:

The Achievement system is inherently flawed, and I will now try to outline some evidence for this viewpoint.

1. Naturally increase the size of your Gamerscore!: I think we've all seen and been disgusted by the self-degrading misdirected attempts some individuals make to increase their Gamerscore. These atrocities range from paying cold hard cash to renting (or, heaven forbid, purchasing) Avatar: The Last Airbender. Not only is this the equivalent to spitting in the face of those who earned "real" Achievements, but it also throws suspicion on anyone with a high Gamerscore.

2. Wait a second, that's going to cost money: Not all achievements can be obtained by simply owning a 360 and a game. Some games have achievements that require an Xbox Live Gold Subscription, an Xbox Live Vision Camera, or even a particular gamer picture. That's right, I was playing PGR4 today and I came across the following achievement:

Buy an Achievement: Buy the K1,000000 gamer picture to earn this Achievement.

What? No thanks.

3. My narrative, it's broken: There's nothing more immersive than getting heavily involved in the story of a game only to be interrupted by a ticker informing you that your character has bested his 300th baddie. Sometimes it can be disruptive to be taken out of the game to learn that you have accomplished something completely irrelevant to the game's narrative. The best analogy I can think of is to tell you to picture yourself playing Shadow of the Colossus and then being confronted with an on-screen graphic that says:

Massive Damage: You've stabbed your 30th weak point!

4. Arbitrary goals aren't always interesting: I'm sure a lot of us have attempted to get achievements that just didn't seem like they were really worth it. A lot of achievements require endless repetition to perform a certain task a certain amount of times. These achievements are usually boring and reveal a lack of imagination on the part of the developer.

5. Achievement Unlocked: You're a griefing jackass With the inclusion of online-only achievements, a new set of problems appears. Individuals will stop playing the game like it is meant to be played and will instead spend their time trying to get specific achievements. A recent example of this is the team kill achievement that was to be included in the new Turok. This would obviously cause many problems. Thankfully, some developers understand the potential for this kind of problem. Infinity Ward decided to keep achievements focused solely on the single player portion of Call of Duty 4 to prevent gamers from breaking the multi-player by unceasingly trying to harvest those precious points.

5. Our game sucks, lets put in easy achievements: I don't have direct evidence for this, but I get the feeling that some poor games are getting more playtime than they should as a result of easily achievable achievements. I think some developers use achievements as a crutch to get people to play their useless crapfests, and I'm afraid it might be working.

I could probably find more to say on both sides of the issue, but I think these lists will suffice for the present. Anyone else have an opinion on the matter?

Also, I hear it in my sleep.   read

1:17 AM on 01.28.2008

Game Glitches Galore!

Ok, so I only have two. I thought it seemed like a lot for a month or so of game playing.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter crucification pose.

Stuntman: Ignition - Riderless Motorcycle
[embed]67172:7375[/embed]   read

9:12 PM on 01.27.2008

Games That Are Hard to Go Back To: Volume II

I hate the idea of missing out on any great games. However, I didn't use to be as hardcore a gamer as I am now (or maybe I just didn't have the money necessary to be one). There were quite a few games that passed me by. I generally do not have much trouble tracking down and enjoying old classics, but occasionally I run across titles that just don't stand the test of time (in my unforgiving and admittedly harsh opinion).

Medal of Honor: Underground

I have memories of playing the original Medal of Honor religiously like it was the PS1's Goldeneye (albeit only 2-player). I also had a great time with other title's in the series such as Frontline (PS2) and Allied Assault (PC). It wasn't until later that I realized I had missed a title before the series started sucking. I picked up Medal of Honor: Underground, was briefly excited about being a part of the French resistance, and told myself I would get to it eventually.

Fast forward 3-4 years. I started to play MOH:U and my first instinct was to turn up the brightness on my television. Unfortunately, I realized that this would not help as the game was simply not drawing these dark areas due to limited processing power. It also didn't help that the enemies could see further than I can. Not that it matters, as the game is frustratingly easy. The artificial intelligence (which seemed to good in its time) was appalling. Enemies would get stuck and run back and forth in an area trying to find an exit. Unfortunately, changing the difficulty level only changes whether your health meter refills between missions. Lame.

I was also quite annoyed with the objective structure. You have several very specific objectives that you must complete before reaching the end of the mission. However, some of these are difficult to locate in the dark murky world that is MOH: U. As an added bonus, one mission failed me for missing one of three machine guns. It seems that it might have been a better design decision to tell me to go back and find it, as opposed to starting the entire level over.

However, the game does receive high marks for sound design and overall presentation (you've got to love old war footage and gravelly voice overs). Unfortunately, It receives an additional low mark for inducing nausea on par with Durandal

In addition to Dramamine, you will need a steady diet of Vitamin E and corrective lenses to play this game.

Thief II: The Metal Age

I am a huge fan of the stealth genre, so the Thief series seemed like a perfect addition to my collection. I arbitrarily decided to start with Thief II.

After binding the control to a setting that suited me, I struck out to begin thieving and bumping baddies on the back of the head.

I don't know how to explain my problem with this game. It simply had a dated quality to it I cannot quantify, yet cannot stand. The artificial intelligence was, of course, laughable (especially that of friendlies), and I just couldn't get any satisfaction out of outsmarting an enemy that couldn't outsmart our president. I didn't feel so much that I was interacting with the game as that I was acting on the game by taking advantage of its flaws in order to achieve victory.

Basso does a mating dance to woo his precious Jenivere

System Shock 2

I feel I must apologize to Looking Glass for placing a second one of their games on the list. First, I just want to say that I am a huge fan of Deus Ex and a minor fan of Deus Ex 2 (I'm sure you understand). From a gameplay perspective, it seemed System Shock II would be right up my alley.

I started the game and I was again frustrated. The game seemed interesting and aesthetically pleasing. The "choose your own attributes" system promised a diverse and individualized gameplay experience. However, I just couldn't get myself past the constricting feeling of the environments or the seeming endless respawn of enemies in areas already cleared.

At this point I feel like I'm taking a very Seinfieldian approach in that I'm locating a minor, specific flaw and using it to avoid any further involvement. Perhaps I am being too harsh as an excuse to pass games up due to the sheer number I still wish to give a try.

I should like this game, I really should.

And so concludes volume II of the ranting of a jaded and picky gamer. On a related note, should I try Thief: Deadly Shadows, or will I be disappointed?   read

3:24 PM on 01.27.2008

Guitar Hero DS: I think it works

I'd buy it.   read

11:35 PM on 11.19.2007

Games I Loved That No One Else Cared About

We all have games that are very special to us. Most of the time, the love for these games is universal and shared by many a fellow gamer. However, sometimes the games we love just don't seem to be as appreciated by others as we feel they should be. I will now list three games that I absolutely adore...and you could probably care less about.

Crash Team Racing:

First, I just want to say that when it comes to "cart" racing games, my undeniable favorite method of enjoying this wonderful genre is to play Block Fort on Mario Kart 64. However, when it comes to my favorite overall cart racer, Crash Team Racing is undisputed.

Yes, Crash Team Racing is a knock-off of Mario Kart. Yes, it is better than Mario Kart. The game was met with critical acclaim way back in 1999. Unfortunately, its brilliance has been somewhat tarnished by lackluster follow-ups by the evildoers at Universal.

Crash Team Racing provided a much more robust package than Mario Kart 64 by providing a lengthy adventure mode consisting of races, boss fights, token collecting, and time trials. While an adventure mode could be found in the other competing cart racer, Diddy Kong Racing, the one found in CTR doesn't suffer from being painfully tedious.

CTR also sports excellent track design and an extremely good battle mode. Not only is there a very diverse weapon-set, but you also have the ability to choose exactly which weapons you wish to include. In addition, each weapon can be powered up by collecting 10 fruit, making them each much more potent. Defensive weapons are also provided, such as an invisibility powerup that protects you from oncoming heat seeking rockets. My favorite weapon would have to be the bomb which can be rolled toward the enemy and remote detonated to take out the target with the blast radius should your aim have not been perfect.

My friends and I played this game more than I can remember, and that is the main reason I remember it so fondly. However, the game itself does have a lot to offer.

Favorite CTR Moment: On his first time playing, I told my friend that the potions were health.

Red Faction

There I was in the spring of 2001, nursing my months-old copies of SSX, Onimusha, and Zone of the Enders like the precious children they were. It was a slow time for game releases and I had placed all my faith in one title to turn the tide. That game was Red Faction. The game promised much and didn't quite deliver on everything I expected, but it still ranks highly in my collection.

Geometric Modification, or Geo-Mod as the developers called it, provided gameplay that had been unseen in videogames prior to May 2001. Red Faction allowed players to manipulate their environment with explosives in real-time. Are you having a difficult time taking out that tank? Shoot out the bridge on which it rests. Are you unable to make your way through a door? Dig a tunnel through the wall to the other side. Admittedly, the game didn't offer nearly as much freedom as had been expected with regard to the manipulation of the game world, but it did provide a lot of crazy explosive fun.

The game did borrow rather liberally from Half Life with regard to its story-telling, but it was a godsend on the drought-ridden PS2. It provided a lengthy single-player game as well as a very impressive two-player multiplayer mode.

Again, most of my fond memories of this game come as a result of playing it with friends. There is nothing more satisfying than digging a tunnel in the wall to hide and whipping out the rail driver to shoot through walls at an unsuspecting friend (or CPU controlled bot). Who could forget shooting out the wall only to find a hidden Fusion Rocket Launcher with which to explode the entire world? What could be more fun than shooting rockets back and forth with a friend on Warlords to see who could time their blast just right to anticipate the others next move?

Unfortunately, Red Faction will go down in videogame history as yet another run-of-the-mill first person shooter. It doesn't help that the sequel sucked balls, either.

Favorite Red Faction moment: Using a rocket launcher to dig a stairway to the roof of The Lobby in multiplayer.

War of the Monsters

I've never liked fighting games. Everytime I play one it just feels like hitting random buttons is just as effective as making a concerted attempt to time my moves. I was hesitant when I was given the opportunity to play War of the Monsters (via a demo disk). Thankfully I gave the game a try based solely on the fact that it was made by the people who brought me the wonderful Twisted Metal Black.

War of the Monsters is a no-holds-barred brawler. You are given the choice between a variety of different B-movie monsters to choose from to take into a variety of locales to cause as much damage to the environment and your opponent(s) as possible. You have Congar (a King Kong rip off), Ultra V (an awesome Japanese robot), Preytor (a giant preying mantis), and many other creatures to choose from. The environments are fully destructible and yield a variety of items to use as weapons making the game much more strategic than your average fighting game.

You can pick up an oil tanker and throw it at an enemy with explosive results, you can throw a radio tower at an enemy to impale them (an momentarily stun them), and you can beat your opponent senseless with just about anything you can find. In addition your character has a short range and a long range special attack that can be used to inflict large amounts of damage on your enemy.

The game is very easy to pick up and is a beautiful thing to behold when played by two people who know what they are doing.

Favorite War of the Monsters moment: Standing on a special move spawn point with Ultra V and using the long range special attack (a Scorpion "get over here!" move) to bring an opponent close only to be followed up on with the close range sword-frenzy special attack.   read

8:19 PM on 11.10.2007

Halo 3 Sniper Rifle Bulltrue

I had a pretty good Halo 3 evening yesterday. I managed to get a Bulltrue (killing someone in the middle of a sword lunge) using my sniper rifle. As an added bonus, I shot him in the crotch.


Here is a pure luck video I also felt compelled to share. Ricochet sticky FTW.


Also, sniping fusion coils is always a barrel of laughs.


I also had a video of me sniping someone in the face on Narrows while I was man cannoning across the level but my YouTube upload has continually "failed." Sad panda.


12:35 PM on 11.10.2007

Monkeys Can Be Fanboys Too!

I ran across an interesting article in the New York Times recently. While it is no surprise that we humans will often rationalize decisions we make by downplaying the significance or worth of the options we pass up, apparently primates do it too.

A study was conducted with monkeys and M&Ms (as all good studies are). At the beginning, the monkeys showed no preference over three colors of M&Ms. However, when given the choice between two colors of M&Ms, the monkeys began to prefer a particular color to the point of consistently rejecting the color that had been previously passed up.

I found it difficult not to draw a parallel to the buying habits of videogame consumers. All three current systems provide great gaming opportunity, but there are still those who insist on choosing just one. They then feel the need to rationalize that choice by over-emphasizing their system's strengths and downplaying the benefits of competing consoles.

So congratulations fanboys, you are employing a strategy used by monkeys.


9:19 PM on 11.06.2007

I hate myself for this, but it had to be done.

I'm sorry. I had to.   read

11:56 PM on 09.09.2007

"Brain Boost is better than Brain Age" -Gamestop

I was in Gamestop today with a friend looking for some good original Xbox games on the cheap. As I was putting up with the horrible selection as I do on every visit, I overheard the cashier speaking to a customer.

"That's the new Brain Age, it just came out."

"Oh, really? Well what's this (picks up Brain Boost)."

"That's Brain Boost."

"What's the difference?"

"Brain Boost is probably better than Brain Age for kids."

I thought to myself, yes, Brain Boost is indeed better than Brain Age for punishment. Seriously, the woman appeared to have not played either game and simply assumed that the two games were targeted at different audiences and then proceeded to guess that Brain Boost was a game for the younger crowd. I can find no evidence for such an assertion but such random ass conjecture annoys me almost as much as Majesco does for making the game in the first place.

Luckily, my friend was able to even things out by informing another customer that, while Gamestop was out of Wii, the Circuit City across the street had some in stock.

On a side, but related, note, has anyone played Brain Age 2 yet? It appears to be more of the same, but I couldn't really get into the demo since it wouldn't let me play left-handed. Worth getting?   read

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