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4:37 PM on 09.06.2013

Post-PAX blog: Gaming invades Seattle!

Another year, and another PAX has passed by. I played games, met with people and thankfully I'm not recovering from some nasty post-convention flu. (I am sleeping a lot more, though.)

Alas, there wasn't any big outside-of-PAX events that I was aware of, nothing as awesome as last year's Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary expo thing that Square-Enix did with playable copies of FF2 and 3 on the original Famicom. (you can see that blog entry I made of it last year here.) What I did notice around the Seattle area was a flood of gaming-related entities. From seeing ads for games, to seeing retail stores show their slight understanding of video game culture. So I took a few pictures of them while I was around Seattle.

Most people who were walking to or from the convention center saw this one from the nearest Starbucks (out of about the 50 other Starbucks in Seattle). I have to give credit to the sign-maker for making a Ms. Pac-Man reference.

I don't drink coffee, so I didn't go in and try it. Was anyone else willing to give that a whirl?

About a block or two down, near Pine St, had this Super Mario Bros. reference. Chalk drawings of Mario and Bowser, plus something that resembles SMB's castles. The other side, which I regrettably didn't take a picture, had a Question Block on the other side, also talking about quests.

I liked the multiple game references on this one. There's the Mario references, then just a random reference to every RPG about quests. Gotta give the guys credit, even if they mixed up which games they wanted to refer to.

Saw another games-related related thing at a bar a few blocks away from where the Dtoid Karaoke event was happening. More Pac-Man! Since this was several blocks away from the main convention center, I'm surprised they even decided to throw the video game reference in, not many people were gonna be heading up this way.

Even by the Convention Center, video games were all over the place. The Daily Grill, the restaurant next door to the convention, had banners and ads for the MOBA game Strife. PAX 2013 seemed to be the "year of the MOBA," as there were about a dozen different kinds of MOBAs being shown off.  Chasing the gravy train, as always...

I also saw Total War: Rome II and Project Diva F: Hatsune Miku ads on taxis and buses, but did not get adequate pictures of either. In fact, I probably missed a few other games-related things, but this is what I saw while I was out and about.

I like PAX, it's a cool convention. It's too bad it's being partially ran by a guy who has constant foot-in-mouth syndrome. Hopefully we'll start seeing other conventions show up in response, I want to make sure my money's going towards someone who's not a complete dick.   read

6:46 PM on 08.08.2013

Salty Bet is freaking nuts, you guys.

So for the past couple of days, I've been wasting my time playing games. Not just any kind of game, though: The gambling game.

I don't know who introduced me to it, maybe it was somebody at Giant Bomb, maybe it was a friend, but I've been messing around Salty Bet, which is arguably the most dumbest, and yet, most amazing thing I've seen in a while.

Salty Bet is a gambling-style game where you place bets with "Salty Bucks" (not real money, just fake digital cash) on who's gonna win in a fighting tournament. Usually it's CPU-ran MUGEN fights, but I've also heard you could've also bet on EVO tournaments when that was live.

This is an example of one match:

Yes, a raptor versus some fighting game character. I've seen matches with fighting game reskins, terrible Brazilian Dragon Ball Z characters, sprites ripped from games like Sonic Battle, even infamous MUGEN characters like Omega Tiger Woods. It's awesome.

Now, I'm no fighting game aficionado -- try playing me at Injustice or Mortal Kombat 2011 sometime, you'll whip my ass -- but I love how dumb this whole thing is even without having much fighting game knowledge. The chat is rife with people voting for their "WAIFU"s (female characters) and saying "ALWAYS/NEVER BET ON DBZ" (even if it's "Gotenks GT" or something), and it's easy to get into the fever of it all, sometimes going all in on a character, only to find out the odds are stacked heavily against the character you bet on.

This is the reason why I haven't done anything productive lately. Hell, I got this Hockey game soundtrack CD I found at a Value Village last week that I'm supposed to write about, but instead I hop back on Salty Bet and waste hours betting on matches and slowly building my salty cash flow. It's that addictive.

Honestly, I wrote this because it gives me motivation to write more stuff. It also forces me to take a break on that damn site and actually do something for a change.   read

4:33 PM on 03.06.2013

Assassin's Creed IV and how I hate yearly sequels.

Oh boy, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has been leaked and announced to the world. The next riveting installment in the Assassin's Creed franchise, coming out later this year. We're not even six months past Assassin's Creed III's release and already we're gearing up for the fourth one. Not counting spinoffs on the handhelds anyway.

This is awesome for those who've conquered King Washington and tomahawked dudes in the snow a bunch. However, for people like me, this is bad news. You see, I'm not one to play games the day they come out. I can't always afford the $60 price tag, and even $40 can be a bitter pill to swallow. So I end up picking up the game a year or so down the line, usually for $20, and play it months later.

"I shall punish you for not being hyped for this! What do you mean you still haven't finished Assassin's Creed II?! That shit's old, dog!"

I didn't get into Assassin's Creed until I got my 360 in 2008, and didn't finish it 'til 2009. I tried Assassin's Creed II when I had a GameFly subscription last year, and I have a copy of it still in the shrinkwrap, ready to be finished. I have a copy of Assassin's Creed Revelations unopened. Before the announcement, I was only four games behind (II, Brotherhood, Revelations, III). Now with the fourth Assassin's Creed, I'm now going to be five games behind everyone else. I got fed up. Because I see what Ubisoft is doing, and I hate it when they do it: a sequel every damn year.

I've done the yearly sequel thing with another franchise: Call of Duty (I know I've talked too much about the series on this blog. I'm sorry.). I got COD4 with my PS3 in 08, World at War for my 360 in 09, and got Modern Warfare 2 at launch. Afterwards, my interest in the series faded, and while Black Ops looked cool I just couldn't shell out another $60-80 to play another Call of Duty game. Since then, I bought Black Ops used for cheap, I've rented Modern Warfare 3, and played Black Ops II during the Steam free weekend a while back. I feel satisfied in the few hours I played, and feel I saved myself some money towards other games that deserve to be bought and played instead.

I don't care how many UAVs you send, I'm not paying $60 for this!

I suffered “franchise fatigue” when I got through Call of Duty. I was sick of it, I didn't really wanna play another one and pay $60 every November for the same kind of experiences I got with last year's model. Granted, the games have been unique enough that only the core elements have stayed the same – aiming down iron sights, shooting dudes in the face with old, new, or futuristic guns – but I just couldn't do it year-in-year-out like everyone else.

Rather than do it again with Assassin's Creed, I'm gonna finish ACII, and stop there. Not gonna open Revelations. Not gonna play III, or IV, or whatever they have in store for 2014. I can't keep up with them, so I'm gonna bail. I don't hold any emotional attachment to the story, so I feel I wouldn't miss much by not playing the other games. Even if I decided to play the ones I missed, by the time I've gotten to ACIII, I'd get so sick of Assassin's Creed that even uttering the name “Assassin's Creed” would give me flashbacks of 'nam. Italy in this case.

See, this is the problem I have with yearly sequels: Not everybody's gonna be with you on day one. There are people that cannot afford the $60 price, there are people with massive backlogs, there are people who might not have a system worthy to play it. So they wait, and the penalty for waiting is having to play catch up. Some people can do it, those who play about 2-3 games a year.

But for those who have massive backlogs like I do, I'd rather catch up on other games like Sleeping Dogs, Dishonored, F3AR, and Batman: Arkham City. I don't even have a job, I'd imagine it's even more of a nightmare for people who are busy with work, school or family.

It's sad that publishers like Ubisoft opt to milk the teats until they're bone dry, instead of spacing the games out every few years. That's what people used to do back in the day, you'd be waiting 2 years or more for the next game, rather than seeing Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3 released back-to-back. It gave you time to play other games, and when it did get announced, you'd be legitimately excited for the newest game in the series, rather than a ho-hum “Oh boy, it's another Call of Duty game.” Now my response to anything Assassin's Creed will now be “Oh boy, it's another Assassin's Creed game, who didn't see that one coming?”

This wouldn't happen if didn't release a new game in the series every year. Had they staggered their releases to once every few years, I wouldn't even be writing this, and I'd be happily playing along and hyped like the rest of you. But instead, I'm punished for not being there with everyone else on day one. Well, I respond to that by not buying the games anymore. It's that simple. Voting with your wallet is a powerful thing, and I'm enforcing it. Not just on Ubisoft, but everybody. Because yearly sequels are terrible, and shouldn't be happening in video games. Imagine if movies had sequels every year. People would get tired of it pretty quick. If we don't tolerate yearly movie sequels, then we shouldn't tolerate yearly game sequels.   read

8:32 PM on 09.07.2012

My PAX 2012 swag roundup.

Hey Dtoiders. Was great seeing some of you guys, and my apologies if I ate and ran on Sunday, I had some personal stuff to deal with. Here's hoping our meeting's a bit more friendly next year. :)

So, PAX was last week. I'm still recovering from the nasty post-con cold I got there. Naturally if you're going to an event like this, there's bound to be free junk available for people to grab. Here's what I got.

Dear lord, that's a lot of swag, right? Let's crack this sucker open and see what we got. Note this is not everything, the rest is just codes and promo stuff that's since expired. Also, I went to the Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary thing which took up most of Friday, so I got a bit less swag than I usually get. That's fine by me, it means a shorter blog entry here.

These weren't from PAX, but rather at a Value Village that was a bit away from the convention hall. After taking the long walk, I found these three babies for $7. Pat Sajak's Lucky Letters, The Colonel's Bequest and Police Quest II. The previous two are Sierra games in their original packaging, complete with floppies. Even PQ2 had copied floppies in the box as well as (presumably) save disks. Granted, I don't have a floppy drive on my PC, but now I can download these and not feel as much shame as I did previously. Lucky Letters was more of a gag purchase, it was $3 and had not been opened. Clearly the GameStop clerks who tried selling this just dumped it here, because it's got those stickers everywhere.

The main PAX swag bag was pretty awful this year. You had to pack your own stuff, and by Sunday it was mostly picked clean and had nothing really cool to mention. A bunch of promo stuff, some tournament codes for Uncharted 3, and some Magic: the Gathering crayons and coloring books. That's about it. Word around PAX congoers that supposedly the last Nintendo Power was in earlier bags but I find that suspicious. Here's hoping PAX Prime 2013 goes back to the old system, where you just grabbed the bag the moment you hit the queue room.

A shitload of pins!!! This was the year of the pin as I grabbed a fair share of pins around the show floor. Some of them include Magic: the Gathering, Jetpack Joyride, BIT.TRIP Runner, Offspring Fling, Rock Band Blitz, Hitman: Absolution, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, NiGHTS into Dreams, and a few other custom pins such as the Phoenix Wright cosplayer, a One of Swords pin and a Critical Path pin. There's also a few random gaming and nerd-related pins in there, they were literally handing them all out on Sunday and I grabbed a few.

There were much fewer T-shirts available this time round, me only grabbing four of them. It's bullshit because a fair share of them were only available if you decided to pre-order the game. I'm no fan of preorder junk so I passed that offer. I hope this is not the norm, I loved going to past PAX events and coming home with a dozen shirts. The shirts I got were for New Super Mario Bros. 2, Hawken, RIFT and a plug for Japanator, a Dtoid sister site. Only two of these shirts will fit me fine, the RIFT shirt is in XL. Do I look like I fit an XL????

The Batman: Arkham City comic book was given out at the WB Games booth, while the Line of Defense comic was just hidden out of plain view as you transition through parts of the expo hall. Still not a big comic book guy.

Thanks Dan for handing out Guitar Hero: Van Halen to anyone who wanted it. Which seems to be pretty much anyone who headed to your panels. It's funny, they do this promo thing for people who bought Guitar Hero 5 yet they're still giving these away almost three years later.

A fair share of stickers were given away for Hawken, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and of course, Dtoid stickers. One of those Dtoid stickers was stuck to my shirt on Friday's meetup, I hope they come off easily. I liked the “I <3 Video Games” stickers and pins until I found out it was an advertisement for the Spike TV Video Game Awards. Ugggggggggggggggh.

If it wasn't the above things mentioned, the thing they were giving away were promo codes. Avatar items, betas, get free currency in whatever free-to-play game they were shilling... these were everywhere. Anything to give an incentive to try out their games.

That Mega64 con DVD was left by someone at the Metal Gear Rising booth, and I just grabbed it after I was done with the demo. I felt kinda sorry for taking it, but I did ask if it was anyone's they left there by accident. I got not one, but three sets of Kid Icarus: Uprising AR cards, because I had to play single player since the multiplayer was full. I believe only winners got one set of AR cards, so bonus score for me.

That Kirby stress ball is the best darn thing out of the whole show. Though it's a bit inaccurate, Kirby shouldn't be smiling, he should have his “game on” angry face going on at all times. At least that's what Nintendo of America thought for so long. The Dance Central 3 swag was pretty damn cool, with a disco ball keychain and a slap bracelet with a watch on it. I think Harmonix wins best swag at the show. Because of slap bracelet watches. Slap. bracelet. Watches.

Lanyards! Lanyards everywhere! For NOS, Square-Enix, Sega, League of Legends and Remember Me. Of course there's the usual Behemoth lanyard that's graced PAX badges for years now that I didn't get a picture of here.

Fancy a goofy hat or mask? I grabbed a few of those, for Okami HD, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, ZombiU and Injustice. Injustice was more of a headband than a hat or mask, but if it goes on your head, it goes here.

I stopped by The DOTA2 International tournament and snagged these patches as well as a book advertising the event. It even comes with an item in DOTA2. If I was even moderately interested in MOBAs, I'd redeem it.

Want some excess energy? Chug a NOS energy can, or a 5-Hour Energy shot. 5-Hour Energy had a small booth by the queue line, while NOS was just handing these cans out Sunday night after PAX. The last two things are a PC Gamer swag bag with codes and promos I snagged somewhere, and a Harmonix beach ball they were giving out during their game show event Saturday night.

And the final, most intriguing thing here. This black box by Bethesda. They were giving these out at their booth. Could it be a T-Shirt? Some codes? The Necronomicon in a box?

Nah, they're just portable cardboard speakers, advertising Dishonored and The Elder Scrolls: Online. I would be disappointed but these rival Dance Central 3 slap bracelets as the coolest swag of the show.

So yeah, PAX. I have a lot of swag from 2009 to the present, mainly because I don't have the heart to throw it away. Expect to see me on Hoarders in a few years with all this junk. Though, the best swag is not physical. It's the experiences of people you see, things you play and meet, and making new friends. That's what PAX is about. The swag is a close second, though. :P   read

8:02 AM on 08.29.2012

Coming out of hiding with games, and PAX.

Hi Destructoid. Sorry I don't write back much, I'm so so busy with other things. Okay, that's a god damned lie. To tell you the truth, I've had little incentive to post a community blog on the site. It's unfortunate really, because I am one of those idea guys. Y'know, the one who gives interesting ideas for things, some of which of are pretty dumb? I'm that guy. I get all these ideas in my head and think, “Oh, I should write about them!” But then I don't and then I forget about it or decide not to write about it because the window of opportunity has passed.

It also doesn't help that I run a little games blog thing on the side as a hobby thing, which is mostly about dumb video game related things like video game TV shows you might've seen or a Quake 3 map made to advertise Eminem's “The Marshall Mathers LP.” But since I've been following Dtoid's community for about 2-3 years now, I know the rule of reposting stuff you posted elsewhere is usually frowned upon, so I don't repost it here. Same goes for advertising the blog, I heard that's kind of a community no-no too. (If you actually are curious about the blog and wanna see it and comment about it, you're welcome to see it here.)

With those in mind, I end up with an empty slate on what to post. There's those “Bloggers Wanted” things, maybe I need to keep up with those. I could write a response or two to other blogs that are interesting to talk about. Truth is that I've become lax about everything as of late, just living the internet dream of sitting on my butt all day and browsing web forums and maybe playing video games once in a blue moon.

I have been playing games, at least. Playing the occasional Mann vs. Machine in Team Fortress 2, Strapping it on with Saints Row the Third on my five-year-old PC, even popped in Perfect Dark Zero for the first time because some early pre-release screenshots had been released to the public. And of course, the occasional Rock Band/Guitar Hero solo fun session. Let's talk a bit about those.

This is what Saints Row the Third looks to me, but when you're having fun, who cares how it looks?

I'm feeling somewhat underwhelmed with Saints Row the Third. Granted, it has some crazy moments, such as an Escort mission where you ride with a tiger in the car, but Steelport doesn't feel as cool as Stilwater did back in SR2. Maybe SR3 is a case where it's a good game, but the next Saints Row coming out in 2013 will be better, much like SR2 was superior to SR1. Maybe we'll get Johnny Gat back in the new one, for real this time.

Perfect Dark Zero is a weird game. It kinda feels like Goldeneye with a pinch of Timesplitters on the side, but without the goofy tongue-in-cheek humor of Timesplitters. It certainly doesn't feel like Perfect Dark so far. Surprisingly there's still a few people playing it online, which surprised me.

Once I finish a game or three, I wanna tackle stuff I bought in the past and haven't had time to finish, like Uncharted 3, Dead Space 2, Halo CE Anniversary, Sonic Generations and even older stuff like GTA: San Andreas and Brothers in Arms. I end up collecting more games than I do playing them, which is bad. Really bad. It's probably gonna get worse as time goes on.

With PAX just a mere few days away, I thought to write this blog about video games. At least, vaguely about video games anyhow. Since I'm going to PAX, I thought I'd do a re-introduction of sorts. For those who may have met me, I'm that shy quiet guy who usually hung with Elsa in Dtoid meetups in past PAX events. That's because she's really the only person at Dtoid I can say that I really “know” outside of staff members. I'm that guy in the back who tends to stand around and listen to conversations and not really contribute to it. It kinda pains me that I'm that way, I guess I must have that silly crippling social anxiety thing. I'd love to change that this year, get to meet some of you folks more casually and do the obligatory “defame the Destructoid poster by saying it sucks despite I'm secretly a fan” like I did in years past. But most importantly, to meet with gamers and play games. Because that's what PAX is all about, isn't it? Play games, meet people, have long-lasting memories until the next PAX, and repeat after that.

Well, that's all I got to say, really. This site is pretty cool in spite of irrational hate, and I think you guys are cool dudes. Let's hang out some time, have some fun.   read

8:34 AM on 12.10.2011

What I want out of a video game awards show.

Aw, here it goes, here it goes again....

Another year, another Spike TV Video Game Awards show. I've covered this particular "event" in the past. Perhaps a bit too much than any sane person should, but I have to address this because we seem to shrug our shoulders and "just go with it" when we could honestly get something better than this. So instead of writing "Don't watch this" for the third year in a row, I'm going to suggest what I'd personally want out of a televised video game awards show.

First, I think the VGAs shouldn't be a holiday event. Every year the event airs in November-December and usually games that just came out recently -- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Saints Row the Third, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim just to name a few -- are being nominated for major awards without taking into consideration stuff that came out earlier in the year, unless someone pipes up and says "Hey, what about Portal 2?" Now I'm not saying Skyrim is not game-of-the-year material, but there's a reason most award shows tend to avoid nominating stuff that came out just 2-3 months prior. One year we had nominations for 50 Cent: Bulletproof and King Kong: Jesus christ this is a long god damn title for a video ga- I mean, King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, when those two games had not been released when the award show was taped. It'd be like giving the Academy Award to a movie that just came out this week, you just don't do that.

The other problem I have is just getting famous video game faces. In past years we were given the grace of Samuel L. Jackson saying his favorite game was "Grand Theft Auto III: San Andreas" and Sarah Silverman belittling the audience as if most of the 20-something audience gives a crap about her depreciating humor. I understand we're still in a period where game designers aren't necessarily household names, but I'd settle with getting actors who voiced characters in a game recently. Get Nolan North up there, get Tim Schafer on stage just for a goofy repartee, hell, make a famous games personality be the MC just so we feel like we're getting an awards show that feels more like its contemporaries.

Sponsorship is a common standard in award shows. Having a company back your award show with occasional sponsors is good. Having categories sponsored by Stride gum and Mountain Dew is not. I mentioned this before, but I don't see "Best Car Chase sponsored by Ford Motor Company," and seeing such blatant product placement just bothers me. I already have to be force-fed many commercials over the course of a day and seeing ads for Hooters and in games like Homefront, I don't need ads on top of ads in my award show.

The last thing that irks me is the announcements. New trailers, new games, all incentives to make you watch. Incentives that go away immediately after the broadcast when they're on instantly. Again, traditional award shows don't do this. I understand this gives us a reason to watch -- hey, maybe Valve will announce Half-Life 2: Episode Three finally -- but I already don't watch your award show, you could make this announcement on GameTrailers TV or the VGAs, it doesn't matter to me.

I want the Spike TV VGAs to be more like the Oscars and less like the MTV Movie Awards. An award show that developers and gamers can be proud of watching. Where winning "Game of the Year" feels like an accomplishment given to underdogs and not just given to the newest Call of Duty game every year. Where I don't see naked chicks painted like box covers. I can't be the only one pining for something better, right?

This is why I never take this award show seriously.

Granted, some of my requests are perhaps too unrealistic -- this is on a network dedicated to seeing very "manly" things like MANswers and Auction Hunters -- but this blog is a million times better than a certain Angry personality who went up to Geoff Keighley saying he "had a bone to pick with him." I have a bit more tact than that. :P   read

1:10 PM on 10.20.2011

Online Passes: The worst of modern gaming.

I hate online passes. I could just stop there and leave it at that, but that would leave you confused and asking why. So I'll tell you. I consider them the worst thing that's happened this generation. Worse than overpriced map packs. Worst than viral marketing campaigns and yearly franchise installments. It is the ugliest thing to happen to gaming, and it needs to stop. Now.

I don't always pick up games the day they come out, the last ones I did get on launch day were games like Portal 2 and Rock Band 3. In the case of games that are known for their multiplayer, I'd like to be able to pick up and play it, even if I don't play it until a year has passed and there's only 50 dedicated fans still playing. Online passes are a nuisance, because they make me have to put in a code to unlock what is essentially half of the game that I paid a good amount of money for. If I don't do this, then either I'm locked out of multiplayer or I only get to play up to level 3, which doesn't give me enough time to form a proper opinion on a game's multiplayer component.

Keep in mind I rarely buy games used these days, most stores will discount games to $30-40 not long after it's release, so I see little incentive to save $5 on a worn out copy when I could save $20-30 for a copy still in the shrinkwrap. Besides, my used games consist of stuff that's hard to find new these days, such as early Xbox 360 titles, or older games from the PS2 era.

It's equally scummy when you see it on singleplayer-focused games. Batman: Arkham City has an "Online Pass," and it gives you extra Catwoman missions. Why the hell would you introduce an online pass for a game like this? At least with a game with a multiplayer like Dead Space 2, it kind of makes sense even if it's dumb, but Arkham City does not have any form of multiplayer. No co-op, no multiplayer frag-fests, nothing. It's just a dumb way to screw over those people who want to save that $5.

I must point out one other, very important thing: NOT EVERYBODY HAS THEIR CONSOLE HOOKED UP TO THE INTERNET! While a good chunk of us -- perhaps all of us -- have our consoles wired or wirelessly hooked up to our 15mbps high speed connections, there's a good chunk of the USA as well as the rest of the world who's out in the middle of Whoknows, Bumfuckistan and gets nothing better than 56K dial-up. You're basically screwing out people who have no way to download or use said codes, thus locking them out of content permanently. This is absolute bullshit on the highest level. While I am one that has my 360 and PS3 internet-enabled -- hell, I subscribed to SegaNet back in the days of the Dreamcast -- others aren't so lucky, and it feels like you're slapping them in a face with a urine-soaked glove just because they're not with the "cool kids."

Not only are online passes a god damn nuisance, but this whole "season DLC pass" stuff has to stop too. It started with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, now Uncharted 3 is doing it and others will probably follow suit. Look, I already don't buy your stupid overpriced $15 4-map packs, I'm not gonna buy them even if I'll save $20 or whatever on your DLC pass! It's just a dumb cash grab.

It's online passes, season DLC passes, and overpriced DLC that makes me want to say "fuck video games" and take up a different hobby, like model trains. Why the hell do we put up with this? I'd like for this to stop being a thing, please. I like video games, but I don't like this excess use of paying lodsofemone just to get the "full experience" of my video games. And to think, just a generation ago, we could buy old copies of games like Halo 2 and get the same experience somebody got when they bought the game new, without the need of a pass. How times have changed.   read

8:12 PM on 08.24.2011

PAX mofuggers (shortblog)

So PAX is two days away. But tomorrow I'm hopping on an Amtrak train one day early, just so I can hit the early pre-PAX events and chill with bros.

Might as well use this old-ass pic.

This will be my third year to PAX, and this time I'm better prepared than the last two years. No longer am I walking through dangerous city streets just to get back to my hotel. Now with my hotel being a mere few blocks away from the convention center, I can stay at damn parties 'til 2-3AM and still get back in time to sleep without worrying about bus schedules. (Still should've gotten a driver's license and a car, though.)

Also, since I decided to join the modern kids club and get a smartphone, it'll be 1,000x easier to get around the place. Seriously. Last year was hell for me as I had to borrow the PC section just to find out where Dtoid events where since I had an old-ass flip phone that could barely text, let alone get the internet.

If you're going to the Dtoid PAX events or roaming around the convention center, look for this schmuck right here and say hi.

Trust me, I'm a nice guy once you get me started on silly things like Team Fortress hats and talking about how Harmonix is crazy for giving us songs by Fall Out Boy and Stone Sour instead of a They Might Be Giants 40-pack. If you're not going to PAX, shame on you. At least I hope someone adopted your avatar, so you'll at least get the taste of an awesome PAX experience.

But seriously, PAX is one of the few things I actively anticipate. It's just that awesome.   read

8:58 PM on 06.22.2011

Call of Doody: Fatigued Warfare.

I've noticed here on Destructoid as well as other places that I write about Call of Duty (and its derivatives) a lot. And I mean a lot. Which means I must love Call of Duty, and you're right. Yeah, I'm that person people hate because according to them I'm liking something that is contributing to the death of video games.

To these people, I'm the reason all shooters look the same. Funny enough, I've only played one of these three games and I play TF2 more often than I do COD.

But you know what? As much as I've enjoyed the games in the series, I think I'm finally suffering from franchise fatigue. That problem where you've played the games in the series, but realized that the initial thrill and shock isn't there anymore. That it lacks that excitement you remember playing Call of Duty 4 through the first time. It's like taking a drug for the first time and getting that extreme rush and excitement, with each subsequent time making it duller to a point where you're doing it out of habit more than for that initial high.

See, I was a guy who got into Call of Duty back when the first COD hit. Back when it felt more like a spiritual successor to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault than being Michael Bay: The Video Game. They were fun games, even the ones that weren't received as well, like Call of Duty 2: Big Red One and Call of Duty 3. (I'm probably one of the few who actually liked COD3.) But it was Call of Duty 4 that brought me back to the franchise almost in full force. It was the first game I ever got for my PS3 back in 2008, and I had loads of fun with its campaign as well as the ridiculously fun multiplayer.

So I became a fan. I read the official sites, occasionally glanced at the communities, watched trailers and gameplay clips. I got World at War for my 360 in early 2009, and I even made this dumb video when I got Modern Warfare 2 later that year.

Pay no attention to the overexcited fan unboxing MW2 and throwing Wolfenstein (a decent but flawed game) aside.

I was a fan of Call of Duty. I loved it. But when I played through MW2, I felt like some of that thrill that I remembered with COD4 was lost. It had become like a crazy balls-out action flick, being more bombastic than even COD4 was. Explosions in space, a ridiculous plot that made less sense than an episode of NCIS, and a multiplayer that emphasized the absurd like tons of helicopters in the air and Tactical Nukes. While I was enjoying it for a while, I realized in retrospect that it wasn't that good of a game.

Cut to June 2010. I got a GameFly subscription. I decided to pick up Treyarch's newest COD installment, Black Ops. I had played through some of the campaign with a friend prior, and while it was an enjoyable experience, it had that same "80s-90s action movie" vibe, complete with homages to The Manchurian Candidate and Apocalypse Now. While the locations felt different than the sandy desert worlds of MW2, I was still shooting dudes as I pushed forward through this mostly linear path with ridiculous weapons like a pump-action grenade launcher and portable miniguns. It was goofy as all hell. Oh well, at least Gary Oldman and Ed Harris made the game more interesting, countering the sub-par performance by Sam Worthington as main character Alex Mason. I still think Worthington's delivery of "You fucking sunovabitch" is the most hilarious thing I've heard in video game voice acting in years.

I'm surprised nobody told him to do another take. The voice acting is so amateur in this scene, making it almost like a B-movie.

Despite Black Ops adds some new stuff -- zombies is back from World at War, and refining multiplayer so you buy things rather than kill 100 dudes to unlock a scope, as well as wager matches for those credits -- it still had that feeling of shooting dudes with perks, getting killstreaks, and capturing objectives that I'd done years before. It started to feel old. Don't get me wrong, Black Ops is definitely a good game and worth it if you're into goofy action shooters that lump 70s and 80s weapons in a 1960s setting; but I'm not feeling it anymore. To me, COD has dulled me. That adrenaline rush and fun factor isn't there anymore.

Which leads me to Modern Warfare 3. The demo featured at E3 felt like the same stuff from MW2, except with more rail shooting segments. It didn't look too impressive, and felt similar to previous COD games, even the ones not by Infinity Ward. Whereas EA's Battlefield 3 actually looked fucking spectacular despite cribbing several things from last year's Bad Company 2. It just feels more fresh, whereas COD is almost rotten to a point where the smell is getting unbearable.

A lot of people wonder when the COD hype train's gonna go down. Well, let's go back a few years. Ten years ago (my god, has it been that long?), Medal of Honor was the top of the top when it came to shooters. People were hyped for that shit. Even MOH: Frontline and Allied Assault are considered classics. But what killed it was the same thing that's gonna hurt COD: sub-par titles and yearly releases. MOH: Frontline was a fantastic game, but Rising Sun was considerably less so. As years went on, MOH games got to that point of mediocrity where it felt like they had done everything you could possibly do. Even with MOH: Heroes 2 on the Wii, which has some damn fine shooting controls for that system, felt old and tired. EA even gave it one last chance with the modern reboot last year, and it wasn't doing COD numbers or anything close to a big success. If MW3 turns out to be a less-than-stellar game by the press and gamers at large, it won't take long for gamers to drop COD like a bad habit and take the new hotness in whatever new game that catches their eye. All it needs is a subpar showing, that's when it stops breaking sales records and starts being the subject of constant mockery.

It's entirely possible that this year could be the end of the COD juggernaut. Or it'll still be a critical and commercial success and COD keeps chugging on for a few more years. But I'm certainly done with it. I'm surprised I stayed with the series this long, I'm sure many of you left the club long before I did, or never got into the COD games period. At least I can stop writing about it, and focus on different things. Like hats in Team Fortress 2.

(Apparently embedding videos on the site at the moment is straight-up busted. Sucks, really. But hopefully the links get the point. I hope.)   read

9:05 PM on 06.05.2011

E3 Approaches: The Electronic Three press conferences.

Oh wow, I keep forgetting that thing called the "Electronic Entertainment Expo" is happening in just a few short days. The internet is abuzz with many pre-E3 articles, and already a bunch of trailers have been released, leaked or otherwise.

One of the greatest things about the modern E3 are the tales and memes that spawn from the various press conferences over the years. Hell, even Destructoid has gotten on this E3 bandwagoning covering the best (worst) E3 press conferences. Yes, Tak Fujii, Ravi Drums and Giant Enemy Crabs are abound in the article, but there are other things that have shown up over the years that make all three press conferences hilarious to me. To the "Skittles" demo of Kinectimals at Microsoft's 2010 conference, to Disney's strange dance session to cover High School Musical: Sing It! in 2007, even Peter Moore botching a Rock Band demo at Microsoft's 2007 press conference. It's these moments of spontaneity that makes E3 for me.

To be honest, those little things about the press conferences -- and sometimes the events around them -- are infinitely more fascinating than just going to the trade show itself. Hell, if I was a press guy, I'd just hang out at the press conferences and not do much else. To me, they hold a distinct charm of the best and worst of E3 more than anything else. Hell, I've been trying to chronicle all the infamous moments of the press conferences, and even then I might've missed a few because there's so many of them.

But the games, though? Can't wait for them. Announcements are the other great thing about the press conferences. Even though I bought it on PC when it was released, I was floored to see Gabe Newell at last year's Sony conference and announce Portal 2 to PS3, complete with cross-platform play for PC and PS3 owners. Granted, not all of the announcements are winners, but they're still awesome and bring out that giddy shocked kid in me who gets excited for all that stuff. Granted, it might be a bunch of arm-flailing again this year with new Kinect, PlayStation Move and Wii games, but hey, doesn't bother me. I try not to get hyped to see XYZ game or thing at E3, it's more interesting to be indifferent and be pleasantly surprised than be extremely hyped, only for the hype to deflate when the game you were hoping for doesn't show or doesn't hit those extremely high expectations.

Personally, I can't wait to get my Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders and Silent Hill on thanks to another batch of HD re-releases. Thanks Konami for acknowledging gamers who didn't follow last generation that well, like me! Seriously, this doesn't bother me as much as it probably does for the rest of you. Certainly better than going to GameStop and buying dirty copies with missing labels/manuals and the disc with a mysterious substance on it.

(Although I did play the original MGS games... hell, I got a copy of MGS3 Subsistence Limited Edition that's apparently semi-rare and goes for $150+ on eBay... tempting.)   read

5:27 PM on 04.18.2011

Something about gaming magazines.

Man, remember when we used to read gaming magazines? Maybe you don't, but I do.

A few days ago, while I was on my way to give a friend an old Xbox DVD remote I wasn't using, I had picked up three old gaming magazines for $5 at a Goodwill: A March 2003 issue of Game Informer, and two early issues of Official Xbox Magazine, still in the shrink wrap with the demo discs inside. That moment made me want to dig out the other old magazines I found while perusing thrift stores, and remember my past with gaming magazines.

I guess I should go back to where I began reading this stuff. My friend had a cousin who had old Nintendo Power magazines. To me, these were an absolute treat, and I snagged a few of the issues. Unfortunately they're all torn due to negligence of my friends at the time, but I had issues that covered games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project and Super Mario All-Stars. A few years later, I had a subscription with Nintendo Power from about mid-1998 to mid-2000. I even looked in a Kmart to get all the 1998 back issues I didn't have at the time. Later, I got one of those complimentary subscriptions to PC Gamer that you signed up for if you did something for Publisher's Clearing House. That lasted from 2003-2004, which covered a lot of games that would later be praised or derided, such as Half-Life 2, Call of Duty, and Doom 3.

This was the shit when I was a kid. Useful, insightful, even if it was filled with excess Nintendo praise. (As it should, seeing as it was owned by Nintendo and all.)

Hell, even when my local CompUSA was going out of business, I snagged old PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World issues from around 2004-05. Nowadays I don't have any print magazine subscriptions -- the internet has usurped that medium -- but I do remember the good old days of reading gaming magazines.

While my game magazine collection isn't huge, it's certainly a sizable collection in which each issue is a snapshot of the era. I collected these magazines as a way to see what gaming really was like around this time. 2001-05 was a time where I was playing video games, but wasn't entrenched in them as much as I am now. I missed a lot of the classics, some of which I went back to play recently, such as Mafia.

Getting these slightly old magazines also show how different gaming was before the days of Call of Duty 4. Here's a few examples: Game Informer praising Counter-Strike for the Xbox as the "king of Xbox shooters" since Halo 2 was still a year and a half away. How about a 2007 Game Informer issue that covered Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, complete with an early version of Elena, looking more like an adolescent kid than looking like voice actress Emily Rose? One of my favorites is Electronic Gaming Monthly that had "Announced: Goldeneye 2!" on the cover. That Goldeneye 2 was actually EA's GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, an absolutely awful shooter. But it's funny to go back and realize things differently than when all this stuff was brand new.

To me, it was also funny to read these gaming magazines to find out the most silly and ridiculous things in them. Like Howard & Nester. Hsu and Chan. Talking about strange peripherals or looking at old dated software like GameScan. Interviewing Darius McCrary of Family Matters to ask him what his favorite Nintendo games were. All these, along with the writing of many famous games writers, some of which would go on to be famous in other mediums like Bryan Intihar, Shane Bettenhausen, Dan Amrich, and many others.

Not only was it interesting for me to still find gaming magazines at a thrift store, it was more fascinating when I found an issue of CUBE magazine, a European-press issue from 2004. Brits will probably scoff at me not having one of their more prestigious gaming magazines instead, but to an American like me, this is a treat to find in a Goodwill for a few bucks. It too shows a snapshot of gaming, not only from a different time, but a different place.

I feel grateful that these gaming magazines existed. They were something we used as our way to finding out the hot new games. We didn't really have the internet to go to, and even in the previous generation, we were just getting familiar with online gaming. Every once in a while, I read these magazines again, just for old times sake. That and to see how far we've come in terms of gaming. Hopefully this blog makes you wax nostalgic and get you reading any old gaming magazines you might have, even if it's just Official PlayStation Magazine's 100th issue.

I remember getting this last issue of this, and being sad in the process. OPM was a pretty good mag.

Writing this blog as well as cataloging my 85-issue magazine collection makes me want to do something like this, but with individual issues of magazines. What say you, Dtoiders? Would you read em? :)   read

6:42 PM on 03.23.2011

Looking back at Medal of Honor

I don't hold high praise for the Medal of Honor franchise. It's a shooter franchise that started out good, but then turned to the ways of its competitor and ended up going from a unique stealth-based FPS to Call of Duty light. The newest game seems to continue in this route, feeling like Call of Duty 4 but without the fun and polish of that game.

I recently finished Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 on the Wii. It was the last WWII-era MOH game to be released, and it was released early on in the console's life. I've owned the game since I got my Wii in 2009, and after picking at it level-by-level over the course of about two years, I finally finished it a few days ago. I thought it was pretty damn good. In fact, it reminded me of the earlier MOH games.

For those too young to remember MOH and MOH: Underground, both of those games had a bigger emphasis on stealth and espionage. You'd infiltrate enemy lines, often by your lonesome, and fight dozens of Nazis on your way to destroying important enemy things. They kept this trend with Frontline on the consoles and Allied Assault on the PC, but added more action-oriented levels. But by the time we got to European Assault, the series went full-on "Call of Duty" knockoff. Don't even get me started on MOH: Airborne. It had ridiculous things like giant Flak Towers in the middle of Berlin and... well, these guys:


Yeah, Heroes 2 doesn't get anywhere ridiculous like that. Some of Heroes 2's levels, and there's about 11 of them, feature you going through areas alone attacking the enemy any way you can, just like the older games. While it doesn't have levels where you posed as German officers like the older games, it was still fun enough.

It made me think: Why does EA try to chase the "action war movie" train that COD already has in spades? Why don't they make a substantially good shooter with some espionage elements instead? Tap into a genre they once pioneered? It would make the series feel unique and fresh for the first time in about ten years.

But since the newest MOH was a modest success, probably in part due to the massive COD hate train that's brewed since MW2's launch; we'll probably see MOH2 go through the same motions of having us fight Taliban forces for the umpteenth time. I don't understand why EA still has MOH in the first place, they already have their token war shooter in Battlefield, they should've dumped MOH after Airborne and put all their focus on Battlefield.

Are you listening, EA? If you don't like reading words, here's a picture instead:


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