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8:27 AM on 10.21.2011

A Tale of Two Cities

Boston is a breathtaking city. The history, the vibrancy - I'm in awe every day when I depart from my train and look up toward the skyscrapers. The city isn't clustered, creating perfect spacial planes where people flow between buildings like tiny rivers. There's a life of its own hidden in the Charles river, the side streets, the suburbs. There are unique stores, amazing food, and eccentrics - none of which I've experienced. I ferry myself across three modes of transportation to get here and yet I feel as if I'm instantly transported, every day, in my office. For me, there is no story - I purely exist in this plane.



The City of Angels calls out to me in a similar way. Despite the glamour of the 1940's, I'm finding myself struggling to etch myself into the city. The pieces are all there - the people, the cars, even the music. The architecture is at its peak - I see people drift between the structures, all chattering the same 5 phrases. Everything sits in its place, beautifully carved from an era that is no longer with us. But in this city I'm standing alone.



I discover landmarks, but for many of them they're just that - a mark of land, a pretty picture to stare at for a few seconds before it disappears. Just like my ride over the Charles, I am a spectator and nothing more. There is no need for unwarranted exploration, and when I have the opportunity it fades quickly as if I wasn't meant to be there in the first place.

In fact, my life as a 1940's detective is so linear that I can rarely visit places that were open to me before - as if I've transcended into another lifetime with each case. Even the phones are governed within the story - when I have to make a call it often has to be with a certain phone. I'm never uncertain about where to go because with a press of a button the game can ferry me there in seconds. The hand-holding is draining, and uninspiring.

The only venture is held within interrogations, and even then responses run dry. I'm almost a non-entity, a robot that spits out three functions, two of them almost interchangeable. My only fear of death comes in combat, but it's rarely a close-call experience. I watch myself as I shoot criminals down and before I know it, it's over.



Maybe the city knows I have no reason to venture - just like my life in Boston, why would I travel across the street to make a business call when I have a phone sitting in front of me? Why would I run 3 miles to a storefront that I have no need to enter? Why would a detective travel back to the scene of a crime knowing that the body has long been cleared away?

Maybe we're meant to exist within the tale of a city - weaving ourselves into its story rather than the other way around.

Or maybe it's time to cross the river and explore what lies beyond.

  read


2:03 PM on 09.14.2011

I'm doing Science and I'm still alive

I've been planning a "real" blog post for a while now but seeing as moving, vacationing, job change, moving again, and vacationing again has gotten in the way…I figured I'd just make a regular update since I haven't really posted anything in a while.

I've felt more out of touch these past couple of months than any other time in my life - and not just with the community, but with gaming in general. Right now I'm stuck in a time when LA Noire is waiting to launch, the Dead Island box art is all censored and effed up, and I'm striving to get through Deus Ex not only because of Nostalcast but also for my own personal glory before Human Revolution arrives. All of that has come and gone, and I'm still stuck here trying to sort everything out. I feel slightly ashamed as a gamer that LA Noire is still in its wrapper, I'm struggling to hold onto my Assassin skills in MNC, and I've only played about an hour and a half of Trenched (and most of that has been in my sleep - ask Trev).


Unfortunately, I'm not this adorable when I sleep

I had hoped that moving to Boston would grant me more time to spend writing, gaming, and overall participating in online shenanigans. I figured without friends around me it'd be like high school again - going home, spending hours on end gaming and chatting online, small doses of occasional necessities. Boy was I wrong. Not only do I have an insane commute (I take three modes of transportation to get to work, four if you count walking to the train station), but the hours at my new job are a bit crazy at the moment, and I find that by the time I get home I have just enough time to make dinner and then get enough sleep to wake up in time for my train in the morning.

So needless to say, I've been completely out of the loop. So far out of the loop that even the recap team can't save me. I need a recap of the caps that were capped in a fappity fashion, to say the least. Apparently I missed approximately 50 million shitstorms, some of them revolving around female topics that I would have loved to debate, but by this point it's that whole dead horse thing. I've also missed my beloved FNF - something that's apparently dying lately. Imma try to put some CPR in that biatch when I get the chance, because I couldn't stand to lose one of the best parts of my week.

I'd also hate to lose AlphaDeus. I wasn't here last week, but I'm going back in time and giving you a big hug. We love you!

Anyway, that's where I've been and I hope to be around a lot more now that I'm (kind of) settled into my new life. Now that I'm in Boston, my goal is to attend a PAX for the first time and actually meet some of you in person. So make sure you poke and prod me when the time comes to buy tickets! :]   read


9:07 PM on 05.11.2011

Happy's Flea Market

Between planning my Sonic vs Mario birthday party, receiving awesome blog headers (thanks falsenipple!) deciding on if I should get bangs or not, interviewing with Google, and working my ass of in general at work, I’ve paused on my daily interaction with the ‘toid.

In particular, I’ve had an itch to post a blog and now I’m finally able to scratch.

Honestly I don’t have any kind of topic or thoughts about a particular game. Rather, I’d like to share with you my adventures at Happy’s Flea Market down in southern Virginia. I visited some friends down in Roanoke a few weeks back (no, not the lost colony…the city) and while I was there came across a huge sign that said HAPPY'S FLEA MARKET – 2 MILES. I couldn’t pass this up.


I don’t know if it’s the Walmart-esque smiley face or the missing “p” that scares me more

This place was filled with the most delightful people. I mean that in a both sarcastic and completely honest sense. On one hand there were creepy white boys giving me the southern glare, and on the other hand I had some great conversations with genuinely cheery people. It was a unique experience to say the least.

Anyway, the picture above does not do this place justice. It’s insanely HUGE on the inside. As in, I-got-lost-in-a-hallway-with-broken-lights-and-spiders-and-thought-I-was-in-the-Haunted-Mansion huge.

Eventually my sixth gaming sense lead me to an electronics store full of older games. I saw a case full of N64 games and my heart leapt at the thought that the owner may just be dumb enough to not double check the rarity on ebay. Sadly, I was wrong.


The good case: $25-$40 each :[


The crap case: ˝ off (forever)

So I moved onto the SNES games, thinking that maybe I’d be in luck and find myself a Chrono Trigger or an Earthbound. Again, no luck.


There were 5 more rows of games labeled at $19.14, which left me with so many questions. Why all the same price? Why not .15 cents? WHY HAPPY, WHY?!

However, I did find a pretty sweet Poison cassette tape!


I'm having a lot of trouble trying to figure out which one is Bret Michaels

I moved onto other stores, each one worse as I walked deeper into the market. I eventually got to a toy shop with old action figures from my childhood and reminisced for a few minutes. Until I saw this thing:


I. FUCKING. HATE. E.T.

I seriously considered buying it so I could send it to Occams because…well…it was creepy and reminded me of him, but I couldn’t bear to pick it up. So he sits there lonely and without batteries, for eternity I suppose.

Unless one of YOU wants to take a trip to Happy’s Flea Market.


I dare you.   read


2:00 PM on 03.28.2011

E3, Cait Style

This year Kmart is bringing three gaming bloggers with them to E3. I want to be one of those people.

I’ve been a gamer my entire life. I started with my parents teaching me how to hold a joystick for the Atari. From there I grew -- I would sneak onto the computer and play my dad's PC games like Wolfenstein 3D and Duke Nukem (shake it, baby). After receiving a Nintendo one Christmas I wanted nothing more than to have the latest consoles, and when I wasn't gaming I'd spend all my time discussing games with my friends. Playing video games isn't just a hobby for me; it's always been a lifestyle and one that I hold dear.


Lil’ Cait! (all the cool kids got Game Gears for Christmas ;] )

In college I took my life’s passion for playing video games and finally started to write about them with a linguistics study on gaming terminology and moved on to a 40 page undergraduate thesis about the art and aesthetic within video games. I dedicated my senior year assisting a professor with video game research in my university’s media lab. But I didn’t want to stop there, after I secured a full time job I began to dedicate my free time to writing for Gamelemon. Eventually I moved on to create my own site, C8-bit, but wanting to interact more with the gamer community I started a blog here on Destructoid. I realized that for me, writing was more important as a tool used to interact with the community rather than to gain an audience.

I did this because I'm a big people-person. My profession is recruiting, and I love it wholeheartedly. I talk with programmers every day to get a feel for what their interests are and align them to the right place. I feel that this skill would be extremely helpful if I go to E3 -- speaking with developers and interacting in a way that I feel most comfortable.

It's more than a dream for me to go to E3. It would be a goal I've had for years to interact with the gamer community up close and personal; to be on the front lines instead of the back end. I’d particularly be interested in what’s coming for gamers like me – those who enjoy console as well as PC gaming. Is the market going to continue to shift towards multiplayer, or will there be a safe haven for those who enjoy solo play? Will there be any new “true” RPGS or are they dying out? Is motion gaming here to stay or a novelty? Is it time for a new generation of consoles?

There are a lot of specific things I want to find out, too. I'm hopeful to hear mentions of GTA5, Fable IV, or the latest buzz on Fiv5. I’m also interested in seeing more of The Last Guardian, Skyward Sword, and Silent Hill: Downpour. I’d like to see where Blizzard is at with Diablo 3 and if they’re going to surprise us with their next-gen MMO (World of Diablo, anyone? Anyone?!). What kind of content is Bioware developing for Dragon Age 2, and what updates are coming for SWTOR? How is their progression with Mass Effect 3 coming along?


Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

It would be a blast to go to E3 with Kmart. I’ve seen bits and pieces about what Kmart has been doing in the market, and I think it would be up my alley to represent them at E3. I like that they’re not just setting up deals – they’re implementing something that a lot of their competitors haven’t thought of yet. They’re creating a community for gamers to post their opinions, peer reviews, and have the chance to be a part of the scene as a whole. And I totally dig that.

I know I have the personality, aptitude, interest, and ambition for this opportunity. So, my fellow Destructoid peeps, wish me luck and (hopefully) I’ll be able to provide you some E3 coverage, Cait style!

  read


4:10 PM on 03.11.2011

Braid Breakup

When I start up a game for the first time I get all giddy inside, but sometimes the feeling lasts for only an hour or two. Shortly after, I begin to act like a total curmudgeon – for every likable aspect, I end up smothering it with twice the amount of negativity. My relationship with Braid fits this mold.



It started out beautiful. The music was delightful – in fact it was so charming that I’d let it run in the background while I was online. The art style was amazing and I often found myself staring at the detailed scenes before attempting to solve the puzzles. I thought it was neat how I could rewind time and erase my mistakes with ease. I adored the tiny suited man you play, Tim, and his story…at first.



After the first chapter my feelings began to change. I started noticing tiny flaws, which in turn grew into huge complaints. Instead of charming, the story turned convoluted and pretentious. I became sick of staring at Tim’s stupid smirk. Rewinding time became less of a novelty and more of a pain. I wanted to smack that dinosaur silly every time he stepped out of that castle and told me the princess was nowhere to be found.



The puzzles were getting harder, but not the kind of challenge I look forward to in puzzle games. Rather, they depended on my ability to understand how to manipulate the world around me and not my ability to use the specific skill at the time. I often had to seek advice from outside sources, and it eventually got to the point where I couldn’t complete a puzzle without receiving help first.

I felt like I had no choice but to abandon Braid.



Braid’s story focuses on Tim’s relationship with a princess as he struggles with what he did to her, and how he compromised his morals in the process. As I was going through the push and pull of Tim’s story, I found myself playing tug of war with my relationship with Braid -- and I eventually had to give up my end of the rope. Unfortunately I won’t ever know what happened to Tim or his princess, or even if he felt at peace with his decisions in the end. And part of me doesn’t care.

But I don’t want to adopt this attitude with the rest of my games – I want the giddiness to last, or at least the satisfaction to continue. Perhaps I need to be less critical and enjoy the good rather than let the frustration get to me. Maybe it’s time to reconcile and give Braid another chance.   read


9:25 AM on 02.22.2011

Alan Wake (Bacon is Better)

The other day I remembered that I had Alan Wake hidden somewhere in the nethers of my incomplete game pile. It’s kind of silly that I took so long to pick it up again, because once I put the game in it only took another 5 minutes to beat (I had stopped playing right before that evil tornado bullshit). So now, I can breathe a sigh of relief and can finally put my thoughts on e-paper.

Let’s begin with the good.



I’m not sure if this makes any sense, but the story was interesting despite the plot being a bit convoluted. For example I enjoyed playing as Wake pre-Bright Falls in his apartment, listening to the radio show, reading the manuscript pages (although they were pretty horribly written), etc. It provided for a nice atmosphere.

I also liked how the game mirrored pop culture icons -- I think the shining achievement was the Night Springs TV show in the game (which of course pays tribute to the Twilight Zone).

[embed]194775:36549[/embed]
“Quantum Suicide”

There were also a few startling moments that got to me – the trailer that gets picked up while you’re inside and you have to escape, a Taken storming out of a bathroom stall, bulldozer of death, etc. But they were few far in between to make the game thrilling for me. That brings me to…

The bad and the ugly



Trees. I used to love trees. But I don’t think I like them so much anymore. In fact, I’m thinking about burning down some forests in Minecraft to wipe my head clean of forests. I think there was a grand total of one chapter where you didn’t have to walk through a forest. It was a farm surrounded by trees.

The flashlight idea. At first, I thought it was cool and added a neat aspect to a game that I haven’t seen before. But after killing the 300th Taken I wanted to throw the effing thing over a mountain. It got so repetitive, so boring that I started running past the Taken just so I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.

The plot. I’m not going to spoiler anything here, but to me it seemed like they tried too hard to make something out of nothing. I mean I got it, I understood what it was going for, but it set the audience up for something that wasn’t there. I thought that maybe the DLC would cover the missing piece (which, in my opinion, is not what DLC should be used for), but when I read about it, it seemed to be a continuation of the same bullshit. Anyone who has played through the DLC please tell me if you found otherwise.

So in summary, if someone offered me a copy of Alan Wake or a fresh plate of hot crispy bacon, I’d go for the latter.   read


9:19 AM on 12.21.2010

IGNORE ME

[embed]190078:35061[/embed]   read


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