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12:15 PM on 09.04.2009

I Suck At Games: It's All the Same, Only the Names Have Changed.

I've had my PS3 for one year now, and I've finally gotten a copy of Heavenly Sword.

It took me a while to decide I wanted it in my collection for three reasons: Reviews, Price, and Cover Art… roughly in that order, although in my mind they were all linked as closely as your incestuous uncle Cletus' family tree.

I'll get that last reason out of the way now and say that when I looked at the box art for Heavenly Sword I thought "Great, another T&A game of no particular ingenuity or substance …only now for PS3." This is because after so many dashed hopes of "She KICKS ASS! SHE R IDENTAFIBL HEEROZ!" I've become skeptical. Even in the best games, powerful playable females generally come in four flavors: Death by Distraction ( e.g.: Ivy and the Incredible Technicolor UnderBoob), Kickass but Passive (Yuna, Aeris), Kickass but batshit/inherently flawed (Tifa, Bjor...uh..Kai), and Novelty (Faith, Chell). For us ladies, these games are less like Buffy and more like Roger Sterling in blackface. A little Sterling in blackface is effective imagery, but an entire show of it is just sad and rather embarrassing. With that in mind, I looked at the box and said "no thanks, not for *that* price."

To Heavenly Sword's credit, when Mr. E. asks me "How's it going?" my response has been more "Kickin' ass, takin' names." and considerably less "How does that armor not chafe? THAT'S GRAVITATIONALLY UNPOSSIBLE."

This is not actually about that, but that is the shorter of the two explanation-based Reasons I forewent Heavenly Sword for so long.

This is about the pursuit of originality. Heavenly Sword is my most recent reminder of the perils of What Other People Think in terms of originality, so I'm using it as the base example.

I looked at the E3 footage of Heavenly Sword (before it's release, natch) and had PTSD flashbacks of getting my ass handed to me in God of War repeatedly. Many reviewers cemented this notion for me when the game was released. Up until just last night I was under the impression that Heavenly Sword was just God of War plus estrogen on a 3.2Ghz cell processor, and I wasn't going to have any of it. I'm sure many people still feel that way, but in my opinion it's a derivation that can be taken to a ridiculous degree (as I will soon demonstrate) and shows our collective jaded outlook on what makes a good game.

Some enjoy a game for it's ingenious style, forsaking all wannabes, forever in pursuit of the most original experience. That's fine- truly groundbreaking game style is a sight to behold. But groundbreaking doesn't always mean refined.. and almost certainly doesn't equate to the full potential of the New Style. I think part of the problem is that new systems' capabilities are so incredible now that we think we can't ever reach the limit of what we can do with them.. so it seems best to call the Idea done at it's first successful implementation.

In the bad old days of 8/16/32-bit we laid the foundation for our current games, but because of the systems' limits we didn't so much create new game mechanics as refine what we knew worked. Console fanboyism aside, with the logic that we apply to games now one could say that Sonic was just Mario as a blue hedgehog, that Mortal Kombat was Street Fighter (or even Punch-Out!!) with spinal columns and even dumber costumes.

In it's core, yes, SoulCalibur IS Tekken/VirtuaFighter. Every racer you've ever played is basically a gussied-up Pole Position/Enduro. Those myriad FPSes are all just wanting to be Wolfenstein 3D. The MGS add-on for LittleBig Planet? It's just Contra. RPGs? Bitch, you'd best get real and get out your graph paper and D20 or you just frontin'.

I've been burned twice by this line of thinking in recent memory, the last time was with BioShock. Why would I want to pay my cash money to play a dumbed-down System Shock/2 when I've already played it? As it turns out, the only thing the two had in common was "Shock" in the name, and loose connection in game mechanics. I missed out on playing it for quite a while under the misconception it wouldn't be anything interesting to me, and it ended up being truly great when I finally took it as it's own entity- a refined variation on an older game concept.

We've become jaded to the game, addicted to the constant promise of novelty like the consumer whores we can often be.. while paradoxically demanding groundbreaking novelty from an older series lest we lose interest. Maybe it is time to bury the Final Fantasy franchise and start something new from what we learned throughout it's 22 years in development, but don't bury stuff like Heavenly Sword right out of the gate because it's remotely reminiscent of God of War- otherwise we'll miss out on some great story, and even greater gaming.

This gamer got a sharp reminder last night to keep an eye on the older Ideas being refined, otherwise we'll miss out entirely… we don't want this generation of consoles to be marked by refined Madden games and a handful of great original concepts.

(P.S. that Whiptail is a supreme bitch.)

Now, a recap of our programming here on 60 Minutes…   read

3:08 PM on 02.27.2009

Yet another CoD:WaW review..

I wrote this a week or so ago, but didn't post it here. so now I'm posting it here.

The other night I took a break and played some Call of Duty: World at War. I'm really quite surprised at the new generation of shooters, that's 4 shooters I've played and enjoyed in the last year! I'm normally not so big on war games, either, but picked up Call of Duty 3 a couple of weeks ago used on a whim..because you never know, and it was cheap. I found myelf impressed enough with it's game engine and concept I sprang for a new copy CoD:WaW (aka CoD5), who knew?

With the exception of the Modern Warfare duo, the Call of Duty series is based around WW2. I can't make myself get Modern Warfare (aka CoD4) because current events wargames make me uncomfortable; I bet the campaigns are pretty cool and the weaponry kickass, but the thought of using them in a Middle Eastern setting just puts me the hell off. Kinda like how I refuse to play a Vietnam-based game: it was wrong when it happened, it's wrong now. Anyway, CoD3 was in the european front just after the Normandy breakout, beginning with the battle of St. Lo, you follow 4 campaigns: American, British, Canadian and Polish.. I like how the NPC AI on all sides actually had a brain, very immersive! The environment is also quite chaotic.. there's not a whole lot of war glorification from what I've gathered about this series, and I really appreciate that. You finish a campaign thinking "well, good thing that's not *actually* me out there, I'd be the first one dead."

Then again there are SO many WW2 games based entirely in europe in general.. so I was drawn to the latest in the series, Call of Duty: World at War. It advertises Pacific Theater combat on the box, and for reals, people, it rocks. So far the two sides I have fought on are American and Russian, Makin Island Raid to Pelilu and Stalingrad to the Berlin invasion so far, respectively. It's every bit, if not more, chaotic than CoD3.. and you feel like Treyarch actually paid attention to those battle films sent back from the Marine fronts.

Why I'm even blogging about it at all is because of what I did last night. First of note, I got to man a T-34 in the push to Berlin. I suck at tanks, I always have.. I sucked at BattleZone and I will always suck at tank warfare games in general. I was actually getting to the point where I was going to give up and shelve the game for good but somehow managed to complete the stage in a lucky streak. It was entirely worth bearing because after some footsoldier warfare I got to be the gunner on a PBY Catalina! I was supposed to take down some Japanese Merchant ships and PTs on the way to Okinawa and ended up in a skirmish with some Zeros and Kamikaze. IT WAS SO COOL! The graphics were so dead-on it was like participating in one of those Pacific Theater battles you see in documentaries. So far the PBY Catalina mission "Black Cats" is bar-none my favorite, and made the whole game worth the money, however short the mission itself is.


Of course, no good historical warfare game like that goes without a little personal reflection. I decided last night that if I had been there for real I would have likely been a radio op, and even if my crew were twice as competent as I would have been as a radio operator we'd still be one of the first planes shot down over the Pacific. I laugh at myself and am completely comfortable in the knowledge that yes, had I been there at all I would have been quite dead.

What I really need from this series, badly, is the Battle of Midway.. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE let's have a Midway DLC or integration into CoD6!! Until then, I think I'm actually going to have a lot of fun with Multiplayer mode when the Solo mode is done. :-)   read

7:24 PM on 02.26.2009

Killzone 2 Midnight Launch GO!

I will be there, at the Gamestop on Reynolds road here in Lexington, Ky.

BE AMAZED as I bore you, live from twitter and flickr:

Any Dtoiders in the area, feel free to stop by and say "hi"!

UPDATE: I be back!

The midnight release itself was kinda bland, but that's okay by me. It was damn windy out and we all almost
thought we were going to be left out in the wind by the clerk who was... iono, a person.

at 11:30 it was dead, I mean really dead. But this is what I expect in Kentucky. There were about 15 people
waiting by midnight, and a wild LOLLERCOASTER

So then we got our game and went home, the end. Also, I was the ONLY girl, go figure.

Now, if you all will excuse me, I have a game to play.   read

11:53 PM on 10.15.2007

Zelda and philosophical musings

so there I was..DS in hand... trying out the new Zelda for the second day in a row, specifically, trying out the multiplayer aspect for the first time...

the first game I was sorely pwned.. which is what i expected. it was one of those moments where I felt like I should have paid better attention to the manual...facepalm, but lesson learned. the player on the other side requested another game (it was their first time as well, according to the ranking stuffs) and I figured "why not?" I took my lesson from the last game and put it into application, this time being more strategic in where I was going to go and how to get there and it worked pretty well. I had a 30 point lead on the last round and then...

and then....

and then the other player shut off their system, and in doing so robbed me of my first rank point. my other experiences with DS wifi have been that if the other player quits, it's counted as their defaulting, so you are logged with a win. when the game locked up I figured that's what was going to happen. sadly, no. my first comment to myself was "What douchebaggery is this??"

i realized after getting over the irritation that the person on the other end could have been my brother (10 years my junior), or someone like him, and this raised an interesting question:

Is there such thing as a gaming philosophy? was there ever?

not less than 6 months back my brother was in town with my dad, glued to his DS (metroid). he took great pains to pwn every person he could, and then crow about how they never had a chance, of course, complaining that he had no allies to help him. big deal, right? well, when it came time for the household deathmatch he appeared to engage in everything that would get one banned from 'net servers... not the least of which was camping. oh my lordy, did he camp.

so after the game, with everyone in the house sufficiently irritated with him, I pulled him aside and explained to him that the reason he had no allies in metroid was that he made everyone else his enemy with his actions, specifically, that one day he would find himself with a deathmatch and noone will want to play it with him. I told him that pretty much everyone gets in on a game to have fun and yes, to win; but winning wasn't worth all costs... not for DM, not for any pixellated game. I told him basically that being a douche will eventually affect his reality-based ranking.

but then, I also feel as if sometimes I have been swept up in a current of gaming douchebags (see also: WoW), and perhaps I'm one of the few left from the old guard who actually play to have fun, or who remember fun as being less competitive and more likely to make you smile and laugh off a loss... I mean, sure, everyone knew that one guy who would whip anyone's ass in Combat or Warlords, but eventually we all stopped gaming with that guy because he was too intent on the competition and not so much whether everyone was having a good time.

bah, maybe I'm just getting old.   read

1:00 PM on 06.04.2007

controllers, and the people who love them..

this is a quick question to Dtoid folks: do you have a specific controller that you refuse to give up, no matter how broken it gets?

i spent about 30 minutes last night testing cables and connections inside my favorite PS2 controller (i'm fairly certain the cable's going bad, but a little tweak here and there.......) only to realize that i *could* very well go out and pay the 25$ for a new sony-branded controller that's practically identical to the one i'm repairing, but is it really?

i'm a huge fan of this specific controller, it's the one i got when i got my PS2 so many, many years ago. i believe in loose analog sticks (ok, not incredibly loose, but looser than a new one), and rubbed-down buttons all around. my husband suggested i could go buy a new one and swap out the parts i like to the new controller's board, which is entirely possible, but it doesn't sound like much fun.

the more i thought about it, the more i realized that this behavior comes from the OG gaming. you know: blowing into cartridges, jiggling contacts until you hit the sweet spot, etc. hell, i've been known to add a thin layer of soldier to the inside of a 2600 controller that's lost it's contact points (honestly, Combat is NO FUN when you can't move up, but your opponent can)...

am i alone in this behavior? is this a dying art?   read

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