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12:07 AM on 10.21.2011

Achievements: By the Numbers

Achievements are an interesting gaming phenomenon.

Prior to the current generation of gaming, gamers still had achievements. Beating a game could be considered an achievement. Whipping your friends in Mario Kart or Street Fighter might also have been an achievement. For you RPG gamers, experiencing the story and becoming immersed in a strange world could be considered an achievement. If you frequented an arcade at any point in your life, having the high score on an arcade machine would surely be worthy of some achievement points.

However, for one reason or another, quantifiable achievements have become this huge thing. Just about every game coming out for the 360 and PS3 has a method of tracking your in-game accomplishments. Even some indie games are adopting achievements. (For the record: I realize that PS3ís are called trophies, but for the sake of this post Iím just going to use the generic term).

Achievements have become so big, that World of Warcraft adopted its own Achievement system in game. The even crazier part is that prior to the Cataclysm expansion, there was someone who had 100% completed the achievements in WoW. In case you donít know anything about WoW: imagine the negative stereotype surrounding the average WoW gamer. Now multiply that nerdy dedication by about 1000% and youíll get a ballpark idea of how much dedication this gamer had towards 100% completion of the WoW achievements. At the time, that meant he got 986/986 achievements.



Behold: the King of Warcraft!

Whatís the average amount of achievements in a game nowadays? It has to be significantly below that; assuming we have a 1000-point Xbox title, if all of the achievements were worth 5 points (realistically theyíre normally worth 10-20 on average?) thatís 200 achievements. That is a LOT of time spent on getting numbers.

Look at the way these companies do achievements. Xbox 360 has GamerPoints. PS3 has trophies. World of Warcraft has achievement points. What is the common thread between all of them? No, I donít mean the fact that they all have achievements, that one is too obvious. Give up? If you notice, all three of those systems are easily quantifiable.

Each Xbox account gets a certain number of points for an achievement. Whether that achievement is worth 5, 25 or even 100 gamer points, there is a number associated with a certain accomplishment in the game. When you complete that goal and are rewarded with gamer points, it goes into boosting your overall gamerscore. This number is proudly displayed wherever your Xbox Live profile is: on your Xbox, PC or Windows phone.


See that Arkham Asylum icon? Thatís from my PC/Steam version of Arkham Asylum! Also note: the awesome Retro City Rampage PAX edition avatar shirt and WWE Allstars, which is an extremely entertaining game, btw.

For the Playstation 3 system, things work a bit different. When you complete achievements in a game, you are awarded a trophy (bronze, silver, or gold) based on the difficulty or effort the game designers decided that achievement was worth. When you 100% a game, you are granted a Platinum trophy. (Guys Iím new to PS3 gaming, only had mine less than a month, so if Iím wrong forgive me). So while you donít have a single number that you can boast about over the internet to your friends and random people you ďpwn,Ē there is still a quantifiable number that depicts your achievements. I also believe if you acquire a certain number of trophies, your account ďlevels upĒ and the number in the star that is displayed next to your name on your PS3 profile increases to reflect what ďlevelĒ your account is.


Again, Iíve barely had this PS3 a month, go easy on me!

World of Warcraftís achievements are closer to the Xbox 360ís method than the PS3ís. You are given a certain number of achievement points based on the difficulty of the achievement (or not, since we all know WoW is EZMODE). Like the Xbox 360, the amount of achievement points you have on a character is easily checked. You can inspect other playerís achievements in game as well as on the World of Warcraft Armory site. Once again, the achievements are quantified by numbers: you can boast you have more achievements than another person and have the math to back it up.


This is my most developed WoW character (I quit playing it in March). I donít even come CLOSE to Taiwan guy.

Now, letís take a look at another major platform that has also hopped aboard the achievement train: Steam.

While the Steam Achievements were not embraced initially, they are starting to become more and more common for games released on Steam. Iíve noticed that this is especially true with indie games as well as Valve games. Team Fortress 2 has a ridiculous amount of challenges available for those who consider themselves truly hardcore.


Honestly, 44% is way more than I thought I had. This game reaches "ridiculous" on the Achiev-o-meter.

However, if you put Gamerscore, Trophies, Achievement Points and Steam Achievements in a room, which one sticks out like a sore thumb? All methods of achievement recognition have the same goal: to reward the player with quantifiable method of boasting how well they have performed in the game that is easily compared to their friends and family.

No matter which Xbox 360 game you play, you are getting achievement points that work towards boosting a singular, overall score. No matter which PS3 game you play, you earn trophies that add up towards a singular, overall score. No matter which achievements you get in World of Warcraft, they add up to a singular, overall score. No matter which achievements you get in a Steam game, they work towardsÖwaitÖ they donít work towards anything like the others do!


No point total? How do I boast my 1337 skillz nao?

With Xbox 360, PS3 and WoW, they make your achievements an easily quantifiable number. They (Xbox, Playstation, and Blizzard) WANT you to be able to compare yourselves with ease against your friends and other players online. You can boast your GamerScore. You can boast the amount of trophies you have as well as your PSN accountís ďlevel.Ē You can boast about how many achievement points you have in WoW. Steam, however, doesnít have a comparable, quantifiable goal that you can boast.

Whenever you complete a Steam achievement, it shows up in your profile that you have completed it, but it doesnít really give you much to boast about. I mean, what sounds better: ďI just got an achievement worth 10 points in this 360 game! Iím now above 20,000 GamerScore!Ē


Or: ďI just completed achievement 25 of 50 in this Steam game. That means I have 50% of the achievementsĒ


So, which sounds better? Personally I like that my Xbox 360 is keeping track of all of my achievements in games, no matter how big or small, and is pooling them into an easily identifiable number. Steam offers no real measurable way to compare you as a gamer to other players.

If you are an achievement hunter, which is more satisfying to you:

A) Knowing you have completed 100% of the achievements for a game that boosts your GamerScore or PSN Level/trophy count that is easily shared among friends and the internet

Or

B) Knowing youíve completed a game 100% and all you can say to your friends is ďI 100% (enter game here) last night.Ē

I bet you that most of the time, people are going to want to display their gaming achievements with pride. That is easily done with Xbox 360, PS3 and WoW with a glance. With Steam, it is much more effort to view your friendís and competitorís efforts.

So, here is my question to the Xbox 360 / PS3 / World of Warcraft gaming community: would you have any interest at all in achievements if they were not quantified with a number that is easily accessed by your friends and opponents on the internet? Would you be driven to complete achievements if your GamerScore no longer existed, and achievements didnít earn you gamer points? Would you still strive for PS3 trophies if those trophies were not added to your collection to show off?

I donít want to leave out the PC gamers that might read this blog, so here is my question for you: if Steam added an Xbox 360/World of Warcraft style point system to Steam Achievements that added up towards a Steam Achievement Points score that was easily accessed and displayed on your profile, would you be more interested in completing achievements in Steam games?


Get it? Like that DBZ meme? #SoDamnClever

Personally, I really enjoy when my Steam games utilize Games for Windows Live. It is not because the service is stellar (though it has gotten better), but because the achievements I earn in game go towards my Xbox Live accountís overall GamerScore. When I get an achievement in a PC game with Steam, I am basically indifferent because there isnít a quantifiable number that shows my efforts across all of my Steam games that I can work towards growing. For example: I just got Deus Ex for free thanks to a friend of mine. I want to work towards the Pacifist achievement on Steam, but knowing that my efforts wonít be validated by an overall score is making me want to essentially say ďscrew it!Ē and start shooting people up.

Achievements have been a very controversial topic since they were introduced. They drive some people to continue playing a game long after they "beat" it, while others are indifferent towards the whole concept. How do you feel about the above scenarios and achievements in general?

Love always,

radiopools   read


10:31 PM on 10.18.2011

Arkham City: Why I Love/Hate PC Gaming

This is (hopefully) just going to be a quick little rant.

I am a PC gamer. I have a relatively decent PC, granted I built it three years ago and have been slowly upgrading since. I love PC gaming. The keyboard and mouse layout is very efficient at getting things done in FPS and Strategic gaming. Having the ability to slowly upgrade and personalize my machine is really great. For me, putting together a computer piece by piece is an activity that canít be beat. Putting all of the pieces together and then watching your creation come to life and dominate is an exhilarating experience. I can relate to how Dr. Frankenstein felt when he created his monster.

That being said, I grew up on console games. I was 100% a console gamer from NES through the early stages of Xbox 360. In fact, my earliest memories of life were sitting in front of the T.V. playing Legend of Zelda on the NES. Throughout the years, I would remember the crazy PC graphics card advertisements in Electronic Gaming Monthly and the like. I never understood why people would play games on a computer when there was a perfectly good Nintendo or Playstation around.



However, World of Warcraft got me hooked around 2005 and my feelings toward PC gaming started to change. I remember playing WoW in 2005 on this piece of junk Dell used as the family computer, but I didnít care that the graphics were low-rez and pixilated, I loved the game.



Fast forward to the end of High School in 2006, I received a laptop (dell, of course) for college. What was the first thing I did? I installed WoW, naturally. I was playing at over sixty frames per second: everything looked so sharp and fluid! WoW was basically the main game I played from 2006-2008.
Yet, I still regularly rented PS2 and Xbox 360 games. They were fun distractions from school, but nothing beat the experience I had when I logged into WoW.

Well, eventually that laptop became worn down. As WoW and other games became more demanding, and my interest in PC gaming grew, it became increasingly apparent that my laptop was just not going to be able to handle the future of computer gaming. So in the summer of 2009, I built this PC. It was mind-blowing. Every game ran smooth as butter and I could push the graphics settings far beyond any console at the time. My friends were dazzled; my roommate at the time actually had me build him a gaming PC after seeing mine.


TEH FRAEMZ! (MSi Twin Frozr II nVidia GTX 560 Ti 2GB @ 950Mhz core clock, all settings maxed including PhysX @ 1080p, FYI)

ďOkay, so whatís the point of this post?Ē

The point is Batman: Arkham City is out on consoles right now. My friends are playing it this very second, while Iím sitting here writing this post and staring at my Steam menu.


Someone...anyone... please hug me T_T

Itís not like I should be surprised: Arkham Asylum was the exact same way. They released the console version way earlier than they released the PC version.



Iím sure there are many reasons why the developers did this. It at least makes me feel like the developers are spending a little more time on the game. Like that one N-Sync song. Or was it Backstreet Boys? Ö Why the hell am I even referencing boy bands of the 90ís?

Even if the PC version of Arkham City is going to get neat little extras that the console versions donít get, like true PhysX, better graphics and mod-ability, this means that I am going to be left in the dust by the time the game is released on PC. My friends will have beaten the game. More importantly: the internet will have beaten the game.

ďSo, what are you getting at Mr. Pools?Ē

What Iím getting at is that Iím basically going to have to disconnect myself from the internet and smash this expensive Android phone of mine until the first week of November when the game launches on Steam. I donít know if you were in my boots when Arkham Asylum released on PC, but I had to actively avoid certain websites and people because I knew Iíd run into spoilers.

I adore Arkham Asylum: it is easily in my top 5 games of all time.



(yes I know its pixellated to hell and back, I'm using MS Paint for Christ's sake! Throw me a bone!)


The combat, the story, the animations, all of it make it one of the most unforgettable journeys in video game history. I have full faith that the sequel lives up to its greatness. However, since Arkham City is being released on PC in November instead of today, I have to go out of my way to avoid certain websites/people again so that I can experience the game the way that I want to.

The point is I have a love/hate relationship with PC gaming. More and more, PC games are just terrible ports of console games. My biggest example here is Saintís Row 2. SR2 is probably in that top 5 games of all time list with Arkham Asylum, and my only experience with it is on PC.

In case you are unfamiliar with the PC version of Saints Row 2, here is the scoop: it is an unplayable mess of a game. You have to go out of your way to find the COMMUNITY MADE modification that lets the game run at a reasonable frame rate. If you have a dual-core processor, forget this game even exists because it simply will not be playable. I speak from experience: I couldnít play the game (a legitimate copy from Steam, mind you) with a dual core processor.

Even though the game ran poorly at launch and was ignored by it's publishers, the fact that the community had such a love for the game that they spent hours of their own lives working to make this game playable at all on the PC is a perfect demonstration of why I love the PC gaming community.

So the TL:DR version of this post would be that while Iím upset I am going to have to try extremely hard to avoid spoilers for Arkham City for another two weeks, in the long run, seeing a machine that I have created with my own two hands play a game in higher visual quality than a PS3/Xbox360 will be worth it. Even though people will have Arkham City beaten before I finish this post, I am okay with it because it seems the developers wanted to ensure the best possible experience a PC gamer can get with the PC version.

In a perfect world, PC and Console releases would be simultaneous. I donít know much about game development and running a game company, but it would be really nice if developers could work on the PC release of a game in a way that will let it release alongside its console counterpart.

As always, please comment with critiques of my writing as I am extremely eager to work on my writing abilities. Don't forget: no matter how down you feel, there is at least one random person on the internet who loves you <3

-radiopools   read


5:40 PM on 09.11.2011

First Impressions: PS3 Infamous 2 Bundle



Fair warning: this is going to read more like a story than a first impression. If you want to skip the story and just get my impressions on the Infamous 2 bundle, hit control + f and search for ďhere are my first impressions.Ē This is going to be a fairly long post, so go grab a snack and go potty now because I am not stopping this car again!

I havenít written anything in a while, mostly because I havenít had anything to really write about. It has been a pretty slow gaming period for me; mostly been playing WWE All-stars on 360 and some Team Fortress 2 here and there. That isnít important though.

What is important is that the Disgaea series is NOT on Xbox 360.



One of my favorite games of all time is Final Fantasy Tactics on PSX. I loved the story, art, and most importantly the style of gameplay. It was the first strategy rpg I had ever played, and it really appealed to me.

One day a few years ago, I was browsing the Playstation 2 games at a local game store, and stumbled upon Disgaea. I saw on the back that it was sprite-based combat on square panels. This looked familiar, and awesome. I immediately bought both Disgaea 1 and 2. This was when I was still in college, so I had limited play time. Not really, but thatís the excuse Iím using for taking so long to beat the first Disgaea. I started the second one, and enjoyed it, but havenít gotten around to beating it becauseÖ I donít know really. I have terrible game A.D.D. and even though J-RPGs are my favorite genre, I rarely beat them. Itís not really my prerogative to beat games; I just play them to have fun. But thatís a different article altogether.

Anyway, when I saw Disgaea 3 was PS3 only, I basically begged my roommate who had a PS3 to get it. He never did, which is strange because we have similar tastes in games. A couple of months ago, I saw the Japanese trailers for Disgaea 4. Man, I wanted it so bad it hurt. It looked even better than 3: the sharper sprites, the crazy animations and the intriguing characters. PS3ís were still expensive, and I hadnít had a solid source of income for several months after school. I was stuck with just looking at pictures and re-watching the Japanese trailers over and over again.

About three weeks ago, I got called in for a second interview for this job about 15 minutes away from where I live. A few days later, I get a call back saying they wanted to move forward with the hiring process: I finally got a job! Itís not anything interesting whatsoever or I would share. Basically, I finally have something worthwhile to put on a resume. Itís also a fairly nice source of income. Itís definitely entry-level and Iím making a lot less than I could had I pursued something more useful than a Sociology degree in college, but itís significantly more than the $0.00/hr I was making.

Yesterday I found out that I had gotten my first paycheck. I had two options. I could either:
A) Leave that money in my bank account and save it like a responsible adult.
B) Celebrate my first ďrealĒ job by buying a PS3.

I think itís obvious which choice was the wisest. I had about $300 budgeted for this purchase, so that meant either a 160 GB console & Disgaea 4, or the infamous 2 bundle for a bigger HDD and I could pick up Disgaea 4 next pay day. I made a topic on facebook and asked friends what they thought. We decided the 160 GB & D4 was the best option, but a games-industry friend IMíed me after seeing my conference with friends on facebook and told me he had an extra copy of D4 he wouldnít mind sending me. Needless to say, that made my day. (Thank you Jon Carnage! Check out their show at twitch.tv/destructoid ) I went to the store and picked up the infamous 2 bundle.

Here are my first impressions.

I got the box home and was ready to open it up. The package is pretty cool; it looks a lot different from the standard PS3 slim boxes because of the infamous 2 packaging. I opened the top of the boxÖ and realized that the infamous 2 packaging was just a paper sleeve over a regular old PS3 slim box. Thatís boring.


How lame...

Xbox 360 bundles usually have a system + controller paint scheme to match the game that itís being bundled with, but this PS3 bundle was just a regular black system and black controller. The system color is fine; I think an infamous 2 branded system would be a little far. It would have been cool to at least have a unique electric blue Dual shock 3 though. For packaging, Iíd give it a 6/10 for no bundle exclusive uniqueness.

Anyway, got the PS3 box open and looked at the contents. Little plastic package with quick start guide and manual: pretty standard. Sealed copy of infamous 2 in retail packaging: very nice. Definitely glad they didnít just throw the game in a little sleeve. Black controller: check. A power cable: ok. Controller cable: good to have for sure. AV cable: this looks like what I use to hook up my PS2. I guess thatís for people with older TVís with no HDMI ports.


The box says PS3, but these cables say otherwise...

Finally: the system itself.

Wait, what? Thatís it? Where is the damn HDMI cable!? This is a current gen console, boasting high graphical quality, blu-ray support and HD resolutionsÖ but for some reason you couldnít include the ONE frickiní component REQUIRED to actually take advantage of those features? Thatís like buying a cheeseburger, then being told you have to buy the cheese elsewhere. Honestly, you can find HDMI cables online for basically the same price as a slice of cheese, so is it REALLY going to set you back that much to include an AV cable that isnít damn near-archaic!?


Seriously, HDMI for LESS than a piece of cheese!

I know itís a minor point to go off on, but it really makes no sense when you consider that an HDMI cable is REQUIRED to take advantage of all of the features! Luckily, I already had one for my Xbox 360, and since I canít really use both at once I just used that one. Bottom line: theyíre cheap Playstation, just add them in. For physical content (rating of infamous 2 game not a factor) Iíll give it a 7/10. You get everything you need to ďtechnicallyĒ hook it up, but the lack of an HDMI cable is just ridiculous.

After I got it all hooked up, I turned it on and started the setup. Easy stuff, they did this part really well. Even though I could have done all of the networking stuff manually, just clicking the ďeasy setupĒ option for network settings had me connected in seconds. I also really like the on-screen keyboard over 360ís. It seems way more responsive and the option to plug in a USB keyboard is such a welcome option. The UI is very quick and although itís laid out differently than the 360ís UI, itís actually easier to find things because theyíre all laid out right there. You donít have to go to like ďMy PlaystationĒ then choose ďSystem settings,Ē then choose whatever you want to change. Itís all just right there on the main screen. Setup/Ease of use gets a 9/10, because nothing is perfect.

One of the first things I did was check out the PSN store. This was an afterthought for me initially, but now that Iíve taken a look in there, Iím glad I got the bigger HDD. They have some pure gold when it comes to PSOne titles, and I can see myself loading up on them in the near future. The ability to buy PSP games and transfer them is excellent, since I have a PSP that never gets used, this could breathe some new life into it for me. While I donít anticipate buying full Playstation 3 titles from PSN, having such a large HDD would allow me to do so if I wanted. My rating for PSN content: 9/10. There could definitely be MORE PSOne game choices, but I feel like more are being added regularly.

I havenít had time to play anything online yet really, so I canít comment on how the online service is. However the bundle did include a 60-day trial of PS+, so Iím going to hang onto that until there is something in the store I wouldnít mind getting for free or at a PS+ discount.

Overall Iím very satisfied with my purchase. If I didnít have an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 at this point in time, and I was going to buy one of them today: PS3 is the definite winner. It basically shares the 360ís library anyway, exclusives aside, and it doubles as a blu-ray player.

The infamous 2 Playstation 3 bundle is $299, and is definitely worth the price if you are looking to hop on the PS3 train today. Hope you werenít too bored, and that you found my first impressions somewhat useful. I wasnít trying to give an in-depth review, just my initial thoughts after owning it for 24 hours.

Thanks for reading!
radiopools   read


10:27 PM on 05.06.2011

First Impressions: Section 8 Prejudice (PC)



Section 8: Prejudice is a game I feel will probably be overlooked. With bigger releases around the release of S8P, it will probably go ignored. To me, this is quite a shame.

I canít say that Iím sort of Section 8 super fan. I never played the original Section 8. The only information I had on this game up until last Sunday was from PicoMauseís infamous Section 8 Prejudice party video.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajGhT8yfzq0

A friend of mine advised that I should check out the XBLA demo, which I did. I thought it was alright. I felt that Halo had better controls and a better overall feel, but I stuck out the whole free trial and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a nifty little title. Being the PC dork that I am, I checked Steam and sure enough, it was going to be on PC. Neat!

Admittedly, I was not really in the market to buy a new game. I already had Team Fortress 2, Halo Reach, Counter Strike Source and several other games if I felt like getting into a multiplayer bullet fest. I couldnít really rationalize the purchase of a new game. Then I noticed it had a pre-order price of $13.49 and would sell normally for $14.99. At that price point, I am willing to take a risk on a relatively unheard of game. Especially if I have played a demo that I enjoyed.

Section 8: Prejudice is a first person shooter, that much I believe is obvious. It is blatantly influenced by the Call of Duty series, Halo series and Tribes series. It feels like if you took those games and mashed them up, and then added a hint of lemony freshness, you would get S8P. While I am a bit sick of the whole ďspace marineĒ thing that the gaming industry is obsessed with lately, it is appropriate for this title and it works well enough.

The game has three modes so far. First is the campaign. Yeah, this $14.99 title actually has a campaign. Itís incredibly short (like maybe 4 hours if you go slowly). Frankly I donít really get why there was a campaign mode beyond a tutorial. The writing is nothing revolutionary, and the plot is standard space marine/science fiction fare. It is not a BAD campaign, Iíve played way worse. It just seems unnecessary.

The second mode is ďSwarm.Ē I believe it is fair to compare this to Haloís Firefight mode. You fight off swarms of enemies, which get tougher with each wave, while trying to defend a point for as long as you can. I donít really have anything more to say about it.

Now we get to the bread and butter of S8P: Conquest. This is the real reason you should consider spending $14.99. Iíve easily put most of my time into the Conquest mode, and Iíve been having an absolute blast the past few days.

So Iíve compared S8P to Call of Duty and Halo, and if you see gameplay videos you almost instantly understand why. Your character has an overshield like in Halo. As you get kills and complete Dynamic Combat Missions (DCMs) you get experience points, which increase your rank and unlock new weapon configurations ala Call of Duty.

So why bother with Section 8: Prejudice over Call of Duty or Halo? Well, let me start off by saying this game obviously will not be for everyone. But if you like either Call of Duty or Halo, or hell just really fun FPS games in general, you really owe it to yourself to check out S8P.

Each map has four bases. Each base is uncontrolled at the beginning of the round. The goal is to hold as many of the bases as you can, and complete Dynamic Combat Missions to gain Victory Points. Before the game starts, the host determines the VP goal (default is 1000VP) and whichever team meets the goal first is the winner. One of its unique aspects is its Dynamic Combat Missions. DCMs are random, timed missions that your team needs to complete in order to gain victory points. For the ďEliminationĒ DCM, your team is given approximately two minutes to kill every single member of the opposing team once. If all 16 opposing players are eliminated, your team gets a big VP boost. If one or more opposing players survive the Elimination DCM, your team fails and the opposing team gets some VP.



Thatís what I like about Section 8 Prejudice. In most multiplayer games, there is usually one goal: kill your opponents and get a sweet K/D ratio that you can rub in the faces of noobs. Itís not quite like that in S8P. There is still a scoreboard; you can still see your K/D ratio as well as others. But instead of the standard Kills/Deaths/Assists listing on the scoreboard, you have one single number that shows your score. This is because kills arenít necessarily the most important aspect. You need to work with your team to complete DCMs. You need to call in support turrets, mechs and vehicles to give your team the extra edge. Your personal combat effectiveness is counted, but your teamwork ability is counted as well. Add those two scores up and you get the score next to your name on the scoreboard.


Ignore my terrible score, I literally just joined a game to take a screenshot.

The way you spawn is kickass; you literally drop from orbit onto the battlefield.

WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

You can drop anywhere within the combat zone that you like. If you feel like dropping right into one of the enemy bases, go for it. Hell, you can even kill enemy players by landing on them. There's nothing really stopping you from dropping in wherever you like.


Well, that's not true. See that big red circle at the bottom? If you deploy in that circle, AA turrets will tear you to pieces before you even get near the ground.Your character has five load outs. You can customize the weapons and tools in each load out, but you can also customize special stat bonuses.


Yay I'm a fashionista! ACHIEVEMENTS!

You initially have ten points you can distribute into this stat panel for each load out to further customize it. For example, if youíre making an ďAssaultĒ load out, put points in ďincreased bullet damageĒ and ďincreased armor.Ē Sniper load out? Throw points in a stat that will increase your accuracy and stealth to make it harder for enemies to lock on to you.



There are so many neat aspects to S8P. Iíve already typed way more than I thought I would on the subject. I really just wanted to give a brief overview or ďfirst impressionsĒ of this really deep multiplayer experience. I probably took it a bit far, but this game has me really excited, and therefore really chatty. I donít think it currently has a PC demo available, but if youíve got an Xbox (lolPSN) go grab the demo and try it out. For $14.99 itís a super affordable game that is easily worth every penny.

P.S. another neat feature is the stat portal, which tracks your stats and displays them on your own Section 8 Prejudice page. Hereís mine, because I want to show you how 1337 I am. http://s8pstats.timegate.com/pc/user/radiopools/
(At the end of Wednesday night I was easily in the top 5 in all aspects, even 1st in some, but I guess way more people started to play so my ratings went down. Sadface.)   read


11:52 AM on 01.28.2011

Rift!!!

Hello beautiful Destructoid friends! How are you doing? Have you lost weight? You smell nice!

So, Iím a pretty big fan of the MMO genre. I generally feel these games have a huge value when it comes to measuring the amount of fun you get out of a game for what you spend on it. I havenít played as many MMOís as some people, but I feel like I beat the average gamer by a large margin. Iíve bought and subscribed for at least one month for several games including WoW, Lord of the Rings Online, Lineage II and City of Villains. Iíve beta tested and free-trialed a countless number of other MMOís.



The newest MMO that I have played is titled Rift. This is quite an interesting MMO. Its developer, Trion Worlds, has quite an impressive background. The studio is made up of people who have worked on important MMOís like Aion, World of Warcraft and Everquest. I mean, if I was going to pull together a development team for a new MMO, Iíd want people from those exact MMOís working on my game. Perhaps some Lord of the Rings Online people too.

So, what drew me to beta Rift? Well, Iím all worn out from Cataclysm already. When Iím not subscribed to World of Warcraft, I feel like a free man. Itís so strange how different I feel when I donít have that $15 behemoth breathing down my neck, constantly whispering ďplay me, damn you.Ē It gives me time to play different games, hang out more on the Destructoid live stream (justin.tv/destructoid M-F @ 4pm PST), and generally do a ton of other things. I was talking to a friend and he reminded me of this Rift game I had heard about from somewhere a while back. I remembered I signed up for beta, but had totally forgotten about it. A few days ago, guess what shows up in my mailbox? A beta invite! So I downloaded and installed, and hopped in.

Enter: the panic. Normally, I spend the time that the client is downloading or installing looking at the classes and races offered in an MMO. I loaded up the website and looked it over. Okay, two main factions with three races per side. Well, three races is not a huge variety, but it beats most MMOís where you can only pick one faction or the other. Okay, so there are four main classes, seems easy enough. WaitÖthereís four base classes, or ďsouls,Ē but each ďsoulĒ has seven SUB-souls. And itís not like Lineage II where you pick a base class, and then as you level you pick one path. In Rift, you pick the base class and are then allowed to choose 3 classes to play SIMULTANEOUSLY. Iíve adapted my own terminology for the class system to keep track of things. When you first create your character, the first quest you do lets you pick your starting soul. If I roll cleric, I might decide to main the Shaman class. When I hit level 3, I get to choose my first sub class, which might be Justicar. By level five, I am able to sub my final class, Druid.


Gee, look familiar?

It was very overwhelming at first. What classes go well together? What role do I want to play? The game gives you suggestions on what classes seem to go well together. That being said, the game has a huge level of customization. Shaman, Justicar and Druid are all melee Cleric classes, so the game suggests you put all three together so you have a lot of melee-boosting options. However if you want to main a Shaman, sub a Justicar (both of which are melee dps classes) and then sub a Sentinel (a group-based healing class) there is nothing stopping you from doing so. You could pump out the damage while giving yourself the ability to heal your party or raid.

THAT, in my opinion, is what makes this game so cool. You donít have to pick a pre-defined class to fulfill a specific role: you design your own class and do what you want. If thatís not enough, you eventually get quests after level 10 where you can unlock the rest of your base classí souls, and you can switch out one of your classes with one of the others at any time. Using the Shaman/Justicar/Druid setup as an example, if I wanted to pick up the healing abilities of a Purifier, I could just drop Druid from my spec and bam: now Iíve got single-target heals. If that wasnít enough, they allow you to buy a second, third and fourth spec, so if your main spec setup is for melee dps, you can freely switch to your second spec which might have Sentinel, Purifier and Warden: a full healing setup.

On top of the class system being so cool, we have the events that give the game its name: rifts. These start as tiny, unopened portals in the sky. They either open by themselves, or a nearby player can manually rip the rift open. When a rift opens, this happens:



Rifts are like the Public Quest system in Warhammer Online. When a rift opens, you have the option to join a public raid group with other people in the riftís vicinity, and you team up to defeat all of the stages of monsters pouring out of the rift. If your group is successful at destroying all of the monsters that pour out of the rift, you are rewarded with a variety of items; from healing potions, battle items, weapons and armor. It is also a merit based system: at the end of each wave of invaders, you are given a contribution score. Those who actually fight monsters and heal their raid are given more contribution than someone who stands around and picks their nose. As your contribution score grows, you get more loot and more quality loot at that. It pays to be a team player.


Mmmm...looooooot....

As for the dungeons, I havenít done them yet (though I plan on doing one today if I can) so I canít really comment. The PvP aspect is a lot like World of Warcraftís battleground system. Itís a cross-server system so there are always people to play. These battlegrounds, called Warfronts in Rift, start at level ten. I have a Guardian and a Defiant character above level ten and Iíve already deduced that Defiant has way more players because they usually have a ten minute PvP queue while Guardians are instant-queue. The PvP is very interesting. Itís basically a mix of WoW and Warhammer, with a nod to classic PvP king: Dark Age of Camelot. No class seems super overpowered to be honest. Clerics are really hard to kill, but thatís kind of the idea. I'm not level 20 yet so I only have access to one Warfront at the moment: the Black Garden. The idea is that there is a large fang in the middle of the map, and whichever team holds onto the fang for the longest wins. However, whoever holds the fang takes periodic damage from the fang that increases in intensity the longer that one person holds it. It's a really neat game mechanic and has made for some really fun matches.



Overall, Iím really excited for Rift. If I had the cash on hand, Iíd be pre-ordering the special edition of the game. The special edition comes with some neat extras like a pet, a turtle mount, a Rift-branded USB flash drive and a hardcover collection of the comics for the game.

If you are interested in Rift, head over to the website at www.riftgame.com and sign up for the beta. The current beta phase will end Saturday @ 10 am, but there are two more beta phases planned before the game is released on March 1st.

-radiopools   read


7:12 PM on 01.12.2011

quick update

So, I know I said I was going to do some regular blog updates, but it turns out I'm not. I didn't really like the idea I originally had, at least I didn't think it was my best idea. Putting up blogs and articles is a chance for me to share my thoughts and ideas with a community who will read it. If I'm not posting my best work, then I shouldn't be posting at all.

I'm not done with my Dtoid blog though. I am working on a few ideas for my blog to make it better. I'm even considering doing a video or two. Not exactly sure what I'm going to come up with yet, but I'll be traveling to good ol' Kentucky in the near future to visit some friends of mine. They're really creative, funny and love video games like me, so I'm going to see if we can come up with something. If not, I will come up with something myself, because I don't want to leave my Dtoid peeps hanging.

A few updates though, so this post isn't a complete waste.



1) I've played a few hours of Majin & The Forsaken Kingdom (FINALLY). I received it as a gift (essentially from myself) for Christmas. It's a very charming game, as I'm sure you know from watching the 8-hour Majin marathon on the Live Stream (which you should totally check out of you haven't yet: justin.tv/destructoid )

2) I'm not that familiar with dubstep yet, only with what I have been exposed to through the live stream. That being said, I went out on my own and discovered some new stuff. In particular, I picked up a ~free~ dubstep compilation called the Dank n' Dirty Dubz Free Compilation. It is a super sweet collection of dubstep that I recommend. http://djsashwat.bandcamp.com is the link for the set.



3) Cataclysm is actually not as bad as I thought it would be from my very first blog entry. It's challenging, the new scenery is a nice addition to the game and the new races are fun. I temporarily faction changed my Death Knight to a Worgen for a few weeks and it was really fun. All of my friends were horde side still so I had to switch back, but overall the expansion is probably the most fun I have had with the game since Classic.



4) G4TV is just the worst. I mean, how could they come up with a show like Code Monkeys and then just utterly fail as a network in general? I really wish someone else would have picked up Code Monkeys for at least one more season.

That's it for now. Stay chill!

radiopools   read


12:37 AM on 01.04.2011

in this post, i love parenthesis & james rolfe (long blog is long)

Hey Dtoiders! Itís been forever since I wrote anything here on Destructoid. Sadly, itís been what feels like a millennium since I was on Dtoid at all. Most of the Destructoid Live people donít remember me anymore, and I bet if I logged into the Dtoid Minecraft server, my ďhomeĒ would be plundered, destroyed and repurposed into some sort of Minecraft whorehouse. It is (was?) above Picoís head after all.

Needless to say, now that the holiday festivities have died down and my life is somewhat normal again, I should be around the Dtoid community more now.

So radio (I feel the need to take a minute to say I dislike upper case letters. Itís like, why are you called UPPER case? Why are you so much better than lower case letters huh? Think you are some kind of cool guy or something Mr.Ē CapitalizedĒ letters? Your bourgeoisie establishment in the English language makes me sick: long live the lower-case proletariat!)

*cough* err, sorry. So radio, since you havenít graced Destructoid with your warm, cinnamon-scented essence for so long, what HAVE you been up to?

Well I shall spare you the boring details (about how the job market sucks, especially for a Sociology graduate) and be honest: Iíve been playing video games and watching a lot of stuff. The video game thing is obvious, I mean this is a video game website (is it a great video game website, or is it the greatest video game web site?) and gaming is a huge part of my life and always will be. However, I am WAY too A.D.D. ( I have a prescription, I can prove it you nay saying ďeveryone has A.D.D.Ē bastards ) to sit through things like movies and such. I was never a movie person. Pick a random movie and ask me if Iíve seen it and 99% of the time I will say no.



That being said, ever since October (October being when I finally took the plunge and got Netflix) I have been becoming more adjusted to sitting still and watching a film or TV series.

So..basically my blog for today and for the next few entries is going to be my thoughts on films and internet/television series that I have watched in the past month or so. Hopefully I will have seen something that someone hasnít before and be able to introduce them to something they like. Hopefully someone will have seen something I have watched and commented on and I can make new friends through common interests. Hopefully, this next few series of blogs wonít bore everyone to death and make me lose all of the Destructoid friends I have accumulated in the past few months.



BUT before I get into the real meat of the blog, I want to resume my duties as Destructoid Live community member ( I HAVENíT BEEN HIT BY A BUS NIERO, IíM RIGHT HERE ) and go ahead and say Destructoid Live is the best live show you will ever watch on the internet. Itís better than BlizzCon being illegally streamed on some shady website. Itís better than that one-in-a-million chance of catching hot, amateur teenagers going at it on Stickam. Iíd even wager that itís better than finding a mint condition, First Edition Charizard on eBay for $20. (note: I actually DO own a first edition Charizard, and it is NOT on eBay, thank you very much) If you even remotely like video games, you owe it to yourself to subscribe to Destructoidís live stream on Justin.tv ( http://www.justin.tv/destructoid )

The live show has it all. Obscure movie references, retellings of great WWF / WCW matches, plenty of Boglin references, Holmes' crazy ex-girlfriend stories and to top it off: they give out hundreds of dollars worth of prizes each month. If Destructoid sold all of the crap they gave out as prizes, they could probably afford to actually stock their pantry with food that WASNíT top ramen. It is hosted by the ďMost Trusted Man in GamingĒ Jon Carnage, 4Loko Master Venom and the ever so lovely (and ever so stalked/coveted) redhead Pico Mause. So please, if youíve got nothing better to do on a weekday, stop in some time and say hi, and if you enjoy what you see make sure to follow us on Justin.tv and join our official Destructoid Chill Bros. group on Facebook!



If you have any sort of insecurities about yourself, we want you there. I have never been called beautiful so many times in my life, but those wonderful hosts make me feel like a pretty lady. And I am a boy, so that should tell you somethingÖthough Iím not sure what exactly. I should note: Itís not pre-recorded, and people will talk to you, as long as you are not trolling. Actually, most people that come into the chat to troll end up becoming regulars, which I find fascinating.

Okay, now that Iíve written my mini-love letter that is basically me begging on my knees for my Destructoid Live friends to forgive me for my absence, while simultaneously asking them to marry me, letís move on to my firstÖ I donít know what to call it. Itís not really a review, but at the same time it is? Either way, here is what radioís been watchiní!



The Angry Video Game Nerd seasons 1 Ė 4 (2006 Ė 2009)

I remember the first time I saw an Angry Video Game Nerd episode. It was before he had the name, and before he even showed his face. Simonís Quest: you merciless bitch. I really donít think the AVGN needs much of an introduction. I have been a huge fan of the show ever since I saw that first episode on the internet. James Rolfe is a brilliant writer. I donít know how he pushes himself to sit through this utter garbage to find material to write about. I mean, we have to realize itís not just the Nerd character having to deal with the bad games, he actually has to play them himself to get inspiration and makes notes on what to say.

I love having all these episodes on DVD. It makes watching them a lot faster since I donít have to deal with ads on youtube or whatever. Plus, the bonus features are worth the price alone. The outtakes are hysterical on these. James is a naturally talented, funny guy. He also has a great group of friends to help him out. If there is a special character in any of the episodes, itís usually played by his friend Mike Matei, who also draws all of the title cards for each episode. Mike is a talented actor who plays roles like the Joker, the Cowardly Lion and Bugs Bunny with scarily accurate voice acting.



Jamesí ďguitar guyĒ Kyle Justin (who co-wrote and performs the very memorable AVGN theme song) also has a few cameo roles where he plays the ďguitar guyĒ character and brings out some of the funniest jokes in the show. My favorite Kyle Justin moment would beÖ well, the entire Battletoads episode. That is some near-pants-wetting material, because I can totally relate to how impossible that game becomes when there is more than one player.


bbcode embed fail, link to vid on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UD7k4mTThLY

If you were unaware, the Nerd is not Jamesí only project. He is actually a very accomplished all-around movie maker. He has made hundreds of films of differing genres including horror films, thrillers, movie reviews and documentaries. Jamesí documentaries are one of my favorite things he does. Some are funny and just plain entertaining. For example: he likes to go to famous sites from movies and try to match up landmarks with the films (finding the Full House house, touring the shopping mall from Dawn of the Dead and finding various landmarks from the Back to the Future series). On the other hand, some of his documentaries are really serious and heartfelt, like his 300th film, titled: ďThe Dragon in My Dreams,Ē where he essentially revisits his origin story.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Kc3JqVIIJA

I got off track a little, but I really wanted to let people know that there is more to the Nerd than meets the eye. The home base of the Nerd as well as James is http://www.cinemassacre.com If you enjoy AVGN, I really suggest you take a look around Cinemassacre and watch the other projects that James has worked on. Cinemassacre is easily right up there with Destructoid as far as my favorite websites go.

As far as the actual DVDís, if you like AVGN even a little bit, make sure to pick up the DVDís. All of the bonus features easily make it worth the coin. You can pick them up at http://www.screwattackstore.com

Well, that was way longer than I planned on it being. If you stuck out the whole post, I really appreciate it. I will be posting regularly for the next few days with my thoughts on movies/tv & internet series I have seen and perhaps even some games Iíve been playing.

As always, I <3 you all.

radiopools   read


4:59 PM on 12.02.2010

Halo Reach: Broble Map Pack (demotivational edition)



So Iíve been playing Halo Reach for the past few days now. In my previous article, I wrote about how I believe Halo to be a total brofest. My opinion there hasnít changed at all. The fact I had to globally mute multiplayer speaks to that. The first day I had Reach, I played mostly the campaign with a brohan of mine. I had a blast running around shooting aliens. The second day I decided to try out some multiplayer.

Having no prior online Halo experience, I was incredibly surprised that I did so well. I had it setup to play free-for-all maps. The first match I did pretty well and got second place. The second game was a Headhunter game. If you havenít played a free-for-all Headhunter game, I suggest you do because itís hilariously fun. In that game, I ended up getting first place. The third game was another slayer game and I got second place again.

Overall, it was a good first impression for the Halo multiplayer. I found that I am almost useless at using the actual guns (except the rocket launcher), so my main methods of pain are my fists and grenades. I played a few different map types after the first few games and found that I wasnít doing as well as I was when I had first started. Oh well, probably a fluke.

Tuesday night, I somehow won a free Noble Pack DLC code from PAD. I donít even know how I knew the answer because the only other Halo game I had played was the original. Regardless, I was excited that I saved $10 on some DLC for my new game. So I installed the DLC, hopped into matchmaking and couldnít figure out why I wasnít seeing any of the new maps... Then I realized you have to specifically choose the Noble Map Pack option.



The maps themselves are really neat. Breakpoint is massive and has some cool vehicle spawns. The space station Anchor 9 is rather large, and one side of the ship lets you walk out into space, where the lack of gravity lets you throw grenades to the other side of the ship, which is hilarious. Tempest is an outdoor map on Reach I assume. It is equipped with a few of those zippy-machines that fling you through the air across the map to a specific location. The maps are aesthetically pleasing, and I feel that they have a great balance.

One thing really bothers me about the Noble Map Pack though. Itís team games only.

Why does this bother me? I am absolutely horrible at Halo when it comes to team play. When it was a free-for-all environment, I actually did pretty well for myself. Of course it depended on who else was playing, but I could usually hold my own. However, Iíve been playing the Noble Map Pack maps for the past 3 days, and I am getting nowhere fast.

I donít know what it is about the DLC maps that hamstrings my ability so greatly. Actually, I donít think itís the maps that are hindering me. I think itís the fact that team play is the only mode. I've become absolutely atrocious on these new maps. On slayer modes, I am usually at the bottom half of my team's scoreboard. On capture the flag maps, Iíve only been able to score once. On Headhunter, I usually donít live 10 seconds after spawning. Itís like any ability I had to play Halo is thrown out the door.

Is it because of my rank? I checked out the ďplay with people of your own skillĒ option they have in the matchmaking section. It doesn't seem to matter if I check the option or not: any game i jump into I get the shit kicked outta me. Itís like Iím always on the team that is full of noobs, while the other team is full of people who play Halo instead of having an actual life. If itís not that, then Iím on the team with the people who play Halo 24/7, and any time I would have a sliver of a chance of getting a kill, someone on my team would jack the kill and I ~might~ get an assist.



Halo is a game that really unleashes my potty mouth. I think the reason I get so frustrated is because playing a shooter with analog sticks is like playing a guitar with only one finger on each hand. Itís such a huge handicap. There were so many instances where I KNOW I could have gotten a kill if I could have just used a mouse to aim. Itís so incredibly frustrating.



Bottom line: the new map packs are fine if you enjoy playing the team games. If you are like me and prefer deathmatch type games, then you might want to rethink the DLC, unless Bungie lets us play free-for-all on the new maps.

You know, Iím almost positive there is no way to play anything but team games with the DLC maps, but if Iím wrong and Iím just overlooking something, Iím going to feel silly.

Also, if anyone has any tips for a Halo noob, please let me know. Like I mentioned before, I feel like Iím almost completely useless with the actual guns because I have such a hard time aiming with the analog stick. Usually the only way for me to get a kill is to punch them or toss a grenade at them. Also, my main powerup is sprint, because it lets me catch up to people who are running away so I can punch them in the back. Any tips would be appreciated.

Stay chill bros.

radiopools   read


10:28 PM on 11.28.2010

Call me Broseidon, Lord of the Brocean.

I feel dirty. Iíve come to the realization that showers do not produce water hot enough to scrub this filthy feeling off. Even if they did make water hot enough, no amount of scrubbing will remove this feeling that Iíve got. What caused me to feel so dirty, guilty, and a little bit nauseated?

I actually bought this:


My prior articles (all two of them) have all had the PC tag, because I am a PC gamer. I have a decent gaming PC, as well as an Xbox 360. I donít want to call myself a PC gaming snob, butÖ



In all seriousness, I donít really play my 360 anymore. My PS2 gets a good amount of playtime. My NES also gets used quite a bit (I'm addicted to Castlevania). My 360? It is basically a vehicle that allows me to watch Netflix in bed. I havenít bought an Xbox 360 game in a very long time. The PC has a lot of offerings that the Xbox has anyway, so I usually will pick up the PC version of a multi-platform game.

I donít play a ton of shooters, but the ones I do play regularly (Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike Source, etc.) are all PC platform. IMO, shooters on the console are a joke. To me, it doesnít get any better than a keyboard/mouse combo for playing a first person shooter. This is why Iím having such a hard time believing I actually bought a console shooter. I have to use two sticks to walk and aim. *shudders* Worse yet: a Halo title.

ďSo radiopools, you prefer PC shooters to console shooters. Thatís fine. But what the hell is your problem with Halo?Ē Fair enough, but my rationale is a bit strange and might offend some people.

I am not a bro.



I donít always sport four popped collars, nor do I constantly refer to my friends as ďbrah,Ē ďbroski,Ē ďbrosephus,Ē or ďbroseidon.Ē You know who Iím talking about.



For some reason, I associate the Halo franchise with people like that. Halo seems to be one of those game franchises that try to appeal to the non-gamer crowd. This is of course ignoring the nerds (I use that term lovingly, as I am a nerd) who have all the Halo novels and know all the lore.

Recalling the Black Ops Round Table episode of the Rev3 show, Jonathan Holmes talks about how Black Ops is a game that was made for the non-gamer crowd to play. It was made for the guy who thinks gaming isnít cool, but owns an Xbox 360 to play Call of Duty or some sports games because those are okay as far as he is concerned. Thatís exactly how I feel about Halo games. I feel like the Halo franchise is one of those bridges, if you ignore the screaming 13-year olds that is.

Basically, it boils down to me feeling like a total bro by buying and playing this Halo game. Am I crazy? Probably.

ďOkay, if you feel like the game makes you feel oh so dirty, why did you buy it?Ē Well, there were three factors that drew me into this particular game. One is the Gravity Hammer. I am a total sucker for the Gravity Hammer. I think it is a totally badass weapon, and is by far my favorite weapon in the game. The second reason is Hamza. I was watching him stream the new DLC and playing some multiplayer last night and I caught myself thinking ďhey, that actually looks pretty sweet.Ē I think for the most part, it was the space-golf simulator that sold me on the game. Hitting giant golf balls with an equally giant golf club off of a space ship into space? Sign me up. Multiplayer looked like it could be fun too.

Finally, the price drew me in. A big title for the 360 for $39.99 is a good deal. Plus I have a year-long sub to Xbox Live and decided I needed something other than Netflix to justify that subscription.

So far Iíve only gotten a few hours into the campaign playing with a friend. Iím going to try out the single player campaign and get in some multiplayer matches in the next day or so. It still feels wrong to me to play a shooter with a controller, but hopefully Iíll adapt. The game is really not that bad. Iíve actually had a blast going through the campaign. Itís way better than Combat Evolved, and from what Iíve watched friends play, itís way better (more fun, better written) than the other Halo games. Honestly, I donít really have anything against Halo. I just feel like Iím doing it wrong without a popped collar or five.

-radiopools

(note: I'm not a serious person, and I don't hate anyone, regardless of race, religion, lifestyle and gaming tastes. I love everyone, and my posts are not meant to be taken too seriously. If you don't have a sense of humor, that's your fault, not mine.)   read


7:24 PM on 11.25.2010

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PC)(possible minor spoilers)

Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends, turkey and Batman.

Why Batman? Why NOT Batman? I love Batman. Heís the best superhero by far. Heís actually human. He doesnít have any overpowered magical powers to do all the work for him. He uses his brain and muscle to get the job done. Being human, he has his own weaknesses. These factors make him a relatable character. Even to us non-millionaire playboy types.

The main reason Iím writing this "quick" review for Batman: Arkham Asylum is because the Game of the Year edition, which includes four bonus challenge packs, is now on sale on the PC Steam platform for $10.20. If you have a relatively new PC (check its system reqs) and have not played this game, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game right this second. Even if you donít love Batman, the game is just great, and definitely my candidate for Game of the Year. So hop onto your Steam account and buy it now.

Iíll wait.

Okay, so you canít blow ten and some change without reading my full thoughts on the game? Ugh, well at least the game will still be on sale for another 16 hours from now (at time of writing, anyway).

Batman: Arkham Asylum was originally released for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 in 2009. I built my PC in the summer of 2009, and since then Iíve been really weird about playing games that release simultaneously on consoles and PC. However, B:AA wasnít released on PC until May of 2010. I actually stayed away from all info on the game and waited it out so I could enjoy the game with all of the surprises and twists intact. I guess you could call me a hardcore PC fan. But thatís not important right now.


(thanks google images, I couldn't find the screenshots I thought I had taken)

Batman: Arkham Asylum has a very Batman the Animated Series vibe about it. Itís probably due to the fact that Mark Hamil voices the Joker, and Kevin Conroy voices Batman. In my opinion, this is the true voice of Batman and the Joker, and these actors do a stunning job. The premise is that the Joker has taken control of Arkham Asylum and has freed the inmates, in an attempt to get Batman in the Asylum. Obviously, the plan works, and Batman is now responsible for putting all of the inmates back in their place, in the way that only Batman can do.



The game is dark and gritty. The environment makes you feel like you are in an Asylum. There are dark hallways, madman writings all over the place, and thugs wearing clown makeup. The art direction in this game is phenomenal. The music is also great. Itís haunting; it makes you feel really isolated. There may be some prison officers about the island, but itís really up to Batman to restore order.
The combat is the best Iíve ever experienced. The game is pretty famous for its ďFreeFlowĒ combat engine. Batman gracefully executes amazing martial arts, and seemingly floats from one thug to the next. This new engine makes the game so much fun to play.

One thing I noticed is that that the game is actually a bit easier to play with an Xbox 360 controller. I played the entire game up with a keyboard and mouse and found it perfectly fine, until the end boss. I got my butt kicked pretty hard the first few attempts, and then I plugged the 360 controller in and absolutely champed the final boss. So if the keyboard/mouse combo feels weird to you, go with the controller.



On top of exploring a huge, gritty asylum environment and kicking the bajeezus out of thugs and a plethora of Batman villains, you are contacted early in the game by the Riddler. He issues challenges in the form of riddles (duh) for Batman to solve. While they are not really story-related, they are a total blast to try and figure out. Completing these challenges adds to your experience and helps you level Batman up.

That is another factor that I adore about the game. I have an issue paying full price for any non-rpg nowadays, because games are too short to warrant the price tag. AA has an rpg element to the game, where Batman levels up by completing Riddler challenges, performing combos and progressing through the story. You are able to unlock new abilities and gadgets to make crime-fighting a bit easier. Overall, the Riddler challenges are very addicting and if youíre like me youíll spend a lot of time trying to figure them all out.

This game currently has a 91 on Metacritic. I would give it a 95/100. I really donít have any major issues with the game. One complaint I have is one of the boss encounters is really, really lame. Actually, there are a few boss encounters that could have been made so much better. Also, I feel like some of the villains could have had more time in the light. Other than those small complaints, I give this game my highest approval.

If you like action games, batman, playing detective and admire beautiful graphics in games, then this game is for you. This game is by far worth the $29.99 it retails for, but you would have to be some kind of goofball (or have a bad PC) to pass up on this title at just $10.20.

-radiopools   read


8:05 PM on 11.24.2010

Cataclysm, should I care?

So, the World of Warcraft has shattered.

No, the servers havenít been smashed with a hammer.

The new expansion for the incredibly successful PC MMO, World of Warcraft is slated to hit on December 7th. Titled ďCataclysm,Ē this expansion further expands the story of the World of Warcraft universe by bringing back an ancient, powerful dragon from the grave. I think. Maybe it releases him from some sort of prison? Maybe itís a combination of both. I donít know, I donít wear a red shirt. While the expansion will officially start on December 7th, a significant event happened after the server maintenance yesterday. Yesterday was the official date of the Shattering.

In other words the big zombie dragon named Deathwing emerged from his underground jail cell/sepulcher. To say he is a bit perturbed is an understatement. His actual emerging from the earth (Iím sorry, Iím not going to say Azeroth every time) caused quite a bit of physical damage to the geography of the planet. Former deserts are now flooded. Volcanoes have randomly erupted in once peaceful woodlands. Massive scars have been carved across the surface of the earth, erecting (giggity) new earth formations and tearing down older ones. Deathwing himself is also flying around the planet, popping in on players in random locations to say helloÖwith fire.

I have played WoW off and on since the day the game went live. Iím well aware of all of the ďold content,Ē the zones where I leveled up my WoW characters over the years. I could do quests without having to look for help online. I got used to the geography, aesthetics, colors and quests of all of these various zones. Now, everything that I have been used to for the past few years has changed pretty drastically.

I was not subscribed to WoW yesterday prior to the servers being up. I was hanging out with a friend who actually is a hardcore WoW player. Once we got the files updated on my PC, he logged into his account and with me over his shoulder, we checked out what had happened to Orgrimmar, the capital city of the Orc race.


(what, you've never seen a turkey ride a demonic horse before?)

I was very impressed. The city used to be boring. Colors were dull, and it looked like a city built by primitive, war-driven people. Fair enough, that describes the orcs pretty well. However, looking at it now itís kind of mind blowing. The front gates are massive, darker, and spikier. The inside of the city looks like how an Orc city should: lots of dark red, brown, grey and rows of war-machines being built.



I re-subscribed my account so I could do some exploration for myself. I visited my favorite stomping grounds and engaged some filthy alliance in some not so friendly player versus player. I was really impressed with how they redid some of the zones; Stranglethorn Vale in particular. STV is my favorite zone, and the Shattering split this formerly unified jungle into a northern and southern half.


(view from northern STV looking past the crack towards southern STV)

I have to say, I appreciate the amount of love Blizzard has put into this game. They are breathing new life into old zones, ironically by destroying them. It was strange to see my beloved Stranglethorn Vale all broken up, but the way they did it was really neat. However, this brings me to the main point of this blog post. I intentionally avoided websites that had Beta coverage of the Cataclysm expansion because I wanted everything to be a surprise. I havenít read too much on the expansion, just gotten a bits of info here and there from friends who keep up with it. Now that Iíve seen a lot of what they have done to Azeroth, I find myself a bit disappointed. Why? Well, what else can they do?

This expansion is about the shattering of Azeroth and the releasing of Deathwing upon the world. There are areas that are not accessible yet that will be accessible in the expansion, but I have to wonder: so what?

Honestly, when I look back at the time I have spent playing this game, I have a hard time deciding which factors kept me re-subscribing. Iíve looked into the expansion a little more, but it all looks the same. There isnít anything drastically new about the game play of World of Warcraft. You control a character, run around using different abilities to kill of computer controlled monsters or enemy players. You put time in so that you can find the next marginal gear upgrade to make bigger numbers appear on the screen when you hit something or heal an ally.

Really, WoW is just a glorified version of Microsoft Excel. The fact that people have created formulas and imported them into Excel spreadsheets that help players determine which piece of armor is best for them only further supports my thoughts.

I still have not upgraded my account to Cataclysm status. I spent $14.99 yesterday to see these changes to the world, and while I admire Blizzardís work and their dedication to WoW, I am already bored. There is nothing to do in the game right now other than explore. Raiding or PvP'ing for new gear is pointless since it will be replaced in Cataclysm.

Even when Cataclysm comes out, WoW players will be doing the same thing they have been doing for the past five years. It might look different, have better graphics and have new monsters to kill. As far as I am concerned, however, itís still just slaying dragons. Different looking dragons, but itís the same thing nonetheless.

Sorry that was so long, sometimes I'm not very good at condensing. I hope you enjoyed it, and I welcome comments/criticisms about my writing and my content. That's all for now! Stay chill bro, have a great Thanksgiving, and take comfort in the fact that one anonymous blogger on the internet loves you.

-radiopools   read





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