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6:40 PM on 12.02.2009

Halo: No, Not That Halo. Why Are Games So Politically Correct? Plus Rambling.

Man I wish more video games would steer away from being so politically correct. But where do you draw the line you say? You say that people will get offended, angry, call for boycotts (very sad to see, or sometimes very funny), etc. And that's true, and business folks want to look good in public, and I completely understand. I still feel that devs and pubs can be more bold and personal without worrying about ending up on a rant blog at Destructoid.

Too bad I don't see much personal vision infused into the game, or any at all. Not the way I see it with more independent games. It's not really a big deal if games don't have the "best graphics ever," with "open world experiences," and "epic storytelling." What is a big deal are all the elves, marines, funny cartoon characters, bonus features, hot women, Nintendo characters, copycats, and “plot twists,” that I see on store shelves – I yawn and walk away. I'm not sure which industry, video games or Hollywood, should get an award for "Most Excessive Use of Recycled Characters, Spin-Offs, Remakes, and Sequels," but they both deserve a nomination.

Not that more original, politically incorrect content will happen, cause I know you will say "It's bad for business fool!" and I hear you, and I ain't starting no campaign or nothing, just rambling here- it is a blog, not an essay.

How about a game that follow more in the style of a movie like Paprika, where it doesn't have to make sense, but it's beautiful, new, and just wonderful to experience. How the hell do you make game like that you say? My answer: I don't know, I don't make games. The same can be applied to games like Machinarium, Shadow of the Colossus, Prince of Persia (3D version), Braid, or Bioshock. They're not perfect, but all these games have imagination. Too bad games now rely so much on calculated logic and realism. By that I am referring more to narratives and worlds that look like something from a movie like "Saving Private Ryan." or a computer animated film. I mean, what would happen if all that logic is applied to the gameplay? Now you can't find fresh turkeys, expensive necklaces, and gold coins in old crates and barrels because it wouldn't make sense. That would be disappointing.

Anyhow, that's not what I'm really here to say. What I'm here to say is, "Hey, this is a blog, and I am going to ramble, and that's pretty much it."

1. Why hasn't there been a game that revolves around Mel Gibson (something titled "Mel Gibson's" and then the name of the title)- He likes to make movies that is based on chopping and dismembering the human body (like those ancient wackos pulling out people's hearts in "Apocalypto"). Ever seen Gibson in "The Patriot"? Boy did he lose his mind in that movie, chopping those dudes to pieces with his throwing axe. People may not like him for many reasons, but he'd make an ideal video game character.

2. I'm surprised Nintendo hasn't created a character this generation that can stand toe-to-toe with Mario, Zelda, and Metroid.

3. Front covers on the packages of sports game should be more original. Something like this on the front cover of NBA Live 10 instead.

4. Fighting genre needs a game about celebrity feuds - like K-Mart vs Mark Cuban, Favre vs Thompson, or Dana White vs EA staff member. The games today are exceptional on a technical and gameplay level (love Modern Warfare 2 and SFIV), but the usual cast of characters, plots, and cliches is something that needs a lot of work.

5. Some games are weird (or maybe unique). You buy a book, you read. You buy music, you listen. You rent a movie, you watch. You buy a game, turn on, fix settings (because sometimes the settings must be adjusted accordingly or you won't get the complete perfect experience), then watch the amazing piece of art that is the intro cinema that looks nothing like the game itself, wait for a long tutorial, have the master hold your hands as you take baby steps, and then you finally play the game. Tired of the "The game starts slow at first, but then it gets really good later," review.
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12:38 PM on 07.15.2009

Here we go again: Flower creators says games must be more artistic

When I played Flower I didn't expect to feel so peaceful, but moving through the grass fields and listening to that wind blow was a very relaxing experience. I applaud Jenova Chen and his crew for creating a beautiful game that brought emotions out of me that I didn't think could be done in games.

Flower has given Chen some credibility so I respect what he has to say at the Develop Conference when he calls out the gaming industry to makes more artistic games that go beyond action and realism. He admits it's an argument many people hate hearing about, but it doesn't stop him from going on the offensive. Chen is so unimpressed with today's games he compares them to “toys.”

“Other pursuits are enjoyed by adults and not viewed as toys. As grown up gamer I don’t want to see the games I have been playing with love turn into toys. I think games need to have more mature content – but not like [Dead of Alive] or [Manhunt], but more sophisticated works.”

“It shouldn’t be about one feeling – like excitement or happiness. Humans have a range of emotions, and life is stressful. Games should reflect that.”

He hopes games will reflect on “the time and the world around them,” similar to what other artists did for their medium, citing Van Gogh, Tolkien, and Alan Moore as examples.

What do you guys think? I would say many people on the internet could care less about this argument, but I have to give Chen and his crew credit for helping me see video games in a different light after I played Flower.   read

4:13 PM on 07.13.2009

So EA got bashed today....

In honor of today's news about UFC vs EA, here's a list of controversial and bumbling moves from the video game company.

They slapped DRM on Spore, only to cause a backlash from consumers, and more people illegally downloading the game.

They bought the exclusive rights to publish NFL games, the nail to the coffin for Sega's excellent NFL 2K franchise.

They pulled a marketing stunt at this year's E3 by staging a fake protest with "Christians" boycotting Dante's Inferno. Real Christians responded back with harsh words, with one writer at InsideCatholic saying "It's been clear for a while now that the entertainment industry views Christians on the whole as priggish, thin-skinned fun-killers... Has anybody at EA actually read the Inferno?"

They tried to aggressively take over Take Two Interactive, the people responsible for the GTA series. The Take Two folks refused to budge, saying "EA's unsolicited offer is highly opportunistic and is attempting to take advantage of our upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto IV."

They used video game characters of Reggie Bush, Avril Lavigne, Fergie, and other superstars to convince people to buy the poorly reviewed Wii game, Celebrity Sports Showdown.

They went on Wikipedia to remove references about Trip Hawkins, their original founder, and descriptions about some their business tactics and employment policy.

So are these Destructoid readers right when the say:

"EA is a faceless moneymaking corporation with shareholders to please."

"EA don't give a fuck, they want your money."   read

10:26 AM on 07.11.2009

Enought with Combat: Why Simpsons, Watchmen, and Sopranos Games Fail

It's sad to see video game developers either afraid of the risks or lacking the talent to turn comic books and TV shows into something more than another action game, which we already have enough of. I'm not sure exactly what genres publishers should choose when they decide to bring other art forms to video games, but I believe they can do better than just adding violence, powers, and combat. And these three games come to mind:

The Simpsons

By making fun of the video games industry, they finally were going in the right direction by including satire in The Simpsons Game. However, the average 3D platforming (awful cameras) ruined the experience. But seeing a generic version of Ryu and reading Comic Book Guy's worthless achievements was one of the few highlights in the game. Maybe a better genre for The Simpsons would be an adventure game like Sam & Max.


Video game publishers took a well written story like Watchmen and turned it into a generic beat'em up. It's done in poor taste, since it gives people the impression that Watchmen is a typical comic book about good guys fighting bad guys. In reality Watchmen is more like literature, filled with complex characters, political commentaries, and a dark interpretation on the superheros. I don't know what genre would fit best for Watchmen, but I know for sure an action game is not one of them.

The Sopranos

It seems tempting and easy for THQ to take a popular well written gangster TV show and turn into another game about combat and doing crime. I suppose a GTA like experience is their best way to rake in the cash. If so, they could at least make it an enjoyable experience.

David Jaffe complained about the direction of comic book games and I agree with some of his points, one being that "it betrays the source material." I like entertainment just as much as the next guy when it comes to action, but since the shelves are already stacked with them, why not be more original and risk taking with licenses that are about stories. One day video games will get out of this dump.   read

6:27 PM on 07.09.2009

My problems with Mass Effect

I was surprised this game won awards, and people calling it their game of the year. Now with all the Mass Effect 2 news popping up, people still pile praise on the original, and I'm not sure why.

I though it was a decent RPG since I actually completed it. But I'm not so sure I want to play Mass Effect 2 after my experience with the first one, which I thought had some serious problems. I'm not sure who the editors are at Bioware, but they need to cut out a lot of the boring stuff in the dialogue and shorten the rides on the Mako and elevator.

Here's some of my criticisms with this game:

Moral choices don't work well here- I don't get the moral choice system in Mass Effect. I got the impression from the start that you're a good guy who has to stop this terrible villain called Saren, and the game pushes you forward in missions where that's what you're doing. But then at the same time, the game continually presents you choices to do evil things, when it doesn't seem to fit in with who Shephard is.

If Bioware wanted to give me the option to be a bad guy, then they should have given me the choice to side with Saren so I can help him blow things to kingdom come. That would've opened some fun quests. I felt the game made me feel like a decorated hero so the "evil" choices were more amusing and entertaining to me, and I didn't take it too seriously.

I give the game credit for creating some suspense with the moral choices, when I can get the opportunity to decide wether someone should live or die. But most of the evil choices I made didn't bring any serious consequences to change the story.

Boring dialogue- Talking with most of these characters is like listening to them read me an encyclopedia. I got tired of the game forcing me to make choices on stuff like "What is this thing?" "Who are they?" and "Explain this more to me." I would have prefer the game just give me the rundown on what's important to the story and missions so I can get on with blasting aliens in the face.

The conversations do have their great moments. Shepard is the best character in Mass Effect because he says a lot of things that are funny, and his choice of words are spot on.

The dialogue mattered when things got more personal, when characters opened up their emotions, shared their history, and gave their opinions about others. Otherwise, the rest of what I heard is like listening to a boring lecture at college.

I also didn't like the game punishing and rewarding you based on what you said. The Charm and Intimidate talents made business easier at the shops, but why would it have to be determined by your moral choices. If I wanted to make sure I got good money selling my junk at the shop, then I should just keep on being a bad person in order to do that. Then that would make whole moral choice system meaningless, when it's no longer about ethics, as it's more about just trying to survive in the game.

Same old story- The game is just another "end of the world" story and once I found that out, I pretty lost interest in it. Why can't game tell more personal stories, where it doesn't have to revolve around worlds being destroyed. The stories from the side quests in Mass Effect were far better than the one in the main missions. The same can be said for Fallout 3, whose minor characters in the Wasteland were far more interesting than the main character's father and the Enclave.

Repetitive side quests- The stories and characters were the best part, but the road to get to those points was not. Traveling the Mako was frustrating, and I can see why nobody wants to live on these planets since they were ugly and empty. Unfortunately this was where most of the side quests resided.

Like I said before, I finished the game and had a good time with some parts, like leveling Shepard, talking with some of the characters, and making some choices that did deliver important outcomes. But the game had significant faults, and I will have to wait and see how improved Mass Effect 2 is before I give it a a try.   read

1:30 PM on 07.09.2009

Telltale Store Best Place to Get Tales of Monkey Island, not Steam

The Telltale Store has the best deal right now if you buy Tales Of Monkey Island Chaper 1: Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. The bonus includes a free episode from any of their games, so if you haven't tried Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit, or Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, then now is the best time.

Steam users only get Wallace & Gromit Episode 1 as their free game when they purchase Launch of the Screaming Narwhal. Steam has Sam & Max Season 1 & 2, plus the other Wallace & Gromit episodes, so it would've been better if their customers could choose which Telltale game they wanted for free.*

The Telltale Store will also give you a free Collector's Edition DVD in 2010 after all five Tales of Monkey Island episodes have been released. You will have to pay for the shipping cost though, and the price varies depending on where you live.

Unfortunately you can't buy single episodes for this series as of now. The good news is the per-episode payment model will be available for Tales of Monkey Island when it arrives on Wiiware. Telltale still has to announce the game's release date for that platform.

While you were reading this, you might have said, "What the heck is Tales of Monkey Island?" It's a point and click adventure game about a pirate named Guybrush Threepwood, his adventures on in the sea, and his battles against a ghost pirate called LeChuck. The demo is now available at Telltale.

If you have never played adventure games or one from Telltale, then go and download a free episode of Sam & Max at the Telltale website. The free game is Sam & Max 104: Abe Lincoln Must Die. Companies just don't give out a full free game like this but Telltale was generous enough to do so.

*I'm a fan of Steam, so even if this was not the best bonus, they have an excellent library of games and other great deals.   read

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