I am also a contributer on Damnlag dot com. You can read my column, Broken Pixels and check out all the other great stuff we've got going on there. Just remember to wear pants.
Anyway, about me...
My name is Jack Ninivaggi AKA Wandering Pixel, and I'm here to rock your world! Or at least cause some sort of tremor.
I live over on the east coast in New Jersey. My favorite types of games are those that have great writing. I'm going to college right now and plan on majoring in either communications or literature. When I'm not playing games I'm either reading a book or comic, watching a movie or sleeping. I'm a huge fan of animation and my favorite thing to do is watch old animated films, I'm also a theater geek, and frequently make trips to New York to watch the latest musicals and plays on Broadway. one day I plan on making a living by writing, though I haven't yet decided what kind of writing I want to do. Anyway, this is my blog. Enjoy!
You would think that Wild West would be as prevalent a setting for video games as World War II: Lone men riding through the desert, struggling against the pitfalls of nature, wooing women, and of course, saving the day from dirty outlaws. Up until now, the western genre has been criminally overlooked, with only a few noteworthy titles.
But all that has changed.
I can’t say for a fact that Red Dead Redemption – the pseudo-sequel to last generation’s third-person shooter cult hit, Red Dead Revolver – is the beginning of a western renaissance, but if there is one company that has proven itself capable of changing the lay of the land, it’s Rockstar. Well, technically RDR has been developed by Rockstar’s new California studio, and I’m happy to report that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the corporate tree. Rockstar West has crafted the best western themed videogame of all time. That might seem a little pretentious of me to say, but after I road along the prairies, strolled through the seedy towns, and started my first bar fight, I knew that I was playing something special.
RDR takes place in the made up state of New Austin and some of Mexico. It’s 1911, and the old west is no longer as wild as it used to be. Times are changing, movie houses have sprung up, railroads have been opened, and the federal government is making every effort to clear the land and make room for “civilization,” which, turns out not to be as great as it sounded. Players control John Marston, a former outlaw, who, like New Austin, is trying to leave his past behind him and build a new life for himself and his new wife and son. Unfortunately, federal agents have begun to threaten his plans, and the only way he can protect his new way of life is by once again wielding his six-shooter.
It’s easy to call RDR just Grand Theft Auto with a western theme, but to call RDR a knockoff, would be doing it a disservice. While it may be similar in structure to the the GTA series – both are open world games with mission by mission story progression – RDR has a style all its own, which begins with the setting itself.
Unlike the loud and claustrophobic urban streets of GTA, RDR has wide open plains with only the occasional small town. The world isn’t as crowded, nor does is it as static as the city streets. The world of RDR is much more quiet and serene then most other open world games, and at times, it reminded me of those long stretches of constant riding through the bleak land of Shadow Of The Colossus. You’ll spend most of your time in the wilderness, where you will come into contact with an entire ecosystem of animal including deer, rabbits, coyotes, cougars, mountain goats, rattlesnakes, and more. You can even find wild horses and tame them for your use.
You’re going to do a lot of traveling in RDR, but luckily, Rockstar was smart enough to include a whistle button, that will summon your horse at any time. The horses control spectacularly as well, though it will take a few minutes to adjust, once you do, you’ll be jumping fences and pulling of headshots while riding like a pro. Speaking of headshots, the gunplay in RDR is very solid. The controls are similar to GTA, so you should feel right at home. There have been a few adjustments, like weapon selection being on the left bumper and ability to switch between left and right viewpoints; the biggest change, however, is the inclusion of “Dead Eye” – one of the few elements of the original brought over – which allows you to slow down time and mark your targets for more accurate and badass shots.
There’s also a lasso, which can be used to rope, and hogtie victims, or to catch wild horses and tame them. If you ever get bored of the main story missions, you can always participate in money making games like poker and arm wrestling, go after bounties, or help out whenever you see trouble. There are also side-missions given out by random strangers. Some of them are one time gigs, while others have their own story ark. My personal favorite is the “I Know You Missions,” featuring one of the game’s most intriguing characters.
You might have noticed that I haven’t said much about the story, but that’s only because I don’t want to ruin it. This is Rockstar’s story yet, with clever writing and well performed voice over work from a great cast. However, while it may be Rockstar’s best effort yet, RDR does suffer from the same problem facing many Free Roam games – the archaic mission structure. I’m sick of having to run across the map to start my next mission, and more importantly, it throws off the story’s pacing. Also, I think Rockstar made a mistake by giving players violent and dishonorable options when dealing with some problems, since encouraging a man to cheat on his wife, or keeping stolen money seems out of character for John Marston; though Rockstar does show restraint by not letting him sleep with Saloon escorts – he’s married after all. It doesn’t have quite the number of issues that the GTA series has had with its stories, but it seems Rockstar still has some narrative chinks to work out.
Luckily, for the story, it gets an extra boost thanks to the fact that RDR has some of the best art direction and animations in this generation of games. I don’t know what sort of magic, Rockstar’s programmers have mixed into their in-house engine, but they should consider sharing it with the rest of the class.
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot, multiplayer.
GTAIV’s multiplayer was a fun experiment, but RDR completely blows it out of the water in almost every conceivable way. The main attraction is Free Roam, where you, along with up to sixteen friends can all hook up in a posse and play cooperative missions together or cause trouble in the local towns. The setup is similar to that of Borderlands, but not quite as polished. There are also more traditional modes to play in: including Shootout, Grab The Bag, and Hold Your Own. All of these modes work well enough, but another mode, called Gold Rush, which has you picking up and dropping off bags of gold in chests doesn’t work well on all the maps and in big groups. I like how each round starts off with a Mexican Standoff. Though they seem more about luck then they do skill. I also would have liked free roam to be more populated with NPCs, and I did have some connection issues, but these are all things that can be patched at a later time. One thing I cannot excuse is giving players the option to use lock-on in verses. It simply ruins the balance of the game, and makes killing more about luck, rather than skill.
Despite an unbalanced multiplayer mode, as well as an archaic mission structure – RDR is one of the best games Rockstar has yet to produce. Though there are some narrative problems with pacing, they story is more often than not emotional and the characters are much more genuine. Those looking for a wild romp through the rogue years of America need not look further.
What happens when you and four friends get wasted and have sugar pumped directly into your blood stream; and have a webcam with a computer capable of playing top tier games? You go onto Gamecrush.com for some cheap laughs of course. I like to think of myself as a smart person, but this wasn't one of my best moments.
Still, I thought you might get a kick out of it, and mabye you'll learn something. This is also a great way of experiencing Gamecrush.com yourself, without having to erase your history in shame after words.
Read, laugh, cry, and pity us for spending fifty-five dollars on this shit -- using my credit card.
Session #1 -- And So It Begins...
Brian: You sunk my battleship!
Trixie: Actually we're playing checkers.
Brian: Oh, fuck. I mean... king me!
Trixie: It isn't your turn.
Brian: Did I say you could speak? Fuck you. I'm gonna’ checkmate your ass.
Trixe: I'm leaving now.
Brian: How much do I owe you, doll?
Trixie: You already paid. Now I just need a tip.
Brian: OK, here's a tip. Don't cheat at internet board games. [Laughs] I'm just screwing' with you, here's four bucks.
End of Session.
Session #2 -- This Time for Reelz
Game: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Evan: Where is your unit, soldier!?
Evan: Ramirez, take out the UAV with this bottle opener!
Mandy: What the fuck are you saying?
Evan: You want to get court marshaled, bitch?
Mandy: Hey, who are you calling a bitch?
[Evan gets a headshot on Mandy]
Evan: Boom! One hundred points, that was a pretty good blow job, huh? I guess you owe me a tip.
End of Session.
Session #3 -- Session Harder
Status: Sugar Rush and Drunk
Game: Gears of War 2
Stephanie: Playing this game really turns me on.
Ben: Yeah, I know what you mean.
Ben: Big, sweaty, muscular men rolling around in the dirt; shoving foreign objects with sharp points into each other. God, I get hard just thinking about it.
Stephanie: Are you gay?
Ben: What? No. I'm bisexual.
Stephanie: Oh, OK.
Ben: You got a problem with gays?
Stephanie: No, I was just curious because of what you...
Ben: Oh, I see. Just because I'm gay, that means I like to have sex with guys, huh, is that it?
Stephanie: No, no, no; that's not what I meant. Wait, didn't you say you were bisexual.
Ben: Now you’re calling me a bisexual, fucking racist.
Stephanie: But you said... I just... I didn't mean... what?
Ben: Chicken butt!
End of Session.
Session #4 -- I'd Modern Her Warfare
Status: You don't want to know
Game: Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Game: Friendly Pave Low is online.
Rich: Are these guys even fucking trying?
Amy: Wow, you're awesome at this. A lot better then me.
Rich: Want to have a cage match?
Amy: You sure? You'll probably kill me in like three seconds.
Rich: Don't worry, I'll go easy on you.
[After an hour of play.]
Amy: Woo! 2500 to 250, I beat your ass again!
[Rich, dumbfounded, cannot think about what to say. We all stand around laughing at him.]
Rich: But, I...
Amy: C'mon, let's go again!
End of Session.
Session #5 -- My Turn Bitches
Status: I Don't Drink, But I did eat a shit ton of chocolate caramels and three liters of soda
Me: So what are you wearing?
Evelyn: Nothing much, just some PJ's and my game socks.
Me: What are game socks?
Evelyn: Special socks I wear when I game.
Me: Huh, weird. So do you like to read?
Evelyn: People's magazine and the tabloids. That stuff is hilarious.
Me: Any books?
Evelyn: I read mysteries sometimes.
Me: What mysteries?
Evelyn: Nancy Drew.
Me: How old are you again?
Me: Hold on a second.
[I look at Brian.]
Me: For fuck sakes man, let me go, I'm not doing this.
Brian: C'mon dude, it'll be hilarious, just live a little.
Brian: I'll give you ten bucks to play one game with her.
Me: Fine. But only because I might be able to write a funny blog about this.
[I go back to Evelyn]
Me: Alright, let's get started.
Evelyn: Sounds great, but can I ask you something?
It has come to my attention that many of you have been suffering from a lack of good video games recently. Luckily for you, I just happen to have a vast knowledge of amazing games I’m willing to share. So for those of you struggling to find quality games to fill up your free time, I proudly present the first installment of my new series “Wandering Pixel’s Guide to Amazing Games!”
Released for the original Playstation in 1999, Warpath: Jurassic Park is fighting game where you play as dinosaurs. Huh, what? You say you want more information; a single sentence isn’t good enough? Let me rephrase: IT’S A FIGHTING GAME WITH MOTHERFUCKING DINOSAURS!!!
If that isn’t enough to make you open up a new tab and search eBay, then what the hell is wrong with you? Sigh. OK then, Mr. Skeptic, let me explain to you the brilliance of this game in detail.
Warpath allows you to choose from a roster of fourteen dinosaurs, which includes Acrocanthosaurus, Albertosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Giganotosaurus, Megaraptor, Pachycephalosaurus, Spinosaurus, Stygimoloch, Styracosaurus, Suchomimus, Triceratops, and Tyrannosaurus. It also has a wide variety of exotic locals including Warehouse, Jungle, Jungle with rain, Jungle with a river going through it, and Jungle with an abandoned building. My personal favorite is the secret bonus stage, Laboratory.
Warpath uses an innovative control scheme that allows you to punch, kick, tail whip, bite, and double jump with any dinosaur. You can also use an innovative grappling system that lets you bite your opponent’s neck and throw them to the ground so you can stomp on their face. Because we all know dinosaurs solved all their problems using arena combat.
What makes Warpath the classic that it’s remembered as, is its attention to historical detail. The developers spent hours studying thousands of scientific and historical notes to make sure that every pixel of animation was 110% accurate.
When Tyrannosaurus punches Triceratops in the face, you can bet your balls that it is scientifically sound. They even went so far as to make half of the character roster just reskins of the other half because dinosaurs mostly fought the same way. Some have mistakenly attributed this to so-called “Copy and pasting” and “Lazy design,” but anybody who has ever been to Skool can tell you that dinosaurs all had very similar behavior and therefore fought the same. Also, Raptors are just tiny T-Rexes anyway.
And this why you should go and pick up a copy of Warpath: Jurassic Park. Dinosaurs. That is all.
I own the original Playstation, Playstation 2 and PSP, but have held out on buying a PS3 for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons I've not yet joined the Sony gangbang is because I didn't own an HDTV. Nullifying one of the console's main features: the Blu-ray disk. However, as of a few months ago, that problem has been resolved, but I still have a few reservations...
5.) Blu-ray Movies
As stated above, the lack of HD in my house was one of the main reasons I never bought a PS3. Yet even with the glory of millions of pixels illuminating from my idiot box, I still have only have a regular DVD player connected to it. Up, in HD? HELLS YEAH!
Stand alone Blu-ray players have begun to go down in price, and then there's the issue of having to buy movies I already have again. I suppose I could just buy new release movies and just keep my old DVDs, but Blu-ray movies are more expensive, and after spending a few hundred dollars, the last thing I want to do is drain my bank account even more.
4.) It's Only $299
Let me break it down for you. $600 for a console? F*** you, Sony! $299 for a console? Now we're talking.
It may be cheaper then before, but $299 is still a lot of money, not to mention all the accessories and games I'll pay for as well.
3.) Free Online Support
As a long time XBL subscriber, the thought of free online gaming almost sounds like something that the homeless man around the corner would yell at me on my way to school, but it's real. And it's on the PS3. I hate paying an additional $50 a year to have XBL. "So why do you pay for it if you don't like it," you may ask? Because, if I don't pay then I'll lose about 90% of the features, because piratically everything is available only to "Gold Members." Seriously, being a Silver Member on XBL is like being black in Alabama in the 1960's.
XBL has a lot more features than PSN. Party Chat, shorter download times, cross platform online play, and a much larger library of downloadable games and media, just to name a few. Yup, like it or not, XBL has a bigger and better online network. Is it $50 a year better? No. But it does have the original Perfect Dark.
2,) The Playstation Move
Motion controls have always intrigued me. Although very few games with waggle have impressed me, I'm still facinated by the potential of the technology. Looking at the Playstation Move and its advances makes me wonder, "Could this be it? Is this the furture of gaming."
I've owned a Wii since launch, and while I remain optimistic, four years of shovelware makes me a bit skeptical. Not to mention that since I already own a Wii, with Motion+, I feel like I would just basically be buying something I already have. Not to mention the steep prrice Sony is going to charge me. Also, The PS3 doesn't have No More Heroes or Mad World, which are considerable drawbacks.
1.) The Last Guardian, Killzone and 3D Dot Game Heroes
At the end of the day, it's all about the software. These two games make my mouth water on a regular basis, but they are exclusive to PS3. I get giddy just thinking about playing these masterpieces on my shiny new HDTV.
Those are really the only two games I really want. Sure there's Little Big Planet, Infamous, and Uncharted, but in all honestly, I can easily do without them. Buying a $300 system for only two games seems like a waste to me. Plus, those mandatory installations piss me off.
God I hope that name isn’t final. Nintendo is one “O” away from that other console. I’ve got to say, on the list of theories as to what the successor to the DS was going to bring to the table, 3D wasn’t in my top 5, or 10. But apparently it is. I knew 3D was going to be a bigger part of gaming, but who would have guessed that the first true 3D video game system would be a handheld?
My feeling on the recent trend of 3D movies has been mixed. Movies such as Avatar, Alice In Wonderland, and Monsters vs. Aliens have all failed to impress me for more then a few minuets with their “innovation.” Maybe it’s because I wear glasses everyday, and having to wear two pairs of glasses to watch a movie isn’t exactly ideal.
But it seems that Nintendo has found the answer with their next handheld device, which won’t require any kind of glasses. While that certainly has sparked my interest, I still remain skeptical.
Staring at a 3D screen for two hours already makes my eyes hurt, I can only imagine inevitable blindness when I sit down and play my DS for three to four hours. Not to mention the motion sickness that may result from moving around. The only way I can see this working out is if I’m able to switch the 3D effects on and off during sessions.
My biggest gripe with this whole 3D gaming thing is that I can’t see what this will do from a game play sense. The touch screen changed the way we played our games, but what exactly could 3D bring to the interactive table? I honestly can’t think of anything, game play wise, that 3D could do. It seems like 3D will just be a visual thing.
Then again, this is Nintendo we’re talking about. If anyone can make ridiculous concepts work in gaming, it’s them. There isn’t much I can say about this because beyond it being in 3D and not requiring glasses I haven’t heard anything else. I guess we’ll have to wait until E3 to see what Nintendo’s mad geniuses have cooked up.
I love this community, and recently started to think about what I could do to thank them for all of their kindness and general awesomeness. Then it hit me; a while back I did a post of the Destructoid editors as motivational posters, and since I love making motivational posters I decided to do the same for the community.
These weren't made with Photoshop or an online creator. I knew that if I did it the easy way it would be meaningless, so to prove my love for the community I made each and everyone from scratch only using Microsoft Paint. It took me five days to make all twenty of these posters as well as an extra few hours of technical difficulties.
Obviously the community is a lot bigger then just twenty people, but the limit amount for photos I can upload onto my blog is twenty, so I went through the difficult process of picking and choosing members to posterize. To everybody who isn't on here I apologize, and I hope to make another one of these in the future, so if you aren't in this one maybe next time you'll be given the poster treatment.
Enjoy. And feel fre to copy and paste these to your blog/website/facebook/porn site. I LOVE YOU ALL!!!