Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fill in the blanks

There's a lot Cary and I know about in terms of gaming. Surely. But there are definitely a lot of things we don't know. In fact, I'll show you one thing I'm relatively clueless about:


Yep. The Nintendo Wii is a console that, admittedly, I have a hard time calling a console. Seriously. When I was just typing that, it felt strange. It's not meant to sound egotistical, but it completely does. Sort of like when my mom asks me how to do something on her PC and I complain about Windows Vista and not knowing what I'm doing, then she gets all up-in-arms and mutters something along the lines of "whatever, Apple dude."

Yes, I have an Apple MacBook. Yes, I'm quite infatuated with it. And, yes, I have a lower tolerance for non-Apple computers. But I wouldn't begin to say that PCs don't offer something to certain people that Apple's don't. I wouldn't begin to say PCs are not computers, because they are. What I will say is: I certainly have a preference. And I certainly have my reasons.

But what this post is really supposed to be is a question. Say someone you know is away on holiday and the only console they have at their disposal is a Nintendo Wii. This person would love to spend some downtime with a good video game on the Wii but has no idea where to begin. She's played all the basics on the system, but what's new? What's absurd? What would impress or interest this person who otherwise spends her time on a 360 or a PS3?

I just, ya know, have a hard time thinking I can devote my attention to an entire blog post reviewing "Calvin Tucker's Redneck Jamboree." I'd love to be able to pay attention to that Wii world of gaming Cary and I miss altogether. At least until my holiday is over.

The Golden Retrevo Awards

Today, Lynsey and I found out that we've been nominated in the "gaming" category for the first annual Golden Retrevo Awards. According to its website, The Golden Retrevo Award, "nominees are independent bloggers expressing fascination and enthusiasm for gadgets and gear. They should also exhibit expertise in their area of interest. These are the best and brightest of the gadget blogosphere writing about the coolest new electronics products and how they benefit the lives of people who use them"

Needless to say, we are pretty excited. Not to mention, incredibly humbled. We're not sure if we were nominated by someone at Retrevo or by a reader but either way we are thrilled. You can vote once a day, every day until January 25th and if you're a fan of our blog we would encourage you to please do so.

Not that it isn't amazing that we were nominated but it would be even more incredible if we won our category: vote for us by clicking HERE!

Thank you so very much everyone! Happy Holidays!

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here . . .


There are many types of geeks in the world. There's video game geeks, D&D geeks, warcraft geeks, Baldwin geeks *cough*, Star Wars geeks, Trekkies and, least we forget, literary geeks. Lynsey and I actually met when we were both undergraduates majoring in English at a small college in Florida. Whilst taking our "great works of western literature" class we were required to read the entire "Divine Comedy" by Dante Alighieri. I don't want to speak for her, but I'm pretty sure we were in near total agreement: Purgatorio and Paradiso were . . . slow but the Inferno was incredibly riveting. And vivid. Holy God (see what I did there?), was it vivid.

Naturally, when we found out that a video game was being made based on this epic poem were were intrigued but skeptical. Was such an amazing piece of literature really appropriate for a hack n’ slash video game? Well, having played the demo now I can honestly say . . . I’m not totally sure yet.

At its core, “Dante’s Inferno” handles just like a typical adventure/action game. Nothing about it makes it unique, at least, nothing from the demo. Waves of demons come at you. You kill them. You move on. What is interesting and distinctive about it is the story and the backdrop. While it no doubt resembles the “God of War” series, it’s still pretty cool bitch-slapping demons with a giant cross. Was that a part of the “Inferno”, no, but artistic and entertainment license was going to be taken if this game was going to be a success. I mean, who wants to play a game where you follow Virgil around the nine circles of Hell inhaling rivers of excrement and watching people gnaw on other people’s heads. Well, who other than Lynsey and I?

No, we’d rather play a butch Dante who runs around and shows the demons of Hell what’s what. And you know, that works. I was honestly so happy to hear the opening line of the “Inferno” and that the game was actually sticking to Alighieri’s visuals that the inaccuracies didn’t really both me.

If anything, this game will suffer being a standard action/adventure game. At best, it will be a remarkably visual one with a unique story and an amazing score. Only February will tell.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lock Up Your Virtual Daughters!

This little gem of a downloadable title has been available on XBox Live for a little while now, but I've only just now mustered up the courage to give it a go: Don't Be Nervous Talking 2 Girls.


Yup, a sim guaranteed to help to talk to scary, intimidating womenfolk. Ahh, I love the smell of gamer-stereotype in the evening! I shot a small video of myself playing through two levels of the demo for your enjoyment. I shot it freehand with my iPhone so you may wanna have some Dramamine on hand but you'll still get the point.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Well, balls.

The other night I officially wrapped up my final semester in graduate school. Not only had my final paper been turned in but I completed the rest of the work required of me as a graduate teaching assistant. Smiling like an idiot, I practically skipped to the fridge, grabbed a beer, switched on my Xbox 360, bent down to get “Left 4 Dead 2”, looked back up and jumped back like a snake had bitten me:

Yup, after a year of no issues my system finally suffered the dreaded Red Ring of Death. I was not pleased.

Thankfully though, my sister has a friend who has a spare console (perhaps for just this reason?) and she was kind enough to let me borrow it until my console comes back from Microsoft. While this was the first time my system had malfunctioned, it certainly wasn’t my first personal experience with it: nearly every 360 owner I know has had their console shit itself without provocation at least once, with one friend having his system get the RROD three separate times. Lynsey herself has had it happen twice: once with one ring for a hard drive failure and once with two rings for overheating. She’ll probably murder me for saying it but it’s probably only a matter of time before she gets the dreaded RROD as well.

My question to you fine people is, why the hell do we put up with it?

Now, Lynsey and I have never been big fans of Microsoft but a recent survey by GameInformer found that our feelings are pretty justified: 52% of all Xbox 360s fail. While you can argue the logistics of the survey (e.g. disgruntled gamers are more likely to respond) considering at least my own personal experiences I do not find that number irrational. Not only are the harddrive malfunctions numerous, but the 2-3 week time frame it takes for Microsoft to fix the problem is double to triple that of how long it takes for Nintendo to repair the Wii.

So what’s the deal? Do we all just keep putting up with it because we truly think it’s the best console out there? How many of you have had a 360 fail? Have any of you been so badly burned that you’ll never buy another Xbox? Let us know!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I could not make this up.

I'm having one of those existential crisis moments, I think. Where I question everything that I've ever known about gaming, and everything I've ever known about Cary. These two things are intertwined, in this case, and also just as important as the other.

Last night, while playing 1 v. 100 Extended Play, Cary randomly said, "Ya know, when they do Left 4 Dead 3, they should have the new survivors meet up with the old survivors. I wanna see Nick and Francis meet." First of all, I was thinking "Left 4 Dead THREE, woman?! Impatient, much?" and then I think I answered, "In your dreams, Cary." Well...

Valve has released information on the first DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 and, guess what, the new survivors are going to be meeting up with the previous survivors. Nick, Coach, Rochelle, Ellis... meet Bill, Francis, Zoey, and Louis. No, no. There's no need to explain the situation to them. The phrase 'been there, done that' comes to mind.


This new DLC is called "The Passing" and Valve is calling it “the most important campaign in the Left 4 Dead story.” It's taking place down south in Georgia, there's going to be some new weapons, and also some new uncommon infected. You can read more about it here at GameInformer.

In the meantime, prepare thyselves. I'm headin' South this Spring. And I'm bringing Cary with me: her clairvoyance could keep us out of a lot of trouble when we're knee-deep in Georgian zombie blood.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There was a hole here - it's gone now.

Today is a somber one for me. The time has come, I believe, to officially lay to rest my favorite game series of all time: Silent Hill.

My first indicator came with the news that Akira Yamaoka was leaving Konami. From the release of the first Silent Hill in 1993 to the latest installment “Shattered Memories”, Yamaoka has been the man behind the music. More than anything else, even the foggy streets, his music always set the tone and atmosphere for me, taking seemingly simple melodies and turning them into something hauntingly beautiful such as “The Promise” from Silent Hill 2. The series simply will not be the same without him. The second reason for my mourning comes from the reviews for the abovementioned “Silent Hill: Shattered Memories”.

A scathing 6.5 from GameInformer magazine just about broke my heart. While I wasn’t particularly hopeful about the game, I had hoped it would be better received than Silent Hill: Homecoming but instead it seems to suffer from the same problems. Basically, it’s become mundane – always the same, dull story, controls, and objectives over and over again. Over the years, Silent Hill has lost its physiological edge and become a run-of-the-mill horror franchise. Now, all that being said, I will probably still check out “Shattered Memories” when the PS2 port is released in January . . . but I also may not.

Either way, here’s looking at you Henry, James, and Heather – you’ll be missed.

On a brief side note, Lynsey and I have our gamertags listed on our blog for a reason: we would love for you all add and play with us but please either send us an e-mail or a message on Xbox Live letting us know you’re from the blog and not spam. Thanks!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Isaac, what have you been up to?


Oh, GameInformer - how you do tease.

A few days ago, the popular gaming magazine GameInformer announced on their website that their January issue would elaborate on the few details presently offered on the subject of this sequel to one of the best survival horror games I have ever played. I certainly wasn't the only person who enjoyed this white-knuckle misadventure through the doomed USG Ishimura so let's be frank, a sequel was bound to happen and let's be even more frank, this game could very well be a disaster. Still, at this point there certainly is no need to be anything but excited. Dead Space was such a credit to the genre that it would be lucky to have an installment half as good but hopefully EA and Visceral will be able to recapture the horror, grace, and beauty of the first.

Hmm . . . thinking about it is making me want to play it again. If only I didn’t sweat just thinking about it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I was going to give this post a title but I just can't stop twirling my hair.

If there's anything Lynsey loves more than "30 Rock" it's an angry, late-night call from me. Well, she'd probably like a late-night call from Alec Baldwin more but damn it, my rage is almost as good!

So I'm working on a research proposal for my urban society class in which I've decided to look at households with and without next-generation consoles to see if they consistently use more energy than homes which do not have such consoles. That's right, kids. You can totally write papers about video games in graduate school. Anyway, so I'm looking up commercials for Sony's "Playstation 3: It Only Does Everything" to talk about how using the Blu-Ray player on the PS3 uses 5 times the amount of energy of a stand-alone Blu-Ray player when I came across this little gem:


That poor, poor confused girlfriend. She's been watching her "good
boyfriend" play "Uncharted 2" for two days and, silly little thing,
she thinks it's a movie. I mean, she'd had to, right? She couldn't
possibly be interested in watching him play or, heaven forbid, play
herself. What I especially like about this commercial is how once the
rep guy sees what she looks like he shrugs it all off. If she's hot, who
cares if she's stupid, right?

Seriously, Sony? Could it not have been the guy's little brother or
even, dare I suggest it, a man who doesn't play video games. I know,
I know - it's crazy to suggest such a thing but maybe you should lay off
the whole "stupid-women-are-okay-as-long-as-they're-hot-and-will-allow-me-to-play-my-video-games" thing in the future, mmmk?

I mean, no, this is not the most horrible commercial in the world but it
is an enforcement of some very strong and very persistent stereotypes.
All I'm saying is, life's good outside of the mold.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Only Cure is More Dead Angels



Thanks to the guys over at 4PlayerPodcast, yesterday I got a code for early access to the Bayonetta demo on Xbox Live. Now, this is a game that I mentioned before on this blog but to basically sum up my interest in it, I think the gameplay looks intriguing and the graphics beautiful but I was worried about the over-the-top sexuality of the eponymous heroine. After all, we’re talking about a witch who’s magical abilities come from her hair and since her suit is made of her hair when she casts a large spell she’s left virtually naked.

Still, the reviews that have been coming in for this game have been phenomenal including a very, very respectable 10/10 from Edge Magazine which had previously only given 10 other games a perfect 10/10 including The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Accordingly, I was incredibly curious when I sat down and downloaded the demo today.

So, is the sexuality and exploitation of Bayonetta unnecessary? Yes.

Does it take away and otherwise distract from the enjoyment of the game? Not really.

Is the game good? Oh, yes. In fact, it’s very, very good.

I have honestly never felt as free and simultaneously in control of an avatar as I did maneuvering Bayonetta. Her combos and movements are positively flawless. Whether you’re shooting at the angel right in front of you, gracefully spinning downward blasting enemies at all your sides or sending a baddie into a conjured iron maiden, the mechanics of this game are tight and incredibly satisfying. The few times Bayonetta found herself without clothes I was honestly so into it that I mostly didn’t notice and when I did the game didn’t seem to make her flesh the central element to the scene.

That being said, Bayonetta still oozes sex. Her “taunt” is pretty ridiculous and I still can’t figure out why she stands the way she does but, honestly, the sexist nature of the game did not bother me nearly as much as I thought it would.

Overall, this game has gone from being something I was curious about to a definite buy come January.

Check out the demo on the 3rd of December. It will be my new life goal to get Lynsey to at least try the demo. We'll see how that goes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sinners! Repent!

Lynsey and I promised that we would get a re-cap of our last podcast up soon - and we will. Until then though, won't you please have a look at one of the best bits of game advertising I've seen in a long, long time?


Make sure you go pre-order this blessed game.

Go, my children.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Episode 3 is Live!


Hey all! Episode 3 of the Play Like a Girl Podcast is now live! You can listen below or by looking up "playlikeagirlblog" on iTunes and subscribing to us there. Personally, we prefer iTunes - and your reviews.

Thanks for the support, everyone!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

REVIEW: Modern Warfare 2

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who reads this blog. We recently discovered that we were linked on an article from GameCritics.com and we're extremely grateful for the attention this blog has received. A step beyond that, I'm pleasantly surprised at the amount of enlightening and intellectual discourse we've had on this blog, as well. I truly expected far more wank but, even on Cary's latest blog entry about a controversial scene in Modern Warfare 2, it's been nothing but great conversation. And that is awesome.

ONTO THE REVIEW: MODERN WARFARE 2.


I looked back at the tags for our blog and was supremely disappointed in myself for the lack of Modern Warfare 2 entries and mentions. Cary and I have been caught up in the Left 4 Dead 2 craze, admittedly. That doesn't forgive the fact that we've been remiss in discussing what is, undoubtedly, one of the best games of the year.

Game Informer gave Modern Warfare 2 a rating of 9.75 out of 10 and my only question is: what does a game have to do to earn that .25? MW2 has accomplished what every sequel should hope to -- keep, at its core, what makes it what it is, while expanding upon that core with small details that give this game that extra edge and the feeling that, just maybe, the developers listened to their fan base while making the sequel.

Cary and I are in agreement: we liked this game more than the first. Many people might agree that the "Shock and Awe" mission in the first Modern Warfare was jaw-droppingly thrilling, but who would argue that there aren't at least five of those moments in Modern Warfare 2? This game doesn't let up -- even when you're not knee-deep in "the shit," you're hanging to a space station, being thrown to Earth after a massive explosion. I think Infinity Ward may have just brought the qualifications of "epic" to epicly higher standards.

Even after being in awe of this game, Cary and I played some Special Ops mission last night and we found ourselves saying "okay, one more mission and that's it" until, before we knew it, we had unlocked the achievement for receiving 8 stars in Special Ops and I can tell you, without fear of repudiation, that we are nowhere near being done with Special Ops missions. And just like I did with the first Modern Warfare, I will be trying my hand at beating some missions on Veteran difficulty.

I really don't know what else to say except that this game is a performance of true artistry and that you shouldn't waste a moment of contemplation about buying this game -- do it now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Controversy of Modern Warfare 2

Like a whole lot of people in America and around the world I have spent the last couple of days playing through “Modern Warfare: 2”. It’s a game that I have been eager to play but wasn’t counting down the days for – that’s reserved for Left 4 Dead 2 (ZOMG 6 MORE DAYS!!1!). After all, if this sequel to “Call of Duty 4” was anything like its predecessor it was bound to be an epic and exciting ride.

And it has been so far.

I’ve probably got about an hour left of the campaign but this post isn’t a review, it’s about the controversy.

As someone who didn’t do any research on the game beforehand (I’d actually only seen one trailer) I had no idea of any of its content, including what’s being referred to as “the airport” mission or “No Russian” as it’s called in the game. Before you being the single-player campaign you’re given a warning that states that certain missions in the game may be offensive or unsettling to some players, would you like to be given the option to skip it? Seeing as how the game is already rated “mature” I figured it was probably a scene of excessive gore and that it would be gross but whatever, it’s a game. I can handle it.

I’m someone who (for better or worse) generally considers herself to be hardened when it comes to depictions of simulated violence and unless it’s sexual in nature seeing it in a movie or video game really doesn’t bother me. Plus, I’m playing a war game. I know what I signed up for.

About an hour into the game you take control of an American CIA agent who infiltrates a Russian terrorist group. You then accompany the terrorists to an airport which then leads to this:

The unrelenting slaughter of hundreds of innocent people. When it all started happening I just stared at my screen in sheer, honest shock. Instead of firing on the people I instead shot at the terrorists only to be called a “traitor” and have to start the mission over again. I have seen a lot of things in video games but this was honestly the first time I felt physically sick as a result of something I was not only seeing, but being forced to take part in.

Now, before you say, “you’re not forced! You have the opinion to skip the mission!” let me make a point. When I clicked the option saying I would not be offended I was basing this on content that I had not yet seen. It’s like the moment in “Pulp Fiction” where Vince asks Mia not to be offended by what he’s about to tell her and she says she can’t because her natural reaction may be to get offended and then by no fault of her own she would have broken her promise. The same applies here.

The only saving grace to this sequence – if there is one – is that the terrorists don’t antagonize or otherwise berate you if you don’t fire a shot inside the airport so I was able to get through this mission without actually killing any civilians. However, the game does force you to shoot your way through dozens of police officers on your way out. I couldn’t get around that and I was not a happy camper.

So my big question is this: if the disclaimer telling you that you are able to skip this mission includes the fact that you will not be missing out on story complication or achievements then why – why – is this mission even in this game? Could Infinity Ward not come up with a better way of portraying these guys as evil then to have you participate in their horrific crimes? Let’s not forget, you’re playing as a good guy undercover. A good guy who, at the very least, stands by while all of this is going on.

I am truly baffled and, yes, offended.

I think the developers of this game included this sequence for nothing more than publicity. They knew how big this game was going to be and that because of lazy, unconcerned parents and despite game retailers best efforts, children are going to get their hands on this and I guarantee you the vast majority, if not all of the people who purchased this game, are going to play this mission. It’s the “don’t push this red button” effect.

This is going to do nothing more than anger people who are already livid at the prevalence of violence in video games and, for once, I’m in total agreement with them.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Doin' it for the Ladies

So as most of you have probably figured out at this point, Lynsey and I are women. Though I’d say we’re more “gamers who are female” than “female gamers” the issue of women in the video game industry is one that we tend to talk about with a certain level of frequency. While surfing around tonight in a desperate act of procrastination I came across the old argument of “what do companies have to do to get women interested in gaming?”. Now, I’ve already given my opinion on this before but tonight I wanted to elaborate on what I consider to be a key point on this issue: female avatars.

When it comes to the creation of female characters I feel very confident in saying that most developers design them for men rather than women. What really gets me going with some of these characters is that, in fighting games for instance, they’ll give the female characters all the same strengths and abilities as the male characters only they’ll be nearly naked and bouncing all over the place.

Now, before this goes any farther I need to give an important qualifier: I am not saying that unrealistic body images and the exploitation of those bodies do not exist for male characters. Not at all. However, I do think that for every male avatar who looks like this:

There are 100 female avatars who look like this:

Now, this isn’t always a terrible thing. After all, video games are an escape and I will be the first to admit that it’s fun to get into a fabricated world as a sexy and strong woman who kicks ass but I don’t need to see the avatar’s nearly naked ass for this to be accomplished.

Let’s take a look at some totally random examples:

Okay, so maybe these women aren’t entirely random but they do prove my point. Alyx Vance from The Half Life Series, Chell from Portal, Zoey from Left 4 Dead, and Rochelle from Left 4 Dead 2 are all women who more than hold their own in their respective games and are permitted to do so with hardly a single (if any) reference to the fact that they lack a penis. I remember playing Portal and being surprised when one of the little turret guns called me, “the lady from the test”. Gender is such a non-issue in Portal that it never occurred to me that I could be playing a female character. I – like most female gamers I’d bet – always assume I’m playing as a man when I can’t see my character’s face or body.

I really think that if more developers followed in Valve’s footsteps and made “normal” female avatars it would do wonders for getting women interested in gaming but in order to do that the industry would have to let go of a pretty deep-seeded sense of normalcy: that women are only exciting and enticing when they’re practically nude.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Never Too Late For a Good Scare

So without further ado, I present my selection for The Three Scariest Games of All Time (read “the three scariest games I’ve ever played").

Number 3, Silent Hill 2.

Now I’ve already written review of sorts of this game so I won’t say too much more on the plot or why this game means as much to me as it does. What I will make mention of is how it remains of the most successful survival horror games I’ve ever played. The trick is that the vast, vast majority of the scares come from what you don’t see. I will never forget walking into the Silent Hill Historical Society towards the end of the game, hearing a door open, close, and then footsteps walking toward me. Nothing ever happened, I never saw anyone, but I’m telling you that my knuckles went white with terror.

It’s this type of physiological horror that makes Silent Hill 2 so successful and it’s apparent from the very beginning that you’re in for a mind fuck as you lead James down an impossibly long trail to the titular town all the while hearing footsteps behind you and dogs growling but never coming into contact with a single other living thing. Silent Hill 2 really takes all the cheap scares out and just lets you scare yourself.

Number 2, Dead Space.

Like Silent Hill 2, I also wrote a review of Dead Space when I finished the game a few months ago. This game is scary in a more traditional way with horrible looking monsters eager to jump out at you and subsequently rip your face off but Dead Space manages to walk a fine line between horror and action that kept me coming back for more, despite the fact that it scared me shitless on more than one occasion. There was one sequence in particular when I was running from one of the more terrifying creatures I’ve ever come across in a video game, having to make my way through a maze while it literally breathed down my neck . . . let’s just say when I finally finished it my shirt was drenched in sweat.

Dead Space is truly a game that rests right on the border of “holy hell it’s really scary but I think I can get through it” and “no fucking way I’m going to be able to play that game alone.” It’s a true credit to the survival horror genre.

Number 1, Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly.

So what makes this game worse than the others? What makes it the scariest game I’ve ever played? Simple: I cannot play it alone. Even with friends, I have a hard time. In order to spend any significant amount of time with this game I need friends, lights, and beer. As if the haunted village full of violent ghosts weren’t enough all you’re armed with . . . is a camera. Yup. A camera which houses the ability to exorcise evil sprits, provided you let them get right up in your face before you snap a picture. I’ve never been able to finish this game though I did get close once – made it close to the final house before I got lost and started getting stalked by a scary as hell child ghost. Then I started having nightmares and that's where I draw the line.

Need a hilarious example of its terror? Check out this video some friends shot with Lynsey and I as we attempted the game. In my defense, I was pretty intoxicated:

So thanks for the horrifying memories Fatal Frame 2 – we won’t be seeing each other again anytime soon.

But, maybe some of you fine people will check it out when you’re in the mood for a horror filled night.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is it too early?


We all know what this blog has turned into over the last few weeks. Months? Either way, Cary and I have not withheld our excitement for Left 4 Dead 2 and this morning all the excitement was justified.

Cary and I got up a bit before 9am EST to play the early demo of Left 4 Dead 2 (we both pre-ordered it through Gamestop -- so worth it) and we played the demo for... wait for it... THREE AND A HALF HOURS. And we didn't even notice until I said, "Uhh, Cary, it's noon." To which she replied, "Shit, really? Okay... one more time and then we'll stop."

It happened.
And I would like to say: to all you boycotters, naysayers, and people who just like to complain: this game is a worthy sequel. The demo is two chapters from their campaign called "The Parish" and was everything and more than I expected it to be. On our first play-through, we ran into Chargers, Spitters, Boomers, Hunters, Smokers, and oh my god, the Jockey. His hillbilly cry invokes resounding moans of "OHHH GOD WHERE IS THE JOCKEY?" because he WILL sneak up on you. Surprisingly, the Charger (and the Spitter) are also VERY good at sneaking up on you.

Funny thing: we didn't get a tank OR a witch on our first play-through, but because of the new adaptive technology, as Cary and I got better at the gameplay, the game threw some tanks and witches our way. And we loved it.

Also, the banter between the characters is proving to be just as entertaining as the banter from the original of the series. It never gets old to hear Nick make fun of Ellis' accent after he calls him "Overalls."

We even got cocky enough to begin playing on Expert and Advanced -- we finished the chapters on Advanced but Expert was a bit trickier. Especially when you run into the zombies in riot gear and they take FOREVER to bring down. All the shouting of "shoot them in the back!" is only so helpful when they're charging at you at full-speed.

I can't wait to get back home and play this for another 3.5 hours with Cary. And the idea that the demo didn't even include the zombies in the Hazmat suits or the clown leading its posse (see what I did there?) makes me even more excited for November 17th.

Don't be surprised if you see Cary also post about the demo today. I'm surprised I beat her to it.

******************

So what do you do when the demo to a game you’ve been drooling over since it was announced finally comes out? You set your alarm for 8:30 in the morning, download it, and play it.

Again, and again and again.

It was almost surreal to finally be able to try out all the new aspects of the game we’d be hearing about for months now: upgraded (and far more numerous) guns, melee weapons, new special infected and a much more adaptable AI director.

Lynsey pretty much said everything that I possibly could with how fantastic this demo is but I figure I’d give you my gut reactions to some of the new things. First, the melee weapons; be they a skillet, a machete, a guitar, or a riot baton they will all do some serious damage with glorious graphical results. However, they do take some getting used to and in fact when I first took a swing at a zombie with the frying pan I had a hard time getting used to the short range of the weapon – I’ve become so very fond of my shotgun. That uneasiness passed very quickly however and now there is hardly anything I like more than slicing a zombie’s head off with one clean swipe of the machete.

And trust me, it’s good to be comfortable with your weapons in this game because it does not let up. Not for one deep-fried second. Lynsey and I tried several times to stop for a moment and take in the environment or examine a new item we’d picked up but oh no, the horde will not put up with that. You are constantly on the move in this game and can expect to go no more than a solid minute without coming face-to-face with a special infected.

And oh my, are they special.

The Spitter was one of the more challenging ones to get used to. As Lynsey said, all these infected have a nasty way of sneaking up on you but the Spitter also has one hell of a range on her acid attack – it makes the Boomer bile look like mere indigestion. It’s easy to avoid the acid once it hits the ground but more than likely by that point you’ve been separated from your group, leaving you horribly open for an attack from the Jockey or the Charger.

Let me tell you right now, I don’t think there was one single time where the sudden presence of the Charger didn’t scare the shit out of me. That dude means business.


Anyway, I’m pretty sure that together Lynsey and I have covered everything we wanted to about this demo. In short, it’s amazing – just as we all expected – and if you’ve pre-ordered the game you’d be a fool not to run down to GameStop and pick up your code for early access.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mmm . . . chocolate helicopters.

Valve, seriously, if I had balls - they'd be neon blue.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I would call Venkman, and then maybe someone else.

I played "Ghostbusters" back in August and never got around to writing a review, which should be kind of indicative as to where this review is headed. I never finished the game. Need I say more? Yes, I need.



There were, as I remember, three levels of difficulty. I played the demo, originally, on Normal, but decided when I played the entire game that I could probably handle "Experienced." Yeah, not so much. I think this just added to the longevity of the boss battles, of which there are MANY, and they never got any more fun, they just slowly got more frustrating.

This is unfortunate because the dialogue, done by all the original actors, was hilariously fun. Venkman took every chance he could to throw in his own style zinger and they didn't disappoint. But Venkman also took every opportunity he could to take off, leaving you and the others to fend for yourselves. As an extension of that, you got left alone A LOT. I mean, they always found some way for you to get trapped on your own and have to find a way back to, or even worse, FOR them.

I rented it this past summer and, honestly, would only recommend renting or borrowing this game. It's fun(ny) but not worth $60 just so you can be frustrated with dying quite often and, OH, I almost forgot! ALWAYS HAVING TO REVIVE YOUR TEAMMATES. Stick close to your teammates, or you will get scuh-rewed.


Onto the next topic: BORDERLANDS. Cary and I haven't talked about this game at all, which is quite remiss of us, especially as Game Informer has given the game a 9.25 review with a second opinion of a 9.5.


We've only recently contemplated buying it as we both long for another co-op experience because, as we have mentioned, we had so much fun playing RE5 together. The one thing that has put me off is that it is an RPG, which I have a tendency to get frustrated with, but I'm getting better about that. I've been playing more "Fallout 3" and recently bought "Fable 2" which has been a nice change of scenery.

But this sentence has kind of sold me on "Borderlands": 'This RPS is heaven for fans of FPS and RPGs.' And, that, my friends, could be the last shove I needed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Come See Me When You Grow a Pair as Big as Your Mother’s


Yesterday I finished the main storyline in Brütal Legend, the latest from the comedic mind of Tim Schafer. It wasn’t until I played the demo for this game a few weeks ago that I really started paying attention to it. To be honest, for the longest time I seriously thought it was some sort of spin-off of Guitar Hero. After all, there’s a big dude in that game with an umlaut in his name.

Don’t judge me.

The point of the story is I did play the demo and very quickly started to give this game my attention: you play as the best roadie in the business, Eddie Riggs, transported into the land of heavy metal only to find yourself destined to save said land from the horrors of emo music, glam rock, and other false gods. It is without question unlike any game I’ve ever played before. Ever. In that respect, Brütal Legend is a true original.

The writing is damn good. I can’t count the number of times I laughed out loud at the delivery and the jokes – something I’ve never done in a video game before. While the laughs taper off slightly towards the end the game really never stops being genuinely funny. This aspect of the game was hands down the best.

Of course, you can’t really sing the praises of a game based on a land of heavy metal without talking about the soundtrack and holy shit – it does kick ass: Ozzy Osborne, Megadeath, Judas Priest, Rob Zombie, and my most pleasant surprise, KMFDM, blast your eardrums as you race across the land in your trusty Druid Plow. If you’re a fan of this type of music you need to, at least, pick up the soundtrack. If you’re not a fan of this type of music punch yourself in the face.

The graphics and voice acting also need a mention. I was really surprised and how developed and detailed the world of metal is. From the statue-laden fields of Bladehenge to the eerie glowing forest near the Sea of Black Tears every aspect of this map has a distinct personality. These landscapes are only further brought to life by the enthusiastic and lovable dialogue delivered perfectly by the cast and notably by Jack Black. Maybe the only thing better than the voice acting is the character animations and facial expressions. It’s all so fantastic. Also? Ozzy Osborne playing the Guardian of Metal – essentially The Merchant a la Resident Evil 4 – is brilliant.

That’s not to say that the game is without its flaws however. Something that the demo did not show and that ends up being a large part of the game is your army. As you progress in the game you meet Headbangers, Razor Girls, Roadies, and others who join you in your fight against the evil emperor Doviculus. It is the controlling of this army that takes a lot of getting used to. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t say that I really got the hang of how to operate my army until the very last battle – and I got so frustrated with that fight that I damn near gave up. The problem is, your army takes time to build up and one wrong press of the button can eviscerate them and effectively end the battle – not in your favor. It just seems as though the game was a bit too ambitious in this regard; there is way, way too much going on for one controller.

Still, when push comes to shove, this was my only real complaint with the game.

The main story is very, very short – no more than 7 hours – but following the ending you’re left to travel across the land to do mini-missions and general exploration, something I am very excited to do.

In short: this game rocks.

EDIT - Daaaaamn! I knew Doviculus sounded familiar. So sorry, Tim Curry. You rock too, man.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Look! Look! Kittens! Hurry!



Oh . . . you just missed them. Better luck next time.

But hey, why you're here why don't you head on over to Amazon.com and order yourself a copy of what's bound to be the greatest hard rock album in quite some time. If you all know anything about me it's that I love Rammstein . . . and video games . . . but seriously, this album is going to kick your ass - and you're gonna love it.

On an actual gaming sidenote, I bought Brütal Legend today and once I get out from under this pile of work (hopefully by Saturday) I can dig into it and get a review on here. Any of you played it yet?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I wonder if Francis hates hockey?

Good God damn but we do talk a lot about Left 4 Dead on this blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that you understand – we’re simply providing news on one of the greatest games out there – but hopefully with the new games coming out this year and next we’ll have a more wide variety of things to talk about. But! Until then, more Left 4 Dead news!

A new mode as been announced for Left 4 Dead 2: Scavenge Mode. In this mode survivors will run around a map looking for hidden supplies (gas tanks, kerosene) and will rush to stock up on as many as they can before they’re overcome by the Infected. It seems to be pretty similar to the “Survival” mode that came out for Left 4 Dead awhile back where you hold out for as long as you can but eventually you’re overcome. It sounds pretty cool but I was not a fan of Survival mode. Not at all. So I’m hoping Scvanage Mode has it’s own style.

The second bit of news also centers around Left 4 Dead 2 and that’s that Valve is pumping 25 million dollars into advertising for Left 4 Dead 2. Holy Balls. People, they really want you to play this game. So much so that their spending an obscene amount of money in the hopes that you’ll take notice. I wish them all the best but personally I’d rather them be spending money on fixing the glitches in the new Crash Course map which are, at present, still annoying the fuck out of me.

I want my Jumpin’ Jack Smash achievement, damn it!

. . . what?

Oh, and one more thing: a Bayonetta Demo was released in Japan today. It's for both the 360 and the PS3 so I'm hoping it finds it's way over to this side of the world before too much longer; I'm really eager to see how this game handles.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

As Albert would say, "Impressive!"

A very special thanks to Devin over at Smile Like a Ninja for bringing this to my attention: apparently at Tokyo Gameshow last week, Capcom released details and a trailer for Resident Evil 5: Alternate Edition. From what I understand, with this edition the player will be given the opportunity to take control of either Chris or Jill and play through a new mission at the mansion where Wesker killed Spencer and subsequently kicked your ass before falling out the window with Jill.

From what I can tell from the trailer it looks just as beautiful as the original game. What’s so weird about this is that Lynsey and I decided to pop in Resident Evil 5 last night for the first time in months.

However, there is potentially devastating news here: it may only be a release for the Playstation 3 in which case . . . I may very well freak the fuck out. Now that I know of this edition’s impending existence I must have it. Must. The idea of more Resident Evil 5 is just amazing and I really, really hope it does it end up being released as DLC for the 360.

I hate helicopters.

So this past Tuesday Lynsey and I set our alarms and were up and playing the new Left 4 Dead DLC, “Crash Course”, at 9 in the morning. From the moment Lynsey ran out of the saferoom gleefully screaming, “first dibs, first dibs” before popping a cap in the nearest undead ass we were both in love. It’s a fantastic, intense, albeit short map. Valve had said it was their intention to make a sort but complete map build with versus mode in mind and that’s exactly what they did. It’s a blast of a map and everyone who plays Left 4 Dead should download it without hesitation. Oh, and be wary of noobish behavior - it is a new map after all:




The only thing that sucks about it is that Xbox users like myself and Lynsey had to pay 800 Microsoft points for it while PC users got it for free. Sucks ass, but it’s entirely the fault of Microsoft, not Valve. Big surprise right?

I shouldn’t be too hard on them though. The same night we played through Crash Course for the first time I received an e-mail saying that because I had downloaded all 5 Fallout 3 DLCs they were sending me a code to download a new, free premium Fallout 3 theme. That is pretty damn cool. Of course . . . it wasn’t really free considering all 5 of those DLCs cost 800 points but who’s keeping score right? It’s always been a torrid love affair with Microsoft.

Not much else going on here. A lot of Left 4 Dead as usual, which does remind me. I know we have at least one regular reader from Australia so I’m very curious for their opinions on this: Left 4 Dead 2 has been banned in Australia.

Now, I’m no expert on the Australian ratings system but from what I understand, it blows. To best of my knowledge there is no rating above “+15” (games suitable for those over 15) which leads to a whole load of games not being rated because they are more mature. These games are not given a rating and, thus, cannot be sold down under. Now, none of that makes any damn sense to me especially in this case since Left 4 Dead was not banned in Australia but, seriously, how can you not have a more detailed rating system? Apparently the Australian government thinks no one over the age of 15 plays video games.

So Aussies, that sucks. I know this isn't the first time it's come up though - how do you feel about it?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I do not believe that is fair

So maybe you all heard that Game with Fame with Paramore is happening tonight. Maybe you also heard that they would be playing the new, unreleased Left 4 Dead DLC.

Lynsey and I certainly heard.

Convinced that the new map would be released this morning we happily signed on to XBox Live only to find . . . the DLC was still unreleased. We now know that it's coming September 29th.. That means Paramore gets to play the new DLC before us.

We are not pleased.

Oh, and do you all remember Lynsey's ridiculously nerdy dream a few posts down? Well, now I feel compelled to share this little glimpse into my brain. Perhaps nerdy dreams shall become a regular occurrence here. . . anyway, so I dreamt that my sister and I were trapped in Arkham Asylum (wait, it gets better) and were tying to avoid Scarecrow's gaze. Batman was using some sort of (bat) jet-pack to fly around and then the floor was electrified by Data from Star Trek who had gone rogue.

Yuuuuuuup.

I'm so awesome

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WET Is All Dried Up

Dear Gameinformer,

As an avid reader of your magazine and website I find myself pondering a question that simply must be answered: what kind of wonderful new drug did you discover and indulge in that would compel you to give WET a 7.5?

When I played the demo for this game I was skeptical: the controls seemed pretty wonky and the gunplay unsatisfying but I still thought the game had style and a great soundtrack. I told myself that if Gameinformer rated the game a 7 or above I would check it out. I told myself this because I am almost always in perfect agreement with this particular company.

So yesterday around 7 PM I rented the game. This afternoon around 3 PM I took it back. I was right in the middle of a mission – not close to a savepoint, not in the middle of a boss fight – just a regular ol’ mission and I just could not take this game anymore.

If any of you reading this have played the demo then imagine playing that same exact mechanic over and over and over and over again. That’s WET. You run around, jump like a moron, and eventually end up in a room where you slowly kill several dozen people and close their spawn doors. Oh, and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. a dude with a minigun shows up and you have to shoot repeatedly at him before he starts limping away, triggering you to get close to perform a quicktime kill. You better be quick too because before very long he’s magically all better.

Practically everything I enjoyed about the demo was torn apart in this game via endless repetition (redundant?). The one song on the demo that really caught my attention – something about zombie killers of the wild west – was no where to be found. Granted, I didn’t finish this game but I did make it more than halfway through before I threw in the towel and at around 4 hours in that itself should say something.

Before I quit when I did I damn near shut the thing off within the first hour of playing it. At the conclusion of an early chapter you find yourself at Rubi’s hideaway with a new weapon and an obstacle course meant to train you in using this new weapon. I’m like, “Meh, no thanks” so I look for a door or an option to exit and continue with the main story and I can’t.

The game forces you to run through a fucking irritating as shit obstacle course every single fucking time you get a new weapon.

There are so many things wrong with the game that the few things it does right doesn’t even come close to negating it. Not only would I certainly not recommend spending your 50 bucks on it but I wouldn’t even recommend it for a weekend rental. Instead, I suggest you partake in more that aforementioned wondrous new drug, Gameinformer.

And send some of that shit my way.

Sincerely,

Cary