Thursday, July 30, 2009

First we addressed sex, now let's address race.

Since I entered into the world of Xbox Live (just a mere 4-5 months ago), there were problems with and declarations of racism in gaming. I got my console just in time for the release of "Resident Evil 5" and so, you can probably guess where I'm headed here.

Reviews stacked upon reviews of RE5 could not seem to help but mention the fact that "omg ur killin' black ppl" and, wow, that got annoying. I think, maybe, some people are unaware of what racism actually is, and maybe, just maybe, we're a little too sensitive. Because of this, Capcom went back and added in people of all colors you could kill. Diversity in killing is always important, I say. Nevermind that I was killing Latin-Americans in Africa.

Now we have some new controversy to look forward to with the release of "Left 4 Dead 2." Come on, does this really surprise anybody?

Let me just throw out some facts and stats for you first: Left 4 Dead 2 takes place in Louisiana. As of 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau claimed that 65.1% of the popular in Louisiana was white, and 31.9% of the population was black. They also claimed that the United States population, overall, was 80.0% white and 12.8% black. (I just thought you should KNOW that before I go into this.)

A writer for the Houston Chronicle, in describing the game said "players will have to fight their way through hordes of zombies - with several of them who appear to be African-Americans." OMG, REALLY?! BLACK people in Louisiana? Not that they make up nearly a third of the state's population or anything. Sorry, but, if an undead person is coming at me with the vacant, determined stare, they're shot. Was he black? He was trying to eat my brains!

Let's not forget that two (out of the four) protagonist's in Left 4 Dead 2 are black, as was one of the two protagonist's of Resident Evil 5.

Another completely empty and devoid of any proof argument is in regards to location, claiming that Valve should have just left the poor state of Louisiana alone because it was too near to the disaster of Katrina to launch such a game. Well, I have to tell you, Fallout 3's DLC "Point Lookout" is meant to be loosely based on a place in the same county I was born and raised and I could be quite offended that the DLC has mutated rednecks and insane cult members. I could claim that Bethesda Softworks was displaying that area to be solely consisting of those types of people... but I'm not fucking stupid. With the likes of Bethesda, and now with Valve, I'd be privileged to have a game based in/on the area I live. Mutated rednecks or not.

(sources: GameInformer, Houston Chronicle, U.S. Census Bureau)

Monday, July 27, 2009

No, you're mistaken. I'm actually a 10-year-old boy.

The other evening whilst talking to a certain handsome gentleman in my life we got to talking about video games. Yeah, shocking huh? Sometimes I actually do wonder if I ever talk about anything else but then I wouldn’t be nearly as awesome as I am. Anyway, we’re both big fans of Left 4 Dead and I was telling him about this awesome experience I had playing versus mode the other night: my team and I, who started out as the survivors, were committed to staying tight and moving fast. Every time one of us got in trouble, another was there to help them out. We crowned the witch and took down their tanks with no problem and on the flip side we ripped them to shreds when it was time for us to play infected. The only downside . . . was me.

My team was very, very vocal (which you pretty much need to for a successful Left 4 Dead match) but it never ceases to surprise me at how quickly I get nervous when I hear, “Hey, Rosenrot, you there?”.

Nervous, anxious, uncomfortable - any verb will do.

The point is, I never initiate conversation with people I don’t know on Xbox Live. Ever.

Nothing sucks the fun out of my good time than the inevitable, “Whoa, are you really a girl?!” or the countless other things I’ve been called or have been said about me which I won’t repeat here. You would think that this idea of “no girls play games” would cause male gamers to be nice and helpful to encourage them to come back but this is generally not my experience nor the experience of my female friends. I mean, I can understand maybe the initial surprise but not the harassing comments that tend to follow.

For you guys out there reading this let me ask you this question: why do you think this happens? Are guys nervous? Threatened? Showing off to one another? I will point out here that very, very seldom will a solitary man catcall a woman in public but that groups of men seem to not be able to help themselves. Is this the same thing?

Let me know!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

If we run out of bullets - they're gonna wish we hadn't.

So here’s a bit of ridiculousness I’ve been meaning to comment on: the “boycott” of Left 4 Dead 2.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I was stunned when developer Valve announced at E3 that they were releasing a sequel to Left 4 Dead less than a year after the original game’s release. Valve is not really known for being a speedy developer. With the original Team Fortress coming out in 1996, they didn’t release the sequel until 2007 – 11 years later. With Half Life and Half Life 2 having 6 years between them as well, people have come to expect that Value will take their sweet, sweet time releasing new games but the end result always negates the wait.

So yes, it’s a little surprising that Left 4 Dead 2 is coming out so soon but, honestly, I was thrilled. Like, jumping up and down thrilled. It’s more Left 4 Dead! How awesome is that?!

Well, apparently, not everyone thinks it’s awesome. In fact, as of today, 40,070 people have joined the “official boycott Left 4 Dead 2” community.

On Steam.

I’ll ignore the irony.

Apparently, these people feel as though Left 4 Dead isn’t done and that Valve should first properly update it before abandoning it for a sequel. People were expecting years – or at least a good while - of Team Fortress 2 style updates before the announcement of a sequel. They believe that such an early release will end the playing of Left 4 Dead as everyone just moves on to the sequel, making the original game useless. To sum it up? They feel as though Value is ripping them off.

Here’s my issue: none of these people has played the game.

I find it incredibly annoying that people are boycotting a game they haven’t gotten their hands on and, accordingly, have no earthly idea how different it is from the original game. I mean, let’s give credit where credit is due: Value is an awesome developer. They always produce quality products – which they continue to support – at fair prices; they’ve even released DLC for free as with the Left 4 Dead Survivor pack. Founded by independently wealthy, ex-Microsoft employees, this is a company that loves what they do and are staffed with people who are not driven by money but by passion. They have consistently proven this time and time again over the years. My question is, why would this time be any damn different?

As for Value and players abandoning the original game for the sequel? I have full confidence that they will continue to support and update it despite the release of the second game. Also? I’m sure, no matter how good the sequel is, I’ll miss running through cornfields with Bill, Louis, and Zoey. Yeah, I always play Francis. He’s the man.

In sort, I have no problem paying more money for more Left 4 Dead. Not at all. I do have a problem with people thinking that this company owes them something. They have and will continue to give you great games. They don’t owe you shit.

Basically, these people need to quit their bitching and swallow their pride. I’m positive I will see at least half of them – if not closer to 100% of them – at their local Gamestop within weeks of Left 4 Dead 2’s release.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Action figure, schmaction figure. GIVE ME NIGHT VISION GOGGLES!

You know how video games like to release special editions when they first come out, to really entice you to buy the game and also pay just a tiny bit more so you can get a cool little (and in the case of the RE5 collector's edition I do mean "little") action figure and maybe a booklet from the makers...? Yeah, you know all about that. Well, Infinity Ward says "Take THIS, previously-awesome-but-no-longer-worthy collector's editions of the 2,000-and-late! We're gonna call OURS a 'Prestige' edition AND give people fully-functional night vision goggles!"

Seriously, take a look. Would this hair lie to you?

This begs the question: DO I NEED THIS?! The answer: Absolutely, I do. Now, "can I afford this?" ... completely different question with a completely different answer.

OH, and they're also coming out with a "Hardened" (*snicker*) edition, but it doesn't have night goggles so it might as well not exist.

This post can really be summed up by one enthusiastic person's comment on the YouTube video above: "awsome465: dude NIGHT VISION GOGGLES!!!" Indeed, awsome465. Indeed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In space, everyone can hear Cary scream.

Today, after taking a rather long break from it, I finally finished Dead Space.

Now, I am a big fan of the survival horror genre which is somewhat strange considering I scare very easily. Perhaps it’s all the years of playing said games that has made me jumpy . . . or the massive coffee addiction . . . but whatever the case, I can’t stop myself from coming back for more. I was eager to check out Dead Space when it came out last year but never got around to it and when I finally popped it in about a month ago I was scared so badly by it that I willingly got sidetracked. At last though, I have escaped the USG Ishimura and now must yell it from the mountaintops that this is one freaking fantastic horror game.

In her review of Bioshock, Lynsey mentioned how rare it was when a video game has breathtaking graphics, a great story and terrific voice acting and what a shame it was that these three don’t come together more often. Well, I feel as though Bioshock has a spouse in this regard.

From the moment you arrive on the Ishimura you forget that you’re playing a video game. The environment is so immersive and captivating – perfect for a horror game. In fact, one of my first memories of the game was venturing out into a vacuum - in open space - and gaping at the sight of the stars, the planets, and the little glittering drops of blood floating around. I was so lost at the sight of it that Isaac (the protagonist) started suffocating because his air can was running out.

The visuals in this game are nothing sort of phenomenal. From the ship itself to the horrifying monsters to the virtual interface you use throughout your adventure – it’s all seamless. In fact, I was about halfway through the game before I realized that the visual of the door unlocking before you enter a new room was actually the load screen. Nothing at all seems out of place with this game.

If anything is more impressive than the graphics in the game it’s the sound. It’s amazing how the sound of something suddenly getting knocked over and hitting the floor in an otherwise quiet room can scare the ever-loving shit out of you. Out of all the memorable moments in this game my hands-down favorite came in chapter 10 when shortly after disembarking from the tram I walked into the large, open crew quarters and heard someone singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star off in the distance. I never did find who it was but . . . guh, it was such an amazing, creepy moment.

If I have one gripe with the game it’s the unfolding of the plot. It basically goes like this: “Isaac, can you hear me? I need you to fix this.” *30 minutes later* “Great! But now this thingy is broken now and you need to fix it.” Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It can feel very tedious at times.

This is hardly enough reason for any fan of horror games to ignore this title and seeing as how this review is about a year late, I doubt many have. But in the off chance you are still thinking about this title, hopefully this will give you the last little push you need.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Biosh... I can't even say it.

Good news. Bioshock 2 has been pushed back into "fiscal year 2010" ... yeah, that "good news" bit, that was sarcasm.

Take Two, the makers of Bioshock, is claiming it's in order to "
provide additional development time" but they go on and on about the gaming market and other things I really don't comprehend all-too well. And I never really like when a company cites money-related reasons for holding back a game, especially when they say they "believe the result will be a more compelling consumer experience and a better performing product in the marketplace." Sooooo, you think you'll make more money next year? No? 'Cause that's what I'm hearing.

As an aside, doesn't it feel like game developers could be compared to the likes of movie theatres and gas stations in the way that they can randomly up their price (in the case of video games: randomly push back a game's due date) and the consumer has absolutely no choice but to accept it?

Okay, Take Two. We're waiting. We will continue to wait, along with the others who were promised Batman: Arkham Asylum at the end of June. Not that that's your fault... it just doesn't make this situation easier for us wee gamers.

Oh, and Valve: I clutch to you in my time of need. I have faith, and if you push back Left 4 Dead 2, I cannot be held responsible for my actions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Games Without Big Fucking Guns Are Bullshit

Tonight, Penn and Teller took on the issue of video game violence in their Showtime series, “Bullshit!”. Now, admittedly, I love these guys and as a result I’m a tad biased to begin with but this episode made so many potent points (alliteration, FTW!) that I just can’t help myself.

As Lynsey mentioned in our introductory post, I am currently pursing my Master’s degree in Applied Sociology with my concentration being in sex, gender, and media. Yup, I’m a not just a girl gamer, I’m a sociologist girl gamer. Which basically means I’m no fun at parties . . . or I’m the life of the party, depending on how nerdy you are.

Regardless, nothing gets me fired up faster then people who spew “facts” about the media and its affect on contemporary society without taking time to do some research beforehand. No, watching Nancy Grace does not count.

It seems like video games are the scapegoat du jour these days. For a while it was Marilyn Manson but nowadays it seems as though every time some horrible act of violence involving teenagers occurs we blame video games – and why not? It’s easy. People like Jack Tompson - who was in tonight’s episode - espouse that games like Grand Theft Auto are “the worst assault on children since polio” and claim that countless, scientific studies prove his theory. Remember what I said in my previous post about girl gamers? That bit about the majority of statistics being made up or manipulated to reflect a certain agenda? Yeah.

The fact is . . . there are no facts. There is no conclusive evidence that suggests video games act as a catalyst to violent behavior. As one woman in tonight’s episode said, sure, school shooter "John Doe" may have an Xbox 360 in his home but he may also have toothpaste and Twinkies. Just because someone plays games doesn’t mean it’s the cause of their violence.

Yet everyone likes to point the finger. Another man featured in tonight’s episode apparently walked around E3 this year with a flyer he made warning people of the dangers of FPS games. He believes that if you play hours of Call of Duty and Gears of War you will become so desensitized to violence that you can walk into your nearest library/school/whatever, gun down everyone there, and not feel a thing.

Desensitization seems to be the primary concern on this issue. This argument truly astounds me. Do the people of this country really think that our youth don’t know the difference between reality and fantasy? Like . . . really? If that’s true, why aren’t people blaming violent books or movies with the same passion? The fact that people truly think that video games and video games alone can cause people to go on homicidal rampages just boggles my mind. If that were the case most of you reading this would probably be dead right now. Or in jail.

There were a couple more key moments in tonight’s episode that I want to point out before this entry rambles on for too much longer. One, that guy who walked around E3 talking about how first-person shooters are terrible and making our children violent, is an avid gun collector himself - and I do mean avid. He’s got guns to take down raptors and he’s proud of it. Loves it. And you know what? That’s fine. Just don’t turn around and say that fake guns are evil and real guns are awesome. I find that argument most illogical.

Penn also made a fantastic – fantastic – point about acceptable violence in contemporary society. Violent video games have such a stigma attached to them and yet over 600 people have died as a result of football related injuries. Society wholly endorses a real life violent sport that causes real injuries – even death – but it’s fantasy violence that gets the bad rap.

The final issue I want to mention dealt with a nine-year-old boy who professes his favorite games to be Call of Duty and violent games like it. As an experiment, Penn and Teller took this kid to a gun range and, under the wing of a veteran recently returned from Iraq, and let him fire off one round from a rifle. The idea is that if playing violent games truly triggers violent behavior then this kid should, at the very least, have fun shooting the real gun. So what happened? The kid shot once and stopped. When asked if he wanted to shoot again he said “no”. Then he started crying.

Yeah. Video games will turn you into a cold-blooded killer.

But you all probably know all this already. Let’s just help spread the word. Grab your friends and go kill some zombies in the name of peace and love.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Saints Row 2

I have a suggestion for you (us), Cary.

I've been thinking about it out... (and I'm going to pretend it's certainly not because Neil Patrick Harris voices DJ Veteran Child in the game) and after reading GameInformer's review, I'm even more intrigued.

The game gets an 8.75/10 (with an 8.5/10 second opinion) and if that doesn't entice you, maybe this will:

While – both graphically and in gameplay – Saints Row feels behind the standards set by GTA IV, it has an ace up its sleeve in the online arena: true online co-op. And it works. Going through the main story mode with a friend is a hoot, plain and simple [...] (review)

Used, this game runs about $34.99 and since I won't have steady access to Xbox Live until September, I'm in no rush. GTA IV is something you love, Cary, and the co-op in this... with us... would create many more hilarious stories. Come on, I know you're thinking about that time I jumped across the bridge in RE5 when that truck driver was coming at me and I realized my rifle wasn't equipped, and I turned to you, trying desperately to jump to the other side shouting "It's not equipped, it's not equipped!" You want more of those.

Anybody have anything to say, one way or the other, about Saints Row 2?

SIDENOTE: I will be on Xbox Live (on and off) between July 10th and July 13th. Cary and I will be playing Left 4 Dead, and I'm not sure what else. Maybe another game I could convince you to get is Castle Crashers, Cary. Kendall and I will certainly be playing that this weekend.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You have to wonder about the state of her shower drain.

A few weeks ago I realized that I was in a bit of a gaming conundrum. There is a game set to release in a few months that has caught my attention on two fronts: one for its gameplay and presentation and the other for its female protagonist - a centuries-old witch thrust into modern times who simultaneously battles forces from her past. The problem? The abovementioned heroine wears a suit made of her own bewitched hair and every time she casts a spell said hair disappears from her body. Yeeeah.

Enter Bayonetta:

When I saw the initial trailer for this game all the anticipation I felt toward it vanished. You can view that trailer here and judge for yourself but I’ll never forget the way I felt when it hit 30 seconds in; I truly felt dirty watching it. Try as I might though, I’m still curious about this game. I have heard that the extreme nature of the gameplay shouldn’t make one disregard it as the game flows extraordinarily well and this video of all of Bayonetta’s combos helped pique my interest again. Though, honestly, I’m still pretty uneasy about it. It continues to amaze me as to how much we rely on sexuality – mainly female sexuality – to sell products. Could Bayonetta not have been just as effective, strong, and enticing of a character with all her clothes on?

I suppose I’ll see once the game is released but as it stands, I’m more skeptical about it than I am positive. Hopefully, Bayonetta’s personality will reveal itself to be something with a bit more substance than her choice of attire but I have a feeling she’ll go down in video game history as that sexy-naked-hair-chick.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

On the line

Look to the right. See the gamercards? I guess we should point out who is who. (I know the names are directly above each, but not everyone may notice.)

Cary = Rosenrot1791
Lynsey = pbvalla

I'd also like to say that we would both love if you contacted and/or added us on Xbox Live and we enjoy playing co-op with fun, non-abusive people.

DISCLAIMER: Currently I, Lynsey, am without the means to partake in co-op. I'm living with a relative until mid-August and you may see me online before then. But I don't expect to be fully back into the world of Xbox Live until the beginning of September.

And because you all must be dying to know, my current gamerscore is actually 3740... or maybe it's 3750. Either way, it's gone up. Although my reputation hasn't. I had a bit of the fourth star filled out until Cary and I played Left 4 Dead Versus and we booted a guy (Cary initiated the vote!) who was going off on his own... and then he singled me out with an angry voice message in Japanese and suddenly I was back to 3 stars. I couldn't make this stuff up.

DISCLAIMER 2: Cary is an overachiever.

Monday, July 6, 2009

He'll be an angel soon.

Cary recently posted a blog proclaiming that Silent Hill 2 is a "game that [she] consider[s] to be the greatest video game of all time" so I guess it's my turn to share. And this is not the easiest declaration to make with all the choices out there, but I think it boils down to what a video game says to a person, specifically. It's all about timing.

So let's talk Bioshock.

When this game was first being reviewed, Andrew Reiner (of Game Informer) gave Bioshock an emphatic 10/10 and summed up the game better than I ever could: "ingenious, enthralling, and a masterpiece of the most epic proportions."

I went into this game knowing about its rave reviews but, honestly, I had no idea what to expect. Needless to say, from the very beginning, as soon as I found myself swimming through fire-drenched water as I watched the plane in which I had just been sinking right before my eyes, I knew this game was going to be a whole new experience for me.

Throughout the game your senses are constantly bombarded. Walking through a tunnel surrounded by water, enjoying the gorgeous view, you suddenly see something fast approaching and before you can make out what it is, a large piece of the aforementioned airplane comes crashing into the tunnel and a large flow of water comes coursing your way. Voices can be heard from all around, someone singing an eerie hymn or maybe an enemy Splicer telling you: "I'll wrap you in a sheet!" And if it ever gets quiet, there are audio diaries along the way so don't think this game is going to let up, because it doesn't and, deep down, you don't really want it to.

Same goes for plot. I won't give anything away but just know that the world can be quite tricky and people are not always what they seem. Or are they?

I think Cary's got the right idea. This game isn't perfect. Is any game perfect? The ability for this game to envelope you is remarkable and you truly become part of the story, which is the part of the game that truly captivates. I think this goes to show that you can have great game mechanics and awesome graphics (which, seriously, Bioshock has) but the story is what people remember.

Bioshock 2 is set for a November 3, 2009 release date and I can't imagine the follow-up will be a disappointment. So, if Bioshock is new to you, would you kindly head to your nearest video game store and pick up the first game of the series before November?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Playing like a Girl

Why is it that women don’t play video games? Is it because most genres don’t appeal to them? Is it because women would generally rather hang out with friends in person than sit in front of their televisions or computer monitors? Is it because women are naturally less skilled at video games? Do they have less developed “twitch” responses? It doesn’t really matter what you personally believe as the fact remains that women are continuously seen as a minority in the gaming world – and a large minority at that. The statistics vary: 20% of women own gaming consoles, 50% of players in MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft are women, women represent 38% of the gaming market, women represent 12% of the video game industry.


42.7/49/98 percent of statistics are made up on the spot and/or manipulated to better reflect a particular agenda.

Truth is, I don’t think there is a way to truly know how many women out there play video games on a regular basis. All I know is that there is a very strong assumption that the number is very low and normally confined to specific games and consoles. Or, that women only play games to make their boyfriends/husbands/partners happy. If you need more examples of this, go ahead and type “girl gamer” in Google Images and see what you get.

To share recent anecdote with you, I currently work part-time at a cafĂ©. During a slow period, I got to talking with a co-worker of mine about a game I had recently started playing: Dead Space. Now, I’m a big fan of survival horror games and, accordingly, am no stranger to the genre. My co-worker on the other hand was not a horror enthusiast – he prefers sport and war related games. So as I try to convince him to give Dead Space a chance this customer starts laughing, looks and me and says, “I can’t believe I’m hearing a girl talk about Dead Space!”. I looked at him, not really sure of what to say, and just smiled and laughed back. On his way out, he turned back to me and said, “if you think Dead Space is scary, you should try playing F.E.A.R. Now that’s a scary game!” There was something about the tone of his voice that didn’t sit well with me. It was as if he was assuming that my playing such a game must have been a fluke. Quickly, I said back to him, “yeah, I’ve given F.E.A.R a shot but I’m not a big fan of the game mechanics. I recently finished Condemned 2 though and that it was pretty enjoyable.” He laughed again and walked out.

Now, I could have been reacting too sensitively but when every time you mention that you play video games you’re met with shock and skepticism, it wears on you.

Here’s a news flash: most women do not need specific games geared toward them. We don’t all want to play Cooking Mama or Katamari. Some of us do, and that’s perfectly fine, but just like men we want options. What we need is to not see women objectified so blatantly in video games. Don’t make the only female characters in your games stupid or overtly sexual or whose sole duty is to remain captured while awaiting rescue. Valve Studios continues to set fantastic examples with characters like Zoey from Left 4 Dead and Alex Vance from Half Life 2 who wear flat shoes, plain hair, and play key roles in their respective stories. This isn't to say that female characters should be forbidden from expressing themselves sexually, I just feel that some balance is needed.

Most of all though, stop simply assuming that we have no interest in strategy, sport, horror, racing, adventure, or action games. When it comes to gaming I think many women are perfectly capable of being “just one of the guys”. Our thumbs work just as well as theirs.

Friday, July 3, 2009

In my restless dreams, I see that town.

Video games are entertaining. We know this. They’re fun, immersive, mesmerizing and, at times, controversial methods by which thousands of people choose to lose themselves for varying periods of time. However, one quality of video games that has always meant a lot to me is their nostalgic value. In the same way that music, movies, and books can lure you back to years past, video games can very much do the same. Accordingly, as I found myself in somewhat of a slump yesterday I was filled with the desire to play a game from my younger days – a game that I consider to be the greatest video game of all time: Silent Hill 2.

Now, Silent Hill 2 is not a perfect game: it has tank controls, backtracking and truly ridiculous voice acting but, to me, it is the greatest game of all time. Silent Hill 2 was the first time I became truly aware of video games and what they were capable of. For the first time, it wasn’t the gameplay or the graphics that trapped me inside a digital world but the story.

James Sunderland receives a letter from his wife, Mary, telling him that she’s waiting for him in their “special place”, Silent Hill. Only thing is, Mary died three years prior. Having no idea what he’s going to find, James sets out for the eponymous town and uncovers terror in the foggy streets: living mannequins with two sets of legs, deformed nurses, people wearing straightjackets made of their own skin and a makeshift butcher wearing a pyramid-shaped helmet who stalks James everywhere he goes, dragging his giant knife behind him. As he fends off these abominations James comes to realize the truth about Silent Hill and the fate of his beloved wife.

This story - its unfolding - has never been topped for me nor do I think it ever will but, thankfully, I don't need to wait another Silent Hill 2 to be developed as the game was given a port to the Xbox complete with a new sub-mission that enables me to play it whenever I feel a yearning for the quiet chaos of that town.

However, it’s been a long time since the series was really good and though I would love to see it return to its former glory, I remain very skeptical about the forthcoming Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Still, I can’t help but cross my fingers that this new installment will breathe new life into the series by, hopefully, returning it to its roots. Until then, you can find me in the Grand Hotel, across Toluca Lake. Check the front desk for a key.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

You're not going to like "Down Boy Down"...

We're all familiar with the Call of Duty series, right? Maybe? I wasn't, until this week. I mean, let me back up there, I KNEW what CoD was all about but I never felt a huge urge to pick it up and try it. But what can I say? I listen to reviews and I give into peer pressure. Apparently.

As of now, I'm a few hours into the game and the further I get, the more I enjoy my gameplay. By the time I got to "All Ghillied Up" I was wondering where this game had been all my life. At least, I was wondering why I hadn't bought it back in March when I first got my Xbox 360.

If you find yourself numbly going along at the beginning, power through it, because I know it's easy to get annoyed by the time you get to the mission with the AC-130 gunship... oh man. I've never been so aware of a church's presence in my life. Not that it was difficult, per se, but you shoot that church once and you have to restart. Hopefully if you do accidentally shoot the church, you weren't too far into that mission.

The moment where CoD4 truly captured my undivided attention, though, was directly after you save a pilot from a crashed helicopter. I don't want to give it away, but I will say it was epic. No other word for it.

Now all I can think about is the fact that I'm on mission 17 out of 22 and I'm not ready for this game to end. Luckily for me, Modern Warfare 2 isn't too far behind, as it is slated for a November 2009 release.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't eat the punga fruit. Wait . . . nevermind. Eat it. Now.

So it’s no secret that I love Fallout 3.

Well, maybe to you it is, but let it stay a secret no longer.

I love Fallout 3. Over 90 hours worth of love to be exact.

Naturally, I was very excited to learn that Bethesda Studios had not only one but two more add-ons to the game following the previously released Broken Steel, The Pitt, and Operation Anchorage. Just as I adored the original game, I also loved all the downloadable content packs. Well . . . Operation Anchorage not so much but I did get a sweet stealth outfit of it that better enables me to stick live grenades down the pants of super mutants. But I digress.

Simply put, Point Lookout is amazing. We find that post-apocalyptic Point Lookout, Maryland has taken on all the classic elements of the South like fiddle music, moonshine, swamplands and, of course, incestuous, rabid hillbillies. During the time you spend in Point Lookout you’ll encounter mysterious old men, devious yet oddly charming ghouls, Evangelicals, and cult members who worship the indigenous punga fruit. I found myself enthralled with every quest but especially the ones dealing with the abovementioned cult members; the process by which you are initiated into the cult remains one of the best scenes in the entire game.

If you have Fallout 3 and are thinking about checking out this content pack: do it. Right now. You can book passage on the ferry to Point Lookout as soon as you exit the Vault, long before you finish the main quest. Download it. The dog can eat later.

This expansion has given me plenty to play around with before the release of the next Fallout 3 downloadable content: Mothership Zeta, due in late July.

I Marvel at the thought. Yeah, I went there.

I'm a big comic book fan. Collected them growing up and had a distinct loyalty to all things Marvel. (Except Batman because, honestly, who doesn't like Batman?) Of course, Wolverine was my favorite character. Needless to say, on May 1st, 2009, I was at GameStop at 10am picking up my reserved copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and headed up to the nearest mall to see the movie. Let's, uh, let's just focus on the game, shall we?

Raven Software did a brilliant job. The game was getting hype all the way up to its release as being a video game based on a movie that wasn't actually a huge pile of crap. And after I played it (for about 4 solid hours) I think I called Cary and said three little words, "DOWNLOAD THE DEMO." Actually, it may have been four words, but I'm just going to ignore the likely expletive that I probably said. I mean, Game Informer's review of the game gave it an 8/10 with a second opinion of 9/10 -- do you need any more flashing lights before you head to Game Marketplace?

After I finished the game I was asked, "So are you going to get 'Marvel: Ultimate Alliance' now?" I think I laughed. But now... "Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2" rears its head and I can't help but pontificate. Let's compare, shall we?

The Hulk from M:UA(1)

The Hulk from M:UA2

There are definitely enough differences (seemingly, good) to make my head turn. But is it enough to make me buy it when it's released? That certainly remains to be seen. It's set for a Fall 2009 release and with Bioshock 2, Dante's Inferno, PES 2010, and Left 4 Dead 2 set for Fall 2009 release dates, this one may just get shoved under the rug.

But what's important is that this post has reminded me of something: Cary. Download the fucking demo. The expletive can no longer be ignored, and neither can Wolverine.

Panties still on? Good.

Here's the idea.

The gaming world is a busy, busy world, full of lots of different people from lots of different places. Up to this point, this world has been largely represented by men. But if you're a regular reader of's Gamer Spotlight, you'll know there's a lot of girls out there, too. (And, no, I do NOT own a Wii. No offense to those who do.)

So here's an introduction and I will be speaking on Cary's behalf because, well, I can.

CARY: 20-something student pursuing her Master's degree in Applied Sociology. She claims her top 5 Xbox games to be Fallout 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Bioshock, Left 4 Dead, and The Orange Box.

LYNSEY: 20-something student pursuing her Master's degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. She claims her top 5 Xbox games to be Bioshock, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Left 4 Dead, Gears of War 2, and Resident Evil 5.

Obviously, we share similar interests, but also... not so much.

This blog is a place where we can chat about gaming. All aspects. We also fully intend to begin a podcast (when the time becomes available) to do the same thing this blog intends to do: speak on behalf of women in this world mostly composed of men. This is not about man-bashing, this is simply about bringing a new view to the table.

If you don't like what we say, feel free to leave and/or ignore us, but if you start a flame-war, be advised that Cary has some pipe bombs and she loooooves to use 'em.

Keep Your Panties On

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