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 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?