Monday, December 27, 2010

PLAG End of the Year Round-Up

So it's been forever and a day, but Lynsey and I have just wrapped up another podcast detailing our selections for the best and the worst games of 2010. Listen below or check us out on iTunes!

Also, we bought our tickets to PAX East tonight - are you going?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Issac . . . Where Are You Going?

So I just got my first taste of Sprawl.

The “Dead Space 2” demo has been released on Xbox Live and after closing the curtains, shutting off the lights and strapping on an adult diaper I summoned up my courage and dove in.

Oh man – let me tell you what.

The first thing I noticed about the controls were that they were exactly the same as the first game. Not that I expected them to be any different but it was really nice sliding right back into that control scheme. Anything that can help give you a sense of control in the world of “Dead Space” is a big bonus. There were some slight visual changes such as the electronic “bread crumbs” taking on a more curvy appearance in lieu of a rigid line and, of course, changes to Isaac’s RIG.

The second thing I noticed was how much more responsive the melee attacks were. In the previous game, Isaac’s punch and leg stomp seemed really sluggish and not very satisfying. That is not the case in “Dead Space 2” - the attacks are violent and precise with brutal results. Enemies even drop items now after you stomp on them, not after simply dying.

My favorite new gun is by far the spear gun that impales enemies and sends them sticking to a concrete surface behind them. It works seamlessly and can even aid in setting up traps. For instance, I had a lot of fun pinning those Necomorphs with the exploding arm sacks to the wall and then blowing them up as others approached.

Very, very, very satisfying.

The new levitation mechanic is crazy fun and very simple to use. By clicking the left stick you can easily push Isaac upwards, steer him with the right stick and then gently bring him back down with another click of the left. That is going to be great fun to use although I suspect it will get me lost more than a few times.

But what of the big question: is “Dead Space 2” scary?

Well folks, if I could share my sweaty palms and sore throat with you I would but go ahead and download the demo for yourself. Just . . . put a towel under you. The only thing that bothered me was that every time I got frightened in the game it was the result of a jump scare. However, it is only a demo and hopefully the atmosphere of the actual game will be more varied.

Regardless, I'm excited.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cut Off The Limbs, Lara!

Okay people, first and foremost: I promise this blog is still alive. Things have just been very, very busy for Lynsey and me these last few months but there will most certainly be an effort to update more in the near future. Please know that even though we may not always respond we very much appreciate every comment and reader we get.

Truly <3

Now, on to business.

There were two pieces of news that came out today that are definitely worth mentioning. First were two new videos posted by GameInformer showing new footage from the upcoming, "Dead Space 2". The first (and most interesting) shows the game's art developer, Ian Milham, explaining some footage from the multiplayer which I admit I was really indifferent toward and now, having seen it I'm . . . well, I'm still pretty apathetic. The original "Dead Space" was so intensely effective largely due to the overwhelming sense of isolation; I'm still really not sure what the purpose of "Dead Space" multiplayer is and I can't help but notice the pretty glaring similarities to "Left 4 Dead 2". I'm certainly not saying I won't give it a shot but I really just don't understand the appeal.

The second video is more footage of the Milham explaining what players can expect in terms of scares in the sequel. It's nothing we haven't heard before - less cheap, jump scares and more atmosphere - but it's still exciting to watch.

For me though, the biggest surprise today came from Crystal Dynamics and the surprise announcement of a re-boot to the Tomb Raider series:

Despite the series hit-or-miss history, I've always had a soft spot for Ms. Croft and considered "Tomb Raider: Underworld" to be the most overlooked game of last year. This re-boot of the series which promises a young and experienced Lara as she struggles to develop her sense of adventure - and self - has me really, really excited.

It may also seem like a superficial thing - mainly because it is - but this cover also has me more hopeful for a more realistic, gritty Lara. It's silly but I'm honestly dying to see a muscle flex in her arm as she pulls herself up a rock face.

That, and less jiggle-action.

I suppose time will tell.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Welcome a new member to the family

Finally having finished a large chunk of homework that really needed to get done, I find myself finding the time to post to you lovely folks about some exciting video game things headed my way.

First of all, can we talk about the new Dead Space 2 Lullaby gameplay trailer? Let's.

Cary and I are really, really, really excited. I mean... really excited. This is a franchise that gets more and more awesome each month, it seems like. And the dudes at Visceral are all so great (I will never forget the panel at PAX East) who really have the fans of the games in mind.

Switching to another video game topic: my Xbox is, basically, sort of, no more. The other day, Cary and I were watching a video on it, the picture went funny (which it had done once before) so I turned it off, then turned it back on to an E74 error. Now, about a year ago, I had to take it somewhere for an overheating repair and I've decided that I'm not willing to throw another $100 into a piece of equipment with which I've already had so many issues. So I've decided it's time for...

No, you are not hallucinating. That is a PS3.

Now, let's be clear. Cary and I have never railed against the PS3. We believe it's a great system but Cary started out with an Xbox and when I got back into gaming, I wanted to play online with her. Things, since then, have changed.

I've spent a great deal of time weighing the pros and the cons of switching platforms and the pros heavily outweigh the cons. After trading in all my Xbox games and accessories, the money I'll put into a new PS3 won't be much at all. And let's talk about how Microsoft just jacked up the price of the Xbox Live Gold subscription... I can't even say how much it irritates me that you have to pay to watch Netflix (a service you already pay for, separately) on a console you've already paid for -- isn't paying for my own internet enough?

But I digress. Point being, I'm making some sacrifices in this move but another large reason for it is this blog/podcast/etc. Cary and I like the idea that we'll have two platforms on which we can game and have discussions. And if I ever want to play Left 4 Dead, I can always shark her Xbox for an hour or two... or maybe invest in it on my computer. Who knows.

This purchase, with a bit of luck and determination, will be happening tonight. So get ready. get excited. Better late than never, we'll be able to discuss Heavy Rain and other games we never thought we'd have a chance to play let along chat about on our blog. I hope this gets everyone else as excited as it has gotten me... Holy crap.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Jingle, Jangle, Jingle

With high hopes of an open, exciting world, catchy music, intriguing quests and fun combat I picked up my copy of Fallout: New Vegas day one and eagerly jumped back into the irradiated wasteland I’d missed so much.

This game had a lot to live up to and let’s just say that I wasn’t terribly optimistic when it was revealed that Obsidian Entertainment (the developers behind the ultra glitchy Alpha Protocol) would be releasing it. Still, I remained very enthusiastic and optimistic about this game.

Now, approximately 15 hours in, I want to share my thoughts so far.

Fallout: New Vegas begins in a very different way than Fallout 3. Instead of beginning your life within the safety of a vault you are instead captured and shot in the head for a platinum chip you’ve been tasked with delivering to the New Vegas strip. When you recover, you set out to find your assailants and, wouldn’t you know it, an entire complicated world soon envelops you.

Well, maybe not “soon”.

While the plot to Fallout 3 gripped me from the very beginning, I would say it was a good 8 hours – when I finally reached The Strip - before I really started to get into the groove of New Vegas. I think before I got to The Strip I’d done maybe 6 mundane quests and found a few locations but once I made it to Sin City all of a sudden I had dozens of options. So many in fact that at times it was a bit overwhelming.

Who do I work with? How will this affect my relationship with the other bigwigs in New Vegas?

There are three major factions who you have the option of allying yourself with: Mr. House, Caesar’s Legion and The New California Republic. In a massive quest called “Wildcard” you pick your side and once you’ve completed 4 quests or so for that one side you’re considered enemies of the other. Unless of course you decided to do small missions for them all but never really align yourself with one.

And that’s one of the greatest things about New Vegas: your impact on the world.

This game takes the karma system from Fallout 3 and gives it a little oomph. No longer are you just “good” or “evil” but rather feared, hated, and honored. It’s certainly a great case for re-playing the game since you will literally get locked out of certain quests once you declare your allegiance.

Now, for the only bad remarks I have which all goes back to my initial concern with Obsidian taking this project over: Fallout: New Vegas is glitchy as hell.

In the first few hours I fell through the world, had my gun repeatedly pull itself out of its holster, had VATS target objects instead of enemies and several lock-ups. It was never enough to make me want to stop playing but it was certainly bad enough to irritate me at times. I feel that had this game been delayed it could have been noticeably more smooth.

There has however already been a patch for the 360 and the game does seem to be performing better. Or I could just be getting used to it.

Either way, I am very much enjoying my time in New Vegas and hope you all are too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All Good Things Don't Always Flow Into The City

Yesterday I received an automated call from Gamestop telling me that because I'd pre-ordered "Dead Space 2" I could stop in and pick up a code which would entitle me to a free download of a new arcade game called, "Dead Space: Ignition".

The mini-game based, comic book style DLC is meant to bridge the gap between "Dead Space" and "Dead Space 2" specifically by showing how the Necromorphs ended up in Sprawl.

Sounds really interesting.

Too bad the only way I'll find out about it is to read the story on-line.

You see, after sitting through the first poorly animated panel I was presented with a mini-game which consisted of me attempting to maneuver a red beam of light through a panel of obstacles faster than the blue beams of light trying to get ahead of me:

Not exactly as fun as strategically dismembering a Slasher with a line gun now, is it?

After failing the race twice, I said, "Nope. Dumb" and exited out to the dashboard.

It's really a shame that a neat idea like this had to be ruined with such an ill-thought out, elementary design. No one wants to sit through irritating mini-games but especially not those who are attempting to play it to feed their excitement for what's bound to be an incredible and exciting release come early next year.

Hurry up and get here, Isaac. I miss you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Going Out Like a BAMF

In three mere days Left 4 Dead players (ME ME ME!!) will have "The Sacrifice" - the DLC that details how the original survivors made it down South and how they lost one of their own. If you've been reading the comic (or played "The Passing") then you know which survivor will be one no longer but this DLC is still bound to be full of surprises.

In addition to both "The Sacrifice" and "No Mercy" coming with the Left 4 Dead 2 version, we'll also be getting 5 new mutations with this download. Including one where apparently in versus everyone on the infected side plays as a Tank.

I think part of me likes that - the part of me that hates life.

Anyway, for now, head on over to the official site for "The Sacrifice" and check out the new trailer!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Corsets Suck in Emergencies

Oh my God, did they ever.

This is the type of video that you watch with your mouth open - gasping and squealing with joy – until it sadly ends. Then you sit there trying to gather your thoughts and contain your euphoria until the other side of your brain finally kicks in and you remember that this game isn’t coming out until 2012.

Then the crying starts.

The only negative to this video is that it’s bound to spoil your initial reaction to the game. You’ll never be able to un-see this footage so if you’d rather experience the game as a whole, I’d suggest ignoring it. However, if you’re insatiable like me, dig right in.

You may want to put a towel under you.

Just sayin’.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Left 4 Dead Gets Graphic

Back when Valve first announced that they would be releasing a digital comic detailing the original survivors trek from the end of the Blood Harvest campaign and down to the South I wasn’t really sure if I cared. Of course, as the release date got closer I started to get more excited for new, official Left 4 Dead material and today I logged on to read the first installment of “The Sacrifice” comic.

As I should have anticipated, by the end of the first panel I was totally into it.

The art is wonderful, the colors are vibrant and the dialogue reads utterly loyal to the game.

And that dialogue is, without question, my favorite part of the comic. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed the conversations between the survivors - however slight they are - especially ones that illuminate their relationship to and dependence on one another. As Valve continues to release installments of the comic every Tuesday leading up to the release of the DLC, “The Sacrifice” I am greatly looking forward to learning more about the original survivors journey and how they all came to meet Ellis, Nick, Coach, and Rochelle.

Any and all fans of the game should really check the comic out here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Veins Are Useless

While attempting to turn Lynsey on to the wonders of Dragon Age: Origins last night I came to two realizations: one, she’s probably not going to pick it up again. Two, I could totally play that game all the way through for a fifth time. So I snatched my game back and popped it in my 360 to start up a new character and I noticed something – the new DLC entitled, “Witch Hunt” had been released. Not only that, but another DLC that I hadn’t even heard of called “The Golems of Amgarrak” had been out almost a month.

Then something else hit me.

I’ve played a shit ton of downloadable content for Dragon Age: Origins.

7 to be exact, which isn’t including the full-size expansion (which I enjoyed) “Awakening” and the above mentioned “The Golems of Amgarrak” which I have no interest in playing.

7 DLCs, 7 purchases at about 7 bucks a pop. Oh, and about 2 bucks for those feastday gifts/pranks.

When you add in the 40 bucks I spent on “Dragon Age: Awakening” and, of course, the 60 for the original game, I’m looking nearly $150 dollars on this one game. Now, I’ve also spent about 150 hours of time playing through the world of Ferelden so it’s hard for me to argue that I haven’t gotten my money’s worth but . . . I don’t know . . . something feels wrong here.

Maybe it’s because aside from “Leliana’s Song”, “The Stone Prisoner”, and “Return to Ostagar” which I really enjoyed, the other small DLCs were just . . . well, okay. Hang on, that’s not really true. “Darkspawn Chronicles” and “Witch Hunt” were pretty bad, even aggravating.

This is the first time I’ve spent so much money on downloadable content on a single game and really haven’t been that satisfied with most of it. Would I do it again? Probably not. But at the same time, I feel that because I loved the core game so much . . . I don’t know, I feel compelled to continue it?

You know . . . typing this out has made me think I have a slight issue with this game.

But I’m just gonna go ahead and blame Bioware and their microtransactions.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Save Me Some Sugar

If there is one thing Valve is good at, it’s teasing.

Oh, and making fantastic, timeless games.

But my God, they are good at teasing.

Last night, as I eagerly waited for the promised GameTrailers special which would provide not only new details on Portal 2 but information on the upcoming Left 4 Dead DLC, I finally took notice of the fact that it would be airing at 12:30 AM pacific standard time. I guess I can throw in a third thing Valve is good at: hating the east coast.

Oh, how I jest . . . . and went to sleep.

But! Here we are the next day and I’ve seen this video in all its glory and I am freakin’ excited for everything happening with Left 4 Dead. First, there’s the digital comic book – a 150 page account of not only how the original survivors made it down South but also a look into their personal back stories and, of course, and explication for how Bill met his fate. The comic book will be released on-line in four separate installments and while I’m not crazy hyped about it, the artwork does look good and I am very curious about the story.

Now, as for this upcoming DLC entitled, “The Sacrifice”: it appears from the trailer that it will actually be a downloadable campaign for Left 4 Dead 2 using the characters from the original game. The video shows the first survivors in the second game’s engine – you see not only better graphics overall but things like Francis using the M60 and silenced sub-machine gun which are only found in the second game. Did I mention you also see a charger running at them? What’s really, really interesting though is that there is also a clip of a charger attacking the original survivors during the “No Mercy” campaign which, of course, was only in the first game.

Perhaps the DLC will be coming to Left 4 Dead 2 and Left 4 Dead will be updated to import the new special infected? I suppose only time will tell but either way, I’m excited!

The video really is a great watch, not only for the Left 4 Dead news but for Portal 2 and its co-op campaign. Give it a watch and help to remind yourself why Valve is the best game developer out there. < / fangirl devotion >

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bioshock times...

Cary has taken over this site, hasn't she? Well, time for me to step in! ... Actually, Cary was the one who suggested I post about this. I'm just seizing the opportunity to post about something that Cary hasn't gotten to before me. Yeah, I went there.

Guys, GUYS! The Bioshock franchise will live long and prosper, and now we have visual proof from a debut trailer released by Irrational Games:

This has been in the works for several years, claims Irrational Games, and you can read more about the new game on Joystiq's website and find out how this game is going to blow. your. MIND.

Bioshock: Infinite isn't to be thought of as a sequel, but more of a renewed vision of the Bioshock series. Does that make sense? If you haven't watched the video yet, do it. All the elements that made Bioshock so refreshing, vibrant, and intoxicating are still there... but we're thrown into a whole new world.

What do you guys think? I was pretty clear on my views of Bioshock 2 before its release and I have to say, this is no different for me.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Follow the Signal about of Limbo. Watch out for Dragons.

Ladies and Gentleman, my nerd cup hath runneth over. There’s been three big things I wanted to take a moment to talk about but life keeps distracting me. So! I’m going to throw together a post here commenting on these three very exciting things.

First comes some new information regarding Dragon Age 2 – more specifically, the protagonist of Hawke. Now, Dragon Age: Origins came as quite the surprise to me. At current, I’ve played through the game in its entirety 4 times, exhausting every possible ending and major decision point and yet I could still pop the game in for another play through. One of the reasons why I enjoyed the game so much were the origins stories themselves: your character’s past ended up playing a huge role in how certain events played out. Not to mention, it helped give your character an additional layer of distinctiveness.

It seems that Bioware has decided to take a different route with the sequel: your character will be a male or female human named Hawke who survived the destruction of Lothering by the Dawkspawn as detailed in the first game. On top of that, Hawke will also have a voice; instead of detailed dialogue options you will select a paraphrased option which Hawke will then speak a more specific version of. If it sounds familiar it’s because you played Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2. Now, while I’m personally pretty disappointed in the lack of real origin stories I am excited for my character to have a voice.

The other news about Dragon Age 2 which has me crazy excited is that the cover story in Game Informer confirmed the return of Morrigan and Flemeth. If you’ve played Dragon Age: Origins, you understand why this is so exciting.

Second, there’s Limbo. Ah yes, Limbo. You’ve probably heard of it by now: the XBLA platformer wherein you play a young boy in search of your sister who is lost somewhere in the eerie underworld. The thing about Limbo is that unless you know the story of the game beforehand, you would have no idea of the story; there is no narrative, no cut scenes, no dialogue at all. You begin the game as a shadow of a little boy and work your way through a series of puzzles to the game’s completion. During your journey you’ll encounter horrifying creatures, devious traps and vicious other children who all want nothing more than to end your life in a surprisingly gruesome manner.

In the background of this madness is a stunningly effective black and white world – Limbo is truly a powerful example of minimalist expression. Its simplicity (there are only 2 buttons, jump and action) is its strength; it effortlessly allows you to become totally immersed in this unique world. Even the lack of story, which you think you would off-putting, is a nonissue. The only negative about the game in fact is that it will cost you $15 bucks from the Xbox Marketplace – for just over 3 hours of gameplay. It’s up to you to decide if 3 hours of entertainment is worth that much but if you’re looking for a truly exceptional experience, I’d say it definitely is.

The final thing I wanted to discuss in this post was the release of the first DLC for Alan Wake, entitled “The Signal”. This downloadable episode picks up right where the game ended, following Mr. Wake on his journey to . . . well, you’ll have to play the game to find out. In fact, there isn’t much I can say about this episode without spoiling the original game but I can say that “The Signal” may very well be the best episode of the entire game. No kidding.

Something interesting about this DLC is that like the original game it uses adaptive technology. Only, unlike the game that adjusts itself based on how well you’re doing, the difficulty in this episode gradually gets harder: you being on normal mode and as Alan moves deeper and deeper into the content things get harder, eventually pitting you against a boss on nightmare difficulty. And let me say this, the game isn’t fuckin’ around. That boss is hard. Like, controller-throwing hard.

Still, it is super satisfying when you finally get him/her/it (I’M NOT SAYING) down and the journey there is truly extraordinary. If you enjoyed Alan Wake, which you better have, you’ll unquestioningly love this addition . . . even if you do have to sit through a horrible Verizon joke.

Now I want to go replay Dragon Age: Origins, Alan Wake, and Limbo.

Being a gamer is hard.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Behold, the Monolith.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am one happy gamer.

After weeks of waiting I finally got the a call from my local Gamestop letting me know that my new Xbox 360 had finally come in. As I mentioned in my top three things from E3 this year, the new Xbox definitely had me excited and after finding out that I could trade in my old Xbox and accessories toward the purchase of the new system I quickly reserved mine. Of course, I wasn’t the only one with that idea and as a result it was weeks before it finally arrived.

It was so worth the wait.

Why you ask? Well, let me tell you:

The New Design: Obviously, this is the first thing one would notice. Gone is the clunky, white brick-like structure in favor of a slimmer, sleeker, and black design. It’s clear that the people at Microsoft wanted to take the look of the Xbox 360 in an entirely new direction and they certainly have done that; the console is beautiful. It really is. The only downside to it is that the shiny, reflective surface is pretty prone to fingerprint smudges.

The Built-In WiFi: This, is probably my favorite aspect of the new design. Gone are the days of the $100 Internet adapters attached to the back of the system. Finally, the consoles come ready for WiFi. Really, my only question is why the hell did it take so long? The PS3 has come with integrated WiFi since its inception and it’s about time the 360 caught up.

The Touch Sensitive Power Button/Disc Tray: This feature seems to have been overlooked in all the hype but it’s a really cool feature. There is something very satisfying about brushing your finger over the new silver power button, hearing an affirmative chime, and having the system turn on. The same is true of the button to open the disc tray. Now, why the Xbox 360 still has a disc tray and not a front loader still eludes me but the fact remains that this small feature is a great touch to the new, more modern design of the console.

The Harddrive: It’s 250 GB. My old harddrive was 20 GB. You can guess how I feel about this upgrade.

The Heat: Unlike the old 360 that could generate a lot heat due to the inadequate fans in the system, the new fans keep the system much cooler. I am keeping the new console flat on its side and placing my hand on the top of it, I can feel a slight heat but nothing really noticeable. What’s really nice though is that the back of the system actually expels cool air. Again, it seems like a basic functionality and yet it was noticeably absent from the previous model.

The Noise: Remember dial-up Internet? It was fast, it was reliable, it was awesome. That is, until broadband arrived. Once that happened, many of us (if not all of us) realized that we would rather go without Internet access than to have to deal with dial-up. It’s the same with the lack of noise generated from the new Xbox 360. I never really realized how damned loud the older design was until I turned the new one on. Typing this now, I can only just hear a very faint humming emitting from it. This is certainly going to be nice for game immersion and Netflix viewing.

If you've just gotten yourself a new XBox 360, I can't honestly say if the new features are worth the purchase of another new system but if you've got an older console (perhaps one that's already gotten the RROD) and are keen on trading the new system in, I say go for it. I am certainly in love with mine.

Monday, June 28, 2010

No hard feelings, GLADos.

This game is going to blow my mind.

And maybe break it.

Seriously, how amazing are the physics in this game? Damn.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Get off my Lawn, Natal. You too, Move.

There seems to be a lot of talk these days about the future of gaming, namely, the emphasis on motion control. Following the fantastic success of the Wii, I suppose we all should have assumed that Sony and Microsoft would have followed suit eventually in one manner or another.

However, it still has surprised me just how much attention is being given to Xbox 360’s Natal and Playstation 3’s Move. My biggest concern over E3 this year was that the aforementioned motion controlled gaming systems were going to be the primary point of focus. Turns out, yeah, they pretty much were. Without a doubt, Microsoft and Sony put most of their energy into these projects but a big question still remains: is all that time, energy, and money going to be worth it?

If a new study concluded in June is any indication, the answer is a resounding “no”.

While the study found that a decent amount of gamers were aware of Natal and Move (and really, how could you not be?), only 8% of 360 owners and 6% of Playstation 3 owners planned on purchasing their respective devices. That is a shockingly low number considering you can hardly turn on your console these days without be bombarded with advertisements and proclamations about how motion control is going to change the way you game.

The problem is, what if you’re perfectly happy with the way you game?

Here’s the thing. I’ve always been content relaxing on my bed and moving my thumbs over a controller. You wanna know why? Because it allows me to play and enjoy the game. Yeah, crazy right? I can get into the story and the mechanics without having to worry about bumping into shit. I’m sure by now most of you have seen this somewhat infamous video but I mean . . . really, who the hell wants to play a game like that? Furthermore, who has such a giant, empty room in their house that will enable them to flail around like a moron?

That’s not a rhetorical question. The answer is Wii owners. And do you know what Wii owners are going to play those games on? Their Wiis.

I really do not understand this trend. Not one bit. I’m happy to find out that I’m not alone but I remain astounded that Sony and Microsoft seem to be appealing to casual gamers so much. I mean, they can’t really think their core audiences want this . . . can they?

Urgh. It boggles the mind.

Remember when we got this excited over games? I acknowledge the fact that Twilight Princess ended up being the launch title for the Wii, but what you have here is genuine excitement for a beloved title, directed at its core audience. We certainly had no moments like this at 2010’s E3. Maybe my next year, everyone will have come to their senses and we can get back to real gaming. Or is this wishful thinking? Are the days of controllers and thumbs really going the way of the dinosaurs or am I being overly dramatic?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Good to be a Gamer

Once a year there comes a special time for a gamer where the real world seems to dissipate for three glorious days whilst copious amounts of geeky information spill out from Los Angeles and over teh interwebz.

If you're reading this however, you already know this. You probably also know just about everything that was revealed at E3 this year. So, in lieu of any type of real commentary or professional (ha!) critique, I thought I would just post the my personal top 3 reveals and announcements:

1.) The New XBox 360

While the redesign doesn't make the console as thin as I would have hoped, the console is much less brick-like and actually pretty sexy. Better than the sleek design however is the fact that the new system comes with built-in WI-FI (FINALLY), a much quieter fan, and a standard 250 GB drive. That, my friends is nice. Plus, at $299 it is the exact same price as the current system. The new model also comes Kinect ready if you care about that sort of thing. Which I don't. Moving on.

2.) Portal 2
Really . . . do I even have to say anything? It gave me goosebumps. I'm excited.

3.) The New Silent Hill

First and foremost, this is not a remake of Silent Hill 2 as had been rumored. Accordingly, I have not had to slit my wrists. What this looks like is an entirely new story with an entirely new character. It does look like it may borrow from the combat system of Silent Hill: Homecoming but hopefully after tweaking it a bit. Overall, I have to say I’m optimistic. Despite the fact that I don’t think the Silent Hill series has been great since the third installment, hopefully the eighth can recapture of some that good ol’ time sadism.

So there you are folks, my personal highlights of E3 - what were yours?

Monday, June 7, 2010

One Bullet at a Time

The other day when I went to the movies I was surprised and then quickly disinterested when I heard Milla Jovovich’s voice narrating over a post-apocalyptic world. I didn’t hate the first two Resident Evil movies but I certainly didn’t like them and I never bothered with the third installment. Honestly, I thought the best things about those movies was the fact that Rammstein and 1/6th of Rammstein Emigrate were on the soundtracks – but I digress.

Needless to say, I wasn’t too enthusiastic when the trailer for Resident Evil: Afterlife began. That is, until I saw a familiar face:


Oh yeah.

And he's not the only surprise to be found from Resident Evil 5. But let's get the obvious out of the way here: I don't think this movie is going to be good. Not only is it the forth in a very mediocre series but the trailer can't shut up about the fact that it's in 3D - when 3D is the best thing you've got, I worry.

But check out the trailer below, friends. It could still be fun.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This is America

Ironically (or perhaps not) the last time I remember signing onto Xbox Live and seeing practically my entire friends list engaged in the same game was Grand Theft Auto IV. That was, of course, until May 18th, 2010 when Red Dead Redemption came out. While I held off for about a week while I worked through Alan Wake, I have recently finished John Marston’s story and think it’s time I got my thoughts regarding this game down on paper . . . er, computer. Whatever, you know what I mean.

So the first thing that I noticed about Red Dead Redemption was that, yes, all the jokes about this being Grand Theft Cowboy seemed appropriate. The controls appeared to be practically identical to its spiritual predecessor. For a moment, it was downright confusing trying to figure out why Niko Bellic looked so strange but it wasn’t long before the streets of Liberty City were forgotten in favor of the dust-filled thoroughfares of New Austin.

It is New Austin itself that perhaps separates Red Dead Redemption from Grand Theft Auto IV more than anything else. Liberty City had beauty and certainly a grand scale but it doesn’t come close to being alive like New Austin; I found myself surprised by mini-missions and strangers requesting aid far, far more than I did in GTA IV. From the more in-depth quests that have you trekking all over the map for certain supplies to rushing to the aid of a man who is about to be unjustly hanged to helping a woman defend herself from a pack of coyotes. Not to mention the different challenges that will have you testing your skills as a hunter and horticulturist. To quote Lynsey, who knew that part of taming the wild west was collecting flowers?

It is these side quests that not only give the world of Red Dead Redemption a pulse but also make exploring much more exciting and fun, especially when you consider that the main story is a bit slow to begin. It isn’t long however before things really get rolling for Mr. John Marston.

Blackmailed by the federal government into hunting down the members of his old gang, John begins the long journey of locating these men – in America and Mexico, though deserts and snow-capped mountains – so that he may be reunited with his family. As you work your way through the world the main quests you complete and the random missions you finish will add to (or take away from) your honor and fame. Stop a man from stabbing a prostitute and gain honor, randomly shoot a passerby in the street and lose it as well as gain a personal bounty to be paid off at the nearest city.

Despite how you choose to play Mr. Marston there are certain things about him that you cannot change, most notably his loyalty to his wife. It seems strange to say this but when I found out that John wouldn't patronize the local whores I was surprised and oddly pleased. To find out that Rockstar would take away one of the more infamous aspects of their Grand Theft Auto series for the sake of character development was pretty damn cool to me. As a result, I genuinely came to like John Marston. I saw him as a good guy. I didn’t want anything to happen to him or his family. For someone who’s keen on character development, this was a big, big plus for me.

While the other characters you encounter aren’t always as memorable they certainly aren’t arbitrary; traveling salesmen, gravediggers, corrupt politicians, revolutionaries, and lawmen are abundant and all have their motivations and, of course, tasks that John can complete for their assistance. The “errand boy” feel of GTA IV is still very much alive in Red Dead Redemption and I would certainly caution anyone who quickly tires of being told what to do to consider that the bulk of your encounters play out this way.

Other than the slightly repetitive nature of the tasks, I find that there is little to be said in the way of faults with this game. The only other issue I can honestly think of is that riding around in the massive world can get a little tiresome but the use of fast travel which can be employed at any time via your campsite negates any real annoyance with it.

This is without question a game that you get your moneys worth out of. When you’ve wrapped up the main quest (which takes around 30 hours) there are still hours and hours and hours of multiplayer which has shocked me so far in it’s variety and downright enjoyment. It is, without question, leaps and bounds better than the sorry excuse for multiplayer that came with Grand Theft Auto IV.

So to wrap things up, I’m sure nothing I’ve said here comes as a shock. Red Dead Redemption has been incredibly well received by both gamers and critics. I suppose the point of this was just to toss my hat into the ring and express my adoration for this epic journey though the wild west.

Thank you kindly, Rockstar.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Came upon this last night whilst killin' some armadillos:

The West was crazy.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Play Like a Girl - Episode 6

Hey all! Episode 6 is now live! You can listen below or subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for playlikeagirlblog. As always, thanks for the support and we hope you enjoy the show!

As an aside, please be aware that because Lynsey and I are poor gamers and cannot afford to put any actual money into our show I've had to delete previous episodes to make room for the new. So if for some reason you hadn't downloaded episode 1 . . . sorry, it's gone to the great beyond.

Friday, May 21, 2010

They Exist Outside of Logic

Very shortly, Lynsey and I will be finishing our journey through Bright Falls. Soon after that we'll be recording a podcast to better and more fully express our thoughts on Alan Wake. In the meantime, please allow me to nudge you in the side: if you have not played this game, you need to.

Games this engaging, breathtaking, and downright poetic are few, far and in-between. I know a lot of you are probably causing havoc in the wild, wild west right now (as we both are as well) but this game deserves your attention.

Trust us.

See you soon!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This is a Triumph!

If you've never played Portal, you officially have no excuse.

It's FREE until May 24th, on both the PC and Mac.

Get on that shit.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I Can't Wait To Set The World On Fire.

So you’re a courier minding your own business, on your way to deliver a package, when suddenly an unknown assailant shoots you in the head. You awaken in a doctor’s office and, following your discharge, embark on a quest to find the one who gunned you down.

This has recently been revealed to be the first quest (and your introduction) to Fallout: New Vegas. That combined with a slew of new information released on the game has me foaming at the mouth.

Having finally completed my time with Dragon Age: Origins – by that I mean I have for the first time in my gaming career unlocked every single achievement for the game, including all the DLCs – I am eager to sink my teeth into a new RPG. Actually, until Dragon Age: Origins came along, Fallout 3 was without question my favorite RPG so I’m really eager to see if I still love the post-apocalyptic universe of Fallout in my post Dragon Age world.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Remember, Remember the . . . 18th of . . er, May.

Some days everything just comes together, though maybe a little too much at times. May 18th, 2010 has officially become one of those days, my friends. We've known for awhile that the long-awaited Alan Wake is set to release that day and soon after we found out that Read Dead Redemption was pushed back to that same day. I am ridiculously excited for both games and not really thrilled that they have to compete for my time - well, okay, not really, Alan Wake all the way - but such is the life of a gamer *insert violin music here*.

Both of those combined really aren't too bad but now, it's just getting a tad ridiculous; a new Dragon Age: Origins DLC has been announced and confirmed for May 18th.

Pity me, people.

As I'm currently nearly done with my fourth play through (yes, sadly you read that right) of Dragon Age: Origins, knowing there is an upcoming DLC makes me incredibly happy. Knowing that it's coming the same exact day as Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption? Slightly less happy. Still, May 18th is bound to be an epic day. I should also mention that my little sister was born on that day. Thankfully, she's a big nerd too so her present can be a pot of coffee and and two of us talking each other's ears off about video games.

One more thing before I close this post, have you all seen the new Dead Space 2 trailer? Mmmm goodness, I'm a little excited for that too. They should totally push the release date up to May 18th:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

To cave or not to cave

It wasn't long after I'd fully given into my obsession with Left 4 Dead that I started thinking about what type of merchandise I'd like to see coming from The Valve Store. Foremost on my weird little mind was a plush of a Boomer. I mean, come on - how could you not want to cuddle with this:
It would seem that I'm not the only one who liked the idea of pouring some pepto bismol down his throat and snuggling up; Valve recently released a Boomer plush. A Witch, Hunter, Smoker, and Tank are forthcoming. I'm madly in love. With the plushies that is, not real crazy about the $50 price tag. . . he belches when you squeeze him though!

So . . . who wants to be my best friend?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Here's to you, William.

So I could talk about the level design, the music, the fallen survivors, the golf club of WIN, the M60, the new midnight riders song, the zombie wedding, the footlockers, the weekly mutations or all the other things that make "The Passing" fun as hell, but I'd rather just show you a montage of the best reasons:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Francis hates haters.

It's kind of a shame; they could have had the world's most hate-filled children.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We Gotta Get Tougher Friends

Valve makes amazing games. This is true. They also generally have a hard time nailing down a time frame for the releases of said games. This is also true.

They also have quite a sense of humor.

As Left 4 Dead 2's "The Passing" is finally confirmed to be released this Thursday, I am eager to see exactly which one of the original survivors won't be making an appearance. We've known for awhile now that either Francis, Bill, Louis, or Zoey will be off fighting zombies in the Great Beyond and that an upcoming Left 4 Dead DLC will allow the player to choose which one of them sacrifices themselves for the greater good (the greater good) but that there will be a canon death detailed in both, "The Passing" and an upcoming comic book.

Though I'm relatively certain I know which survivor it will be, I would just like to point out the following collection of official posters for "The Passing". Click and look closely at the silhouettes in the background:

Yeah, Valve's got a sense of humor.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I hate waiting.

Is the world really ready for this much awesome? We'll find out next week.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

They Remember

With an agonizing slowness the elevator works its way up and up before gently coming to a halt. Just as I’m about to step off, I see the tiny necromorph scamper down the hall.

“Pfft, do you think I’m stupid?”

Raising my plasma cutter, I navigate Isaac Clarke with deliberate precision down the narrow ramp waiting for the tiny monster I’m hunting to lash out at me when its comrade suddenly bursts through a panel of glass to my immediate right and rushes me.

Despite my wishes to cooly say, “clever girl” I’m instead screaming, “JESUS-FUCKING-CHRIST” at the top of my lungs while rushing for a corner before lurching around to face the demon that had (perhaps literally) scared the pee out of me.

Suffice to say, “Dead Space” is a horrifying game but it is not the most horrifying I’ve ever played. That honor is reserved for Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly. While I will never, ever again pick up that romp through Hell I have recently embarked on another ill-fated journey through the USG Ishimura. Even though this time around I knew what to expect – to the point where I felt more comfortable exploring areas I hadn’t on my first play through – I felt my pulse quicken as I approached one of many accessible bathrooms onboard the doomed planet cracker.

Yup, a bathroom.

It’s the same with every video game I play. I hate going into bathrooms. Now, while I’m relatively sure this fear developed as a result of the unseen enemy that shrieked at me when I attempted to leave one in Silent Hill 2 (the first horror game I ever played) I’d like to believe it’s something deeper than that. Perhaps it’s knowing I’m enclosed in a small space with only one way in and out. Maybe it’s not knowing what craziness could be in the stall next to me. Maybe I’m terrified of poop, I don’t know. All I know is that I am terrified of bathrooms in video games.

So I’m curious . . . what scares you the most in horror games? Did a necromorph suddenly leaping from a vent scare you more in Dead Space than the unseen woman singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”? Was the infamous Oven Man in Resident Evil 4 harder for you to deal with than the first time you encountered the chanting at the castle? Is the scraping of Pyramid Head’s knife more frightening than actually seeing him?

What makes your digital blood run cold?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Episode 5 is Live!

Episode 5 of the Play Like a Girl podcast is now live! Subscribe to us on iTunes (nudge, nudge) or click the link below. Even if you do not download via iTunes, please take the time to leave us a review there.

Thanks for the support everyone!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

PAX East: (Dead Space) panel update

One more day is left of PAX East and I'll be sad to see it go. But so far, I've attended two panels and I, honestly, don't plan to attend anymore. The first panel on girl gamers was interesting, but it was all Q&A and it felt like the same question kept being asked in different ways: "Why aren't there more female gamers, and why do they get treated as lesser-than?" Well, if we had that answer, we'd solve it.

Which leads me to the second panel I attended: the Dead Space panel. If you've been keeping up with my Twitter, you'd know that this panel blew my fucking mind. You guys know how much Valve impresses Cary and me on a daily basis, right? Well... Visceral Games is sneaking up there. Watch it, Valve. You better release "The Passing" soon to keep your status. But I digress.

The three speakers from Visceral were Steve Papoutsis (Executive Producer), Rich Briggs (Producer), and Ian Milhelm (Art Director). These three guys were a wonderfully dynamic group that started the panel off 15 minutes early because they were, admittedly, so excited to get started.

The panel started off with an informal Q&A, like I said, then went onto a presentation that explained a lot of the Dead Space backstory and universe -- things that maybe some of us missed out on because we were too busy shitting ourselves with terror to pay attention who was talking to us during gameplay and exactly what they were saying. (Who cared, right? Those necro-assholes were AFTER YOU.) What impressed me so much about this was the fine attention to detail within the story (they explained that in order to focus on the game, they had to create an ample amount of backstory to make this universe seem realistic to the gamer) and also the minute detail in the design. Every single moment of terror and horror are worked on step-by-step to provide the ultimately scary experience; the example they used was the first time the tentacle grabs Isaac in the original game. Yeah, you remember it. Mission accomplished, Visceral. (You can also watch me experiencing this moment for the first time.)

Waiting to get into the panel, they handed out free mini-posters and promised there were more goodies on the inside. Anybody who asked a question got a free hardback copy of their graphic novel. But don't worry, Cary, one of these posters is on its way to you:

The other one is already on my wall. :)

They streamed some of the Q&A live, as well, and in the middle, Papoutsis broke into the conversation with a "fuck it, we're showing you guys a clip from Dead Space 2. I don't care." Now, while this was assuredly planned, that satiated every single person in the audience. I think every person in that room fell in love a little bit right then. You can watch most of the Q&A in the video below, and the clip from DS2 is at the beginning of the video:

While they were pretty hush-hush on a lot of what's to come in Dead Space 2, a few tidbits came out:
  • Isaac, undoubtedly, was psychologically affected by the actions in DS1. So...?
  • If DS1 was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 based on how scary it was, DS2 will be a "5 billion."
  • There will be NO watering down of DS2. The metaphor used was, DS1 was more like a roller coaster that just has one big loop, DS2 will be like a normal roller coaster that goes up, down, around, upside down. There will be heightened moments, but moments to cool down and collect.
  • Isaac has a brand new suit, but still with upgrades? Not sure on this one. Sounds like new suits throughout, with similar ideas. (A guy came out dressed in the suit which was handmade and composed of all the elements that Isaac's actual suit will contain in the game.)
  • Yep, Isaac talks in DS2 and his role will be even larger, as well.
  • During the Q&A someone made the point that a lot of horror movies and the like always take place after-the-fact and the protagonist shows up and has to figure out what happened. This person asked if they ever considered the idea of the protagonist coming in when something was going down and being a part of it and consider the idea of a "last man standing" sort of thing. They all just kind of smiled and said, "that's a great idea!"

After all this, I had a brief moment where I thought, "I'd kind of like to play through Dead Space again, maybe." Which should just prove how impressive the panel was and how motherfuckin' excited I am for Dead Space 2.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The first rule of PAX East...

I've mentioned this a few times on Twitter but never on the blog so, I'm going to PAX East, which kicks off tomorrow in downtown Boston. I have a three-day pass so I can almost go to any panel I'd like, with the exception of a few hours on Saturday. I plan on attending the following panels:

Girls and Games: The Growing Role of Women in the Game Industry
Manticore Theatre
Friday, 8:00pm

According to the ESA, more than 43% of video gamers are female, making women the single largest untapped market segment in the gaming industry. Look at the milestones crossed and the hurdles to come as developers and publishers reach out to this previously overlooked demographic. Are current strategies effective? What does this mean for the game industry as a whole?

Panelists Include: Brittany Vincent [Editor-in-Chief, Spawn Kill], Julie Furman [Founder, SFX360], Jeff Kalles [Penny Arcade], Alexis Hebert [Community Relations Manager, Terminal Reality], Padma Fuller [Product Marketing Manager, Sanrio Digital], Kate Paiz [Senior Producer, Turbine]

The Dead Space Universe: Creating a World of Horror in Games and Beyond
Naga Theatre
Saturday, 1:00pm

In 2008, EA launched a new IP from Visceral Studios: Dead Space. The game delivered the ultimate in psychological thrills and gruesome action. A bold and bloody sci-fi survival horror game set 400 years in the future, Dead Space stunned and scared players, won critical acclaim, and spawned the 2009 prequel: Dead Space Extraction. The Dead Space universe runs deep, and as gamers find themselves clamoring for more, Dead Space comics, animated features and figures have been released. This talk will go behind the scenes on the making of Dead Space, bring players up to speed on the Dead Space universe, and prepare them for what’s to come in the recently announced Dead Space 2.

Panelists Include: Rich Briggs [Producer, EA], Ian Milham [Art Director, EA], Steve Papoutsis [Executive Producer, EA]

Anybody else going? Any other panels you find intriguing, or would love for me to attend so that I could write about it later? There are limits, obviously, but I'm open to suggestions. I want to be able to report back what everybody so longs to hear about in the gaming industry today.

Cary and I are hoping to do a podcast on PAX East once it's over (even though she's not attending which, believe me, is a topic of contention), but I'd also like to discuss individual panels, etc.

What I'm saying is: expect lots of PAX-related topics in the coming week.

Monday, March 22, 2010

In Valve We Trust

Today I came across some news (read MASSIVE SPOILERS ZOMG) for the upcoming Left 4 Dead 2 DLC, "The Passing" that leaves me . . . uneasy. Obviously, if you want to remain surprised you'll want to stop reading now.

For real, yo.


Bye now.

Oh, you can't wait either can you? Okay, well, the source of my hesitation comes from this little bit of information from Valve's Chet Faliszek who recently revealed the tagline to the new DLC: No One Lives Forever. Seems he's painfully correct as he also revealed that one of the four original survivors will not, um, survive. Seems one of them will scarifice themselves so that the other three can carry on.

I have to say . . . I'm pretty shocked at this sudden twist. I'm not sure if I like serious sauce in my Left 4 Dead sandwich. Though I do think it's funny that when I told Lynsey and a mutual gamer friend of ours both of their reactions were the same: "I hope it's Louis".

Sorry buddy, but you have no personality.

I suppose though, only the coming days will tell.

. . .

I hope it's Louis.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Chris should have a sawed-off shotgun. That shit is badass.

It's a pretty well-known fact 'round these parts that Cary and I are in love with Resident Evil 5. Cary favors Leon, I favor Chris. We have our differences, sure, but we've played RE5 for more hours than I care to publicly admit. So you can guess that the news of two DLCs for RE5 set our little hearts adance. Well, we have now played both "Lost in Nightmares" and "Desperate Escape" DLC and we actually agreed to the same thing on both -- one was awesome and one we NEVER want to play again. Seriously.

"Lost in Nightmares" came out first and since its release, Cary and I have played through it twice. Three times? I can't remember now. Suffice it to say, we've played through it several times and each time was just as enjoyable as the first. "Lost in Nightmares" is a great combination of old and new Resident Evil. Walking through doorways was similar to the older games. There were long, dark hallways where you would hear dogs, but then bats would burst through the window. (Which, of course, didn't scare Cary at all. Ha.) But this DLC was full of those moments where you were just waiting for something else to scare you... which felt like something that was missing from the original RE5 and was lots of fun.

You can watch a couple guys play co-op through "Lost in Nightmares" in this video to get a sense of just exactly how fun this DLC can be:

Now, "Desperate Escape" is a completely different story. Cary and I finished this in just under an hour and, by the end, we were both exhausted. This DLC is a non-stop fuckfest of infinite missiles and the biggest, most annoying enemies in the original RE5. We thought we had played the DLC so horribly that, at the end, when we received an achievement for getting an S rank in the DLC, we were almost in physical shock. This DLC does NOT fuck around. It doesn't let you stop to catch your breath and I guess if that's your kind of thing... okay. But I wouldn't say I really enjoyed myself.

All of that being said, these DLCs were somewhere along the lines of 400 Microsoft points, which is a bargain and a half. At least for "Lost in Nightmares." I can't say I feel the same way about "Desperate Escape."