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.