Top Three Games of '08

  1. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

    I'll admit, I have a bit of a bias when it comes to MGS4. The Metal Gear series is quite possibly my favorite game series of all time, for a number of different reasons. The convoluted story created so many loose ends that I, like many others, assumed the conclusion would be a near impossible feat. While the actual storyline could be found in any b-grade war movie, the presentation is fantastic (possibly the best looking game I've ever seen [Crysis, lol!]), and Kojima's blend between game and movie was a huge breath of fresh air, one that I wouldn't mind breathing over and over. Not since Ocarina of Time have I felt this feeling of utter perfection. Each act (there are five total) plays differently than the one before it, and some of the sections in the game, especially the ending, are things you've never experienced before, and most likely, never again. Playing the game in small spurts is a crime, and I couldn't seem to pull myself away, playing for hours on end. It's a fantastic conclusion to an amazing series, and hand down my favorite game of all time.
  2. Fallout 3

    I'll admit that I missed the Fallout series as a kid; then again, I didn't play a lot of good games as a kid for one reason or another. I did, however, play The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and probably enjoyed it a bit too much (120 hours too much). And while some may have used the phrase "Oblivion with guns" against Fallout, I was more than happy to embrace the new mechanics. While the beginning was frustratingly difficult (I played the good route), as time went on, I really began to enjoy Fallout 3, in a number of ways, more than Oblivion. While the V.A.T.S. system took a little while to get used to, and traveling any way other than fast travel was occasionally a confusing pain-in-the-ass, the overall sense of style and vast number of things to do made up for everything. Well, except for the ending that is; that was total garbage.
  3. Braid

    As "emo" and "artsy" as Braid may have been, I still remember the feeling of finally finishing the epilogue and sitting back, thinking about what I had just played. The time travel mechanic was brilliant, and every time you finished one of those puzzles you felt like the smartest person in the world. Braid is an old fashion challenge, very simple, yet very, very complex at the exact same time. Yet due to it's price and somewhat elitist mantra, it seemed like Braid never got the attention it rightly deserved (despite a glowing review from Soulja Boy Tell 'em). If I could recommend one game out of the three that I've mentioned to go out and play, Braid would definitely be the one. It's easy to pick up and play, and enough of a challenge to keep you coming back. While the Time Trial mode didn't really make me want to come back for more, just playing through the main game once and finishing the story is enough to warrant a purchase. Then you can let it sit, forget all the puzzles, and come back to it a few months later.
Honorable Mentions
Grand Theft Auto IV - Good game, no doubt, but I didn't seem to click with experience everyone else seemed to be having. Maybe I just didn't connect with the whole mafia/vengence story. Whoduthunkit?
Dead Space - A great new IP with a lot of potential. Not exactly in the top five, but definitely top ten. I'll definitely pick up the sequel.
Left 4 Dead - Valve keeps cranking out one great multiplayer experience after another, but I just think the replay value isn't enough to keep you coming back for more than two or three times.
Gears of War 2 - Eh. It's more Gears.
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Dec. Pick-Ups Part 1

Probably going to be a light month. My stuff from amazon.com (new headphones and Enter the Dragon on Blu-Ray) doesn't ship until late December (wtf?), so I'll post those in January, but I'll just post this weeks pick-ups for now.




And then last, but certainly not least...


Only one game this week. What has this world come to? Oh, and would you guys like a video of my shit? I've seen some of those things floating around, and I think they're pretty cool, but I'll only do it if people want to see it. Drop me a comment if you think it's a good idea.

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Mario Kart + Love Song = ??????

I guess I'm just a sap for this kind of stuff. Came across this on YouTube and decided to share. Definitely worth your time if you love Mario Kart (who doesn't?) and acoustic music.

  
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Final Nov. Pick-Ups

Ok, so the first one isn't so much a pick-up, but I definitely moved my PC out onto my TV. 37" of WoW ;)

The rest are pretty standard. I'm loving the new 120GB 360 HDD. $89.98 clearance at work.



If anyone wants the files off of the Chrono Trigger soundtrack, feel free to shoot me a PM.

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The Good and the Bad of Mirror's Edge

The Good

  • Great sense of motion and fluidity. The game is fantastic when you successfully hit jump after jump. Some of the moves you can pull off are bad ass, and once you hit a groove you'll feel unstoppable.
  • Great visuals. The simple colors work really well, and look great against the white. A lot of the rooms and situations look the same, but they all have different ways of being handled and manuvered.
  • Unique. Definitely feels different than anything I've ever played before, which is saying a lot. The lack of combat is definitely a welcome change, especially since Edge's Combat isn't exactly fantastic.
  • Simple. Three buttons, and most of the puzzles are pretty straightforward. Doesn't take very long to get used to using the bumpers and triggers, and it feels very natural once you do.

The Bad

  • Random difficulty spikes. Most of the game's puzzles are straightforward enough to get after the first or second time, but some, especially when there are enemies involved, can be annoying.
  • You die a lot. I've played my share of video games, and I'd like to say I'm pretty good at them, but I've died a lot in this game so far. You don't jump far enough, your wall-run doesn't carry you far enough, you get hit by a fucking train, etc. You'll be dying a lot in this game, no matter how good you are.
  • Too bright. Some of the outside levels had me running up giant white walls that were so bright you couldn't distinguish what was what. Turning the brightness and contrast down only takes away from the look of the game, and while it does fix a few things, only leaves the environment looking muddy and evening-ish.
  • Cutscenes. I feel like I should be buying auto insurance. Story is so-so, but I didn't expect too much going in.
  • Short. Only a few hours long, and it lacks a multiplayer mode. Not to mention Race mode only has you going through the same levels. Hopefully some challenge rooms will be released as DLC later on. Still wouldn't justify this being a $60 game. $40 seems about right.
  • Rarely hits it's stride. Mirror's Edge is great when you get a good rhythm going, but problem is, not only do you rarely get into this rhythm, but it never lasts very long once you do. The prologue level is definitely a thrill, since most of the puzzles can be figured out fairly quickly, but standing around trying to figure out puzzles is hardly what this game should be about.

So as you can see, there are plenty of things wrong with this game, but at the same time, I would definitely play Mirror's Edge 2. There are so many great concepts in this game, that if they simply tweaked a few things, it would be a great IP that anyone could pick-up and play. It has room for DLC, but only time will tell which direction ME will go.

I may get a review up if time allows, but school's been heavy lately. :|
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Fallout 3 Impressions

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion holds a very special place in my heart for a number of different reasons, and I know comparing Bethesda's latest release to said game is a tired introduction so I'll simply say that it's impossible to play one without comparing it to the other. The controls are the same (aside from one button, which can be changed) and many of the mechanics are the same. In all honesty, any difference in the game is as simple as replacing "magic" with "gun" and "medieval" with "post-apocalyptic".

:)
The main problem everyone seems to have with Fallout 3 is the combat system, specifically the VATS system. In the beginning I wasn't a huge fan of the combat as well, especially with the real-time aiming, seeing as how I couldn't hit anything. So I, like many others it seems, simply run up as close as I can and turn on VATS, and aim for the enemies head. Works just fine and seeing a mutant's head explode never gets old. My one gripe with the VATS system is when you're targeting enemies that don't stand on two legs, it can be hard to maneuver around body parts. I was completing the "Those!" mission, where I had to fight off a series of Fire Ants, and every time I'd pull one up on VATS, it would only go back and forth between the legs and occasionally the torso, even though I wasn't doing anything different with the controller.

Another problem I've had is the overall difficulty. Now, I've never played a Fallout game before (for shame!), and I've heard they're difficult, especially in the beginning, but it gets to the point where I'll have no ammo and no money, even while playing conservatively. The game almost sticks to the wasteland theme too  much, to the point where I can never find anyone who has ammo, and playing the game through the "good" path doesn't exactly mean you'll be rollin' in the dough. I'm constantly having to avoid the smallest monsters and most trivial fights, simply because I'm out of ammo. I'd love to restock, but I don't have any money, and every ammo box I find only has 6 or so shots for each gun. From what I've gathered, Fallout 3 isn't a survival horror game, so why does it seem like it wants to go that route?

Outside of those two things my experience has been a good one. Some of the things that were buggy in Oblivion haven't been fixed, but a few have (I'm looking at you, jumping up the side of a mountain) and that's what really makes the game feel the same. If you liked Oblivion, pick this one up and even if you didn't, it's different enough that you should give it a try.
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