Bonus-Level Radio 111:Not to be Racist

The gang is back and better than ever! After our winter break we all were chomping at the bit to get some netcasting on. This week we discuss the lackluster sales of the PS Vita and what it means. The holiday explosion of Angry Birds. The blockbuster sales of a certain iOS game. We talk about some Next Gen Rumors and end the show on how racist Kotaku is. Enjoy!

http://www.bonus-level.com/2012/01/09/bonus-level-radio-111-not-to-be-racist-but/

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I got a problem with zombies

I just want to say I’m a diehard zombie fan I’ve watched every zombie from the Romero trilogy to 28 days (and weeks) to even return of the Night of the living Dead: Necropolis. I own the Necronomicon, World War Z and the Zombie Survival guide. I’ve played practically every Resident Evil game, even the god awful gun survivor series. Suffice to say Zombies are my favorite horror trope. Zombies are the perfect cannon fodder and I guess can really make you feel like a super hero when taking on hoards of them. They also have the eerie ability to remind us of people and society, a mindless hoard bent on nothing but consuming everything and giving nothing back (capitalism anyone). So with all my devotion to zombies I found it odd that I didn’t enjoy the zombie maps in Call of Duty: World at War and Call of Duty Black ops.

I mean when you look at it from the onset its wave based (like Gears of War Horde mode), building barracked’s and defenses (like The Last Stand), Zombie survival (like Left 4 Dead). All these things amalgam together should be an amazing concept but alas playing with my brother left me feeling annoyed, bored and often time wondering why I’m not enjoying blowing off zombie’s heads. Further thinking about it lead me to really breakdown what other zombie’s games give me that COD zombies neglect. Keep in mind the other games aren’t perfect zombies but they do hit what I believe is the benchmarks for zombie games.

When fighting zombies I expect never to let my guard down, always be tense and ready for action. If zombie movies have taught me anything is that they will pop out just when you least expect it, just when you think it’s all sunshine and happy ending one stray zombie will bite somebody leading to emotional rollercoaster with characters. 28 Days later did this the best when Brendan Gleeson character got zombie blood in his eye from a single drop and the other protagonists are suddenly moved from salvation to misery to sadness in a matter of minutes. Left 4 Dead to my knowledge has got closest to this with the A.I Director that changes the amount and types of zombies the survivors must faced based on their progress. Every game follows the same map but a multitude of variation on how you approach it. COD zombie’s has waves of pre-written code of zombies attacking a safe house, and you know right after finishing a couple rounds that there is no variation and the only thing that will help you is memorization. Zombie dogs will always show up X amount of times and you’ll always get a big wave after Y wave. It becomes boring and predictable.

When battling the undead you expect them to die (un-die?) like the undead. Facial deformation and missing limbs are a must. The feel of knowing your bullet is causing them one hell of a bad day. Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Techland’s new game Dead Island do this great with Dead Island well above everyone else to date. In Dead Island you can break zombie’s arms till all there doing is snapping at you with flailing arms, the level of damage you can do to the zombies in this game is incredible and all the damage has a real world effect as though it were a real human body. COD zombies though has a level of zombie deformation, but no bullet I fired really sent a zombie back or even causes a shutter. It felt more like an old school RPG with me ticking of life points from a hit box till the zombie fell. Without that tactile feel what’s the difference between shooting zombies and any other enemy type in a game. NONE.

When Pulverizing the Living disabled I expect to me scared, tense and frightened but never completely useless. In all zombie games you maybe low on ammo and health but never hope or at least a last ditch effort to beat down them zombies. Left 4 Dead has the infinite ammo on the basic pistol, Dead Rising does it by making everything a weapon, and even Resident Evil 4 did it with giving you the ability to strike zombies. COD zombies leave you with no ammo once you squandered it and unless you’re playing with friends once your down, you’re out. There’s no effective defense against them.

I hope these reasons are enough to justify my dislike for COD zombie’s because if you ruin what makes shooting zombies fun, I think your just missing the point. Hopefully the people at Treyarch will take a lesson with their next COD: cash grab: zombie edition.

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Save Point: Infamous

Some of you may remember that awhile back the PlayStation Network went down for a couple of months, due to some hackers and weak internal security. Well once PSN was back online, Playstation saw fit to buy their fans love back by giving away some games for download. This is how I acquired Infamous, developed by Sucker Punch Studios. You play as Cole McGrath a parkour mailman that inadvertently acquires the ability to manipulate electricity, the same blast that gives Cole his power also kills about 10,000 people and cripples and quarantines the city you reside in.

It’s a sandbox/super hero game but Cole is not limited to just running through the streets. Much better then Faith from Mirror’s Edge he can scale most buildings, unfortunately he can’t fly. But between most buildings are cables connecting them to other buildings so he can ski along these cables via his electrical powers.

His powers themselves let him fire a variation of Electrical blasts, all types of video game trope weapons like sniper rifle, rocket launcher and machine gun. His abilities develop as some progress offering him improvements on old abilities and new ones throughout.

Infamous is a game that doesn’t seem to push any boundaries or make any watershed moments. Just solid gameplay within a sandbox world. The world that you’re tossed into has tons of crime for you to clean up as the government seals the city off from the outside world and it’s up to you to either help or hinder the cities recovery. You see this game like so many others was built with moral choices. Some examples, there’s a giant garbage man that’s about to launch a gas tank at you. You can either A destroy the gas tank from a distance but kill all the innocent civilians nearby. Or B takes the gas tank head on and looses half your health.

Now usually I think most moral choice systems are internally busted because there’s no middle ground. Your either as Yahtzee put it Mother Teresa or a Baby eater. Infamous falls into this same trap also but does something not many other moral choice games do by making you suffer for doing the right thing. Most of the choices in the game that involve doing the right thing cause Cole pain in some way. This is a change from games like Star Wars KOTOR or Fallout 3 when doing good or evil you’re rewarded either way. While in Infamous all you get are points pushing you towards divinity. Sure they assist in good related abilities but they don’t offer a short term goal to sate you with immediately. One could say that good actions themselves are Coles only reward at times. Not since Fable 2 tattered Spire scene has a game offered negatives for doing the right thing.

Now I’m not saying Infamous is perfect in this regard. As it still is boiled down to a handful of choices that determine your outcome making your smaller good or bad actions meaningless. Also the good and bad ending could literally be palette swaps of each other with Cole sneering more. There are things done right and hopefully my bigger moral choice games can take a nod.

One other thing that stood out for me was the end game of Infamous. You’re drawn into a final battle with Kessler a mad man that has killed your love interest in the game, made your best friend Zeke betray you and as you find out gave you your powers and started the incident in the city. When you defeat Kessler he lies dying in your arms and he tells you that he is Cole that has come back through time, ok please keep reading it makes sense in the next paragraph well kind of.

You see Kessler/Cole got his Electrical powers later in life; he married and had a family. Then a monster called the beast shows up and begins destroying America. Instead of standing and fighting, Kessler runs with his family till the best catches up to him and kills his family. Spurned by grief Kessler some how goes back in time to accelerate present Cole’s abilities as well as kill the women he loves and turn his best friend against him. To Kessler the end justifies the means, his logic suggest that if he remove all the things that kept Cole from facing the beast to begin with he could save the U.S and the world. At the cost of everyone Kessler/Cole hold/held dear.

It’s a twisted but elegant logic that allows a man to forsake his own happiness for the greater good. It brought up a very interesting idea. Does the end justify the means or was Kessler so distraught that he saw this insane scenario as the only possible choice.

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Orcarina of Time, is it still good?

I talked on a podcast to some friends on how i wont be picking up orcarina of time on 3ds because i dont want to sully my old gaming memories. listen to the cast and tell me if im crazy. 

The hate train starts at 30 minute mark.

http://www.bonus-level.com/2011/04/18/bonus-level-radio-75-fox-news-of-gaming/    

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Dead Space 2 Deader Spaced

I picked up Dead Space 2 about a week and half ago and currently I am on my third play-through. And that’s not for achievements (trophies for me) or story. Though the game does have a great narrative with great visuals and a fiction that makes you want to read video game novels, it’s that good.

No, the reason I’ve been digging Dead Space 2 is the combat. The original was a third person shooter with horror elements and lots dismemberment of the enemies. Dead Space 2 refines everything you played in the first one and makes its really fun.

In any combat scenario your given three types of ways to deal with an enemy. These three types are not just specific styles but more of a rock, paper, scissor system that you implement. Your choice is based on the enemy you encounter, the number of enemies and the variety of enemies.

Type 1: Guns or SHOOT IT!- Your given a variety of weapons. The ever reliable plasma cutter, the basic pistol type weapon. The line gun that sends a wide horizontal line of energy that takes the feet right under the enemy (it also drops mines). The contact beam that messes enemies up like a high powered sniper rifle with a secondary fire is a good crowd clearer if you’re surrounded. Then there’s the Force gun, the closest thing to a shotgun that clears rooms with a wave of energy. Super effective.

There are many other guns but these are the ones I found the most versatile. Should be noted that four is the max amount of weapons you can carry.

Type 2: Kinesis or Throw Shit at it!- The first game allowed you to move things with the help of the Kinesis module, much like Sylar from Heroes.

This ability felt slow and plodding and was only useful for puzzle solving. By severing one of their claws and tossing it right back at them or knocking them out of the fight and stapling them to the wall ala commando style. In Dead Space 2 it’s the most badass way to mess up enemies.

There are also enemies that have bits of them explode on impact (my favorite are the bomb babies). These guys can be used as helpful room clearer’s when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Another use of Kinesis is the ability to move objects in the environment. From metal poles and brooms that pin enemies to the wall the same way their claws do. To various other boxes and crates that have a varying degree of success. Pro-tip, books are a Necromorphs worst enemy.

Type 3: Stasis or the OH SHIT button-  When the chips are down and you just don’t have enough time to shoot or Kinesis all the enemies around you, I’d suggest Stasis. It hits the enemy with an eerie blue glow that slows them to snail speed for a couple seconds. Enough time for the skilled player to dismember and take them down by the numbers.

A throwable container filled with the same blue goo that your Stasis shoots are scattered throughout the game and they freeze enemies for ever longer. It’s great for taking down bigger enemies that require some heavy damage.

One last thing is breakable glass that opens the room you’re in to the vacuum of space. Hitting these will cause you to slowly start to get sucked out till you blow the safety lock located above the broken glass. It’s not used heavily in the game but the 3 or 4 times it does, every enemy in the room is tossed out leaving you with satisfaction at killing enemies in a really cool way while conserving ammunition.

Overall I love the diversity of the ways you can dispatch Necromorphs and hope to see more of this free flowing combat in future games.

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Mass Effect: Post Morten

It’s been a full year since the release of what most believe was the game of the year for 2010. The game that came out of the gate strong and captivated practically everyone that played it, even my fellow colleagues. So being the backwards Canadian I am, I finally decided to pick up Mass Effect 2 on the PS3. That’s right they ported the game over to the PS3 in my guess a way to expand their market and give the rest of us this great experience.

Now before I proceed further I’ll let you know that I have played Mass Effect Uno on my Xbox 360 before it red ringed on me. So I’m well versed in the series lore, so I lost little in my transfer over to part two. Now the only difference between the two console versions of this game is that the PS3 version contains a 15 minute visual comic that runs through all the major choices that faced you in part one. This way your decisions transfer over to ME2 further changing the way your story plays out. The comic is weak in its presentation leaving large gaps of fiction missing along with giving my Shepard more of a narrative influence then I cared for. Its only saving grace that it did allow me to keep my decisions from ME even though I doubt they would even have a fraction of the weight unto a person being introduced to the series. This misstep aside the game itself is splendid.

No game in a long time had me wishing that all my loved ones would just drop dead just so I could play for a little longer. ME2 had me enthralled from beginning to end and even though the end boss battle was kind of weak I still enjoyed it at a ridiculous level. After finishing the game with all the DLC added I have already started with a new game save to try a variation of my story and hopefully have my entire squad survive the last mission. Also pro-tip the only DLC really worth a damn is Lair of the Shadow Broker, if you’ve beaten ME2 and not the DLC do it now and read the dossiers on your crew after. Some really neat stuff

My only real complaint about the base game is that you are given unlimited time to make a decision in the conversation wheel while a ship is exploding around you. I understand why this was done but I feel if anything good could be taken from last year’s disappointing game Alpha protocol was the timer assign to the conversation wheel making your decisions in my opinion more “real”.

Apparently between Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2 there are over a 100 decisions being transferred over to ME3 and this alone makes me quiver with anticipation and worry constantly about how easily the ball could be dropped with all this hype that Bioware must live up to. I can only hope they approach ME3 with the same level of expertise’s and professionalism that they have from all their previous products.

Also give me same sex romances, My Shepard and Garrus fan fiction must reach legitimacy.

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