China Don't Care, But I Sure Do

I didn't know Ryan Davis personally. I never met him. I never talked to him or chatted with him. Yet, when the news of his passing was made public on Twitter early on the afternoon of July 8, I was profoundly shaken and saddened. It was as if someone had punched me in the gut. Hard.

It felt as if I had lost a dear friend I had known for many years.

I became a member of the GameSpot community back in 2002. I discovered Ryan while watching On The Spot and enjoyed his shenanigans with Jeff, Rich and the entire crew. The TimeTrotters series, although short lived, was some of the funniest stuff I've ever watched. When Jeff got ousted from GameSpot and founded Giant Bomb along with Ryan, I was sure to follow their antics.

One thing I will never forget about Ryan is his bellowing laugh. Some Quick Looks he did, especially the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince one (which is my favorite of all time), are absolutely hilarious. The chemistry and camaraderie he had with Jeff is something you don't see every day, and was genuine and true. I cannot even imagine how he feels right now.

In fact, all of this is hard to comprehend or wrap my head around. The man had just gotten married a couple of days before his passing and, from the snapshots I saw from the event, he looked so very happy. I feel profound sadness for his Giant Bomb colleagues Brad, Vinny, Drew, Alex, Patrick and, of course, Jeff. In fact, I feel profound sadness for those who knew the man, either very closely or only via video or podcasts. His laughter, his joie de vivre, his smile, all of it will be sorely missed.

Thank you Ryan, and may you rest in peace. Take care buddy.

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The Ten of Twenty-Ten

It's that time again. Time to reveal my top 10 favorite games of 2010. Make no mistake, it wasn't easy to pick 10 games from the remarkable list of titles that were released this year and, after many hours of deliberation, these are the 10 games that stood out from the rest.

Please keep in mind that this is my list and mine only. Criticism is always welcome, as long as it is constructive.

 10. Halo: Reach 
 “The Covenant have landed on Reach! The Covenant have landed on Reach!” Unforgettable words which set the tone for one of the most memorable battles in the history of video games. Bungie’s association with the Halo franchise came to an end this year with their final love letter to their fans, entitled Halo: Reach, and as far as love letters go, this one was pretty damn sweet. Yeah, OK, it’s still Halo, but it’s bigger, stronger and faster than previous installments from the series and it delivers on every front. From the gripping campaign to the stellar multiplayer, Halo: Reach is a fantastic farewell from the guys at Bungie that will be hard to surpass. Danke Schön, guys! 
 
9. Deadly Premonition 
Outdated gameplay. Ugly graphics. Useless in-game map system. All of these signs would lead us to believe that Deadly Premonition is a bad game, right? Surprisingly, that’s not the case. It could be the game’s (unintentional?) dark humor that makes it stand out, or maybe it’s special agent Francis York Morgan’s (you can call him York, everybody does) zany inner monologues / conversations with his alter-ego Zach that makes him such a memorable character, or probably it’s the well-crafted story and a cast of unforgettable characters that make Deadly Premonition stand out amongst a sea of big-budget titles this year? It’s hard to say really, but one thing is for certain, this is one game I will never, ever forget. 
 
8. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX 
It amazes me to see that Pac-Man, a video game character from the early 80s, is still going strong today. Sure, he’s still gobbling up power-pellets while avoiding those annoying ghosts, but now he does it in bright, colorful, ever-changing mazes, while pulse-pounding beats resound throughout. Chomping away at a “ghost train” Is quite exhilarating and never gets old, no matter how many times I do it. Playing this game quickly becomes an addiction you’ll have trouble shaking, especially if you’re going after high scores and best times on the leaderboards.   Pac-Man CE DX is a wondrous sensory overload that always leaves me craving for more. 
 
7. Heavy Rain 
“How far would you go to save the ones you love?” If you think Heavy Rain’s tagline is just for show, you’ve definitely not played this breathtaking interactive drama. Even if the story isn’t all that great, the interactive gameplay drew me in like very few games have before it. From mundane tasks like driving a car or taking a shower, to life-threatening situations, the player is consistently involved, as he needs to think twice before making decisions, since it might alter the game itself. Playing through all four protagonist’s side of the story is engaging and nerve-wracking all at once, making for an extremely enjoyable film-noir experience that cannot be missed. 
 
6. NHL 11 
NHL 11 breaks new ground with the Hockey Ultimate Team (HUT), where you use player cards to build up your own team. This new mode brings new life to the franchise and makes collecting cards very addicting. The addition of the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) adds more depth to games modes such as Be a Pro and Be a GM. Online has also been tweaked, making it more fun to play in the EASHL (EA Sports Hockey League) and against friends. Add to the mix broken sticks, board-shaking hits and a pretty decent soundtrack, and you have yourself the very best hockey game ever created. 
 
5. Red Dead Redemption 
Rockstar San Diego took a very big risk when they decided to make Red Dead Redemption. It takes some really skilled people to create an open world action-adventure western video game that appeals to today’s audience. But hey, this is Rockstar we’re talking about here. Red Dead Redemption features a beautiful open world setting and a wonderful cast of characters, headlined by the game’s protagonist John Marston, and a superbly written story with a shocking ending (or, should I say, endings) that left me in awe. Add to that a bunch of entertaining side missions and activities, along with a pretty decent multiplayer component, and you have yourself one hell of a game. 
 
4. Rock Band 3 
To be honest with you guys, I haven’t played any of the “pro” features in Rock Band 3, and I haven’t tried out the keyboard. In fact, the only thing I do in the game is sing. With that said, why in the hell would I put Rock Band 3 at number four in my favorites of 2010? The song list, for one, with 83 songs out of the box. Add to that all of the downloadable content already available, plus some of the songs from the first two games, and that makes for one amazing lineup. There’s also the streamlined menu system, which makes it easy to navigate to wherever you need to go. Rock Band 3 is a comprehensive, thorough and enjoyable entry in the series and easily the best one yet. 
 
3. MLB 10: The Show 
The name of the game is pitching. We’ve heard that saying time and time again in baseball. I took on MLB 10’s Road to the Show mode as a pitcher this year and thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it. On higher difficulty levels, pitching becomes quite challenging and, sometimes, quite unforgiving. However, the way it is implemented in Road to the Show is incredibly well done. The graphics are strikingly gorgeous as well. The online might be a little laggy and the commentators annoying, but that doesn’t prevent MLB 10 from being my favorite sports game of 2010. 
 
2. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood 
Assassin’s Creed II was my favorite game of 2009, and I couldn’t wait to see what Ubisoft had in store for Ezio in this direct sequel to last year’s blockbuster hit.   I was pleasantly surprised to see that Brotherhood keeps with the same gameplay style as its predecessor, while tweaking the combat and parkour to make it just right.   The city of Rome is absolutely beautiful in all of its grandeur, the story is superbly written and the characters are brilliantly portrayed. It’s great to discover a bit more about Desmond Miles and his ancestor Ezio, as he strives to build the Assassin’s Guild.   The multiplayer component doesn’t feel tacked on at all and is quite enjoyable and exciting. Bundle all of that together, and you’ve got a great, great game in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. 
 
1. Mass Effect 2 
What is there to say about Mass Effect 2 that hasn’t already been said before? The game’s story sucked me in like no other this year, while making me care a whole lot about its wonderfully intricate and engrossing characters. In fact, after I had lost 3 of my crew during my first play through, I felt incredibly bummed out and sad that I had failed them. Speaking of play throughs, Mass Effect 2 is the only game I played through twice this year, DLC included (and yes, I saved the entire crew then). With a comprehensive inventory system, refined gameplay mechanics such as planet probing and great looking and varied planets to explore, amongst many other things, it all comes together to make Mass Effect 2 a memorable joyride through the deepest confines of space… and beyond.
 
 Noteworthy mentions
 
Alan Wake 
Great story, interesting characters and bone-chilling atmosphere is what made Alan Wake so special. The combat, however, left to be desired, but gets points for being different from other shooters on the market. 
 
BioShock 2 
This sequel is no where near as engrossing and endearing as its predecessor was, but BioShock 2 still has the same great gameplay, while adding its own intriguing story. 
  
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 
The guys at Criterion games sure knew what they were doing when they decided to take on the Need for Speed franchise. This cops vs. racers romp is a blast to play, especially online. 
 
Singularity 
You don't see Singularity mentioned in a lot of 2010 games lists this year, but in my opinion, its story and gameplay set it apart from the Call of Duties and Halos of this year. I enjoyed it quite a lot. 
 
Civilization V 
It's still a Civilization game, but Civ V's tweaked gameplay, along with its exquisite presentation, make it the best one yet. 
 
Mafia II 
An interesting story, great characters and a wonderful soundtrack made Mafia II quite good. Now, if the gameplay would have been just a bit better... 
 
Fable III 
Hey, I liked it, OK? 
 

 Thank you for reading and don't forget to leave me some (constructive) comments on my list. Have a great 2011, filled with more exciting and thrilling games! 

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Blogging Start

Long time, no blog. Been busy, haven't felt like it, yada yada. Let's get down to it.

Games. Been playing some Deadly Premonition lately, after watching Giant Bomb's Endurance Run for a while. Even though the game has many, many gameplay flaws, such as the shooting / melee mechanic, the game's map, and the driving, there's just something about this game that has kept me coming back for more, no matter how bad it gets. The game tells the story of FBI agent Francis York Morgan (you can call him York, everybody does) and his imaginary friend / confidant Zack who are sent to the sleepy town of Greenvale to investigate the murder of a local teenage girl. Of course, this ain't no ordinary murder, and this ain't no ordinary town either. What's so great about this game is that it has kept me hooked to its addictive story and its crazy cast of characters, something Final Fantasy XIII was incapable of doing. I highly recommend you check the game out. For $20 (or less), it's basically a steal.

I've also played Splinter Cell Conviction. While the story is boring and predictable from the get-go, the new gameplay this game introduces to the series is very welcome. I've also been getting some MLB 10 game time in there. I'm on my 4th season in the Be A Pro mode now. I play shortstop for the Oakland A's. Still a very enjoyable game. Looking forward to Alan Wake and Red Dead Redemption next week. Those two games should keep me busy for a while.

In other non-gaming related news, I have become an uncle for the 3rd time. My sister gave birth to her 3rd child, a girl named Kellie. Everybody is healthy and in great spirits. Also, the Montreal Canadiens have been kicking some major ass lately, as they have made it all the way to the Eastern Conference final in the Stanley Cup playoffs. We eliminated both the team with the best record in the NHL this year, the Washington Capitals, and the Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in 7 games each. The city is going absolutely nuts for the Habs right now. It is not uncommon to see flags on cars, jerseys and shirts bearing the Canadiens' logo everywhere. I'm very hyped and happy for my team right now, since the last time they made it to the Conference final was in 1993 and they ended up winning the Cup that year. Man, that would be sweet. Go Habs Go!

That's all for now. See ya soon!

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Playball!

Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? Mid-February was the last time I blogged. I've been somewhat busy and haven't really had the drive to write a blog. I did record a video blog, but it seems that Windows 7 just doesn't support my webcam or its drivers, so I ended up without sound.

Had a birthday on March 16th. I turned 39. Yeah, that is old for most of you on here, but for me, it's only a number. I still feel very young at heart. Family-wise, my sister will give birth in May to a girl and she asked me to be the Godfather. We are all quite excited and cannot wait to see baby Kellie. As for my job well, things are going pretty well. I'm really loving my new functions.

Alright, onto games now. One game, and one game only, has kept me hooked for the past month or so: MLB 10: The Show. To say that I adore this game would be an understatement. Not only is it an awesome game, but it has also reinvigorated my love for the game of baseball. As you might have noticed from my new profile layout, I am a proud member of Red Sox Nation. I've also subscribed to MLB TV for the year, so I can watch as much baseball as possible, and am planning a trip to Boston to see the BoSox play.

I've also played my fair share of Final Fantasy XIII. I got up to chapter 10 and completely stopped playing it. Why? Well, I just got tired of it after 20 hours of senseless storytelling and annoying characters. Also, the game progresses so slowly compared to North-American RPGs like Mass Effect 2 and Fallout 3, that I found myself getting annoyed at its snail-like progression. On the other hand, the combat is pretty cool, with the paradigm shifts coming into play brilliantly. I'll surely go back to it during my vacation and try to finish it. We'll see how that goes.

Last but not least, Heavy Rain. Man was that game amazing. Brilliant storytelling, strong characters and great gameplay are this wonderful game's strong points. Each action you take in the game has a direct influence on how the story will unfold. Hell, I found myself pausing the game and taking time to think what to do next on several occasions. If you haven't played this, do so.

Other games I've played in the last couple of weeks include Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Lips Party Classics. Although Bad Company 2 is a pretty good shooter, I found the checkpoints to be horrible in the single player portion of the game. The online is great, but it's not for me, as I am one of the worst online shooter players out there. As for Lips, it's the weakest entry in the series.

Alright, that's enough. I've wasted enough of your time already. I'll try to do more of these on a constant basis, but I ain't promising anything. However, I thank you for reading and wish you a happy Easter holiday.

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Massively in Shock

Hello dear readers, and welcome once again to another chapter in the thrilling life of yours truly. 


Not so long ago, I finished my 3rd game for 2010, after 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand and Borderlands. Mass Effect 2 is the culprit this time around. I clocked in over 40 hours on this baby and let me tell you, it was well worth it. However, my experience started off a bit badly, since I couldn't import my character from the first game. Reason for this, it seems, is that my copy was in French. Nonetheless, I really dug my experience with a newly designed Denis Shepard (which actually looked like Alex Navarro for no reason). The story is epic, the characters are unforgettable, the graphics are sharp and oftentimes gorgeous, and the shooting mechanics are spot on. No game is perfect however, and Mass Effect 2 is a good example of that. The squad AI is still jerky, as they often got in the way and didn't take cover while under heavy gunfire. They are much better than in the first game however. The whole scanning planets for minerals thing gets very annoying and atrociously boring after a while too. Nonetheless, Mass Effect 2 is an amazing game which left a long-lasting impression on me. If you like a good story and unforgettable characters, definitely check it out. 


Another game I've been playing lately is BioShock 2. I'm nearing the end on this one and. I know this has been said ad nauseam everywhere, but I didn't get the same mixed feelings of excitement and dread upon re-entering Rapture as I did upon my first visit to Andrew Ryan's underwater utopia. Playing as a prototype Big Daddy, codenamed Delta, is alright for the most part, as you go around beating up Splicers and chasing down Little Sisters to adopt (or harvest) for Adam. Protecting the Little Sister as she gathers the Adam is fun at the start, but gets old really quickly. Fighting the Big Sisters is fun and quite difficult as you progress through the game, as strategy becomes a prerequisite to taking them down in later levels. While the first part of the game is somewhat monotonous, the latter part of it is quite enjoyable and full of nifty surprises. In fact, I felt as if I were playing two totally different games from the BioShock universe rather than the same one. I wasn't impressed and quite bored with BioShock 2 before the second part rolled around, and now, I can't get enough of it and would want it to continue! 


The upcoming weeks will see my PlayStation 3 getting some love, as Heavy Rain comes out on the 23rd of February and MLB 10: The Show on the 2nd of March. Heavy Rain looks absolutely fantastic with its cinematic gameplay. I really need to play the demo for that one as soon as I'm done with BioShock 2. As for MLB 10, I really enjoyed MLB 09 and this one looks to be even better. There's also Final Fantasy XIII, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Metro 2033 on the horizon. I have a feeling this is going to be another fantastic year for games. 


That's all for now. Thank you for reading and see you guys soon.

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Completely Completed

 Hello boys and girls. it's your buddy Denis here again with another boring and strung-out blog for your reading pleasure.

I just got done with playing 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand. And when I say "done", I mean "done". I got every achievement in the game (including the secret one) and all 1000 points. I hadn't gotten all achievements in a game since Pac-Man CE way back in 2008, and hadn't done so for a retail game since... Fight Night Round 3! Nonetheless, it's an awesome feeling when you see that 1000G shining on the screen. I had a partner in crime throughout most of my endeavor, Mr. Darren Moore. I would like to personally thank him for helping me get that 1000G. This doesn't mean I'll become an achievement junkie however. I really do not have that kind of patience!

As for other games I've been playing, there's not much to report here. I've entered the Star Trek Online beta. This is my very first MMO experience (shocking, I know) and I'm digging it so far. I haven't played a whole lot of it, because the servers and lag have been really bad when I played, but I have done a couple of quests. My username on there is NeoJedi and the name of my ship is the USS Motherless Goat (free beer to anyone who guesses where that's from). I'm playing as a male Vulcan named Tarok. I highly doubt I'll get the retail game though.

I've completely stopped playing Borderlands. I actually think that I overdosed on it and cannot, for the life of me, go back and play it anymore. That doesn't mean that I hate the game. I have no idea if and when I'll get back into it, with Mass Effect 2 and BioShock 2 coming in the next couple of weeks, amongst other titles.

On a more personal note, things weren't going so well since the beginning of the year. Lots of issues came up recently that had me losing sleep. However, I'm happy to report that things seem to be back to normal, for the most part anyway. I got a promotion at work, which basically consists of me having a more hands-on contact with the clients we support via emails. I won't go into the full job description so not to bore you to death, but I'm very happy about this.

Anyway, I've wasted enough of your time. Talk to you guys soon!
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Twenty-Ten

Let's start this blog off the right way. Happy New Year to everybody out there. Hope you get everything you desire, and more.

All right, with that out of the way, let's talk games. On " that site that I write for", we did our Best & Worst of 2009 awards thingy. If you guys are interested, go check it out and tell me what you think. If I had to round out my top 3 games of the year, they would be MLB 09 in third, Batman: Arkham Asylum in second and Assassin's Creed II in first. So I guess that means Assassin's Creed II is my Game of the Year, eh? Deservedly so. Such a wonderful game and a huge step up from its predecessor. Don't get me wrong however, Batman and MLB 09 are both incredible games in their own right, and both are games that I never expected to like, but there can only be one. As for 2010, well the list is quite long of titles I am looking forward to. My top 3 would be Mass Effect 2, BioShock 2 and Max Payne 3. Of course, there are a bunch more, so don't go naming me every game from 2010 that I haven't mentioned.

Lately, I've been playing Borderlands. I got it right before New Year's and have been enjoying it ever since. Although the story and ambiance can't compare to Fallout 3, which is my favorite RPG of all time, it is quite good at what it does. The shooting mechanic is quite satisfying, as there are literally a bazillion types of guns to choose from, with different statistics and colors. I am currently a level 26 soldier, for those interested in knowing that fact. Also, on Monday, I should receive 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand in the mail (hooray for snail mail during the Holidays!). I decided to get that one after GameSpot named it their Most Surprisingly Good Game of 2009, and also because some of my buddies got it and said it was quite good. We'll see. I completely stopped playing Red Faction: Guerrilla's single player a while back, since I found it to be annoyingly repetitive and bland. Played a chunk of the multiplayer and found it quite fun though.

I guess that's it for now. I'll see you guys when I see you. Take care.

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Tis The Season

 Don't you just love it when somebody says that they'll do something and they end up not delivering the goods? I know I do. In my last blog, I told you guys I'd do a video blog and, well, I didn't deliver. I'm sorry about that. Things have been hectic around the office and at home, with the Holidays just around the corner, that I haven't had the time nor the desire to do a DBoy's Den. However, I have some vacation time coming my way over the Holidays, and I'll do my best to make one.

Moving on to video games now. Just yesterday, I completed Assassin's Creed II. It took me a while to get through it, but it wasn't because I had a hard time with the game. I just took my time and did a lot of stuff on the side, like assassination missions and so on. I really enjoyed the game a whole lot. Everything within Assassin's Creed II is a huge improvement over the first game. The combat flows evenly and elegantly, as does the parkour, and the story and characters are a huge step up from the previous game. As for the ending, it's a lot let disappointing than in the first game. However, I found myself wondering where Ubisoft are going with the series after witnessing this somewhat eye-widening ending. Regardless, Assassin's Creed II is a fantastic game which you should check out, even if you didn't like the first game. It's a very strong contender for my Game of the Year, that's for sure.

The next games I'll be playing might surprise some of you. Actually, these are two games I've downloaded off of Xbox Live. One of them is a classic. The other one came out at the beginning of 2009 and is part of the Games on Demand. I purchased Indigo Prophecy and Red Faction: Guerrilla. Why those two games? I decided to get Indigo Prophecy after watching Giant Bomb's quick look on the game. Actually, I wanted to get that game a long time ago, but never got around to doing so. Also, with Heavy Rain coming in 2010 from the same developers (Quantic Dream), I thought now would be as good a time as any to check it out. As for Red Faction, I saw it on the Games on Demand service and decided to download it. Never got around to playing it in January, and I'd seen that a couple of people had been playing it lately, including GameSpot's own Kevin Van Ord. Should be quite fun destroying everything.

If you guys want to know what my Game of the Year will be, amongst other things, you're going to have to head on over to "that other website I write for" to get the lowdown. We're doing a Best of 2009 special over there, and I hope you guys will come on over and check it out. Also, I've asked for Borderlands for Christmas (hell, I didn't know what to ask for this year), so I might be playing that on Christmas day and afterwards. Add to that the video blog and I'll be a busy bee during the Holidays. Nonetheless, I hope to see you online during that time so we can get some gaming on together.

Have a safe and happy Holiday. See you guys soon.

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