Kevin Smith Remembers Ryan Davis

I was listening to Hollywood Babble-On this afternoon, and to my surprise, Kevin Smith, had some really nice words to say about Ryan Davis. It's been over a week and the outpouring of love continues. Only further testament of the reach that Ryan Davis had. Here is the link to the clip I posted on my blog.

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Our Fallen Duder: An Ode to Mr. Ryan Davis

In the midst of morning routine, I was struck down by what at first I thought to be a joke. Sadly, it was not. It was a sobering reality, and a cruel reminder of all of our own mortality. One of our own was taken from us, the community. More importantly, the game of life seized a beloved newlywed, and friend to those that held him closest to their hearts, his family and friends. Words cannot begin to extend my condolences to those that loved him the most. I truly am sorry for your tremendous loss today.

I personally never met Ryan, but from what I have read throughout the day, I really wish I would have at least tried to reach out to him and simply say thanks. Thanks for the countless hours you provided entertainment for me. Whether it was TNT, TANG, Unprofessional Friday, or many of the shows on the site, I knew that if Ryan was involved I would not regret spending time consuming that content. To me, Ryan ranks up there on the Mt. Rushmore of podcasters, and his skills would always shine brightest during his live broadcasts. There really is no comparison between the Bombcast and the rest of the numerous gaming podcast on the web. For me, Tuesdays will not be the same, but I owe to the Giant Bomb family to continue to support the foundation that Ryan, Jeff and the rest of the crew have laid in the hundreds of hours they spent shooting the shit with each other. It never mattered to me how long the podcasts were. All I knew is that for the next three hours Ryan would be taking me for an aural ride, and I was ready to go along for that ride.

Once again, since I never took the time to say thanks to the duder, I'll do it again. THANKS a million times over.

To his friends and to his wife, thanks for sharing Ryan with the world.

We all lost a great person today, but his memory will shine bright for years to come. I hope to be able to say thanks to you in the big video game in the sky someday.

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I Am Batman!

A little over two years ago, a game by the name of Batman Arkham Asylum was released. Not only was it released, it was surprisingly a very good game. It was a revelation to everyone that licensed video games, and those based on super heroes can be great games too. The polish and attention to detail to this game left everyone wanting more. On October 18th, 2011 we all got more, and it was good.

Batman Arkham City picks up right where the previous title left off in both gameplay and storytelling. BAC brings to life the blue prints that were laid out in the prequel via an Easter egg, which I am not proud to say, I did not find.

To me, BAC delivers in a big way. It allows you to feel like the title character in every way imaginable. The combat that was excellent in the previous game is back and is refined in such a way that it allows you to implement gadgets into fist fights in a way that the previous game did not. Also added are new combos that allow for brutal beat downs of your foes. Also back for more are the challenge rooms. Like last time, these are a great way for anyone to showcase their free flow combat abilities, and try to string together as long a combo as possible. As an added bonus, you can play as Batman, Catwoman, and Robin if you have the DLC packs that were made available to those who purchased the game new and from the right retailer. A detailed list of what you get when you pre-ordered the game can be found at Giant Bomb.

One of the biggest complaints I have found about BAC is that it does not do anything different from the previous title. To me, this is not a bad thing at all. This is one of those classic cases that proves the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." BAC gives us, the gamer, more of what we wanted in the first place. A larger world, more missions, more characters to play as, more villains, more riddles, and best of all more challenge rooms to show off our skills.

After playing this game, I am once again left with the same feeling I had after finishing Arkham Asylum. I want more! Luckily, more challenge rooms are on their way in the form of DLC and new playable character. Nightwing!

On a final note, this game is easily one of the best games of the year. If you have yet to play this game, hurry up and get it, play it and enjoy it.

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Halo 3: From College to the Present

 Halo 3 has always been a game to me that has been all about the multiplayer aspect of it, rather than it’s story. When I was first introduced to this franchise, I was really reluctant to actually play the game for the simple reason that i was not that good at it. As I saw my neighbors at the dorms get really into the Halo 2 multi-player I was intrigued, yet intimidating to me. The main reason for that was that I had not played a competitive shooter since the Golden Eye days. As time went on, I was encouraged by the aforementioned friends, and began to get into this game. In the beginning, I absolutely hated it. The control scheme was like nothing I was accustomed to in gaming, and to be quite honest, the dual joysticks were something that was putting me off to this otherwise, great shooter. For me, it became really easy to understand why modern games are so intimidating for casual gamers, and why something like the Wii, Kinect, and Playstation Move would appeal to most non-gamers. More after the jump.

Let’s face it, the Halo franchise is a franchise made for the hardcore gamer, and it occasionally appeals to casual gamers as well. At this point, I was in the transition from being somewhere in the middle of these categories to transitioning to being more of a hardcore gamer. By the time Halo 3 came around, I was hooked on the game, especially its multiplayer. In fact, I had not completed, or attempted to play the campaign. All I cared about was getting better at multiplayer, and slowly but surely, my skills began to improve. No longer was I the player that would end up in last place every round with a big goose egg for a score. Improvement to my game was becoming slow but noticeable. The improvement was a combination of playing more, and adapting to the play-styles of my friends. Like any great comedian, actor, athlete, you name it, I would study they way they played, and tried to emulate those techniques while merging those of the other guys together to be able to create a better play-style for myself.

Like most of the things I write about on this blog, the experiences I had playing this game were made great by the people I would play with. This was a way to kill time and just have a good time with good people. The Halo sessions we would have were something else. On a regular basis, we would have at least three people hooked up to Sir Nate Campbell’s glorious HD tube television. This doesn’t say much for our study habits, or our midweek social lives. At the end of the day we were socializing like most college age dudes would, around a television, knocking back a few brews and having a great time doing so.

One of the things that was the most fun about playing Halo with the old college crew was that we could never work as a cohesive unit. This was one thing I could never emulate and adapt as my own play-style. However, this was where most of the fun occurred, and where most of the most memorable moments were created. One of the things that quickly comes to mind is how I would always get betrayed, and in turn, would betray Mr. Cheng. This was not a something that was isolated to the two of us. In fact, we were all became pretty decent players individually. As a team, it was a completely different story. We could never win consistently, and most of the time our games would just boil down to being betrayal fests. At the end of the day, it was always great fun.

Since graduating, the Halo sessions have gone considerably down, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Halo sessions are now down to once or twice a week at the most. In essence, it makes me appreciate that a little more, and it also makes me realize that we have all moved on, and our well on our way to developing and pursuing our individual careers. All I know is that whenever the group gets together the betrayal and the fun will continue.

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Redemption of the Red Dead Variety

First and foremost, this post is well overdue. If you look at my achievements you can see that I beat this game over the summer. With the ever-expanding duties I have at work it becomes a little tougher to write on a regular basis. Be that as it may, this is not a review of the game. It is simply my experiences with the aforementioned game, and how I enjoyed playing this title.

Leading up to playing this game I had the pleasure of playing several titles from Rockstar Games, and their parent company, Take 2. For the most part, I enjoy the games that come from this company. The most fun I have had with games from Rockstar has been from the Grand Theft Auto series as it provides vast open worlds for the player to wreak havoc on. Though the formula remained virtually the same, the story telling, in my honest opinion, got better with every title that succeeded Grand Theft Auto III. I imagine that like me, this was many gamers’ first experience with the work of Rockstar and open-world games. At this point, I fell in love with this game play style as it was completely different from any other offerings being presented by other developers at the time. Although some have soured on the genre, I feel like it is still a very relevant genre with a lot of room to grow, and in the case of Red Dead Redemption, it did.

At the time that I heard about Red Dead Redemption, the idea of mixing GTA with a western seemed strange, yet very intriguing to me. After taking some time to read reviews about the game and seeing many on my friends list playing this game I decided to take the plunge and buy this game. When I first loaded the game, the game felt really familiar and playing it came so naturally to me, even if it was a brand new setting for this style of game. The differences between this game and other games in the genre quickly began to become obvious to me. Of these differences, the most notable one, and also the most obvious was the western story and setting that is involved with this game. I do not consider myself a fan of westerns, but for some unfamiliar reason I was immediately sucked into the game.

Typically, I get tired of travelling from one part of the map to the other, but the way travel was implemented with skills challenges allowed for even the most tedious part in open world games to be very enjoyable. The skills challenges in this game make travelling in the world very enjoyable because it keeps you on the lookout for wild flowers, animals and other things that, normally, you would ignore or simply skip in fast travel. It truly is an intuitive way to keep the gamer involved in all aspects of the game, and, in turn, makes the gamer appreciate all of the hard work and dedication that went into making this world that we get to play in. Too me, this is a great attention to detail from the developer, and it is also a token of appreciation to the gamer for supporting the developer.

Of all of the Rockstar games I have played, John Marston has been my favorite protagonist. This is mainly due to his story being one of redemption. Early on we get some background of Marston’s history and it is shown that he has not always been a person that has been involved in legal proceedings. This really works for me because throughout the course of the game, the only thing you want to do is get back to your family, clear your name, and live a quite life. You go about this by taking up tasks that will help clear your name and establish a new reputation for you in the process. You are simply trying to redeem yourself in order to live a simple life with your family. To me, a redemption story is a perfect narrative for a western game. It simply works for this type of game. Let me just say that if Rockstar decided to make this game into a movie, I would not be opposed to having them make it. I would love to see Rockstar take a stab at it instead of having a movie studio do it. They did such a great job at creating a world with a very detailed atmosphere that giving someone else a chance to do it would almost be detrimental to this brand.

When it comes to game mechanics, the one I enjoyed the most was the implementation of Dead Eye, aka, bullet time. The implementation and execution of this mechanic is done in such a way that you feel rewarded for using this. I found myself trying to get the most bang for my buck with the time you get to use it and the gun I elected to use. It is extremely satisfying to be able to take out a gang of enemies all at once. I really don’t need to elaborate much on this, I just urge you to go out and try it for yourself.

So there you have it. I have given you my thoughts on the things that worked for me with this game. I really enjoyed working my way through this game and was very satisfied spending several hours on this game. It also didn’t hurt that this is the first game I have ever earned 100% completion on. Once I achieved that, I truly felt like there was nothing more for me to do with this game.

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Follow the Light, Alan Wake

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about Red Dead Redemption and what my experience with the game was like. As many gamers know, these games are linked, mainly because they were both released in the same month, and both are critically acclaimed. However, that is where the similarities for these two games end. For one, Red Dead crushed Alan Wake in the month of May, one is an open world game, and the other is an action-adventure thriller. I had the privilege of playing both games and can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed both titles as both provided different game play styles.

For me, Alan Wake works because it is not your typical third-person shooter, it is beyond that. The basics of the typical third-person shooter are there, and are done very well, but that’s not all that is there. The constant quest of finding the light and using light is an element that helps separate this title from other third-person shooters I have played over the years. In hindsight, that is not the main reason that this game was very enjoyable to me. The main element in this game that made it very enjoyable was its narrative. Alan Wake truly focused on telling a story that you could play through. This shouldn’t have come to the surprise of anyone who played this game, as it is stated on the cover art, a psychological action thriller. Maybe I should have judged this game by its cover, as it fully delivered on that description.

I can’t seem to say this enough, this game just worked for me in all aspects. Even in the few times where the game play felt like it was getting stale, a taken would jump out and mix things up and keep me on my toes. My only disappointment with this game is that it didn’t sell as well as it should have. Like the many people, and reviewers who mentioned this before, I urge you to play this game. You will not be disappointed. Words simply cannot describe how good and different this game is. Believe me when I say this, in a year that has had a lot of good titles hit the market, this is truly a must have. If you have waited this long to get your hands on it you are in luck as most retailers are selling this at a discounted rate. I’ve said it before, but it needs repeating, buy this game.

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The List: Top 5 Games Played in 2010

As the year comes to an end, I have decided that it's time to strike up the keyboard again and give you and inside look at what I thought were the best games I played this year. Just as a side note, the games on this list are those that were released this year, it does not include those that I played this year from previous years. With that business out of the way I present to you the list.

5) NBA Jam: This game was originally supposed to come to the XBox as an incentive for people to buy EA's NBA Elite 11. Fortunately, that was not the case because the game wouldn't have ever come to this console, due to Elite being canceled. $40 later I have found myself not being able to put down the controller and reliving my childhood with this excellent reboot of the franchise. This is an excellent tribute to a game that many of us spent many quarters playing at the arcade. The attention to detail is second-to-none and for this it comes in at my list at number 5.

4) Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit: It has been several years since I purchased a racing game and it has not been a disappointment nor a waste of my time or money. The game is a solid arcade style racer and the implementation of Autolog, an online component that includes leaderboards and game recommendations, helps make this game a must play, nay, a must buy for anyone with any dose of competitiveness in them. If you enjoy competing against your friends, even when it's not shooting at each other in COD, then you will not be disappointed.

3) Red Dead Redemption: This was going to be on the list. Just a matter of where it was going to land. On this list it lands right in the middle at number 3. This game puts together all of the things that worked in the Grand Theft Auto series and brings them to a different setting and time. The story is solid and the gameplay simply works in this one. Too me, this game was more enjoyable than GTA IV, and that is saying something because I really enjoyed that game. Unlike other games that are being put out today, this is one that will require you to sink in many hours into the single-player campaign. On top of that, there is a multiplayer component to the game.

2) Alan Wake/ Halo Reach: I admit to doing a little cheating here but I just felt it necessary to do so. First, these games are both XBox exclusives. Second, they both seem to be significant to Microsoft going forward. One is the end of an era and the other, I hope, is the beginning of the next era for Microsoft Game Studios. Alan Wake is a solid title for the Xbox that delivers one of the best stories in a game. More about what I thought about this game can be found here. As for Halo, well, this title brings an end to Bungie's involvement with the game that revolutionized console first-person shooters. Though technically a prequel in the series, it truly feels like the end of the series. The way in which the game ends makes you believe that this is the case. The multiplayer in this game confirms the reason that this is still one of the best, if not the best console multiplayer shooter out there today.

1) Mass Effect 2: This game was released at the beginning of the year and has had a lot of competition up to date to be dethroned from its spot at number one. Unfortunately for other games and fortunate for this one that it did not happen. For those that have a PS3, consider yourselves lucky that this game is finally coming to your console of choice. Hell, you will get a double dose of this game in the same calendar year as Mass Effect 3 will be released next year. Though their is a clear beginning and an end to this game, how you get there is all up to you, Sheppard. This is one of those games that once you finish it you will want to dive in again and invest 40 more hours in it. To this day, I have yet to meet someone that did not enjoy this game. This truly has something for every one.

So there you have it. The list of the my best games of 2010. Here's to hoping that 2011 is as good as 2010 was.

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