On Ryan Davis.

(i wrote this out as a way to help me sort out my feelings on the news. im fine with no-one ever reading it but i really needed to write it.)

okay so ive been off the internet since last weekend, and i come home to find out that Ryan Davis has passed away. as I'm trying to process this, i find myself hoping its a prank, or a stunt. maybe Ryan always wanted to fake his own death and he pulled his industry connections together to help him make it happen as a wedding gift. though thats probably not true, its what i hope is happening, and i hope to hear his voice on the bombcast on tuesday. that will probably not be the case and im probably going to have to move on with my life, and try to deal with what feels like a real actual friend's death. a death that in some ways i dont feel like i have the right to be this upset about, but ive listened to probably over a thousand hours of podcast of the man, and watched him on video for at least a hundred hours as well and you cant help but feel something at least similar to friendship for someone after that. its something ive thought about a lot recently, as podcasting and internet personalities become more prominent, you let these people into your life that you feel this fucking HUGE amount of emotional attachment to. Ryan Davis was (and still is, and will forever be) linked directly into the part of my brain and of my heart where happiness and fun reside. we get a window into his life and into the lives of those similar to him through which they broadcast pure fucking joy, and we get spoiled. it gets easy to forget that they have lives and problems and bad days and we forget that the window can and will close someday and theres nothing we can do about it. the whole constructed relationship with the user that Giant Bomb has built is so tenuous and new that i bet a lot of people never even considered the real implications of it. they thought it would be fun to let us in on everything that was involved with the running of the site, and even in the relationships and lives of the people involved. Giant Bomb takes us on the ride with them, for better or for worse. its all been exhilarating and innovative and creative and purely funny and joyous until now. now we see the other side of the coin. we bought the ticket, and this is the bad part of the ride. this is the part no one considered. for every thought-provoking conversation, every chaotic live show, every podcast, every laugh, every setback, and every triumph Ryan let us share with him this loss is felt that much harder. i feel like whatever this is is about as close to an "RIP" as i feel like i know how to write, because a simple "rest in peace" feels cheap and somehow maybe this diatribe is (to me, at least) of a little more value. i don't know. what i do know is that it hurts now, but we'll get past it. and hopefully Jeff and the guys can figure out a way to keep the party rolling, and hopefully they keep letting us in because i know i need a laugh now more than ever.

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So, I started up Yakuza 4

About 2 weeks ago, I finished up Yakuza 3, which was one of the games along with uncharted and MGS4 that motivated me to buy my PS3. I thought it had a very fun story with a lot of “ANIKI!!” and “OMAERA!!!” being shouted and a lot of suit jackets, shirts, and ties being ripped off with one hand before brawls ensue. I had a few criticisms by the end, like the combat becoming too repetitive by the final hours of the game and that after a while, Kamurocho feels a bit dead. One can only buy so many C.C. Lemons at the Don Quixote before the novelty of the Faux-Kabukicho starts to wear off.

“Hey Baby, you wanna take out an extremely concerning interest-free loan?”

So far Yakuza 4 has taken some steps in order to address those concerns in particular. The most obvious is the inclusion of four playable characters. I’ve only played with Shun Akiyama, the Hobo-Turned-Loan-Shark with a heart of gold (or a gold plated heart. this is Kamurocho after all, nobody is an angel). He fights more like a Tae-Kwon Do master than your more typical underworld ruffian. First off, his standard rush combo is already flashier than almost anything Kazuma Kiryu could pull off. This is a welcome change, and makes the game seem fresh instead of just another storyline stretched over an admittedly stale combat system. The other great change that I’ve encountered is that Kamurocho has been expanded vertically, adding new underground and rooftop areas to run about in. I'm sure I’m going to have to use these to dodge some heat later in the game, but for right now all I’ve found there are locker keys.

I look forward to more ping-pong, hostesses, karaoke, and grievous bodily injury. Only time will tell if Yakuza 4 can measure up to the government intrigue and Okinawan madness of the previous installment. i hope it does, because so far im pretty impressed.


On the subject of the Mass Effect series and how it ended.

I know talking about the ending has been done to death, but I just wanted to get my thoughts on it written down. I originally posted this on Destructoid's community blogs, but i wanted to throw it up here as well. also, there are spoilers in this. but i assume you knew that by the title.

"Liara, we need to talk about all those screens in your room. Every time i walk in there they all... look at me. its creepy. and it only ever displays one big image. do you ever even use them? how much did we even spend on them?"

I don't feel that my decisions were not taken into account in Mass Effect 3. I sort of feel like the entire third game is what should be considered the "Ending" of Mass Effect, because expecting the final 10 minutes of a story of over 100 hours to touch on everything you did leading up to it is outrageous. I saw what I had done to the universe, to the people I (meaning Shepard) loved, and I felt the weight of my decisions the entire time. I think the game succeeded in that regard. If any change was made to the ending, I think it should have ended sooner than it did. I felt all the closure I needed when Shepard and Anderson are sitting together looking down at the earth they somehow managed to save.

"Joker, have you ever wished this thing had, like, some other colors besides orange? I mean you're the one who has to look at them all the time, so I figured I would ask. No? Oh okay, cool. You like orange. that's cool."

Mass Effect, for all its galactic war and politics, struck me as a very personal story. It was about a small group of people drawn together by their circumstances, and bonded by friendship as they hurled themselves toward almost certain death. It was about sacrifice. It was about making tough decisions and dealing with the consequences. What it wasn't (or shouldn't have been) about was what happens ten thousand years after the end of the game. That's some other crew's story. I could care less about the implications of my actions in the far-flung future. I care about whether or not Tali will be able to finally settle down and build her house on her homeworld and if Wrex can restore his people from the brink of extinction. i care about Cortez being able to finally forgive himself and find closure about the death of his husband. I care about Joker and EDI and whether or not she can forgive me for being too weak to give the Geth another chance. I cared about my crew in Mass Effect. Probably more than i ever have about other characters in a video game. I felt for them and I worried and for better or for worse I knew that what I did made a difference to them. That is how Mass Effect really ended for me. I don't think Bioware has any obligation to do anything about their ending, because the great thing about fiction is that its up to the person reading or watching or playing it to take away from it what they want regardless of the intent of its creator. what I took away from Mass Effect was pretty incredible, and something that no new forced ending could ever hope to improve on.


My Problem With Commitment in the Realm of Entertainment

Its not really as bad as it looks. Laser axes are pretty cool.

Allow me to describe my problem. If I know something is good (be it a game, film, TV show, whatever), and if it would require even the most minimal commitment of attention or emotion, I will avoid engaging with it in favor of a lower impact or lower quality experience. This re-entered my mind as I was compiling a list of all the movies I have seen, and I found myself checking off more movies like Wild Wild West than movies like (and specifically) Schindler's List or Citizen Kane. This applies to games as well. I currently have Deus Ex: Human Revolution in my 360, but I cant seem to stop cutting down swaths of zakus and their ilk in Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3. Gundam 3 is the worse game and I know it, but the idea of having to put on headphones and shut off whatever podcast I'm listening to is enough to keep me from Deus Ex, and so far I love Deus Ex! The combined might of Call of Duty: Black Ops and Super Street Fighter 4 have kept me from finishing Shadows of the Damned, Dead Space, MGS4, Bastion, and L.A. Noire. I could keep going, but im sure you get the picture.

Basically what I'm wondering is: am I the only maniac who pulls this sort of thing?