Regenerating Health (Rant)

Some people classify me as an old school gamer. My first console I ever played was the ColecoVision. I don't remember playing it that well, but it obviously had an impact on me as a child. The one thing I remember from that era of Video games (Nes, Genesis, Atari) was that games were very tough (especially some of the NES games). One miss step and you were back at the very beginning. That is an example of games being to hard and people lose interest very quickly if they need to go through that nonsense over and over again. The one redeeming factor of those games was the tension you felt playing them. Because one miss step could send you back, it was like walking a tight rope during an earthquake and some people loved that. I love tension in video games but that kind of tension is meaningless to me because if I have to start at the very beginning I begin to lose interest.

As gaming progressed through the years and as developers were starting to take advantage of the new hardware that was being released, games began taking on a more atmospheric level, where the visuals were good enough to stir emotions in people regardless of the difficulty. Graphics became the top selling point of games for a while. After the developers and the gaming community settled down after the introduction of better graphics, that's where developers started to make the best games I have ever played (1993-2004). These games were so great because they were well balanced, atmospheric pleasantries that challenged you without it being incredibly hard or repetitive. Some of these games were Starcraft, Thief, Doom, Doom 2, Metal Gear Solid, Halo 1 and others. The pacing also factored in to the games where it gradually up'd the atmosphere and tension instead of throwing you in the frying pan. These games were also difficult to a certain extent. You always needed to watch your health, look out for medkits and other things that might help along your way to getting through a difficult level. Tactics also played an important roll. For example, if you were low on health and there were no medkits around, at that moment you need to force yourself to change tactics or die. When you completed a relatively difficult section of the game, you felt like you accomplished something. Speaking for myself, I remember many times playing these games I got great satisfaction from completing a difficult level in a game through using different tactics in different circumstances. The tension during those situation made the game even more satisfactory and immersive.

Today though (in my opinion) it's quite a different experience with a small group of exceptions. It's funny how one small change to games can take away so much. That change is the introduction of regenerating health. If your relatively new to gaming you could have a hard time understanding how big of change regenerating health makes to games. No longer do you need to worry about finding things to survive, no longer do you need to change your tactics. Just hide and heal and move on. No longer is there any real tension. Can you imagine if you were playing a game like Dark Souls, and all you needed to do to get your health back is to stay away from enemies for a few seconds, would that kill all tension in the game? I would like to think so. Instead of using tactics to defeat enemies in Dark Souls, just stand there and get your health back. The game would be meaningless with no challenge, no feeling of accomplishment.

What is the developer standpoint or regenerating health? The developers that do use it say it's there to keep the action going without any slow down. My question would be, what's the point of having all action and no substance? Sure it's nice to see everything around me explode, but if I can come out of that unscathed without needing to do much of anything, where is the experience? Where is the balance between action and survival? Any sense of tension and accomplishment is lost when I know if I just avoid enemies for a few seconds, I'm back to full strength. I would rather have a game that challenges myself and rewards me for getting through those challenges instead of hand-holding me through the experience.

Am I saying that games today are too easy? No. What I'm trying to explain is that, I remember a time when video games were an experience, when getting through a difficult situation felt rewarding, when changing tactics meant changing the gameplay experience. Can regenerating health be a good thing? Yes, if used properly. For example, you only get regenerating health when you equip a certain item, but at the same time, that item should have some negative effects for instance, you get regenerating health, but you lose points in other attributes. You now have turned regenerating health into a tactical choice rather than build your game around it.

These are just some of my thoughts on regenerating health. Thanks for reading.


Capcom and DLC.....YOUR DOING IT WRONG!!

Oh my God! (That's right I didn't just type OMG, I typed the whole phrase because this deserves it!)

Capcom... *sigh*. Does Capcom understand the concept of DLC at all? Oh wait, instead of releasing DLC, they release the whole game AGAIN, with extra content.

Exhibit A) Street Fighter 4. Street Fighter 4 is a great game. The graphics are great, the game has a lot of depth, certainly more depth than most other fighting games and it has a good online system. I had a good time with the game and I couldn't wait for the DL.....wait. Oh no you didn't!!

That's right, Capcom re-released the whole game again with some extra content and called it Super Street Fighter 4. Get it?? Just Like Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo?? This isn't the Super NES era Capcom, then you would have an excuse to re-release the game because there was no other way to get extra content into the game without re-releasing it, but today there is something called DLC. I mean why is Capcom wasting it's money, burning more disks, printing new manuals and box art and totally overpricing the so called *Super* edition of it's game? This would be acceptable 15 years ago, but today it's a joke.

Now, what about Marvel vs. Capcom 3? Some people consider the game a failure since it never lived up to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, which was an epic game in it's own right, and they would be right, but I still enjoyed the game. Again, the online is great and the graphics are really good and the cast of characters is ok, a little lacking, but pretty good. Capcom did release DLC for the game adding some new characters, which what they should have done with Street Fighter 4. Now, I can kind of see the nostalgia by Capcom releasing a *Super* version of it's latest Street Fighter game simply because that's what they always have done. What I think might have been a better decision is to release DLC that turns your original Street Fighter 4 game into the *Super* version, but when the game loads up, you get a choice to play the *Super* version or the Original Street Fighter 4. With Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Capcom did the right thing and released DLC for it which saved gamers money and downloaded the characters they wanted.

But...Guess what????? Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is coming out!!! New stages and characters and only $40 dollars!! Why, oh Why do this Capcom!? This *Ultimate* version doesn't even come with the DLC characters. You have to buy those apart from the Ultimate edition . Capcom just walked up to gamers and slapped them in the face with this announcement. Why not make this DLC?? It doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm not a hardcore fighting game fan. I guess the same thing goes with every other fan of any other genre. A perfect example is Halo ODST, which was gonna be DLC, then at the last minute, Microsoft said not to release it as DLC but as a retail release and include all the maps from Halo 3 multiplayer and charge $60. If you were a Halo fanboy, you would have been on that like a fat kid on a Smartie, just as the Capcom fanboys are with this ridiculous Ulitmalte Marvel vs. Capcom 3 announcement.

Now to be fair, Capcom is not the only one guilty of such money sucking schemes, but DLC does exist for a reason. It adds content to your game at an affordable price, not just for the consumer, but for the developer. There are no costs for the disks, cases and manuals and no retail store gets a cut of your profit. I just find it hard to believe that a developer can re-release the same game again with extra content and not rip of it's customers.

The sad truth is, people will still buy these games for some personal reason or another. I think it's time to make a Business decision. I hope that people in the future see through this BS and not purchase something as ridiculous as this.

Thanks for Reading!


Third Parties getting the crap kicked out of them by Microsoft

Read link then read the blog below and leave a comment if you want.

I love this story posted by 1UP. We seldom see these kinds of things since they are mostly hidden from the public and locked away. This article illustrates a very good point about Business. There are two ways to get to the top in Business. A) Make a products that sells insanely well that exceeds all expectations (mostly luck) or B) Make ridiculous rules and regulations that swing the fight in your favor. Most Business that do well usually do the latter rather than the former. It's very rare you see a Business make it big just by honestly selling a product (One such example is Apple with it's iPod, which sold millions mostly by luck). So lets sum up the article a little:

The first thing that strikes me is the first point in which two rules are set by Microsoft for a game to be allowed on the 360. 1) The game cannot be released on other platforms before the 360, and 2) The game must contain at least as much content on the disk as the other platforms. Now the second point does gimp the PS3 a little as the Blu-ray disks do have a lot more space then your standard DVD-9 disks, so by indirectly limiting the amount of data allowed on the disk for the PS3 multiplat games, it makes sure Microsoft doesn't get the short end of the stick when it comes to Multiplats. However developers have found a way around this on the PS3 by releasing free downloadable content after the game ships. One example is L.A Noire on the PS3. There is a free mission that PS3 gamers can download (it's a hefty 600MB download). Also Batman Arkham Asylum on the PS3 allows you to play as the Joker, but you needed to download that from the PS store. This was also free.

The second point of the article that strikes me is "Microsoft is suggesting anything but parity will result in them not carrying a title". This is complete and utter bullshit in my opinion. This is simply a scare tactic and does not stop a developer from putting more content on the PS3 version of the disk, it just becomes a PS3 exclusive if Microsoft does not allow the game on the 360. But I can be pretty sure that if a GTA game comes out on the PS3, that has and extra land mass and the 360 version does not, I can bet that Microsoft will pay Rockstar a huge lump sum of money to make that as downloadable content when that game comes out.

Now, I respect Microsoft for protecting it's customers (actually protecting itself more than it's customers) by enforcing these rules, but developers are finding creative ways around these regulations. I am starting to wonder why Microsoft enforced these rules. Is it because they knew the 360 was inferior to the PS3 with respect to disk space or some other hardware limitation? I'm not quite sure, but I know one is for sure; these regulations could end up hurting Microsoft in the future especially if consoles go almost completely digital distribution, which I hope they don't. I like having a physical copy of my favorite game. In the end, it's Business as usual.

Thanks for reading!


So, I just signed up a yearly membership with Whiskey Media

I'm been on this site since it began. I've never really contributed to it as much as others have. I've never really edited articles or added info to anything, nor have I been a really active member altogether. But there is something different about this site, something that screams that this video game site is truly for gamers and not for the corporate BS that seems to be winding up in most other sites about video games. So why did I pay for a Membership?

Is it because of the FREE T-SHIRT!!?? :) :)....Well maybe lol. In all seriousness though, the reason I signed up is because I believe in what this site is doing and what it's trying to achieve, and when I mean this site I mean Whiskey Media as a whole, of course Giant Bomb was at the fore front, the first website to be taken under Whiskey Media, but look at how it's grown. It's grown into Tested, Comic Vine, Anime Vice and Screened, basically almost every medium of entertainment except books. There is literally something here for everyone and each site has a fantastic volume of content to appease anyone looking for info on anything they can think of.

On the subject of content, I cannot think of ANY other site that has more content then Giant Bomb with respect to being a Video Game website. The quick looks, endurance runs ( another one soon), Features and Live Specials are in large order on Giant Bomb. But what is more important than content? Entertaining content. Quick looks are unique to Giant Bomb with respect to most other video game websites. You get to watch 2 or 3 great fellas, sit down and play a game and talk about it, make fun of it, laugh at it, like it, dislike it, etc... Most other video game website don't even do "Quick Looks" because of either time constraints or bandwidth constraints, or the popular excuse, money constraints. I think this is what makes Giant Bomb rise up above all other video game sites. It provides a stellar amount of content and with that content comes great entertainment value that keeps me coming back day in and day out, just to laugh at another Ryan and Vinny Quick Look.

(I hate to bring this up but I think it's relevant in the discussion). Years ago I used to frequent Gamespot quite a bit before Giant Bomb was ever a thought (I'm sure many of you were as well). Why did I go to Gamespot more than any other video game website to watch reviews, because I loved the reviewers; Jeff Gerstmann, Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker and others I cannot remember their names but know their faces. When *you know what* happened, Gamespot was boring to me. I didn't know anyone anymore in respect to game reviewers because most of them were leaving. Then some months later, I heard of this new website, Giant Bomb that was going to started by Jeff. I was ecstatic. Fast forward to now and I am one happy customer of Giant Bomb. I love all of the reviewers and people who work for Giant Bomb and also the people who work for the other sites on Whiskey Media. This company knows how to hire great people, which is extremely important because it's these people that you will be seeing in videos and in reviews, telling which game is bad, which is good and just laughing with them (or at them LOL) and having a good time.

So, why did I spend my hard earned money on a membership? The simple answer is, these conglomerate of sites give me so much value. I keep coming back to watch Will and Norm make coffee, cook bacon and poke fun at each other and watch Jeff and Ryan play Kinect and get pissed off at the horrid controls and menus. I got a membership because I fully support this site and what it offers; it's valuable to all gamers in terms of information, it has great entertainment value, and the beauty of it is, it's valuable to people who like all sorts of entertainment (Anime, Comics, Phones, Computers, Coffee, Movies, Games etc,etc, etc...)

Giant Bomb, You Rock!!


Hail to the METAL!

Hey Folks! It's 11:25 PM, here in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and I'm bored, so, I'm going to write something about my favorite music genre, Metal.
First a little Biography about me and music:

I was exposed to rock music at a very early age. At around 4 or so I was dancing to many 80's rock bands that I forgot the name of and are too lazy too look up. I remember jumping on my parents bed listing to awesome 80's rock. I also started piano lessons at a very early age. My uncle was (and still is) a piano teacher and he writes books about music for college and university. Because of my piano lessons I got interested in classical music. I was a very big fan of Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Holst. I don't listen to that any more, but I have great respect for these composers as they have changed music as we know it. I played trumpet at Junior High and High School, and got to go on a couple tours, which was nice.
Anyway, When I was about 13 or 14, I started listing to the bands Silverchair, Green Day and Offspring. I also got introduced to Our Lady Peace. I liked these bands a lot when I was younger. Now, I don't listen to them anymore. They haven't got bad, but my tastes in music have changed a little. I also think that the earlier albums these bands produced are better than their recent ones as they were free to experiment with their music. Now they are part of major labels and the labels want to make money, so they tell the band what kind of song the band should write that should become popular. I am not a fan of this behavior. As soon as the band starts to make music for mostly money, the music becomes stale.
Now I will tell you about the bands I absolutely hate. If any of you like these bands, don't take this personally, this is only my opinion after all. The four bands that just completely annoy the shit out of me are:

  • Nickelback
  • Theory of a Dead Man
  • Default
  • Creed
Why do I hate these four bands so much? Because they all sound so similar it's disgusting. Their music is uninspiring, uninteresting, completely boring and most of their songs sound so similar I have a hard time distinguishing between them. This is what you get when labels want to make money. The head person of the label company will look at what band is popular and have a band that they control, sound pretty close to the band in question. For example: Nickelback and Theory of a Dead Man sound almost the same, it's hard for me sometimes to tell the two bands apart. It doesn't help that both of these bands write incredibly boring and run of the mill songs. I could go on and on about how pissed I get when I hear these bands, but I think that's enough.
Around 1999-2002 I started to listen to AC/DC and Motley Crew alot, 2 bands that I still love to this day. Metallica was also one of my favorite bands at the time and I loved their S&M album, which Metallica and an Orchestra played together. I was in heaven at that point. I thought to myself "Why don't I see more of this Metal + Orchestra stuff?" I thought that this was just once in a while event. I'm glad I was wrong.
Around 2006, my Brother bought a CD from a band I heard of from a few friends of mine but never really tried listing too. The band is Nightwish, a Finnish Metal power/symphonic band. I can tell you that after hearing their album called "Once" I was completely shocked. "Once" still is the best album I have heard in my life and the song "Ghost Love Score" from that album still remains one of my favorite songs of all time. I became a fan of Nightwish overnight. My avatar is the latest album from Nightwish called "Dark Passion Play", an excellent, somewhat dark album with amazing songs and orchestral work. 
Nightwish had gotten me into Metal, and soon I discovered, many, many more European metal bands. It kind of surprised me a bit that Europe was metal crazy. I never knew metal had so many different sub-genres and most of them were awesome. I was also surprised that European metal sounded different from North American metal. European metal was more about fantastic choruses and complex melodies and uplifting lyrics. Most of the metal bands I hear from North America are more of a black metal type, although I'm sure there are some that I missed that sound like European metal.
Right now, the bands that I listen to the most are, Nightwish, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall and Dream Evil. Nightwish, like I said before are a power/symphonic metal band. Gamma Ray are a power metal band with uplifting lyrics, so is Hammerfall and Dream Evil is more of a heavy metal band that is crazy awesome. Below is a list of all the metal bands I currently own. I invite you to take a listen to some of these if you like metal or are just interested in hearing something different:
  • After Forever
  • Angra
  • Avantasia
  • Ayreon
  • Delain
  • Dragonland
  • Dream Evil
  • Dream Theater
  • Edguy
  • Epica
  • Firewind
  • Gamma Ray
  • Hammerfall
  • Helloween
  • Kamelot
  • Korpiklaani
  • Nightwish
  • Primal Fear
  • Serenity
  • Symphony X
  • Wuthering Heights
Good night and thanks for reading!

Horror in games: What Happened??

I've been a gamer for most of my life. I was about 5 when I got my NES and I loved every second of it. I've owned many gaming systems, although not all of them. Anyway, as the title says, what has happened to the horror genre in gaming?
Remember back to the middle of the 1990's when the Playstation was gaining some serious ground. I remember one day I went to the video store to rent something. I wanted a game like Resident Evil 2. To be honest, back then, I was really intrigued by the full motion CG video that the Playstation could produce. I wanted a horror game, but also it had to have some sort of CG videos to keep me in awe and entertained. I found a game called Silent Hill. I checked the back of the disk case and thought it looked kind of interesting. It wasn't Resident Evil or anything, but I was sort of drawn to it by the mysteriousness of it. I got home and I started to play it. My Brother was in the same room watching me as I played. After playing the first 10 minutes of the game, I really liked it. Whole town covered in fog, all the town residents disappeared, your daughter disappears and you playing as Harry Mason needs to find her. I also liked the lack of explanation as to why this was happening in the in this town. Most of the time I would like any game (or movie) to explain the strange happenings in the story, or at least give some hint to it. Silent Hill was a rare case for me, as I preferred not to know why the people were missing or why the whole town was in a fog. It felt much more massive in scale, not knowing why these events were occurring.
Moving on, I played the game all the way up to the first real level of the game, the elementary school. Just to note, I really enjoyed the whole atmosphere before the school, walking in a ghost town covered in fog, being chased by some strange creatures. I still love it, even today. So I got to the school and entered it. From this point on, Silent Hill really changed my perspective on games forever. The school was incredibly atmospheric, more so then I was anticipating. Of course I was in Junior High at the time, so the school had a more profound effect on me then it would have if I had first seen the game today. Before Silent Hill, I had never seen an elementray school in this fashion before in any media, movies or games. My Brother was even unnerved. I remember him sitting on the couch as still as a rock and just staring at the screen. I got the artifact I needed and I breathed a sigh of relief as I climbed the clock tower in the court yard. I remember thinking: "Thank god that's over". So I exit the clock tower and I was still in the school courtyard. I remember this feeling of terror just gripping at me as I walked around the court yard, thinking: "I thought I was finished the school, why am I still here". I then entered the school and compete horror ensued. The school had changed from a scary school, to OMG WTF hell hole of death and decay. I walked around the evil school around 2 minutes, and I said "I've had enough", and I shut off the game. I didn't shut off the game because it was a bad game, I shut it off because I never felt so scared playing a video game in my whole life until that point. Sure I played some scary games before Silent Hill, but nothing like this.
And this leads me the question: Why are games sacrificing a good atmosphere, a good story, for over the top action and meaningless violence? Why aren't so called "horror" games scary anymore? Take a look at the recent Silent Hill game: Silent Hill Homecoming. The developers went for a tactical approach to fighting the creatures, to improve on the combat, which in my opinion was the wrong way to take the Silent Hill series.  Below are a list of things that make supposedly scary games, not scary:

  • Engaging combat. A scary game should never have enjoyable or engaging combat. The combat system should work, but it is a mistake to put tactics into combat for a scary game. It ruins the mood and it makes the creatures less scary. For example, take a look at Silent Hill 2. The creatures do not run at you, except for one, and they look as if they are wind up toys; not creatures that can anticipate attacks or block or anything. Also they have no "weak points", you just shoot them or hit them until they die. By adding a tactical combat system, one to exploit weak points, and making the creatures able to dodge attacks, takes away from the horror and of the whole feeling you should have about the creatures.
  • Cut scenes: This one is a bit of a stretch, but think of it this way, a boss is going to burst through the door, you get ready for it then.....Cut scene! You are forced to watch as the main character narrowly escapes death as the boss bursts through the door and tries to hit our hero. Think of that again, but without a cut scene. You don't know that something will burst through the door and when it does, you can guarantee it will make you  jump and force to react quickly. You must escape the boss while controlling your character and not watching it through a cut scene. This will be much more terrifying and more satisfying to the player.
  • Weak Antagonist: I remember playing some scary games and when I finally get to see who caused all the mess was just one weak ass looking last boss. In my opinion any evil that you are up against in these scary games, has to be much bigger than you are. It has to be everywhere, like a plague.
Anyway, my whole point is that these "horror" games have lost touch with horror itself. When I see somebody get scared over a game like Dead Space (Which is an awesome game by the way, just not that scary), I just want to hand him a copy of Silent Hill and say "If you get scared of that, then good luck with this". There is one game that I am looking forward too that will be done well in the realm of horror. It's called Amnesia: The Dark Decent. It's coming out on the PC this fall and I can't wait for it. If anyone still loves true horror games, I urge you to look this game up.
Thanks For reading.