Big Gaming Update - I love the smell of Platinum in the morning!


To the victor go the spoils!
Those of you that follow my ramblings on twitter will likely know I've been aiming at getting a highly coveted Platinum trophy in a game for awhile now. If only so I can get into that elite Platinum club. Well thanks to Assassin's Creed 2 I can now say with great joy I am 'in da club' as it were. Unlocking every trophy for the game sometime in the very late/early hours of Friday morning and sadly paying the price for my all night session with a horrid migraine today. Totally worth it though, well not really but I'll live, it's not like I had to sacrifice a body part to get it or anything....

Assassin's Creed 2

The first time I played through AC2 was after being offered the chance to borrow my brother's copy of the game along with his 360 console to play it on. That was around the time the game was released and I was on somewhat of a tight schedule to finish it and return the game & console to my brother. But having now played through it for a second time on my PS3 and more importantly at my own pace the general flaws and finer points of the game stand out a little more to me now. I still maintain the opinion AC2 is all round a greater improvement over the first game in almost every aspect. But those same little annoyances with the platforming and the way the controls handle that aspect of the game are still noticeable.
"Aha! You've found another one!"

 
However the finer points of AC2 are also things I enjoyed in the first game, primarily the level design and sheer attention to detail and the depth each location has when viewed from up high on one of the many towers or cathedral spires you'll inevitably have to climb up. Ubisoft really managed to capture a strong sense of place and feel for Renaissance era Italy. Something I can really appreciate and respect them for achieving. And not to mention one of the more memorable endings to a game as well. Say what you will about the 'cop out' some people felt it was, I for one found it to be really great and fitting to the fiction that makes the Assassin's Creed games so unique.
 
They didn't try to make out that the various pantheons of deities and gods worshipped throughout history were fake but simply gave a bit of a more scientific approach to who these all powerful beings were and how mankind came into existence. Instead of relying on the mystical, dare I say magical, explanation that we have when it comes to religion or things unknown. I whole heartedly enjoyed it and enjoyed reading through the various letters, codex pages and glyph puzzles that help set up and expand the fiction that Ubisoft have obviously tried hard to create.
 
While still on the topic of religious fiction in video games I also feel like sharing some opinions on an earlier 2010 release.....

Darksiders

Even though I managed to somewhat spoil the ending of the game for myself due to my own biblical knowledge and understanding of events and characters that appear in the game which Vigil takes some artistic license with after the first hour or so of starting it. I still found Darksiders to be a great amount of fun and joy to play.
 
The artistic design and work from Joe Madureira was a great touch and arguably one of the stronger assets of the game. His work on the design of the game's locations and environments as well as the characters and monster within them really made the game stand out visually to me. Even though War himself is the main protagonist of the game and arguably should be considered the star, I found myself far more impressed with the look, feel and design of the demon Samael. His visual appearance is both unique and fitting while his facial animations were strikingly good at portraying the characters emotions during the brief interactions you have with him. By far one of the more memorable characters you meet in the game.
 Great scene after Samael is freed from prison.

 
As for how the game itself played, well a lot of reviews mentioned Darksiders unapologetically borrows game mechanics and elements from various other titles. And I was a little dubious as to how that would play out but to my surprise the blending of various gameplay mechanics from various games works tremendously well in Darksiders favour. The mix of puzzle solving and combat felt evenly paced and never did it feel like you were doing too much of one or the other for too long. The puzzles themselves never felt tremendously difficult but neither did they feel too easy.     

While the combat mechanic requires you to learn various combination attacks for each weapon which brings a bit more of a varied feel in what works best against which type of enemy you'll engage in a fight with. The block / counter mechanic in the game leaves a lot to be desired when a large majority of enemies you face have unblockable attacks and countering the few attacks you can requires some genuine split second timing. I feel it just didn't lend itself well to the game's combat as time went on.
 
Still it was a great amount of fun to play and set itself up well for a sequel which I'm glad to hear will come sometime in 2012, assuming of course you are a disbeliever in the 2012 conspiracy theories.
 

Prototype

After investing 7 hours playing the game I called it quits. I couldn't bring myself to play it any further, not because it was an outright bad game, but simply because I felt after my 7 hours I had seen all there really was to see and experience. The first 7 hours were all the same, I couldn't see the next however many more hours invested being any different. Disappointing considering it seemed to have potential, but not entirely unexpected. 

Demos

  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2

Downloaded the PS3 demo as I haven't had a working computer for some time now and I have to say I'm mildly impressed with the game based off of the demo. Visually it looks good and the mixture of infantry and vehicle combat shown in the demo felt solid. Spawning in on squad mates really did provide a bit of tactical support, especially from the attacking teams position. No one ever really enjoys the long run from the default spawn to where the action is. BFBC2 seems like a game I'll gladly be paying more attention too as the release date draws closer.
 
  • Aliens Vs. Predator

Another demo I downloaded on the PS3 but this one however didn't leave me with such a positive feel. Mainly because having downloaded it on the Thursday and finding by the following Monday I still couldn't get into a game I kind of game up and uninstalled the game. Bit disappointed the demo didn't work for me, perhaps by now Rebellion have issues some quick fix for the AvP demo on the PS3. But It feels a little too late, I've kind of lost interest in the game a little.
 
  • Heavy Rain

I've been following the development of Heavy Rain for some time now even before deciding to buy PS3 mainly due to my appreciation of Quantic Dream's previous title, Fahrenheit . Now that I've managed to get some hands on time with the demo for Heavy Rain I have to say it looks like it'll be a stellar game to play. Emphasis there on play rather than 'watch' as I've seen some people criticising the cinematic angle the game approaches. In my opinion yes there is a cinematic appeal to the game and something that is a concious design decision. But there is also something entirely minimalist about it as well.
 
Here is a game that doesn't fill your screen with a mass of HUD information but rather keeps the screen as free from those traditional elements as possible so you can enjoy the very high visual quality of the game itself on your big TV screen. Arguably though there still are some HUD elements to the game as seen when playing through th investigation portion of the demo as FBI Agent Norman Jayden. The prompts to remove or use his Sci-Fi style glasses and glove are always there.
 
However the main reason I'm so happy to have gotten my hands on the demo for was to see how the game controls. We've all heard the accusations that this game is nothing more than quick time events and while that may be true from a certain point of view, I for one disagree. Yes there are certain moments where you're prompted to press buttons but it isn't simply a case of hammering on the circle and watching Kratos rip a guy in half. It has a bit more depth to it than that. In fact I get the impression the controls could provide an adequate level of challenge to the gameplay more than anything else. Overall the demo left me with a solid and very positive impression for the final product.
 
Well folks we've come to the end of yet another blog by yours truly. As usual feel free to comment and critique where you see fit and be sure to follow me on Twitter and/or add me to your PSN friends list :)
 
Love Hamz, XOXO
20 Comments

Group Hug?

A few days ago everyone was actually going about their daily business on the site as usual. Then one simple blog is created that sparks up some ridiculous debate that now has half the community lunging at each other's jugular.
 
What the hell happened here? Why can't we all just get along? Is nobody thinking about the effect this domestic is having on the children? Somebody think of the children for Christ's sake!

Although if I may just take this time to point something out, for once the big 'forum drama' on the site was and is in absolutely no relation to something we moderators did or didn't do. Woohoo! :D
 
Now I bet I've jinxed that haven't I? Sod it then, Sweep you started this and thus you get banned so the community actually have something to agree on and unite together over.
 
As a female friend of mine once said to a male friend of ours after he pulled a hilarious hissy fit at finding out someone drew on his face when he passed out at a party, "Change your tampon and quit your bitching, you sound like a big girls blouse!"
 
Love Hamz, XOXO

92 Comments

Captain's Blog Entry: Stardate 26/01/2010, "To boldly go..."

The USS Luchadeer continues its mission through the Internet Quadrant, to boldly go where no Hamz has gone before. To seek out new memes and discover new levels of fail and win. Our primary mission to record and categorise new information for the wiki database so that future generations of the Space Neon Lobster race may learn from what we find.....

Alright enough with the poor Star Trek roleplaying. If you haven't guessed it by now (you truly are a slowpoke if you haven't) I've been playing a bit of the Star Trek Online open beta thanks to a generous member of the staff here at Giant Bomb who provided me a key when all seemed lost.
 
It's a beta and the nature of such a thing is designed primarily for server stress testing more than showing what the final product will be like. That being said to all the apologists out there do keep in mind a beta is also one of the few ways to actually get your hands on an MMO without either buying the game or waiting an untold length of time until a free trial is handed out. So don't hate me too much for the things I'm about to say! 
 
My general feeling after playing the beta is that Star Trek Online has been rushed into an early February release. The game does not strike me as being released in a state that could be considered 'finished' by any means. It lacks a lot of depth that most MMOs have and the content shown during the beta feels extremely shallow. What there is in the game felt great for the first few hours until I begun to realise that is pretty much how it continues for the foreseeable future time playing the game.
 
The game just doesn't feel worth the money you would be expected to pay each month in order to play compared to the same price you pay each month in order to play other MMOs out there that provide vastly more content and depth to be experienced. All throughout my time playing the STO beta I kept thinking back to Guild Wars and how similar both games feel yet how GW managed to be free to play and maintain lasting appeal by actually providing substantial content in Prophecies at release alongside the expansions released later down the line. We'll have to see when and if Cryptic release a free trial if they manage to produce enough content later down the line to make me feel the game is worth that monthly subscription or not.
 
All the negativity aside I do want to mention a few quick bullet points of things I found enjoyable about the game.
  • Gorn throwing rocks during a planet side fire fight. Quite possibly the best thing to randomly occur during an away mission, me versus the rock throwing Gorn.
  • Tribbles. Everything about them from the adorable purr they make when petted to the fact they'll multiply and fill up your ship's cargo space in a short space of time.
  • The main menu music in STO is very much Star Trek inspired and sounds great. The battle music also has a nice epic feel too it during an intense space fight that gets the blood pumping.
  • Ship selection, variety and customisation is really well done. Allowing you to pilot iconic classes of vessel while mixing it up by customising parts of vessels together to create a unique looking ship is indeed a lot of fun to be had.
  • Having a Klingon captain decide to use the "Today is a good day to die, prepare for ramming speed!" phrase and actually ram your ship is both hilarious and amazingly devastating to shield power and hull integrity.....
 
Also on a sidenote to the fine folks who joined the Space Neon Lobster fleet during the beta. Bravo ladies and gentlemen, bravo. Finest group / guild I've been apart of in an open beta for a long, long time. I just hope those folks who decide to carry on playing once the game is officially released do continue the great work of the Space Neon Lobsters by unison dancing in the Starbase, tribble farming in the fleet bank and using terms such as "Oscar Mike", "Roger" and "Mayday! Mayday!" during team / fleet actions in-game.
 

 "Im about done with this bitch!"


Next time on Captain's Blog!
  •  Darksiders and how I've managed to spoil the ending of that game for myself (before actually finishing it) without reading up on any spoiler material!
  • Prototype and why it is way more fun to whipfist a bitch on the street than it is to listen to a bitch moan on and on about Gentech!
  • How life begins to fall apart when your computer begins to die on you!
 
Till next time folks :)
 
Hamz, XOXO!
11 Comments

My Top Ten Games of 2009!

I felt considering it is New Year's Eve and with my PC being on the blink I'd post this up now while the computer actually works. So without further delay here is the top ten games of 2009 as voted for by me, your friendly neighbourhood moderator ;)
 

Best of 2009

My top ten games of 2009!

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

A perfect example of how a game can lend itself to being both a fine cinematic and interactive experience creating an end result that is as much fun to watch as it is to play. Providing an extremely strong single player campaign with a thoroughly adequate selection of online modes to try out, Uncharted 2 is my GOTY for 2009.

2. Batman: Arkham Asylum

A game from a little known developer that not only managed to capture the essence of and stay true to the source material of Batman but also provide a thoroughly entertaining and thrilling experience as well. By far one of the finest stealth and combat games to be released in a long time, and most definitely a shining example of how to best use a creative license.

3. inFAMOUS

In a year with many open-world games released this was by and large the best of the bunch. It captured the feel of a comic book tale of an ordinary man who finds himself with extraordinary powers perfectly. Presenting a 'coming of age' story to the character of Cole while providing brilliant platforming and free roaming that few games have done just so well before.

4. Killzone 2

Presentation means a lot in a game and thankfully this one does it very well. The visual and audio quality in the game is very satisfying and the constant air of tension as the story unfolds was highly appreciated. In a genre where story takes the back seat a lot of the time, it was refreshing to see a shooter try and focus on presenting a good blend of action and plot.

5. Torchlight

In a genre where focus is more on story or moral choices it was a breathe of fresh air to see this game appear. A game that focuses on good old fashioned dungeon-crawling-loot-storing fun rather than fancy visuals or game mechanics. It may be simple in design and look, but it does a lot of small things so well and to such great effect it truly is a little gem.

6. Assassin's Creed II

Very few sequels to games can actually be said to have improved on their predecessors with the same level of efficiency and quality that this game has done. A lot of fun, entertainment and joy is to be had from a game with a much more interesting story, lead character and beautifully rendered world coupled with more thoughtful collectibles this time around.

7. Tales of Monkey Island

It's always great to see an old franchise get a reboot and even better when that reboot isn't simply rehashing over old material with upgraded visuals. While split between five episodes they all combine to make one brilliant and extremely entertaining package with a sense of humour that is hard to find in many other games. Truly a unique title in its own right.

8. Modern Warfare 2

Few games have managed to nail the feel and experience of a military shooter quite like this one has. While never straying far from the successful model created by its predecessor it still adds enough to make it feel just as fresh and exciting. An addictive multiplayer and strong set pieces in its action packed single player make it a truly enjoyable experience.

9. Plants Vs. Zombies

There aren't many games that manage to have quite so much charm and addictive personality to them like this one does. Through a combination of intense strategy and odd humour coupled with a wide array of unique and very addictive game modes. A lot of fun and entertainment can be had that few 'big budget' games manage to emulate in quite the same way.

10. Zeno Clash

One of the most visually unique games to date that chooses to go for an utterly absurd and alien feel to its artistic choice of design that creates some beautiful landscapes and strange creatures. Combined with the brilliantly visceral first person melee combat that feels strangely therapeutic it truly is an odd but entirely fun and enjoyable experience to play through.


So there you go folks, any surprises? What do you guys and girls think?
 
As usual feel free to comment and critique below but keep it constructive :)
 
P.S. - Hope you all had a great Christmas and have a Happy New Year!
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Pre-Xmas Bullet Point Blog!

It'll be Christmas Day by the end of the week and right now feels like a good time to just slap down a list of my ever favourite bullet points!

  • Still waiting on LoveFilm to send me a rental copy of AC2, R&C: A Crack in Time, The Saboteur and a plethora of other games on my rental list for the PS3.
  • Currently playing through Killzone 2, so far so good. It's growing on me like a bad rash, controls are a little tricky but it plays and feels great with what I've seen.
  • Having finished Star Wars: The Force Unleashed yesterday, I gotta say Lucasarts has a lot of things to improve on with TFU2. I rarely dislike games but TFU is the epitome of mediocrity in video game form.
  • I now have gained 3 gold, 35 silver and 143 bronze trophies in Playstation 3 games. Well chuffed with the little collection I'm slowly growing!
  • We have two brand new moderators on the team. They smell like mahogany or a new leather sofa. Welcome them as you see them around the site if you haven't by now already!
  • Had my first SUI (Sledging Under the Influence) early hours of Sunday morning. Going to pub with friends + leaving to find a foot of snow on the ground = drunken sledging down a snow covered road.
  • The family is once again coming to my neck of the woods to celebrate the festive season. I shall likely be intoxicated and seeking the comforting arms of the internet to escape them. Expect me to ban you in a drunken fit for shits and giggles.
  • Valve's recent TF2 WAR! update is awesome as is the game itself. Pity I'm kind of 'done' with that game now, been a brilliant journey and experience but I find myself now unable to really care for gaining the new items & achievements legitimately. I have seen what achievement servers look like, they are not a pretty place at all and could be described best as an online hell hole, but it beats being ripped apart by the opposing team's sheer infinite levels of skill that I shall never acquire. That and I'm tired, tired of the grind involved with achievements for a game I hardly ever play anymore.
  • Looking for a new place to live and hopefully a new job to go along with it. Surprised to see how difficult it can be to find a one bedroom place these days.
  • Considering buying Torchlight on Steam even when I know I'll still get bored of it quickly.
  • Thought about what to put in my 'Best of 2009' list and realised a huge majority of the most memorable games I've played this year were browser based flash games. The few actual video games I've played that I enjoyed don't all make it into my top ten. Not to mention I'd like to play a few other games released this year first before compiling my list. Not sure I'll get it done by January 4th though.
  • Currently going through a user gallery on the site that consisted of around 1500 images of hentai porn. Managed to delete roughly 600 of them this morning, other mods have pitched in and we are now all wondering the same thing, whiskey tango foxtrot is wrong with people? How do they 'get off' on that stuff. I mean really one could say all hentai lovers are kind of disturbed.
 
Anyway folks I hope you all have a merry Christmas!
 
Love Hamz XOXO :)
 
Twitter: Hamzini
PSN ID: TheGreatHamzini
Steam: TheGreatHamzini
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Thoughts on MW2, a review of sorts!

So having recently setup a LoveFilm rental plan I had PS3 copies of both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Modern Warfare 2 shipped to me. Since I've already written up an extensive blog of my views on Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PC we'll bypass comments on the PS3 version. Except for the mention that it controls so much more smoothly with a controller than it does with a keyboard and mouse. 
 
Now onto the MW2 content!
 

  • Campaign Mode
I started the campaign on the Regular difficulty setting and took around six hours to complete it at the very most. A short campaign much like COD4's and a campaign that has some really nice set-pieces such as the besieged White House lawn and Russian gulag levels. The campaign was, thankfully, almost non-stop in its high octane action and there were very few times where I wasn't shooting at someone or being shot at.
 
However the problem with the campaign was that I never quite understood fully as to why I was being shot at or why I was actually shooting the enemy. And by this I mean what story the game actually has is so poorly conveyed that it was a complete mess and extremely confusing to try and understand. By half way through the game I gave up trying to keep track of what was actually going on with the story and characters, instead just focusing on completing my missions. And that was a huge disappointment on what I imagine Infinity Ward hoped would be an emotional or thought provoking conclusion, but because everything in the story leading up to it was so poorly delivered I was left feeling nothing.
 
For all of the campaigns fun action I felt entirely detached from the game itself due to shockingly poor storytelling. It felt more like a war simulator than a progressive story. Overall it was a big let down, COD4 may never have had the best story but it managed to competently progress that story enough that you understood what was going on, the modus operandi of characters and their actions etc. None of that really happened in MW2.
 
  • Spec Ops Mode
I haven't had much experience with this mode compared to the others but the time I spent playing it I enjoyed it. By far one of the finer additions to MW2, however not having a large PSN friend list does kind of ruin the chance of experiencing the fun to be had with the co-op missions in Spec Ops. The fact I can't even attempt them on my own with an AI controlled NPC or have some built in match making for it was a bit of a let down. The various goals you need to achieve to get the 1, 2 or 3 star rankings in each mission are a good addition and I can't count how many times now I've tried to run the pit in 35 seconds or less for the 3 star ranking. The variation in the missions and the fun to be had with them is pretty good, especially just being able to replay the snowmobile chase sequence over and over.
 
  • Multiplayer Mode
The multiplayer in MW2 follows that same MMO-ish style of having to grind experience to unlock content or having to achieve goals to unlock content. And while it isn't necessarily difficult or impossible to unlock everything (judging by a glance over the Challenges menu) it still isn't that fun to have to go through the long grind to unlock stuff. I'm already level 20 and it's beginning to become a slow annoying process of grinding in the hopes of unlocking more guns, perks or attachments, I can only imagine the frustrations at the higher level 50's, 60's etc to unlock stuff and prestige.
 
That being said the actual gameplay of the multiplayer is an odd mixture of love it or loathe it. For every frustrating '"Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!" moment I've had (Knifing a player twice from behind with Commando equipped at point blank range and not having a kill register, then have them turn around and knife me) I've also had some awesome moments such as an 11 kill streak all achieved using a Riot Shield. Moments like these that are equal amounts frustration as well as sheer joy and delight are what make a multiplayer like this somewhat addictive. The emblems and titles are also a nice addition as well allowing a certain level of extra customisation on top of the five custom classes you can design.
 
Changes to the custom classes and perks in particular are good additions as well. Being able to have a primary and secondary weapon helps adjust for different maps and situations much more easily, Eg. Sniper Rifle + Shotgun combinations help those campers deal with long and close range combat better. The ability to upgrade each perk to a 'Pro' version that adds an additional ability to the basic version of that perk is nice. My current favourite perk would have to be Scavenge, such a suitably useful perk in almost every build I've come up with thus far. The addition of more and higher rewarding kill streaks is good and being able to unlock them in any order is also an added bonus, just as death streaks provide a slight boost to players struggling in a match.
 
But the multiplayer does have a feeling of deja vu to it in that it strongly resembles the formula COD4 followed, while MW2 arguably has more content to unlock and has refined the system a little more. The notion of 'more of a good thing can't be bad, right?' doesn't necessarily excuse the fact that on a technical level the gameplay is very much the same to the point there feels like very little that has been changed. Juggernaut may no longer exist, Martyrdom may have been changed to a death streak but new perks such as Cold Blooded and Ninja have begun to take the top spot for most used and disliked within the game. These core issues from COD4 still exist to a certain degree in MW2's multiplayer.

  • Closing Comments
The campaign mode is sorely disappointing and crippled by extremely poor storytelling, with what little plot there is in the game it just makes no sense. Often feeling like a random chain of events are playing out in front of you without any of them linking together in a cohesive fashion. Characters have no real personality with their motivations and reasoning for their actions never really explained clearly. While the gameplay is somewhat of a redeeming factor with its constant action and interesting locales it doesn't distract from the otherwise poor quality of the campaign which plays like a B-Movie. Lots of over the top action with very little substance. 
 
While the Multiplayer and Spec Ops modes on the other hand have their own issues they are by and large well done. Spec Ops in particular feels like the strongest addition to the game allowing players to genuinely get a feeling of achievement for completing various goals in each mission. Being able to play co-operatively in split screen or online with friends and in some cases play certain missions all on your own is a nice benefit. MW2's multiplayer has a feeling of familiarity too it due to how closely it resembles the gameplay in COD4 having built itself off of a previously successful model.
 
Ultimately though Modern Warfare 2 feels to me like a multiplayer game with a tacked on single player campaign for the sake of it, an inverted take on the usual trend of a single player game with a tacked on multiplayer component for the sake of it. Definitely not the best game released this year in my book and if I had to give it a score then it would be somewhere along the lines of a 4/5 stars. But ultimately it all comes down to personal taste, I had my reservations about MW2 before renting it, having now played it I see those reservations were somewhat spot on.
 
 
As usual folks feel free to comment and critique! Hamz, XOXO
 
P.S.  I apologise for spelling and grammar mistakes, had to retype this twice after browser crashes. So it was rushed a little :)
13 Comments

Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog Blog

Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, transgender and ewoks alike!
 
Been awhile since I popped a blog out into the blogosphere (I used that term, shoot me later) and figured I'd do one now. As I sit here in anticipation for the plethora of comments I envision getting. We'll get straight to it then, no waiting about or delaying here people, I deliver the goods and I deliver them on time!
 
PS3 updates!

  • Bought Uncharted 2 on release day, finished Uncharted 2 some days later, went to bed each night for a week afterwards dreaming of Uncharted 2. The game is a brilliant interactive, cinematic piece of entertainment that held my attention for the entire time I played it. Its crowning achievement for me is that it does a lot of what other games have done in the past, but it does them to such a higher level of quality and standard. Overall it just felt a lot more refined in many areas compared to similar games in the past and present. Worth putting the money down for I'd say.
  • Still playing through inFAMOUS and fairly certain I'm coming close to the end of it. Just about 67% clear in the Historic District and I have to say it's another game I'm really happy with so far. From what I've played I've enjoyed immensely and as far as Super Hero style of games go it is one of the few that actually do things right. I do however imagine the quest to find every blast shard in Empire City will pose a problematic journey for me with hours of grinding cables and jumping across roof tops. But it'll be worth it.
  • Got a few other games I'm playing through right now as well. Resistance 2, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, COD: World at War. All somewhat enjoyable in their own right if I do say so myself!
  • I've begun down a dark path I'm not sure I'll ever be able to come back from. I've become a bit of a trophy hunting whore these days. As I said above the quest for the blast shards in inFAMOUS will kill me, but I want that trophy. Same with a number of trophies in Uncharted 2. I'll likely be doing the same with future PS3 purchases as well. Does it ever end? :(
  • A little disappointed to see we'll never (for the foreseeable future anyway) be able to link our PSN ID and trophy lists to Giant Bomb. Sort of enjoy being able to show that stuff off, even if I'm not particularly amazing at gathering trophies, achievements and so forth. We can only hope

 
PC version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2! 
I promised myself I would try to stay as far away from including this controversial topic in any blog I write. But honestly the 'scandal' and so forth about it has got to such a point of hilarity I must now mention it. First things first though is an admittance of guilt for originally overreacting to the announcements made about the PC version of the game. I shake my head in shame at such behaviour coming from myself.  

In all fairness though the PC gaming community should have seen this coming from a mile away. They should have been prepared to hear their version of the game would be heavily changed to the point it feels like Infinity Ward and Activision have catered less to the PC player and more to the console player. And I personally don't see why people are so up in arms over this when in reality, PC gamers are in no real place to question the moral and ethical decisions of a company. Obviously I'm generalising here, not every PC gamer has a dirty moral fiber because we all know PC gamers have no moral fiber. It's why they all pirate games, right? :P  
 
The day when one developer and publisher team up and decide to have a more heavy handed approach to the PC community was bound to happen. People seem pissed Infinity Ward would be behind such horrible evil intentions toward PC gamers. But for crying out loud people have you all forgotten Robert Bowling's comments about COD4 on the PC?
 
It seems like Infinity Ward and Activision are slowly going out of their way to systematically kill off MW2's chances of success on the PC. I get the impression they would rather not release the game on the platform at all but are doing it anyway either out of sheer confidence that sales on the console will mean any piracy of the PC version equates to no major loss in profit. Or because simply they hope by taking such a heavy handed approach it may cause a shift for the better in the way the PC gaming community conducts itself. I'd like to think the latter is something that could happen, perhaps if other developers and publishers take similar decisions as IW + Activision we'll see more game releases on the PC at similar times to their console versions. I take no joy in getting a shoddy PC port almost a year after the console version.
 
If paying for DLC and a higher RRP coupled with things like match making and more account security is what it takes for the industry to consider showing the PC more love. Then I'm all for it. Because to be quite frank the way things are going now, I might as well change my alignment to Sony and just use my PC as a glorified storage device for porn and internet access. Although in hindsight that is really all it has ever been :P 
 
Giant Bomb Stuff!
  •  If you haven't seen it already then check out the topic explaining changes to the moderator team on the site. Changes I'd say we're all in agreement are for the better :)
  • We are in discussion about new mods as I type this. Well not exactly as I type this but we're discussed it, there may be more on that sometime soon. These things are always slow to finalise as there is always so much to discuss. To increase your chances of becoming a moderator on Giant Bomb, go visit your local Site Rules & FAQs topic today! Check out the guides in that topic, learn from them, put them into practice and become a good, productive and helpful user around the site.
  • The Community Spotlight has some great content in there created by users for all of us to enjoy. I suggest you all pop over to it and look through the great stuff on offer and while you're there give ZombiePie a big thanks for keeping that topic in great shape.
 
Cheers for reading folks, as usual comment and critique below. Just remember one thing, if this turns into a nasty discussion just about MW2 on the PC I will weep at having to close down my own blog :(
 
So please don't make me cry!
 
Hamz, XOXO
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He's the Goddamn Batman, and his game was awesome!


So I finally finished Batman: Arkham Asylum last night and felt the need to blog about it.
 
Lets get it out of the way first, I enjoyed the game and as the title suggest I thought it was pretty awesome. Definitely the best game I've played all year and if I'm going to be even more high-praising of it I'd say the best single player game I've played in the last five or so years.
 

"Hamz, what exactly did you enjoy about this game? Give us the rundown on what it is that made you feel like a little school girl swooning over Batman everytime he spoke." 
                                            - Jayge, resident man-bitch and post whore of the Giant Bomb community.

  • Voice Acting - When a game is story driven there is always cutscenes and dialogue sequences between characters and if the voice acting is poor then those scenes are easily forgotten or remembered for all the wrong reasons. Thankfully Rocksteady Studios went all out and managed to score the best voice actors for their characters. Kevin Conroy is the Batman, no doubt about it. His voice is instantly what I hear and think of when reading any Batman comics and it was brilliant to see him return and voice the character in the game. I'm not sure I could of enjoyed the voice acting if they had picked different actors for the characters. Could you really imagine someone other than Mark Hamill as the voice of the Joker? I mean he has such a brilliant way of portraying the crazed clown's emotions with laughter that I can't imagine someone else being able to achieve. 
  • Art & Visual Style - One thing that stands out visually about this game is that it has a dark theme too it both literally and visually but it doesn't heavily rely on a black or grey colour scheme. There are always obvious tints or green, blue or red to areas that make it look ever so dark and shadowy without relying on black to make it so dark you can barely see or enjoy the small details in the level design. The art style of the environments and characters are also a nice combination of comic-esque design with little touches of realism added to them. Simple things like Batman's obvious comic book inspired suit design having rivet holes and creases / lines between the plates of kevlar armour inside it. Instead of looking like a leotard made out of just one sheet of cloth.
  • Animations - While facial animations left a little to be desired when compared to older games such as Half Life 2, which had brilliantly animated facial expressions and lip syncing, the full body animations within Batman: AA were really well done. All of Batman's combat moves and the reactions and general feel of the thugs and other enemies encountered within the game looked, for lack of a better phrase, real. The iconic cape itself moved and swayed with movement in the way you would imagine a real cape would. The cape itself almost had a life of its own in some ways since it was animated so well.
  • Combat - The combat system isn't perfect but it's probably the closest thing too it I've ever seen in a game. It is so simple to grasp and use yet still provides a 'flashy' feel and look when Batman executes a bone crunching blow against his enemies. Racking up a large combo of moves is easily done once you grasp the basics of dodging, countering and attacking. And thankfully the low learning curve makes the combat a little forgiving and a lot less frustrating during moments where you do make mistakes and fail to counter or dodge an attack in time. The combat is very much an adrenaline fuelled flurry that I've yet to experience as much fun with in any other game.
  • Gadgets & Gameplay - A Batman game needs gadgets and thankfully this game has them and they each provide an adequate advantage to the Dark Knight's arsenal in his adventure. From batarangs to the batclaw I have to say each gadget got an equal amount of use from me, more so the batclaw, and they all fitted nicely into their own niche situations as well as more open ended ones. The gameplay made me smile, this isn't just a stealth game and neither is it just a straight up brawler. It had a comfortable blend of both that seemed to not only fit with the source material but the general feel of the game. There weren't really any frustrating gameplay mechanics or moments created by bad gameplay and I enjoyed that.
  • Detective Vision - It deserves a bullet point all to itself. A brilliant combination of night-vision and radar all in one nifty package. Not only did it fit in with the source material and get great use as a method for approaching the 'Invisible Predator' combat but it also was a great addition to the overall gameplay and feel of progression in the game. Following pheromones, DNA left by fingerprints or other such chemical markers to track down individuals as you progress through Arkham was great fun and this is all thanks to a nifty little gadget. It emphasised the detective aspect of Batman's personality and methods in how he approaches situations while providing ample 'eye-candy' as a simple gameplay mechanic.
  • Boss Fights - It seems this is a bone of contention in the game for most who played it. I personally felt each boss fight was done in such a way that was relevant to emphasising the characteristics of the bosses themselves....
  1. Bane - He's a brutal and physical character, he is the man that broke the bat's-back and his boss fight emphasised his very 'hands on' approach.
  2. Victor Zsasz - He's cunning, cruel and likes to torment Batman as much as he does his victims before he makes the final cut. If you can consider the second encounter with him as a boss fight then it was done rather well.
  3. Harley Quinn - A crazy acrobatic trickster who likes to both toy and taunt Batman while indirectly attacking him. Her final encounter was played out in the same spirit and way she usually attempts to deal with Batman.
  4. Killer Croc - A powerhouse similar to Bane but his nature is much like his namesake, ambush and attack when his prey least expects it. The boss fight with Croc felt spot on in my book.
  5. Poison Ivy - Her boss fight was likely the most fitting one considering the context of her situation. She was high on titan steroids and thus explains why she summoned up some huge plants. I mean she controls plants, of course she'll send a big ass flower to attack Batman.
  6. Joker - He's a clown, a showman and someone who fears Batman more than he lets on. Even when physically superior to Batman after his titan steroid intake he still can't stop being scared of Batman. His boss fight emphasises this entirely as he plays up for the news helicopter filming him all the while never truly attacking Batman directly and even when he does have a chance to finish Batman, the showman, the entertainer, the joker in him is his biggest downfall.
  7. Scarecrow - He doesn't want to kill or harm Batman physically. He wants to crush him mentally, strip away the thing Batman considers his greatest asset, his mind and memories. The hallucination sequences are a simple battle of willpower. And if you can consider this a proper boss fight then I'd probably say it is the best one in the game due to just being so evocative and atmospheric.
 
Overall the game wasn't perfect, no game ever is, but I genuinely enjoyed it not only for the source material as a Batman game but for its merits as a game in and of itself as well. It had memorable moments such as Scarecrow's hallucination sequences and seeing Batman's suit continually get more damaged as you progressed in the game helped to further the story and pacing. A story that was brilliant and to the best of my knowledge original as well, not a plot taken from any previous Batman comic or cartoon etc. As a game I think that  it is most deserving of the praise it has received and possibly one of the few games that did seem to get the praise it deserved in my humble opinion.
 
However no blog giving such a strong positive opinion over a game is complete without there being at least some retrospective look at the game and highlighting points in it that could have been done differently or in some cases improved on entirely. So commence more bullet points....yay? 
 
  • Batclaw - Easily my most favourite gadget in the game. However I think it could have been improved if they allowed you to disarm enemies by targeting the batclaw to the weapon they are holding and yanking it out of their hands. A nice way to deal with those few moments you find yourself face to face against a thug armed with a gun or stun baton, but perhaps haven't got the health or time to zip away to a gargoyle for safety. It would have been a nice way to even the odds in those situations.
  • Gargoyles - While zipping to and from them was fun, it did become a little stale when you entered a room and had to take down enemies one by one using the 'Invisible Predator' combat method by simply stay on the gargoyles all the time. A little variation and less reliance on gargoyles would have been a nice addition to those more stealthy moments in the game. The fact that there was always five or six gargoyles in these rooms, placed in specific areas around them did become somewhat repetitive. Perhaps limiting the number of them and strategically placing them in certain areas would have presented a little more of a challenge.
  • Unlocking Gadgets - The one thing that annoyed me with the game most was not being able to use all the gadgets from the start of the game. I never quite understood or enjoyed the reasoning why games require you to only receive certain items, gadgets or weapons that aren't plot specific at certain points in the game. It is a bit of a dated mechanic and one I personally don't like. By the time I got the Ultra Batclaw (the last gadget to unlock via plot progression) I had very few moments in the story mode to make great use of it and the same can be said for things like the sonic sequencer hacking tool and so forth. I enjoyed being able to unlock upgrades for my gadgets, such as multiple batarangs etc, but not being able to have them from the start but rather only receive them during mid-to-latter stages of the game was disappointing. Assassin's Creed started you off with everything, then suddenly you have to re-earn all your equipment again and it just, to be crude, sucks that games do this still.
  • Jumping - Batman can glide for metres with his cape, grapple up to gargoyles, fight ten enemies at once, throw batarangs, fight the likes of Bane and Poison Ivy's giant plant but he still can't jump. It's a small gripe but one I still see now excuse to not include in games these days. The character fits the physical profile of an athletic and martial arts build, surely he can run and vault over obstacles by jumping?
 
Whenever a new game is released and the masses of players finish it there is always a moment where thoughts suddenly spring ahead to what we would like to see in a sequel, even if no sequel has been confirmed. So brace yourselves for yet more bullet points!
 
  • The aforementioned issues above that I have listed.
  • More gadgets such as smoke / flash bombs, explosive batarangs, a taser batclaw attachment, tranquillizer darts and generally more creative methods of dealing with situations by using gadgets. While I do enjoy a good batarang to a criminal's skull followed by a takedown, sometimes a little more variation can be fun!
  • Combining gadgets and gameplay mechanics a bit more to create exciting sequences. 
  1. Eg - Batman is in a vent system above a room, using detective vision you see there is one hostage and five thugs all armed with various melee and ranged weapons. Dropping down will likely result in Batman and/or the hostage being killed before all the thugs can be taken out. However dropping some smoke / flash bombs into the room first to distract, disorientate and confuse the thugs will allow Batman time to drop in and use his detective vision to see through the smoke and take out the thugs and free the hostage.
  • Take the setting to Gotham City itself. A new and exciting location which I'd love to see brought to life and explored.
  • Allow players to drive the batmobile and other vehicles Batman has at his disposal. The moment I saw the batmobile parked in Arkham's courtyard I really, really wanted to take it for a spin.
  • Start the next game off where Arkham Asylum ended with Batman heading to Gotham in an attempt to catch Two Face after he has just robbed a bank. Hearing that had occurred during the ending cutscene after the credits I immediately had hopes we would see this happen. The second game (if there will be one) picking up straight after the first with Batman all 'battle damaged' from his horrifying night in Arkham Asylum would be brilliant.
  • Show us the true Batcave under Wayne Manor. I want to see the giant penny, the robot dinosaur and the numerous bat-vehicles on display.
  • Lets see Robin, Nightwing and Oracle / Batgirl.
  • It must have a scene with Batman landing on the GCPD roof after seeing Commissioner Gordon light up the Bat-Signal into the night sky.
 
Anyway folks I think this will be a long enough read that most people will struggle through. As usual comment and critique as you feel necessary and as a nice end to what seems like an overly long blog. Enjoy this image! 
 
Hamz, XOXO
 

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So I bought a new TV.....and a PS3.

So I bought a kickass 42" plasma screen TV ( link for those interested) on Sunday. I was thinking of buying a new gaming PC with the money but after doing a little research and general comparison of which would be a better investment I decided on the television instead. The current PC I have for gaming is almost 6 years old and to be quite honest I haven't really bought many PC games this year at all. Only been interested in Modern Warfare 2 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. The latter of which I may just buy on my new PS3 instead.
 
Queue segue into the other interesting topic of this blog. I bought a PS3. Yes you read that correctly, Hamz the elitist PC gamer bought a console. Bit of a spur of the moment thing if I'm being honest. I think it was Ryan Davis who made a statement in response to Brad's comments about Borderlands being better on the PC. If you own a big ass television, you'll want to play some games on the 'big screen' even if they might not look as pretty as they would on a 17" LCD monitor. And I have to sort of agree that having 42" of plasma screen available to me does make me feel more inclined to utilise it for gaming.
 
I managed to grab a PS3 package which included inFAMOUS and Resistance 2. A friend has let me borrow his copy of Killzone 2 and Grand Theft Auto 4 to mess around with. I haven't tried any of them yet as inFAMOUS has captured my attention entirely, that game is pretty bloody awesome and I'm only a few hours into it at the moment. So I can only imagine just how much better it gets as I make further progress with it.
 
So I guess we come to the point in this blog where I ask those of the PS3 fanbase for suggestions on games to consider buying and playing on my new toy. I've only just managed to get my PS3 connected to my Orange Livebox (what a bloody useless piece of kit the Livebox is) and briefly browsed through the Playstation Store. Like I said above I think I'll be cancelling my PC pre-order of Batman: Arkham Asylum and get it on the PS3 instead. But what else out there should I be considering to get for the PS3? What little indie titles, arcade games, full game releases etc would folks recommend me looking into?  
 
 Disclaimer:
It should be noted for those few folks out there in the Giant Bomb PC gaming community I've not switched sides. Just for the time being I'm not seeing much point in staying loyal to one platform in an age where multi-platform gaming seems to be slowly becoming a requirement to truly enjoy games.
 
 

Now onto the obligatory and random picture of the day, this blog gets an extra special two images instead of the usual one!
 



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Mega Blog v2!.....

.......is now on hold. Over the last few weeks I've been super busy dealing with numerous things ranging from credit card and bank fraud to work and janky internet problems. So to all those folks who were anticipating the blog being posted yesterday I apologise. I just didn't feel comfortable posting what I had started as I'm not too fond of releasing a half-assed piece of work just to meet a deadline. So I'll be following the Valve philosophy here, it'll be released when it's done!

Now onto some random thoughts in bullet point formation!

  • Modern Warfare 2: Prestige Edition will cost £149 here in the UK which is roughly $243, almost double the US price of $150, and will be a HMV exclusive according to this article on Joystiq. Now as a PC player I'm not directly effected by the recent MW2 price hike shenanigans here in the UK, but I do find it entirely absurd and disgusting. These aren't just little price hikes, this is extortion of a consumer fanbase. Lets be fair here how many of us are really going to use night vision goggles? What use do they have other than to get kids talking about the game coming out with NV-goggles instead of getting kids talking about what the actual game on the disc has to offer players. All a big marketing scam in my opinion, a really cool one, but a scam none the less. And as I said the recent price hikes may not effect me directly, but I sure do feel its bullshit.
  • I got a haircut, it feels liberating.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition is out and only £6.99 on Steam which is a great price for a golden oldie, a classic game that rates up there in many PC players top 10 favourites I'd guess. Sadly though I've not had a chance to buy it due to bank fraud which caused me to cancel every credit card I have. But as soon as I get that sorted out, I'll definately be buying this and I suggest everyone who hasn't bought it, do so as well.
  • Our sister site ComicVine has an all new podcast, the VineCast, featuring the voice talents of G-Man, Babs and Captain Cascader aka Snide. I suggest you all take the time to sit down and listen to the first two episodes and give our friends over there some support. And while you're at it take a browse around their highly informative database covering all things Comic related!
  • Giant Bomb had its first birthday yesterday. Congratulations to everyone who helped create and support the content on the site.
  • The Community Spotlight topic could do with a little love these days. So pop on by and give your support to ZombiePie who does a fine job at keeping it updated as well as the multitiude of users who help provide content for it ranging from podcast, guides and wonderful wiki articles.

Hamz, XOXO

PS - SuperMooseman really is a woman. She asked me to help her bake a bun in her oven the other day. I am a little shocked at such a brazen request.
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