Random Friday Blog Thing!

Its Friday evening, its cold, its snowing outside and tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I'm sure I wont be the only guy going to bed tonight wondering if they picked the correct size of lingerie for their other half or if the piece of jewellery they bought has the right design they'll like. I've got a table for two booked tomorrow evening and did remember to book a taxi to take us this time after last years muck up where I forgot and had to get my better half to drive us both to the restraunt and then back home. A year later and I still haven't bothered learning to drive, seems like such a hassle and something I'd rather do when I hit my pension years so I can boast to the other pensioners about it in the old folks home when they go on about being able to make it to the toilet in time.

I'll probably try and get a more substantial blog done over the weekend or next week, or maybe even next month. Who knows maybe you guys and girls can suggest some ideas for future blogs. But I'll finish this one off with wishing you all a happy Valentine's Day and for those spending the day on their own then I have something for you below. A picture of Batman with a Greenlantern Corps ring....





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Destructoid gets hacked, Portal guns and much more inside!

So I haven't done a proper blog in awhile, my last blog was more Moderator focused than anything personal or actually interesting. However I will make up for that by providing what I hope is an interesting blog for you, the community, to read. So lets bypass the introduction crap and get right into the gooey stuff shall we?

I was reading through Crispy Gamer today when I came across an article [LINK] stating that Destructoid had been hacked sometime on Monday and the hacker(s) had managed to successfully get away with the usernames and passwords of members of the site. Kind of shocking that someone would go to that length to gather all that information and I'm a little confused as to why someone would want to do that. I mean I guess there is a small chance some of the information stolen is used by members there on other websites and online accounts. But I imagine most people, like myself, use different usernames and passwords for separate accounts on the internet.

Then on ShackNews I came across an article [LINK] detailing a hand made replica of the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device which looks absolutely fantastic if you ask me and it would appear the same person may have also made a replica dispenser from TF2 aswell [LINK]. The first thing I thought when I saw that Portal gun is I would definately drop some money on one of them if Valve started selling them in their online store. Seriously that Portal gun looks like the real deal, even if it doesn't create real portals, it still looks absolutely amazing. Awesome stuff I think you'll agree!

Also on ShackNews (if you haven't guessed, I'm sort of a fan of them) they have had some really interesting articles about the PC as a gaming platform recently. Two interesting ones simply list some games to look forward to in 2009 [Part1 & Part2] which was pretty handy. I haven't really been keeping up to date with whats coming out this year other than Burnout Paradise is mean't to hit the PC sometime soon I believe. Sort of looking forward to that just to watch those car crash animations.

EA DICE has also started taking applications for a new wave of beta testing for their quirky looking multiplayer shooter Battlefield Heroes [LINK] so if like me you have been keeping tabs on the game but missed out on every round of beta testing so far then now may be your lucky chance. I signed up earlier today for a beta key, need to check my email later and see did I get in. I know Kush has been just as excited over this game as I have and with all the delays it has recieved I have to admit my patience for it is becoming thin, I'd really like to just see it released or go into open beta already. Either way I'm still looking forward to playing this just to see is it as whacky and fun as trailers make it seem.

I think I'll finish this up here with a little shout out to SuperMooseman who I have been playing a lot of TF2 with pretty much each evening for the past week or more. We've had our moments relishing sweet victory as well as bitter defeat. But we've pulled through stronger than ever and found a mutual dislike for everyone who plays as a Medic. It feels like everyone who plays as the Medic lately is an idiot. So many times we found ourselves with a Medic that had a fully charged uber only to have them back out at the final moment before a rush to cap the control point leaving us at the mercy of a sentry gun or group of opposing players. Not cool folks, not cool at all. Anyway thanks for reading and be on the look out for a detailed insight into my love / hate relationship with Bioshock in my next blog!

<3 Hamz

[EDIT] - Seems like image uploads work now, and they have some fancy new overlays and options. So here are the images!



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Feedback please?

So kids, been awhile since I last blogged or even made a topic on the forums (other than stickies, or "anchors" as they sometimes get called). Seems a lot of my time has been in the IRC or moderating the boards as of late. I failed at my goal to try and reach 5000 points by the end of 2008 which sucks. So I have set a new goal for myself, reach 5000 points by the end of January this year! we'll see how it goes, I don't think I'm that far off but considering my level of procrastination its still a tough goal to achieve.

But now that I've got you reading I guess I should be honest and reveal the real purpose of this blog to you all. As some, I'd hope most, of you may know we have two FAQ guides posted on the site to provide users some information on the Forum and Wiki here at GiantBomb. They've been up for awhile now and users can find the links to them in the 'Defusing the Bomb' sticky [LINK] which is visible in the 'Newest Topics" area of the forums.

However theres not been a lot of feedback on the Forum FAQ itself and I was hoping the community could perhaps take some time to read it and then report back with any feedback on the guide. Is there anything you would like added? Anything that you think needs editing so its easier to understand etc. Just some general constructive feedback on the Forum FAQ would be good. Especially now that we have a large number of new users and the fact it will be getting an edit later on today from me to include information about the new features to the forum.

So roll out GiantBomb, read the Forum FAQ and get back to me with some feedback and either reply here or send it to my inbox!

Hamz

16 Comments

Hurricane Hamz End of the Year Review!

Hey folks, friendly neighbourhood moderator Hamz here with my top ten games of 2008 and end of year review. Before we get into the actual top ten list I think it should be said that 2008 was another cracking year for the video games industry. We all said in 2007 that nothing could beat that year for the number of great games released, but this year seems to have done just that.  We've seen new big hit titles for existing franchises such as Metal Gear Solid 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV. While new and innovative titles were also released such as Mirror's Edge, Braid and World of Goo.

2008 has definitely been a year that had a lot of interesting things happen in it for the video game enthusiasts around the world and the most interesting of all was seeing this website, GiantBomb, launch and flourish into something extraordinary. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the community here and even more so to have been here from the start and see it grow into the positive place that it is now.

So without further ado, here are my top ten games of 2008!

10. Mass Effect (PC)
I used to love Milky Way bars when I was a kid!

A space opera RPG by the acclaimed developer Bioware that was released on the PC in 2008. Mass Effect was a pleasant change to the RPG genre that has become saturated with games that follow the fantasy setting. The futuristic space setting allowed for more vast exploration between planets and locations which for a person like me who often gets feelings of wanderlust was a joy to experience in a game. The vast number of planets and systems you can visit and explore made the atmosphere of the game feel very grand, or for lack of a better word, epic in combination with the plot. Mass Effect's story is one that branches out across a wide area and one that allowed you to encounter multiple unique personalities and races of alien beings. In short I found the game a great experience due to its strong setting and story combined with the real time combat that still kept those core RPG elements. And I don't think I even need to mention the ability to romance and seduce hot alien chicks either.

Some people are hit by the ugly stick, others beaten with it....

9. Spore (PC)

A fantastic example of a game that basically lets you run wild with your imagination. If you ever had dreams as a child and wondered what an elephant crossed with a pigeon and perhaps a shark would look like, then Spore can help you achieve that. Both a financial success and one of the few games that actually achieves the goal it aimed for in the first place I found Spore to be a quirky, fun and utterly unique game to play. Sure some people will say it wasn't that great and is similar to other creations by Will Wright, but I disagree. I say if a game can allow you to make phallus shaped life forms then clearly it’s a winner and one to definitely play.

8. Bionic Commando Rearmed (PC)

A man of action, he likes that...

I never had the pleasure of playing the original NES version of the Bionic Commando game. But when I got my hands on Rearmed I noticed two things. The first being that the soundtrack for this game is just so damn great, and I am a big fan of games with good soundtracks. The second being that there needs to be more 2-D side scrolling shooters released. Honestly I can admit that I haven't played many 2-D side scrolling games but Rearmed was just a fantastic experience and one I am happy to say I paid extra for to play on the PC.

For those outside the UK, he doesn't mean Kermit the Frog!
7. Crysis: Warhead (PC)

The game Crysis should have been in my opinion. Warhead seemed to improve on the areas that were weakest with Crysis such as the multiplayer, the overall performance of the game and the general gameplay itself. It just felt a lot more focused and the protagonist Sergeant Michael 'Psycho' Sykes was a far more entertaining character than the somewhat boring and dull Nomad from Crysis. That and Psycho has a strong resemblance to the British actor Jason Statham of Transporter 1, 2, 3 fame in both visual design and general badass attitude. Overall I just really enjoyed this game a lot more than its predecessor it felt a lot more action packed and focused in its progression of both narrative and gameplay.

6. Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode 1 & 2 (PC)

Just one example of the excellent and crude humour in the games!

So I’ve sort of cheated here and included two separate games into the one choice but as a passionate Penny Arcade fan I’m sure you understand I just couldn't pick one without the other. The big draw for me to these games and the main reason I picked them to be on my list is that when I played them it felt like I was actually inside a strip for the popular webcomic, it didn't feel like a game at all. This is in large part due to the art design and visual style that at every moment oozes a comic strip feel to it and when you include the writing style and narrative it becomes even more apparent this is definitely a Penny Arcade game. For those unfamiliar with the popular webcomic the game still appeals as a fun, quirky adventure game set in a steam punk era that has a combat system that’s both simple yet challenging. There is also the fact no other game uses swearing in such an elegant style either. The humour is crude and in some cases infantile but that’s why it’s so damn fun to play this game. If there is anything I have learnt from this game it’s that the study of urine should seriously be considered and that monkey fights are both cool and awesome no matter the circumstances. Oh and hobos are nasty people!

The puzzle solving and physics are good fun.
5. World of Goo (PC)

  • A small independent developer, 2D Boy, created this epic masterpiece of a game. A simple yet highly addictive game that I think a lot of people looked at and passed on playing but a game they really should have played. World of Goo is that sort of addictive puzzle game that you both love and hate because it’s easy to lose hours of your life while playing it when you probably should be doing other more important things yet at the same time it’s just such a good game you can't stop playing it. Cartoony visuals, great physics system and well thought out level design make this a brilliant yet somewhat underrated game in my opinion. I don't often find myself attracted to puzzle games but I'm glad I decided to pick this one up; it’s just been such a great amount of fun to play. World of Good proved that you don't need a massive team of developers to create a fun game, and that’s what I think gaming is all about, fun.

4. Assassin's Creed (PC)

The size of the cities and draw distance is astounding.

  • An unusual choice as a lot of people don't seem to regard Assassin's Creed as that good of a game. But I however do because it had such a great feel and scope to it that not many games have achieved before. It has such a huge beautiful world that feels wholly alive with each individual person in the varied locations you visit seemingly unique and there are hundreds of NPC citizens within the cities all acting independently. That brings me to another reason I enjoyed this game so much, the sheer scale of each of the major cities you visit such as Acre and Jerusalem is astounding. The amount of detail put into the level design is amazing and the draw distances are so good that when standing on the top of a cathedral looking out over the city you can see everything and beyond, it’s just amazing. Another great aspect of Assassin's Creed is the platforming and free roaming available to you. Each city is quite literally a playground for you to explore and adventure in, whether it is climbing up buildings and running along rooftops or carrying out a stealthy kill on an unsuspecting guard only to run into the shocked crowd, that gather around, to make your escape. Assassin's Creed has a great combination of action packed combat, stealth and platforming coupled with the great way it captures the atmosphere of the Holy Land in the 12th century. Overall I think I just really loved pretending to be a medieval Spiderman jumping around buildings before sticking sharp pointy things into unsuspecting guards before tossing their body off a rooftop into the oblivious streets below, who doesn't enjoy doing that in games?

Can you believe this game uses the old Aurora Engine?
3. The Witcher Enhanced Edition (PC)

  • The Witcher originally was released in 2007 and suffered a number of technical issues such as long load times and performance problems as well as many errors in the English dialogue throughout the game. Thankfully though the Enhanced Edition was released this year as a large free download for those who already owned a copy of the game or as an entirely new retail edition that came with a lot of material found in the Special / Collector's Edition of the original game. The improved and revised script for the dialogue in the game really fixed some of the issues regarding the plot and made the story easier to understand and less of a guessing game. As well as this the graphics were improved upon making visual quality in the game more detailed and all round better looking. And the two greatest improvements granted by the Enhanced Edition were the reduced load times which in the original version were absolutely unbearable taking up to as long as twenty minutes in some cases just to go from the street of a town into a tavern. Thankfully that massive amount of time was reduced making the gameplay more fluid which is great as there are also two extra adventures to play through that are separate to the main campaign. This added content really makes the Enhanced Edition feel worth looking into instead of coming across as a fancy name for a big patch to fix various issues the original released version suffered with. Overall I loved playing through the Witcher in 2007 but the Enhanced Edition made playing through the Witcher feel like a new experience turning what I considered a great RPG into a masterpiece of the genre.

2. Dead Space (PC)
Useful information to know, trust me!

Ok so the big horror hit of the year and game that gets praise for turning me into a complete pansy when I played it goes to Dead Space. There were moments where I really did not want to go into the next room or hallway for fear more monsters would try and impale me. And that is why Dead Space is so high on my list, because it had a genuinely terrifying atmosphere to it that kept me on the edge of my seat, with all the lights in the house turned on, in the middle of the day. An engrossing story that always left me with more questions than answers for the most part is also a positive aspect of the game. The feeling of being alone on a spaceship full of creatures with the sole intention of smearing your insides all over the walls along with the somewhat cliché video logs that end abruptly before you get any real information really hit home the phrase "In space, no one can hear you scream" from the popular Alien film series. One feature I really liked about the game was the lack of a traditional HUD. Instead the pertinent information is integrated into your space suit allowing you to see at things like health by just looking at the glowing lights running up the spine of the suit. It really felt more immersive for me to not have the lower half or corners of my screen full of numbers and information. An adrenaline fuelled and truly terrifying experience, but that’s why I loved this game. It made me feel genuine emotions of fear and that’s something hard to find in a game.

You heard the man, no zombie is safe from him!
1. Left 4 Dead (PC)

And my top game of 2008 goes to the survival-horror-coop-orientated-zombie-shooter created by Valve. L4D caught my interest from the moment I heard about it and is possibly one of the few games released this year that actually lived up to my expectations. The premise of the game is very simple, you play as one of four survivors in a city full of infected zombies of varied shape, size and ability and must make make your way to each safe house before finally being rescued at the evacuation point. Sounds pretty easy until you take into account that the AI Director just loves to ruin your day by increasing or decreasing the difficulty and challenge posed by the infected as it monitors your groups progress and skill level. You can usually tell when the AI Director is going to unleash something bad on you due to the use of music as it picks up into a crescendo mere moments before hell is unleashed upon you and your suffering party. This is another amazing aspect to this game the complete focus on providing a great co-operative experience for players. It seems to me that Valve really just wanted to make a game with the sole purpose and goal of having the best co-operative multiplayer experience in a game and then decided they wanted to make it a zombie survival shooter as well.

And for the most part they succeeded at creating a game with an amazing co-op experience. No other game has such dedication to making players rely on their teammates to win as Left 4 Dead does. If you aren't playing with people you know and trust then you are at a serious disadvantage because communication and being able to predict what your fellow players are going to do is to some degree key at surviving the zombie apocalypse. Playing with random players often results in a complete meltdown in communication, organisation and fun with your party wiping out in minutes and everyone being unhappy. The other great thing about this game for me is that it’s a zombie survival shooter that cuts away the often boring and pointless back story explaining why zombies are walking the streets. Zombies are fictitious creatures, we don't need to know why they are in the game, we just need a gun some ammo and a horde of undead to cure, one bullet at a time. Left 4 Dead is for me the best game released this year; it reached my expectations and in some ways surpassed them by emphasising the fact players need to work together to survive. It also taught me that no zombie is safe from Chicago Ted!

Honourable Mentions

This year has been a pretty big year for releases, but 2007 was also a big year for video games. And below are the two biggest of 2007 that I have continued to play on a religious level all throughout 2008.....

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (PC)
The number of people who still complain about this perk shocks me!

Without doubt one of the best FPS games of last year and one of the best online multiplayer shooters ever created. It brought a whole new level of customisation and enjoyment to the online shooter experience and managed to guarantee itself a place in many players hearts for the sheer fun it provided. Whether it was laughing at someone complaining about the Last Stand and Martyrdom perks or playing on a server with hardcore mode enabled. There was a lot of joy to be had with COD4's multiplayer which I continued to play daily from release and throughout this year as well. Also a game with a short but action packed single player that has its own merits for emotional impact, good gunplay and being able to rain death down upon some terrorists from high up inside an AC-130.

Gentlemen....we have a winner here!

Team Fortress 2 (PC)

My Game of the Year choice for 2007 and likely would have been for 2008 had Left 4 Dead not been released. TF2 was an addiction of mine throughout this year because it is in my book the best online shooter created. From a unique visual design to well thought out and quirky classes. Valve has shown that a games success and longevity can be guaranteed if the developer is willing to put in time, effort and dedication to maintaining post release support for their game. Much like Left 4 Dead, TF2 requires players to work together in harmony by supporting one another where their chosen class is weakest. Whether that is a Medic helping heal the Heavy or a Pyro doing a Spy check on everyone passing by an Engineer's structures. Valve took the "lone wolf" mentality of most players who want the glory for themselves and changed it so they become a member of the "pack" and work together to achieve their goals. This year alone TF2 has continually gone from strength to strength with various balance issues and bugs being tweaked while new maps, class updates and game modes are released.  If ever a game could be perfect I think TF2 would be my choice.

PC Gaming in 2008

As a PC gaming enthusiast 2008 has been a rough year for me and those who share a similar passion for playing games on their computers. The controversy over piracy on the platform and the negative, some say lethal, effects it is having seems to have been the biggest topic this year for the platform. And amongst all the negative attitudes, system wars arguments, bad console ports and EA's DRM fiasco one thing has been a shining beacon in the dark for anyone who considers themselves a PC gamer.

Valve's digital delivery service, Steam. Quite possibly the best thing this year has been watching this program evolve from an online store to an online hub of activity. Whether it was anticipating a new deal on a game each weekend or logging in to find a new array of big hit titles from days gone by were now available for purchase. Steam was constantly there to remind me that PC gaming has support, has success and is still a viable and effective gaming platform.

If ever there could be an icon to show the world what defines PC gaming I think Steam would be it. An online store, a form of piracy protection, a community hub and proof that digital delivery is the way forward for game releases. This year saw some, if not most, of the highest anticipated titles released on Steam with many more games for next year also announced as well. And recently it has seen a large contingent of EA's big hit titles announced for release on there as well. A subtle nod perhaps from one of the biggest publishers in the industry that the PC is not a dying platform like so many claim these days. Overall I don't think the PC got a lot of love this year, but hopefully 2009 will bring about change.

Hamz

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Left 4 Dead left me wanting....

So the highly anticipated survival-horror-coop-orientated-zombie-shooter from Valve was released today at 5am, in the UK anyway, and i was one of the brave, or sad, folks who stayed up to play it as soon as the game unlocked on Steam. And i haven't really stopped playing it since, infact its now nearlly 5pm and i've only just logged out to write this blog and share my thoughts.

First of all this game is intense and one thing i cannot stress enough is play it with people you trust. When there is so much going on, whether its a screaming horde of regular zombies or some devious zombie jumping out the shadows with a blood curdling howl as it pummels you to the floor. You really need to have people on your team to back you up when things get tough. I've been fortunate enough to play alongside a bunch of friends on Steam aswell as being unfortunate enough to play alongside a bunch of random people aswell. L4D is a game that really relies heavily on players knowing, trusting and being familiar with one another to achieve success against the undead. To use a term from MMO's it just doesn't end well if you have to PUG (pick up group) your way through the game.

The AI Director in the game is very clever and you find yourself experiencing a different style of gameplay each time you play one of the chapters in the 4 campaigns. I also found its very unforgiving too stupid players. In true horror movie style you'll get ripped apart if you stray too far ahead of the group or if you stray too far behind and hold the group up. One unfortunate French player in a group i was in kept straying behind to try and find pipebombs while the rest of us kept moving. Needless to say he was set upon by a group of somewhat pissed off zombies and we had to come back and rescue him a number of times. Sure we could have waited for him but like the old saying goes, "We can't stop here, this is bat country!"....or something along those lines. No two playthroughs ever really feel the same and you'll find yourself really saying "oh shit" when you walk outside the safe house into the loving arms of a Tank. And when you try to run back into the safe house and close the door you find the loving AI director has decided the door cannot be closed....

Yeah....your fucked now mate!

My only real gripes with the game, if you can consider them that, is that it left me wanting more. I didn't really feel satisfied after playing through each campaign and while yes i still have to go through them all again to get some of the campaign specific achievements. I really wished it was a little longer but i imagine thats where the higher difficulty settings and friends will add a lot of replay value to the game. The other thing is the variety of weapons on offer to help you ease the suffering of the ravenous hordes of undead you encounter. In a word there is very few weapons to be honest. You have the tier 1 set consisting of a basic pump action shotgun, uzi submachine gun and pistol(s) where as the tier 2 set consists of an M16, automatic shotgun and scoped hunting rifle. While secondary weapons such as pipebombs, molotov cocktails, petrol tanks and gas canisters can also be found dotted around the place.

It just seems a little boring at times when you come across the same suspiciously placed M16, hunting rifle and automatic shotgun in every safe house or obscure room in a building within each campaign's chapters. All the while starting off with the same choice of basic shotgun and uzi. I like variety in my options to kill the undead and L4D is somewhat limited in what it offers to carry out such mass slaughtering. I really do hope Valve bring out some updates before the new year to add in some more weapons and perhaps afterwards add in some more maps and campaigns to lengthen the experience. Because L4D is an awesome experience, it has such great atmosphere and replay value that the addition of extra content like new maps and weapons would increase that replay value and general great experience you have when you play the game.

If you've ever played Portal, another of Valve's creations, you'll probably remember the various hidden rooms and areas with messages written on the walls. Ramblings of previous participants in GLaDOS's cruel game like rats in a maze. Well L4D is similar to this in that if you take time to look through the many safe houses and levels you'll come across some entertaining messages such as "We waited for as long as we could, headed to Mercy Hospital, meet us there, Love...." and its these minor little details to the level design that help build up this atmosphere of solitude and despair. Even though you have 3 companions with you at all times you really can't help but feel alone in what is a city full of death, or undeath if you want to be picky.

Dialogue in L4D is immense. There is just tonnes of it and if you look in the games directory you'll see just how many sound files of dialogue each suvivor has. Like many of Valve's games the dialogue is of top quality and the voice acting is spot on. Facial animations and the general appearance and feeling you get from the survivors is very reminiscent of Alyx Vance in Half-Life 2 yet greatly improved. If there is one thing Valve does really well its bring a great deal of life and personification to its NPC's and characters in their games. Even the zombies have a degree of quality to them that makes you think "ok that could be a real zombie, even though i know its a bunch of pixels and code in a game". The general tone, feel and atmosphere within the game is greatly enhanced by the music that tends to pick up in a dramatic crescendo to let you know that something bad is coming your way.

Multiplayer in L4D comes in the form of Versus mode which i dabbled in briefly. It was fun to play as one of the infected and try to totally lick Zoey with my super long tongue, she was having none of it, but i couldn't help but feel it was way to one sided in favor of the infected. But it was somewhat fun when we utterly destroyed the survivors just outside their safe house and found ourselves suddenly in the same situation when the teams swapped over. Versus was fun but i think i'd much rather play coop on expert as the Versus mode just seems to me to be the player vs player, the multiplayer aspect to appeal to those few who must be able to play against other people and not a clever AI system. It just after awhile felt boring to either A.) Be constantly ripped apart only a few feet from a safe house door or B.) Keep spawning as a Hunter and wait 20 seconds sometimes to respawn.

Even though i have a few issues with L4D i think they can really be sorted out by further updates and support from Valve to both balance the game yet add too and extend the replay value of the game much like they have done with TF2. A few regular updates to add new maps, chapters or campaigns aswell as weapons and i'll be happy. Perhaps they can improve on the Versus mode aswell by maybe adding more maps or gameplay modes, who wouldn't want CTF with zombies? Overall though L4D is fucking awesome and if you haven't bought it or played the game yet then you suck and should hang your head in shame. Buy this game now and get in on the zombie killing action because its boat loads of fun!

Anyway here is a list of weapons i think would be cool to have in L4D, even if they are available for specific chapters or campaigns....

  • Chainsaw - Iconic weapon of any zombie game and a powerful one for close combat. Refueled by using the contents of the many petrol cans dotted around the levels in the game and providing a small dilema for players. Is it worth them refueling the weapon or saving the petrol cans to use against waves of zombies?
  • Revolver - Upgrade the pistol(s) to a more powerful handgun thats a little slower at reloading and obviously has fewer shots to fire.
  • MP5 - Used by most police and security forces worldwide it would make sense to come across it in various levels of the game where we find police cars and such like.
  • Flashbang - Again used by police forces as a method of crowd control it could provide a group a few seconds extra to reload, regroup and such like as it stuns the zombie hordes.

Hamz
28 Comments

Open Letter to the Community !

Hey all its your friendly neighbourhood moderator here, just felt like writing up a little open letter style blog to you all. The community here is the lifeblood and pulse of the site, its what keeps it running and going forward. Its probably the most important aspect of the site because without you, us, all we wouldn't have a place to call GiantBomb. So i guess i felt like writing a blog to share a few things with you all, mainly how the site and community from my perspective has changed into what it is now....

On July 21st 2008 the internet witnessed the birth of GiantBomb. A one of a kind and truly unique website for video game enthusiasts where they could all contribute to amassing a vast and varied amount of knowledge on video games and gaming culture. From Hamburgers, Princess Debut, Tea-Bagging and Mario to Double Jumps and Sega and much much more. In a Wikipedia style the site offers users the chance to really contribute to its development by submitting content in the form of images or details to a page of the Wiki. Attracting users from all over the globe and from other gaming related websites, GiantBomb became a new home for many.

An idea of what things were like in the early days....

In its initial days of launch the site was crazy, chaotic and full of such a positive energy. Everyone was psyched for what this place would have to offer and what its community would be like. The first thing everyone seemed to notice was a big lack of moderators on the forums as excitement soon faded to trolling and posting of images that made you wish you were blind so you could not see such horrors. But a few choice users from the community were chosen as the first Mods on the site, these guys are the current Forum Mods with the exception of TheBeast who we later had added to our small organised group. We were the first line of defense in trying to control the massive community on the forums and site in general.

As the site picked up pace so did the level of submissions coming in for the Wiki and our attention soon turned from focusing on the forums to helping the Staff deal with submissions in the queue. I remember they were crazy stressed out with the work load so we brought on some more users who are now the people you see as Wiki Mods. Even with the extra hands the submissions queue refused to decrease, it seemed at times as if every single submission we had to deal with had another five take its place. The main attraction of GiantBomb was begining to expand, take shape and become popular amongst the community.

All the while Jeff, Vinny, Ryan and Brad were trying to get editorial content up on the site while keeping us Modlings as we were back then under check, making sure they were there when we needed them. And i have to say they really did a great job in keeping us feel supported when things got tough with the Wiki queue. They really have done a great amount for GiantBomb and its community in both the quality of their reviews and the coverage and content they post in the form of news, bombcasts and videos. I came to GiantBomb after following the fantastic four, as i call them, from Gamespot, it was awesome to be asked to Moderate on their site and even more amazing to actually get to chit chat with them and see them build this place up to what we have today. So to these fine chaps i say thanks, thanks for the awesome content you provide.

The dev team who helped create the site also deserve a lot of praise as without them the site would just not exist or be of such a high quality as it is now. These guys really do put a lot of work and long hours into thinking about how they can improve every minor detail and fix every little bug you, the community, come across. Without their dedicated work we wouldn't have a working GiantBomb like we have now and i think its great that even now months after launch they are still working on new features, still tweaking and playing around with things like the forum layout to improve it and still fixing every bug as it creeps up. I tip my hat to these fine gents who work mostly behind the scenes!

Praise also needs to be given to you guys and girls, the people and users who make this site what it is. Without you all we wouldn't have such a great site as we have now. We wouldn't have a Wiki where every slight detail, however small, of a game is recorded, posted and appears within this massive database of knowledge. Its you guys that make this site worth coming back to time and time again and its why i continue to take part in the community, moderate the forums and interact with you all. There is such a great community here, a community that is ever expanding and evolving to greater heights.

However things haven't always been so smooth as some of you may remember. When the site first launch it was both energetic and yet chaotic. No moderators mean't anarchy on the forums and people generally acting like dicks as they trolled them. This was largely down to our focus being on the 90,000+ submissions in the queue and spending every moment of our time fixed on the task of reducing the turn around for submissions to twenty four hours and below. A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into moderating that queue and at times a lot of sleepless nights were had just dreading how much the queue would have increased by the time we got up in the morning.

How we deal with trolls on GiantBomb...
But with all of our attention focused on the queue we, the Forum Mods, had let things slip on the forums. We all remember the fantastic four saying they wanted the site to have a very relaxed and chilled out approach to moderaiton and that was a cool feeling for a lot of people coming from more stricter websites. But some felt that was a nod towards posting and acting how they wanted on the forums. Some decided to abuse that privilege of freedom we granted the community and in part it was our fault for focusing a little too long on the Wiki queue. A lot of things went on in the forums for too long unchecked and we should of put a stop to them earlier but we were otherwise preoccupied and i won't make any excuses, it was largely our fault certain activities went on when they shouldn't have.

After weeks of reviewing the forums carefully we decided to put an end to said activites and we struck hard with the moderations. It caused an uproar with accusations of power abuse, fascism and the phrase "nazi mods!". With the closing of a certain topic it seemed a small group of the community was livid with the Forum Mods and specifically a select few of us. And it seemd a day didn't go by where a new topic, private message or wall post was sent by that small group sharing and showing their dislike and hate for us. It became pretty difficult to feel motivated enough to take part in the community when all we got was negative vibes from them.

We half expected such a feeling but not for so long or so strong. And it came to a point where, for me personally, i just got really angry at the way people reacted in such a negative and in some cases rather volatile manner. It became hard to really feel motivated to actually take part in anything as it seemed every second comment somehow turned into an argument about the same old subject. And then Jeff popped in one day into the Mod IRC channel and had these inspirational words to say....
The man, the myth, the legend....Jeff Gerstmann!
"Being a moderator is just like being a video game reviewer. People will always criticise your work and say they can do a better job. The trick is to just accept you'll get such responses and don't dwell on it"
Wise words indeed and words that seemed to cause a spark of motivation in the Forum Mod team. We began to take a more active role again in the community as it seemed the community had began to accept a specific topic would not be returning, anytime soon atleast. And the communication breakdown between Mods, Staff and Users seemed to pick up again as everyone become more well informed amongst the community as to what was going on. Things were perking up and have done ever since, the community here at GiantBomb has just gone from strength to strength.

Its great to see how the forums have turned from a somewhat spam orientated place for trolls to a more "quality over quantity" style of posting topics and replying to them. The quality of the forums in general has increased, discussion that takes place is more mature, more organised and all round better than it once was. And i put that down to a combination of cutting out the, for lack of a better word and because its dramatic, cancer that had infected the forums in the form of trolls and users with the sole purpose of being dicks on the forums for no reason other than "lulz" according to them. And the fact that through better Mod and User interaction through the community IRC and regular stickies regarding issues and such like things have been made clearer for everyone.

Overall i guess what i'm trying to say is i love the GiantBomb site, i love its content and most of all i love the community here. Its all just really bloody awesome and i look forward to seeing what the future holds for us all. And god knows i've moderated a number of you in the past and you still speak to me so really i have to say thanks for being awesome about that, its always difficult to moderate someone you know or are friendly with. But its made easier if the other person understands, so GiantBomb community give yourself a pat on the back, you've all done a fine job. Whether your a User, Moderator or member of the Staff, congratulations to all for making this place awesome!

Community made stuff you MUST take a look at!


  1. Bomb Should Have a Face aka BSHAF - The official second best podcast here on GiantBomb. Started by MattBodega, TokyoChicken, Jensonb and Disgaeamad. Its continually improved every episode and had such famous faces from around the site on as guests like Dave Snider, MB, Sweep, Jayge, Lies and myself to name a few! I strongly suggest if you haven't listened to this podcast yet then you totally should because otherwise....your so 12, or just a big derelict!
  2. Bombing Run - A Community game night originally started by MattBodega but has since been passed onto the hands of Systech to organise and handle. If your interested in playing some awesome games alongside your fellow users here at GiantBomb then i recommend you keep an eye out for the weekly topic relating to the next Bombing Run and get your details posted in there if you want to take part. Great fun to take part in for sure!
  • List of GiantBomb users Spore Tags - Created by SuperMooseman to provide users here who are fans and players of Spore the chance to share each others content and have general chit chat regarding Spore and such like. Worth looking into if your a fan of Spore.
  • 360 Gamertag Topic - A place for all Xbox360 users here on GiantBomb to share their gamertags and get added to each others friend list so you can all chill out and play some games together. If you own a 360 then i strongly suggest you look into this topic, always some friends to be found here. Started up by Kindgalaxy.
  • Gamerscore Leaderboard - This topic contains the gamerscore of GiantBomb users on the Xbox360, chuck in your details and see where you rank compared to your fellow users here on the site! Created by Gorillawhat.
  • Playstation Networkd ID's - Just like the Gamertag topic this one focuses on users sharing their PSN ID's to others within the community so people can hit each other up online and have some fun. Created by Flam3Thr0w3r.
    Picture courtesy of Ravey after i accidently lost my first edition of this blog by hitting the back button without saving a draft.....shame on me!
  • Beta Code Topic - Created by fellow Forum Mod, BoG, this topic is for users to post requests for beta codes for games or to share extra codes they may have recieved so more of the community can get in on some beta action. Worth a look if your having a hard time finding a code for a games beta.
  • Defusing the Bomb - The Forum Mod's very own community sticky where we provide a link to the recent and brand new yet still shiney Forum FAQ. Plans are also to include news, announcements and a thought of the week to it aswell. A FAQ for the Wiki section of the site is in the works aswell and will hopefully be added once its finished so keep an eye on this sticky. Also we would seriously appreciate some feedback from you guys and girls on the Forum FAQ, either leave the feedback as a comment to this blog or send me a PM, either way all criticism and such like is appreciated. But i strongly recommend you read that FAQ, if only so you know some of the basic rules we have here.
  • Community IRC Channel - An IRC channel set up by the community for the community, suggest you go check it out. Lots of friendly people in there plus some of us Mods make a venture in on a regular basis. And guess what? Its not moderated by the Moderators on the site so feel free to chat to us in there without worrying about anything!
  • The Force Unleashed Mega Guide - A mega guide for the game TFU created by Lies, Systech, Pyromaniac and SpikeDelight. Proof that this community can achieve great things with a little effort. Just utterly amazing, if ever you needed a guide for this game then this is the one to use!
  • Trivia - Another great feature on the site is the trivia quiz which has user submitted questions. Can be a helluva lot of fun if you find yourself bored, also a great way to make use of the Wiki feature on the site and improve your gaming knowledge. Definately worth checking out.
  • Guides - Aswell as having a highly detailed and devleoped Wikipedia of gaming related knowldge on the site we also have an awesome feature for users to write up and create their own guides for games or aspects within a game. Got a tip on how to beat that final boss in a game? Then write a guide on how to do it, publish it and let the community rate and respond to it!
  • Lets Play! - Play a free game, come back, discuss and rate. The new revamped version, worth checking out and having a look at!
  • GiantBomb Caption Contest - Something thats just started up, and something worth taking a look at for a few laughs and some fun. Pictures, captions, contests, nuff said! Created by SuperMooseman
  • Friend Codes Topic - Much like the PSN ID's and 360 Gamertags we also have a Wii Friends Code topic for all you Ninty fans out there to share and hook up and play some games people. Created by Arkthemaniac
  • GiantBomb Staff Photo Edit Topic - A topic created by the much loved and now less active BiffMcBlumpkin for users to show off their photoshops using pictures of the Staff. Sort of creepy yet mildly entertaining none the less.

Big thanks goes to TokyoChicken for providing me most of the links and usernames for the creators of the various Community topics and projects, even if he laughs like a little 12 year old girl. Also a thanks to Virago for thinking it would be a good blog to post, just sorry i didn't get that picture onto my PC like i said i would. Anyway i hope you all have some fun reading this and realise your all apart of something epic here, so enjoy it!

Hamz

EDIT! - Totally forgot to thank everyone who has left a wall comment or sent me a PM supporting my new attempt to give up smoking. Cheers for all the support people, i shall hopefully overcome the nicotine!
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Long overdue blog....

Been bloody ages since i blogged so figured i'd make one, let those interested know what i've been up to and i've been up to a lot. From gaming to working to becoming single again, yeah nearlly 5 years sort of finished last week so ladies, i'm taking names and numbers :P. Trying not to dwell on it too much but rather difficult anyway...

What i've been playing...

  • Crysis Warhead
  • Peggle
  • TeamFortress 2
  • Age of Conan
  • Mount & Blade

Warhead's single player was pretty good and the game overall i felt was better than Crysis by a long shot. Plus it runs better which is always a big positive for any PC game. The multiplayer was a bit of a headache as i couldn't get it to run in Steam then it just worked one day, not played much of it but i did enjoy the brief minutes i played.

Started playing Age of Conan again after a recent patch on Sept17th, the games major bugs seem fixed and its now just up to FunCom to balance classes and add more content to the game. Cancelled my subscription until they release the huge patch they've been testing on the Testlive servers.

Decided to shell out the cash for Mount and Blade since its a little gem of a game in my opinion and one thats usually overlooked or shunned by most gamers. A very simple game with some great combat to it and plenty of mods out there to add extra content and generally make it a more fun game to play. Overall a good game and if you can spare the money then buy it, support the devs and help make this a better game :D!

Other than that i have just been working like a crazy fool to save up those pennies and now that i'm a single guy again i have to pay for everything myself, no 50/50 on the bills etc now. Started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and finally finished it on Sunday night i think, really good TV Show and one of the few "anime style" cartoons i've enjoyed.

Now onto some more exciting news the KOTOR MMO has finally been announced with the official title of Star Wars: The Old Republic. I have to say i'm excited, really excited about this game and will be following it closely i think. I don't play World of Warcraft anymore but if i still did then yeah i'd stop playing it for this game, even though it'll be some time till its officially released. The more Star Wars games made the better i say.

And to finish i'd like to point everyone to a really kickass and awesome guide for The Force Unleashed thats been getting a lot of attention here at GiantBomb. I don't often say things like this but man, GameFAQ's eat your heart out, this guide really does crush a lot of the guides GFAQ's has to offer.

Link to the guide
Link to Jeff's news editorial

Credit goes to Lies, systech, pryromaniac congratulations guys for the awesome job.

Anyway see you all in room 0 on Thursday!
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Wall of text goes here!

I've been quite the busy bee this week what with covering a extra few shifts at work for some people and seeing a few friends before they head back to Uni. Aswell as doing a lot of gaming and spending money i really shouldn't be spending. And the title was picked mainly because this seemed like such a long blog, i did try to keep it easy for you all to read.

First off i've bought a few DVD's...

The Incredible Hulk

WALL-E

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

No Country For Old Men

Iron Man

I did already pre-order Iron Man but decided to cancel it and order the collectors edition aswell, i just really liked the film so much i didn't mind paying the little extra for it. All new films i've probably mentioned in previous blogs but films i enjoyed none the less and WALL-E in my honest opinion was better to watch than the Dark Knight. Yeah you read that correctly i said a digital animated family film was better than the most highly anticipated film of the decade! *queue the flames!*

Also i would like to say a big thanks to a user on Gamespot, Velocitas8, who provided me with a beta key for the WAR EU open beta. He/She did so out of the blue and for that act of kindness i'd like to say cheers, good on you sir. I just wish i could have actually put that key to use.

Because i never did manage to get into the WAR EU open beta. Why? Well the organisation for the open beta was an absolute shambles. Honestly it was just so poorly handled that i genuinely have to ask how some people still have jobs or contracts for the game. The open beta started on Sept 7th and finishes today, Sept 13th, and those at GOA who were given the job to handle WAR over here in Europe totally screwed it up.

I think they only allowed account creation on their site late on Sept 6th and it soon was broken and so was the key validation system meaning they were both taken offline rather quickly. At first GOA had the cheek to say "Its because we didn't want to stress the beta servers too much by allowing too many players online at once" and eventually they admitted it was their fault. They never had the infrastructure in place to handle anywhere close to the amount of people who had open beta keys to take part.

So out of around 200,000 people with open beta keys only a very small portion of them actually got into the game from what i understand. And naturally it took GOA days to bring account creation back online. I believe it was on the 11th or 12th that they managed to get it back online and even then it was still not working correctly. So when i finally managed to create an account it said everything was successful and valid only to deny my login details over and over. After waiting another day for an email back from customer support to help me atleast try and get a few hours play they totally missed my problem.

The GM who replied to my email seemed to think i couldn't login to the site, when i wrote a detailed email saying it was the client/patcher i couldn't login to. So really it was a complete and utter shambles and a big waste of my time. Honestly after Age of Conan being a disappointment and now seeing how WAR in Europe is being handled by a bunch of morons i don't think i'm going near another MMO for a very very long time.

Aswell as this i've been following the reaction to Mercs 2, Spore and STALKER: Clear Sky and i have to say its been interesting. Mercs 2 got a lot of love and hype from the Gamespot crew only to get a less than pleasant review but a fair one none the less. From what i've heard it seems most reviews, both professional and amateur, have found the same faults with the game. And it seems that fault is the game has more bugs in it than a rainforest.

Spore on the other hand seems to have been recieved rather well and that didn't really surprise me that much. Most of you will have been following this game since it was announced and it generated a lot of love amongst gamers for the creature creation and evolution aspect to the gameplay. And i'm tempted to just go and buy it, although i probably shouldn't since i'm on a budget these days.

STALKER: Clear Sky however seems to have sort of passed by casually much like the first game did. Infact it took me about 6 months to buy the first game after its release, i just seemed to ignore it for so long. And i think i'll be doing the same with this game aswell, it just doesn't seem to appeal to me that much now compared to when i heard it was being announced.

An a pleasant surprise for any PC gamer is that Crysis, Crysi: Warhead and The Witcher: Enhanced Edition are now all available for pre-purchase on Steam. Looking through the "Coming Soon" tab in Steam there is a nice number of strong titles going to be released on the program this year. And i honestly think its awesome that more big titles are being released on it. Not long ago Age of Conan was added to the list which i think is the first MMO that you can buy from the store, pity it isn't such a good MMO...

I just think its awesome that Valve's online store is picking up some big name games now and generally becoming a more improved and amazing service for PC gamers to use. While still releasing small name and indie games aswell. Valve really is just the most awesome thing to happen for the PC as a gaming platform in my opinion. Now if only Blizzvision would team up with them....kind of like a Marvel team up

Other than continued COD4 gaming i haven't been doing much. So i'll see you all in room 0 for another On The Spot show over at Gamespot . Because we all know its the place to be on a Thursday evening after the walk home from the pub, unless your Joe...who can't legally drink lol

PS - GiantBomb users may not understand those last two sentences...

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May the force be with you!

Went to go see Star Wars: The Clone Wars while we were down there and it was surprisngly good. Infact i thought it was better than the live action Attack of the Clones film starring Ewen McGregor, Natalie Portman and Samuel L Jackson etc. It just didn't have the bad acting, angsty storyline and was all round kid orientated fun. And the scene involving Anakin and Ashoka hiding in a box to sneak past some droids really made me laugh. I doubt the creators mean't it to be a homage to MGS but thats what everyone was saying after we left the cinema.

I downloaded the EU Warhammer Online beta client so i can hopefully take part in the Gamer Connect Beta event planned. Click here for more details on the event and click here to download the EU beta client. Pretty sure you can't make an account for it yet until the 7th but i may be wrong. I just hope i haven't missed my chance to take part in this open beta.

A lot of games coming out soon that i'm interested in, FarCry2, Crysis Warhead, L4D, Spore, Mercs 2 and maybe WAR. But what with having an aging PC that struggles to keep a decent FPS in COD4 and a lack of money to be able to afford them i think i'll just wait and maybe buy a new PC around Christmas time. A long way off i know but i figure by then i'll hopefulyl have more cash to splash out on new games and a new PC!...thats the plan anyway lol.

Downloaded the new Google Chrome web browser and have been using that for a few hours now. Infact i'm posting this blog while using it. I have to say it isn't bad at all but neither does it have anything that makes me want to stop using FireFox v3 and start using Chrome from now on. Click here to download Chrome.

Other than that i have been trying to play COD4 and improve my skills but having not played it in awhile i really suck. Infact i almost rage quit the other day because i really got owned constantly but i took 5, had a smoke and a cup of tea then went back to playing. I guess my break worked as i finally managed to break my Kill/Death ratio even for the match.

Also just finished playing some TF2 on the PC with a fellow GSUK user, tamsj04, in which we managed to lay down the law to some other TF2 players. Until i switched teams and for about 5 minutes was at the mercy of tams's heavy and his minigun. But a few casual headshots and finally switching back to the other team allowed us to go all out on those punks!....its also increased my love for the Scout aswell. I lost count how many times i killed people using the little pistol which hardly ever gets used lol.

PAX is also over and from what i gather general opinion is that it was awesome. Some even saying it could be the new E3 but i can't really comment since i've never been to either. But i would say that E3 may be better left as an industry professionals show and PAX perhaps stay as a public show?

I'm also hoping to get some time in and start writing up more edits for the Wiki on GiantBomb. Its something i've been meaning to do for awhile now but it just seems everytime i get to starting it i end up having to do moderator things. So this Sunday i think i'll sit down and try my best to get some reviews and edits up!

Well i think that covers everything really, so until next time!

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Au Revoir!

Well just thought i'd post a blog and let you all know its my birthday tomorrow, 25th of August, and i'll be away for a few days or so. The girlfriend and myself are going off to celebrate it, yay for dirty weekends away :D!...well its not really the weekend but you get the idea. When i'm back i'll be popping up a blog to share my thoughts with you all about some upcoming games and i'll hopefully get some more reviews and edits made to the site. Haven't done too much editing lately what with moderating, so i want to earn me some points lol.

Anyway chow for now Bomb Squad!

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