No More Video Reviews?

Now, I know the GB guys are running at full steam these days and pumping out a hell of a lot of content, so really there is no reason to complain. Giant Bomb is chugging along fantastically. Lots of articles, a regular podcast and heaps of videos. One thing I must admit I am missing are Video Reviews. 
Now I appreciate that their time is limited and they don't have the resources to put together video reviews for every game released, but surely, surely they could put together video reviews for the big AAA titles. 
Notable omissions of late would surely include: 
- Starcraft 2 (be patient perhaps?) 
- God of War 3 
- Splinter Cell: Conviction 
- Final Fantasy XIII 
- Just Cause 2 
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (hell, the original got a video review!) 
The last video review was back in May! 
So what do you guys think? Would you like to see the video reviews back? Or do you think, "shut the hell up there's already lots of stuff going on, Quick Looks, Bombcast, Event Coverage (like E3), TNT, Wonderful Universe of TANG and you get heaps of written reviews anyway - stop complaining!!" 
Can it hurt to ask for at least a few video reviews return? Even just the AAA's or the 4+ star games would suffice...     
***** UPDATE ***** 
Brad has kindly put together a video review of Starcraft 2. Now we can stop complaining for a little while...


The Ideal Length for a Video Game

I remember playing the story mode of Gears of War 2, and beating it in roughly 8-10 hours. At the time, I really felt like that was the right length for a video game. I really enjoyed the game, but I felt satisfied after that time that I had gotten enough out of it to warrant the purchase. Of course, in time I have since spent additional time playing the game in co-op with my brother, as well as playing some Horde Mode (I never bother with online multiplayer, that's just me) - so I've ultimately spent 20+ hours with the game. Recently I played GTA IV and I was methodical and somewhat thorough in my gaming (though by no means was I being a completionist) and I found myself pumping nearly 60 hours into the game. I probably should have more to show for it, in terms of game completion rate and achievements, but that's another issue. 
This got me wondering what exactly is the ideal length in terms of time spent playing, for a video game to be worthy of the money spent. I've often wondered about the value for money of different entertainment properties as measured by time spent versus dollars. Books for example seem like the greatest value for money when you consider how much you spend on the average book, and the time it takes to read it, with a 3D movie at the cinemas probably being the least value for money. This of course assumes that the inherent entertainment value is exactly the same across the spectrum, which is a very subjective call. Given that games are probably the most expensive of these kinds of "entertainment properties" that I'm referring to, with games costing anywhere between $50-$100, you kind of need the game to be something you can sink many many hours into it, right? 
Of course, that isn't to say that a game should be padded for the sake of it. I felt that with games such as Far Cry 2 and Assassin's Creed, the game lacked enough substance to warrant its lengthy game time, and felt that a lot of the time spent on these games was repetition almost for the sake of it. Perhaps the developers felt that there was an acceptable length that the gameplay should have been and in their design padded out the content accordingly. Going back to my experience with Gears of War 2, I felt that after the 8-10 hour story, I had gotten my value because it was satisfying to play, the story and the play did not feel padded, and given the actual substance of the gameplay in the title, 8-10 hours felt about right. Meanwhile games like GTA IV have a lot more substance to it, and was therefore able to generate significantly more play out it, so playing for 60 hours didn't feel too long, and in fact I could easily spend many more hours playing it going through all the content it had, though to be honest I did feel like if I'd spent too much more time fatigue would surely have set in. When I say "more substance" I do acknowledge also that Gears does have more substance to it by way of its multiplayer, and although it doesn't interest me, I can see how many people have poured significantly more hours into that game than I have and continue to do so. 
So, given that all these games have the potential to generate tens and in some cases potentially hundreds of hours out of a single title - what is the minimum amount of time you can spend playing a game to feel like it has been worth the value? Can an excellent story with high production values and satisfying game play, still be worth the regular retail price if it were only say two hours in length? Or does it have to be at least say 10 hours? If so, why?


The Mystery of Missing Achievements & Trophies

From the moment I got an Xbox, I became an achievement whore. It took little time before I was conditioned to a point where there little “ping” noise made when an Xbox displays an achievement brought a quick spike of serotonin to my brain. To be honest though, I’m not an S-Rank kind of guy, I don’t seem to quite have the attention span necessary to grind away at a game to eek out every single achievement in a game, but I do enjoy the sensation of earning an achievement, and I play games now with an attitude of earning those achievement and using the resulting gamerscore as a point of comparison with my friends.

Which is why recently I was bitterly disappointed when after completing the first episode of Sam & Max Saves the World, no achievement popped up. I waited till the end of the credits, and NOTHING! I spoke to my brother and he related a similar situation he had on his PS3 with InFamous. He has the trophy for Finding 50% of the Shards, but DOESN’T have the trophy for Finding 25% of the Shards!

What exactly is the cause of this? At the end of the day it is probably a software glitch, and it may not be the same trigger for all games across all platforms. It is a shame there is no recourse for retroactively discovering earned but unidentified achievements, but then I suppose if that feature existed, a hell of a lot of PS3 users could claim the trophies they deserve from back in the pre-Trophy PS3 days.

Has anyone else had an experience where they have rightfully earned an achievement or a trophy only to not have it register?


Why can't you change countries with PSN or Xbox Live?

After recently moving from New Zealand back to Australia, I was surprised to discover that I was unable to change my contact details on both my PSN and Xbox Live accounts to reflect my change in country. After searching through forum posts and then calling Xbox Live customer service, it was clear that changing your country is IMPOSSIBLE on both services.

I was very surprised, and very disappointed that neither service had figured out a way to make this happen. I couldn’t help but wonder if the decision was based at all on some kind of misguided notion that people don’t change their country all that frequently, something I could easily imagine being an acceptable assumption in both Japan and the United States of America.

I understand, at least loosely the challenges when it comes to purchased content and the rights a user might have to that content that might for some reason be contravening the laws of a new country, however I find it very hard to believe that any of these issues are insurmountable. When you consider that I am able to retain both of my “foreign” accounts (and the purchased content)  while I reside in Australia, I can’t help but wonder if any argument in that vain is moot.

What I find is the end result that I’m experiencing from all this is that I am not able to make simple purchases using my credit card from my account. The problem being that when I attempt to make a credit card purchase, the address submitted is of course not the same as the one for my credit card (because the country is incorrect). In other words, Sony and Microsoft lose an opportunity to make money from me!

Perhaps I misunderstand the complexity, perhaps it is not an issue of media rights. The customer service rep from Xbox Live told me, in a very unconvincing fashion that it was “to prevent hackers” – something I couldn’t help but think was some kind of catch-all stock answer they are told to use to justify anything that they can’t explain or properly understand.

Personally, I find it hard to see why it would be too much of a challenge to allow users to change their countries for their accounts. How would I feel if a game or a movie I had purchased in New Zealand, was for whatever reason blocked from me because I was now an Australian account? Not very good, but why would I have to be blocked? The only solution I have been given is that I need to create a new, Australian account; but like any enthusiastic gamer I have a gamerscore and a tally of trophies that I want to retain from my existing account.

When you consider, particularly in continents like Europe, that many people change the country they live in, it seems absurd that there is no solution to this. I know that we are not going to see any kind of resolution to this issue for this generation, I can only hold out hope that it will be resolved by the next.