It's Been A Decade...

I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old. There was always a passion for music burning inside me, but once I picked up a guitar, I realized that I had more than a passion for the music that others created. Because of that 1991 Ibanez Silver Cadet, I had a passion inside myself to create music.

That guitar was something I purchased from a guy named Mark Swanner, a classmate that was in the local band Zero Signal. The members of the band were all people I would become good friends with: Mark, John Taylor, Bobby Fajardo, and the lead singer Dan Rowan. At the time, however, I didn't see them as friends. I didn't know them that well. They were an inspiration. The music they created was something that melted the styles of nu metal with the classic metal feel we all knew for something incredibly unique. Dan's lyrics weren't the same as everyone else's teen angsty bullshit. They were words that touched and inspired so many of us. The first time that John showed up to one of our parties, I was speechless. Here was the bass player for the band that I listened to all the time. It was like meeting a rock star...and then I learned that they were just regular doods like the rest of us.

My band played the senior talent show. We were nervous as Hell because we knew that Dan's old band, Torque, was playing as well. When my band took the stage, we were floundering...hard. Dan, John, and his crew are what saved it. Afterwards, despite floundering, Dan was the first guy to say "I like that song, guys...keep it up, and fuck all those people out there...what do they know?"

When Dan died ten years ago, it wasn't just something that took everyone back a notch, making us say "what?". I was sitting out in the laundry room with my friends playing darts and hanging out. Casey showed up at the house, tears in her eyes like she had been crying forever. She told us Dan was dead. We couldn't believe it. The local radio station, which did a local band showcase every night from 10:00pm to 11:00pm played an hour of Locus (the name they picked after they decided to stop copping off Fear Factory's song name).

There are a few signs that someone influenced and inspired so many people. Dan's funeral was attended by over 600 people. You read that right: 600 people...for someone who wasn't "famous", someone who wasn't more than a regular guy that wanted to strap on a guitar and rock the fuck out, hang out with his friends, and dedicate some time to his notchback Mustang. Numerous people - more than I can count on six hands at least - have dedicated a portion of their body to having either some of his artwork (or their own memorials) inked on their body. I am included in that group of people, and it's a reminder to me everyday. Life is far too short. Don't take a moment for granted. Be good to others and show respect unless someone proves they don't deserve it. Don't let authority tell you something is impossible. Push yourself to do things that you wouldn't try otherwise. These are all things that Dan showed and taught me.In short, Dan was more than just some guy in the neighborhood, a student, or the lead singer of an influential local band. He was an idol for me, a friend to many, and someone that we still miss everyday.

Today is not a day of mourning, but a day of rememberance. I couldn't find my copy of Spill, the only CD that I ever had which Locus put out.

When I finally finished driving to work, I sat in my car and cried for a solid two minutes easily before I composed myself to continue the rest of the day.

This is how I remember Dan.

We miss you, Dan. I miss you.

We wish you could be here.

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jakob187's Official Annual Black Friday Ad Lookout

HEY GUYS! It's November, which means the most glorious holiday for gamers in the nation is about to come around: BLACK FRIDAY! This holiday season looks like it's going to be jam packed with some phat ass deals to stack under the tree as presents this year. Here's the official lookout thread for everything to do with Black Friday!!! I will be going through ONLY VIDEO GAME RELATED ITEMS, and I will keep this blog updated as much as possible with every video game deal I can find as the ads become available. I'll also update with times that the stores open when I know that information as well.

AAFES (opening @ 4:00AM)

GAMES

  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - $49.95
  • Assassin's Creed Revelations - $39.95
  • Batman: Arkham City - $39.95
  • Battlefield 3 - $39.95
  • Forza Motorsports 4 - $39.95
  • Gears of War 3 - $39.95
  • Madden 12 - $39.95
  • NCAA Football 12 - $39.95
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - $29.95
  • Dance Central 2 - $29.95
  • Just Dance 3 - $29.95
  • Kinect Sports Season Two - $29.95
  • Need For Speed: The Run (PC) - $29.95
  • Rage - $29.95
  • Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty - $29.95
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - $19.95
  • World of Warcraft: Lich King - $19.95
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - $19.95
  • World of Warcraft Battle Chest - $9.99

B1G1 DEAL

  • Buy any Sims 3 (PC/Mac) game and get one of equal of lesser value (expansions and such) free

Best Buy (opening @ 12:00AM)

GAMES

  • Skylanders Mega Pack (basic game pack + 3 character pack + Pirate Seas adventure) - $79.99
  • Assassin's Creed Revelations - $34.99
  • FIFA 12 - $34.99
  • Forza Motorsports 4 - $34.99
  • NBA 2K12 - $34.99
  • Batman: Arkham City - $29.99
  • Battlefield 3 - $29.99
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - $29.99
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution - $29.99
  • Madden 12 - $29.99
  • Need for Speed: The Run - $29.99
  • Rage - $29.99
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception - $29.99
  • X-Men Destiny - $29.99
  • Kinect Sports Season Two - $24.99
  • Dirt 3 - $14.99
  • Final Fantasy XIII - $14.99
  • Homefront - $14.99
  • Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions - $14.99

Turtle Beach Headphones - $39.99

Gamestop (opening @ 12:00AM)

Ah, fuck it...I'm just linking this one, as it's a lot to try to type out.

Hastings (opening @ 8:00AM)

250GB Xbox 360 Holiday Bundle (includes Halo Reach and Fable III) + 1 Used Games - $299.99 ***EARLY BIRD ITEM***

160GB Playstation 3 Holiday Bundle (includes Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One and LittleBigPlanet 2) + 2 Used Games - $199.99 ***EARLY BIRD ITEM***

All Used Videogames - 33% off

GAMES

  • Skylanders - $49.99
  • Battlefield 3 - $39.99
  • FIFA Soccer 12 - $39.99
  • Forza Motorsports 4 - $39.99
  • Madden 12 - $39.99
  • Need For Speed: The Run - $39.99
  • Sims 3 Pets - $39.99
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - $29.99
  • Kinect Sports Season Two - $29.99
  • Dance Central - $29.99
  • Spider-Man: Edge of Time - $29.99
  • Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty - $29.99
  • NASCAR Unleashed - $24.99
  • L.A. Noire - $19.99
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - $19.99
  • World of Warcraft: Lich King - $19.99
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm - $19.99
  • Duke Nukem Forever - $14.99
  • World of Warcraft Battle Chest - $9.99

B1G1 DEAL

  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  • Left 4 Dead
  • Dante's Inferno
  • Medal of Honor
  • Army of Two: The 40th Day
  • Mass Effect 2
  • Dead Space
  • The Orange Box

K-Mart (opening @ 5:00AM)

4GB Xbox 360 Console - $149.99

GAMES

  • Skylanders Starter Pack - $49.99
  • FIFA 12 - $39.99
  • Madden 12 - $39.99
  • Need for Speed: The Run - $39.99
  • NCAA 12 - $39.99
  • Forza 4 - $39.99
  • Gears of War 3 - $39.99
  • Battlefield 3 - $34.99
  • Metal Gear Solid HD Collection - $34.99
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - $29.99
  • Dance Central 2 - $29.99
  • God of War: Origins - $29.99
  • Killzone 3 - $29.99
  • Kinect Sports Season Two - $29.99
  • RAGE - $29.99
  • ICO/Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection - $29.99
  • Driver: San Francisco - $19.99
  • WWE All-Stars - $19.99
  • God of War III - $14.99
  • Heavy Rain - $14.99
  • Gears of War Triple Pack - $14.99
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron - $14.99
  • Uncharted 2 - $14.99
  • Enslaved - $9.99
  • Medal of Honor - $9.99

Target (opening @ 12:00AM)

GAMES

  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - $59.99 w/ $10.00 gift card
  • Rayman Origins - $59.99 w/ $10.00 gift card
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D - $39.99 w/$10.00 gift card
  • Battlefield 3 - $37.00
  • Gears of Wars 3 - $37.00
  • Madden 12 - $37.00
  • Need for Speed: The Run - $37.00
  • Resistance 3 - $37.00
  • Forza Motorsports 4 - $27.00
  • Disney Universe - $27.00
  • Cars 2 - $15.00
  • Epic Mickey - $15.00

Wal-Mart (starting @ 12:00AM, some sales starting earlier)

4GB Xbox 360 w/ Kinect and $50 Wal-Mart eGift card - $199.98 (item will begin selling at 10:00pm Thanksgiving night)

4GB Xbox 360 w/ Gears of War 3, 3-month Xbox Live Gold Subscription, and $50 Wal-Mart eGift Card - $199.98 (item will begin selling at 10:00pm Thanksgiving Night)

3-month Xbox Live Gold Subscription cards - $12.00

GAMES

  • Skylanders Starter Pack - $49.96
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops - $28.00
  • Batman: Arkham City - $28.00
  • Battlefield 3 - $28.00
  • Gears of War 3 - $28.00
  • Forza Motorsports 4 - $28.00
  • NASCAR The Game - $28.00
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon - $28.00
  • FIFA Soccer 12 - $28.00
  • Madden 12 - $28.00
  • Infamous 2 - $28.00
  • Killzone 3 - $28.00
  • Just Dance 3 - $28.00
  • Kinect Sports Season Two - $15.00
  • MX vs ATV Alive - $15.00
  • Dance Central 2 - $15.00
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - $15.00
  • Heavy Rain - $15.00
  • Uncharted 2 - $15.00
  • Epic Mickey - $15.00
  • Toy Story 3 - $15.00
  • God of War 3 - $15.00
  • LittleBigPlanet 2 - $15.00
  • Pure - $10.00
  • Kane & Lynch 2 - $10.00
  • Yakuza 4 - $10.00
  • Bioshock 2 - $10.00
  • Quantum of Solace - $10.00
  • UFC Undisputed 2010 - $10.00
39 Comments

Who Cares About Rainbow Six: Patriots?

Here's what I wanna see...

Lavar, Xaos, Guillermo, Woody, and Yelena are Bravo Squad, the toughest sons-a-bitches this side of the schoolyard. When a terrorist threat hits home, Bravo Squad is called in to do what they do best: knife assholes in the face, shoot rockets up their ass, and bust a cap on some muthafuckers!

Features of the game include:

  • Play single player or five player co-op campaign (because four player is for pussies) that shows the crumbling of America's library system at the hands of a nefarious terrorist organization!
  • Each squad member has their own unique skill set, and advanced training and new moves can be learned by...you guessed it...reading a muthafucking book!
  • 256 player online play on huge ass maps with gigantic mech robots from the future, because why the fuck not, bitches?
  • Karaoke Mode lets you sing along with famous Reading Rainbow songs, like "Old School Reading Rainbow Theme Song" and "New Reading Rainbow Theme Song"
  • Survival Mode globe trots you across the country to different libraries and pits you against the evil forces of a completely different terrorist organization! Save national treasures including Los Angeles Public Library, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Boston Public Library, New York Public Library, and the big daddy of them all - The Library of Congress!
  • Separate pre-order bonuses at six different locations unlock additional multiplayer weapons, multiplayer skins, and more!
    THREE SKINS HAVE ALREADY BEEN ANNOUNCED!!!
    GAMESTOP PRE-ORDER BONUS: Geordi La Forge skin (as seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation)
    BEST BUY PRE-ORDER BONUS: Kunta Kinte skin (as seen on Roots: The Gift)
    WAL-MART PRE-ORDER BONUS: Family Guy Lavar (as seen on Family Guy)
  • Limited "READ THIS!" Edition features a 1:1 scale bust of Lavar Burton's head!
  • Coming to Xbox 360, PS3, and PC 2012

***UPDATE***

All fully paid pre-orders for the game at any location will get you a free copy of the new downloadable update, Contraversial!!! Co-directed by George Lucas, Contraversial updates a classic like you've never seen it before...because you can barely see shit due to all the tasteful "updating". George Lucas made a comment on his involvement with the project:

As a long-time fan of Contra, I looked at the technology that we had available to us at Lucasfilm and ILM and said "if I can replace the guns in the hands of people in E.T., why don't I just replace the guns with black bars in Contra?" It was like a stroke of genius that only I can have. I think gamers will find this new and fascinating way a pure thrill to play through.

Also confirmed was a cameo from Giant Bomb editor Brad Shoemaker. He will play the head of a tree that photobombs some dirt.

31 Comments

HD Viewing: A Plea and/or Debate For It To Be Free

I was originally going to post this over here in this thread, but as I wrote this, I realized that it needed its own air to breath in. If a mod feels it needs to be locked, I completely understand. However, I get the feeling from the thread I've referenced that it needs a place for serious debate and discussion...if the community's voice really does mean what we are told it means. I believe that our voice does matter, and in turn, here's a tl;dr blog going into some details.

For many of the websites that are out there, HD content is free. It's not something that comes with a paid subscription. Giant Bomb has been a trend-setter since day one. They were the first to mainstream the idea of Quick Looks for games rather than just some developer previews and hands-on things like we had in the past. They have one of the most successful gaming podcasts in the WORLD. They were (as far as I know of) the first dedicated gaming site to also be a wiki site, and that content is created BY THE COMMUNITY! These guys allowed the community to have a voice in this industry! Fuck, they play games from start to finish for 100 episodes because WHY THE FUCK NOT?

However, they are restricting HD video viewing availability to premium members in a time and day where HD content is the NORMAL STANDARD? That just seems a little...odd. Anybody could go to Gametrailers and watch stuff in HD without a membership. It's a step backwards, and does anyone honestly want Giant Bomb to take a step backwards? I sure as fuck don't. I want these guys to continue being the ones that the rest of this industry looks at and says "fuck, we gotta step our game up".

I understand that a comparison to a big entity like Gametrailers is not exactly fair. Giant Bomb is a much smaller operation. However, it's the first site that came to mind because it's the one I watch HAWP on. Still, should the size be an issue when you are a website dedicated to the idea of quality?

Downloading HD content? Sure, I could understand a membership. Premium-only content? Absolutely, I'm alright with that. However, locking the ability to WATCH in HD behind a pay wall at this point seems outdated and unnecessary. These guys have come up with all kinds of excellent premium content that I think losing exclusivity to watching HD content is worth it in order for people to enjoy the free content in the best possible quality that they can. Mind you, I don't know what kind of demands that would have on the overall infrastructure they have as well as how it would affect those of us who are trying to watch stuff. Bandwidth isn't free, and I can only imagine what the stress must be like when you have thousands upon millions viewing your content. Hell, I work at a place where we have a dedicated fiber line. I know how hard that can buckle from 20 Xbox consoles playing online, 20 computers playing online, and just a couple of people watching YouTube or some other video service.

However, it feels like there is an equal place to meet up on this without sacrificing the one thing that really matters the most about this site: quality.

The way I look at it is like this: if I were a new person coming in and decided to watch a video on the site in HD, then I was told "that's for subscribers only", would I want to continue coming to the site itself? Is that a good experience for me as a customer and a visitor? Most likely, it's not. I can go over to YouTube and watch a game trailer or hands-on demo from a ton of other people. I can go to the aforementioned Gametrailers and watch stuff in HD. So why go to Giant Bomb? This is where I can understand the point in the argument: Giant Bomb produces some good original content that can't be found anywhere else, and like anyone that produces original content, you want a paycheck at the end of the day. However, when we're told "we're going to outsource stuff to YouTube as well in order to get extra revenue stream", well...why am I going to click on your video if it's not HD? Because it's Giant Bomb content? What is Giant Bomb? I visit the website and they get a couple of clicks. I see a thread in the forums where both non-subscribers and subscribers alike are saying "HD videos should be free to anyone to watch". I say "oh, they're YouTube is only in 360p? Bump that, I'm Audi 5000".

So, Whiskey Media staff, if you are reading or listening, I am a paid member. I remember something you all said a while back and have stated multiple times since: you work for us - the free ones that see the ads and the paid ones who don't. We put money in your pockets to buy outlandish amounts of Skylanders shit for our amusement, and we greatly appreciate everything this site does. In turn, I know that I myself would like to implore you as a paid member...as someone you work for...to allow everyone to VIEW the video content you produce in the standard of today: HD. If there is something that we can all do, if there is something that can be rearranged...hell, if I have to pay another $10 on my membership for it to happen, then so be it. It feels like the dialogue needs to be there.

We are a community where many of us subscribed just to keep the Bombcast from being split into two pieces so that EVERYONE can enjoy it. Remember that? Here I am, a user, saying I'd pay an extra $10 a year to allow EVERYONE that visits this site to see your shenanigans, in-depth looks at games, and general commentary on the industry in glorious HD. That's still the cost of ONE video game, and I can easily cut ONE game out of my library each year for a community I care about, even if I don't know the vast majority of them.

There will probably be many members that don't agree with this, but at least this side of the argument...I hope and feel...has been presented in a formidable and decently thought-out fashion for you to consider.

*EDIT* Thank you all very much for the intellectual and thoughtful way we have approached this topic. It's nice to see this community can still get down to the nitty gritty when needed.

I wanted to slightly amend something that was brought to my attention. I was unaware that intern content on the YouTube channel was available all the way up to 720p. That is a link to a 20+ minute video of Fear Gauntlet available in high definition. This is content hosted on TheRealGiantBomb, which in turn has left me scratching my head. Why would intern content available in HD but not the regular stuff for the site? We have to ask ourselves that question. I do not mean this to belittle the intern's work, as I love the stuff they've done. I just never checked the HD button on that before because I thought it was locked to the same standard definition as everything else on the channel.

Also, I'm not writing this...and I hope no one else is either...as a "call-out" to Whiskey Media. I hope the staff and everyone else realizes that. A lot of it is curiosity and the users trying to work it out in their own heads what the deal is. As you can see through the comments (and I suggest that everyone reads every single one of them, there's been some great discussion about it so far), this is a community that is just wanting some answers to questions that they have, as well as offering their two cents on whether having HD viewing exclusivity is something they are getting a membership for. It's kind of like a town hall meeting. The vast majority of comments I've seen suggest that HD viewing exclusivity is not a dealbreaker on their memberships. Stuff like TNT, the mobile site, Random PC Game, Load Our Last Save, and Whiskey Jar Time (or whatever Jeff decides to call it with each new iteration) is the reason we pay for our memberships.

114 Comments

Knee-Jerk Reaction: Battlefield 3

Playtime so far: roughly 9 hours of multiplayer and 2 hours of campaign on 360 and PC.

GOOD IMPRESSIONS

  • Sound design
  • Sound design (it HAS to be said twice)
  • It's fucking pretty, yo!
  • On console, the shooting and aiming feels enough like that weighty feel of Bad Company 2 while having a little extra snappiness to the sensitivity and turning
  • On PC, the sensitivity on default was actually too fast for me. This is a MUCH needed improvement over BC2, where the sensitivity even on higher settings didn't feel right for twitch aiming.
  • Map designs on multiplayer are scaled well between PC and console. Some Conquest maps have 4 bases on console to fit the 24-player cap while those same maps will have upwards of 6 bases on PC.
  • Server browser on console versions. FUCK...YES! There is also a favorites list, a ton of other options - basically everything that you would've gotten on a PC version of the game.
  • Playing Battlefield 3 makes you totally want to play more Battlefield.

BAD IMPRESSIONS

  • The millions of hoops to jump through in order to get installed. On 360, there was a 167MB patch to download...then the 1.5GB install for the graphics...then having to switch discs for multiplayer/co-op and single player (which of course, I'm sure the single player disc will only get a certain amount of play before it's just ignored). On PC, you have to install Origin, make sure your Windows Updates are up-to-date completely, update your video drivers to whatever the latest drivers are, and a million other things...just so you can load the game up through Origin...and have your game's main menu BE A FUCKING WEBPAGE IN YOUR INTERNET BROWSER!
  • The multitude of times that I've seen "this server is full" on the PC version when I can clearly see it says "23/64" for the player count drives me batty. Overall, the majority of the menus for both PC and console are wretched in design all around.
  • The level of destruction is nowhere near like Bad Company 2, meaning that there are tons of corner camping spots...err, sorry..."strategic emplacement opportunities"...for players to exploit in choke points that can make games feel like smashing your ballsack into a Yucca plant would be more fun.
  • The single player campaign on Normal difficulty is...well...I stood next to three enemies that shot at my teammates and pretended I didn't even exist as I shot them at point blank range. So...there's that. I'm not very far along, so it may get better.

OVERALL KNEE-JERK REACTION

It's Battlefield fucking 3, folks. You've already decided whether you want to play it or not. It doesn't matter if this version is prettier than that version. You are going to be running like a muthafucker to shoot doods in the head and stab doods in the back. I don't think it honestly fucking matters if one little portion has lower texture quality than another area, because all the versions show off a gorgeous fucking engine handling a lot of shit at once. It also has what will surely be some deep and continually evolving multiplayer in well-designed-but-not-as-destruction-capable-as-I-would-like maps. It has jets and helicopters and jeeps and hummers and tanks and APCs and all kinds of crazy shit to offer up enough ways to kill people online for at LEAST a few years.

So if you don't care about Battlefield 3, then go not care about it somewhere that people give a shit about the whining. If you do care and feel the need to flaunt your DudeBro shit at someone for not caring, go join them wherever the fuck they go. In here, we are ready for some muthafuckin' Battlefield!

39 Comments

I'm Back: A jakob187's Story

First off, fuck you if you said "We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story sucks". Fuck you hard in the ass with a cactus, good sir and/or madam.

Second, I have returned from my self-imposed hiatus from the forums/blogosphere/world of gaming. Why? Well, in all honesty, I caved and took my old job back. They say that hindsight is 20/20, and looking back on the five years that I worked here at Lansharx, I ended up realizing that I was a pissy asshole when I shouldn't have been to customers. Actually, that hindsight has brought me a newly discovered level of determination in this job.

The job deals with kids. Lots of kids. Some of them are young kids that don't know jack about video games. We've all seen and heard the complaints time and time again: casual gaming is bullshit. If you have stated that, then congratulations on being an elitest dick like I once was. I felt like those kids were beneath my time and effort, but in retrospect, they weren't. They are the future of gaming, and as someone who has been playing games since he was shitting in his Huggies (and no, that doesn't include last week, you sick fucks), it is my sworn duty to teach them of gaming history. It's my job to not just give them a customer experience that makes them want to keep coming into the store and playing video games, but it's a necessity that I show them there is a world outside of Call of Duty and Halo. You don't have to always be pointing a virtual gun at a virtual head and virtually shooting a virtual bullet to see a splatter of virtual blood. Virtually.

In turn, this all means that I will have long moments of sitting in front of a computer. It won't be as many long moments as before, as again, I'm determined to make shit better this time around. I'm not going through the paces, but rather I'm engaging the paces.

In the time that I've been absent, I've noticed the following things:

  1. I went from being the top poster on the forums to fifth. You fuckers have been busy. = D
  2. I pretty much have only played League of Legends and Diablo III Beta. Beyond that, I've played the occasional Xbox 360 game, namely still trying to finish off Bastion, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, Gatling Gears, and now working through 4-player co-op on Gears of War 3. With all the games coming out, I picked a good time to jump back in the fold.
  3. Most of you aren't reading this blog anyways, but I feel self-important because this is the goddamn internet.
  4. If you are reading this blog, then it means that you are either Claude (HAI2U2!) or someone else from the old school. Sometimes, it feels good to be old, right?
  5. I'm just goddamn rambling now.

It's good to be back. My <3 belongs to Giant Bomb, muthafuckers.

81 Comments

Batty for Beta: LoL Dominion

One of the capture points. Once captured, it turns into a turret that will attack enemy players unless they begin to capture it themselves.

Betas have become a funny thing over the years. There was a time when they were a buggy mess that gave you, the player, a chance to offer feedback on a game before it shipped to make it better. In the last five years, thanks to an ever-expanding industry and the hunger for people to get their hands on a game they crave early, betas have become little more than demos. The betas rarely ever seem to feel unfinished and unpolished, and when they aren't...well, how many of you genuinely offer feedback beyond either "this kicks ass" or "this sucks ass"?

Luckily, some betas that give you a chance to offer that necessary feedback still exist, and I got to play both of them.

League of Legends: Dominion launched today (funny enough, given that it's also my brother's birthday...nice present from Riot, I'd say), so as some of you read this, many are already indulging in the MOBA fight. For those who haven't played League of Legends or have only watched some of the stuff around here on the site, the big deal about Dominion is that it changes up the formula that League of Legends and its predecessors Heroes of Newerth and DOTA quit significantly. Rather than just be a tower defense game with real-time strategy elements, Dominion features a new map (bringing the game's total up to 3...or 4 if you count the themed 5v5 map) that revolves more around a Battlefield-style capture-and-hold point game. There are five bases, all of which can be captured by either team, and the captured points will tick down "tickets" from a counter, thus damaging the other team's Nexus (their base) and winning the match. There are definitely some subtle things added to the mix in order to make the match more interesting, such as killing enemy opponents to deal more damage to the Nexus or pushing creeps in the lane to gain the advantage on capturing a point. The biggest thing that changes it up is the new items found in the match type, the fact that you level very rapidly, and how matches rarely ever last longer than 30 minutes tops. It's a quick, fast-paced game mode that defies much of what the MOBA genre has seen so far (unless you count Bloodline Champions, which is much quicker and fast-paced).

The map looks pretty big in pictures, but it's actually pretty small, meaning matches are incredibly quick.

During the beta time, the major difference you'll find in team compositions is that balanced teams (ranged AD carry, melee AD off-tank, main tank, ranged AP nuke, and a support) are typically not the best types of teams. A lot of Dominion relies on building a team of good 1v1 champs, as you will rarely have a big 5v5 team fight in the matches. In turn, Dominion has done something kind of brilliant: it's given champs which people rarely find worthwhile in 5v5 play (like Sivir, Kassadin, Akali, etc) a place to dominate and be worthwhile all over again. The beta time was more like a demo time, where everything felt pretty polished and they just needed to check out connectivity issues and things of that nature. The map itself feels much more alive, making the older maps look bland in comparison. My friends and I continually kept saying "now they need to go back and revamp the old maps, because this map is excellent".

With all that said, Dominion is also a very frustrating mode. Despite your level of skill, a lot of it will end up relying on factors you can't change much. AP champs have a distinct advantage since there is rarely any defensive build to characters in the game mode, and characters with global ultimate moves (devastating abilities that can be used from virtually anywhere on the map to affect someone nowhere close to them, like Gangplank or Ashe have) can make life a living hell for teams trying to capture a point. In all, my friends and I have compiled a list of close to 16 champs that should be banned in the draft mode at any given time because of how incredibly overpowered they can be in the mode. The problem with this happens to be knowing that Riot will only balance champs based on their performances in 5v5 Ranked play, so it's always going to be a "luck of the draw" scenario on whether your champs are going to be getting nerfed or buffed for the mode.

All in all, though, Riot continues to offer a really great package with League of Legends, and Dominion just adds to that value. They've done Free-2-Play gaming right for a while now, offering everything you actually need to play the game for free while offering a buy-in option IF YOU WANT TO as well as some bonus vanity stuff that...honestly...is difficult NOT to buy.

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Thanks for reading, and next time, I'll be dropping some knowledge on the elusive Diablo III beta. Stay tuned for that

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NES vs PS2: A Battle for Reverence

With the recent announcement of the Final Fantasy X HD remake coming to the Vita and the PlayStation 3, it would seem that Sony has learned from their previous HD collections what Nintendo has known for years now: people will pay top dollar all over again for the games that they have fond memories of. Nintendo recently threw a ton of free games at the "3DS Ambassadors" as their penance for the price drop debacle they've found themselves in.

This conundrum of sorts wakes a burning question for all gamers throughout the decades, a battle of the ages if you will. Which console holds more reverence in its designated decade: the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System or the PlayStation 2? Both are consoles that saw the mainstreaming of video games take center stage while also offering significant technical leaps in the technology that provided us the games we've come to know and love. With all this said, let's look at scientific breakdown of which made each console so great in a couple of categories, and in the end, comment on what YOU believe is the more revered of the two.

ROUND ONE - Characters and Mascots

Without doubt, it's easy for anyone in the gaming world...let alone the real world...to recognize the Nintendo mascots from a mile away. The faces of Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Samus Aran, and Kirby are unmistakable in both their designs as well as their unique gaming styles. If anything, it's almost a one-sided battle for us all. How can you side against this quintet of worldwide recognition and highly potent merchandising opportunities?

For Sony, it meant that they needed a wide variety of characters to appeal to multiple audiences. Unfortunately, many of their most memorable characters were not all necessary "in-house" characters. If you were to look at the heyday of the PS2, characters like Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper were developed by studios that were Sony exclusive but not actually owned by Sony. However, Sony had a secret weapon that Nintendo could never combat against, a character for the mature audience: Kratos. The Spartan warrior of vengeance and anger found a place where he could easily sit on his throne and laugh at the litter of bodies he left behind. Mario's head is sitting on a pike while Kratos bangs a triple set of Greek virgins in the blood of the Italian plumber. Beyond that, however, none of the characters can match the same broad appeal as what Nintendo had to offer. At the same time, no one can speculate what the reverence would be for character like Kratos, Ratchet, Clank, or Sly in the next six years as well.

ROUND TWO - Quality of Flagship Exclusives

The variety of ways that Nintendo has always been able to use their characters in a myriad of games has been an incredible journey. Even looking back at the original NES, it's amazing how diverse the genres each mascot approached could work in. The Super Mario Bros. franchise and Kirby focused on simple and fun platforming. Metroid focused on grinding through an incredibly dark world with precision accuracy and deadly weaponry. Duck Hunt allowed you to physically hold a "gun" in your hand and shoot your targets. Kid Icarus preferred verticality over traditional platforming. Mega Man was balls-ass difficult but somehow made you want to continue playing BECAUSE of its striking difficulty. Hell, even StarTropics took the tropes of The Legend of Zelda and gave them a course of natural progression. In an era where exclusives were mandatory to make your platform matter, Nintendo was untouched...and many would say that they still are.

Sony, on the other hand, represents a different era. The world had moved from simple "games" and into the world of "interactive experience". You didn't have to stare at small sprites for hours on end, but instead were transported into vast worlds lovingly rendered in polygonal graphics to immerse you into the characters and environments. Franchises like Metal Gear Solid showed what was capable with a graphics chip and a thoroughly active imagination, while Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper showed that platforming wasn't exactly dead, but rather needed a fresh coat of paint and a kick in the ass. For every hit that was out there like God of War, it seemed there was another game like Ico or Shadow of the Colossus that offered a unique artsy perspective to what a "game" could be. If the NES was an era of creating characters and gaming genres, the PlayStation 2 era was about breaking those genres down and retooling them to create something fresh and fun. Sony offered this in spades with their exclusives.

When it's all said and done, though, both companies must have done something right if they are able to repackage their old games for new-ish game price and still sell like hotcakes every...damn...time.

ROUND THREE - Console Innovations

Sure, the modern day techie inside of all of us is willing to flat-out say "SONY WINS" because of the ways that the PlayStation 2 pushed the envelope of home console technology. However, that would be severely undercutting the power of the NES.

When the NES came out, people saw it as a box to plug a game into, then turn it on and play a game. However, over the lifespan of the NES, the console saw many incredible innovations that helped garner it some unique attention, even if those innovations were not always the greatest thing in the world. Nintendo realized the power of the peripheral. Providing something that would allow players a different way to play beyond holding a small controller was a way to not only immerse people but to also broaden the sales market. Thanks to the Zapper, it wasn't just kids that were playing something like Duck Hunt. Thanks to the Game Genie, people were able to find ways to "hack" their games and experience new ways to play their favorite games. Hell, even not-so-great peripherals like R.O.B. and the Power Glove gave us a unique perspective on how to change the way games were perceived. Nintendo even went beyond this, offering a couple of jacks on the side of the console to record your gameplay footage onto a VHS (through a slightly complicated process back in those days). It was a console not just about experiencing worlds and fun times, but sharing them as well.

The PlayStation 2, however, pushed things into a whole new world. Single-handedly, the PS2 was responsible for the widespread popularity and consequential drastic price drop of DVD as a media format. Eventually, it led to the move from CD-ROM to DVD as the format of choice for retail games, lasting a solid 15 years and continuing still with the Xbox 360. It also brought the world the EyeToy, a camera that could be used to interact with games in a new way. This little camera would eventually lead the way to current motion gaming technology. While the Dreamcast before it brought us the first experience of online gaming on our home gaming console, the PlayStation 2 helped to popularize the idea with a franchise called S.O.C.O.M. Despite their best efforts, however, Microsoft would later take the cake from them with a service called Xbox Live. In the end, though, the power and the potency of the features that Sony included in their console was how they edged out over their competitors.

THE VERDICT

Let's be honest with ourselves: picking one side will only lead to us saying to ourselves in low-voiced mumbles "buuuuuuut I also like this about..." and leading to the ongoing debate that will always rage inside us. In the end, there is only one true winner: the gamers. Without these two magnificent steps in the history of gaming, things could've been very different all around. For all we know, home console gaming wouldn't even have survived through the 1990s due to the Arcade Crash. No matter which side you pick, you are picking the right side.

TAKE PART IN THE DEBATE!

There's a comment section below. Use it to offer your opinions on which is better, what makes them better, or if you just want to take a trip down Nostalgia Lane. Just..ya know...don't get caught by the guy with the bat in the alley there that wants to murder you slowly. That would be...bad?

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Confused By The Hate: Dungeon Siege III

To preface the forthcoming blog you are about to read (or just stare at and say "cool story, bro"), I'm a sucker for games that involve me using an overhead viewpoint to hack 'n' slash random enemies and pick up loot to equip on my characters in order to hack 'n' slash more powerful enemies. It's a pitfall that has stuck with me since the years of Infinity Engine games, and continued through with Snowblind's endeavors on the PlayStation 2. I was even able to pick up Sacred 2 and look past its flaws to see a pretty worthwhile game that had countless hours dumped into it.

With that said, it has been surprising to hear so much vitriol spewed over Dungeon Siege III in the last week. Listening to the Bombcast and hearing the guys talk about it, they made it seem like Dungeon Siege III does nothing right and leads to a very boring experience overall. Even hearing comments on Twitter and Facebook, looking at reviews, and the general word of mouth has made the game sound like it shouldn't even exist.

Everyone else must be playing a different game than I am, because Dungeon Siege III definitely doesn't feel that way to me. Instead, it feels like a very streamlined experience that features all the tropes I love about action RPGs while cutting out the middlemen that hold it down all the goddamn time. Sure, it has its problems...like every hack 'n' slash game before it. However, it makes up for it with marked improvements on the genre that...if anything...make me enjoy it far more than something like Dragon Age.

To start, the "classes" you play as are conveniently placed into four separate characters you choose from. This helps the story move along quite well without ever making you feel like your "custom character" is a nameless wonder of a hero that no one has the time to say "HEY NADFACE, WHAT'S UP?! GO BEAT SOME BAD GUYS!" It offers what most RPGs should excel at: storytelling. What is presented in Dungeon Siege III can definitely be described as a linear experience, but for the life of me, I can't think of too many hack 'n' slash games in recent years that weren't relatively guided experiences. There aren't big, wide open spaces to venture through. Instead, everything is paced incredibly well along a track of well-realized areas to venture through. It's almost as if...*GASP*...you are being sent to a bunch of dungeons that have a specific layout! NO, SAY IT ISN'T SO! -_-

Another thing that Dungeon Siege III does to keep you going in the action is offer a mind-blowing idea: no potions. Rather than have you pick up a gajillion health and mana potions, the game handles both in a very intelligent and easy way. Each character has a defensive ability that can be used as a heal-over-time spell, as well as lifesteal capabilities with weaponry and armor. Beyond that, you use Focus to cast spells and powerful moves, and you recharge that by hitting shit. If anything, Obsidian found a way to JUSTIFY HITTING THE SAME BUTTON OVER AND OVER TO KILL SHIT!

The boss fights are also pretty well done. You can't just standing around hitting something, but instead, you are dodging and trying to find ways to approach different bosses without getting your ass stomped to the ground. When I fought Rajani last night, it was a good 5 minute fight, since you have to dodge around and avoid all the damage pools she leaves on the ground. When fighting the boss in the First People Village, you can't even get close to the guy, instead needing to focus on use ranged spells and taking down his helpers to ensure you don't get poisoned. I actually died on that boss, was revived by my teammate, then she died, and I ended up winning with barely any health left. The shit can get tough, ladies and gentlemen - a welcome addition to the hack 'n' slash games I love.

The dungeons and areas you visit are also varied enough to feel fresh while also holding enough of the fantasy tropes to feel familiar. There are trees, dirt roads, bandits, skeletons...but then there are things that I don't even know the name of. There are areas like the Causeway that are visually impressive and make you wonder why few games before have used such a unique looking place.

The voice acting is relatively good and appropriately British when it needs to be. The controls feel good, smooth, and efficient. I have no once had to struggle with them. Mind you, I'm playing on 360, and I understand that the PC version has some bunk stuff going on. I also understand that Obsidian is fixing that, so...cool.

Really, the only problems that I have are this: the graphics leave a bit to be desired...yet still work fine for the world is presents, the frame rate dips in and out, but rarely hits below 30fps, and the story takes a good hour to get kicked up and moving. Yeah, there's also the moments when you have to do the dialogue wheels and there's just not a lot going on there...much like those revered games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect...right?

All in all, I can see the linearity bugging people, or even how Obsidian has streamlined a handful of systems in the game to make it work better on consoles while also offer a pretty solid game. What I don't understand is why people are hating on it. Is it just cool to hate on Obsidian? They may not make the most polished games, but it hasn't stopped me from enjoying their games yet. I can also see the way the co-op works as being an issue to people, but I haven't actually played any co-op yet, so I can't comment on it.

People, give Dungeon Siege III a try. Sure, you could wait until it hits that $40 sweet spot price point, but it's worth the money as it stands. Please, though: play a little more than an hour of an RPG before jumping up and saying "this game is boring, the graphics are muddy, and I don't think I want to play more of Dungeon Siege III".

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