Illness Strikes...

So last week, I said that I promised that I'd be releasing my next installment of Digging Into Dead Space this week.  That was something I completely planned on keeping up with.
Then the weekend happened.  Saturday, in an attempt for me and the rest of those involved in my cousin's wedding to get some clothes for the occasion, we went to Austin for some vintage clothes shopping.  Along the way, I purchased a shirt, suspenders, a tie, some Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies, and a burger and fries from Fran's Hamburgers (where the slogan on the outside sign was cleverly stating that "A burger this well done is rare").
On Sunday morning, I spewed in the toilet.  Roughly fifteen minutes later, cold sweats and fever broke out.  I was sure it was the flu.  Over the course of Sunday, I felt somewhere between a donkey kicking me directly in the stomach and a hive of pissed-off hornets driving stingers into every orifice of my body.
Today, I sit here with a relatively large amount of pain searing through my body as it tries to recover from the insanity of Sunday.  Meanwhile, my stomach is fine and I haven't barfed since late Sunday night.  I don't know what happened over the course of Saturday into Sunday, but needless to say, it was violent like Inspector Tequila.  In turn, this has left me relatively nauseated and incapable of focusing for shit.
Long story short - I don't think the next installment is coming this week as well...which sucks.  The more this keeps getting pushed back, the more I'm starting to feel that the whole idea of it is becoming irrelevant.  With Dead Space 2 now coming about on its one-month release, I don't know how much longer it will actually matter.  Nonetheless, I'm going to be trying to put a piece together this week.  If not, I am truly sorry...and more than likely, I'll probably just stop doing the piece altogether.  If it does happen, then I hope you all enjoy it.
Much love, piece.


Digging Into Dead Space Coming A Week Later...

For those of you in the GB community that have been following my Digging Into Dead Space pieces, I'm going to have to delay the next entry by another week.  I'm super sorry about this.  Unfortunately, I've got too much work on my hands right now to really do the next piece the justice it deserves.  I also haven't made it any further in Dead Space: Martyr, and it feels like it would be cheap to simply go half-assed on it. 
My apologies, and watch for the next piece next week.  I promise...and I don't break those.


Why Can't I Finish A Game? Part Deux

In some previous blog light years before this one...or maybe it was a forum post...I mentioned that I'm terrible at beating games.  It's not that I CAN'T beat them.  It's that I get sidetracked far too easily.  With League of Legends coming into my life and filling that post-WoW-addiction void, it seemed like there wouldn't be much console time for me.  Of course, I'm on my third playthrough of Dead Space 2 now (Zealot, going for Hardcore after that)...and I also had no problem playing through the entirety of Enslaved once.  It makes me think "what are all these other games doing wrong?"  For those interested, here's a list of the games in my drawer right now that I have yet to actually beat: 

Like...seriously, folks.  I STILL HAVEN'T BEATEN THE FORCE UNLEASHED 2!  Why not?  Well, funny enough, I think I've compiled a rather comprehensive list finally of just why this is happening.  If you will: 
  1. Cut it out with the fucking long burn start-offs!!!  Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow are the two biggest troublemakers in this category, as the beginnings of the game seem like they take FOR-EH-VER to get going.  By the time they do, I'm already a bit bored with the mechanics at hand and just want the single player to finally be over.
  2. Quit having such compelling and excellent goddamn multiplayer modes!!!  Did you know that it's actually not difficult to find multiplayer matches Singularity?  Yes, you read that right:  SINGULARITY!  The majority of these games all have multiplayer components, and those multiplayer components are kinda fucking awesome.  If you keep making these incredibly deep multiplayer experience where I feel like a thoroughbred badass, how the fuck am I EVER going to finish the single player?
  3. Make your games a bit less convoluted and a lot more interesting!!!  Crackdown 2 has been in my 360, but it was nowhere near as gripping as the original Crackdown for me, and Metro 2033 just isn't grabbing me like I had hoped it would.  Hell, Just Cause 2 is a game where I just wanna blow shit up, not go through some dumb fucking story.  Seriously, make things a bit simpler in terms of story and scope, and I might be more interested.
  4. Make a better game!!!  Force Unleashed II, you are so short...and yet I cannot even be bothered to finish you.  Seriously, what a fucking disappointment.
  5. You're a fucking RPG!!!  Final Fantasy XIII, Fallout New Vegas...just...goddamn, there's too much shit to even THINK about doing.
So now that we are a month past the holiday season, how many of you are finding the games just piling up?  Is there a sense of dread coming over you that there will be games you still haven't touched come March or so?  Are the new releases from the beginning of this year going to be holding you back from notching out that long list?

Digging Into Dead Space: The Supplemental Materials (Pt. 2)

Hey folks.  Welcome to our second week of Digging Into Dead Space, your shorthand source for the expanded universe that surrounds this popular franchise.  Today, we'll be looking into the big instigator in the Dead Space franchise:  the USG Ishimura.  Let's cut the shit and get right to it! 
***WARNING!  This blog may contain spoilers to any and/or all of the games, books, comics, and other forms of media in the Dead Space universe.***

The USG Ishimura

Coming in at somewhere between a half-mile to a mile long, the USG Ishimura was the first Planet-Cracker class ship of its kind.  As The Resource Wars raged on Earth, the Ishimura was created in the hopes of solving the problem.  Its primary goal was to mine and smelt entire planets, while its secondary function was also as a high-end medical research facility.  The significance of the USG Ishimura is rather obvious to anyone who has played the video games:  it is responsible for the resurgence of the Necromorph contagion.  Because of an illegal mining operation begun on the planet Aegis VII, the Red Marker was discovered, having been buried deep by Earthgov years before in an attempt to hide their secrets.  This led to the Hive Mind being awakened, leading to a massive Necromorph contagion that led to the deaths of everyone on the USG Ishimura except for Gabe Weller.  Eventually, after the events on Aegis VII, a CEC crew aboard the USG Kellion consisting of Kendra Daniels, Zach Hammond, and Isaac Clarke made their way to the Ishimura in an attempt to find out why she had gone silent.  As Isaac Clarke made his way through the Ishimura after they crash landed into the docking bay of the ship, it eventually became clear that Kendra Daniels was working in the interests of the government all along in hoping to recover the Red Marker.   
The USG Ishimura carrying its tectonic load that destroyed the Red Marker after Dead Space 1. 
After Clarke escaped from Aegis VII on a shuttle, the load of planet that was removed from Aegis VII by the Ishimura fell back to the planet, crashing onto the Red Marker and shattering it into shards that flew out to space.  Many of the shards hit and were embedded into the Ishimura, and the subsequent explosion on the planet sent the ship floating through space in the Aegis system.  Some time after, a group of illegal miners known as the Magpies shock into range of the Ishimura, and they decide to board the ship after scanning the ship.  Once aboard, they find shards of the Marker and begin to go crazy, with the only survivor sending out the coordinates of the Ishimura for the government to find it.  The first responding ship is the USG O'Bannon, which ends up suffering a less-than-optimal fate that leaves only four survivors after a shard of the artifact was recovered.  This leads Earthgov to send out a second rescue ship, which eventually brings the Ishimura back to the Sprawl, a massive colony ship run by Titan Corporation.  Oddly enough, former CEC employee and Ishimura contagion survivor Isaac Clarke also happens to be on the Sprawl, leading to the events found in Dead Space 2. 
The significance of the Ishimura is found in its "involvement" with every single event of the Dead Space universe.  Literally, it's one of the remaining consistencies in every story told throughout the franchise.  It is responsible for:
  • The rediscovery of the Red Marker after being buried on Aegis VII by the government
  • The original Necromorph contagion that has been spanning the universe
  • The death of protagonist Isaac Clarke's girlfriend, Nicole Brennan
  • The Church of Unitology's knowledge of the Red Marker's existence (as former captain Benjamin Matthius was a devout Unitologist)
  • The madness and insanity of the Magpies
  • The slaughter of the USG O'Bannon
  • The infection of the Sprawl, leading to the destruction of the Marker 3A
It is currently unknown if the Ishimura was destroyed on the Sprawl or if it has found a way out.  
Materials related to the USG Ishimura include everything in the Dead Space franchise, mainly focused on with Dead Space, Dead Space: Downfall, and Dead Space: Salvage.
That about does it for this week's edition.  If you have any questions or comments, please ask them or make them.  Next week, we'll get into the two biggest antagonists in the Dead Space universe:  the Black and Red Markers!

Digging Into Dead Space: The Supplemental Materials (Pt. 1)

For anyone out there with an interest beyond just blasting the limbs off Necromorphs, there's a plethora of supplemental material that fleshes out (no pun intended) the world that has been created around Dead Space.  How much?  Well, to give an example, the range of material that has been released so far includes a comic book series (Dead Space), two films (Dead Space: Downfall and Dead Space: Aftermath), a novel (Dead Space: Martyr), a graphic novel (Dead Space: Salvage), and five video games (Dead Space, Dead Space 2, Dead Space: Extraction, Dead Space for iPhone/iPad and Dead Space: Ignition).  All of those materials, plus additional audio and text logs within the games, span the course of some 300 YEARS WORTH OF FICTION!!! 
300 years, folks!  To put that in perspective, that length of time in American history covers the founding of Plymouth Colony in 1620 to around the beginning of the Great Depression in the 1930s.  Sure, there are universes like Star Wars, Star Trek, and even Mass Effect that cover a massive frame of time beyond that, but it's interesting that a franchise like Dead Space would have this deep of a fiction.  Nonetheless, it means that there can be a dilemma when digging into these materials:  where do you start? 
Even if you do know where to start, many may ask "what's the importance of anything besides what happens with Isaac Clarke?".  While the struggles that Isaac must go through are what many know as "Dead Space", there is so much beyond it that many don't realize.  For instance, why was the Ishimura at Aegis 7?  What's the deal with so much mining and digging in the universe?  How does Unitology play into all of this? 
Well, fear not!  Over the next week or two, I'll be doing some regular blogs to get you immersed in the world without having to spend an arm and a leg on a ton of materials...unless you really want to.  Seriously, I'm not kidding.  The price for a hardcover copy of the original Dead Space comics runs you a minimum of about $100 used...and up to $1,200 brand new and still sealed!!! 
****WARNING!  This blog may contain spoilers to any and/or all of the games, books, comics, and other forms of media in the Dead Space universe.***  

The Resource Wars

The reason for all of the mining and resource digging is simple:  The Resource Wars.  After the last bit of resources were drained from Earth, people and...more importantly...corporations needed to find a new way to get resources.  In turn, planet-cracking was invented.  This was achieved with massive ships, but because of the lack of resources and the race to find new ones, war broke out.  Multi-factional divides began springing up, and the height of the Resource Wars took place on Scorpio 6, a human colony.  Three factions fought, but in the end, it proved useless for everyone involved.  The Resource Wars were largely ended by the year 2508, which leads all the up to the beginning of the first Dead Space game.  The war raged on for the better part of at least 80 years.   
Materials related to The Resource Wars include the original Dead Space six-issue limited series, Dead Space: Downfall, and Dead Space: Extraction.

The Founding of Unitology by Michael Altman  

Before the Resource Wars kicked into high gear, Michael Altman was part of a secret research project to decipher and translate the findings of the Black Marker, the original alien artifact that was discovered in the early 2200's.  As he continued to decipher it, he found that it caused intense visions and violence amongst most that came in close proximity of it...well, except to him.  Because of this non-reaction, Altman was seen by many as a prophet.  In the wake of this, Altman founded the religion of Unitology and exposed the existence of the Black Marker to the people of the universe.  Shortly after, he was assassinated by the Earth Government for outing the existence of alien life.  In order to make it work to their benefit, Earthgov had Altman killed by a necromorph in order to make him look like a martyr.  Because of his martyrdom, Altman's beliefs in Unitology led a large social movement that created the Church of Scientology, which believed that the Black Marker was a gift from God.  By the time that the Red Marker was reverse-engineered from the Black Marker about 100 years after the discovery of the Black Marker, Unitology had become a interstellar religion. 
Materials related to Michael Altman include Dead Space: Martyr, while material pertaining to Unitology spans the majority of the material in the Dead Space franchise.
Stay tuned for next week when we'll be discussing the significance of the USG Ishimura and the Markers.

In Space, You Don't Need Originality To Be Great

You would be a fool for trying to say that the first Dead Space was not a game that flaunted how derivative it was.  The mixture of Resident Evil 4 shooting mechanics, the atmosphere of something akin to Alien or Event Horizon, monsters that look like they walked out of John Carpenter's The Thing; in the long run, the only thing truly original about Dead Space was the story it set up, the fiction and expanded "universe" that it has created, and its innovative use of user interface and HUD.  In turn, it created one of the best games of 2008.  Therefore, it is even more surprising that the same derived stuff can be given a bit more room to breathe and a couple of tweaks and upgrades...and STILL turn out to be fucking awesome. 

One? Not so scary.  Ten or fifteen with sliver of health? Fucking terrifying!
It begs the question, though:  if a franchise that is borrowing from so many other places can actually produce two solid games like this, how the hell do other game studios fail with some of their games?  Army of Two may have a couple of newer ideas behind it (heavy co-op focus, use of aggro, etc), but it is essentially little more than a third person shooter, right?  How is it that a game like Dead Space 2...under the same capable of being so goddamn impactful and incredible while something as simple as Army of Two: The 40th Day is kind of not so great? 
Funny enough, it makes me realize that three of my favorite games over the last three years did not do anything too original with their games beyond atmosphere, story, and tweaking familiar formulas: 
  • Dead Space - See all of the aforementioned information, then add in some of the most amazing audio fidelity, sound mixing, and foley work ever in a game.
  • Darksiders - It is Legend of Zelda meets every combat system in action games that has existed since Devil May Cry.
  • Bayonetta - It is Devil May Cry...with a chick...and crazy Japanese nonsensical shit...and a very open-ended combo system.
The amount of detail in every environment is astounding. 
What you might find even crazier is that all three of those games came completely out of left field for a lot of people.  In their preview phases, many people wrote them off as being purely derivative and generally worthless titles.  Despite the fact that there are some who still believe that malarky, here we are...talking about Dead Space 2. 
What makes Dead Space 2 excellent?  It is more Dead Space.  That is all it needs.  The multiplayer is competent, and you might find a handful of people that will hold true to it like those who are still playing Singularity's multiplayer (and I am not kidding about that - I have no problem finding a game for that).  The multiplayer is not why you play Dead Space.  You are in it for the story, the atmosphere, the jump scares, the horror, the crazy shit that the story can concoct, the solid controls, the great shooting game, the weapons, the moments of despair and defeat, the moment you get to press that New Game Plus button on the menu and start it all over again... 
Ladies and gents, it is Dead Space 2.  You play as Isaac Clarke, you shoot the limbs off of aliens, and you curse like a motherfucker when you continually stomp that one Necromorph that decided to knock you down to a sliver of health repeatedly.  It is everything you wanted it to be and then some.

Have You Seen My Bear Tibbers?

How addicting is League of Legends at this point for me?  The best way to describe it is probably a poor analogy, but it feels like an accurate one. 

 Seriously...have you seen my bear Tibbers?!
World of Warcraft was that mainstay in my life, the one that I felt comfortable with and knew so well.  At some point, though, we didn't see eye to eye anymore, and we decided we needed a break like Rachel and Ross.  Along the way, WoW finally found its way back into my life after it had a bit of a personality overhaul and decided to treat me right.  It was working out quite well, almost harmoniously as a matter of fact...
...until League of Legends walked into the room like a bad bitch and we've been chokefucking ever since. 
League of Legends is exactly like that:  a dirty little whore of a game that you love and hate.  You hate what it's done to your relationship with other games, how it denies you so much time with so many other great pieces of work, and you also hate when it mistreats you.  However, when it's good, OH IS IT GOOD!  There's something about getting that impossible victory of pure fucking luck that makes you jump up and shout obscenities in joyous celebration like few other games can accomplish.  A solace almost encapsulates you when you kill that asshole who has been stomping your team for most of the game, just so you can type "LAWL" into general chat as a taunt.  When you level up, there is a great sense of forward progression that you EARNED.
 Muthafuckin' P.I.M.P.
For a free game, it's also amazing how well everything is set up...and how goddamn tempting it is as well.  League of Legends, being the dirty whore that it is, gives you the taste for free but eventually hopes you will toss her some ends.  All of the micro-transactions feel justified enough, and moreover, it feels like you are paying exactly what you want for the game.  You could buy all the champions in the game without spending a dime, but if you feel like Riot Games deserves some money for their work, then you can toss them a dime or two and you'll feel like you are still getting your money's worth. 
On a personal note, I have found that I do not like playing the role of melee in the game, which is an abnormality given my affection for melee in virtually every other game I play.  Instead, characters like Annie, Swain, and Malzahar have found their way into my champion list, and they are truly gratifying players.  The one thing that I've noticed in the last couple of weeks about League of that virtually ANYONE can play League of Legends.  Sure, a good handful will probably never be able to compete on a high-end level, but the custom game setup is so damn easy that it really does not matter. 
The moral of this story is simple, folks:  when a game decides that it is going to steal all of your time, do not try to fight it.  You will not win.  League of Legends, you had me at "NEVER STOP FUCKING ME!". 
*P.S. - Bonus points of coolness for anyone who knows where that quote is from.

I'll Be An Uncle By Tuesday

My youngest brother and his girlfriend have been holding steady for the last nine months, waiting to welcome the first child amongst us three boys (me and my two brothers).  It's an exciting as well as scary time for our family at the moment, as it is a milestone for us all.  It means my brother will know the joys and pains of fatherhood, my parents will know the same as grandparents, and my other brother and I as uncles will be able to spoil that kid rotten and send him back to his parents.  As we have heard today, my brother's girlfriend will be induced on Tuesday if she hasn't had the baby by then.
Our family is not a traditional ideal of American families:  we all still live under the same roof.  I know, I know...  Most 28-year-olds are moved out on their own about a decade before this.  However, when I look a place like China...where it is a tradition and even expected to have three generations under one roof, I realize that we all live in the same house not because we don't want to go out and be on our own.  Instead, it's because we value family more than anything in our lives.  We've always been the people we can rely on most.  Also, I pay a total of about $160 a month for housing, electricity, water, etc...and I don't think anyone can beat that price! 
As it stands, there can be no greater Christmas present than having a new life come into your family.


Uninteresting $#!% 19 - Holiday "Why I Started WoW Again" Edition

Howdy folks. 
It's the holidays, which means we're going to be sitting around waiting for the New Year to come around so we can start getting some new games.  You know what the real bitch is?  It's when you have all these games you need to finish, and then your friends finally make you cave and buy a copy of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, starting you back on the path of the downward spiral.  Sleep deprivation has already occurred, and it doesn't seem like something that will let up for quite some time.  One can only hope that this adventure into the never-ending plummet to the bottom of Hell will end well, but sadly, we've all been here before.  With that said, let's talk about Cataclysm...
...or instead, I should tell you about how I'm not playing Cataclysm.  Rather than starting a level 1 toon of some other class, I started a Death Knight...which kickstarts at level 55.  In turn, it means that I have not seen more than one small piece of the massive change in Azeroth, which happened to be a portion to the south of The Dark Portal in The Blasted Lands.  That portion was pretty awesome, as it involved a ton of murlocs being enslaved by nagas, as well as some forest being corrupted.  Guess what I had to do?  Be a goddamned hero and save some fucking murlocs!!!  It was great fun, and it has me excited to check out the 1-60 content. 
As it stands, though, it's saddening to see such a massive overhaul of the game (to the point that someone who hasn't played in a year feels like a complete stranger to the game)...and yet the Outlands and Northrend remain untouched.  Grinding away XP in Hellfire turned out to be one hell of a painful experience, only made better by getting a flying mount at 60 rather than 70....or whatever the hell it was before.  Why only revamp one part of the world when you could make the game in its entirety something fresh and new?  Let the Outlands and Northrend get some damage, some new initiative, and for fuck's sake, a fresh coat of paint and some reworking!  Streamline those quests for a better experience.  Someone leveling from 1-60 is going to see a lot of fun stuff, but once they hit the 60-80 gap, it's going to turn out to be a bit of a drag until they get into the new stuff for Cataclysm.  Don't just make it to where I'll bust 64 and 65 before I even finish Zangarmarsh:  make it to where I'll feel more involved in Outlands and Northrend.  Part of what made my short stint in The Blasted Lands so exciting, aside from being familiar with the old world of vanilla WoW, was that I felt like I was having an impact on the world.  I was doing something that wasn't just arbitrary "kill 10 of these because we said to".  I dragged a crate of baby murlocs to freedom, dammit!  Give me more of that impactful feeling!
My biggest piece of excitement right now is getting to the high-level content of 80-85.  Having seen my buddies roll through the new territories like Vash'jir and Twilight Highlands, as well as dungeons like Grim Batol (which I've been dying for since vanilla) and heroic Deadmines (ZOMG!), these are territories that I am wholeheartedly ready to explore. 
A trip back to Azeroth didn't even feel like it was in the cards, and for the longest time, fighting that urge to go back seemed a bit futile.  Being back in the World of Warcraft, it feels like a long and arduous road ahead - one that seems like it will have far more rewards than before. 
With that, I retire the Uninteresting $#!% blogs.  Frankly, most never liked the title anyways, and above which, it would seem that playing other games is going to fall to the wayside quite a bit...unless I get tired of WoW and just decide to go back to Xbox. 
Until next time, piece.


jakob187's Best Games of 2010

I'll be blunt and simple...

I'm not a huge fan of GOTY awards.  You have to try and narrow down all these lists to about five nominees or so, then try to narrow those down for each category until you end up with the Highlander scenario of "there will be only one".  That pisses me off.  How is anyone supposed to genuinely create those things?  Have they literally played EVERY SINGLE GAME that came out in a year?  Probably not.  Most likely not.  Fuck, I hope not! 

In turn, I decided to wrangle up the 25 games that defined 2010 for me, package them up in a nice little list (courtesy of Giant Bomb's great list feature), and give a little flavor text to each.  Will you guys agree?  Oh, I mostly certainly guarantee you won't (especially when you see how low Mass Effect 2 is on the list).  Will people call me a Wii hater because there are a total of zero Wii games on this list?  Probably...but as someone who no longer owns a Wii, I can't say that I would feel right throwing any of them in when I haven't played them.  This is a list of games that I personally played in 2010 that I feel are the most exceptional of the exceptional, so there are going to be some games that you may have that I won't.
So with that said, I present to you (and yes, they are in order)...... 

jakob187's Pretentious-As-All-Hell-Because-I-Think-My-Opinion-Matters GOTY 2010 Stuffthings

1. Bayonetta

An interesting protagonist, a convoluted but intriguing story, dynamic-as-all-hell combat and gameplay, fluid controls and animation, crazy Japanese madness, and a great soundtrack - Bayonetta is perfect in every way, and regardless of what comes out, this IS my Game of the Year.

2. Alan Wake

Maybe it's because I bought the limited edition that came with the additional reading material and cool bonus stuff, but Alan Wake really resonated with me. The story was probably the strongest of the year, the characters were highly memorable, and Bright Falls is not a place I'll forget any time soon.

3. Darksiders

Being the first game released this year, it was expected to be a mediocre game at best. I had confidence that it was more than that, and as it turned out, it was easily one of the best games of the year. This is another one that I would label as being perfect, as everything about it was done incredibly well with a great level of detail thrown into every single nuance. Moreover, it's a testament to the old days of gameplay that works on all levels.

4. Super Meat Boy

DIFFICULTY GO!!! It's mind-numbing to believe that a game this difficult can exist in such a casual-friendly space nowadays. Thankfully, Team Meat showed why the downloadable marketplace is the way to go if you want unique and adrenaline-pumping video games!

5. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Pac-Man DX adds a new spin to an arcade classic and arguably makes the most addicting and worthwhile addition to the Pac-Man franchise since the original Ms. Pac-Man. Focusing on time-based chunks of gameplay where you collect up ghosts and then chomp them down in chain-combo fashion, Pac-Man DX gives you a reason to fight for high scores again.

6. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

It's like Need For Speed III: Hot Pursuit, Ridge Racer, and Burnout 3 had a threesome and created the master racing game. Great weather effects, an incredible online integration setup, and thoroughly addictive levels of speed make this a no-brainer for any racing fan. There's a pureness to the game, as it gets rid of customization and all the other cluttered crap, and breaks racing down to "drive car, fuck shit up, have fun".

7. Fallout: New Vegas

It's the game that Fallout 3 should've been. There's far more to do than you can even comprehend, and the world in general is far more in line with what makes Fallout such a revered thing. Is it buggy? Sure. Do I care? Nah. The level of depth in the storytelling and content is goddamn mind-blowing!

8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

With the amount of time I logged into the multiplayer, as well as the level of additional content and support that the game continues to get, it's a title that will last quite a while. Also, I just enjoy blowing shit up real good.

9. Halo: Reach

It's Halo: Reach. I don't think anything more needs to be said except this: when a game has so many technical bugs, flaws, and issues...and you STILL love it...then yeah, it's one hell of a good game!

10. Sid Meier's Civilization V

Having been a fan from the beginning, Civilization is a franchise that grabs me by the left testicle every time and doesn't let go. Now that Sid Meier's has essentially procured that I will never father a child, I will have to deal with the second best thing: virtual world domination...and sex without condoms.

11. BioShock 2

A lot of folks frowned upon this sequel ever being made, and to those people, I say "fuck you". This game, personally, surpassed the original Bioshock in so many ways, especially in how moral choices actually affected something in the game. Mix in the deep multiplayer component, and you've got a stand-up title.

12. Red Dead Redemption

This game makes me wish more people made games set in the Wild West. Unfortunately, I'd compare them all to this, and that would leave far too many games crying in a corner. Rockstar delivered yet again on an open world game, but this time, the mechanics of it all (despite the massive amount of bugs) and more consistent DLC support makes the game a necessity for any collection.

13. Mass Effect 2

The first Mass Effect sucked. The controls felt like driving a tank, the shooting felt imprecise, and other than the sweet soundtrack, great characters and solid dialogue trees, everything just felt too meh. That's why Mass Effect 2 is so great - it improves on every single part of the "game" side while retaining everything that was done well in its predecessor.

14. Call of Duty: Black Ops

The multiplayer is the best that the franchise has seen yet, and the single player is pretty damn memorable and hair-brained. What makes the game really shine, however, is the overall feature set. Campaign, multiplayer, Zombies mode, Dead Ops Arcade, Zork, all the intel...the level of depth put into this package is really impressive.

15. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

I didn't enjoy the original StarCraft, so I'm kind of astonished that I loved the sequel. The multiplayer features are robust, the single player campaign is varied and intriguing, and the new setup is pretty damn swanky.

16. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

This game was a huge surprise for me, as the new isometric viewpoint and dual-analog combat style mixed with traditional Tomb Raider-esque environmental puzzles played out EXTREMELY well. That's not even mentioning the great co-op play (despite online co-op not being available at launch). Great great game and worth every penny you spend on it.

17. Blur

Blur is a real love/hate thing with me. I love the gameplay and what it does for the racing genre. I hate that the game's single player has a pretty steep difficulty curve, even on the lowest difficulty settings. It means that I'm getting my $60 worth, but it pisses me off that I have to restart races soooo often. The online, however, is incredibly rewarding, as even if you don't win, you are still having a tremendous amount of fun.

18. Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

While the game may be linear and hasn't sold gangbusters, this Ninja Theory joint features a great narrative written by screenwriter Alex Garland as well as stunning performances from Andy Serkis as Monkey and Lindsey Shaw as Trip. The world has also been well-realized, as mixtures of real world locations and fanciful affections almost akin to Beyond Good and Evil marry together seamlessly. The combat is simple enough that it doesn't get in the way of anything, and traversing this world is one of the easiest and exhilarating experiences in modern gaming.

19. Skate 3

I was surprised with how much Skate has streamlined its controls as well as general gameplay. This, to me, felt like the most accessible of all the Skate games so far. Sure, the single player feels like a big tutorial for the multiplayer side, but the multiplayer side of this game is incredibly robust. One might even compare it to something like Burnout Paradise in size and scale. Great job all around.

20. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

Typically, lightning doesn't strike twice when it comes to uniqueness, but Brotherhood proves that Ubisoft can find ways to take a major franchise under their umbrella and add a unique multiplayer component to it that just feels right (ya know, like Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow). There's also the fact that the single player is a deeper experience than its predecessor, even if it misses a couple of beats here and there. Had the multiplayer actually performed better, this game would easily be higher on the list. As it stands, everyone above it did their stuff better.

21. The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom

This puzzling platformer of paradoxical proportions positively pressed every proverbial button on my piss-me-off-because-I'm-not-that-smart meter. However, once you figure out one of the puzzles in this game, you feel like the smartest goddamn genius on the face of the planet. Again, well worth the small amount of Microsoft Phony Bones you need to spend for it.

22. Dead Rising 2: Case Zero

While Dead Rising 2 may be pretty damn sweet, Case Zero is the one that deserves the attention. For $5.00, Case Zero proves that you can release small chunks of the core gameplay from a full disc release to XBLA and make it both compelling and worthwhile. If anything, Case Zero felt incredibly focused, concise, and to the point about what it wanted to do. I'll be honest - I think Capcom could drop making full Dead Rising games and just release these, as I felt completely satisfied by the end of this game...and the subsequent seven playthroughs I did afterwards.

23. Monday Night Combat

Bringing elements of Team Fortress 2 and DotA together for an XBLA well as a RIDICULOUSLY HIGH LEVEL CAP...makes Monday Night Combat THE game that finally proves XBLA titles can be online-specific and still be played for a while after its release. Good job to Uber. Now just balance your shit a bit better.

24. Madden NFL 11

The last Madden game that I liked was Madden 1994. It took 17 years for EA to finally make another Madden game that I enjoyed. Madden 11 is everything that I could've hoped EA to finally make a football game into. It has enough elements that give it an ESPN 2K feel, but it's still very much a robustly featured Madden game.

25. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

Hey, fuck you. Don't judge me. Not only does it apply mega Sega fan service with a brush that never seems to dry up, it also happens to be one of the best kart games out there that isn't named "Mario Kart" or "Blur". If you didn't play this game, then I'm so so so sorry for you.