7 Days

I actually feel really good sober. It's weird but my mood is better. I feel more energetic. My memory is better. It's pretty neat. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been tempted to drink again. Just outside of where I'm typing there is a cavalcade of alcohol waiting to be drunk. But I don't want to lose how I'm feeling now. It's nice because I have been stressed this week. Not everything has gone perfectly. I've been overwhelmed by clients. Money is a continuous problem as a student. But I'm not drinking despite the stress. I'm proud of myself.

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4 Days

Four days clean from alcohol today. This is the second time I've tried to quit. The first time I felt like I was on cloud nine. It was fucking great. But then an event occurred at my job and it all went out the window. I had to make a decision whether or not a person was going to be hospitalized or not. This person was clearly suicidal but the danger was not imminent enough to warrant a 72 hour stay. The plan was vague and poorly thought out, there were no means available to carry out the plan, and the intention to commit suicide only occurred when the person was drunk. The intricacies of the plan couldn't have been carried out while drunk even if the means were there to carry the plan out which they weren't. So I created a gigantic plan for this person outside of going to the hospital. There were contingency plans for when the person was suicidal, drunk, or both. There was a commitment to safety. Everything was fine legally and morally. I even consulted with another therapist before I let the person leave the office just to double check my logic. My ass and conscious was covered. But I was still stressed. I thought that when I came back to the office the message machine would be from my client's friends or relatives and I would have had heard about her death. I was sick but I had no reason to be. The burden of being a lightening rod for pain and suffering I guess.

So my solution to deal with this stress was to follow an old formula. I got drunk. I figured I'd been clean a week and had earned the right to relieve the tension I had built up. I'd earned it right? So I got fucked up. I followed the same pattern I always follow. I started out by drinking with others. That turned to drinking by myself. Then drinking while smoking some cigarettes I had stolen from my roommate. Then I felt dumb for lighting up the cigarette and for drinking as much as I had so I threw the cigarettes out and dumped my 20-ish beer of the night, walked back inside, and passed out. The next morning I was hung over, grumpy, feeling like I had just let myself down, and went back to drinking because I pitied myself and the predicament I had put myself in.

Well I'm four days clean again. I'm not on cloud nine. But I guess that didn't help me much last time did it? I don't feel shitty though. I don't feel anything. My mind is just resting in my skull. It isn't numb and it doesn't hurt. It's just there. My eyes though. They are finding all the liquor in the house. The thing is I could get drunk five times over and keep drinking. There's that much beer and wine in the house. I could drink and drink and drink and there would be no real consequences. I could do my job. My family needs me too much to tell me to stop. Plus they're too nice. This whole “I'm done drinking” thing started because, at a family gathering, I got shit-faced. Very, very shit-faced. Passing out shit-faced. Secretly I might add. I was drinking out of my truck away from prying eyes. Everyone knew. Everyone had to know. I come from a nice, wholesome, whiter-than-white family who wouldn't know a joint from a cigarette but they aren't blind. I was falling over myself. I was a joke. Hence the need to better myself. But I haven't heard a thing about this from anyone. I'm essentially a black-sheep so to speak. But a black-sheep no one wants to acknowledge. So there's no consequences from my family. There's no consequences from my work. So why the fuck would I change?

I guess I think I'm better than that. I'm better than relying on something other then myself to improve my life or how I feel. I should be able to make myself better without making myself shit-faced at the same time. Plus, this blog just might keep me honest. If you're reading this then you are bored and checking out my profile because I'm not going to sync this with the main forums. This is just for me. But, if you want, you can read too.

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Re-Living the Past: 16-Bit Sonic (Part 2 of 2)

History

So Sonic 1 and 2 were gigantic hits. Sonic CD was a critical success and a big seller for the Sega-CD. Then came the spin off games. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast, etc. Just a huge number of games were released with the Sonic name attached. Sonic had now officially become Sega's 'Mario' both in terms of quality in the main franchise and in terms of spin off's aping the 'Sonic' name. It was in the midst of the spin offs that Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles were released. Originally planned to be one game, both were released separately on the same year. Both have unique histories beyond this. For example, Michael Jackson and a few of his writers wrote the music for Sonic 3 (though Jackson pulled his name from the credits or it was pulled depending on which rumor you read). Sonic and Knuckles came with a built-in slot in the top of the cart that allowed Sonic 2 and 3 to be plugged in to it for varying effects. Sonic and Knuckles with Sonic 2 plugged in allowed for Knuckles to be playable in that game. Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, with Sonic 3 plugged into the Sonic and Knuckles cart, could be played as one big Sonic game. Even Sonic 1, when plugged in to the Sonic and Knuckles cart, could allow for access to all of the Sonic and Knuckles special stage zones (after a code was entered).

These two games were handled in an odd way. Being released in the same year. The weird slot on the top of the Sonic and Knuckles cart. It was all very strange. Both games, like Sonic 1 and 2, did well critically and commercially. But these two seem to be the Sonic games, of the original 16-bit games, that have the most die-hard and lukewarm fans. These games tend to be either loved or just sort of liked...you know, kinda.

Personal History

I was one of the lukewarm fans. I had bought everything Sonic before these two games came out. All of the Game Gear ports of the Master System Sonic games. The original Sonic games on Game Gear and the spin offs (like Tail's Adventure). The spin offs on the Genesis. Sonic CD. Kunckle's Chaotix. All of them. But for some reason, I wasn't particularly excited for either of these games. I don't really know what it was. Maybe I had just grown tired of Sonic games. But, for whatever reason, I never really 'loved' these games like I loved the first two as a child.

What About Now?

Sonic 3

Sonic 3 was an odd game to play immediately after Sonic 2. Sonic 2 was a fast game. Sonic 1 was fast no doubt but Sonic 2 just took that speed to another level. Granted, it made some of the platforming sort of sketchy. But man was it fast. Sonic 3, however, may be the slowest Sonic game to date. Sonic feels heavy and fat. He's easier to control and the platforming is much more manageable but it also loses that sense of speed that the Sonic franchise was built on. That said, it is good that he's a little slower because this game has a lot of platforming. More then either of the first Sonic games. Tricky jumps, using environmental features to advance, all of the things you would see in a normal platformer were there. Sonic 1 and 2 were platformers but they were platformers with caveats. Besides the later levels, the platforming was fairly simple, easy and mindless. Sonic 3 changed that. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing. The levels are definitely longer and the gameplay is more methodical. But is it better? I don't know. It is certainly different though. There are also many more bosses to fight in this game. After every act there is a boss. The first act is associated with a mini-boss and the second act is Robotnik. I'm also torn on this new development as well. I mean, it's nice that they are adding challenge but a) the bosses are easy and b) I'm not sure I really like fighting bosses in Sonic games.

This is simply a beautiful game. Awesome parallaxing and vivid colors are seen through each level. And speaking of the levels, each act is associated with a change in how the stage looks. In previous Sonic games, every act of each stage looked the same. Sonic 3 changed that and it leads to a much more varied and interesting presentation. The music is really nice as well. Only one stage (the ice stage) really had a Michael Jackson sound BUT it does really sounds nice.

Sonic and Knuckles

This game is very similar to Sonic 3 but it improves on it in key areas. Sonic is much faster this time but the controls are still tight allowing for the platforming to be much more manageable. Speaking of platforming, holy hell is there a lot of it in this game. And the bosses. There's actually a boss rush in this game where the player fights one boss after another. Unlike Sonic 3, there are some really cool boss fights in this game. Some really memorable ones. They go even further with 'story-telling' in this game then Sonic 3. There's not a lot of it, but you could actually say there are cutscenes in this game. That's crazy for a Sonic game. The music sounds really nice and the game looks amazing. This is like Sonic 3 with a shot of Sonic 1 and 2 and steroids.

Conclusion

I'm torn on these games. I think Sonic 3 is a hell of a game but is far too easy and far too slow. The bosses were too easy and kind of boring to fight. Sonic and Knuckles, technically, is the best Sonic game of the 16-bit era. It has the speed, it has the tight controls, it has the great music, cool boss fights, amazing graphics, and technical and well crafted platforming. It is clearly the best Sonic game to have been made of the original games. But I don't know if it is my favorite. Sonic 1 was the originator. It is simple, has a rough difficulty curve, and easy bosses. But I really like it. Sonic 2 is just crazy. It is stupidly fast, has a rough difficulty curve, and the platforming at the end of the game is really imprecise. But I can't shake the nostalgia I have for those games. Especially Sonic 1. I have so many good feelings with those games that I would take them over Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles any day.

So, I guess the end result is this. If you've never played these games and you want to you should play them all. But the one that you should play first and will likely like the best is probably going to be Sonic and Knuckles. It is the best 16-bit Sonic game. But it isn't my favorite Sonic game.

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Re-Living the Past: 16-Bit Sonic (Part 1 of 2)

History

The Sega Master System, a contemporary of the NES, had a couple of popular franchises. But none of them were able to match the quality or popularity of Mario. Sega's first attempt at a platformer designed to take on Mario was Alex Kidd. Though there were a few good, popular entries in this series none of them could match Mario. So, when Sega released the Genesis they felt they needed to create a franchise that could rival Nintendo and, maybe, even surpass it once and for all. Enter Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic was designed to emphasis speed with platforming. The idea being that Mario was the slow, precise platformer while Sonic was the fast, crazier one. The first game in the series did exactly what it was intended to do. It sold like mad, it pushed sales of the Genesis, and was critically acclaimed. And then the franchise was beaten to a pulp by more and more Sonic-tagged games. While the regular, 2D platformers were acclaimed and usually sold well the 'other' games were a little hit or miss. Then the Dreamcast came out and Sonic would never be the same again.

Personal History

I grew up with a Colecovision and a Master System (though the MS was rarely hooked up). So I cut my teeth on old ass games. When my parents bought the Genesis with Sonic 1 bundled with it you can't imagine how amazing it felt to me. It felt like the future. The colors! The speed! The sound! It was so much better then a Colecovision. Those feelings were tied directly to Sonic and, as a result, I adored everything 'Sonic'. Even the games that were kind of bad I adored because they had Sonic (Sonic 3D Blast comes to mind).

What About Now?

Sonic 1

It was really hard for me to tear away my feelings about this game while trying to be objective. The game is still an absolute blast to play. For the most part that is. Yes, there is a lot of speed with this game. Especially with the first stage. But what I forgot is how much platforming is in this game. I guess I'm so used to tying Sonic to his current 'push up to win' style of gameplay that I forgot where he started. That said, the game isn't particularly difficult. Nor is it particularly harsh with punishment for poor platforming. That is, until the last few level but especially the very last level. That last level is associated with a dramatic ramp up in difficulty. That level is associated with so many things that are designed solely to kill you. The level is designed around speeding the player to a death trap throughout each act of the level. It's harsh. That said, it isn't necessarily unfair. It's just a little jarring when the rest of the game is a bit of a push over. This is a great game but slightly mindless (that is, until the last level).

Sonic 2

Right away the first thing I noticed was how much faster this game is then Sonic 1. It's also much more mindless. I spent a lot of time holding right and occasionally hitting the jump button. Really, the game doesn't introduce much platforming in the traditional sense until the last few levels. Speaking of, the last level is really frustrating. Because Sonic moves faster in this game then he did in Sonic 1 he has less traction and his movements feel 'slippy' (for lack of a better word). In the last level, this problem really starts to show itself. This level requires more precision then the other games and the controls have a hard time doing it. Then the final level; a two boss battle. Neither boss is particularly hard once you understand their patterns. Is just that, by the time you get to those bosses, you might have lost many of your lives on the previous level due to the issues mentioned before. So...yeah, it can be a little frustrating. BUT, all that said, it is a fun game. It looks great, it sounds great, and, for the most part, it controls fine (minus the later levels). It is more mindless then Sonic 1 but when you're having fun who cares?

Conclusion

Sonic 1 is a solid platformer. It is more mindless then Mario. But it wasn't necessarily trying to be Mario. It didn't need to be more technical or more precise then Mario. It need to be fun and that's exactly what it is. But it isn't a slouch either. As the game progresses, you can't just hold right to win. Precision is required just not extreme precision. Sonic 2 takes a bit of a step back in some ways and a step forward in others. It certainly looks better and is much faster. There's more variety to the levels and the bosses are more challenging overall then Sonic 1. But it is much, much more mindless. The 'holding right to win' technique works pretty well for a long time. It's only in the later levels that real platforming skill is required. But, where Sonic 1's moments of precision were fun and suited well to the controls Sonic 2 starts to frustrate. The last level before the final bosses can be really really frustrating especially if you take what you've learned from the previous levels and try to apply those skills to that level. Even when you are moving slowly, the level finds a way to frustrate. All that said, however, it is a very fun experience.

Pros:

-No matter how well you play the two games are a lot of fun, the games look and sound great, the gameplay still has a unique feeling to it that even later Sonic games have a hard time getting right, getting all of the chaos emeralds is a big challenge in both games.

Cons:

-When you need to precise frustration can set in, they can be fairly mindless games, the Tail's AI is more often then not awful and gets in the way more then helps, not everyone will enjoy the most challenging part of the two games; earning all the chaos emeralds.

I'll try to get the second part of this done shortly. In it, I'll talk about Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles.

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Re-Living the Past: Super Mario 64

History

I think that every person who has played video games knows what this game is. But, just in case, here's a quick summary. This was released with the launch of the Nintendo 64. It was one of the first games, and the first console game, to be set in a fully 3D environment. The game allowed for nearly complete camera control and the player could platform nearly anywhere. At the time this style of game in a full 3D environment was almost impossible to conceive. It was highly regarded everywhere and sold millions upon millions. It is still often regarded as the best console game ever made.

Personal History

The N64 was my console after the Sega Genesis. I was so damn excited. My Dad and I followed the news about the console for a long time. Back when it was the Ultra 64 and Robotech 64 was the be all end all of future video games. I remember hearing that the 'Ultra 64' was supposed to produce graphics that would rival film. I was so fucking excited. And this game was that excitement in a nutshell. I thought it was phenomenal and nothing could touch it.

What About Now?

Well...here's the thing. This game was the first real attempt at a 3D platformer. So there is bound to be some wonky-ness here and there. Well, this game has it. Quite a bit unfortunately. The game is broken up into multiple levels (oddly called 'courses' in the game) located within a big overworld (Peach's Castle). Each level has 8 stars associated with it (7 stars associated with objectives and one associated with collecting 100 coins).

The wonky-ness comes in with the controls and the camera. The controls are rough. Gross movements are fine. You can jump and run really well in a big open environment where precision isn't necessary. But run across a small, narrow plank and it's like you're trying to perform brain surgery with chop sticks. Mario has this thing where he is either going at a snail's pace or a full on sprint. There's no jogging equivalent. When you need precision and you either crawl (which I just can't handle) or sprint there can be a lot of frustration. I just felt like I never had a good amount of control over Mario. It always felt like I was pinning my ears back every time I did anything. Really, this isn't a huge issue if you just want to get the 70 stars required to beat the game especially if you get most of the stars from the earlier 'courses'. The later 'courses' though? Yikes.

Then there's the camera. The camera is good some of the time. Then, other times, it's amazingly stubborn. Sometimes it just doesn't want to get near the action. More often then not, with all the camera options, I couldn't find one that worked well. It was just so irritating. The game looks good though. The frame rate is solid (looks like about 30 fps) and it is really colorful. It's got a very simple, early 3D look but it's nice. It's not 'good' mind you but nice. It still sounds great too. The game's sounds sort of lack that 'punch' new games have (due to the lower bit rate) but they are still good and memorable.

Conclusion

The game is really interesting. Being the first 3D console platformer is a huge weight to hold. The 'first' at most things is usually not that great. So, that said, it's amazing how well Nintendo with this game. When it doesn't require precision, the game is really good. Even when you need precision the game is pretty good. But my God can it be frustrating. I had planned to get 120 stars before I wrote this blog. But, while playing it, I came to the conclusion that I just don't have the patience anymore. But there still is value to this game. Even if you haven't played the game before it is still fun. But I think it might be more interesting then good for new players. Even for former players, the game is a bit rough around the edges.

Pros

-It still looks pretty good (simple but good), it sounds nice, the earlier levels are really well made and work well with the controls, and it can be really fun.

Cons

-That Goddamn camera, the later levels can be really rough due to the camera and the controls, and trying to 100% the game now (as opposed to when it was released) might cause new and old players alike to pull all of their hair out.

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Re-Living the Past: Wave Race 64

History

Wave Race 64 was originally released in 1996. It was one of the first Nintendo 64 games and was critically acclaimed (it has a score of '92' on Metacritic). The game was praised for its realistic water physics and balanced arcade-style racing.

Personal History

I remember playing this game for the first time at a friend's house. I had a personal tie to Jet-Skis which caused me to have a special tie to this game in particular. I have found that when a video game capitalizes on one of my hobbies that video game ends up being special to me. This game was no exception. I thought it was a lot of fun to play, I thought the water physics were amazing, and that the handling was perfect.

What About Now?

A lot of time has passed since this game was new. What I've come to expect out of arcade races has changed quite a bit. Graphics have a much less influential effect on how I judge a game and, that said, the graphics in this game were bound to be very simple and old fashioned. I didn't know what to expect when I first started playing. I didn't want to try to play with just my rose-tinted glasses on. BUT, I also didn't want to be stuck on it's older design. So, how did this game stand the test of time?

Well, lets start with the gameplay. The primary mode, 'Championship', is a racing mode with multiple races and has three difficulties associated with it. The only time I found the game a bit challenging was with the hardest difficulty. The AI is a bit...wonky. They are a push over until the highest difficulty. At that point, the rubber-banding AI starts to set in. If one gets out ahead of the other racers at all the other races find super-powers within their jet skis that allow them to chase the player down. Add this rubber-banding to the fact that all of the racers, including the playable racer, takes up physical space and can hit one another you get a recipe for some frustration.

Actually controlling the jet ski is pretty good...until it gets pushed a little too far. You see, laid out through the course are slalom markers. One tells the racers to pass on the left of the marker and one for the right. This is fine and good because, for the most part, the player can easily control the jet ski through all of the markers. It starts to get a little rough as the higher difficulties are selected. You see, the jet skis have two turning styles; oversteer (meaning the jet skis turn too sharply) and understeer (meaning the jet skis turn too wide). It's a little rough to find that middle ground. And, as the high difficulties are selected, more slalom markers are put on the tracks which really causes the somewhat wonky handling to really push itself too far. Then you have the AI that, on the higher difficulties, continuously rams into everything (specifically you). And, then you have the waves...

So the wave physics were really amazing in 1996. Now...well, they're just kind of crazy. The act on the jet skis just like real waves would. But your jet ski acts like it is made out of rubber. It doesn't act like it has weight. One doesn't plow through the waves. Rather, one's jet ski bounces off of waves. This does happen in real life but just not to that degree. Every wave acts like a jump. Which, in turn, makes handling the jet skis even more chaotic. At times this can be really fun. But, it can lead to a lot of frustration as well. Then how the waves work are just weird. Waves are staged and planned at certain times. The game tries to make it look like the waves are random but, lets be honest, players will know when certain waves will occur at certain turns. The sense of random wave movement isn't really there. Then, just how they develop and grow are weird. Waves aren't caused by the jet skis' wakes for example. You would expect that in a small channel multiple jet skis would cause the waters to become pretty chaotic. Not in this game. Then the graphics...

The game is simple looking and colorful. Part of me really likes that. It's a nice aesthetic. It's old fashioned and new players may not appreciate this look as much as I do but I really thought it was attractive looking. It didn't look 'good' mind you. But it was nice. Where things get a little off is with the waves. Sometimes, the waves look really cool. But, man, can they look really bad too. The waves occasionally look like a mass of triangles (probably because, technically, I think they are) and not a smooth mass of water. It's hard to explain but it's easy to see when you play the game. The waves just look....odd.

Conclusion

The game holds up. Even without rose-tinted glasses. BUT, there's a caveat. The game is much more fun when you play the game on lower difficulties. There is a stunt mode but that is only really fun when you have other people to play with. But, as a single player game, it is fun for a few hours. Much beyond that, on the higher difficulties at least, one must be prepared for frustration.

The Good

-Simple and colorful graphics, a neat look back on the fist real attempt at wave physics in a 3D space, on lower difficulties the racing is very fun.

The Bad

-The wave physics are a little crazy, the handling can be really rough, on higher difficulties the racing can be very frustrating, few tracks, few racers, and the game is short.

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Obligatory Top 10 of 2011 (and some other things)

Top 10

10) Dead Space 2

-I've never been a huge fan of survival horror games. I sort of liked Resident Evil (though I loved 4) and I liked Silent Hill's atmosphere but really I've liked survival horror more in theory then practice. However, the Dead Space games are different. I adored the first game and the second game really took the premise of that game and injected it with steroids. This is one intense game with moments in it that I won't soon forget despite the somewhat lackluster final boss.

9) Crysis 2

-I'll borrow the opening paragraph from my Crysis 2 review to explain why this game is so great. "As of late, the first-person shooter market has grown a bit stale. For every Fallout 3 or Borderlands there's ten Call of Duty clones. Publishers and developers can't be blamed for trying to mimic the franchise which contains the two highest grossing video games to ever be released. But as a person who plays as many video games as I do, I don't want one of my favorite genres to produce game after game that looks, feels and plays the exact same way. Crytek, whether you love or hate the games that they've made, like the Far Cry games and the first Crysis, are one of the few developers that are ignoring this current trend. Their games haven't been perfect, but they've been unique if nothing else. Crysis 2 attempts to meld this uniqueness with a bit more consistency in quality. This attempt is a resounding success. While not a perfect game, Crysis 2 represents the type of quality that can come out of developers and publishers who take a chance and fly in the face of convention."

8) Bulletstorm

-Few games are just fun for the sake of being fun. So many times games want to set a mood. Create an atmosphere and amaze us with realism and subtlety. Not Bulletstorm. Bulletstorm is pure, stupid fun that is fast paced and exciting to the end. Some of the set pieces are amazing and the gun and leash mechanics were really well done. Yeah, the story is dumb. The jokes mostly fall flat. But who cares? I didn't come to Bulletstorm for its literary merit. I came to shot some dudes and blow shit up.

7) Portal 2

-The original Portal is, to this day, one of my favorite gaming experiences of this console generation. Portal 2 takes the foundation laid by that game and builds on it in some unique ways. The puzzles were great, the graphics were beautiful, and the atmosphere is still really well done. It didn't have the same punch as the first game but it was still a great experience.

6) Torchlight (XBLA)

-I love loot. Loot just sends all of my Dopamine receptors into overdrive. Torchlight has a shit ton of loot. Therefore, I love Torchlight. I put a lot of time into this game and love every second despite technical problems that plagued the game throughout.

5) Batman Arkham City

-Batman kicks ass. What's great about the Rocksteady Batman games is that they realize this truth in the best ways possible. Though it is more of the same that 'same' is still great.

4) Bastion

-Bastion wowed me with its atmosphere, graphics, and fluid combat system. It did become slightly tiresome near the end but it still offers a great amount of fun.

3) Stacking

-Stacking is charming as shit. I loved it. I loved the mechanics, I loved the puzzles, I love the atmosphere and the graphics. This was one of the most fun games to become lost in this year. If you missed it you're doing yourself a disservice.

2) Forza 4

-Forza has some of the most satisfying driving I've ever experienced. Hitting turns at break-neck speeds and just barely holding on to the road is so satisfying. The cars have such a great feeling of weight and trying to feather the brakes and gas to hit that sweet spot between grip and speed is so much fun. Match this with improved AI, physics, graphics, sound and amazing extras makes this one of the best experiences I've had all year.

1) Skyrim

-Wow. The first time I fought a dragon and the music swelled I was awe-struck. Yeah, the game still has Bethesda-ness written all over it (both in a good and bad way). But it is also a very well thought out, realized, and atmospheric game that offers an experience that is both original and incredible.

Honorable Mentions

Skyward Sword

Mercury Hg

Beyond Good and Evil HD

Sonic CD (XBLA)

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

Outland

LA Noire

Deus EX Human Revolution

Uncharted 3

Could Have Been If I Played Them

Rayman Origins

Trine 2

Gears of War 3

4 Comments

Man-Children

To Whom It May Concern (but mostly user reviewers)

Call of Duty games, like anything else that is popular, gets a lot of shit. There may be a reason to give these games shit, many good reasons at that. In fact, the only Call of Duty I have ever personally purchased was Call of Duty 4 because I find the games' single player too short and I don't find multiplayee r shooters very fun. Having a bad opinion of a game isn't a problem especially if you're reasonable about that opinion. For me, I understand that the Call of Duty games are really well made, solid, good games. But they are games that just aren't for me.

But reasonable responses to games is rare isn't it?

Case and point:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, on Metacritic, has a 1.9 user rating for the PC, 2.8 for the PS3, and 3.2 on Xbox 360. On the Xbox 360, of the 5,799 reviews 3,977 were negative (a score of 4 or below). A score ranging from 0-3 suggests that the game is practically unplayable. A 0-3 scored game barely works, it barely plays, and provides next to no entertainment value.

So, how does a person who scores COD:MW3 at 4 or below describe the game?

"What did you expect. Of course it is the same old same old. Lets see what has changed since the last installment: Console tech? nope. Core demographic? nope. Online tech? nope. Expectations of fans? nope. The dependency of game review sites on big game publisher $$$? Nope. Of course this game is gonna be 99% the same as the last one and 99% of the reviews are gonna b"e 90+ on Metacritic. It is what it is: an insanely profitable IP franchise for a huge corporation that cares only about ROI and executive bonuses. My prediction: there will be a COD: MW4 within 13 months and it will be 99% the same as this game and it will get 90+ on Metacritic. Now go insult strangers through your headset while shooting them in the face."-score of 2

"sigh. i thought this was gonna get good reviews but guess what? no when i played single player on the shop it was the same old crap looks like this is a Money wasted 3rd time game, glad i didn't buy it. Get milked hard."-score of 0

"The Singleplayer is ok. The multiplayer is really bad. Get this only if you like to follow the stream. I have no idea how a game like this manages to sell millions of copies. Either the gaming industry and consumers consist of a much younger audience, or something drastically casual has washed over it. Skyrim is probably the game to buy this november."-score of 0

Do these seem like reasonable scores considering the complaints?

I understand that user reviews are not to be considered to be of the same quality and substance of professional reviews. BUT, this idea of devaluing a good, solidly built game that is clearly playable and polished because of the publisher and popularity of a product is insane to me. Further, the complaint that the game is exactly the same is reasonable. To give a game a 0 as a result is not. What bothers me is that this issue is so emblematic of the prevailing culture within the gaming community perpetuated by man-children who hate things people like. They seem like such miserable little people who are depressed until they find something to get mad about.

Like I've said, I don't care if one doesn't like a game. But, be reasonable and fair.

27 Comments

Socially Accepted Discrimination

Discrimination as defined by google.com:
"Unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice."
Prejudice as defined by google.com:
"Dislike, hostility, or unjust behavior formed on such a basis."
 
We all would like to think the US has grown as a society since the days before the civil rights movement of the 60s.  In a lot of ways we have.  Many of the older prejudices so common in that bygone era are now heavily ridiculed by society at large.  But, there are some prejudices that are still widely accepted and reinforced.  These are the prejudices commonly not thought of.  I don't mean to discuss the still prevalent prejudices involving race or sex, though such prejudices should not be ignored either.  Rather, the prejudices I want to discuss are the prejudices we accept.
 
Do you all remember this commercial?

Heard about Half Pint Brawlers?  It's a new Spike TV little person wrestling show (http://www.sescoops.com/wrestling-news/tna/details-on-bischoffs-new-midget-wrestling-reality-show/).
 
Little people are society's entertainment because they look different then the average person.  Besides Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, or Willow I can't you think of a time when little people were anything but comic relief in any form of media.  In my personal life, I have actually heard people say that they are scared of little people.  They are scared by people who don't look like them.  For example, apparently a McDonald's employee screamed and ran away from a little person when that person tried to order a meal (http://consumerist.com/2008/03/mcdonalds-worker-screams-and-runs-away-from-little-people-probably-shouldnt-be-assigned-to-register.html).  
 
How about the prejudice of overweight people?  I recently have started working on my knees through physical therapy.  One of the therapists' aides asked me what I was going to school for.  I told him that I'm in graduate school trying to become a psychologist.  He said that he couldn't do that job because he doesn't have sympathy for a lot of people.  He mentioned overweight people.  He said he can't stand hearing overweight people complain about things involving their weight as they are just lazy and don't try hard enough to lose their weight.  This isn't a belief kept to just this person.  In an article discussing overweight prejudices, one doctor was quoted as saying, "“If we’re worried about climate change, someone comes out with an article about how heavier people weigh more, so they require more fuel, and they blame the climate change crisis on fatter people. We have this strong belief system that it’s their fault, that it’s all about gluttony or lack of exercise.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/health/16essa.html).  It's not so much that an overweight person is unable to lose weight, it's the fact that it is somehow ok to blame an overweight person for their physical stature.
 
How about a prejudice toward Muslims in America?  Ever since 9/11 and it was found out that terrorists calling themselves Muslims were behind the attack, there has been a strong anti-Muslim sentiment in the US.  I know from personal experience that at one of my previous jobs a coworker of mine once told me that Americans shouldn't vote for Obama as he is a Muslim (back when that rumor was popular) and "that's who we are fighting".  He's not alone in his opinion.  A recent survey of 1,007 Americans showed that, "...thirty-nine percent of respondents to the USA TODAY/Gallup Poll said they felt at least some prejudice against Muslims. The same percentage favored requiring Muslims, including U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID "as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States." About one-third said U.S. Muslims were sympathetic to al-Qaeda, and 22% said they wouldn't want Muslims as neighbors." (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-08-09-muslim-american-cover_x.htm).  
 
This entire post is designed as a way to show that prejudices don't just involve the popular ones we all know of.  The hope behind me making this post is that we can open up and become more aware of the prejudices that surround us all the time and work toward stopping them.  You don't have to join a protest or some group to do this.  Stand up to those who push those prejudices forward.  Call out those that make fun of little people, blame overweight people for one thing or another or call all Muslims terrorists.  Further, these examples are not all encompassing.  Prejudices are a part of society no matter the society discussed.  But that inevitability is not an excuse to throw one's arms up in discouragement.  Stand up to these prejudices and don't support those that continue to perpetuate that hate.
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Entertainment Oddities: The Superman Slap

In 1978, the very first feature-length Superman Movie was released and is still widely accepted as the best film-version of the Superman franchise.  The film had a primarily lighter tone but could, occasionally, border on very serious, mature themes such as the scene where Lois Lane temporarily dies.  The film still holds up to this day minus a few scenes.  But, no one scene feels more out of place and more odd then the 'child getting slapped' scene.
 
At about the middle of the film, Superman shows himself to the world after saving Lois Lane from a falling helicopter.  After this scene, Superman, feeling an adrenaline rush from the rescue, continues to do good things around Metropolis throughout the night.  He does incredible things such as stopping criminals from getting away with crimes and so on.  It's all very heroic and cool to watch because, up to this point, we, the audience, hadn't seen Superman act like a superhero.  The night of being a superhero ends with Superman saving a cat that is stuck in a tree at the behest of a little girl.  This scene was put in to show that Superman will help everyone with every problem no matter how big or small that problem is.  There's nothing wrong with that.  What's wrong with this scene is...well, just watch;
 
  

Missed it?  It happens pretty fast in the clip I found.  Watch it again.  You hear that?  The girl gets fucking slapped by her Mom.  You know, I can't say that physical forms of punishment are bad or good for children as that decision has to be made by the parents.  BUT, what I can say is that that scene is really weird in the context of what had just happened in the movie and what that scene was trying to show.  It's just another example of an odd thing that happened in an entertainment medium.
 
EDIT:  Sorry, the clip I found has disabled embedding.  Here's the link to the video; 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_zjVO9xlsk
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