Today may be the release of Dark Souls II (which I have), but I've been playing other videos games too! And finishing them! But first, a message from our sponsors:
You should buy my new electronic-book, Space Cops 5000. I know this probably won't convince you, so I won't dwell on it. Here's some links: US, UK, and it's available elsewhere too. Just search for Space Cops 5000 on Amazon.
Okay, here's what I thought of Strider. The new one.
So, after listening to Jeff go on and on about how great the NES Strider was, and only give Strider 3 stars in his review, I was going to wait until Strider went down lower than $15 before I bought it. But then I watched the Quick Look Throwback Bombastica for NES Strider, and realized that Jeff was horribly wrong about that game (well, that's a hyperbole), so I went and bought the new Strider.
And I'm glad I did! It's a really fun game. I almost want to call it great, but I think the game falls just short of being great. The core game play is great, I can say that without hesitation. Running and jumping feels good in this game, and that's more than a lot of games can say. Especially when the game is about a future ninja fighting through fake future USSR. There's something satisfying about running through groups of enemies whilst mashing the sword button and tearing them to shreds.
The problem I have with the game is that the world built around those great core mechanics isn't as great. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it not as good as something like Shadow Complex. Part of me wants to say that Strider should have had some more puzzles, or something along those lines. But I don't really remember Shadow Complex having puzzles. Or did it? I dunno! I can say that Strider lacked that special something to propel it to true greatness, but it's still a really fun time, even if at the end of the day it's maybe just a little forgettable.
Okay, let me try to find the right way to word this. When I was playing Strider, I really liked it. I was having a ton of fun. But I haven't played it in over a week, and I find myself struggling to find the words to describe it, because it all kind of blended together. There aren't really any standout moments. There's no, "Oh man, I just did this rad thing" moments in the game. It's just kind of 7 hours (if you play like I do, and try to find everything) of the same thing. At least until the final boss, which (now that I think about it) was absolutely insane. I mean, it looked like it came straight out of Bayonetta. It's that kind of weird. Just not as fun. The boss fights weren't great.
It's fun. You should probably play it if you like fun. I like fun. There's a few goofy things, like how Strider climbs up walls one handed (with his sword in the other hand) that I really like, for the goofiness.
There's my end game completion screen. I would have gotten 100% if the non-upgrade collectibles appeared on the map. I don't know why they don't. It's like they didn't want me to find that concept art, those Strider skins, and those challenge mode thingies.
Along with Strider, I had been playing a lot of Killzone Shadow Fall online. I don't really have much to say about that, other than the two matches in a row where I was #1 at the end of both matches! That was cool.
Last week I started playing the Tomb Raider reboot, because it was free on PlayStation Plus. I think this game is really great. It's kind of like Uncharted, if Uncharted's set pieces weren't as good, but it had a lot more exploration, and also you play as a lady. That last one just led to some not great hair physics, but at least it was one big clump of hair, rather than a mess of weightless strings, which is what the TressFX hair looked like to me in videos. While I'm on the subject of things I didn't care for that are mostly aesthetic, I might as well mention that the facial animations weren't great. But, you know, it's a last gen game, and hopefully more games will be doing LA Noire or MGSV facial capture type stuff.
In terms of the actual game part of the game, I really liked it. I think the game has a nice mix of combat and puzzles, though I would have liked more puzzles. But then again, I think that about most action games with puzzles in them. Well, most action games with good puzzles in them, at least. The types of puzzles in this are mostly the type where you have to figure out how to get through an environment, or trigger the thing that will open the path. You know, the kind of stuff that you'd expect from this type of game. None of it is super difficult, but it was fun anyway.
It's not a stealth game, but it does that thing where (usually) enemies aren't alerted to your presence when you enter an area, which I really like. If you're good, you can stealth kill and arrow your way through a decent chunk of the game without them noticing. And you can arrow through a lot of the big firefights too, because the AI isn't great. I noticed more than a few instances where an enemy was just standing out in the open while I drew my bow back and aimed at his head. Later in the game it got difficult enough that I actually had to use guns every once in a while, and move from cover to cover, so it's not like the game is broken or anything.
Now that I read over what I've written, it doesn't sound very convincing, does it? What if I said that I liked the collectibles? The voice acting? Robin Atkin Downes plays at least three different characters in it, one of which was Japanese (and still clearly him (if you're like me, and in deep enough to voice actors to know his voice, you can tell)). Lara Croft's voice actress did a much better job than I expected, not so much because I doubt the skills of Camilla Luddington (I had never heard of her before I waited through the credits to see who voiced her), more because it's Lara Croft. Even with it being a serious reboot, I still wasn't expecting a decently told story. If only it had had better facial animations.
Hey, another game that has a really well done female lead character that could have been a dude without really changing anything (never mind it being a reboot)! After Remember Me, I'm on a roll! Anyone out there have suggestions for another that I could play? My next book has a female lead (or, protagonist, if you will), and as a dude, I've been spending a fair amount of time thinking about that kind of stuff. I'm trying to go for the "Hey this is a lady just because not because there's some critical story thing like she gets pregnant or some crap like that" type of thing. You know? I'm not explaining it well, am I? It's, I'm trying to do different things in each of my books. Eh, whatever.
Granted, books are not games, and there's no shortage of books with female leads, but it bears mentioning: Not many games out there with female leads. And even fewer with ones that are decent characters that wear proper amounts of clothing while adventuring, shooting dudes, that kind of stuff. Eh, whatever, I don't want this to turn into one of those things where I'm preaching about this. Just an observation. (Of course, you could argue that Lara's tank top isn't a proper amount of clothing for adventuring, but at least she wore pants this time.)
Maybe I'm just not in the right mood for writing after a few hours of Dark Souls II. I'll refrain from writing about that, for now though. I will say that after writing those couple paragraphs about playing as ladies in games, that I made a male character. There are proper beards in Dark Souls II now. But they disappear when you die and aren't human? It's hard to tell.
The only other thing I want to mention is that the mechanic of having to warp back to the town to level up is already annoying me. Maybe it'll be less of an issue later in the game when it takes a lot of souls to level, and I'll be going longer between wanting to level, but right now it's a pain. Especially given how long the load times are (on PS3 at least). For all I know maybe there's a "level at every bonfire" item. I hope so. I don't want anyone to spoil anything for me (I'm still super early on), but if there is such an item, I wouldn't mind a little wink or nudge to let me know.
I think that's about all I have to say. I've written a few chapters for my next book, so that's going well. After spending so much time just editing my last book, and not doing much actual writing, I had lost sight of how much I enjoy writing. I mean, it's not like this. I enjoy writing blogs, but it's not the same. I'm not creating worlds, writing dialog, or thinking up ways to entwine different subplots together. If only my books would sell so I could make at least something resembling money off of this! Oh well, at least it's fun to write.
Praise the sun seems to have been replaced with Hurrah for light, or something like that. It's just not the same. I haven't gotten to a boss yet, but I feel like YOU DEFEATED isn't going to be in Dark Souls II.
I had been going to declare this year the Year of Solaire now that the Year of Luigi is ending, but then I remembered another thing from Dark Souls II that I wanted to mention, so screw it, here's Luigi again to close off this blog.
That's right! After, geez, over a year of work, I've finally finished Space Cops 5000. It's actually been close to two years since I first got the idea to write Space Cops 5000, but I was mid-way into writing my first book, and I don't like writing two books at once. That's biting off more than I can chew.
One book at a time, though? Totally manageable, and also a lot of fun. Since I don't want the mods to instantly shut this down for being an advertisement on the forums, I'm not going to get straight to shilling for the book, though this sentence may have just given my plan away. Oh well, if you're reading this, then don't touch that dial!
Anyway, when I started writing The Allegiance of Justice (you know, my first book), one of the main reasons why I was doing it was to see if I could write a full novel. Not only to see if I could be diligent enough to stick with it and finish it, but to see if I had the skill to write a cohesive narrative that was entertaining. And while the book hasn't really met with spectacular sales, or even good sales, I'd like to say that it's developed a cult following in the time since its release. I'd like to, but it wouldn't really be honest. But that's neither here nor there, it's not like someone stole my idea for a religion based around Batman from that book and is using it in a movie that people will associate with Batman-based religions even though I thought of it first. Oh, wait...
I kid of course. Terry Gilliam will get what's coming to him once I amass fame and fortune from my works.
So, back to Space Cops 5000. After I was done with Allegiance of Justice, I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to do with the universe that I had created. It was going to be a trilogy, because everything is a trilogy, and I had a good idea of what I wanted the second part of it to be. But, since I now knew that I could write a full novel, I wanted to challenge myself again. I didn't want to just crap out something quick and easy, I wanted to try to do something bigger, and bolder.
See, if you haven't read Allegiance of Justice, then you wouldn't know, but it's not a super complicated book. I intentionally went with a mostly straightforward story. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that it involves the characters embarking on a quest to go get some, well, they're macguffins, to be frank. But like I said, it's just these characters moving along toward a clearly stated goal. There's twists and turns along the way, but it's pretty simple, overall.
I didn't want to do that again. So, instead I wrote this mystery crime novel that is in space. It's actually quite a bit different than what I originally envisioned. At first it was going to mainly be about a private detective, but as I got into the book, the story ended up shifting to have a heavier focus on the police stopping an assassin and the nefarious organization backing him, so it became more about police detectives. If you read it, you'll see what I mean.
Anyway, even though the final product is not what I was expecting, I do still think it's good. I would say that it's a better book overall than my first one. Maybe not as funny, but I wasn't really trying to cram in jokes like I was with the first, because it has a more serious tone overall. What with it involving an assassin and some other, fairly dark stuff later on (that I shan't spoil).
At least that's what I think, I don't really know how people will react to it. At a certain point, when you've worked on something like this for this long, and it's a product of solely your creation, you begin to lose perspective on it. I forget things like what the jokes were. No, seriously, at a certain point I had re-read the stuff in this book so many times that I had to remind myself that some of the things I had written had been intended to be funny, and that's why they were in there. Maybe that's not something I should be saying here, but whatever.
When I wrote the first book, I managed to convince myself that of course it would sell, because it was a good book, and good books get good sales. I was wrong, and I'm not coming into this second book with that same level of hubris. If it sells, then great, I'll be ecstatic. Aside from maybe five of the people reading this that will buy it, I don't really expect sales, especially not on the level that I'd need to actually make money off this thing.
This is not to say that lack of sales won't make me feel bad. I mean, I poured my heart and soul into this book for over a year, and of course I'll feel bad if all that work was for naught. But my saying that probably won't sway anyone, will it? What if I give a sob story about medical bills? I should probably wait until after I get my long-term treatment Crohn's, and see how bad they are, huh?
I'm not going to lie, I want people to read it just so I can know if this stupid book is actually good or not. When I wrote the first one, I got a couple of my friends to read through it and critique it for me. It helped shape a lot of the book in re-writes, and for the better. Not so much because I changed things, it was more that I added things to make the book better, based on their feedback.
But, for whatever reason, they were too busy to actually read through Space Cops 5000. To be fair, it's not a short book. With my formatting, it's just over 400 pages long (402, I think), and contains over 150,000 words. It's no War and Peace, but it ain't short. To put that into perspective, using one of the only book franchises I've actually read, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is 160-something thousand words long. So it's mid-range Harry Potter length.
At least they say that they were too busy, I have a feeling it has more to do with the book itself. I mean, you can't say that something is better than the first, and then proceed to not finish it, even though you finished the first. Both of them did exactly that, and I know that one of them is reading this (because I linked it to you, Kris), so don't take this as a complaint, or an insult or anything. I'm just letting my audience know up front: No one else has read this thing to completion besides me, at least before publication.
With that in mind, I now get to the actual shilling portion of today's program. If, after reading all this, you too would like to read this fine electronic book, you can purchase it on Amazon. No physical version, because I still haven't actually attempted to get either of my books actually published (I will some day, maybe).
Either search Amazon for "Space Cops 5000," or follow one of the handy links below. I have it priced at $2.99, which I think is a fair price for what you're getting. Honestly, I think it's worth more than that, but I can't start charging famous novelist prices until I'm famous.
If you're not in America, then the price should be whatever the equivalent is in your homeland. No, that's not video game price equivalents, where they hell of over-price the Brits. I don't remember what the UK price is off hand, but I remember it was under two pounds. Amazon has an option to just auto-set other countries to the equivalent. You know, so the Mexican version is something crazy like 39 Mexican dollars. I'm not joking.
Check your local country's Amazon store if I didn't link to it here. I don't know what Amazon's e-book situation is in Scandinavia, but they didn't provide me with links or anything. Maybe buy it through the UK store if you're Swedish or Finnish? Or Norwegian, I don't want to leave them out!
It's only in English, so don't go expecting a translation if you live outside an English speaking country. But I have a feeling that if you are reading this, you can read English.
If you buy it, then thanks! As much as I'd love actually getting money from this, just knowing that someone might actually be reading and enjoying is enough. For now, at least. I mean, some day I'll have to stop living with/mooching off of my dad, and get a real job, and then the added income would be lovely, but I figure I've still got some time before then. I can probably write a whole other book before then!
For the latest on news on my literary works, you can follow me on Twitter. It's the same as my user name here, and there's the "Official" Twitter account for Space Cops 5000. Make sure to follow that and spam your followers with my "Official" hashtags, #SpaceCops5000 and #SC5K. Also, links to the appropriate pages on Amazon can also be spammed to your followers, or anyone, really. I encourage it.
That's all I have to say, so I'll leave with an "official" "endorsement" from a "trusted" "celebrity."
As you can see, I remain skilled at combining the names of different games together in an attempt to create a "clever" blog title. And for once, I think there's actually some thematic consistency between these games, even though it's kind of not obvious at all and I'd have to explain it. Aside from these both being games that I got "free" on PlayStation Plus.
Anyway, I played the first Metro game (Metro 2033) in early 2013 (I think) because it was $10 as a download on Xbox Live. And despite paying less money for Last Light, I enjoyed it quite a bit more, because my biggest issue with 2033 was fixed in Last Light. By which I mean that Last Light is actually a competent shooter. Well, that's not to say that 2033 was a bad game, but it was definitely a game where the atmosphere was the draw, and not the game play.
Then again, whilst playing through Last Light, I couldn't help but feel that even with the improvements, the atmosphere stuff was still the main draw. To be fair, I really like post apocalyptic stuff. Just conceptually, I really like the ideas behind the Metro universe. Using bullets as money is still a fantastic idea, even if there aren't a ton of places to actually spend bullet money in the game. I think the game might lean a little too heavily into the weird mutant monsters though. Not that I think there shouldn't be any of them, I just think that some of them can get a little silly. Like the giant crawdad things. Those weren't especially fun to fight, either.
Toward the end of Last Light, I kept thinking that the game was right about to end, but then it kept going. And going. I mean, it's not a super long game, it's still a modern/linear first person shooter. But I think that the game could have, and should have, ended sooner than it did. At a certain point the story wasn't moving forward at all (which is a little ironic, given that this part of the game was specifically about the main character moving forward to get to a place), and I just wanted to get to the end. I didn't want to fight yet another group of monsters, or yet another group of humans.
Speaking of which, I did like that most encounters against humans are set up as being built around stealth. I also like that the game has a Trophy for beating the game without killing any humans (aside from ones you're "forced" to kill, according to the Trophy). I didn't like that the act of trying to sneak through the game wasn't great. The AI isn't great, and most of the areas are so dark that I couldn't see well enough to actually sneak around. Granted, that's actually more realistic than a lot of stealth games, but not really fun. I think there is some sort of night vision goggles in the game, because there's a thing on part of the HUD for them... But I never found them. Unless that's only in easy mode? I honestly don't know.
Aside from the game going a little long, and some AI issues, I did enjoy the game a lot. I think the voice acting wasn't great, but what am I going to do, play the game in Russian? Never!
And then I played Remember Me. This game and Last Light have two things in common: The first is not great voice acting, and the other is that the style and atmosphere is WAY better than the act of actually playing the game. Especially in Remember Me. While Last Light is a competent game, well, Remember Me... I feel bad calling it incompetent, because I can't really bring myself to call it broken. It's bad though. Remember Me is a bad game. The combat feels bad (and gets very frustrating when fighting invisible enemies), and the platforming is mediocre at best.
But it's not really broken. Then again, this is the first game in a LONG time that I decided, mid-game, to turn the difficulty down to easy. Not because I didn't think I could beat it on normal. I was just getting so angry, and thought I would enjoy it more on easy. What really happened was that I disliked it less than I had before. And that's a shame, because there's some interesting ideas in Remember Me.
For example, you can customize the combos in the game to give various bonuses during the fight. One is extra damage, one is healing, and one recharges special moves faster. That's all great in theory, but there's only four combos in the game, and the combat isn't fun. The measured and slow pace that you have to use to get the combos out just wasn't fun. The special moves help spice it up a bit, but you have to hold L2 to use them, and for whatever reason, using a DualShock 4 with the game works, aside from L2! And probably R2 too, but I don't think R2 was using in the game. So I had to switch back to the DualShock 3, which I didn't like.
The one game part that is good is the memory remixing. But as much as I enjoyed going back and forth through memories trying to change them to meet whatever the goal at the time was, they're all really easy. And there's only four of them in the entire game. But if they had made a game that was mostly those memory remixes, and the rest of it was an adventure game, that would have been rad.
As much as I didn't like the game play, I loved the style of the game. Remember Me's vision of Neo-Paris is fantastic. Everything from the beautiful streets of the upper class zones to the filthy and disgusting sewers of the lower class zones was perfectly realized. Again, as with the post apocalypse, I'm a sucker for futuristic cyber-punk type settings, so admittedly this game is right up my alley. But it's still realized better than most game worlds are.
Oh, and there's a character named Kid X-Mas who is a bounty hunter with a TV show. He brings a holographic wrestling ring around with him that he summons whenever he finds and fights his target. Whatever you think of Remember Me, you have to admit that is rad. Or at least very silly in a good way.
If you have PlayStation Plus, and haven't played either of these games, go play them now. Just set Remember Me to easy first. It's definitely a game to be played for the world, and the art, not the game play.
Oh yeah, you play as a lady in this game! I wasn't going to mention it, because it was well done and she was written in such a way that the character didn't HAVE to be female, and thus was a woman just because the developers thought it'd be cool to play a game as a lady, but then I remembered that almost all games and game developers are sexist monsters who intentionally discriminate against women, so I thought I would mention it.
That's about it for "new" games that I've been playing. I've also gotten back into Need for Speed Rivals. Back last year, before being hospitalized (over that Crohn's induced abscess) ended most of my game playing for that year (and a lot of January), I had beaten the cop career in Rivals, but not the racer career. I still enjoy playing as a cop more than as a racer, largely because of the Dark Souls style losing of Speed Points when you get busted as a racer, but I think I'll stick with the racer career this time. At least long enough to finish it.
And I think I'm getting into playing Killzone Shadow Fall online. I played a few matches this morning, and I'm glad that I am. The campaign of that game isn't great, so it's good to actually get my money's worth. Which is not to say that I regretted buying it in the first place, because I needed to have a really good looking game at launch to justify my purchase of a PS4. So, yeah, Shadow Fall is a fun game.
I still have yet to beat Olmec in Spelunky, and I'm taking a break from the game. I just... I called it an abusive relationship on Twitter, and I think that's accurate. I mean, I ALMOST beat Olmec once, so I know I could do it. But I just don't have it in me to keep trying. For now, at least. I'll be making more attempts in the future, after I take some time to get away from it, and try to clear my head of Spelunking.
That's been it for games. Unless you count the Strider demo, but I didn't buy the game and start playing it, so I don't think that should count. I've also been playing D&D with friends (that same quest that we started last year), and now my sorcerer is powerful enough to fly through the air and shoot lightning (that does lightning AND fire damage) at the same time. So that's fun.
Oh, and I finished my second novel, Space Cops 5000! It's not up for purchasing just yet, that'll be next Friday, the 28th. I still have a little more formatting to do, with regards to meeting Amazon's requirements for publishing on Kindle. It's specifically making links in the Table of Contents lead to the chapters in the book. That's harder to do than it should be. Or at least it was on my first book, but luckily I've managed to forget what I did to get it working last time, so I can look forward to figuring it out all over again! Don't worry, it's not the kind of thing that could lead to a delay. It's not THAT hard.
I'll probably do another blog here once I get that up on Amazon. You know, to advertise for it on the forums here on GB, because advertisements are not only allowed on the forums, I hear that the mods encourage it! I kid, of course, but you can't stop me, mods!
Health wise, I'm still alive. I'm going to be getting one of two treatments for my Crohn's, both of which involve injections. One is at the hospital every 8 weeks, the other is at home (I'd do it myself) every 2 weeks. But I don't get to decide which, the insurance company does. Yay USA? At least the doctor thinks that both will be about the same in terms of effectiveness, and side effects, so it doesn't really matter in terms of my health, unless I'm allergic to one of them.
Next week Lords of Shadow 2 and Thief are coming out. I'd like for both of them to be good, but I feel like Thief won't be. I'll play LoS 2 if it's good or bad, but I'll wait until it goes down in price if it's bad. Then next month is basically New Christmas, with all the games coming out. Ground Zeroes, Dark Souls II, inFAMOUS Second Son, other games that I won't play but will hopefully be good for the people that do play them, etc.
It could be a while before my next video game related blog, unless I get LoS 2 next week. Just warning you.
Now that we know the actual end of the Year of Luigi (some time in March, I don't remember), I figured I'd go back to Luigi before the official end.
So, as you probably already know, Divekick is going to be getting a lot of changes soon. I won't recap them here, you can read them here.
But, I, after reading some of these, and seeing some of them on the Divekick Esports hour (I missed the beginning), I have to say, I'm upset. Angry, even. Angry in a way that makes me disgusted with myself for being so upset over something dumb like Divekick.
But... I... I'm still angry. Not that they're changing the game, but because they're changing the game so much, and not giving the option to stick with the original. I mean, The Baz is almost a completely different character now, and I'm not going to say that one version is better than the other. I can't, I haven't played New Baz.
I don't like that they're just getting rid of Classic Baz in favor of New Baz. If I patch Divekick after this goes live, then Classic Baz is gone. Forever. So, I could just not patch the game, but that's lame. And it got me thinking, wouldn't it be better if The Addition Edition of Divekick was a wholly new game?
You know, like what Capcom has been doing forever with fighting games.
And... The fact that I now think that Capcom's method of re-releasing games has... left me rethinking life. I mean, I learned at the doctor's today that I'm most likely going to be on medicine for the rest of my life for my Crohn's Disease. I have a fairly serious medical condition that will be with me for the rest of my life, that will likely require a whole lot of nonsense and frustration...
But Divekick is causing me more stress. This re-evaluating of how I perceive changes games is changing how I think about these things.
I'm not saying these changes are bad across the board. I'm not saying anything about them, other than I don't personally like the sound of a lot of them (like how the YOLO gem no longer makes Jefailey's head grow). I'm just saying that the option should be there for people that don't want to change. Whether that means making Addition Edition a new game, or having an option in the game to go by the old version, I don't know. I'm just saying that the option should be there, and even though I never realized it before, Capcom had come across the solution years ago.
I just never realized it because I never cared before.
Ah, video games. They refuse to go away, and I refuse to stop playing them, so here I am writing about video games! Once again!
So, Outlast. As the "free" PlayStation 4 game of the month, I played it. I'm actually surprised by how I feel about this game, which is to say that I wound up kind of liking it. See, last year, when the game came out on PC, I ended up watching Patrick Klepek play, I think almost all of this game in his Spookin' videos. My impression from watching that stuff was that it seemed like a bad stealth game. And I still think it's a bad stealth game, but I still kind of liked it.
There's basically two different types of "game play" in Outlast. There's the parts I like, which involve just walking around through spooky areas. I think those are terrific for the atmosphere, the lighting, etc. I mean, the insane asylum in this game is absolutely filthy and disgusting. It's gross, but in a way that I totally dug. If this was a puzzle-solving adventure type game, I would have really loved exploring this asylum, and trying to look into every last horrific nook and cranny.
But the problem is that a lot of it is a bad stealth game. Far too much of the game is about sneaking past an enemy (or a couple enemies) to push buttons, find things, or whatever. Now, I like stealth games. I LOVE stealth games. If you follow me on Twitter, you're well acquainted with my Metal Gear Addiction. But I have two problems with the stealth in Outlast. The first is that the AI isn't great. I'm not going to sit here and say that the AI in every stealth game I love is great (cough, Deus Ex Human Revolution, cough), but bad AI doesn't help.
The bigger problem, is that there's no combat. I get that's the point. I get that this is supposed to be a "scary" game that forces you to run from enemies instead of fighting them. I didn't like that. I also don't think there's a logical reason as to why you can't fight back. There's no reason why the dude you play as can't pick up a thing and fight back. There's no reason why he can't even punch, or kick enemies to at least stun them. Again, I know the real reason is game design, but it would have been nice if it made more sense within the game itself.
Conversely, I did like how the game does a great job of making it hard to know where the enemies are at any given time. Even with headphones on (because I don't have any sort of surround sound speakers for my TV), it was tough to tell where the enemies were. The headphones helped, don't get me wrong (and I highly recommend using headphones when playing the game, especially with that handy headphone hole in the DualShock 4), but between the music (which I like), and the main character breathing, it made it hard to even hear what direction enemies were coming from.
I know that may sound counter productive, but I feel like modern stealth games go just a tad too far in the direction of giving you too much information at any given time. When I played Splinter Cell Blacklist last year, I intentionally never turned on the mini-map because I thought that would make the game too easy. Now I've gotten off topic though.
Anyway, I'm not really very good at playing stealth games in the first person. Now, I know I just said that I liked how I liked the small amount of information Outlast gives you, but I don't like what happens when that lack of information leads to being found. Again, that lack of combat hurts the game for me. The only option is to either give up and die, or run. And if you run, all you can really do is just hope that you break line of sight, and then find something to hide in. One of my favorite "new" mechanics in modern stealth games is the ability to knock a dude out via melee before he can raise the alert.
But then again, there's no alerts in Outlast because the game doesn't need them, because you can't take the enemies out in the first place. I think the part where this whole endeavor really falls apart for me is that while you can technically save anywhere, and any time in Outlast, it only actually saves your last checkpoint. I'm not saying that every stealth game should let you save anywhere (MGS games and Blacklist don't), but I think it would have made this game better. There were a couple parts where I got stuck because I kept dying, and that wasn't fun. Sure, I suppose I could have just used more skill, but at that point I was trying to brute force my way through the game because I wanted to get to the next non-stealth part.
So there's my mostly-rambling thoughts on why I don't like that part of the game. But that atmosphere! Not many games use darkness as well as this game does. It has very impressive lighting, but even more impressive darking. Especially with the game's dependence on night vision. While I don't think the battery system in the game is realistic at all, I do think that forcing most of the game to be played through a crappy camera with a crappy night vision mode is cool. Especially when the goofy light on the controller changes color when you turn the night vision on. Yeah, I liked it when the light turns from white to green, and it even flashes a little when the camera's battery gets low.
I feel obligated to point out (though not sure why) that I don't like found footage movies. The only one I've seen is Cloverfield, and I think that Cloverfield is a TERRIBLE movie. But as a game? I think the concept works here. I also think that a sequel, or perhaps a similar game in the hands of a different studio could make it work even better.
I think that's everything I have to say about Outlast. Well, I should say I didn't find it scary. I knew I wouldn't fictional stuff doesn't scare me. I'll be honest, this is the first game since that part with the dogs jumping through the windows in Resident Evil 1 to make me jump a little, but that's not a scare. That's reflexes. Doesn't count.
I really love being able to take screenshots in PS4 games. So dumb, yet useful!
What else is going on? Well, I've been playing Metro Last Light, but I haven't finished that yet, so I'll write about that later. Still playing Spelunky, but I haven't beaten that either, and I already wrote about it. Uh... Working on Space Cops 5000, that's getting close to done. Feel free to tweet hashtags like #SpaceCops5000 and #SC5K all the time, constantly.
Oh, METAL GEAR! I knew there was something I wanted to talk about. Yeah, I saw that Ground Zeroes is two hours long. Now, when I first saw that, I was crestfallen. I had somehow managed to convince myself that Kojima was hiding something from us, that there was more to that than just the Cuban prison camp. But it seems like there isn't. But let me be clear, I have every intention of playing this game. I can't not play this game. Why?
It's because Metal Gear means so much to me. Twin Snakes shaped a lot of what I liked back in my early teen years. Yeah yeah, they changed it from the original, shut up. I was 8 when MGS1 came out on on the PS1. I was 11 when MGS2 came out on the PS2. But 14 year old me couldn't get enough of Twin Snakes in 2004. I love spy/espionage stuff, because of that game. Because it was the right game at the right time in my life. And then I kept playing the games, and only fell more in love with the series (well, more so with MGS3, because as much as I like the story in MGS2, I think MGS2 is a bad video game).
These games have been an important part of my life. They helped me get through some tough periods in my life. They helped form a lot of what I like about a lot of other different things. I wouldn't be a stealth game junkie without these games. I wouldn't be into that aforementioned espionage stuff. And, obviously, I wouldn't be into the story of these games.
So when I look at Ground Zeroes, based on what I've read, heard, and seen, I see something that is easily worth my money. It's where I've wanted stealth games to go for years. I would spend huge amounts of times in MGS3 scoping out areas with binoculars while meticulously figuring out how I would work through the area. In retrospect, the areas in MGS3 were pretty small. But this prison camp in Ground Zeroes is HUGE compared to that stuff, never mind all the changes to the core mechanics of controlling Big Boss as he sneaks about.
I also see the next chapter in a story that I care about. I story that is incredibly well produced, well voiced, and often ridiculous in ways that I adore. So is all of that worth my money? Yes, of course it is. Sure, I might get through that main story once in two hours, but then there's the side missions. Then there's the part where I played MGS4 14 times and will probably play this one even more. I have a lot of free time. Part of that is that I'm a college graduate with a poorly thought out degree, and part of that is my on-going health issues (which seem to be going well), but like I said, I have a lot of free time.
Conversely, I don't have lots of free money. Even with health insurance, there's still health related bills to pay. I may be only paying part of that $1850 bill for one MRI, but I'm still paying part of that. I may not be paying $800 for a prescription, but $25 for a month of pills is still $25 (yes, apparently they cost $800 without insurance). And when I'm totally dependent on my dad, who I know would complain if I paid $40 for a game I beat in 2 hours, well, that is an issue.
Eh, whatever. It's $40, maybe $30 if I'm feeling "frugal." It's not going to kill me. Probably. Hopefully. If only my literary career would be more than two people on Twitter buying my book a year because I pestered them. Then I wouldn't be spending too much time worrying about explaining to my dad why I paid $30 or $40 for a two hour game because I feel bad using his money when I don't contribute at all because I made bad decisions in college and then happened to have bad genes that led to Crohn's disease.
So that's my life! Well, you could also throw in a bunch of other stuff that I worry about/can't get off my mind, but I shan't be writing about that here. I certainly could, but I just get angry at myself for even thinking about that stuff, so I won't be sharing it. You can look forward to a blog in the "near" future about Metro Last Light, and maybe even Remember Me, assuming I remember to play that after it becomes free on PlayStation Plus.
Sometimes I feel like I'm just banging my head against a wall. Not literally, I don't get headaches very often. Figuratively. I also feel like this blog is a rambling mess, but I think I usually have that feeling. I know my life feels like a rambling mess, but enough about that.
As nothing continues to happen in my life, aside from the odd visit to the hospital (you know, from my ongoing health issues), I've been CONTINUING to play video games! And now I'll end this meaningless preamble and actually get to the point.
I've had Spelunky on the mind for quite a while now. In retrospect, I find it a little odd that Patrick happened to start his Spelunky videos a week before the game was $3.75 on PSN, but I'm smart enough to know that Patrick wasn't paid off. (Or am I?) Anyway, between all of Patrick's videos, and actually playing the game myself, it's been on my mind more than most "small" games like this do (especially given everything else on my mind these days).
There's a lot going on in Spelunky. All the hidden little secrets, all the alternate ways to complete the game (well, there's like two, but still), all the hidden items, the way the sacrificing system works. It's kinda crazy. And I love it! I hesitate to compare it to Dark Souls, because I think there are more differences than similarities between the two, but there is an almost Dark Soulsian quality to the obtuseness of some of these things. Like using the key to get the eye to help you get to the black market, where you get the ankh, which you need to...Well, trust me, it's complex. And if you've been keeping up with Spelunkin' with Scoops, you already know all this.
Oh yeah, there's also the game part of Spelunky, which is fast and furious (RIP Paul Walker), and a ton of fun. I do think that the randomly generated nature of the level design can result in some crappy levels, but for the most part that's fine. I do, however, think it might be cool if there were a series of handmade levels using the stuff in this game, because the mechanics are so tight that levels made by a person could be fantastic. I'd go so far as to say better than what the game generates on its own, but obviously those don't exist (but wouldn't user created levels in Spelunky II be amazing?).
It's hard. Not so hard that I feel my spirit being crushed, like something like Ninja Gaiden II, but still hard enough that there are times where I feel like I have to stop playing for the day after doing something horrendously stupid. Okay, so maybe it does crush my spirit every once in a while, but not too often. I've gotten better at the game, but I hesitate to call myself good, when the farthest I've ever gotten is the ice caves. But I'm improving, both in terms of my tactics of how I tackle scenarios, and in my reflexes. I've found that a lot of my deaths have come from simple not reacting quickly enough, but I think I've gotten better at that. I think.
I do wish I had more people to compete against on the Daily Challenge, but I also don't want to clog my friends list just for this one game. I'm fine beating Chabbs almost every day, and having no one else on the leaderboard.
Oh, and pugs rule. Pug damsels for life.
I don't know when this screenshot is from, as the interface is different. Hm. This reminds me though, I really wish this was a PS4 game. If it was, I could take my own screenshots and videos, which would be cool. Shut up, PC Master Race Jerks, I know. Be quiet.
Also on sale for $3.75 the other week on PSN, was Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. I almost bought this game last year, but while playing the demo I got a little disgusted at some of the profanity strewn things Rex Power Colt was spouting after killing enemies (something about c*ckf*cking, I think, which I thought was probably offensive), and I didn't. But then I bought it this year, and while I still found those few lines disgust worthy, I ended up enjoying the game a lot.
Game play wise, it's Far Cry 3, but crazier. You know, giant lizards that shoot lasers out of their eyes, four barreled shotgun that shoots fire shot, and VHS tapes as collectibles. Otherwise it is literally Far Cry 3, which makes sense, given that Far Cry 3 is in the title of the game. And I am totally fine with that, given that I liked Far Cry 3 a whole lot. But much like the original Far Cry 3, it's not without fault, and the fault lies mostly in non-game play stuff.
I really like the style of this game. I really like what it's trying to do, but I also think it betrays itself by letting in stuff that doesn't jive. The game is trying to have the feel of a bad 1980s direct to video movie. For the most part, it nails it. But every once in a while it betrays itself with things like having Colt throw D20s (twenty sided dice) instead of rocks. Rex Power Colt doesn't play D&D, would never play D&D, and would likely insult anyone who did. So why does he throw D20s? I dunno. Someone, somewhere, thought that would be funny, and others agreed. Personally, I think it would have been funnier if he threw cyber-rocks, or 8-Track tapes. How funny would it be if, in this game, 8-Track tapes were so prevalent that they were as throw-away as rocks? Funnier than throwing a D20 and having an in-game AI call Colt a "nerd."
There's other things in the game that betray that sense of style too, like references to modern internet things, and other dumb stuff. But then again, the game has this:
I can forgive a lot of things when a game has something like this in it. It's a fun game, and I hope there's a sequel in the works. I just hope they stick to the 80s thing a bit more (or do a 90s thing). No dumb internet jokes, no D20s. More 8-Tracks.
And then, I did it. I finally went and played... Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.
I didn't like it.
I didn't like the controls, I didn't like the puzzles in the game (which I feel like varied from poorly designed to boring), and I didn't even like most of the art design. About the only positive thing I have to say about the game is that I think the water looked nice. And it was short. I don't know that I would have been able to put up with much more of it.
I feel like I should have something more profound to say about this game. I mean, I didn't just find it boring. I actively disliked my time with this game. It's things like making up a gobbledy-gook fake language, and not subtitling it. I don't know why, I just didn't like it. There's just something about the...I'm having trouble thinking of the right word. Style? No, essence? Hm...Well, I couldn't think of it, but there's a word that means what I'm thinking, I'm sure of it. Anyway, there's something about the game that just felt kind of... I couldn't think of the right word, but then a synonym search for "pretentious" (which also isn't the right word) came up with "highfaluting," which is also the wrong word, but I'll go with that.
A lot of it comes from everything that (many) people have said about the game since its release. Mostly Brad Shoemaker. I just don't get what people liked about this game. Is it (spoiler) that the brother died? I don't get it. I don't see what people think makes this game special.
Whatever, I'm not the type to appreciate something like this. Oh, and I made this list. You should read it.
I do think that water looks really nice.
Oh, and I've started playing the Devil May Cry reboot on Son of Sparda. That game's quite a bit harder on that, but also really fun. I've been dying a lot more, but I like the challenge. That's a really, really great game, and I love that the developers went through the game and made different enemy encounters for this difficulty level. That must have been a lot of extra play testing to make sure these encounters were also fun and everything. That's dedication.
But that's been it for my video game playing. What else have I been doing? I'm on a bit of a short break on working on Space Cops 5000, but I think I need to get back to that tomorrow-ish. I think, unless my test readers actually finish it and have some serious issues, I've gotten it to the point where all I need to do is fix typos. I also feel like I've said that several times before, so who knows. I NEED to finish this, because I really want to get going on my next book. I've got so many ideas floating around my head for that, but I can't start working on that before finishing Space Cops.
Oh, and I've been going to the hospital a lot. All for just talking with doctors, doing tests, that kind of stuff. I had a colonoscopy last week. The conclusion seemed to be that I have Crohn's disease, which is bad, but not really that bad, but the doctors are still looking at some biopsies they took during the procedure, so who knows. I'm feeling mostly fine though (some minor pain now and then), so I'm getting along. As always, I'll keep you guys updated.
Oh, and in case anyone asks, the colonoscopy itself wasn't bad at all, they had me pumped full of sedatives and painkillers, so I didn't feel a thing. I wasn't as loopy as the nurses made it sound like I would be, which almost ruined my plan of watching Face/Off (for the first time) while loopy after I got home, but I watched it anyway, and man, that is a great, dumb movie. Also, I think the first John Woo movie I've ever seen. I'd say, as an experience, that I enjoyed it more than John Woo Presents Stranglehold.
The day before the colonoscopy? Well, THAT was not fun. But I'll let you discover that for yourself, if you ever need one. But if you do, don't start that day by playing Brothers. Do something fun, instead.
It's time. We need the Year of Waluigi. He is the saviour of Nintendo; the chosen one. Trust me.
In typical fashion it's been some time since the last time I wrote a blog, and blah blah blah, you know the drill. I've played some games, and done some other stuff, including going to the hospital again. I had an appointment yesterday, and have several more in the coming weeks. You know, relating to that abscess I had to have drained. The drain was taken out a while ago, but now I've got such wonderful things like an MRI (which I just learned today has been scheduled for tomorrow) and, you guessed it, a colonoscopy. That's next week. Hopefully this is the last time I mention it on the internet.
Generally speaking, I'm feeling better than I was, but I've still got some pain in my abdomen that pops up several times during the day. Nothing too bad, but it's still pain. Well, hopefully with these things coming up they'll figure out what's wrong (they're thinking Crohn's disease, but won't commit to diagnosing it yet), and come up with some sort of treatment.
But enough about that, I've been playing games, and doing other things. Like Trine 2! I don't really have much to say about that game. It looks nice, and it's fun. I played the PS4 version, I should say. Uh...Yeah, I guess I could talk about how the puzzles aren't the best, but I kinda liked brute forcing my way through some of them by messing around with the physics. I wouldn't call that good game design, but it was fun.
But under the category of games that I liked quite a lot, I also played the Devil May Cry reboot that came out last year. It was free on PlayStation Plus, and I can't resist the price of free. Well, I can if it's something that I don't want at all, but that was not the case here. Full disclosure, when the redesigned Dante was revealed a couple years ago, I was one of the people voicing concern over the direction the series was taking. I word it that way because in the time since I've realized that those people were crazy, and obsessing about something really dumb, and would like to distance myself from them.
And even despite having close to a year of seeing things on the internet saying this game is good, I still went in with not high expectations. But then I ended up having all of my expectations completely blown away, and I really liked the game. Heck, I'd go so far as to say that I loved the game! I would say that it was one of the...six best games of last year. Or, rather, one of my six favorite games of last year. I enjoyed this game so much that I actually felt bad for not buying it with money, instead of getting it free on PS+. Oh well, too late now.
One of the reasons why I liked this game so much is that it, more than any other melee focused action game I've played, gives good reasons for actually switching up weapons and tactics during combat. In games like God of War, Bayonetta, REVENGEANCE, and even the past Devil May Cry games, I never really found many reasons to switch to other weapons. Not to say that I never did (DMC3 was all right about making weapon switching viable, if I remember correctly), I just mean that you could get through without much switching. But this new DMC features three different, polarities (for lack of a better word) of weapons. Neutral (sword and the guns), devil (axe and rock fists), and angel (scythe and ninja-star-boomerang-glaive-thingies). Most enemies can be felled by any of these weapons, but there are ones that can only be damaged by specific polarities. It's kinda Ikaruga-ish. Not quite, because that was a damage boost, not straight up doing no damage (so far as I remember). So I guess it's more like that platformer game that came out a few years ago that I can't remember the name of.
Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that you HAVE to switch weapons mid-combat in order to deal with these enemies. It makes for some good variety, especially because the weapons are pretty different from each other. The devil weapons are really slow and powerful, but the angel weapons are fast, have sweeping attacks, but are a lot weaker. And that can lead to things like using sweeping attack to deal with a lot of weaker enemies, and then switching to a devil weapon for a bigger, tough enemy. Contrast that with something like God of War, where you just use the chain blades all the time because you have good reach and decent power, or REVENGEANCE, where the sword is just straight up the best weapon in the game, cause the others are kinda lame.
The rest of the game outside the combat is fairly standard stuff, some light platforming, not much in the way of puzzles. The story stuff is pretty decent, I liked the voice acting, and the events of what happens are appropriately ridiculous. I don't think I got quite as much out of the much heralded "Raptor News Network Boss" as other people did, but I still enjoyed it. I still think I preferred REVENGEANCE's end boss, if we're talking boss fights in games that, well, you probably heard the discussion in Giant Bomb's GOTY podcasts, so I don't need to add more to that.
I think I might go and replay this game on a higher difficulty at some point. I was playing on normal, because it was the first "challenging" game that I played after "recovering" from having that drain in me, but it wasn't really that hard, and I was over-estimating how much my gaming skills had desegregated from spending a bunch of time not playing games.
Speaking of which, before I briefly talk about Don't Starve (well, all I really have to say is that it's neat and I like the art, so that's done), let me talk about my general thoughts on the PS4 now that I've had it for a couple months.
I still like it. But it still needs improvement. For one thing, I still think it needs folders to organize my games. I've been spending a lot of time watching Star Trek TNG, Arrested Development, and other assorted things on Netflix, and I think the Netflix app is mostly fine (though I'd prefer the system level keyboard for searching over the Netflix one). But I think the way the video apps are organized on the PS4 is a little not great if you only ever use one of them. They're all filed under a TV & Video thing, which means I need to move down a level and over a couple spots to get to Netflix. Granted, it's only a few extra button presses, but I'd prefer if I could just put Netflix on the central level with my games. I wouldn't mind this set-up if I was also using stuff like Hulu Plus, Amazon-what's-it, and some of the other things in there, but I don't. And I probably won't, because I think Netflix has me covered for the foreseeable future. I mean, I still have over two seasons of TNG left to watch, and then all of Deep Space Nine. And while I'm at it, I might as well watch Voyager too, right? I liked what I saw of Voyager repeats back when I was in middle school. Only ever seen one episode of Deep Space Nine, though.
Got off topic. Hm, what else about the PS4? Well, this is something that can't be changed with firmware, but I'm still disgruntled that my "500GB" PS4 only has about 407GB of usable space. I know, I know, this is how all hard drives in these things are, but I think that's kind of too big a gap between what's being advertised and what's actually usable. I'm just saying that these companies should be more honest in the future about hard drive space, even though I know that they won't.
I wish the Share stuff in the PS4 would let me just upload a bunch of screen shots at once to a thing somewhere, because I'd prefer that over doing it one at a time on Twitter. You know, if I ever need a bunch of screen shots for a game. Actually, maybe just let me copy all that stuff onto a USB drive or something. Well, for as much as I know, that might already be a feature. I could have tried that, but I didn't.
The last two things I think they should change before I stop this stream of complaining are that they really need to give us some sort of ETA on when Standby Mode will save my game in progress, and that Sony should patch in official support for the DualShock 4 onto the PS3. I really liked playing DMC with the DS4 (and a couple other games that I'm still in the early stages of, to be blogged about later), but it'd be nice to not be tethered. As it is, I have my PS3 on a little laptop table thingy as close as I can to the couch. I know I could just use a DS3, but I don't want to go back.
Here's something I don't understand. I got my 360 in 2006, and my PS3 in 2007. Before then, I had never owned a Sony system, and had only had very minor uses of Sony systems in the past. Yet, I somehow spent most of my video gaming of that generation on the PS3. At no point during that would I have claimed that the PS3 controller was better than the 360 one, yet I spent most of my time on that system, with no controller complaints.
I've had my PS4 for a couple months, and while I think it's a better controller than the 360 controller, I don't think it's a MUCH better controller. Yet, somehow, the DS4 has made me never want to hold a DS3 ever again. What I don't understand is why the 360 controller never did that. I don't see any logical reason behind it. Maybe it's just the console warrior in me that I thought I had killed years ago that was tricking me all this time into thinking the DS3 was worth using. I don't know, that's the best answer I can come up with.
That beard is my favorite thing about Don't Starve.
That's about everything I that I have to say. Still working on Space Cops 5000, hopefully that'll be done within the next month, month and a half-ish. I'm pretty sure I would have had it done by now if it wasn't for the health issues I've been having, but that's largely out of my control (at least I think so, Crohn's seems to be a hereditary/genetic thing), and what am I supposed to do when the hospital calls and says that I "urgently" need an MRI the next day? Oh well, I'm still feeling better overall, and hopefully that'll continue to be the case.
Either way, I'll do my best to keep you guys updated both on my health, and my novel writing "career." Maybe this next one will sell. I hope so.
So now I'll leave you with...Well, I don't know. I mean, I think I brought the Luigi thing about as far as I can, with that Luigi themed choose your own adventure game of the year Moosies thing. So what'll be the next thing? Well, I'm not going to force anything. I kinda want to do something involving my own screen shots from the PS4 share thing, but that obviously won't work for anything I play that isn't on the PS4. I dunno!
Is it time for the Year of Waluigi? If it was the opposite of the Year of Luigi, I'd be all for it.
Kept you waiting, huh? I hope you enjoy what I've crafted below, but if not, then I apologize. It was a really dumb idea.
"It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." - Bilbo Shakespeare.
"Mario?! Where-a are you?" Luigi yelled as he searched through the house. He awoke like any other day, only his brother wasn't in the house, which he didn't realize until he was midway through making breakfast. Suddenly, as the toast popped out of the toaster, Luigi noticed an envelope on the kitchen table, which only made him feel stupid for not noticing it before.
What should Luigi do?
EDIT: For some weird reason, the version of this on the forums seems broken, so I've re-posted it without there being a forums version? I don't know if that will cause the forums one to disappear or not. If not, then can a mod help me? I know I'm kind of pushing the limits of what the GB blogging stuff can do with this mess, but I don't want people not getting the full experience because of my stupidity.
EDIT 2: Okay, it seems like if you are reading this in the forum, then you can either go directly to the blog (click "GOTO" at the top) or, when you click on the spoiler thing, a second spoiler thing will appear, and that one should show the correct thing when clicked. Sorry for the trouble, but hey, someone's got to push the limits (of the GB blog system), right?
Option A: Open the letter and read its contents.
Using a slight amount of logic, Luigi decides that reading the letter is the best course of action. Inside is what appears to be a ransom note, with the text made of individual letters cut out from newspapers and glued onto the paper.
It says, "We have kidnapped Mario. Bring 1 Million Coins to Bowser Castle, er, the empty gully near Bowser Castle and we will let him go.
"Momma-mia!" Luigi cried as he read the letter. "He's-a been-a kidnapped! I have-a to see-a the princess! She'll-a have-a the money!" And with that Luigi gathered a few supplies and departed for the castle in the hopes that the royal treasury could spare the money.
Proceed to X.
Option B: Eat the toast and hope that Mario returns on his own.
"It's-a just a joke-a," Luigi thought as he started spreading mushroom jelly onto the toast and took a bite. "AAAAIIIIEEEEE!" Luigi moaned as he started convulsing and fell to the floor. As he took his final breath, he looked at the jar, which had fallen onto the floor. The expiration date was three weeks ago.
Option C: Panic and throw a fit.
"What do I do, what do I do, WHAT DO I DO?" In his frantic state, Luigi began running around the kitchen screaming at the top of his lungs until he bounced into the kitchen counter, which caused one of Mario's knives (which he kept hanging from a decorative knife holder) to fall down, piercing Luigi between the eyes.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, he realized that he might have been better off if he had actually gone back to bed, but instead he just lay there. As the days passed, he didn't budge, and eventually died from dehydration.
After traveling down the road for some distance, Luigi came across a large Koopa with a spiked shell standing by the side of the road near three floating blocks. At first Luigi thought it was Bowser, because the Koopa was identical in appearance to the Koopa King, aside from his large, bushy mustache. It was the kind of mustache that Luigi couldn't help but trust, so he took a minute to stop and talk to him.
"Why hello there," the mustachioed Koopa said jovially. "Are you the famous Luigi?"
"I-a, yes-a, I-a am-a," Luigi stammered, taken aback.
"Excellent, now I have a deal for you!" The Koopa said as he waved at the floating blocks. "I will let you break any ONE of these blocks, and keep its contents, not for 100 Coins, not for 50 Coins, not even 10 coins! It's completely free!"
"Really?" Luigi pondered. "Hm..."
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Continue down the road.
"No-a thanks-a," Luigi said as he kept on walking. "He's-a clearly-a Bowser," Luigi thought as he left the Koopa behind. But while he walked, Luigi couldn't help but ponder why Bowser was there doing that. In fact, he was so busy pondering this that he failed to notice the ambush that the Hammer Bros had set for him, and he wound up in a ditch on the side of of the road, bleeding profusely from the head, and all of his items and money stolen.
Option B: Hit the first block.
"Okay," Luigi said as he walked underneath the first block, and jumped, his fist smashing into the block. But to his surprise, instead of breaking, a large vine sprung forth from the block, and snaked its way up to the clouds.
"My my!" The Koopa declared. "We have a winner! Climb up, my boy, and see what awaits you in the clouds!" Though he hesitated at first, Luigi started climbing, and after an hour or so, he found himself in a majestic city above the clouds, filled with giant balloons, statues, and people zipping around on lines using little spinny machines in their hands.
"What-a...?" Luigi asked himself as he climbed onto a chunk of pavement in front of a building. There appeared to be some sort of fair going on, with all sorts of stands filled with foods, bits of entertainment, and other odd things.
Moosies Number X Game of the Year 2013: BioShock Infinite.
You may not remember this, but BioShock Infinite kind of took the internet by storm when it came out in early 2013. Sure, many people have soured on it in the months since then, but at the time, people were freaking out over this game. This was a game that people were holding up as the ultimate example of how games were art. An example of how games could have really good stories, that subverted what you expected, and blah blah blah.
I was really skeptical of that stuff before I played the game, partly because I didn't get a chance to play it right when it came out. Given everything that's happened this year, I don't remember exactly when I did play it (though I suppose I could check my Trophies and find out), but I do know that a fair amount of time passed. And unfortunately, in that time, I managed to get the game's big end twist spoiled for me. Not that I wanted to, or that I actively sought it out. Some jerk just posted it in the chat for a GB live stream one day (and I should say, it was a live stream with absolutely nothing to do with this game). And despite my best efforts to forget or ignore this spoiler, I couldn't. I played through the whole game with that in the back of my head, and I think it ended up ruining a lot of the story stuff in the game for me.
Granted, part of that is that I think it's a dumb twist. I'm not going to say what it is, because why bother, but I will say that I wouldn't have liked it even if I knew nothing about it beforehand. It's a dumb twist that would have been in a bad episode of The Next Generation (or a good episode of The Original Series (sick burn)). Sure, there was much, much more to the story that wasn't spoiled for me, and there were definitely moments in the story that I liked a whole lot. But I'm not lying when I say that having that spoiled for me brought this game down on my top ten list.
In fact, I almost didn't put this on my top ten list at all, but then I started thinking back to the actual game itself, and I remembered that I loved playing this game. That may sound weird, because the general opinion online seems to be that the game play is the worst part of the game. But for me, it was the game's saving grace. It's a really fun, tight shooter with a lot of imaginative powers. I mean, there's a power that lifts enemies off the ground and makes a horse noise! How can you not think that's fantastic? Honestly, it's been so long since the last time that I played the game that I don't really remember most of the actual powers, but I also remember that there was one that summoned an unkindness of ravens (or maybe it was a murder of crows) to attack enemies, and that there were a bunch of ways to combo the powers together to make them even more effective. And in this modern age where most shooters just have guns, having all these powers is rad. Sure, it's the third BioShock game, so it's not totally original, but it's not like we get a BioShock game every year. I would rather the video game market be flooded with imaginative games like this with powers than just straight up modern military shooters. It'll never happen, but that would be cool.
And while I may not have cared for the story, I do absolutely love the world that Ken Levine and his cronies created. It's a floating city where George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson are revered as GODS. Yes, GODS. And it's incredible. Sure, they may also hate Abe Lincoln, and be totally racist, but that's beside the point. The moment near the beginning of the game where Booker looks up and sees the Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson statues after being baptized was one of my favorite video game moments in the entire year.
If you haven't played this game, you totally should. It's a really fun shooter in a perfectly realized world.
Oh, and one more thing before I stop talking (writing) about this game. This game has made me realize that I may be the only person who doesn't know any Beach Boys songs. People kept talking about that song at the beginning, and how that was a cool moment because it was an olde timey version of the song. Maybe it's just that I was raised on real music (ie, rock), but if it hadn't been for the DOZENS of times that I saw people mention that on the internet like it was a super obvious thing that everyone should know, I wouldn't have known that, and the only time I would have thought anything funky was going on with the music was when Booker and Elizabeth encountered a portal with the original version of "Fortunate Son" playing through it, and Elizabeth said that no one had ever heard that song before. I thought that was pretty funny.
BioShock Infinite also wins:
Secret Award for Best Use of The Founding Fathers.
Revolver Ocelot Presents the Secret Award for Best Revolver.
Proceed to IX.
Option C: Hit the second block.
As Luigi jumped up and hit the block, a poison Shroom popped out, homed in on Luigi, and killed him, but slowly. As Luigi writhed in pain on the ground, the Koopa pulled off his mustache, and revealed that he is in fact Bowser. The last noise Luigi heard was the sound of Bowser's maniacal laughter.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, the Koopa gave a sigh of disgust, jumped up into the air, and crushed Luigi to death with his spiked shell.
"Step right up and take a number!" An exuberant man with a basket yelled. He was standing next to a stage deep within the aforementioned fair, but the curtains were drawn, and Luigi couldn't see what was behind it. "You sir, in the green, come on up!"
"Uh, uh," Luigi stammered.
"It's free, son," the man said, trying to pressure Luigi into taking a number. Take a number, you won't regret it!"
"Well-a..." Luigi mumbled as he stared with trepidation at the basket, which appeared to be filled with small balls.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Take a number.
Unfortunately, as he reached out to take a number, Luigi's fear overtook him, and he had a heart attack. As his carcass was dragged out of the way, he could hear some sort of commotion going on after a gruff, almost Pinkerton-ish looking man took a number, but Luigi was not long for this world, and he knew not what happened next.
Option B: Pull out a Fire Flower and attack the man.
After thinking, Luigi came to the conclusion that the man and this entire floating city was some sort of trick created by Bowser, so he pulled out a Fire Flower and tried to light the man on fire. However, Luigi was not the only one with the ability to throw fire here, and soon he was burned to a crisp, and his carcass was being dragged out of the way.
Option C: Run away in fright.
"AAAAAAAIIIEEEE!" Luigi screamed in terror as he ran in the opposite direction with his arms flailing about.
"What's his problem?" A man who looked like his name was Booker thought as he stepped up to take a number.
Meanwhile, Luigi was running so fast that he didn't even notice that he fell off the floating city, and began falling down to what he thought was his death. Not knowing what else to do on his descent, he started crying. And as he cried, he fell, and fell, and fell, and fell! But rather than meeting a squishy end, he landed safely on a bouncy mushroom, and then plopped down on the ground near a jaunty little fellow with a little lantern hanging off his nose.
"Oy there, little greeny boy!" The lantern nosed creature exclaimed through his thick accent as Luigi came to his senses. "I 'aven't seen anybody cry like that since ole Ollie boy, I 'aven't!"
"What-a?" Luigi mumbled as he stopped crying, and took a look around him. He was in the middle of a forest, and he could hear what sounded like waves crashing against a shore in the distance.
"You're a long way from home, aren't ya, greeny boy?"
Moosies Number IX Game of the Year 2013: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Easily the most striking thing about this game is the visuals. I'm not a fan of Studio Ghibli, and in fact, I've never even seen any of the movies that they've made (cue people telling me to watch some of their stuff). Or, rather, I would say that I wasn't a fan of their work, but I am now. Sure, all they did was character design stuff, and a few of the cut-scenes, but that stuff is all just so beautifully made that I couldn't not mention it here in my game of the year discussion.
But a good or interesting art style isn't enough to get me to play a game. Yes, it helps, but it's not enough. If it was, I would have played Killer is Dead, but that didn't happen (which is not to say that Killer is Dead is on the same level with Ni no Kuni, it's just a convenient example). And it really helped that this game's story, while not anything fantastic or mind blowing, was interesting and intriguing enough to keep me interested throughout. But the real star of the show is the voice acting, specifically that of Lord High Lord of the Fairies, Drippy. He's such a great character that I kinda feel bad using him in my weird Luigi fan-fiction here because it's been so long since I've played the game that I don't think I can accurately capture his speech patterns in text. Sure, I could have gone back and played some of the game again, or watched some stuff online, but I didn't. Too bad!
Oh yeah, Ni no Kuni's also a video game too. I guess I should talk about that part of it too, right? Hey, don't get the impression that I didn't like the game part of the game. I actually think the core combat is pretty fun. It's just not quite good enough to stay interesting and fun through all of the grinding in the game. At least against the enemies roaming about the game world. The bossies stayed interesting throughout, and some of them (especially toward the end) get pretty tough. It's not an easy game, but while losing is never fun, it was definitely nice that I had to actually think and be careful during a fair number of the fights in the game, instead of just blowing my way through it like so many other games.
And I think part of why I did enjoy the combat was that I haven't played a Pokemon game since Blue (well, technically I played some of Yellow, but that is LITERALLY the same game, just with Pikachu). I realize that reducing this game to just being Pokemon is completely dishonest, because this game is way deeper than Pokemon (sick burn), but the similarities are there. This is a game where you can capture monsters in the world, and make them fight for you. And guess what, if they level up enough, they can transform into more powerful versions of themselves! But that's where the similarities end. I mean, for one thing, you don't even have to use the monsters in battle, because the character you play as (Oliver by default, but you can switch to others (I did not very often)) has spells and attacks of his own. And with Oliver specifically, you have to do that fairly frequently, as those spells are pretty useful, especially once you unlock the really powerful super spells that do a lot of damage. And then there's the "action" component to the combat, where you can run around in an attempt to avoid attacks, which I enjoyed quite a lot.
Again, I just wish there wasn't so much grinding. But what I really wish is that there was more voice acting. As incredible as the voice acting in the game is, there just isn't enough of it. I'm not saying that the game should be fully voiced (though it should be fully voiced), but I do think that at least all the dialog relating to the main story should be voiced. However, it isn't. Sure, you still get the great writing for Drippy, but it's not the same without the voice. And the deeper you get into the game, the more of the dialog becomes text only. The voice acting does make a bit of a comeback toward the later parts of the game, but that doesn't stop the lack of voice acting from being a bummer. I'm not sure if full voice acting would have raised this game on my list here, but it certainly wouldn't have hurt.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch also wins:
Award for Best New Supporting Character (Lord High Lord of the Fairies: Drippy).
Award for Best Artistic Design.
Secret Award for Most British Japan Game.
Proceed to VIII.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, he was unaware of the commotion created by Booker DeWitt, and ended up being trampled by the crowd, and several police officers.
"You just going to lie there crying all day, greeny boy? Oh, what I am thinking!" The lantern nosed creature exclaimed as Luigi tried to dry his tears. "I 'aven't even introduced myself, 'ave I? I'm Drippy, Lord High Lord of the Fairies!"
"Uh..." Luigi was at a loss for words as this strange little creature paced back and forth in front of him. As he kept talking (at a very rapid pace), Luigi stopped paying attention and noticed the eyes of all sorts of other creatures staring at him from behind bushes and shrubberies in the forest around him. Naturally, his reaction was to be petrified with fear, but that soon passed and he began running away from Drippy, screaming in fear once more.
"Now 'e's a strange one, ain't 'e?" Drippy remarked as Luigi ran out of the forest and toward the beach.
"AAAAH!" Luigi screamed as he saw a large crab monster sleeping on the beach near what appeared to be some sort of random portal floating in the air.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Run past the crab monster and enter the portal.
As he ran, the crab monster lazily opened an eye, looked at Luigi, and went back to sleep. But Luigi was too busy running in terror to notice that as he jumped through the portal and wound up ringside to a fight in a large arena. The place was packed, and the audience was holding up a large variety of signs with references to things that Luigi didn't understand. In the center of the arena was a large wrestling ring, inside of which an older man with shoes on his hands was fighting against a large creature that resembled a wolverine, or perhaps a skunk-bear.
"That's broken!" An obese and scummy looking man yelled. Unbeknownst to Luigi, who had thought he landed safely on something squishy, it turned out that he had landed on a combatant who was due to fight in the next match.
"OH MY GOD!" Ron Galaxy yelled from the announcers' table. "Have you ever seen diving like that?" As he commentated, the creature dived higher in the air than anyone had seen before, but it was for naught, because the man did a mid-air reversal and kicked the creature right in the head with one of his hands, knocking it out. "SO GODLIKE!"
"OW!" The man beneath Luigi moaned. "I forgot my neck pillow!"
"You'll have to fight in his place," the referee said as the creature was dragged out of the ring, and its opponent left for a bathroom break.
"I, I, I, I..." Luigi stammered when he realized the referee was talking to him.
"Them's the rules!" Ron Galaxy yelled as he walked over, picked Luigi up, and tossed him into the ring.
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi yelled as he flew through the air, and landed in the ring.
Moosies Number VIII Game of the Year 2013: Divekick.
Divekick didn't get onto this list for what it is alone. Part of why this game absolutely had to be on this list, and part of why it is one of my games of the year was all the hullabaloo surrounding it. I spent months watching Dave Lang and his cronies playing pre-release versions of the game live on the internet in their weekly show. I watched tournaments on the internet for this stupid game. I invited two of my friends over and got a pizza on launch day because I was so excited for this game, and I was heartbroken when it wasn't a PS4 launch game despite the fact that I'm pretty sure Dave Lang promised it would be. But then again, he's a dirty rotten liar, so I shouldn't be surprised at all, because that's the kind of thing he does. Make grand promises and then never fulfill them. Speaking of which, where's Divekick II, the FMV adventure game you promised, Dave Lang? I know these things take time, but come on, it's not Half-Life 3, Lang! You some sort of dump people or something, Turbo?
Okay, before I get too deep into stupid/obscure Dave Lang references, I should actually say something about the game itself. Actually, that's a pretty good segue, because a whole lot of the humor in this game is made up of dumb references to things that most people don't get. A lot of it is toward fighting games, a lot to the fighting game community, and I'm pretty sure a fair amount of it are dumb in-jokes that only Dave Lang and his cronies would get. But enough of the humor hits (like Kick yelling "SHARK TALE" some of the time when he gets knocked out) that I think it's a really funny game regardless.
Oh, and it's a really fun game too, and that's impressive. I mean, it's a two button fighting game. It's the kind of thing that could have gone horribly, horribly wrong in the wrong hands. And even despite being the wrong hands (Dave Lang), it still turned out well. There is still a part of me that wishes the game had maintained a little more of that simplicity and purity that was promised in the original pitch for the game, but I think it's probably a better fighting game because of the added depth. It's not something that you can just mash your way to success in (at least against competent players), and that's a good thing. It's the difference between a dumb little flash game and a legitimately good fighting (flash) game.
And, in a lot of ways, it's the fighting game that I understand the most about the fundamental mechanics. In all the years that I've been playing games, I've played a decent number of fighting games. Some not so good (cough, Dragon Ball Z, cough), but I've still played a fair amount of them. That doesn't mean that I've ever really understood them, or have been good at them. Divekick, however, is a game that I understand. Because of the simplicity in the execution of the moves, and the limited number of moves, I know what every character can do. I know what each of them can do to me, and when I lose, I know why I lost. That doesn't mean that I'll learn from my mistakes, and get better at the game, but at least I understand what's going on, and that's not something that I can say about any other decent fighting game that I've played. And that's impressive. So impressive that I'm surprised Dave Lang didn't find a way to screw it up, given the fact that he was involved.
I just wish I had stuck with it more, but at this point it's probably too late. It sounds like not many people are playing online, and I don't have friends over enough to make use of the local multiplayer. Oh well, I really enjoyed what I played of it, and I'll probably be dumb enough to re-buy the game on PS4, because I'm an idiot.
Divekick also wins:
Award for Best Fighting Game.
Award for Best Multiplayer.
Secret Award for Best Game That Somehow Survived Being Worked On By Dave Lang.
Proceed to VII.
Option B: Pull out a hammer and attack the top of the crab.
As Luigi creeps closer to the crab, he pulls out a hammer and gets ready to smash it down as hard as he can. However, as he reached the crab, his hand was shaking so much that it fell out as he raised it above his head. As one might expect, it hit Luigi's head, knocking him out instantly. Luckily, he slept through most of when the crab monster ate him. Most of it.
Option C: Run back into the forest.
As he turned around to run back into the forest, Luigi tripped over his own feet, fell to the ground and hit his head on a rock. The next thing he knew, he was being dragged into the ocean by some sort of strange mer-men, who did their best to keep Luigi alive until they got him to their underwater lair, where he was roasted alive, and then feasted upon. Despite their best efforts and spices, it was not a well regarded feast.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, he eventually passed out, and was pecked to death by hungry seagulls, who found him to be quite bitter and sour, and they had terrible heartburn.
"We have a new challenger tonight, people!" Ron Galaxy yelled into his microphone. "His name is...hey, what's your name?"
"L-L-L-Luigi," Luigi stammered.
"Luigi? What kind of a pansy-ass name is that? Oh well. Tonight this 'Luigi,'" he said, using air quotes. "Is going up against Kung Pao!" The crowd roared as Kung Pao, an attractive woman wearing a stereotypically Asian martial arts master costume climbed into the ring. Luigi, of course, reacted the only way he knew how.
"Get-a me out of here!" Luigi cried as he tried (and failed) to climb over the ropes at the edge of the ring.
"Now I want a clean fight here," the referee said as Luigi made another futile attempt at fleeing. "But no one in the crowd does, so just do whatever!"
"Indeed," Kung Pao said as she dove into the air and created a portal that seemed to lead to another world.
"A portal?" Luigi thought as he looked toward his opponent. However, he did not have much time to think, as Kung Pao kicked down toward him, only missing by inches.
"You know, for a total jabroni," Ron Galaxy commentated. "That dodge was almost godlike. Almost."
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Dive into the air and attempt to kick Kung Pao.
"OH MY GOD!" Ron Galaxy yelled as he stood up and the roar of the crowd was silenced. Against all the odds, Luigi's attack was successful, and he managed to knock out Kung Pao with one well placed kick. From there he went on to win the tournament, and become one of the world's top ranked divekickers. However, Mr. N (who had broken Luigi's fall and was thrown out of the tournament) was quite displeased by all of this. He created a scheme for revenge, one that took years to enact (due to his being a strict follower of ancient Klingon proverbs (at least when they were in his favor)), during which Luigi's fame only increased. But eventually, the plan came together, and Mr. N suffocated a drunken Luigi (found in bed with several drugged up prostitutes in various states of undress) with his neck pillow. However, Mr. N left the neck pillow behind, and was quickly convicted of murder. He spent the rest of his life rotting in prison, and being forced into prison divekick fights by the guards.
Option B: Run like a frightened little child to the portal and dive in.
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi yelled as he dove into the portal, hoping for the best. After falling for yet another large distance, he landed in what appeared to be a giant mound of manure. "Ugh," he moaned as he climbed out and looked at himself. "I-a hate-a manure."
"Fell in manure, son?" Luigi looked around for the source of the question, and saw that it came from an elderly gunslinger sitting on a chair in front of a nearby saloon. It was only now that Luigi took a moment to examine his surroundings, and saw that he was in what appeared to be an olde western town. "That never happened to me, but it did happen to a friend of mine during a gunfight. It was, oh, I don't know, twenty or thirty years ago at this point. Me and Billy the Kid were breaking out of jail, and..." However interesting this man's story was, Luigi was suddenly reminded (randomly) that he was, at one point earlier in the day, on a quest to save his brother Mario, so he left the man rambling to himself and started searching for a way to remove the manure.
Moosies Number VII Game of the Year 2013: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.
The Call of Juarez franchise was always one of those things that I was mildly interested in because I like westerns, and there's not really much in the way of good western games. But given the track record of the actual game part of the Juarez games (especially that one that wasn't a western), I never actually played any of them. At least until this newest one. Granted, the $15 price point certainly helped, but I got way more out of this "budget" game that I did other, full priced games that I played this year. Well, I didn't pay full price for those other games, due to smart use of sales (and someone that randomly gave me Dead Space 3 for free), but that's irrelevant. This game might not have the production values of something like Call of Duty, but it has something that bigger games like that often don't: heart.
I know that sounds clichéd, because it is, but hey, ask anyone that's read my novel: I am a MASTER of clichés. On paper, this game should probably be terrible. It's from the people that made the lackluster Call of Juarez games, it's sort of cell-shaded, and it's a budget title. Instead we got a tight shooter with a great sense of style. Take the narration, for example. No, it's not super dynamic like Bastion (though there are a few moments where it changes slightly based on what you do), but it spices up the action. Running through the streets of a dusty western town gunning down thugs is fun, but the narration adds that little something extra needed to...zest it up. Okay, I'll stop trying to explain it because I feel like I'm rambling now.
Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the parts where the narrator changes what he's saying mid-level, which then changes some aspect of the action. For example, there's one part where he changes from saying that Apaches were attacking him to saying that cowboys were attacking him Apache style. Though, a lot of the time when this happens it's to give you a way out of an "arena" after killing a set number of enemies. He'd say something like, "And then suddenly I saw a way out that had somehow remained unseen to me," and then a big rock would fly up into the air and reveal the path forward. Kind of neat, but also a little transparent in the fact that it exists solely as a way to explain killing a bunch of guys and then letting you move forward without doing anything crazy or having a cut-scene.
But even if the game didn't have any of the narration or style, it'd still be a pretty good shooter. The shooting itself is tight and fun, and on top of it the game has leveling and a variety of upgrades and abilities to change things up. Some of them are really simply, like being able to mash the reload button to load bullets into a revolver faster, but the later ones get kind of crazy. There's one that lets you stop time and just mash the shoot button (R1 for me, playing on PS3) to get hell of head shots. The game even has a New Game Plus to let you keep leveling and get all of the upgrades.
The game's not perfect, mind you. There are definitely moments where the budget production values are pretty evident, and I didn't really care for the game's quick-draw mini-game. It's not terrible, and there are certainly times when the game uses the concept of the stand-off/quick-draw really well. There's one where you literally can't draw fast enough to win, and just have to dodge. My favorite though, was the one that is a recreation of the stand-off from the end of The Good The Bad and The Ugly. I mean, it is EXACTLY that stand-off, even to the point where it's set in a circular part of a large graveyard. But like I said, I didn't really care for the mechanics of the quick-draw, so the normal ones weren't so great.
And the game has some boss-fight type encounters that I also didn't enjoy. But they didn't hurt the experience as a whole, because almost everything else about the game was great. It's a really fun game that doesn't overstay its welcome, and was more than fun enough for me to not only beat it once, but to then New Game Plus it on a higher difficulty and play through it all again.
I wish more games were like this. I like playing shooters, but I don't like paying $60 for a short campaign and a multiplayer mode that I barely touch (speaking of which, I should probably play more of Killzone Shadow Fall online to get my money's worth). But $15 for a fun campaign and no online? That's a great deal. Hell, I'd even be willing to pay $20 for such a game if the campaign was good enough. Either way, this game is rad, and you should play it if you haven't.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger also wins:
Award for Best Shooting.
Secret Award for Best Narration.
Proceed to VI.
Option C: Try to climb over the ropes again.
In his attempt to climb the ropes again, Luigi only ended up lying on the floor of the ring, and was kicked in the face by Kung Pao. However, unlike professional divekickers, Luigi had never trained to survive a divekick to the head, and was sent into a deep coma that lasted for years. Nine years, to be exact. And when he awoke, he found that the hospital he was in was under attack by a large group of soldiers, and Luigi was swiftly and mercifully killed by a bullet to the head.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Kung Pao took pity on him and refused to continue the fight.
"Kill him!" Someone yelled from the crowd.
"Finish the jabroni off!" Ron Galaxy yelled as he stroked his mustache. However, Kung Pao would not attack, and soon enough the god of divekicking decided that too much time had passed. As his giant foot descended to squish the fighters, Luigi glanced up just long enough to see the big toe right before it killed him. Unlike professional divekickers, Luigi was unable to survive judgment, and suffered a quick, albeit smelly, end.
After wandering down the street a fair distance, Luigi encountered a place that he thought could solve his manure problem. It was a small ranch, they were hiring cowhands, and for few days work, Luigi was able to afford a bath and a set of new clothes from the local (Italian) clothessmith, who was able to smith him a set of clothes identical to his previous ones. Of course, after spending several days on a ranch, Luigi was far behind schedule in his attempt to rescue Mario, but he was also hopelessly lost and unable to even get a vague idea about where he was to go next. At least, until he had a random encounter with a strangely dressed fellow one night on the ranch.
He had been moseying about, like he usually did, when he heard what sounded like a whistling sound coming from behind the barn. Thinking it was just a cow (though no one is quite sure why he thought it was a cow), he went over to investigate, only to find himself in the choke hold of a man wearing a sneaking suit with night-vision tri-goggles on.
"Luigi?" The man said as he let Luigi go. "What are you doing here?"
"W-w-w-what?" Luigi stammered.
"It's me, Sam Fisher. Don't you, no wait, you wouldn't know me," Sam said as he stood up a looked around. "Listen, Luigi, do you know where we are?" Luigi shook his head. "Me neither. I was on a routine mission, and I think I fell through a portal and wound up here a few hours ago. I thought I would ask someone for help, in the only way I know how-"
"A choke-a hold?"
"Yes, but it seems like you're in the same boat with me. If we team up, we might be able to find our way back to our own worlds-"
Of course. Didn't you realize that these portals lead to other worlds?" Luigi simply looked dumbstruck. "Anyway, what do you say? We partners on this?" As he asked, Sam stuck out his hand for Luigi to shake.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Attempt to jump over Sam Fisher and escape back to the ranch.
While Luigi may be one of the best jumpers around, he was unaware of how quick Sam's reflexes were with a pistol, and Luigi was hit with a head shot before he even hit the top of his jump.
Option B: Try to use some of the CQC Snake tried to teach Luigi back during the last Smash Bros game on Sam Fisher and then escape.
Much like with Option A, this ended very swiftly, only with a slit through instead of a bullet to the brain.
Option C: Shake Sam's hand and team up, for the time being, at least.
"Good," Sam said as they shook hands. "Now follow me." Sam crouched down and started sneaking off, and Luigi had to scramble to keep up, but luckily the glowing green lights in Sam's sneaking suit made him easy to follow, though for some reason enemy guards (er, other people) didn't seem to notice them.
Moosies Number VI Game of the Year 2013: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist.
I like stealth games, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I find the thrill of having to find my way through an environment without alerting the enemies to be unlike anything else in video games. Sure, I'm not GREAT at stealth games, and almost always wind up alerting the enemies at some point, but that doesn't diminish all the times when I do make my way through without being seen or heard (even if that means I knocked everyone out and hid them behind stuff).
And in terms of pure mechanics, I think Splinter Cell: Blacklist is my favorite stealth game of all time. For one thing, the controls and feel of this game are super tight, and that's not something that can be said of most stealth games. There's often good reasons for that, as those games intentionally try to use less than great controls to artificially make it more difficult, or make you feel weaker than the enemies (at least that's what I assume). This game, however, is all about making you (well, Sam Fisher) feel like an unstoppable bad-ass. Not in the Call of Duty sense of being able to shoot your way through hundreds of enemies. It's more of a, "These enemies are all helpless before my sneakiness and superior gear" type of thing.
I suppose you could actually play this game gunning your way through the whole thing, because modern game design dictates that big budget games have to appeal to as many people as possible to make a profit, but the true Splinter Cell experience is in sneaking your way through unseen, and in my way of playing, without killing anyone. And this is one of the best things I can say about this game, but unlike every other stealth game that I've played, this game doesn't make non-lethal play-styles feel gimped compared to playing the game using lethal methods. If anything, I think it might actually be a little MORE effective and easy that going in lethal, but I don't have the necessary evidence to back up such a claim.
But I can say that I was able to play through the entire game and get no kills on my first attempt. Well, what I really did was get the Trophy for beating the game with no kills as Sam Fisher in the story missions. That sounds like a really specific Trophy, and that's because it IS a really specific Trophy. For whatever reason (cough, appealing to everyone, cough), there are several times throughout the campaign where control switches to someone else, and the only option to proceed is to kill. Several of these involve operating some sort of aerial drone, but there's one level where the game literally turns into a first person shooter a couple of times. I'm not joking, the game actually goes into the first person perspective, and you have to shoot up some dudes to proceed. And as you might expect, suddenly turning a third person stealth game into a first person shooter isn't great. Thankfully it's only a couple of small parts of one level that were in first person, but it was also easily the low point of what is an otherwise really good game.
There is a story in this game, but it's not really anything special. If you've played one Tom Clancy game (or seen one of his movies (or read one of his books)), then you have a pretty good idea of the type of story that this is. Not that that's a bad thing, because it's perfectly fine for what it is, and I still don't want to be badmouthing it after Tom Clancy passed away (mainly because like I said, it's not bad). But I am really glad that this was the final game released under the Tom Clancy brand before he passed away. I realize that he hasn't had any direct (or indirect) involvement in any of the games for years, but it's still good to see his name being used well. And also good to see the Splinter Cell brand being used well. I haven't been the biggest fan of the series over the years (it's only the second that I've finished, the other being Double Agent (and only the third that I've actually played, the other being Chaos Theory)), but it's always been something that I really wanted to get into, and have admired from a distance.
It's a fantastic game, and I couldn't think of a better way to close off discussing this game, so there's that!
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist also wins:
Award for Best Stealthing.
Secret Award for Best Use of Not Abiding by The Bill of Rights In the Name of Liberty.
Proceed to V.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Sam realized that he had made a mistake in trying to enlist Luigi for help. Though he briefly considered silencing Luigi (permanently) to keep word of his being here from spreading, he decided to just slink off into the night, and try to figure out what was happening on his own. Meanwhile, a cow meandered over to Luigi, and dumped some fresh manure onto Luigi's head, causing him to suffocate.
"Just a little further," Sam whispered to Luigi as they slunk through some shrubberies near the local dockyard.
"Hey!" Luigi whisper-yelled as he pointed toward the dock, where a Magikoopa (most likely Kamek) was casting a spell to create a portal near a docked ship.
"Freeze!" Sam yelled as he jumped out of the shrubs and pointed his pistol at Kamek, Luigi made his best attempt to dramatically exit the shrubs as well, but it was about as awkward as is to be expected from Luigi.
"Haha!" Kamek cackled. "You're too late, Sam Fisher!" Sam responded by shooting at Kamek, but the bullet flew right through him, revealing him to be naught but a hologram. Before Sam or Luigi could react, the real Kamek appeared behind them, and cast a spell that sent them plummeting through another portal. As they fell through the air, Luigi screamed like a 50s housewife dealing with a mouse, but Sam kept himself composed, even as they thudded onto the deck of what appeared to be an early 18th Century pirate ship.
"Now what do we have here?" The captain of the ship asked as he swaggered down from the steering wheel and over to Sam and Luigi. "Uh uh uh uh uh," he said as he pulled out a pistol in response to Sam's pistol, as did the rest of the crew.
"Well, that didn't go well," Sam said to Luigi as they both slowly stood up with their hands above their heads. Luigi, meanwhile, was filled with too much fear to even utter a whimper.
"Now there's two options for you," the captain smirked as he put he holstered his pistol. "Either you tell me what you're doing on my ship, and how you got here, or you walk the plank. Now which is it?"
"Uh, Captain Kenway," one of the pirates said. "We don't exactly have a plank."
"Shush!" Kenway said to the pirate in question.
"Luigi," Sam whispered. "I have a plan, just follow my lead."
"Uhh....." Luigi moaned as he looked at the grimy pirates staring them down.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Follow Sam's lead and do what he does.
Before Luigi knew what was happening, Sam was trying to grapple Kenway and use him as a human shield. Luigi tried to help, but in trying to help, he only got Sam and him on the ground with more guns pointed at them. Later that day a plank was fashioned together from a spare board in one of the lower decks, and the dynamic duo were being forced off it at sword point.
"Thanks a lot, Luigi," Sam grumbled as he was pushed off into the murky deep.
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi screamed as he was pushed off, and promptly eaten by a shark.
Option B: Stand there, petrified in fear as Sam does what he does.
While Luigi stayed there, frozen in place, Sam managed to get into a position where he had Captain Kenway held with a knife to his throat, and a gun in Sam's other hand pointed out at the other pirates.
"Hahaha!" Kenway said, as he started laughing. "I like the cut of your jib! Boys, put away your guns." The crew did as he asked, and went back about their business. "You can let go now."
"What do you think, Luigi?" Sam asked, not letting go.
"I, uh... Let-a him go?" Luigi stammered, finally breaking out of his fear petrification.
"Okay," Sam said as he slowly let go of Kenway and walked back, though he did not holster his gun or sheath his knife.
"You still never answered my questions," Kenway said as he pulled a bottle of rum out from a hidden pouch in his clothes and took a swig. All the while his smile never left his face.
"My friend Luigi and I," Sam said, putting his weapons away. "Are a little lost."
"Ha, you can say that again!"
Moosies Number V Game of the Year 2013: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
Since you've now suffered, er, read through about half of this idiocy, I felt like it was time for a short break. So instead of me actually writing about ACIV, I shall instead embed this instructional video on the benefits of being a pirate. Eh... At least that was the plan... Didn't seem to work... Uh...LINK!
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Also Wins:
Super Secret Award for Best Collectibles.
Secret Award for Best Use of Incentivizing Killing Animals for Profit.
Proceed to IV.
Option C: Ignore Sam's plan and try to jump overboard.
As one might expect, the only result of this was Luigi promptly being eaten by sharks. Oddly enough, those sharks were then eaten by bigger sharks, that were then eaten by a giant squid. That squid later went on to be killed by some fisherman, who were going to eat it, but didn't when their ship sank, and along with it the squid.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Sam was able to escape the ship, but Luigi just lay there, crying. One might think that the pirates would do something to move him, but instead they just left him there, and he died a slow, painful death due largely to the elements.
"So you're telling me," Captain Kenway said from behind the wheel of his ship. "That you two wound up here after you went through portals from your own worlds?"
"That's about the best explanation I can think of," Sam replied.
"Yeah, yeah!" Luigi said, trying to feel like he was adding something meaningful; something that he was well used to.
"I think I know of an island that might be of use to you," Adewale added. "It is a place that few men have stepped foot on, and even fewer have returned from. But it is said that from there, you can access any world you want."
"I think I know our next destination then," Kenway grinned.
"You don't mind?" Sam asked.
"I'm sure there's plenty of treasure there to be looted as well." And on they traveled for days as they headed toward the island of myth that Adewale mentioned. During this time, Luigi tried his best to learn the ways of the men of the sea, but after a few minutes the pirates tired of his ineptitude, and he was confined to his quarters until they arrived, which was at sunset.
"Well that's no good," Kenway remarked as he looked through his spyglass at the island, where there was smoke billowing up into the sky.
"What's wrong?" Sam asked.
"There's strange creatures all over the island. Look." He handed the spyglass to Sam, who looked.
"Luigi," Sam asked as he gave the spyglass to Luigi. "Take a look."
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi yelled as he looked through to see Kamek and a lot of other Magikoopas marching all over the island.
"They're Magikoopas," Sam said as Adewale did his best to calm Luigi down. "Turtle wizards, basically."
"How do you know so much about them?" Kenway asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I have my sources."
"What's the plan then? I'm not sure I should bombard the island and possibly destroy your portals."
"Hm." Sam thought for a few seconds. "Luigi and I will wait until nightfall-"
"We-a will-a?" Luigi squeeked.
"And then we'll row to the island, stealthily, of course," Sam continued, ignoring Luigi.
"I'm-a going to-a die, I'm-a going to-a die!" Luigi began repeating to himself.
"It's okay, Luigi," Sam said as he knelt down beside Luigi and put a hand on his shoulder. "We can do this." And thus they waited until the moon was high in the sky, and then rowed up to the island as sneakily as they could. When they reached the shore, Sam surveyed the area ahead of them, as saw the many Magikoopas (and other assorted Bowser related minions) milling about in front of several portals.
"What are-a we doing?!" Luigi said, just barely keeping himself together.
"Just follow my lead, again."
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Follow Sam's lead and do what he does.
Sam, being a master of stealth, was able to easily slip past the enemies and get to the portals. As luck would have it, most of the Magikoopas and other minions were drunk enough that Luigi was also able to slip by without them noticing. The duo soon found themselves before an array of portals, all of which were leading to other worlds.
"But which one to go through?" Sam pondered. "None of them look like your world."
"But-a..." Luigi said, looking over his shoulder at the enemies to make sure they weren't looking.
"How-a do-a you know-a-"
"Never mind that," Sam said as he looked at the portals carefully. "This one looks the most promising," he said as he pointed to a portal that appeared to lead to an early 21st Century city. "You coming?"
"I-a guess-a so..."
"Okay then. On three. One...Two...Three!" They jumped through the portal and wound up in a war torn city, with gunshots and explosions audible in the distance, but there was no one around.
"We're-a gonna die!" Luigi cried as he heard a loud, artificial sounding roar from behind a nearby building. Suddenly, a giant Bowser robot crashed its way through the building, and was about to set its sights on Luigi and Sam, but then a mysterious ninja-like figure jumped off another building and landed between the intrepid duo and the Bowser robot.
"Raiden?" Sam exclaimed at the cyborg ninja entered a combative stance.
"Get ready for JACK THE RIPPER!" Raiden yelled as he leaped into the air toward the Bowser robot. Luigi, of course, was cowering in fear behind Sam's legs.
Moosies Number IV Game of the Year 2013: Metal Gear Rising: REVENGEANCE.
I am a Metal Gear fanatic. I probably didn't have to explicitly state that, because if you keep up with the nonsense I put on the internet, you're probably well versed in my obsession with that series. And despite the rocky path this game took through its development, I stayed confident that it would turn out to be a good game. But it turned out that I was wrong, it didn't end up a good game.
It ended up a FANTASTIC game. The game doesn't really give me my Metal Gear fix like the Metal Gear Solid games do, but instead it's a rad action game that is totally nuts from start to finish. I mean, in this game, you cut a Metal Gear Ray in half within the first twenty minutes(ish) of the game, and there's a boss (spoiler) that is a dude whose ENTIRE BODY is made of nanomachines. And I can't forget to mention that Raiden's faithful companion in the game is a talking robot wolf.
And then there's the music! Here's a little sample for you to listen to. Part of why I love the game's music is certainly the absurdity and over-the-topness of most of it, but it's also in how it's used. For most of the songs in the game, it'll loop through certain parts of the song until you get to a specific part of the fight, at which point it'll kick into something else, like the lyrics, or a sick guitar solo. It's just so crazy that I can't help but love it, and it's definitely one of my favorite parts of the game. Let me put it this way, of all the games that came out this year, this is the only one that I would routinely listen to some of the songs on the soundtrack while I was doing other stuff on my computer. Sure, it's probably not actually the "best" music of the year, but it's certainly my favorite music of the year.
But all that nonsense isn't what got me to play and replay this game...four or five times throughout the year. It's the game play, of course, that kept me coming back. One of the smartest things that Kojima and company ever did was give this game to Platinum, because they can do what (seemingly) no one else can these days. And by that I mean create these insane action games with the tightest possible controls, outrageous scenarios, and crazy mechanics on top of all that.
The combat in REVENGEANCE is based around three core mechanics. The first is attacking, which is really simple. The second is parrying, which is definitely tougher. Rather than having a straight up block button, instead you have to push in the direction of the incoming attack and hit the light attack button. If you time it well enough, you'll knock the enemy off balance, and open them up for the third mechanic, which is Blade Mode. This is the part where the game goes into slow motion, and you can cut the enemy into pieces in an attempt to steal the enemy's energy thingy and use it to restore health.
And that may actually be my favorite part of the entire game. Not so much that you can cut enemies into (literally) hundreds of pieces. No, it's that where Raiden's sword hits the enemy is where the enemy actually gets cut. I can't think of any other game that has real, one to one cutting action like that. Take Dead Space, for example. Sure, the game is built around dismembering enemies, but if you pay attention, the limbs always come off from predetermined spots. While that doesn't actually impact the game play at all, it's still disappointing, which makes REVENGEANCE such a delight to me.
I could keep going on and on about this game, and easily go back through and play it yet again. But there's a few more things I'd like to mention. Even though you never really have to, the game has tons of dialog hidden with characters that you can call up on the Codec, and I think it's great that they kept that feature in from the main Metal Gear Solid games. On higher difficulties (specifically very hard and REVENGEANCE difficulties) the game changes enemy placements, in addition to the normal damage taken changes. For example, the very first fight in the game on hard and lower is against three dudes with machetes. On very hard and higher, there's also a Gekko along with them, and all the enemies are way more aggressive. Of course, New Game Plus-ing it makes a lot of the game easier to deal with on higher difficulties, aside from the first area of the game, which doesn't let you use any of that stuff. There's kind of a story reason for that, but it still made that first act WAY harder than it would have otherwise.
It's a super rad game, and about the only negative thing I have to say is that it's short. Well, that makes it easier to replay, but it probably could have been a bit longer. But then again, even at its current length, there's still some backtracking type stuff, and that was a bummer, but not too much of a bummer.
Metal Gear Rising: REVENGEANCE also wins:
Award for Best Melee Combat.
Award for Best Use of Blood and/or Gore.
Award for "Best" Music.
Secret Award for Best Use of The Konami Code.
Proceed to III.
Option B: Run out to the Magikoopas and surrender.
While Luigi may have thought that they would be merciful, he could not have been more wrong, and he was swiftly killed by a magic missile.
Option C: Go back to the rowboat and try to return to Kenway's ship.
Unfortunately for Luigi, the landing had been quite rough, and there was a large hole in the bottom of the rowboat. Luigi didn't realize this until he was halfway back to the ship, at which point the rowboat sank, and he was eaten by various sea critters, who then spent days trying to get the sour taste out of their mouths.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Sam realized that dragging this cowardly Italian man around was a poor idea, and put Luigi out of his misery with a (silenced) bullet to the brain.
"AHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Raiden cackled as he leaped toward the Bowser robot, and before Sam and Luigi knew what was going on, Raiden had cut the machine to pieces, and was back over to our intrepid duo. "Luigi? What are you doing here?"
"How-a do you-a know me?" Luigi asked as he slowly walked out from behind the "safety" of Sam's legs.
"Everyone knows you! You were a hero of mine as a child...After I left the... Child soldiers, behind."
"Uh...yeah," Sam said, trying to get this all back on track. "We've been traveling through portals and various worlds, and we need to get back to our own worlds."
"Maybe then we can stop Bowser at the source. He's been sending his minions out to dozens of different worlds in an attempt to conquer them all!"
"How do you know that?"
"Allow me to explain!" A balding, German scientist said as his hologram appeared in front of Raiden.
"No time for that!" Raiden yelled as he swiped his sword through the hologram, making it disappear. "I think there's some more portals near...What's that?" They were all taken surprise by a large Bowser shell shaped spaceship that suddenly appeared above them.
"PREPARE TO BE ABDUCTED!" A gruff voice boomed from the spaceship.
"We need to get out of here!" Sam yelled as Luigi began to panic.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Attempt to get out of there with Sam and Raiden.
In Luigi's earnest attempt to escape with his allies, he ended up bumping into Raiden, who tripped and dropped his sword...Right onto Luigi, who soon died from blood loss.
Option B: Run over and hide under a nearby cardboard box.
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi screamed as he lifted up the cardboard box to reveal the corpse of Solid Snake, who had decided to return to his natural habitat before he died. However, seeing an old friend (again, from Super Smash Bros. Brawl) dead and rotting caused Luigi to have a heart attack.
Option C: Jump into a nearby sewer.
"Luigi!" Raiden yelled as Luigi jumped into the sewer.
"Just shut up and follow him," Sam called back as he jumped into the sewer as well. Raiden followed suit, and found themselves staring at the barrel of a laser rifle held by someone handsome that they all recognized.
"Keith David?!" The intrepid trio cried.
"Luigi?" Keith David replied as he stopped aiming at them. "What are you doing here?"
"It's a long-a story," Luigi sighed.
"I take it you and goggles there came from other worlds like I did?"
"Yes," Sam replied.
"I figured as much. I did as well, and it was right after I helped the President defeat the Zin...Never mind about them," he added at the confused looks on their faces. "If I could get back to my world, we could use the power of the Saints to stop Bowser, but I haven't the slightest idea about how to get back."
"We're-a doomed," Luigi moaned as he plopped down on the ground and started moping.
"Perhaps not," Keith David said heroically as he looked majestically off in the distance. "How many times have you and your brother defeated Bowser? More than I can count. Mario may not be here, but between the rest of us, we can do this. We can stand up to Bowser's attacks and defeat him once and for all! Not for us, but for every person he's ever stepped on. Every minion he's sent out to die for his stupid schemes. We're not fighting for revenge...We're fighting for justice!" No one seemed inspired by this speech. "Besides, there's one piece of information I have: Where Bowser's New Lair is. If we can get there, we can stop him. You in?"
Moosies Number III Game of the Year 2013: Saints Row IV.
At the end of the first mission in Saints Row IV, the Boss of the Saints is climbing up a giant missile flying through the air whilst Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" plays and the rest of the Saints call the Boss on the radio and tell him how much they'll miss him. When I was trying to figure out the correct placement for this game on my top ten, this moment kept popping into my head, and every time it did, I knew it deserved that higher slot. That moment was, no IS, without a doubt, not only my favorite video game moment of the year, it's one of my favorite video game moments of all time. For me, at least. I know I have a friend that I got into "friendly discussions" about this moment at least twice in the year, with him completely opposed to my (clearly correct) position. But hey, he doesn't like Aerosmith, so he's not a real American .
This game is just so ridiculous, insane, and hilarious in so many ways that I came really, REALLY close to making this my game of the year. Though, as you may have noticed, this is Number III, so clearly there were other games that I liked more, but still, this game is rad. I mean, you play as the President of The United States (in my case, a cockney President) that gets abducted by aliens (along with Vice President Keith David), and then you get all sorts of crazy powers to use in a Matrix style simulation against the oppressive Zin Empire. Everything about the game, from the dialog, to the voice acting, to the scenarios is just so spot on and hilarious that it was a non-stop joy. I loved almost every second that I played this brilliant, incredible mess of a game.
But there's the rub. As amazing and incredible as this game is, it's also a complete mess. At some point over the last year I started calling it a "mess-terpiece." The fact that it's the same city (with a few small changes) from Saints Row the Third is a total bummer. Steelport was an all right city, but not great enough that it deserved a second game set in it. But even worse were the technical issues with the game. Granted, I realize that PC master race jerks would start their whining here, but shut up. The game wasn't broken, and I didn't have a ton of issues, but the fact that there are issues in this game that (frankly) doesn't even look that great was also a total bummer. I understand why these two issues are in the game (lack of time), but that doesn't excuse them. If Volition had been given the time and money to make this a proper next (well, now current) gen game with a new city, this could have been one of my favorite games of all time. But as it is, I think it's a game that is, in many ways, a lot better than Saints Row the Third, but is also worse in a number of ways.
That said, nothing can diminish running up the side of a building, jumping off, and then punching into the ground so hard that a nuclear explosion goes off, all while my mix tape of nothing but classical music and "What is Love?" is playing in the background. I had, for a while, been just listening to the classical station in the game. But while listening to Emperor Zinyak do dramatic readings of classic texts was funny at first (and another of the things that makes me REALLY love this game), it got old due to the readings being repeated too often.
It also doesn't diminish being able to light a car on fire with a fireball, pick it up with telekinesis and then throw it at enemies. Oh, and did I mention that it can be upgraded telekinesis that adds lightning to the object as well? Because that's also rad.
So...yeah. Saints Row IV is a game with some of the highest highs that I've ever experienced in a video game, but also some pretty low lows. But I've harped on those enough, so I'll just move on.
Saints Row IV also wins:
Award for Funniest Game.
Michael Bay Award for Most Ridiculous Game.
Secret Award for Best Moment ("I Don't Want to Missile Thing").
Proceed to II.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Sam and Raiden abandoned him, and he was abducted by Bowser's minions in the spaceship. I would describe what happens next, but Nintendo said that "anal probing" wouldn't be allowed in Australia, so I'm afraid that I can't. Also he died.
"I'm-a in," Luigi said as he hopped off the ground, finally finding the resolve to be halfway brave.
"If he's in, then so am I," Sam agreed, with a smile.
"Well, I can't say no now, can I?" Raiden quipped.
"Good," Keith David said, still sounding majestic. "Bowser's New Lair in the outskirts of a large city, but it's in another world. However, I think the portal is somewhere near...here...What is that sound?" They all looked down to one end of the sewers where a strange, and rather loud series of clicking sounds could be heard.
"There's people down there," Sam said, using the sonar functionality in his goggles to see through the wall.
"Wait-a," Luigi said. "You-a could-a do-a that all along-a?"
"But they're acting weird..." Raiden added, using his seeing through walls power too. "Like...zombies!"
"That's absurd," Keith David replied, though he sounded slightly less than sure. "Burt Reynolds assured me that there weren't any zombies left... But then again, who ever said he was trustworthy?" As he said this, he raised his gun and began firing at the swarm of zombies that started running toward our intrepid heroes. Many of them looked like they were covered in strange, fungal growths.
"Get out of here!" Raiden yelled as he ran toward the swarm. "I can handle them!"
"You heard the man!" Keith David said to Sam and Luigi. "Let's get the hell out of here!" And thus our, now Raiden-less group made a strategic withdrawal down the other end of the sewers, away from Raiden, who was doing a swell job cutting the zombies into pieces.
"I think we're safe now," Sam said after they had run through the sewers for close to an hour. "Where do you think they came from?"
"Probably from another world," Keith David replied as he stared up at a nearby manhole. "How are you holding up Luigi?"
"Eh," Luigi sighed. He was feeling surprisingly well, given the circumstances. "I've-a been-a worse-a."
"Ha! I'm sure. I'm going to take a peek out the manhole. Cover me." Keith David started climbing up the ladder, and used his manly strength to easily move the manhole cover out of the way. After looking out in several different directions, he called back down to Sam and Luigi. "I think the portal we're looking through is nearby, let's go!" He climbed out of the manhole, and Luigi started up the ladder.
"Damn," Sam said as he heard a clicking sound nearby. "Climb faster Luigi, I think they're...AAAAAAA!" Sam started screaming as a clicker grabbed onto him and they got into a death struggle.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Keep climbing after Keith David.
Realizing that Sam was not long for this world, Luigi just kept climbing, and soon caught up to Keith David. The two were now in the middle of an empty street, with a large portal in front of them.
"He didn't make it, did he?" Keith David asked. All Luigi could reply with was to shake his head, and shred a few tears for his fallen friend. "We all have to make sacrifices in times of need."
Moosies Number II Game of the Year 2013: The Last of Us.
There was a point, a few weeks ago, when I thought this game was going to wind up rather low on this list, because it had been months since I played it, and I was in the hospital on morphine. Okay, that was mostly a joke, because the doses they gave me weren't actually high enough to affect my reasoning skills (they were just as bad as usual). But, because of the late start I got on writing this stuff up, I listened to all of Giant Bomb's coverage of this game, and it reminded me that I actually kind of absolutely loved this game. I know at this point you don't need me heaping praise onto this game, because I'm sure that you've already seen plenty of other people heaping praise onto it, so I'll keep my praise of the story and acting short (because that's what people usually talk about, but I should stress that I really loved those parts of the game, because they're really well done (well, I mean the writing more than the actual story itself, because the story itself is a bit clichéd, but like I said, I'm the master of clichés)).
Instead, I'll talk about this game's masterful use of something that I, generally speaking, absolutely hate. I'm talking about zombies. I think they're stupid, the only zombie movies I like are either comedies (Shaun of the Dead) or parodies (Planet Terror), and my eight year quest to beat Dead Rising (which I completed last year (yay)) has kind of put me off from ever playing a dumb zombie game ever again (at least until I make my millions from my novels and buy an Xbox One and need something to play on it that isn't that weird Swery game).
The point I was trying to make before I started rambling was that this is a zombie stealth game. Sure, you spend large portions of the game sneaking past normal dudes (and those are also great because I like stealth games), but I think that using stealth as a mechanic for circumventing (or defeating) zombies was a great mechanic. And to be honest, it's a mechanic that I think is much better than just slaughtering your way through thousands of mindless zombies in Dead Rising (again, at least until I make my millions and make that bank breaking $499 purchase).
Part of why I like the stealthing against zombies in this game is that it's different than most stealthing in games (and different than the against people stealthing in the game). Okay, I'll try to use "stealthing" less. Anyway, the clickers and bloaters in the game are blind, which takes the focus off avoiding line of sight and moves it onto not making sound. Or, conversely, using objects in the environment to lure the enemies away. And it gets real tense in a way that I thought was incredible.
Tense is maybe the best way to describe the game as a whole. While I never actually played the game on hard, listening to Giant Bomb's (mainly Brad's) words on the game made me want to go back and replay it on hard. I haven't, yet, because I'm still "recovering" from being in the hospital (by which I mean watching The Next Generation and Arrested Development on Netflix all day), and I might want to ease myself back into video games on something easier first. I've already beaten The Last of Us twice, too, yet I still kinda want to go through it again.
I got off topic again. Tense-ness. This game recreates how I feel being in the post-apocalypse would be better than any other game I can think of. Of course, that's partly due to how easy it is to be super overpowered in Fallout 3, but I think it's mostly because of great game design. Then again, I think Joel can carry way too many weapons in his backpack, and maybe playing on hard would help make that desperation and tension be more apparent through the whole game. Or not, I don't know.
I feel like this rambling mess hasn't actually captured how I feel about this game. Or maybe this rambling mess is supposed to be symbolic of the mess that is society and the confusing nature of Joel's emotional state throughout The Last of Us as he goes from being a man that is in it only for himself to a man that makes an incredible sacrifice for a person he cares for more than anything (or anyone) else.
And if you believe that, I have a bridge for sale...
Oh, and the game has was may be Nolan North's best performance since his role as Steven Heck in Game of the Generation Alpha Protocol. Okay, I lied, Alpha Protocol isn't Game of the Generation, but I wasn't lying about Nolan North's performance.
The Last of Us also wins:
Award for Best Overall Acting.
Award for Best Story.
Nolan North Presents The Secret Award for Best Troy Baker Performance (Joel).
Troy Baker Presents The Secret Award for Best Nolan North Performance (David).
Secret Award For Best Female Character And Acting Performance From A Lady Because Society Is Sexist And Actually I Just Ginned This Up Because I Realized That I Had Already Given Best New Supporting Character To Drippy And I Felt Bad Because Ellie Is Also A Really Good Character Award Achievement Award (Ellie, Ashley Johnson).
Proceed to I.
Option B: Go back down to help Sam.
Realizing that now was the time for Luigi to finally prove that he too could be a true hero, Luigi let go of the ladder in an attempt to attack the clicker and free Sam...but it ended with the clicker killing not only Sam, but Luigi as well. After a few minutes, Keith David realized that neither of the two had made it, so he went on without them.
Option C: Panic and not move at all.
This strategy might have worked, if it weren't for the fact that Luigi was very tired, and could not hold on to the ladder for very long. When he fell, he landed right on his head, breaking his neck and making him easy prey for the clicker.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, the clicker actually thought he was another zombie, and left him alone. But that was not helpful later in the day when a torrential rainfall caused the sewers to flood, the complications of which proved fatal for poor Luigi.
Before we continue onward to, what may be, the final chapter in Luigi's tale, I thought we should take another break, and listen to some relaxingmusic. Ah, that's better.
"Sam wouldn't want us to just sit around mourning him though," Keith David said as he stood there, staring stoically at the portal. "We have to keep going. You ready?" Instead of responding with speech, Luigi stood up straight and saluted The Vice President. "That's more like it, soldier! Let's go!" And with that our intrepid duo jumped through the portal, and wound up on the side of a street in a bustling city resembling that of early 21st Century Earth.
"Where-a are-a we?" Luigi mumbled as he looked around. The city wasn't exactly clean, but at least it wasn't a war zone like the last one they were in.
"This is Los Santos," Keith David replied as his eyes passed over the area, looking for potential threats. They stopped on a scummy looking man sitting in a parked red truck nearby. The truck had bull horns on the front. "It's the largest city in the state of San Andreas, and probably a bit more, rough, than you're used to."
"Ugh..." Luigi sighed.
"I see no signs of Bowser, but I know my intel is correct. It has to be. Bowser's New Lair is supposed to be hidden in a nearby mountain. Mt. Chilliad, I believe.
"Mt. Chilliad, you say?" It was the scummy looking man in the truck, who had driven over to our heroes. He had a devious smile on his face, and smelled like a combination of sweat, vomit, gasoline, and a few smells Luigi didn't recognize (DRUGS). "I'm Trevor, President and CEO of Trevor Phillips Industries. Or is it Enterprises? Anyway, I can give you two a ride, if you want."
"What do you think, Luigi?" Keith David asked, not trusting the man, who seemed too eager to help these complete strangers.
"I-I-a dunno," Luigi stammered.
"Trust me, I'll get you there in no time, just hop in," Trevor said, trying his best to sound honest.
"I think we'll be fine," Keith David said as he got in the passenger seat.
"You're little friend there will have to ride in the back."
"Okay..." Luigi moaned as he hopped in the back, and did his best to relax (which was a poor job).
"Mt. Chilliad?" Trevor asked as they began driving.
"Correct," Keith David replied, keeping his eyes on Trevor.
"You ever been there before?"
"Not one for talking?"
"Well, you don't need to tell Trevor Phillips twice. I'll just shut up then, not like I'd appreciate a little GRATEFULLNESS for driving you into another COUNTY for FREE!" Keith David's reply was a stern look that silenced Trevor, for the time being at least. And on they drove for quite a while, until they were well outside the Los Santos city limits, and were approaching the mountains. But then Trevor missed the correct turn.
"You just missed our turn," Keith David said, now eying Trevor very suspiciously.
"Oh this? This is a shortcut, trust me, I know these roads like the back of my hand!" Trevor proclaimed as he held up his right hand and looked at it. "Hey, when'd I get that scar?"
"Wrong answer," Keith David said as he head-butted Trevor out of the truck, moved over to the driver's seat, and turned the truck around. "Get in the front," he said to Luigi, who did as he was told.
"YOU'LL REGRET THIS!" Trevor yelled after our intrepid heroes as they drove away. "You don't cross Trevor Phillips Enterprises and live to tell the tale! Or is it Industries?" As Trevor stood there, trying to remember the correct name of his "company," Keith David and Luigi drove toward the top of Mt. Chilliad, in the hopes of finally stopping Bowser from conquering all of those different worlds.
"We should be there soon," Keith David said as they neared the top.
"Do...Do-a you have a plan?" Luigi asked as Keith David parked the truck.
"I had one," Keith David said as he climbed out and starting walking toward the (poorly hidden) entrance to Bowser's New Lair. "But it involved Raiden and Sam. We'll just have to wing it-"
"Yes, wing it...TO DEATH!" Bowser roared as his airship decloaked in the air near the top of the mountain.
"Bowser!" Keith David yelled as he pointed his laser rifle at the King of the Koopas.
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi screamed.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Run down the mountain as quickly as possible.
As he ran down the mountain, Luigi heard a strange growling noise, but before he could look around and see the source, he was killed by a cougar, who that ate him. It was displeased with its meal.
Option B: Run back to Trevor's truck and drive away.
However, Luigi did not know the slightest thing about driving trucks, so all he did was undo the parking break, which caused the truck to slowly start rolling down the mountain. At a certain point the truck flipped over and crashed down, crushing Luigi into a small, squishy pulp.
Option C: Stand there and let Vice President Keith David do all the work.
"Oh, you think a little PEA SHOOTER like that can stop me?" Bowser said.
"I'm Keith David, of course I can stop you!" Keith David replied, somehow sounding even more majestic than before. "Wait, what's that sound?" In the distance, he could here what sounded like a helicopter flying toward them. He, Bowser, and Luigi all turned to see a small helicopter with "Trevor Phillips Enterprises" painted on the side flying toward them.
"It was ENTERPRISES!" Trevor yelled into a microphone on his copter than played his voice out of a megaphone on the outside that was loud enough to be heard over the propellers.
"You fool, you'll kill us all!"
"AHAHAHAHAHAHA!" Trevor yelled as he gleefully flew the helicopter toward Keith David. Or, at least what he thought was Keith David, because he had consumed large amounts of various drugs on the flight over, and thought that Bowser was Keith David.
"NOOOOO!" Bowser roared right before Trevor's helicopter crashed into the airship, causing both to explode, which sent (a now very badly burned) Bowser flying toward Keith David. He landed shell side down, and soon had Keith David's gun pointed at his head.
"I'll be accepting your surrender now," Keith David smiled.
"GRR! All my schemes, foiled again! Damn you Keith David!" Meanwhile, Luigi let out a sigh of relief, as the day had finally been saved...
OR HAD IT?
Moosies Number I Game of the Year 2013: Grand Theft Auto V.
Grand Theft Auto V is one of those games where, when it was announced, I got really excited for it. But that was back in, what, late 2011? Yeah, 2011 is when that first trailer was put up. Well, in the time between then and the release of the game, I didn't really keep up with it, so I wasn't mad excited for it or anything. Especially not after I tried to go back and play GTA IV again, and only got maybe halfway into it. Granted, I really liked GTA IV back in the day, but by modern standards, everything that isn't the voice acting in the game is pretty terrible (especially the driving). But in retrospect, I think that trying to play GTA IV only helped drive home how much of an achievement GTA V is.
GTA V is, without a doubt, one of my favorite games of the generation. While no one aspect of the game (aside from the acting and the open world, but more on those later) is any better than any other game that I played this year, it's the ambition that really sets this game apart. It's the scale, it's the incredibly high level of quality that permeates almost every aspect of the game that makes it so special to me. Sure, the game has some glitches here and there, but of course it does, all big open world games do. That's just the nature of how these things work.
But from the very first moment I started playing the game, and it opened with that bank heist, I knew I loved this game. It's a fairly tense mission that manages to both set up the back story between two of the protagonists, and also be a really good tutorial for the game's mechanics. It's things like, "Hey, drive carefully, the cops haven't cased this car yet" that are simply brilliant. It sounds like something that fits, and it also explains a new mechanic without breaking the fourth wall.
And that brings me to the various changes from the previous game. For one thing, and this only applies to the PS3 version, but you can aim and shoot with L1 and R1 instead of L2 and R2, which made me extremely happy. But then there's actual game mechanics like avoiding the cops. In GTA IV, so long as you were in the glowing cop circle on the mini-map, the cops knew where you were. In terms of game play, it wasn't terrible, but it didn't make logical sense, and in a game that was trying to be at least somewhat realistic, it was out of place. Now, in GTA V, if you break line of sight with the cops, it turns into a stealth game with cop vision cones on the mini-map. And if you manage to get into another car while out of sight, the cops won't magically know that you're in the new car. While this might sound like it makes it easier, it doesn't, because the cops seem a lot more persistent than in GTA IV, though I still think not as much as real cops would be. And I'm fine with that, because it's still a video game.
And then there's the trio of protagonists, which was another brilliant move. Not only does it get rid of the old GTA trope of playing as a dude that does everything (well, it sort of does), but I think RockStar should be applauded for managing to make THREE really likable protagonists. A lot of games can't even make one likable protagonist, but this game managed to have three of them. Well, I can see how people might not like Trevor (but they're pansies), and Franklin is definitely not used as well as he should have been, but I still think it's a pretty good accomplishment.
Personally, Trevor is one of my favorite video game characters of all time. No, I won't argue against him being a terrible person (because he is), but that's part of why I find him so endearing. He's a murdering, drug dealing, drug taking, (possible) cannibalizing, psychopathic, scooter-loving sociopath. But that's what makes him so memorable. You want to hate him, because of all the vile things he does, but he's just so well acted (props to Steven Ogg), and so well written that you can't help but just laugh along with him as he does his dirty deeds. Most of the time, at least. No, I'm not talking about the torture scene, I actually quite liked that, I'm talking about one of the side missions where Trevor does some bad stuff with free sex from a real estate agent's wife as payment. That made me a little uncomfortable. A little.
And I haven't even gotten to the heists yet, or the missions design in general. Sure, the game has plenty of "drive to this place" type stuff that isn't great, but there's also a mission where you fly a small plane into the back of a bigger plane. There's a mission where you have to sneak into a big base to steal what you think is a deadly bio-weapon, but turns out to be something less deadly (at least if you hear the radio report after that mission that reveals what it really was). But my favorite mission in the entire game was the small town bank heist. You don't get nearly as many options as you do for some of the other heists, but what happens in that mission is so crazy and nuts that it might not be as good as climbing a missile while Aerosmith plays, but it's certainly a close second.
But the other heists, the ones where you have to do a lot of prep-work beforehand, are great. It's not perfect, and I feel like some of them (specifically the ones where you need to hide the getaway car) could have been clearer about where the job was going down. I had one where I hid the car way farther away than I would have otherwise, but luckily it didn't affect the outcome at all.
Another of my favorite moments in the game was doing some of the prep work for the first heist (the jewelry store job). I had to steal a van and some exterminator outfits, so I drove up to the place after sunset. There weren't a ton of people there, but there were a few. I tried walking up, all nonchalant (as Michael), but the guys there told me to beat it after Michael asked about needing some exterminator work done. So, instead, I sneaked around the back, knocked a dude out, and drove away, with them none the wiser. Granted, that may sound kind of dull and boring, but I thought it was super cool at the time. I analyzed the situation, surveyed the area, and went about my task the best way I thought I could, and it totally worked. In some ways, it's that kind of thing that has me excited for stuff like MGSV. Having more freedom in what I have for options is great.
Of course, most of the game doesn't allow that much freedom in what you can do, but conversely, this game has one of the best (if not the best) open worlds I've ever explored in any video game. Between Los Santos, the mountains, and the desert, there's a lot of variety in the environments, and the world actually feels big. A lot of the time, these games that are supposed to be "so big" end up feeling small to me, especially when I try to figure out how big the world actually is and then compare it to real world places. And granted, if you do that with GTA V, it doesn't stack up to real cities, but it still manages to feel like a big, living, real world. There's an incredible level of detail in almost every facet of the world, in every nook and cranny, in every little, unimportant thing. It's stuff like having the radio stations change when you enter certain parts of the world, and having one of them have a crazy man going on about some of the funniest conspiracy theories that I've ever heard.
This game is incredible. It's no wonder that it took five-ish years to make, because it's such a huge, awe-inspiring masterpiece of a game. I just wish that more people had the diligence to make it through the whole game, because I know that a lot of people get burned out mid-way through these games, and never actually finish them. And that's too bad for them, because while this game definitely has some low points, I think the highs are really high, and that it's easily RockStar's best game to date.
Oh, and the user selectable beards for the main characters are pretty great.
Grand Theft Auto V also wins:
Abe Lincoln Award for Best Use of Facial Hair.
Award for Best New Protagonist (Trevor Phillips).
Nolan North Presents The Troy Baker Award for Best Non-Troy Baker and Non-Nolan North Actor of the Year. (Steven Ogg as Trevor Phillips).
Secret Award for Best Open World.
Secret Award for Best Criming.
Secret Award for Best Needlessly Dumb Mini-Game (Mopping Mini-Game).
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Keith David did his best to defeat Bowser, but Luigi was hit by a stray Bullet Bill.
"Looks like the good guys win again, eh Luigi?" Keith David smiled as Bowser lay on the ground, moping in his defeat.
"Yup!" Luigi cried with joy as he hopped up into the air...And fell down through the ground as he landed, revealing a secret trap down on the mountain.
"LUIGIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!" Keith David yelled in anguish as Luigi fell down into the dark depths below. He fell for a very long time, until he finally landed next to a knight seated before a lit bonfire.
"Ah, hello there!" The knight said as Luigi came to his senses. "You here for some jolly cooperation?"
"What?" Luigi mumbled as he looked around. He was in a dark, dusty place. Nearby was a very large structure, and through the door into the structure, he could see what looked like a large man with a huge beard. "Where-a am I? Who-a are you?"
"Why, you're in Lodran, of course," the knight chuckled. "And I'm Solaire, of Astora. I had been waiting for a friend of mine before proceeding, but I fear he may have fallen to the black knights. Ah, but they'll only slow him down, I suppose. Would you be willing to lend a hand?"
"Don't worry about that, you'll be fine, you've rested at the fire. Now don't tarry, let us go forth!" And with that, Solaire stood up and stoically pulled out his sword. "Onward to glorious victory!" He ran forth into the room, and Luigi felt compelled to follow after him, if only to see what was going to happen next.
"AAAAAAAIIIE!" Luigi yelled as the large bearded man began dueling with Solaire, his giant sword alight with fire.
"I could use some help here!" Solaire yelled as he blocked a large blow from the man, and followed with a lightning spear attack.
What should Luigi do?
Option A: Grab a sword from a nearby corpse and try to fight.
While his intentions were good, Luigi didn't know the first thing about using a sword, and his poor sword fighting only got him and Solaire killed faster.
Option B: Use whatever Luigi has on his person, and try to fight.
This would have been a good idea if a small hammer and a fire flower were effective against Lord Gwyn, but of course they weren't, and Luigi was swiftly felled by the giant fire sword.
Option C: Run away.
This might have been a good idea, if it weren't for the black knights that Solaire mentioned earlier. Luigi made it about one hundred feet outside of the structure when one of the knights ran up from behind, and killed poor Luigi in one hit.
Option D: Give up on life and enter a fetal position.
"It's-a no use," Luigi mumbled as he dropped to the ground and entered a fetal position. As he cried, Solaire continued to fight, but he could only last for so long, and was eventually defeated. After felling his foe, Lord Gwyn turned toward Luigi, and slowly walked over.
"Do not be afraid," Gwyn said as he raised his sword above Luigi. "It will not be as painful as you-" But the next thing Luigi heard was the sound of the sword falling into the ground, and Gwyn's body slumping down after it. Luigi decided to break out of his fetal position, and looked behind him to see an old friend holding up a silenced pistol.
"Kept you waiting, huh?" Sam Fisher said with a grin as he holstered his gun.
"But-a, how-a did-a you-" Luigi started to say as he stood up.
"At the last second, Raiden saved me, and then I went about the task of catching up to you. Raiden had too much to take care of in his world to come, and Keith David is still making sure Bowser is taken care of. I have no idea where we are though."
"I'm-a just-a glad-a you're-a okay," Luigi said, feeling better.
"Me too. So, now what?" Sam asked. Luigi shrugged.
Moosies Retro Video Game of the Year 2013: Dark Souls.
Grand Theft Auto V may be one of the best games of the generation, but Dark Souls is one of my favorite games of all time. It was a game that I went into with a lot of trepidation, and definitely not one that I rushed out to go play. I didn't buy it until late in 2012, in fact, it was exactly one day after Dark Souls II was announced. But given my college-ing at the time, I didn't have a chance to really get into it until early 2013 (you know, last year). But even before then, back to when the game was released, Dark Souls was a game that fascinated me. Sure, I was fascinated from a distance, watching other people play it, both on Giant Bomb, and in the form of completely insane speed runs.
But even after seeing all that, after literally having watched people play that game from start to finish (again, in like hour long speed runs or something), this game still captivated me. I was completely drawn into the world and lore of Lordran. I was driven to complete my quest, and complete it I did. I'm not saying that to brag, because I'm of the belief that the game isn't as hard as most people think it is. I'm not saying it's easy, because I still think it's a pretty hard game, but that's the point. Dark Souls is a game that rewards hard work, more so than almost any other game that I've played.
But it also punishes carelessness. And that, perhaps, is the right word to describe this game. Punishing. Die twice, and your last blood stain, and any souls/humanity left with it are gone. Forever. Lost to time, like tears in the rain. Attack a shopkeeper, and he'll fight you any time to get near, unless you pay a fee. A fee that, I should add, only gets higher as your soul level increases. Kill an NPC, and that person is gone, forever. And you had better hope that it was worth it. Spend hours putting points into a skill only to realize that you should have been putting them into something else, and you're screwed, because Dark Souls doesn't know the meaning of the word"respec."
While I love the razor sharp and lightning fast combat of games like REVENGEANCE, I also love the deliberate combat of Dark Souls. Not slow, deliberate. There's a difference. You can play Dark Souls as fast and loose as you want, and there are certainly plenty of very fast weapons. But every time you attack, you leave yourself open. Attack at the wrong moment, and you could get overwhelmed, and die on the spot. And that makes almost every fight tense. Well, at least until you're going through an area for the 40th time and are mad overpowered and killing everything in one hit.
But there's always another area, with bigger and stronger monsters and enemies to fight. Well, not literally, because even with the DLC (which is great), the game is finite in scope, but you get what I mean. You can leave one area feeling confident that you can succeed, only to be swiftly felled in the next, because you took a wrong turn and wound up in Blight Town instead of the forest. Sure, it may have been the frame rate in Blight Town that got you killed, but the point I was trying to get to was how much I love the world of Dark Souls. The way everything is interconnected shows a level of...level design rarely seen in other games. Any time I turned around a corner, unlocked some weird door, and realized I was about twenty feet away from some area I had been in hours earlier, I chuckled at how brilliant the level design is. Well, maybe brilliant is giving it a bit too much credit, but it's at least really clever.
I praised a lot of other games in this giant mess of a GOTY thing for their storytelling, but mainly for the quality of the acting and directing. Dark Souls, however, is not content with telling its story through cut-scenes like all the other games. Well, not counting the intro cut-scene, but after that, the game makes you dig for the story. And there's a lot of story in the game, it's just that most people miss it. Really, it's not so much a story as it is a mythology of what has happened in this land over the many centuries that it's existed. And I can't take credit for calling it a mythology, because I definitely saw someone else use that on the internet, but I think it's apt.
Dark Souls is more than just a game. If I had a larger vocabulary, and was more artistic, I could probably then follow that up with something profound, but I can't, so I won't. But I will say that it's one of those games that I think everyone should play. It achieves its goals so well (aside from technical issues) that I'm more worried about Dark Souls II than excited. Can lighting strike twice (thrice if you count Demon's Souls, which I've never played, but people seem to like)? I hope so, but I'm not sure. Will it be one of the games of the generation like Dark Souls? Maybe, maybe not. Who knows. But even if it's not, Dark Souls the first remains one of my favorites of all time, and the Moosies Retro Video Game of the Year 2013.
Praise the sun.
WHOO! Did you actually read all that? That's about...forty pages of text in this document I have on my computer. Oh wait, you want to know what happens next to Luigi and Sam? Well that, dear readers, is a story for another day...
Thank you. This may not have been the best GOTY thing you read for 2013, but I hope it was at least the most unique. And again, thank you for your time. I certainly spent a decent amount of time working on it.
Hey guys. Not really sure what brought this on, or how I decided to do this, but I figured I would write something up looking back on 2013 as a year. Not to talk about games, specifically. That's what The Moosies are for, and those are still a work in progress. I am making progress, I assure you. It's coming along well, but probably won't be up for a few days.
2013 has been a weird year. In terms of stuff like games and movies (and I realize I just said I wasn't going to discuss games), it was a pretty great year. Well, I guess it was probably only an average year for movies, because there were a handful that I really loved (Furious 6 (RIP Paul Walker), Pain & Gain, Thor 2), a bunch that I thought were good, but not great (Lone Ranger, Star Trek, The World's End), and some stuff that was outright bad (Man of Steel). And don't get me started on A Good Day To Die Hard, which is quite honestly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Oh my god, that movie is horrendous. Maybe even in my top three for most hated movies of all time. Maybe.
Even the PS4 has been hit or miss. I got mine, as you well know, and I think it's a fantastic piece of hardware (for the price at least, don't even start with PC Master Race nonsense). Conversely, the games for it have been kind of not what I wanted. Resogun is great, and I absolutely love Assassin's Creed IV, but that's a multiplatform game. But Killzone Shadow Fall? Disappointing as a whole. Need for Speed Rivals (again, multiplatform)? Great driving, but again, kinda disappointing. And even the interface and stuff on the PS4 is lacking. Whatever happened to standby mode saving where I was in a game? They announced that the say day that they announced the system itself! Well, hopefully they get that working soon.
But outside of entertainment stuff? 2013 was pretty bad. Part of me wants to praise Giant Bomb for all the incredible content they've done this year (BioForge, Load Our Last Souls, Breaking Brad, Unprofessional Fridays, various random streams), but on the other hand, Ryan died. I know I don't want to reopen that wound any more than anyone else, but I do want to take a moment to applaud the GB crew for doing as well as they have in the months since then, because as much as we GB audience types felt that loss, I can't even imagine what the main crew went through.
Really, now that I'm on the topic of death, probably the best thing I can say about my life in 2013 is that no one I know personally died. At least not yet, there's still hours left for someone to die before the end of the year. Really hope I didn't just jinx myself with that.
So what happened to me this year? Well, I graduated from college. At first glance that seems like a good thing, and in a lot of ways it is (because I don't know if I could have taken any more college (and I used to really like school)). But on the other hand, due to poor decisions that I made during the course of my four years at college, I wound up with a degree in Political Science. And I'm not badmouthing PoliSci, because it's definitely something that you can get a good career out of if you know what you're doing, but of course I did this in such a haphazard and sloppy way that I didn't.
Instead I've been back home with my dad ever since, trying my best to work on my second novel, even though my first one has been a colossal flop that has only served to help crush my hopes of being a successful author. I mean, at this point, I'm way too deep into Space Cops 5000 to give up entirely, but I can't keep deluding myself into thinking that it'll magically be a huge hit that will allow me to never have to have a real job. In 2014 I'm going to have to face that truth and actually get a job or something.
And that's not even the worst of what happened (and let me tell you, working so long on something like a novel only to have it fail is really crushing). At some point I had a small encounter with someone that I was...close with in high school, and that led to a solid month or more of spiraling into depression and reliving all sorts of stuff I did in high school, trying to think of what I should have done, instead of what I actually did. Looking back on that now, I'm angry more than anything else that I let myself fall into that spiral, but whatever. I've always been prone to bouts of depression, even if I don't talk about it. No, I'm not going to a psychologist. I don't have the time, money, or interest in doing that.
Luckily I broke out of that spiral before anything bad happened, and I am (emotionally) in a much better place that I was a few months ago, but of course that couldn't be the end of the bad stuff for the year. Nope, my body decided to just have a 7 cm abscess on my intestines that resulted in lots of pain, and almost a week spent in the hospital, during which I had great experiences like being on IV with only a sponge on a stick to wet my mouth (couldn't even drink water), during which the other guy in my hospital room kept waking up in the middle of the night wondering where he was and causing nurses to come in and calm him down (I don't blame him, he was old and very confused). I've been out for a bit now, and feeling much, much better, but I'm not where I used to be. I still can't even lie on my belly without it hurting. Sure, it doesn't hurt a ton, but it still sucks. I have to wake up at 2 AM to take an antibiotic that I have to take every 8 hours (at least my other antibiotic is every 12 hours, and that I take at 6 AM and 6 PM). That's almost used up but, but man, it sucks.
And it's not even over yet. I have another appointment for a couple weeks from now, and that's going to at some point lead to a colonoscopy, so that should be fun. Granted, by that point it'll be 2014, so that will be next year sucking instead of this year sucking, but conversely, I could say that's just 2013 taking out its vengeance on me by creating a problem that bleeds out into the following year (and potentially the rest of my life if this isn't something simple (and of course it won't)).
I think I've covered all the big things. Though, now that I've written this all out, aside from the hospital stuff, a lot of this just sounds like first world problem whining. Whatever, first world problems or not, I reached some really, REALLY low points this year in terms of my emotional health, and whether that was my fault for overreacting is irrelevant.
2013 was terrible. I couldn't be happier to be out of this year. Well, that's a lie, I could be happier to get out of this year. As much as I've complained (and I think most of it is justified), I did have a lot of fun moments with friends and family this year. Highlights, you ask? I had that small party (two friends over an a pizza) for Divekick. I went to a PS4 launch thing with a couple friends (well, a friend and a friend of a friend). Thanksgiving was fun, The Fourth of July was fun. I started playing D&D with a couple of old friends from high school (though that didn't really help with the whole, reliving stuff from high school stuff), I got a new TV, and it's easily the best TV I've ever had, so that's rad.
Really, though, I feel bad for Luigi more than anything else. Of course he got stuck with such a terrible year. It's not his fault, I mean, he's a fictional character that has to bend to the whims of whatever Nintendo wants him to do, and in this case, it was to take the fall for all this terrible stuff.
And hell, I haven't even gotten started about how messed up Congress was this year, and I won't, because I think this has gone on too long as it is.
So, 2014? If I had to come up with a New Year's Resolution, I guess it'd be to figure out what to do with my life? I don't know, this stuff with my belly could turn into something really serious or crazy, and that may end up consuming more and more of my life. I hope it won't, and I don't think it'll be that bad, but who knows.
I'm going to keep working on Space Cops 5000. I know I wanted to get it out by the end of the year, and then at some point I said the end of January. Can I get it out by then? Probably not. Who knows. Once this is done, I might not ever get around to writing another novel (even though I had planned for this to be a trilogy, but don't worry, Space Cops doesn't end on a massive cliffhanger or anything, in case I don't write part three). Or maybe I will, I don't know. I certainly have plenty of ideas for it, even if all those ideas wouldn't ever come together into a cohesive whole.
At least there should be some great games next year, right? Metal Gear, inFAMOUS, Dark Souls, The Witcher 3, and other stuff should all be great. If nothing else, video games have always been there for me, even at my lowest points.
Which is not to say anything against my friends, or the GB crew and the GB community. I'm just saying that video games are cool. And you can quote me on that.