Rented Forza 3

The game certainly makes a hell of a lot of improvements over the previous iterations, but I have to ask something. 
Were all of those changes needed? So much of the interface seems to have been changed just for the sake of change, and while I love the way everything looks, I'm not so sure about the way it actually WORKS. It's not really much more streamlined then Forza 2, except that there are fewer and faster transitions. It's like when you go into your local market and all of a sudden, everything is re-arranged. Sure, it's new and interesting, but sometimes it's better just the pretty things up, fix what's broken, and leave the rest alone, especially when a big part of your target audience is going to be prior fans. 
Another issue I have is the lack of improvement with the AI. The AI pretty much always acts like you don't exist. If you try and pass on the inside of a turn where the racing line starts wide but comes in, chances are the AI will bang right into you. And if your on the AI's tail, and should have the right away, but you don't have the room or ability to maneuver around, the AI doesn't budge, which in most ACTUAL races, would be a real bad thing to do. Then there's the part where all the cars on the track try to squeeze around a corner side by side, sparks flying everywhere. It's silly, and it ruins the experience of the game, in my opinion, to see a whole mess of AI cars knocking into each other every 5 seconds. Not to mention when they spin you out when you make a perfectly legal pass. 
I also have to say that while I love the cockpit view, it's very detailed, very accurate, very well done, it could be a hell of a lot better. For one, the lack of FOV is a real bummer, you can't even see your rear view mirror without turning the camera, let alone see another racer that isn't a good bit ahead of you. The point of the cockpit view is to immerse the player, and giving them such a narrow view greatly hinders that experience. 
That said, I am having a blast with the game. It handles great, looks gorgeous, and is just plain fun. I'm really liking the added depth of upgrading in particular, not to mention the storefront stuff and what not.

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PAX '09!


Yeah, it was awesome. 
 
I got to meet Randy Pitchford, and he even signed my poster! Which was totally kick ass! He's a pretty awesome guy, and I'm pretty psychde about the poster. 
Went to the GiantBomb panel which was fucking AWESOME! I need to send the guys a bunch of nos and noodles ^.^ Thanks for the kick ass shirt guys! And to the lass I pretty much snatched it from, if you en't willing to jump for it, and I am, I earned it. Hopefully there aren't any hard feelings =)
I got Half Beard's autograph too, which was pretty awesome, especially seeing the look on his face =) 
I saw Vork from the guild walking by when I was chilling in the handheld area. 
I spotted I think Luke from Bungie, and the great Joseph Staten, of Bungie. 
I am pretty sure I passed right by a BioWare guy at PAX, but I couldn't quite place his face, so I'm not sure exactly who he is. 
Got to check out God of War 3, Uncharted, R&C, Diablo 3, Cataclysm, Borderlands (definitely game of the show), and a bunch of other stuff that looks pretty awesome. 
 
Thanks to the Penny Arcade guys for bringing this into the world, and thanks everyone involved for making it possible!
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Damnit... This guy ACTUALLY has a point...

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid271552642?bctid=28333937001

You could take an FPS, and essentially reskin it so that you basically play as a medic from TF2, and make it bright and cheery and stuff... Damnit... As stupid as violent games causing school shootings is, his logic on what games could be like is undeniable...
Damnit...

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How Can Mass Effect 2 Truly Accomplish Dynamic Story Telling

What I believe Mass Effect 2 must do to accomplish the goal of making a TRULY immersive and DYNAMIC storyline with decisions that truly impact the story:

The original Mass Effect promised a lot of things, but perhaps the most ambitious and most heavily pushed was the idea of a dynamic, changing (and more importantly changeable) universe with deep characters, heavy choices, and ever varying plots. Unfortunately, it was rather lacking on any really impacting decisions. There were a few, such as whether or not you would kill Wrex, or the sacrifice of either Kaiden or Ashley, but these were very few, and altogether too close to each other (they occur in the same mission). You cannot actually choose to eliminate members from your party, and when you meet new potential team members, you really have no choice as to whether they join your crew or not. Not only this, but you merely complete an objective and invite them, and suddenly they are convinced to join. In my opinion, Mass Effect 2 could be the answer to all our prayers, and finally deliver a game crafted by our decisions, with major story decisions and alternate endings.

For example, in Mass Effect, you have the ability to travel to virtually any planet in the galaxy that is worth visiting. However, there isn’t a lot of depth to the system with which you go to these planets. For one, they remain untouched by time, and even your heroics (or lack there of) in other regions of the galaxy, no matter how far or close. I believe that this is a great place to start with making significant, important decisions a part of the game. While in the first game the only real impact of the order in which you visit the planets in is who you get as a part of your crew first, I think they could and should take it to a whole new level. In reality, each of those planets’ conditions would alter with time. For example; once you take one planet, the others may become more heavily occupied or troubled, or less so eve, as the Geth or other enemy move from one location to another.

Not only do I think the condition of the planets should change based on the order, but the time. I think that each mission should progress at a different rate, some worsening with great speed, others remaining static, others being forgotten or abandoned. This could have a number of effects on the plots both at large and on a mission by mission basis. You would have to consider things like difficulty, advantages, benefits, and weigh all the options. Advanced players who are looking for more of a challenge for instance could time it to get the most difficulty out of the campaign, meaning more experience, more challenging combat, better loot, and more play time. However, this also greatly increases the risk of harm to yourself, your party, and the inhabitants of the world. The longer an issue is on a planet, the higher the civilian casualties would be. So for example if the Geth are laying siege on a colony of humans on a remote border planet, if you responded with speed, you could arrive in time to stop the Geth from breaching the defenses of the colonists, and prevent a lot of casualties. However, you would also worsen the situation in other areas if you were to decide to take this mission earlier, and this could mean an even bigger loss then if you had waited even one more mission to assault the Geth siege.

This effect on your character, your party, and most of all the people of the planets, should be obvious. You yourself should have more aggressive options open up to you, your team should become more or less ruthless in and outside of combat, and the people of the world should love or hate you, all depending on the choices you make. And most of all, there should not be a one way standard for each of those categories. For example, members of your team should have diverse opinions, some glad for the extra bloodshed, others openly opposing it, and more still that simply stand back and take small actions towards one side or the other. Different factions of people should have different opinions of you based on your actions. For example, doing what ever it takes to get the mission complete, even if it isn’t exactly necessary, might endear you in particular to the majority of the Krogan democratic. Using intellect and diplomacy could attract the support of those of the Salarian persuasion.

It should also affect the plot in significant ways. For example, if you are looking to get information from a character, if that character is particularly fond of you and your actions, they will be far more helpful, however if not, you may be forced to take more drastic actions to get the information from them. But these are simple, numbers based differences, I also believe the story should be more dynamically altered by all of this. Perhaps a villain or two might be decided by your actions, making on character go against you if you perform one deed, another if you commit to a differing act.

This could also be used to decide where certain missions or story events might occur, so that for instance, a boss battle could potentially occur at any number of locations, each with their own pros and cons, and story elements.

I also believe you should be able to really have a dynamic experience when choosing your squad members. I am hoping that there will not be limit for the number of members greater then the number of potential members, but I want the ability to choose if I want to take members onto my team or not. Choosing not to might have them acting else where in the galaxy, opening up new missions, or even having them forming their own teams to act with you, against you, or separate from your issues. This would also allow you to focus more on specific characters and relationships, so you don’t feel like members are useless, something I often felt whenever I spotted Ashley or Kaiden on the squad selection screen.

While I understand a lot of this is very ambitious, it is something I would absolutely love to see realized in some form or level. Very few games, if any, have really given that really, really dynamic experience that was promised in Mass Effect, and is promised again in the sequel. Hopefully Bioware will deliver a satisfying product either way (as I am sure they will) but I will cross my fingers in the hopes that they might take the telling of interactive stories to yet another level. Would it be so much to expect from the developer that has time and again proved their ability to continually step up story and progression in video games to do so at least one last time?

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QotD

I think that its actually a good thing in a sense, but I believe that every time a game is sold, the developer should recieve some sort of payment for it. Even for a used copy. Anywhere like Gamestop should have to pay the publisher (and thus the developer) for used sales. As long as that occurs, then there is no problem. Plus, it means that you won't have a million discs just discarded, when there are others willing to purchase them.

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Just a quick thing I would like to touch on

Gamespot just put up this article: X360 Storage Price Issue

This article made me extremely happy. I HATE the fact that MS is charging so far up the ass for things that should be easily affordable. 20 GB for an entertainment system is rediculous. 120 GB is barely enough. But then your going to charge outrageous prices? I don't have a hard drive at all, because even on ebay, the cheapest HDD your gunna get is about $40, maybe $30 if your lucky, and being as I've only just reached the age where I can work properly, and not coming from a lot of money, I don't have a Hard Drive, something that should be extremely affordable. Atleast with the PS3 you can pretty easily just put in a PC Hard Drive from what I hear. Nothing official, but it helps.

Hopefully this will at least make the issue bigger and further out in the open. I love Microsoft, but the fact is they charge far too much for some things (like themes, really?)
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Assassin's Creed-Wishlist of new features, tweaks, improvement.

There is no denying it; Assassin's Creed is a beautifully crafted game. Stunningly smooth animations, intuitive, easy to grasp acrobatics mechanics, and satisfying, challenging combat. Not to mention the excellent visual fidelity and the story which is considered by many to be a prime example of video game story.

That said, it was no where near perfect. One could certianly argue it was repetitive for example. And the combat, while for the most part excellent in execution, had its flaws. There was also the apparant lack of stealth, in a game based around the original Assassins.

Now, before I start, these are my opinions. Don't just say I'm wrong, I am perfectly happy (and in fact hoping) to hear from people and whaty THEY think, but give a reason please, and explain what you would suggest instead.



No, first of all, one of Assassin's Creed's engine's strongest points was its animation, which was excellent. if you get shoved back into a box or stool or low wall, you actually react like you would stumbling into it, rather then a wall taller then you. When you climb, your limbs match up perfectly to where they should. Combat isn't just a bunch of hitting away, when your struck, you parry it away, even when you take damage, only occasionally actually feeling steel in your flesh (and it tends to be ratehr fatal). However, there are some things I would like improved upon. For example, whenever you do a high profile assassination on a target standing on the edge of a roof or whatever, and your coming towards the edge, you and the body just float there like there is an invisable floor holding you up. So, how about they put those minds to work so when this occurs, the animation changes for high profile. One way you could do it is slam your hidden blade just under the back of their skull (which is actually about as lethal a blow as you can deal anyway) and push them violently from the roof in one move. It looks cool, and it doesn't bring up the problem of floating entities. Even low profile assassinations could work differently, though it isn't really essential, but it would be nice if you could just give them a subtle push off the edge of a roof, making it look like they fell on accident.
And I wouldn't mind more contextual assassinations and stuff. Like, up against a wall, or in water (it would be awesome to be able to hold them under till they drowned, like in a well or shallow water. Just to add more variaty to the assassinations, and put in some really bad ass one. I can just imagine lifting a guard up, and hanging him in a noose.

This brings me to my next point.
Stop. Making. Enemies. Fall. 4. Floors. And. Get. Right. Back. Up.
Seriously. When I shove a guy off a building, he SHOULDN"T be getting back up. I get the whole, making the AI equal to you so its balanced, but how about making the guards faster then you in the streets, slower on the roofs. Which actually would make more sense. This way the guards have to come around in front of you, climb up, and head you off, or surround you. Maybe there should be some NPCs with skills equal, or even greater then yours, but not every run of the mill guard. What would be really neat is if they would break arms, or legs when they fall, so you see them dragged off in pain, or so you can drop down and silence them.
And when you push them off, lets just put em into ragdoll. Because, its a bit of a shame to see the horrible animations involved with falling.

My biggest issue with the original game was that Altair was in no way stealthy. First of all, he wears the effing UNIFORM of an assassin. When did the design team decide that an assassin should really just be a glorified thug? After the first like.. 3 or 4 cities, it becomes pretty much impossible to avoid combat. And when you go into stealth missions, it just gets worse! I dropped the game when in order to get to the point I could assassinate the target, I had to kill 4 targets for an informant, with stealth. But, if I was within like, 10 feet of them, even behind them, they started attacking me immediatly. The BEST way to fix this, would allow for a costume/disguise mechanic where our hero could take out an NPC, any NPC, in any manner of lethal or non lethal ways, and then steal their clothing. So, you could follow a peasent into an alley, knock em out, then steal their clothing. The disadvantage of the system would be that if you used any weaponry against the target, then the disguise would be comprimised, and could possibly just make you stand out even more. And if you were to attract aggressive attention and recieve wounds yourself, then these wounds would be obvious to on lookers. It doesn't need to be quite as cool technically as the new Wolverine thing where every bullet shows up all over his body, but something to show that our fluffy friend isn't quite so fluffy as he might appear.
just one thing I thought of when I looked at the new costume, I think it would also be cool if you could discard layers of your clothing (there are... many) as a way of disguising yourself. It wouldn't be super effective, but it would be the sort of thing that might cause guards to hesitate so you can slip down a dark alley way.

Another big issue with the original game was the lack of diversity in the environments. There were some cool little pockets, like a little playground out in the kingdom with lots of pillars and buildings in the middle of being built (not to be mistaken with ruins, which the modern person might think whhen they see the place), and I believe it was Acre, the battle scarred city, but for the most part, everything felt generally the same. Some felt more european, some more middle eastern, but beyond a slight shift in color palette, nothing really changes. I would love to see different locations that play significantly different from each other. Like Rome, Venice, and then maybe even a small village, things like that. Unique areas that all have challenges and advantages. I also think more vertical scale, and even horizontal scale, to add to that epic feeling. Another REALLY awesome thing would be a day night cycle. And I don't mean a 45 minute day, I want it to be nice and slow. The story can progress the time all it wants, but I would really love for that. So you could wait till night and use the darkness to your advantage, but for example, maybe there are more guards, and fewer civilians, making it more suspicious when your seen wandering about. I'm not asking for some fancy shadow and light mechanic, just make guards less suspicious and maybe if possible lower the distance they can see.

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