My Top Ten Game of the Generation

With new consoles on the horizon, I felt it was time to look back on the current gen and what it brought to me. Obviously this was the generation that brought online play, DLC, and social aspects of gaming into the forefront. But this isn't a list of the most influential or important games of this gen. While Call of Duty 4 was the game that popularized the perks & progression for online play that you see in every shooter these days, you won’t see it in my list because I ended up not really playing that game very much. (It has a relative that did make my list though.)

No, these are the games that got their hooks into me, and got them in deep. The games that had me playing them way beyond completing the main story or finishing all the levels. Games that I kept coming back to time & time again, sometimes even years later.

#10

Borderlands – The slick marketing said it had “87 bazillion guns” and that the RPG and FPS “had a baby.” It all sounded cool, but it also sounded ridiculous. So I really didn’t expect to play this for dozens of hours, then jump right into a new game plus to do it all over again. This loot based shooter really kept me looking for that next awesome assault rifle that had +4 fire and higher damage with a shield regen mod. All the color-coded loot never stopped giving me that little drip of endorphin every time I saw an orange weapon pop out of an enemy or crate. Gearbox crafted a shooter that allowed me to team up with my friends, blow shit up, and laugh out loud throughout. I feel like they really figured out post-release that the humor in the series was one of its strongest points, as the DLC was even funnier than the main game. I never did hit the final level cap, but I came close. While the sequel certainly took the best parts of this game and removed the worst, it was a small iterative improvement on the original that was a revelation when it was released in 2009.

#9

Assassin's Creed II – This is another game that was followed up with a sequel that was iteratively better that its predecessor, but Assassin’s Creed II remains the biggest leap in the series’ long annualized run. While Assassin’s Creed 1 was a fun (if repetitive) game ACII made the original feel like a simple proof of concept demo. The game opened up all sorts of city management, upgrades, and different locations that the original was severely lacking. I went back to collect all the feathers not due to some urge to be a completionist, but only because it was just so damn fun to traverse around those cities.

#8

Red Dead Redemption – GTA in the old west; the game sells itself. While it always bugged me that the game suffered from the old Rockstarthe main character is basically a bitch for every NPC he meets and just does fetch quests and assassinations that have nothing to do with the main story” just like GTA did, I still had so much fun running around in that old west world, a world that was changing, evolving, dying. So many smart systems were implemented so that this huge open world never felt oppressive, like convenient fast travel, & bullet time slowdowns to get you out of a jam. It also contains one of my favorite game moments of all time, where you’ve crossed the border into Mexico, and are riding into town towards the sunset, and a Jose Gonzalez song plays. I was transfixed, a small grin on my face, knowing that this game was something special.

#7

Portal & Portal 2 – OK, I’m cheating adding two games here. While I consider Portal 2 a better game in nearly every respect, Portal 1 is an amazing experience in its own right, and an integral part of one’s enjoyment of Portal 2. Hands down, this is the funniest game I’ve ever played; the writing and voice-acting are simply on another level. The difficulty of the puzzles was perfect, not too easy, but never leaving me scratching my head too long either. The story of a rogue AI testing you, trying to trick you and kill you is cleverly told and immersive. The last part of the first game where you find out that the building you’re in is abandoned and it’s just you and GladOS was an amazing twist. Co-op was a great addition, and I wish I had the PC version so I could mess around with other people's creations from the map editor. I just love everything about this game, and the additions to the mechanics in the sequel were perfectly implemented.

#6

Mirror's Edge – When this game first came out, they emphasized that you could play the entire thing without ever firing a gun or killing anyone. This really intrigued me, and I went through the game the first time doing just that. What a rewarding experience, performing all those first person acrobatics, sliding, wall jumping, and disarming guards. The sense of momentum and speed were done wonderfully. The main criticism leveled against the game was that it really stopped being fun when you lost that momentum. Which is fair, but as someone who played through the story multiple times, and completed all the speed run trophies, all I can say is that once you know exactly where to go, that stops becoming an issue.

#5

PixelJunk Eden – How many nights was I up late trying to get all those Spectra? A game that I played the demo for and thought, “this seems fun enough.” Little did I know that each level would introduce a new mechanic, constantly making you adjust how you play. As I guided my little grimp across the levels, swinging around and climbing the levels higher and higher, I often got frustrated, but never got bored. The game’s timer can be brutally short, and some areas quite difficult to reach, but Eden had some of the most rewarding gameplay I’ve had this gen.

#4

Fallout 3 – This game really intimidated me initially. It was my first open world RPG (I never played any Elder Scrolls), and I got to the point where you leave the vault, and blink into the sunlight, and set out into the world. I remember being slightly frozen with uncertainty, not really sure about what to do, where to go. The freedom was actually scary. So I put it down, and didn’t turn it back on for a couple months. Eventually I made my way to Megaton, befriended the sheriff, and got the confidence to head out into the unknown. I eventually put over 60 hours into the game, completing every single side mission there was, and emerged a confident roamer of the Washington DC wasteland.

#3

Red Faction: Guerrilla – As a fan of the original games, I was following the development of this game for a long time. Their switch third person was at first worrisome, but hearing the developers talk about how the change makes the game work so much better kept me interested. This was obviously going to be a much different game than its predecessors. And it was. The environmental destruction was unlike anything I had ever seen, and I soaked up everything this game had to offer. I ran around and collected all the audio logs, mined every ore location, destroyed every propaganda tower. And the online…boy oh boy the online was fantastic. At the end of every match, the arena was in complete ruins, with guys blasting through walls with the Rhino backpack, taking down sniper towers with sledgehammers, and using the jetpack/arc welder combo to rain death on opponents. It was the first competitive online game that I really played with regularity, and I kept coming back to it over and over. I have trophies dinged from 2009, ’10, ’11, and even this year.

#2

Guitar Hero 2 – Guitar Hero 1 was great, but the sequel was better in every way. The gameplay was improved, the track list was better, and I plugged away at this game for months and months, trying to get 5 stars on every song. I was underwhelmed by GH3, so I stayed on the Harmonix bandwagon, following them into the Rock Band series, which I also voraciously ate up. Given the choice today, I'll play Rock Band, its a better game. But GH2 was the game that initially hooked me deep into rhythm games, and the only one where I played the songs over and over and over to keep getting more stars & beat my high scores.

#1

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – 500 hours. I put 500 fucking hours into the online of this game. There has never been a game in my life that I have been more thoroughly engrossed in than Bad Company 2. I played it constantly, going through and getting gold stars (100 kills) with every single weapon, vehicle, and gadget. Once again, the ability to completely level buildings and leave the map looking completely different than when you started never ever got old. While there are some minor gripes I have about certain design decisions (elements that were for the most part fixed in Battlefield 3, which I’ve put a few hundred hours into as well), this game is, by far, my Game of the Generation.

I know this generation isn't over yet. There are a few games due out this year that could very well make a huge impression on me still (Last of Us, I'm looking at you). Even so, as PlayStation 4 gets ready to launch this holiday, I look forward to seeing what developers and publishers have in store for us in the coming years. I can only pray that as many innovative & fun games come out next gen as did the current one. Thanks for reading.

Love and kisses, Nadafinga

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The PlayStation 4 - My Tips for Sony

With the announcement of a new console just over the horizon, we sit in a pre-dawn light of possibility. With Sony squarely in second place behind Microsoft, they need to really "wow" people in order to make a move to become the console leader again. This post is not meant to be a fanboy rant, nor a Microsoft bashing post. It's simply some ideas I have that might get Sony back in the hunt to become a leader for consoles again.

Sony has already made some moves recently that makes their system more compelling. Most notably is PlayStation Plus. With PS+, subscribers get free games on an almost weekly basis, and it makes MS Gold subscriptions look more and more like a rip off. While MS has actually had the gall to jack up their price by $10 recently without offering a whole lot new or useful (why would I pay money to use Explorer?), Sony has been slowly winning people over by offering a rewarding, worthwhile program, without holding anything back (online play, Netflix access, etc.).

With this momentum, I think Sony is poised to really win people back over to their side, but they really need to set themselves apart...its not going to be enough to simply come out with a new console with better tech specs and graphics. They need functionality that players can only get from them. People are emotionally tied to their Xbox Gamertag and friends list, so Sony needs to really make a compelling argument to get people to switch sides. Here's some things that I think could really make a difference:

First, the no brainers

  • Offer what the current Xbox 360 currently does - you know the list; cross-game chat, voice messages, automatic trophy synch, etc.

  • Continue free online play - Sony has always hung their hat on their ability to provide online play for free, and its crucial that they continue this into the next generation. If they buckle and start charging like MS does, there will be little incentive for people to make the switch.

  • Continue PS+ subs into PS4 - This will most assuredly happen, those of us who have PS+ need to be able to continue our subscriptions into the new PS4 storefront, with freebies and discounts for the early adopters. It will make an argument right off the bat for people to come into the Sony ecosystem.

  • PSN ID import - I think this will most definitely happen as well, people have spent years collecting their trophies and are emotionally invested in it. They need to be able to continue that into this console.
  • Price - this thing needs to be under $500. Sony stunned a lot of people with sticker shock when they priced the PS3 initially at $600, and they would be foolish to do that again. I've seen rumors pricing this thing at $350, but I don't see them pricing this at anything less than $400. And going over $500 would doom their sales and allow Microsoft to swoop in and offer their console for cheaper. So somewhere between $400-500 seems likely.

These Might Happen Too [RUMORS]

  • Native game recording - The rumored "sharing" ability the PS4 might have is brilliant. Constantly recording the previous 15 minutes of gameplay that you can then go back and edit & share is a great feature that I know will attract customers. I know there's been plenty of times I've been in a game of Battlefield 3 and done or seen something amazing, and thought "Man I wish I had that recorded, my friends would love to see that!"
  • Controller Touchpad - This seems like it would be pretty easily implemented, especially since the tech already exists on the Vita, but I worry that they would actually be taking away buttons. Battlefield uses the select button for enemy spotting, and the touchpad would have to retain the function of being a reliable button for gameplay, rather than a gimmick. Customers don't want gimmicks.

These Probably Wont Happen, but Would be Nice!

  • Offer Steam overlay & cross console MP on PC for certain games - Sony has always had a more "open" philosophy than MS when it comes to their software. Valve and Sony have shown with Portal 2 that they can implement a solid and smooth UI for cross console multiplayer. I realize this might not work for a lot of games, but announcing partnerships with Valve & some other devs to commit to some games having this support will also go a long way with consumers. Remember, MS did not allow this functionality for Portal 2, and Sony can prey on this "closed system" approach and really set themselves apart.
  • Backwards Compatibility - I've heard this might be difficult to do based solely on the hardware being so different. Personally, I've never understood people's insistence that the next gen system be backwards compatible. I hardly ever go back a generation once a new one is released, and on the off chance I do, my old system is still sitting there waiting for me to turn it on. That being said, its a popular feature, and one that would certainly help sell the console to people on the fence.

Also, PS4 Games I want to See

Mirror's Edge 2

Battlefield 4 (with 64 player online)

(So, I guess I like DICE...?)

Thanks for looking at my ramblings!

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The Road to 50: A Retrospective

The Road to 50: A Retrospective

(Or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Play an Online Shooter For 459 Hours”)

 

Shit, man. I did it. I hit 50.

Normally I’m not one to really play a single game for an extended period of time. Very rarely will I go through a SP campaign more than once (But Nadafinga, you played through Uncharted 2 three times). True. But shut up.
 
I’ll go for a platinum trophy sometimes, if the game is especially fun and I don’t mind mucking around in the gameworld for awhile longer (C'mon Nada, you can't look me in the eye and tell me those speed runs in Mirror's Edge were "fun." ) OK, OK, but let me get on with this.
 
Even with some of the best online experiences I’ve had, like AC: Brotherhood, my interest dries up after a month or two and I move onto the next thing. (For shame Nadafinga, the MP in that game is awesome!) I know dude!
 
But in March 2010, I got my grubby little mitts on Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Now, other than playing a bit of BF: 1943 the previous year, I was a Battlefield virgin. But after I put this game into my PS3 and jumped online, something clicked in my brain. The gunplay was incredibly satisfying. The classes, weapons, abilities, gadgets, and balance were all wonderfully crafted. And it helped that a few of my friends were into the game, and we formed a a weekly play night on Sundays. I had found my own version of video game cocaine.

Now, because I have a job, a house, and a wife, I wasn’t able to hit this mark in a couple months like some crazy insane people were (seriously, how is that even possible?) I know, right?! But I played it pretty regularly over the course of the past 15 months. 459 hours later, that crazy distant goal of max rank 50 dinged on my screen. I felt a strange mix of both pride and shame…

Now, the game is certainly not perfect, it has some serious issues, but I was able to see past them. During the best games, it was bordering on video game Nirvana. During the worst games, I’d never rage-screamed louder at my TV. (Yeah, remember when you slammed that controller on the table and broke it?) Shut up man! Nobody knows about that!
 
In the end, I can comfortably say it’s my favorite video game of all time. Let’s look at some stats, shall we? (Nobody cares about your stats, Nada.) I'm ignoooring yooouuu: 
 
    
As you can see, I prefer the Engineer class. My overall K/D is 1.02, but with Engineers it bounces up to 1.10. I got 10 platinum stars, and I gold starred every weapon in the game, except for the Flamethrower in the Vietnam expansion. That might be my next goal. Or, maybe not. I should probably take a break and save some energy for Battlefield 3.

 
Thanks for reading my blog...and nevermind that cynical italics guy. He's a jerk.
-Nadafinga

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Entering the brave new world of being a dual console owner

"Its been a long road..."
I've had a PlayStation 3 for three years now, and have been pretty satisfied in my single console world. Sure, I haven't been able to play some 360 exclusives, but I felt like I wasn't missing out on too much....after all, you can't play every game out there, even on just one console, let alone two. But as time passed, more and more people I knew (both personally and virtually) were getting Xboxes. And more and more exclusives were coming out that looked really good to me. Slowly but surely, I started wanting an Xbox 360. But I am also married, and so I always have that beautiful wife of mine as my voice of reason telling me I didn't need another console. "95% of games come out for both systems," she would say. And she was right...but the longing persisted.

And then, the PSN hack happened. Now, don't get me wrong here. I'm not jumping off the PlayStation ship and swimming over to the Xbox shores to throw rocks at Sony for some ill-conceived "betrayal." I plan on keeping my PS3 and playing many more games on it. Sony got hacked, it sucks, but they'll bounce back from this. Nonetheless, the extended PSN downtime was enough to push me over the edge and pick up a second console. I went with the 250GB model because, c'mon, what's 4GB gonna get me?

Oh, hi there!
As I set up my XBL account last night, I quickly realized why the 360 is a beloved and popular console. The interface is very slick, easy to navigate, and user friendly. The console seems more geared towards connectivity, and the whole vibe screams "fun!" On the other side, the PS3 seems much more simple, maybe a bit dry and sterile. I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing either, I actually really like the interface of the PS3. But I can see why some might gravitate towards one console over the other. While they mostly play the same games, their UI couldn't be more different.

Anyway, why am I telling you all this? Well, I want recommendations!  I'm into action games, shooters, I like small indie games too. I already bought Alan Wake, The Gears of War Triple Pack, and Limbo. What other 360 exclusives are must haves? Anything to stay away from? Any advice for a 360 noobie?
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PlayStation Move Launch Titles Are Thin


I've decided to buy a Move, but only because I have some gift certificates burning a hole in my pocket, so it wont really cost me anything. One of the main things that would otherwise hold me back is the severe lack of launch titles that actually look good. Lets go through the list, and I'll BOLD the titles that I'm actually interested in:
 

Existing games that will get Move support patched in:

Pain (played it, hated it. An awful game that somehow keeps getting DLC released for it, years later.)
Flower (played it, liked it a lot, but done with it.)
Heavy Rain (see Flower)
MAG (played it, got Bad Company 2, never looked back.)
Hustle Kings (this one has potential, but only relative to everything else, I can't say I'm excited about it)
Resident Evil 5 (I've played the first 5 missions or so, but then ran out of ammo, kind of got stuck, and haven't really come back to it. Move support the has potential to bring me back in, except I've read that the Move button layout can be a deal-breaker for some people, and you can't change it. We'll see about this one.) 
Planet Minigolf (I'm only interested in getting this as a party game, I'll be getting my fill of golf in John Daly's game which comes out next month.)
Tiger Woods 11 (Again, I'm more interested in the John Daly game)
Toy Story 3 (um, I'm 32 years old)
 

Launch Titles:

Sports Champions (buying it, looks to be a flagship title for the tech)
Tumble (buying it, at $10, it looks like a fun little puzzle game)
Brunswick Pro Bowling (reviews are bad, not interested)
Racquet Sports (again, bad reviews) 
Flight Control (an iPhone game converted to PS3? No thanks.)
R.U.S.E. (Not into RTS at all)
Aragorn's Quest, Start The Party, EyePet (see Toy Story 3) 
Kung-Fu Rider (I heard this game has bad lag, plus I don't really know what the gameplay is, very dubious about it so far)
 

Upcoming Future Releases:

NBA 2K11 (not into basketball at all)
John Daly's ProStroke Golf (The first person perspective in this game looks really cool, and is the feature that puts it above Tiger Woods for me) 
Dead Space: Extraction (looking forward to playing through this, I liked the first one, and I like the fiction)
The Shoot, Time Crisis: Razing Storm (Not sure these are my cup of tea. For my "on-rails" experience, I'll stick with Extraction.)
TV Superstars (I simply don't know enough about this one to have an opinion, but it looks to be more of a party game)
The Fight: Lights Out (Has potential, but I can see it getting repetitive and boring)
LittleBigPlanet 2 (I'll probably get this game, but I don't know if I'll want to play it with the Move controller. Will have to wait and see on this one.) 

Tron, Killzone 3, SOCOM, etc....the rest seem far enough away that I can't really form opinions on them, and in the end I wont be playing them anytime soon. Looking at what is available next week at launch, I'm only for sure buying Sports Champions and Tumble. I'll probably get Planet Minigolf, only because it's cheap ($10), and I'm gonna wait and see if I can get RE5 Gold Edition cheap somewhere.
 
I want to be really excited for the Move, but when I get home and unwrap this new controller next week, I'm simply not going to have a lot to play with. Hopefully more and more games will come out over the upcoming months that will make me happy with my purchase. Anyway, it's not like I wont be super busy with all the awesome non-Move games coming out in the next few months (Fallout New Vegas, Rock Band 3, Bad Company 2: Vietnam, etc.)
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Bad Company 2: A Lament

Let me start off by saying that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a great game. I love it, it's a glorious shooter that has sunk it's hooks deep in me. I bought it on launch day, and have logged over 190 hours into it. This might not seems like a lot to some of you, but I can honestly say I've never played a video game as much as this one. I have earned every pin, every insignia (except for one, grr!), every trophy, and gold starred 37 of the 46 primary weapons. Now, I'm by no means great at the game, I manage a measly 0.92 k/d ratio, but I try not to put too much stock in those stats since repairing, reviving, and spotting are just as crucial to winning as getting kills is. With a SPM of 195, I consider myself...decent. It's also worth noting that this is only my 2nd foray into the Battlefield franchise, with last year's 1943 being the first. So I'm pretty new to all this, and while I might not have the experience of someone who's been with the franchise since it began, I also can offer a unique perspective of someone coming to it without very many preconceived notions.
But the game has some problems, and after putting this much time into the game, I think I'm qualified to present some criticism. Many of these points have been brought up elsewhere, but I wanted to get my thoughts on them down. This is not a bug list, that would be a whole other blog entry (and a long one at that), these are major design issues that I feel would help make this great game even better.
 

1. A Compass

The lack of a compass on the minimap is the most inexplicable omission I can imagine. For a game strives for realism and relies on constant communication between squadmates, I am constantly frustrated by my inability to relay relative positions of enemies. Instead, I always find myself trying to describe the surroundings.
Instead of "Hey you've got 2 guys moving in on your position from the North,"  it's "You've got 2 guys coming at you from the direction of that house....no the 2 story house, the one on the other side...no, the one with the red roof-" dead. The real kick in the nuts is that there is a compass in DICE's previous game, Battlefield 1943, a $15 downloadable game!
 

2. MCOMs blow up too easily

This has been a bit of a contentious point among the fans of the game. What players have figured out is that instead of arming the MCOM, you can just throw a pile of C4 on it and take out half it's life bar in one shot (the game actually rewards this by throwing a bunch of XP at you for it). One side says that "If you're good, guys will never get close enough to do that." This is the wrong philosophy though, and goes against what the Rush Mode was built for. 
As defenders, you need to hold back the enemy. If one guy is able to sneak through and arm the MCOM, the alarm goes off and you get a chance to fall back, find them, and disarm the MCOM. If you suck at defending, whole squads will get through, arm the MCOM, and hold you off long enough for it to blow up. This is the way Rush is supposed to be played. The way it is now basically requires you to be perfect at defending, because if even one guy gets through, he can blow up the MCOM in 3 seconds. It kinda ruins it, and requires you to basically camp to MCOM. I'm not against being able to damage the MCOMs, I think it makes the game more dynamic, but the C4 is just too strong. Here's my tweaks; I think there should be a set amount of damage C4 can do per trigger pull. One C4 does the same amount of damage as six C4. The other tweak is that you allow engineers to repair the MCOMs, at least partially, help offset the damage done.
In the end, the numbers don't lie: When attacking, my win/loss ratio is 3.82. When defending, it's 0.33. I'm at the point where I rarely play Rush at all anymore, it's not nearly as fun as it used to be when players use this exploit.
 

3. Atacama Desert Choppers

There are two helicopters in Conquest mode for Atacama desert, one at each base. It has become common practice for one team to race over and pick up the enemy's chopper, so that they have both at the same time. They then proceed to rape the other team.
This is easily fixed. Make the spawn base of the enemy out of bounds (like it is on some other maps). There, done.  
 

4. White Pass Rush

The recently unlocked Rush mode for White Pass is an absolute joke. The first set of MCOMs are in a concrete structure, and makes for some very fun and challenging battles. But if the attackers manage to take out those two, the game is over. All the following MCOMs are located n collapsible buildings. All 4 of them! It's ridiculous, you just need to spam a few mortar strikes on them and you win. It's a facepalm "what were they thinking" thing for me. This map is simply a travesty.
 
That's the big stuff. There's always going to be little tweaks that you wish the designers would have made, but these are major issues that I feel could and should be addressed...not that I'm holding my breath. :)
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Fall 2010 gaming

So the next few months are going to have some serious gaming decisions for me. First up is the Playstation Move in September, which I'm still on the fence about. I've seen some cool demos and ideas, but I'm kinda skeptical. I think it would be great to have on hand for when I have parties and family over, but it will remain a secondary gaming peripheral for me. That being said, I already have a PSeye, so I only need to drop $50 for the wand. But....then I'll have no games for it, so there's still more money to spend.
I feel as though I'm better off waiting, especially since I'll be dropping some serious bank the following month, in October. Fallout New Vegas ($60) and Rock Band 3 ($120 w/ keyboard) are both day one purchases. Bad Company 2: Vietnam is also due out soon, which is also day one for me. So with dropping over $200 on those games, I just don't know if I can justify another $50 on a Move and even more money on some games for it. 
Looks like the Move will have to wait for the time being...there's too many "must buys" for me to spend money on a less than sure thing.

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