Giving up on MW2

Over the past 4 months or so, I’ve really tried to like Modern Warfare 2. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve been on the bad of a Javelin glitch. I’ve been double shotgunned from a ludicrous distance. I’ve been stabbed in the face by The Flash, who apparently was disguised as a marine(not a glitch, just poor design.) All of these things are bad enough on their own, but when I take into account that they all transpired in game sessions filled with some of the most foul-mouthed, racist, homophobic pieces of shit to ever grace the internet, it makes me wonder how I made it this long.

My breaking point was the map pack. 15 dollars* for 3 new maps and 2 COD4 maps is a price I’m just not willing to pay. Most will, but this is the point where I’m jumping ship. I wish more people would actually think about not only the fact that they aren’t getting 15 dollars* worth of content out of this, but more importantly what message that sends to Infinity Ward and Activision. This map pack will probably be the highest selling piece of DLC ever, and that means that we will never see another map pack(for MW2 or any of the other dozen COD games coming out the next few years) coming out of Activision for less than 15 dollars*. Then again, rational thought might not be a strength of the average MW2 player.

At least there’s a light at the tunnel for me. Modern Warfare 2 is still sitting at 1000 points(60 bucks worth of trade-in value) on Goozex. It might take waiting a bit, but eventually that copy of MW2 will turn into something much better, such as Darksiders or Final Fantasy XIII. Also, I’ve got Bad Company 2. 


*- Sometimes 15 dollars is actually more than 15 dollars. For instance, if you have no Microsoft points and want to get the MW2 map pack, you will have to buy 2 separate point packs to hit the 1200 points which are required, costing you $18.75, also leaving you with 300 MS points leftover. Which isn’t enough to get shit on XBLA. Unless you count that sweet MW2 avatar clothing.


A Demon's Souls story, and impressions


I come out of a guard tower, standing on a giant stone wall, one that is full of demonic enemies. The next hundred yards should be fun. Full health? Check. It’s go time. I cautiously progress toward the next tower when, suddenly, the ground beneath me starts to shake. A red dragon swoops in, opens its mouth, and breathes down fiery halitosis upon the hell-spawned bastards. None of them survive. I quickly sprint ahead, barely arriving at the second tower before the dragon makes another deadly pass.

I do this two more times, finally arriving at the end of the wall, where I am met with a wall of fog. Once again, I check my health, still full, and proceed past the wall. Shortly, I will wish I hadn’t.

I enter into the next room, only to be greeted by two giant legs, in platemail. As I look up, I find more than feet. If only it stopped with the feet. I’d wager that this armored being is, at least, 50 feet tall. But I know what I need to do. I hold up my shield and creep toward him. He then hits me with his lance, killing me instantly.

I have not yet been back to that room.

I honestly don’t know why I find Demon’s Souls so enjoyable, because it is a truly grueling experience. There’s only one difficulty spike in Demon’s Souls, and it’s the one the game shoves up your ass about 5 minutes in. This game isn’t just hard, it’s punishing. Demon’s Souls hates you, and will do everything in it’s power to punish you for making the slightest mistake.

Demon’s Souls is a survival horror game in disguise. Or at least you’ll play it like one. Many areas are dimly lit, and others will be completely dark altogether. The game requires a slow and steady pace, going commando will get you nowhere but dead. Healing items become scarce rather quickly, and are rather expensive to purchase.

But Demon’s Souls actually beats survival horror at it’s own game in one huge regard; it makes you fear death. Because death in Demon’s Souls carries a heavy consequence, and it can happen seemingly out of nowhere. In no survival horror game have I actually been so tense, so afraid of what could be around the next corner or wall of fog.

But the feeling of succeeding against the adversities the game throws your way is amazing. Even beating a sub-boss makes the player feel godlike. I’m shuddering a little even saying this, but it makes me wish the majority of games were harder. I was going to say that Demon’s Souls was the hardest game I’ve played this year, but in actuality, it was the only hard game I’ve played this year at all. Not that all games have to be mind-numbingly difficult, but I can’t even think of another game this year where I’ve really felt challenged.

I’d highly recommend playing Demon’s Souls, at least just to see what it’s all about.
P.S.- It's all about kicking your ass.


2009 in Review - Part 1

The mad holiday release season is over, leaving my wallet lying in it's wake. I figure now is as good a time as any to do a "year in review" series of blogs. I've played a few games this year, and overall I think it was a great year overall. The first half of November was a little crazy, but now it's time to take a breather. Time to reflect. The first few posts in this series will be a Top 10 of the games I've played this year, followed by a post covering some of the bad games I've played, and then a short list of 2009 games I will have to catch up on in 2010. Numbers 6-10 will kept brief, while 5-1 will be their own posts. Let's start with #10.

 Go figure.

10. Plants vs. Zombies

 I honestly don't know when I will stop playing PvZ. It's sickeningly cute, has tons of fun minigames, and has a great sense of humor. Popcap has delivered here in spades. Even though the game is easy to a fault, it's still one of the best tower defense games I've ever played. 

9. Street Fighter IV

 I'm not, nor ever have been a hardcore Street Fighter fan, but I have played most of the series over the years, and Street Fighter IV was a great way to revisit those characters and settings in a beautiful, fluid way. I enjoyed what time I spent with it, even if the online felt like fighting an army of Kens.
 What's your favorite flower?

8. Punch-Out!

 Punch-Out! on the Wii is everything that the NES original is; well made, charming , and at times brutally hard. Easily the best Wii game of the year. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 20 years to get more from this franchise.

I wonder if Rosie O' Donnell gets royalties for this...

7. Dragon Age: Origins

 I'm a sucker for BioWare RPGs. I almost bought KOTOR on Steam yesterday, and I have the discs sitting in a drawer next to me. For PC and Xbox. There's a lot of menu wading, and ridiculous difficulty spikes, but those aren't dealbreakers by any means. The biggest problem I have with Dragon Age is that it came out not only right in the middle of the holiday release season, but just a few short months before Mass Effect 2. Hopefully that will light a fire under my ass to finish it before January 26th.

6. The Beatles: Rock Band

 Yes, it's really just Rock Band with The Beatles thrown in. But that's all that it needs to be. 
Over the next few days I'll be going through my top 5, which I'm really looking forward to. But until then, I'm going to actually play some games instead of just writing about them.


The L4D2 Standalone Release Vs. DLC Debate

On Monday, Left 4 Dead 2 was announced during Microsoft's E3 press conference, which is still more than a little surprising given Valve's history. Some have been complaining about L4D2 being released just under a year apart from the original. I can understand why some folks would be worried about that, even though I myself do not. But what I really don't understand is how people are saying that the contents of L4D2 should be released as DLC for L4D1 instead of a on a retail disc. Anyone who says this is being highly unrealistic for a number of reasons.

First off, lets make a list of all the new content and features in L4D2:
    * 5 new campaigns(all playable in co-op and versus out of the box.)
    * 4 new survivors
    * AI Director 2.0
    * Dynamic weather patterns
    * New guns, as well as new melee weapons
    * New special and regular infected
    * An additional, unannounced game mode

First off, all this new content is by far enough to warrant a new retail release. If all this stuff was released as DLC, it wouldn't be free DLC either. There would be no way to justify the production costs of DLC that had more content than the retail version of the L4D1. So even if Valve made 5 more campaigns and released them as DLC, those campaigns would probably be released at a rate of one every month or so, and you'd probably be paying close to $10 dollars for each of them. There's $50 right there, without the additional survivors, infected, weapons, etc.

The people driving the DLC debate also like to bring up Team Fortress 2. While it is true that Valve has generously supported TF2 with loads of free content, it's irrelevant. TF2 is a completely different IP, and the post-release support Valve is giving it is unique unto itself. Just because Valve puts that kind of time and money to put free updates in one of their games, doesn't mean they have to for all of them. When they release Half-Life 2: Episode 3, I highly doubt people are going to argue that it should have been free. Plus, the class updates Valve has been rolling out for TF2 is in an attempt to bring greater variety and balance to the game.

I bought L4D1 right after Christmas, and am still running through campaigns with friends multiple times a week. I'm still finding new situations, hearing new dialog,  and  just having a lot of fun. There's no question in my mind as to whether I've gotten my $60 dollars worth. I'll be surprised if I'm not saying the same thing 6 months after L4D2 is released.

What I'm saying is, if you feel L4D2 isn't worth your money, don't buy it. But just realize that it's ridiculous to think you should be getting it for anything less than a full priced game.


Dissapointed with MadWorld.

Picked up MadWorld this weekend, and I have to say that I'm somewhat underwhelmed. The game does many things right, but I feel that for every step forward, the game takes a few steps back.

Things I liked

  • The art style and character design are great. The Sin City-esque art style is an excellent way to get around the technical limitations of the Wii.
  • So much violence. Seeing guys get chopped in half by closing dumpster lids, tossed in meat grinders, or halved with a chainsaw, is pretty awesome.
  • The soundtrack is excellent, and oddly fits the game perfectly. On the default setting it's hard to hear the commentary though.
  • Man Golf. This is by far the best Bloodbath Challenge.

Things I didn't like
  • The camera is terrible. I've read some reviews that referred to it as problematic, but that's giving it too much credit. The camera can't be rotated around Jack, it can only be centered behind him using the C button, and it follows way to closely. Holding down the C button will lock-on to an enemy, but outside of boss fights, it's pretty useless. Sometimes it doesn't even work, forcing you to repeatedly hold down the C button to get a lock on an enemy.
  • The commentary(done by Greg Proops and John DiMaggio) is humorous at first, but takes less than an hour before getting stale. Expect to hear about how health pills are better when crushed up and injected into the folds of your scrotum every couple of minutes. This could have easily been remedied by not having comments played after every single goddammed thing you do. Every time you shove a street sign through a guy's neck, they will comment on it, and with a small bank of comments about impaling a guy, you will hear the same ones over and over, and it really started to get on my nerves.
  • Quick Time Events. I'm ready for these to go away. Forever. QTE's take a lot of punch out of the boss fights in MadWorld. Almost every boss fight in the game boils down to waiting until you get a prompt for the boss' QTE, waggling your Wiimote along with the screen, rinse, repeat.
  • The motorcycle sections suck. plain and simple. The only good part about them is that they don't last very long.
  • Most of the Bloodbath Challenges invole nothing more than grouping guys together, and throwing one into the group, and knocking them all into a Jet Engine, the Death Press, a giant hand, etc.
  • Lack of co-op story mode. I'm not one of those people that complains anytime a game doesn't have co-op. I'm a firm believer of the single-player experiences that games can provide. But co-op is a staple of the beat-em-up genre. And to put in co-op support just for the Bloodbath Challenge mini-games is just not cutting it. This game's replayability could have been exponentially increased with the ability to play with a friend.

Even with all those complaints, MadWorld is a very fun game, and I feel it is definately worth a rental. After my first couple hours with the game, however, I started to just get tired of all the repitition. The visual style and over-the-top gore is MadWorld's main selling point, but in my opinion, that's about all it's packing.


...ends in "out"

Burnout: Paradise

I bought Burnout: Paradise last January, and really enjoyed the game, but ended up selling it. The reason being is that I honestly could not tell what the hell was going on on my crappy 24" television. So when I recently ditched the old set in favor of a 42" HDTV, my first order of business was getting back to Paradise City.

Holy hell. I can't find enough good things to say about this game. Addicting single and multiplayer gameplay, beautiful graphics(especially in HD), and ridiculous amounts of replayability. Best of all, Criterion has set a new bar for post-release support for a console game.

I guess there wasn't really a point to that, besides saying Burnout rules, which I'm actually OK with.

Fallout 3

I'm taking a break from Fallout. I was pleased with the Anchorage DLC, but am glad that Bethesda has hinted that the next 2 will have more content. While I started a character with the intent of maxing out all of my skills, I started to lose interest and figured I'd be better suited to do that stuff after all the DLC is out.

Speaking of DLC, did anyone hear Todd Howard on OXM's podcast? It was a little dissapointing to hear about how the level cap being raised is going to work. Mainly that you will have to grind to hell and back to hit 30. I really like the low cap in Fallout, it's easy to hit about 3/4ths of the way through the game without grinding, and that was really fun for me. Being an ex-WoW junkie probably had something to do with that. Does anyone else agree?

2008 games I'm still working on...

I'm glad there's a lull in releases right now, cause I still have stuff to get through from last year.

  • Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
  • GTA IV (Stupid bank mission!)
  • Left 4 Dead (acheivements)
  • Civilization Revolution (acheivements)
  • Fallout 3 (Doing an evil/max skills playthrough)