Testing Reality


The Tester is a reality show made by Sony Computer Entertainment America, exclusively for the folks out there who play video games, more specifically, games that are on the PS3 platform. The series will feature numerous challenges for a group of gamers with one prize in mind - becoming an official Sony PlayStation tester. Basically, one of low tier and most difficult jobs that anyone can get in the video game industry. I personally wouldn't mind getting a nice money prize and a free copy of a game. When I first heard of this show, I immediately knew that I was destined to watch the shit. At least the first episode, just to see what kind of idiotic reality nonsense they're going to subjugate to a group of gamers.

  


The Tester starts off, and I mean literally, like five seconds after pushing the Play button, with a built in commercial for the popular beverage Red Bull. Even though the commercial slightly amuses me, it still pisses me of, since people watch videos and shows on the internet to escape such commercial manoeuvres. Then the real show starts, thankfully. After informing the viewers that thousands have applied for this prestige dream job, we are introduced to a few of the applicants that made it into the show and the show's host. Supposedly the lady that hosts the show has talent and has done this before, yet I wonder myself, who the hell is she. The contesters then start exploring the abandoned warehouse the show takes in and are amazed by the presence of a PS3 console, a PS2 console and even a PS1 console as if there had to be some serious financial support to bring these three consoles in one space. A contestant also discovers a copy of Uncharted 2 and proudly holds it in the air, as if he discovered the holy grail. This is where I start doubting that these people ever picked up a game controller in their lives.

 


There's a dude all dressed up in serious business clothes (hardcore gamer attire) that doesn't want to interact with others whilst they're socializing and chatting. He supposedly has a dastardly evil plan to get to know these people by simply observing them and then stabbing them in the back and claiming the final prize. They also discover that there's an actual professional gamer among them, which supposedly poses a threat. I also start asking myself why the hell would someone who makes actual money by attending gaming tournaments sign up for this reality show. Finally their first challenge appears and they are introduced to the judges. Where's David Jaffee? I was promised David Jaffee goddamnit, even if he wouldn't be swearing and being drunk. The first challenge that these people have to go through is some sort of a weird ocular exam. It's one of those challenges, where you're presented with two supposedly equal pictures with slight differences in one of them. Somehow this is gaming related. The suited up dude was sucking at the challenge and that's all I remember from it.

 


After a short break, the lady host informed the contestants that it's elimination time! People started hugging themselves and slowly departed to the next abandoned warehouse/studio where this elimination thing would take place. The judges start a speech where in the world of testers, being serious is the key and scold a dude for joking during his test round. They also scold the suit dude and in defence he states the exact digit number and placement of a parrot. The judges are weirded out by his exclamation yet intrigued for his seriousness. They eventually eliminate the suit dude and in his final interview he has a speech where he states that he is glad that he'll be reunited with his family (after being separated for a few hours?) and leaves a message in tears that he hopes his two young daughters would be proud of him when they grow up and see this footage of him trying to win this contest. I honestly thought the dude was going to kill himself or something after the interview.

 


The end of the show informs the viewers that in the next episode they're going to place the contestants in huge balls, blindfolded and that communication is going to be the key in succeeding in an obstacle course. This is where I discover that I'm going to have to watch this shit till the end, just to see what kind of idiotic series of "gaming tests" they're going to place these poor senseless souls in. I also departed from the video with one new thing I never knew and that's the fact that the video game industry is obviously serious shit.

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'Tis The Season To Be Gaming


Even though 2009 didn't come close to 2008 in terms of the sheer number of high profile games that came out, it still did a solid run, with a few surprises as well. So I've thankfully had the opportunity to play enough video games this year to make up a personal top ten games to the year. Last year I did a similar post to this one, where I did more of an overview of my overall gaming experience in the previous year, but this year I'm just going to summarize that in one sentence. It was aight, yo
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Before I got deep deep down into the top ten list, I'll just mention that besides the next-gen consoles, my PS2 was still alive and kicking it, albeit the machine hosted only two games and leaving me behind with the fact that I still have around 20 classic titles to beat on that system. But free time is really hard to find, and when I do discover it, I usually tend to burn through the newer games. A habit I somehow want to change slightly in 2010. Since I personally didn't allow myself to place an older game on my top ten list for 2009, I'll go right ahead and say that the game that made me almost lose my sanity on the PlayStation 2 was none other than my dearly beloved Persona 3. The countless moments I had thinking about that game before snoozing off to sleep, really did make an impression on me. That's all coming from someone who really does not like your standard RPG games and turn based combat. Yet that game managed to completely seduce me into playing it for long and unbearable game sessions. Similarly, on the PC front, Borderlands completely blew me away. I've beaten the game twice and sank around 50 hours into it. And I still crave for more and more quests and loot to be given to through the means of DLC. I did include Borderlands into my overall top ten list for the year, I'm just mentioning it here right now, since in this paragraph I'm focusing solely on the platform a game is being played on. The PSP received a lot of new and interesting games this year and I did buy most of them, yet somehow the poor thing got neglected enough for me not to write about my personal pick for that system. Lastly, on the PS3 it's inFAMOUS that scored high for me. 

   

But I'm already slightly spoiling things, so allow me to jump into my personal

Top Ten List of Games For 2009

:
  

#10 - Skate 2

 

 

 


 
 I don't know how to skate, but I do respect people that do know how to skate. Thus the medium of video games is my only resort to actually getting the feeling and sensation of the sport. And man, does the feeling kick you in the groin and kicks you again after you fall down in pain. The game is better than the original that I loved last year and even more realistic, which means it's much harder. I never really was a fan of Tony Hawk's button control and the million combos you can do with a press of two buttons, but the stick control in Skate 2 still feels natural and fun. Even if it makes you almost break a controller or two in the process.
 
 

#9 - Shatter

 

 

 


 
This year was a really good year for digital releases of retro-themed games on both PSN and XBLA. After a large number of bad Arcanoid that rampaged through years, Shatter brings a new and innovative game mechanic into the overall gameplay. Sucking and blowing (no sexual innuendo intended). Thanks to trophies, I've managed to beat the game three times and I still found myself even today trying to get the last three trophies, after a four month hiatus. The game is fun. What more can I say? Also, buy the soundtrack, it's really good. Anyone that you'll speak to about Shatter will mention this, even me. 
 

#8 - Call Of Duty [insert number?]: Modern Warfare 2


 
 

 
 
 I don't know why, but I feel kind of guilty placing Modern Warfare 2 on the list. I played the hell out of the original Modern Warfare's multiplayer, but here I didn't touch it on purpose. I only wanted to see one thing. The story mode. I wanted to see what kind of cinematic and insane crap they placed in four hours of gameplay. A friend of mine lend me the game and I wasn't impressed. The original story and setting were spectacular, but this time, shit just got too surreal for my taste. I have no doubt that the game is really a high quality game, but I already knew what to expect from the game. So that's why it didn't do it for me. But if someone says that Modern Warfare 2 was an amazing experience for him and that the multiplayer is still awesome, I'll agree with him.
 
 

#7 - Uncharted 2: Among Thieves


 

 


As with Modern Warfare 2, this was also a game that everyone waited for and held their breaths until they were released, consequentially climaxing at their cinematic value and fun multiplayer. But not me. I do appreciate setpieces, but when I saw that Uncharted 2 was built all around them, constantly placing me in cool moments, it just didn't do for me. You could say that Uncharted 2 is played like a movie, which is totally fine. But a movie is a movie. For me a very good game gives me the tools to create my own awesome and unforgettable moments, which is what counts. Similarly as with Modern Warfare 2, Uncharted 2 is a popcorn kind of game, one that you enjoy while it lasts, but it's easy forgettable and doesn't really stand the test of time.
 
 

#6 - Left 4 Dead 2


 
 

 


 
 I'm a huge Left 4 Dead fan. The structure of the game was perfect. There were zombies and you and three other people had to survive. No plot, just survive through this campaign and experience awesome moments of horror and agony. So when they announced a sequel after a mere eight or so months, I was sceptical. And I still am. Even after beating the game. Sure, they added more contents, one more campaign and new modes. And chainsaws. Out of some unknown reason, I keep coming back to the original Left 4 Dead, with a crew I'm far more familiar. Because of the fact that I would rather play more of the original L4D, L4d2 just didn't score higher on this list.
 
 

#5 - Resident Evil 4: Africa Resident Evil 5

 
 
 

 
 
 Resident Evil 4 was awesome and we all knew it. The new gameplay format was beyond godlike had a very special feeling to it. So when they announced a new Resident Evil 5, we we're stoked and in high expectations. And it didn't disappoint me, with one little exception. In RE4, you we're alone in an unknown location in Spain at night, where creepy stuff happened. In RE5 you're stuck 24/7 with a woman that is essentially you're mule, which you use to carry around weapons and ammo you don't need, in daylight Africa. And there's more action. A lot more action. But you still felt the core of RE4's gameplay and fighting your way from one area to another was never more exciting. Which is what makes me wonder why most people behave like RE5 never came out this year and don't speak about it.
 
 

#4 - Assassin's Creed II


 
 

 


 
 I was one of those few people who adored the original Assassin's Creed, even though it had the typical repeated gameplay elements, you can usually find in Ubisoft's games. The game had this weird movie-like holy feel and setting to it, and was really a gem. Assassin's Creed II fixes all the issues that the original game had and expands on the concept of you being an assassin. You go through the actual process of becoming a killing machine in the, oh so beautiful renaissance Italy in the 15th century. I originally placed Assassin's Creed II on the #2 spot on my list, but after a closer consideration, it was not worthy that high of a spot out of one main reasons. The game lost its holy setting in the Holy Land, which impressed me in the first game. There aren't any explicit religious reasons, it's just that the story had more meaning. Altair was on a quest to redeem himself and protect the Holy Land from the Knight's Templars and Ezio just wanted to get some payback for the death of his father.
 
 

#3- Borderlands


 
 

 


 
The game was mentioned before as my personal game of the year pick for the PC, but in the overall picture, it deserves to be third on the list. This is mostly because of its lack of an actual story to drive the game forward. Sure, the FPS gameplay is fantastic, the loot system is fantastic, the gun system is fantastic, but it lacks that small piece of a meaningful story, that would give some sense to why you're doing the stuff you're doing, to actually place it higher on the list. But still, number three is still pretty good. Looking forward to some more DLC in the future and hoping that Borderlands will become next year's Fallout 3 in the sense of DLC support. For me, Borderlands is how Fallout 3 should have been, without the VATS system that I absolutely loathed.
 
 

#2 - inFAMOUS


 
 

 


 
 This was the year where developers did the superhero video game genre justice, by making those games right. inFAMOUS places you in the position of a regular dude that gets electric superpowers. And then he does whatever shit he wants to. As in our deepest dreams, the developers made a successful superhero game that has a more than solid and fun gameplay, an amazing story which leaves you wanting for more. The fact that the game has a morality system, gives you the chance to play the game through two different perspectives, with two different superpower mechanics, once as an evil dude and once as a good dude (the morality system itself is actually dumb of course, but it does the job). The game is simply awesome in its execution and does the job more than right.
 
 

#1 - Batman: Arkham Asylum

 
 
 

 


 
When I talked about setpieces and how they should be used, this game is a perfect example of how the game offers you the tools of execution awesome Batman-like moves with determined objectives. You find yourself in an area with thugs that you have to silently take out one by one in order to reach the next area. Batman's ninja hidding skills? Check. There's an area of thugs and you have to beat the shit of out them? The game gives you the moves and a fighting system that is easy to learn and has a deep value of execution. Batman ninja fighting skills? Check. You are Batman of course, which means you are the greatest detective that ever lived and you find yourself being able to solve all of these little puzzles placed by the Riddler. Batman detective skills? Check. All of these systems with its main story that drives the game forward make an excellent package that everyone should experience, even if you never read any Batman related comics or just watched at least one Batman movie. The game could be described in one sentence. Batman: Arkham Asylum makes you feel like you really are Batman. And a video game that can simulate that kind of a feeling and execute it spectacularly, is a video game worth placing highly in the annals of video game history. 
 
 
 
So that's my top ten list for the year. It's a personal list of course, so hopefully with that disclaimer I won't feel the wrath of random fanboys. The only thing I do want to say is that there were enough unique and high tier games in 2009, which makes me kind of sad seeing so many people shouting out madly either "Modern Warfare 2 best game evah, dudes!" or "Uncharted 2 cinematic shit baby, best yeah!". And about next year's releases I can say only one thing, holy shit, look at all of those games! Will it top 2008's mad releases? We can only hope. I'll end by saying something that a writer in a local gaming magazine said. It's a damn good time to be playing video games.
 
 Also, on a side note, the only real reasons why this blog hasn't been updated since the summer, is the fact that something like Twitter and micro-blogging offer a quicker and more effective way of writing about games. Which is something that my account totally agrees with and abuses on a daily basis.
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On Digital Distribution

After E3 2009 I took some time and thought about the future of video gaming. Not so much about the games, because right now I'd just like to watch from a distance this casual market that is slowly polluting the current video game market. I focused more on the consoles themselves and the medium on which games will be delivered in the supposed future. I remain tormented about my indecisive nature about the given matter. Yet, allow me to elaborate on it.

The supposed future is digital distribution, and only digital distribution as a form of media. Future consoles such as OnLive are silent horsemen of the apocalypse that announce such a major shift, but Apple has been doing it pretty well in the past with iTunes and similar applications and services from other companies that deal with digital media. To be honest, even for a young fellow like myself, such a rapid development in technology has been spectacular and slightly frustrating to watch. It was as if yesterday I spent 4 hours searching through our families collection of VHS tapes or manically using up six or seven floppy discs in order to copy a simple DOS program. I remain somewhat old fashioned by still calling DVD discs as CDs, simply because of the same shape, yet I haven't purchased an empty CD to burn stuff on in over two years. And now there are small hints of getting physical forms of media completely out of the way, relying solely on a digitalized form of storage and delivery.

Once I started noticing that they could really start using this form of distribution through known console networks, such as XBL and PSN, I immediately started disliking the entire idea. My reasons are rather subjective on the matter, but that matters, because I firmly know that I'm not the only one with such a point of view. One of the most obvious reason is the simple gesture of receiving your purchased game and adding it to your collection of video games. I found myself as an avid collector of video games, and I'm not really that into it, that I'm going to buy the entire Playstation 2's library or strive on buying only collectors editions of games, but I like the feel of actually physically touching a game case and placing it into my existing library. It is a somewhat primitive gesture of displaying little trophies that are the games that you've collected, proudly displaying them and watching your library grow. The fact that it's physically viewable adds to the magic. Looking at a list of downloaded list of PSN games however does not give you that feeling. It's just a list, and lists don't necessary impress, 'ya know.

Another reason, which may be completely subjective is the means of getting this future digital distribution. I myself am not fortunate enough to be located in a highly developed and known European country, or wait, screw that. I myself am not fortunate enough to be located in the bloody United States, where this digital distribution is being developed and handed out. More specifically, I am referring to the means of purchasing this magical future form of distribution. Credit cards and similar don't really like the fact that there is an ocean between our continents and having two PSN accounts doesn't help as well. Even the one I use for gaming doesn't list my correct native country, simply because my country doesn't have the Playstation Store support. Crazy, huh? Not all is magically handed out to you, and simple frustrations like this occur on a daily basis. But that's not the point, the point is that therecould potentially be a large barrier of actually buying products from the web and not, because of cultural financial differences.

Yet I find myself selfish on the given matter. I discovered this when I noticed that I preferred buying certain PSP games from the Playstation Store, rather than looking them up on eBay or in our local electronics shop. Adding the fact that the price of the glorious US dollar is incredibly cheap to our euro, I liked the idea of having all of my games on my PSP's memory card and avoiding disc swapping. Once I discovered my obvious hypocrisy influenced by simple practicality, I found myself baffled with what I really desire. If you look at it from a purely logical and objective viewpoint, digital distribution is one of the most ingenious things ever thought up and it really is the future. Yet companies like Sony obviously understand the situation as well and when the PSP Go! was announced, they decided to keep the 3000 series in production along side with the newer model, that solely supports digital distribution. A financial move that may cost them and bite them in the ass alter on, but at least they're trying to shift the video game industry in this direction as well.

In the end, it's more or less obvious that in the future we will have a console with over 600 GB of storage, and have all our games installed on it, and every other form of media, such as music and movies. And that this also poses a question for the publishers, which could potentially break down the market, so it's actually slightly scary to think about it. A key question that appears is how fast the transition will be made and how painful will it be. Will Microsoft or Sony completely ditch disc based distribution in one move or will they gradually allow dual support and similar. I mean, you have to accept the fact that we've been using physical media since stone tablets were introduced or in the modern world, something simple as VHS tapes were used, yet they've been completely destroyed by digital media. I'm not really thinking about Nintendo in this situation, because they're rather traditional in this sense, which I respect. Still using cartridges for the N64 was a bold move, but that doesn't mean that Nintendo doesn't know how to nudge the future (motion control).

Time and experiences will tell and this is a cautious tale to be observed in the distant or near future. When they'll announce implementation of digital media into our brains, that's when the digital crap will really hit the fan. Other than that, I've got some other topics to dwell upon and since it's the slow season in video gaming right now, I'll most likely use up the time for writing more and playing some older titles. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go on some Persona 3/JRPG rehab, like playing manly man games and listening to manly songs and walking around the house with my shirt off. Basically anything to shift my attention from the spectacle that was my forever dearest Persona 3.

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Surf's Up! A More Detailed Look

Criterion recently released Big Surf Island, an amazing piece of downloadable content, that really shows how DLC should be handled. And when I speak of how DLC should not be handled, I'm talking about DLC being announced before the actual game is released, which has happened with a few titles, but I won't go into detail. All I have to say is, that Criterion knows how to please their Burnout community. The game is still very active online and numerous amazing smaller chunks of DLC was rolled before as well.

Basically, Big Surf Island is an entirely new chunk of land that is positioned as an island, right from the main area of Paradise City. The bridge on which you crossover already slightly hints of the madness you'll experience there. You'll find more billboards, more gates to smash and new versions of Super Jumps, called Mega Jumps. And that's a pretty accurate description. You'll find yourself jumping through a lighthouse or across an entire bridge. There are added cars as well, two buggies and a handful of other cars, like certain toy versions of already released Legendary Cars. But that's not what makes Big Surf Island so fun. By connecting all of these small features into a whole, you find yourself in a fast-paced, almost out of control mad cruise all around the island, which would seem to last forever.

You eventually find yourself in a flow, where you drive continuously through all around the island, and only a crash brakes that flow. But now worries, the usual crashes are caused by misplaced jumps and similar whilst driving on dirt terrain and steep hill roads. Because the overall island is structured differently and more wildly than Paradise City, the gameplay is more exciting. There are around 15 added events, two of which are completely new and actually very exciting and useful. Island Tour, and as the name suggests, the game takes you on a tour around the island, with a given time limit. It's actually very useful, because you already see an even bigger glimpse of the content and secrets you can search for. There are new Road Rules of course and more Freeburn Challenges The overall time you spend unlocking and reaching full 100% of your new Island license is about 5 - 6 hours. Because of the smaller scale of the island, you'll also have a better sense in control of finding out the various routes on how to smash billboards and etc., which also gives you motivation on actually completing everything.

Overall, the added experience is fantastic. How Criterion deals with DLC for a game that has been released well over a year ago is really marvelous and I'm glad to see that there is more interest with Criterion in DLC for Burnout Paradise, rather than working on a sequel. Because the game itself offers an amazing and lengthful experience that everyone with a small need for a digital adrenalin fix should check out. The only thing two minor complaints about this DLC is the fact that if you're a Burnout fan or if you find yourself really enjoying the content, you'll get the feeling that vacation is over too fast. The other issue is one that Criterion has done in the past with all its DLC and that is adding the actual DLC into their updates, meaning people who don't want the content, still have to download the "update", which contains the new map. Maybe it's because of marketing issues, maybe they have issues releasing it on its own, you can't really say.

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Barbarians And Electricity

I've been playing a lot of inFamous. So much, that I didn't have the time to write about it on sogeek. If you've read the reviews or even know someone that owns a PS3, then you know it's an excellent and well polished game. The only weird negative comment I have on the game is the fact that you can't walk. And by walking, I mean literally walk. You can either run or sprint. In most open world games I enjoy walking, since it's a personal thing of immersion. Also, it's cool to just slowly walk on top of rooftops and observe your super heroic environment.

A game like Prototype (PC) on the other hand, does contain walking. But it's a completely different game from inFamous. I honestly didn't know about the game's existence, until a few weeks ago, when I started noticing random forum topics, where morons decided to duke out, whether Prototype or inFamous was a better game. What I saw from the videos and numerous trailers was interesting, so I decided to pick it up. I was query whether me playing inFamous before would have any impact on playing Prototype and it sure hell did. In simple terms, the overall gameplay and feel of inFamous is very polished and gentleman-like, where Prototype's is mad and barbaric.

Which is a good thing, if you're in that kind of a blood shedding mood. For me it was extremely difficult to switch to a blood lust superhuman, since in inFamous I had adapted to playing an anti-hero, one who is troubled yet ready to help out with his amazing and focused superpowers. You really have to abandon any kind of good emotions while playing Prototype. The game is violent, fast paced and keen to destroying a New York City taxi, by just touching it. I also had slight issues fulling capturing and controlling the immense power that Alex wields, but I got the hang of it. The mayhem that you can cause in the city reminds me of the early days when we first played titles like GTA 3 and GTA: San Andreas. How the game will actually turn out after I beat it, is a story to its own.

I've always been fascinated why characters like Alex and Wolverine were pissed off after discovering they had superpowers. And the rage that was followed afterwards. If I woke up in a morgue and discovered I could leap over buildings and morph into anyone I'd like to, I'd make a master plan on getting something I wanted really bad and played it out cool. It'll be interesting to see what exactly happened to Alex, although I have to admit, that the story presentation is rather awkward, but it's sufficient. This is also a minor reason why I haven't really gotten into doing story missions yet and ignoring them by causing mayhem in NYC.

Both games are have it's own thing. Whilst I wouldn't really call Prototype a superhero game, it really is awesome to see that designers are finally getting the hang of making superb superhero themed games. Summer is kicking off in a real nice fashion. Also, you can clearly see from my added screen shots, that in Prototype I have a passion for abducting people, hanging them over roofs and later on absorbing their identity. It somehow makes me feel like the T-1000 from T2: Judgement Day.

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How Valve Ruined TF2

I am currently a furious man. Furious at my anger towards Valve, a game developer that I hold in a high position in my heart, alongside Ubisoft and a few more. Why I am I angry, I ask myself, well it's pretty clear, is it not. It's Team Fortress 2 we're talking about, and the last major event that occurred was the release of the Sniper and Spy class updates, that included numerous new weapons, maps and achievements. Now, whilst I'm still be dazzled by the fact that Valve gives us these stuff for free, I cannot help myself at not being mad for the new unlock system they have developed.

Supposedly you get your weapons by chance. Completely random. Although the official post on the TF2 Blog suggested that there is an actual skill system behind the scenes, that tracks our progress in-game, I say that is a lie. Why? Well, for starters, I want the new Sniper weapons and based of my overall time playing as a Sniper (around 15 hours) I have only received the Razorback and the Jarate jar of piss. No Huntsman in sight. Fine, perhaps I'll get it eventually. But wait, what's this? I received a weapon for the Spy class, that clocks around 10 hours of my playtime. I got the damn thing while playing as a Sniper.

Alright, maybe I should spend some time playing as a Spy, since I'm pretty good at it and it's always fun sneaking around. After two-three hours I receive a new weapon. I get the Scout's new gun, which was featured in the previous update, which I didn't care for, since I don't like playing as a Scout. Valve, why did I receive the Scout's new gun, when my overall Scout time is only a little over 1 hour? And why do I keep getting weapons for the Heavy class, when I already got all of them? I heard that there would be a trading system, but that's complete idiocy. So instead of making a player work hard to get all the achievements, and with it, all the weapons, supposedly you'll be able to get them right off the bat by trading with other players? Marvelous Valve!

The funny fact now is, that instead of the old servers that were designed for getting the achievements fast, we have now servers that you can connect to and stay idle the entire time, in order to get up your overall play time. To be honest, I have to congratulate the players for such ingenious ways of beating the system, but they also do damage. I myself will still play normally and get the last 10 achievements I have to get for the Sniper and Spy, but what good is the fact that I don't have the necessary weapons to get the achievements. It's all a mess to be honest, but I still love TF2 and Valve. Let's hope for a better future with all of this.

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On Godfather II

Godfather II The Video Games has been an interesting spectacle. I'm not implying that I finished the damn game, just that the game has been in amusing terms with me. I do hate it without a doubt, but there's this sense that there could be so much more to this game if the developers followed my detailed instructions. Which would be delivered through a major 2GB large patch later on. It would save everybody from certain painstaking sequences numerously found throughout the entire game.

I've beaten roughly 1/3 of the game, but I don't need much more gameplay to determine that the rest of the game is going to be identical to the first 1/3 with some actual Godfather II The Movie elements sprinkled on. Before I start dissecting the game, allow me to mention what I do like about the game. I like the expanded Don's View, which is pretty cool. And the violence. This game makes the GTA series look like Fisher Price's toy. Now, what would make this game better?

Right off the bat, it would make this game better, if it was never actually released. It would save my time from writing this and save any other gamers from the pain the game presents them. I mean really, the first Godfather game was somewhat solid, but still had a lot of repetitive elements. In the second game they expand that repetitiveness into three major cities. That's wrong.

What would also be a magnificent change in the actual game play is any kind of mission diversity. The sandbox concept is expanded a little bit too much. Basically, your job is to take over businesses and in the end take over the main enemy family's mansion. Sure, it's fun to blow stuff up and shoot people, but I don't really have the urge to do that for 10 hours. Even the main story missions have the same gimmick. Now, I understand that it's a Godfather video game, and that's what people in the mob do, trying to eradicate other families, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be so strictly placed out. The best example for this is Mafia. What would I give for a basic escort mission where some character development would be featured.

More lively environments. Even though you're placed in three different locations, the places and joints you're taking over seem bland and identical. With a pinch of no inspiration. Beside that, there are numerous glitches all over the locations, like cars getting jammed under roads (I speak the truth). Maybe the developers should focus on a smaller scale locations and add more life to them. Taking over a business would take some serious preparation and examination of its weaknesses and similar. Sniping off the guards, learning about the owner. Not just barging in, shooting all the guards, beating up the owner and shazam, you own a brothel.

Control schemes, and everything about the clunky gameplay. If the developers condemn me on doing something over and over again, at least I want to do it smoothly. But now, we're faced with strange camera angles, cheap dialogue cut-scenes, choppy controls and an odd responding AI. Controlling your main character should be more fluid, as well as the shooting. Why does it take over 20 bullets to mow down a guard? That's not right. And even though the Don's View is a cool feature, it's too primitive. When I send one of my marked men to defend one of my businesses, I want a clear option for him to return to be back, and not spending my entire game time to find him in one of my safe houses or family headquarters, which can vary in different cities. If I can send him back to New York with a press of a button, then goddamn it, I want him to return to me with a press of a button. And upgrading my made men should be a little more explained and not so detailed. Cars should handle better as well.

Overall, Godfather II The Video Game is a very broken, awkward game, with some nice moments of violence and similar. The violence is obviously amusing enough for me to come back for more of it, but I think that it will eventually fade away and then I'll uninstall the game. If you really want to play the game though, then play it in small chunks, with a 1 day period between them. Or even better, save up the money for Mafia II.

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Showing Some Love

I got the week off, which means my days will be split in half. In the first half I'll be working with some side projects and preparing for some finishing sequences in May and June at work, and in the second half I'll be gaming. Since I barely get the time to play anything during work week, you'd think that I would be rational about which games to play out in this tight schedule of vacation. Well, that's right, I'm not being rational at all. Out of my PS3, PS2 and PSP, the Playstation 2 is the one that is getting the most love out of me.

Well, I could be playing and finishing Saints Row 2, Midnight Club: LA and DMC 4, but I choose not to. I devote my spare time to two games on the older console, Persona 3 and MGS3. And interesting combination, might I add. Persona 3 is already making itself a contender for my personal choice of game of the year for the PS2, even though it was released a few years ago. Since I'm mostly being retroactive with the PS2, I don't really mind. What's more surprising is the fact, that I really really despise RPG games, more accurately turn-based fighting ones. Persona 3 is not like that exactly, well at least not in my head. It's more like playing a game that could be themed: Pokemon's For Adults, not that adults can't play Pokemon games, I know I yearn for a Nintendo DS in order to play some pocket monsters. How I exactly got in contact with Persona 3 is credited entirely by Giant Bomb, more specifically the feature that's called Endurance Run, where there are daily episodes of two dudes playing Persona 4 and commenting on it. The entire presentation of that game, meaning the combination of a dating-sim with later on RPG elements in combat, make the game really enjoyable for me. Adding the fact that the Personas, the beings used in battles, resemble a Pokemon-like appearance and behavior. Sure, you don't throw pokeballs, you just... shoot yourself in the head, in Persona 3, in order to summon them. I could really just go on and on how I enjoy the game and how it's become an addiction of some sort. I already logged 15 hours on it, so I'm slightly feeling worried. And MGS3 is fine, just clunky with controls. The fact that I beat MGS4 is evident, when I long for MGS4's sleek control scheme in MGs3.

Surprisingly for myself, as being a PC gamer as well, I had an actual urge to show some love to my PC. Since I bought a new pair of headphones that vibrate, about two days ago, I was inseparable from playing FPS games on the PC. Call of Duty 4, Left 4 Dead, hell, I even played some Godfather II in order to get the sound juices of awesomeness. Speaking of which, Godfather II is a very choppy and broken game. That's at least how I perceive it. It feels exactly the same as the original Godfather game, only with the added Don's View. Missions and the overall feel of the game's repetitiveness can be sensed in the initial tutorial missions. Besides that, there are things that just don't make the game feel right. The dialogue, the driving, the cheap cutscenes when you extort people, it's just so average and like straight up junk. The only good thing about the game is the sense of power you have and the violence. There are a lot of cool violent moments in Godfather II, but not enough in order to save the game from being unistalled from my hard drive. It's a shame though, because I sort of enjoyed the first Godfather game, even though it was repetitive. And I usually don't mind games that have a certain degree of repetitiveness, like Assassin's Creed, a game which I bestow high praise upon. Perhaps Godfather II is some sort of a disgusting appetizer before Mafia II arrives. That would make a lot of sense.

I'm going to Austria on this Wednesday. Items that will be on the menu of interest will be accessories and such, perhaps something for the PSP and some games. I most likely will not buy a Nintendo DS, a burning desire that I buried deep deep down in the darkest corners of my heart. I'll speak about that place in the following days, I'm rather drowsy from playing Persona 3 the entire day. Also, I'm thinking about doing some changes to my blog, making it rather more professional and appealing.

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The Fifth Evil

Resident Evil 5 arrived on the 26th of March. On the 12th of April I have beaten it. I feel complete. So complete. After hearing many negative nitpicks, I stand untouched by them. Sheva is a good mule and the inventory system was... passable.

After last year's magnificent burst with Resident Evil 4 on my PS2 which featured one of my longest play sessions ever, approximately 10 months (I don't know why the hell I was playing that game in such chunks), I was left with a high anticipation for Resident Evil 5. March 2009 came along and so did RE5. And after two weeks, the game is beaten. I'm not implying that I find RE5 a better game, since I've beaten it in a faster time, there have just been some matters in the past that prolonged the eventual finishing of RE4. Which I personally find more enjoyable as a whole. If I have to go to the straight facts, the main thing that I didn't like in RE5 is Sheva. And I'm not talking about her AI mental capabilities, those didn't bother me at all most of the time, I was bothered that someone was with me. In RE4 the main build up for its epic gameplay was the fact that you were alone in this Spanish village surrounded by unfamiliar and lethal hazards. When Chris Redfield arrives in Africa, it's a sunny day and Sheva tags along right away. Sure, there are freaky African residents infected with a mutagenic virus that turns them into psychos, but I had Sheva covering my back all the way. That is the main quirk why I fancy RE4 before RE5. Ideally RE5 would win over RE4 if, it you were completely alone the entire time, the story would unfold at night and there would be more fucked up and unexplainable paranormal activities. Like Chris stumbling across a tribal ceremony (with sacrifices!) and trying to escape from them. Now that would make RE5 more horrific and better. But what I most like about the game is the fact that you really get the feel that this is an adventure that occurs in one day, through various set pieces, which unfold a truly magnificent adventure, that you ponder upon numerous times after you beat the game.

Other than that, the so to speak "main" issues of RE5, like Sheva, the inventory system and the constant action did not harm my experience in a significant way. I solved Sheva by constantly upgrading her pistol and never giving her any other piece of weapon. She has a very good aim and I used that by giving her a high rate of damage by her pistol and a large slot of ammunition. We're talking about her secondary function, killing zombies. Her primary function was being my mule that carried ammunition, grenades and medical equipment. She indeed is a good mule. Once I gave her a machine gun and set her on Attack mode. She used up all her ammunition in less than one minute and I believe there were only two zombies to kill somewhere. Speaking of the inventory system, it sucks. I tried to solve its moronic design by keeping it organized, but I just loathed when I had to change weapons or combine herbs in-game instead of in a menu screen, completely safe, like in RE4. The enemies in the game gave me more of a laugh than a scare, since most of them were copied directly from RE4. I'm talking about the chainsaw guy, the guys with the machine guns and a few more. But overall, I think that RE5 is a very solid package. I've just fully discovered this Mercenaries mode and I'm enjoying the challenge very much. In RE4 I toyed around with it a bit, but nothing serious. However in RE5 it's completely different, most likely because the game is still very fresh to me. It's a game that certainly winks at me and suggests me playing it multiple times, which is something I'll explore during this summer, along with MGS4 and Uncharted. I believe that kind of a fact says a lot about the game.

I'm still fighting my way through Fight Night Round 3 and I'm trying to accept Devil May Cry 4 into my heart. It's a painful process, to be honest, but I'm comforted by the fact that it's from Capcom. Also, the Nintendo DS has been placed on my agenda of interest. I'm moving back and forward on whether I should buy it or not. That's something that I'll explore further on in the following two weeks, since the actual purchase should take in the third week.

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