Respawn Entertainment? Really?

What a garbage name. But I suppose that's fine, considering it's being helmed by garbage people. Honestly, in my mind, Zampella and West and the whole COD "empire" they built is frat boy bullshit from one end to the other. I could not care less what these hobos think up. It'll be a cold day in hell before they manage to even vaguely surprise me. 
 
Also, from Eurogamer: 

EA Partners boss David DeMartini has told VG247 that Activision "blew up" Infinity Ward by firing West and Zampella. DeMartini added that the media recognises Treyarch as the Call of Duty "B-Team" and that EA will fire its first shot for genre supremacy with Crysis 2, because "we're in this game to win".

When is Treyarch going to be cut a break here? Those dudes have been getting the worst press for no god damn reason.  
This whole EA/Activision hardball-thing surrounding West and Zampella is deeply hilarious to me. Who the hell even knows their names outside of the hard core, and barely even there. Activision can put out a turd in a box labelled COD and it'll sell more than enough. Blech. 
 
WHO CARES.
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Brutal Legend is an odd duck isn't it

Picked up Brutal Legend the other day. I'm laughing and laughing, and the soundtrack is fantastic. But I don't think I'm actually enjoying the game. In retrospect, the same rings true for Psychonauts, where the experience was a bigger deal than the gameplay. You know what? I'm okay with that. If Double Fine is to be the company that delivers story and character first, gameplay second, they wouldn't be the first; Hideo Kojima has been doing this shit for a decade, and for my money, Double Fine's stories and characters make me happier. 
 
I gotta say though. I'd totally play a metal-related RTS if it was done properly. On the PC.

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Silent Hill Shattered Memories sound bug

This game is freaking awesome. I'm really into the quiet, lonely atmosphere, and the chase bits aren't half as bad as i thought they would be. Climax have WHIPPED the Wii! This game looks and feels absolutely amazing! Best bit yet has been simply handing the controllers to my non-gamer girlfriend and see her handle the look/move system almost immediately, while she has struggled with dual-stick setups in the past. I guess the addition of a pointer makes it less abstract? 
 
The only problem I've had though is kind of big. Early on in my first play, at the bit where you shake the cans around to find the key, at first i got lost and couldn't find the cans, so i paced around for a while. Suddenly the sound started going really weird on me, and i'm not talking Silent Hill weird, i'm talking WRONG weird. For a while i was apologizing for it to my girl, saying oh hey, you know, sometimes Silent Hill games will fuck with the sound to fuck with your head, but after it kept screaming at me even during the diner cutscene i had to admit something was definitely wrong. Like it would randomly play the sample of Harry yelling for Cheryl, pitched up, over absolutely ear-shattering bursts of noise. I have never heard shit like this come out of the Wii before. Just shrill, digital clipping, repeated looping samples played wrongly. Nuts. Pausing the game stopped it, though resuming the game kicked it right back in. I did a bunch of testing with other games to make sure it wasn't my amp messing with me, and when i rebooted the game it didn't happen again. 
 
Anyone else have this happen on the Wii? With this game or others? It's the single craziest sound bug I've ever come across.

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MGS4

Finally got to play it. From the first 2 hours of play (which i understand isn't much), it's the most unpleasant game i currently own for the PS3. The previous titles were retarded, but endearingly. MGS4 is the bad kind of retarded. At some point, the use of barely altered cow moos as the Gecko "roar" was greenlighted, and that's fucking emblematic of the whole experience. 
 
Kid with the keys to his dad's Ferrari. That's the vibe i get from this game. People have GOT to stop apologizing for Kojima's bullshit, because he has consistently had his hands on something good for years but has always managed to make those things stupider than they need be. That isn't the sign of a master of his field. It's the sign of someone who needs to be told no.

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Bayonetta things

Good things first. This game is awesome. At first i thought this was going to be some exploitative titty party, but instead B turns out to be a pretty good character. She's certainly oversexed, but the vulgarity of it all somehow removes it from titillation and into the realm of.. Empowerment? She's the first female action game hero (for a game of this sort) that i think actually works. My girlfriend said, after watching me play it for a couple hours, that this is the "gayest game she has ever seen", and she means that in the best way. It's just a total gay-parade of a game. Just nothing but flamboyance and skin and celebration of being something else. I heart it.
 
I'm really enjoying the witch-time dynamic. Like Ninja Gaiden (my favorite action game series by far), it trains you to look for patterns on a screen-wide scale instead of concentrating on one enemy alone, and getting pure platinum medals feels well earned and very satisfying. It's funny how the defining factor of games like this tend to be how you avoid damage, rather than dish it out. The combat is mashy enough to be effective under stress (there's a lot of that), but deep enough with its timing windows that you can really lay on the murder on individual enemies if you wish (you typically wish). The boss fights are truly epic. The result is, for the most part, a game where you'll happily replay levels for better ratings, simply because it feels fair, and a clean victory is up to YOU, not the odds the game throws you. For all the talk about how western development is "taking over", i haven't seen a western title that nails this aspect of an action game ever, and i hope Japanese devs are proud of this.
 
It does, however, have a bunch of flaws. It's a game after all, games have flaws. Typically the camera will treat you pretty good, but i have had enough camera freakouts to mess up my flow. It's not as thoroughly borked as the Ninja Gaiden 2 camera was, but it's certainly in the way more than you'd like. It made me think of how much flak NG2 got for its camera, and how little I've heard about Bayonetta's. Worse is the absolutely ridiculous story. I don't mind a ridiculous story, but in Bayonetta, there's a lot of it. Lengthy cutscenes offer nothing of interest, with reams and reams of dialogue that for the most part don't even make sense. It just won't shut up! It doesn't help that the landscape is strewn with tomes of lore. For a game that's so absolutely retarded (i mean that in a good way), this abundance of self-important lore is baffling.
 
The worst bit by FAR has been a level I'll characterize as straight up "broken". Ostensibly a bike racing.. thing.. It instead suffers dramatically from absolutely abysmal physics, repetitive design, and a section where i would fall through the ground on every single pass until i started slamming the jump button randomly until i somehow made it across. This whole level seems absolutely amateurish compared to the sheen of the rest of the game, and i wish Platinum had straight up cut it from the game. I don't ever want to play it again.
 
But my god. I'll recommend this game to anyone up for a crazy Japanese variety cabaret show filled with ridiculous characters and over the top madness. I haven't had this kind of base joy playing a game in a very long time. I hope it sells well and Platinum get to make more of this.

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Hype can kill a thing

So after all this yelling about Uncharted 2, i finally bought it and sat down to play it. You better believe all this positive talk about a game can lift expectations. I like to think mine weren't completely unrealistic, but seriously, this game has some big issues. So much so I'm starting to wonder if it doesn't suffer a bit from the Call of duty syndrome, where scripting and set pieces overshadow the quality of the core gameplay.
 
It's not bad! Christ. Haha I'd be crazy to say it's anywhere near bad. But outside of the sheer spectacle this game is throwing around, i have certainly seen games that do what Uncharted 2 does mechanically better. 
 
I'm aware Naughty Dog are proud of their animation blending, which makes it really odd to see things like Drake suddenly flinging into his stumbling animation while sliding slowly sideways after a small jump. Inverse kinematics go out the window. 
 
This is a cover based shooter, but when you're in the inner elbow of a low L-shaped wall and it's nigh on impossible to shift cover from one inner wall to the other, you know, the one you're technically already up against, without a 90% fail rate that ends with you just standing up dumbly, that cover system needs some work. I like to think I'm not completely motorically challenged, but i still can't figure out exactly how their cover shifting works!
 
Why are nobody pointing out that every character's eyes have two dozen highlights, and that the lack of antialiasing, while really noticeable overall, turn the highlights into clouds of white dots effectively obscuring the pupils? It's hard to emphasize with a glowing-eyed space alien. Do all these characters have a fever? Chloe's face in particular is incredibly hard to look at.
 
Why are nobody pointing out that short of headshots you are emptying clips into dudes who only react when they finally die? There is little to no force to any non-explosive weapon! This was a problem in the first game as well, and it hasn't been remedied. Guns feel "soft".
 
Why, oh why oh why, did Naughty Dog choose to effectively open their game with an unforgiving stealth mission? When you sneak up on someone for a stealth knockout, 50% of the time you get a short sharp blow that lets you get right back into cover. The rest of the time a long strangling takes place. The difference, tactically, is immense. I've pulled off perfect stealth sections only to fail at the very end; bam, restart the section. Oh, and on this restart, you get other animations that take long enough to complete that you fail where you previously succeeded. It's a mess of a section and Naughty Dog should be ashamed. FFS, if you aren't making a stealth game, make stealth optional!
 
This is all mechanical nitpicking of course; As an adventure movie kind of experience, this is exceedingly well done. Mechanically however, it makes me almost desperate to go back to inFAMOUS where everything just works and feels right. I'm not sure I'm totally cool with this script-heavy trend. For every cool edge-of-your-seat moment in this game there's a bit where you repeat the section and the smoke and mirrors go away; Imminent peril will wait until you move to the next trigger. On the PS3, inFAMOUS remains my GOTY 2009. Part of me wishes i hadn't seen all the hype before playing Uncharted 2. I would certainly have been more enamored with it.

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Requisite opinionated GOTY bitching

Giving Shatter soundtrack of the year only proves two things. 
- That the crew didn't live through the euro computer game tracker disco/techno 90s, of which the Shatter soundtrack is a poor replica
- That Justice and the rest of the stupid new disco movement are poisoning music and must be stopped.
 
A boring game filled with mediocre synthpop. Soundtrack of the yearh. Blehh.

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