I've been reading reviews less frequently. Have you?

I remember the time where I first started to read videogame reviews. I was a kid, around twelve or thirteen, and was in a position where I had my own money from saving allowance and doing the odd job here and there like washing cars. I could now buy my own games, without having to ask my parents, or be surprised on birthdays/Christmas. Exited to purchase my own games, I searched the internet for games I thought I would like. Among the list I made, were Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter and Yu-Gi-Oh: Duelist of the Roses, these choices were made because I loved the original Breath of Fire on the SNES, and I was into Yu-Gi-Oh at that time. Their release date was the very same day, so I got both at the same time, spending a whopping $100 (a lot of money for a thirteen year old kid). When I got home, I was met with two horrible games, the realization of throwing weeks of saving and working down the toilet, and probably the first time I felt truly ripped off.

It was this time I started to make sure I knew everything I could before investing in a game I new nothing about. I read reviews on Gamespot, watched videos and read articles. From there, I started to make decisions about what games I would buy, based what I liked and the general reception form games journalists. I was more cautious, better informed and overall a smarter consumer. As years passed, because of this, I built an investment in brands, franchises, and developers/producers. When the new GTA, Mass Effect, Assassin's Creed, etc. comes out, I pretty much know what I'm getting into and what I'm going to be buying. Sure I watch videos and read articles leading up to the game's release, but when it comes to the review, and when it's a game I am so invested in, it hardly ever factors into my purchase. The only way it would is if the game received a huge amount of negative or middling reception, which hardly happens to the games I am invested in.

As a result, I mostly read the full text of a review when it's a game I have never played before, or know very little about but yet still interested in what kind of game it is. Even then, I will only read the full text if the game was well received, as I don't need to read the review of a game I was iffy on when the overall consensus is, it's not a good game. Sure, there are some rare moments where I am so overwhelmingly excited for a game, that I need to soak up every word written or said about it (Portal 2), but an industry where sequels are more prevalent, I think I have become comfortable and trusting of the sequels I buy today. Now, I pretty much just glance at review scores to how well a sequel does, only reading the full text when things don't line up with how I expected that game to be received, but more often then not, you know Assasin's Creed and Mass Effect are going to get great reviews, and even if they don't, I believe your overall investment in the franchise will be more important than the general consensus.

Is this the same for you guys, or am I crazy in how much trust I put into my franchises? What was the last review of a game you read? Mine was Puzzle Agent 2.


My Vacation Gaming: Mass Effect Edition

So my last final was on Friday, and like many of us who are in college, we simply have no time to play all the games we want while busting our asses for that once lambskin ticket to better employment. So now, with the Christmas vacation upon us, I am trying to go back and finish those games that I simply had no time to even look at before. 
The first that caught my eye was Mass Effect. I bought it back in summer for $5 off of steam and played it for seven hours (according to Steam) during that same summer

 I hate you...
period. In that first few hours with the game, I have to admit, I didn't see what the big fuss was about. The game, I felt, did a lackluster job of introducing me to their beautiful universe. So much sci-fi jargon was being flung at me, pages after pages of codex entries, and a horrible tutorial of how the many gameplay mechanics worked. All the while, the story never stopping or even slowing down for you to keep up. This all culminated in me not really caring about the universe or the menagerie of wonderful characters that inhabited it. I got into a habit I HATE to do within RPGs, which is to be on what I call "quest autopilot," where I gloss over text and narrative so I can just get to my end goal. These things, however, were not the reason for me completely abandoning the game for over four months. What was it you ask, let me spell it for you, M-A-K-O. The mako is one of the most poorly implemented mechanics of a game I have ever played; complete dog shit. When compared with the meticulous attention to detail and construction of the awesome game surrounding it, I can only wonder how Bioware let this happen. It almost feels like they ordered one guy to create each explorable planet and the other guy to create the vehicle in which to explore the planet. These two people both produced bad work, and never even talked to each other on how to properly join these two aspects of the game. The mako handles horrendously, and feels completely separate from the world. It got to a point, when trying to drive out of a pit surrounded by almost 90 degree cliffs, where I said "Fuck this shit!" and spent the remainder of the summer doing far more enjoyable things in Barbados.
Now that the school term is over, I have decided to give Mass Effect another chance, and looking at the fact that I have played like 17 hours in the past two days probably shows that I'm really digging this game now. I sat down and forced myself to get out of that pit, and after doing so, forced myself again to read the codex. After gaining the knowledge of how this universe works, I am completely engrossed within it. The combat system is great in theory, however, I feel that the controls and mechanics were not built in such a way to perform your actions elegantly. This, and the fact that I still quiver whenever I see that I have to "Land" on an uncharted planet are simply speed bumps within in an awesome experience. Bioware is a developer that is currently unmatched in their form of storytelling, and only getting better at creating wonderful games. I know I'm late to the Mass Effect party, but I'm really enjoying my time here, and cannot wait to move on to Mass Effect 2 (c'mon Steam, lower the price for your holiday sale, please).
P.S. I didn't care for the Star Trek series, so I'm even more surprised that I'm loving this game.

I'm in an abusive relationship... with Demon's Souls

So the fact that Demon's Souls became a Greatest Hits game nudged me enough into buying the game. After reading so much love for this game from fans and reviews, it's kind of crazy how divisive this game has become. So, I finally decided to try the game out for myself, and see if this game is really that brutal. After starting a new game, I choose the class Royalty and went through the tutorial which ends in you facing a boss which you could not beat. This was ok, because I guess I guess dying is so unique in this game that I guess it should be explained.  After dying, I was then resurrected in the Nexus and after a chat was now facing the real Demon's Souls. 
The first level was a bitch for me as I died about four times in there. The first time I died, I was trying to look down from a balcony to see what was down there, not knowing that when you press up on a short wall your character climbs over it. As he performed this unintentional act, I could only watch in bewilderment as he dropped in the centre of a cluster-fuck of demons and was torn to shreds. Having been respawned at the beginning of the level, and loosing all of my souls, I said "Fuck this game," turned it off and went to bed. In the morning I started to think, "Well, it was kind of my fault, I should have read the manual, and I did deserve to get killed by those demons, I was practically surrounded by them... Ok, Demon's Souls, I'll come back to you." And thus started my abusive relationship with Demon's Souls. 
Every death I had lead to this cycle: Curse the game, turn it off, realize is was my fault not Demon's Souls' (that sounds weird), and return for more abuse. It's gotten to the point where I don't even think I'm having fun, but I can't stop playing. I am constantly afraid of every corner and crevice because I think something is gonna jump out and rape me (which is usually the case). Also, beating a boss and regaining my body means jack shit to me, because in the next level, I'll die and go back to spirit form and have to beat another boss to regain it.  
 In closing, this game is great, and you should buy it! :D


Easily the best chapter so far.

So I just finished Chapter 4 of Tales of Monkey Island, and I must say, it was the best one so far... in terms of story.  

The puzzles were pretty easy, and none of them really caused me any trouble. I breezed through this one, and as a result it felt shorter that the previous chapters. However, the best part of this chapter was its narrative. Right at the start you are presented with one of the greatest (at least in my opinion) characters from the Monkey island series, Stan. Telltale did a great job with this character, his flailing arms and fantastic jacket will always make you chuckle every time he has dialogue. Besides this, The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood is filled with references from past Monkey Island games, and as opposed to past chapters, most (if not all) of them will make you laugh. Also, what really surprised me about this chapter is how they crammed so many great plot points into such a short game. They are many twists and turns that occur throughout this short ride, and if you've played through the past chapters, will bring forth emotions ranging from glee to shock. In this chapter, I actually cared about the characters, which is something that the past chapters didn't really try to create in the player. As a result of this great narrative, the cliffhanger at the end had me especially on the edge of my seat wanting for more. This chapter gives you enough to have a great experience while leaving you with some questions about events that haven't quite been explained. Up to now I've been playing through the chapters having a few laughs along the way, but leaving with an experience that wasn't too memorable. This chapter was easily the funniest so far with great references to past games in the series, and surprisingly good story. There's only one more chapter left, and I am eager to see the fates of Guybrush and co.


Killzone 2 Demo Quick Video Overview: L2 IS COVER, NOT R2!!

So this is a quick overview I did for the Killzone 2 demo.  This is pretty much the first video I've ever done... so forgive me.  Also, L2 IS COVER, NOT R2.  Throughout most of the video I say that the button for cover is R2, THAT IS INCORRECT, L2 is the cover button, so I am VERY sorry for that.  So without further ado... VIDEO:


Killzone 2 Demo Quick Overview: Are We Killing Cancer Victoms?

First of all, let me mention were I stand at Killzone 2 so far.  I wasn't particularly "excited" about this game because I was pretty skeptical based on the performance of the first Killzone; yea the graphics were kick ass, but I needed to know what was inside this beautifully packaged present before I jumped on the Killzone 2 party boat. So after reading A LOT of reviews and related media on the game, I am happy to say that I am "aboard".  This download is about 1.4 gigs and after said download, be sure to listen to its adrenaline pumping music before loading it up.

Just to get this out of the way as quickly as possible, these graphics are amazing; the shadowing and lighting effects are one of the best I've ever seen and textures are very detailed. The actual demo isn't long and cuts you off at a point that does what a demo is supposed to do... have you craving for more.

Before jumping into the actual action though, you might want to fiddle around with the controls. At first, I changed the button layout to the "Alternate 2", and if you've played it, is a lot like Call of Duty 4.  I soon found out that this is not going to work.  You must always hold down the cover button to take cover and in Alternate 2, cover is L2 and zoom is L1, so it is very uncomfortable.  Eventually, I just went back to the default controls and they work well once you get used to them.  What I do recommend on changing however, are the game's sensitivity settings.  Your character moves left, right, up and down fairly slowly and this through me off a bit.  I set the X and Y-axis sensitivity three settings higher than the default, and so far that seems about perfect.

Action in this game is very thrilling, all kinds of confusion will be occurring in the world around you, and you will feel like a small part in a larger conflict.  The enemy AI isn't something to take lightly, and you will need to find cover and stick behind it waiting for an opening to pop out and lay down some fire on these fools, and trust me, these mutants will need more than just a couple shots to take down.  Your enemy is the Helghast, a group of "mutant" humans that want regular humans dead cause we're inferior or something.  You can shoot off their helmets to reveal their bare sculls, which led me to believe that these "mutants" have some sort of advanced cancer which caused the mutation and those helmets are actually portable chemotherapy machines that keep them alive and causes baldness as a side effect.  Theories aside, the firefights will have you ducking behind cover and constantly surveying your surroundings because the enemy will advance on your position instead of staying in fixed positions.  Grenades might also be something to point out, as if you are not paying attention, a grenade thrown by the enemy can be devastating, and the only indication of a grenade being close to you is the beeping noise that it makes when it's counting down to detonation.  Also be weary of throwing your own grenades as it seems that the time you have 'til explosion is less than on usual videogames.

This demo does everything a demo is supposed to, it gives you an exact feel of what the game will be, cuts you off in between the level which makes you whine for more and shows you a montage of great footage in slow-mo while revealing quotes form reviews.

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