Can games be too deep?

I find myself wondering that right now, as I contemplate purchasing Mass Effect. I had rented it long ago, though I felt rather bored and pretty lost during my short time playing through it. To be fair, I only spent an hour or two with it before dying and having to replay a large section (I think that's what happened anyway, and I wasn't about to go through it all over again). There was a lot going on in the game, and apparently it didn't peak my interest enough for me to give it another shot. Truthfully, I suppose I felt somewhat overwhelmed. Even as I was just trying to figure out the core of the game, I was encountering decisions where I felt like I just didn't know enough yet about what was going on to make my best judgment. That's nothing compared to all the really big choices I know I'd have to make long, and all the different branches and outcomes that could occur from it. I'll admit, as I play through games, I like to be able to see everything they have to offer. I was nothing to be missed or left behind. I want to experience games to the fullest. I want to see everything that is possible. In some cases, I think that greatly hinders my ability to play through games.

Take Fallout 3 for instance. I can without question tell you that Fallout 3 is one of my favorite games of all time. Absolutely my favorite game of this console generation, and it's easily pushed it's way into the ranks of my top five favorite games ever, which encompasses about 20 years of gaming. I have spent over 250 hours playing the game. Heck, maybe even 300 hours. And you know what? I've still never finished it. I rented it a couple times and spent a good 100+ hours playing it as a good guy, then decided to wait around for the inevitable GOTY edition. When t finally purchased the GOTY edition, my old file was corrupted with a graphical glitch (well, actually, I found out later that clearing my cache file fixed the problem, so it works now), so I started anew as a neutral character this time. I've easily reached about 200 hours in that playthrough. I've discovered almost every town on my own, often opting to explore entirely on foot rather than fast traveling. I've finished the majority of the quests at this point, but I still feel I have a ways to go. Then I need to finish up my original playthrough. Then finally play a third playthrough as an evil character. I've been playing this game on and off since it came out in 2008. I can easily see myself taking at least a couple more years to finally feel completely satisfied with my playthrough. Did I mention that I haven't even started any of the DLC? Then you got the fact that they released New Vegas, which I'd love to play through just as thoroughly. At this rate, these 2 games could be the last games I ever play in my life. I could be spending the rest of the decade trying to finish them. As much as I love the games, it's completely exhausting.

I know not everyone plays games to such an obsessive extreme, and I don't always myself, but when it comes to games I really like, I want to see as much as I can. I've never grown tired of Fallout 3. It's been a heavenly experience for me all the way through, and I've been fortunate enough to not really encounter much of any glitches. I had to clear my cache because of the graphics glitch, and had to restart once because my character got trapped. That's it. But the truth is, my enjoyment of this game has kept me from thoroughly playing many other games, or even playing them at all. Is that too far? You could argue that as long as I'm enjoying the game, it's okay for me to keep playing, but this is pretty extreme, I think. Truthfully, I'll probably pass on the final (evil) playthrough of Fallout 3, and probably just play through New Vegas once, but then I know I'll be missing out on a lot of great content and changes to the story.

I bought Mass Effect 2 for $10 in a Lighting Deal on Amazon last year. Haven't played it. Everyone says it's worth it to play through the grind of Mass Effect 1 to get the most enjoyment out of it, so that's held me back. Now I got my decisions branching between multiple games? As if I wasn't intimidated enough as it was, now I have so many different paths and outcomes. Then we have Mass Effect 3 on the way, which will only serve to up the ante of possibilities. The game is supposed to be catered to your personal experience, to reflect your decisions, so perhaps it doesn't necessitate multiple playthroughs, but everyone I know who's played it has or plans to play through it again on an opposite path. I feel like sometimes, games just gives us way too many options.

NO ONE MAN SHOULD HAVE ALL THAT POWER!

13 Comments

Suggestion for making it easier to contact mods.

I'm unable to flag posts right now, and when that's the case, the site tells me so and gives me a link to the list of the mods on the site. How handy! However, you know what would make that page significantly more effect? The page should tell me which mods are actually online. It doesn't do me much good if I message a mod that's offline when it's an urgent situation. Also, messaging multiple people at once can be a major pain in the behind, and I've had problems with getting it to work in the past since when you type in a user's name, the search engine a lot of times will find the wrong person. For instance, try sending a message to all the GB staff members at once. I did a while back, and couldn't add a couple of them because while typing Jeff seems simple enough, the results would only show Jeff122 JeffyJEFFMAN or any other combination of the word Jeff except the one I wanted. Annoying!
 
Anyway, I'm rambling too much. Perhaps it'd be cool if you guys created some sort of notification system where all the mods could easily access it whenever we try to message them. You know, like the flag system, but a little more in-depth, and something that works a little more consistently than flagging. 
 
Oh, and I didn't know where to post this, so I just made it a blog to finish that quest. My bad. At least this doesn't qualify as quest spam, I don't think so anyway...

6 Comments

Soundtrack Wars - Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock vs Rock Band 3

The time has come, my friends. The full soundtracks have finally been revealed for each game. Now it's time for us to choose sides! In this blog, I'm going to copy and paste both full soundtracks, and highlight all the songs I look forward to playing in bold letters. I'll probably even leave comments about some of my favorites. Then, after going through each list, I'm going to tally up the total number of songs I want to play for each game, and determine which game has... THE ULTIMATE SOUNDTRACK. 
 
I encourage you guys to participate and follow by my example if you choose. Either way, I'm interested in what everyone's thoughts are on the two soundtracks.
 
Just to clarify, there's going to be plenty of songs here I don't know, or think I don't know, maybe even by bands I like. I'm not going to look any up and listen to them for the sake of this blog. So I won't really know about all of the songs until after I get my hands on both games and play each of them thoroughly. Maybe later in the year I'll make an update and see if my initial choice prevailed overall. Until then, let the battle begin! 
 
*** For the sake of encouraging you guys to participate, I'm just going to post the full soundtracks by themselves, and then my reply will feature my picks. That way you can copy and paste and not have to make changes to my choices or remove my comments.  ***

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
 A Perfect Circle – "The Outsider"
Aerosmith – "Cryin'"
AFI – "Dancing Through Sunday"
Alice Cooper – "No More Mr. Nice Guy"
Alter Bridge – "Ties That Bind"
Anberlin – "The Feel Good Drag"
Anthrax – "Indians"
Arch Enemy – "Nemesis"
Atreyu – "Ravenous"
Avenged Sevenfold – "Bat Country"
Bad Brains – "Re-Ignition (Live)"
Band Of Skulls – "I Know What I Am"
Black Sabbath – "Children Of The Grave"
Blind Melon – "Tones Of Home"
Blue Oyster Cult – "Burnin' For You"
Bush – "Machinehead"
Buzzcocks – "What Do I Get?"
Children Of Bodom – "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War"
Creedence Clearwater Revival – "Fortunate Son"
The Cure – "Fascination Street"
Deep Purple – "Burn"
Def Leppard – "Pour Some Sugar On Me (Live)"
Dethklok – "Bloodlines"
The Dillinger Escape Plan – "Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants"
Dire Straits – "Money For Nothing"
DragonForce – "Fury of the Storm"
Drowning Pool – "Bodies"
Edgar Winter– "Free Ride"
Fall Out Boy – "Dance, Dance"
Five Finger Death Punch – "Hard To See"
Flyleaf – "Again"
Foo Fighters – "No Way Back"
Foreigner – "Feels Like The First Time"
George Thorogood and The Destroyers – "Move It On Over (Live)"
The Hives – "Tick Tick Boom"
Interpol – "Slow Hands"
Jane's Addiction – "Been Caught Stealing"
Jethro Tull – "Aqualung"
John 5 – "Black Widow Of La Porte"
KISS – "Love Gun"
Linkin Park – "Bleed It Out"
Lynyrd Skynyrd – "Call Me The Breeze (Live)"
Megadeth – "Sudden Death"
Megadeth – "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due"
Megadeth – "This Day We Fight!"
Metallica & Ozzy Osbourne – "Paranoid (Live)"
Muse – "Uprising"
My Chemical Romance – "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)"
Neil Young – "Rockin' In The Free World"
Nickelback – "How You Remind Me"
Night Ranger – "(You Can Still) Rock In America"
Nine Inch Nails – "Wish"
The Offspring – "Self Esteem"
Orianthi – "Suffocated"
Pantera – "I'm Broken"
Phoenix – "Lasso"
Poison – "Unskinny Bop"
Queen – "Bohemian Rhapsody"
Queensryche – "Jet City Woman"
Rammstein – "Waidmanns Heil"
The Ramones – "Theme From Spiderman"
Red Rider – "Lunatic Fringe"
R.E.M. – "Losing My Religion"
Rise Against – "Savior"
The Rolling Stones – "Stray Cat Blues"
The Runaways – "Cherry Bomb"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 1 – Overture"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 2 - The Temples Of Syrinx"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 3 – Discovery"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 4 – Presentation"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 5 - Oracle: The Dream"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 6 – Soliloquy"
Rush – "2112 Pt. 7 - Grand Finale"
RX Bandits – "It's Only Another Parsec..."
Silversun Pickups – "There's No Secrets This Year"
Slash featuring Ian Astbury – "Ghost"
Slayer – "Chemical Warfare"
Slipknot – "Psychosocial"
Snot – "Deadfall"
Soundgarden – "Black Rain"
Steve Vai – "Speeding" (Vault Version)
Stone Temple Pilots – "Interstate Love Song"
Strung Out – "Calling"
Styx – "Renegade"
Sum 41 – "Motivation"
Tesla – "Modern Day Cowboy"
Them Crooked Vultures – "Scumbag Blues"
Third Eye Blind – "Graduate"
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – "Listen To Her Heart"
Twisted Sister – "We're Not Gonna Take It"
The Vines – "Get Free"
The White Stripes – "Seven Nation Army"
ZZ Top – "Sharp Dressed Man (Live)"   
  
Total:   

vs.
  

Rock Band 3 
 
Amy Winehouse – Rehab
Anthrax – Caught In A Mosh
At the Drive-In – One Armed Scissor
Avenged Sevenfold – Beast and the Harlot
B-52′s – Rock Lobster
Big Country – In a Big Country
Bigger, Something Brighter
Blondie – Heart of Glass
 Blood, Sweat, & Tears – Spinning Wheel
Bob Marley & The Wailers – Get Up, Stand Up
Chicago – 25 or 6 to 4
David Bowie – Space Oddity
Deep Purple – Smoke on the Water
Def Leppard – Foolin’
Devo – Whip It
Dio – Rainbow in the Dark
Dire Straits – Walk of Life
Dover – King George
Echo and the Bunnymen – Killing Moon
Elton John – Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)
Faith No More – Midlife Crisis
Filter – Hey Man, Nice Shot
Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1
Foreigner – Cold as Ice
Golden Earring – Radar Love
HIM – Killing Loneliness
Huey Lewis and the News – The Power of Love
Hypernova – Viva La Resistance
INXS – Need You Tonight
Ida Maria – Oh My God
James Brown – I Got You (I Feel Good)
Jane’s Addiction – Been Caught Stealing
Jimi Hendrix – Crosstown Traffic
Joan Jett – I Love Rock and Roll
John Lennon – Imagine
Juanes – Me Enamora
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird
Maná – Oye Mi Amor
Marilyn Manson – The Beautiful People
Metric – Combat Baby
Night Ranger – Sister Christian
Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
Paramore – Misery Business
Phish – Llama
Phoenix – Lasso
Poni Hoax – Antibodies
Pretty Girls Make Graves – Something
Primus – Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Queens Of The Stone Age – No One Knows
Rammstein – Du Hast
Raveonettes – Last Dance
Rilo Kiley – Portions of Foxes
Riverboat Gamblers – Don’t Bury Me… I’m
Roxette – The Look
Rush – TBD
Slipknot – Before I Forget
Smash Mouth – Walkin’ on the Sun
Spacehog – In the Meantime
Steve Miller Band – Fly Like An Eagle
Still Not Dead
Stone Temple Pilots – Plush
Swingin’ Utters – This Bastard’s Life
T.Rex – 20th Century Boy
Tears for Fears – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Tegan and Sara – The Con
The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations (Live)
The Bronx – False Alarm
The Cure – Just Like Heaven
The Doors – Break On Through
The Muffs – Outer Space
The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
The Ramones – I Wanna Be Sedated
The Smiths – Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
The Sounds – Living in America
The Vines – Get Free
The White Stripes – The Hardest Button to Button
The Who – I Can See For Miles
Them Crooked Vultures – Dead End Friends
Tokio Hotel – Humanoid
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers – I Need To Know
War – Low Rider
Warren Zevon – Werewolves Of London
Whitesnake – Here I Go Again
Yes – Roundabout 
  
Total:

Winner:

40 Comments

What have I missed over the last 8 months without Xbox Live?

Hey guys. As some of you are probably aware thanks to my excessive complaining, I lost access to Xbox Live when my dad had Verizon FiOS installed. Don't ask me why, I don't know. For some reason, my wireless set-up just was not working with it. I called Verizon and Microsoft's customer service several times, and spent quite a few hours on the phone trying to solve the problem, while being sent back and forth between the two companies' customer service lines. Ultimately, after much frustration, I just gave up on it. I don't play online much anyway, and was so annoyed with the situation that I just put it aside. Then came the news that Microsoft was pulling the plug on their original Xbox games, including Halo 2, which is my all-time favorite online game. That really kicked things back into gear for me and motivated me to solve the problem. Now, Halo 2 is a blog for another day (Really, it'll probably happen in a couple days, so keep a look out), but I've returned to an Xbox Live that is a bit different and could use some help with understanding what exactly has happened over the last 8 months.
 
Okay, so first of all, I know how they added accessories for the avatars, but considering they cost money and I'm not about to fork over cash to decorate an avatar, I've paid little attention to that. Some of the things are pretty cool, though, and I definitely admire some of the game-specific apparel and whatnot, though I find that the free stuff is still totally lacking. Not many free items have been added. 
 
I notice now that people have numbers next to their names when you look at their profile/gamer card in the Xbox dashboard. What is that all about? Some people have numbers in circles, some people have nothing. Can someone clarify that for me? I thought maybe it represented how many years that person had Xbox Live, but I'm really not that sure. 
 
1 vs 100's beta was up and running when I still had Xbox Live, and I played it a little bit. Then it hit the spotlight and had unlockable achievements and everything. I was looking forward to playing it, but can't find it anywhere. Is it gone? Was it a limited time thing? A seasonal thing like a real TV show, perhaps? 
 
And then there's the awards. I don't know what that's all about. I remember reading a little about Halo Waypoint, but I don't know what it is. I can look at my award stats, but I have nothing. It appears my friends haven't unlocked any awards either. What's the deal with these awards?
 
Well, I think that about wraps up all my questions. I think I've done a decent job keeping an eye out for Xbox Live arcade games that came out that I should check out. I bought Shadow Complex, and will try out 'Splosion Man and some others. Perhaps if there's anything else you feel I really must play, I'll see what it's all about. In the meantime, if you guys can help explain this stuff to me, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.

3 Comments

MX vs ATV: Reflex Impressions

Think of this as being a sort-of informal review of the game. I'm still not quite finished with it, but I'm almost done with all of the events at this point and think I've played the game enough to give some legitimate comments. I've had a lot of experience with Rainbow Studios' MX and ATV games over the years. Mainly because my family is totally into riding dirt bikes, so I've played most of them with my brother. First and foremost, I think they've made several great racing games in the past, such as ATV Offroad Fury 2 and MX vs ATV: Unleashed, though others have fallen short and been pretty disappointing. MX vs ATV: Reflex appeared to be shaping up nicely, with improved graphics, a new trick system, real-time terrain alteration, and several pro riders, however, it ends up being a game that falls under the category of disappointing. The game ends up feeling simplified, losing the depth and quality of its predecessors.
 
Let me get the basics out of the way here. The game now has mapped your list of tricks to the right analog stick, along with the new "reflex" feature from which the game gets it's namesake. With "reflex", you can recover from bumpy landings or collisions by pressing in the indicated direction on-screen to shift your rider's body weight to keep them from falling off their bike. It's a nice idea, but the execution could be better. Understand first that this doesn't appear just any time you screw up and are going to crash. It's only if your rider is close to falling off the bike, which can happen pretty regularly, but won't have any use if you're going to crash from not getting enough rotation while attempting a backflip, for instance. While the recovery is only prompted when necessary, you can use the analog to tilt your rider at any time, which can help straighten out your bike or even help you make sharper turns. It works good with helping you make turns, but it really seems to do more harm than good if you're trying to shift your weight to better move along rhythm sections in the tracks. Even when you do use it, it seems to work best with short, quick taps of the analog stick, but I've found that it's best to use it sparingly. Also, when this "reflex" moment pops up where you can save your rider, the arrow indicates you to press the opposite direction that you would think you'd have to lean. For instance, if your rider is about to go over the handlebars, the game wants you to push up. Any common sense would tell you that it'd probably be a much better idea to lean back to stay on the bike. Despite that problem, the game will still let you recover even if you initially push the wrong direction, so long as you push it the right way fairly quickly.  
 
In keeping with the whole dual analog approach, Rainbow Studio decided to revise the trick system. BIG MISTAKE. Here's why. Every single trick in the game, with the exception of rotations, is done by holding the left bumper button and then pushing the analog stick in 3 directions. Each trick has a different combination of directions, but they're all done that way. One of the issues with that is you're not really going to know what trick you're doing and most times will be pulling tricks at random. That would be fine, unless you consider the fact that some tricks take waaaaay longer to pull off than others. A no-hander is a trick that you can do in a half-second if you wanted, whereas a superman seat-grab is going to take at least a few seconds. So basically this discourages you from attemping any tricks unless you know you're going to have enough time to pull a long one. There's nothing to differentiate the various difficulties of tricks, and that's not cool. In past games, harder tricks required more buttons, and the shorter and easier ones required less, making it more practical for you to know exactly what you're doing and whether or not you'll have time to pull off that second or third trick in a single jump. Also, let's take a nice little look at Rainbow Studios' previous game, MX vs ATV: Untamed, which is a current-gen game on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. In that game, you had plenty of trick modifiers that aren't anywhere to be found in Reflex. You could pull off no-hander-landers, you could do side-saddle backflips, all sorts of stuff. They even had a nice combo system to give you bonuses for chaining together tricks. There was a whole lot of depth, and while it was difficult to master, it was much more authentic and rewarding. Plus you could keep combos going with wheelies. Good luck with that in Reflex.  They had a great game for their foundation here, but they tried to streamline everything, I suppose in an attempt to make it more accessible to everyone, but the result is an easier and less interesting game.
 
There are also trophy trucks and dune buggies in the game, but they make no use of the reflex stick whatsoever. In fact, they lack most of the depth of the dirt bikes and ATVs. All you gotta do with them is use the gas and the brakes. They're much more simple, and the races that require you to use them end up being the easiest ones in the game. The game apparently has real pro riders in it. So I read. I haven't seen any mention of them. Maybe I've been beating them in all the races, but I haven't noticed. If you're going to pay for the pros, you really should consider doing more with them. Look at Dirt 2 as a guideline here, they made great use of real riders. I suppose chatter between racers while riding wouldn't be so feasible on dirt bikes, but dude, c'mon, they could have done something with the guys. They could walk you through the menus like Travis Pastrana did in the original Dirt, for example, or show you some new things in the training.  
 
The graphics are pretty nice, and making ruts in the terrain is a cool looking feature, though it's impact on gameplay isn't really too noteworthy. Occasionally falling into a rut will cause you to lose your steering ability, but it's pretty minor, though it's not a bad addition. It's kind of funny that your rider's body will make ruts in the mud as he goes sliding across the ground after a bail. Oh, also, most of the bikes are generic ones modelled after real ones, though the clothing is legit. There's some nice graphical touches, like watching riders remove the tear-offs from their goggles occasionally, and the animations and tricks all look solid. You'll often see a lot of fake stuff, though. Like ridiculous landings and bumping into another rider then somehow flying into the air and pulling a frontflip. The landings are far more lenient this time around and don't seem too concerned with the way real physics work. Also, there will be times where your dirt bike will bounce out of control when it really seems unnecessary, which can be kind of annoying, but it's not common enough to ruin the game.
 
Now let's go onto some other things, like the racing. Seriously, the AI in this game is pretty moronic. All the time you'll see other racers completely driving straight on through turns and off the track. It's a very regular occurence. Today I swear I saw all 3 of the riders in front of me do this at the same time, at a very clearly seen turn. The game is pretty easy. I'm nearly always winning races by 20+ seconds. It can be difficult when you're in the pack with other racers because the slightest bump from them often times will send you crashing off-course, but once you get ahead of them, it's usually smooth sailing. Seriously, just floor the gas at all times, except when you slow down and brake on the turns and you'll be blowing everyone away. Oh, one big thing, the game no longer has any preloading of the suspension. I read that you now preload by leaning back as you ride up jumps, but I've tested it myself and have seen absolutely no difference in the distance you jump. For those of you that aren't familiar with it, you could charge the stick in previous games to increase the length of your jumps. It was a great feature to help you get back into rhythm or clear extra big jumps. You had to be careful with it, though, because you could totally end up jumping too far if you abused it, so there was definitely some technique involved. Anyway, that's gone, so basically now you just want to go full speed the whole time to clear all the jumps. If you screw up and come up short on a set of jumps, or crash, you're not going to have the right amount of speed and often won't be able to get into the appropriate rhythm to keep your speed up. Again, just another way the game has been more simplified. 
 
Freestyle competitions are a joke. You're graded on categories like variety, difficult, flow, and something else I can't remember, but neither of them seem to matter much. Dude, if you lose at freestyle, you either don't know how to play the game at all yet or you just suck at video games. The competition is so pathetic. You can land about 2 tricks, crash 15 times, and still you'll be in first place, no problem. Then sometimes tricks like 360s and whips aren't recognized and award you no points, which is pretty weak. Afterwards, you can watch a highlight reel of your run, but it's done pretty poorly too. The camera can't seem to follow your rider during most of them, it will show more of your bails than successful landings, and it will cut your tricks short. There's a lot of different events, and some of them are interesting. Despite all the problems, there's still fun to be had with the game, and there's a lot to do in it. I can't say I totally hate it, but a rental is enough for me. It's not the worst game you'll ever play by any stretch, but it's fairly disappointing and also surprising because the previous game had already laid down a solid foundation which this game kind of ignores. If I were to review it right now, I'd give it 3/5 stars.
 
(Edit: On an updated note, I found out my brother had the game's difficulty set to the easiest setting, so maybe it's not quite as easy as I thought. I only bumped up the difficulty to the hardest setting for this one achievement, though I still won that race by about 10 seconds, so I don't think it changes anything too drastically. However, it might make the freestyle competition less pitiful, but I'm not really going to bother finding out at this point.)

5 Comments

A New Trend in Gaming!

Okay, okay, so I can't really say this is something "new" but it's something I've seen quite a bit at E3 this year, and it has left me scratching my head. What is it, you ask? Stupid names for games. Yeah. Seriously. In fact, these aren't just outright bad names, these are stupid names for many respectable franchises. Maybe some of you noticed, maybe some of you missed it. The purpose of the blog is to point out some of the worst ones and for all of us to collectively say, "DUDE! WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!"

Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days - Let's start this off with one very anticipated game for the Nintendo DS. There are a whole lot of Square Enix fans out there that go nuts over anything Final Fantasy, which includes its collaboration with Disney in the Kingdom Hearts series. Look, I can't say I'm a fan of the series myself, and although I only spent a few hours with Kingdom Hearts 2, I found it to be vastly overrated. But hey, that's besides the point. Forgive me for using the opportunity to plug my own game impressions, alright? Let's get onto the topic at hand here - the name. First of all, how the heck do you even say that? Three-hundred and fifty-eight over 2 days? Three-hundred and fifty-eight divided by 2 days? I don't know. Neither really rolls off the tongue. Surely you were as puzzled as I was upon first seeing it. I guess someone on the Square Enix staff has officially announced the pronounciation. The accurate way of saying the title is Kingdom Hearts: Three-Five-Eight Days Over Two. Dude, Square... you can't be serious. I've been playing games for quite some time, and I believe I can truly say that this is probably the worst game title I have EVER come across. From now on, expect gamers to simply refer to this game as Kingdom Hearts DS. Unless of course, Square is planning a DS sequel, because that could totally screw even that up. Until then, I'm going to try not to have nightmares about a possible Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days 2 (In other words, Kingdom Hearts: Three-Five-Eight Days Over Two Two). I think my friend had the right idea when he asked me why they didn't just call it Kingdom Hearts: 179 Days? Dude, I’m so with you on that one.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story - Here’s another game title I have a problem with. This is the name of the third installment of the Mario and Luigi series, and its coming to the Nintendo DS. I fully support the idea of giving Bowser a more prominent role in a game. Afterall, I like the guy. But is this really the best they could come up with? It sounds like a bad tabloid headline! Additionally, Nintendo built up this game during their E3 press conference as if Bowser was going to be the game’s main character, but then his significance ends up being reduced to a lousy subtitle. I can understand him not getting top-billing, but Mario’s greatest villain deserves better than this.

Metroid: Other M - Was anyone else as shocked and amazed as I was when this was revealed at the end of Nintendo’s press conference this year? I totally wasn’t expecting a new Metroid, and dude, the fact that Nintendo is working on it with Team Ninja, the creators of Ninja Gaiden, it all has me really stoked. Just when I had pretty much given up all hope for the Wii, we all are introduced to a totally new Metroid game. I can’t say I’m a crazy huge fan of the Metroid series as a whole, but I think Metroid Prime is hands-down one of the best games I have ever played, and as far as I’m concerned, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is the finest gaming the Wii has to offer. Considering that, it’s a little surprising to me that Nintendo would hand the reigns over to a different company, but I suppose they’re putting Retro Studios to work on the revival of some other big franchise. Anyway, so this new Metroid trailer nears its end, only to reveal that the game is named Metroid: Other M. Instantly I thought the name was pretty darn weak. Sure, I don’t know what it means, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty dumb subtitle. I think I got a better name for it. How about Metroid: Other Name, Please!? On the bright side, considering Team Ninja is at work on this one, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be seeing the return of Samus in a bikini.

M.A.G.: Massive Action Game - Alright, so this one isn’t exactly new. While I thought it was impressive seeing 256 players all playing online at once with a stable connection, personally I have no interest in the game. The gameplay looks a little too deep and involved for my taste. My problem with the name of this game is what MAG actually stands for. Massive Action Game. Yeah, I understand, it’s huge. However, I don’t think that’s a legitimate reason to give it this name. So apparently it’s the first of its kind. Whatever. Clearly no effort was put into the name of this game, and I’m positive they could have come up with something much better.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii - I’m gonna keep this one short. Putting the words “New” at the front of a game is generally pretty stupid. A year or two from now, the game isn’t going to be very new at all, despite what the title says. Would anyone have been opposed to calling it or the DS version simply Super Mario Bros. 4? To be honest, I’d be completely thrilled about it. Heck, man, I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed for a Super Mario Bros. 4 for years! Oh well, I guess I’ll have to settle with this. It seems abundantly clear that Nintendo was too afraid people would see a name like Super Mario Bros. 4 and think it was an old game, so instead they ditched the numbers altogether and slapped “New” on the title. Pretty lame.

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Okay, so now that I’ve covered the main ones, I’m just gonna name a few quick honorable mentions. Let me make it clear that even though I’ve mostly listed Nintendo titles, it’s nothing personal. I don’t align myself with any console and am actually a pretty big Nintendo fan at heart. I just happen to think they’ve revealed some of the worst game titles this E3. Now here are some other bad named games that I think shouldn’t quite be overlooked.

C.O.P.: The Recruit - Could be a pretty awesome DS game. Seems to play pretty similarly to GTA, but because of this lousy title alone, I’m sure most people aren’t going to pay much attention to it.

Mario vs Donkey Kong: Minis March Again - Okay, so I’m sure a lot of you won’t find much wrong with this title, and that’s fine. I just personally think it’s too long and doesn’t sound too good. Not that big of a deal, though.

Left 4 Dead 2 - I’m not fully sure what to think about this one. They went for the obvious sequel name, so I guess I can’t gripe too much about that, but having 4 and 2 in the title could possibly be confusing to some. Maybe many of you will disagree with this idea, but I think the title Left 4 Dead Too could have been pretty cool and also fairly amusing.

Modern Warfare 2 - Alright, last one. I can understand them wanting to shorten the title and differentiate this as a new modern series separate from the World-War-based games, but I still think the Call of Duty name deserves some recognition for the Modern Warfare games.

In conclusion, if there’s one thing video game console names have taught us over the years, it’s that names don’t really mean a thing. We might get upset over them and whine and complain, but in the end we’ll pretty much just have to try to accept them for what they are, no matter how stupid they may be.

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My least favorite thing about E3...

This one is rather simple. If there is one terrible thing about E3, it would have to involve the timing. While a lot of people out in the east get out of school in May, school doesn't end until after E3 here in Southern California. That means that while E3 is going on nearby over here, most of us California students are all stuck in school until around the middle or end of June. E3 couldn't come at a worse time for us. Also, considering it happens near the end of the school year, a lot of us can't even skip class because we're taking our finals exams or preparing for them. Often we'll have to miss out entirely on the live press conferences because we need to be in class, and with all of our important studying going on, we can't follow the abundance of E3 news in its entirety. From first hand experience, I can tell you that E3 week can be pretty rough.

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That's it! I'm throwing in the towel! A rant of Far Cry 2, part 1

Ah, Far Cry 2. One of my most anticipated games of the year. I've been fully on board with this game ever since first reading Giantbomb's preview of it many months ago. I was excited with the new direction the series was going in, and the game's new setting in war-ridden Africa definitely peaked my interest. In fact, when reading the preview, I found that the game had quite a bit in common with a game I intend to create myself when and if I become a game designer some day. Since then, I felt confident enough with the concept of the game that I didn't pay much interest to other previews and information that followed, until the game's final reviews. The reviews came out and it did pretty good, but not quite as well as I had hoped. I've also read a lot of negative comments about the games from forum users. So I finally got my hands on the game, and I've probably put between 5 to 10 hours into playing it and am now officially pulling the plug.

Far Cry 2 has been one of the most frustrating, and at times one of the most downright stupid games I have played all year. It's a shame too, there seems to be a lot of quality to be found in the game, but some nagging problems have pushed me to the edge and as a result, I'll never get to see much of the good this game may have to offer. As early as the game's tutorial mission, I found myself getting incredibly annoyed and frustrated by some stupid design choices. In one part of this mission, you're supposed to drive down to Mike's Bar. That's not too hard. By this point you have most of the basics of the gameplay figured out, and are given a map with the location of this bar, as well as a car. Driving there wasn't a problem. When you get there, you find the Bar has two entrances, yet neither of them can be opened. What the heck? Your goal is to get into this bar, but you can't open the door. So then you check to make sure this is actually the bar, and it is, and you start looking for some alternate entrance you may have missed, but find nothing. Then you start thinking a little. Hmm.. maybe the door is locked and if I shoot out the knob and lock, I can push it open. Of course that doesn't work. Let me pull out my assault rifle and shoot the thing down. Hit it with a grenade. Melee attack it with my knife! Dude, nothing is working. Hey, there's some explosive barrels kinda close to the back entrance, let's see if I can use those to blow off the door. Negative. Okay, obviously this isn't working and I gotta do something else. I jump into the jeep nearby that has a gun turret attached on the back. I'm supposed to meet someone in this bar, so clearly somebody must be inside. I start shooting the bar with the turret, ramming the side of the bar, anything I can that might cause dudes to run out. Okay, it's very apparent that I'm missing something here. I start checking through the pause menu, looking through logs and whatever I can find to see if I actually missed something. Nothing of any use is there to help me. I start searching all the small, vacant buildings nearby. I find a gun shop, but the owner isn't there. There's also a computer inside that I can use to buy better weapons, but considering how I don't have much money as it is, I don't do it and go back outside and run all over the place, desperately looking for some way to get into that God forsaken bar! I'm well beyond the point of not having fun. I'm hating every single minute that I can't seem to get inside to fulfill my objective. Something is definitely wrong, but the answer isn't so clear. Finally, the answer presents itself when I pause the game again, it seems now that I entered the gun store, my objective has changed, and I must buy a new gun, for no apparent reason. I go back inside, reluctantly buy a new gun, and magically, I can now open the back door of the bar. SUCCESS! How unnecessarily stupid and frustrating was that? It's a miracle I didn't stop playing the game after that, but like I said, this is one game I was really stoked about playing, so I wasn't going to give up that easy. Sure, maybe it took me unusually long to figure out the problem, but dude, what the freaking heck? I was told to go into Mike’s Bar, not go into the gun shop near Mike’s Bar and buy a new weapon. Besides, I’m armed with a freaking rocket launcher, I’m good to go. I already got all I need, except for maybe some correct directions from these incompetent game designers.

Then, the frustration continues inside the bar. I go in, meet up with the friend I rescued earlier and make a new ally as well. There's also some obnoxious dude that calls me a "jack boot" every time I go near him. Apparently he's supposed to give me something, and he says something that makes me think he set this thing down on the table for me to grab or something, but when he said it, I was looking away as I was scoping out the bar. Okay, there's nothing on the table, what, did he drop it? So I'm checking the floor, checking the nearby table, and anywhere in the vicinity. This guy is obviously a jerk and is insulting me for no reason, for all I know, he could have thrown it on the ground somewhere. I'm checking all over this stupid bar, and nothing. Every time I approach him, he's calling me a "jack boot" again and I'm wanting to beat the living heck out of him for it but combat is disabled inside buildings, so I can't. My friend can't seem to help, my objective hasn't been updated, what the heck is going on here?! Frustration continues to build, eventually I just exit the bar thinking I'm done there, but it turns out I'm not. I go back in and go up to this punk, wanting to punch him in the face, he calls me a jack boot again, but I'm still standing there next to him, and he says a new line of dialogue. Whoa! Then surely I must have stepped back, only to be called a "jack boot" once again when I reapproached him. Well, I had figured it out. It turns out that every time I take a step away from the dude, his whole dialogue resets, therefore I must stand still next to him and listen to every word he says. After a few lines, he pulls out a tape recorder, sets it on the table, and I can grab it. Finally. Jesus Cripes, dude. How does that happen in games? How does that get overlooked by the game designers? Despite what the last 2 paragraphs may have indicated, I am a smart person. This wasn't a result of my own stupidity or anything, but poor design. No doubt many people have experienced the same problem and it amazes me no one working on the game addressed the issue. Mike's Bar alone has turned into quite a long rant. I hope by the end of the game, that place burns down and that "jack boot" slangin' fool dies in a horrible, horrible death.

Moving along... I got past that and played the game a bit further. Throughout that time, I discovered that I have some problems with many of the implemented game mechanics in Far Cry 2. Take for instance, traveling. Now, Far Cry 2 has a very large map. In fact, I haven't even see more than half of it. Apparently you open up two additional large territories as you progress further in the story. Nevertheless, it is huge. Also, it's not very linear or ideal for traveling. Nearly all the roads are curvy, dirt roads surrounded by trees and foilage, that lead you through enemy camp after enemy camp. Now, there is a form of instant travel, if you can get to it. On this map, there are 5 bus locations you can go to, which can instantly warp you to any other bus location. However, five isn't that many, and although it helps, you'll have to go out of your way to the bus station to warp you to the bus stop closest to the objective, which will still likely be quite far away. Here's where traveling becomes a major hassle. You're going to need to use a vehicle since the map is so large and your guy can't sprint very fast or very long distances. The sprinting also seemed a little glitchy and inconsistent, by the way, but anyway, you drive along these maze-like roads and repeatedly come across enemy camps. Oh, and guess what? Every single freaking person in this game will shoot you on sight, no matter what. With the exception of one neutral no-fire zone in the middle of the map, every other person I encountered wanted me dead and I have no idea why. I’m freaking dying of malaria as it is, leave me the heck alone, ya jerks! Can a malaria-stricken man travel through in peace? Yeesh! It goes even further than that, though. Not only do they attack on sight, but if you’re anywhere within the same vicinity of these dudes, they automatically know where you are. This is a trait that I think is becoming far too common in games these days. It was something I suspected fairly early on in the game, then I ran into one instance that proved it is totally true. I found like a vacant shack somewhere, I arrived on foot, and you got these gun-turret equipped jeeps that seem to just randomly drive along dirt roads, and every so often, you’ll encounter them and they’re a total pain. So I’m in this shack for a few minutes, checking it out… I hear a car approaching from the distance so I crouch down out of sight. Sure enough, as soon as the vehicle gets near, the gunner is shooting right at me despite the fact that I’m hidden in a dark shack, completely out of sight to him. God, I freaking hate this stupid game.


So you got these frequent enemy camps, with their Superman-see-through-vision-soldiers and all, not to mention they have shockingly good aim, and you can either get out of your car and wipe them all out, or try to drive past them. Either way, you’re screwed. Go ahead, get out and kill them, but what happens? You really start to run out of ammo. You don’t seem to be able to carry too much, though certainly the enemies you just killed have plenty of ammo for you to use. Well, kinda, but not quite. The game discourages you from using enemy weapons because they regularly get jammed, and in some cases, they break entirely. Ah great. That’s cool. If you drive past, well, your car isn’t going to make it long past two of these camps. You’re almost always trailed by a car with a gunner who is pretty much impossible to escape (there seems to be some major rubber-band effect going on here to keep them close to you), and you have to stop your car to switch to the gunner seat, and even though it can be done without actually getting out of your car, your vehicle is going to take some severe damage. So yeah, after just a couple of these enemy encounters, you’re going to need to get a new vehicle because yours is going to explode. Now, apparently there’s a trick to fix your car, which I was completely unaware of. I actually found out through Giantbomb’s never-ending trivia. I guess you can get out of your vehicle, pop open the hood, and turn a bolt to magically repair your car. They kind of demonstrate this right at the beginning of the game, however, in that particular instance, you’re installing a car battery and then turn a bolt and can drive it. I may be wrong here, but I don’t recall any sort of indication being explained in the game that this could be done to repair cars. Besides, it makes absolutely no sense. If a car is on fire, pop open the hood, turn a bolt, and presto! Voila! Just like new! Man, if you guys are still following at this point, you’re really awesome. I hate to say it, but there’s still a whole lot more I intend to rant about. Okay, in fact, I’m going to make this a two-parter. This ends the beginning of my rant. Tune in some time later for the next installment of why Far Cry 2 is totally whack.

Edit: Forget it, there's no way I'm wasting my time writing a second part to this rant about a lousy game. Sorry to disappoint you all so greatly. Please, try to be strong.

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Kicking myself over Call of Duty

So I was browsing Gamestop.com yesterday, looking for any good deals. The week before Christmas, they had the new Prince of Persia for $40, which I think is quite a bargain. After having rented the game and just beating it yesterday, I totally recommend it, though if you can rent it, you might want to do that instead since the game is rather short. Definitely a fine game for any man's collection, however. Anyway, back to the point. So I was looking to see if they had any similar deals. I noticed they had Call of Duty: World at War for $35 new. Seemed like a pretty great deal to me. I was a little reluctant, because of my whole current "I have more games than I have time to play them" attitude, as well as my fairly recently developed "Don't buy games without playing them first" stance. I think COD4 is a totally phenomenal game, and is crazy as it may be, I still haven't tried it online despite having Xbox Live. I think the single player alone is fantastic, and actually, it wasn't until last month that I bought the game, though I did rent it and beat it shortly after it was released. Well, today I decided I couldn't pass up on this great deal and I went to go buy it and afterwards was going to make a post informing all of you Giantbomb members of the rad deal, and dude, it's back up to $60. Heartbreaking. And I thought good things were supposed to happen to those who wait...

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Braid's ending has left me disappointed, and also amazed.

The game is great. I found myself wanting to play it during any available free time I had. I really enjoyed it, I love the nature of the game. How you're not penalized for making mistakes, but rather given the opportunity to go back through time to fix them. I think that in itself is rather brilliant. You'll get stumped with puzzles, but as you go back and replay levels multiple times, the answers start opening themselves up to you. What seemed impossible before becomes something that most people should be able to figure out on their own after some time and thought. There were only 3 puzzles I wasn't able to complete on my own, so I'm pretty proud of that. Anyway, as for the ending... I totally didn't understand it after beating it and was left more confused than ever. I don't see why they decided to make the ending so hard to fully understand, because it really is something quite spectacular. Unfortunately, unless you're Albert Einstein or are looking up certain terms from the ending, or just incredibly knowledgable about the subject matter, you're not gonna get it unless someone tells you or you read it in a guide online somewhere, just as I did. Considering Braid's clever ending, that disappoints me. I don't see the point of making the truth so unclear, I think a big reveal at the end would have been a lot more satisfying. But maybe this is what the creator had in mind. Perhaps he wanted us to try to make sense of it and find multiple ways of interpretting it, and to get us to talk about it for months to come. In the end, I guess that's good publicity for a game, but it also means a lot of people could beat it and just never have any idea about what the message was that the game designer was trying to get across, and that kinda lets me down. Anyway, wow, okay. Just thought I'd let that all out. I still fully recommend the game to anyone who has any interest in puzzle games and has some patience.

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