It's not YOUR MMO, but is mine.

Yes, this will be yet another "editorial" on Destiny, but more than that, it's an explanation of why I like it so damn much.

I've been reading, over the last week, everyone else either dump on Destiny, or sing its praises. I think both are worthy and viable arguments to make. The thing about Destiny, for me anyways, is that I have never played a game like it before. Sure, I've played space shooters, loot games, and co-op games before, but not like this. For me, its just a great game. Though it's repetitive in its mission structure, and locations, it doesn't seem to bother me much. I've been trying to figure out over the past few days WHY it doesn't bother me, and honestly, I can't come up with anything.

Maybe it's the sense of community without actual "interaction". I was leery of a game that allowed a handful or random players to be in "my game" while I was trying to accomplish something. Having never played, or really wanting to play, a traditional MMO, this was something I wasn't used to, and more so something I didn't want to deal with. I haven't played a competitive multiplayer game in years simply because the communities that thrives on them is usually pretty toxic. I have a life, wife, kids, a job... I don't have time or the patience to sit around and let a brood of 13 year old boys swear at me because they just learned what a word means. Destiny is different, though.

I know other games do it better and probably more seamlessly, but the ability to join a "fireteam" of your friends and jump into either a mission or a match in the Crucible is nice. Again, maybe it's because I have been so far removed from that side of gaming for so long, but I really enjoy this aspect. I can hop on, find a friend, talk ONLY to him and hear ONLY his conversation with me... great. Gone are the days of hearing how gay I am, or how well I work parts of the male anatomy. We can have, you know, big boy conversations.

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A Friend I Never Got To Meet

I'm not exactly sure how my first interaction with Ryan Davis went online, but most likely, it ended with him sending me the response "BLOCKED". Ryan loved a good joke, and loved the interactions of those involved in said joke. He was always happy, and by his own admission, a guy that would read EVERY email sent to him.

I'm sitting here listening to the Saints Row 3 soundtrack, and remembering how dumb this game is. It makes me smile because I know that Ryan was such a huge fan of dumb shit, too. But let's back up a bit.

Five or so years ago I caught wind of, at the time, a huge controversy. Jeff Gerstmann was "forced to leave" GameSpot because of some salacious comments he made in a review about a game called "Kane and Lynch". I used to be a big reader of GameSpot, and it was THE place I went for my video game information. Somewhere though, I stopped reading it. It wasn't anything on their end, just something I didn't do anymore. But "Gerstmann-Gate" caught my eye. Reading the story, and what I thought were the facts, I decided to follow his story further.

I signed up to be a founding member of the unknown and untested site "Giant Bomb". It sounded stupid, but for all the right reason. Also, they had a picture of the "WOPR" on the site. At the time, it was just a "blog" and nothing more. I was on the waiting list to get first access to the official launch. Sure, why not. In 2008 the day after my birthday (July 21st) I was allowed to access the site. It was the gateway drug I never knew I needed.

Jeff brought with him from GameSpot a couple of dudes to help him start this thing up. One of them was a man named Ryan Davis. I started listening to their podcast called "Arrow Pointing Down". It was two dudes talking about energy drinks, gangsta rap, other dumb shit, and a bit of video games. I should have turned it off disappointed and found something else. However, the cast drew me in by being more genuine about everything, including video games. It was like sitting in on a conversation with a couple friends. This is were it all started with me.

Because of what Ryan and Jeff started with Giant Bomb, I was able to get enough courage together to start my own podcast, as well as start reviewing games. I didn't just want to review games, I wanted to put my own humor and attitude into those reviews. I wanted to do exactly what they had done. I wanted to be myself in the face of reviewers and sites that did things for "clicks" and "hits". Giant Bomb never really did anything to be popular, they did what they did because they WANTED to.

Ryan was a great person, though I never met him before, I felt like if I had the chance, he would have treated me like someone he had known all his life. Interactions heard (or seen) on the Bombcast only led me to realize Ryan, Jeff and the rest of the Giant Bomb crew were not only great friends, but treated everyone outside as friends as well.

Finding out Ryan had passed this morning was like finding out that my best friend was gone. Much like my cat that died the day after Ryan (what a week), the bombcast, and by association Ryan, were always there when I needed some cheering up, and some company. I always knew that when I was bored, lonely, or just depressed, I could watch a Quick Look or listen to an old Bombcast for a smile.

I'm saddened by the fact that Ryan is gone for so many reasons. He was so excited for the coming console releases, and I was excited to hear his take on all the dumb shit that Sony and Microsoft were going to do. He won't get to play anymore of the horrible games that he forced himself to play for OUR amusement. He'll never get to see if the Vita or the WiiU will ever be a viable purchase for anyone outside "the industry".

This is, of course, the trivial stuff, not the things that matter to real life. Like the fact that he had just gotten married to the love of his life, Anna. The fact that they had barely begun life as a family unit. I never got to hear him say "My wife, Anna." on the Bombcast. His family now has a huge hole where a big, generous, sometimes sweaty man used to be. All the people that he worked with regularly at Giant Bomb that had become family. The (most likely) legions of fans that will never get to hear or see him again. The ones that didn't get a big sweaty hug from Ryan at a con. The people that will never truly know what it was like to see Ryan "perform" during a Big Live Live Show Live. We all feel a bit empty now that he is gone.

No, I never got to meet Ryan. I never got to buy him that drink I always wanted to. I'll never get to meet someone that I idolized. Ryan Davis was almost exactly a year younger than me. This past week he passed away suddenly and the void he leaves will never be filled, for myself and many, many others. Ryan was as quick to give out a middle finger in jest, and quicker to help a person out. He was the king of the driveway, a summerjam scholar, and an (almost) oppressive force of positivity in a field full of cynics and pessimists. He will be truly missed. This weekend I look forward to getting hammered on Bourbon. Highball glass, one ice cube. Cheers, buddy. Though I never met you in person, you have touched my life in ways you will never know, and I miss you like crazy.

My last interaction with Ryan was the week before his wedding, and honestly, it couldn't be a much better way to remember him.

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Refreshing my need for gaming

I have been a "gamer" since I was basically old enough to pick up a controller. I can remember back when my parents and I used to play Atari 2600 all the time. We had a little red notebook that we kept a record of high scores in. It was a lot of fun, and was just a great way to really and truly bond with my family as a whole. These memories I will cherish until my mind dissolves into goo and I can't remember my own name.

I have played literally countless games spanning decades of systems. I have always considered myself "hardcore" even when that term has started to take on a stigma that I do NOT enjoy. It is this long-standing love affair with games that makes me very sad to say, I think I'm just about done.

Since my son was born almost four years ago, my time with games has slowly started to taper off. In the beginning, I attributed this to just the sheer lack of time due to having a new child to raise. The more time goes on, the less I think that is true, however. My son is now almost four and pretty self-sufficient and my time with games is still slowing.

Aside from Borderlands 2, I have spent WAY less time playing console games meant for me. Now, the majority of my play time is spent with mobile (Vita/3DS) games. This is largely due to the fact that I will play them at work, or laying in bed at night. I just can't find the time or the urge to play console games anymore.

My hope is that things have become so stagnant in the console market that I just haven't been (ahem) stimulated by anything recently. With the recent release of information about the new PS4, I felt a bit of a spark in the gaming part of my brain I haven't felt in a long time. I don't know if this is just because it is something new or if it is the thought that things may change a bit, or at least enough.

When the WiiU was announced and released, I swore to myself that I wouldn't get caught up in the zeitgeist. I forced myself to stay away from looking to far into the "future releases" that Nintendo was panning. Much to my advantage, this worked out for me. The release was pretty lack-luster and the trickle of new games has all but dried up so soon after launch. This leads me to begin a "wait-and-see" mentality for the releases of the PS4 and the "Durango" this coming holiday season.

I truly want to believe. I want to be excited about the coming system releases. I want to be ready to spend gobs of money on both, but ... I just can't. At least not yet. This new generation of consoles has to reinvigorate my love of console games. If nothing draws me in, then I will be very sad to know that my tenure of "hardcore" gaming is over.

The amount of bullshit posturing between the console developers and the consumer has gotten out of hand. While I may be the only person that isn't upset with "Online Passes" and "Always Online" possibilities for the new consoles. It's the mentality of the console developers and publishers that they can do what ever they want and the consumer has to accept it. That bothers me. I hope in the very near future that my concerns are shown to be unfounded, but I don't hold my breath.

It's been a good twenty five years of solid gaming, and I really don't want it to end on a bad note. The one silver lining in all this is that I can always fall back on my collection of NES, SNES and older PS2 games to at least keep me company, should the rest of the market shove it's core audience and consumers away.

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Expendables 2 - A Movie Review

Look, I know I'm not going to blow anyone's mind here, but this movie isn't very good. I'll start there, but I will end this review by saying that I respect what Sly is trying to do.

The first Expendables movie was pretty bad. It was ridiculous amounts of explosions, gun fire, and CG knives. It was held together by the thinnest of plot lines, and no one should be expected to care about any person in said movie. However, it made a fair amount of money, and a sequel was almost all but guaranteed.

It doesn't take a genius to see that the only way to "improve" on the original bro-fest is by adding more action stars and blowing up more shit. Expendables 2 adds Van Damme as the new villain and Scott Adkins (I had to look him up) as his second in command. Also along for the ride are more prominent roles from Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as newcomers to the series Liam Hemsworth and good ol' Chuck Norris. Casting this movie must be equal parts nightmare and a dream. I'm sure Sly just has to call these people up and say "Hey do you want to be in my movie about blowing shit up?" and it's a quick yes or no. Jet Li earns more respect from me in this installment by being the only sensible one to duck out after about 10mins of the movie. Smart move.

Expendables 2 is less about explanation and more about obfuscation. It seems to be a movie about finishing a job for Bruce Willis, but ends up being more about stopping terrorists. At one point it was basically Temple of Doom. Most of the action is just there so promote the next explosion. So many times did I wonder "Why would they do that? What's the point of this again?" I realize it's not made to make you question your own morals or read deeper into life's meanings, but come on.

The sheer amount of self-referential one liners in this movie is offensive. I get it. You all are action stars and you all have your own personal catch phrases. In the span of no more than 10-15 seconds I heard two references to Terminator, and followed it up by referencing Die Hard, and Rambo. It was like Chris Farley was directing from the "Chris Farley Show". "You... you remember that one time, when you were in that movie... and you said 'Yippie Ki Yay'? That was awesome."

The Expendables 2 is a movie that was made to just turn your brain off and have fun. I don't know that I allowed myself to enter such a coma-like state, but I guess it was fun? They at least used real knives in some cases or made the CG ones look much better. There was a lot of shit blowing up, and a lot of blood. If you looked up "Senseless Violence In Films" this one would be near the top of the list. I can't see how they could make another one of these with out these old guys falling out dead. Besides that, I don't know who else they would add to the list. Maybe get those two twins from Double Trouble, or Bolo Yeung. Also, and I said this during the first one, is there an uglier man than Dolph Lundgren? He looks even worse in this one because Mickey Rourke isn't in there beside him.

(I just looked and apparently Expendables 3 is in pre-production. Sly is looking to get Wesley Snipes and Jackie Chan involved. Chan won't do it, but I bet Snipes will. He's got bills to pay. Also there was talk they were looking to get Nick Cage involved.)

The one thing I will say about the two movies is that I respect what Sly (I imagine) is trying to do. When you step back and look at the bigger picture, he's just trying to make his own, very adult and graphic, version of a GI Joe episode. Look at his crew's names. There's Caesar, Toll Road, Trench, and Christmas. These all sound like names from the show. He may not have pulled it off perfectly, but it's a hell of a lot better than the actual GI Joe movie they released. I can respect that.

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Midnight Brown Song Genesis

Midnight Brown. Speaking on behave of my own personal tastes here, I really like this group. Yeah it's probably influenced by the fact that I am a big Gerstmann fan in general, but my enjoyment of his music didn't come so easy. When I first hear of Midnight Brown, it was right after they "released" their third album Dope/Revenge. I listened to that album and thought it was shit. Sorry Jeff, but it just didn't do a thing for me. Years went by and I never had the desire to go back to it. However, during the [tragically] short run of the NdX, he played a song from his last album "Cop Knife". Having never listened to that album, I wondered where it was from. I went back and listened to that Deadly Electric, as well as the prior releases, and found myself enjoying their... odd style of music.

One could say that I was sufficiently hooked on Midnight Brown at this point. The more I listened to all the albums, the more I began to try and wrap my head around the origins of their songs. Strange titles like the aforementioned "Cop Knife" and "2084" made me wonder how you would even begin to write a song like this. Thus the existence of this blog. Having no knowledge of why or how Jeff and Chris come up with these songs, I will attempt to divine my own bat-shit crazy reasoning behind the title as well as some of the lyrics. I suspect that none of them are correct, but I don't care, it's just fun for me to try. Really I would just like to know their infatuation with "razors".

17 Brown Lines

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I love Far Cry 3 for one specific reason...

It didn't hit me until I had played about 6 hours of the game and had saved my second friend from the clutches of the evil Vaas, Far Cry 3 is a new updated version of The Goonies II. I know how strange that sounds, so allow me to explain a bit further why I believe that.

In the original Goonies II game for the NES, you are placed in the shoes of Mikey Walsh. Your friends have all been kidnapped by the Fratelli’s and are being held captive all over a strange house, filled with caves, creatures and secrets. Armed with nothing more than your wits and a Yo-Yo, you set forth on an adventure to free your friends.

Far Cry 3 you parallels the Goonies II in some strange often eerie ways. While Mikey and his friends were kidnapped really for no reason, Jason and his friends were caught basically wrong place, wrong time. However, both were kidnapped by crazy folks. As Mikey, when you rescued your friends you would gain a “heart meter” thus extending your own life. As Jason, when you rescue your friends, you will often receive EXP that then can be used to make progress in the game easier and more exciting.

Goonies II allowed the player to go about saving the friends mostly free from the constraints of a linear story. While Goonies II kinda has it beat here, you are still allowed certain freedoms in Far Cry 3. You can take the direct path and burn through the story, making only the necessary stops along the way. However you can enjoy the game much more by taking time and doing missions like hunting, or contract killing, or even driving missions to break up the monotony of the story beats. Also, the way in which you approach missions and side missions allows for a myriad of options. Take out enemies from a far with a sniper rifle, up close with a knife, or sometimes (if you’re lucky) you just let them kill themselves.

As Mikey you sometimes had to explore strange caves, talk to strange people (Konami Man) and uncover artifacts to continue along your journey. The same can be said about Far Cry 3. There are a slew of caves to uncover and a plethora of treasure icons that are begging to be discovered. You also meet strange people like Dr. Earnhart, a pill popping recluse more concerned with keeping his high than helping Jason.

While the end goal in Far Cry 3 is still being uncovered in my story, (I haven't finished it yet) I imagine that it involves 1. Stopping Vaas. and 2. Rescuing all your friends (or as many as there are left) from Vaas. Much like Goonies II where the end goal was to rescue all your friends and the mysterious mermaid Annie, from the Fratelli’s.

I may be reading a bit more into this than perhaps I should, but the fact remains, Far Cry 3 reminds me a lot of The Goonies II. This does bode well for FC3, considering that Goonies II is one of my all-time favorite games. Agree with me or not, now that I have planted the seed in your mind, the next time you rescue a friend in Far Cry 3, just picture them saying “What took you so long? I almost died.” Then again, they probably say that anyway.


The Best Games I Played In 2011

It took me a long time to decide to even do this article. After looking over the games I have played over the past year, I felt it was needed. Maybe not even for you the reader, so much as it is for myself. Make no mistake there have been a ton of good games out there this year, however the truly great games aren’t as easy to spot. This of course is a list of games that I personally feel are the best that you can find. Take into account though that I do not have a powerful PC, nor do I play a lot of games on portable systems, or really ANYTHING on my Wii. The majority of these games still sit on my shelf and I feel strongly enough about each to include them here. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinions, but they are mine. Having said all that, let the flame war begin.

10. Shadows of the Damned – At first I wasn’t even going to include this game. However, given it’s insane premise and the utter lack of mainstream recognition it got, I felt it warranted a spot. While Shadows may not be remembered as the best game of the year, it will be remembered as easily the most approachable of all the Suda-51 “trips”. Shadows may not have the best name in the world, but damn if the lead character doesn’t. And that name is Garcia “fucking” Hotspur. As the lead character you are tasked with rescuing your girlfriend from the clutches of “The Lord Of Demons” who goes by the name “Flemming”. Along the way you are helped out by your trusty talking, motorcycle transforming, big boner inducing, ex-demon, Johnson. If you never checked it out, and you can find it, this game is totally worth seeing, if for nothing else than to hear “dick jokes” pulled off surprisingly well.

9. Mortal Kombat – Long gone are the days when I had the time, or opportunity, to venture to a local arcade and pop quarters into a machine all day just to have fun with MK. Luckily the guys over at Nether Realms realized I am not alone, and made a fantastic fighting game for the home consoles. With a slew of returning characters and a few new ones (including some decent DLC characters) the roster is filled with pretty much everyone you would want from the series. Battling friends on the couch is easy and most enjoyable. While getting an online match may take some doing for both parties involved, it makes for a fun experience as well. The biggest surprise to be found however is that the story mode in Mortal Kombat is easily the best of any fighting game out there. By getting the players into the shoes of just about every character available, if subtlety teaches you how to control a character you may never have played before. That combined with an actual story that is worth seeing through makes MK an easy pick for this list.

8. Uncharted 3 - Drake’s third installment in the sprawling action adventure game that is Uncharted, is one of epic proportions. I was a huge fan of the second and probably would have given it all the awards I could have. Unfortunately Uncharted 3 suffers a bit because of 2′s success. Uncharted 3 has amazing set pieces and takes Drake to more exotic locales yet again. All of which look amazing. The cast of characters all play well together, as well as play off each other. The banter between Drake and Sully is nothing short of life-like. The one place that Uncharted 3 suffers is the shooting sequences. Forced to pick off dudes over and over because the AI is brutally stealthy even in the most bombastic of gun fights is a hard pill to swallow again and again. That being said, I never once gave up or was forced to ratchet down the difficulty, but the tarnish that the fights put on the rest of the game is no less diminished either. Uncharted 3 is a wonderful game and should be played if you have been keeping up with Drake’s previous adventures.

7. Batman Arkham City – The Dark Knight is back and boy does he have a chip on his shoulder. Arkham City takes the proven formula of Arkham Asylum and kicks it up a notch. With a much bigger setting and the “feeling” of an open world, you glide your way around Arkham City laying waste to all those thugs that talk smack about you when they don’t know you are right behind them. There are more villains to defeat, more side quests to finish, and a whole hell of a lot of Riddler trophies to find. Touted as a key component in the game Catwoman makes her debut as a playable character this time around but feels more like something that could have been left out entirely. The city is busting at the seams with things to do, but the main story still funnels you into hallways and buildings to really do all the dirty work that you know Batman has to do. Combat is still as simple or as hard as you would like to make it. Combos are beefed up with new special moves, and more gadgets to use makes it less repetitive and more open to putting your own spin on things. The ending of the game is also way better than I could have imagined it being, for several reasons.

6. Forza 4 – The simple fact that a racing game is on my list at all, should be a pretty clear indication of how much I enjoyed (and still am enjoying) playing Forza 4. I couldn’t go down a list of all the technical differences between this an the prior releases of Forza, except to say that this one looks phenomenal. From the presentation, to the in game models, and even the way that you interact with the “Auto-Vista” stuff, this game looks great. However, looks aren’t everything. If a racing game doesn’t handle well it may as well be a coaster. Forza 4 manages to make a guy that could care less about cars in general, an enthusiast. Driving mechanics and sense of speed will grab your eyeballs and force you to pay attention to your surroundings and competitors in order to squeak by for the win or just shave a 10th of a second off your time. Forza has a thriving community behind it as well as in charge of it and for that reason you can expect to see people playing Forza 4 well after the other big releases have gone by the wayside.

5. Bastion – I’ve heard people say that Bastion is just one gimmick after another, and that it did nothing that other games haven’t done before it. I disagree whole-heartedly. Having a reactionary narrator actually tell the story of the game as you play it, is no gimmick. Nor is reconstructing a destroyed world or the world literally rising up to meet your feet. These, usually dull and lifeless gimmicks are as much a character in the world of Bastion as “The Kid”. Bastion’s story and the way it is told to the player is second to almost none. There aren’t many games out there that force you to make hard decisions and then make you deal with the consequences of your actions. The end of Bastion is not to be spoiled, or missed. As downloadable titles go, it is easily the best one out there.

4. Dance Central 2 - Wait, a driving game and a dancing game? Yup. Dance Central was a fun launch title for the Kinect. Dance Central 2 took that idea and made it much more enjoyable and much easier to get in to. With the additions of a progressive, albeit thin story, and two player simultaneous dancing, DC2 was great for new comers as well as returning players. Dance Central 2 has the ability to create a true party situation in your home. Gather a bunch of friends together, put on Baby Got Back and watch the fun create itself. There are a lot of dancing games on the market right now but really only one that makes you actually FEEL like you are dancing. Dance Central 2 taught me that I actually do have rhythm. It also taught me all the moves to Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” … finally.

3. Portal 2 – The First Portal game was great for a myriad of reasons, but it felt like something that couldn’t be duplicated. Most people going into Portal 2 were excited to be there but really had no clue how they could possibly be as happy with the second as the first. The biggest surprise was that Portal 2 may actually out shine its predecessor. While the initial set up for the story is a bit strained, especially if you had only ever played the console version of the original, the rest of the story plays out with a silky smoothness. Though the original cast of characters are here again, what truly shines are the additions of Wheatly, a “personality sphere”, and of course the incomparable Cave Johnson. If anyone in the game were to be said to “steal the spotlight” it was Johnson. His narration of the test chambers and their connective conduits are told through pre-recorded dialog that speaks to you from a time long forgotten but still manages to create a vivid picture to the player. Glados still manages to be a character that you will have a love/hate relationship with but it’s one that feels familiar and easy to settle back into. Valve also made a couple new toys to play with while you make your way through the now degraded and decaying insides of the Aperature Science facility. Each of these new items adds a new wrinkle to puzzle solving along the way and does a lot to keep the puzzles from feeling stale or rehashed. Portal 2 has a pretty definitive ending that doesn’t seem to allow for a continuation of the story, however, that was probably said of the first game, as well.

2. Skyrim - Here’s the deal with Skyrim; I feel weird giving it such a high spot on the countdown because I have played so little of it (waiting for the next patch to the patch). However, the time I have sunk into the game already (about 20hrs) was sufficient enough to let me know where a LARGE quantity of my time will be spent over the next year. It took me about 100+ hours before I even approached finishing Oblivion, and I suspect that Skyrim will be no different. Aside from the usual Bethesda issues with their open world games, Skyrim is a vast improvement over Oblivion. The UI is much more streamlined and easier to use as a whole. Improved combat, magic, and character interactions all make Skyrim feel much more natural and less like talking and interacting with robots. Skyrim at first looks like a much smaller land than the previous games but upon investigating the actual world you soon realize just how expansive, and how densely populated it truly is. Hours upon hours can be lost simply by thinking “Oh, I’ll just go to this spot.” Only to find yourself lured away by the prospect of finding new caves, towns, and castles to explore. Also, fucking Dragons. Possibly the biggest (literally) addition to the Elder Scrolls universe are the dragons. While some of the encounters are scripted, the ones that matter the most, are not. The first time I was climbing a hillside and had a giant dragon descend upon me I freaked out! It’s a feeling of panic and dread that few games can recreate as easily. Seeing as how much I enjoyed the relatively short amount of time I have spent in game, it’s easy to see that my next big obsession will be Skyrim and all that is held with in its boarders.

1. Saints Row: The Third – I spent a lot of time deliberating with myself over if putting a Saints Row game as my top spot made sense in any universe. The answer came to me when I realized that I had spent almost 30 hours in The Third with out even realizing it. In a video game market where everyone is clamoring to make games as real and as immersive as possible, Saints Row The Third says “Fuck That!” and just lets you have fun. As I stated in my review this is the one and only “open world” game that I have finished. As your ease your way into the mission structure and the story, you are given a multitude of weapons and gadgets to experiment with. All of which are completely enjoyable. As you finish the story proper, you should be just about at max level. In a normal game this is where things break down, and normally you are given now real incentive (or chance sometimes) to keep going post story mode. Saints Row again breaks that tradition and allows you to go right back to work and tie up loose ends. At max level, with the money flowing, you have the ability through perks to become invincible. It’s way more satisfying than it may sound. Being able to jump out of a car and literally hold the trigger down until everyone is dead is awesome. Why not take your VTOL jet as high as you possibly can and jump out, never opening a parachute. Don’t worry about hitting the ground, your character will just jump up and shake it off like nothing. Saints Row The Third is so utterly ridiculous that it makes you wish more games out there would just get back to being fun first, and winning awards for story and writing second. Having said that, the story is really well done, too. Even with the most crazy things popping off around the Saints they take it in stride while still acknowledging that, yes in fact, that was pretty nuts. SR3 isn’t afraid to have fun no matter the cost, and that is respectable. A pimp that speaks through a “talk box” and everything is “auto-tuned”. Singing the ENTIRE song “What I Got” from Sublime in character. Calling down predator missiles in the second mission. None of this is out of place in Steelport. Don’t let the previous games or the fact that “Whored Mode” is offered to you right up front, skew your view of this game. Saints Row The Third is like the best action movie ever made. Though it will probably never win the awards it should, it will be well respected by everyone that has experienced it.

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Super Meat Boy Still $10 If You Look Know Where To Look

Super Meat Boy was released on the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace near the end of October of 2010. They were offering the game at a “discount” price in the beginning of 800 msp ($10 in US currency). Recently that promotional discount expired and the price jumped up to the price of 1200 msp ($15) where I assume it will stay.

I was at my local Game Stop today to reserve a copy of the LE Dead Space 2 and noticed something odd. There on the rack were DLC cards for Super Meat Boy. I didn’t know that they had actually made those for the game and just thought I would check it out. Upon further investigation, I saw that they were marked $10. I asked the manager, a friend of mine, if these prices were still correct. He checked them in the computer and found out that yes indeed they were still only $10. I figured that it was worth a shot for a game that I hadn’t played, passed up the demo, but had heard so much about.

Upon purchase of the card you are then given a download code to enter, either through the Xbox Live redeem or on I was pretty sure that it wasn’t going to work and that I had just wasted $10, however much to my surprise, the code actually worked. The full version of the game is now waiting in my download queue ready to go the next time I fire up my Xbox 360.

So if you are like me and waited too long to purchase this game, or if you simply want to “stick it to the man” a bit and save $5, then you have options. Next time you are in GameStop check out the DLC cards and see if they are still selling them for Super Meat Boy. If they are, then more than likely it will still be at the discounted price of $10.

 Originally Posted On: Platform Nation

Guilty Pleasures

Everybody has one. Don’t kid yourself, you know you do. It may not be something that you willingly want to admit in public or to friends, but there is a game out there that you love that you keep hidden. I probably have more than one, but I will at least admit to one right here, right now. I love Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. There, I said it.

I have been a Final Fantasy fan since the very beginning. Matter of fact I still own my first Final Fantasy for the NES, I think I still have the instruction book for it as well. I also owned all the SNES versions (Mystic Quest Included), all the GameBoy versions, PSOne, PS2 including the atrocious (to me anyway) Final Fantasy 11.

If you asked me what my favorite game of all time is, I wouldn’t hesitate to tell you Final Fantasy VI (three in the states). However Mystic Quest, for some reason or another, holds a special place in my heart. I even own the soundtrack to it, and regularly listen to it over the course of a week. Maybe it’s the simplistic style of the game or how it felt more like a core Zelda game than Final Fantasy. I don’t really know, but it still to this day, is enjoyable for me to play.

Mystic Quest was not very well received by critics or fans. Critics panned it because of it’s simplicity, and fans were upset because they wanted another epic tale like the one spun in Final Fantasy IV (FF2 in the states). The story was very linear, almost to a fault. You had to save the world (naturally) and had to get from point “A” to point “B” with help from friends to defeat the final evil boss.

 The overworld map resembled something more akin to a Mario game than anything. You moved your character from place to place then selected the world and either went to the town there, or a dungeon to fight monsters. Mystic Quest was also one of the first (for us in the US) to feature visible enemies, not random encounters. Granted most of them were fights that you HAD to engage in, but at least you could see them coming before being surprised.

The battle system itself resembled something of a mash up of Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy. Enemies appeared across the top half of the screen while the player and party members were displayed on the bottom. As subtle as it is, I really like the way that enemies slowly degraded during battle while taking damage. The weapons of Mystic Quest were also rather boring, admittedly. You got weapons like a sword, and axe or a claw. Nothing drastically changed between the three except who was more venerable to what weapons and the attack animation. There were only twelve spells at your disposal, though all of them were relatively different, they were your basic spells from most any RPG at the time.

The music however really shinned here. As I said I have the soundtrack and every song is a gem. Though not done by the uber famous composer Nobuo Uematsu, it still has a very epic quality to some tracks as well as a lot of charm to the more simple (there’s that word again) ones.

I loved this game then, and still do. While listening to a podcast that was reading out the weekly releases, I actually gave a little “Hell Yeah” out loud when I heard it was coming to the Virtual Console. I would tell you that it’s worth the money to check it out if you haven’t already, but that probably would be a mistake. Needless to say, Mystic Quest is an acquired taste.  Though it will never be my FAVORITE Final Fantasy game, it does rank up there with the others that are.

So what’s your guilty pleasure game? Come on, it’s just you and me here. Go ahead, spill it.

Originally Posted On:  Platform Nation

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Difficulty Shmifficulty

This article in no way reflects my own personal wishes nor do I hope in anyway to sway the gaming industry to do things any differently. This is merely meant to compare games of yesteryear to the current crop of games.

When I think back over games I used to play on Atari and the original NES, I remember them being ridiculously hard. That could be because of the technology not really allowing for much more than what it was a the time, simple.

Remember when “Lives” actually mattered? Case in point; Teen Aged Mutant Ninja Turtles. Anyone that played the original knows what I am talking about. That game was probably the first game that caused me to “rage quit” on a Nintendo system. Basically you played through the game with the four turtles. If you died, you didn’t have that turtle to play with anymore. In essence, you had four lives. Lose em all and your game was done.

Then there’s games like Fester’s Quest. One of those infamous “one sitting” games. There were no passwords, no save files, no nothing. If you died start from the beginning. If you had to go to school either leave the system on (which I personally did A LOT) or turn it off and start over. Sure, it’s not the best way to go about things. They probably could have built in some code system to use like Metroid and Goonies II had, but they didn’t. These were games that you had to make sure you literally had time to play through the entire game with basically NO interruptions.

Now a days, games have no consequences. Just about every game out there (save one glaring exception I will get to later) lets you just waltz through a game with out a care. Sure if you die you might have to start back at the beginning of the level, but for the most part checkpoints are the net beneath the tightrope. Fail, and just get back up where you were and try again.

First person shooters are the worst (best?) when it comes to check points. Make a wrong move and you’re dropped by a sniper or something. Eh well, reload try again, and again, till you get it right. Playing through Halo Reach on Heroic has shown me this one many many times. In a recent game I finished a big fire fight and was on my way to reload and revive my health. Little did I know that the game would throw in a check point at the worst possible time for me. I was halfway to the health pack and weapons when all the enemies spawned in. I must have played through that skirmish fifteen times before I was able to memorize locations and counteract all their movements.

Does this mean that games should not have checkpoints or be more forgiving when doling them out? No. Not in the least. I for one am glad that they are there. My point is that games aren’t truly as difficult as they are made out to be. Sure playing through Modern Warfare 2 on Veteran is hard, but not impossible. However it is more a feat of memorization and patience than anything. That being said, I never finished MW2 on veteran because I didn’t feel like dieing a million “cheap deaths” just to have the achievement.

There are exceptions however. Trophies and Achievements that are based upon completion of a task with in a certain amount of time/lives are still acts of skill and dexterity. None specifically come to mind but I know that there are ones out for things like get from point A to point B in less than time X. In Fable III there is an achievement for finishing the game with out ever being knocked out. THAT’S probably a difficult one.

The only game in recent memory that genuinely seems to be just straight up difficult would have to be “Demon Soul’s” for the PS3. Seems to me it takes a lot, A LOT of trial and error to get through that game. I personally have not played it because I don’t particularly enjoy putting that much into a game that is THAT difficult. However there a lot of people out there that swear by it. I believe the main reason it gets high praise from some is because they feel such an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment knowing that they have finished a truly hard game. To those people, I say good job. It’s just not for me.

Another notable exception would have to be the XBLA versions of Doom. One life, one goal. Should you happen to die, sure you get to start the stage over again, but minus all those sweet guns you procured up until that point. That’s death with consequences. Not to mention the fact that trying to play Doom or Doom II on Nightmare is damn close the most frustrating thing you can ever do. Those are another two achievements I will probably never have in my collection.

As I mentioned in the beginning, I am ALL FOR checkpoints and codes and what not. I like it when a game makes it easy on me to play, not necessarily and easy game however. I enjoy knowing that if I screw up (and I will) that I only have to replay a small portion in order to get back to where I was. My only pet peeve with the entire thing is unskipable cut scenes. I realize you spent time and money to produce them, but seriously if I have watched them once, it’s enough.

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