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Violence: An Open Discussion

A preface first, if you will: I personally do not believe there is a 1:1 correlation between video game violence/violence in media and real world violence.

This is a position that I have held for a long time, and with seven years worth of time behind the counter of a LAN gaming center where kids can come in and play a game where they chainsaw the Locust in half or play game modes called Team Deathmatch, I still firmly believe it. Very few people ever get to see physical proof on a daily basis that video game violence and real world violence are two separate occasions like I might be able to see.

Nonetheless, we as gamers have continually found ourselves as a scapegoat; in the media, the minds of parents, the arguments of politicians, and sometimes within our own community. We have cried foul on every occasion, but in the last few months, it has almost felt like we are not just crying foul...but we are turning deaf.

Infinity Ward touched on the idea of senseless violence against innocent civilians in Modern Warfare 2 with the now infamous
Infinity Ward touched on the idea of senseless violence against innocent civilians in Modern Warfare 2 with the now infamous "No Russian" sequence. Was its message and purpose lost? Was there a message at all?

After the events of Aurora, Newtown, Oregon, the crime spree in Chicago, and so many other moments of pure violence, people have tried to search for reasons. The news media and politicians particularly singled out video games in the case of Newtown, saying that the shooter played violent video games. This could easily be true. Within the same time period that he was playing a violent video game, many other people could have been playing the same violent video game or watching a violent movie. The rest of those people were not going out and making an effort to commit murder. While that is a generalization, the point still remains: there is no 1:1 correlation between violence in media and real world violence.

However, we say that to ourselves without realizing the hypocrisy of it: if violence in media holds no influence over us, then why do advertisements exist...or inspirational films? Advertisements are 15-30 second spots that are used to sell us as consumers products that we most likely do not even need. This is media specifically created to influence us. Beyond that, we have the world of film - an art where many filmmakers specifically try to convey a message to audiences, make them feel emotion and empathize with characters on the screen, and try to mentally affect the people watching it. The whole purpose of cinema is to try and affect the audience member into a suspension of disbelief that will help them meld into the world that the film creates.

...and then we say that violence in media holds no influence over us?

Leland Yee has been at the forefront of attempted legislative action against violent video games. He also has a Ph.D in Child Psychology. We continually write him off rather than having an open discussion with him.
Leland Yee has been at the forefront of attempted legislative action against violent video games. He also has a Ph.D in Child Psychology. We continually write him off rather than having an open discussion with him.

Yes, there is no scientific or survey-based evidence to support that there is a 1:1 correlation between violence in media and real world violence, but there are other studies. For instance, there was a release of study in April 2000 from the American Psychological Association that pointed out how people playing violent video games showed increased signs of aggression in thoughts, feelings and behavior. Hell, there have been multiple studies over the years trying to find a link between (specifically) video game violence and real world violence. Psychologists nationwide over the last twelve years have stated this multiple times, even saying that prolonged play time on violent video games led to more aggressive behavior. While we would like to outright ignore this "propaganda", we simply cannot.

We must open this discussion up. Instead of sitting back and playing the defense card, we must talk about it in as open a forum as possible. If we do not, we simply cannot understand all of the issues.

Yes, parents need to take some blame. Allowing a kid to play something named after a felony crime (Grand Theft Auto) without distinctly specifying and teaching the difference between fantasy and reality does nothing more than teach a child that violence is okay, acceptable in the world at large, and often rewarded. The ESRB can also be at blame here. As a voluntary self-regulatory board created to offer guidance for parents who do not know much about video games (as well as offer ratings in order to keep their asses from getting sued over content in the game in general), it seems there have been massive failures at times on their part. How is a game like Battlefield: Bad Company rated T for Teen while Halo is rated M for Mature? One involves far more foul language, outright destruction, realistic gun sounds and battlefield design, and graphics...while the other one is a space opera where you shoot aliens who do not even bleed the same color as a human and are obviously trying to wipe out entire galaxies if they can. One is a war game where neither side is a clear enemy with a necessary reason to die other than "this is war, shoot shoot shoot" while the other is the equivalent of virtual goddamn paintball. However, since Bad Company does not feature blood "and gore" (which Halo apparently has gore...that I cannot ever remember seeing?), it can be rated T for Teen. In turn, the gaming industry itself fails in truly informing the parents properly in my own honest opinion.

At the end of it all, it does come down to the person with the controller in their hands. To say that there are not people more sensitive to the material of a violent video game is to be naive. We can blame it on mental healthcare in the United States (or the world, take your pick on that one). We could say that it is the fault of parents. We can point our fingers at politicians trying to make us into scapegoats, offering nothing in defense beyond "there are no studies to support that." We might even try to pull the trump card of sounding like wise-cracking smartasses that say "well, Mario was violent but you don't see me jumping on the heads of turtles." However, when all is said and done, it's all about the individual themselves.

...and maybe stop making plastic replicas of weapons if you want to be taken a tad bit more seriously, video game industry?
...and maybe stop making plastic replicas of weapons if you want to be taken a tad bit more seriously, video game industry?

Parents, raise your kids with the difference between right and wrong. Politicians, look at the violence you create before pointing fingers at pieces of art. ESRB, work harder to ensure that you are providing as much information as possible to parents in all outlets where games are sold. Psychologists, keep doing your studies and offering us some enlightenment.

Gamers, stop playing the role of Helen Keller in this play that we are all a part of. Be more open-minded as well as open in discussion. Instead of taking the goddamn defensive ever five minutes that someone attacks your hobby, be willing to see it from all points of view and try to find the common sense in it all.

I've said my piece. Now say yours. Use this as a place to offer reasoning and logic, not trolling and bullshit. This isn't a place for arguing, but rather a place for healthy debate and topical discussion.


Rediscovering Guild Wars 2

In the past few months, a plethora of game releases kept me from venturing much in the world of Tyria. Actually, let's rewind that for a second...

Before I "stopped playing" Guild Wars 2, the amount of time spent in the game was on par with my beginnings in WoW and other MMOs. I grinded hard to level 80, only to find that many of the stuff to do at level 80 was either bugged or slightly broken. "Disheartened" isn't quite the word I'd use, but more just...not determined enough to dump serious amounts of time into it like I was.

Once the holiday season kicked in and we saw releases coming left and right (as well as serious sales from Steam, Amazon, Green Man Gaming, and GOG), gaming time was being divided among many of the new releases as well as League of Legends.

Then I bought my girlfriend Guild Wars 2 for Christmas...

She's been on a mad rampage in the game, and she's loving it. It's like a kid seeing a world of wonder. As I watched her play it, I kept saying to myself "man, I wanna go have fun again." Once I finally decided to log back in, it was like opening up a whole new game. A new zone had been added (Southsea Cove - tough as shit), many of the bugged collectibles for world exploration were fixed, and the dungeons were fine-tuned in many respects. Finally, Tyria felt complete. However, being at max level, I kept asking myself "what do I do?" Sure, I can do dungeons to get gear, but I have full Draconic and exotic weapons that all have the best attributes I can get in the game. What's the point?

Vanity. The point is vanity, folks. It's not about a "gear grind." It's about getting that new gear when you want, how you want, having a choice of what to get, and making yourself look EXACTLY the way you want to look. Right now, Finlee Kilgore Esq. is looking like a thoroughbred badass...

...and he's doing it in pink and gold, motherfuckers.
...and he's doing it in pink and gold, motherfuckers.

However, once my girlfriend was able to get on my world (YAK'S BEND REPRESENT), there was something else I found...or rather re-found: exploration is the key. I've finished many of the zones that she's going through, but because of the level scaling, I can go there and still have immense amounts of fun. Moreover, I'm now an overpowered monstrosity of a Charr. I can go in and murder the shit out of everything and feel like a god. Isn't that the point of getting to max level and having all of this gear? Going back and realizing just how powerful you are?

I realized that my problem was the continuing search for loot progression, that carrot on a stick. World of Warcraft, The Old Republic, even Dungeons & Dragons Online had all gotten me used to getting to that next piece of gear, that next raid, that next expansion. Once you notice, realize, and accept the fact that Guild Wars 2 has minimal loot progression and complete customization progression built inside of a beautiful world that is more alive than most MMOs on the market, you find what Guild Wars 2 excels at.

I feel like my my own. No one else despite how many of them are running around with CoF gear are MY character. Every time I pass by someone in Lion's Arch or a group on their way to a dungeon, I never look over and feel like I'm just grinding for the same gear as them...because this is MY gear. That is MY Dhuumseal transmuted with the stats of Naegling. That is MY Berserker's Draconic Helm of the Berserker. Those are MY Beryl Orichalcum Earrings of the Valkyrie.

I am Finlee Kilgore Esq. (well, just Finlee in game...but I didn't realize I could do surnames and such if I saw fit). I am a unique character within the world of Tyria.

So as my girlfriend and I both explore through the world, working towards our 100% map completion to get our Gift of Exploration...working our way through the path to getting a legendary weapon, I have rediscovered my love for what I still feel is one of the best MMOs in existence.

Now I just have to get her to 80 so we can PvP like crazy!


Giant Bomb Community's Most Disappointing Game of 2012

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If there is one thing that stands true about 2012, it is that retail triple-A games raised the ire of many gamers. Going to your local store or going online and throwing down $60 (or whatever your local currency translates to) to pick up a hotly anticipated game just to end the experience with a frown on your face is something that no gamer wants to endure. Unfortunately, it happens every year, and this year was no different.

Recently, the Giant Bomb community had an opportunity to vote for what they believed was the most disappointing game release of 2012. Within that voting process, one thing became certainly prevalent: people are sick of broken games from big publishers that should have been better, especially given their previous iterations. Particularly, it would seem that many of the games people were disappointed with are divisible by the number "three", which is something of an odd occurrence. Now that the voting is essentially done, let's take a look at just what the community felt was the most disappointing game of 2012.

Loose Stragglers

There was a number of games voted on that only received a handful of votes (usually less than three overall votes). Many of these games had a lot of woes groaned about them, ranging from general boredom to just generally not being a solid game overall. That list of games includes:

These games needed to at least be mentioned, despite their minority stance within the general voting process. Why? It should always be noted that people will have different opinions, and sometimes those opinions are slightly different than the overall flock. Personally, I can vouch that I felt at least four of those games were personally disappointing to me in some way.

The Third Most Disappointing Game...

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Resident Evil 6 was a game that, upon the release of its initial trailer and first impressions from the press, seemed like they were getting back to some of what people loved about earlier games. While the franchise has constantly drawn criticism from many fans after a certain period (most notably from Resident Evil 4 onward), there have still arguably been saving graces with the releases. Resident Evil 6 did seem like a "middle of nowhere" announcement to a lot of people, and in a year where three Resident Evil games saw release on various platforms (Operation Raccoon City and Revelations were the other two), the road to release for the new proper-numbered entry in the core franchise seemed to get more and more lackluster. Upon release, the general consensus from both players and the press was overwhelming: Resident Evil 6 was essentially a pile of unnecessary shit that should be avoided at all costs. From its action-oriented gameplay to uninteresting story and clunky controls, it epitomized bad game design through every pore of its body. The public spoke and thus the fate of Resident Evil 6 was decided.

The Second Most Disappointing Game...

"...there's a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success. Any fool can accomplish failure. But a fiasco...A fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions. A fiasco is a folktale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn't happened to them."
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Every time someone mentions the words "Mass Effect 3", the words of Drew Baylor ring through my head. As if BioWare didn't already have it hard enough with Star Wars: The Old Republic within the subsequent months after its launch, it also ended up causing two of the largest controversies of the year in the video game industry. The fervor was high for the release of Mass Effect 3, and when it finally came out, the cries of the internet became quickly apparent as people finished out the franchise. Many asked how a monolith of sci-fi epic proportions that offered so much ambition in storytelling over the course of five years could flounder and mishandle a finale so poorly. For those who don't know what we are talking about, the ending to Mass Effect 3 caused an uproar amongst the Mass Effect community, all but crying for the heads of those responsible for the making of the game. By the time the credits on the game were rolling, it felt more like reading an obituary than a list of people who worked on the game. Players felt that their choices over the course of three games meant literally nothing by the time that they reached the "pick A/B/C"-style ending. BioWare's reaction to this was not only a little lacking (it took them close to a week to respond to the fans), but it was alarming and surprising as well: they planned on releasing free DLC for the players that would expand on the overall story and elements in order to give the ending a little more logic and overall sense. This became a controversy within the gaming press, as they viewed it as a weakness on the artistic capabilities of BioWare, a piece of reactionary game design to try and cull the controversy rather than sticking to their guns and standing by what they created. It pretty much sealed the fate for Mass Effect 3 being considered a fiasco in the lexicon of gaming history. However, after the release of DLC, it seems that there are audiences that have found the game to be a very good finale to the franchise with some flaws inherent to the idea of "moral choice player-authored storytelling".

Only time will tell how Mass Effect 3 is viewed in the grand scheme of things, but for the year of its release, Mass Effect 3 remains disappointing to many.

The Most Disappointing Game of the Year...

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With almost 35% of the votes (by comparison, Mass Effect 3 garnered only 18%), it seems the jury is out for Assassin's Creed III: how the hell did you get to this point? A promising franchise that became a little sluggish by the time the third Assassin's Creed II came out (yes, Revelations, you were boring as shit), the third proper installment in the franchise saw a change of time period and scenery with the Revolutionary War. We were also put into the shoes of a new character, a native American assassin by the name of Connor. The gameplay was expanded upon, the story promised to be huge, and the overall experience...ended up being broken, filled with bugs, and generally boring to many players. What took a year of hype fell apart so quickly upon release. The multiplayer seems like it has had generally positive things spoken about it beyond the expected complaints of hacking, exploitation, and lag. However, the idea that a game that has been years in the making was released in such a massive unfinished the point that a massive patch for just the single player game within days of release seemed to offer fixes for almost every single quest in the nigh inexcusable.

What seems more disappointing about the game is how Assassin's Creed III leaves people hanging by the end of their adventure. It's one thing to leave people on a cliffhanger like you would find in Assassin's Creed II or Brotherhood, making people say "WHAT THE FUCK?" and then clamor for the release of the next game. It's another to...I mean, are we saying that this is the "end" of a "trilogy"? Are we saying that there is a way to continue this? It's just mind-boggling all together, and it's absolutely insane that this is the way that Ubisoft felt it should end. Could they pull a Brotherhood/Revelations scenario and release some sidesteps in order to lead somewhere else? If anything, with as much ire was drawn around the ending of Mass Effect 3, it feels like the ending to Assassin's Creed III is just...BONKERS! It's not a good bonkers either, but rather than "I don't know what the fuck is going on what the hell am I seeing right now I feel fucking shitty right now" kind of ending.

Either way you chop it, Assassin's Creed III has helped define what seems to be an ever-increasing level of disappointment among gamers in the world of triple-A studio releases. Hopefully, we will start seeing a turnaround on this soon...but let's be honest: that's probably not going to happen ever.


jakob187's Totally Pretentious 2012 Game of the Year Top 10 List

It's that time of year AGAIN! It seems like a yearly cycle or something where we all get together and make lists as if our opinions mattered or something!

Well, my fucking opinion matters, so I'm doing this again! IT'S GAME OF THE YEAR TIME!

In the past two years, I did Top 25 lists...because fuck Top 10 lists. This year, I'm doing a Top 10 list...because fuck Carpal Tunnel.

I know you all wait in hot anticipation every year for me to pop the cherry on the Game of the Year lists. FRET NOT, for I am right on time this year as well! I've been keeping a running list all year long of what games I felt really defined 2012 as a banner year for gaming. In the past, my choices have been a bit unconventional. For example:

2009 - I picked Assassin's Creed II while the rest of the world was getting down on Uncharted 2.

2010 - I picked Bayonetta when everyone was singing praises of Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2.

2011 - I picked Bastion while the world was swooning over Saints Row The Third and Skyrim.

My picks aren't unconventional just to be unconventional. They are based on what I personally played over the year. In essence, it means this list will have some things that aren't even considered, like Journey and Far Cry 3 (which I'm sure as fantastic games). It's not the end-all be-all of Game of the Year lists. Actually, it is. It totally is. I'm sorry for telling you otherwise.

Anyways, enough babbling. LET THE LIST COMMENCE!

1. The Walking Dead

If you had told me that a point-and-click adventure game filled with cinematic storytelling based on the Robert Kirkman comics that continues the oversaturation of zombies in video gaming would rank at the top of my list, I would've told you that you were fucking high. Nonetheless, The Walking Dead goes above and beyond in so many ways beyond just the game itself. Yes, the story of Lee and Clementine surviving in the wild new world alongside a myriad of supporting characters has its twists, turns, and intense emotional moments. However, I also look at how the game has delivered on all fronts. The gameplay that is present is some good ol' point-and-click adventure done right, the quick-time event moments that show up are played off well, the episodic delivery of the game was a perfect bait-and-hook to keep you coming back, the writing was smart and witty, the graphics worked perfectly with their hand-drawn grittiness fused in 3D models... Literally, the only problem I think most can find with the game are a handful of bugs and frame rate issues on consoles. Beyond that, there is not a single other game this year that I could honestly say deserves this top slot more. Good on you, Telltale, for delivering what is a fantastic breath of fresh air to a beloved gaming genre. As to the continuing argument of whether it's a game or not - people need to get over themselves about it. It's a game in the same way that your beloved Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, Secret of Monkey Island, and Beneath A Steel Sky are games. Fuck off with the stupid arguing and celebrate such a lovely masterpiece of game development.

2. Hotline Miami

Okay, so that last part of The Walking Dead...where I said "there is not a single other game this year that I could honestly say deserves this top slot more?" Hotline Miami is that other game I would say could be in the first place slot. It's a dark, gritty, ultra-violent, fucked-up, over-the-top orgy of everything great about video games. Sure, there are the people digging into the "meaning" of the game. You know what I think the "meaning" of the game is? *baseball bat to the side of your head* THAT is the "meaning" of the game. Okay, okay. That's a hostile statement. Sure, it could be a message about violence in games, but even if we set all that shit aside, Hotline Miami was this surprising came-out-of-left-field indie game that delivered tight controls, bloody fun, and brutal difficulty. It also committed completely to its concept of zany madman-like insanity, which propelled it to its own unique pedestal...that is decorated in decapitated heads.

3. Legend of Grimrock

This downloadable homage to RPGs of yesteryear like Eye of the Beholder still keeps my nerd boner raging all these months later! I loved the game so much that I have dedicated myself to recreating the entirety of Doom in Grimrock's dungeon editor! There's a method to all of the dungeon-adventuring madness, a mystique to the story that unfolds, and a complexity to the combat that I thoroughly appreciated from start to finish. Once the main quest is done, there is still a heavy modding community delivering fresh new adventures on a regular basis, making this one of the most worthwhile packages of the year hands-down. The only...ONLY...reason it isn't higher on the list is because I couldn't trample a guy onto the ground and then gouge his eyes out with my fingers after shotgunning two of his friends in the room beforehand.

4. Guild Wars 2

Many out there will scream "it's the other MMO that launched this year". While there is no denying that Mists of Pandaria finally did right by those of us who loved vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade, Guild Wars 2 delivered in spades on its promises. They broke the holy trinity of RPG gaming up, continue to offer dynamic and massive world events, and the PvP (specifically the WvWvW) is FUCKING I-N-S-A-N-E! If anything, THIS game reminds me of the reason I loved something like Dark Ages of Camelot's realm vs. realm gameplay. Even then, continuous updates have been keeping it fresh since launch, and ArenaNet shows no signs of slowing down. This is definitely a game I'll be playing for quite some time.

5. Torchlight II

With the release of Diablo III earlier this year, a lot of people expected Torchlight II to fall by the wayside, forgotten by the masses. Once Blizzard dropped the ball with Patch 1.03, a mass exodus from the D3 community led people to Runic's sequel. In the time I've played Torchlight II, I feel confident in saying that it is what Diablo III should've been. There are great "open-world" areas reminiscent of Diablo II, the CHARACTER HIMSELF becomes powerful while the gear supplements his capabilities, and the introduction of INFINITE New Game Plus (much the same way as Dark Souls) means that you can finally start a character on the lowest difficulty just for the hell of slashing shit up and then finally end up on the highest difficulties after enough NG+. The classes are a bit more interesting as well, and the online multiplayer setup is vastly superior thanks to solid netcode.

6. Forza Horizon

Forza Horizon took me by surprise. I was expecting to plug the game in, fiddle around with it a bit, then forget about it almost immediately. It has done the exact opposite at every turn. What's more interesting is how Forza Horizon - either on purpose or inadvertently - takes from so many other games that have existed to create a solid product. Random drivers on the road to pull up to and race (Tokyo Xtreme Racer Zero), open-world racing (Need for Speed: Most Wanted), bonuses for driving with style (Burnout), a plethora of things to do in an expansive world (Elder Scrolls), solid customization options both above and under the hood (Gran Turismo, Forza), challenges worth XP towards leveling up in the world (Call of Duty), audio navigation help (Dirt), A FUCKING STORY...that actually has me watching the cutscenes (any game ever), slightly looser gameplay than a simulation game (Need for Speed, Grid)... Literally, this game is such an amalgamation of things that make so many games great, and Playground does an incredible job of meshing it all together to build what I firmly believe is the greatest racing game made to date. It's going to be VERY HARD for a company to build another racing game that takes my breath away like Forza Horizon has.

7. Path of Exile

Path of Exile is still technically in beta, but even that beta has proven to be a fantastic ARPG in a dark world. It also handles a few things in a different way than other games. For starters, there is no currency in the game. If you want to acquire things from merchants or other players, it's all based on a barter system. You trade Identify Scrolls for some potions, some chunks of rare metal for some new gear. There's also the socketing system: you gain whatever skills you use based on whatever gems you socket into your gear, and each of those gems will level up individually based on the XP you gain through combat. The skill tree...OH MAN, THAT SKILL TREE... It's essentially the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X, helping to offer THE deepest level of customization ever in an ARPG. If you haven't joined up on the beta for Path of Exile, it's worth every bit of your $10. If you love ARPG games, there's no reason you should be avoiding this.

8. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

It was a sad year for 38 Studios. We all know the woes that the studio went through shortly after the release of Reckoning. Nonetheless, what they allowed Big Huge Games to deliver to us was a great and impressionable RPG. What impressed me more was mainly the merging of combo-based action combat with deep RPG mechanics like Elder Scrolls. Amalur also proved to be a gorgeous world of wonder, harnessing a unique luster. Because of the downfall of 38 Studios, it unfortunately means this was a small trip and glimpse into what could have been. It saddens me, but the game that they released was a fantastic testament to the people who worked on it as well as how to push the RPG genre forward.

9. The Darkness II

Much like its predecessor, The Darkness II kind of came out of nowhere like a gut-punch to the solar plexus. It wasn't just about the solid shooting mechanics, but the surprises that were bestowed upon us. There were skill trees, deeper mechanics, solid enemy AI, slick graphics, a solid villain, and a fantastic ending for fans of the comic books. There were also the emotional moments, made ever so much more impactful by the fantastic performances all around from the voice actors and animation teams. All around, it's sad that this game is going to be largely ignored by so many people in the industry, but it's definitely one of the best games that came out this year.

10. Fez

The level of excitement for Fez was probably the biggest thing I've seen in indie gaming ever. Around its release, Phil Fish said some shit that pissed a lot of people off. Boo-fuckety-hoo. Fish's comments aside, Fez was an astounding feat, a labour of love from a guy that truly loved the world of gaming. Every single thing in Fez was purely fascinating and mind-bending, but what made Fez really stand out wasn't its unique gameplay and beautiful pixel-art. It was its dedication to its own world, the commitment that it offered to build a believable fantasy realm to play around in. I tip my hat to you, Mr. Fish. I hope to see more from you in the future.

11. Borderlands 2

HONORABLE MENTION: I didn't get to play much of Borderlands 2 for two reasons: 1. There were a LOT of games to play this year. 2. I decided that I would wait until next year when all the DLC has been released to get the eventual "here's the version will everything for cheaper edition". Nonetheless, I played to about level 10, and what I played makes me believe it would be a fucking travesty to not include it somewhere on this list. It had everything that you want in a Borderlands game, only done better. The AI is some of the best I've ever seen programmed in the industry, to the point that I tell everyone I know they should play Borderlands 2 at least ONCE to see what GOOD AI programming in games is like. There are shitloads of cool guns, skill trees that show a lot of thought put into it, character customization, better quest development, and fun co-op multiplayer. What I played of it was highly enjoyable. I just could not genuinely put it in my Top 10 because of the limited amount of time I had with it. Nonetheless, I feel like Borderlands 2 could easily be a contender for 2013's 2012 Game of the Year.


Knee-Jerk Reaction: Halo 4

It's been a while since I've done a Knee-Jerk Reaction blog, mainly because there haven't really been any games that I felt deserved to have one written. However, upon plugging in Halo 4...oh, there is definitely a Knee-Jerk Reaction in this.

HOURS PLAYED: about 20 minutes of multiplayer (War Games, Infinity Slayer)


  • The presentation of the game all around is much prettier, but it's also more helpful than previous Halo games. The HUD for your Spartan is far more useful and immersive (thanks in part to the curvature added to look like a Spartan-IV visor that you look through).
  • SPRINTING IS FINALLY A THING! It's about time also. I mean, I understand that Spartans are wearing a literal ton or two of armor...but for fuck's sake, they are also genetically engineered SUPER SOLDIERS! They should be able to goddamn sprint whenever they want.
  • It feels like Halo in most ways: the jumping is right, the guns sound good, the announcer is still there, etc.


  • Welcome to Halo of Duty. The puzzle of the multiplayer combat (weapons on the maps, etc) is gone and replaced with Loadouts like Call of Duty. New weapons and such are unlocked through ranking up. NOT a fan of that. This was the one thing that kept Halo different from everything else: you relied on knowledge of the maps and knowledge of the weapons. Now, you just need to rely on knowledge of what level your Spartan is.
  • There doesn't seem to be a clear indication once your shield has been taken down of how many shots you can take before you are dead, or particularly how much life you happen to have available to you. This was something conveyed much better in Halo: Reach.
  • The maps are overly elaborate and don't seem to have a very good flow so far. I've only played on one or two maps (left my first match because you still deal with people leaving a match because they are getting stomped).
  • Slayer is determined by points now instead of overall kills, and there are multiple different things that give you "points", such as being a distraction while someone else pops a kill, getting assists, etc. This is a highly unbalanced way of letting people win a match, as it will promote stat hacking far more than something like Call of Duty.
  • 8GB REQUIRED INSTALL TO PLAY MULTIPLAYER! This information is conveyed to you in VEEEEERY small print on the back of the box. Luckily, you can install that 8GB to a flash drive and still be able to play. Unfortunately, it shows just how little they thought about the people on 4GB Xbox 360 consoles...
  • As far as I've seen, no more guests on Xbox Live accounts. If this is different, then let me know. I haven't been able to find it in the game...and it's not like this game came with an instruction manual. By the way...
  • ...the game doesn't have an instruction manual. It has some bullshit from Mountain Dew and a 14 day XBL trial card. THANKS, GUYS!

All in all, within 20 minutes, I don't think I honestly WANT to play more of Halo 4. The initial impression is a shellshock. I'm all about change in games, but this is a franchise that benefitted from not changing that much. I'm going to give it some more play time just to see if all this changes, but honestly...I think I'll just wait for Black Ops 2. = /


jakob187's Annual Black Friday Game Deal Thread (2012 Edition)


It's that wonderous time of year again. Ads start flowing out everywhere and the world prepares to trample each other the day after they gave them all thanks. That's right, it's November...which means BLACK FRIDAY IS DRAWING NIIIIIIIIIIIGH!

Every year, I throw up a blog/thread to highlight specifically all of the gaming deals around the retail space to help those of you that want to risk life and limb at an actual store find the deals you want. You can thank me later when you are sipping food through a straw after being stomped into the ground by old ladies wanting cheap high-definition TVs to look at Maurice Benard's sexy ass during their daytime swooning phases.

Now that Steve Burton is leaving General Hospital, Maurice is about all the eye candy that is left to look at, ladies.
Now that Steve Burton is leaving General Hospital, Maurice is about all the eye candy that is left to look at, ladies.

Anyways, here are the deals. They will be updated REGULARLY, and they will be listed in alphabetical order because I'm an anal-retentive asshole like that. As always, bookmark this shit and come back whenever necessary to check for updates. I'll bump the thread as necessary when new ads are announced.


AAFES (opening @ 4:00am) ***MILITARY ID REQUIRED***


  • Playstation Vita w/ Black Ops Declassified - $199.95


  • Assassin's Creed III (Xbox 360/PS3) - $49.95
  • Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.95
  • Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.95
  • Call of Duty 4 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $9.95
  • Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360/PS3) - $9.95
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.95
  • Diablo III (PC) - $39.95
  • Dishonored (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.95
  • Epic Mickey 2 (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii) - $39.95
  • Doom 3: BFG Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.95
  • LEGO Batman 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.95
  • Madden 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.95
  • Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.95
  • Medal of Honor: Warfighter (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.95
  • NBA 2K13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.95
  • NCAA Football 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.95
  • Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.95
  • Skylanders Giants Starter Pack (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/3DS) - $49.95
  • Skyrim (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.95
  • Spec Ops: The Line (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.95
  • Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (PC) - $19.95
  • The Sims 3 (PC) - $19.95
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC) - $9.95

BEST BUY (opening @ 12:00am)


  • Xbox 360 250GB Holiday Bundle (includes Forza 4 & Skyrim) - $199.99
  • Playstation 3 250GB Bundle (includes Uncharted 1&2 and Infamous 1&2) - $199.99
  • Nintendo 3DS Holiday Bundle (includes Super Mario 3D Land) - $149.99
  • Playstation Vita Bundle (includes Black Ops Declassified) - $199.99
  • Xbox 360 Controller - $34.99
  • PS3 Controller - $34.99
  • Turtle Beach Ear Force P11 - $34.99
  • Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 - $34.99


  • Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360) - $34.99
  • Assassin's Creed Revelations (Xbox 360) - $7.99
  • Battlefield 3 Premium Edition (PS3) - $29.99
  • Borderlands 2 (PS3) - $34.99
  • Call of Juarez: The Cartel (PS3) - $7.99
  • Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) - $24.99
  • Darksiders 2 (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Dead Island (PS3) - $7.99
  • Diablo 3 (PC/Mac) - $34.99
  • Dragonball Z for Kinect (Xbox 360) - $24.99
  • Epic Mickey 2 (Wii) - $29.99
  • FIFA Soccer 13 (PS3) - $34.99
  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) - $34.99
  • Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition (Xbox 360) - $14.99
  • Halo Reach (Xbox 360) - $14.99
  • Just Dance 3 (Wii) - $7.99
  • Just Dance 4 (Xbox 360) - $24.99
  • Kinect Sports: Ultimate Collection (Xbox 360) - $24.99
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D (3DS) - $14.99
  • Madden NFL 13 (Xbox 360) - $34.99
  • Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth (Xbox 360) - $24.99
  • Medal of Honor: Warfighter (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Mortal Kombat (Vita) - $14.99
  • Skylanders Giants Starter Pack (Wii) - $49.99
  • Sniper Elite V2 (PS3) - $14.99
  • The Sims 3 (PC/Mac) - $7.99
  • UFC Undisputed 3 (PS3) - $14.99
  • Wipeout 3 (Xbox 360) - $24.99

GAMESTOP (opening @ 12:00am)


  • Xbox 360 250GB Bundle (includes Skyrim, Forza 4, & Call of Duty: Black Ops 2) - $249.99
  • Xbox 360 Kinect Star Wars Bundle (includes Star Wars Kinect) - $349.99
  • Playstation 3 250GB Bundle (includes Uncharted 1&2 and Infamous 1&2) - $199.97
  • PS Vita White Liberation Bundle (includes Assassin's Creed III: Liberation) - $199.99
  • Playstation All Star Battle Royale (PS3) - $39.99 w/ new PS3 system purchase
  • Nintendo 3DS Bundle (includes Super Mario Land 3D and your choice of any ONE copy of the three different Nintendogs Games) - $169.99
  • Pre-Owned Kinect Sensor with Free Kinect Adventures Games - $39.99
  • Pre-Owned DSi XL - $79.99


  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Kinect Sports Collection (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Fable: The Journey (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Battlefield 3 Premium Edition (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - $29.99
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Xbox 360/PS3/PC) - $29.99
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Sniper Elite v2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Little Big Planet Karting (PS3) - $29.99
  • Ratchet & Clank Collection (PS3) - $19.99
  • Jak and Daxter Collection (PS3) - $14.99
  • LEGO Lord of the Rings (3DS/Vita) - $19.99
  • LEGO Lord of the Rings (DS) - $14.99
  • LEGO Batman 2 (3DS) - $19.99
  • LEGO Batman 2 (DS/Vita) - $14.99
  • Army Corps of Hell (Vita) - $19.99
  • Mortal Kombat (Vita) - $14.99
  • WoW: Mists of Pandaria (PC) - $19.99
  • Skylanders Giants Starter Kit (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii) - $54.99
  • Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 w/gun (Wii) - $39.99
  • Cabela's Dangerous Hunts 2013 w/gun (Xbox 360/PS3) - $59.99
  • Angry Birds Trilogy (Xbox 360/PS3/3DS) - $24.99
  • Dishonored (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Dead or Alive 5 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Assassin's Creed III (Xbox 360/PS3) - $49.99
  • Batman Arkham City GOTY Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Doom 3 BFG Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Dragon's Dogma (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • Rocksmith Guitar plus Bass (Xbox 360/PS3) - $49.99
  • Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Ghost Recon Future Soldier (Xbox 360/PS3) - $24.99
  • Skyrim (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • FIFA 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • Madden 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • NHL 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • NCAA Football 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • Sleeping Dogs (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $34.99
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360/PS3) - $24.99
  • Dead Space 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $14.99
  • Crysis 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $14.99
  • Midnight Club Los Angeles Complete Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $9.99
  • Sports Champion 2 (PS3) - $19.99
  • Book of Spells; game only (PS3) - $19.99
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D (3DS) - $19.99
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (3DS) - $19.99
  • Heroes of Ruin (3DS) - $19.99
  • Cooking Mama Dual Packs (DS) - $19.99
  • Batman Arkham City Armored Edition (Wii U) - $49.99
  • FIFA 13 (Wii U) - $49.99
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited (Wii U) - $49.99
  • Game Party (Wii U) - $29.99
  • World of Warcraft Battle Chest (PC) - $4.99
  • Diablo III (PC) - $29.99
  • Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (PC) - $29.99
  • WoW: Cataclysm (PC) - $9.99

HASTINGS (opening @ 8:00am)


  • Playstation 3 250GB Bundle (includes Uncharted 1&2 and Infamous 1&2) - $199.99
  • Xbox 360 250GB Kinect Bundle (includes Kinect Adventures & Carnival Games, 3-month XBL Gold) - $299.99
  • Xbox 360 4GB - $149.99
  • Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle (includes Kinect Adventures & Disneyland Adventures) - $199.99
  • Nintendo 3DS XL - $199.99
  • Nintendo 3DS Bundle (includes Super Mario Land 3D, $20 Hastings Gift Card) - $169.99
  • Nintendo Wii (includes Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, $25 Hastings Gift Card) - $129.99
  • Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 Headphones (360) - $49.99
  • Xbox 360 Controller - $39.99
  • Xbox 360 PDP Afterglow Wired Controller - $14.99
  • PS3 Controller - $24.99
  • PS3 PDP Afterglow Wired Controller - $14.99
  • Nyko Intercooler Slim or STS (360/PS3) - $9.99
  • Nyko Charge Base (360/PS3) - $12.99


  • Batman: Arkham City - Armored Edition (Wii U) - $49.99
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360/PS3) - $14.99
  • Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Dishonored (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Doom 3: BFG Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Fable: The Journey (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Fallout: New Vegas - Ultimate Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $19.99
  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Harry Potter for Kinect (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Little Big Planet Karting (PS3) - $29.99
  • Lord of the Rings: War in the North (Xbox 360/PS3) - $14.99
  • Madden 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $39.99
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (Xbox 360) - $9.99
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Skylanders Giants Starter Pack (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/3DS) - $49.99
  • Skyrim (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Wipeout 2 (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii) - $19.99
  • Wipeout 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $29.99
  • Wipeout 3 (Wii) - $19.99
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC) - $9.99
  • World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC) - $19.99

KMART (opening @ 5:00am)


  • Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle (includes Disneyland Adventures and Kinect Adventures) - $199.99
  • Nintendo 3DS Bundle (includes Super Mario Land 3D) - $169.99
  • Wii Console - $129.99
  • DSi Handheld - $79.99
  • Xbox Live 3-Month Card - $12.99


  • Assassin's Creed 2 - $14.99
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360) - $14.99
  • Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition (Xbox 360) - $19.99
  • Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360) - $34.99*
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Dishonored (Xbox 360) - $29.99
  • Fallout 3 GOTY Edition (Xbox 360) - $14.99
  • FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City (Xbox 360) - $17.99
  • L.A. Noire (Xbox 360) - $8.99
  • LEGO Batman (Wii) - $14.99
  • LEGO Batman 2 (Wii) - $14.99
  • LEGO Harry Potter (Wii) - $14.99
  • LEGO Lord of the Rings (DSi) - $14.99
  • Madden 13 (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Mario Kary (DS) - $29.99
  • Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360) - $8.99
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe (Xbox 360) - $9.99
  • Need for Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox 360) - $39.99
  • Skylanders Giants Starter Pack (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/3DS)- $49.99
  • Skylanders Giants Triple Pack - $19.99
  • Skylanders Giants Lightcore Characters - $9.99
  • Sonic Generations (Xbox 360) - $14.99
  • Super Mario Land 3D (3DS) - $29.99
  • Super Mario Bros 2 (3DS) - $29.99
  • Super Scribblenauts (DSi) - $14.99

TARGET (opening @ 9:00pm Thanksgiving Day)


  • Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle (includes Disneyland Adventures and Kinect Adventures) - $199.99
  • Nintendo 3DS Bundle (includes Super Mario Land 3D) - $149.99
  • Playstation 3 250GB Bundle (includes Uncharted 1&2 and Infamous 1&2) - $199.99
  • PS Vita Wi-Fi Bundle (includes LEGO Batman 2) - $199.99
  • Wii Bundle (includes Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort, and Just Dance Kids 2) - $119.00


  • Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360) - $59.99 w/ $20 gift card
  • Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360) - $35.00
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360) - $10.00
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360) - $15.00
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360) - $25.00
  • Brave: The Video Game (DS) - $10.00
  • Epic Mickey 2 (Wii) - $35.00
  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) - $59.99 w/ $20 gift card
  • Halo 4 (Xbox 360) - $59.99 w/ $20 gift card
  • Just Dance 3 (Wii) - $15.00
  • Just Dance 4 (Wii) - $10.00 w/ $10 gift card
  • Just Dance Disney Party (Wii) - $25.00
  • LEGO Batman 2 (Wii) - $25.00
  • LEGO Battles: Ninjago (DS) - $15.00
  • Little Big Planet Karting (PS3) - $25.00
  • Madden 13 (Xbox 360) - $35.00
  • Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360) - $25.00
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Xbox 360) - $35.00
  • Need For Speed: Most Wanted (Xbox 360) - $35.00
  • Nintendo Wii Play Motion (Wii) - $39.00
  • Plants vs. Zombies (DS) - $15.00
  • Wheel of Fortune (Wii) - $10.00
  • Wreck-It Ralph (DS) - $15.00

WALMART (opening @ 8:00pm Thanksgiving Day)


  • DSi XL Bundle (includes Sonic All-Stars Racing and Batman: Brave and the Bold) - $99.96
  • PS3 160GB Bundle (includes Uncharted & Infamous) - $199.99
  • Nintendo Wii - $89.00
  • Xbox 360 4GB Bundle (includes Skylanders Starter Pack) - $149.00
  • Xbox 360 4GB Kinect Bundle (includes Disneyland Adventures and Kinect Adventures) - $229.00
  • Xbox 360 Controller - $39.96
  • PS3 Controller - $39.96
  • Xbox 360 MW3 Wireless Bluetooth Headset - $25.00


  • 007 Legends (PS3) - $25.00
  • Angry Birds Trilogy (PS3) - $15.00
  • Assassin's Creed 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $38.96
  • Batman: Arkham City GOTY Edition (Xbox 360) - $10.00
  • Battlefield 3 Premium Edition (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Cabela's Survival: Shadows of Katmai (Xbox 360/PS3) - $10.00
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360/PS3) - $10.00
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360/PS3) - $15.00
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $10.00
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Call of Duty: World at War (Xbox 360/PS3) - $10.00
  • Dance Central 3 (Xbox 360) - $15.00
  • Darksiders (PS3) - $10.00
  • Dead Island (Xbox 360/PS3) - $10.00
  • Dishonored (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Epic Mickey 2 (Wii) - $25.00
  • Fable: The Journey (Xbox 360) - $15.00
  • FIFA Soccer 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Forza Horizon (Xbox 360) - $15.00
  • God of War Saga (PS3) - $15.00
  • Gran Turismo 5 XL Edition (PS3) - $10.00
  • Just Dance 3 (Wii) - $15.00
  • Just Dance 4 (Xbox 360/Wii) - $25.00
  • Killzone 3 (PS3) - $15.00
  • Kinect Sports (Xbox 360) - $15.00
  • L.A. Noire (Xbox 360/PS3) - $10.00
  • LEGO Batman 2 (Xbox 360/PS3/Wii) - $15.00
  • LEGO Batman (Xbox 360) - $10.00
  • LEGO Harry Potter (Xbox 360) - $10.00
  • Little Big Planet 2 (PS3) - $10.00
  • Little Big Planet Karting (PS3) - $25.00
  • Madden 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Mario Kart (DS) - $30.00
  • Mario Power Tennis (Wii) - $15.00
  • Mario Super Sluggers (Wii) - $15.00
  • Max Payne 3 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $15.00
  • Medal of Honor Warfighter (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • MLB 12: The Show (PS3) - $15.00
  • NBA 2K13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • NCAA Football 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Need for Speed Most Wanted (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • New Super Mario Bros (DS) - $30.00
  • Pikmin 2 (Wii) - $15.00
  • Pokemon White v2 (DS) - $30.00
  • Pokemon Black v2 (DS) - $30.00
  • Ratchet & Clank All 4 One (PS3) - $10.00
  • Red Dead Redemption: GOTY Edition (Xbox 360) - $15.00
  • Saints Row 2 (Xbox 360) - $10.00
  • Skylanders Starter Pack (Wii) - $40.00
  • Spec Ops: The Line (Xbox 360/PS3) - $15.00
  • Star Wars Kinect (Xbox 360) - $25.00
  • Street Fighter X Tekken (Xbox 360/PS3) - $20.00
  • Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) - $15.00
  • Super Paper Mario (Wii) - $15.00
  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii) - $25.00
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Skyrim (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • The Sly Collection (PS3) - $10.00
  • Ghost Recon: Future Soldier (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Twisted Metal (PS3) - $25.00
  • UFC Trainer (Xbox 360) - $10.00
  • Uncharted 3 (PS3) - $15.00
  • Wii Play: Motion (Wii) - $15.00
  • Wii uDraw Game Tablet (Wii) - $10.00
  • Wipeout 2 (Wii) - $15.00
  • Wipeout 3 (Wii) - $25.00
  • WWE 13 (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown (Xbox 360/PS3) - $25.00
  • Zumba Fitness (Wii) - $25.00
  • Zumba Fitness 2 (Wii) - $25.00

Doom into LoG: Part 2 - E1M1 Hangar Playtesting

Alright, guys. I decided to say "fuck sleep" tonight (despite the fact that I am staring at two twelve-hour shifts in the next two days) in order to bring you this: the first draft (and possibly finished product) of E1M1 Hangar!!!

If you want to check it out, all you need to do is click this link to Grimrock Nexus, then follow the instructions in the README file within the zip folder.

If it's not working, please let me know so I can fix it.

I would also like to point this out: I have recently learned that you can actually edit the script in the game to create new wallsets, tiles, textures, etc etc etc. Therefore, I may be using this as the basic blueprint for everything and then actually change up the look of stuff through some scripting at a later time.


Proper files should be up now! Sorry for any mistakes in that whole process.

Also, sometimes, the mod won't download due to some bugs on Nexus. If that happens, just keep trying. If it persists, let me know.


Doom into LoG: Part 1 - E1M1 Hangar Prep

As I mentioned a week ago, I am on a crusade to recreate as much as possible (more of an homage) the entirety of the first Doom game within the Legend of Grimrock Dungeon Editor. Today, I stand on the eve of progress!

Over the last week, there has been a lot of research to do. The first question was important: how do I take the fast and frenetic pace of Doom and make it work within a grid-based RPG like Grimrock? The one thing about Grimrock is that it doesn't necessarily lend itself well to the idea of a ton of enemies coming at you all at once. Moreover, since it's all grid-based, getting swarmed makes things incredibly difficult to handle. Luckily, as I played through the actual Grimrock game a bit more than usual over the week, I noticed a few ways that Almost Human (the developers) handled multiple enemies within any given space: chokepoints and pull chain doors. These were two very important things that I had to begin utilizing within the making of the first stage, E1M1 Hangar.

Last night, I finally sat down to start working on E1M1. The cool thing about the Grimrock Dungeon Editor is its ease of use. If you've never done any type of modding or anything before...even construction in a game, this Dungeon Editor is so fucking simple that even a novice could make something awesome! Every asset that was made for the game is listed on the left hand side. Your actual grid map is in the middle. In the top right hand corner, you have a Preview screen, where you can literally hit play and PLAY THE LEVEL YOU ARE DESIGNING to see if it is working. That part was INCREDIBLY helpful for me. Last is the bottom right portion of the screen. This is where, after selecting any property within the map that you've placed, you are able to manipulate that. Say you have a hidden door that you need to open after someone hits a particular pressure plate. Typically, getting the "logic" to work between these two would be pure madness and lines of coding. Luckily, the editor makes it simple: click on the pressure plate, "add selector", then click on the hidden door or whatever prop you want it to interact with, and PRESTO! Instant logic.

The other issue I've had with designing this dungeon is making sure that the OPTIONS of Doom are not lost on it all. When it came to Doom, you either tried to murder every damn thing there was and get every secret...or you did hard speedruns. I've been debating on whether I want the options to speedrun the dungeons to be available. I mean, it IS an RPG, so you kind of need to level up. However, do you want people to play it that way? Doom is all about speed and twitch gameplay, which this cannot really do either of in a great way. Thankfully, Doom's level designs are interesting within the Grimrock system, even if you cannot do other levels of elevation and such. Therefore, big platforms and sets of stairs are something I'm having to play around with a little bit to make more interesting yet still be kind of visceral.

That's the main thing I want to keep: how visceral of a game Doom is. If you are getting swarmed with enemies in Doom, you still feel like a badass but you know that there is a high probability of death. I want you to feel the same way when you go through these dungeons.

The blue arrows are showing how a hidden button opens a pair of secret doors. I am utilizing some pressure plates and monster closets as well to ensure precise timing for swarms of enemies to hit the player. Enemy count will be as accurate to the actual number of enemies at any point in any given level. For instance, at the beginning of the actual E1M1 Hangar, there are three enemies in the room directly to the left. With this, I have placed two enemies within one monster closet and one other enemy in a separate one. The green dots are actual items (gear, herbs, etc) for the player to pick up.
The blue arrows are showing how a hidden button opens a pair of secret doors. I am utilizing some pressure plates and monster closets as well to ensure precise timing for swarms of enemies to hit the player. Enemy count will be as accurate to the actual number of enemies at any point in any given level. For instance, at the beginning of the actual E1M1 Hangar, there are three enemies in the room directly to the left. With this, I have placed two enemies within one monster closet and one other enemy in a separate one. The green dots are actual items (gear, herbs, etc) for the player to pick up.

With all that said, here is my first "screenshot" for the dungeon. This was a piece of early work that took me about an hour and a half to design. It's the grid layout for E1M1 Hangar, as well as some work done in the first couple of rooms. Handfuls of hours after I took this screen cap, I can say that I am almost completely done with the level. That's right - E1M1 Hangar only needs another couple of hours worth of work and I should be able to upload the .dat file for people to download and check out for themselves. I just have a little more playtesting to do with it to make sure it's just right.

Next week, I'll have the level completed for sure, possibly the second level...and will try to get the .dat file available for people to play for themselves!

Until next time...

P.S. - Happy Samhain/Halloween to everyone!


I Have A Dream: Making an Homage to Doom in Legend of Grimrock

There are few times in one's life when they know that they have a particular calling. This week, I found mine.

I recently updated Legend of Grimrock (which is one of my strong contenders for Game of the Year unless Hotline Miami affects my pleasure areas the way I'm thinking it will), and with that update comes the LoG Dungeon Editor. After sitting down over the weekend and playing around with it a bit, something struck me. Whether it was the actual physical object of my girl slapping me in the side of the head and saying "hey, let's watch this movie" or some type of metaphysical being of awesomeness digging into my ear and finding its way to the idea center of my brain, it hit me.

I must make an homage to Doom in the Dungeon Editor. The full game. All of it.

Now, there are a few issues with this. First of all, there are obviously none of the same monsters, instead replacing them with LoG's stock enemies. That's fine. The other issue is that the amount of space you have available to make these dungeons is a bit confined. You can do a LOT with it and cover some serious space, but some of the bigger wide-open areas just can't be at big and wide open. There also can't be higher tiers of elevation, as there is only ground level combat. This is all fine.

My general goal is to take all of these maps and translate them as best as I can to the Legend of Grimrock Dungeon Editor in order to recreate as much of Doom within LoG as possible. The idea of playing an Eye of the Beholder-style version of Doom tickles my pleasurable bits just right.

This project shouldn't take more than a month or two to complete so long as I have the time available for it. I'm also going to need to find a way to record some video to show people exactly what I'm doing and working on. In the end, though, I have a feeling that I can create something unique and fun to play while also offering homage to one of my favorite games, nay...THE reason I got into PC games in the first place.

Wish me luck!!!


How EA Is Turning A Bad Situation Into A Win

Over the weekend, many people became aware of a glitch with a promo code that EA had offered through a survey for their Origin service. The promo code in particular was for $20 credit towards a purchase, and even with some stipulations attached, this meant that a majority of games under $20 were free. The glitch was that people were able to use the code multiple times through specific exploits (deleting cookies, using different browsers, etc etc), thereby stocking up on a ton of games for absolutely nothing. Some called it theft while others called it a ploy by EA to get a larger user base. Many believed it would result in banhammers being dropped.

None of this is the case, as EA has come out on their forums and stated that the coupon is expired now and that they will honor all sales from the promo code. They went so far as to say "enjoy your games".

People have fumed about this over the last few days, and while they do have valid points, there are bigger things at stake here, and EA has now put themselves in a very advantageous position. I have a bullet pointed list to explain:

  • Holiday season is coming up. With all the new users on Origin, EA has the opportunity to try offering deals that can beat out Steam, thereby enticing users to buy from their service rather than Steam.
  • EA now has a better chance to test our their Origin service and servers, making sure that any potential kinks are worked out.
  • There is a solid opportunity to flaunt some numbers to third-parties in order to get their games onto the service, offering some form of competition against the monolith that is Valve.
  • With the plethora of negative PR surrounding EA over The Old Republic, Dragon Age 2, Mass Effect 3, Dead Space 3, Medal of Honor, the "Doctors" leaving, and so many other things, this is an opportunity for EA to gain an upswing of positive PR. Hell, this is the same company that was voted the single worst corporation in the world...OVER BP!

The problem on the other side of this scenario, however, is precedent. Now that EA has made this decision, it means they have set in stone that they will turn the other cheek when it comes to people exploiting their system. What happens the next time that they issue a promo code that is used maliciously? If they ban people or even cause some hoopla about it, the easy response for the user is "remember when we downloaded all those free games that one time and you didn't do shit about it?". It's a slippery slope to run along.

In the end, this is what I know: I finally get to play the PC version of Dragon Age Origins and use some other games I acquired to stress test my new gaming PC a bit more. Because of this single move, I think I might buy myself a game on Origin. The hook has been set.