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My backlog... just keeps growing...that's how its supposed to work right...right?

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QOTD: 2010 Games

No way am I on the hunt for 2010 games already. Though I will be getting Mass Effect 2 when it comes out in a few weeks. Its a must! 
But I've got way too many games to play from 2010, let alone things that I haven't even picked up yet that i'd like to play. Sure Darksiders looks interesting but that will wait for a few months. Still playing through Dragon Age Origins, Borderlands, Assassin's Creed 2 and of course always playing FIFA 10.


My top 10 games I have nostalgia for

So I wanted to make another list. I thought about doing my top games of 2009, but that's too typical and boring. Then realizing I've been having nostalgia lately for the numbers one game on this list, I realized, why don't I make a list of the top ten games I have nostalgia for? As you will see, there are certain games on certain consoles that others may choose that are very much omitted from my list. Therefore I will explain my gaming progression through the years briefly. It went in this order: NES -> SNES -> N64 -> PC -> PC and Gamecube -> PC -> Xbox 360. As you can see, I have never owned a Playstation. Don't ask why, it just was never in my house. So yeah, some of you may say "BUT YOU'RE MISSING SOME GREAT GAMES" I sure I am, but this is the history that I had. So, without further a due, here we go. 
Actually, I lied. There's 11 in my list. I couldn't get it down just to 10. :-P
11. Skate or Die (NES)

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I really don't know what it was about this game that I loved so much, I was quite young at the time so maybe it was just that, but I loved and played a lot. Over and over again I remember. Mainly the half pipe in my memory, but they are some good memories. I couldn't say if it was a good game or not now that I think about it, but I enjoyed and that's all that really matters. But just look at that Electronic Arts logo on the box! Wow! Hehe...quite interesting how things progress. 
10. Cruis'n World (N64)
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While I enjoyed its predecessor, Cruis'n USA, it was this game that really hit it off for me. Man I had a great time with this game. Really loved the Cushman, the 3 wheelin' cart vehicle. Especially going through the jungle race if I remember right. And the world music in that game, I still have some of it in my head to this day when I really think about it. And plus, who can forget the pixelated babes at the beginning and end of races? I was young...that was probably the main reason I liked it. Hah. Not really... I don't think so anyway... It was great though. Definitely played this A LOT.
9. Star Fox 64 (N64)
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To do a barrel roll, press Z or R twice! One summer I probably beat this game at least 6 times. I loved how you could take different paths to get to the end of the game. (Probably why later on I would find that I am an RPG lover.) I remember it being a challenge as well as incredibly satisfying to take down the enemies. 
8. Super Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back (SNES)
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I am a huge Star Wars fan...and I loved this game! You could play with a lightsaber! I mean, how awesome was that? I did a little reading about this game before I started this list, and even if it may not have been too true to the actual movie...that doesn't matter. I remember fighting enemies and jumping from place to place while swinging my lightsaber. Those are some wonderful memories.
7. No One Lives Forever (PC)
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This game would go in a list of my top games of all time if I were to ever make one. I love this game, I still go back and play it now and then. Not every year, but maybe once every 1.5 years or so. But I played it through a couple times when it first came out. I mean, it was a shooter that was funny, and had a dialogue tree?! That's...something not even found today! Plus the atmosphere and colors are absolutely awesome. Not to mention that for the time period, the AI was actually pretty damn good, so it offered quite a challenge. I could glow about this game for a long time. Plus the multiplayer! I almost forgot! I played the multiplayer for hours at LAN parties with my friends. Man...that was some AWESOME times. God I love it so much.
6. Ken Griffey Jr Presents Major League Baseball (N64)
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Being from Seattle, Ken Griffey Jr was a hero for me growing up. This is the best baseball game ever made and I remember playing it so much. Hitting homers with Griffey all the time and having the announcers in game yelling his name. For me, at the time, that was a special moment. This game was great!
5. Donkey Kong 64 (N64)
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I loved and still love Donkey Kong. I could have easily put Donkey Kong country (for SNES) or Diddy Kong racing for the 64 on this list but I figured one DK was alright for the list. I loved this game, I remember playing and really enjoying just the character selection screen at the top. Also loved it when you had to get in the amazing mine carts and do levels in those. Man...the music in this game was wonderful too. Great memories from here.
4. Double Dragon (NES)
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I was too young at the time to play it in the Arcade. I know it is famouse for being "revolutionary" in the beat em up genre in arcades but I just loved this game and have great memories punching and beating up the guys to rescue the chick. I don't remember who she was, but I just remember doing that. The music sticks in my mind too. This game was fun.
3. Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (PC)
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This is perhaps my favorite game of all time. I still go back and play it off and on throughout the year. So maybe "nostalgia" isn't the perfect designation for it as I still do play this from time to time. But I remember getting the demo of this game on a CD (man remember those days?!) in I think 4th - 5th grade or something like that and absolutely falling in love with it when I first started giving it a try. I soon after got the full game and since then, have put so so many hours into this game I would never want to know just how many I have.
2. Balder's Gate 2 (PC)
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This was the game that made me realize how much I love RPGs. My addiction to RPGs started at this point. It also was my start of my immense love for BioWare. I love this game and there's a reason why I love Dragon Age: Origins which just game out so much as well. BG2 was and is a fabulous RPG of epic proportions. So many good memories from playing through this game numerous times but the awesomeness of my first experience through will forever be in my memories.
1. Star Wars Galaxies (PC)
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I'm a huge Star Wars fan, so it was only natural that I play the first Star Wars MMO. Though its not that old of a game compared to others on my list, it is clearly the game I have the most nostalgia for. I played from release day to right before the so called "combat upgrade" was released. I was a full Pre-CU player. To give a little perspective, I played to about the time that WoW was released. Even though I only ended up playing this game for about 1.5 years (still a lot!) it is some of the best year plus I have ever had in gaming. Sure the game had flaws, it was far from perfect but I loved it for what it was, it was Star Wars and I was a player living in that fabulous universe! I think though what makes me have so much nostalgia for the great times that I had playing Star Wars Galaxies is that the game that I played and enjoyed so much, physically doesn't exist anymore. Its a completely different game now, and therefore the nostalgia I have for my experiences in the wonderful universe will always be in memory.

2009 Stories in Games; Steps forward, and a step backward

Early this year I wrote a blog post about the story in a game. Primarily how they haven't hit the pace and focus that you see in other medium types. Also as I have stated over time in many threads, to me a story in a game is a number one factor of whether or not I am going to buy it IF it is a game that requires a decent story. Don't get me wrong, I play all the games the rest of us do with stories that are worth bullocks, but if its a game that could and does have a good story I am all over it and it wouldn't matter how the rest of the game was to me. 
That being said, I have decided to recap this year in my thoughts regarding the stories in our beloved entertainment medium. I believe there were some great strides, but also a particular set back. Now before I dive right in, I must say there a few games I have not played that may be worthwhile including in such a list but hey, we can't all play everything. Those three that fall into that category are: Infamous, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2. Also, I believe I have kept my story reviews completely spoiler free, so do not worry. I speak in a larger scope than specifics. So without further a due, I will start with the disappointment. 

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Modern Warfare 2
Before I rag on the story let me make it perfectly clear that the story works for this game. Its so action packed that the story while I believe absurd, works for pushing the game along. The problem and the reason that this is such a huge let down in game stories, is because they crafted the story for the original Modern Warfare so well. Now I know the whole "well sequels are rarely as strong as the original" in the medium of movies and while that is true I don't think it should be true for games. With Modern Warfare they built a plausible, "action movie type script" yet didn't go way overboard. The ending was you stopping nukes from going off in Russia. There's been plenty of movies, television shows and books with similar outcomes that this was acceptable, believably plausible and it was crafted into a first person shooter like no one had ever done before. With Modern Warfare 2 they went the opposite route and went for the impossibly plausible story regarding Russian ground troops invading the U.S. So instead of building upon a finely crafted story and making it more refined  they opted go in "guns blazing" and therefore failed, thus letting those of us down who truly enjoy a story in a game. Even the mission "No Russian" which was designed to be a "holy shit" mission, rough and have a huge impact on your conscience didn't have the type of an impact they were going for because you could tell not just the mission was being forced upon you but also their attempt at making it have such impact. Which to me, completely ruined it. Yes, what was being done in that mission was atrocious, disgusting, and flat out evil but if they were attempting to "move" you in that mission in such a way to make you really, really feel "it"...that they completely failed at. Modern Warfare (as a series) has turned into a blockbuster and maybe in the end that is all it comes down to and that's why it has such a problem, but if so, that's quite a shame. 
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Assassin's Creed 2
Going the opposite way of MW2, Assassin's Creed 2 improved every single way game play wise, and that most certainly includes the story. The first Assassin's Creed was a strange story that interrupted you every hour as you were warped back to modern day where the animus is that lets you go back through your families memories. While you were the totally kick ass assassin Altair, you really did not give a shit about him as a character. This is directly where Assassin's Creed 2 wins and pulls a full 180. By introducing Ezio from birth, and having a couple hours of game play starting the story as Ezio before he was an assassin, and just a normal "banker's" son who happened to be able to climb buildings really well, it makes one really care about the Ezio as a character. As a game story love, I as surprisingly very pleased by this addition. The overall story itself, has been perhaps nothing spectacular but it flows excellent with the game and the various missions you are thrown on. For stories in games, Assassin's Creed 2 takes a positive step in a good direction. Through the building of a connection to the character and the want for knowing what happens to him next all the while fitting into ebbs and flows of the action in the game, Assassin's Creed 2 has crafted a story in a game worthy of recognition in comparison to what is a sad low "norm" for story in the gaming medium.
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Dragon Age: Origins
Two things first. First I have not finished this game. I am *only* 28.5 hours in so.. I still have a ways but I feel I have done enough to comment on the writing in this game. Second, I freely admit I am a "bit" of a BioWare fan, and while I hope I do not come across as bias with my love toward the Doctors, I can't help it if it comes across a little. Those two things being said I am going to say something right away that I don't expect to say again for awhile: this is perhaps the best story telling in a game that this current generation has seen. They have not only crafted a truly epic story in scope, degree and magnitude they did so within a medium that doesn't see it. They have had much story success in the past there is no doubt, but this is truly excellent writing that tops their own list. The dialogue in this game is fabulous, believable as well as delivered very well which makes the story and writing that much more credible. They crafted characters that you can enjoy, like, want to know better (don't go dirty on me here!) and really appreciate. The stories and personalities of the characters are so good that you may like one over another purely based on your own personality. That is the case for me and I am sure I am not the only one in that regard. One nice little thing that completely stood out to me as outstanding is the random party chatter that occurs at any time you may be idle. It completely varies depending on which characters are actually in your party what will actually be said. I definitely don't want to spoil the joy of hearing these for the first time for anyone so I will just say they have made me laugh, smile and facepalm myself in a good way many time through the numerous hours I have spent. If Dragon Age has any downfall with its story, its not the actual crafting of the story itself, but rather that the epic fantasy role playing game is in comparison to other genres is rather niche. Therefore there perhaps are many people who actually do care and want a good story in a game that will never enjoy its brilliance. Which is too bad, but I understand as we all have different tastes. 
Games in 2009 have taken great steps in improving their stories and the structuring of stories within the game medium in compared to other years. While there was a setback, unfortunately it is probably an understandable one considering where the franchise is at. I look forward to what 2010 will bring as there are at least a couple already that have the potential to end up on a similar list next year. This is really not a bad time at all to be a gamer who truly cares about the story within our beloved entertainment platform.
If I have missed any, I am sorry and I know we all have different views on perhaps what this list should consist but if I haven't gotten to said game yet, I hope to do so at some point in the near future.
Thank you for reading and caring about stories in our game too!

Way too much information in a short amount of time

The week of E3 is awesome, but man is there a lot of information to keep up on. Not sure how the reporters do it! I can barely do it as a reader and I doubt I do it all that successfully.

Also, the smaller stories always seem to get lost and bogged down under the big announcements, demos and so forth. There's no way that this can really change I don't think and E3 is a good thing for the Industry, but its really too bad that smaller, still interesting stories get missed. I mean, missed by the reader that is. Overlooked and rather skipped over for the big things.


In some respect probably

Yeah at some point it probably will be in one form or another. Either it will be released now in whatever current form it is in, and maybe pushed to the community to finish it. Or it will be picked up by someone and finished with the "true heart of duke" in its resemblance.

Perhaps it could also be released as a game without Duke, but a Duke like character.

No matter what it is, I think we will see something eventually regarding it. And in our hands to be able to play it.


No, the sale of used games is not really a problem

I prefer to buy new games. And most of the time I do. Though sadly as a college student, I don't have the funds to continue to buy new games without turning over the ones I do not plan to play anymore. I would much rather just create a collection of games but at the $60 price point I just can't do that. With the knowledge that I can buy a new game at $60 and two months later turn around and sell it for $40 or perhaps more, it is really helpful.

I rarely sell to GameStop, I only do if I can take advantage of their various trade-in % bonuses that they have from time to time. Then sometimes I will trade in to them, or if its a really old game that isn't even worth attempting to sell online. Most of the time I use Amazon, but I don't think GameStop is the devil as some people say. I think it does help a lot of people.

I think that if used games were not sold, the amount of new copies sold would actually decrease. It certainly wouldn't increase in my opinion anyway.


Because lists are in; My top 30 Movies

Since lists seem to be all the rage, especially in the last couple days I decided I would jump on the bandwagon with a list. So here is my Top 30 Movies list.

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30. Serenity
An unusual choice I realize, however when I saw this movie I had no idea what it was or where it came from. So I assumed it was just another Sci-Fi flop. I very pleasantly surprised and this is a very well done movie and for that reason, I included it.

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29. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
When I first made this list, I thought this would would be higher on my list. It is for sure an incredible movie and a rarity where the third in a Trilogy is the best (though they were all magnificent) the Return of the King is worthy in any best movies list.

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28. The Dark Knight
I wouldn't be shocked if people argue that this should be higher on the list. It is a tremendous movie no doubt, and the performance by Heath Ledger is legendary.

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27. Million Dollar Baby
This is a tough movie to watch with an ending that is memorable, uplifting and incredibly sad. Clint Eastwood I would argue has only gotten better with age. He is a master in front of and behind the camera.

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26. Das Boot
A great Submarine movie that I hope a lot of people reading this post have seen yet wouldn't be surprised if they have not. So if you have not seen this flick, you need to do so as soon as you can.

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25. The Bourne Ultimatum
An example of pure excellence in action movies. The entire Bourne trilogy is incredible but this one hit heights the other two didn't come close to. I would admit that it is probably best you see the other two (or read the books!) before seeing this one, but this one gives you tremendous action scenes while blending in the rest of the story and wrapping it up nicely.

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24. Swordfish
With a cast like this (Halle Berry, John Travolta, Hugh Jackman and Don Cheadle) what could possibly go wrong?

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23. Blood Diamond
Leondardo DiCaprio has become an incredible actor in my book. This can be a very brutal movie as it focuses on the diamond trade in Africa, but if you can stomach such a thing, this is a movie that is so worth your time. Not to mention that Djimon Hounsou plays yet another incredible supporting actor role.

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22. Pearl Harbor
The event that sent America in World War II, this movie retells that horrific day in brutal detail. It is a movie of great loss and sadness, yet at the same time, tremendous courage. It is a wonderful movie that should always be remembered.

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21. To Kill a Mockingbird
Though I would say the book is probably even better, this movie is something that no one should miss. Ever. Its important in so many ways.

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20. Pursuit of Happiness
Will Smith has gone from rapper, to Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, to action movie star and now to incredible performances in outstanding movies of struggle and perserverance. This movie is moving, and I think it is very worthy of a spot on a "Top Movie" list.

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19. Braveheart
Braveheart is a movie that is telling. It is brutal but it is something that everyone needs to see. A story that can't go unseen, this is just a wonderful movie.

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18. Chicago
I am not usually into musicals, but Chicago just caught be off-guard. This is a great film that may be one of those that you think you wont like yet you will walk away in awe and in realization that you love it.

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17. Caddyshack
Comedy at its finest. Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray round out this fun, amazing film. In my opinion, most comedy movies today are just plain stupid. Caddyshack however was made before the time of the ridiculous comedy we see today and is an absolute masterpiece. It never stops till the credits roll, and by then you are probably in pain from laughter.

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16. L.A. Confidential
A "who done it" that is plot-twisting and very, very engaging. Yet another movie with an incredible cast; Kevin Spacey, Russel Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Danny DeVito are just a few.

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15. Lawrence of Arabia
The story of T.E. Lawrence is a very long movie, but worth every minute. I would hope that at some point in your life, that everyone reading this post would see this movie.

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14. Wall-E
Pixar is an incredible production company, and I would have to say that not one of their films really dissapoints. Though I would argue that Wall-E may just be their pinnacle of success. This movie was charming, beautiful looking and carried a much deeper message than anything they have done before. It is meaningful to today and will be forever to come. Though Pixar will gone on for much time to come, I don't know if they will ever hit the magnitude that they did with this incredible animated film.

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13. It's a Wonderful Life
A story of love, loss, and perseverance. This film delights every time one watches it and should be in everyone's library. It carries with it a message that will always be relevant and meaningful.

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12. 2001: A Space Odyssey
If you do not know what I mean by "Monolith" then you are missing one of the greatest movies ever made.

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11. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The best western ever made. Clint Eastwood at his best in western films, this is one that should not be overlooked. Its fun, its gritty and most of all, it includes the good, the bad and the ugly!

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10. Casablanca
As the tagline on IMDb says"They had a date with fate in Casablanca!" This is a great movie that can't be missed and is very enjoyable.

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9. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back built on the greatness that the first film created. It was the height of the Star Wars films. George Lucas had more money to work with and hadn't lost the greatness that was in his mind at the time yet. He created a Star Wars film with loss, darkness, frightening revelations and hope all the while keeping it lighthearted.

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8. Schindler's List
Hard to watch, hard to talk about, in the end this is one that should not be missed by any single person. The horrors that Jews faced during the World War II and Nazi Germany were all too real and this film is one about that time period that really, must not be missed.

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7. Apocalypse Now
The best movie about Vietnam is much different than one would expect. This movie can be disturbing, graphic and is very telling on how man could truly lose his mind in more than one way. A movie that needs to be seen no matter whether or not you can stomach it.

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6. Citizen Kane
A movie made for its relevancy, which is still relevant today. Orson Welles made a masterpiece that was revolutionary for its time. Yet it still holds up today as one of the greatest movies. I know some tend to shy away from old movies, but this is an example of how grave of mistake that can be.

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5. The Last King of Scotland
This movie can get incredibly brutal, yet tells the story of the Ugandan dictator in a way that makes this such an incredible movie. I would suggest it to everyone, but it does get really graphic at times and realize not everyone can stomach such things. If you can though, this film is just plain outstanding.

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4. Blade Runner
Blade Runner in my opinion is the best example of Science Fiction portrayed on film. Its different, its gritty, its magnificent. Harrison Ford is a great actor, yet I think this is his best performance. This really is Sci-Fi at its best and is so worth every second of your time.

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3. The Godfather
Up there on most every "Top Movies List" The Godfather really is that good. If you haven't seen this incredible film with Marlon Brando I don't know what you are smoking. This is leaps and bounds above every other single crime syndicate movie ever created. Hell, this movie created the genre in many ways.

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2. The Usual Suspects
Perhaps an unusual choice, the Usual Suspects is a movie of amazing twists, turns and realizations. Kevin Spacey makes this movie a masterpiece. This is not your typical movie and although it may be one of those movies that is truly its greatest only the first time you see it, it is an absolutely amazing first time viewing and you sure to notice things you didn't on the many multiple watches afterward.

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1. Gladiator
First of all I realize that this film is not as revolutionary or moving as many of the ones I have put leading up to it. Gladiator however, is a truly epic film. In both the scope of the movie itself and the story that it presents. Russel Crowe puts on one of his best performances that cemented him in my mind as one of the best actors of our modern times. This film is an marvelous example of rising and falling, courage, hope, love, pain, and most of all loss. Though I know many will disagree with me that this is the best movie, and perhaps it is not, but there is no doubt that it is an incredible example of superb film making. I enjoyed this film so much on so many levels, it is the only one that throughout the entire making of this list I knew precisely where I was putting it.


Story; a key to good game development

Stories have the chance to up a games level of quality quite well. Yet many developers overlook it quite easily or if they get it right, they get other aspects of the game wrong thus making the greatly crafted story something many people gloss over. When thinking of our current gen games with great stories there are six that come right to mind. The problem however, all but one have drawbacks and thus their stories have been disappointingly overlooked by many.

Lost Odyssey - A truly epic adventure story. Engaging and catchy dialogue present themselves in this game literature gem. The addition of short "Dream" stories are a very exciting factor for any game story lover's dreams. The problem, specifically with these dream stories is that they are written text you must read on your screen. Not really the interactive feel that a video game should be portraying. As far as the actual game, it is a tradition JRPG for the most part, which turns many people off. Thus missing many people who may care about a good gripping story.

Mass Effect - A space-opera with an excellent story. Its intriguing, inspires wonder and adventure as well as engulfing you with in-game "movie-like" presentation of the dialogue scenes. As far as stories go, BioWare (no shock here really) crafted a masterpiece. Yet technical flaws weigh it down. Texture popping, lack of auto-saves, horrible vehicle controls, and 10 second elevator rides in your own ship certainly are not appealing. These drawbacks turned back many people who were on the fence. They may love a great story but don't want to go through technical hiccups, which is a recognizable argument.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - This was a game that could have reinvigerated Star Wars games. It had such potential, and the writing certainly paid off. It offers a Star Wars story that is worthy of being an actual Star Wars story. It however was plauged with dissapointing gameplay and combat choices. What should have been a Star Wars game that everyone got engrossed into the story, was instead overlooked and nailed as a dissapointment.

Fallout 3 - An incredible game in many ways, the main story is a sinker. But the writing and story throughout the missions, thus being the "short stories" was very well done. A type of humor that may not be for everyone, the writing was at least well done and one can recognize that. But by being plauged by a main quest that goes down, and other gameplay issues such as not being able to continue in the world after you have completed the game, plague what could have been a great outlet for a great story in a well done universe.

Grand Theft Auto IV - For the first half of this very well done game, you think they have gotten the story right. Its engaging, gripping and gritty. What someone would call in a book review as a "page turner." This unfortuneatley doesn't hold up through the entire experience and is an example of another sinker. They crafted an incredible world, and did write a decent story in the end, but when the first half is just SO much better than the second half.. its a story that just can't hold up. The potential was there, but yet again problems persist and the story is missed and/or deteriorated.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Perhaps the one example of a game in the current generation that just got it right. The story is compelling and very well done. InfinityWard wrote a story that you really end up actually caring about the characters, and coming from a first person shooter that really is saying a lot. There are heart wrenching moments, moments of anger, as well as feelings of "awesomeness" that were conveyed during the gameplay that could not have been done if the story was not in place how it was. Arguably one of the best shooters of the current generation, the story here is inredible. Because it is a piece in an overall very well done puzzle, it reached the audiences that a good story in a game really should. Unlike the others who wrote a good story yet didn't match up in other areas, Modern Warfare proved that a good story is a crucial component in making a good game.

So what is attempting to be said here? Story is an aspect that many people overlook. Many would say perhaps that it is because "many people just do not care about the story in a video game." This couldn't be farther the truth. Everyone likes an engaging story (perhaps not every type of story, but a good story nonetheless) and what is failing to be done is to put a great story into the medium of video games in a way that would be accessible for all those who play games. A great story can't necessarily make or break a game. As there are examples of very popular games that do not have a good story. On the flip side, there are the games that have a story worthy of recognition that are not well done on the other fronts, and thus are bad games. So even though a great story is not the end all be all, it is the key in making a game just that much better. Therefore stories in games need to improve to really hit that level of greatness that we all want our games to hit.


There be a blog here?!

I didn't realize there was a blog system here. Man, day to day this site just gets better and better.

Anyway... I spent quite a bit of time over at 1UP, more as a lurker but really enjoyed the productions that they put out over there. With the loss of people such as Shane and the 1UP Yours and 1UP Show being gone... I've really no desire to go there anymore. Its a bad week for games journalism, yet again at the start of the new year. I am hoping that those directly affected, can find some peace and solace soon. Preferably a new job... but in the state of the world as it is, who knows when that will come. They deserve it to be really soon though.

Well, this blog system is pretty neat. Really liking Giantbomb so far. I would not be surprised if there is a large influx of people now, which is good (I think). So my wishes go out to those at 1UP, may the force be with you!