Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Community: Gaming Edition

No! Not THAT Community!

In this day and age of online gaming we have begun to see gamers build a sense of community online.  From Halo to COD, Warcraft, gamers are meeting total strangers from all walks of life and building friendships just from playing together.  Groups of people create guilds and/or clans, or just get on around the same time and shoot the shit.  So the misconception that gamers are loners or hermits gets thrown out the window.  Yes, they in their day to day lives some gamers might just be anitsocial or keep to themselves, but when day ends and they come home to the recesses of their rooms or man caves or what have you, they have a group of friends awaiting them online.

But what is it that drives this sense of community?  Why is it that some games have this great sense of community, whether competitive or just good ole comradery, and some just fall short?  Well for me to answer this question I should define, or give my personal opinion, on what makes a good community.

1) A GREAT GAME - Kind of an ubaduh, but needs to be said nonetheless.  How could you ever have any community if your game is absolute trash. Bad games seem to have the worse communities, if any at all.  How could there be a common bond if we just don't like playing the game.  If it is trash you still will have a community on your hands.  There will be a common bond: an online community who will dog your game in various message boards, reviewers, people with pitchforks and torches, etc.

Bring us the heads of Lucy Bradshaw and everyone else at MAXIS!!!!!!!

2) PLAYERS - When I say players, they can fall into several categories.  The casuals, the hardcore, the MLG's (yes I have to have a category for MLG itself because they're just a whole 'nother level so I'm not even gonna get started on that one).  Point being, these specific types of players will gravitate towards others like themselves; sort of like a high school cafeteria (jocks, nerds, band members, etc.).  Sure you have the gamers who will get online by themselves just to play, but the majority of people are in parties (well....... on Xbox, yeah; PS3 they'll just find each other).  If a game ever gets critical acclaim, the people they thank first, 8 out of 10 times, are the fans, the gamers.  The gamers make or break a game, period.
3) WHY ARE WE HERE? - When you get online there's a reason that you and your friends are doing the same exact thing, besides the fact that you might be similar, personality-wise.  You all probably have something already in mind going in.  "You feel like doin some CTF or some regicide?", "wanna do this raid with us?", "Super GT's at Fuji?"   Sure, sometimes we just like to fool around online and do some random playlists, but the majority of community gamers stick to their guns when it comes to playing online.  For example, MsHeartAttack plays nothing but Search and Destroy on COD; nothing else.  Its not a bad thing, she just knows what she likes, and while doing that makes new friends as well (plus the fact that she's a youtube celebrity doesn't hurt, but still makes friends, regardless).  When I play GT5, I spend the majority of time on Nürburgring, not because I'm not good at any other tracks (You should see me at Cape Ring and La Sarthe!), but I just love it; its the most difficult track and I wanna continue to push myself at that track.  For the games we love, and we do love the whole game, there are some specific gametypes that we just tend to stick to.  We'll venture out every now and then, but we all know why we're gettin on in the first place.

That's it.  To me, these are the things that make a great community in gaming.  And just from this criteria we have a lot of games with great communities.  Halo?  In FPS's the Halo franchise has defined the community; has been the template, in my opinion, of how to create a great FPS community.  Look what has come out of it.  Forge, Red vs. Blue and many other Machinimas, thousands of clans, the list goes on.  COD?  That one's a little tricky.  If this was strictly a numbers game then COD would have a better community just out of the sheer number of people that get on.  And COD has got the same things going that Halo does as well.  But, to be honest, Halo is a bit more relaxed, an everyman's game.  I can go in by myself or in a team and not worry about anything.  But with COD there's more dedication, not to say that Halo doesn't have dedicated players, but with COD there's just a lot more of them.  That's their main community; the hardcore/MLG (do you even MLG?).  I feel like if I sucked ass in a game of Kill Confirmed my 12 year old teammate would be telling me how bad my K/D is.  Community, yes, just not my kind.

See these kids?  They just got a K-9 Unit and a VTOL Warship and are kicking your adult asses.

I'm a racer, so naturally Gran Turismo 5 is my game (as I have stated and will continue to state).  But Gran Turismo, a little too often, gets compared to the Forza franchise.  Forza 4 was the better game in the year those two came out (and this is coming from a GT fanboy).  But all in all, Gran Turismo still has the better community.  Why?  Simple.  Gran Turismo is a driving simulator, and with every incarnation one thing has remained the same.  Gran Turismo actually teaches you how to drive.  They give you tools and techniques to tackle any race.  I felt proud knowing that I got gold on every single license test so that when I do go online I won't be a complete noob wrecking everyone on my way to 1st place.  While Forza, visually is the better looking of the two, and has many customization options, it just puts you in races.  Yes there's a driving line you can use as a guide but nothing else.  Its not going to break down the Nürburgring into sections and coach you into tackling the Green Hell.  Its just gonna stick you in a race and say good luck.  So when I did go into online lobbies in Forza, all I got where a bunch of people who'd wreck each other without a sorry or anything.  The GT community is a serious yet relaxed one.  We take our shiz seriously, but we also have fun and keep the gentlemanly spirit of racing.  That's not saying that GT doesn't have its fair share of douches.  Every game does.  But the majority of us are serious racers.  Hell, we have a site dedicated to our glorious franchise were we can talk cars, share tunes, organize races and series, etc.: (Shoutout to Jordan Greer, the owner.  A great man who gave GT fans a virtual home away from virtual home.)


If you're an online gamer you have a friends list.  The reason you built that friends list is because you play the same game with someone else in the same lobby.  If it was an even better experience you added a bunch of friends.  Congratulations!  You have your own community amongst the game's community.  Its that damn easy.  For a lot of us we have different perspectives as to what makes a great community.  My friend Ash says a great gaming community is made of "passionate and enthusiastic gamers that are always willing to help and offer a hand to their fellow gamers. As long they are mature (to some degree), open and non biased (I hate fanboys) I'm happy"  And I agree, (maybe not the fanboy part, because until Kazunori Yamauchi makes a terrible GT, I'm gonna be drinkin his Kool-Aid lol)  But I also believe that it's a healthy balance.  The games make the community, and the community makes the games.  Without one there is no equilibrium.  I have met a lot of great friends thanks to Xbox Live and PSN and will continue to do so as long as I have great games to share.  So venture on gamers, and build our communities up, not down (you f*#*ing trollers).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Will the real Gamer Girls please stand up.....

(For those who have been living under a rock (top left to right ): Naomi Kyle, Jessica Chobot, Morgan Webb, Tara Long, and Lisa Foiles)

 These lovely ladies pictured above? Like it or not, these are the first ladies of gaming. Are they hot? Uh... am I black? (The answer is yes by the way...if you haven't seen my picture). Well known? If you DON'T know them, you either don't view the gaming media outlets or have been living under a rock, or a combination of the two. But here's the million dollar issue that always seems to come into question with these lovely young ladies: ARE THEY TRUE GAMERS?

Every time I hear this issue come up I kinda cringe because its really a non-issue to me. Let me start of by giving my answer to that million dollar question. Yes, I believe they are, in fact, gamers, or girl gamers as some us call them (I honestly hate that term and I will tell you why in a minute). I understand that some of the "real" (as they like to call themselves) gamers have a bit of flame on this subject and will say 'they're not real gamers! They're just a set of tits reading the news!' or 'they don't know what they're talking about!' Believe me I've heard it all. But level with me here flamers, what right do you have to determine whether ANYONE is die hard or faking. Hell, you might be a poser yourself. A lot of gamers, majority male, some female, go into this whole rant of "do you even game?" with other gamers but I find that these ladies get the majority of it because they're at the forefront. So I'll speak on them first and then female gamers in general.

Yes, it may seem like they're just reading and don't have opinion of their own, but they do have an opinion. See there's this nifty thing we have in society called "The News." And when you watch the news, the reporters are reading from a prompter. Reading facts, things that have actually happened. Well guess what chicken butt? This is the gaming news and these ladies are doin the exact same thing! <GASP!!!> AND THEY'RE EVEN THROWIN IN THEIR .75 CENTS! <BIGGER GASP!!!!> Second thing, (and this is key because this applies to all gamers male, female, popular, etc.) unless you have worked with them in the past, go to dinner with them every now and then, have them on speed dial or what have you, YOU DON'T TRULY KNOW THEM!!!!!!!!! They have a job to do so they have to talk about things either you don't care about or they don't care about. More often than not they are reading reviews written by other editors, or just reading what's going on in the gaming world. But know that they do have an opinion, just like everyone else. But when the lights go off at the IGN office Naomi could go home and get straight on Warcraft all night. Lisa could probably kick your ass at Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Morgan has said "Skyrim is a way of life." Jessica probably kicks Blair's ass on a nightly basis in ANYTHING! But we're not there, so we don't know, so we can't judge, and even if we could its not our place!

Then there's this whole "gamer girl/girl gamer/whatever the hell people are calling female gamers these days" thing. Last time I checked a gamer is a gamer regardless of genitalia. Yes, the majority of gamers online and off are guys, and because of this many people believe.......

But its not. It's just a thing. Period. If I meet a girl on Gran Turismo 5 (my fave PS title by the by) I'm not impressed by the fact that she has tits and a vagina, I'm impressed that she just dusted me on Nurburgring in an underpowered car. Or I would be impressed that she's a good regicide player in Halo 4. I'm not saying all female gamers are in just for the game, there are indeed some who do it for the attention; the fame and the following so to speak. Some just get that following just because they are hot, or they are female. Some really don't ask for it. Weren't even trying that hard that hard to get it. It just happened. So because of the ones who do it for the attention, a lot of other gamers, male and female, have their guards up in terms of who's real and who's fake. Again, not my place to judge. If you do it for the attention, that's fine. I personally could care less. We all have our individual reasons for gaming. So why should someone else's reason affect the way you look at them. Our reasons for gaming are just like our brains, everyone has them, but no two are the exact same.

What happened to the days when you played with someone or liked someone because you have common ground or because of, I dunno, SKILL? 'Hey I see you play <insert game here>, too. Let's be friends!' 'Wow, that was a great race, let's do another one and maybe you can help me with my tune.' What the hell happened to that? Now it's turned into 'do you even game?' and those 5 lovely ladies pictured at the top are taking all the flame. And for what? Because they happen to be hot as hell, and that's enough cause for doubt? They didn't ask or beg for the attention, they just got it, hell, earned it. So why hate or doubt them? Or any gamer for that matter? You don't have the right! You're not gaming Jesus or gaming Obama. So take a page from gaming MLK's dream and live in a world where gamers of all races, creeds, genders, sexualities can all go online, join hands, and sing in the words of that proud gaming spiritual "Kicked yo ass! Kicked yo ass! Good God Almighty we kicked yo ass!"

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Soudtracks of Our Gaming Lives

Music is one of the most powerful forms of media in the world.  It can brighten your day, make you get up and dance, make you depressed, make you hate men, hell, even make you cry.  In movies, music can, in most cases, convey the emotion behind a certain scene.  Nowadays, music, if good or in some cases terrible, can become viral.  Everybody wants to listen to it or watch the video just because of word of mouth.  But what about in video games?  For gamers, music can have about as much impact as the story or actual gameplay in a game.

For the current generation many gamers have a lot of go-to's when it comes to their favorite songs or OST's. From Never Forget from Halo, the opening music to Skyrim, the Mass Effect 3 them, to more old school like Green Hill Zone from Sonic, the theme from any Zelda game, the Duke Nukem theme, to good ole' Mario; good video game music can have a lifelong impact and span generations. 

I was chatting with a few friends over Xbox live (shoutout to Ash and Joe; thanks for your faves) about some of our favorite music from video games (both song and favorite OST).  Some I've never even heard of or played, some were favorites that everyone can agree with. So for this post I've decided to give a small list of video game music (recommended to me, some all time faves of everyone and my own personal favorites. 

Halo Reborn - Halo 3, Marty O'Donnel

If there is one thing any gamer can agree on, Halo fan or not, its that Marty O'Donnel is a musical genius.  Pick any game from the Halo trilogy, then pick any song from said game and you know that you are getting greatness.  While the Halo 4 soundtrack was great in itself, fans always go to back to the original trilogy for Marty's flawless score.  So from Halo 3 we get Halo Reborn courtesy of Ash.

Simple Sight - Castle Crashers, RealFaction

I personally have never played Castle Crashers, but from what I read and see online its a great multiplayer game that's worth a look.  But I was made aware of this track by my friend Joe. And for a boss fight track, and for me not ever playing the game, I was definitely intrigued by the solid guitar work.

Encounter - Metal Gear Solid, KCE Sound Team Japan

Snake? SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!!  Fans of the Metal Gear Solid franchise who weren't that good at sneaking know this track all to well.  When that exclamation mark pops up from an enemy soldiers head, the alarms sound off, and this track came on you knew it was time to get in a corner and hide in a box.  Classic.

Leaving Earth - Mass Effect 3, Clint Mansell
When you saw the little boy get on a ship only to have said ship get shot down less than 30 seconds later, you wanted to shed a tear then go off and rip the reapers a new one.  Clint Mansell does a great job of giving one of the most epic moments in the franchise a sound.  Damn reapers.

Evil Destroyer - Thunder Force IV, Toshiharu Yamanishi, Takeshi  Yoshida, Tomomi Ootani

The Sega Genesis had its limits.  You had to impress consumers (and the Nintendo fanboys) with a good gameplay, graphics (for its time), and good music all on a 16-bit cartridge.  Thunder Force IV was one of the first sidescrolling shooters I had ever played and I fell in love with it.  Was ridiculously difficult, stages visually outsanding, but what made me rent this game SEVERAL times was this track, and its only boss numero uno.  Believe me it gets better.  If you get the chance look up the track Metal Squad from this very same game.  Friggin awesome.

Ageha - Shinobi(PS2), Wave Master

I was always in love with Shinobi.  From early Sega Genesis and Game Gear Entries to its brief stint on the PS2, the Shinobi franchise has always had a cult following.  But the one thing that all games had in common was that they all had some damn good tracks.  This one is no exception, and my favorite from the franchise.  Having to do battle with one of your childhood ninja friends, Ageha's track was a good one to fight to, even though it left me sorta sad when it ended (the song and the fight, for obvious reasons).

Intro (SOR Super Mix) - Streets of Rage 2, Yuzo Koshiro

Beat em' ups where everywhere in the early 90's.  Final Fight was indeed my, and most other gamers, favorite in the genre.  But the Streets of Rage franchise was indeed a very close 2nd.  You and a friend getting together on a weekend sleepover and beating up everyone who came your way on the road to Mr. X.  Yuzo Koshiro was known for some of the greatest music from Sega's lineup but this was one of the alltime greats.  And this is just an intro! (and final stage!)

Shenmue Main Theme - Shenmue, Jia Peng Feng, Toshiyuki Watanabe, Yuzo Koshiro

Sega is coming up a lot in this list huh?  Well that comes to show how seriously good the music from the Sega era was.  Shenmue was my pick as the Dreamcast's best game.  The story of a young man losing his father and undertaking a journey to find his killer, this game had everything; rpg elements, fighting, kung fu, mini games!  Once I played through the game I implored my dad to get me this soundtrack.  You know a game's music is damn good when you want the soundtrack.  And for this one I'm also including the orchestral version but its just as good.  Job well done.

Oda's Army Attacks~ Opening - Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny, Taro Iwasho
Samurai are awesome.  Ever since watching the Seven Samurai, reading the Tale of Genji, Taiko, and other Japanese historical novels my interest was piqued to say the least.  So Onimusha comes out, and I loved it.  Onimusha 2 is released a few years later and I pop in the disc only to be treated to this gem.  A combination of orchestra and Japanese feel this track made me ready to go fight a war.  Now that I hear this track again, I wanna play Total War Shogun.  Hmm.....

Mr. Adam - Armored Core 4, Kota Hoshino

Daddy loves the giant robots.  The Armored Core franchise was indeed one of my favorites, and the soundtracks were great (I've bought 3 of them so far so that should tell you something.)  But when I got Armored Core 4 and this was playing during a mission my hype level went over 9000.  I was blowing up everything; I was that damn hype.  Silent Line, Monkey Likes Daddy, and In My Heart were some of the franchises best tracks, but after hearing this I was hooked.  Damn you Kota Hoshino.

For this last one I need to give you a bit of imagery because this is my all time fave.  I would tell you to close your eyes but you wouldn't be able to read.  Picture this: you're on a Hawaiian beach at dusk; the horizon is pinkish orange and the only noise in the background you hear are the waves crashing against the sand.  2nd picture:you're playing this awesome driving game and you're against the clock.  You get to the end only to have the clock run out as you're inches away from the finish line.  Immediately you are greeted by this.....

 Last Wave - Outrun,  Hiroshi Kawaguchi

Losing doesn't sound so bad after hearing this does it?  The Outrun franchise soundtracks are indeed my favorite of all time, not because there are so many, but because of the quality.  Magical Sound Shower, Splash Wave, and Passing Breeze are daily plays on my mp3 player.  But hearing the soft sounds of Last Wave just relaxes me in any situation.  I can just imagine myself on a beach with a beer listening to this song every twilight of my life until I die.  Its that damn good. In 1990 when SST had a live concert they did another version of this song which is just as amazing, so I included it as the final song as well.  And its a good one to sign off to (if I ever start podcasting, this is gonna be the sign off song!).  Until next time gamers.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Ain't Scared of You Mutha F#@$as!!!!

Off the heels of the Dead Space 3 release, I decided to dedicate this post to survival horror and its evolution, or de-evolution.  As a gamer growing up, survival horror games interested me greatly.  The jolt of fear knowing something was coming after you, you had low ammo (Or none! Hell, sometimes you didn't even have a weapon or could fight back!) was exhilarating.  I actually loved getting the shit scared out of me!  But with survival horror games today, you just don't get that same emotion, that same fear that gave you nightmares growing up.  Games and developers have gone the way of the Hollywood action movies; taking away the fear and replacing it with action, quick time sequences, and other elements that don't make these games, well.....scary

My first experience with survival horror was a game called Clock Tower: The First Fear for the SNES.  From the gate I didn't know what the hell I was in for from the cover, but curious as I was I dove head first.  You play as an orphaned teenage girl who, along with 3 other girls, were adopted by a woman named Mary.  When you get to Mary's mansion these girls think they're gonna have it made, which is so far from the truth.  You start to explore alone when, all of a sudden, you hear a scream.  You backtrack to the main hall to see that everyone has disappeared.  So begins the fear; you're all alone in a big mansion, don't know where to go, don't even know the layout of the mansion, and who or what is in it, besides Mary.  Upon a little exploration you stumble upon a bathroom with water running thinking someone is in there.  You pull back the shower curtains to find a gruesome site: one of your friends, has been killed (eviscerated to be exact).  And right in that moment a small, deadly figure jumps out of the water with a giant pair of scissors (sounds foolish, but as a youngin this scared the living daylights out of me).  You must run.  By trial and error you realize that you cannot fight back at all (no weapons, no punches, nothing); you are forced to run and hide from this killer.  What gets worse is that you have no clue when he will pop up.  This was my first foray into survival horror and I was terrified but excited at the same time.  There was a feeling of helplessness that I never got from any video game.  I won't ruin how the game ends or the story, but I implore you to give this one a try (by emulator or watching on youtube).  After playing this I wanted more.  More scares, more fear, I was hooked.

Fast forward years later and I'm introduced to the Resident Evil franchise.  Resident Evil one didn't invoke that same helplessness; you had guns and weapons, so  you're kind of a badass right?  Wrong.  There's shit in the mansion that you couldn't even fathom.  Zombies, zombified animals, giant snakes,!   With ammo and health supplies scarce you were forced to rely on your fight or flight instincts (flight being the most used in my case). RE2 was released a few years later and had the same gameplay and jump scares I saw in RE1;  I was already sensitized to it.  But a few years later I get my hands on RE3: Nemesis, and boy, I was brought back to my Clock Tower days.  Nemesis chased followed you nearly the whole damn game.  Gone was the safety of doors.  You go in one room,  walk or run a certain distance only to hear the door open with words "STAAAAARRRRRSS!!!" following.  This made me close doors at night; I was shaken, to say the least.  But this wouldn't be the last time I had a game impact me that much.

In the early 2000's I had gotten my hands on a game called Silent Hill 2.  I did not play the first, but I heard great things about it through forums online; and man were they right.  From the environments (the endless fog, the decrepit buildings), to the sounds (a radio signaling that enemies are close), to the enemies themselves (mutilated nurses, animals, PYRAMID HEAD!); this game did what Resident Evil and Clock Tower could not do, scare me psychologically.  I was playing the majority of this game on a weekday during summer.  It was cloudy outside with hints of fog (picturesque Silent Hill).  I hadn't seen or heard a car since my dad left early that morning.  Time goes by and evening comes.  All of a sudden the power goes out in my house and I'm not able to find a flashlight anywhere in my house.  After playing Silent Hill 2 for a whole day, I took my happy ass out on the porch and remained there, where it was dark outside as well, until the lights came back on.  Needless to say, this game had left an imprint on me like never before.  So naturally when Silent Hill 3 came out I was on it immediately.  Only this time, it was far worse.  I was so scared of Silent Hill 3 that when I had gotten to a certain scary part (footprints of blood coming from a random mirror) I immediately yanked the controller out of my PS2, ejected the game, took it to a local Gamestop and said "I can't do it" and traded it for something else.  Never in my life has a game made me its bitch like that.  The worst part of it, I was minutes from the end of the came (which I found out a few years later).  These are the games that shaped my view of how survival horror games should be.

As of recent, there haven't been any games to invoke that fear in me.  RE4 came close, but no cigar; and don't even get me started on RE5!  How can you feel any fear when you have a partner (cpu or human) right there with you in the thick of it.  I played the demo of RE6 and was deeply disappointed.  "This isn't a game!" I thought, "this is a fuckin movie!"  I was not amused, or scared in the slightest.  I played F.E.A.R. a few years back and felt nothing.  As Ashly Burch from Hey Ash Whatcha Playing said, "you can't be terrified when you're a fucking, walking death machine."

As I said before Dead Space 3 is out right now.  And from reviews I've seen its managed to keep its core survival horror gameplay along with a co-op experience, but that is TBD (by me).  But the take home point in this post, ladies and gentlemen, is that survival horror games once were something amazing.  Being able to invoke fear (physically and psychologically) was something that was never done in this form of media.  Nowadays, developers are looking to cash in on a quick buck by going the way of Hollywood action movie, thinking that gamers would accept that as a replacement of fear; which has been so far from the case.  A core group of games have kept the true spirit of survival horror, and most of them have been indie games (Amnesia, Penumbra, and a lot of Half Life mods).  My message to developers: ditch the action and bring back the fear, PLEASE.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Choice is Yours

Life is littered with billions of choices; millions that we make on a daily basis.  Should I get McDonald's or Bojangles for breakfast?  Should I take the highway or go downtown to get to work?  Do I go out tonight or stay at home?  Should I get gas or wait a little while.  Some of these decisions are minimal in nature, but lets take it to another level.  Two missiles are heading for two completely different locations.  One is a military base, with people and assets that could give you an edge in the war.  The other is a residential compound filled with thousands of people just living their lives.  The issue: you only have one kill switch meaning you can only stop one missile.  Either way, people are going to die.  Choose which missile you want to stop.  Oh, and by the by, you now only have 30 seconds to make this decision. Go.

Shit just got real o'clock didn't it?  Well that's what games are doing in this day and age, giving you actual moral dilemmas. Gone are the days where you just play to get to the end and save the princess.  Now there are decision thrown into the mix, and in some cases a time limit along with those decisions.  And I think games are better for it. 

In my last post I discussed how non-linear player guided quests in games have become better for games.  Well this sort of branches off this point.  In games today, not only are we given the quest to go fight this, or save that, or obtain this, but we now have real life decisions to make along the way to the greatness (or failure in some cases).  In the 90's, we as gamers were first introduced to the "bad ending."  If you didn't get a certain item, didn't save a certain person (in a limited time in some cases), or complete a certain task in the game you would get to the final boss, beat him or her, and feel great about yourself only to be greeted by bad news that things did not turn out as well as you thought.  Yes, you did all that work to have things still go to hell.  The first time I experienced this was Streets of Rage 3 for Sega Genesis.  The classic beat em' up had a midpoint where you had to save the mayor and fight through hordes of enemies just to get to him.  And all in this stage you had a minute to do so (entering rooms would stop time briefly, but once you got back out to the main stage the countdown resumed).  Needless to say, I got to the mayor two seconds too late and he died.  The game must go on right?  Well, yes and no.  I get to "final stage" to stop someone impersonating the mayor and beat him, only to get an ending with the words "The End?"  Question mark.  Meaning there was a possibility of a better endgame.  I felt like shit knowing that I worked so hard to still get a fucked up ending. 

Today, games are a little more unforgiving.  Heavy Rain, for example (yep, I'm about to go there, so if you haven't played it and wanna avoid spoilers just skip to the end).  Your son is kidnapped by the Origami Killer and you are put through hell and a half just to get him back.  One event asks if you are prepared to suffer to save your son and then gives you 5 minutes to cut off one of your fingers.  At this point I immediately pause the game and drop the controller only to say ""  Now I have to think how I would do this, hell, IF I'm gonna do it!  So I have to bring it to the real world now.  If I did have a son, would I do anything to save him?  Hells yeah (he just better not ask for anything this Christmas because he's getting a finger to wear around his neck. KIDDING!)  So I commence to preparing this guy to do the unthinkable, and when its done turn away while hearing this guy writhe in agony.  After that I was in shock for awhile (didn't touch the game for a week), then came back and beat the game, only to find out something just as disturbing but I'll save that for you, the reader, to find out (or just look up on youtube, wikipedia, or whatever.)

Another example of this is a game called Catherine, a puzzler/dating sim.  You are Vincent, a computer programmer who is in a serious relationship with a woman named Katherine.  Things are semi-okay until he meets another woman, with the titular name Catherine.  Once this happens, Vincent is then thrust into the world of Nightmares where he has to escape or he'll die in real life.  I won't get into the meat of it because it is an absolutely extraordinary game and I would implore you to play it.  But an interesting little detail of this game was that it asked you, the player, some to really think about things, in the form of a confessional before you entered your nightmares.  It asked you questions that measured you as a person; some understandable, some just weird.  The catch, its and either/or choice.  There is no middle ground, and some of the questions don't give you a point of reference.  For example: do you consider yourself a cheater?  That was the question, but it doesn't tell you what kind of cheater.  It could be you cheat at tests, or relationships, or life.  The questions don't give you any type of navigation to determining your answer.  I asked these questions to a couple of my friends on Xbox (shoutout to Joe, Tony, and O'Connell) and it was interesting to hear the responses they gave.  As I said I implore you to play this game, but if you are interested in seeing what type of questions are asked click here

One last example of this type of game is the Mass Effect series.  Good ole' Shepard has a galactic invasion to stop and as a commander you are given many choices on your road to stopping it (or not, in some cases).  In the beginning of this post I gave you, the reader, a dilemma, and you only had 30 seconds to choose.  Well this was one of Shep's decisions he had to make on his way to preventing (or allowing) the reaper invasion.  The series is decision heavy and each decision you make has an impact that spans 3 games.  So anything you did in ME1 will affect ME2, and anything you did in ME1 & 2 will carry over to 3.  So it was interesting to see what decisions you made in comparison to your friends.  Meaning (and this goes for most decision based games) no two gameplays will be exactly the same.  Which is an interesting and awesome way of game development, in my opinion.

The point that I am getting at is that games like these take dilemmas (moral or not) and gives them to you, while putting a gun to your head (figuratively, and sometimes, in the game, literally) and forcing you to choose.  Which is not a bad thing.  I'm all for non-linear gameplay.  I'm all for making the decisions instead of having them made for me.  I want to choose where to go, what to do, and in some awesome cases, who to bang. We're spending $60 (more if its a collector's edition) on games so why can't I do what the hell I want to do?  This evolution of gaming has brought gamers into a new world, their own individual worlds; and none of them are the exact same because of it.  So kudos to developers who make these games all about what you want to do.  Just, please, don't ask me to cut off a finger, or limb for that matter.  Its just......disturbing. UGH!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Time Flies When You're Waiting on Fallout 4

I've taken a bit of a break from my usual FPS'ing (if that's even a word; and I still do play a bit but think of this as a brief hiatus) to step back into Bethesda's world of Fallout: New Vegas, and I find that every time I step into this world, or ANY Bethesda game, I lose track of time.  Its 6:00 p.m. and you start playing for the evening; do a few missions and look up at the clock which tells you its 10:00 p.m. and, again, you've only done 3 or 4 missions.  Bethesda must have stock in Vegas or something because tons of people experience the exact same thing. "Where does the time go?"  Well sir or madam, it went to going through hell and half of Georgia (or Nevada in this case) just to get one item or kill one specific thing.  And by all means am I not saying its a bad thing, in fact quite the contrary.  People love this sensation of immersing themselves into a world and losing themselves in said world for hours on in.

My first experience with this sensation has to be Skyrim.  I had heard of the Elder Scrolls franchise and even before Skyrim I had gotten Fallout 3 (I'll come back to this in a minute) but never had played the previous entries like Oblivion or Morrowind.  Skyrim was my first, so I go into it with an open mind.  Sure I love dragons (who doesn't?) and I'm all about the swordplay and spell casting, but 'oh my Jesus is this place friggin huge,' was one of the very first thoughts that came to mind.  After the initial hand holding mission you're left on your own.  They give you the option of doing quests and by doing those quests you find new places and even more quests; and it hasn't ended since (Some places took me an hour to walk to before my dumb ass realized there was a fast travel system).  I thought this was a genius move, in a world with linear stories and gameplay to have it abruptly end after 7-9 hours.  I'm days (actual 24 hours spans) into this game and I still haven't found everything or completed every quest; this game will bring out your inner completionist. Even with new dlc, I have to put Skyrim back in its case and give my other games attention.  This is normally where my Halo ,Black Ops 2, and Borderlands 2 usually come into play.  But as I said before, I also have Fallout: New Vegas, which is like going from Caesar's Palace to The Bellagio (just as good, but you're still gonna be in there for awhile and not even realize it).

My first experience with the Fallout franchise was Fallout 3; and yes, while it did have the same exact effect a la Skyrim, after awhile I felt as if I was aimlessly roaming the wilderness, thinking to myself 'where the fuck do I go now?'  To be honest, I don't think I gave Fallout 3 a fair shake, and this was a 2008 Game of The Year.  Yep, I turned down one of the hot chicks at the dance.  Mind you, this was 2010 and it was easy for me to move on to something like MLB 10: The Show, Killzone 2, etc.  But in the same breath, I got Red Dead Redemption that year, which is open world as well (just not on the same scale as a Bethesda game, in my opinion) and I thoroughly enjoyed it; up to the bullshit ending. 

So I think I was turned off by Fallout 3 because I'm (or I was, still slightly am) a creature of habit.  Its really easy for anyone to let the game carry them to where they need to go, give them a linear storyline and hold their hand on most missions.  But I think that it took Skyrim for me to learn that linear gameplay and stories are just not as fun.  I love the fact that I can go into a game like New Vegas and get missions, on top of other missions to do and it keeps you in there to the point where it is addictive.  'I'm kinda hungry, maybe I should make myself a sandwich. Wait....what's that? You want me to find these people all around the city? And then you want me to spread them out again only to have me search for them one more damn time?  I'm your Huckleberry!'  Its so simple, yet complex.  You can have a linear game where there is a definitive A to Z or you can have a non linear game where there is an A, A1, A2, A3, A4 to Z28.  Yes there is an endgame to Fallout New Vegas, and it is possible for you to get there the quickest way you know how, but that robs you of the immersion you can experience by just simply going off the beaten path every once and while.  Take your time, smell the roses, talk to people because if there is one thing I've learned from these games its that NPC's are really needy and lazy so there's no lack of shit to do because they don't feel like doing it themselves or, for some reason, can't (again, not a bad thing, I love having shit to do!).

So if you get anything out of this post today, my advice, try an open world game.  Get out of your comfort zone and actually guide the story and gameplay yourselves.  If you like it then look for other open world games, if not that's fine as well.  To be honest, I'm now excited for Fallout 4.  Excited doesn't even begin to describe it; if any gaming news outlet says anything Fallout 4 related, even a teaser, I feel happier than a retard at Chuck E Cheese. So I will go back and get Fallout 3 and experience it with a fresher take.  So when the day comes, whether it be this year or the next, I'll be ready to unwrap the plastic off of a Limited Edition Fallout 4, pop that bad boy in my Xbox, hit start and wait to hear Ron Perlman say his famous words........................"War........War Never Changes."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Do You Even MLG Bra'?

It's been a hot minute since I've done ANY kind of blogging about anything, but I'm getting the writing itch back so I thought I should write about my adventures of online gaming.  So grab a beer, or whatever you prefer, and sit back for the ride cause' Imma type it out (OK!) Imma type it out (OK!).

So my first entry is about FPS shooters; pretty much all FPS's but I mainly play COD or Halo so I'll focus on those.  I watch a lot of streams on, whether it be just casual gaming, tournaments, or the more serious feeds.  But one thing I have noticed tremendously through most people I watch, and even when I'm playing online myself, is that people take K/D waaaaaay too seriously.

Even when gamers pick people to play with online the first thing they'll look at is K/D and if its too low they'll thing he or she has cooties or something.  As the title of my blog says I'm a casual gamer, but as of recent I've been getting a competitive itch.  Even still, K/D isn't an issue to me because I'm more of a objective based gamer; I play the damn objective.  Sure you can go 40-12 in kill confirmed, but guess what?  We were playing KILL CONFIRMED and you only confirmed 8 and denied 2, and someone went 25-28 and still came in first on the team because they went after as many tags as they could and you just left them lying around for the other team to deny.  If you play the objective kills will come your way and you might just win, instead of just going for kills like you're playing TDM.  And people will still brag, talk the biggest shit about their K/D at the end of a match, but still come in 4th or 5th on their team.  Same with Halo, I'll play something like CTF, for instance, I'll rush for the flag if you need me to or I'll stay back at base and protect, but one thing remains the same, I could give two shits about K/D as long as I'm doing what I can for the objective.  If I am playing TDM then I might, keyword might, actually give a damn about it because deaths actually do matter then, but otherwise I'm all out of fucks to give and I don't think the other fucks will get shipped in anytime soon.  Some games I'm absolute shit, others I do okay, and then maybe once in a blue moon I'll play like I ate my Wheaties that morning (might even talk a lil shit: maybe throw out a "Kobe tell me how my ass tastes" all in good fun), but either way I'm just there to have fun, half the time I'm having a beer or some form of adult beverage while I'm playing so I'm relaxed as well so I NEVER TAKE IT THAT DAMN SERIOUSLY.

I was actually with a friend who was streaming last night (shoutout to 3 Girls 1 Channel for inviting me to the game) and we were playing domination in BO2.  During halftime this one random guy on the other team talked the most shit to us about his K/D, which was just okay but he still was 2nd or 3rd on his team, and finished his shit talking with "you should come see me on MLG!"  .................Seriously?  It became the running joke for the rest of our games last night.  DO YOU EVEN MLG BRA'?  He-haw-fuckin-larious.  Guys like this make MLG look sooooooo fuckin bad.  And the worst part is I have no problem with MLG!  MLG players like Tsquared who make it look easy and are relatively humble about it are aces in my book.  But guys like the one we played with last night, and some girl gamers (yes, there are even some girl gamers like this), act like they're in a club wearing douchey shirts and drinking red bull and vodka, or in their cases NOS or Monster.  If you ever get a chance check out this video by the guys at Sanity Not Included, which pretty much describes people like this, or this full episode that shows someone with COD complex, fast forward to 3:36 on this one for the scene (shoutout to Dexter and Lyle at Sanity Not Included for these hilarious videos!).

There are many types of gamers.  Some people are casual, others are a lil competitive, and some are hardcore.  To each his/her own, but when you take it too seriously and put on your Xtra Hard Xtra Large trypants on and brag about K/D and shit on your other team members, well good sir or madam, you have entered the douche zone.  Advice: just for a few games take off the trypants, pour yourself a drink, and sit back and play without thinking of K/D or anything like that (still help your team, don't be a slouch), but most of all have fun.  Seriously, try it out (OK!......I have got to get that song out of my head.).  Until next time, I'll see you on the virtual battlefield.