News We Care About Update

You don’t catch someone by running slower (than they are running)
Eurogamer is one of my favorite sites but they’ve hit on one of my many pet peeves – inaccurate sales language. In Japan, the PS3 has been doing a little bit better lately while Wii sales have been slowing down. Eurogamer describes this as Sony catching up to Nintendo.

The Wii is actually pulling away from the PS3 at a less dramatic pace but every week it outsells its competition, the Wii is indeed putting more distance between it and the PS3. In order for Sony to even begin to catch up, more PS3s need to be sold than Wiis.

I think this stuff may actually be calculus, which would possibly explain why so many paid writers can’t grasp sales shifts. →  Read Theft Auto 4

Getting the Lists Right

The 2008 retrospective lists continue to roll in, and every time I see one I feel the need to comment on it. Without fail, once I’ve written my piece I simply delete the draft and worry about something more important.

I finally struck gold today. PC World has a list of 2008’s most overrated games (which covers consoles, despite the whole “PC” thing in their name). I have no problems with how PC World feels about the quality of each of the games, but I do get irked when professional journalists fail to do even a little bit of homework or editing. I am referring to their complaints about Call of Duty: World at War, which contain the following quote:

After all, the original developers were conspicuously AWOL, leaving game-creation duties to the underwhelming Treyarch

When I read “conspicuously AWOL”, I see words meaning “noticeable,” and “gone without permission.” →  It’s dangerous to read alone, take this.

Golden Jew’s Nuggets of Wisdom #4

What happened to resource management/economic games?

Being a Jew, and a dork (as we have established by my contributing to this site), I love resource management games. Railroad Tycoon and Tropico bring back fond memories: games where you gather A, process A into B, and then sell B for C(ash). Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one, because no one has made a good resource management game in ages. It seems that Firaxis is the only company capable of “making” (and I use the term loosely, since Firaxis has yet to make a game in years in my book) these games.

Their most recent two efforts were half-baked bug-ridden crap: Sid Meier’s Railroads (which I loved for the concept before getting infuriated with the execution after writing a glowing review) and Sid Meier’s Civilization 4 Ultimate Colonization North American Challenge 2008, also known as Colonization II: We’re Using the Civ 4 Engine and Name for Sales. →  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this post!

Condemned’s violence brutalizes its narrative

It is a matter of fact that many of the games we play contain violence in some form. Rarely do we ever stop to think about this, since this violence usually comes with no strings attached. You kill people because they are the bad guys, and most games do not try to flip this notion upside down or bestow any great weight upon our actions (or maybe we are all just desensitized, take your pick). Every so often, I do find myself taken aback by something I witness in a game, which creates the potential for some rich discussion.

This time the scene came from Condemned: Criminal Origins. During the first chapter, as I wailed on doped-up vagrants with pipes and rebar, I noticed that something kept flashing in the corner of the heads up display, which hinted that there are special actions mapped to the D-Pad for use on disabled enemies. →  Reading more, assemble!

2008 in Review Part 4

Games, I have always believed, would benefit from acceptance into mainstream culture: once the stigma that video games entertained only troglodytic nerds disappears, the scope of what games are allowed to be would increase. This has started to happen, as, despite the whining and hand wringing of those who want games to remain in their and only their basements, gaming has expanded over the past several years. Part of this has been in the form of non-gamers picking up controllers, but my bet is that most of it is ex-gamers picking them up again, or twenty-somethings not putting them down as they (we) age.

This expansion has meant that the collective entity known as “gamers” now has much broader tastes: broader in terms of theme and maturity as well as content. →  Xenoblade Articles X

2008 in Review Part 3

Being an optimistic person, I’d like to discuss some of the things I was disappointed with in ’08. Last year must have been the first since I reached financial independence that I played games on only one publishers system; in 2008 I was a Nintendo fanboy.

Oddly enough, I am not adding the Wii in ’08 to my list of disappointments. No More Heroes, House of the Dead, Mario Kart, Boom Blox, Strong Bad, World of Goo, De Blob, and Dokapon Kingdom all came in ’08 and while I may have quirky, Japan-centric (or shitty) taste, I was content.

I am disappointed that I refuse to learn lessons from past game purchases. The following are games that aren’t necessarily bad, just games I should have known I didn’t need:

Endless Ocean – The idea that games can be anything they want and don’t need to fit into a pre-defined mold is noble. →  The gamers have only interpreted the games, in various ways. The point, however, is to change them.

2008 in Review Part 2

Many folks are saying that 2008 was a bad year for games. I think this is true in the sense that almost no Triple-A release lived up to their hype or potential. However, if you embrace a wide range of consoles and genres, there was a lot to love this year. Here are some of the more remarkable games from this year. Note that I don’t like them all, but each left a mark on my mind.

Burnout Paradise

Don’t let the hate fool you – Burnout Paradise is the future of “open world racers,” or whatever the hell you want to call them. One reason is that it plays like a spiritual successor to Midtown Madness, a game that existed before “open world” and GTA3 were in our vocabulary. Midtown was striking in that it made its city the spotlight of the game. →  The post still burns.

2008 in Review Part 1

I like to pretend that my favorite games will always be the classics, but this year has been quite a trial for that facade. Every year more and more games come out, and I have no chance to play just the ones that people recommend to me, much less all of them. The games I have played are good enough that I know 2008 was a good year for games, not just in terms of volume but in terms of quality. The DS has gotten a bunch more good games (even if it still has only a few great ones), the PC, XBox360, and PS3 have been receiving a host of games with a few standouts each, and even the Wii has gotten a game or two I’ll at least be keeping on my shelf if not playing again. →  Zero Escape: Nine Hours, Nine Authors, Nine Articles

Review – Street Fighter II HD

The number of permutations of Street Fighter 2 is one of gaming’s oldest punchlines. Though the joke still has teeth due to plain old nostalgia, savvy gamers now realize that the arcade revisions of Street Fighter added important tweaks and upgrades (and the console versions were various attempts at porting them to limited hardware). This slow burn through the 90’s finally culminated with Super SF2 Turbo, the last major revision and a game still played today in the tournament scene thanks to its familiarity and balance. The fact that fighting game fans won’t let go of Street Fighter 2 is a testament to its quality, and is the justification for why Capcom chose to make yet another major revision after years of silence. SF2 HD Remix (the full name is much too long) is a landmark release in the series, made exactly the way it should be at this point in the series’ life. →  Reading more, assemble!

Review – Dragon Quest IV

For many, the Dragon Warrior/Quest franchise has a great deal of meaning, nostalgia and history. I remember playing Dragon Warrior on the NES when I was a young whippersnapper. I also remember that when faced with a choice at the end of joining the last boss or killing him, I decided to join him. The screen acquired an orange glow and my Nintendo froze. Was that what was supposed to happen? After my orange experience, I never touched a Dragon Warrior game again.

Dragon Quest IV, a Square Enix port of the original to the DS, presented an opportunity to reacquaint myself with the franchise. Having just run through the remake of Final Fantasy IV, I had high hopes that Square Enix would have scrubbed through the original and done away with any lingering issues to create a superior RPG experience, as they had in FFIV. →  All your posts are belong to us.

The next gen consoles then and now – Revisited

I wrote this little ditty sometime last summer, analyzing all three consoles and how they had changed since launch. Since then the market has seen more major shifts, so I want to take yet another look at the Wii, 360 and PS3, and see what we might expect from them in 2009.

Then: I claimed before that Microsoft looked to be getting wishy washy, constantly tweaking the policies and features behind the 360, leaving early adopters in the cold and not focusing on the important issues that need fixing.

Now: Microsoft embarrassed my predictions through and through. The Red Rings of Death have waned, and whether or not it is a good thing, the community has mostly gotten used to dealing with them when they do occasionally pop up, much like we got used to replacing old PS2s. →  Look upon my works, ye mighty, and read!

Review – Resistance 2

Resistance 2 from Insomniac Games is the highly anticipated sequel to the fairly enjoyable Resistance: Fall of Man. Insomniac is one of Sony’s prize jewels, an exclusive PS3 developer who makes big hits on a tight time schedule. This time around however, (for the very first time in fact) I wasn’t pleased with their output. This game has its moments and is sure to be enjoyed by many, but I’ve played too many shooters to accept a second-rate product from a first-rate company, especially in the saturated season we fortunately find ourselves in.

Resistance 2 continues the story of Nathan Hale and an alien invasion that takes place on an alternate earth in our World War II era. The all-powerful Chimera have filled America’s skies with massive warships and are exterminating the nation in a maelstrom of nuclear fire. →  You reading at me?