A Return to Rapture – Looking Back at BioShock

Although I voted BioShock the best game of 2007, the more I play it, the more it shows me how far video games haven’t come.

BioShock has one of the most chillingly powerful locales and universes in video game history, but sadly the game can easily be labeled a first-person shooter. It doesn’t really try to redefine what gaming is, or can be. It merely extends it, even though it redefined what a video game universe can be. Rapture is a fully-realized world; to an extent never before seen in video games. Rapture’s existence had purpose. People had lives, dreams, and aspirations. And Irrational should be commended for that. The writing/designing in this game is something most people can only dream about, or simply do not have the balls to even try. →  There is only one really serious philosophical problem, and that is games.

Review – Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney

After finishing last year’s stellar Trials and Tribulations, and damn near falling out of my chair during that final case, I immediately went online and pre-ordered the next installment of the Ace Attorney series, titled Apollo Justice. And as I did this, I realized how lucky we all are to get another lawyer adventure game so soon after the last one. It took Capcom no more than four months to give us a new sequel, which is quite possibly a miracle in the video game world.

But wait? Who the hell is Apollo Justice? Does this mean no more Phoenix Wright? No more Edgeworth? And more importantly, no more Dick Gumshoe? How could this be!? Why would Capcom stoop so low? We’ve become extremely attached to all of these characters through the course of the last three games, willingly living and breathing their crazy and complex lives. →  Games are the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.

Looking back at how we’ve grown apart

In the last two years, I’ve…ummm… uhhhhhhh.

Hmmm.

Two years is one hell of a long time. Asking me to write about what’s changed in the last two years concerning video games is like asking me to recall the room in which I was born. Every console that we now call next-gen was released in that time frame, and we’re knee-deep in photo-realistic gameplay.

In some ways, I’m more willing to try crazy ideas, like Every Extend Extra Extreme and Drawn to Life. But at the same time, my tastes are becoming more defined. I now know that I would prefer a game with a cohesive storyline rather than awesome gameplay. That’s why I felt completely underwhelmed by Gears of War. It has great action, but there’s not enough context for me to enjoy myself. →  Today I consider myself the luckiest reader on the face of the earth.

Quick Thought of the Day: Out with the old….

I’m starting to notice a trend while playing games on my Xbox 360. It’s a weird trend, one that some may not even care about. It has to deal with what games people are playing on the 360. It seems that every time I go on Xbox Live, and view my Friends List (for stats sake, i have around 30 Friends), never do I see any of them playing a game that didn’t come out in the last week or so. Right now my list is filled with RockBand and Mass Effect. Before that it was Assassin’s Creed. And before that it was Halo 3, with some BioShock thrown in there for good measure. This has happened ever since I first got my 360, almost a year ago. It seems like no one ever plays their old games. →  Are you ready for some readball?

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 3

In this continuation of the Halo single player retrospective I will look at…

Story/Presentation

Again, the most enjoyable Halo in regards to story and presentation is Halo: Combat Evolved. In 2001, we didn’t know what a “Halo” was or meant. With the first game, we were introduced to the Forerunners, the Covenant, and the Flood for the very first time, and it feverishly sparked our imaginations, with the player trying to figure out what kind of universe Master Chief was living in. This happens a lot with games in general. The first game is far more potent in terms of story than the sequels, as you’ve already experienced the same style of storytelling in the first game. From our perspective, the most innovative is the first one. All the rest are just walking down the road that the first one paved. →  18 Wheeler American Pro Reader

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 2

In this continuation of the Halo single player retrospective I will look at…

Level Design

Halo has never been one to “wow” a player with its level design. One of the core examples of why Metroid Prime was cited as being better than Halo was its superior level design, which, in retrospect, is not a huge accomplishment. Levels like The Library seem to be a test for the level designers to see how many times they could use the Copy-Paste function in their level editors.

To be truthful though, Bungie makes really good outdoor environments. This seems to be because it is usually devoid of any Forerunner architecture. When Master Chief travels through a Forerunner structure, there is very little in the way of detail. It’s an artistic choice, but it doesn’t lend itself to variety. →  Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this post!

Assassin’s Creed: the greatest flawed masterpiece in history

Let me get this out right now: I fucking love Assassin’s Creed. This is the game I’ve been waiting for ever since those crazy marketing execs started screaming “Next-gen gameplay found here!” I cannot get enough of this game, and I mean physically. I went to bed last night in a state of withdrawal. I almost fell off the wagon (or is it on?) last night around 3 AM, but thankfully I held back the urge. For a little while, anyway.

Suffice to say, I totally want to make Assassin’s Creed babies:)

But sadly, as the title of this blog suggests, it is not perfect. For every eight aspects that expertly immerses you into the world of assassins, there is one that takes you out of it. There are a few examples I could give you that show how Assassin’s Creed is flawed, in both design and technical execution, but it really doesn’t matter. →  In the beginning games created the heavens and the earth.

Retrospectives – Halo Single-Player Campaigns part 1

When people think of the Halo series, they’re quickly reminded of the college dorm-room deathmatch. Halo is the quintessential multiplayer experience on consoles, but it wasn’t always like that. Before 2001, Halo meant nothing to people. It was just another FPS game that Microsoft was using to launch their first console, the Xbox.

To really get players talking (and ultimately spending their hard-earned money), Bungie had to create a compelling single-player campaign. If the core game was bad or run-of-the-mill, no one would care about multiplayer. And a launch game’s success is usually dependent on word of mouth. Look at Wii Sports. The more people that enjoy it, the more they talk, and the better it sells (which basically means more people to play multiplayer with).

Contrary to popular belief, Halo was originally all about the single-player, story-based campaign, which is the complete opposite of what it is now. →  Your right post comes off?

What happens when you mix idiots and review scores? Gamenumbers.com

While trying to get paid (and at the very same time, laid), my buddy and I got into a conversation about whether or not review scores are of any worth. It basically started when my “friend” asked me if I would still get Assassin’s Creed if it got an average score of 7.0. Of course, my answer was short and sweet:

“Fuck yeah.”

Numbers mean nothing to me, especially when it’s based on the 100-point scale that the majority of gaming publications tend to use. My sole reasoning for taking this stance on the issue is because most gamers will gloss over anything that’s rated 8 or below. It’s disheartening as a game designer to see games like Pac-Pix and Drawn to Life passed over all because they weren’t the greatest games ever made. →  Drakenread 2

Newest Nolan Bushnell quote: relevant or Old Fogey talk?

Nolan Bushnell, the man that essentially created the video game industry (which automatically makes him my lord and savior) had some harsh words to say about the current state of video gaming in an interview with Electronic Design.

“Video games today are a race to the bottom. They are pure, unadulterated trash and I’m sad for that,” says Bushnell.

Now, let’s forget that this man single-handedly destroyed the video game industry right after he created it with a plethora of sub-par Atari games. I mean, there’s a dump solely dedicated to letting E.T. cartridges get the much-needed suntan that they deserve.

And let’s forget the fact that Bushnell has been out of the video game business ever since he created Chuck E. Cheese, a restaurant that just screams “pedophile hangout”. →  Snap! Crackle! Read!

The most racist-filled place on Earth: Xbox Live

Is it just me, or is America filled with racist pigs? I’ve been playing Halo 3 online since it came out, and there has not been one night where I didn’t hear a racial slur slung at me. And half the time it’s for no reason! I’m just sitting there, tea-bagging some guy after sticking a plasma grenade in his mouth, and I get called the “N-word”! That’s a little harsh, don’t you think?

I am not a black man, but I still get very offended when people say this. It’s not right, and it’s saddening that people are still subjected to this kind of juvenile behavior. What if I was a black man? How do you think I would feel? All I’m doing is playing a video game, trying to relieve a little stress from a hard day’s work. →  Michigan: Article from Hell

Does Nintendo care?

With games like WiiFit and Face Training becoming the staple of Nintendo’s wares in this “new generation”, most hardcore gamers are left asking, “Hey, what about me? Where are my kind of games at, son?” I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but Nintendo doesn’t care about you anymore. They have moved on to greener pastures. Which is to say they want your mom’s money now, not yours.

The number one indicator for this theory was their show at the 2007 E3 conference. We had nearly 20 minutes of WiiFit, but only 20 seconds of Mario Kart Wii.

They didn’t want to show more because Nintendo was in front of all the world’s media, and they wanted to send out the word that they’re all about the non-gamers now. That’s why they focused so much on WiiFit. →  I'll get a job later, for now I'm going to read this

ZOMGzors – Bungie and Msoft split up

Fuck me, every time I put on a clean pair of pants, something like this happens. I won’t make this blog too long-winded, as I’m sure you want details. So here they are, in a nice list format for easy reading.

-Bungie is now an independent company, entitled Bungie LLC. They have no real ties to Microsoft anymore…

-..but they still have a long-term publishing agreement with Microsoft.

-Microsoft owns the IP rights to Halo, so in theory, Bungie may not make the next Halo installment (see below for delicious commentary).

-Bungie is still working on DLC for Halo 3, as well as collaborating on the Halo/Peter Jackson project.

-Both companies <3 each other, hoping to make Bungie/Msoft babies in the future.

What does this ultimately mean for us gamers? Not much, really. →  Article Hominid

PSP-2000: Two years too late

Last month saw the introduction of the new PSP Slim. I gave my personal impressions on the silver unit earlier, but I wanted to go more in-depth with what the system means for Sony overall. In the last few years, Sony has been on a constant downward spiral in terms of consumer popularity. With a $600 system that has very few games and a handheld system that’s been out for more than two years and still has a less than stellar software lineup, Sony’s Golden Age has clearly been tarnished.

But I will say this: Sony has restored my faith in them with the PSP Slim. It’s an amazing piece of tech, no small thanks to the newly added video-out option through separate component video cables. If you were on the fence about the the first model, I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the Slim model. →  Oops, I did it again.

Matt gets his PSP to run on TV, nearly wets himself

Woohoo! I finally got my PSP Slim component video cables in the mail on Friday. I was a tad disappointed to find out that Sony held the release of the cables until only recently (the Daxter bundle with the Silver Slim unit was released much earlier in the month), but the wait has been worth it. I promised my impressions on the video-out option, and I always keep my word. So here they are.

First, a little disclaimer: games cannot be displayed without the component cables. Sony has released composite cables, but you can only view movies, music, and photos with them. To play games on your TV, you need the component wires, as the games are developed with a progressive scan-enabled screen in mind. They’re the same price, so it’s not really a problem. →  Jesus: Readful Bio Monster

Dual Shock 3 please, with a side of rumble

Well, it’s official, rumble is back. Officially dubbed the Dual Shock 3, Sony has “listened” to its fans and added the most basic of features to their much scoffed-at SIXAXIS controller. Isn’t it amazing?!

Yeah, not really. This should have been implemented with the PS3 before it even came out. This is Sony playing catch-up, but it’s not the cool kind, especially when they make people spend $600 on something that lacks an integral piece of the gaming equation.

And why did I surround the word listen with quotation marks in my introduction, you ask? It’s simple, my dear reader. Other than being clever/snooty, I was trying to point out that Sony knew not having rumble in their PS3 controller was a serious problem the entire time. They didn’t need to listen to their consumers to see if it was a problem or not. →  Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about huffing paint.

PSP Lite/Slim/2000 Impressions

To be hardcore in the video game scene, one must make a painful sacrifice. I’m sorry to tell you this, but you just can’t buy one system and call it a day. No, you must do what is necessary: you must buy every single piece of hardware that has ever been made. Yes, even a Nuon. So, with that in mind, I begged my girlfriend to buy me the new streamlined PSP. What? I didn’t say you couldn’t ruin someone else’s life in your pursuit of hardcore-ness. And guess what? The damn fool agreed to it! Can you believe that shit? Oh mercy.

So with that quick anecdote, here are my quick impressions on the new Ice Silver Sony PSP (the unit bundled with Daxter), officially referred to as the PSP 2000. →  The only thing we have to read is read itself.

Sony sends IGN a Reviewing Guide for Lair, IGN realizes the folly of its ways

Wow, how arrogant can someone be? Completely ignoring the fact that every single review for Factor 5’s monumental disaster says the same exact thing (god-awful motion controls with the SIXAXIS), Sony has issued a Lair Reviewer’s Guide for IGN, stating, in cold-hard PR-speak, that they are not playing the game properly, and that they need to open their minds and “hands for something very different!”.

Now, I could understand if Nintendo was the one doing this, as there have been many times where a Wii game would get the lowest scores possible on one site, while it had higher than average scores on another, depending on if the reviewer understood how to use the game’s motion controls. That I could understand. But because Sony is doing it, I can’t help but think this is more of a publicity stunt than anything. →  I only ask one thing. Don’t read in my way.

Retrospective – Metroid Prime 2

Continuing our look at the fabled Metroid Prime series, we now delve into Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. It’s a common occurrence in the video game medium that a franchise peaked early in its life time. When a game is as stellar as the first Metroid Prime, it’s going to be very hard to create something better. And this is an apt description of Echoes. It’s definitely a good game, but sadly, with nothing new to show, and a few problems introduced, Echoes doesn’t live up to expectations.

In this installment, Samus has accepted a request to find a missing Galactic Federation starship that was last heard from while hunting down a Space Pirate frigate above the planet Aether. All communications with the GF starship have been lost since then. Not one to pass up easy money, Samus accepts the mission and travels to Aether, but as she enters the atmosphere, a virulent electrical storm damages her gunship, leaving her stranded on Aether until her ship repairs itself. →  Mrs. Article, you’re trying to seduce me.

The REAL reason Rockstar wanted an AO rating for Manhunt 2

Ever since Manhunt 2 received an abominable AO rating, therefore banning it in every country except the Netherlands (those lucky bastards), I’ve been wondering what would compel Rockstar and, to a much greater extent, TakeTwo to greenlight this kind of game.

They must have seen the signs that it would probably get more than a Mature rating. I’m sure some of the details are debatable, but once you get into the realm of debate, you’re asking for trouble.

But then I realized something. I know why Rockstar made Manhunt 2 so gory. It’s because Suda 51, the man behind the upcoming adult Wii game, No More Heroes, championed the fact that his game will be more violent than Manhunt 2. I’m sure the moment Rockstar heard that, they went straight back to the drawing board and added as much gruesome content as their troubled psyches could muster. →  Professor Layton and the Diabolical Post