Review – Mass Effect

I am an RPG player. It is worth mentioning this up front as something relevant to the review which is to follow. I enjoy the genre of RPG’s enough to call it my favorite. Now, I say this because I realize that not everyone is like me. One of my best friends confessed to me recently that while he used to be an ardent RPG player in his younger days (when his life generally consisted of boredom and peer hatred in high school instead of daily responsibilities and peer hatred at work) now he simply has no time for serious gaming commitments that last for more than a few hours. Well, apparently, despite having a full and satisfying life, not much has changed for me.… Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Bore me and I sleep.

Review – No More Heroes

No More Heroes looks to be another feel good indie hit, which means it will be used as fodder in a growing debate in the entertainment world. These days, a surefire way of garnering critical acclaim and a small but fanatical following is to produce something that appears to have hipster/geek chic and indie cred. Do this, and watch people fawn over how “charming” your work is, while still containing a powerful message about something. Go far enough, and you will have something that goes beyond the rest, reaching a level of acclaim it has no right holding.

Examples of this are not too hard to find. On television there was Gilmore Girls, a show whose every DVD boxset had to include a booklet explaining every pop culture reference used in the season (making sure it looked like an old marble composition notebook for those who thrive on nostalgia).… Welcome to the Fantasy Zone.

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.… Apply directly to the forehead.

What happened to competition? From arcades to gamerscores

Remember high scores. You don’t see them around very much, though they still pop up in some of my favorite new games. But why exactly did they begin to disappear? We generally hear explanations involving the rise of story based games and other such nonsense, but when three of the most popular games of the decade are Halo, Madden and World of Warcraft, it is tough to accept this as an era of Single Player. There must be another reason.

Before we look for that reason, we should start from the beginning and look at the nature of the high score. There were surely hacks and exploits available in some classic games (as any Street Fighter fan will know), but I would like to think they weren’t commonplace, and that more often than not the list of high scores in an arcade cabinet was the honest work of skilled players.… What is a post? A miserable little pile of secrets.

Review – God of War 2

Here is a checklist of some of the highlights from the original God of War: challenge a god, escape from Hades after being killed, defeat numerous figures from Greek mythology, murder a soldier in order to solve a puzzle, travel to a variety of shiny temples, hunt down ancient treasures in order to face your foes, obtain mythical powers from the gods. Like it or not, the pieces came together to make a game that was more than merely successful.

But what happens when the sequel does the exact same thing? The story, gameplay, pacing and visual style of God of War 2 is almost identical, as if they took the old checklist from the drawer, rearranged a few things, and got right to work on making enough behind the scenes features to span their own disc, which I suppose proves how much more work they did compared to the first time.… Rayman Reading Rabbids

Stop making it so hard to say I love you: A list of gamer’s demands

Look, we know each other pretty well and I think it’s time I talk to you about some of your bad habits. In the course of many years of gaming, I’ve found myself infuriated (in-fucking-furiated!) by problems that should have disappeared long ago. I think if you take an honsest look at yourself, you’ll see that you do these things just to get on my last nerve. Let’s resolve you’ll fix them once and for all.

Let me pause. Every game, any time. Sometimes I need space. I don’t care if I’m in the final boss fight. I might have to pee. Let me pause during all cutscenes. Yes, it’s engrossing to hear some big-eyed character finally confess his love to another big-eyed character or watch my current action hero do some bad-ass moves that I can’t actually do in the game, but I might still want to pause.… Lame is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

Rumor Factory: Music Downloads on Wii?

If you’ve been keeping up to date with your voting on the Everybody Votes Channel on the Wii (which you should be, btw), then you have seen a particularly interesting question that Nintendo is asking all of its American users:

“How do you prefer to buy music?”

The possible choices Nintendo has supplied are a) download or b) CD. Now, this can just be labeled as a seemingly innocuous question that tries to get more users to vote on the channel, but what if this were the first indication that Nintendo might be in the planning phases for a Music Download Channel, something akin to Apple’s iTunes store?

The Everybody Votes Channel is the perfect venue for Nintendo to better understand its customers, as well as to test out any ideas it has up its sleeve for the future.… Just read it.

Miyamoto could make Halo, but doesn’t wanna

In a pretty enlightening interview on EW.com, Shigeru Miyamoto openly says that he could design a game like Halo for the American market, but that it’s just not what he wants to do.

Miyamoto says he tries to bring something new to the end-user experience, something that fans didn’t even know they wanted. That may sound a bit egotistical, but it makes perfect sense. Most people want a game that they’ve played before because they know it was fun, like someone saying they want a sci-fi FPS. But if developers always followed what the consumer wants, we would never get something like Katamari Damacy or the Wii.

That’s what Miyamoto was trying to say.… God of War: Readnarok

Mindlessness in games

I read a good article recently on the heavy use of the word “gameplay” in games journalism. Agree with it or not, the author makes a good point; there is no equivalent word in any other industry jargon. Most sentences that use the word gameplay can be rewritten in some form to create something more descriptive and authoritative. It got me thinking about another mainstay of the lingo that has been bothering me as of late – “mindless”.

The word is used all too often, so much so that I can’t even generalize about whether it is usually in a pejorative or positive sense. According to my scouring of IGN, reviewers and gamers find the following games to be “mindless”:

Tomb Raider Legend
Rainbow Six Vegas
Sonic Riders
Resident Evil 4
Trigger Man
Ninety Nine Nights
Both Half Lifes
Painkiller
Call of Duty 3
Tekken Tag Tournament

For the sake of discussion, let’s just say this (very partial) list is a mix of terrible, average, and a few Game of the Year winners.… Sounds mildly entertaining, I guess.

Too Human Will Be Too Great

I’ve had just about enough of this Too Human bashing on the Internet. Everywhere I go, I read the same thing: because of last year’s horrid E3 showing, the game is going to flop harder than Granny’s flap jacks.

Need I remind you who is making Too Human? The ever-powerful and intelligent-sounding Silicon Knights. Yes, the same Silicon Knights that brought you the gift to gamers Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, my favorite GameCube game of all time.

Trying to figure out why these “journalists” say such harsh things is taking all my energy. Yes, the camera angles were weird, the frame-rate was all over the place, and the load times were long.… Romance of the Three Articles IV: Post of Fire