Review – Sins of a Solar Empire

Real Time Strategy games have been somewhat dormant in the past few years. The big expectation, of course, is that Starcraft 2 will re-energize the genre and spawn another wave of imitators. The 4X genre, on the other hand, has been bolstered by Galactic Civilization 2 and is being “dumbed down” for the widely anticipated Civilization Revolutions, due out in June. Speaking of Civ, Beyond the Sword, while excellent, is horribly buggy and has been heavily neglected and unsupported by Firaxis. Seriously, Firaxis, you guys are sell-out assholes, and I will continue to call you out until you patch BTS properly instead of cashing in on Civ Rev.

In the meantime, to satiate your 4X and RTS desires all at once, we have Sins of a Solar Empire, the first of its kind: a 4X RTS. →  Ring of Read

Review – Transformers the Game

Before you get all doe-y eyed for the great video games that have come out in the past two months, and start swallowing the industry’s mandate that we can only have decent games around the pinnacle event of a religion that totally hates video games, lets take a minute and remember how fucking terrible the rest of 2007 was for video games. Starting with Transformers the Game.

Transformers the Movie was the cinematic equivalent of going to a space zoo and jumping into a pit of laser equipped alligators and beating them down with your cock. While on fire. While the Teen Girl Squad cheers you on. Transformers the Game is the video game equivalent of falling into the same crocodilian awesomeness, only to find your cock quickly chomped off. And you’re on fire. →  READ3R

Retrospectives – Metal Gear Solid series part 1

Because this is a discussion of the game series there will be significant spoilers. Read and weep.

I have a strange relationship with MGS. If you take away a few enhanced releases, I have played (or am playing) just about everything MGS related, from the mainline trilogy to Twin Snakes and even the Game Boy Color game. Something tells me I’ll have finished MGS4 within four months of release, even if I have no PS3. I seem to be an absolute whore for Kojima. And yet, I’m not sure I entirely love MGS. In fact, I know I don’t.

The only game in the series that I would consider truly brilliant is 3. The rest may simply be problematic postmodern experiments. Everyone heaps praise upon the stories and storytelling present in MGS, yet it seems to me to be mostly anime fueled sci-fi schlock. →  Welcome to the Fantasy Zone.

Review – Crysis

Taking First Person Shooters to a New Level of Suck

After a long day of working, it’s nice to come home, jump on my computer, and blow the living daylights out of people, monsters, hookers, you name it. For me, playing an FPS after a day of work is akin to getting an Oreo Cookie Blizzard on a hot day; it just feels right. I don’t have to think, I don’t have to care about hurting people, I just shoot and all of my stress melts away. As blood sprays across the digital walls and bodies drop, mangled and lifeless to the floor, I grin and become new again. When I heard the news that Crysis was in development, I was happy. FarCry, while not a perfect game, was an ok shooter so I figured Crysis would follow suit. →  Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing memory cards.

Diary of a Guitar Hero Loser

Guitar Loser

Recently I wrote of my relative experience in the area of playing the video games and how it related to my ability to enjoy Halo 3. My cocksure countenance and, frankly, fairly insulting prose garnered a respectable number of responses whose general flavor I would describe as mired in absolute and laser-focused ire. Ire mired, as it were.

It is now weeks later and I own Guitar hero 3. I purchased the Wii version because I thought that plugging my Wii-mote into the Les Paul would somehow be more awesome than gaining achievements or playing friends online with less than thirty layers of fucking moon cryptography between myself and those people Nintendo just assumes are trolling the Wii-nternets looking for kids to say nasty things to. It is unfortunate that I must report to you that there is absolutely no reason to go this route. →  We have the best words.

Review – Halo 3 campaign

You kids like your Halo. I’ve read, in scores and multitudes, that it’s the bee’s knees, really. All manner of laud, pomp and, indeed, circumstance was made at the Halo 3 launch.

Just here in Chicago, in fact, like, a billion total nut-job game dweebs sat for hours both inside and out of any number of gaming venues through the eve of release just to snag a copy at midnight-plus-one. This is, I presume, because they were all of them mistaken; thinking, perhaps, that there was some sort of limited supply of the new nectar and that this wait would somehow result in an assurance that they get the rare and beautiful flower which, to be sure, couldn’t simply be stamped out by the billions for pennies at the press.

It was like a goddamned hardware launch only the following morning the mass of those proprietors overrun by game dorks just hours earlier would be rich with bloom; their walls stacked to bear out those morsels to which Bungie executives owe their Hummers, Audis and yes, the occasional EVO. →  [left click on your mouse to open the remainder of this post in your web browser on your digital computing device]

Will Blizzard get blown out the airlock?

Everyone is quivering with anticipation at Blizzard’s upcoming “major” announcement. They have been hiring MMO developers, and they have a terribly neglected (but still hugely popular, especially in Asia) franchise in Starcraft.

Although an RTS Starcraft 2 might be desired by some, Blizzard has no choice in this matter but to go MMO. First, the revenue opportunities of even a mediocre (by Blizzard standards) MMO are far superior to a blockbuster RTS– a fact most likely first and foremost on Blizzard’s parent company, Vivendi’s, mind. Now that Blizzard has established itself as such a cash-cow, they will be held to those standards until they fail (capitalism is great…just ask the USSR). Just to give you a flavor of what we’re talking about, the WESTERN MMO market broke $1 billion in 2006, according to this report with WoW accounting for 54% of that marketshare. →  I got served!

Review – Second Sight

I’ve come to believe strongly in a particular rule taught to me by wiser gamers. The rule states that “if a game wants to entice me, to keep me playing, then it cannot assume I have nothing better to do than to play video games.” It’s hard phrase to describe exactly what the phrase means, but it pertains to certain bad things modern games like to do. Sometimes they’re done to artificially lengthen playtime, sometimes they’re done to help introduce new players. Sometimes it is to enhance the cinematic nature of the game, or to keep things “realistic.” Whether they are done because of a current trend, or to try to overcome a particular design hurdle, these additions hurt more than they help. They can cause repetition, make the player jump through hoops, and completely destroy any suspension of disbelief. →  Get lame or get out.

Review – Onimusha Warlords

Back where my folks live in Pennsylvania, local cable picks up Channel 63 of New Jersey. Despite being a local, American owned station, Channel 63 fills all of its time slots with shows and commercials from Japan and Korea. This, of course, means that at any given hour you can find all kinds of ridiculous Samurai drama.

These shows are always the same; the men are loud and gruff, the women soft and gentle. The costumes are cheap, flamboyant, or in the case in which a demon is present, both (this is most of the time). The plots are ridiculous, with characters running around in the most awkward and confused ways regardless of what is going on. And every episode of Samurai drama ends with coming attractions that are preceded by bold blocks of kanji with flames in the background. →  Actraiser Readnaissance

The cost of gaming (or not gaming)

This New Year’s, I’ll be in London. My vacation promises to be sweet, but something struck me earlier today. Does it count as regicide if the royal family is merely allowed to keep their castle for show? If you accidentally run down the Queen whilst driving the wrong way (which would be her fault in the first place for allowing people to drive on the left side of the street) does it count as vehicular regicide?

Also, if I didn’t go to England, I could afford a PS3. You must be saying, “What are you, a fucking idiot? The point of life is to experience new things, see new places, run over queens. It’ll do you good to get out of your bedroom and will give your forearm muscles some time to heal.” →  You may say I’m a gamer, but I’m not the only one

Stop mixing my drinks

So I was playing Final Fantasy XII for the first time when I noticed the game had a lot of concepts that look like they came from science fiction. Ships looking like they came from Star Wars fly around in the intro, shield-like barriers are being used to protect cities, that kind of stuff.

This wouldn’t really bother me that much, but it seems like regular medieval fantasy has become a lost art. Final Fantasy gradually made the transition from medieval to steampunk-esque to post-apocalyptic to an improbable-looking science fiction. I would have no problem with this transition normally — on the contrary, more science fiction RPGs would be nice too. But the story and atmosphere most of the time remain in the fantasy style. Why are people running around with swords and bows when it looks like ships – and I might’ve seen a laser once or twice – could do a lot more of the work? →  Eh, I've got nothing better to do.

Matt’s Lite PS3 Impressions

On Friday night, I took the trip to the Toys R Us in New York City’s Times Square, and put in a few minutes with the soon-to-be-released Sony Playstation 3. Here are my thoughts on the beast that is the PS3.

Once I got there, I saw that a line had already formed with about 10 people. The kiosk had four PS3’s setup, but only one was working. I’m not sure why the others weren’t in use, but I’ll stop myself from coming up with something that sparks hysteria on the Internets.

The game on display was Motorstorm. Although nowhere near the level of graphical power that was shown at E3 2005, it still looked great. The level of detail on the riders and the vehicles themselves was a sight to behold. →  Are you a bad enough dude to rescue the article?

Sony will have the last laugh…all the way to the bank…or something

Sony has gotten a lot of crap from gamers recently. Most of it is entirely deserved. They are forcing consumers to buy a Blu Ray player if they want a PS3, charging $600 for their new console and games are anticipated to sell for $60 or $70 a piece. PR statements from Kutaragi and Hirai have made Sony seem more arrogant than ever. More recently, there have been reports of delays in production and now Sony has announced that the PS3 will launch next year in Europe and the launches in North America and Japan will be limited. To top it all off, the new Sony slogan for European territories sucks total ass – Now this is living.

All of these factors combined with how promising the 360 and the Wii are looking have led many to attack Sony, some going so far as to “break up” with them (funniest article in the world – he acts like Sony is a girl, not a company, get it?). →  Hot Shots Post 3

Review – Nanostray

While somewhat unpopular with the general populace, shooters seem to be a favorite genre of a few of us here at Videolamer. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that shooters are more old school than just about any other genre out there. The qualities that make up a good shooter really have not changed over the past couple decades. You control one ship against a horde of enemies, and only your guns and manual dexterity can save you. Good shooters differentiate themselves from mediocre shooters through subtle gameplay differences such as finely tuned balance and difficulty. Power-ups are often included, but are non-essential (as Ikaruga has demonstrated). All that is really required are impossible odds and a screen crowded with lasers.

Pipes in a shooter haven’t looked this great since Axelay.

 →  It’s not you, it’s me.

Best Game Ever – Xevious

A blaring chorus of trumpets signifies the launch of your Solvalou fighter, followed by an endless loop of piano keys. And so begins Xevious, one of the best and most important shoot ’em ups of all time.

Take this you mother…ship!

Xevious is actually quite different from some of its predecessors. Previous efforts from Namco, such as Galaxian and Galaga, were similar to Space Invaders. They gave the player very limited freedom of movement and a slow ass little laser, a put them against wall after wall of foes. Xevious is a very early example of the modern ‘schmup. You can fly in any direction on the bottom half of the screen (albeit slowly). Enemies also begin to use more modern tactics. Rather than relying on sheer numbers to overpower you, they use speed and firepower. →  Oreshika: Tainted Postlines

Sword of the Stars Demo Review

“Fear my complex arrangement of polygons!”

Let me start out by saying that I feel as if Kerebros made a serious error in the release of their “demo” of Sword of the Stars. This is not a demo. At least, I seriously hope it isn’t. It really seems to be more of a “beta demo preview” than anything else. What’s in a name? In calling it a demo, you set the expectations that you’re seeing a small slice of the real game (which you are). But after playing the demo, not extensively, but sufficiently, I can say that I would be a little worried if this was a small slice of the real game, as opposed to a teaser trailer/beta of a game in development.

That being said, I’d like to start out by congratulating Kerebros in doing what they have, which is presenting a part of their unfinished product to the community. →  It might come in handy if you, the master of reading, take it with you.

Flash game review bonanza 3

Well I’m in that post-school, pre-summer job phase of life right now, by which I mean my cash flow is almost zero (there is, of course, always the five bucks I garner here and there for offering sexual favors to passing sailors). That being said, I haven’t purchased any new games recently, and it thus seemed time for another foray into the fantastic field of Flash-game fun (By the way, that just cost me two skill points in alliteration creation… and one in rhyming). Again trying to establish some continuity to my reviews, I decided to head over and try some of Popcap’s esteemed games. Thus, my reviews are limited to the one hour trial demo popcap.com offers, and I will offer along with the review my opinion on whether or not the games are worth shelling out the 20 bucks needed for the full version. →  Lords of the Read 2

An E3 for the proletariat: Impressions Part 2

As last time, coverage is by our street team of Golden Jew, Horatio, Noah and Ben.

World of Warcraft (PC)
At this point, you probably know all the data you need to from the internet, so I’ll focus on some chats I had with one of the Blizzard reps that was patrolling their demo area. When I asked what he was most excited about in the expansion, he said sockets. My main question was if sockets would be more helpful than most current end game crafting (ie, everything but alchemy except for resist gear), and he said for sure. He also indicated they will be adding to end game crafting in the expansion.

I asked about release dates for Naxxramas and the expansion, and all he would say for Naxx was “Summer.” →  Read Read Revolution: Disney Channel Edition

Flash game review bonanza 1

There are a lot of flash games on the internet, and most of them suck harder than a hooker on Christmas. So, in order to avoid having to write six angst-riddled reviews of six horrible games, as well as give the set of games I review some feeling of cohesiveness, I’ve decided to provide reviews for the top six rated games at the infamous flash portal at www.newgrounds.com. Enjoy!

Raiden X

Creator: Go0gley
Genre: top-down shooter

Water attack
Laser of Doom- $5000. Futuristic air force jet- $20000000. Getting your neighbor’s kid to draw your backgrounds – Priceless.

Synopsis: Raiden X was developed as a tribute to the Raiden games. It is a garden variety vertical shooter. Certain enemies will drop power ups that allow you to upgrade one of three types of weapons: a blue laser beam, red machine gun fire, or a purple lightning type energy.

 →  May God smite me if I stop reading here!

Fevered Dreams of Video Games

the ultimate lasers…

…black and white… all rotating, is one superior? lasers everywhere…

white and black two way… four options but with homing blast, but which is the most true?

This is a rough transcript of my thoughts during a recent fever induced delirium. They may not make much sense to you, but I had pictures going along with the words in my head. Also, they didn’t really make sense to me. All I know is that when I’m very sick, I dream about shooters. This specific half asleep half awake episode seemed to be both comparing the minimalism of Ikaruga to the chock full of weapons Gradius V. I also thought I had come up with the perfect laser approach in all games. This makes no sense, of course.

Since this illness has kept me away from the site for almost a week it makes sense that I’d have writing on my mind. →  You lost me.