Monday, December 27, 2010

Black Ops, You are Breakin' My Heart.

Last month saw the release of the newest edition to the Call of Duty line up. Black Ops broke sales records on every platform and has made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits so far. Its just a shame the game sucks.

Okay, that was shock value. The game does not completely blow, only marginally. When looking back at the history of amazing first person shooters, CoD has definitely earned the right to join the ranks. Call of Duty 3 and 4 were both amazing games that were extremely well rounded. Even World at War brought some new ideas to the table. But Black Ops in no way compares to any of these games.

The more I play Black Ops, the more I realize how it is like a refurbished version of Modern Warfare 2. Its no secret that MW2 was shit. Both the lack of a sufficient Beta and an excess of poorly designed weapons contributed to the games failure for its first six months. Black Ops seems to have taken MW2 and simply changed the maps and fixed the glitches.

The look and feel of the game is incredibly similar to its immediate predecessor. I was really wanting something new. It seems like the only new attributes to the game are gimicky weapons like exploding crossbows and an exploding rc-car.

But there are some good changes. Thankfully, the designers made adjustments like removing the ability to play using nothing more than grenade launchers. They also added some new game types including wager matches and specialty rounds like One In The Chamber. There is now so much more customization. Of course some players are dicks that make reticule and emblems that look like ... well... dicks. But some of them are surprisingly cool and original.

I think for me, this is all just too little too late. I feel like I've been playing the same mediocre game that I was playing for the previous year. I'm waiting for it to become new and exciting but it really just doesn't strike me as amazing. It certainly didn't live up all the expectations I had. So maybe in the end it's my fault. I was ready to be blown away but maybe my hopes and dreams were just too big.

The single player is really good. I can't hate that. Its far more difficult than the last few and the changing of scenery through time travel is appreciated. But who plays Call of Duty for the single player ?

Black Ops has finally provided me with that proverbial straw that broke the camels back. I'm over the Call of Duty series. There are so many other games I could be playing and I would rather dedicate my time to them instead. Now I do realize that a lot of people disagree with me. They play the new game and swear its the best thing ever. And there are literally millions of gamers that log onto the Black Ops servers on a regular basis so I'm sure they all would have an argument or two. But for me, as much as I don't want to walk away from a series that I used to love; I have grown as a gamer and it is time for me to move on. Goodbye Call of Duty, you will be missed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Halos vs. Horns

I'm pretty sure we have discussed playing games through as good or evil before.  And if we haven't, then I have to say it's something that is always in the forefront of my mind.  I recently started playing Mass Effect (yes, I'm back on console!  Soon to be back on Live! *gasp!*) -- and I am approaching that game with the knowledge that it is, arguably, one of the most user-affected games out there.  Every decision I make has the opportunity to change the happenings and outcome of my game.  And not just my game in Mass Effect, but my future game in Mass Effect 2.  I can't take the stress!  (Ok, I totally can.  But I do way over think things.)

With these heady life-changing decisions looming around every corner, I look back on my choice in games past.  I, inevitably, play "good".  I can't help it.  I'm the helper.  In Fable 2 my character was so good they were blindingly bright and had a halo.  I've never gotten to see the ugly, evil horned version... and do I want to?  I've never taken the time to go back through one of these huge games and replayed as the opposite.  Would it be more enjoyable to me to go through a game and fight against my every tendency to help?  Would I feel as immersed, or maybe even more so?  I'd be playing as a character that wouldn't be making the decisions that real-life Linz would make...and that could be wonderfully fun.

I was discussing this with Debbie earlier and she said she also plays as the 'good'.  But my friend Chris always plays evil.  He can't help it; he has to do it.  He loves the power.  But he also is a re-player. He's gone through Fallout 3 three times, twice evil, once good.  He enjoyed both.  Maybe I let the karma-systems get into my head too much.  I'm just not sure if I have enough of the dark side in me.  I had to make a decision whether a captured evil witch should be freed or killed in WoW yesterday.  I choose to kill her, and it's been driving me crazy ever since!  What if I had let her live?  So to go on and slay a shop-owner and steal all his goods?  Choose to abandon the family starving in the desert so that I can turn in this quest item that much sooner and, therefore, receive a higher reward?  The idea could certainly be freeing.  "Hey, I want your coat."  "No way."  *bang*  "Muahhahaha..."

What do you play as?  Do these karmic decisions affect you as much as they effect me?  And have you ever gone back through and played a game in the opposite way than you did the first time?  I'm going to do it...eventually.  And then I'll get back to you.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unsolicited Holiday Buying Advice. You're Welcome.

It always seems like it would be so easy to buy a gift for your favorite gamer. Then you, the not-gaming-type, walks into a game section, or, God forbid, an entire game store - and you go blank. What is it they play? X-Station Infinity? Wii-Play-3? Well we are here to help you sort through all the ruckus. We suggest making a list before you wander into somewhere. And if you don't have the time to sit there and write it all down, take a couple pictures of your family's gaming collection with your camera phone and reference that in the store. Let's categorize this to make it even easier...

Your gamer probably likes to shoot stuff. Who doesn't ? If they don't have them all ready, check out titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, or MAG. If you are shopping for a little one, be aware that some of these games are disturbingly violent and definitely not for everyone. If you have a sensitive gamer, check the ratings to match the player.

If you have a die hard RPG fan on your list, try out games like Oblivion, Fable 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and the Mass Effect series. Maybe you have a WoW-er in your house who didn't grab Cataclysm on the release date (unlikely), but if so, you'll make their season bright by allowing them to dominate a giant dragon in the upcoming months.

Does your nerd thrive on virtual action and adventure ? Look for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Batman Arkham Asylum. The Force Unleashed 2 is on the scene, and since it's an exceptionally short game, its one that someone isn't likely to buy on their own but would still love as a present.

Do you or your loved one prefer to flex their brain more than that trigger finger? Take a look at Tomb Raider or Uncharted 1 and 2. Even games like Limbo, Portal, and Super Meat Boy all add high elements of timing and strategy. If your gamer plays puzzle games that aren't so fast paced, check out Brain Age or Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. (There's also Diabolical Box, or Curious Village if your gamer hasn't gotten into the Layton series at all.) The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series is also a great hand-held puzzle game.

Already played all those games ? Don't forget accessories ! Rechargeable battery packs are a must. Even if they have some, they tend to slowly wear out so it could be time for new ones. Almost every gamer plays with friends online, make sure they have the equipment to do so. There are some nice options for high-end headsets for all consoles and PCs that range anywhere from $40-$200. You can also buy skins to help customize consoles and controllers with their favorite colors and characters.

And lets not forget stocking stuffers ! Buy some AAA batteries for those headsets ! A sweet mousepad for your PC gamer. You can even buy prepaid cards for Microsoft and Wii Points. Also keep an eye out for that worn cable that could be replaced or maybe a cool thumb drive to keep their game saves on for when they play away from home.

Here are a few straggling tips to remember. Used games are totally acceptable. I would much rather have two used games for the cost of a new one. But if you buy a used game, check the disc before you take it home ! Sometimes those games have been to hell and back and that person behind the counter doesn't always take the time to look at the condition of the disc as carefully as they should. Watch out for Game of the Year editions. Batman Arkham Asylum, Borderlands, and more come out with ultimate editions that contain all the additional content. Its so obvious; ask for help. Show the sales people that picture you took with your cellphone. They will be able to give excellent recommendations once they know what games your gift receiver likes to buy. Lastly, create a gamer if you don't have one. With the Nintendo DS, the Wii, the PS Move, and now the Kinect, everyone can find a game that they love to play.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Its Like the Bourne Identity Minus The Intrigue and Excitement

A lot of people are going to be receiving PS3's, Xbox Slims, and computers for Christmas. If you use these systems to game over the internet (and we highly recommend you do), you are going to have to pick a tag or handle. It will replace your real name, be completely unique, and become your new internet identity. Here is a list of basic Do's and Don't's for those new to the online universe.


The first trick to picking a really good name is knowing what you are comfortable with. This is how people will address you whenever they see you online, so its best to go by something that isn't going to get annoying. There are a lot people I have met on XBL that I talk to on the phone or hang out with in real life. Many of them call me by my tag even in person. So think to yourself "Am I cool with someone introducing me to a friend as AssClown842 ?"

Be yourself. The nerd blood runs deep in public gaming. People might not understand that "Hackers" reference in the real world, but give a nod to Crash Override and you will earn some respect. Pick your favorite band, movie, food, anything and give a gentle nod. The masses will respond favorably.

Remember that you can use spaces and capitalization. You don't have to just type and cram your words together if you don't want to. Throw a space or some capital letters in there to break it up. This is especially helpful if you have a name consisting of more than one word.


Here is a rule that a lot of guys follow, if she has to tell you she is attractive, then she usually isn't. Don't cram your sexuality down everyone's throat. We get it. You are a female gamer. And I'm sorry to break it to you, but its not that big of a deal. Almost 40% of gamers are female. You may pick certain words because you think its sexy or cute, but using words like "hot", "sexy", "princess", or "baby" make you look super desperate for attention.

This is a version of the girls' rule. If you have to tell people that you are a Lady Killer, than you probably aren't one at all. Stay away from names that tell people you are the alpha male. Keep in mind that there is always someone out there better at games than you are. And with such an assertive name, you are certainly going to made fun of every single time you aren't in first place.

Avoid cliches. Some trends die hard and once you have picked the latest greatest fad, remember that changing your handle is going to make you lose some of your identity and could even cost you money. Some overused words to avoid: Panda, Penguin, Ninja, Pirate, Assassin, Master, Deadly, Doom, Real, Doll, Guy, etc. Tags with these words are found in almost every room. It doesn't make anyone less of a competitor, but you will definitely fall into the crowd. And it shows your lack or creativity. Also, stay away from posting your nationality. No one cares. I promise.

Don't try so hard to be funny. Dick and fart jokes are great, but being addressed as MrBrownPants is going to get old quick. You can compensate by picking a funny movie character that you like or a funny quote. But just throwing the word "toilet" in there is hella lame.

Clan tags are a special thing all on their own. If the clan you are joining does not require you to change your tag, then I highly recommend that you don't. Many of these online gaming groups come and go. They all think they are going to become some MLG powerhouse, but really, they dissolve inside the first year. And if this happens, you are going to be stuck with the name. Keep the name changes for clans that are reputable for having been around for a long time.

Lastly, don't put X's and O's around your name. Its something that is frequently done by younger players. Leave the decorations out and choose a name that can stand alone. Its common to use 1's and 3's to replace letters, but over doing this can make your name really hard to read. Keep it simple. If you have to change that many letters to numbers, then someone else probably has that exact name and you should pick something else.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bad TV Turned Great

I have avoided these freaky little rabbits in the past, because I thought they were ugly, probably annoying, and maybe even a little frightening.  I may have been wrong.  They are ugly, a little annoying, and still the stuff of nightmares -- but they are also hilarious!  And this game is so fun!

My siblings came over for a game night and we spent a long time playing Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party.  It is a blast.  If you have ever read this blog you have deep and abiding knowledge of my love for mini-games, and the Rabbids provide.  The entire game is playing mini games that are based on television programs that are on now.  There are "Pimp My Rabbid", "Rabbidass" (Jackass), "American Choppy" just to name a few.  And they are really hilarious.  The games are organized on to channels, which are mockeries of HGTV, Spike, MTV...  My favorite channel is the cult movie channel, and the games are a blast.

The gameplay is all fairly easy, although I was having some trouble with my Wii-mote responding correctly.  There is a dancing game where you move your nunchuck and Wii-mote according to the "dance coach" , and for whatever reason I could not get it.  This could be partially due to these two things: 1 - I don't have the little extra gyroscope add-on for the 'mote.  2 - I don't have the rhythm.  Ok, who are we kidding?  It's clearly the lack of the gyroscope.  But other than that small issue I was having an absolute blast.  Each of the channels has a couple of game styles to play with tons of variations.  Like the Cult Classics channel is shoot-at-target games, which I adore, but every time I played it it was based on a different movie and you were shooting at different things.  I feel like this game would have a lot of replayability just going through and seeing all the different shows they chose to mock.

The Rabbids are ridiculous.  The gameplay is simple and fun.  My siblings and I were cracking up over the hilarious Rabbids, and the more hilarious watching each other play.  The game can use the balance board peripheral, but I don't have it, and it adjusts the gameplay accordingly so you don't need it.  The Wii doesn't get a lot of love around these parts, but it's games like this that make me think I should dust off the old 'motes and give 'er another go round more often.  That and I have Mario Galaxy 2 waiting in the wings.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Make an Ass of Yourself With Kinect !

I spent a significant amount of my day yesterday boiling over with child-like excitement. The thought of using the Kinect and playing Dance Central swirled through my brain. And the final verdict, my preemptive joy was totally justified. Here's the breakdown of what to expect from the device itself.

This thing has motion sensors, face recognition, and voice activation. All this means that it is
not a plug and play accessory. Expect to spend about an hour setting it up. Between rearranging your furniture and the endless calibrations, give yourself the time to get it all ready before you invite all your friends to play. Otherwise, your Kinect party is going to be at a pretty serious standstill.

Remember all that hype about needing to empty out your living room to play ? Its all true. We created a floor space of about 10-11 feet from the television and still ended up playing up against the back. There are a few tricks to remedy this. Supposedly, mounting the Kinect higher up with a slightly downward facing angle means that you can get closer to the screen. Look for lots of reliable (and surprisingly cheap) mounts and stands already available. But this system can still be problematic for extremely tall people and the kids in the family. Before you dump a couple hundred on this for your demanding two year old, check the height recommendations first.

There were rumors flying around about the Kinect being racist. Somehow, the camera couldn't tell if there was a Black person with especially dark skin playing. What people don't realize, is that lighting is important. If you have super dark skin and you stand in a dark room with no lights,
rise genius, its not going to work. If your friends can barely see you, why would a camera across the room ? But the same is true in reverse. If people with exceptionally pale skin stand with the windows open and the hot sunlight flooding the room, the camera won't be able to detect them either. Between the intense light and heat, you are going to be lost to the sensors. So if the lighting is well controlled, that NAACP boycott you were trying organize won't be necessary.

But after all of that, prepare for awesomeness. You can shift through menus using your hands or the voice activation. There is also Kinect chat, although this is less impressive. It operates basically the same way that the regular XBL chat works. And you can look for a review of Dance Central very, very soon. I won't start it here, just know that it was probably some of the most ridiculous fun I have had in awhile.

So the long and short is that you should definitely spend the money to get this accessory. Its crazy fun and worth the price. There is no possible way you could regret bouncing up and down like an epileptic and recording it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lindsey Ruined My Virtual Social Life

So every couple of months, Lindsey asks me if I have played a certain game. She recommends that I check something out and give it a try. Her latest offense has been introducing me to MyTribe. It is this silly little game on Facebook. Reminiscent of simulators like Ceasar III or Age of Empires, this game is all about building a society out of nothing and advancing them through technology and resources. But there is no battle, no time line completion, nothing. Just lots of mundane tasks and leveling. Despite its lack of action, I am completely addicted to this game.

I don't understand how this happens ! I feel like my years of dedication to intense shooters and RPG's would make me "above
" all these pointless, endless games. Or, am I really that much of a hardcore gamer that I feel compelled to do my best at even the most trivial title ? Maybe Lindsey has magical powers over me. She was successful in driving me into the cold, heartless arms of Mafia Wars as well.

And why can't I just stop playing the game altogether ? I have logged into this time waster at least once a day for over 100 days ! I know there is no end to the game. I know that it will keep leveling on forever, and I know that there is no main objective, I literally can not win. It has taken over my life completely. I check on my little island inhabitants in the morning, throughout my day at work, and then before bed. So why can't I just walk away ???

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Little Lifesaver

Yes I am seriously going to blog about My Little Pony.  This was one of the games my 3-year-old got for her birthday, and the first official game she beat all by herself.

*CHEER!* *Party!* *Celebrate!*

There's not a lot to say about this game, other than it is good for little kids.  I played it a little, and...well...  There's just not a lot to say, haha.  The story gets a 10/10 as far as Ponyland goes, because those darn silly ponies hid all 20 of the birthday presents around Ponyville and you have to find them before the birthday party!  Those crazy technicolor horses.  You also have to fine 10 or so puzzle pieces.  Each present unlocks an item you can play with, like a box of glitter you can blow all over the screen.  Or a jack-in-the box.  They're pretty adorable, actually.  And I think the puzzle unlocked a mini-game?  I haven't asked Kiera.  There are a series of 8 mini games you unlock as you play the story mode though.  I had to help with one that was an imitation of Simon Says/Dance Dance.  And even I had to play it like, three times.  It was way confusing because that pony would not get moving.

All in all, this is a fabulous young person's game.  Kiera has played it for hours on end.  She loves replaying the minigames even though there is such a small selection.  And to top it all off, this game goes for like, $5 on Amazon.  So if your little has a DS, pick this one up as a stocking stuffer.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fable 3 - Can I Have Your Baby ?

Fable 2 stole the hearts and souls of millions. With the distinct ability to make perverse gestures and contract sexually transmitted diseases, who wouldn't have fun ? Now those fun-loving bastards at Lionheart studios have come back with a sequel that is sure to quench your polyamorous thirst. First, the story.

In Fable 2, there was a story. Ask around, and most people have no idea what it was. Sure there was some fighting and a villainous character to defeat, but the whole story was extremely short and totally forgettable. Fable 3 has a much better and longer adventure in store. You play as the son or daughter of the main hero character from Fable 2. You fulfill your destiny to become a hero in order to over-throw your evil brother who has proven himself to be a tyrannical leader. Its not the most original story ever but its a significant improvement for the last game.

The co-op is hugely improved. Previously, characters were stuck in the same screen, not able to move in a direction unless both did. Long gone are the days of awkward camera angles. Say 'hello' to your new longer leash. Co-o
p partners can run around in the same city and be on different streets or in separate houses. Lionhead has also expanded beyond simply giving your friends a gift. You can now start businesses together and even get married. But be careful with those business relationships. Once you are locked in, you can end up sharing both profits and debts.

Breathe a sign of relief, you can still get syphilis ! All the offensive/awesome activites from Fable 2 are back. You can have multiple sex partners, get pregnant, contract STDs, and use condoms. But just like in real life, those condoms aren't always 100% effect. If you want full protection, try to find the Condom of the Gods. I'm not even making that up. You can belch in everyones face or fart and cause people to pa
ss out. And if you eliminate the drinking limit, you can watch civilians stumble around drunk and graphically vomit everywhere. Win.

On a more technical note, the controls are infinitely smoother. Attacking with ranged weapons is far more engaging than in the past. Load times seem shorter and interacting with people seems easier. One downfall is that some of the interactions take a long time to complete. There is a lot of navigating in and out of menus to accomplish simple things like giving a gift or shaking hands. This is especially weird since there are no shortcut menus for anything else is that game. Built into the game is a sanctuary room. The hero quickly transports to this room and once there they must walk up to a map and zoom into cities in order to f
ast travel. And from the main sanctuary room, you have to walk into other rooms where you can changed clothes or your weapon load out. I understand why they thought this might have been a cool idea, but there were times when having a shortcut button on the controller would have been much easier. And lastly, there were too many collectible missions, especially ones that had 30+ items to find.

Other than those few shortcomings, this game is amazing. It is a well rounded RPG with a very well integrated action/shooting element. The story is great and the missions are fun. As an added bonus, there are talks of Fable 3 merchandise that could even include a line of real life, Fable 3 condoms. Thank you Lionheart, for this seasons best stocking stuffer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Midnight Madness, Embrace It !

Everyone has been swamped with plenty of new games lately. And almost every title has come with a midnight release. Since games are usually released on Tuesdays, that means the massive midnight events happen on Monday nights. While this may seem really impractical during the week, here are a couple reasons why you should check them out.

First, and the most obvious: They are Crazy Fun ! Light-hearted atmosphere, great conversation, sometimes there are even cool games. Go with a fellow nerd, a non-gaming friend, or even go by yourself. Its a good time either way.

Second: Meet Awesome People ! You are bound to be standing next to someone interesting. Everyone who is standing in line loves the same game you love. You can geek out for hours while waiting for doors to open. Who wouldn't want to end their crap-lousy Monday by meeting dozens of new friends that love the same stuff you do. Its also a great way to meet new people for co-op. Strike up conversation with those around and before you know it, you will be exchanging gamertags.

Third: Amazing Perks and Deals ! Pre-ordering and picking up a game at midnight almost always comes with awesome little goodies. Keep your eyes peeled for avatar gear, extra weapons, and free songs. They also promote additional savings on strategy guides or extra money for trade-ins. And if the midnight event is the right size, there can be free drinks, free food, and giveaways.

Don't forget these easy tips to make your night more fun. If the store is outside, be mindful of the weather. Many times the line waits outside the store for hours, so dress accordingly. It sounds really obvious, but I have seen so many people not realize how cold you get standing outside at midnight without moving. Have a snack and a drink with you, even better if you have enough for everyone. I recommend a big bag of animal crackers or goldfish crackers. Your neighbors in line will love you for sharing. Lastly, bring a game. If you have a PSP or a DS, throw that in your bag. Maybe even load some fun apps on your phone. But if the crowd happens to not be the most lively bunch, you will be glad you brought it with you.

While a lot of the major midnight launches have passed, there are still a couple more out there waiting. And now, the next time a bank-draining slew of titles hits all at once, you will be prepared.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Zombie Video Games ............. Yawn

Every couple of years there are cultural explosions of random things. Lately we've seen ninjas, pirates, and now we are back to zombies. We've seen them all before and we will see them again. But zombies have infiltrated the video game market and they won't let go. My question is this: "When will there be a 'new' zombie game"?

With little exception, zombie games appear to all be the same concept. There are endless waves of zombies. Now survive. An
d that's about it. Games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, and the Burn Zombie Burn all thrive on the same idea of finding new ways to kill. Some of them come up with new ways as to how the zombies came to be. Others change up who the main character is. But for the most part, there is not much imagination in the games themselves.

I can respect that zombie games have become their own genre. After all, what are FPS games other than point and shoot over and over ? But they typically know their place. I don't play Final Fantasy and then suddenly there is a DLC pack that allows me to actually shoot down the sites for hours. But for some reason, super lame zombie DLC and add-ons are popping up everywhere. Borderlands had the crap-tastic download of Dr. Ned's Zombie Island. Call of Duty hit it off with Nazi zombies, but now that extra feature gets more creative attention than the regular game.

Now I'm sure there is some zombie-buff out there reading this and fuming. They
've seen all the zombie movies with directors commentary, watch the tv show, and play the games. This person is just dying to put me in my place about zombie media. But the bottom line for me is that I used to like some zombie games, but the over-saturation has totally turned me off. I want to be able to walk away from a game without them sneaking in there. I want to continue to be a completionist without trudging through waves of the walking dead. I can't wait until developers ease up on cramming zombies down my throat because I, like numerous others, am totally over it.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fight Songs Get Me Riled Up

Yes, this is still Lindsey.  No, I have not been taken over by some sort of parasite that makes me love sports.  I just have an appreciation for some of them, especially those well executed as video games.  I have been known to play Tiger Woods, hockey, that little vintage green screen football game... But this particular entry is about EA's most recent gift to the football loving crowds.

I have to admit that I have not actually played this.  But I have spent an inordinate amount of time watching it being played - so I am, in all actuality, like a true fan of the sport!

This game is really lovely.  The graphics are so realistic that, at quick glance, one could pretend they are watching a real game instead of a video game.  And one thing that continues to amaze me is the sound.  They have all the fight songs, the roar of the crowd.. And announcers that actually make sense!  Now, I played Madden back in the day, and all the announcers ever did was say stupid things like, "Ouch!  That had to hurt!"  In NCAA they make witty and fitting commentary related to the happenings of the game.  It amazes me all the time.

Beyond the graphic and sound quality, the gameplay looks really smooth.  My husband has not complained about the controls.  There seems to be no shortage of plays to choose from.  There is an adequate challenge to playing and beating the snot out of your favorite rivals.  And there's recruiting.  Now, you all know me to love a good sim game.. and NCAA '11 provides!  You get to contact up-and-coming high schoolers and try to recruit them to your school.  This is done by managing a certain amount of phone time, and placing calls to your desired recruits during which you try to convince them that your school of choice is the best for them.  My husband created a recruitable character that represented himself, then was let down when he couldn't get himself to come to Nebraska.  Virtual-Bret ended up in Florida I believe.

If you're a football fan, this one could be for you.  If your significant other is a football fan, at least you can have fun watching this one be played.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas

Fallout: New Vegas has been out for about a week now. There are a lot of reviews and opinions out there. One of the most commonly heard phrases about this game is that its exactly like Fallout 3. You are hearing that so much because, surprise, it IS almost identical to Fallout 3. This can be good or bad, I'm gonna break it down.

Bad news first. Its bad because I didn't want to pay $60 for a game I already have. The guns, the character interactions, even the menus are
exactly the same. And because the gameplay is identical, its kind of discouraging. I spent hours grinding through Fallout 3, completing missions and tackling no less than five different dlc downloads. So when I started this up, it felt like I was still going from the last game. Imagine completing a game in 80 hours and then realizing that the game was really 160 hours long. That is what this feels like. Its psychological.

Now for the good news, which is actually great news. Finally, a developer took to heart t
he concept of "it it ain't broke, don't fix it". All the things that I thought were fun about the last game are back. The quirky characters, the extremely user-friendly Pip-Boy, and my beloved VATS system are all back. There are some cool new features that definitely shouldn't be over-looked. You can now control your companions and have them help you with specific actions. And in addition to building new weapons, you can now modify weapons. Imagine a 0.357 Magnum with extra clips and a laser scope.

I recommend F
allout: New Vegas for just about anyone. Take a break from your crazy multiplayer shooter and indulge in some mission driven madness. Its a great game for people to play who are new to action-RPGs or are rediscovering the genre. I think this game will be for other people what Fallout 3 was for me.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birds Vs. Pigs: Blood on Your Phone

My daily commute is around 3.5 hours and reading on a loud, jostling train can be futile. So as another form of entertainment, I have been looking for games to play on my iPhone. It seems like everyone I ask, no matter which phone or service they have, is enjoying this Angry Birds game. The time to jump on the bandwagon is once again upon me.

Angry Birds does not have that much of a story. There are birds with eggs. Some mean, green pigs came and take the eggs. Now you have to kill the pigs and take back the eggs. Now I always envisioned that this all had some sort of deeper, philosophical meaning. Perhaps a reflection of society and the unending politics of our daily lives. The pigs represent our daily struggle against greater corporate forces that are trying to steal the eggs. The "eggs" being our children and the "pigs" seek to brainwash every new generation into becoming thoughtless consumers. We must fight through blockades to regain control of ourselves and our lives. Alternatively, I am fairly certain that this is just cartoon birds dive-bombing pigs with mustaches. Mmmmmm ..... pigs with 'staches.

But there really is more to this game than a lot of the others out there. You have the ability to set up an account and share challenges and scores with friends and strangers alike. Its like a remedial version of networked gaming. All of that adds a new challenge to this already fun game.

Now the game itself is fairly simple in concept. You have birds, and you must launch them into blocks to kill multiple targets. There is a good chance you have played a game very similar to this. It is almost identical to games like Izzi and Fragger. It is simple and fun. As the levels progress, the challenges get harder and require a more strategic approach. And when you get stuck, don't worry, there are lots of videos and tips online to help make this a success.

The next best part of this is the price. For the iPhone, this game app is only 99 cents. And with this 99 cents, you get hundreds of levels of varying types of game play. Not sure you are willing to invest that hard earned dollar ? No problem. There is a trial app out there called Angry Birds Lite where you can play about 30 levels of the game for free. This is a great way to get a feel for it.

So the long story short is that this is a super fun game. Its easy to play and doesn't require a ton of monster, gaming skills. And with the price at just under a dollar, this is a game that any mobile gamer will enjoy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Big is Too Big?

I consider myself an avid gamer.  I love gaming.  It's my main hobby, and I make time for it as best I can.  I can usually pick up any game and play it fairly well after a little learning period.  I'm sure there are thousands of people out there that feel the same way... and I'm sure we mostly want the same things.  Bigger and better games.  But how big is too big?
One thing I do to scratch my gaming itch when I have a bad internet connection or no access to consoles is read blogs.  I was just reading and it is full of articles about all the updates and patches coming up with Cataclysm's upcoming December 7 release.  And when I say "reading" I use the term lightly.  There is just so much information.  I haven't hit 80 yet, and with Cat the level cap will be 85, so sometimes I just skim things since they don't really "apply" to me yet.  But lately it seems like I'm skimming more and taking in less.  It's almost like WoW has become too immersive.  I feel like I can't possibly learn it all!  New specs, talents, gems, weapons, jobs....

I've heard the same complaints from people about games like Fallout or Red Dead Redemption.  It makes me wonder when a game has grown too big - when your gamer life is taking just as much brain power (if not more!) than your normal life, is it work or is it still fun?  When I'm in a game and I feel like I can't even scratch the surface, sometimes that is just depressing.
But I can learn - and learn to love it!  I have enjoyed every moment that I've played WoW and learned more and more about the world.  I love to be immersed.  A different example would be The Sims.  I loved The Sims.  Then I got The Sims 2, and I was like, "Whoa this is too much."  The system of desires/life goals is a lot to juggle.  Even something as seemingly simple as keeping the house clean transformed from picking up garbage to picking up garbage, mopping the floor, wiping the counters, cleaning the toilet...

To bring it back around: these huge games just make me wonder.  We want bigger games.  We want virtual reality.  We want to feel like we're really living these lives.... But when is it too much?  When have you been overwhelmed?

Def Jam's Rapstar: The New Ultimate Party Game

There are a lot of rhythm and music games out there, but none of them really compare to Def Jam's Rockstar. This latest release from 4mm Gaming brings the nostalgia of old school beats and the amazing/retarded lyrics of today's number one rap hits. No matter what your favorite rap single is, you will surely find it in this game.

Rapstar is set up like most other rhythm games. There is a career mode, quickplay, freestyle, and live rap battles over XBL and functions a lot like karaoke. You read the words as a little time-keeping ball bounces over the lyrics appropriately. Even if you don't know the words exactly, you can still score pretty high as long as you make sounds that are similar and you are on beat.

There are lots of other new little features. The player has the ability to record themselves rapping to the game and clip it into 30 second videos. There are sound and video effects available in the game to add a little post-production sparkle. Registering and creating a profile on the Rapstar website will allow you to upload your videos directly from your Xbox to your online profile via XBL. I'm waiting for some pretty amazing viral videos to emerge from this function. If nothing else, you can probably find clips of big, hairy guys in their boxers rapping to Salt-n-Peppa ;)

The songs are really varied, at least varied among rap and hip-hop music. You can find artists like Beastie Boys, Lil Wayne, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, and loads more. And just like Rock Band or any music game, you can download songs to increase your game playlist. It can be frustrating if you don't know the songs, but you will probably still be able to complete at least a couple songs. And the other annoyance is that all the curse words are removed. I wish they had made an option at the beginning of the game to have a mature version where you can choose to have the lyrics in all their offensive glory.

The bottom line is that this is a really fun game. It looks really over-whelming and super dorky in the beginning. But once you start your first song, you are going to instantly travel back to your college days in the clubs or you formative years in middle school.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Games for the Non-Gamer

Not a lot of my friends play video games. They may have one console or another, but for the most part, their gaming is definitely classified as recreational. I have found this great website that should appeal to almost everyone.

The site is It is full of thousands of fun, simple, user-created games. There are scrollers, strategy, shooting, and puzzles. They don't require any downloading. And best of all, they are FREE !!!

I have played several and I am thinking that I may be having entire reviews for some of the games at a later time. But one that I recommend now is called Izzi. Its a simple game that bases itself off of physics. You have a cannon with different color smiley faces / cannonballs. Across from the cannon are blocks with correlating colors to the cannonballs. You must shoot the ball at the matching colored blocks. It is so simple but there are little strategies to it. There is also the option for users to modify and create levels. Its like Tetris meets Little Big Planet.

There are a lot of games like this one that are very cute, very simple, and crazy addictive. They are great for a lazy afternoon stuck indoors, or even for that desk jockey at work that loves playing around on company time. Hardcore gamer or not, you should definitely check out this site.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My First Time Across the Finish Line

I have told this story a thousand times, but here it goes again. I used to suck at first-person shooters. I just wasn't cut out for it. But one day, after two years of sitting on my shelf, I picked up a copy of the Metroid Prime and tore through it on my Game Cube. I've been a run and gun bitch ever since. But now, I have conquered my latest gaming fear. Racing.

I have never been good at driving in games. I always spin out at corners, crash into objects, and just never seem to be able to multitask while I'm racing. I mean God forbid I have to shoot something
while I drive. I am usually decent at flying games like Ace Combat and Flight Simulator. But really, driving of any kind has been my downfall.

This week, I was introduced to the game Blur. Its not a total racing game. There are lots of different things in the game like power-ups and time trials. But it is all clearly based on driving. I was reluctant to even put the game disc in my Xbox. But once I did, I never looked back.
Not only was I able to race, but I was doing a decent job ! I was completing solo career challenges left and right. I raced live with other gamers and I almost never came in last. In fact, a couple times, I was in the top three.

Now this very well could be a fluke. I might never be able to pick up another racing game other than this one. But if that's the case, it was fun while it lasted. I just hope that this is my gateway into racing games. Maybe the way Metroid broke me into FPS, Blur will help me learn how to virtually drive.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Time grows on trees, right?

So in my last blog I said "time is the issue".. that hasn't changed, but something that also doesn't change the fact that I desire to game at all times.  So I went to Best Buy today -- hey!  I had $15 in rewards to cash in.

I desperately wanted to get Reach.  And...I didn't.  (ducks behind a variety of strong devices to stop any and all projectiles from the hating public)  I knew that I wouldn't be on Xbox until December-ish and so I just couldn't justify the $60 right now.  I will get it though.  Pink Master Chief on a jetpack with hearts and confetti shooting out of my armor is just too much for this girl to resist.

But I did make a purchase that I am extremely excited about: the new Professor Layton!  I just can't get enough of that guy in his tall hat.  I'm not entirely sure I ever "finished" the last game though, so I'll have to get it out and dust it off too.  Which means I'll either have to get another DS (preferably the bright pink [or white] DSi) or I'll have to distract Kiera with ice cream and tv.  Either way.  Anyways I'm all over the place here.  Let's just say I'm excited to play more puzzle games.

Another purchase was made that I am extremely excited about: my mom got Kiera her first video game for her upcoming birthday present.  (Don't tell her!  It's a secret.)  It just excited me that Kiera is awesome enough at games to warrant getting her own games now.  We picked out Carnival Games for her on the DS.  She loves the mini games on Mario so much, I think she'll really dig Carnival Games.

Do you remember the first game you got that was actually yours?  My first system was the original Gameboy (the big, gray brick).  I remember having Mario which I loved, and I believe a Tom & Jerry game?  A super favorite was Super Mario and the Six Golden Coins.  Sooo fun.  My next system was the NES, and I had the gold Zelda, Super Mario Bros, and Bugs Bunny Birthday Bash.  (I had more titles than just these listed, but these were special to me.  So fun!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So here's the problem....

I'm just going to lay it out there: the issue is time.

I wanted to say "as a woman".... but I don't know if that is unfair to my fellow ladies, but I feel like, as a woman, I am always putting myself and what I want to do on the back burner.  For me that means I don't make the time to game.  And oh how I miss it.

This is partially an apology blog for me not being around much...Lucky you, readers, you have Debbie totally keeping Game On alive.  And she is an amazing gamer and blogger.

So time.  I let everything else come between  me and gaming.  It is a priority, but it is low on the totem pole.  Like right now my Xbox is living with a friend, but I have my a box.  I haven't even taken the time in the last 3 months now to set the poor thing up.  I can hear its weeping now.  I've all but given up on getting the DS back out of my daughter's sticky little hands.  All I have left is the PC, and play it I do.  Simple Facebook games (I'm looking at you, My Tribe), are what seem to get a lot of my "game time" these days, mostly because I can play them and put them back down in the span of 5 minutes.  I also spend a fair amount of time WoW-ing, but I have promised you in the past that I wouldn't make this into another WoW blog.  There are hundreds of them, and, while some are horrid, there are some good ones and I don't even want to get into that competition.

At any rate, I miss my Xbox.  I miss playing.  A pink controller just came out for the PS3 and I had a longing for some game time.  I just hope you know that I'm not sitting here gaming and not telling you about it, or that I've given up all together.

So what keeps you from gaming?  And what should I do!?  Do I make it a priority above all else?  My kids are old enough to feed themselves, right? ;-)

Monday, September 20, 2010

GI's Editor-in-Chief: Massive Tool or Most Massive Tool ?

Lindsey feels an instant rush when she hears the beloved chime when a new achievement unlocks. My sister Lumpwad and I both brag about the constant growth our "Xbox penises" in direct correlation to our gamerscore. So I was less than thrilled when I opened one of the latest Game Informer magazines and read an article denouncing achievements.

The article was written by Editor-in-Chief Andy. He described starting a whole new account and how liberating it was. While that sentiment may be justifiable, his following arguments blew me away. He talked about how achievements shouldn't be in a game at all. That they are a superficial way of keeping score and most people boost or cheat to get achievements. There was definitely an implication in the article that if you go out of your way for an achievement, that you are basically an idiot and playing for the wrong reasons.

I completely disagree with this logic. Since the beginning of games, video or otherwise, people have wanted to achieve a score, level, or other established definition of accomplishment. While a lot of games are driven by stories, others thrive on score. How big is your kill streak ? What level did you reach ? How quickly did you finish the race ? All of these are what make the game fun and competitive. Without the concept of reaching a number, what would the point of playing online multiplayer be other than just blindly shooting ? His argument is akin to saying that Basketball players shouldn't care about counting baskets, they should just make shots over and over.

The Xbox gamerscore is a way for people to keep track of their games. They can show off what they accomplish or have completely finished. Its just like any other game, you get an unexplainable thrill from reaching a number. Of course we all acknowledge that the number is without actual value. We know it doesn't make us a better person or provide us with money or other goods. But it makes us happy and that is all that matters. After all, who doesn't love having bragging rights ?

So Andy McNamara, get off your soap box. You are not better than us for not caring about achievements. You have not reached a zen like state, you are not cooler than us, and you are not more of a "true gamer" than the rest of the gaming community. You are just some guy with a pen that feels the need to bitch and feel superior. Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Dear John Letter to Borderlands

Dear Borderlands,

You are an insolent, little tease. I have spent hours pouring my heart and soul into our relationship and you do nothing but spit in my face. When I tried to complete my mission in the Crimson Armory, you glitched and moved my target person to whereabouts unknown. When I tried to acquire the radar for my sweet, personalized ride, you channeled a bug and dropped it below the floor and under the map making it impossible to reach.

I remember the time I accidentally failed a mission in the Knoxx DLC. You let everyone else who has failed go back and try again. But when I screwed up, and you "accidentally" lock the doors to the vault making it impossible to complete not just one but TWO missions ! You know very well that if I don't complete those missions that I won't be able to get all of my achievements.

How dare you suggest that the only way I fix all this is by starting all over ? I don't want to continue on playthrough 2. And I don't want to start from the beginning with a totally new character. Your constant glitching is a major issue but you don't want to listen. You could create fail-safes to prevent these things from happening. Or even release a patch for the forums full of people you have deceived. But you are too busy using me for my hard earned money by selling me bugged DLC.

I don't know. My friends say I should walk away; that you're no good for me. Maybe they're right. I'm done being the only one putting all the effort into this relationship. You're a bastard, Borderlands and I hate you.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who Wouldn't Want the Game of the Year ???

A "Game of the Year" or GotY release, is a re-released copy of a game that has received the award or title of "Game of the Year" from one well known publication or another. They frequently include all DLC and add-ons since its original release. Games like Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Batman: Arkham Asylum have released this ever-economical version of the games. My question is: "Why aren't more publishers doing this?"

I can see that for some games, the concept of re-releasing a title might not make the most sense economically. Maybe there was only one or two small pieces of DLC added to the title. Perhaps the companies are never completely sure that they are done adding content. Or worse case scenario, the game might not have been a very good seller in the first place. There is also the issue that the game may have never actually received the "Game of the Year" title from a well-known publication. But if thats the case, then release it under some other title like "All Our Shit in One Box" edition.

I would really like to see some major blockbuster games have disc-sets that included all the map packs and extra upgrades. They could even go so far as to put in the little things that come with pre-orders like certain outfits or exclusive weapons. If its a year or two later, who cares if all the goodies have been given away ? But I would like to pick up Halo 3 and have all 8000 map packs on a second disc. It would be so freakin' handy ! I can't tell you how many times my hard drive has tweaked and I have had to re-download all the new maps. And I know I'm not the only one.

This is really just a whiny rant. I don't know what it takes to put these games together for re-release. Maybe its the most expensive thing ever. Maybe they are just lazy. I would think it would be a great way for them to drain even more money from me. No matter what the reason, I am a crabby gamer and I hate not getting what I want. And dammit, I want more GotY editions !

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Video Game Life: Now and Then

I was recently talking to an old college friend of mine, someone I haven't seen in like 8 years. Sure there is a random email here and there over Facebook, but no serious interactions. When we finally had a lengthy conversation last week, she was really surprised and demanded an explanation as to when I got into "this whole gaming thing". I was so shocked by this question, I didn't know what to say.

Ive always been a gamer. We were a Nintendo family for sure, but I also loved PC gaming. I have always had one console or another hooked up and played regularly, so how did this get by her ? I realized that it all had to do with networking and socializing. Before, I played a game and that was all there was to it. When Lindsey and I were dominating at Game Cube's SSX3 back in college, we didn't have people to team up with or trash talk to. We just hung out and passed the controller.

Now I talk to people while I play, join clans, read and write blogs, and there is this massive minute to minute community of information and friends. Half of my FB friends list is comprised of people I have never met in real life, but I converse with almost everyday. And its really noticeable that I talk about games. When you don't know someone in real life, you rely on wall posts, status updates, and all sorts of dorky means of communicating with people you wouldn't normally have access to.

Another aspect to consider is that this whole "nerdy is cool" thing is still new. I would have been socially tormented in school if I told people that I spent almost all my free time at home playing Doom. I never would have survived classmates knowing my attraction to Flight Simulator. There was no "geek chic" mentality. Being "alternative" meant dressing like Kirk Cobain and that's about it. So unless you had secret gaming friends (which thankfully I did), it wasn't something that was openly discussed.

So with all this explained, my dear friend Jett had a profound and moving response of "Oh. Guess I never noticed". Looking back at things, it makes sense. But it did give me the chance to sit back and appreciate how much gaming has progressed, not just technically but also in its social and personal relevance.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Really Real or Just Really Fun

So this idea came directly from Miss Lindsey. She was talking a couple blogs ago about how her real life would be more fun if it was on a video game. So that got me thinking, are games more fun if they are wild and imaginative, or more fun if they are realistic ?

The games that are less realistic blow past the limits of our imagination. Looking at my game collection right now, I could be a mage, elf, orc, alien, zombie, a figment of someones imagination, and almost any kind of animal including King Kong. I can toy around in space or travel back to the old west. I can try to survive in a post-apocalypse or actually cause an apocalypse. None of it is realistic but its all fun.

On the other side of the coin, there are developers that pride themselves on realism. Teams will go out to test weapons and make sure that they capture every detail for the latest and greatest FPS. Portable games can encourage smaller children to treat their canine friends humanely with regular feedings and play time. And as Lindsey pointed out, it is inexplicably fun to recreate your daily life in simulation games.

There are games that bridge the gap, but for the most part they are one extreme or the other. In the end it all comes down to preference. Do you want to get away from it all and have an unexpected adventure ? Or would you rather give reality another try, maybe doing things a little different this time ? Luckily the possibilities are pretty much endless.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My iPod Sounds Like My Console

We all enjoy the nostalgic and hummable tunes from Mario and Zelda, but they aren't exactly songs you can sing along with. There are some modern twists provided by various DJs, rappers, and other artists. While those can be really cool, it's not what I'm talking about. I'm referring to the ability to sign along with the music in the game and still want to listen after you use that save file.

As most of the regular readers know, I have a rather unhealthy obsession with Fallout 3. There is just so much to love about this game ! The gameplay, the story, and absolutely the music. The little bouncing radio that is spotted throughout the game is totally wo
rth following. And there is nothing better than listening to Three Dog on my Pip-Boy . The makers of Fallout 3 realized how this little addition has made the experience even more enjoyable and released the tracks. The soundtrack to this game is available for purchase in the iTunes store. You get five fantastic songs on the album The Songs of Wasteland. You will even get the title track from the game opening and the trailer "I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire" by The Ink Spots.

And that brings me to some other games. I don't play Gears of War, its just not my style. But I have the music ! I don't even know what's in the game but the trailers alone introduce me to some fantastic new songs. I now proudly have Heron Blue on my iPhone. And sometimes the songs from games are old and well known, but I would never have thought to buy "Mad World" until I heard it in the game trailer. And I'm sure that "How It Ends" by DeVotchKa isn't new, but its new to me and it completely rocks my world.

Lets not forget the games that have entire radio stations or playlists you can't walk away from. I remember playing SSX 3 (my first ever gaming obsession), and loving the music so much that I went out and bought the CDs. Nothing like plunging down a rugged slope while listening to N.E.R.D. and Chemical Brothers. And who doesn't want to drive around Vice City while bouncing to the beats of Kool and the Gang or INXS in the Grand Theft Auto series.

I can't even begin to count how many songs I have added because I liked it so mu
ch on Rock Band or Guitar Hero. There are so many popular songs that have made it under my radar, but luckily the music games were there to help me out. I'm not much of a rock type of person, but I will tell you right now that my collection of 70s and 90s rock singles grows every time I play a rhythm title. Lindsey can testify first hand that I wasn't much of a Beatles fan, but once I bought Beatles rock band, I was begging her to play "Do You Want to Know A Secret" with me in co-op over and over again.

My point is that if you love the song, track it down ! You probably aren't the only one who loved it. Be it an old classic or an original for the game, almost any song can be downloaded. Pick up your controller and expand your musical horizons.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Secrets Don't Make Friends...

Guess what?  I am going to blog about achievements again.  Why?  Why you ask?  Because I am completely and totally obsessed.

The current phraseology is "achievement whore."  While this may sound horrible, it's not completely untrue.  Myself and my other whorish brethren are willing to do darn near anything for that satisfying little blip on the screen:  you've achieved something.  It may be awesome, like defeating a mega-boss, or it may be ridiculous, like farming 100,000 crops (and, subsequently, accepting the fact that you spent 30 hours farming said crops.)  But it was for a larger purpose, right?  Now your GamerScore is 12,450 instead of a measly 12,440.

That entire diatribe is a build-up to this: I love achievements.  They are so much fun.  But, that said, I am consistently irritated by the way they run.  It's a love-hate relationship, I guess.  My current beef?  Secret achievements.

Xbox is notorious for the secret achievements.  Secret achievements are those that say "secret" instead of giving you a direct assignment or at least a hint as to what will get you those achievements.  You can't even see them on your friend's list unless you've unlocked it yourself.  Some games have almost their entire lists blocked out as 'secret'.  Some only offer a few.  Either way, they irritate me.  I mean, generally a secret achievement is something you wouldn't do anyways in a game, or finding some random Easter egg, so why make it a secret??  It's almost like they don't want anyone to do it, ever.  "Ever" being until they look online and find out what the achievement is.  I'm not entirely sure, because I never use them, but are the secret achievements spelled out in the guidebooks you can buy for games?

I just fail to understand what the purpose is behind the Secret.  I mean, just give it to us, or at least give us a vague hint.  That blank screen, that empty just kills me.  And it just gets me off Xbox and on the computer so I can figure out how to fill that need.  That need to achieve.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Insufficient Funds: A Break-the-Bank List for Fall 2010

Metroid: Other M 08/31 ~ Don't miss your chance to play as one of the coolest females in video game history. Princess in distress ? Hell no ! One wrong look and this crazy bitch will gun you down with her arm cannon. Get dressed in your best power suit and go purchase this game !

Halo: Reach 09/14 ~ It seems like that silly Covenant just won't quit with its alien chaos and cool new weapons. Be ready for a hologram that spawns a decoy replica of yourself and I still hear on a daily basis the excitement about a jet pack. Even if you didn't get onto the Beta for this game, I'm sure we will all enjoy the benefits. Nothing helps a game launch better than a well tested Beta (I'm not looking at you MW2).

FIFA 11 09/28 ~ If you like listening to English guys bitch that you use the word "soccer" instead of "football", this game is for you ! With online multi-player, the international tensions will grow from annoying to downright confrontational. Pick your team, suit up in your favorite kit, and hit the pitch. This one is sure to be a classic .... at least until FIFA 12 releases next year.

Dead Rising 2 09/28 ~ Over-saturated on zombies yet ? Yea, I'm probably the only one. Either way, when your hunger for brains grows out of control, pick up a copy of Dead Rising 2. Look forward to the coolest new feature where you can create your own weapons. Grenades duct taped to stuffed animals ? Yes please, I'll take two.

Final Fantasy XIV 09/30 ~ This MMO is sure to be big. It may not topple WoW (nothing probably ever will), but rest assured that this MMO will not simply fade away. This title has supposedly fixed a lot of the annoyances of its predecessor FF XI.

Fallout: New Vegas 10/19 ~ Anyone who has ever met me knows that when I wasn't indulging in Fallout 3, I was having vivid fantasies about playing it. Needless to say, I am going to be first in line for New Vegas. Make sure you pre-order this one. Many different stores (Game Stop, Best Buy, Walmart, etc) have lots of different extras for those who are smart enough to pre-order. Get your extra goodies for a game you already know you're gonna buy.

Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2 10/26 ~ I can think of several people off the top of my head who mainlined this game like a heroine fiend (ahem ... Jordan). So I mention this one in honor of those who will undoubtedly devote hours and hours of gameplay trying to unlock every last achievement. Say a pleasant goodbye to loved ones before this game comes out, because once it is in their hands they aren't likely to see the light of day for awhile.

Fable 3 10/26 ~ All reports have said to expect all the things you loved about Fable 2 and a change to all the things that sucked. Designers brag that the biggest change by far is the presence of a memorable story this time around. Story or no story, I am totes on board for a game that lets my character have an orgy. Just sayin.

Rock Band 3 10/26 ~ I am a casual player of the Rock Band series. But for those die hard players out there, get ready because here comes another hard drive busting music game. Expect better instruments, new songs, and of course, more downloadable content. If you haven't invested in a dedicated Rock Band memory unit, now is clearly the time.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 11/19 ~ In the past, I have been a total screaming, fan-girl for the Call of Duty series. But I have to say, I'm bracing for the worst and praying for the best. This installment falls under the loving umbrella of Treyarch. Their attention to detail and amazing gameplay has rarely let me down. But after the no-Beta let-down that was Modern Warfare 2, I'm waiting to see how well this one fares live before I give it my nod of approval.

Little Big Planet 2 11/16 ~ Adorable mascot ? Check. Years worth of player created-content ? Check. Fun new gimmicks to spend hours toying around with ? Check. Get ready for the endless adventures you are about to have with this sequel to the instant classic.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood 11/16 ~ My year will not be complete until I pull a dirty 30 weekend hunting for useless collectibles like dyes and treasure chests. Thank you sweet Jesus for bringing me another installment of my favorite game. The franchise already owns my soul, this game will solidify my awkward obedience.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Now Don't Disappoint Me...

So I conveniently get the Gamestop weekly ad emailed to me, and what do I see?  There's going to be a new Harvest Moon (HM) for the DS!  Woot!  I desperately want to pre-order it for 3 reasons:
  1. It's only $30
  2. I've always wanted a Harvest Moon title for my DS
  3. When you pre-order, you get a plush horse!
 I tried to look up some information on it, and I couldn't find much.  Apparently you move into a town in which commerce has slowed to a trickle, and you have to re-vamp it by growing your farm to amazing proportions and selling awesome stuff at the local bazaar, which was once world renown.  And, with your help, it will be again!

Don't get me wrong, I deeply and truly love HM...but it is, admittedly, formulaic.  Dilapidated farm/town?  Check!  Grow crops and animals?  Check!  Refresh, revamp and renew the town to its former glory?  Win!  And that is why I love it.  But, I am still holding back on making that all important $5 hold on my copy of Bazaar.  Why?  I'm totally afraid they'll change it up.  What if gameplay is totally lame on this particular game?  What if you can only harvest at night or something stupid?  What if there aren't cows??

Have you ever pre-ordered a game that you thought would be so awesome that you ended up totally disappointed with?  Specifically if it was part of a series, and it turned out to be so incredibly, unexpectedly lame?  I kind of had that happen with Lego Indiana Jones.  I love the Lego series, even Jones, but I bought it at full price and that was a mistake.  28 seconds after it released it went down to $20.  Totally worth $20.  Not so much $50.  That's why I'm waiting for Lego Harry Potter to see if it drops in price quickly, even though it's killing me to wait to play it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Horror, The Horror

I was recently watching my boyfriend play Dead Space. I have to say, that game is crazy messed up ! I couldn't watch more than about 30 seconds at any one time before losing my nerve and looking away towards my computer. It made me appreciate how far games have really come.

I remember the days when games only had two dimensions. There was one annoying, monotone song that looped repeatedly. Your character had either a sword or a gun, sometimes they got fancy and gave you a boomerang. But they were nowhere near as engrossing as today's games.

The music and sound effects in Dead Space are almost enough to put me in the fetal position, and that's without even looking at the screen. I'm not sure if the word cinematography is appropriate, but this game has a way of making your skin crawl just by showing a flash or a shadow. The story is gripping and the gameplay is intense to say the least.

When I was a child, I always envisioned what the future would be like. I new cars would fly, humans could teleport, and that movie theaters would be interactive so you can control the outcome. Dead Space is just like living inside a horror movie. You feel the fear and run for your life. I have seen the future and it is games like Dead Space and Mass Effect. Total sensory perception with our own human involvement.

Now that's not to say that I don't periodically want to play something old or simple. There is much to be appreciated in regards to games that have a minimal number of rules and interactions. But its truly amazing how these games make you feel ! I frequently get an adrenaline rush or gamer rage, but some of these games cause fear and happiness. I have even shed a tear or two (I'm looking at you Final Fintasy X).

I'm usually bitching and moaning about one thing or another. But sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses too. And by "smell the roses", I do mean "shred mutant alien/human hybrids".