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".