Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cool Massive Attack Drake's Fortune Trailer

So I still don't know if this game will amount to anything good, but this latest Drake's Fortune trailer has some awesome music in it. It is way to early to be awake and blogging, and yet...

As always, thanks to Gametrailers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion, I Believe

I'm not going to beat about the bush on this one. If you enjoy my writing, and would like even more punishment, the newspaper I write for has a website which can be browsed. Look for my name on an article, in the Life and Style section, if you feel so inclined. I love myself, obviously.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Mario Galaxy is Crazy

I know video posts are boring, but it's Sunday and I have two midterms soon, so too much of the worky right now. Still, I came across this rather alarming video today. That is one of the scariest little creatures I have ever seen. I wish I could play this game.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jericho, Painkiller, UT3... So Much Gritty Futuristic Stuff!

Well, I just played through 3 demos, so I thought I'd let you in on what sucked and what didn't.

First off, Clive Barker's Jericho, a supernatural super-horrific (supposedly) squad-based shooter. In the demo, you control three members of the squad, and through a ghostly gameplay mechanic, are allowed to jump between them on the fly. Your three characters are two Sexy Goth Girls, and one chunky heavy weapons guy. Isn't original character design great? They are all horribly voiced, as is the narration. My favorite bit was about the Blood Scribe character: "she first learns of her powers as a blood scribe when she attended her local church." Hey, thats how I learned about being a Blood Scribe!

Anyway, the shooting mechanics are alright, each character has one to two weapons, and one to two supernatural powers. These can actually be pretty cool, with one of them including the ability to guide a bullet into three different enemies. So far it sounds silly, but it could be fun, right? No, actually, it isn't. For starters, I am SO tired of Super Dark Bloody Medieval Magic Horror bad guys. Every enemy looks the same, and they all have Totally Evil stitches in their eyes or face or spleen. Plus, they rush at you extremely fast, and are hard to shoot. Luckily for you, your teammates couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, let alone enemies who are literally in their faces.

Finally, the scary factor is seriously lacking. F.E.A.R. did a better job at startling me, and Boshock did a better job at making me tense and genuinely scared. Isn't Clive Barker supposed to be the master of horror?

So, stupid enemies and companions, bad writing, plot and dialogue, tired and cliché art design... whats not to like?

Next we have Painkiller Overdose, the newest in the Serious Sam/Doom knockoff series. These games succeed by throwing tons of guys in your face at one time, and having interesting environments and weapons, hopefully. Unfortunately, Painkiller fails on all of these levels. The graphics are dull, brown and uninventive (oooh, undead Civil war enemies!), and the levels are so drab and dull I couldn't believe I was spending the time to play through them. The weapons are a mixed bag, with some being fun (I enjoyed the laser eye skull and the spinning knife), but you only find ammo for a few of them, so you'll end up using the "Biogun" (a shotgun) and the "Bonegun" (also a shotgun, but with bones?).

So, this is another dud, mixing terrible elements all across the board to craft an experience you'll be trying to forget soon. Oh, and it wouldn't let me take screenshots, so it annoys me a little extra bit in that way.

Now, on to Unreal Tournament 3. I knew my computer wouldn't run it well, but I spent so many hours playing UT2004 I practically owed it to myself to play this game. To be honest, the game hasn't changed much. Some of the weapons do a few new things, some look different, but the real change is the graphics. Kinda sad huh?

Really though, the graphics are incredible, screenshots don't do them justice. True, the art direction has moved in a very "chunky gritty space guys fighting" direction (it looks like Gears of War, but with colored armor), but I still like the look overall. Gameplay-wise, what can I say, if you liked UT2004, you'll love this. It's fast-paced team-based shooter gameplay, with a very arcade/sports feel, including Deathmatch, Team DM, and CTF (and that is just in the demo). In the full version, there will be loads more. It's fast and fun, and very solid feeling.

So, I suppose you could get Jericho for cheap from Gametap , definitely skip Painkiller, but pick up UT3 when you can. If you can run it that is...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Totally not game related: LOLcats Bible

Alright, all of you have to look at this, if only to think how this website would affect your Bible lit studies teacher. Essentially, it is the entire Bible translated into the hideous English of the LOLcats. My favorite term has to be the changing of "God" to "ceiling cat."

Also, check out this picture of ceiling cat.

Soldier of Fortune Looks Childish, Has Dumb Advertising

Hey, remember Soldier of Fortune II? Yeah, I bought it because I could blow off a Russian terrorsit's leg and watch him crawl around. I was young, and stupid, and not creeped out by the alarming pro-imperialist/gun activist/macho American mustache-guy overtones.

This new game looks so much better than the old ones: set in a Vague Middle-Eastern place, a Vague Asian Jungle place, and a Vague African Village place(Yay!), full of creepy bald white guys killing lots of people who are less white. Plus, the Evil forces of darkness scream as you shoot off their left big toe or whatever. The icing on the cake is this trailer, which says something at the end that is kinda like "no girly men need apply." I love gamers, and I love how stupid and racist they can be. Magnifique!

Thanks to Kotaku and Gametrailers for links.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


So apparently that news post I put up has nothing to do with a new Psychonauts... There are no plans for a new Psychonauts. Crappy.

Exploding Robot Wombat Team

If you don't pay attention to the ludicrous music, the new Ratchet and Clank game actually looks really cool. Now I just need about 700 dollars to throw away on a game system. Blarg. This is what happens when I do thesis research, I start wandering the internet looking at random stuff, and then realize I have to go back and read boring letters about Forster, written by D. H. Lawrence. Aaaaargh!

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Psychonauts!.... Maybe

Wow, check this out. Here is the page that Kotaku references. I hope this is true, I hope it so much. Although if it really is going to be a simple Wii port of Psychonauts, I don't care, I can get the original for next to nothing on Steam. Obviously, we need a sequel.

I hate sucky Engineers

Ok, this is a bit random, but it's time for a TF2 rant:

Why is it that on maps where offense is needed, people suck as engineers. I mean, I know that Well and Granary can be fast, assault based maps, but a sneakily placed turret or teleporter can turn the tide of battle in your favor. Two teleporters are easy to set up, and then your team has a fast way of getting to the front. They need this support!

Why is it that I see engineers building turrets in the base on Granary, when their team is doing some heavy fighting for the middle checkpoint? Half of these people build a base turret, and then proceed to stay in the base, instead of going to fight! Yeah, that turret might be helpful, if we were losing, dumbass.

If you are going suck, play a soldier or heavy, that way you can be sucky and cause some actual damage. Also, medics rule.

Portal is so mean

I can't beat those stupid time challenges in Portal. The second map insists I can beat it using just two portals. This is a lie. Oh, and if you have ever had to deal with the bowel movements of a cat, go check today's Penny Arcade out. Finally, Remington Steele kicks a whole lot of ass, in case you were wondering.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Betazoids in Mass Effect

Ok, I know this is the second video link post in a row, but if you wait untill just under 2 minutes into this video, you find out that Marina Sirtis, aka Deanna Troi, will be playing (and I swear this is true) "Matriarch Benezia." I'm not good enough to make that up.

I think that there must have been some planetary alighment for her to play a part in this game. Plus, she is so serious about that "Asari commando unit." Really though, I love video games and all, and I would be an awful voice actor, but it must take some guts to speak those lines and still be able to look at your face in the mirror.

Now we just need Jonathan Frakes as a sexy younger man who rocks an awesome beard and totally doesn't have a big belly. Seriously, guys, he's in shape. Also, note the presence of Lance "I am scary" Henrikson.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Back to "Work"

So, after that rather silly blogging yesterday, here we are with some very serious stuff... Video links!

First off, Unreal Tournament 3, which looks like it will play exactly the same as it did a few years ago. Which is alright, I loved that game, but seriously, when will I have a computer that can run this game?

Next, more awesome daring-do in Acre. I love all of the animations, but that combat looks kinda silly. Each guy takes his time, letting you duke it out with other guys? But, you look like a total badass, so maybe it will work out.

Finally, I wish I had a Wii, cause Mario Galaxy looks rocking. Too bad that kid playing looks like an idiot. Still, really cool.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hugh Laurie IS Gordon Freeman

Also, I know that this is kind of ridiculous, and some of you might not get what is so awesome in this picture, but it amused me.


I just finished Episode 2, and I have to say, that was one of the coolest final battles I have ever seen in a game, very epic. Also, the ending (ooooh, secret!) was great, Valve really beats everybody else when it comes to meaningful storytelling. Well, I guess it's time to go fill out those achievements. How long till the next one?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sunday Fun

So I beat Portal yesterday (awesome), but I am still working through the bonus missions, the last bonus mission is crazy hard. I'm a chapter into Ep. 2, and it is as awesome as I hoped it would be. Finally, this comic amuses me, especially the strip in the link. Portal review might be up soon? Dunno.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Surviving Rapture

Bioshock has to be one of the most hyped games to come out recently for any system (not counting Halo 3’s over-the-top campaign). Microsoft and Take Two want us all to think it’s a badass shooter, and 2K and Ken Levine want us to think that it’s the spiritual successor to System Shock 2, and that it is going to change gaming (or at least show how gaming should change). These are pretty amazing claims, but this game is also receiving scores in the neighborhood of 100 from just about everybody out there. In the End, Bioshock falls well short of the hype, but is still a very impressive game.

Bioshock takes place in a sprawling underwater city named Rapture, sometime in the 1930s. Andrew Ryan, the creator of Rapture, built and ran the city following a cutthroat economic and social rulebook. Essentially, Rapture is a haven for the brilliant minds among us, who cannot bear the world as it unfolded around them. So, they built a sanctuary where they could pursue science and questionable moral and societal paths completely unchecked. Soon, the city and the lives of its inhabitants come to revolve around a substance called ADAM, a gene altering miracle that can make people into demigods, splicing various new abilities into their bodies.

Of course, many different things go terribly wrong, and all of the inhabitants eventually turn into genetically altered nut jobs, capering and crooning their way through one bloodbath after another. Enter your character, a nameless man whose plain crashes into the ocean miles above Rapture. From there, you’ll take a bathysphere (tiny submarine) down to Rapture proper.

Our hero progresses through the world of Rapture killing, collecting and splicing, turning himself into something less than human. At the same time, he gains various powers, which allow him to cope with the raging psychopaths he will encounter. The player is guided by ghostly visions (fueled by your own foolhardy genetic modifications) and audio diaries, which introduce us to a host of characters. Luckily, every character is represented well in the voice-acting department, excepting some over the top accents which fit in with the game’s thick atmosphere.

The core gameplay is shooter-based, as promised by Take Two, but just as important as weapons are your genetic powers, or plasmids. You’ll find plasmids that range from lightning bolts to scent glands (for fooling or distracting the enemy) to portable cyclones. They are all inventive, and all of them have an appreciable effect on Rapture or its denizens. There are other brands of plasmids, most of which will buff the character’s health, hacking ability or other random attribute, but to list them all would spoil the surprise. Sadly, the actual level of customization to be had here is minimal at best. You’re really just choosing different ways of killing people, nothing more.

These powers are collected through vials of ADAM, which one acquires through Little Sisters. These small children (along with their hulking guardians, the Big Daddies) are the center of the moral quandary Kin Levine claims will change the way you game. Whenever you defeat a Big Daddy (which is a hell of a lot of fun, any conflict involving a Big Daddy is literally earthshaking), you can choose to harvest Little Sisters for a large amount of ADAM, or save them, receiving a small chunk of ADAM, but with the promise of long-term benefits.

This is the situation that is supposed to stop gamers in their tracks and make them think, and to a degree, it works. The Little Sisters are creepy and arresting (and are lacking the clichés that many Scary Little Girls come with in movies and games), as they wander from body to body, stabbing each corpse in search of some trace ADAM. The Big Daddies are equally well drawn, and after Little Sisters are killed or saved, the Big Daddies will bang on portals (from which the Sisters emerge) and moan forlornly. Even more impressive, when one saves a Little Sister, the swell of music and her reaction to your kindness are strangely pleasing, you actually feel good about what you did.

Sadly, Harvesting Little Sisters has little emotional impact (due to a less than gripping “harvesting” cinematic that quickly darkens the screen, saving you from confronting your own actions), and your impact on the world itself is negligible, emotionally. Later in the game the developers up the ante a bit by showing you the impact of your actions, but they never manage to retain that one moment of pleasure one feels at helping an innocent. As a result, there is no great moral quandary; the results of your actions are two different ending videos, one of which feels silly and hackneyed. In the end, like so many other games, “moral ambiguity” and “choices” end up in two endings, one good, one bad.

So, if the main selling point of Bioshock has been completely exaggerated, can it still be called a great game? Bioshock is incredibly well made, despite its severe shortcomings. The leaking, dripping, amazingly creepy halls of Rapture scared me to death the first time through. When all the lights go out and weird voices start breathing heavily in your ear, and something runs past you with Gollum-like feet, you won’t be knocking the game design. Aside from creating an amazing sense of foreboding and tension (completely different from F.E.A.R.’s jumpy scares), the designers managed to imagine a beautiful, crumbling, Art-Deco inspired underwater city, and bring it to life with amazing detail and fidelity. The levels feel connected in a way that is hard to describe: it’s the kind of unifying art design that I haven’t seen in many other games, except maybe Half Life 2 or Shadow of the Colossus.

Speaking of which, Bioshock’s story is pretty good, and while it is basically an undersea version of System Shock 2, it’s not necessarily the story itself that matters, but the way it’s told. I actually dislike the whole “story told through diaries” method of storytelling, but in Bioshock, the narrative is literally at higher level from your average game. It’s that sense of unity and craft that makes the story stand out, just as with the art. Every audio diary is interesting, or scary, or original, and they make you believe in and relate to these characters in ways that games with full cutscenes often miss entirely. Creeping through an abandoned surgery ward and listening to the head of surgery mutilate a subject because he wanted to make her more unique and special is something that really has to be experienced to be believed (especially when you know that in a minute you will encounter that very same head of surgery).

Ultimately, the story can’t keep up with the art design, and about two thirds of the way through the game lost its intense, urgent feel, and turned into a silly revenge quest. As a result, I started caring less and less about enjoying the design, or audio tapes, or little art details, and more and more about finishing the game. This made me so sad, because the game was really engrossing until that point. The fact that the game’s final “boss” was boring and slightly ridiculous (especially when compared to the bosses one meets throughout the game) only made me less satisfied with my purchase.

In the end, Bioshock is a great experience, despite its huge flaws. It gave me new faith in the ability of games to tell a cohesive, entertaining narrative, in a credible and original way. Just as importantly, it proved that some developers can still use violence and dark themes in ways that aren’t infantile or amazingly demeaning to the player’s intelligence. This game was mature, intelligent, engrossing, and the game world was its own kind of brilliant narrative force. Despite Bioshock’s glaring faults and over-hyped reputation, I would still recommend it to all gamers, after the price has dropped a bit, that is.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm Back

So now that the imperial oppressors here have let me use the internet again, I can post an update. The Bioshock review should be up some time today, so that should be fun, I guess. Oh, and I hate that there were two huge bugs in Portal and Ep. 2 (I couldn't hear any voices!), but I love that Valve patched it in about 2 days. Good for them. Oh, and Portal rocks, it'll just be nice to hear the voice now. Episode 2? Holy shit, I'd forgotten what a great game world Valve has created. I'll be doing that for a while, see you there.

Also, happy birthday to Will, I would buy him a drank, but I can't right now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Awesome Videos

I feel like a broken record here, but this one isn't from Gametrailers. The trailer for the Demoman is up. This is the fourth in a series of short videos introducing characters from Team Fortress 2. Watch them all, they are pretty hilarious.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Orange Box = No Sleep, No Work

So, it looks like the Orange Box will be coming out after midnight tomorrow (Tuesday) night. Too bad I have work at 9:15 am. This is gonna rock. I dunno which I am going to play first, but it'll have to be at least an hour session, to properly get into whichever game it is (via Joystiq).

Workie workie

So, just finished for the night, kinda, saw a bunch of new trailers at Gametrailers. Let's see, first off we have Drake's Fortune with some stilted dialogue between some stupid White Action Hero guy and a Hot Blond Girl. Fantastic. Next, Too Human with some epic sci-fi viking stuff? But the combat looks boring. Um, Mass Effect looks badass, again, and of course jaded space doctors are very cool.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


So I think my copies of Worms and Zelda just got here in the mail, but more importantly, check out this newspost

Holy shit. This would be so cool. Um, maybe I'll write about the games later?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

More Mass Effect, because it's late and I just finished a really bad two page paper

So, I was longingly staring at the latest Mass Effect videos on Gametrailers, when I spotted a user video that actually turned out to have some very cool conversational interaction on display. Oh, it has spoilers in it, so be warned. It looks so much better than those old, awkward videos, there's way less of those weird mood-breaking pauses that appeared in a lot of the early movies. It actually looks like their "revolutionary" conversation mode might be close to revolutionary. Amazing.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Meh Demos and Overpriced Games

Yeah, so I just tried out the Enemy Territory Demo, and I dunno... Controls seemed alright (although those are some shitty grenades there), graphics were good (aside from the fact that everything is BROWN). It was generally underwhelming, to tell the truth. After the awesomeness of Team Fortress, this seems so cliché, although I like the stabby Strogg "medics." Whatever. Oh, I also just bought Worms Open Warfare Two and Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass. There goes the paycheck I'll be getting Friday! Rocking.