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Asagea_888 signing off

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Well, guys, I've given it a lot of thought, and it didn't come lightly.

After tooling around with the "new and improved" GameSpot, I have come to the conclusion that whomever was responsible for all of these changes pretty much eviscerated the last remaining remnants of a website I used to call my second online home. To be brutally honest, the changes are disappointing and unnecessary. You know, I thought I was willing to accept it, but God help me---I can only take so much. The removal of the Unions means people have no safe havens to discuss their favorite games anymore -- they must share a public forum with fanboys, trolls and haters who will pounce on any worthwhile discussion like a pack of wolves on a helpless lamb. Profanity and vulgar language is no longer regulated or filtered, giving griefers and blue-ribbon free-speechers the power to "embolden" their opinions and flood chat and comment boxes with cuss and filth. I came to GameSpot many years ago because I thought it was one of few safe places for me to make friends and chat about video games. The community was a nice one, and those who would cause trouble were kept in check and under control by means of moderations and hard-working moderators. I may lose friends because of this blog. If you think of me differently, I understand completely. Yet, I need to be honest, because if I told you I liked the changes, I'd be lying. And I never lie to my friends.

Anyhow, I'll use this opportunity to announce my departure from GameSpot after six years of being a member. This blog will not only be my last blog, but also my last official contribution to the website. It will also mark my last time contributing or being a member of ANY gaming website.

Like most things, it's time for me to focus on my life's endeavors outside of video games, but I will remain a gamer for as long as I still have an interest in it. The gaming industry will continue to evolve and change -- invariably, it will transform into something I can no longer recognize. Having lived through the golden age of the 16-bit era and survived the Sega/Nintendo wars, I can attest to all the fun times I had playing games as a kid with my friends. We can never relive those days again---at least, not anytime soon---but we will always have the memories.

Before I ride off into the sunset, I wanted to fill you in on some last updates. I am no longer a 360 gamer, and have devoted my allegiance to both Nintendo and Sony. I've given up the 360 because I want to focus on one platform. As of now, the PS3 and the PS4 have more interesting exclusives, and nearly every game to be released (or has already been released to this point) can be found on both competing consoles. I can't say I'm super-duper, first-kid-on-the-block excited to have the PS4, but there is still plenty of room for it to grow and develop overtime. The XBox One also has time to flourish and grow into a great product, and that's good for competition. Give or take five years, the PS4 and XBox One will have a strong library of games to choose from. No matter what side of the fence you choose to be on, be happy with your choice and have fun with it.

I'm looking forward to Super Mario 3D World on the Wii U as well as the Legend of Zelda Link Between Worlds on my 3DS. Don't worry about Nintendo -- those cats are going to be just fine.

Also, I downloaded my first season pass EVER. Bioshock Infinite. It means I get both the Burial at Sea DLC Chapters for free, plus a few other nifty perks. It's prompted me to replay the game again so I can nab all the Infusion bottles (including the five free ones you get with the Early Bird pack included with the Season Pass)

Lastly, for the PS4, I picked up KillZone and Knack. Knack is a gorgeous game, but it suffers from a deluge of missed opportunities and wasted potential. It's like having the ingredients to make the perfect pizza, but you end up making it lousy and undercooked. Still, I tend to see Knack as a precursor to what Ratchet and Clank might look like on the PS4 -- with Pixar-quality production values. Killzone is a showcase of the PS4's power. Graphically, the game looks amazing. It may not be the best FPS on the market, but it's gotten me interested in the Killzone series in general.

So, yeah, that's it.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to read my blogs and reviews over the years, and became my GS friends because of them. zinoalex, pokecharm, kjfl, widdowson91.....the list is too long to count; you have all been so good to me here and I hope we meet again in the stratosphere. A lot of you guys have already gone on to other websites, or gone on to other things, and that is understandable. Those who choose to remain here at GameSpot, I hope you'll grow accustomed to all the changes and make the most of your time. In other words, I hope you'll like GS a lot more than I do.

And most importantly, I hope that you will game on in spite of everything.

Good-bye, game on and may the Force be with you.

Asagea_888 signing off.

Back to the Wii U

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ff

How I've missed U!

My Wii U had been collecting dust for a while, but my faith in the console is slowly being restored.  All the negativity surrounding it, I must admit, took a toll on me.  But Nintendo is slowly trickling out the good games, and Super Smash Bros Wii U is looking better and better every time I see it.  Even if it continues to struggle, the one thing it does right, it does better than even the XBOX One and PS4.  And that's make fun, accessible, quality games without the flash and substance.

The Wind Waker.  Yes, well, this will mark my third official trip back to the Great Oceans in just over a year since beating the GameCube version (which I still own).  Small surprise---this time, I picked up the Wii U HD edition.  And it looks pretty damn gorgeous.  The new widescreen, high-def visualization alone is enough for me to play the entire thing all over again. Not that it wasn't a pleasant experience the first and second time around!

Mark my words -- it's good to be back with the Wii U.  However......

I need to re-add folks who were on my last Wii U list because of a technical problem.  Anybody else who just got a Wii U or are planning on picking one up can add me anytime they want.  My NEW Nintendo user ID is....

kungfubunny9876

Feel free to add me when you get the chance. And may the Force be with you.

Corruption of a community, and how it needs to change

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df

Whether or not Grand Theft Auto V is deserving of all the universal praise it's been given, I cannot tell you.  I'm in no position to voice my own opinion on the game itself because I'm one of the few who didn't buy it.  But, I've been well aware of everything that has transpired since the game was released, and it has nothing to do with its controversial content or social commentary.  This is something else.  And it deeply troubles me.

Look around you.  Everywhere you go, you see Grand Theft Auto V breaking records in sales, getting much love from critics and even having a few mentions here and there in non-gaming related media.  If all of this is any indication, it's safe to assume GTAV is an excellent product; a must-own for the Fall 2013 season. With me, I have always made it a point in saying that the success or failure of any video game depends solely on the individual, because each experience is unique to the player.  The number of folks who have picked up GTAV, resulting in well over a billion in first-day sales, is impressive, but that may not necessarily reflect the general consensus of favorable consumer opinion. People became influenced by the positive word-of-mouth, the perfect scores, and the general praise over its characters, storyline and gameplay framework.  Of course, it helped that the Grand Theft Auto franchise had already been firmly established given the huge success of its previous games.  The reason for its success?  The game is a sandbox adventure casting you as a criminal who carjacks, robs banks, murders people and indulges in unsavory illegal activity to make a name for themselves in the underworld. Furthermore, the GTA series is a biding satire, an interactive social commentary of all the things that are wrong in the world around us; a guilty pleasure of faux criminal escapism.

Yet, the hype surrounding GTAV grew so immense that there seemed to be a concrete expectation that every gaming publication would hand down a great score.   This was the same thing that happened, more or less, with the Last of Us. Although that game was an entirely new IP, nearly every publication gave the game a perfect 10.  But when GameSpot's Tom McShea gave it an 8.5, which I think is a good score on its own merit, the GS community exploded in an uproar and demanded his firing via an online petition, accusing GameSpot of giving the review responsibilities to somebody who supposedly is not a fan of that particular genre.  Someone even suggested a feature that would allow GS users to rate reviewers, a plan that was quickly shot down.

Likewise, as you're no doubt aware, when Carolyn Petit gave GTAV the score of 9.0, which I also think is a great score, the GS community again exploded in anger and accused her of having a political agenda when she expressed her concerns over the game's mysogynistic tone and undercurrents.   It escalated with vicious personal attacks against the reviewer herself and, like McShea's case, a petition to remove her from GameSpot.

It all boils down to this.  Games like the Last of Us and GTAV are not the problem.  Reviewers like Tom McShea and Carolyn Petit are not the problem.  And I realize now that GameSpot itself is not the problem, either.  The issue is with the community and how they tend to react, or overreact, and their penchant for agreeing to disagree.  It is the community of gamers who are seemingly incapable of engaging in healthy debates or worthwhile discussions.  I don't speak for all of them, but the high volume of hateful comments I have personally seen in the comment feed of the GTAV review are a clear indication that something is very wrong. There's nothing bad about being passionate in your views on a product, a cause or an injustice.  The issue stems with the manner in which people choose to behave, react or vent their frustrations.  By spewing hateful profanities and criticisms like that, they have a sense of empowerment; an urge to satisfy their need for retribution---getting the absolute last word in the most hurtful way possible so that it makes them feel good making someone else feel terrible.  They are soon followed by others who join in on the escapade, the so-called 'trolls' -- most of whom have probably never even played the game itself, much less heard of it.  They chime in just for kicks, for fun or just for the thrill.  And it escalates to a level of almost no return.  This debacle has forced GameSpot to take measures on the matter that may be addressed fully when the website revamps next month.

It is not only the professional reviewers themselves getting attacked.  Other community members have also been verbally abused by the majority of so-called 'haters' or 'fanboys'.  In particular, the Wii U has been receiving negative press lately, and the majority of the community have jumped on the bandwagon expressing their disdain towards the company due to the Wii U's struggling sales and its stigma as a 'family-friendly casual' institution (something that is frowned upon by the hardcore demographic).  Supporters of the Wii U have been targeted with vicious verbal attacks and insults in the message boards from people who associate with the 'hate on Wii U' crowd.  People that have tried to rally in the Wii U's defense are overshadowed by a growing trend of verbally-abusive "Wii U 'haters"---most of which have probably never even touched upon a Nintendo product in their lives.  I won't repeat what's been said, but it is almost relative to the same degree as the debauchery that occured with the GTAV and The Last of Us reviews.  And it is truly sad and disheartening.

Every day, I'm reminded of how truly corrupted the gaming community has become.  It is passion and loyalty completely out of control; a mindset of someone being right when everyone else is wrong. It is an arrogant attitude that has transformed the message boards and comment boxes from pleasant chatrooms into cesspools of hatred and degradation of the lowest sort.  I've seen firsthand the ugliness of humanity---the monsters that people can become just by the words they say---and instantly reminisce of the Genesis/Super NES system wars of the 90s. That was a test of wills and a battle of egos, but it was all in friendly jest and even friendlier competitive spirit.

Given the atmosphere of the video game industry and the gears that turn it, I often wonder if we can go back to a time of healthy debates, and respect of opinions.  Perhaps, with effort from the community, but only if they are capable of seeing their error of their ways; because we cannot change a person. Knowing is not enough, they must apply.  Willing is not enough, they must do.  It is they who must find the good in their heart, the restraint within themselves, and set an example for everyone else.  We gain much by learning from one another, we learn much by applying what we have seen and putting into practice.  Only then can change occur.  And GameSpot, and all other websites like it, could become better for it.

Keep calm, game on and may the Force be with you.

My Four Cents -- Bye, bye, Auction House

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sdsd

Diablo 3's been out for quite a while now, but it appears as if things are shaping up quite nicely in the form of a console release, a new expansion and the removal of the Auction House.

Having played Diablo 3 on the PC for a time, I once had an interest in the Auction House.  I felt it served a purpose for players who did not want to spend time fishing through dungeons and grabbing random loot.  It wasn't until after I had recalled memories of my time with the original Diablo and Diablo 2 that I realized -- that was the whole point of Diablo 3.  Hardcore players understood the principality and declared it a notable feature in the franchise proper, as it contributed to the replay factor when people delved into the unknown perils of randomized dungeons and grabbed randomized loot like Christmas presents from strangers.  The loot system has been copied by various imitators and even games that aren't in the same category.  (Darksiders 2, for example.)

So, in a way, I applaud Blizzard for trying to make things right with Diablo 3.  This is a trend that has been occurring as of late -- when developers and companies actually listen to consumer concerns and take action.  With Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the whole game got rebooted as a result of backlash and negative reviews -- since then being completely transformed into a more pleasurable experience.  Sim City is reportedly considering an offline mode for a game that was online-only, and we all know how that turned out.

I'm a little upset, too, that Diablo 3 could have been fixed before it needed to be fixed.  The Auction House was a good idea in theory, but a horrible plan in practice.  If Blizzard knew the AH would have become detrimental to the gaming experience, it should have been either reworked or outright scrapped before it devastated the in-game economy.   Everything that they are doing now to fix the problems and issues that occurred during its initial run could have been dealt with before the game was released.  That is the purpose of beta testing -- where players can play the game in a pre-production phase and voice necessary feedback to the developers.  Going back to FFXIV, if a Realm Reborn were to have been released three years ago instead of the abymsal product that was merely FFXIV, there may never have been a real need for A Realm Reborn.

At any rate, I'm hopeful.  Developers are, at least, listening to the necessary concerns of consumers -- within reason, of course, because I do not want for anyone to have to compromise their vision of a game, or anything else for that matter. Entitlement is a gray area, but fixing a product for the better of both the consumer and the distributor?  I'm all for that.

LOL......(League of Legends)

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ff

So my friend texted me about this free-to-play game he's been getting into; a game loosely based off a Warcraft 3 mod known as "Defense of the Ancients".  You've likely heard of and seen the game on numerous occasions here at GS.  I know I have, but it didn't really interest me.  That is.....until now.

League of Legends isn't a new release--- this thing has been out for a while.  Four years to be exact.  It isn't a typical game in a traditional sense where it passes itself off as a WC3/Diablo pseudo hybrid.  People play this game for a living and enter grueling international contests to win money -- up to $2 million.  If that weren't serious enough, listen to this---recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services recognized League of Legends players as professional athletes, which eases the Visa paperwork for foreign players and allows them to compete in U.S. Tournaments and live in North America for up to five years.  This is REAL serious gaming, folks; a far, far cry from the old days when gaming was a mere hobby.

While I may never play professionally, I've found the core game to be challenging and quite fun.  My friend got my other friend (his girlfriend) and a few other buddies to get in on the action and, while I was initially hesitant, the fact that all my other chums are playing the game and enjoying it was more than enough of a convincing agent to get me to take a swim. The game borrows heavily from both Warcraft 3 and Diablo.  You choose a Hero that you build up individually using truncated RPG elements and lead minions to destroy the other player's base while protecting your own.  In a Warcraft 3 sense, you're essentially maintaining a base of operations as well as several Units and Structures that allow you to summon Minions and other Heroes.  The nice thing about LoL is the multiplayer aspect.  You can play cooperatively with friends or play against them, and there is a great deal of emphasis put on strategy and working with others. Professional multiplayer games demand that you know your role in a team-based environment and work closely with your mates to ensure victory.  You can't expect to merely send your hero to destroy the enemy willy-nilly -- it is far more complicated and complex than it appears.  It's also intimidating when you think about it. 

But that's probably why LoL is so fun for millions of people in the first place.

Right now, I am practicing my mettle with computer-controlled BOTs, learning the ropes.  There's so much to take in after you've nailed the basics, because merely getting a handle on the basics is not enough.  Fortunately, I've got friends who are also learning as they go along.  If I can get comfortable with Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft, I'm sure I can get used to a game like League of Legends.  It's too early to tell if I'm going to commit to it in the long term though.

Anybody else playing this, or even considering playing?

Microsoft....why u not like me?

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dfd

The video game industry is full of surprises, and lately, they haven't been pleasant ones.  The blame can be attributed to the stupidity of public relations.  Peter Moore of EA had to clarify comments he made regarding the company no longer offering single-player offline games after a wave of severe backlash.  And now, in light of the 'deal with it' Twitter debauchery that nearly derailed the XBox One's chances before it was even publically announced, we have another Microsoft PR guy spewing his mouth and not helping the console's rather dire situation.

Albert Penello, in a recent interview, defended the XBox One's price point, claiming (if not boasting) the console is the better bang for the higher buck.  He went on to insinuate that consumers are likely willing to pay more for a system that can do more and offer more. I think it is safe to assume the majority of people do not share in his rather narrow-minded presentiment.  In another interview, he confirms that the company "absolutely" has no plans to release the Xbox One without the Kinect peripheral, explaining the console cannot function properly without it.  I don't know about you, but I always thought the higher price point was attributed to the required Kinect peripheral and never about how "better" it claims to be than the PS4. 

I'm certainly not surprised at the company's utter arrogance, but I never would have imagined they'd pull this PR stunt during a period when they've grown desperate in the looming shadow of the PS4.  I'm not going to sugarcoat the situation at hand here--- Sony knocked two home runs against the XBox One, forcing Microsoft to pull a 180 on many of their controversial policies.  The PS4 is hitting many of the right notes with consumers so far, collectively countering everything the XBox One can shake a stick at.    I'm beginning to wonder if Microsoft truly understands what it means to be competitive. 

I applaud them for reversing their policies, but only two thorns remain in Microsoft's collective backside -- the Kinect requirement and the higher price tag.  The most damnable element is the higher price of $100 more than the PS4.  Look, I don't care how much you tout the system as being the pinnacle of interactive entertainment; consumers are simply not willing to pay more for a system when they can get the competing console that offers the same experience for much cheaper.  While supporters of the XBox One will overlook these traits and argue that their console of choice has a better library of launch games, who's to say if games like Titanfall and Dead Rising 3 may one day end up on the PS4, too?  I cannot say that definitively, but given the craziness and unpredictability of the video game industry, it is logical to assume that anything can happen.  Remember when Rayman Legends was a Wii U exclusive?

I once believed in the XBox One and its chances, but now I've reluctantly gone and cancelled my preorder.  Yes, I had pre-ordered the XBox One out of reckless impulse.  I had really wanted a PS4.  Why I was possessed to choose the XBox One is beyond me.  You might be asking why I did it, but I couldn't really tell you.  Yet, with these latest developments coming out of Microsoft, and the dire situation they now face in light of many missteps that they're struggling to recover from, I'm withdrawing my support for the XBox One for the time being. I believe in its potential later on down the road, only if Microsoft is willing the effort to persuade the consumers in a way that does not further alienate their sensibilities.

Keep calm, game on and may the Force be with you.

A Realm Reborn -- My Updated Impressions

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dfd

Three years ago, I got the chance to play Final Fantasy XIV.  A few days later, I went on GameSpot and did something I don't often do for high-profile games like this---I handed down a scathing review and concluded with a 4.5 score.  Even though the thought of a horrific Final Fantasy game typically boils down as a matter of personal opinion, I think it's safe to say that I didn't have any problem calling Final Fantasy XIV the absolute worst game in franchise history; a sentiment echoed by then CEO of Square Enix himself Yoichi Wada.  The overwhelmingly negative response to Final Fantasy XIV illicited a devastating ripple effect that prompted the departure of longtime Final Fantasy co-creator Hiromichi Tanaka (who also produced Final Fantasy XI), an overhaul of XIV's development team, a public apology from Square Enix, the suspension of monthly fees and, ultimately, a complete shutdown of all servers. Final Fantasy XIV might have been written off almost entirely, but Square Enix still believed enough in the product, choosing to cut their losses and do what everybody else in the industry has done lately to keep franchises afloat; reboot it and start fresh.

For starters, they enlisted a new producer; Naoki Yoshida.  It might not mean much on the outset, but one significant factor is that Yoshida is a self-professed MMORPG player and fan who has played MMOs like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Everquest and the like.  In other words, unlike Hiromichi Tanaka, Yoshida's intermittent, first-hand experience and knowledge of successful MMORPGs means that the man knows what works and what doesn't.  The entire FFXIV team had also underwent a major overhaul, even going so far as hiring new composers for the music.  With all that firmly in place, it meant that FFXIV would need to undergo serious changes to the formula---most importantly, removing, tweaking and doctoring the more unpopular elements like the abominable User Interface, the flawed Questing system and everything else that dragged the game down.   Such a move was costly, but Square Enix was quite determined to regain the trust of fans and restore the reputation of the Final Fantasy brand.

The end result is what you see now, and what I am playing now -- A Realm Reborn.  The subtitle holds a meaningful context; both in the game and for the game.  The story is eerily similar to Final Fantasy XI; the land of Eorzea is devastated by Bahamut, forcing a band of heroes to act upon saving the people from imminent destruction.  In the five years hence, Eorzea is slowly recovering and adventurers from every corner of the known planet have come here seeking fame and glory.

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So, what are my updated impressions on a game that I billed as "the worst Final Fantasy game ever made?"  Well, even though A Realm Reborn isn't the best MMORPG on the market, it is a significant improvement over the original model.  The Fatigue experience, Quest limitations, clunky User Interface and sparse content of the first release are gone.  In its place, A Realm Reborn is a traditional MMORPG that provides something for almost everyone. In fact, most people might accuse the game of being too similar to WoW or even Guild Wars 2, but ARR does stand out with a host of features that differientiate greatly from both Final Fantasy XI and XIV.  One notable feature of ARR is the fact that the game no longer forces you to group with parties to get ahead (as was the case with Final Fantasy XI) -- ARR introduces a fair and balanced Quest system that solo players can enjoy.  That way, even if they never join a single party in their lives, they can still cultivate their character at their own pace and on their own terms. Of course, ARR also gives incentives to players that do want to party---like expanded Skill Chains, bonus EXP, greater rewards and deeper challenges.  In other words, ARR strikes a fine balance between solo and group play.

Coming off of Final Fantasy XI, I'm relieved that someone like me can enjoy a game like ARR.  One of the biggest reasons why I failed at FFXI was the fact that I was forced to join parties just to level up my character and Jobs, and few parties wanted me.  (It's like trying to find a job in real life; parties never come easy)  The strain of forced grouping takes a toll on a lot of players, leading to arguments, dissention and even blacklisting.  ARR eases those restrictions by making the experience friendlier for casual players, but not taking too much away from the grouping experience.

Another nice feature of ARR is the FATE events.  This is an almost direct copycat of Guild Wars 2 where specific, timed events occur at any point during gameplay.  Players take part in a timed fisticuff against a group of mobs and earn bonus spoils for participation.  It's also a good way to earn quick EXP when you're soloing, but you have to put in your fair share of work if you want to get anything at all.  Even though it's blatantly copying Guild Wars 2 in this regard, I admit it spices up the gameplay in significant ways and doesn't hurt the experience overall.

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So far, A Realm Reborn is looking to make good on its promise to win back disillusioned Final Fantasy fans and help them forget the monstrosity that was Final Fantasy XIV.  But, it runs the risk of being just like any other MMORPG on the market today because of its notable similarities to WoW and Guild Wars 2; the Final Fantasy name alone would probably be the only notable aspect going for it.  However, the improvements and fixes to its illusory game design are more than enough for me to give it a second shot.......and actually enjoy it.  It isn't the best MMORPG, but it's certainly a great one---if not a better pill to swallow than FFXIV.

Change can be good.....even if it's bad

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dd

Although I have never gone mountain climbing in my life, I admire two things about it---  the sheer physicality and the psychological implications. As anyone who has ever climbed Mount Everest will tell you, mountains and cliffs have a tendency of being unpredictable and, even with all the preparation in the world at your fingertips, you never know when things take an unexpected turn for the worse.  On that note, the climber is faced with one of two choices -- give up and climb down, or find another way around.  There's a goal up ahead, and you want to reach it.  It all depends on your level of passion and the drive to want to complete your goal and earn your chops.

That being said, whether it's climbing a mountain and negotiating anything else that throws a wrench in your trajectory of life, change occurs when you least expect it.  Like death and taxes, it's inevitable.  It all boils down to how people respond to it.  Case in point -- the changes being made to GameSpot in a matter of weeks. I've begun to notice people posting blogs announcing their departure from the website.  This is mostly due in part to the removal of a lot of key features---Fuse, Unions, Member Levels and Awesome User Blogs.  The removal of Unions means that my Writer's Union may cease to exist as well.  I understand the frustrations and the anger.  In light of previous alterations, it's safe to assume nearly everyone has buckled under exhaustion, wanting no more of it.  People really liked the Unions, so it makes sense that they would be upset enough to threaten to leave and say good-bye to everybody.

Changes to GameSpot have happened many, many times before.  I've been a member of GS for five years and I've experienced them firsthand.  A lot of it I didn't agree with. Others I was actually fine with.  Whatever the case may be, we all have seen it. For example, remember when the comment boxes underwent a major overhaul?  Good intentions notwithstanding, there was a pretty serious uproar for a while and people threatened to leave then, too. I didn't like the change either and expressed my disdain on several occasions. However, most of us grew accustomed to the system in time and many folks who posted blogs announcing their leave have reversed their stance. And it wasn't just that. For a while, I was disappointed with the removal of Raptr, the severance of ties with GameFAQs, and the changes of the ToU that removes prohibitions of unfiltered vulgarity and allows trolling and vile name calling.  

The new GameSpot update is a major one. It will change the entire look of the website.  It promises to fetter out the glitches.  It brings many changes and deep cuts.  Needless to say, not everyone is on board.

Throughout my years here in GameSpot, as well as the majority of my personal life outside of it, I've learned that changes do happen whether or not we appreciate them.  Every member and visitor of GameSpot will come to grips with stuff in their lives that will be far more profound than the mere tweaking of a video game website.  The death of a family member. Moving to a new neighborhood.  The loss of a job.  The failing of a marriage.  A medical diagnosis.  Even an accident that will suddenly rob you of your ability to walk.  Severe life changes.  No self-respecting human being wishes for any of that to happen to themselves or anyone else, but it does happen.  Do you despair of life itself?  Do you give up?  Or will you adapt to the change?  Will you grow from it?  Will you become stronger for it?

My good friend @Uesugi-dono quoted one of my favorite films of all time "Rocky Balboa" in his recent blog, which you should read.  In it, the aging boxing legend gives a harsh pep talk to his son about the cruelty of life and how it can beat you to a pulp and keep you on your knees.  I want to add to that presentiment by quoting the great Bruce Lee.  "Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, but a bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind."  I hope those who do leave will keep to heart these wisdoms.

The exodus being felt in GameSpot is almost an allegory to the struggles of life and how people respond to unfavorable situations.  I do understand their frustrations over the matter and respect their choices, and wish them all the best.  It's just sad that many people that do decide to leave are good friends of mine whom I may never see again. If I can impart one last lesson to them, it would be this.  Have courage, be prudent and persevere when greater challenges come their way. 

As for me?  Let's be very clear.  I will be staying.  Not because of the changes being made or the politics behind them.  N  But because I'm the bamboo that can bend with the wind and adapt.  Most importantly, I stay because of my friends.  They're far more important than the website.  I may not be here forever, but I'm going to be here for quite a while yet.  Do not mourn for me, for I won't be joining the exodus.  Don't bid me farewell, because I am not going anywhere.  My Death-Adder rank and emblems will be gone, but Asagea_888 will still be standing firm and stout -- ready to take on the changes; in both this website and my own life in general.

So, I'll end this blog with a reassuring note.  Keep calm, game on and may the Force be with you.

Please read! Important

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Hey, guys, just to let you know -- there was a major technical issue on my end that prevented people from seeing my blogs.  I got some PMs that told me my blogs were set to Private.  No idea how that happened :(

For those who got the Set to Private message when trying to read my stuff, it was completely unintentional.  I apologize if it sent the wrong message.

Anyway, I corrected the issue, so things should be back to normal.  Shoot a comment and let me know if it works.  Thanks and, of course....my apologies for the inconvenience!

There's a Dragon in my Crown

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It took two years, but Dragon's Crown has finally been released, and I managed to snag my reserve the moment it became available.  I tend to think of Dragon's Crown as being one of the industry's little miracles -- a game that almost never got to see the light of day because a previous publisher (UTV Ignition Entertainment) pulled a Phil Fish (translation: abandoned the game industry) before Atlus stepped in to help.  Were it not for Atlus, Dragon's Crown would have been as good as cancelled.  I hope someone will return the favor to Atlus in their time of need. 

GameSpot gave Dragon's Crown a favorable review, but one thing that surprised me was a complaint regarding the character designs and illustrations, which they deemed potentially offensive and akin to "softcore porn".  While I think such a claim is an overexaggeration, it is somewhat understandable when you consider the Sorceress and all the controversy surrounding her ridiculously oversized breasts.  Still though, "softcore porn" is taking things a little too far.  I'll tell you this--I've been playing Dragon's Crown almost religiously since picking it up, and I've seen the illustrations up close.  Those things pale in relative comparison to the content I've seen in games like Catherine, God of War or the Witcher, which actually depict, more or less, intercourse and even full-on nudity.  God of War even had a sex mini-game, and GS did not seem to complain about the issue in their review.

Maybe this is because Dragon's Crown is a T-rated game, or perhaps it is the expressed opinion of a particular reviewer, but it's hard not to see just a slight hint of a double-standard.  I say this because the video review of Dragon's Crown proudly showcases various examples of suggestive illustrations seen in the game before levelling their obvious complaint of it being "softcore porn."  It's also worth noting that brutal, explicit violence doesn't seem to be a issue with GS much either, if at all.  I can recall a particular GS review for Hotline Miami 2 in which they affectionately tout the game as a "glorious celebration of violence."  I am not sure where they were going with that, but to me, that sends a wrong impression that GS is "celebrating" something that is obviously one of the biggest problems we face in society.  Just like "softcore porn".

  ffd

Look, I don't know about you, but a busty Sorceress neither bothers me nor does it allure me.  If anything is going to get me excited, it is the gameplay, and Dragon's Crown nails it.  The game is a throwback to old-school beat-em ups; games I've personally played and loved in the past.  King of Dragons, Knights of the Round, Golden Axe, Dungeons and Dragons Arcade -- these are just some of the influences that drive the mettle of Dragon's Crown.  The artwork is absolutely beautiful in high-def -- not since Legend of Mana or Muramasa: the Demon Blade have I ever been so entranced by the haunting, painterly beauty of a gaming landscape.  Apart from that, Dragon's Crown is simple to learn, difficult to master and a ton of fun to plow through with each of the game's six classes.  They're far from cookie-cutters---each class has their own individual skill set, feel and attack methodry that set them apart from one another, and certainly makes for some interesting replay sessions.  I like how you can edit your own messages for each character, but these are likely for the online portion of the game---which you do not unlock until way later.  It sounds strange, but when you think about it, it makes sense.  The game wants players to have some experience in the single-player portion before it allows them to play with others online.  Local multiplayer is available at the start, and you can create up to sixteen characters.

I'm playing the Elf as of this writing.  She's recommended for expert players, and I'm not an expert player by any means (not yet anyway).  As I said, the game is easy to learn, so it doesn't matter which class you start with; although the Fighter and the Amazon are good choices for starters who want to get their feet wet.

Anyhow, I hope to have more Dragon's Crown impressions in the future.  Current gen isn't going anywhere yet.  I may be holding off on the PS4 and XBox One, but I still have plenty of PS3/360 gaming to do---even if it takes me through 2014 to do it!