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Xbox One Impressions (B Rating)

Alright, so about 1.5 months ago I gave in and bought the Xbox One. It has nothing to do with fanboyism or anything silly like that. I bought the one that had the most appealing games to me at the time. I will get the PS4 later on when the time is right. Honestly, I was at a friend's house and played Killer Instinct on his machine. I fell in love immediately and purchased the game so that I could play with all the characters. Shortly afterwards I bought the system.

I've had the opportunity to play Forza 5, Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct and Halo: Spartan Assault thoroughly. I've also spent a very small amount of time with the Titanfall Beta, Crimson Dragon and will be picking up Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare tomorrow. I've also had the opportunity to play with various functions on the system. Now that I've had the time to let my everything sink in, I think it's about time I tell you guys what I think of the system as a whole. I'll try to make this as comprehensive as possible.

First let's talk about the design of the system. In pictures, I was actually very underwhelmed with the design. Granted, as long as it's fun I don't really care (the Xbox design was horrendous in my opinion...but I LOVE the system)...but it will likely be seen and this is important to some. I will say, having it in front of me, it actually looks kind of neat and snug due to the square design. It has some nicely placed design quirks like the half side ventilation, the unobtrusive in-line disc port and the simple shift in design halfway through (kind of reminds me of a jester or Two-Face). Honestly, it actually looks nice and simple. The black choice is also nice because it matches with all my of devices (Wii U, PS2, PS3, PC and even my mouse/keyboard/monitor/webcam). One problem I do have with it is that half of the surface of the system has a glossy finish, which means the moment I pulled it out of the box, it was scratched. Interestingly, the other half is a matte finish, so it has stayed looking nice. Only parts of the system that stay in visual range have that half and half design...the rest is matte. The Kinect suffers (and benefits) from the same design. It has a nice, simple and rectangular look to it. The whole front of the sensor is covered in the transparent plastic that covers the lens, so the whole thing is magnetic to scratches (the part you see most at least). Luckily, the only part of the sensor I really touch is the top, so the top edge that has that same plastic is the only part I've noticed with scratches. The rest of the device is matte like the console. There is a long bar on the bottom of the sensor, which is the mic. Honestly, it looks like part of a stand, so it blends seamlessly into the Kinect as a whole.

The console was simple enough to hook up. Plug in the power. Plug in the provided HDMI cable into my TV. Plug in my Kinect into the system. Done. I will warn you ahead of time, the system DOES NOT stand up. It actually disables booting the system if it detects it is standing up, so it has to be laid on its side. Apparently standing a system up is very very bad so they just got rid of the idea completely with the new console. You know what's funny? My Wii, Wii U, PS2, PS3 and 360 all stand upright. You know how many problems I've had with these consoles? ZERO. You know how long I've had them? Since launch (except PS3...which I got a month before they announced the first slim model). You know how many ring scratches I've had? ONE. So I refuse to believe this is bad for the system. More likely they don't trust users because of how negligent people can be, so they decided to drop the idea. The good is that you don't even have to worry about the system falling anymore...it's not an option. The bad thing is that it takes up a lot of shelf space. I had to relocate all my upright systems and remove my PS2 from my shelf because of the space this system takes up when sitting on its side. Now remember, the X1 and Kinect are both quite powerful. As a result, both will actually heat up. Not alarmingly hot, but definitely slightly warmer than the 360. Honestly it gets about as warm as my PC, which is acceptable for me...but may be disconcerting to non-PC users.

The first time you boot up the system, it takes you through a quick walkthrough and setup in order to get you started. It's nice, simple and clean. The first thing I noticed was that the Kinect doesn't move. This concerns me. I realize that it has a wider range of vision, but still...what happens when I'm playing Kinect Sports or something that involves movement? Functionally I've actually had a much easier time using it in my small room than the older Kinect, so my fears are clearly unfair...but they are there nonetheless. Back to the console. The dashboard interface very much resembles that of Windows 8. Either you love it or you hate it. I personally hate it. I find it convoluted, confusing and unintuitive. I find it counterproductive and can't figure it out for the life of me...with tutorials and all. Luckily, there are some useful features that make the system easier to navigate. First, the most recent apps you've used are displayed on the bottom row of your Home screen. Second, you can 'pin' apps like Windows 8. Your pinned apps will appear to the left of the home screen. So apps that you want to have easy access to can merely be pinned (I have six on mine, and it's really nice to have it there). Third, and most definitely the most effective method: voice commands. There are only two times I have had some trouble with voice commands: in REALLY LOUD environments and when I'm in a party chat. Loud environments are a much bigger pain than when in a chat. In every other instance, the voice commands have worked flawlessly. All I need to do is say "Xbox, Go to Killer Instinct" and no matter where I am on the console, it will put my current app on standby and open up Killer Instinct. Interestingly, the system is capable of putting multiple apps (haven't tested the limit yet) and one game on standby simultaneously. So I can be watching Netflix, then I can switch to my game, then I can switch to Internet Explorer seamlessly and without losing what I'm doing. It multi-tasks like a computer, and it is VERY convenient. Now that the 3DS and Wii U have spoiled me with the ability to go back and forth between certain apps and my game...it would have been difficult to adapt to an environment that doesn't do this. I'm very happy with this feature. The system also loads as fast or faster than my high-end PC, and manages to keep up with whatever tasks I'm doing. I've not noticed any UI lag, any games or apps slowing down. Like I said, this has impressed me. This comes with a downside though. You will inadvertently switch between apps without closing them. When you DO close an app, it automatically tries to open your last active app. This can be frustrating when you are trying to do actions such as creating parties.

Speaking of parties, the system is clunky, broken, idiotic and backward. Considering how brilliant the system was on the Xbox 360, it is strange how terrible it is on the new system. Most games I've played don't have a proper 'invite friend' action...so instead I have to force players to be in a party with me. What if I want to play a game but I want to be in a party chat with somebody else? Can't do it. Granted, the party chat itself works well, and the Kinect works better than any of the mics I've owned on my 360 and also better than the mic included with the system. It's amazing how well the noise cancellation and voice detection works on that device. I've resorted to using my X1 to Skype when friends when I'm on my PC, to free up resources on my PC (all my stuff is on my desk). I'm so impressed with the Kinect's voice functions that I've found myself saying 'thank you' to it on occasion...which is silly. I almost exclusively navigate with my voice when on my console, and I love it completely. Unfortunately, I don't feel like the Kinect sensor itself is very well done. It could just be that I have a defective Kinect, and I really should call to verify, but I have not once been able to use motion commands like on my 360. It doesn't even show a hand no matter where I'm sitting or standing. When I moved the X1 to the living room briefly it would randomly show my hand but I couldn't do anything because it would stutter and be brief. What really weirds me out is that it NEVER has any trouble detecting me as an individual. That's another neat feature of the console. You can associate your physical parameters with your Gamertag so that when you sit in front of the Kinect, it signs you in. It works perfectly for me (even in the dark, thanks to infrared), which means the whole console can be used without a controller if needed. Why can't I do any motions then? I'll investigate an report back if it is merely a hardware defect. Everything on the console can be accessed and used with voice commands, though. You can even turn the system on and off with your voice! This leads to another problem and benefit.

Always on. The system is in a state of perpetual power. This is good because this means it can do downloads, and it functions in a deep sleep. This means that it will start up almost instantaneously. On the other hand, this means the system never turns off. The system has supposedly gone through multiple stress tests and simulations to assure the system can operate under these conditions, and there has been nothing to indicate otherwise yet. To be fair though, the console has not been out too long in order to gather any relevant data on possible negative repercussions. The bad? The power brick is freaking loud. Interestingly, the console itself is actually relatively quiet when it's on. When it's in deep sleep, you can sometimes hear the fan (VERY quiet), but that's only because I sit almost right next to the console. The power brick, on the other hand, is REALLY loud when the system is in deep sleep. I'm not sure why this is, and this is something else I need to investigate. At first it really messed with my ability to sleep, but I've learned to block it out as white noise at this point. It's kind of strange because I've never had a power brick with such a loud fan in it. At least I don't have overheats or malfunctions though, so whatever is going on, it is assuring optimal functionality out of my console.

Now say you DO decide to navigate with a controller, you still have options. Assuming you aren't in a game, you can actually fully navigate the system and it's apps using the new and improved Smart Glass for smart phones. It is simple to use, and provides a nice alternative when you want to control with a device but don't really want to pick up the controller. Who doesn't always have their phone with them, right? Unfortunately, I've only seen one game that actually uses the advanced features of the Smart Glass (Dead Rising 3)...so I'm not sure of it's full potential. This use is actually VERY cool, but it's still only one out of all the games I've played so far. The controller itself is near perfection. At first it doesn't look very different from the 360 controller. The moment you pick it up and use it, all the subtle changes start to show. The controller has a slight ergonomic improvement, which has proven much less painful to hold over long sessions than the 360 controller. There is no battery bulge, which feels much nicer on the hands. The control sticks feel much more responsive, and have a much smaller dead zone. The bumpy edge coupled with the ring around the perimeter and the slightly concave design make the stick very easy to use, and very difficult to slide your finger off of. The buttons feel essentially the same, which is a good thing. The D-pad picks up after Nintendo in it's design choice...and it works GREAT. I've spent countless hours on Killer Instinct using the D-pad, and I feel no need to get a fight stick or special controller like I did with the 360...because it just feels right. The shoulder buttons feel responsive, and the design of the triggers feel slightly looser than the 360, but effectively feel more responsive. The addition of trigger force feedback adds a very nice sense of immersion and reactive interaction. It's a minor, but VERY welcome addition. The headset port uses a proprietary slot again, but this time without a space for 3.5mm for non-proprietary headsets. This means you have to dish out extra money for an adapter. This is a terribly greedy move and is a bit disappointing, especially since the provided headset is much worse than the default 360 headset. It feels worse, it works worse, it's uncomfortable and it feels more flimsy. Anyway, the controller also has a built in infrared sensor that can interact with the Kinect. This means it has motion capability like the Wii Remote. The only use I've seen of this is in Dead Rising 3, where you need to shake the controller to throw off zombies that are attached to you, so I have yet to see some more intensive and creative use of the feature. This is another welcome feature though, because between the Wii, Wii U, 3DS and PS3...moving my controller to do actions in some games merely comes natural at this point in gaming. Unfortunately, the top section of the controller where the Home button is is covered in this transparent plastic, which was also scratched the moment I first held the controller. It functions without a problem, but it's unfortunate, because I like to keep my controllers looking nice.

As far as games are concerned, I've been happy so far. You can read reviews on the games I've played and finished so far in the review section of my page here on GameSpot. I will mention this though, I've not been particularly impressed with the visuals so far. I've seen some nice processer tricks. Dead Rising 3 can display thousands of zombies on the screen at once with almost never any slow down. That's impressive, but the game look somewhere between a 360 and what the X1 should look like in visual quality. I have PC games that are older that look better. Another example of some very clever computing power (thank you cloud computing!) is with Forza 5. Thanks to cloud computing, the game is able to gather data about players in the world and implement their play styles into AI racers, so that your AI opponents can adapt over time as you continue to play the game. It's quite a special thing, even if most drivers tend to be overly aggressive, which in turn leads to lots of crashes. This isn't an issue with the feature though, this is a problem with the human tendency to be jerks. A last example is in Killer Instinct. The game looks decent, don't get me wrong, but it certainly doesn't look 'next-gen'. Not until you start seeing particles, at least. The particle effects show off some very impressive physics calculations, which are very likely taking advantage of the cloud computing feature as well. I know there is a huge war out there about the 720p issue of the X1 and how it just can't quite handle games the same way the PS4 can. This could very likely be true, I mean even the 360 was inferior to the PS3 technologically, but the 360 certainly was no slouch. The X1 seems to be vastly inferior in comparison at launch...and this can be disconcerting. My theories revolve around the ineffective use of cloud computing and the infrastructure of the components of the console. I mean, look at the PS3, it wasn't until the last half of its life that it started to produce games that blew the 360 out of the water. While the X1 will be unable to attain this goal due to its inferior hardware, it will certainly improve over the next few years, mark my words.

The final feature I'd like to mention is the pass-through feature. I can connect almost any device into my X1 with an HDMI cable, and play it through my X1. This means I can also be in a party chat on my X1 while playing said game, I can open compatible apps in snap mode (side-by-side...essentially PiP) while playing or watching other devices. It has been confirmed that there is a slight lag when using the pass-through, but they assured us that it is negligible to the human perception. I can confirm this. I've tried playing Xbox and 360 games using my Xbox 360 through my X1, and I didn't notice anything. In fact, I made sure to play games that require quick reflexes and precision to test it properly (Halo 4 and Mortal Kombat, to be precise). I didn't notice any issues with visuals or audio with these systems or my PS3. I haven't tried a cable box or anything like that, but the input/output lag and required precision is much lower when viewing movies and shows, so I suspect it wouldn't have an issue. I DID have an issue with my Wii U though. This has nothing to do with a deficiency of the X1, it merely has to do with the impressive way that the Wii U has practically 0 lag even though it is doing output to a TV AND wireless streaming to the gamepad. As a result, there was a noticeable .5 second audio/video AND input lag. Granted, I didn't test the system with just the Pro Controller...which I suspect may alleviate the issue...but that is irrelevant since the Gamepad is one of the main features of the console. So don't expect to play your Wii U through your X1 unfortunately. I haven't tried doing Wii Mode either, which I suspect should work fine. I will try this later and report on it. Finally, I never noticed any audio or visual degradation when using the pass-through. Keep in mind, I have a 24" 60Hz 1080p monitor and a decent 5.1 audio system...so I would definitely notice (especially aurally).

In conclusion, the X1 has a lot in common with the WiiU. It may not have the technologically beastly abilities of the PS4, but for what it lacks in power, it more than makes up for in features. It has a lot of really great features that promise a very fun and creative future. It is also very entertainment friendly, which is something the PS4 doesn't quite accomplish in the same way. Don't get me wrong, the PS4 is amazing in its own way, but it will never do what the X1 does...and that makes the X1 very special. Overall, I'd have to give the system a solid B. There can and will be improvements to features and the OS...but as it stands, these issues can take away from some of the experience, and must be taken into account. As a gamer though, whatever choice you make (whether it be the Wii U, X1 or PS4), you will be in for a very special and memorable experience. It's a good time to be a gamer.

My Top 5 Video Game Composers (Part 2)

2. Koji Kondo

This was inevitable. Anybody who knows anything about me knows that it would be impossible for me to list composers I really like without listing at least ONE Nintendo composer. Kondo was an easy choice for me, mainly because he has consistently made fantastic music, and has also been involved with the series from the beginning. What series do I speak of? Why, The Legend of Zelda of course! While there are a handful of Zelda games that revolve around similar themes, what stands out most to me is his ability to grab the underlying theme and game play quirk of a Zelda game, and turn that one simple idea into brand new set of music. The most notable games he's worked on that I personally think stand out are Majora's Mask, Wind Waker and Skyward Sword. All 3 of these games have totally different settings, and he captures that feel beautifully with the music in the games. To make this decision even easier, I'd like to mention other titles that I LOVE the music in that he did as well: Super Mario Bros. 2, SMB3, Super Mario World, Star Fox, Star Fox 64, Super Mario 64, SMW2, Mario Party 2, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy...to name a few. He is definitely a keeper, and Nintendo better not get rid of him anytime soon.

1. Nobuo Uematsu

This was the easiest choice for me. I spent my childhood enjoying the music from the games he's contributed too. I also feel like he has done the best job of evolving with the industry. He did a brilliant job composing using the limited resources that 8-bit audio presents, did the same with 16-bit, and eventually moved on to more complexity in 32-bit+. While his most notable mentions are the Final Fantasy series, some other games you may or may not know he did are Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and The Last Story. I'd like to mention that involving the Final Fantasy series, the one I personally thought was the worst regarding music was one of two he didn't work on (the other being 13): 12. To be fair, part of 12's downfall is that the music relies too heavily on remixed or reimagined tunes from previous games. While this garners a certain level of nostalgia and a fun retrospect, it takes away from the much needed uniqueness that Uematsu always brings to each successive game. Still, in a way 12 is a nice nod to Uematsu's previous works. Enough with the off-topic rant though. Anyway, Uematsu has always done a good job of creating tunes that can be fun, silly, catchy, emotional and everything in-between. He knows how to present variety. To top it off, he even made a music group to remix a lot of the series' music with a more modern touch (The Black Mages). There you have it, my number 1 favorite.

This was certainly a difficult list for me to create, because there are a lot of other games I really enjoy the soundtrack to, but that will be for another time. I will specifically do a top 10 favorite video game soundtracks later on down the line. I hope you enjoyed this list, and I'd love to hear who you do and don't like. Also, I will take requests for these lists and consider them for my next one. See you around!

My Top 5 Video Game Composers (Part 1)

5. David Wise

This man has a very large number of titles he's worked on, but the reason that he hits this list for me is the Donkey Kong Country series. The music in that series has always been fantastic, moody and catchy in all the right ways for the type of platformer that DKC was. I honestly haven't heard his work from a lot of the older games, but the SNES era and on, I'm totally familiar. He also did Battletoads, Star Fox Adventures and Diddy Kong Racing...all of which have fantastic scores. Maybe it's just nostalgia speaking for me in the case of David Wise, but the DKC series stands to have some of the best music in gaming for me.

4. Jason Hayes, Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford, Russell Brower, Neal Acree

I'm sorry, but I couldn't just pick one specific composer for #4, because I just wouldn't be doing them all justice otherwise. These guys are the ones responsible for the music from Blizzard. This includes the Diablo series, Warcraft series and Starcraft series. While I'm not too familiar with Diablo, I won't include that in my reasons here, Warcraft and Starcraft are reason enough. I will admit that Starcraft 1 felt a bit juvenile and too dependant on sci-fi nods, the rest of the games they've done I find to have beautifully crafted music. There is nothing more challenging than creating tunes you know people will listen to for hours and hours. That's the way Real time strategy games work though. Each race or faction will cycle through a handful of tunes, and most players usually pick one race/faction as their mainstay. That being said, I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've heard the Orc, Undead and Zerg songs throughout my life. Each track is appropriately made to represent the theme of the race, while pulling you in in just the right ways. When I'm playing as the Zerg, the combination of the sounds and music help me FEEL like I want to act as a Zerg would. That's something special. To top it off, they managed to take the music to a whole new level with Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2, offering extremely epic and emotional pieces that really made the campaigns a lot more meaningful. Last, but not least, let's not forget about the brilliant work that has been put into World of Warcraft. They manage to pull a large variety of themes to fit all the different situations and areas of the game, and frankly speaking...the music in WoW does not get old. These guys deserve every bit of praise they can get.

3. Martin O'Donnell

Here is a gem. He hasn't worked on quite a large amount of projects like Uematsu has, but O'Donnell has certainly produced A+ works out of the few he HAS done. O'Donnell is the man behind the music for the Halo series. He is another example of a person who successfully evolved with the industry. While Halo:CE had good music, overall it still felt very much like a video game. Halo 2 pushed forward and used a lot more emotional pieces while keeping the overall feel of Halo:CE. O'Donnell then took the music of the series and totally redid it to incorporate an orchestral score for Halo 3. This jump sealed the deal for me, because Halo 3 has one of the most beautiful soundtracks I've ever heard in a game. An interesting note that made me happy is that he was also involved in the sound design for Riven, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite adventure games and top on the list of one of my favorite games I've ever played. O'Donnell has been with Bungie for a long time, and was also involved inMarathonand Myth. A notable mention that people may not know: he also did the music for Septerra Core. That being said, I love his work, and I thoroughly look forward to hearing what he has to bring to the table for Destiny.

My Top 10 Overrated Games (Part 3)

And here is the final part.

2. Final Fantasy VII (Playstation 1, Playstation 3, Playstation Portable, PC: 92.10)

The legendary Final Fantasy VII. Squaresoft's most precious game, and a fan favorite. This one is on the low end of the spectrum for me in the series. It suffers from similar problems that Ocarina of Time suffered for me, except worse. At least Ocarina of Time revolutionized adventure games with it's controls, Final Fantasy VII merely controlled the same as it's predecessors, and the new direction going 3D but keeping a similar look of the previous games with the character design made the characters look absolutely ugly. Now you have to remember that before Final Fantasy VI the series was still mostly a fantasy game. Final Fantasy VI treaded new grounds by bringing a bit of sci-fi into the mix and melding the two genres together. This worked out great, but the problem is that almost every game after this kept this style and beat it into the ground. Final Fantasy VII is the first one to be guilty of this. It also followed a similar structure with the story, by having a main story but having well detailed stories just based around each character. While this works great when the characters are great, Final Fantasy VII also suffered from some boring characters (namely Cloud, Barrett, Tifa, Cid and Yuffieto me at least). They didn't decide to borrow EVERYTHING from Final Fantasy VI though. One of the coolest things about FFVI was that they took the fantastic Active Time Battle (ATB) system from Final Fantasy IV and the fantastic class system that was in Final Fantasy II, III and V and meshed them together. The ATB system essentially was the same as traditional turn-based combat, which involved each fighter doing an attack in a certain sequence based on their speed stat, and then added a timer so that if you took too long to decide, the enemy would have a chance to hit you while you were still deciding on your attack. This added a much needed sense of urgency into the mix. As for the classes in Final Fantasy VI, each character represented a totally unique fighting class AND they had their own way of fighting. For example: one character would just use magic and attack like the classic games, while another would be based on a roulette and another would actually be based on button combinations (almost like a fighting game). It made the combat feel familiar, but still fresh and fun. Final Fantasy VII threw this in the trash and just stuck with the more simple play style of part IV. While Final Fantasy VII is a great game in it's own way, to me it was definitely a low point of the series, and it appalls me that so many people like this so much. I understand it was more the timing and they managed to hit a whole new generation with the game and this allowed it to take off completely, but I would expect people to be able to look back at this game a little more objectively. It seems like Square understands VII wasn't one of it's best, otherwise we would be getting a Final Fantasy VII HD and not Final Fantasy X HD (Final Fantasy X is one my second favorite in the series by the way). Final Fantasy VII also had the same scenario as Ocarina of Time. It's predecessor and successor were great, but it wasn't as good. Part VI is the reason why VII exists and VIII made all the changes it needed to in order to keep the series fresh. In fact, in many ways I feel like VIII was the REAL next step for the series and VII was merely something to hold the fans over until it released. To top it off, the story didnt feel like it had proper closure. It was clear that they wanted to expand on that particular universe, but it just left far too many unanswered questions at the end. While I try to be as fair as I can here, I am also slightly bitter because the development of Final Fantasy VII killed the last half of another game that Squaresoft made called Xenogears, which I like a LOT more than Final Fantasy VII. Thanks to Final Fantasy VII, we will likely never see a sequel to Xenogears, even though it was better than Final Fantasy VII in EVERY way.

1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC: 93.49)

I don't think you can get much more overrated than Call of Duty. Don't get me wrong, it has it's great qualities and frankly speaking, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was a beast of a game and did a lot for the genre and gaming in general, but it's sequel didn't have the same charm. It took me a while to pick out which one in the series I wanted to place here. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that when I talk to people, the consensus is generally Modern Warfare 2 as being the pinnacle of the series. While the multiplayer was improved vastly over Call of Duty 4, the campaign suffered terribly. If the game were only a multiplayer game, it would deserve every level of praise that it has, but the fact that it has a single player means that it needs to be judged as part of the game when a review is taking place. The campaign was confusing, erratic, disjointed, and full of way too many high speed action sequences that took away from the SHOOTING part of the game. I felt like every time I started to get settled down with shooting, something over the top would happen. They would then introduce a new gimmick (like the sledding) and then throw me back into the shooting completely confused and disoriented. This happened a few times and then suddenly the game was over. Call of Duty 4 had a good level of variety in its campaign, flowed well and still felt like a shooter, while a lot of the time Modern Warfare 2 felt like an interactive action flick that would sometimes let me shoot things. To top it off, the story just felt so confusing to me. They jumped around far too much and when it was finally over, I just didnt even know whether I should be glad or upset. Modern Warfare 2 felt almost like a mediocre expansion to Call of Duty 4 and that is not acceptable out of a full sequel. It's too bad that they rushed out such a mediocre campaign considering the franchises excellent track record, but that's how it ended up. Modern Warfare 3 did even worse (but didn't score as high) with the campaign. Here's hoping that they don't forget us single players with Modern Warfare 4, and go back to the excellent quality that Call of Duty 4 had. Still, in the end the multiplayer didn't have a lot of lasting value either. While being extremely polished and fun, it wasn't dynamic enough. It felt like a twitch shooter (a shooting game that has a much higher dependency and reaction speed rather than overall strategy) but without any twists to keep you in. To me it felt like Quake 3 Arena, but at least Quake 3 had some fun level design that kept things fresh. Modern Warfare 2 was just Quake 3 but with your feet kept planted firmly on the ground (there was a LOT of jumping involved in Quake 3). It was far too fast paced and then it tried to be realistic but fell flat due to the twitch game play. If they had made it SLIGHTLY slower or bigger it would have been perfect, but out of the box it didn't have enough lasting value. Like I said, it is really polished and fun, it just doesn't feel like something with enough depth to keep me in for months at a time. Then again, this is probably why Call of Duty attracts the casual game market so easily, because it lacks the extreme depth of games like Battlefield or Halo so it's easy to pick up and easy to put down. The perfect game for somebody who wants to just have fun and not be challenged.

And there it is...the games that I personally thought were the most overrated that I've been able to play. Some notable mentions that I finally ended up not having on the list were: Doom 2, Starcraft, Castlevania, Mega Man and Mario Kart 64. I hope you enjoyed my little journey, because I certainly did. If you did enjoy it and would like more fleshed out top 10 lists like this, then please leave your requests in the comments for any of the three posts, and I'll pick one and run with it. Until then...BYE!

My Top 10 Overrated Games (Part 2)

6. Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64: 94.59)

Ah yes, the much praised Goldeneye. I can't even begin to tell you the amount of hours I spent with this game. Looking back on it, I don't think it was that good. First off, the controls were decent, but made it kind of difficult to aim. You have to remember Quake came out that same year, and that did aiming just fine. Yes it was with a mouse but it COULD be done, and I'll tell you how: TUROK. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter came out the same year and allowed you to look and move at the same time. This was HUGE back then. It still had the slight auto aim for assistance like Goldeneye, but that extra level of accuracy made a world of difference. That's not all Goldeneye got wrong for me though. The campaign had it's low points too. While the objective based levels encouraged multiple play throughs on all difficulties thanks to slightly different experiences, the game was just so disjointed. Overall it felt like they decided to shuffle the story from the movie and then try to make it work somehow. The actual level design was fine, it was the flow of the story that was disjointed and confusing. The last problem I had with the game was the last level. It would easily glitch randomly and force 006 (the final boss) to be invincible. I found this to be extremely frustrating as a child, and trying to play it again as an adult didn't change this level of frustration at all. A game that creates a no-win scenario at the VERY end is disappointing to say the least. The level design was also a little too focused, in many ways, like Call of Duty today. Turok, which once again came out the same year, had a large, living world that you could explore. There was a fun hub world to explore that had connections to each level, making traveling almost as simple as a menu, but far more engaging. If Turok was able to do all this why didn't Goldeneye do it. This is nothing against Rareware, I love them, and they did a FANTASTIC job with the multiplayer. The simple concept of customizing weapons for the maps added a whole dynamic into the mix that gave Goldeneye huge lasting value. Granted, its spiritual successor Perfect Dark was absolutely fantastic and fixed almost EVERYTHING that Goldeneye did wrong, but that took a little over 3 years. Turok 2: Seeds of Evil came out one year after the original, and added much better AI (artificial intelligence), limb damage (you hit them in the leg and they limp and grip their leg, you hit them in the arm and they won't necessarily shoot back at you, AND they used cover to prevent this problem), a fantastic multiplayer, a much more fleshed out story, a much bigger world and it looked a lot better. It was a huge jump. Unfortunately, I don't know of any other games that adopted the Turok control style. Goldeneye was met with commercial success due to having the 007 name, and so many console shooters followed in its footsteps. It is unfortunate that the game scored so high while Turok got overshadowed and shoved to the side, but that's that.

5. Counter-Strike (Xbox, PC: 89.20)

Here is a game I spent a lot of time with; not because I loved it, but because I had others to play with. The developers decided they wanted to make a realistic experience kind of like Rainbow Six, and then transfer it into a faster paced multiplayer experience. The problem is that those two concepts don't mesh together. The controls felt clunky like Rainbow Six but the higher speed in game play made it awkward to control. Let's not forget that a lot of the great things about Half-Life, like the fun weapons and alien levels are gone in Counter-Strike (Counter-Strike was originally a mod for Half-Life). To top it off, it started this whole concept of 'perks'. As you gained more kills you would earn money, which you could spend on getting better weapons or armor. The problem was that the good players would have all the tools they needed very quickly and the bad players would get obliterated and had no way of learning. At least with modern games the weapons you get for gaining experience points (XP) aren't completely overpowered, they merely play differently and give you more options depending on your needs. The other issue I had with this game was that the maps were really dull, but this is a personal quip and I can see the appeal to others. If this game had remained a mod, it would have been a GREAT mod, but it wasnt worth the asking price once it became a full retail game.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS: 97.54)

Now this is a game I have many fond memories of. In fact, I was not really a fan of the series at the time yet my brother forced this game on me anyway. I had played the original game and enjoyed it mildly, but that was about it. The way this game drew me into the series shows that it definitely merits praise, but a 98? No way. The game felt fresh and new to me the first time I played it, but since it raised interest in the series for me, I decided to pick up A Link to the Past to play as well. I was thoroughly impressed with A Link to the Past, and that is when I realized that Ocarina of Time was just a rehash of A Link to the Past. It had the same game play progression, it had almost all the same weapons (if not in name then in use at least) and it even had the same final boss and villain. I was going to do an item comparison but that would take a lot of space and time, so I will leave that up to you to check out. I also thought the story was much better and more fleshed out in A Link to the Past, I felt like the dungeon design was better and I thought the world felt a lot more alive. Don't get me wrong there are times that Ocarina of Time feel very alive, especially when exploring Hyrule City or Kakariko Village at night or day, but overall the world felt just a little too barren for my tastes. It felt like they were going for a livelier feel but didn't follow through completely. This was especially unnerving considering the fact that this was supposed to be the height of the Hyrule Kingdom, yet there were not a lot of subjects. The sense of adventure was still captured beautifully, but I just felt like the level design left a bit to be desired sometimes. Let's not forget that the 'time-traveling' was essentially the exact same concept as the light and dark world from A Link to the Past. Different coat of paint, same vehicle though. Ocarina of Time had it's fantastic moments, but they just didn't change enough for it to be a 98/100 scoring successor. To me, in order for a sequel to stand out, it needs to have something defining that makes it stand out from its predecessor without being fundamentally different. Game play related there is no denying that this game shined beautifully, and most ANY action/adventure game uses the same scheme to this day (the lock-on and even the basic progression structure), but overall the game gets far more attention then it deserves. It's predecessor and successor are both much better than this (A Link to the Past and Majora's Mask). Just my two-cents though.

3. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (Playstation 3: 89.67)

I want to be clear that this one isn't entirely the game's fault, but more the fault of ALL the people that hyped it up for me. I was told this was the Tomb Raider of the modern age, that it was absolutely amazing, that it improved all the things that Tomb Raider was not improving on lately. When I finally played it I was disappointed BECAUSE I was comparing it to Tomb Raider, and I love Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider is a game with heavy emphasis on exploration, platforming, puzzle solving and with some combat and a light story. Uncharted was the EXACT opposite of this. It was heavy on action and combat with some decent platforming and pretty light on the exploration and puzzle solving, but had a wonderfully involved story. If anything, it felt like what a good Indiana Jones game should feel like, and Tomb Raider is NOTHING like Indiana Jones. So that's the first issue, I went into it with false expectations based on what I was told. That being said, I was still immensely impressed with the beauty, the great voice acting, the wonderful animations, the great characters and the fantastic story. I did have one particular problem with the game that was totally the fault of the game though: combat. Considering it was more focused on combat than Tomb Raider, it could have been better. The controls were fine, but the difficulty was just all over the place. There was no proper progression in the difficulty. One level would be a cinch, then the next would be frustratingly hard and then the next 2 might be a cinch and so on. It didn't give us time to adapt and grow and learn, but instead confused the player and made it difficult to deal with the hard parts. Overall the game is fantastic, and while the metacritic score is a little high for my liking, I can understand the score. For me personally though, this game was a huge disappointment to me because of what I was led to expect. I hope to play through the whole trilogy knowing what to expect now, and will hopefully enjoy it quite a bit more as a result.

My Top 10 Overrated Games (Part 1)

I would like to begin by saying that this list of games is based on MY opinions and MY personal experiences. I don't expect everybody to agree with me, and in fact I hope everybody doesn't so I can get some fun discussions going, but I DO expect you guys to respect my opinions and understand where I'm coming from. I've been working on this list for over a week and finally was able to finalize the list and have the write-up ready. I'd like you to keep in mind that most of these games I actually like quite a bit, but they are still overrated as far as I'm concerned. Once again, I don't dislike ANY of these games (with the exception of number 8), I merely don't think they are deserving of the overall scores that they received (the scores in parantheses are overal metacritic scores). With that, I hope you enjoy.

10. Borderlands (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC: 84)

The first game on this list, and also the toughest one to place on here. For one, its metacritic isnt super high, but from word of mouth this game seems to have been a huge hit. I personally found this game to be SO boring. You have to remember, I regularly play RPGs (role playing games) and I've sat through some pretty atrocious games, so the game being slow is perfectly fine. The problem was that the game just felt dull because of the storytelling. The main story just seemed trivial and I felt no drive to continue playing. Sure, there were interesting characters along the way, but I didnt feel like I really needed to find this vault that contained such a great treasure, because frankly speaking nobody in the game ever made it seem worth my time. I was not interested in the story at all and while the co-op is enjoyable, it felt way too repetitive to me for the amount of time I needed to spend with it in order to complete it. To be fair I haven't beaten the game, but if I've put in about 10 hours into a game and I am still not interested, that is saying something. It gets praised for its weapon selection, which is admittedly good, and it's humor, which also is admittedly good...but frankly speaking I felt like the game was mediocre at best, and I have very little inclination to actually complete it. I've heard very good things about part 2 though, so I hope they improved what they needed to, and someday I will finish Borderlands so that I can give it a complete assessment. As it stands though, the game seems like less and less fun the more time I spend with it.

9. Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast, Gamecube, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC: 83.67)

This one was a little tough for me to put up here. On the one hand, it got about an 84 metacritic score, which isn't really high, but it did get a lot of praise for getting all the things right that Sonic Adventure 1 did not. It was faster paced, it had better level design, better story, looked prettier and was all around a very good adventure game. Well that's what I've seen and heard at least. I disagree wholeheartedly. The story was slightly better, but was really just a race between good and evil, with a slightly interesting plot twist at the end. The controls were still very unreliable due to the painful camera and the random hit detection problems (this is especially frustrating when there are sequences that involve bouncing from enemy to enemy in order to get over a gap). I will admit the music was better, as long as lyrics weren't involved, but the voice acting was still terrible and the facial animations still were as well. They went for a slightly more gritty and realistic feel (well as realistic as can be with a game revolving around animals) but it just fell flat. To top it off, they kept one of the worst parts from Sonic Adventure: boring variety. The Rouge and Knuckles sections were a huge change of pace that completely killed the mood. The comical fun that we had from the Genesis games is exactly how the series needs to be to work right (Sonic Generations gets a nod for that). All-in-all, the game is just a bit too buggy to really be considered good.

8. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (PC: 90)

I'm sure I will get a lot of hate for this one, and I already have with the review I wrote here on Gamespot, but the fact is I hate this game. Yes, me...the total Blizzard fan boy. I played this game originally as a kid, and was never able to beat it. I picked it up again relatively recently and I STILL could not beat it. I just didn't have the patience for it. The problem is that you can't click and drag to select units AND you can't set control groups. I realize at this time these concepts weren't exactly big, but that doesnt make the game any less difficult to play. For a game that throws some pretty intense real-time battles at you though, they needed to have a much better control scheme and frankly speaking, I always have trouble getting things done in the original. Let's not forget that the units all look a little too similar, which makes selecting the right unit difficult at times. To top it off, the campaign was practically the same for both sides, a problem that other RTS games had around that time period(Command & Conquer I'm looking at you) as well. Finally, the story was a little weird. They made it seem like the story was independent depending on what side you chose, and had different outcomes accordingly. It wasn't until Warcraft 2 came out that we finally found out that BOTH campaigns happened kind of simultaneously. In the end though, this game just suffered too many flaws to really be as fun as it's score suggests (a 90?!).

7. Silent Hill 2 (Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Xbox 360: 90)

Now for this one I have had a lot of bashing from my roommates. The problem I had with this game was the same problem I have with most horror games: not enough change. When it really boiled down to it this game was just a beefier Silent Hill 1. When it comes to horror, you can't get away with that because then we know what to expect. Alright alright, then I hear the argument that the story was gripping. I will admit the story was good and the twisted main character was very different. Even the ending (the one I got at least...the best ending from my understanding) was quite a good experience. Why Silent Hill though? It's like Super Mario Bros. 2. That game is absolutely fantastic and is a particular favorite of mine, but it isn't Mario, and the name was slapped on just to sell better. Now Silent Hill 2 doesn't exactly suffer from the same issue, but it felt so disconnected. For one, we set up for this interesting story with part 1 involving the cult and what kind of things they might be doing that would be causing Silent Hill to be the kind of place it is, bringing out the worst of whatever character you are playing as, but all that was thrown aside in Silent Hill 2. Instead of expanding on this cult and the city, they decided to focus completely on the psychological aspects of the main character and the characters he meets along the way. While this concept executed fantastically and the story was chilling through and through, it just felt so disconnected from part 1. I started Silent Hill 3 relatively recently and I found out I'm playing as the child of Harry Mason from part 1 and that (according to my roommates) there will be some more info on this cult. THAT is what Silent Hill 2 needed to do. As a sequel it kind of fell flat for me. There is no denying that the game is exceptional, but it just felt so isolated from Silent Hill 1 (in case I havent emphasized that point enough yet). Maybe that's what the developer was going for. Maybe with the new hardware (Playstation 2) they decided they wanted to take the series in a direction they couldn't have before. If that were true, that would be fine, but considering they decided to explore the events from part 1 again in part 3, that idea was soon destroyed. So there it is, I don't think Silent Hill 2 deserves a 90. 80, or 85 even would be fine, but a 90 is a bit too generous to me. Having acquired the HD collection though, I will give it another chance...and then perhaps this will be removed from this list. We shall see.

Upcoming Reviews

Just as a heads up, I will be posting a review for Pokemon White 2 (and of course Black 2) soon. I have completed most of the game and put 150 hours into it. Even though I'm not ACTUALLY done with it, I feel like I've put in enough time to give it a fair review. Also, I'm nearly done with Dragon Age 2, Doom 3, a couple eShop games, and a couple mobile games. Lastly, I also feel like I've put in enough time into Halo 4 to shoot that up too, having beaten the campaign twice (on third playthrough), spent about 6 hours in MP and am working on finishing episode 1 of Spartan Ops. Lots of reviews coming up in the next 2 weeks or so I hope you guys enjoy :).

The Old Republic: A Gamer's Rant

Here it comes at last, my rant that I kept telling everybody I would post but I never did. Before I begin, I want to make it clear that this rant was inspired by some people I know who seem to want to not only blindly defend this game claiming that it is an absolutely amazing game, but they also REFUSE to accept that there are games that came before it that do what it does...better. Also, keep in mind that after I finally reach level 50, I will write up a complete and proper review of the game. In no particular order...let us begin.

Let me begin with the graphics. I will admit, it feels very much like Star Wars, there is no doubt about it. The problem is with the proportions...the body proportions just seem so off. I feel like I'm watching Clone Wars (which isn't bad necessarily...just not what I want out of my MMO). This is a personal gripe though and doesn't change that it does indeed look good. The problem is that I don't feel like it will age well. You play a game like WoW where the graphics are all about the art direction and it will stay forever. To this day I think WoW looks beautiful, even though it is a pretty underwhelming game technologically by today's standards. An example of a game that did not age well is Goldeneye. I play that game today and it pains my eyes to play it. There isn't a lot of artistic work in that game...it is trying to be as realistic as it can be for its time. We will see how this game holds up and what changes they make with time...but as it stands I am not too impressed. Heck Mass Effect 1 looked far prettier than this game...and this game hashigher requirements than that game. What gives? Not to mention that they locked out graphics options at launch. WHO DOES THAT?! Some people tried to tell me WoW did the same but the graphical improvements it made over time were overhauls that required downloading new assets. This unlock was already in the game (and could be manually enabled through config files) and was merely 'unlocked' with patch 1.1. That is preposterous.

Questing. In a game when you are going to spend the majority of your time doing questing, it should be a given that we should get a little variety...at least from time to time. There is no denying it...majority of MMOs usually lack variety in this regard but TOR's main competitor does not: WoW. People continually argue with me that WoW is the same but it is absolutely not. Amidst the monotony of quests there are quests such as: riding on a caravan handing out quests to NPCs, going on bombing runs against hapless enemies, being able to ride on the back of a drake with full control and decimate troops, being able to turn into an eye to spy, turning into a Naga in order to do quests for them and learn more about them, doing the same for Murlocs, a questline that essentially imitates Plants vs Zombies, being carried in the mouth of a drake fighting for your life, trying to wrangle a sea horse mount underwater, raising a raptor from a baby into a permanent mount...I could keep going but I will stop there. The point has been made. TOR, on the other hand has all the same quests. Either you go out and kill something, or you kill something to acquire something, or you go out to pick up something...and if it involves the last two quest types then you get a bonus quest that involves...wait for it...KILLING MORE THINGS! It is ridiculous. After getting all the way to level 33 and halfway through Alderaan (6th planet...aka Zone), the only real variety I got was with ONE quest on Balmorra that involved knowing the Sith Code and reciting the parts in the proper order then having to fight a big monster that (for me...as a ranged fighter) involved a lot of kiting in order to survive. I haven't had this little fun questing since WoW launch (and am glad they fixed that problem a while ago). The only thing that keeps me going in TOR is story.

Speaking of story, there is no denying that is where this game shines. Being given artifical choices in order to give player interaction and simulation the idea of having an impact is nice, and fully voiced NPCs lends to the immersion. The problem is when you have quests that all do the same thing and the ones that don't really relate to the bigger story....so having voices is actually a detriment. Overall though this game does story like no other MMO, and that is very very commendable.

Crafting. I hate it. Very much. It takes a brilliant idea that draws from the good points in games like FFXI, FFXIV, WoW and Guild Wars and then destroys it by adding ridiculous restrictions. For one, you can make items that are relevant to your level, so you can actually make use of crafting as you level rather than only using it for endgame. This is very nice (I'm looking at you WoW!). Secondly, you can dissassemble (ie disenchant) anything you make for about 50% of the crafting materials and the ability to potentially learn an advanced form of that item. This concept is absolutely brilliant (not original, but still brilliant) and I love it very much. It isn't limited to one crafting profession...but ALL professions can do this...which makes perfect sense of course. Wait...I'm singing all this praise...where is the complaint? TIME. Bioware decided they wanted to go with a system that you could take advantage of while you are questing so you don't have to stop playing to craft. I find that to be extremely stupid. If I'm making something, I like to sit there and take the time to make it...this IS a ROLEPLAYING game and I enjoy playing the role. The way TOR does it you have to send your minions to do the work for you. This is fine and convenient...but the time it takes is the problem. With gathering professions this is fine because you can send your minion to acquire materials AND you can gather yourself as you are exploring. The problem lies in the others. The first is missions, which ONLY the minion can do, which acquries secondary materials and also companion gifts which is cool...but the time it takes is very frustrating (why do I have to spend 1.5k credits AND wait for 1.5 hours JUSt to find out the mission was a failure AND I don't get anything out of it?!). The other issue is with crafting professions. ONLY the minion can craft and for crafting good items it takes a minimum of an hour to make 5 of these items. Plus, not being able to get my own hands dirty with making things I will be using is very very dumb in my opinion. Why the choice could not have been given (as with gathering) is beyond my comprehension. As a whole I hate the crafting system.

Bugs and glitches. I expect a certain amount of bugs and glitches. This is fine. They will be ironed out with time. There are two game-breaking ones that keep making me angry though. One is when I play as my Jedi Knight and do my lunge attack I fairly consistently end up flying off an edge or through a wall. The other is that there are some abilities that have no cooldown aside from the global cooldown. So as assumed the icon on the action bar should stop being grayed after the global cooldown, yet 90% of the time this does happen. It will say 18 hours on it when I mouse over it and will remain grayed...yet if I use it it works fine. This is very frustrating in a tense battle and when I'm paying close attention to the CDs. These two problems are not things that should still be in the game after 1.1 launches.

The other issue is that people seem to think it is ok for TOR to have problems because games like FFXI and WOW had them at launch. The fact of the matter is that TOR is competing with MMOs as they are NOW, not as they were. So it doesn't matter how bad these other games' launches were, they made improvements over time and TOR had these improvements to build from...and chose not to.

As it stands TOR had a pretty smooth launch and it is a very solid game, it just isn't as amazing as everybody claims. It has many flaws that are part of the core game that may not necessarily be fixed. We will see. Still, I'm having fun with it and will continue to play it...I just wanted to get that off my chest. Thank you :).

Influential Games - Era 2

Time to cover the second generation of gaming (for me).

GBC: Pokemon Gold

I start with the easiest system. Frankly speaking...I didn't make much use of the GBC and mostly used it for old GB games I never got to play. This game was one of the few sequels I had played in my time that improved upon the original...while adding a ton. Time based events were my personal favorites...and still something I rarely see in games outside of MMOs. It was brilliant and beautifully executed. Not to mention the absolute vastness of the game. You had the whole new game and then pretty much ALL of Red/Blue. It was epic in a way that made many console games seem like infants.

SNES: Super Mario World 2

Oh my. The SNES had such a plethora of great games it was extremely difficult to choose a single one. I grew up on Mega Man X. Spent a lot of time with A Link to the Past. While FFVI is my favorite in the series for various reasons. Super Metroid blew me away in many ways. It boils down to SMW2 as being the most influential to me though.

Though the SNES was great...it featured a lot of games that were merely upgrades to NES games (sometimes HUGE upgrades...but still merely upgrades). I love the Mario series...they are fun. I can tell you every secret in Super Mario World...it being the one I first spent the most time with. SMW2 on the other hand, blew me away in ways I didn't expect. It had a beautiful art style that was different for its time (and still is to some extent). It was a Mario game that did not revolve around playing AS Mario...but rather as his dinosaur friend Yoshi. The music was very upbeat and extremely fun. Most importantly...it was an interesting new take on the Mario platforming formula. Instead of only running through levels and jumping...here you had levels that had path choices...had depth. To top that off Yoshi had some interesting powers of his own (like throwing eggs) that made combat and bosses far more enjoyable than any other Mario before it. Also...there were a lot of collectibles and things to do in each level that were appropriately challenging (unlike all the other Mario games...old and new). SMW2 showed me how games could be new and fresh...something I began to beg for and crave from then on.

Genesis: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

I love Mario. I'm a Nintendo boy at heart...but I won't lie...I like Sonic more. It's too bad Sonic hasn't stayed as consistently good over time as Mario has...but then again Sega has tried to innovate and change the formula (something I like) more than Nintendo has. Sonic 2 took the platforming I loved in Mario...and made it fast. Made it edgy. Made it thrilling. It was like a rollecoaster ride. And it was absolutely wonderful.

The bright colorful visuals complemented the high speed game play. The music was equally upbeat and catchy to keep in tune with the pace of the gameplay. The controls were a lot more polished in comparison with part 1. The game was lengthy. To top it all off, there was this neat new feature of coop...something that was executed in a way that made the second player a supplemental player rather than a proper simultaneous player. I loved it. Another great addition was the idea of Super Sonic. This time around...we were truly rewarded for collecting all the Chaos Emeralds. This game was the first and only 'mario clone' I ever played that showed me what it truly meant to 'take it to the next level'.

PC #1: The Longest Journey

This was an extremely tough choice. It was between this and Quake. Quake was my first game. It was the first mainstream truly 3D FPS. It was one of the first to have a very well-done and fun multiplayer (which I STILL play sometimes). It had a really fun coop. It was still a bigger, better Doom though. The Longest Journey, on the other hand, took the kind of stuff I enjoyed in games like Myst with the kind of in-depth story I enjoy in games like Final Fantasy and meshed them together into a beautifully crafted game.

It's still a point and click adventure like Myst...but unlike Myst you have set screens with detailed environments where you see your character (April Ryan) and have her interact with objects there. The puzzle solving was fun and interesting like Myst...without being painfully difficult. The most important thing though is that it was the first game I played that had dynamic characters and a dynamic story. I felt for EVERY character in that game. I cared about EVERY character. The story had all sorts of twists and turns and ended with a happy yet tragic ending. To make things better, it was the first game I had played that had good voice acting. The Longest Journey was an experience unlike any I had ever had in my life.

NEXT UP: N64, GBA (should be in GCN...but I want to make sure 3DS matches up with Wii), PS1, PC #2.

Note: Won't be up for a couple days...I'm done for the day. See you guys soon! :)

Influential Games

Hello everybody. I'm back from my little hiatus once again with a little piece on games. This time, I thought it might be interesting if I tell you guys what games have been influential to me personally over my time as a gamer. I am going to pick one game from each console and 4 games from the PC (one represting each of the console generation's time periods starting with SNES). Also, I'm only going to include systems Iactually played games on, for obvious reasons.

NES: Mega Man 2

This game truly started me into gaming. At the time, the NES was my older brother's console and I got little time playing it. I played games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Total Recall and Twinbee. Don't get me wrong...these games were fun, but they didn't really offer anything to me. Just things to play on the downtime I wasn't either outside or at school. Then I remember my brother came home with Mega Man 2 one time. Now you have to understand this is during a time period when gaming was a passing fad that was meant for children and nerds...or at least that was the perception at the time.

I remember popping in Mega Man 2 for the first time...seeing the intro and then watching the camera pan up a skyscraper and watching Mega Man looking off in the distance while the logo popped up and this catchy tune cued. It was one of those moments when you realized you were at the start of something really good. I began the game and the easy, fluid controls made the game really fun, with the great colorful visuals and tunes that are so catchy that I still hum to this day...I was enthralled. Throw in a difficulty curve that was challenging, but not impossible (like a lot of the games I played at that time) and I found something immensely satisfying. There was a level of freedom in this game, while still having direction. There were interesting bosses. Overall the experience molded into this experience that told me as a child that gaming was something I really wanted to get into. Of course...I was a kid...and I only got so much time to play...me only being able to play my brother's stuff (not saying he didn't share...I just didn't have my own system to play. Nonetheless...this game is what truly defined my beginnings.

GB: Pokemon Blue

To be fair...the Game Boy sort of melds into the NES and SNES era...but I figured I'll but the GBC into the SNES era instead. Anyway...I remember first playing Pokemon during a trip to India. One of my cousins had this weird game called 'Pocket Monsters' that wasn't even announced in the US yet (that I remember). He showed me this game and it was odd...catching monsters? Battling with them? It was something I found slightly interesting but obviously didn't fully understand due to the language barrier (clearly I didn't know Japanese). Later on Pokemon finally hit the US and I remembered that time in India and decided to ask my mother to buy it for me...which she did.

I had played the original Final Fantasy and though RPG was still a new concept to me...I liked the genre. Well I remember popping this baby in and getting hit with the intro and then starting up and being able to choose my first Pokemon. It was a personal experience for me because they were letting me choose my fate essentially...or that's how I saw it at the time. The story I found mildly interesting but there was something in that game that was new to me in gaming: COLLECTING. Now I'm a huge collector...and this game delivered to that notion of mine beautifully. I worked hard and spent a lot of time gathering up every Pokemon with the help of my friend Doug and eventually caught them all. This was the first time I had bothered to 100% a game...and it was immensely satisfying. This game made me realise that games weren't just a piece of entertainment...but could also tap into personal traits...like my love for collecting. It was an odd experience that I cherish to this day.

NEXT UP: Genesis, SNES, GBC and PC #1