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ErrolJames Blog

Alan Wake is Officially Overrated

It was brought to my attention that Time Magazine gave Alan Wake it's Game of the Year award. The first thought I had on my mind was "wow Microsoft must have paid someone off." I read the article by Eric Narcisse, and I have to say Alan Wake is overrated.

Of all the games released in 2010 I don't think of Alan Wake as being a standout. It might stand out for taking five years to be developed, but that gets out shined by Gran Turismo 5. During Alan Wake's five years in devlopment many gamers had forgotten about it. Gamers never forgot about Gran Turismo 5, and were actually looking forward to playing it. The only time I saw Alan Wake on anyones most anticipated list was when someone was trying to remind gamers it wasn't cancelled.

"Lotsof video-game covers have a boldMon their lower left corner, but none have felt asmature as Alan Wake does."

What's so mature about running in the woods with a flashlight? I can think of one game that feels more mature than Alan Wake, Heavy Rain. The story centers around a search for a serial killer and the child he kidnapped. Heavy Rain is so mature it forces you to sit back and watch it like a movie. There's no moments of aimlessly running in the woods in Heavy Rain.

"Its unsettled titular character carries adult concerns — a stalled career, a troubled marriage — into a psychological thriller set in a town taken over by a shadowy occult force."

That sounds like a profile of Harry Mason, the main character from Silent Hill. It's clear Silent Hill had a huge influence on Alan Wake. The intro to Alan Wake is so similar to Silent Hill, I had trouble believing it wasn't a remake. Speaking of remakes that whole walking around with a flashlight thing was used a year earlier in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

I'm not saying Alan Wake doesn't deserve Time Magazine's Game of the Year award. It's just a bit strange that I read the article, and think of so many other games as I read. What makes Alan Wake so special if the only way I can describe it is overrated?

Check out the Time Magazine article hereAlan Wake - The Top 10 Everything of 2010

Why the 2010 Video Game Awards Were Lame

The 2010 Video Game Awards aired on Spike TV earlier, and I'll be the first to say they SUCKED. I would feel bad for the audience, but at least they get gift bags for attending the show. Here's exactly why Spike TV's VGA awards sucked

It was on Spike TV.
Spike TV is marketed as the first network for men. The VGA's makes sense to be hosted on the Spike TV since the majority of gamers are men. The problem is the VGA's emphasized that this award show was for men. The host, Neil Patrick Harris, is a homosexual, but this award show is for straight men with no girlfriends. That probably explains why most of the presenters were women. No problem with that, but the women that presented reminded me of the women you see at conventions. They are good looking, dressed in nice outfits that show a bunch of cleavage, and give off the image I'm the girlfriend you cant have. Most of the gamer friends I know use videogames as a way to tune out their girlfriends, so stop it already with the oversexed women. I'm not saying women can't be sexy in the gaming industry. I'm just saying it's not necessary to make the sexiness of a women the point as to why they're presenting an award at the VGA's

It's a 2 hour commercial.
Is it me or did the VGA's feel like one long commercial? For every game nominated for Game of the Year we had to sit through long trailers of games that have been available for a majority of the year. I understand it's the holiday season and an outlet like the Video Game Awards is great promotion, but I'm sure gamers have already had Black Ops and Mass Effect 2 on their Christmas list.

The Gaming Industry has no personality.
My favorite part of the VGA's was the part with TMZ reporting stories. The problem I had with it was they were reporting about characters I can control with my joystick. They aren't real people, which makes me question why the gaming industry doesn't have real people to represent it. I'd rather know what a member of the Frag Dolls or even Jim Sterling is up to instead of Kratos and Ezio. It's not right with all of the blogs out there to have the people representing it be white males that dress like they're in an Apple commercial. Why can't I host the VGA's?

The Timing of the Award Show is off.
I get that the awards show is an outlet to promote upcoming games for the following year, but December isn't the right time. Sure it's the best time to give out Game of the Year Awards, but the trailers should just stay on the Internet where they belong. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the Forza 4 announcement, but everything else was leaked before the show. I knew about Unchared 3, SSX, and many others before the fact. That's no cool. The awards show should come the week of E3 and be held in the same place as the convention. That way there's a bigger audience, more upcoming game announcements, and better performers. Past E3's have seen Eminem, Jay-Z, Method Man & Redman, and others perform.

After watching this mess it makes me wonder how the gaming industry sees it's consumers. It's clear there's a gap in front of gamers and the industry itself. Sure the gaming industry knows how to keep us entertained, but does it know how to represent us? Watching this show I don't think it does. Black Ops proved the gaming industry is bigger than the movie industry, but what good is that if nobody can represent it? The gaming industry needs more people out there representing it.

Broke Rappers Gotta Eat Too

West Coast Hip Hop group Cypress Hill is making headlines today. Michael S. Washington, a back up rapper for the group is suing Rockstar and Take Two over Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a videogame released in 2004. Mr. Washington is mad because he feels Rockstar used his image to create the main character Carl Johnson. He is seeking $250 million dollars in damages. Michael S. Washington GTFOH.

Aren't you Hispanic? When I think of Cypress Hill I think of how they broke barriers for being the first Hispanic group with a platinum album. I don't think of Carl Johnson. A member of the Grove Street Family, an African American gang. Maybe I missed something and you are in fact African American.

What's this nonsense about teenaged bicycle gangs? You're probably referring to one of the early moments in the game where CJ and friends are running away from a rival gang on bicycles. The Grove Street Family is more serious than teenagers on bikes. If you look at the cover of San Andreas you can find members of the Grove Street Family in a car doing a drive by. That's a bit more than the stories you shared with Rockstar about your teenage days. I hope you've got some new music to go along with the lawsuit.

SIx Days In Fallujah

Dear Atomic Games,
Six Days in Fallujah should never be released. Western publishers left this game alone for a reason. You not only insult the Troops. You spit in the face of thousands of Iraqis who have either died, or live to see the aftermath. Birth defects, cancer, and pollution. How does that sound for a life? You want to fight a war in Iraq. Join the military.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Errol James

I Just Don't Kinect

Dear Microsoft,

I see the marketing budget was put to good use. Who would have thought a million Kinect's would be sold in 10 days? The real question is how many of these people will by playing with their Kinect in ix months? The PlayStation Move lasted me two months before it was time to return it. That was one expensive rental. Almost as expensive as it would have been to buy the 3D Sony TV for the optimal experience of Playstation Gaming.

I still have my doubts about Kinect. I haven't heard a word about an interesting Kinect games since Dance Central, and the million units you've sold doesn't impress me. I'll be more surprised at how many people are still Kinecting on your birthday.

Sincerely,

Errol James

P.S. I've haven't played Kinect as of the time I'm writing this. I'm not exactly running out of my lab to go buy it either. If Kinect deserves my attention it will come to me.

A Crack in Time

A Crack in Time is the 8th game in the Ratchet and Clank series. By this point I've come up with a way to approach a new R&C game. The first six to ten hours are going to be boring as the game holds my hand while I level up each weapons I want to use. After that the game will be fun. The enemies will be nonstop, and I'll have the firepower for anybody who wants it. I'm usually too caught up in the fun to realize the moment when the game stops being boring, but the moment is clear in A Crack in Time. A Crack in Time doesn't really get fun until you get to play as both Ratchet & Clank.

The time spent playing as Ratchet & Clank individually really tested my patience. The series is not the same playing as either Ratchet or Clank. You start off playing as Clank which was beyond annoying for me. I did not enjoy Clank's missions of recording movements, and playing with Clank's time wand. I'd rather listen to Clank's jokes and have him there whenever I need to platform with Ratchet. Ratchet would not be a gaming superstar without Clank. He can use the coolest weapons, but his movement without Clank is strange. He can't jump as high or stay in the air as long without Clank. I could not stand A Quest for Booty because you spend the game platforming without Clank. It's not that much fun.

Once Ratchet & Clank get together the game really takes off. I found myself using the Buzz Blades a lot. I really liked that weapon. If used properly the Buzz Blades are a good way to prevent an enemy from shooting at you. They're too busy worried about the sharp blades cutting them in every direction to do anything else. The story is still funny and entertaining after all of these sequels which is impressive. All that said I still think Tools of Destruction is the best R&C adventure on the PlayStation 3. The amount of time I had enjoying A Crack in Time was shorter than it was on Tools of Destruction. By the time Ratchet & Clank finally meet up in A Crack in Time the characters are talking about "ending this" implying the game is about to end. I was lost in Tools of Destruction before it ended. By the time I beat it I had to play through it again to really enjoy it. I tried to restart A Crack In Time, and after a long cut scene I realized I had to play as Clank again. No thank you.

It's the Holiday Season. Where are the Games?

The holiday season is the best time to be a gamer. After a summer of mediocre titles and downloadable content, gamers are blessed with the return of awesome games. Last year we saw Uncharted 2, Demon's Souls, Borderlands, Assassin's Creed 2, and many other games that made the 2009 holiday season great. This year the only game on my radar is Fallout: New Vegas. Am I missing something?

I blame it on this motion control craze that's sweeping over the Xbox 360 and the PS3. Sony & Microsoft are trying to profit from the casual audience Nintendo has banking off since 2006. They got so caught up in adding motion controls they forgot about the hardcore gamers, much like what Nintendo did with the Wii. Microsoft's presentation of Kinect at E3 consisted of a bunch of casual games that could be found on the Wii, and Dance Central. Sony is hoping the September release of the PS Move proves to be a success by bundling it with "Sports Champions" which looks like Wii Sports HD. I'm already bored.

It's not all bad. 2011 is also shaping up to be an excellent year in gaming. Off the top I can name Dead Space 2, Batman: Arkham City, Gears of War 3, Mortal Kombat, and Madden 2012. We just have to deal with an abysmal 2010 holiday season. Microsoft is dropping Halo: Reach in two weeks so they'll be all right. Sony is hoping we all buy a PlayStation Move so we can replay games with motion controls. It worked with Resident Evil 4 on the Wii, but will I want to play Heavy Rain with the PS Move? Probably.

The Racism in Mafia II

Mafia II takes place during a time when segregation was a norm in American Society. The developers of Mafia II use that time to exploit many racist views and ideas throughout the story. I felt uneasy as I was asked to steal a car from what the main character refers to as a "moolie" neighborhood. I was uncomfortable listening to Joe describe how all blacks do is smoke dope and kill each other as I drove around Empire City. I had to tell myself "It's the 40's" to rationalize the insensitivity. When I found myself repeating that phrase over and over I knew there was a problem.

One of the more offensive moments happened when I was shooting my way through a restaurant in Chinatown. After successfully killing every last Chinese person in the place I received the achievement "Chop Chop!" I was disgusted. The name "Chop Chop" is a reference to a comic book character from the 40's and 50's. His image was that of a stereotypical Chinese caricature as you can see in the picture on the left. It's just insulting to for a game to take pride in killing a bunch of characters then rewarding the player with a shout out to an offensive character.

The racism in Mafia II is not necessary. Red Dead Redemption focuses on an earlier time in American History and manages to do it without being offensive. The game brings us to Mexico and embraces the culture as it tells us a story. If we let a game like Mafia II slide it's only going to open the door for more offensive games. What's going to stop the next game that's set in the 40's and 50's from being offensive? Before we know it we could end up with another Ethnic Cleansing on our hands.

Why Mass Effect Should Stay an Xbox Exclusive

Earlier today EA announced that Mass Effect 2 is coming to the Playstation 3 in January. This is great news for owners of the PS3 as Mass Effect 2 (a January release) is in the running for Game of the Year by many critics. Shepard making his/her debut on the PS3 is probably bringing more questions than answers at this point. The biggest being "Why isn't the first Mass Effect coming to the Playstation 3?" The obvious reason is Mass Effect was published by Microsoft Game Studios which all but guarantees it will never see the light of day on the Playstation 3. I for one think the first Mass Effect should stay an Xbox 360 Exclusive.

Mass Effect 2 was the game that introduced me to the series. I played the first one for about an hour before my patience grew thin. I'm not saying the first one was a bad game, but it took a while to get interesting. Mass Effect 2 does a good job of describing what went down in the first one. It took me a second play through to realize it, but it does. It's a shame PS3 players don't have the option of experiencing the events for themselves, but at least they can get a grasp of what's going on. It's not like the game expects you to know everything from the moment you control Shepard. PS3 owners are still getting the short end of the stick when it comes to importing a character and decisions from the first Mass Effect. Bioware could make up for this by making the Cerberus Network free (one can hope) on the PS3. Either that or adding some exclusive content like Bioshock did.

The problem with porting the first Mass Effect (besides the obvious) is the game was released in 2007. A lot has changed since the days of long elevator rides and driving the Mako. Mass Effect 2 polishes a lot of the small annoyances that hindered the first one. What about Mass Effect 3? There's no way the gamers that played the first 2 on the XBox are going to switch to the PS3 edition. My only recommendation for the PS3 edition of Mass Effect 2 is a lower retail price. Nobody's going to pay regular price for a game that is cheaper on the 360. I don't care how new it is.

Don't Mess This Up

Ubisoft please don't screw up Shawn White Skateboarding. The simulated experience of Skate doesn't do it for me. Variety is the spice of life, but when the choices are Skate, a game that imitates real life skateboarding, or Tony Hawk, the once respected franchise that today is nothing more than gimmick, what's a gamer to do?

Tony Hawk's biggest mistake was being published by Activison. This meant a new game every year which wasn't enough time for the development team to come up with original ideas. You know it's bad when missions include seeing how many people you can hit while riding your skateboard. The new game every year formula works when you dominate the market like Madden, but not so much when you don't have exclusive rights to the Pro Skateboarding League. (Is that a thing?) The franchise probably would still be strong had the developers took their time and released a new game every two years. Look at the franchise now. Its a joke. Skate might be on its way there as well. It dominates the market for skateboarding games, and look at what EA does to prove it. They release a new Skate two years in a row. If Skate 4 comes out next year, EA might as well make it compatible with the skateboard from Tony Hawk: Ride.

Shawn White Skateboarding could be the breath of fresh air the skateboarding genre needs. If the controls are similar to the Tony Hawk's that weren't motion controlled that would be a plus. If the game has cool levels, fun objectives, and a nice soundtrack I'll buy it. Ive been dieing to play an arcade ****skateboarding game. It's one of the few sports games I'm actually good at, and it's fun to play while other people watch you do million point combos. Please don't mess this up Ubisoft.