I know, I know. I should be skipping this game and moving straight to Infinite, or so people would tell me. It seems like the general reception of this game is that it's the black sheep in the series. I can't see anything in the game so far that makes it in any way superior to the first, however, I don't see anything that makes it grossly inferior either. I'm actually enjoying it so far, as it really keeps me on my toes.
Bioshock 2 is one of those reminders that most modern day FPSs have made me soft. I'm so used to regenerating health and using cover, and I have neither of those in Bioshock 2. It's rare to see health bars in shooters nowadays. Anyway, I do like that the game is littered with first aid kits and food and EVE pick ups to always keep your powers fueled. I always did enjoy the game's vending machine mechanic in that you find money and spend it to increase your stock when it runs low. If you die unprepared, it's entirely your fault.
I also like the new take on the series, being in control of a Big Daddy, and doing what they do: protecting little ones as they harvest ADAM. My memory of the first game is foggy, so I don't remember if its weapons had alternate firing modes, but Bioshock 2 has them. The rivet gun has trap rivets, which sound exactly like they are, and you can lay traps all over the walls, floors and ceilings. They come in great when you have to protect your little one as she harvests ADAM from corpses. Then, there's the new twist of the Big Sister, a female, slender version of Big Daddies, who screaches her approach to you. I do love these battles, because they usually scatter picks up all over the place when you're done.
I haven't come across any new plasmids yet. I still have the basic telekensis, electroshock, and incinerate. I'm finding myself rescuing every little one that I find, so I'm actually handicapping myself by not having enough ADAM to buy all the upgrades. I just hope it's worth it in the end. As for the level design, it doesn't seem to be on par with the first game. There's just nothing that's jumping out and impressing me. I remember having to deal with flooded corridors in the first, and watching that water breaking the glass and being in awe of it. Maybe that will happen later in the game.
And no, I'm not touching the multiplayer. I really have no interest. I just hope the story ends up being good in the end. I like playing as a Big Daddy, and I can't wait to see the inevitable twist the game will throw at me in its conclusion. I like that you can hack bots again, but I dislike that they simplified the hacking mini game to nothing more than stop-the-needle. Once I finish the game, I might consider playing Infinite soon, but only if I can find it for a good price.
So what exactly does this mean? Does this move further confirm the rumors of an always online console? Was Orth let go for indirectly divulging information about the upcoming Xbox? Nowhere in his comments did he actually come out and say that yes, the 720 would be always online. Was what Orth said about rural committees really worth firing someone over? It was his Twitter account, and he was not saying those comments on behalf of MS, but unfortunately as a public figure of your company, you still bear the responsiblity of representing your company in your off time. Or, was Mr. Orth simply so embarassed over the debacle, he was no longer comfortable stepping foot in MS's office anymore?
None of what just happened is evidently clear. What is clear, though, is that social media needs to be handled with more caution and sensitivity. How many stories have you heard of someone being fired over what they said on Facebook about either their job or their company? Usually, they didn't even make the status update when on the clock. The most recent story I remember was this:
Then there's the entire Chic-Fil-A circus. Have you seen this video?
Adam M. Smith (oh look, another Adam got himself in trouble over social media!) was fired as CFO for Vante as a direct result for his verbal harassment of Chick Fil A employee Rachel Elizabeth. Ms. Elizabeth showed a great deal of patience and professionalism towards Mr. Smith, while Smith continued on. Smith eventually apologized for his video, after losing his job at Vante, but here's the real tragedy behind the whole ordeal. Nowhere in the video did he state who he was or who he worked for. He made the mistake of posting it online, and then it went viral. His company found out who he was, and even though he never indentified himself in his video, the company wanted no assocation with him at that point. Quite a social media blunder.
You don't even have to work for a corporation to get yourself in trouble over social media. You could simply be a bratty teenager.
Everyone should have seen this video at least once, an angry father's response to catching his daughter badmouthing her parents on Facebook again. This also went viral, and every network show from The Today Show to Dr. Phil weighed in on the matter. Whether you agree or disagree with the father's response, one thing's clear. Hannah would have still had her laptop if she simply would stop using Facebook in an irresponsible way.
I could continue to post examples, but you all get the picture now. The Internet is a very powerful tool, and like any tool, it has its good uses and bad uses. You have the right to say practically anything you want, and social media is a fantastic way to get your voice heard. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Youtube, all sorts of blogging services allow you to express yourself. But having your right to say what you want does not protect you from ramifications. What you say can reflect negatively on yourself, your parents, or your employer, and the consequences can be severe in the examples that I've shown.
During my Twitter browsing since Adam Orth leaving MS, I've seen a couple tweets about people scared to use their social media, but that shouldn't be the case. Like any tool, it won't hurt us if we simply use it properly. You don't saw something with your finger in the way, and you don't hold your thumb on the nail before you hit it. What is so stupid about these people getting themselves in trouble is they don't bother to think before they submit what they're saying. It's one thing to be face to face and say something damaging, because it just comes out. It's an entirely different matter to do it virtually, because it takes time to compose your thoughts. You are witnessing what you're doing before you relay it to people. You have time to go back over it and mull it over before you hit Submit. It's just a shame that Adam Orth didn't; that Chelsea Welch didn't; that Adam M. Smith didn't; that Hannah didn't. Honestly, freedom of speech does not come without its own price.
Reading this thread about Nintendo not having any 1st party M-rated games has sparked my desire to write this blog. I honestly don't believe Nintendo themselves have ever made an M-rated game. I'll quote from one of those posts in that thread here.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (Developed by Silicon Knights but Nintendo has full control over the IP) Geist (Developed by n-Space and Nintendo) Zangeki no Reginleiv (Developed by Sandlot it is currently Japan Only) Fatal Frame IV and Fatal Frame II Crimson Butterfly remake (Nintendo know owns majority stake in the Fatal Frame IP they purchased it from Temco-Koei; Fatal Frame IV is Japan Only and Fatal Frame II Wii Edition was released in Japan and Europe)Nintendo_Ownes7
I honestly think Nintendo should seriously consider going after the older crowd as well. Sure, they are, have been and will always be a family-orientated company, but it isn't entirely unthinkable for them to do this. They have published M-rated games before, such as those named above, and they will be publishing Bayonetta 2, which not only has graphic violent content, but also sexualized themes as well. But what I really want to see is Nintendo themselves take a stab at it.
Picture if you will an M-rated Zelda. For 25 years, Link has been carrying with him an instrument of destruction: a sword. The very nature of the sword is to cut and render. For 25 years, the sword has never been truly capable of reflecting what it will do in real life: cut things to bloody ribbons. In this new M-rated Zelda, we'll see Link cut down beasts and monsters and leave bloody trails in his wake. The new mature take on this franchise will show Link's struggles in a whole new light, a dark light. Zelda has had dark games before, but breaking free from the restraints of the younger demographic will create a starkingly real world, a vastly more interesting one. Think of it as a reboot, much like what the new Tomb Raider did for Lara.
Now I know what you're thinking. It wouldn't be the same Zelda, but that's part of the point. It doesn't have to be a shallow action game where you're shuffled along set piece to set piece. They can still use the same basic formula with Link going to this dungeon to get that tool to use in the next dungeon and so on. It's just that game will have a more realistic environment to give it a scarier and more absorbing atmosphere.
I'm only using Zelda as an example. They can make up entirely new IPs, which is what I would prefer, but I would still like to see an M-rated Zelda. I get that most Zelda loyalists wouldn't want that, but again, that's kinda the point. There are a large number of gamers that grew up on Nintendo, but have since moved on to other platforms because they feel Nintendo hasn't grown up with them. There's a huge vacancy in their line up, and it's been this way ever since Nintendo transitioned from playing cards to video games. It's blood.
An M-rated Kirby game? That's so distrubing, YET ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE enough to work!
Sony has their God of War franchise. Microsoft has their Gears of War franchise. Nintendo has... nothing. Blood doesn't make the game, which is true, but violence really does sell. "But Nintendo doesn't need to make violent games!" So then why are they publishing them? Why do they let them even exist on their platforms? Nintendo knows there are gamers who like these games, but they simply won't make them.
Sony has appealed to the younger crowd. We've seen such easily accesible games with colorful graphics like Spyro, and Sly Cooper and the upcoming Knack for the PS4. We've seen Microsoft do the same with Viva Pinata and Kinectimals. If Sony and MS themselves can appeal to both young and old, why can't Nintendo? Why does Nintendo continue to focus on just the family? Yes, that's where they make their bread and butter, but why not go after jelly as well?
Just letting third-party developers make M-rated games and publishing M-rated games you've commissioned second-parties to make for you isn't enough. The Wii U has more holes in its library than holes in an abandoned country road, and having some serious, M-rated games would go a long way to patch them up. Again, I'm not saying that games need to have blood in order to be great, but you CAN have great games with blood in them.
Sure, Nintendo is a family company, but I bet you the dad loves violent games. The kids growing up might one day too.
I cannot stress this enough, Nintendo, so I'll say it again. Some gamers grew up with Nintendo, but have left because you have not grown up with them. You take gambles on your hardware all the time. With the DS, it was two screens and a touchpad. With the Wii, it was the motion controls. With the 3DS, it was glass-less 3D. With the Wii U, it was the tablet controller. Why don't you take a gamble on your software as well? Why don't you take a billion or two out of your bank, open up a number of internal studios and start going after Sony and MS's markets like they went after yours.
Make your own God of War. Make your own Gears of War. Quit playing it safe and truly show us that you're striving to get back on top by getting the core gamers back. Don't just farm it out to other companies. Step out from your comfort zone and do it yourself! I got news for you, Nintendo. Core gamers don't just play Mario.
OOoooohhhhhkkkkkkkayyyyy..... Just going to toss those up there and see where it goes...
This comes after Kotaku yet again rumoring that the 720 will require an always on-line connection, among other things. Ok, now keep in mind that this is Kotaku, and there's still a chance they could be wrong, but the pictures of Adam Orth's tweets aren't doing much at all to disspell these rumors. Also, keep in mind that Adam Orth's tweets aren't 100 percent claiming that yes, the 720 will be always online, as he could just be airing his thoughts on his personal opinion regarding the topic.
Yet, you have to wonder... why would the creative director of a studio make such comments like these on the same day as another always online rumor being reported. Now, is it "always on" that he's referring to, meaning the constant sleep mode that the system will be in, so it will always be ready to play when you turn it on? Or is he just shortcutting for "always online"? Whatever the case, he's done a lot of damage here. Some say it's damage control, and if that's the case, it's some of the worst I've seen in a very long time.
Even if he's just referring to the "always on" feature, and not "always online", and if it's just his personal opinion and not a confirmation, it's that whole, "Why on earth would I want to live there?" reply to @manveerheir that's completely unwarranted. Yeah, it's his Twitter, and well, he has the right to express his views, but you can't just say whatever you want without thinking it's going to have some negative ramifications. Plus, it also put things into more context that he indeed is referring to "always online" and not just "always on".
So let's say this creative director really did have diarrhea of the mouth and indirectly confirmed the rumors that we've been dreading for months are indeed true. The new Xbox will require an always online internet connection, and that's something I don't think we should support. Wasn't the Sim City debacle (and well, Diablo III for that matter) enough to showcase how consumer unfriendly always online DRM is? And what happens when MS has a server issue of their own, and people's perfectly working internet connections are useless to them in that instance? MS will have effectively prevented their ENTIRE userbase from playing ANYTHING.
This is just dumb. The mere fact that we're still having to wonder whether or not this rumor is true is dumb. The fact that Microsoft has given us enough reason to even think of the possiblity of it being true is dumb. Adam Orth spouting this crap on his Tweeter is about as dumb as dumb can get. I know Microsoft doesn't like to comment on rumors and speculation, but seriously? They're going to continue to remain silent after all this? Are they really thinking of going through with this? Is the threat of piraters really that great that they'd risk losing sales from so many people who think this is a horrible idea, and alienate gamers who simply don't have the Internet at all?
I can tell you this much. Just having this guy Adam Orth representing Microsoft is enough for me to not want the new Xbox. This arrogant attitude of MS's needs to stop. They're going to suffer if this is truly their plan of action. I haven't passed on a system launch since the first PlayStation, but at this rate, the 720 will be the first. I wouldn't mind, because I could use the extra money.
But I do get angry. I'm not nearly the same kind of raging gamer that I was back in my early twenties. Way back then, I broke controllers on a regular basis. I punched a hole in my door. I've thrown a friend's SNES controller during a frustrating bout with Super R-Type and almost got my ass beat as a repercussion. I smashed an N64 Rumble Pack while playing South Park for the N64. I threw a controller straight into my toe and it took a year for the nail to grow back properly. I snapped the disc of the original Driver in half because of the final mission.
Occasionally, actually rarely, I'll break something these days. The last two things I can remember is breaking a DS Lite over Brain Age refusing to recognize my voice inputs (don't ask), and Max Payne 3 costing me a PlayStation 3 controller. So... two devices in the span of six years? Hey, that's pretty damn good. I've kept my controller chucking under control, but I still got a ways to go. I get easily frustrated with the games, and I'm still finding myself yelling and swearing when playing them. I invent new swear words and I even cuss in foreign languages. I'm the type of person you wouldn't really want to be around when I get pissed off with games. And hey, you don't need to tell me that. I already know what I sound like. I'm not proud of it, and I know it's a waste of money. I know it's stupid and idiotic and immature, but well, I'm human.
I was told, "If you're not having fun with it, quit playing!" I respond back, "But then I'll never finish it!" So, I guess the reason why I keep playing games when they get incredibly hard is that I feel I'm compelled to see it through. Finish what I start. "But it's just a game! No need to take it so seriously!" Oh, I hate hearing that too. Sure, it's just a hobby, but I do take it seriously. The guy who makes porcelain cats and sticks them on his window sill takes his hobby seriously, too. Do you think he'd just give up because his cats weren't coming out right? Well, ok. Not the same thing. I'm sure he doesn't scream and cuss and shatter his cats by throwing them at a wall. It all goes back to finishing the game, and that requires passion, and a bit of insanity.
My new masochistic love right now happens to be Need for Speed: Most Wanted U. For the most part, it's not that hard, but when I come across a frustrating race, I end up spending nearly an hour just to beat one. Out come the expletives, flying all over the place like someone dropped a lit cigarette in a crate of fireworks. The voice starts getting louder, the pitch starts rising, the anger starts building, the neck muscles start tensing, the eyes start squinting, and if my ears could steam, they would start steaming. "For the love of God, Lucas, just turn it off!"
But if I do, I can't beat it. And if I can't beat it, I can't feel elated once I finally win. I can't feel that natural rush of endorphins flowing over me, calming me down like cool, crisp mountain air across my face.
It's the sense of accomplishment that makes it worth while to me. It's a natural high.
Video games are my anti-drug.
So that feeling of winning first in a frustrating race, or striking that fatal blow to the boss with just a sliver of your own life left, or solving that puzzle that made you feel you're too stupid to involuntarily operate your own lungs is worth it to me. It's a payoff that I look forward to when I find myself in those frustrating moments in games. It makes the experience feel like it's worth having.
Of course, there are moments where it just doesn't fudge king matter. There are games that are so stupidly challenging that their entire point is to piss you off. You can even be an expert gamer and still die in a level 100 times. "I'm going to get better at this. I'm going to do it. HA! I knew I coul- WHERE IN ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S BEARD DID THAT MISSILE COME FROM!" See, thought you were better than the game, didn't you! Those moments are the ones that should make me stop playing the game, not because it's challenging, but because it's broken. Yet, I continue to see them through. If I get stuck with a crappy ass game... I unfortunately have to still finish it. My last horrible experience?
And since it was for the Wii U, it was even worse. They never bothered to fix the camera and control issues of the first game. They never bothered to expand on the possibilities of the paint and thinner gameplay. Instead, they continued to make even more mechanical mistakes, and forced co-op on you with Oswald being so daft and inept, he could make Goofy look like a scholar. God, was this game bad, and the horrible frame rate issues the game suffered FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON AT ALL just made it all the more unbearable. There was no joy for me in playing and overcoming obstacles. I got a sigh of relief, a big "THANK GOD IT'S OVER!" when the credits rolled. That's not the kind of reaction you're supposed to have when beating a game. The only sense of accomplishment I got was that I could move on with the rest of my life. Why, then, did I keep playing it? Because I had to review it.
I review as a hobby, and I review as a profession (albeit a struggling one as I'm far from a gig that I can live off of). So, in order to keep my writing up, I have to keep reviewing. This means whatever I play, I need to complete so that I can review it. I don't review unfinished games, so you can see how this becomes a cyclic effect. Most games I choose to play; others I might get assigned to me. This presents a danger to me, though, because it puts pressure on me to finish a game as soon as I can. Guess what happens when I'm hit with a frustrating part that I can't get past, costing me time that I wish I had?
Pretty much. But I do my best to make sure that I keep that in prespective when it comes time to writing the review. This is why I think sometimes difficulty makes a reviewer score a game lower than others. It goes back to my previous blog where I state that everyone has their tolerances. Today, I experienced a potentially frustrating moment in Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon where I was fighting three boss ghosts at once. There were several times where I got hit because I couldn't avoid an attack since I was stuck trying to suck up one of the ghosts. It's this kind of design that feels cheap, and Carolyn called them out on it. I'm starting to agree with her that not every boss battle is well-designed, but my tolerance is greater than hers, at least for now, so I can't see myself enjoying the game any less as a result.
But at the end of the day, I still have fun with most games that I play. I still love gaming, but sometimes it's an unconditional love. You love it no matter what, so you take the bad with the good. I hear from my fellow gamers sometimes that they're tired of gaming, so they take a break, which is smart. They usually end up coming back, because they miss the fun of the games in general. I admit, I have a character flaw which is a result of my compulsion (maybe even OCD at times), but at least I understand why I do what I do. If you have to ask anyone you know why they play games when they get frustrated by them, maybe you can understand a little better after reading this.
Gonna be honest here. I was >THIS< close from trading the game away. It has a very steep learning curve, at least for me. There are two main problems that I have to work to overcome. The first is the controls. It is not a responsive arcade-style driving game at all. It could just be that fact I'm not using to playing racing games with the Wii U's gamepad sticks (they do feel somewhat different than the other joysticks), but I definitely don't remember having problems with Hot Pursuit's controls. You're also moving so fast that's entirely too easy to take a wrong turn and miss a check point. There aren't enough visual racing aids to help you react.
The second problem is... and this is a big one for me... there's so much crap EVERYWHERE. It's entirely too easy to accidentally swerv and smash into a dumpster, or hop a rest of a road and slide into a guard rail or see a unavoidable car crossing your path in an intersection. Oh, did I mention drifting is extremely hard to do? A couple of nights when I first started it, I believe my second or third race took more than an hour trying. I'm great at racers, at least I think, but for some reason, this is just tough as nails. But, I am finding that the more I play it, the more I'm starting to like it. I'm winning a few races in two or three tries, and a rare one I'll win on the first attempt.
The structure of the game is open-world sandbox, so you drive around looking for races. It's exactly like Burnout Paradise (a game I disliked for previous reasons). Your goal of the game is to become Fairhaven's most wanted driver. How you obtain this is by "jacking" other cars and winning races to earn speed points. Earn enough points and you unlock a Most Wanted race which pits you one on one with a driver of a car that you can't get anywhere else. Beat the race, and the driver gets released into the city. He'll randomly pop up on your map and will try to take you down. Then, it's on. You can chase him and if you managed to take him down, you unlock that car.
There are other races as well, but I haven't done much exploration with the modes. I've basically been finding new cars and participating in the basic races as I've found them. There's the normal sprint race, but then there are races where the cops are trying to take everyone down. Like Hot Pursuit, they vary in standard patrol cars and then there are police-painted super cars. They get aggressive and ram you and set up road blocks and drop spike strips to blow your tires, but here's what bugs me. When you get spiked and crash, your tires are still blown when you reset. If just one side's gone, it's managable, but if both are shot, just restart. It's why that race a couple of nights ago was so frustrating. Cops kept forcing me to restart.
Now, from my understanding, this port is based on the PC build, so it's supposed to be better looking than the 360 and PS3 versions. Since I have not played those, I have no basis for comparison and will not comment on that. The graphics itself are pretty, but honestly not all that impressive. I could be imagining things, but I think there's a few frame rate hiccups. The other thing I don't like is that the crashes aren't remarkable. There's no carnage, no cars flipping end over end, no doors being popped off and wheels being chucked. Just basic body damage and shattered window. A real shame; it feels very toned down.
I've explored with the Co-Driver content just a little bit, which is unique to Most Wanted U. You can change the time of day, turn traffic on or off, switch cars on the fly and even disrupt the cops. You can pass the pad over to someone else who can control all this while you play with the remote and chuck, or the Pro Controller. Of course, you can also send gameplay to the gamepad and play that exclusively. One thing I don't like, though, is how you can't set waypoints via the map on the gamepad. Maybe there's a way, and I just haven't found it yet, but the map seems almost useless at this point.
I picked up the game on sale from Origin.com for 30 dollars believe it or not. Of course, that sale price has since passed, so I'm actually happier with the game at 30 than if I paid full price for it. I don't regret buying it, but I will not lie and say that I'm not frustrated with it. I'm having a little more fun with it now that I'm winning a few races, but I know eventually it will get ridiculously hard again. I'm going to try not to give up on this one like I did with Paradise and see it through. Although... I personally think Criterion needs to stop using the sandbox format; it just isn't as fun to me.
Obviously, the issue is deeper than what's just on the skin. Carolyn isn't talking about characters that resemble average looking people. She's primarily talking about seeing more female characters, and nudges in seeing more characters of different ethnic backgrounds. There's no question that we can benefit from seeing more diversity in games, but I hardly feel it's something that's plaguing our industry, and far from such a problematic issue to be referred to by both Cliffy B and Carolyn Petit as a "cancer". Surely, you both could have used a better euphamism. :/ Diversity is wanted, but let's not be that demanding about it, ok?
With all these isms - feminism, racism, sexism, etc., - I choose realism. I consider myself to be a realist. In my opinion, it's the best way of looking at something, because you aren't relying on a skewed point of view as you aren't taking sides. You are seeing something the way it is, cutting straight to the truth, and the truth is something that's hard for some people to see. The truth is, a company should market to its target audience first and foremost, because that's what keeps the company afloat. If the majority of gamers are white males, that gets reflected in the games we play, if they continue to sell, continue to make them. Does that mean racism? Heavens no. Does that mean the market will always stay the same? Absolutely not. But here's what I see happening if people like Carolyn Petit continue to be as overally vocal as they are now.
Companies will begin to make characters that don't make sense. They're going to see a quota that needs to be filled, and they'll start putting in more diverse characters and simply not focus on the real task at hand: developing quality character development and great stories that revolve around them. This has always been an issue with our games, and it won't improve with different faces. But it also doesn't mean that diversity isn't happening now. It just cannot be an overnight process like Petit wants it to be. Remember, Assassin's Creed not only introduced its first female character, with Assassin's Creed III: Liberation, but she was also half-black. And what did we see happen? A completely wasted opportunity to flesh out a potentially interesting character.
Instead of demanding that the industry make more diverse characters now, I think a better alternative is pushing a demand for more character creation. I'm an uninteresting 33 year old white male. Yet, when I make my characters in my video games, they hardly look anything like me. I usually give them darker skin tones, hairstyles that I will never attempt in public, and jawlines that will make a rampaging rhino back down. I make my characters look as far different from myself as possible, yet character creation allows for the exact opposite as well. Technology already exists that lets you map your face onto the face of your character, and even if you don't want to spend the time customizing your character, a lot of games come equipped with a multitude of presets.
And it is far better to ask for character creation versus making more female and ethnic characters, because it means you won't have to risk selling games to people who don't want to play as whatever mandatory character your game stars. I know it sounds lazy, and interesting storylines will suffer as a result, but it allows companies who are scared of alienating particular demographics a way to appeal to everyone; it really is the only feasible thing to do at this moment. This also would be a way to see just what kind of characters the gamers themselves choose to play as, something that is far more beneficial than a simple random market survey.
There's a part in Tom Abernathy's argument where he lists sources that state adult women make up 30 percent of the gaming audience, but if you look at one of those sources, it's PopCap games, makers of extremely casual games. Is this a credible way to reflect exactly what kind of games these adult women are playing? Not at all. For all we know, the majority of these women gamers play Facebook games, not saying they do, though. So, it really is understandable why publishers are relunctant to release games with female leads.
The more imporant way to correct this is if you want to see more games with female characters, BUY THEM. This is going to require some sacrifice on your part, because you'll have to pick up these titles knowing they may not be everything you want in a game, but at least you're adding a +1 to their sales and thus creating a market. You're going to need to do more than just ask - or demand - publishers to make games with more diversity; you're going to need to support them when they do. And, I want to see that happen. Quite honestly, I love playing female characters, because I think it's awesome when females kick ass.
Since I'm on the subject of females kicking ass, here's something I've yet to see any female gamer ask for: more female enemies to kill. I think this would be a great way to equalize things. Sure, Lara Croft is a strong female character, but all she's doing is killing men. What is this telling us? Are males the only gender that are capable of commiting evil? Is the Lackey Club exclusive to only men? Why can't women get shot too? I honestly want to see more female enemies, and not just boss characters, but actual run of the mill thugs that you beat up just as often as you do men.
Yes, I honestly want to see more diversity in video games, but I want to see it come naturally. I don't want it to be a rushed job, because publishers always rush their games anyway. I'm reminded of affirmative action, because companies tend to ignore the best possible candidate for the job just to increase diversity among the staff. Diversity needs to be tackled with sensitivity, not an obligatory check list. Yes, there are publishers hesitant to offer different characters, but there are also others that continue to break new ground. If you're passionate about seeing more diversity, you need to seek those ones out and help them be successful and prove to the hesitant companies that the markets for these games are indeed growing. This doesn't start NOW, with the companies. It starts NOW with you, the consumer, and it has always BEEN with you, the consumer. Ms. Petit ends her article with, "You don't coddle cancer." Jesus Christ, Carolyn. Let me end mine by saying you don't cut out the cancer without knowing what impact it will have on the body.
Oh man, what a time it is to be a 3DS owner. We're really getting some awesome games as of late. I've been awaiting this game for some time, as I absolutely adored the original on the GameCube. Now, I know everyone's first question will be, "It it really worth the 6.5?" Obviously, I can't answer that. I'm no where near the end of the game, as I've only finished about four missions. But of those four missions, I can safely say that if you loved the GameCube game, you'll love this.
It's so nice to Luigi strapped with his Poltergust 5000 again. He has those classic animations that your remember him having. He cautiously enters a room and shivers as he senses something near. He yells and leans back when he spots a ghosts, and even the ghosts sometimes are spooked by him. Gameplay still remains the same, where you'll need to stun ghosts with your strobe light and suck them into your vaccum. They've added some new features as well.
The Dark Light beam reveals hidden objects being cloaked by invisiballs, I think they called them. If you find them, you easily suck them up into your vacuum and whatever object they were concealing becomes revealed. The environments also beg to be toyed with, as money spills out from the unlikeliest of places. I also like how areas you've already been to might contain more money or ghosts to suck up as you pass through, inviting you to recheck areas again in future missions. The mansion itself has some great level design
The graphics are awesome, and everything animates so well. I love the transparency effect on the ghosts, and the game makes great use of the 3D as well. I also love the music, and I like how Luigi hums to it from time to time. I got to say, though, the incoherent gibberish that Professor E. Gadd mutters reminds me of an ewok from Return of the Jedi.
This game has been hitting all the right notes so far with its delighful gameplay and lovely charm. I just wish I had more time to spend on it, because right now, Lego City Undercover on the Wii U is hogging most of my gaming time. If I had to focus on just one negative aspect, though, it would be getting cheap shotted a bit one too many times when you're battling multiple ghosts. I have a feeling, though, it won't be something that's problematic enough to ruin the enjoyment of the game. Bottom line, if you have a 3DS, get this game.
Kevin VanOrd has just reviewed Bioshock: Infinite and gave a 9.0. You would think that everyone should be happy with that score, but surprisingly (ok, not that surprisingly), a few people are still upset. They wanted a 9.5, and I even saw one demanding a 10. Kevin raves and raves about the game, describing its deep and challenging narratives and fantastic gameplay. He only mentions a couple of negatives, including a few glitches that impact the game, but it doesn't seem to warrant a drop of a full point to some.
Carolyn Petit reviewed Luigi's Mansion last week and gave it a 6.5. This caught a lot of people off guard as reviews started coming in from the Four Corners of the Internet and they were mostly positive with lots of 8s and even some 9+s. It seemed overly harsh for GameSpot to give the game a 6.5. I, like many others, were a bit baffled because the review text clearly didn't match the score. Carolyn's major complaint was a lack of midlevel checkpoints and some overly difficult moments. Dark Souls is both brutally hard and contains no checkpoints, yet Carolyn gave the Prepare to Die Edition a 9.5.
And this is why you should never trust reviews. They are inherently opinions. GameSpot tries to review their games as objectively as they can, and they might do so more than user reviews do, but at the end of the day, it is still one opinion. The reason why a review cannot be trusted is because an opinion does not equal a fact. Even when a reviewer claims he is being objective about a game's features, he is indirectly making an assertion based on his tolerances. Everyone has tolerances when it comes to not just games, but everything else. It's our how tastes are defined.
GameSpot reviewers do their best to explain their positions, but when they submit their score, it no longer becomes their score; it's GameSpot's score. Every reviewer in that San Francisco office does not review using a hive mind, which is clearly evident with the inconsistency of Trine 2's reviews. People can't be expected to learn every single reviewer's like and dislikes, because that would take too much time. So to them, they don't see Kevin giving Bioshock a 9, Carolyn giving Luigi's Mansion a 6.5, Chris giving Gears of War a 7.5, Mark's God of War an 8.0. It's "GameSpot gave this and this and this a 9, a 6.5, a 7.5, etc."
I've also read - and partially agree - that GameSpot should adopt a multiple reviewer format, like the old days of Electronic Gaming Montly. This would give more perspective into the game, but at the same time, it would cause the reader more confusion when the scores are all over the place. I remember one review of EGM's that went from a 9.5 all the way down to a 4. I was like, "What the hell am I supposed to do now?" It would be nice, but I think it's more beneficial to just read reviews from other sources altogether.
Then there's Metacritic. People continuously say "Don't trust GameSpot. Look at Metacritic." So, instead of not trusting one reviewer, you're going to trust a cumulative score of many other reviewers? I bet you probably wouldn't click on a single one of those reviews on Metacritic. Even then, I heard it's not the professional Metacritic score you should be trusting, it's the user scores that matter. That can actually be worse.
User scores are easily influenced. If there's shady politics regarding the business decisions of that publisher, users will attack them through user scores, as can clearly be seen by the Kane and Lynch fiasco, where the user score on GS has been dropped to a 4.1 (although I know it was much lower when the circus began). You'll also have fans of a series or a license that will give games a much higher score than reviewers, because being critical of a game doesn't matter to them. They can love games unconditionally.
"Reviewers don't love games." This is one thing I've heard a few times, and I've even been told before that I hate video games, which is absurd. Although, there is something to be said about reviewers being able to enjoy certain games less than other gamers. It has to do with our hobbies becoming work. Every so often, reviewers end up suffering from burnout, having to pull all-nighters during crunch time to get that review out by the deadline, and then it's on to the next game immediately. I'm not saying this afflicts all reviewers, or even a good number of them, but it's not impossible to say it doesn't affect some on a subconcious level from time to time. Unable to take a break from a frustrating game can have an adverse affect on the reviewer's frame of mind, and negatives will carry more weight when the reviewer begins to write up the review.
It's expected for reviewers to finish their games, but some readers feel that a game should be finished 100 percent before a proper verdict can be given. This is why you might see some readers arguing over reviews because the reviewer didn't fully explore the game. That's a bit unfair, because there are other games that need reviewing, and we simply don't have the time for it. This might give off the appearance of reviewers being jaded, but we just don't have the same luxury of time as you do. Always keep that in mind.
I'm writing this as a reviewer myself. I have been reviewing games since as far back as 1998, being an Editor-in-Chief of a small hobby site called MediaFuzion, having a small stint with PSXExtreme.com, writing well over a hundred user reviews for this site, and I'm currently writing for DefaultPrime.com. So, it seems weird that, as a reviewer, I'm saying don't trust reviews. Yes, don't even trust mine. Reviewers aren't mind readers, and we certainly don't write to placate to you. We'll say what we think about a game to give you an idea of what the game is like. We'd hate to know that we're responsible for you buying a game that you ended up hating based on our recommendation, and we surely don't want to bear the brunt of your wrath when we "crap all over" a game you absolutely love. Reviews as meant to be used as buyer's guides, with the emphasis on the plural. This means that burden of research lies on you, the consumer.
On, and one last thing. QUIT BASING YOUR PURCHASES OFF SCORES! Actually read the text! They are far more important than any qualitive number. For all you know, God of War: Ascension got an 8.0 simply because there weren't enough boobs...
Let me first just say how terrific it is to be using my Wii U again for something that's not Netflix. This has been my first Wii U game since I finished the initial seven launch games I picked up last year, and it's one that I've been waiting for for quite some time. I also feel that of all the games in the Wii U's library, this is one of the more important ones. Yes, it does appear to be just for children, a vibe that most Nintendo games usually give off, but the one thing that any secure gamer knows is that Nintendo games are simply just pure fun. Lego games have a large following, being played by young and old gamers alike, so for the Wii U to have such a quality Lego title exclusive to them is a much needed title indeed.
Lego City Undercover feels extremely fresh for two reasons. One, it's not based on any licensed media. Its concept and theme are entirely unique. Two, it's not structured like any of the previous Lego saga games. It's structured just like Grand Theft Auto, an open-world sandbox. You are free to go where you please, playing through story missions when you please. Its story missions are explicity linear, however, but you're still free to do extra activities at your own pace. You can seek out loads of Super Builds to put together, but of course that will involve acquiring bricks, and there's Super Bricks EVERYWHERE.
Undercover is also an important Wii U game, because it makes great use of the gamepad. Once you get the feature unlocked, you can hold up your gamepad to seek out any Super Bricks, villains to arrest, or other activities by holding up the TV and moving around in total freedom. The visual is pretty slick, too, as everything goes into a gently pulsating blue, with objects being highlighted in gold. Video calls also play on the gamepad, and the map is there too, but personally, I just wish you could still use a mini-map on the TV screen. It's a bit distracting to always have to look down at the pad while driving.
The story missions themselves are designed pretty much like any other Lego game. You move from room to room, each having some kind of obstacle in your way that you need to solve simple puzzles to overcome. Destroy this, build that, use a different disguise's ability to activate that door. You'll still be collecting a required number of studs to get 100 percent and earn a Lego City Hero rank, and there are hidden red bricks in each of the 16 story levels. You can also revisit those levels in Freeplay with new disguises you've unlocked to earn hero ranks and get any other missables.
Now, I will say that during my playthrough of my last Lego game, Indiana Jones 2, I was enduring crappy driving. Driving has never been Traveler's Tales' strong suit, and I was worried the driving would be absolutely horrible in Lego City. Well, it's not absolutely horrible, but it's still pretty bad. It's quite easy to oversteer and crash into a wall or another car, and most cars have only four hearts for health. Plus, on the rare occassion where the police become aggressive enough to hit you, it can be frustrating as there's almost no way to avoid them. As I said, though, those occassions are rare. The police are very, very passive for a sandbox game.
I so badly want to keep talking about this game, but I need to save the rest for a review. Lego City is just a blast so far. It's no where near as technically sound as other sandbox games, because Lego games have their own inherent mechanical problems, but the charm, humor and overall presentation of the game is just simply fantastic. I'm going to end up giving the game a Funniest Game of the Year award, because I'm just in love with the writing. Ladies and gentlemen, you may not realize it, but Lego City Undercover is actually the Wii U's first killer app.
EDIT: By the way, I forgot to mention that the game has SERIOUS loading time issues... I guess I forgot about it when I was writing my impressions, because I was having so much fun with it.