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Kravyn81 Blog

I'm Back! Ahhh! Tonight's Blog Theme: Naked Carebears Bear All!

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HELLO! It's been awhile, hasn't it? Yes, well, I've always been here but I kinda got sucked away to another site and stayed there for awhile *awkward silence* But now I'm BACK and man, a lot has happened since November 1st of last year (the date of my last blog entry). I would tell you but then I run the risk of boring you to tears. So in a nutshell *sucks in deep breath Ace Ventura style when he's about to say a lot, really fast, all in one breath*:

I moved to a new state. I found a job. I then lost found job. Been out of work since January of this year. Been playing a lot of games. Unemployment: The pay sucks but the hours can't be beat. Speaking of beat I increased my platinum trophy count to 14; an increase of 5 since I last blogged. Hooray for me! Now find a job, loser! Had another birthday and got older. I keep trying to avoid that but it happens every year! I haven't found a girlfriend yet but is that really a bad thing with how much drama women put you through? My dog stares at me non-stop and it freaks me out. If I was a dog I think he'd rape me. My best-friend is getting married so I said, "Great, when's the funeral?" *cue rimshot sound effect* I finally paid my car off and now I own it free and clear! And now I'm here...again.

So what's been up? A lot of crap has been flushing down the toilet of the game industry lately and landing on our collective gamer heads, that's for sure. Can anyone say "online passes are evil"? Thank you, you in the back.

Diablo III finally came out. Can you believe it? Man, it feels like just yesterday the gaming world was holding its collective breath in anticipation of the Lord of Darknesses' third game, and here we are, living in a post-Diablo III world. Do you remember where you were when it happened? I do.

Unfortunately, after years of fooling myself that, gosh darn it, I'm going to build myself a kickass gaming PC, I still haven't. So no Diablo the Third for me.

Speaking of The Third, I have done something I always talked about doing on here but never managed to follow through. I'm talking about writing a review; and not just one but three! When it rains it pours, right? Saint's Row: The Third is one of them! So please, after you're finished reading this take a stroll over to review land and partake in my dissemination of information for each game (they're not long, I promise). If you have played any of those games and agree with my assessment (and let's face it, who wouldn't?) then please don't be shy in giving me a thumbs up for effort. Or if you haven't played any of those but like how I write, hey, thumbs up for that too! Thumbs up for everyone! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

What I'm basically saying is, "PLEASE GIVE ME THUMBS UP THANK YOU." Remember, if you wrote a review I would give you a thumbs up. If you don't give me a thumbs up, the terrorists win, and we all know we can't have that. I'll make it easy for you and even provide their direct links! Now all you need to do is click the link and then click the thumbs up icon! A minimum of two mouse clicks and that's it! You can't buy that sort of efficiency!

Saints Row: The Third review
Kung Fu Panda 2 review
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Fatal Conspiracy review

I'll probably include an Uncharted 3 review in my next blog!

Aw well, I'd love to continue this blog but I gotta save something for later. This blog also marks my 500TH BLOG! Holy crap! That's either a great accomplishment or a sad one. YOU CHOOSE. It's pick your own adventure!

I'm out!

Level Up & Drowning in Good Games - Too Much of a Good Thing?

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Here's my new level and what it means

Level 37 - Heiankyo Alien- A Gameboy game in which you had to prevent an alien invasion of the peaceful town of Kyo...by digging holes with a shovel.GameSpot

So I've recently got back to playing games, and I don't think my playing now list could be dripping with any more awesome sauce. On deck

  • Persona 4 -A game I started playing several months ago but then quit because I got stuck against a particular boss and could not beat him. I recently started playing again with the intent to persevere and, aside from a few hiccups, I have. So now I am back on the road of this great, great game.
  • Assassin's Creed II- Holy crap! Somebody ****slap me for waiting so long before playing this game! Seriously, This game f'ing rocks! And to think it sat on my shelf for over two years(!!!!) before I finally got to playing it. Now I'm mad at myself because I have the equally awesome (from what I'm told) Brotherhood to play through before I can get to Revelations. The wealth of stuff to do in ACII just absolutely blows away the first AC in every way. I can only imagine what Brotherhood and Revelationshave in store when I finally get my hands on them.
  • Batman: Arkham City- This one was a total impulse buy/"peer" pressure from all the raving reviews I've been seeing everywhere. I traded in a bunch of games and got over $50 in credit and that's why I bought this game. Now having bought B:AA when it came out and still not played it (same scenario as ACII), I made it a point to play this and I'm really digging it as well; it makes me want to go back and play AA.
  • Uncharted 3- Needs no intro. Eagerly anticipated since the credits rolled after UC2. I will be receiving this game later today from Amazon and no doubt will be up very late tonight adventuring with Nathan Drake and Co.

If You Love Gaming, Stand Up & Take Responsibility

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If you are reading this then I assume you have some meddling interest in video games. Some of you may have been around since it started, while others may only be able to claim more recent beginnings to this beloved hobby.

No matter how old or young you are and no matter which system you pledge allegiance to, there is one topic that brings us all together and which has only surfaced within the last decade of gaming's thirty odd years of existence. There is an epidemic that is quickly manifesting itself as a cancer to this industry. I am of course referring to DLC, online passes, microtransactions, et al.

If you love gaming as a hobby and you want to continue gaming like you have enjoyed in past generations, then you need to stop capitulating to these extortionist tactics that select developers are employing.

We, as the gaming collective, are being punitively punished by developers trying to hock their scandalous online pass schemes. Our very rights as consumers are being trampled on, and until you stand up to these executives then you can continue to expect to get less and less in your games all the while having your games stripped down to the likes which we have never seen before.

If this sort of unbridled and unchecked greed is allowed to continue then I foresee a very bleak gaming landscape for the future. It is up to us and it is our responsibility alone to stand up against companies who engage in this sort of unscrupulous behavior. If you're tired of being nickel and dimed for features; if you're tired of games that ship incomplete; if you're tired of being charged extra to unlock content that is already on the disc; if you're tired of developers announcing DLCbeforethe retail game ever ships then stop being silent on the issue and stand up for yourself and this hobby! Get mad! Put the controller down and wake up to the world that is passing you by before it sneaks up behind you and bites you on the ass!

Aren't you tired of being treated like a complete moron? Aren't you tired of being the punchline to some corporate executive's joke in the boardroom when they talk about how dumb Average Joe Consumer is because he keeps shelling out more and more money for content that, up until last gen, would be included on the disc?

And the gaming Media, where the hell are you in all this? Unusually quiet if you ask me. Instead of being advocates for your constituents to be treated fairly you have yet to peep one syllable about this issue. I have yet to read any editorials that tackle this serious epidemic that is running amok in the industry. How about some hard hitting stories or in-depth coverage supporting gamers and their rights to a free market system? Where we can buy used games without game developers punishing us by withholding content from those used games.

Nary a word is uttered on this topic from the Press which makes me think they're in league with the disgusting machinations of the corporate overlords who are seeking to destroy this hobby from within.

I say again it is up tous, the GAMERS, to take a stand and make your voice heard by spreading the word to NOT support games with online passes, or any other shady marketing tactic that serves to disrupt the balance and flow of content. Start encouraging people to vote with their wallets because that's theonlylanguage these companies understand. If we hit their bottom line hard enough, then they will take notice. One personcanmake a difference and it's up to us to support each other in this endeavor.

My Triumphant Return (of sorts)!

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Hey hey hey! I have returned, although my absence was never planned nor expected. In short: I moved to another state, I found a job and I just got my Internet hooked up today. All in all things are going all right except for the fact that the job I'm at I wish I was making more, but something's better than nothing. And considering I was looking for a job for a year I'm pretty darn lucky to have one.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in real quick and let anyone that still follows me to know I'm back. I haven't really been gaming all too much; just too much going on for me to worry about playing video games. Although I pretty much have come to the decision that I will definitely be sitting out the next gen of consoles. I'm very happy with my PS3 and it's all I really need if/when I do find the time to game. And until that magical day that I do score a career in game journalism I'm afraid my time must be spent pursuing other avenues of interest.

See ya around!

On this First Day of E3 I Ask You to Remember

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Today starts the beginning of E³. A time when gamers and journalists alike descend en masse to downtown L.A. and partake in a week full of gaming bliss. This is also the time that traditionally new games (some known others unknown), new hardware, services and strategies burst forth from each of the respective "big three" companies.

And while most gamers will wake up early this morning anticipating what the day has in store for them, take a minute to remember that on this day, sixty-seven years ago, young men were also getting up early and anticipating what the day had in store for them as well. But it wasn't video games or booth babes that awaited these young men, but bullets and death instead:

D-Day

D-Day invasion

The largest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen before or since, comprising of over 160,000 landing troops alone. They got up that morning and for many it would be their very last on this Earth, and for most I'm sure they knew it would be their last. Even so, knowing what terrible fate might lie ahead they were not detered and did not hesitate; they still carried through. I can't even imagine what that feeling must have been like...or maybe I just don't want to.

I don't mean to sour the mood of the electric nature that E³ brings with it. I only ask that you take a somber moment and REMEMBER why there is even an E³ to begin with. Amidst all the new games and hardware announcements and all the surprises we'll hear, just take a minute and think back to that chilly June morning sixty-seven years ago as some young soldier (probably near your age himself or a little older) got up for a very different reason...and it wasn't to play games.

TV Shows that Would Make Horrible Video Games Part 2

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If you missed it you can catch up with Part 1.

6. The Bachelor

Take a reasonably good-looking, blue-collar guy, dress him up, tell a bunch of attention starved sluts that he's an heir to a multi-million dollar fortune and wackiness ensues! In The Bachelor - Check Your Self-Esteem at the Door you select from a pool of shallow, superficial and sycophantic "hotties" that are the very definition of "banal," and you have a recipe for a tremendous waste of time. Featuring an unprecedented character create system, all you guys out there can create your very own pretty boy, or if you have a Live camera or Sony Eye Toy you can take your own picture and upload it onto an avatar as well. Interview up to fifty gold diggers (oops, I mean "ladies") as you slowly weed out the fakers and phonies to find "true love." Once you start narrowing your choices down you can start to engage in different mini-games such as advancing through all the bases, and getting to know her trivia with such heavy hitters as, "If I pick you, will you quit your job at the local strip club?" and "You had your first kid when you were how old?" And guys, don't forget about the unedited sex games once you narrow it down to those final three.

7. Dancing with the Stars

What do celebrities do when they find themselves no longer relevant and their career is dead? They get put on needlessly created reality TV shows because quietly fading in to obscurity wasn't dignified enough, so they thought this was a good idea. In Dancing with the Stars: Please Remember Me the qualifications are so low that you really don't need to be a true "celebrity" to qualify to get licensed in the game; just knowing someone that knows a real celebrity or even being a back-up dancer in a some crappy pop music video from the '90s is good enough. The game sports two-player online and four-player co-op offline, so if you manage to convince whatever friends you have left after telling them you bought this game, you can battle each other in your own personal competitions. The game even supports recording and uploading your dance sessions directly to YouTube so you can do your part in flooding the Internet with even more useless captured video game footage that nobody gives a damn about.

8. American Choppers

The next time you kids out there feel your parents treat you unfairly, then you need to play American Chopper: Traumatized Childhood. See what's it like to start your day from the minute you arrive at work to get chastised, blamed and cursed at for minor grievances. Gamers get the full AC experience as they attempt to design and build authentic OCC bikes in a hostile environment. Step into Paul Jr.'s shoes as you'll feel what it's like to never measure up to your overbearing father as he constantly hounds and berates your every action, thought and decision. AC:TC offers several unique challenges: "Biker Build Time-Trials" has you attempting to meet a deadline for a high profile client, but you get interrupted every five minutes by an insecure father who sits on his ass in an office all day and only emerges to yell at you about how you aren't getting any work done. "Create a Bike" has you attempting to create your very own custom OCC bike, but you get interrupted every five minutes by an insecure father who sits on his ass in an office all day and only emerges to yell at you about how you aren't getting any work done. And finally "Biker Build-Off" has you challenge your inept, know-it-all father as you attempt to completely undermine and usurp his delusional perception of authority in a shop where no one respects him any more. And let's not forget the colorful banter of Paul Sr. you'll hear ad nauseaum peppered throughout each gameplay mode. Featuring a script with more words bleeped out than you'd hear while being stuck in traffic in downtown Manhattan. Paul Sr. is the epitome of class as long as you remember to leave off the "C" and "L."

9. Whale Wars

Did you ever feel ambitious enough to join a real-world cause to help change the world? If you answered with a resounding "Hell no!" then congratulations, because you'll fit right in with the crew of the Sea Shepherd in this hit Animal Planet channel series turned into this part sim, part "action" RPG game with Whale Wars: What a Joke. Yes, you too can waste precious man-hours and millions of donor money as you toodle along for six months in the South Antarctic breaking numerous international shipping laws and terrorizing the Japanese whaling fleet while not completing one single, solitary goal you set out to complete the whole time. You take direct control of the captain as you make half-assed decisions some of the time, or leave it up to the incompetent A.I. First-mate most of the time to decide what's best for the ship and crew as you run back to your cabin away from the prying lens of the camera and confused looks from your ship's crew when the situation gets hairy. And when the !@#$ really hits the fan, do what any experienced captain of the seas would do by finding a scapegoat to pin the blame on publicly to make you look good while at the same time encouraging complete dissent from that crew member. Then hold a crew meeting down in the galley for three hours extolling the virtuous mission you are on while feeding your insatiable ego when God visited you in a dream as a whale and commanded you directly to save them. But the best part is you never actually save any whales because the chain-of-command is so disorganized that you spend the majority of your time navigating through lines and lines of written text arguments over where to steer the ship and who's in command when the captain is "indisposed," all the while you watch helplessly as the Japanese whaling fleet slaughters hundreds of whales right before your eyes.

10. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

So you think you can run a restaurant, eh? Gordon Ramsay tends to disagree and you'll get the chance to eat lots of humble pie in Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: Are You !@$%ing Kidding Me?! A restaurant sim game that makes you responsible for failing. Choose your downfall in three exciting rolls: "Manager," "Head Chef" or the ever-challenging "Owner" which encompasses both of the former roles in to one neat, suicidal package. Hours and hours of pure agonizing hell await as you are offered only two choices: 1. Spend every last penny of your life's savings to open a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and watch it fail, or 2. Spend every last penny of your life's savings buying a previously closed restaurant and trying to turn it around for profit...and watch it fail. The challenge is increased tenfold when you don't have any previous experience in either culinary arts or owning your own business. Hire complete losers and drug-dealers that are just as clueless as you are in front or back-of-the-house operations, and who actually help drive your dream project into the ground even faster than you can! Sometimes the game will generate a competent manager, chef or owner A.I. to help you out, but you'll never have both at the same time. Feel what it's like to suffer a complete mental breakdown and contemplate suicide as a viable alternative rather than continue on with a failing business model. And don't forget Gordon Ramsay as he goose-steps around your kitchen grilling (no pun intended) and traumatizing each of your staff members about why they chose to work in the restaurant industry, telling you over and over that your food tastes like !@$% and looking absolutely stupefied at every response you stutter to him to excuse the piss-poor quality your restaurant is in.

TV Shows that Would Make Horrible Video Games Part 1

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We all know the sordid history that movie-to-game tie-ins have in the game industry, and while rarer yet no less uncommon, there is another tie-in associated with games: TV shows. Every now and then, for reasons only Satan can surmise, a TV show gets the green light to be developed in to a video game. CSI, Prisonbreak, 24, Family Guy, Futurama, etc. are just a few popular TV shows that tried to capitalize outside their familiar medium and, for the most part, weren't very successful except to only the most devout--and no doubt after playing them--forgiving fans. Nevertheless this occurrence will no doubt continue in the future. So I got to thinking about some other "popular" TV shows and came up with this list which I present to you. Please note I did not number these in any specific order. Here are the first five games (the remaining five will be posted later on) that most certainly should never have a game made out of them no matter what the circumstance.

1. Dog the Bounty Hunter

Now you can feel what's it like to live the exciting life of a bounty hunter married to a woman whose breast size rivals that of a small planetoid. In Dog the Bounty Hunter: Hunt with the Dog Pack you play Dog, and you track down unfit mothers on crack as they cry to you about how they swore they were going to turn themselves in but you just happened to find them before they got a chance. Or the neighborhood meth addict with no teeth left in his head but you stop at McDonald's anyway to buy him a cheeseburger on your way to jail. Or everyone's favorite: The blonde haired, blue-eyed, all-American girl who was tragically turned to a life of crime by her environment. She shouldn't be treated any differently but she's made out to be the "victim" and you find her oddly attractive in a depraved sort of way which you use to justify as a reasonable excuse to add her to your Spank-a-Dex with the likes of Kim Kardashian and Courtney Love. The game includes up to four-player, split-screen co-op so you can fill your outlaw hunting ranks with the rest of the crew as they tag along on Dog's coattails to attain mediocre success (just like in real life).

2. Girls Gone Wild

What's better than trashy young college whores downing Jell-O shots till they puke and bearing their female parts to complete strangers? Creating a trivia style game which actually justifies that abhorrent behavior and gratuitous nudity, of course, with the release of Girls Gone Wild Trivia Edition. Less proper TV show than late-night infomercial pandering to 50-year-old divorcés who think they still "got it;" now you too can participate in the debasement and devaluing of today's impressionable female pysche. Pick from a variety of topics that are sure to stump the most wasted of college co-eds such as: "Words that Contain Vowels," "Basic Math Skills," "Colors of the Rainbow" and "Things My Mother and Father Will Say After Seeing Me on This Show." Sure, each of these chicks is in denial concerning the daddy issues they clearly have going on upstairs, but it's sure to provide hours of entertaining gaffs and foibles for you and your family as you teach your children valuable lessons about how not to act when they grow up and go off to college.

3. The Golden Girls

Now your kids can experience what it's like to grow old in a society that doesn't give a !@#$ about its elderly in The Golden Girls: Help, I've Fallen and Nobody Cares Anymore Edition. You too can slip silently into senility as each day you partake in simple, every day brain training exercises such as remembering to turn the stove off, combing the obituaries to recognize someone you knew, traveling to the local grocery store and then forgetting what you went there to buy in the first place, as well as walking aimlessly outside in your underpants while calling for your pet cat that died ten years ago and possibly inadvertently committing a felony by indecently exposing yourself to neighborhood children in the process. Other favorite activities include trying to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world, calling loved ones and yelling at them for no particular reason, re-writing your last Will and Testament to not include that ungrateful daughter-in-law that married and "corrupted" your son, and everyone's favorite, dying while still holding a grudge. Friends can join in as well with completely random drop-in and drop-out online co-op as the game attempts to replicate what it's like to have Alzheimer's and either signs in another player on its own regardless if there really is someone else wanting to play, or it drops you unexpectedly if you already signed in.

4. Chappelle's Show

You too can feel what it's like to experience enormous success…and then crumble under the pressure as you undergo an unexplainable, life-altering crisis that forces you to travel to another country to join an obscure tribe as you attempt to "come to grips" with having the #1 rated comedy show in cable history. Chappelle's Show: Head Case is designed more as a sim-style game than anything. You guide Dave Chappelle's funny yet unnaturally short career as you spend time crafting a funny prime-time sketch comedy show to the top of the ratings and then mysteriously bail out on everyone that depended on you leaving them to wonder what the !@$# just happened. Super powers include: Magically disappearing from the public eye for months at a time; handing out pink slips in mass quantities to a bewildered cast and crew; the power to resist $50 million to continue your show; and the most incredible -- seemingly able to grow a conscious from thin air. Game ends abruptly and without notice to push home the level of realism of what it's like to get completely !@$%ed over in show business.

5. The Biggest Loser

In The Biggest Loser - This is Considered Entertainment? players get to choose from a stable (yes, stable, get it?) of pre-rendered fatties and guide them forcefully through cardiac arrest inducing specific challenges all in the name of fifteen minutes of fame. In America, the land of the exploited and litigious, it's only natural that a game should be based on a show based on violently humiliating obese individuals to millions of TV viewers and forcing them to near death scenarios every week all in the name of sweet, sweet vanity. Watch as your selected fatty must endure painful and strenuous workouts that amount to nothing more than a slew of QTE prompts onscreen. See the irony in that? A game that emphasizes working out yet doesn't require the player to actually do anything but press buttons in between chugging 2-liters of Mountain Dew and gorging on countless bags of Funyuns.

Peer Pressure and Gaming

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We all know what peer pressure is and all of us, in some degree, have fallen victim to it. It's only human nature to have the need to "fit in" with the crowd. Even so-called loners congregrate with other loners because they understand each other.

If you grew up during the '80s then you no doubt remember the D.A.R.E. program which attempted to steer young kids away from drugs at an early age so hopefully when they got older they wouldn't try them and get addicted. Well I consider the D.A.R.E. program at my elementary school to be (as the kids today say it) an EPIC FAIL; even the "smart" kids did drugs in my hometown no doubt succumbing to pressure by their friends to appear cool.

Peer pressure never goes away it simply changes form. When you get older the types of friends you have influence what kind of person and what type of possessions you buy/own. Gaming is no different albeit less harmful to your health than being a crackhead (and cheaper too).

This is evident because we tend to socialize with those who share our common interests. In games we tend to stick with the same genres either consciously or subconsciously. So when your friend tells you about a game that he liked you generally tend to think you'll enjoy it as well. So what happens when a game your friend talks about ends up not impressing you on the same level?

My best-friend is a hard case to crack when it comes to what he enjoys in a game. It seems that despite us knowing each other since we were 5-years-old and practically being brothers, our tastes in games is very different but alike at the same time. Almost every single game I've ever recommended to him he ends up declaring "It sucks!" or nitpicking all of its flaws that I sometimes sit there in amazement to think he derives enjoyment from ANY game. Needless to say I stopped recommending games to him a long time ago.

Take the latest game to undergo his intense scrutiny, The Saboteur, which we finally beat tonight. To hear him talk about this game you would think it was the worst game ever made. And while I agree that it is very repetitive and it can get monotonous in the long-term, I am not turned off by this game yet my friend was so happy after we completed it 100% and HE got the platinum (not me yet it's MY game but that's another story) that he wanted to hurry up and eject it from his PS3 because he (and I quote) "never wanted to see it again." Ouch.

Now I'll be the first to admit the game is by no means perfect, but it wasn't a bad game it was just monotonous. Our end time was 50½ hours. The game wasn't unplayable; the mechanics weren't broken; the graphics weren't atrocious and there were generally no glaring problems with the game other than it was repetitive. Sure we experienced the system freezing up a few times, and some oddball glitches here and there, but again no game is perfect and aside from the rare freezing issues (that occurred only three or four times during the whole 50 hours we were playing) nothing was game breaking about it not to mention it was an easy platinum!

My friend just seems to view games very differently than I do and tends to be way more critical over things that really don't bother me. I can definitely see the flaws in this game but not to the extent that he does. I can play this game again whereas my friend would rather take this game and use it for target practice. He hated it that much yet he kept playing it.

Hence back to the point of this blog about peer pressure: Have you ever felt or been put in a situation where you "liked" a game but your friends completely and utterly destroyed it and they couldn't fathom why you felt the way you did? The differences between my best-friend and I over this game are just superficial and mean nothing in the end; this doesn't affect our friendship at all and it actually provides us for some good ribbing.

On the same token I find myself feeling "weird" (for lack of a better word) because I really don't mind this game despite its flaws, and I simply can't agree with my best-friend over his carefree lambasting of it and questions of "How can you stand this game?" While there's no direct pressure from him towards me to not like this game, I can sense there is this underlying disbelief from him towards me that I don't hate it as much as he does.

Thoughts?

My Top 11 Most Influential Games - Why I Am a Gamer (Pt. 3)

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Part 1

Part 2

And now for the stirring finale!


03. Age of Empires, Ensemble Studios, 1997, PC

Age of Empires was unequivocally my first true PC game I obsessed over and it is what started my love affair with the RTS genre. Windows 95 had been released just two years earlier and people were discovering this new fangled "world wide web" as they connected to it on their blazing 56k modems. I remember seeing pictures of Age of Empires in the magazine PC Gamer. I wasn't exactly sure what kind of game it was but I wanted it. Part of my fascination with the game was I was always interested in painting figurines and setting up dioramas of different things, and the pictures for Empires reminded me of a virtual diorama that I could create and interact with. I remember finally getting the game and on the ride home just staring at the back of the box visualizing how awesome this game was going to be. I had a slight crisis after getting home and trying to install it and being horrified to find out that my PC might not be able to play it! I don't remember how but I got it to work and I was in my glory. Through this game my love of RTS games blossomed becoming one of my all time favorite genres till this day. A lot of people credit Starcraft as their first RTS, but futuristic space marines and aliens didn't interest me (gaming-wise anyway), and I much preferred one of the twelve real-life civilizations you could control in Empires. I bought all the expansion packs and sequels and still own them today. It remains one omy favorite games of all time, and it is responsible for introducing me to the world of PC gaming.

*Honorable mention* Company of Heroes, Relic, 2006, PC

Nine years had passed since Age of Empires released, and in that time countless other RTS games were released; some great others not so much. And then Company of Heroes released. By this time the WWII setting was getting a bit long in the tooth for a lot of gamers, but despite that Company of Heroes was a damn good game. It took all the ingredients of what comprised RTS games and rendered it down to their core essence: Conflict. In Heroes you weren't burdened with collecting resources; there were no forests to chop down and no gold mines to strip and you didn't have to commit special units to laboriously collect them. Instead Heroes had you battling over precious control points which automatically generated the resources you needed to build more buildings, order new troops and vehicles to the frontline without the "tedious" collecting nature of RTS games past. The more control points you controlled the faster you accrued supplies to spend leaving the player free to focus and strategize on the larger battles at hand.


02. Doom, id Software, 1993, PC

Doom was, and is, my first ever FPS game and one that holds a special place in my gaming heart, and that is why it is number two on my list. I would play this game on PC--as well as the ill-fated Genesis 32X system--for hours and hours roaming corridor after corridor blasting possessed soldiers and all manner of demonic nether creatures back to hell. Doom may have been short on story but it was long on pure carnage. This is where the term "space marine" originated. If you remember what skimpy story there was stated that you were the lone survivor of some catastrophic event that happened on a base on Mars, and your goal was to survive and escape. Doom gave you a complete arsenal of weapons and let you run loose through level after infested level of demonic hordes. And if you could find the Holy Grail of weapons, the BFG 9000, it became much easier to dispatch said demons. And who could ever forget what BFG stood for? The game's music (particularly the first level) is forever ingrained in my memory and I can hear it even now as I type this. Sorry, Duke, but if anyone has a claim to being king then you need look no further than Doom.

*Honorable mention* Delta Force, NovaLogic, 2001, PC

Delta Force is a sterling example of the adage "Game-play over graphics." The game was absolutely hideous to look at even back in 2001 let alone ten years later. Seriously, you can tell just from the screenshot above that it's not the most refined gaming engine to ever grace a PC game. But back in the day despite its deficient graphics the game was oddly appealing and fun. This was one of the first games (along with Doom) that started my addiction with FPS games on PC. I played the hell out of the demo, and when the full game released I bought it. It had a single-player campaign that was all right but completely forgettable. But the game's multiplayer is where things really got interesting. I'm not much of a multiplayer gamer today, but back then I played a lot of MP sessions in Delta Force, and for the most part it was a lot of fun until the cheaters and hackers showed up and sucked all of the fun and purpose out of multiplayer. It's not a game I would recommend you check out today. It's really a case of "you had to be there" and at that exact time type of moments. The series went on to launch a few sequels but eventually fizzled out as better and more comprehensive FPS games were released.


01. Super Mario Brothers, Nintendo, 1985, Nintendo Entertainment System

Are you surprised that Super Mario Brothers is my number one most influential game? If it weren't for that squat, fat Italian plumber odds are I wouldn't be here typing this right now, and if I were I sure as hell wouldn't have the perspective I do that makes me the gamer I am today. I can still remember that moment clearly back on that early Christmas morning as I eagerly tore away the wrapping paper and uncovered my very first console. Unbeknownst to my family--oops, I mean "Santa"--this console would set off a love affair that would last twenty-six years and still going strong. I sometimes think about what my life would be like if things had been different and I never got a Nintendo for Christmas that year: Would I have eventually gotten one? Maybe. Would I have skipped out entirely and my first console would be a Sega Genesis? Possibly but not likely. The NES was extremely popular and I doubt very much that my mom wouldn't have bought it for me eventually at some point. But do you know what the best part of this memory is? I wasn't even expecting it. I was four-years-old for cripe's sake. I had no idea what a video game was. The fact that it was sprung upon me so unexpectedly is the best part. It's not like it is today where for the most part I'm pretty jaded with new consoles, etc. But back then this was all new territory for me. This was my genesis, my beginning with a hobby that would end up lasting a lifetime. And for being the first game and console to hold that distinction is something that I'll always be grateful for Nintendo--and more importantly my mom--introducing me to.

*Honorable mention* Aladdin, Sega, Genesis, 1993

I threw Aladdin in here because it was another platfomer that I had a lot of fun with during my youth. By this time I had moved on from Nintendo to the Genesis. I remember first seeing this as a demo at Disney World in one of the stores. It was so colorful and cartoon-like that it instantly grabbed my attention as I was passing by the kiosk. Plus it was a lot of fun, and probably one of the few licensed games based on a movie that didn't suck which is ironic considering how simplistic the graphics and story were compared to what developers and Hollywood can muster up today.


That's it! I hope you enjoyed this trip down my memory lane as much as I did. Feedback is welcome and encouraged! Thank you for reading!

Picture Bibliography:

Eternal Champions - http://www.fightersgeneration.com/games/eternal-champions.html
Mortal Kombat - http://www.videogamelists.com/finish-him
Resident Evil - http://nerdiest-kids.com/the-top-10-greatest-games-ever-made/
Silent Hill - http://blog.reelloop.com/8122/news/games-ready-shutter-island/
Gran Turismo - http://www.gamepeople.co.uk/race_ps1_granturismo.htm
Twisted Metal - http://www.uvlist.net/groups/info/twistedmetal
God of War - http://www.gamepro.com/games/ps2/107880/god-of-war/
Uncharted - http://thirdpersonblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/game-design-talk-uncharteds-ending/
Caesar III - http://www.giantbomb.com/caesar-iii/61-6645/
SimCity - http://www.myabandonware.com/game/simcity-2000-1nf
Medal of Honor - http://www.mobygames.com/game/playstation/medal-of-honor/screenshots/gameShotId,193341/
Call of Duty - http://www.itreviews.co.uk/games/g140.htm
Knights of the Old Republic - http://www.gogaminggiant.com/2010/03/21/hooray-for-star-wars-games-part-1/
Fallout - http://forum.i3d.net/game-blog-news-announcements/34744-free-game-fallout.html
Diablo - http://jpetrelli.blogspot.com/2010_12_01_archive.html
Sacred - http://pc-games-maxi.webs.com/
Age of Empires - http://gamecolloseum.blogspot.com/2011/02/age-of-empires-ii-age-of-kings.html
Company of Heroes - http://pc.gamezone.com/reviews/item/company_of_heroes_pc_review
Doom - http://www.roumazeilles.net/news/en/wordpress/2009/06/23/doom-quake-shoot-them-all-for-free/
Delta Force - http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/deltaforce/index.html
Super Mario Brothers - http://games.ign.com/articles/833/833615p1.html
Aladdin - http://www.modojo.com/features/20061128/144/missed_opportunity_creating_our_own_sega_genesis_collection/

My Top 11 Most Influential Games - Why I Am a Gamer (Pt. 2)

by on

Welcome to part 2 of my most influential games. If you happened to miss part 1, shame on you! You can catch up here: Part 1. I forgive you this time, but don't let it happen again! J/K Otherwise, in the immortal words of Casey Kasem, on with the countdown:


07. Caesar III, Impressions Games, 1998, PC

I've always loved history, and while other PC gamers were building modern-day skyscrapers and highways in SimCity, I was building aquaducts and the Colosseum in Caesar III; my first true city building sim. I remember loving the graphics in this game the most as citizens would walk around, gladiators would fight in the Colosseum and chariot races could be seen in the Hippodrome. Every sprite was dressed and lively animated, and the neighborhoods would physically change based on how rich or poor the area became. The game was pretty challenging as most sims are as you had to carefully balance the needs and desires of your populace by ensuring they had access to various goods and services. Religious, social, political, entertainment, healthcare and safety all played pivotal roles in maintaining another jeweled city in the crown of the Roman empire, and I spent hours trying to craft and perfect my imaginary Roman cities into something that would make Caesar proud.

*Honorable mention* SimCity 3000 Unlimited, Maxis, 2000, PC

Caesar III may have been where I chose to spend my time, but there wouldn't be a Caesar III if it weren't for SimCity. This will probably be the shortest synopsis on this list because I don't have any anecdotes or personal stories to share about SimCity other than to give credit where credit is due to the city building genre.


06. Medal of Honor, Dreamworks Interactive, 1999, PlayStation

Before there was a Halo and before Call of Duty was breaking crazy sales records, there was another FPS that reigned supreme and that was just as popular. I'm talking of course about Medal of Honor. It may sound ridiculous now compared to contemporary military games, but I remember being genuinely blown away by Medal of Honor on PlayStation. And if memory serves me correct this was the first console FPS I ever played (up until then I was mostly a PC gamer). Everything was impressive about this game: The soundtrack, the A.I., game play and, to a degree, the graphics, all sucked me in. Getting a headshot on a German wasn't a guaranteed kill as many times you would hear a metallic ping and shoot off his helmet instead. Awesome! Chucking a grenade to flush out dug in Germans ahead of you also had its share of surprises as some times they would chuck your grenade back at you. Are you friggin' kidding me?! These two mechanics may seem like standard fare today, but back then they were completely new concepts that I had never experienced before in a game and I was hooked. Although the series may have faltered later on down the line I will always hold the very first couple of games in high regard as the games that challenged me back and taught me that the days of bum rushing enemies à la Doom were, for the most part, very over.


*Honorable mention* Call of Duty, Infinity Ward, 2003, PC

When Call of Duty arrived on the scene it blew everyone's preconceived notions about what immersion should be in a military FPS game. It threw down the gauntlet and has pretty much been at the top of its genre since it first debuted on PC eight years ago. My how time flies. Call of Duty took what Medal of Honor started and completely upped the ante on all fronts. It was definitely a much more intense and visceral experience that I can personally attest to whilst playing this game on PC. During the most intense firefights I remember physically ducking and keeping my head low by my keyboard because I heard the bullets whizzing by in my speakers. The game felt so authentic that it provoked a very real reactionary response from me to actually duck as if I were actually being shot at. It was that good.


05. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare, 2003, Xbox

In 2003 a little known game you may have heard of by now released to the public. Very few people at that time could predict the impact that Knights of the Old Republic would have on the console market as well as the RPG market in general. When Knights released it changed the playing field from what many console gamers were accustomed to up until that time, and it is the game that started the shift in focus from traditional Eastern JRPGs to Western RPGs in one fell swoop. Not only was the game play solid throughout, but it didn't hurt that the richness of the source material was handled so faithfully that it helped propel this game to the forefront of how to make a good game based on an already established and very much cherished license to many people. I eagerly got lost in the deep mythology that the narrative masters at BioWare had crafted for me. It was so much fun that once it ended I played through it again, this time as a Sith Lord to see how the game changed based on my decisions. All told I easily sunk over 100+ hours into this game over the life of owning it. This game also marked one of the earliest test products to offer DLC which I bought but was mostly disappointed with. The DLC was little more than an extra merchant area (in the form of a space station) you could visit in the game to buy "new" items. Unfortunately the "new" items it contained were severely inferior to what you may have already owned if you had beaten the game which I had done twice over by the time the DLC was released. Nevertheless Knights solidified BioWare's status in a lot of gamers' minds who were not familiar with their past PC games, as a highly competent and talented developer and a welcomed new addition to developing games on consoles.


*Honorable mention* Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, Micro Forte, 2001, PC

I missed out on the first Fallout and Fallout 2 on PC. My first introduction to the series came with Brotherhood of Steel which, to me, was a great game. It wasn't till many years later I finally got to play the original Fallout. Be that as it may, the game was my first introduction to turn-based strategy games which I quickly learned you had to play more strategically or else you would die very fast. No doubt games like this had a profound effect on those that came after it, and the series itself experienced a resurgence of sorts with the release of Fallout 3 on consoles in 2008. The great thing about the PC series is they're still relevant and hella fun to play even today as everyone is bemoaning the "death" of PC gaming. Let me tell you something, folks, PC gaming is far from dead. They've been saying it's been dying going on 15 years now if not more and every year they are wrong. It may not be as widespread as it used to be but that's a long way from dead. The closer the sun gets to setting on this current generation consoles I'm seriously considering going back to the PC. If you ever get a chance to pick up any of the old school Fallout games and you consider yourself an RPG fan then it's pretty much a no-brainer.


04. Diablo, Blizzard Entertainment, 1996, PC

Another game that can be credited for single handedly inspiring a new genre and paving the way for countless imitators and clones for years to come was Diablo. Blizzard's action RPG was deeply addicting and challenging, and no matter how many times you died in its many cavernous dungeons you always came back for more. Slaying monsters was just part of its appeal next to the loot drops from said slain monsters for all manner of gold and equipment. "Just one more click! Just one more click!" I would tell myself. And six hours later, when my eyes were strained and bloodshot and my finger was cramped from the constant clicking only then would I pry myself away for some much needed rest. Finding more and more powerful equipment and weapons and being able to upgrade your weakling character in to a truly badass hero was the equivalent of gaming crack to many gamers, yours truly included. And it's still a character trait that plagues me--and a lot of other gamers--till this day.

*Honorable mention* Sacred, Ascaron Entertainment, 2004, PC

Sacred is one of those clones I was talking about above, but that's not to take away from what it offers. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. What Sacred did was expand on the popular formula that Diablo had created. I remember playing Sacred and feeling overwhelmed with the amount of quests and side-quests there was to do. Looting and leveling up were still the motivating force, but it offered more character classes and skills to choose from as well as lots of places to go and even hidden Easter eggs scattered throughout the world for gamers to find. One of my favorite and most memorable of these Easter eggs occurred while I was investigating graves in a graveyard. You could click on each headstone and read whatever the developer had written on it. Well one headstone in particular had me chuckling because the inscription that was written on it said "Clatto Verata Nicto," and any nerd worth his salt will immediately recognize those three famous words as being from the cult movie classic Army of Darkness starring Bruce Campbell. It was that personal touch that really made me appreciate the game I was playing because who would have thought randomly clicking on headstones in a video game that it would contain a reference to contemporary pop culture.


That's it for part 2. Did some of my choices shock you? The final part of this series will be posted in another two days. Until then let the anticipation rise inside of you as you sit on pins and needles waiting for their reveal.