So...about that Shepard...

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This is what happens when I have the 2 minutes it takes to make a really bad idea reality.


He looks so happy!

I guess there's technically a chance I might put this in the homepage carousel whenever the review for Mass Effect 2 goes live. It's not a very good one though.

Say hello to my little friend...

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So yeah, there's this thing called Twitter. It's a cold and inhospitable place where people "tweet" about sandwiches and stuff. If you're down with the Twitter, then I've got a friend or two for you!

So say hello to @gamespot, the official Twitter account of GameSpot, and follow it if you want to read about those fancy video electronics things so you have something to do while eating sandwiches or waiting for them to be made.

And if you're into like, downloading things like PC mods or patches from the 'tubes, you might be interested in meeting @gamespotfiles.

Finally, if you'd like to read me discussing (mostly the "cussing" part) games and vaguely-game-related things you can follow me here.

UPDATE: As an American, I often forget that there are other countries out there besides my own (wait...there are?). So yeah, if you're on that island over there -> somewhere (I think it's called London? Or Albion? Or something?) you can also check out @gamespotuk for updates.

html test

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Nothing to see here, move along. Just testing my ability to manipulate the HTMLs in a blorg.

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Lots of text.

Man, this boxshot is big.

Yup.

My Top 10 Games of 2008 and more.

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Everyone else is doing it, and since I'd jump off a bridge if everyone else was I figured I'd do it too. Here's my personal top ten list of 2008 games along with some extras (I totally stole this format from Shaun, thanks buddy!). Watch out for the occasional spoiler!

10. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: The best Metroidvania yet (people who call them Castleroids are dumb). A great main character, awesome story, challenging gameplay, all new monsters and art (!), fantastic bosses, and totally rad soundtrack.

9. Super Smash Bros. Brawl: I loved this game early in the year when I reviewed it, though it was gradually left behind in favor of others. Lately though, I've been playing it again with my brother now that we've moved in together and I'm reminded of how fun it can be.

8. Street Fighter IV: Just cause it's not out in the US yet doesn't mean anything to me! Playing this on genuine Japanese arcade machines is awesome. We'll see if the home versions are as good for me.

7. Fallout 3: I loathed Oblivion. Like, I couldn't play it for longer than 20 minutes. I did enjoy Fallout 3 though, for some reason. Maybe it's because I like Fallout (even though this game isn't really Fallout in any way) but whatever. My biggest issues with it is that it's not an RPG because none of the choices you make really matter (at the end of the game I was a known mass murderer and cannibal, yet the Brotherhood of Steel was still all like "Hey man you can totally join up with us and save the world!") and that the entire game wasn't like the Libery Prime sequence at the end.

6. Persona 4: I loved Persona 3--it's one of my favorite RPGs ever. Persona 4 took that formula and perfected it, and in every way its gameplay is superior to its precessor. Where it doesn't succeed quite so well though is in the story. Though the characters were much more believable in P4, P3 had such a much more epic story (especially the ending, which is pretty much the best final encounter ever). As original as the social link/dungeon crawling combo is though, I'm really hoping they radically change the series again for P5.

5. Left 4 Dead: This game is awesome. There's nothing better than having four people team up to fight zombies post-apocalypse. I can't recommend this game enough for co-op play.

4. Valkyria Chronicles: I love strategy RPGs, and Valkyria Chronicles is among the best ever made. Though it has a few issues, I love its art style and direction, the manner in which its story is told, its characters, the sheer amount of backstory there is to read and uncover, and the many steps forward its taken for the genre. I'm very disappointed at how poorly its been recieved as far as sales are concerned in the US.

3. No More Heroes: Travis Touchdown's hilarious and bloody rise to the top is pure genious. Suda-51, I salute you. While this is basically Boss Fight: The Game 2 (the first Boss Fight: The Game was Shadow of the Colossus, another fantastic title), the bosses are just so over the top and awesome, the art style so stylish, and the combat and controls so right. The ending is epic too. Can't wait for the sequel.

2. Metal Gear Solid 4: Solid Snake's final mission is absolutely amazing. I broke down and bought a PS3 for this game alone, and it was worth it. I can't really say anything about this that hasn't already been said so I won't.

1. Dead Space: This was one of my most anticipated games of the year and it was way better than I expected. I loved this game from the beginning all the way through the end, and I think that it's done an amazing number of things for the genre in that it managed to be heavily action oriented yet still unmistakably survival horror, unlike Resident Evil 4 which was anything but a pure action game.

Special Awards:

Barely Missed the Top 10 (In No Particular Order): Gears of War 2, Braid, Prince of Persia, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, Rock Band 2, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and Mega Man 9.

Didn't Quality Since They Were Remakes/Ports: Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger. Two of the best games ever, but yeah they've been out for like 10 years or something.

Most Disliked Game: Mirror's Edge. I will never understand why some people liked this.

Worst Game: Emergency Mayhem. This is one of the worst games ever made. It represents everything wrong with Wii Shovelware.

Favorite Book I Read: I actually read about as many books as I played games in 2008 so maybe I'll write a separate best books blog post sometime (scratch the maybe, I will sometime this week). Anyway, this is a tie between two books that are a lot older but only recently were read by me: Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light and Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer. They're both amazing stories that I count among my favorite of all time.

Things that are not true about game reviews...

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As a bit of a foreward, this is going to be the start of a series of quick and succinct breakdowns of some commonly held, incorrect beliefs about game reviews that I write as I find time and observe them in their natural habitat: the Internet.

Games do not start at 10 and lose points

So many people seem to believe this is true, and it shocks me as that's an entirely absurd notion. No one here at GameSpot (and no game reviewer anywhere, I would hope) believes that a game starts at a 10 and loses points as flaws are discovered. The opposite actually, while not entirely accurate, is a much better way to look at it if you want to draw that sort of a comparison.

Think about it: you don't start out a class in school with an A and lose points by not doing homework or missing questions on tests--you have to demonstrate a certain level of competence in order to score a good grade, and the same is true for a game. The problems with a game that we point out in our review merely prevented said game from earning a higher score; they did not lower its score. These two things may seem alike, but they are actually quite different.

Some cool things

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So it turns out, much to my surprise, that I don't actually loath everything about Mirror's Edge after all. Though I can't possibly imagine why they would name the theme song "Still Alive" after the Portal song came out--cause let's face it, that's hella dumb (a quick Google check showed that all 10 first page results in a search for "still alive song" were for the Portal one), not unlike the game Mirror's Edge itself--they apparently did.

Anyway, it's a pretty good song, and you can listen to it below, though frankly I would encourage you to open it up in another tab so you can hear it without assaulting your sensabilities with the game's visuals:

[video=6201658]

For the record, GLADoS' version is better, but that doesn't mean this isn't a pretty rad song with some nice piano work.

In other, arguably more awesome news, the Valve Store has made actual 18x24" movie posters for all the Left 4 Dead episodes, and has a pretty sweet deal that gets you all four for $14.99. They also have some totally sweet shirts (that cost too much) emblazoned with Bill's wacky lines like "I hate vans" and "I hate the woods."