My thoughts on current gaming

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Hey there fellas! It's been a while since I've last written something in this blog or in Game Spot for that matter.

Truth is I'm currently finishing a major on International Relations, so it's become rather difficult to do something else apart from studying and tending to projects left by obnoxious teachers, or writing papers that won't be read and so on...

Few people have read my blog (apart from me and some friends I think no one else has), then why do I write? Sadly I can only make silly conjectures, perhaps it is a form of therapy to let out some stress, or most likely it's because I'm an egotistical bastard who loves reading his own words, in any case if someone else is reading this I'd like to thank you for giving me a precious moment of your time and I want to apologize if you read this and want to perform all of Saw's torture games on me, but are unable to.

I won't bore you with the details of how I was introduced to the world of videogames, nor will I tell you my sad record as a gamer. Suffice it to say, videogames have evolved in terms on technical skills, storytelling, music, etc. Truly, many people -such as myself- consider them a new form of art, since good games tend to leave an everlasting mark in our lives, or just a good memory that will put a smile in our faces when we recall it. This happened to me when I played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in a convenience store. I remember it was at the late stages when you are playing as an adult Link in a very hostile Hyrule.

The game really claimed my attention and made me go out of the way to get my parents to buy me one and, since I was young I got away with it and I have to say that Zelda was the only N64 game I still cherish above all others. It allowed me to escape the loneliness of being the only son of my parents, it allowed me to build my own fantasies in that world. I really felt like Link and became involved in the story. Everything in that game, from the music, to the cinematics, characters and landscape are still enough to bring bittersweet feelings regarding the state of actual gaming.

Games nowadays are -mostly- technological wonders, the graphics, sound and voice acting have really improved and, have helped in making games more and more immersive. Actually some games are more fun than any Hollywood blockbuster, just to make a comparison: The Rock is a great action film, but I felt the same degree of adrenaline when I played CoD: MW; Paranormal Activity scared the living $@# out of me, but it didn't managed to leave me in a state of perpetual fear like the first time I played Silent Hill alone in my room with no other light, than that of the television set.

Most games are now just interactive movies, or an endless repetition of the same thing (CoD anyone?). They manage to entertain most of us, but we end up thinking of them as movies, they do no longer provide the entertainment they used to have.

I understand that in our free market world profit means everything and if you don't make a decent profit, you are bound to disappear or be eaten by a larger fish, sadly that is the world we live in.

Now we see DLC that are embedded within the game, meaning they were developed at the same time, so you end up giving aproximately $10 apart from the usual $60 a retail game costs. Most of these DLC are pieces of crap or complete rip offs (ehem, Oblivion horse armor). Games have also gone from a standard of quality to quantity, if not, how can you explain the yearly release of the most popular franchises? Most of them offer nothing new and people end up buying them just to complete their collections, or because they are trendy.

Games have become a luxury, that much is certain. With rumors about the next PS and Xbox preventing us from playing borrowed or used games, we can bear witness to the money milking industry that has been born. Microtransaction are fast becoming the rule, not the exception. Pay to win is now a reality, add a multiplayer component so we can release maps and charge consumers a bit more, no innovation needed. Destroy or merge studios to save costs and fire more people, so the remaining ones have to work on a very tight schedule and present the consumer a disappointing final product.

Now it has even come to "e-sports", personally I can't consider videogames a "sport", eventhough it requires a high degree of skill and perception to be a pro in a video game. This e-sport faucet turns videogames into a job, a very demanding job, thus the original purpose of escaping from a reality a little while has been all but lost.

This rant could go on and on, I tried to make my views short in order to prevent me from destroying my keyboard, or bore you, my dear reader, to death.

Making a game like Metal Gear Solid must be pretty difficult, and in truth, it is more a movie that a game. But it makes you feel involved. Putting yourself in the shoes of Ezio (ACII) and traveling with him to uncover the truth and exact divine punishment on those who deserve it, makes you feel involved. Having the ability to make moral choices that affect the whole story, makes you feel involved.

Nowadays the norm is competitive gaming, don't care how don't care why, just add some multiplayer. And while this isn't necessarily bad, it leaves developers with the task of adding a component that wasn't -in some cases- needed to what could've been a great story. That's why people are turning more and more towards independent games.

What I've written has been voiced by many people (they actually have written something worth reading), but we are the final consumers, sadly if you are into economics then you know your consumer money doesn't really spell much for a large corporation whose main revenue comes from investors and share-holders. But that consumer money really matters to small, independent developers.

I think it is best to study and learn from the past, use the lessons that can be taught, discard what's not needed, but still place great importance on quality over quantity. I'm almost sure my gamer days will be over with my PS3 and X360.

Please feel free to comment, flame, troll or post your links to quality porn sites. (English is not my mother tongue, sorry for any an all grammar mistakes or spelling mistakes).

How I came to know and love Metal Gear Solid

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I've been in love with video games since a long time (14 years, now I'm 23 so do the math), and the name Hideo Kojima came from time to time, inevitably the franchise "Metal Gear" came with the name.

I know MG has been a long-running series of stealth games, I was unimpressed since stealth games weren't really my thing, however I had a short glimpse at Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, played a level and was quite impressed, though not so impressed as to buy a PS2 for the sake of that game alone.

Years passed I bought my x360 I became somewhat a Halo, Mass Effect, and other franchises fan yet, the name Metal Gear never faded from my mind, though still I wasn't really interested in stealth games, since I'm more of an action guy.

Time continued to run, and I was still adding great (and not so great) titles to my collection, until then I was solely an x360 player and my main focus were RPG games, and the occasional FPS which would allow me to have fun online. Never thought I'd ever need, or want, a PS3 but as with many things the circumstances changed and I grew tired of paying yearly for a Gold subscription, when my x360 would break once a year, and it was always because of the disc tray or reading laser, then I would spend 4 months without being actually able to play online, thus presenting Microsoft with a humble gift of 4 months payed in advance but never used.

Many things passed, I got a pretty decent job and was able to pay for my anime and game addiction so I decided to buy a PS3 partly to get rid of having to pay to play online.

About 3 weeks I saw MGS4: Guns of the Patriots in the bargain bin while visiting a popular retailer at my country, actually I was planning to buy Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood -which I bought- and a Sims3 expansion. My logic then tricked me: "PC games are easier to get than PS3 titles, and you're starting to build your collection, besides The Sims is a far more popular franchise, therefore it'll be easier to buy this expansion pack at a later time." Such logic made me buy MGS4.

Once the game finished being installed on my PS3 it was like entering another world, since the opening menu I was mesmerized, that music, those surroundings, that...perfection (can't find any other words to describe it), drew me in.

When I actually started the game, I was left in total awe, since the thematic relates to my studies (Foreign Affairs) and my job, not to mention some subjects that I've been studying for some time now (Security, Intelligence, Terrorism, and PMCs).

The game mechanics weren't that difficult to grasp (probably years of experience playing as a stealth character in almost every RPG I could find, ironic, isn't it?). The more I advanced on the game, the more I became a fan... there was no turning back for me when I finished the game.

There are some works that try to reach a certain level of perfection, I can surely say that MGS is one of those works, something that makes an impact on you, something that reaches deep inside you, I'm at a loss of words to describe all the feelings that flow to me even now a month after I finished the game.

Perhaps I'm just too easy to sway, perhaps I become easily impressed. I don't know, nor do I care; what I really can say is: if you have a taste for good things, whether they are video games, wine, women, men, you certainly understand me, and won't take me as an air headed fan boy.

Just wanted to share these thoughts.

Best of 2010, fair game?

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Editors's Choice Awards.

Another year has come and gone, a year that has given us great games, good news and sad news (for the gaming world) all in all a year that will be remembered as the first decade of "next generation gaming". By next generation gaming, I mean a new era in the way we play video games, we've seen breathtaking innovations such as kinect, play station move, and the wii. We've also seen the rising of new genre of gaming: social gaming whose developers -spearheaded by Zinga- try to attract new audiences with varying degrees of success, however this will also change the way we see video games.

Each quarter of this year has shown great titles for all consoles, in truth, developers creativity has grown in some cases, whereas in others it has faded to be nothing but the glimpse of a brighter past. But what has been the driving force for such an explosion of creativity and attention to detail that we weren't accustomed in the old days? (for me these days are the early 90's, so i'm still a relative new comer to this world). The answer is simple, developers and publishers have realized since the beginnings of the industry that this market shows potential to grow exponentially giving them higher earnings than before, but as always it's a double-edged blade, for it has decreased the feeling of some games making them nothing more than poor titles that are only useful to flood the market.

By now most of you will have seen the Editors's Choice Awards, many will be pleased with the results, others will not.

Fortunately below the Editors's Choice Awards are the Readers's Choice Awards which shows the number of votes for a title, this makes most of us realize that the editors think quite differently from us, and that is something to be praised, for that is their job, to analyse a game thoroughly, so that we may use their advice when we make an investment in our entertainment.

All Gamespot editors are unique individuals, with their own ways of reviewing and analysing a game, we all have our editors of choice (mine being Kevin VanOrd) and we may agree or disagree with their viewpoints, that is something natural.

But when I saw this year's awards I was shocked it appeared that consensus finally appeared among the editors, theirs is a difficult lot, but being able to declare a single -great- game as game of the year, is something that has displeased many, pleased others, and caused great discussions in the forums and comments.

I can not say I agree with the editors, Red Dead Redemption is an awesome game, of that there is no doubt, but I -and a great many of this community- doubt that it's such a masterpiece that it wins in almost every category it has contended.

Rockstar, being great developers themselves, must be pleased, but surely for each of the categories that were contending there are better games than RDR, for once I'd like to mention the readers's favorite: Mass Effect 2, surely some people think the same as I do. Still, I don't want to sound like a hardcore fanboy, we have other titles such as God of War III, which could have surely won the best PS3 game this year, but didn't. This raises an important issue, do our beloved editors agreed on RDR, or were these awards biased? I surely don't know, nor am I accusing anybody, it's just an issue that has come to the attention of many.

Still, I respect the reviewers and GS staff in general, it's just that I find it quite strange that such a thing would happen, but there it is, it happened.

Readers's Choice Awards.

This category will show the true meaning of democracy, whereas in the previous awards the choice was made by a select few (humor) this time the community will get its opportunity to get even and to decide the game of choice for this year.

I expect a heavy amount of discussion and debate, where the the term fanboy will be exploited in a horrid manner, nevertheless it shows the great contrasts that make the GS community one of the best in all gaming sites. Naturally we won't miss the halo fan, the mass effect fan (*cough* me) red dead redemption fan, and so on.

At the end only one thing matters, if you are giving me precious minutes of your time to read this, and to visit this site, then you like, or even love video games, they have become an important part of your life (I still have my life and other issues which I must see to, however they have indeed become an important part of my life). Perhaps you like them because they make you dream of things that can not be, they distract you from the harshness of our world -being an internationalist I need distraction from all the horrors I see and learn- and take you to a world without limits, where it doesn't matter who you are, how you are, all it matters is that you enjoy the time you spent playing a videogame.

Video games will continue to evolve, for that is the path mankind must take, evolution or destruction, and with the new breaking technological wonders, we don't know how far this marvelous industry will go.

I sincerely thank you for reading this, and I apologize if any mistake was made, since english is not my mother tongue.