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Superman Game Idea

With the latest gameplay footage of Batman: Arkham City released, I've been giving a lot of thought to another big time DC superhero that's yet to get a really good game of his own: Superman. That's not to say he hasn't had some good games. I recall enjoying The Death of Superman SNES game, chronically The Death & Return of Superman storyline from the comics. I also enjoyed Shadows of Apokalips on PS2. We...won't discuss Superman 64.

Still, I'm absolutely surprised that The Man of Steel has yet to get an amazing, award-winning game like his brooding counterpart from Gotham. So, just rolling off ideas, here's what I think would make for a Superman game that I'd personally love to play:

Obviously, the first hurdle is his sheer power and invulnerbility. However, he's got some pretty powerful villains that are on his level. Darkseid (and everything involving Apokalips), Brainiac, Luthor (when handled right), Mxyzptlk, Parasite, Bizarro, etc.

The second is how do you make a game that makes you FEEL like Superman and still be a satisfying game. So, here's my idea. And if anyone in the gaming world reads this, they're welcome to crib my notes, but just give me a free PS3 copy when it comes out.

Start the game right off the bat with all of your powers, similar to Prototype. BUT, like Prototype, the story causes almost all of your powers to be lost except for the bare basics of super leaping, some strength and some invulnerability. As the game progresses, you open up more of your abilities again until the end, where you're back to full power.

The story: Luthor finds a way to block out the sun using a number of satellites in orbit around the earth. Throughout the city are various buildings (with a satellite dish or controlling centre) where Luthor has placed a lot of key Superman rogues to guard them. So, as you defeat these various areas (the game is entirely open-ended ala Grand Theft Auto), you gain something, either strength or powers.

Powers: Some buttons would be designed for certain areas of Superman. For example, one button designed for his eye powers (X-ray vision, heat vision, telescopic, etc), another for breath (cold, powerful gusts). You can switch them out at your leisure either in a pause menu ala Mega Man or on the spot ala Prototype.

Villains to use in the game:
-Early in the game, for lower powers: Toyman, Prankster, Intergang, Bloodsport
-Higher difficulty/requires certain powers: Hellgrammite, Metallo, Parasite, Luminus, Lobo (taking over Bibbo's bar!), Volcana. For guys like Metallo and Parasite, maybe have the option of taking them out sooner, if you get a lead-lined suit like from the Animated Series (something you pick up doing STAR Labs missions or Clark Kent as reporter missions)
-For late in the game: Brainiac, Bizarro, Luthor (Lex tower; probably one of the last satellites to take down, as he has security measures out the yin-yang)

-Giant Monsters: These would come up as the story unfolds and would be a huge threat that would cause great collateral damage (and thus, having to save people at the same time as trying to stop the big thing). Some would include some giant Toyman-related robot, Chemo, Firebrand (using cold breath to put out fires!), Titano, etc.

-Finale: Throughout the game, there's hints and build up that unfolds that Darkseid is coming. So, the finale is not only the troops of Apokalips on Earth (fighitng parademons and Darkseid's minions like Kalibak, but the big finale with Darkseid himself). This would be the ulimate test of using ALL your powers all at once.

-Saving people: I loved how in the Spider-Man 2 game, there were people you had to save. It just needs to have a lot more variety. So you have buildings on fire (saving people, putting out the fire by creating a flying vortex vacuum, your cold breath or a nearby fire hydrant), cats in trees (because that's just cute), people falling off buildings, random crimes like car chases and bank robberies, etc. Dependings on how powerful you are or what powers you unluck, these would slowly becomes either more frequent (because you can get there faster) or tougher. Plus, adding this into public boss fights like the giant monsters would be fun as hell. Not sure what the reward would be to save X number of people, though. Maybe if you do X number of deeds, you have the option of turning it off so you can focus on other stuff (without feeling guilty :p).

-Side Missions: What open-ended game would be without them? How about a racing game where you race against The Flash? Touring with the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit to stop crimes around the city. A gladiator arena set up by Mongul or Roulette. Helping test out equipment for STAR Labs or helping them run tests on you (various challenges). Maybe various breakouts on Stryker's Island (the prison in Metropolis).

But best of all: Clark Kent missions. I was thinking it'd be fun to be able to switch back and forth and your leisure between the two, similar to the disguise system in Prototype (you can tell where I was inspired by this). So, you could go to the Daily Planet, get a story and investigate it. You could still have access to SOME of your powers while as Clark (various vision powers, strength, etc) but it'd be part stealth in that you don't want others to discover your identity. Do team-up missions with Lois where you two sneak in and you can use a lot of your powers in her presence. Again, not sure what the goal of this would be, but...huh, what if it helps alleviate the traps and security measures by Lex? Slowly taking him down by revealing to the public his dastardly deeds? Maybe it'd continue the Apokalips plot, where you investigate Intergang.

The nice thing is that, by the end of the game, you're rewarded for your hard work with all of his powers and are welcome to free roam again all you want!

Now, of course, putting ALL of these ideas into one game would be madness. But imagine taking just the Luthor plot and making that the game? The sequel could include Darkseid and maybe even a visit to Apokalips itself!

Goodbye PSN Plus; Big Thanks to PS Customer Service

Curious about the Playstation Plus, launched three months ago, I decided to try it out. Having extra money at the time, I went for the fully monty and bought the one-year membership.

At first, I was enjoying it. I downloaded a few new dynamic themes, tried out a game or two, such as Wipeout, and had high hopes for it. However, as the months went on, the updates - even the monthly updates - became less and less exciting. At first, there were even weekly updates to the PSN for Plus members. Not much, mind you, such as a new theme or avatar, but there was the occasional discount on casual downloadable games.

In the last few weeks, though, the updates have been...well, to call them small would be an understatement. Two weeks in a row and not a single update for Plus members. Additionally, the deals and free stuff was paltry. It felt like Sony was giving us so very little for what we were paying for. Over the past two months, I've considered cancelling, but was unsure, since I didn't know if I'd get any kind of refund.

As a result, I contacted them on the phone. At first, I was told that I would get no refunds as a result of a cancellation of Plus. I asked to speak with a supervisor, who gave me the number for Customer Service.

Now, one trick that I learned working in customer service myself, is to be as polite and understanding as you can. Yelling, swearing and getting mad will get you nowhere. I was polite, never raised my voice and explained everything as clearly as possible. As a result, they did something they didn't ordinarily do (according to the guy on the phone): they cancelled my Plus and gave me a full $50 refund. As I asked them to do, it was credited back to my PSN wallet, as there were still things that I was tempted to buy - Shank and Deathspank, to name two.

So, while the Plus itself was nothing as I had hoped it would be, I'm happy with the service that the company gave me. For that alone, as I told the the customer service rep, I'll be thanking them through my wallet for a good long time to come.

Peripherals with Potential

If there's one thing that this year's E3 has taught us, it's that the era of the peripheral has come. More specifically, the era of motion control has come. All three systems will soon have motion controllers in one form or another. Nintendo's Wii has cemented the product for years, especially targeting the casual audience. Now, Microsoft and Sony have the Kinect and the Move, respectively.

None of this is hardly new news, obviously. We've known it's been coming for awhile. However, the potential for motion control is still being missed.

Currently, motion control games are centered around either casual party games or tacked on as an additional feature for a game. Games ported to the Wii from other systems have Wii motion control aspects that feel more tacked on than organically part of the game. The same seems to have already begun with the Kinect and the Move. The same kinds of games are being made and the same tacked-on feeling for other games still resides.

What will make that big change, though? It'll only take one, significant, narrative-driven game that doesn't just tack on the motion control, but use it within the game itself. It also needs to be its own licensced property, not just a sequel or something like Zelda or a first person shooters. Let me throw some examples at you:

1) Imagine playing Mirror's Edge with the Kinect. The game is already halfway there, with a viewpoint that essentially puts you into the game, showing your feet and arms if you look down, or arms waving as you pick up running speed. Adding the Kinect would be pretty simple. Now, this does break my own rule about not being a sequel, but I had to throw it out there, just to get it out of the way.

2) Imagine, if you will, a game set in the 30s or 40s. You are an archeologist searching for lost Egyptian treasure. With only a torch in hand, you become trapped in an ancient tomb. Using, say, the Move controller, you must hold that damn torch up in front of you throughout the whole game (option to switch hands if one arm is getting tired) as you discover its secrets. If you find ancient hieroglypics, shining a torch on them will allow your character to read and translate for you. Heck, using either Kinect or Eye techology, maybe you have to literally crawl on your hands and knees through an incredibly low, claustrophobic tunnel. And of course, undead mummies, whose ancient clothes are quick to light on fire with your torch. Maybe you have to stomp on a swarm of beetles, etc.

3) Imagine a remake of one of my favourite NES games growing up: Deja Vu. Or maybe not Deja Vu, but just a story about a private detective or an officer of the law or something. You have to make a motion to reach into your jacket and pull out your gun. Search for clues around the area, etc.

The biggest and most important thing to remember, though, is that these games should absolutely not have pre-rendered cutscenes. Much like Valve's Half-Life series, everything should occur within your own point of view, to make the game fully relatable - and more importantly, immersive - for the player. If a player wants to imagine themselves in this narrative world, interacting with it, then it should be fully interactive with no cutscenes that interrupt that gameplay.

My Gaming History Part 1: The 2600 & Early Sierra Games!

From E.T. and Astroids, all the way up to today's Dead Rising and Heavy Rain, I've been a gaming just about all my life.

My first forray into gaming was two-fold: the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600. In the 64, I was introduced to text adventures, most especially Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I even tried my hand at writing one, but didn't get past the first puzzle before getting bored. I never owned a 64, myself, though. Usually, it was one of my sister's boyfriends or a cousin who would let me play on it.

Ah, but the 2600? That was my real start. In my bedroom, I had a crappy black and white TV that hummed incessantly - in retrospect, I wonder if that was healthy to be around. My gaming was sequester to my room on this crapbox. I longed to hook the system up to one of our other colour TV's, but alas, my parents wouldn't have any of it. So, I played everything from E.T., Astroids, Missile Command and others in black and white. Oh, but I loved it. In fact, looking back, I still remember loving E.T. Of course, E.T. being the first movie I ever saw, I'm likely incredibly bias.

I think I may have been late to the Atari bandwagon, because around the same time, I was also introduced to adventure games like King's Quest. Again, this was at cousin's houses or something and I wound up having to describe what I saw in full detail to friends. Like text adventures, I loved the freedom of being able to type whatever came to mind, just to see if it worked. Most times, it didn't, but that hardly stopped me from trying!

Of course, my gaming world was changed forever...with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Petty Arguing over Review Scores

I'll be completely honest: when it comes to games, movies, TV shows, books, etc, I don't tend to buy into hype and immediately purchase something on its release date. I've learned my lesson a few times from buying into hype or even just hyping myself up too much. For example, being a comic book fan, I was excited for the PS2 release of Batman: Vengeance. And it was a fine game. It wasn't great and Arkham Asylum blows it out of the water without even trying, but it was fun. Was it worth pre-ordering it for $70? Nope.

Which is why, these days, I tend to read many reviews - spoiler free or spoiler-light ones, mind you. If something is unanimously bad, I won't waste my money on it. If it's nearly unanimously good or great? I'll check it out. Funnily enough, if something is given a bad review, I sometimes go in expecting something horrendous and wind up enjoying it more than I expected (the Fantastic Four movies, oddly enough).

But one in every...let's say one in every twenty comments on Gamespot argue with the score that the reviewer rates a game. And that's fine. Quality of entertainment and everything else is always open to interpretation and your own opinion.

However, what bothers me is the petty nonsense of saying something like "How dare you rate this game 8.5 instead of 9.0!"

Let's make something clear: it's childish and petty to argue over HALF of a rating. The difference of an 8.5 and a 9.0 is bean counting. If I were to get two tests back, one 85%, the other 90%, I'd still be happy with both marks. Would I prefer both to be 90%? Absolutely, but either way, it's still a great mark. Does that 5% change your own opinion or enjoyment of the game? No. You love it, and so do just about everyone else.

On Gamespot's scale, an 8.5 is still considered "great". Is the game without faults? No, there are some things that are pointed out, either in the written and/or video review, that lowers the score. But the score doesn't take away that it's still a very high mark.

Now, if it were rated, say, 5.0 or something and you believed the game deserved an 8.0 or a 9.0? Then, okay, you're well within your rights for that argument. But to argue over such a petty squabble as a 5% difference of the game will just garner you many thumbs down.

Downloading - The Future of Gaming?

(Note: This is a cut and paste repost from a thread I created.)

Between XBox Live, Sony's PSN, Nintendo's online feature on the Wii (the name escapes me) and most especially Valve's Steam, it seems that video games are moving more and more towards digital copies. At the moment, it's mostly (except for Steam) relegated to classic or smaller games. Admittedly, it still has some bugs to work out (Steam, I believe, had some issues with Aliens vs. Predators on its launch). But like movies, I'm starting to wonder if the next generation of our entertainment media will be digitalized.

For the past decade, downloading has become more and more normalized. Ticket sales at the box office, at least according to Hollywood, have slumped because of downloading. Music, most especially, has changed because of downloading. I haven't bought a hard copy of a CD in ages, and iTunes has become a household name. I'm noticing the music section in stores such as HMV are shrinking every couple of years, as they introduce other product to put on their shelves such as movies, games, and even books. iPods and other mp3 players have now become the norm. Rarely do I see someone with a CD player or a walkman anymore as I did growing up (Note: I'm 32).

Gaming is becoming the same thing. Demo discs have already gone the way of the dodo. Actually, I'm not 100% certain on that, as I believe PC Gamer still provides a disc with their magazines, as does Xbox's magazine. But the idea of plopping in a disc to play a demo is gone. Now, it's a matter of logging into, say, the Playstation Network and downloading it.

At the moment, though, downloading is relegated to classic or smaller games. The PSN provides a large assortment of PS1 games, for example. The Wii provides games from the NES, SNES and a few N64 games. Rumours are growing every once in awhile that PS2 games will soon be available on PSN.

Steam, on the other hand, doesn't seem to be...pardon the pun...running out of steam. At first, it started as a means to register your game, a form of copy protection. To play Valve games such as Half-Life 2, you were required to log into Steam. Soon, you also had the option of downloading Valve games. In the last few years, other game companies joined in being available on Steam. Today, almost every single new PC game is now available for purchase and download through Steam. More and more classic games are becoming available, as well. In fact, I fell prey to their dasterdly Christmas holiday sales, spending about $30 on at least a dozen games in total.

Another company that has been phenomenal with online purchases is Telltale games, creators of the episodic adventure games such as Bone, Sam & Max, Wallace & Gromit, Strong Bad, and most recently, Monkey Island. Their online policy is similar to Steam: once you have purchased a game, you can download it again at any time at your leisure. Additionally, if you've purchased a full season directly through their website, you can pay just the shipping costs and have a hardcopy disc of the game.

I think Telltale's example of gaming will be the first step that other companies will follow. Imagine buying God of War III on the PSN, then having the option to have the game mailed to you? Admittedly, a disc game is not fully installed onto your PS3 and still requires the disc, so the example doesn't quite work the same, but the idea in theory is no different.

Already, Sony and Nintendo have begun the pure-downloading idea in portable fashion. Both the Nintendo DS (the DSi, specifically) and the PSP-Go can have games downloaded onto them. The PSP-Go, in fact, is purely download only, with a large catalogue of games available on PSN. It would not take much of a jump to go to next-gen systems. Companies could cut costs on manufacturing and shipping, which might (but not likely) lower the hefty price on games.

What do you folks think? I'm all for the idea of a purely digital gaming business. Already, I'm beginning to move my movie collection into digital, instead. But I know many people who like to have those movies or games on their shelves. Thoughts?

Missed Opportunities

Shortly after Boxing Day last year, I picked up a PS3 Slim. I'd been out of console gaming for awhile, partly due to funds and partly due to lack of interest. Most of my gaming escapades have been relegated to PC gaming, including City of Heroes, The Sims series, Half-Life 2 and its series, and a great deal of Steam downloadable games. Honestly, I missed being a part of whatever current generation gaming was going on. I would go on a forum or here on Gamespot and read up on the latest games and be wow'd by the latest games. In fact, the one thing that convinced me to pick up a next-gen system was trying some games on my friend's Xbox 360. After being enthralled with Dead Rising and Prototype, I finally decided to make the jump and buy a PS3.

I've been thoroughly enjoying many new games, especially Saints Row 2, Katamari Forever (a series I loved on the PS2), the Ratchet & Clank games, Grand Theft Auto IV and, much to my disappointment, Uncharted.

However, as a classic gamer, going all the way back to the days of the Atari, playing E.T. and remember being excited for Final Fantasy 1 on the NES reading it in Nintendo Power, I have a soft spot for older games. Steam has certainly provided me with endless nostalgic games that I grew up on.

Speaking of Steam, it seems that there's a new crop of items coming up: downloadable games. The PS3 is starting to take advantage of this with their online retro games, especially PS One games. I've been very tempted to buy things like Final Fantasy VII and VIII, Metal Gear Solid, Dino Crisis, Silent Hill, the Resident Evil series, etc. Personally, I can't wait to see what other games that Sony releases on their PSN (Playstation Network). I'm sure Final Fantasy IX (one of my personal favourites) is right around the corner.

I can't help considering the possibilities of releases, though. many of which feel like missed opportunities. For example, being a great Final Fantasy fan, why not release the anthologies that came out on the PS One; the ones that collected FF IV, V, VI and Chrono Trigger? Come to think of it, I'm surprised by the lack of Chrono Cross on PSN. Or how about Spider-Man, the game that finally convinced gamers that a Spider-Man game could be done right? There is such a vast library of (thus far) unavailable PS One games on PSN, many of which I would happily buy up.

Of course, many fans question why we haven't seen any Playstation 2 games on PSN, either. Sony's stance is that the PS2 still sells and that's fine. Not everyone has made the jump yet, so it's understandable. The PS2 still holds up as a great system. I used to happily own one. Another missed opportunity, however, is seeing more of the God of War I & II collection. Since we can't have reverse compatibility, why not give us more of those titles collected for the PS3? If the Playstation Network has taught us anything, it's that we don't necessarily need to have things upgraded like in the God of War collection (though it was certainly nice). Here's just a small list of collections that, as a fan, I would love to see:

-Final Fantasy: Collecting FF X and FF XII. Possibly, if there's room for others, Dirge of Cerebus and FF X-2 could be on there, as well.

-Ratchet & Clank: There's no question of the popularity of this series. It would be nice to see a collection of all its games. (perhaps including the PSP's Size Matters)

-Silent Hill: Silent Hill 2 is unquestionably the best of the series, but that's not to take away from 3 and 4.

-Ico/Shadow of Colosus: With The Last Guardian coming out soon, and given the amount of critical praise both of these games garnered, I'm surprised that this collection hasn't been announced.

-Katamari: Granted, Katamari and I Heart Katamari are very similar games. Many of their levels are, in fact, found in Katamari Forever. But they're still fantastic games on their own and surely easy to port.

-Spider-Man: Call me bias as a comic book fan, but I'd love to see a collection of, say, Spider-Man 2 and Ultimate Spider-Man.

-Devil May Cry: With DMC 4 on PS3, I'm surprised this collection hasn't been made.

-Metal Gear: Granted, Metal Gear Solid is already on PSN, but I'd love to see a collection that includes MGS2 and 3, along with (if legally possible, given it was released on the GameCube) Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes.

Jak & Daxter: These games were released almost side-by-side with Ratchet & Clank. I'm surprised there hasn't been a new one for the PS3, yet.

Onimusha: These were kind of a samurai Resident Evil and I thought they were fun as all heck.

That's about all I can think of, off the top of my head. I'm sure there are others that will come to mind, later. How about you folks? What PS One games are missing on the PSN? What PS2 collections for the PS3 would you like to see?

Co-Op - On and Offline

A few weeks ago, a friend and I decided to have an Xbox night. We hit up Blockbuster and rented several games (given that I work there, it didn't cost a cent), including Fight Night Round 4, WWE Legends of Wrestlemania and Street Fighter 4. We tried to find some co-op games but found it extremely lacking.

We considered Saints Row 2, which I'd heard had a co-op feature...but my co-workers told me it was online, only.

Now, I grew up on some classic two-player games, including my personal favourite: the side scrolling beat-em-ups like Ninja Turltes: Turtles in Time, Double Dragon or Battletoads. Granted, in the latter two, there were issues with accidentally hitting each other, but by now, those kind of bugs would have been worked out (I would hope).

My issue with today's co-op options is that you're expected, nay assumed, to do it online. What happens when you want to have some friends over and play some games together? Well, there's the Wii, of course. But what if, to compete with the Wii, you had some offline co-op games for the PS3 and 360 that allowed for two or more people to play at once that AREN'T sports or music (aka: Rock Band) games.

Imagine if Arkham Asylum had the option of bringing Robin (or Nightwing, instead, if no one wants to wear the pixie boots) along and the two of you go through Arkham together, even splitting up to handle threats separately. The same for Dead Rising, which I hear the upcoming Dead Rising 2 will have co-op in some manner, but likely not offline.

Honestly, just running with the idea of Arkham Asylum, there are tons of superhero games just made for co-op. X-Men, Fantastic Four, Batman and his sidekicks, Superman and his family (Superboy, Supergirl, etc). Of course, in Superman's case, someone would have to make a good Superman game, first. I've yet to play it, but does Marvel Ultimate Alliance have the option to allow four people to each control a character? I seem to recall earlier games allowing two people to control two characters, each.

Heck, someone could create an entirely NEW superhero just for sidekicking. You could use the basic template of Batman and the teen sidekick and go from there. Maybe you could go as far as to set it in the 40s or 50s, for that classic "teen sidekick" feel.

My point is that there still exists people in the world who have friends who don't live on the other side of the country. Sometimes, you want to have a beer, pizza and video games night. Or in my case in High School, junk food, pop and video games. The Wii is built for party games like that, and maybe it's time for the PS3 and X360 to get offline and give people the chance to invite their friends over, again.

First Post

I just noticed that there's a blog option on here. Not sure if it's new or I just hadn't noticed it before. Probably the latter.

Regardless, I guess this is a blog about my gaming and such. Right now, I'm completely hooked on Sid Meier's Pirates! I'm a little disappointed that I couldn't find a DVD version of this, but according to the guy at EB Games, the DVD version was limited only to the game's release last year.

Tempted to buy City of Heroes/Villains again. I kind of miss playing Doug The Troll on the Justice server.