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SolarisDeschain Blog

Goodbye to all that...(I guess I'm over at IGN)

I don't know if you can search for users on IGN, although I'm sure you can, if you're still interested in the reviews I write (judging by what I wrote here, some people were), or if you care to hear thoughts on whatever else I think about, look me up. I'm going by The_Stupendous_Yappi know in reference to The X-Files, thankee-sai! My first review is of Final Fantasy VII, by the way.

I, SolarisDeschain, am now over at IGN...

I don't know if you can search for users on IGN, although I'm sure you can, if you're still interested in the reviews I write (judging by what I wrote here, some people were), or if you care to hear thoughts on whatever else I think about, look me up. I'm going by The_Stupendous_Yappi know in reference to The X-Files, thankee-sai!

I am now over at IGN

I don't know if you can search for users on IGN, although I'm sure you can, if you're still interested in the reviews I write (judging by what I wrote here, some people were), or if you care to hear thoughts on whatever else I think about, look me up. I'm going by The_Stupendous_Yappi know in reference to The X-Files, thankee-sai!

My Picks of 2007 (Film)

I was lying in bed this morning and started thinking. What are my favorite films of the year? Well, I thought and thought and thought, and finally had my mind made up, and now its time to put them up!

Best Film of 2007- Zodiac
Best Director of 2007- David Fincher (Zodiac)
Best Screenplay- Satoshi Kon and Seishi Minakami (Paprika)
Best Actor in a Leading Role- Christian Bale (3:10 to Yuma)
Best Actress in a Leading Role- Jodie Foster (The Brave One)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role- Tom Cruise (Lions For Lambs)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role- Meryl Streep (Lions for Lambs)
Best Cinematography- Ron Schmidt (The Mist)
Best Sound Design- Tim Prebble (30 Days of Night)
Best Foreign Film- Paprika
Best Animated Film- Paprika
Best Editing- M.J. Fiore (The Girl Next Door)
Best Documentary- Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement
Best Visual Effects- Transformers
Best Original Score- Susumu Hirasawa (Paprika)
Best Use of Licensed Music- Hurdy Gurdy Man- Donovan (Zodiac)

I'm already starting to get sick of Assassin's Creed...

I've only completed the first two missions of the game, and it's already seriously trying my patience. How pathetic is it that Acre is a million miles away, yet its still littered with enemies so plentiful, that I have no hope to survive in combat, so I have blend all the way there, which sets you at a snail's pace, and is deadly boring. This is exponentially worse than The Wind Waker's sailing. Furthermore, if a guard even sees me GET ON A HORSE I trigger an alert. If I stop blending FOR A SECOND, I trigger an alert. Half the time when I'm on the horse and blending ANYWAY I TRIGGER AN ALERT. I'm only on Memory Block 3 and already this game is killing itself. As of this moment, this game is looking like the biggest missed potential of the year. What a great start, what great moments, all bogged down by what can only be looked at as sheer incompetence.

A Statement on Jeff Gerstmann

It's nice to see that Gamespot has been exposed for the incredible shill I've suspected it of being for a long time. I never liked Jeff Gerstmann's reviews, and from what I've seen of him, I didn't like Jeff Gerstmann. He was smug, and seemingly, largely ignorant on the subject of writing a competent review. But the world is filled with people, and several of them have differing opinions. And to see an editor who's been on the payroll for 10 years, show up to work one day, see his belongings in a box outside of his office, and upon attempting to enter said office discover he's been locked out, is painful and sad.

It's been said that Jeff Gerstmann has been displaying "unprofessional review practices" for a long time. Frankly, I agree. It's been said that this is the "straw that broke the camel's back." That, I do not understand. If for several years you've been having problems with someone's style, you sack him. You sack him as soon as the problem comes up. You give him a severence package, and let him go respectfully. In my estimation, this guy has been a hack since the website started; CNET admits they've been having problems with his reviews for years, but they don't let him go until he's been in for 10 years? And when they do he comes in to work to find he's been locked out of his own office? All this, right on the heels of him writing a bad review for a much-hyped game that was surely displeasurable to an ad giant who's probably spent millions on Gamespot over the years? An ad giant who could spell fiscal trouble for CNET if they pulled support? Not to mention that the review of Kane and Lynch was actually pulled OFF of this website until an outcry of great magnitude convinced them to put it back up. Not to mention the fact that Eidos has been quoting publications like Game Informer praising Kane and Lynch, and Game Informer not only gave Kane and Lynch a tepid score of 7, THEY DIDN'T EVEN SAY THE THINGS THEY WERE QUOTED FOR.

Although Jeff Gerstmann was a polarizing figure, and I've never particularly enjoyed his work, this situation just doesn't pass the smell test. It's either bad timing and cold stupidity on CNET's part, or Gamespot has just made a suicide attempt, exposing themselves for what they truly are.

Soon I'll probably finish that piece on videogame violence, I've just been a bit busy, I'm missing class as I write this, I just felt that this was something that I needed to say. So, if you read it, thank you.

Hypocrisy? A Discussion on Videogame Violence (Part 2)

A hot debate nowadays in the gaming community is whether or not videogames can be considered art. I'm sure most serious videogamers and 99% of those in the reviewer community feel that they are, and some may remember the spirited debate between author Clive Barker (who contends that they are) and Pulitzer-Prize winning film critic Roger Ebert (who contends that they aren't with a horribly illogical argument, but one with sharp wit nonetheless). I'm here to say that before we can even answer that question, we must look at the poisoning atmosphere that comprises its context.

The videogaming review community clamors to print articles defending videogames as art in its magazines and on its websites, but anytime a videogame comes along that gets a little unwanted attention, maybe tackles a hard subject, like Manhunt, it automatically gets thrown under the bus in an attempt to distance the industry from it and put it to bed, thus ending the media commotion. Forgetting the games that actually try to make a point flies in the face of your entire stance as games as art! A Clockwork Orange and Blue Velvet come along and are hailed as beautiful and necessary films, yet they are very hard to watch. Let's even rewind the clock a few years back when films like Otto Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm and Elia Kazan's Baby Doll directly challenged the Ratings Code at the time. Were they thrown under the bus? Did they "cross the line?" No. They're classics.

The gaming community wants games to be called art, and they can bluster on the subject to no end. But that'll never happen if, should a game come along that's hard to play and asks serious questions, it isn't celebrated, but hated. The gaming community likes to pretend it doesn't exist, so they can debate on why there IS a debate on why games like Dead Rising and Guitar Hero III's status as true art is contested. They talk, but when it comes time to put their money where their mouth is and actually stand for something, they back away. Far away.

It's time a stand was taken. It's time we stood up for games like Manhunt. Or, at least, MORE of us stood up for games like Manhunt and sent a message loud and clear. We will not let this go away.

Manhunt is too violent, they whine. Thus, it gets bashed. If Hot Coffee was getting more attention before Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas came out, I'd be willing to bet the reaction to the game would have been much cooler, based off the history of reaction to these things, and the shameful reaction it got after the minigame was brought to light. I personally feel Hot Coffee should have been straight in the game from the get-go, as, after all, it does nothing that you don't see in R rated films. There isn't even any nudity!

But no. That's not how it goes around here. We're either afraid of what we don't understand, or pretend not to understand that of which we are afraid. But the quickest way to end this debate would be to stand tall in the face of hard art and embrace it, not hide it in the shadows in favor of Wii Sports.

Is there a line, though? Is there another side to this? That's what I will address in the third and final part of my thoughts on this subject.

Societal Disintegration: A discussion on videogame violence (Part 1)

In 2003, Rockstar North, famed creators of the Grand Theft Auto series of games, delivered Manhunt, a gritty and dark stealth-action videogame with shocking violence and a lot to say about society's exposure to violence and a culture desensitized to it.

It tells the story of a man who must commit a horrid, and perhaps contradictory act, take the lives of several people so that he may see redemption. James Earl Cash is put to death, or so everyone thinks. Although he didn't actually perish, he wakes up in hell. A hell tailor-made to his own design, where he, and by extension, you, must repeat his sin over and over. Murder. Cash loses his taste for the act, and decides to end this game so that he may go free, and nobody else should experience it. Manhunt IS bleak, but Cash receives his redemption in the end (evident by his burying the weapon of his nemesis, the pure and unadulterated essence of Cash's own nature, Piggsy, into the man who put him through this torment). The game was atmospheric, terrifying, and had one of the most beautiful scores in recent videogaming. It showed shocking violence through a voyeuristic security cam, reflecting the masses need for blood.

But, of course, that's not what the news media saw. They saw a cheap chance to latch onto some ratings by telling you how your own children would be playing this video game. They saw an easy mark to decry videogaming and declare society officially down the tubes. The same newspeople who, on my personal local news channel, ran a segment called Zoom Zoom Doom, about teenagers driving cars. That's not alarmist, is it? And about how SAWfest 2007 will negatively affect your children. Despite the fact that its HORRORfest 2007, and all the films are rated R, so children CAN NOT enter without supervision. And it was the same with the game Manhunt (an M rated game, for those 17 and up) since the news media and critics of video gaming like the glamorous game-hatin attorney 'Miami' Jack Thompson thrive on the lie that video gaming is still a children's toy. They contend that video gaming isn't allowed to tackle a serious subject, like Manhunt does, based simply and succinctly on their selective coverage of the game's graces. They contend that videogaming needs legislation. That's an easy case to make when they control the information. When they cover stories this way, and show the violence of tragedies like Columbine on television, they fall right in line with the point Manhunt attempted to make. The joke is on them.

In 2007, Rockstar released Manhunt 2, for the PS2 and PSP yes, but, most importantly, for the Wii. Manhunt 2 is a beautiful game. Not quite the experience of the first game, but still a beautiful and terrifying trip down the rabbit hole into the dark recesses of the mind of a man forced to do terrible things. It's a different story than the first game, speaking not so much on society (although there is a chilling section set in a television studio), but on a different level. A truly more personal level. The potential for evil in all man's hearts, wrapped up in an original conspiracy theory package. The score is there, the voice acting is there, the intelligence and wit is there, and of course, the violence is there.

Violence, it seems, is all there is to Manhunt 2 if you watch the news. They do everything they can do alarm us and wrench ratings from the game. Even down to a local reporter showing adults a poster of the game and asking them what they think it means to their kids. Even down to Charlie Gibson scowling at this motion-sensing murder simulator. I'm sorry, but that isn't even news. Whatever happened to the days of Woodward and Bernstein? The news reports are scathing and uninformed. Nobody learns anything, and the time and the platform are wasted. It is just another case of "It's 10 o'clock and your children are playing with something RIGHT NOW that will kill them in 59 minutes. More at 11." Pathetic.

So maybe society is going down the tubes. Maybe it is. But if it is, I think the cause isn't violent video games (you notice movies don't get this type of treatment). It's when news organizations, real news organizations, not fake ones like Fox News, don't take the time to know what they're talking about. It's all about the ratings, and not about the truth. They want to alarm us with the bad side of games, and not tell you of any kind of art therein. Maybe one day video games will be past this, but when the news media ITSELF is acting like the League of Decency did for early film, you know society is in trouble. Of course, there's another aspect to this. A few more, actually. They will, of course, be covered, in parts 2 and 3.

I'm back?

Sort of. I've decided to return to post a three part discussion on a pressing point in video gaming today, and I would really love to get some feedback from people I respect and trust, so I decided to come here. I hope you read them when they start, and I hope you give me your thoughts! Expect them soon.


P.S. Guided By Voices' song "I Am A Tree" SO deserved to be on Guitar Hero III.

G4: America's Cultural Cesspool, and a Discussion on Bias (My Last Entry Here)

G4. Remember them? They're the crock of **** that bought out the wonderful TechTv, filled with subpar shows of only one subject (video games, as if you can have an entire channel of them), and kept only a few of TechTv's old shows. Of course, they were staffed with new writers that were, apparently, brain dead. Soon the rest of TechTv's old shows were dumped, leaving only X-Play, which by now is a rotting husk of what it used to be, and The Screen Saver's reworked with snobby, cloying hosts (Kevin Periera, I'm looking at you) and titled, disastrously, Attack of the Show. Moronic. What a forced, contrived attempt to tap into the "geek" culture. They brought back TechTv's Wired For Sex, but the reruns feel more voyeuristic than educational now, thanks to the immature teenager wanking off in his mom's bathroom feel of the entire channel. From moronic original programming like Code Monkeys, Cinematech (The worst show on television, behind MTV's Next and MTV's Exposed), and the aforementioned Attack of the Show (which I'll speak a little more about in a minute), to reruns of the most irrelevant shows imaginable. I.E. FASTLANE. McG's FASTLANE. Are you kidding me? Cheaters? Cops? I thought this was, "TV for Gamers". It's kind of pathetic. Even the Star Trek reruns have a completely different feel, banking only on their poor special effects and William Shatner instead of the earnest attempts at sci-fi storytelling. This is confirmed by the scrolling chat at the bottom, frequented by G4's oh so intelligent fans.
"What is cooler, Better Graphics? Or Better Graphics?
"I think teh betta graphixx is coola becuz I can blas my cuzin at Halo."
"I think they'z coola because all your base are belong to us! Hooah!"
See what I mean?
Then we have Attack of the Show. Despite it's worthless hosts (Kevin Periera and Kirsten Holt have absolutely no business being on there. Period) that isn't the worst part. There's The Loop, where they let their unknowingly self-parodying and self-satiring "fans" with clever names like Captain Smee get on the soapbox and spout pretentious and somewhat stupid nonsense. It's really pathetic to hear these people make know-it-all statements that, in fact, do not, know it all. The only good moment of The Loop, and one of two good moments in G4's pathetic existence, is when Adam Sessler pulled the brain-slug out of his head long enough to rip Jack Thompson a new one. Of course the next time I watched X-Play he had it back in (if anyone has reruns of him with Kate Botello in Extended Play, or even the early days with Morgan Webb in X-Play, enjoy 'em). AOTS and the whole channel revel in mediocrity, giving Blades of Glory an entire segment, but I don't think I heard INLAND EMPIRE mentioned once. The next film they latch on to? My guess is Balls Of Fury. By the way, I said there were two instances where G4 showed real emotion. One was Adam Sessler vs. Jack Thompson. The other was the final episode of Unscrewed with Martin Sargent.

Then we have bias. One thing I cannot abide at a video game publication. I canceled my subsciption to Nintendo Power many years ago, and decided to never again read a fanboy rag, that only mentions one company at the expense of others. And that's why I don't mess with OXM or PSM either. They don't count, in my book. I can't abide bias in other places either, when it comes at the expense of another system. Case in point, wait for it, this place. Right here. They're treatment of Nintendo's Wii has been pathetic since the start. Horrible reviews written by horrible reviewers (ever since Greg left it all went downhill, and fast) like Jeff Gerstmann. Shoddy coverage, and unfair nitpicking in their reviews and previews, while Microsoft and Sony have been given preferential treatment. It's pathetic. Just like all those websites who champion the Wii as the sole worhtwhile video game system anymore. It's not and you know it's not. It's different, yes, it's innovative, yes, it's a load of fun, I do believe, and I think so do most, but let's not forget other great games on other great systems. I, slowly and slowly, have begun to like IGN more and more thanks to Matt Cassamassina being a crack reviewer and reporter. Today I trust them over the mess that this website has become. I even picked up a subscription to Game Informer. While, yes, there are some editors I don't particularly like (Joe, I'm looking at you), and they clearly have a bias toward the PS3, they don't neglect the Wii or the X-Box 360, which is beautiful. At CaptainDingo's suggestion, I've moved on to GameTrailers, and I strongly suggest anyone ready to hear some straight talk again, come on over. I may stick around here long enough to track comments on this particular entry, if there are any, but this is it. I'm finished. The internet is too vast and large to be stuck in a dead-end like this.

To Saruman, Evil_Tab, FernandoDante and everyone else I've had the pleasure of corresponding with these days (except Ownage_GOD)

I bid you adieu.