New Used Games and a Terrible Quandry

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So, it was a kind of terrible weekend. I, all my own fault, accidentally deleted a save file with over 30 hours of custom design work. (WWE 13 CAW data) That included Custom logos, painstakingly designed pixel-by-rutting-pixel, and 7 created wrestlers. I know the answer to this already but just out of sheer depression and desperation: anyone know how to extract and restore deleted data from the PS3? Gorram THQ doesn't allow CAW data to back up to the cloud. :cry:

In sympathy with my plight my wife gave me 20 dollars and sent me to Gamestop to buy new games to help assauge my mood. This is what I came away with:

Heavenly Sword

- I missed out on Heavenly Sword because when it debuted I hadn't bought a PS3 yet. (I was still on PS2, the Wii, and the 360) Since that time I had always intended to pick it up but was never willing to part with as much money as Gamestop seemed to think it was worth. Well, it's worth 7 bucks; which is what I paid for it. Obstenably my second favorite God of War "clone" (After Conan) I can easily see where this was amazing in its day. Even now the graphics are appealing and the action fun... at least when you play as lead character Nariko. Her mentally challenged cat-girl friend with the cross bow I could do without! I could also be spared the lame attempt to utilize the sixaxis. But for what it is it's a fun game with a unique fake-asian mythology story. A nice blend of east-asian visuals mixed with arabian-influenced music. Heavenly Sword - 7.5

force unleashed

- I'm also very late to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. This one was free, due to a buy 1 get 1 promotion. Ever notice how the best Star Wars tales are NOT written by George Lucas? (One might argue the original Star Wars but I will always believe that's because Steven Spielberg refined Lucas' mind-garbage into something amazing; just like he did with Indiana Jones) Obviously I will end up having a LOT of fun with this one, but nothing feels right. Right now controls feel clumsy and the game does a poor job of instructing you on how to utilize your powers. Throwing objects (and, hilariously, wookiees) around by flicking a stick is just awkward. I also HATE that I can impale someone on a frakking LIGHTSABER and they still get up and fight more. When will we ever get a Star Wars game where lightsabers are as deadly a weapon as they are supposed to be? Despite quirky controls and an incredible overabundance of enemies and silly platforming this one has charm and fun in spades. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - 7.0

Brutal Legend

- I reviewed Brütal Legend back in November of 2009 as a title bought at launch and I stand by that review and score. This one was destined for my forever collection but desperate times called for this to be traded along with the next game towards whatever new purchase just couldn't wait. Double Fine's masterful love letter to Heavy Metal was awesome, but slightly a mixed bag; I called it a Keg of Awesome with a Pint of Suck due to the crappy RTS mini-game that made up the large battle portion of this otherwise hilarious, hella-fun advanture with the best gorram soundtrack ever. A great rebuy for 6 bucks. Brütal Legend - (still) 8.5

The Saboteur

- While it hasn't aged (graphically) as well as some other titles, 2009's The Saboteur is still one of the best damn games I've ever played. I reviewed it as well and I also stand by the score I gave it. This one, similar to Brütal Legend, was meant for my forever collection but my rebuy also had a second purpose; I was very close to a platinum on this one when I sold it. Sadly, however, my save game was not preserved (it was on my old PS3 that I sold towards my PS4) but, you know what? Big deal. It's a feckin' pleasure to replay this game. By far the most adult (Nudity wise) of the mainstream releases, The Saboteur could easily be misjudged to be fan-service for teen boys, especially with the Midnight Show that came as a bonus for preorder. (Still have that.) But don't let all the nudity of the Belle Nuit turn you off; there's a setting available in options that will slap pasties on those dastardly boobages if that's not your style. Beyond the controversy Pandemic's swan song is a capable blend of Grand Theft Auto's open world and Assassin's Creed's parkour distilled with a little disguise intrigue á la Prototype. Irish protagonist Sean Devlin is a believable badass with stereotypical Irish appetites that match the stereotypical evil Nazis that terrorize Parisian neighborhoods. True to its name The Saboteur will easily sabotage your Now Playing list (Back when we had those sorts of things) if you're not paying attention. It's done that again; I think about this game night and day! Not bad for 8 dollars. The Saboteur - (still) 8.5

The games are nice, all for around 20 bucks. It doesn't fully cure my depression and self-loathing at accidentally deleting my secondary passion of running fantasy wrestling seasons, but it helps I suppose. So will my next purchase which I'll be picking up later today...

Dragon's Crown

- I'll be getting Dragon's Crown on the Vita for 3 reasons: 1) The only friend I know who's getting it is getting it on the Vita, 2) I can play it at work easily on the Vita, and 3) The Vita needs, needs, NEEDS a game.

Expect Impressions by Thursday!

... There was an Age Undreamed of...

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"So Uesugi, what did you end up doing this weekend?"

Thorgrym Returns

Aw, yeah bitches... I'm back.

Not that all of you would remember, but there was a period of, what, 4 months? 4 months of blogging, usually tri-weekly, where Skyrim was mentioned just about every time. In a fit of Shadowrun overload I decided to pop old Skyrim back in (at 300 hours) and resume Thorgrym's adventures.

Presently I'm mired in Solsthiem; that Dunmer-infested wasteland, trying to shut down the seemingly immortal dickhole known as Miiraak. Prick keeps stealing the dragon souls from the dragons I slay. So Thorgrym and his new apprentice Vorstag are hiking all over this dark elf-ridden crapfest trying to put an end to Miiraak so he can get back home to Sylgja and their two kids.

You know what? I've missed this. It feels... right to be back in Skyrim again.

Skål!

Impressions: Shadowrun Returns

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If I haven't been blogging my frigging laptop is to blame. Between Civ V: Brave new World, Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (a 4.99 buy), and now Shadowrun Returns I just hardly blog at all anymore!

The latter is what consumes me at present. Sure it's... primitive. It has kickstarter written all over it, but it is engrossing, fun, and has immense potential with community. It feels like a table top RPG. The installed story feels a little predictable and campy, and I hear it only clocks in at around 12 hours, but a few months from now this one will be PREGNANT with great user-content. I can't wait to get into that creator myself.

The gameplay is related to XCOM but no where near as smooth. The dialogue has been good so far and I can foresee that as the community dive in deeper this will have a LOT of fantastic mods made for it. The most important thing is that this is a GREAT first step for RPGs. Once this evolves into something that can be multi-player co-op and then ported to other popular old school table top RPGs... well can you imagine the potential? Dark Sun? Planescape? Cyberpunk? Spelljammer? Twilight 2000? The grandpappy of them all; Dungeons and Dragons? Done right that potential is... LIMITLESS. And developers and publishers; you wanna talk about DLC and microtransactions? Wizards of the Coast has been humping us old school Dungeon Masters for YEARS. Don't you wanna piece of that?

Shadowrun Returns: 7.0

Initial Impressions: Shadowrun Returns

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If I haven't been blogging my frigging laptop is to blame. Between Civ V: Brave new World, Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition (a 4.99 buy), and now Shadowrun Returns I just hardly blog at all anymore!

The latter is what consumes me at present. Sure it's... primitive. It has kickstarter written all over it, but it is engrossing, fun, and has immense potential with community. It feels like a table top RPG. The installed story feels a little predictable and campy, and I hear it only clocks in at around 12 hours, but a few months from now this one will be PREGNANT with great user-content. I can't wait to get into that creator myself.

The gameplay is related to XCOM but no where near as smooth. The dialogue has been good so far and I can foresee that as the community dive in deeper this will have a LOT of fantastic mods made for it. The most important thing is that this is a GREAT first step for RPGs. Once this evolves into something that can be multi-player co-op and then ported to other popular old school table top RPGs... well can you imagine the potential? Dark Sun? Planescape? Cyberpunk? Spelljammer? Twilight 2000? The grandpappy of them all; Dungeons and Dragons? Done right that potential is... LIMITLESS. And developers and publishers; you wanna talk about DLC and microtransactions? Wizards of the Coast has been humping us old school Dungeon Masters for YEARS. Don't you wanna piece of that?

Shadowrun Returns: 7.0

Too Good to Pass Up

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Gamestop is running a promotion this week? Month? Not sure which but everything you trade gets a bonus 50% towards preorders on games and systems. Add to that 10% for the Gamestop rewards.

Yesterday I offloaded my oldest PS3 (I had two) and an assortment of older games for a total of 247 dollars. 180 for my old PS3 alone.

Dragon's Crown is paid off and only 93 dollars remains on my PS4!

Good Luck, Commander!

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One of the best Easter Eggs! From Civ V Brave New World

XCOM Squad

Movement: 2; Strength: 110; Ranged Attack: 0; Cost: 600; Requires Resource: none Technology: Nanotechnology; Obsolete with: - Abilities: Skyranger (range 40 paradrop) Tech Tooltip: "Futuristic infantry unit skilled at dropping into danger from far across the world. Squad can move and pillage after landing but cannot enter combat until the following turn. Good Luck, Commander!" Notes: A future-era upgrade to the Paratrooper (and a tie-in with Firaxis' XCOM Enemy Unknown).

Civ v 1Civ v 2civ v 3civ v 4

Civ v 5

A Brave New Diversion

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So, if I don't seem as active it's because I picked up Civ V Brave New World. Having such an excellent diversion at work means less blogging, for sure. Civ V has never been my favorite Civ (that was III) but it was pretty and... present. Brave New World fixes a large chunk of V's almost broken mechanics and builds on it with some wholly entertaining updates.

Bah, back to Civ... blog more later.

Civ V: Brave New World - 9.5

Heart of Darkness

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spec ops

Just in time for the 4th, I'd like to point out something that I just learned about 2012's underappreciated (Gamespot: 6.5) gem, Spec Ops: The Line. Still free on Plus right now, did you know this game is actually based on 67th out of 100 best novels in the English language of the twentieth century (according to the Modern Library) and is considered by scholars to be part of the most influential and important body of work in Western Culture?

Heart of Darkness

That novel is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Published in 1899 (you can read it here) Conrad's novella (inspired by his own experiences) is a journey into what occurs when civilization falls into savagery and the repercussions of imperialism and the racism that endows it. Conrad himself described the story as "A wild story of a journalist who becomes manager of a station in the (African) interior and makes himself worshipped by a tribe of savages." The tale was not without its detractors; Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe described the novella as dehumanizing Africans, denying them language and culture and reducing them to a metaphorical extension of the dark and dangerous jungle into which the Europeans venture," but Conrad himself declared "Heart of Darkness is experience ... pushed a little (and only very little) beyond the actual facts of the case."

Apocalypse Now

The story is more familiar than you may think. The most famous adaptation was Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, which moved the tale from the African interior to Vietnam. Adapted for the screen by John Milius, who also wrote and directed Red Dawn and my personal favorite: Conan the Barbarian. This Academy Award winner sprang from Milius' idea to adapt Heart of Darkness for the Vietnam era. The film was also deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2000 and was ranked the 14th greatest film by Sight and Sound in 2012.

Far Cry 2

Spec Ops isn't the first video game adaptation of the original story; Far Cry 2 beat them to the medium by four years. (Ironically Gamespot and I flip-flopped on the scores of these two games: 6.5/8.5 for Spec Ops and 8.5/6.5 for Far Cry 2.) The likeness is very loose, however, Far Cry 2 puts you in the role of a mercenary tasked to hunt down an elusive arms dealer; not quite something that appeared in the original. In fact the most striking similarities between this game and the novella is the setting of Africa and the name of last chapter of the game: Heart of Darkness. While I found Far Cry 2 underwhelming I should mention my 6.5 score reflects the fact that I was several years late to this game. By the time I got my hands on it games had already made a noticable leap forward in graphics and gameplay, so it should be noted that I did not get to appreciate some of the more innovative features while they were still innovative. Honestly I would welcome an HD remake of this game so that I might be able to better immerse in the tale.

Spec Ops 2

Spec Ops: The Line moves the setting to Dubai. In the wake of a series of freak sandstorms, the worst in recorded history, Dubai is abandoned by its politicians and wealthy elite, leaving countless Emiratis and foreign migrants behind with no way to escape. Lieutenant Colonel John Konrad, a nod to the novella's author Joseph Conrad, the commander of the fictional 33rd U.S. Infantry Battalion, volunteers his unit to assist with the evacuation but the 'Damned' 33rd deserts when U.S. Command orders them to abandon the relief efforts and the refugees along with them. As the storms only intensified the 33rd attempted to lead a caravan of survivors out of Dubai but they never made it. Officially disavowed as traitorous the 33rd is then lost along with Dubai as a whole, declared a No Man's Land by the U.A.E. travel to the entire region is forbidden. The player assumes the role of Captain Martin Walker (as voiced by Nolan North,) the commanding officer of a trio of Delta Force operatives tasked with performing reconnaissance after a weak but identifiable radio distress signal is picked up from Lt. Colonel Konrad and see if they can make contact with any survivors.

Spec Ops 3

Praised for its hard-hitting, graphic depiction of the horrors of war and the breakdown of civilization, Spec Ops: The Line pulls few punches, using a shock-an-awe approach to rattle players from their COD-inspired fantasy depictions of modern warfare. As the full abomination of what has happened to the 33rd comes into focus the team's sanity begins to slip "with Walker having visual and auditory hallucinations, and his executions of enemies becoming more violent, his team orders and shouts becoming increasingly angry and ragged versus his original stern command voice and kill confirmations of enemies degrading from professional in the beginning to outright psychotic. [5]"

Spec Ops 4

Walt Williams, lead writer for the game, has called Spec Ops: The Line a "deconstruction of the shooter genre, and Call of Duty in particular, with the game mechanics, the actions available to the player, and the responses resulting from said actions contrasting pointedly with many mechanics of popular FPS games, and that the game deliberately used shooter genre cliches in order to illustrate how ludicrous they are in comparison to real warfare." He went on to state that the combat presented in The Line is not meant to be a fun experience for the player but rather serve as a critique on the genre as a whole and how, despite claims of realism to the contrary, most shooters in the tradition of COD are just "morally ambiguous escapist fantasy." Although some critics panned the game's violence as unecessary and exploitive, especially the white phosphorus scene, Williams defended it as a plot device intended to invoke anger from the players and, in addition to the 4 endings featured in the game, that a valid 5th ending was for the player to simply put the controller down and walk away.

Spec Ops 5

Although closer to the novella than Far Cry 2, Spec Ops: The Line nevertheless tells its own story; a tale of the brutality that humanity turns upon itself when the rules of civilization break down and the price that all of that savagery can command from a man's fragile psyche. Overly violent? Yes, but with good reason. Like the literary classics we are forced to consume in our education, Spec Ops: The Line should be on the Required Playing list of every gamer who enjoys military shooters. It is an unflinching portrayal of the tolls of war on the minds of men and a dark expose of post traumatic stress in a genre that often depicts modern warfare as little more than a fun, competitive diversion. This game, like the novella before it, exposes that thin line that separates civilization from savagery.

Spec Ops 6

Spec Ops: The Line - 8.5

The End of Us, Crap-gladiators, and an Unexpected Pleasure

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TLoU

- I finished The Last of Us and all I can say is wow. Do you remember the ending in Red Dead Redemption? That's how well this game ends. A perfect, full circle video game story. The Last of Us truly stands out as a fantastic story, easily the best of the 'zombie' genre and arguably the best of this generation. Such a perfect end to such a fantastic story.

spartacus

- My brief love affair with Spartacus Legends is fast coming to an end because.... Free-to-Play. That's just a persuasive way to say Pay-to-Win. I was doing great until I started meeting people who, unlike me, spent real cash to buy digital gold in game with which to purchase super-charged equipment. You see, otherwise the only way to get gold is 3 gp a time when you go up in level. Unlike a traditional online multi-player experience your level in this game really doesn't mean squat. All that matters is gold. You can be like me and have tens of thousands of silver, but no way to exchange it for gold. Leaving the ONLY avenues for obtaining a 33 gp piece of equipment to be either A) making 3 gp per level for 11 levels or B) spending 4.99 to buy 50 gold online. Say what you will about supporting developers and such, I would have happily spend 60 bucks on a good version of this. I will NOT allow them to nickle and dime me to death just because the PUBLISHER chose to try and shove Jupiter's cock up gamer's backsides with this FTP bullshit. I pour hours into this game and grind up levels only to encounter someone who has has exactly 2 fights but has a 200 point higher rating because he used his mommy's credit card to buy god-like equipment. Sound like butt-hurt? It is, because Ubisoft screwed us on this one.

max

- Gamestop ran a deal during the holidays where if you put a fiver down on GTA V you got the collector's edition of Max Payne 3, complete with a statue I don't need, for 20 whole dollars. I took it but Max has sat on my shelf since then. I decided to give it a whirl saturday night and man, what have I missed! Rockstar has outdone themselves again. Max Payne plays more like a movie than a game with a gritty narrative, decidedly on rails, that you get to jump in for action sequences. This game is outlandishly fun and extremely hard to put down. I'm a Max Payne virgin, never seen game or film, and I was able to immerse fully in this fantastic experience. I am especially impressed by not only the seamless transitions between action and cut scene, but the fact that environmental damage sustained during the action carries over and appears in the cutscenes. That's just incredible design, folks, such attention to detail is, I predict, a hallmark of the next generation. It's my shame that I let this gem of a game slip by me for so long.

Max Payne 3 - 9.0

In Defense of... Tom McShea?

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(Sorry @lepracahne I know I really have no business pulling you into this but I feel like you need to hear this.)

I wrote a blog and review yesterday concerning Spartacus Legends. Ultimately I feel as though the game is a VAST missed opportunity; a perfect scenario for online multiplayer that just misses the mark because it was not given enough resources in development. I rated the game 5.5, but I also concluded that it was, by all measures, fun. Since yesterday I've found myself spending even MORE time with this title. It is truly fun to play, despite not being all I'd hoped for. In my blog yesterday leprecahne defended the game against my score and some of the points I made (sorry man, they didn't sacrifice graphical fidelity for a superior online performance; especially when a glitch that forces both players to disconnect can result in your gladiator LOSING HIS LIFE) and, given my increase of time with the game, I started to wonder if I had been too harsh. Then I read McShea's review of Deadpool, also given a 5.5, and I got to thinking about it. I don't think that Tom is wrong...

mcshea

Everyspotter's favorite reviewer.

Before I am consumed in the all-too-righteous flames of Spotterhate allow me to explain one of Gamespot's most reviled editor's motivations as I've come to see them: Here at GS we have a 10 point scale, but we only tend to use 5 points of it. The scale, as designed, gives us a wide array of expression far and above other sites that only use a 5 point scale, but somehow we resent that? Spartacus Legends is a good example to use: (Since I have yet to play Deadpool) it really is a fun game. At the price of Free it really should be played, yet how many of you out there will look at a score of 5.5 and think "this game is sh*t?" It's not, and it shouldn't been seen that way.

deadpool

"Does a 5.5 mean this game is sh*t? I think not."

As designed a 5.5 equals Mediocre; meaning the game is alright, but it does little to stand out and above many other games. That doesn't mean the game is worthless and devoid of entertainment. @TomMcShea (and another prominent editor that I frequently disagree with) is simply trying to use this rating system as intended. He gets a ton of hate for it; gamers famously have little tolerance for people who disagree with them, but is this really deserved? In his narrative McShea explains his experience and, if you read it, it usually doesn't come off sounding as bad as the score initially seems to represent. I don't think that's McShea's fault, instead it's ours. We, the Spotters, seem to be incapable of embracing the ratings system we've been given; such to the point that I've proposed taking a McShea or KVO score and simply adding 2 points in order to divine the 'true' score of a game as seen by the rest of the community. Doing so would raise Deadpool's score to a 7.5 - Good. Which is, in fact, what the User reviews put it at. (Presently a 7.3)

spartacus

"Should this game live or die by a 5.5?"

So, in effect, what I'm getting at is I stand by my 5.5 score for Spartacus Legends. Despite the fact that I will continue to play this game, and enjoy it, everything I said remains factual from my perspective: this could have been a great game but the decision to take it FTP not only derailed its development, it also spoils its implementation. That shouldn't deter you from trying it, hell for the price everyone should try it. Maybe if enough people log on to the servers Ubisoft will give this game the attention, and updates, it deserves.