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YodaOfTheEmpire Blog

Honestly, SWTOR only gets an 8?

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I'm speechless really. Could go on for five pages about this. All I'll say is the following: GameSpot cannot make the claim of being an objective review website anymore, because it gave SWTOR an 8 when it gave the crap that is Cataclysm an 8.5.

Skyrim Blues

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So I got Skyrim on the PC the other day, but now (after two dozen hours and 28 levels) it just stopped loading my saved files. I tried everything to fix it, but in the end the only option was to reinstall. After uninstalling and putting the CD back in I got hit by the amount of time I'd have to wait for the downloader to update (AGAIN) - and decided right there and then that I'm done with PC gaming forever.

I'm REALLY sick and tired of the problems PCs and their games give over consoles. I've got a fairly decent PC that I bought recently, but I still had to play with my graphics settings at Low because of the choppy framerate. I find Steam's interface buggy as well – had to restart numerous times since it didn't want to load Skyrim on the first try. This follows having bought Starcraft and only belatedly realising that it was an Asia version and that Battlenet doesn't allow you to activate a game (even though it obviously has a unique serial) that you bought from a different region – you actually need to key in your Asian country's version of a social security number. So that's a loss of about 80 pounds on the last two PC games I've bought. With a console you buy a game and it works, the graphics might not be as great as some high-end computers, but you're guaranteed consistent above average performance and the game not dying halfway through.

I'm sure the console versions of Skyrim have their equal share of ingame bugs, ie getting stuck and dragons flying backwards – but I'm also sure it won't give me a tenth of the problems I have on the PC just trying to start the game (whether that's in offline or online mode).

So… after that rant, has anyone played Skyrim on the PS3? As I understand it Steam's active on it as well – does it give any problems apart from ingame glitches?

Metal Gear Solid 4 Review

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Finally finished MGS4 two days ago and it's by far the best game I've ever played (and first 10/10). Here's the review...

GameSpot Score: 10/10

My Score: 10/10

Positives: Riveting gameplay that pulls off both action and stealth perfectly, emotive and engrossing story, well-developed AI, terrific cast of characters, great multiplayer.

Negatives: Newcomers to the franchise might at timesfind the storyline confusing.

"It all started with a bunch of old fools." From the gameplay to the story right through to the character animations and stellar voice-acting – Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) blows you away. Never before has a video game – a mere video game – managed to deliver such a polished display of narrative and sheer enjoyment. MGS4 combines the subtle mechanics of an AI-perfected stealth infiltrator with what you'd expect from the very best of third-person shooters. From the very moment Solid Snake (now known as Old Snake) is dropped into a Middle East war-zone, to his last climactic battle as a playable character roughly 18 hours later – you will be drawn in, enthralled, and, most importantly, entertained like you've seldom been entertained by a video game before.

Not one bit of the dialogue is overblown and every utterance of the cast – whether comical or end-of-the-world serious – manages to draw you further into the perils faced by Old Snake and the myriad of relationships that play off in the background. Character ticks – from Snake's smoking to Sunny's stuttering – convince you entirely of the cast's authenticity. You'll witness the tables being turned and Snake for once being the mentor of Otacon; a spy showing kindness to a little girl; an estranged daughter's relationship with her father; Jack (Raiden), the playable character from MGS2, saving Snake from certain death; as well as a dozen other relationships that border on the cinematic. This thoroughly believable atmosphere lays the foundation for a story as emotive and well thought out as any you've played through before, and gives to the gameplay something that good gameplay on its own can't attain – a sense of meaning and purpose.

Fans of the Metal Gear franchise won't be surprised at the level of interactivity of the level design and the AI, allowing for a dozen different ways of approaching any given scenario. You can slip past a guard by enticing him out of his patrol with a Playboy magazine, hiding underneath a cardboard box, knocking him out with a deadly combo, sneaking past him incrementally, or taking him out with a tranquilizer, sniper, automatic rifle, stun grenade, rocket launcher, or any other gun or explosive you can think of. MGS4 allows for a more gun-ho approach than its predecessors, if that's the route you want to take, and you can expect to be involved in numerous fire-fights. Although this deviates slightly from the series' traditional 'stealth or die' attitude, it adds the element of action that's absence many critics pointed to as a shortcoming in previous instalments of the series.

Villains and their corresponding boss-fights are one and all unique, and working out the tactics needed to beat each are great fun and make your eventual triumphs very satisfying. As with the cast of characters on Snake's side, the henchman he goes up against exude a presence that's both believable and a joy to pit wills against. Chief amongst those you will battle is Liquid Ocelot – a version of Ocelot possessed by the spirit of Liquid Snake (Solid Snake's brother, and nemesis since the original Metal Gear Solid) – and the climactic end battle is fitting finale to one of gaming's most memorable rivalries. All in all, the technology Solid Snake goes up against – although bordering on the supernatural at times – is always reinforced by reasoning, and you never feel that your foes and the machinery they make use of cheats the mythos of the Metal Gear Solid franchise or, indeed, the near future of real-world arms development.

Apart from the amazing single-player campaign, Metal Gear Online offers a myriad of exciting multiplayer modes, such as Stealth Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch, that pits you and up to fifteen others players against each other and gives you plenty of reason to return to the Metal Gear world well after you've completed the game and managed to nab all the extras you care for.

It's very hard to be critical when it comes to such a perfectly weighted game. The main criticism that might be levelled at MGS4 would probably be that the depth of the plot might make it difficult for newcomers of the series to understand what exactly is going on at times. But this really isn't a problem – the game is a great standalone title that won't deviate from coherence for anyone who plays it. It may be said that the cut-scene interludes (which are regularly over twenty minutes) are too long and that more emphasis should have been placed on actually playing the game. But a reduction in cut-scenes would dilute the storyline considerably, and would be an injustice to the finely crafted characters and their various motives. In the end one has to conclude that the game really can't be faulted.

In conclusion, Metal Gear Solid 4 is a masterpiece, and both the emotive and enthralling ending the Metal Gear Solid franchise deserves. From hiding to shooting to cinematic interludes and old rivalries finally settled, there is not an area in which it fails to impress. From stalking through jungles to speeding through an Eastern European city on the back of a Triumph motorbike, Solid Snake's last mission will leave you reeling well into whichever game you play afterwards. Words really can't describe the experience this game adds up to: 10/10.

Agree or Disagree? Rate this Review

Final Fantasy XIII Review

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Just finished playing FFXIII. Here are my thoughts...

Gamespot Score: 8.5

My Score: 8.5

Positives: Amazing graphics, great cast of characters, average play-through of nearly 50 hours, addictive combat, managing of accessories/weapons can be great fun.

Negatives: Excessive melodrama, plotline can be confusing at times, linear areas afford minimal exploration.



Final Fantasy XIII is a polished quest that both engrosses and enthrals. From combat to the world around you, everything is well designed and there is always some stat, item, or mob to analyse and enjoy. Yet its flaws – of which the most glaring are linearity and, to a lesser extent, plot cohesiveness – do not go unnoticed. More than any of its other successes, Final Fantasy XIII succeeds in winning the player over by giving life to a range of characters that , despite all being one-dimensional, conjure up an atmosphere of fellowship and camaraderie in the foreground of a world filled with gorgeous airships, political upheaval, danger, and – of course – fantasy.

The earlier part of the story pivots around Lightning, the gun-blade wielding protagonist pictured on the game's box art outside of Japan. Director Motomu Toriyama drew on inspiration from Final Fantasy VII's legendary Cloud Strife in her conception, telling main-character designer Tetsuya Nomura that he wanted her to be reminiscent of Strife's strength and appeal as a protagonist. The story quickly fleshes out to include others, and not long thereafter she is accompanied by five companions. They are set apart from the rest of humanity by having been branded l'cie – a kind of magic that forces them to complete a Focus or to be transformed into monsters. Lightning's sister Sarah – who also happens to be the fiancé of Snow, another playable character – plays a central role in the events that transpire and the motivation of the main cast's quest to discover the reason for their Focus. Nomura did a fantastic job in bringing the game's list of characters to life through fabulously rendered animation and how character relationships develop as the plot goes on. That being said, the characters are very one-dimensional; from Snow's ego and Vanille's merriness to Hope's, well, hope – there is no room for anything more than one personality trait per character. Dialogue often reflects this, and you sometimes can't help but cringe at the melodrama.

File:Final Fantasy XIII Cast.png

Although the game retains its ATB (Active Time Battle) system from previous games in the franchise, combat has undergone a definite improvement over that of Final Fantasy XII – the removal of manual movement in battles allowing for far greater management of attacks and attributes and, therefore, more satisfying victories. All in all, there are five types of different fighting mtehods; Ravager (combo oriented), Commando (more powerful but stacks less), Medic (healer), Synergist (buffer), and Saboteur (de-buffer). Each character has three of thesemethods pre-set at the beginning, and choosing your active members (maximum three at any one time) according to the different combination of methods encourages experimentation and can be great fun. The majority of combat takes place by following a linear route and encountering clusters of mobs as you go along, with a boss encounter every once in a while. Although you wouldn't expect anything too revolutionary in a combat system as successful as the one the series has for the most part made use of (the ATB gauge was first introduced in FFIV), the combat has been revamped to some degree with the introduction of the Crystarium – a kind of levelling system that randomizes certain skills differently for each character. Sazh as a Commando, therefore, won't have the same selection of Commando skills at Level 2 as Lightning or Snow would. There are other subtle differences to the battle system that, although not enough to persuade any die-hard fan of the overall superiority of the earlier Final Fantasy games, nevertheless adds a polish to a game mechanic that gets a little better with every new edition.

Although the plot pulls on your heartstrings on more than one occasion and is far from shallow, there is a sense at times that you're being led from one battle to the next with only a vague idea of what your ultimate goal is. What the story lacks most is an identifiable villain – the likes around which the player can build a clear picture as to what exactly he is fighting against (the one provided pales in comparison to others in the series). This also extends to lesser bosses whom, apart from being too infrequent, aren't given enough dialogue and appearances to make the same kind of impression that some of their predecessors in earlier Final Fantasy games have been able to make. Although not a major issue, it would have gone some way to making the game even better.



In conclusion, although Final Fantasy XIII is some ways away from being the amazing hit one or two of its predecessors have been, it is nevertheless a terrific game that will entertain you for nearly fifty hours on your first play-through. Although character dialogue is sometimes cliché, Lightning's brooding and Fang's callousness – along with a dozen other character ticks – will still convince and draw you in. Even though the plot could have been better, it's still far more meaningful and emotive than half the games you'll play. The combat system is downright addictive and never gets dull. The graphics are amazing – every crystal sparkles and the cut-scene interludes do well to draw you further into your journey. All in all, Final Fantasy XIII is a great game and a welcomed addition to the franchise – yet characters and, especially, plots from earlier instalments makes one wonder if the best days of the series aren't in the past.

Agree or disagree? Rate this Review

In Defence of Japanese Storytelling

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Gaming, in recent years, has begun a full-scale migration to what many gamers put forth as greener pastures. I speak not of better graphics or presentation (those attributes that are bettered with every console and year that comes and goes) but of the advent of open world "sandbox" titles, and the success they have enjoyed. The GTA, Fallout, and Elder Scrolls series', as well as stand-alones such as Red Dead Redemption, World of Warcraft, and Far Cry 2, have all gone on to become massive hits. I shall argue, however, against this genre of gaming, in favour of linear storytelling, or as I call it because of the prevalence of linear, story-driven games to originate from the region Japanese Storytelling.

Computer programmer, David Braben, writing for the BBC, says the following, "Story-telling in games in most cases is little different to the stories of those Harold Lloyd films of the 1920s. The player is stuck on pre-defined railway lines, forced to follow their character's pre-determined adventures, much as in a book or a film. In story-telling terms at least, games have not yet broken free of their non-interactive roots." My counterargument shall refute this claim, and, I hope, prove that "sandbox" gaming is the equivalent of a CCTV camera by a department store, whilst linear story-telling has potential equal to that of a Steven Spielberg movie.

What makes open world gaming so popular is its offering of choice without real consequence. For example, you have the choice of accepting a NPC's quest, declining, killing the NPC, or ratting him out to his enemies instead of him/her being just a checkpoint in a story that can only be told one way. This degree of autonomy is an appealing concept, and one I enjoy as much as anyone else, but no quest or story can ever be categorizedas great when a character a mere character becomes the omniscient narrator, doing what he wants when he wants to.

True, one must acknowledge that gaming is, at its core, a balancing act between narration and interaction, and to do away with the latter would be to transform a game into a script. But that is irrelevant, for a linear-story driven game seeks only to simulate a certain event for the player to experience not dissimilar to how a "sandbox" title is filled with events triggered randomly. The only real difference is sequence, for you have no guarantee that the average play-through of a sandbox title will be longer than a linear story. The open world title's 30 parts of side-content and 20 parts of main story, therefore, does not inhibit any linear story, which may have up to 50 parts of main story or more. For instance, Grand Theft Auto IV has an average main story + additional quests play through of about 38 hours, whilst Final Fantasy XII has 81 hours of the same. It may be said that across the board sandbox games take far longer to exhaust than do linear games, but by the above example it is clear that a short gaming experience isn't an inherent consequence of a game being linear.

But more than the amount of money you spend for the amount of enjoyment you get, linear gaming has far greater emotional scope than sandboxing can ever have. A sandbox's funds need to come up with both a compelling main story and great tracts of side content. If the latter is done well enough, the main story doesn't need to be that good for the game to be a success. Take Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, for example; an amazing game that was awesome because you could do so much, but which had a very repetitive main plotline. The linear story, on the other hand, knows its main story will make or break it, and therefore invests much more time into the gamer's one great quest. But limiting an experience in such a way is detrimental to a player's belief in a story, many say. This is not so, for instead of being presented with a sandbox world that can, in time, can be fully explored, linear games offer a sweeping glance of a world far too large to be fully accessible. As Metal Gear Solid creator, Hideo Kojima, says, "I do think that stories in games are really good for creating a world."

liquid_ocelot liquid_snake meryl_silverburgh metal_gear metal_gear_solid metal_gear_solid_4 naomi_hunter old_snake otacon raiden revolver_ocelot solid_snake sunny wallpaper

One need not look further than any one of Kojima's titles to see the rich cast of characters a scripted story can produce. He achieves this by insinuating the history of each, by alluding to past events and future plans all of which create a world as believable as Tamriel and Liberty City, not through the player actually interacting with object X and Y, but through dialogue and scripted events. Nothing an open world game does can match the cinematic interludes of duels between Snake and the cast of villains he goes up against, the specific soundtrack written for every turn in dialogue or pull of the trigger, or the histories and ideologies of each battle. Indeed, no custom-made character can ever match an already fleshed out hero or villain with a compendium of deeds and misdeeds to his or her name which you but take control of for a few dozen hours. You thus see and experience far more by taking control of a well-scripted avatar than you ever can by being able to travel to any spot on a map that happens to be large. It's these glimpses into worlds whether they happen to be Lightning of FFXIII trying to save her fate, or the politics of Deus Ex that not only make up for a lack of interactivity, but betters them by making gamers emotionally interested in their outcome, and not merely entertained by pressing the action/inspect button.

 

 

 

The Curious Case of the Wandering Gamer

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wan·der [won-der]
verb (used without object)
to ramble without a definite purpose or objective; roam, rove, or stray: to wander over the earth.

Gaming means different things to different people. Perhaps you enjoy games that simulate reality, such as GTA or Modern Warfare; or maybe you enjoy great storytelling, like Final Fantasy or Metal Gear Solid; or perhaps you enjoy games that offer you nostalgia and a memorable cast of characters, such as Mario or Zelda. Odds are you enjoy a good mix of the above, but I'd like to talk about a type of gamer that isn't common at all, the rarest and most elusive of our number: those that call themselves Wanderers.

The Wanderer is not the Knight, for he cares little for glory and reputation garnered through defeating others. The Wanderer is not the Adventurer, for although he might enjoy treasure and storytelling, it is the company of no one he enjoys more. Above all, he disdains the commotion of crowded places, and forever seeks out the forest, the wasteland, and the sea – places untouched and uncared for by others. The Wanderer, quite simply, is the gamer who cares not for time, level, or trophy ­– but instead follows his feet to the nooks and crannies game developers spend countless hours developing even though they know nearly no one will see them. He is the Link from Wind Walker, sailing to stretches of sea uncharted and uncared for; he is the Dragonborn of Skyrim, trekking to remote mountains not for treasure but for a grand view; he is the unguilded traveler in World of Warcraft, setting up a camp fire where no other players care to go. In short, the Wanderer is a romantic – not the number-oriented counterpart of rank and trophy chaser that makes up the vast majority of gamers.

There are more to these Wanderers than you may think. A good allusion to this is the following extract from a lecture by game designer Ernest W. Adams, "… once upon a time, all game developers were engineers. We're technologists. The programmers, the audio people, the artists, even the writers are technologists. I used to have to write the voiceover scripts for Madden NFL Football, in such a way that sentence fragments could be assembled and played seamlessly in real time. That meant that I had to choose my words not only on the basis of their meaning, but on their phonetic content, and on the movements of the lips and tongue. These are not issues that Gabriel Garcia Marquez had to pay much attention to." What Adams is basically getting at is that designing games, and by implication gaming itself, requires a mathematical approach to succeed (in that success means being better than others). If you aren't leveling, you're trophy hunting, if you aren't trophy hunting, you're trying to break some obscure record of X amount of kills in Y amount of minutes. But this is the trend that sullies the art you do find in game design – the skins, landscapes, and horizons (not so much the storytelling, that's to games what scriptwriting is to cinematography).

This is why the Wanderer – as rare and insignificant a thing he may seem to be – should be revered. Sitting by his campfire or on a ledge overlooking the horizon whilst others charge ahead is not someone who still hasn't beaten the game, a noob or inept operator of the controller; but rather the physical manifestation of why gaming actually exists. He is the spark that gives to a jumble of text and mathematical formulae the imaginative link of world-creation. If not for mathematicians who once broke the mold – like these wandering hermits – gaming would not exist today. The concept would have been relegated to the ash-heap of irrelevant math that took twenty sums to solve when two would have done.

So in conclusion, let us not judge those by the wayside who aren't enticed by the promise of glory – those pixel-appreciative few who prefer the homely fire to the sword. For, in the end, the sword cannot be forged without the fire!

Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics in Gaming

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First off, let me state that by no stretch of the imagination am I a professor of philosophy. I have, however, studied and written enough exams on the subject to be able to get the gist of what a treatise is arguing. For any philosophy buffs, please forgive any dodgy phrasing, I've taken some liberty so as to keep it as simple as possible.

I'd like to draw on Aristotle's philosophies on constructing an argument against the current state of multiplayer gaming. In particular, I'd like to make use of his conclusions on the concept of friendship. The short and long of it is that there are three types of friendship. These are:

1.) Friendship for Utility: Being friends with someone just to get something out of them.

2.) Friendship for Pleasure: Being friends with someone because of some pleasure they accord you. For example, enjoying someone's wit.

3.) Friendship for the Pursuit of Good: On a technical level this means to enjoy each other's virtue, but this may also be extended by spreading virtue (goodness) beyond the friendship and thus contributing to the greater good.

Aristotle argues that friendship for Utility and Pleasure are both inferior to friendship for the Pursuit of Good, as they only rely on getting stuff out of the friendship – whilst friendship for the Pursuit of Good is, well, good, since it gives not to get but just to give. Getting for this kind of friendship is just a bonus he or she doesn't consciously aim for.

Now although gaming is not real life, and you're not jamming away at your console to make friends, I do believe there's a practical element to Aristotle's concept that can be applied to gaming. The current multiplayer model is, for the most part, based around the arena concept of randomly joining a battle/race/match and pitting your skills against a random bunch of players that you may never have played against before and don't even interact with through text chat. The vast majority of games follow this model, and a great many players who play these games take part in concerted multiplayer efforts such as Team Death match, Team Capture-the-flag, teaming up on the same EA sports title, making two or more separate RTS factions, or teaming up to down a dungeon boss both (or more) happen to be at. This form of gaming obviously falls into our first Aristotelian characterization of friendship – Friendship for Utility – and does absolutely nothing but help gain trophies/loot for its participants. Although shooting random players in the face with your trusty sidekick you just met four and a half minutes ago by the name of Anon_39 can be fun, it is, I believe, an inferior mode of multiplayer.

But what of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games? If it is friendship you want, you say, why not subscribed to World of Warcraft and join some guild? First, let me stress that what I'm after isn't friendship in the purest sense – I do not believe you should be looking to make friends in a virtual world. Yes, friendships can definitely be initiated from there, but for the most part you'll only be acquainted to a person's avatar, no matter how much you agree with their blogs. That is what I am aiming for, a friendship, nay, a fellowship of avatars held together by an epic quest. Before you jump to any conclusions – I'm not talking about roleplaying a character. What I am proposing is a relationship of familiarity between players, whom are playing first and foremost because they want to play with someone they get along with. I am not talking about playing an MMORPG, either with a real life friend or someone you've met on the internet – for this would be a Friendship of Utility and, most importantly, cannot – under any game out there – be claimed to be held together by an epic quest (more on this term in a bit). The next counterargument would be that if you want a virtual "fellowship" why not just join a MMORPG guild so as to enjoy the social aspect of it all whilst doing your own thing ingame? But this would be a Friendship of Pleasure, because you'd just be joining for the banter of guild chat. I'm sure every single MMORPG player has joined and dropped guilds at random at least a few times in his gaming career. This is not what we're looking for.

What then is a Friendship of the Pursuit of Good in multiplayer gaming? It is not the completion of two thousand random quests with a friend to get to a grand total of 85 levels. It is not downing a raid boss with 50 guild members who have only banded together for the loot. And it is definitely not winning a FPS team death match. It is, quite simply, a co-op single player campaign consisting of (plus minus) two to five players spanning a single story, an epic quest (not a heap of unrelated quests) and dozens of hours. It is, in short, a quest that you and a few of your friends (whether they be real life or established PSN buddies) embark on not to see who gets the best loot or rating, but just to experience the enjoyment of completing the main storyline together. It is not a Diablo or something similar, because (apart from having way more story to begin with) the ideal format for this would be a RPG – hence you and your friends would make decisions and it would change the course of your adventure. It also isn't SWTOR, since the story-arc won't be cut up for different types of characters and you'll only be able to progress as a group. It would be one story for a group of five or so friends that changes as they make collective decisions in their bid to rid the world of an evil necromancer/dragon/hoard of goblins.

I've played a lot of multiplayer games and formats over the years, but to this day one of the best multiplayer experiences I've had was the co-op Lord of the Rings PS2 movie tie-ins. More than anything else, it was the idea of you and a friend being part of a quest – an epic quest embodied by some great cause – that made it fun. The ideal multiplayer for me would thus be a kind of Final Fantasy co-op of a handful of friends with RPG elements spanning 30 or more hours. The difficulty would scale and have a cap of say six players, so you don't have to fill the numbers with randoms. There would be an allowance of hours or parts that every character can miss, so the group doesn't get slowed down by someone being busy. Other tweaks would of course be needed, but I think on the whole that this would be good formula for multiplayer, and one that should at least be tried out. I doubt there would be anything cooler – at least for RPGers – than struggling through an engrossing storyline with a band of adventurers who also happen to be your friends. It would be a friendship whereby the virtue of familiar friends, and not the drive for loot or rank, would defeat the great threat to the goodness of its characters and the ingame world. I thus maintain that such a format of multiplayer – one based on the concept of Friendship in the Pursuit of Good (for the ingame world) – would be superior to those that we have available at present.

Greatest Console-Exclusive Game Series (By Sales)

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I've been gaming for nearly fifteen years now, and have of late found myself thinking back to the most memorable console-specific franchises; those that define the consoles they're played on; those that fanboys call up in defence of their preferred medium of fun.

I will state off the bat that the only consoles I've ever played are Playstation (1, 2, 3, and PSP), so to minimise the bias I'll list game series according to their sales only. I'll also state that the list is focused towards the modern gamer, and that it'll focus for the most part on the game series perpetuated into the last five to seven years or so of gaming. Disclaimer: I'm by no means a Nolan Bushnell and – as I have stated – haven't played anything outside of Playstation, so do forgive me if I miss an obvious series.

The following are the rules around which the list has been structured:

1.) No spin-offs or remakes will be considered (this means a lot of PSP games, not so much Nintendo as it has a long line of games known for being handheld titles in conjunction with GC/Wii).
2.) A series must have at least three titles to its name.
3.) The sales of the last three games only will be considered (else old Nintendo titles from fifteen years back will run riot). To say this is unfair to Nintendo is untrue, as its new titles have benefited greatly from belonging to long-running series' with loyal and established fans.
4.) All of the games under consideration must be at least sixth-generation. Thus, the viable consoles are: For Nintendo, GameCube, Wii, DS, and 3DS; for Playstation, PS2, and PSP; for Xbox, Xbox and Xbox 360.
5.) The odd exception to series that are for the most part one-console centric have been allowed (else the names on the list would be far too obscure). Metal Gear Solid 1 (also available on GameCube), as well as the original Gears of War (also on PC) are examples of this.

Note: All the sales are taken from VGChartz.

PLAYSTATION


METAL GEAR SOLID
MGS4 (PS3): 5.3 million
MGS3 (PS2): 4.3 million
MGS2 (PS2): 5.58 million
Total: 15.18 million

GOD OF WAR:
God of War 3 (PS3): 4.09 million
God of War 2 (PS2): 3.54 million
God of War 1 (PS2): 3.76 million
Total: 11.39

UNCHARTED
Uncharted 3 (PS3): 1.21 million*
Uncharted 2 (PS3): 4.94 million
Uncharted 1 (PS3): 3.77 million
Total: 9.92 million

*This only just released, so sales have by no means peaked.


XBOX

HALO
Halo - Reach (X360): 8.87 million
Halo 3 - ODST (X360): 5.94 million
Halo 3 (X360): 11.38 million
Total: 26.19 million

GEARS OF WAR
Gears of War 3 (X360): 4.31 million
Gears of War 2 (X360): 6.16 million
Gears of War 1 (X360): 5.97 million
Total: 16.44 million

FABLE
Fable 3 (X360): 3.27 million
Fable 2 (X360): 4.01 million
Fable 1 (XB): 2.59 million
Total: 9.87


NINTENDO

SUPER MARIO
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii): 6.60 million
New Super Mario Bros. (Wii): 22.26 million
Super Mario Galaxy (Wii): 9.65 million
Total: 38.51

POKEMON
Pokemon White/Black (DS): 12.39 million
Pokemon Ranger - Guardian Signs (DS): 1.08 million
Pokemon Heart Gold / Soul Silver (DS): 10.53 million
Total: 24 million

ZELDA*
Zelda - Spirit Tracks (DS): 2.9 million
Zelda - Phantom Hourglass (DS): 4.86 million
Zelda - Twilight Princess (Wii): 6.07 million
Total: 13.83 million

*Skyward Sword, soon to be released, may be one of its best sellers.




The top five are:
1.) Nintendo's Super Mario: 38.51 million
2.) Xbox's Halo: 26.19 million
3.) Nintendo's Pokemon: 24 million
4.) Xbox's Gears of War: 16.44 million
5.) Playstation's MGS: 15.18 million

The bottom line? Nintendo and Xbox are making bank on console-specific game series', whilst Playstation is lagging behind considerably. And with the next MGS game coming out on the Xbox 360 as well, and Final Fantasy already having a 360 title (after many years of being Playstation-loyal), it won't get any better for characters instantly identifiable with Sony.

Getting Your Money's Worth...

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What makes the difference between a good game and one that's out of this world? For different people it means different things. Graphics, gameplay mechanics, innovation, the franchise it belongs to (if any), and loads more add to the experience you get out of a game. I, for one, find the most important aspect of a game the hours of play it gives you for the bucks you spend on it. I've thus waited patiently and, with my trusty sidekick howlongtobeat, splashed out on the following over the weekend:

1.) ELDER SCROLLS V - SKYRIM (PC): Enjoyed Oblivion immensely and am sure Skyrim can only improve on its average play-through time of 30 hours. Will of course be very replayable.

2.) DEMON'S SOULS (PS3): Was always mildly intrigued by it, so when Dark Souls dropped to rave reviews I thought I'd give the franchise a go. Oh, and it's about 40 hours long on average. Also got it at a cut-down price since it isn't new.

3.) FIFA 12 (PS3): Don't need to say much here, can play it for a whole year without getting bored.

4.) METAL GEAR SOLID 4 (PS3): Alright, with an average play-through lasting about 17 hours I know it's not the longest game out there. It's still nearly double that of other new releases, like Uncharted 3 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. I'm also somewhat of a MGS fanboy, having grown up with the franchise and having completed 1, 2, and 3. It's about time I get my hands on 4. Also got it on the cheap.

Hope none of them disappoint!

On the horizon... SWTOR

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Six weeks from now BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic will be hitting the shelves. Along with WoW's latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, it got me thinking as to the MMORPG market and wondering where it will be five years down the line. But first, let's rewind the clock...

At the turn of the millennium the MMORPG market was in its infancy. Games like EverQuest (1999) and Dark Age of Camelot (2001) ruled what was then a comparatively small roost populated by serious gamers. When WoW dropped in 2004, however, it changed the face of the genre for good. For the first time an online fantasy world was accessible to a wider audience ranging from the very casual to the as-hardcore-as-you-can-get. In short, it commercialised the genre. It's been nearly seven years since that fateful November, and WoW's impact has been nothing short of phenomenal. Its rise was like the old FPS Quake engine being made a dated thing by newer, more evolved shooters, like Gears of War, Modern Warfare and the like.

But now – as was always inevitable – WoW has become the dated model. For even though Blizzard keeps the content fresh, the engine its running on has had a distinctly used feel about it for far too long – something I hope SWTOR will revolutionize. Now when I say revolutionize I'm not expecting anything exceedingly dramatic, but something new enough to make the staple, WoW, seem old enough to quit for good – hence ushering in a new age for MMORPG's; something that the next big MMO will look to as a blueprint (as BioWare has WoW).

If successful, SWTOR might just be the last great of the first age of MMORPG's. With the new Xbox's development already confirmed, a similar seven-year lifespan for SWTOR will most likely lead into the era of eight-generation consoles. And with the successful integration of Xbox Live, PSN, and social networking games, it's no stretch of the imagination to believe that the future of the MMORPG market lies in the realm of cross-console/PC gaming. Such a move would also give developers more leeway to create MMO's built around new gameplay concepts and way better graphics – the latter being made possible by the large chunk of players that will meet the system requirements.

So, in conclusion, I think SWTOR (with its fourth pillar of Story) will be a definite step-up from WoW. I am well aware that other MMORPG's have come and gone with similar hype before the Azeroth steamtank, but it really is time for a change, and although WoW was awesome, it's time to move on. As the great Steve Jobs once said, "The over-all point is that new technology will not necessarily replace old technology, but it will date it."

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