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Pre-E3: EA, Ubisoft

Part 1 (if you missed it) focused on Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.

Continuing my three part "Pre-E3" blog series that started a few days ago, part two will focus on two of the video game publishers that have become staples at E3: EA and Ubisoft. Both publishers are coming into E3 2015 with their own cases of negative public perception that branch back to their previous respective conferences at E3 2014.

EA

Heading In: Last year at E3, EA had that bizarre series of developer documentaries which all basically went, "Hey guys, we don't have anything official to show you, but here's some concept art and some rough alpha footage, I guess." The conference was severely lacking and was met with harsh criticism, asking why the company even held a press conference if they had nothing to show. Outside of E3, EA actually had a pretty successful year. They launched a new IP in Titanfall, which was met well by critics and Xbox/PC owners. Their robust sports lineup sold well, including their first attempt at a UFC licensed game, a FIFA game that was powered by the popularity of the 2014 World Cup, and Madden NFL game that made some major, risky changes for the long-running series. EA's crown jewel last year was the cross-generation Dragon Age: Inquisition, which picked up many "Game of the Year" awards. EA's only major release this year so far is Battlefield: Hardline, which took the series out of the battlefields of war and into the streets of cops and robbers. The game was met with mixed reviews and solid opening sales. Outside of its usual lineup of annual sports games, EA is releasing a Star Wars: Battlefront reboot (developed by DICE) with a hard release date of November 17th to coincide with the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Both BioWare and EA Visceral are working on additional Star Wars games, that have remained secret for some time now. EA is also hard at work on new entries to their Mirror's Edge, Mass Effect, and Need for Speed series. Criterion is also working on a new, funky driving IP.

The Biggest Question: We know about Battlefront, but what other Star Wars games are in development over at EA? Both Visceral (Dead Space series) and BioWare (Mass Effect, Dragon Age, KOTOR) are working on new Star Wars games that remain a mystery. Both developers seem perfect for Star Wars. Visceral's Dead Space is one of the best sci-fi games ever made and the developer recently hired Uncharted writer/creator Amy Hennig. If any developer can deliver the next best thing to the cancelled Boba Fett game "1313," its Visceral. With BioWare, we have already seen them make one of the greatest Star Wars games of all-time in Knights of the Old Republic, but they have since made their own deep space sci-fi epic in the Mass Effect trilogy. Whether its another KOTOR game or a brand new series, there is little reason to doubt that it will be great.

2 Predictions:

- In order to calm down the fans upset/confused that Star Wars: Battlefront doesn't have a campaign, EA's conference will open with a single player demo of one of Battlefront's missions/battles, going against AI bots. After around 5 minutes, the single player will be joined by other players playing cooperatively and competitively for another 5-10 minutes. Battlefront will undoubtedly be EA's big game for the conference that they will be selling the hardest.

- No less than three celebrities/professional athletes show up to talk about EA's new sports lineup. Who will they be? Odell Beckham Jr.? Rory McIlroy? Drake? We will have to wait and see, but you can bet that it will be awkward.

2 Hopes:

- The new Mass Effect gets a decent-sized reveal. I think its bankable that EA will formally announce their new Mass Effect in some capacity, but I have doubt that it will be little more than a cinematic teaser. But one can hope. Remember when they showed off Mass Effect 3 by Shepard running away from the giant Thresher Maw? How cool would it be if something similar to that happened to either open or close the show?

- Need for Speed: Underground is announced and demoed. It's a reboot of everybody's favorite NFS series with fully customized cars, pretty visuals that include bright neon lights on rainy, dark city streets with minimal traffic. This is the Need for Speed that I think everybody wants, mainly because we had nothing like it last generation. It was the only NFS series not to get a reboot.

Ubisoft

Heading In: Last year at E3, Ubisoft had a pretty robust lineup of new video games to show off including Assassin's Creed: Unity, The Division, Rainbow Six Seige, Far Cry 4, and The Crew. The only problem was that everyone watching the conference had a hard time believing what they were seeing. Just before E3 last year, Ubisoft's "Watch Dogs" came out after years of hype. This game won not only won "Game of Show" awards from E3 2013, but E3 2012 as well. In both instances, we were shown a beautiful look at the game's open world version of Chicago, complete with individually lit light bulbs and seemingly realistic wind physics. The footage looked absolutely gorgeous. However, the Watch Dogs game that they sold hardly resembled anything that was previously shown by Ubisoft. Comparison videos that brought forth discussions of false advertising went viral online and many questioned Ubisoft for what felt like the first time. Fall 2014 saw Ubisoft's name get dragged through the dirt again and again. Assassin's Creed Unity was met poorly by critics and fans alike. It felt rushed, overambitious, overwhelming, unnecessarily connected online, and broken. Far Cry 4 was met with lukewarm reception and suffered technical issues of its own. The Crew came out and is already being forgotten, despite being an MMO. But perhaps Ubisoft's worst offence last year was their use of microtransactions. Being constantly reminded in-game that you could unlock anything in the game early if you pay for it with real world money is incredibly immersion-breaking, greedy. This year, Ubisoft is battling some harsh negative PR heading into E3, which is a shame because they actually had two great, smaller-sized games that came out in 2014 that were both thrown around in "Game of the Year" discussions: "Child of Light" and "Valiant Hearts: The Great War." Ubisoft started 2015 quietly, as usual. Their only notable releases are the smaller-sized games "Grow Home" and "Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China", the former being a PC adventure game and the latter being an 2.5 dimensional spin-off of Assassin's Creed. With The Division delayed into 2016, Ubisoft looks to have an end of the year that will be softer than usual. The only 2015 Ubisoft games that we know about are the recently revealed Assassin's Creed Syndicate and Rainbow Six Siege (assuming it doesn't get delayed).

The Biggest Question: How will Ubisoft win people back? After a disastrous 2014, many people who bought Ubisoft products (including myself) feel scammed and unappreciated. Ubisoft would be foolish not to address their negative reception on microtransactions, claims of false advertising, and their public perception of them shipping of broken games.

2 Predictions:

- Assassin's Creed Syndicate is the first game shown and it looks great. From what I've seen so far, this game makes sense for the series going forward. No multiplayer, a strong and fresh setting, and a story that seems interesting. I'm getting a Gangs of New York and Red Dead Redemption vibe from this game early on, which are two great things to be compared to. Assassin's Creed is Ubisoft's biggest series by far. It's too important to them to mess up, so I expect a return to form. To quote Stone Cold Steve Austin, "that's the bottom line."

- The Division is a no-show. Every year, there's always at least one game that everybody expected to see at E3 and then it never shows up, as unfortunate as it may be. This year, it's looking like The Division. It's already been delayed to 2016 and with all of the problems surrounding online, socially connected games that verge on being MMOs, this game could be looking at a re-imagining.

2 Hopes:

- Valiant Hearts gets a 2015 sequel that takes place during a new historical event/war. The trailer that they showed last year for this game actually brought me to tears. Practically anything with a dog will, but that trailer was something special. The full game of Valiant Hearts absolutely lived up to that trailer, in fact, it was one of my favorite games from last year and is maybe my favorite "indie" game, if you want to call it that. I'd love to see the people who made that game tackle another horrible time in history and bring humanity to it in a way that most video games can't.

- The first Prince of Persia game since 2010 is announced and shown off. The 2008 reboot had a lot of great things going for it, all to be derailed by both the movie adaptation of Prince of Persia (I still can't get over that terrible plot twist) and the 2010 tie-in game. I'd love to see this series make a triumphant return, even though I have never been a huge fan.

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Out of all the press conferences, I'd say I'm least excited for these two. There's just so much negative energy surrounding both EA and Ubisoft right now and to be honest, I don't know if I can trust either one of them. I'd love to see Assassin's Creed get back on track (Black Flag was awesome and it came out only two years ago) and I'd love to see as much Star Wars as possible from EA. I'm interested in Mass Effect 4, but I'm hoping that it's more similar to the first two games where you're exploring the galaxy instead of shooting at it... So what do you think? What are you expecting from EA and Ubisoft this year at E3? What are you hoping for? Thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan

Pre-E3: Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft

With E3 2015 a little more than a month away, we are on the verge of receiving an abundance of video game news. In fact, in the month of May, we always get pre-E3 reveals. We've already been slightly introduced to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Star Wars: Battlefront, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and soon Assassin's Creed Liberty. Plus, in the coming weeks, we will have no shortage of rumors and potential leaks. For instance, there are already Fallout 4 rumors whirling about. So before anything else gets spoiled before the biggest four days in the video game world, I am going to kick off my annual pre-E3 blogs right now.

First up, I'll look at the "big three": Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. Both Sony and Microsoft will have their own press conferences at E3 while Nintendo will repeat what they did last year and livestream a mega-stuffed Nintendo Direct, methodically dropping one announcement/premiere after another.

Sony

Heading In: Out of the "big three," Sony has undoubtedly had the most notable start to 2015. The PlayStation 4, despite being the most expensive console, is blowing away its console competition, especially outside the US. The Order: 1886, MLB: The Show 15, and Bloodborne have made for a strong lineup of AAA exclusives. The PlayStation Store has been routinely stocked with quality indie games such as Shovel Knight, OlliOlli 2, Axiom Verge, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Apotheon, and Titan Souls. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will surely end the drought of great third-party AAA games affecting both the PS4 and the Xbox One. The PlayStation Vita is continuing its 2014 trend of getting a healthy dose of great indies, but is being thrown under the bus by Sony as far as first-party support goes. All in all, Sony has won the first third of 2015, but it will undoubtedly have a rough finish unless they come out with at least one big reveal at E3 with a 2015 release date. As of now, Sony has Until Dawn, Persona 5, and a Ratchet & Clank remake expected for the rest of the year as far as AAA exclusives go.

The Biggest Question: Sony has a massive collection of first-party studios located all over the world. For the last couple years now, we still have no idea what they are working on for the PS4. Will we finally get a reveal from Bend, Media Molecule, Guerrilla's second team, Japan Studio, Santa Monica, or Polyphony? Quantic Dream and Level-5 are not owned by Sony, but are said to be working on PS4 exclusives. Surely all of this talent can't be kept quiet for much longer. And with Sony dropping out of Gamescom this year to focus on E3, I expect to see multiple reveals from this pool of developers.

2 Predictions:

- Guerrilla reveals their long-rumored sci-fi action-RPG IP with a full demo. We've seen some awesome leaked concept art from the developer featuring giant robot dinosaurs. I do not expect a 2015 release date or a release window, but I feel that the time is now to reveal it. Guerrilla has made nothing besides Killzone games in the past and they must be itching to spread their creative wings. The last two Killzone games (Mercenary and Shadow Fall) were more colorful and ambitious than past games, I think they are ready to break out with a great game.

- Uncharted 4: A Thief's End gets a new demo set in a new setting with some familiar faces next to Nathan Drake. We unexpectedly saw a lengthy gameplay demo last Fall in the first annual PSX and it looked incredible. I am dying to see more, especially some gameplay that breaks away from the jungle setting of the last demo. Uncharted 1 was about the jungle, Uncharted 2 was about snowy mountains, and Uncharted 3 was about the desert. Where could Drake go next? While I think that space and Atlantis are too out there for this grounded series, maybe a volcano could work? Imagine running away from molten lava!

2 Hopes:

- Jak & Daxter gets a revival from a new developer that wants to keep its cartoon art style origins intact. I'm not sure who that developer could be, maybe Sly 4's Sanzaru or Sony Bend? This is extremely unlikely to happen and I've pretty much given up all hope for my favorite game series returning, but I'll always have a small part inside of me that keeps this dream of mine alive. Side note: Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up" is currently playing while I'm writing this, so who knows, maybe this is the year.

- Level-5 and Studio Ghibli announce another collaboration. Maybe its a sequel to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch or something else entirely, but I'd love to see these two talents collide again. With Studio Ghibli currently on hiatus from making feature length animated films (that could sadly turn into a permanent closure), the talented people there could spend their time designing the visuals and cutscenes for their second video game. Oh, and get Joe Hisaishi back too!

Nintendo

Heading In: Nintendo's biggest story of 2015 so far is their shake-up to their traditional approach. For the first time, Nintendo is developing games for a platform other than their own (mobile games). Nintendo is also finally getting used to the idea of downloadable content. And perhaps unsurprisingly, they have already announced that they are working on a new console, codenamed "NX." A major source of income for Nintendo is their Amiibo collectible figures that interact with various Nintendo video games. Mario Party 10 and Kibry: Rainbow Curse headline the Wii U's lukewarm lineup of games for the first third of the year. Unfortunately, the new Legend of Zelda for Wii U has been delayed out of 2015 and will not be at E3 this year. However, the 2015 lineup for the Wii U is still pretty strong with exclusives in Mario Maker, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Star Fox, and the upcoming Splatoon. The Wii U is still getting only a limited amount of third-party support, but one huge highlight is the recently announced Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie made by a team featuring many Rare veterans. The Wii U is selling at an increased rate thanks to 2014's system sellers Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros for Wii U, while the 3DS is continuing to sell well. The 3DS has had a quiet year outside of the long-awaited Majora's Mask 3D remake and has an even quieter rest of the of the year with not much announced for it at all.

The Big Question: What's coming to the 3DS? The only downside of the 3DS having an excellent last two year is that it might not have left much for 2015. The 3DS is what's keeping Nintendo successful, so it would be foolish of Nintendo to not support it well this year. Out of Nintendo's many huge franchises, what could be coming to the 3DS later this year?

2 Predictions:

- A new Super Mario is announced for only the 3DS. Whether it's New Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario 3D Land 2, or something new entirely, I think that it has been far too long since there's been a true Mario game released for the 3DS.

- Pokemon X2 and Y2 are announced for the 3DS with a worldwide 2015 release date. Nintendo has made Pokemon an annual series if the last few years are any indication. For the most part, this decision has gone over smoothly. Black 2 and White 2 were Pokemon's first true sequels that offered more of a great region, X and Y brought the franchise forward into a new 3D direction, while Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were fan recognition. I would welcome the idea of returning to Kalos if some new ideas were brought forward and the story was as interesting as its predecessors.

2 Hopes:

- Super Mario Galaxy 3 is announced for the Wii U. Originally, I've been hanging out on buying a Wii U until a brand new Legend of Zelda was released. With that not happening any time soon, another game set in the Super Mario Galaxy universe would surely fill its shoes for me. As far as I'm concerned, both games are modern masterpieces that had a great art style. Imagine that art style in 3D and how the game could use the Wii U's features.

- A new 2D Metroid is announced for the 3DS. Nintendo has made good use out of its franchises with its two current platforms. Metroid is really the only Nintendo franchise that has been left in the dark. In fact, we haven't heard from that series since 2010's Other M, which I hated. Before that, you have to reach back to the ancient Prime series. If I'm not mistaken, you have to reach way back to 2004's excellent Zero Mission for the GBA to find the last true 2D Metroid. I would love to not only see Metroid return, but also to see it return to its roots.

Microsoft

Heading In: Microsoft has not given many people a reason to buy an Xbox One this year yet. Its exclusives this year are limited to the well-received Ori and the Blind Forest. Like the PS4, there haven't been any third-party AAA games that scream "must buy" yet. That will surely change with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and leading into later this year with Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and Star Wars: Battlefront to name a few third-party games. However, unlike Sony, Microsoft has put all of its eggs into the Fall with two high profile exclusives including Rise of the Tomb Raider (timed for this year) and Halo 5: Guardians. Reaching into 2016 (maybe 2015) and beyond are Forza Motorsport 6, Platinum Games' Scalebound, Quantum Break. Fable Legends, as well as new entries into Gears of War and Crackdown. While Sony is playing their cards close to their chest, Microsoft has laid everything on the table as far as upcoming exclusives go. It hasn't largely benefited Microsoft yet, but we will have to see how everything turns out in the future. One thing is for sure though, Microsoft has stepped into the ring with Sony and Microsoft in supporting its respective platform(s) with interesting exclusives.

The Big Question: How many of Microsoft's exclusives are nearing a release date and how many of them are only early into development. While Halo, Tomb Raider, and Quantum Break look ready to play soon, did Microsoft show/hint at Scalebound, Forza 6, Gears of War, and Crackdown too soon? We've already seen that turn out badly for Phantom Dust. While I have no dog in this fight (I'll likely never own an Xbox), I want to see more gameplay from Microsoft this year and not just teaser CGI trailers.

2 Predictions:

- Quantum Break is shown extensively in a re-reveal that kicks its TV/social components to the curb and it steals the show. We all know that Microsoft's huge TV plans have not worked out as well as they had hoped. So the original idea of having Quantum Break bounce back and forth between a game and a TV show doesn't really sound like a genius idea anymore. Remedy is a legendary video game developer with past titles including the first two Max Payne games and Alan Wake. Microsoft, don't screw up the chance to make a great new exclusive IP with them.

- Halo 5: Guardians kicks off the show with something of a "cold open" that features an excellent campaign demo, pleasing the whole crowd. We haven't seen this game's campaign in action yet, that will surely change with E3.

2 Hopes:

- The new Gears of War is revealed with a title and teaser trailer to end the show. I love the idea of Gears of War. I wish Sony had something like it, honestly. There's a rich sense of history behind that series and the first game pretty much invented the cover and shoot mechanic that we all use today, or at least perfected it. It's a series that means a lot to many people and it deserves a great new game from a new developer.

- Rare shows off its new game that has nothing to do with Kinect. Microsoft purchased Rare in the 2000's and essentially ruined the legendary developer to a point where most of the veterans behind its classic games no longer with them. Most of that talent is currently developing a spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie called Yooka-Laylee, which looks like the Rare game everybody has wanted for years, except everybody will be able to play it on their console of choice. Well, that still leaves what is now Rare to reveal its new Xbox One game. Will it be Perfect Dark? Banjo Kazooie? A new IP? We will have to wait and see, but hopefully it has nothing to do with the Kinect, which they have been stuck making games for for the last handful of years.

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I think this blog was longer than my research paper I recently wrote for my college geography class. :P Well, I had fun writing it at least. Look for a couple other blogs like this one about the other publishers showing at E3 this year including Bethesda, EA, Ubisoft, and Square Enix. Until then, thanks for reading and please comment with what you are expecting/hoping to see from the big three this E3 :)

- Dylan

One Year Movie Challenge: January - April

Since the very first day of 2015, I've been keeping a ledger (of sorts), tracking every movie that I have watched this year. New or old, I mark each movie on the ledger along with my rating out of ten. I had no real plan of what to do with this list of watched movies until now. I've come up with the idea of a "one year movie challenge", which would involve me continuing to keep track of each movie I that I watch. Then, three times a year, I will post my progress on my blog here. I will not only list the movies that I have watched, but I will rate them out of ten, provide a two-sentence max review, and rank them from best to worst (more like favorite to least favorite). Every four months until January 1, 2016, I will update the list in a power rankings-type way, providing two-sentence max reviews for the newly added movies. At the end of the year, a complete list of every movie I watched will be ranked, new and old.

I usually watch 3-4 movies on average per week and I do not plan to change that to go along with my list. I simply do not have the time to commit myself to this challenge, so it will be 100% natural. Although, I can almost guarantee that you will see the complete sagas for The Avengers, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, and Harry Potter on this list because it's almost tradition that I re-watch each saga every year.

There aren't really any rules that I'm setting for myself, only that I only count movies that I watched from start to finish.

Here is the first third:

1. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - 10/10

The movie that started the trilogy of the decade still holds up incredibly well in every way. Peter Jackson turned a classic masterpiece of literature into a classic masterpiece of a movie.

2. The Godfather - 10/10

The Godfather is always circling around the discussion for the greatest film of all-time, a discussion it well deserves to be in, a masterpiece right down to every frame and violin string. With its iconic creation of many film elements that are now cliched when imitated, it's hard to believe that The Godfather wasn't the very first gangster movie.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street - 10/10

There are movies that aren't nearly as good as you remember them to be from your first viewing, but The Wolf of Wall Street, seemingly like all of Scorsese's works, is just as good if not, better the second time around. It's Scorsese's best since The Departed, but seems to be more related to GoodFellas or Casino in the way that the movie does a superb job of pulling you into this world of a 'rise and fall' epic, as if you are being included.

4. The Avengers - 9/10

Now that we are almost 11 movies invested into this connected superhero universe (and rapidly growing), I feel as if we are already forgetting how cool it was to see Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow together on the same screen after so much anticipation. It still amazes me how it managed to live up to the hype with its popcorn action and witty humor.

5. Iron Man - 9/10

Iron Man was a collective effort by many people to start off The Avengers with a blast, but it's really Robert Downey Jr.'s iconic portrayal of Tony Stark that made this movie special in an irreplaceable way. That's not to say that he stands over all in this movie, as Jeff Bridges' villain is probably the best the Avengers saga has seen yet, just as Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper Potts might be the saga's best supporting character as far as chemistry with the lead goes.

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel - 9/10

One of last year's many great movies, Budapest was probably the most original and refreshing. Its touching story is at the center of this movie, despite its artsy design and all-star cast in tiny roles, which considering how important the latter two elements are to this movie, shows how great its story is. That's not to say it takes itself seriously, it is the funniest movie of the last few years.

7. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - 9/10

In a genre full of movies that use violence to further their plots, Butch/Sundance is a refreshing take on a western about two outlaw buddies. It's a feel-good western of adventure.

8. Zodiac - 9/10

Moving from one of my favorite feel-good movies, to one of the only movies to truly get under my skin in a horribly good way, Zodiac is a movie that left me perplexed more than once. It's perhaps David Fincher's most overlooked movie he's done despite its popular, real-life topic and crazy good cast, which is a shame because its one of my favorites from him. It's a haunting movie, but not in the modern horror jump/gross-out sense. Instead, it uses suspense and real life themes to a greater effect.

9. For A Few Dollars More - 9/10

First off, I refuse to call the trio of Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood movies a trilogy as they reuse actors for different roles, but I will say that the trio of movies got better and better with every movie, largely because each movie felt like a unique western experience. In A Few Dollars' case, it's the movie that dives the deepest into supporting characters, making them actually feel like characters and not just (brilliant) western cliches, but it also has plenty of fun twists and action scenes.

10. Gone Girl - 9/10

One of my many favorites from last year, Gone Girl kept me guessing until the very end. It makes for a very good, stylish mystery in that way, but also a very smart one. The movie only centers on a few characters, and their respective actors kill their parts, making the movie all the more memorable.

11. Prisoners - 8/10

It's a depressing, relentless movie, but a very good one. Hugh Jackman gives his career best performance in this movie.

12. The Fast and the Furious - 8/10

It's easy to go back, look at this movie, and call it a bro-man flick that loses itself in pop culture trends, but because of its legacy it has left behind now seven movies in, the original Fast & Furious is as much of a character-driven movie as it is an action movie. It's fun to watch this movie and see how it all started more so than any first movie of a spanning saga.

13. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - 8/10

Make no mistake, The Hobbit trilogy must be watched and counted as a whole epic, more so than LOTR. And while this finale wasn't as heart-felt and fitting as ROTK was for LOTR, it did fulfill its promise in bringing a close to the Tolkien saga forever, ending one adventure and bridging itself to another than came out a decade ago. It's really sad to know that we will never return to Middle-Earth.

14. Captain America: The First Avenger - 8/10

One of my favorite "Avengers movies", The First Avenger stands well as its own adventure. It's set during World War II and is contained to Steve Rogers' transformation from a small Brooklyn kid with a big heart to a super-powered war hero standing for his country, making the ultimate sacrifice.

15. Fast 6 - 8/10

My second favorite in the series, Furious 6 was the first movie to really go all-in towards a ridiculous action movie, and it does so very well. It's the characters that keep this franchise going, allowing the series to be a chameleon in tone and genre. This is also the series' best example of using its cast of characters to its best advantage.

16. Furious 7 - 8/10

It is surprising some that this movie has earned over $1 billion at the box office, but I am very pleased that it did because the movie was so fun while also handling a real-life tragedy in a touching, sincere, and classy way. It's pretty amazing to see this franchise keep on bringing lively, giant action scenes to the screen without ever feeling stale.

17. Nightcrawler - 8/10

Jake Gyllenhaal was completely robbed of an Academy Award nomination with this movie, which I think was even better than the performance that won the award. He carries the movie in a creepy, captivating way.

18. The Way, Way Back - 8/10

A very refreshing movie that I think everybody can relate to in some way. A month later, I still find myself thinking about this movie and its characters every so often, which is really all you can ask for in a work of fiction. Great performances all around.

19. Fury - 8/10

Anyone worrying about the DC Comics Suicide Squad movie needs to watch David Ayer's previous two movies, Fury and End of Watch. Both deal with genres that have been worn out (war movies and cop movies), but both have a rich sense of character. In Fury, the bonding of the tank squad actually overshadows the tank action scenes.

20. The Princess and the Frog - 8/10

Behold, one of the most underrated, if not overlooked Disney animated movies. It takes a classic story, does it justice with a creative twist, and provides a cast of great characters. It's the tried Disney formula, and this movie does it well. As good as the story and characters are, its the animation and soundtrack that make this a great Disney animated movie. I feel as if you could pause this movie at any frame and the result could be a poster, which is sad considering that Disney (and almost the entire animation industry) has relatively abandoned traditional, 2D animation. Their last effort at it was perhaps their best.

21. Blue Jasmine - 8/10

Blue Jasmine is one of the best female-led movies I've ever seen. Cate Blanchett's performance in this movie is deserving of her Academy Award, and its supporting cast manages to steal and carry their own scenes.

22. American Gangster - 8/10

Looking back, it could have made much better use of its amazing all-star cast, but it is certainly a movie of epic scale with flashes of a modern day gangster classic.

23. The Whale Rider - 8/10

Probably the movie on this list you have most likely not seen, but it comes highly recommended. It's shot on the island of New Zealand and deals with the rich culture of the Maori, which it captures very well, featuring authentic acting performances.

24. Iron Man 2 - 7/10

Look, this movie isn't necessarily good and even has some Iron Man 3 level face-palm moments (that peeing in the Iron Man suit scene), but if you take it for a fun superhero movie, it can be very enjoyable. I really liked the villains of Justin Hammer and Whiplash, who both had an interesting chemistry with Tony Stark, a chemistry which its sequel heavily lacked.

25. Edge of Tomorrow/Live, Die, Repeat/All You Need Is Kill - 7/10

Whatever this movie goes by, I thought it was very enjoyable as a standalone sci-fi action movie. Emily Blunt's character was awesome.

26. The Incredible Hulk - 7/10

The Hulk scenes were destructively good fun and the Bruce Banner scenes had their moments of ups and downs. I'd like to see a Hulk movie that doesn't have a love subplot.

27. Yes Man - 7/10

A silly, underrated Jim Carrey comedy that always makes me laugh. However, I also think that its message is very important and admirable.

28. Dick Tracy - 7/10

I'm completely torn after watching this forgotten movie for the first time. Its art style and makeup were both ahead of their time, the cast does a really good job, the soundtrack and score are both great, and the way this movie was shot is interesting. However, its pacing is everywhere, the "kid" character is an annoying plot device, and I found myself way more interested in the scenes involving Al Pacino's over-the-top gangster character. As an aside, how is this movie rated PG? Nudity, point blank shootings, gruesome deaths comparable to a Scorsese mob movie, some heavy innuendos, this movie has it all. Not that I mind, I thought the tone was great but I could not imagine a kid younger than 14 or 15 watching this...

29. Thor: The Dark World - 7/10

It's not very good, it's not very bad, it's just there. Hey, it has a cool look to it, at least. Can the next Thor movie not have anything to with Earth?

30. Justice League: War - 7/10

This movie never reaches the heights that previous DCAU movies have reached, but it does provide a neat (albeit rushed) Justice League team-up that we haven't really seen in a while now. The final battle is underwhelming, but the movie got all of the characters right on.

31. The Lady Vanishes - 7/10

Definitely not a Hitchcock classic, but it does serve as a very smart, interesting mystery. It's probably the funniest Hitchcock movie, but it lacks any specific tone.

32. There's Something About Mary - 7/10

It's a shame that this movie had to stoop low to some gross-out humor scenes that seem very far out of place, because it's actually very funny in a witty way. Matt Dillon's character is comedy gold.

33. The Interview - 6/10

North Korea's attempt at censoring this movie backfired because the controversy probably made this movie funnier than it would have otherwise been in a dark humor type of way. Where Seth Rogen plays his usual character, James Franco really stole this movie with his character and the energy he brought to it.

34. A Million Ways to Die in the West - 6/10

Like There's Something About Mary, it's actually a shame that this movie had to stoop low for gross-out humor. It's otherwise a pretty funny movie that I enjoyed laughing at.

35. Iron Man 3 - 5/10

A terrible waste of what was probably the last solo Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr.

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Well, that took much longer than I thought it would take! Until next time. Thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan

Battlefront Doesn't Have a Campaign, and I Love That

Being a 90s kid, my generation (the now late teens/early 20s generation) was the last group to experience Star Wars before it was expanded into the prequel trilogy. I actually really like the prequel trilogy and would even rank Revenge of the Sith a peg above Return of the Jedi. I think that ROTS did a better job at saving its punches for the last round and ending its trilogy better than ROTJ did. But that's not my point. My point is that I've been around long enough to look at all this Star Wars frenzy in a way that brings up old memories of how exciting it was to see the prequel trilogy roll out. Face it, whether you are an original trilogy purist or not, you have to admit that it was fun seeing people care about Star Wars again. It's a nice, nostalgic feeling. And with five Star Wars movies coming out in as many years (three "Episodes" and two spin-offs), the Force is strong again. We have two amazing teaser trailers to look at and try to analyze and speculate for now. I remember reading magazines as a little kid, speculating on some of the characters that briefly appeared in Episode I's early footage who turned out to just be very minor characters in the actual movie. We have a new animated series to further expand the official Star Wars lore and give existing characters like Lando and Tarkin more depth. I'm speaking of course of Star Wars: Rebels, which is an outstanding animated series if you haven't watched the first season yet. As of March 17, we now have the first of presumably many new Star Wars games revealed with an in-engine trailer. That game is called Star Wars: Battlefront and it shares the same name as my personal favorite Star Wars games did a decade ago.

If you've been keeping up with the news and watching the trailer, you know about the early details, including:

- The game consists of many missions that take place during the original trilogy. You can play on the side of the Rebel Alliance or the Empire.

- You can play these missions by yourself or with/against friends both online and via split-screen.

- Up to 40 players can play together.

- You can play as iconic Star Wars characters. Darth Vader and Boba Fett have been confirmed.

- Despite early rumors, you can indeed play in the third person point-of-view.

- Classic Star Wars vehicles are playable.

- As of now, the game will not feature battles in space.

- Imperial and Rebel soldiers are somewhat customizable. The option to play as a female characters is present.

Despite all of this mostly awesome news, there is one bit of news that is turning many people away from the game, causing all sorts of angry comments online, writing the game off completely: Star Wars: Battlefront does not feature any sort of campaign.

Here's the thing thing though, personally, this bit of news actually makes me happy. I loved both Star Wars: Battlefront games as a kid. In fact, I still have the PS2 discs sitting in my small collection of PS2 games that I managed to hold on to after all these years. I have fond memories of playing both games after school with friends as we'd either take turns playing as the Storm and Clone Troopers on the different maps or play split-screen. Battlefront has always been about recreating famous Star Wars battles with friends. But at the same time, Battlefront has managed to keep single player gamers happy at the same time. The original games had multiplayer options and what they called "campaigns" (more on those later), but it was game modes like "galactic conquest" and "instant action" that kept me coming back to Battlefront. I played these two game modes almost exclusively (both alone and with friends). "Galactic conquest" was a mode where, if I remember correctly, you had to fight in these different battles for control over certain planets, with an ultimate objective of controlling all planets in a certain map of a galaxy. Looking back, it was kind of like my favorite board game "Risk". In "instant action", you could put together a queue of different battles on different maps/planets, creating you own wars. I had a vivid imagination as a kid, so I would even go as far as to make up my own storylines as to why the battles were happening on each planet . I had the best memories of Battlefront on these two modes, which I mostly played single player.

So today, when word got out that the new Star Wars: Battlefront, developed by EA DICE (the same people who made "Battlefield" 3 & 4, "Battlefront: Bad Company" 1 & 2, etc.), was not going to include any sort of campaign, people were quick to assume that this meant that Battlefront was going to be multiplayer only, which isn't the case. This whole ongoing outcry makes me sad. Why? Because EA DICE appears to be making the Battlefront games that we have all hoped for for nearly a decade. And just because it doesn't have a campaign, people are already feeding this game to the dogs. But if you actually played the original Battlefront games, you would know that the "campaigns" were little more than strung-together battles with the same basic game modes that could be played alone or with others in the different game modes that were offered. They weren't the "Call of Duty"/"Uncharted" type campaigns that we have come to expect from every modern campaign. And the games were still great. They are classics.

In fact, I would actually prefer that Battlefront never has anything similar to a modern campaign. It would ruin the feel of the game. It wouldn't be Battlefront. In Battlefront, you play as random, no-name soldiers who repeatedly die for their mission. A Call of Duty type hero with an Uncharted type story would not work in these games. I am sure that these types of games are coming from EA. There's a reason why Amy Hening, the former writer and creative director for Naughty Dog's Uncharted games, was hired by EA Visceral. But for now, we have Battlefront. And I'm excited about it.

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Oh, and I have a new banner at the top of my page. I can't take the credit for most of the work, but I had a fun time piecing it together. If you can't tell, it's featuring the characters of my personal second favorite animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender. Thanks for reading and please comment with your reactions to the Star Wars celebration news blowout.

- Dylan

Three Remasters That I Would Buy

Bringing old video games to new platforms has been around for decades. "Remastering" old games by updating their graphics, adding new features, refining gameplay and overall performance, etc., and bringing them to new platforms is something many associate with Sony and their 2009 God of War Collection. This PS3 game consisted of the first two God of War games, which originally came to the PS2 towards the very end of its life cycle. But rather than just lazily porting these games to Sony's new console to ready gamers for the upcoming God of War III, the collection brought both games "HD" graphics and trophies. Two reasons to re-purchase these games. Dig deeper (and I'm sure you could go even deeper with such games as the Super Mario Advance series), and I would actually credit Nintendo for starting the remaster trend with its 2005 release of Super Mario 64 DS on, you guessed it, the Nintendo DS handheld. The game featured improved graphics, some minor new gameplay elements and mechanics, over 30 mini-games, and all sorts of features that utilized the DS's second screen. This game allowed older fans who had a N64 as a kid (I guess I was still a kid when the DS game came out too) to re-experience the revolutionary game with nostalgic memories but also with some new, added fun. It also allowed newer/younger gamers to experience one of the greatest, most important games ever created for the very first time. Everybody won.

Flash forward to 2015, and we've seen successful remasters of several old games, particularly from the PS2/GC/XBOX generation, such as Sly Cooper, Jak & Daxter, Kingdom Hearts, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Halo: Combat Evolved, etc. Given that these games came out at a time in which the video game industry was rapidly changing and evolving, it made sense to remaster these games and to keep them alive in a way. After all, who still has a working PS2 and all their old games? Personally, I do for the most part because I am a very sentimental, nostalgic person. But it would be a shame to let games die with the past. Re-releasing games digitally via Sony's PS1/PS2 Classics or Nintendo's Virtual Console is brilliant for preserving games if nothing else. But having new excuses to play either your old favorites or games you may have missed out on is an even more exciting idea.

Towards the end of the PS3/Wii/360 generation, I remember having a conversation with a friend about whether or not games from the current (now previous) generation would ever be re-released/remastered for the PS4/WiiU/XB1 generation. The reason it became a discussion and somewhat of an argument is that, while the new generation would certainly mark various improvements, there wouldn't be the same "SD" to "HD" gap that the PS2 to PS3 (for example) bridged as a selling point. Just how better could the PS4 version of Mass Effect 2 look and play from the PS3 version, even four years into its life cycle? I guess we will have to wait and see for now, but the odds are that the remaster will not be as significant as say, Metal Gear Solid 2 was.

Neither me or my friend would have guessed that we would be getting "remastered" game or collections this early into the generation. Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider, and The Last of Us have been brought to the new generation with almost trivial levels of improvement or change. Just over the course of these past couple weeks, a PS4 remaster of God of War III has been announced while remastered collections of the Uncharted and Batman: Arkham series have been highly rumored. Now, I get the fact that many 360 owners jumped ship to the PS4 after not experiencing the PS3's library, or vice versa. Or maybe a kid just turned 17 and is now itching to play the M-rated games that he/she missed out on. I get the idea of remastering games, I really do. In fact, I'm all for it. However, I do think that time plays a very important role. I mean, Uncharted 3 and Batman: Arkham City released about 4 years ago. 4 very short years. Why not let these games reach their 10th birthday. At least the first games in their respective series (holy s***, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune turns 10 in two years!).

The other alternative is something that I think was well realized by both Rockstar and Microsoft with Grand Theft Auto V and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, respectively. The PS4/XB1 version of GTAV not only brought over the one year old game with better graphics, but also added a first-person mode, environmental changes, and roughly coincided with the launch of their online heists multiplayer mode. Halo: The Master Chief Collection collected and remastered Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 with remade cutscenes, Halo 3, Halo 4, and soon Halo: ODST with their brilliant single-player campaign. For multiplayer, every Halo map ever was available to play. As added bonuses, a multiplayer beta for Halo 5: Guardians was included as well as the smash flop Halo: Nightfall mini-series. Both re-releases weren't lazy cash grabs, but rather celebrated the original games and improved them. They seemed like fan service while making a quick profit. If remasters of the previous generation happen so soon, they should look to these two releases as inspiration.

That said, here are three games that I would love to replay right now as remasters:

- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Collection

Includes: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3; remade campaigns; separate true-to-self multiplayer modes looking and sounding better; All DLC

Why: Hate or love what Call of Duty has begun, there is no denying its influence and relevance in both the video game industry and pop culture during its early Modern Warfare days. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is right next to The Last of Us, Bioshock, and Grand Theft Auto IV in my short list of the most influential AAA games from last generation. When that game came out, there was really nothing else like it. Its campaign rivals blockbuster movies and its multiplayer component had millions hooked. Its popularity was inescapable. And for good reason. I would LOVE the opportunity to play COD4's multiplayer all over again just the way it was. No new modes, no new perks, not just its brilliant maps thrown into what Call of Duty is now. But that's not saying there isn't room for visual, technical, and audio improvement. The original game is now overrun with hackers and features near ugly animations and textures. MW2's multiplayer has a special place in my heart as well. Anxiously trying to get the "nuke" killstreak would be even more intense with timely updates. Again, keep the core mechanics and layouts, perks, etc. Go ahead and make the horrible MW3 multiplayer as well, why the hell not. That's just the multiplayer. How great the Modern Warfare trilogy's campaigns were cannot be exaggerated that far from the truth. They are fantastic, well connected and are begging to be replayed with all of the most recent Call of Duty advancements. Here is where you can mess the mechanics and practically remake the trilogy to feel like a whole experience.

Possibility: 50/50. I can see Activision getting greedy and pushing out two Call of Duty games in one year. Making this a Spring release shouldn't mess with a new Call of Duty that badly. Or maybe just give Infinity Ward or Sledgehammer a fourth year to make their game while this collection comes out in Fall 2016 or Fall 2017, which would coincide with the 10th anniversary of COD4. On the other side of the coin, why ruin a good thing? Call of Duty is still wildly successful and I have a feeling that Treyarch's new Call of Duty is going to reinvent the series in a major, major way. They have become the top dog in Activision's platoon of COD developers. This collection could get in the way and ruin the hype behind a new Call of Duty. I really could see Activision going down either path.

- Fallout: Ultimate Wasteland Collection

Includes: Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition, Fallout: New Vegas - Ultimate Edition; remastered from PC versions

Why: I adore Fallout. Fallout 4 is the subject to my dreams. That said, I think that this game is at least one year away, and it should be in order to release as successfully as possible, with hopefully just as few bugs on the console versions as the PC version has and look better than even the best modded versions. Back to reality, I think it would be wise for Bethesda Game Studios to test the waters of the PS4 and Xbox One with a remaster of the two beloved PS3/360 games. It would be wise for them logically and from a business point of view. Eagerly waiting (and sometimes impatient) fans such as myself would eat this collection up. The thought of playing through Fallout 3 without nearly as many hiccups and bugs is a truly exciting thought. Perhaps Fallout 3 gets barrel sights and a few other improvements that Obsidian made with Fallout: New Vegas. And how about shorter load times and not having to worry about your save file growing and its correlation with frame rate issues like a ticking time bomb?

Possibility: Near 90%, eventually. It would be shocking if we never saw these games get the remaster treatment at some point. But having this collection come out before Fallout 4 could be problematic because I have hope that that game comes out a lot sooner than some people might think. Like maybe even this year kind of soon. Releasing this giant 400 hour collection could fatigue some casual gamers. It could even take away from Fallout 4 sales when you take into account gamers who haven't played Fallout yet.

- Red Dead Remastered

Includes: Red Dead Redemption, all DLC including Undead Nightmare, slightly remade version of Red Dead Revolver; improved graphics and sound, new weather cycle and environmental objects and effects, first-person mode, photo mode, downloadable soundtrack voucher

Why: Red Dead Redemption is my favorite PS3 game. I wrote all about my love for it a few blogs back in my Top 35 PS3 Games list. It's a just a special game. Rockstar always treats their fans nicely (their console-owning fans anyway) and this would be the ultimate celebration of one of the greatest games of all-time. A friend of mine and I had a long discussion of just how cool it would be to replay this game using GTAV's remaster as a template. It would be beautiful. Man, I love this game and I miss it dearly. The possibility of this remaster happening is the only thing keeping me from dropping another 250+ hours into this game.

Possibility: 70% With absolutely nothing official on their agenda (a RDR sequel and new IP are rumored time and again) for the first time that I can remember, they probably have multiple large scale games in development that are still multiple years away. I would be shocked if we get a brand new Rockstar game before 2017. They need something to fill that gap. This would sell hot. Rockstar, are you listening?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!?

- A special shoutout goes to a Super Mario Galaxy Collection, but I just want a Super Mario Galaxy 3. That's all I can ask for.

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How about you? What remasters from last generation would you like to see? Thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan

Breaking Down My Top 35 PS3 Games

Now that my "Top 35 PS3 Games" countdown blog series is finally completed, I thought it would be fun to break down my list in an analytic light. Here is what I discovered:

By Year Released

*Due to counting the Mass Effect Trilogy as one game on my list, there will be two additional tallies here (accounting for all three Mass Effect games in their respective release year).

**Mass Effect 1 will be counted as a 2012 game, since it didn't come to the PlayStation 3 until that year. Bioshock came to PS3 in 2008.

2006 - 1

2007 - 2

2008 - 6

2009 - 6

2010 - 7

2011 - 5

2012 - 5

2013 - 5

My Thoughts: It does not surprise me to see that 2010 has the highest number of contributions to the list. We are talking about a year that had Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Heavy Rain, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Fallout: New Vegas. All five are in my top 15. The other two 2010 games on my list are LEGO Harry Potter Years 1-4 and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. In the same year, the PS3 saw fan favorites such as Bayonetta, God of War III, and Call of Duty: Black Ops. 2010 also had an outstanding year on other platforms with Alan Wake, Halo: Reach, Super Meat Boy, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Valkyria Chronicles II, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and God of War: Ghost of Sparta.

I also think that it's notable that the PlayStation 3's first two years on the market are not well represented on this list. It wasn't until its third year (2008) that the console finally started getting the great games it will be remembered by. Games like Fallout 3, Bioshock, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots are considered near masterpieces. LittleBigPlanet, Call of Duty: World at War, and Battlefield: Bad Company also made my list to make 2008 the second most represented year on my list, tied with a stellar 2009. Dead Space, Devil May Cry 4, Valkyria Chronicles, Far Cry 2, and Grand Theft Auto V did not make my own list, but are all considered great games that came out in 2008. My point here is that while 2013 and 2014 may have been a bit disappointing for new owners of a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, the third year seems to be the charm. And with games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Halo 5: Guardians, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and Batman: Arkham Knight (to name a few) on their way to a 2015 release date, this year could be 2008 all over again.

By Publisher

*The additional tally is to account for Batman: Arkham Asylum, which was co-published by Warner Bros. and Eidos.

Sony Computer Entertainment - 10

Activision - 4

Ubisoft - 4

Bethesda Softworks - 3

Rockstar Games - 3

EA - 3

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment - 3

2K Games - 2

Eidos Interactive - 1

Namco Bandai - 1

Square Enix - 1

Konami - 1

My Thoughts: Obviously, the glaring number here is Sony's 10 games that it published out of the 35. Whether the games were developed by one of the many developers in their growing collection or through a third party, Sony did a fantastic job supporting their console with their own resources. However, I think it is important to note that they only published 3 games on my top ten, all of which were developed by Naughty Dog. So if you didn't have a PlayStation 3 this past generation, it is safe to say that you still had the opportunity to play most of the very best games.

Ubisoft and Activision are tied for second thanks to their annual workhorse, flagship franchises Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty, respectively. However, I would not be surprised if they aren't as well represented on my Top 35 PS4 Games list if I ever decide to make that in the distant future. Reason being, Ubisoft has quickly gained a bad reputation over the past year with some of their actions and decisions such as putting out broken games, misleading fans with trailers, and dropping quality on all versions of their games to provide parity for a lesser platform. Activision, on the other hand, their most recent game on my list was 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. That game is scarily approaching its sixth birthday. While I am excited to see what Treyarch does with their next Call of Duty, I can't say that I'm as interested in their franchises as I was at the turn of the decade. So which publishers do I expect to take their place? I am really excited for Bethesda and Warner Bros. as budding publishers. Both own IPs that I love and own/work with some young, super-talented developers. I am also pulling for EA and Square Enix to get their stuff together and go back to creating working, original games as well as play their IP cards better.

By Developer:

*Due to Rockstar having a myriad of development teams that all help each other, they will be counted as one. I will credit L.A. Noire as only Team Bondi's game even though Rockstar assisted them.

**Although I counted them as one game in my list, I will credit BioWare all three of their Mass Effect games here.

Naughty Dog - 4

Ubisoft Montreal - 4

BioWare - 3

Rocksteady Studios - 2

Rockstar - 2

EA DICE - 2

Infinity Ward - 2

Sucker Punch - 2

Irrational Games - 2 (Defunct)

Insomniac Games - 1

Sony San Diego - 1

Eidos Montreal - 1

Raven Software - 1

Level-5 - 1

Kojima Productions - 1

Obsidian Entertainment - 1

Quantic Dream - 1

Team Bondi - 1 (Defunct)

Bethesda Game Studios - 1

Treyarch - 1

Traveller's Tales - 1

Media Molecule - 1

Arkane Studios - 1

My Thoughts: It's impressive that one developer was able to put out multiple great games in one generation of consoles. It's absolutely incredible that one developer (although they have multiple teams) was able to put out four great games in one generation of consoles. Looking at this list, I see a lot of talent. And only two are sadly defunct. For the current generation, I'd like to see some of the smaller developers on this list spread their wings and create their own ideas. It would be cool to see Treyarch and Raven break away from Call of Duty. I'd love to see Obsidian create more large scale spin-off games in which they pretty much take an engine from a successful game and do their own thing with it a la Fallout: New Vegas. I'm excited to see where young developers Rocksteady, Quantic Dream, and Arkane go next.

By Genre

*Some games were split into multiple genres with multiple tallies.

Action/Adventure - 20

Action/RPG - 5

Military FPS - 5

FPS - 4

JRPG - 1

Interactive Drama - 1

Survival Horror - 1

Sports - 1

Puzzle - 1

Platformer - 1

My Thoughts: With a high step up in graphics, developers shifted away from cartoon-style action platformers and moved towards games with a more grounded look. Action/adventure games and FPS's flourished this past generation. Sadly, my favorite genres from the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2, platformers and JRPG's were largely absent on the PlayStation 3 or at least in terms of quality. But with JRPG's on the rebound, I would expect to see the genre make a huge impact on the PlayStation 4. We are also in something of a renaissance in the survival horror genre, so I expect to enjoy that genre more as this young generation of consoles advances.

Other Interesting Facts:

- Highest non-GOTY: Mass Effect Trilogy (6)

- Lowest GOTY: Assassin's Creed III (28)

- Number of single-player only games: 17

- Number of PlayStation 3 Exclusives: 11

- Number of New IP's: 10

- Number of games with open worlds (or extensive hub worlds): 18

- Number of games with non-videogame-originated licenses: 5

- Number of games with playable female characters (in the single player): 10

- Number of games without guns: 4

- Number of games from prior-generation series: 16

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I bought a PS Vita last weekend! It made sense to me to buy one because essentially, I'll never have to buy games for it so long as I keep my PlayStation Plus subscription going, which I intend to. For the past year that I've had it, I've been downloading and cancelling every PS Vita game that I thought I might want that was offered through PS Plus, just in case I were to ever buy a Vita. I have a massive free game collection already. I am currently playing the brilliant Limbo and the okay-so-far Uncharted: Golden Abyss. I'm really looking forward to playing indie games and JRPGs on my Vita, two genres that I feel I've been missing out on, don't have the time to sit down and play on my PS4, and that have a slew of great games on the Vita. My experiences so far with my Vita so far are wonderful. I'm shocked with how neat the layout is, how fast you can jump in and out of games/apps, and how easy and fast it is to download games. It's screen looks great, the speakers work well, the touchscreens/pads are advanced, and the pick-up-and-go gaming experience is as fun as it was on my old PSP.

That's it for now. My GOTY Awards will be coming sometime later this month, so come back for those if you want, they are always fun. This year marks my fifth (!!!!!) annual milestone. Between now and then, I'm sure I'll stop back here and post again. Until then, thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan

My Favorite Stuff From 2014 (Non-Gaming)

We are 23+ days apart from the year that was 2014. Another year is now just a memory. Personally, it's increasingly difficult to differentiate which memory belongs to which year. A way for me to remember is to look at books, movies, sporting events, albums, games, etc. that have set-in-stone dates. Naturally, I have memories that relate to each of my favorite games, movies, songs, etc. I can listen to a song and it brings back memories of when it first came out and when I first heard it. I can look at a game on my shelf, place a finger on when it came out, and remember what was going on in my life at the time I was playing it. I am a nostalgic person.

2014 went by in a flash for me, despite being pretty eventful. There are plenty of good memories just as well as a few bad memories. The movies, albums, and TV series/seasons listed in this blog are my favorites from 2014. I have memories of events in my life associated with each of these and thanks to their specific dates, I'll always know that those memories happened in 2014. Here's my favorite stuff from 2014:

*Note: My annual GOTY Awards will probably be posted sometime in February, so I've kept games off of this particular blog.

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Movies

(I consider The Wind Rises a 2013 movie, otherwise it would be at the top)

*I have not yet seen "Gone Girl", "Nightcrawler", "Birdman", or "Interstellar." All of which could crack this list.

**Special shout-outs to "The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies" and "John Wick."

5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After mixed reactions to "Thor: The Dark World" and "Iron Man 3", I was wondering if the Marvel Cinematic Universe was past its prime and more importantly, if they had any other good stories to tell. After all, I loved everything they had done pre-2013. 2014 saw the return to greatness for the quietly aging saga. One movie featured the darkest tone yet and the other had the goofiest. The thing is, they both worked. With Cap 2, the unlikely directing duo of "You, Me and Dupree" (a personal cult favorite of mine) took the character of Steve Rogers and did something really special with him. While "The Avengers" took his adjustment to the new world jokingly, "The Winter Soldier" focused on the struggles he now faces. Think about it, everything he knew and cared about is either dead or ancient. To keep himself busy, he becomes S.H.I.E.L.D.'s top agent for missions. Spoilers aside, everything in both his life and his new employer is turned inside out. The result is a hybrid between a modern action movie and an 80's political thriller. And it's a blast from start to finish.

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

From the first trailer, I knew this movie was going to be special. Unlike most awesome trailers, this one did not let me down. It took both generations of X-Men, threw them into two interesting settings for these characters, and pit them against a threat that seemed new for a franchise that's more than a decade old. I loved the high stakes tension the movie had, its comedy was used sparingly and was well timed (unlike say, "Iron Man 3") resulting in some good laughs, it featured by far the best action scenes the series has seen yet, and it had some truly amazing shots that I think will become iconic with age.

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Apes had one of the worst trailers I've seen in a long while. It looks so bad that I was unsure if I even wanted to see it, with Rise of the Apes being one of my favorite movies in recent years. It looked like a cheap action flick that lacked the thematic brilliance of its predecessor. I was completely wrong. The action was over the top at some points, but it was somehow even more thematically brilliant. I've talked about its message to great extents before on here and am hesitant to go on and on again, but basically, it all comes down to that the world is a beautiful place full of all kinds of different life that can learn to respect each other. But something as pointless as war tears relationships apart for trivial reasons speared by a couple of bad eggs. Even looking past its message, DOTPOTA was just a perfect movie for me. I loved everything about it. The flashbacks/references to the first movie were incredibly moving.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

There weren't many "Award-type" movies that I enjoyed this year (although I still have to see Foxcatcher, Birdman, and Nightcrawler). But Wes Anderson's latest and perhaps best (better than The Royal Tenenbaums I daresay) is a strong exception. I really got the feeling that a lot of passion and love went into this movie. The small details like the changing aspect ratios, the sets, make-up and costumes, etc. I also loved how the movie in general was so over-the-top in a self-aware way. The two main characters were great, but I especially enjoyed how there were only two main characters who ran into several minor characters who were played by an all-star lineup of Wes Anderson favorites like Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray. I can't remember if Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, or Adrien Brody were in a Wes Anderson movie before, but they were exceptional among a great cast. The whole movie reminded me of some of my favorite short stories or novellas in that it wasn't overstuffed with filler, but just a great story with memorable characters.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy

Like I said before, Marvel avoided retreading their characters and stories as they did in 2013 by offering completely fresh experiences. Where "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" was a dark and gritty level of fun, Guardians was lighthearted (with more than a few raunchy jokes, don't get me wrong) and adventurous. The characters of Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot were relatively unknown before this movie (I consider myself a fan of comics and I only new of them to a small degree), but after this movie, they are among everybody's favorites in the MCU. I for one miss them already. I have to watch it for a second time to make sure, but Guardians of the Galaxy might be my favorite movie in the franchise yet.

-

TV Series/Seasons

*Without lengthy write-ups to avoid any spoilers. It is impossible to talk/write about TV series without spoiling anything.

5. Arrow

4. House of Cards

3. The Legend of Korra

I will say something about Korra, though. A few years ago, I watched Avatar: The Last Airbender for the first time after I had missed out when I was a kid. In short, I LOVED it. It was a story about friendship, adversity, burden, and adventure. If you haven't seen it, you must. With The Legend of Korra, it is mostly about the same themes but in a more mature way, since Korra is a young adult avatar. Because of this, (and it still has plenty of laughs and a ton of heart) it goes into deeper, darker places. Where almost every Avatar: TLA dark moment was immediately followed up by a cheap laugh to break the tension and not scare children, The Legend of Korra goes all the way. There are many deep, emotional scenes to be found, some dark and menacing (the first season is about full-on terrorism and includes death), others relatable and sincere. Some episodes end on an absolutely gut-wrenching note. So yeah, LoK gets dark and sad, but for every one of these moments, there are three moments of pure fun and adventure. By the end of the series (like Avatar: TLA), I felt personally connected to the characters. But with LoK, I feel the Avatar creators had mastered their craft to make a masterpiece of a series. If you haven't gotten on board the Avatar train, I'd highly suggest giving it a shot, or a second shot.

2. True Detective

1. Game of Thrones

-

Albums

(A lot of indie rock, alternative rock)

5. Broncho - Just Enough Hip to Be Woman

- Best Song: Class Historian

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFo-Fp2eJWQ

4. Royal Blood - Royal Blood

- Best Song: Figure It Out

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dusl-8NE994

3. Phantogram - Voices

- Best Song: Bill Murray

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWmWSjJqlEg

2. Broods - Evergreen

- Best Song: Mother & Father

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqm2Eije1yA

1. St. Vincent - St. Vincent

(This is one of those rare masterpiece albums, I highly recommend it.)

- Best Song: Digital Witness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7LsBjrqqHA

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Again, I have like four blogs coming up to go over my favorite gaming stuff from 2014. It's hard to believe it is going to be my fifth annual GOTY Awards! So keep a lookout for those some time in February. But yeah, those 15 movies/TV series/Albums were my jams for 2014. Thanks for reading and please comment with your favorite stuff from 2014 :)

- Dylan

Top 35 PS3 Games - Finale

Over the past few months, I've been looking back at the PlayStation 3, celebrating its library of games by counting down my 35 personal favorites. Before I get to the complete list, here are some honorable mentions that didn't quite make the cut:

- The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Skyrim is a near masterpiece fantasy action-RPG. Picking up the game and completing a new objective or simply exploring a new section of the game's massive open world is always a mysterious thrill of adventure. The only problem is, upon the game's 2011 release, the PlayStation 3 version of the game was nearly unplayable with glitches and crashes. Fast forward to 2014, the PS3 version of the game now works fine and just now am I experiencing this game. It's fantastic. But its fumble upon its release and my terrible 2011/2012 experiences with the broken game prevented me from placing it on this list. It is however one of the best game of the last generation.

- Spec Ops: The Line - Spec Ops had one of the very best stories I've ever played in a video game. Its repetitive shoot-em-up gameplay holds it back.

- Batman: Arkham Origins - The non-Rocksteady Arkham game's main story and nearly everything related to it was excellent. Its open world and nearly everything related to it was empty and disappointing, which is a shame considering that the open world atmosphere is what made the first two Arkham games unforgettable.

- Burnout: Paradise - Without a doubt the best driving/racing game to be found on the PS3, in my opinion. I've never been a huge fan of the genre as a whole, though.

- Lost Planet: Extreme Condition - An underrated game, that was one of the very first games I've played on the PS3. It will always have a special place in my PS3 memories.

- Street Fighter IV - The best fighting game from last generation, maybe ever. It's a fighting game masterpiece if you are into fighting games. I am not.

It's time to finish it off. Here are my 35 favorite PlayStation 3 games:

35. LittleBigPlanet

34. Dishonored

33. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

32. Far Cry 3

31. Grand Theft Auto V

30. MLB 13: The Show

29. Call of Duty: World at War

28. Assassin's Creed III

27. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

26. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

25. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

24. Infamous

23. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

22. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

21. Infamous 2

20. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

19. Bioshock Infinite

18. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

17. Bioshock

16. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

15. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

14. Assassin's Creed II

13. Heavy Rain

12. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

11. Fallout: New Vegas

10. Battlefield: Bad Company

9. Batman: Arkham Asylum

8. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

7. L.A. Noire

6. Mass Effect Trilogy

5. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

2009

Developer/Publisher: Naughty Dog/Sony CE

Genre: Action/Adventure

Very often, my favorite Uncharted game switches from Drake's Fortune to Drake's Deception to Among Thieves. The truth is, I have no particular favorite Uncharted game that is set in stone. I will admit however that it was Uncharted 2: Among Thieves that raised the bar for what an action game can be the highest. Uncharted 1 has the nostalgia and heart, Uncharted 3 has the fine coat of polish and the best story, but it's Uncharted 2 that has the most memorable moments, the most groundbreaking gameplay, and the most consistency. It's a modern day masterpiece that I find myself replaying every year. Its campaign has the flow of a Hollywood movie. Except, in Uncharted's case, you are playing the movie. You play as the now iconic Nathan Drake as you're jumping from falling cliffs in Tibet, exploring the legendary city of Shambala, and ascending from the caboose of a moving train full of enemies to its unexpected end, confronting an armed chopper head on. For a long time, it was thought to be the best exclusive game the PS3 would see.

GOTY Awards to its name: Game of the Year 2009

Favorite memory: There are many set piece moments to choose from, but the train sequence is the most memorable.

4. Batman: Arkham City

2011

Rocksteady Studios/Warner Bros. IE

Action/Adventure

Following up the amazing debut game of Batman: Arkham Asylum was no easy task for developer Rocksteady Studios. Instead of creating another "Metroid-vania" experience in a historic section of Batman's lore, the developer decided to give players the full Batman experience: Batman in an open world Gotham City (well, kind of). In Arkham City, you play as Batman with his entire arsenal of gadgets as you hunt down Gotham's most infamous villains including Two-Face, Penguin, The Joker, The Riddler, Catwoman, Ra's al Ghul, Mr. Freeze, Bane, etc. The bottom line is, Batman: Arkham City was the dream game of any Batman fan such as myself. Until Rocksteady's long awaited sequel releases, this game is the closest anyone is going to get to being Batman. The feeling of overlooking Gotham City from the top of a cathedral, gliding off (a perfect, often overlooked feature in this game), and taking down a random group of thugs with the game's freeflow combat system is empowering. Slowly walking through the streets of Gotham City and admiring every detailed alley, picking up cool nods to Batman's lore is chilling. Also to be found in Arkham City is one of the greatest Batman stories ever written.

GOTY Awards to its name: Game of the Year 2011, Best Action/Adventure 2011, Best Atmosphere 2011, Best Voiceover Performance 2011 (Corey Burton as Hugo Strange), Hero of the Year 2011 (Batman), Villain of the Year 2011 (Ra's al Ghul), Best DLC 2011 (Batman Beyond skin), Best DLC 2012 (Harley Quinn's Revenge)

Favorite memory (4-year-old spoilers): The Joker's death.

3. Fallout 3

2008

Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks

Action RPG

The fact that Fallout 3 is only at the number 3 spot on this list solidifies the greatness of this past generation of games. Fallout 3 is a game that I adore dearly. It's one of my all-time favorite games. I have memories of both playing this game and events that surrounded my playing of this game that I intend to hold on to forever. Fallout 3's isolated exploration, the wonder of seeing an abandoned shack in the distance, travelling there and exploring every inch of it, trying to put together the pieces of what happened there, is what makes Fallout 3 special. Bethesda gave players this game's huge, mysterious, haunting world, and didn't tell the player to do anything. As soon as your created character leaves Vault 101, the entire game is yours to explore. Right off the bat, you can go anywhere, do anything you want. I have my own personal memories of what I did in the Capital Wasteland, just like every player has his or her own. It's special in that way, no two playthroughs are alike. If someone wanted to, they very well could pickpocket a grenade into a main character's back pocket and watch as he scrambles for his life, which violently ends. There isn't a game over screen that takes you back to the checkpoint. The game goes on. There are many open world games, but Fallout is special. It's incredibly nostalgic. Even listening to the game's soundtrack brings back memories.

GOTY Awards to its name: GOTY 2008

Favorite memory: First exiting Vault 101. Standing there, looking out at the massive, truly open world is as unforgettable as gaming experiences come. 'What's that giant brown makeshift gate in the distance? What's it guarding? Let's check that out first.'

2. The Last of Us

2013

Naughty Dog/Sony CE

Action/Adventure, Survival Horror

One of the last games to come to the PlayStation 3 (before the PS3 launched) is also one of, if not, the best. I am very weary to give a game a perfect 10/10, but The Last of Us truly deserves one. It's as perfect a game as I have played. It has a very deep, haunting, emotional story to it, but that's really just the half of it. Games like Heavy Rain, Spec Ops: The Line, and Bioshock Infinite have amazing stories, but they aren't this high up on the list. The reason being is that TLOU has gameplay that fits right into its story. In fact, saying "it fits in" doesn't do the game justice. The gameplay is part of the story. While playing, every brick you throw, every person you strangle to death, every note to a loved one, is a part of the story, I feel. Every element of this game connects to make Joel and Ellie's journey. And from the beginning that brought me to tears to the ending that sent a chill down my spine, their journey is perfect told through the video game medium. The important gameplay element that I hope transfers to the current generation (and with Uncharted 4's gameplay demo, I guess it has), is that not every gameplay experience is scripted. The game and its brilliant AI adapt to your actions. For instance, if you were to throw a brick in a hallway, distracting a bad guy before smashing his head in with a bat/scissors combination you whipped up, the game plays out like that was meant to happen all along. The player thinks that it's part of the game. It isn't. If you go back and replay that part, you can find that same scenario where you threw that brick, you can decide not to throw it. Instead, you can pull out your pistol and use the few bullets you have left to go in guns blazing. This brings forth a new experience. It's a brilliant form of game design that I can't wait to play more of. That's just the gameplay and this is already the longest paragraph I've written in this blog. The characters are alive, the post-apocalyptic game world has hints that make it appear that it has history, even though it literally doesn't (it's just a videogame after all). When you enter a torn apart home, you can picture stories that happened there. The lives they lived, the horror that ensued with the apocalypse, and how nature has reclaimed it, with vines growing in and out of it. The Last of Us has a game world unlike any other. Even compared to Fallout. TLOU's original soundtrack is perhaps the best of a generation full of greats. And its multiplayer is a unique, intense experience every time you play it. This game is responsible for me returning to multiplayer after going nearly two years without playing it.

GOTY Awards to its name: Game of the Year 2013, Best PlayStation 3 Exclusive 2013, Best Action/Adventure 2013, New Character of the Years 2013 (Joel & Ellie), Character of the Year 2013 (Joel & Ellie), Best Moment 2013 (Calm before the storm), Best Multiplayer 2013, Best New IP 2013, Best Voice Performance 2013 (Troy Baker as Joel, etc.), Best Use of Sound 2013, Best Graphics (Technical) 2013, Best Trailer 2012, Most Anticipated Game 2012 (tied)

Favorite memory: The 'calm before the storm' moment. I don't want to spoil anything, but if you've played it, you know what I'm talking about.

1. Red Dead Redemption

2010

Rockstar San Diego/Rockstar Games

Action/Adventure

My list changed around quite a bit from the moment I first started putting it together over a year ago, but my number one spot was always going to be Red Dead Redemption. In fact, RDR is my third favorite game of all-time, only behind Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and Jak II. Red Dead Redemption is the number one PS3 game that I hold close to my heart. I have unforgettable memories playing through its story, unforgettable memories exploring its open world frontier, unforgettable memories playing with friends online in its multiplayer, and unforgettable memories related to my life at the time that I was playing this game. At the time, I was going through the toughest part of my young life. This game and the friends I played online with helped me through that tough time. I'm truly grateful for my experiences with this game. Personal reasons aside, there's so many elements that combine to make this a perfect game that I myself put over 150 hours in (and counting, I still boot up my original save file to roam the wild west once in while). The very best element this game has going for it is its open authentic western setting. It's alive and full of everything you've watched in western movie. It's an open world bursting with fun activities to do. If there is one game from last generation that you cannot miss, it is this game. If you haven't experienced Red Dead Redemption, it goes without saying that I fully recommend it.

GOTY Awards to its name: Game of the Year 2010, Best Story 2010, Best Atmosphere 2010, Character of the Year 2010 (John Marston), Best Graphics 2010, Best Sound 2010, Best Action/Adventure 2010, Best DLC 2010 (Undead Nightmare)

Favorite memory: As great as the open world and main story of RDR is, my favorite memory from the PlayStation 3 was teaming up with friends online in the multiplayer and taking on the wild west together.

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That's it. I really enjoyed putting together this list and revisiting each game on it. It was a blast. Thanks to everyone who checked in to read any one of the different parts. I hope I've convinced somebody to go out and play one of these games. Each and every one of these game is well worth checking out, even if if means you have to dust off your Dualshock 3 controller. Thanks for reading and please comment with your favorite PlayStation 3 game :)

Long Live Play.

- Dylan

Thoughts on PSX, Game Awards, Star Wars

Just checking in here. I've been too busy with end-of-the-semester college work lately to finish my Top PS3 Games countdown (only the finale is left, which should be up by next week), but I did want to put forth my two cents on some of the cool news and trailers that popped up over the last couple of weeks.

Star Wars

I don't consider myself a huge Star Wars nerd by any means. I grew up with the prequel trilogy after all, which took away much of the magic of the original trilogy for me. As I recall, I watched the original trilogy back to back to back when I was in first or second grade. Then came Episode I almost immediately after, which was one of the first DVDs that I owned as a kid (Tarzan was my very first). Of course, I love Episodes IV and V and I always preferred the old episodes over the prequels. However, I do think that Return of the Jedi is a lot worse than people think it is. Ewoks, Boba Fett dying like a fool, the characters being split up, that cheesy ending, etc. On the flip side, I happen to think that Revenge of the Sith is a lot better than people give it credit for. There are just so many amazing scenes in that movie that make the entire trilogy worth it, in my opinion.

Anyway, the Episode VII was amazing. I was always skeptical of the new trilogy and I thought it was being rushed by Disney. This teaser put my worries to rest. After watching it about 10 times, I really get the feeling that JJ Abrams and his crew are really putting care into this movie. I get that by looking at the handmade props and practical effects and how everything just points back to the original trilogy and its magic. It's familiar, yes. But it also looks like a fresh approach to Star Wars. I really do hope that the guy at the beginning of the teaser is indeed an enlisted Stormtrooper. It would be such a fresh, interesting perspective over the whole been-there disguise thing. I really loved the opening scenes of chaos and fear just like I loved seeing the Millenium Falcon again with that iconic theme playing. I also loved the trailer's darker moments like the Stormtroopers getting ready to exit their vessel into the night and of course, the shot of the mysterious Sith staggering into the woods and almost furiously whipping out that badass lightsaber. The whole trailer was awesome and I can't wait to see more.

Jurassic Park

Before Star Wars stole its thunder, Jurassic Park had an awesome, nostalgic trailer that had everybody talking. I'm loving what I saw from it. I especially loved the shots of the lab experiment and the gates opening. Both shots really took me back to my childhood, especially because I've only seen the original one time (over this past summer) since seeing it over a decade ago. I especially loved the classic piano theme at the end. It gave me chills.

Terminator: Genesys

Well, we couldn't expect all three to look unbelievably good, could we? I'm sorry, but this movie looks terrible. I don't get what they're doing with this movie's plot and the acting looks pretty bad.

The Game Awards

So, this past weekend was a good time to be a fan of video games. Especially if you were a Nintendo or Sony fan (Microsoft was nowhere to be found this weekend at all and I seriously want to know how they plan on reacting to this weekend). Every year, we get some type of awards ceremony for video games. We used to have the over-the-top VGA's, we had the face-palm VGX last year, and not we have The Game Awards. The truth is, the actual awards that are handed out are usually questionable and forgettable at best and this year was no exception. But what I get excited for every year from these events are the slew of announcements, trailers, demos, world premieres, etc. that are shown between the awards. To be honest, I'd actually say that the awards are in between the world premieres. At the past VGA's, we were first shown giant games like Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, and The Last of Us. VGX last year had relatively nothing worth remembering. This year's The Game Awards certainly didn't drop the mic with a Fallout 4 or Deus Ex teaser as I was hoping, but a lot of cool stuff came out of this ceremony in the form of trailers.

The highlights for me weren't really the big games which simply had new short trailers, but the smaller indie games. Which is funny because I'm not much of an indie game fan. I loved what I saw from Before, ADR1FT, and Tacoma. Especially "Before", which was my favorite game from the ceremony altogether. I love the art style, the open nature world look it has, and the sense of depth it looks to have for an indie game. It looks a lot like PS4's Rime, which is one of my most anticipated games right now.

As for the bigger games at the show, I was a but underwhelmed. The whole time I was expecting some giant announcement from Rockstar, a Fallout 4 teaser (even though Bethesda said they weren't going to show anything), or at least a trailer for the next Dishonored or Deus Ex game. Nothing like that ever happened. I did like what I saw from The Witcher 3 and Battlefield Hardline actually looks pretty cool. Then there was the unexpected demo for The Legend of Zelda Wii U (in the small corner of the screen for some reason) that featured Link riding around on Epona, dodging trees and shooting arrows in midair. This was cool and the game looked really good, but I was left wanting a bit more. I wanted a 5 minute trailer that showed the actual game and not just a tech demo. But hey, it's coming and it looks great. I'll finally pick up a Wii U when it is bundled with this game. There are so many games on the Wii U waiting for me, which should be fun.

Overall, I thought the ceremony was a step in the right direction. It was a night that celebrated video games and the people who make them and play them. There weren't any cheesy celebrity appearances (Sutherland and Imagine Dragons acted like they cared at least) and the jokes weren't too forced. I take my hat off to Geoff Keighley for hosting and bringing the show together. From this, The Game Awards can learn what worked and what didn't and simply improve. Also, I don't think publishers would be afraid to announce their giant games here in the future. It certainly had a huge spotlight in front of a live audience, their peers, and hundreds of thousands streaming online.

PlayStation Experience

I had no idea what to expect from the first annual PlayStation Experience. I suspected that some cool stuff was going to go down since it was held right next to The Game Awards in both date and location. Maybe a few announcements here and there, right? I had no idea that it would be some giant, E3-esque conference. In fact, I thought that this went over even better than Sony's E3 presence. Which, along with Nintendo's random "Direct" livestreams, could mean that the end of E3 is near. But seriously, this livestreamed keynote conference featured announcement after demo after trailer after announcment after demo after trailer, etc. There were an unprecedented amount of games shown in such a quick pace with no "Wonderbook" or "Powers" buffer in between. It was awesome.

The highlight of this conference was obviously the Uncharted 4 demo, which lasted about 15 minutes long. First off, holy **** does this game look pretty. There were animations in this demo that must be shaming big name developers in the industry right now. But that's just how it looked. It played amazingly and almost unbelievably. I would be skeptical right now if it wasn't for that one moment where the demo-er missed his jump and caused Nate to die in classic Uncharted fashion (flute sound and all). The way that this game played was like a dream. You can see the "The Last of Us" influence packed into it. It doesn't match TLOU's tone or grounded RPG-ish gameplay, but it does have that same level of approach. You are pretty much given an area of enemies and you get to decide how to tackle them. What the demo-er was doing looked scripted but it wasn't. He didn't have to slide down that slope shooting a guy, jumping off of it, and kicking him in the face. He didn't need to get caught climbing by the badguys, only to drop down and take care of them in dramatic fashion. The AI in this demo was insane. The programming and code that must have gone into it must be so advanced. The whole demo was insane. I'm pumped for some Uncharted 4.

The Order: 1886 looked much improved (with The Witcher 3 being delayed, I may just buy this game when it comes out), Until Dawn looked goofy but fun, Arkham Knight looked great as usual without showing much, Street Fighter V was confirmed to be a PS4 console exclusive which is HUGE (I don't care for fighting games personally, but a lot of people love Street Fighter and must be either pissed or happy about it), and BloodBorne looks like it's going to make a lot of people happy (not my type of game, but it looks impressive). I was also again impressed by the smaller, indie games, which is unlike me. The Forest looks interesting and What Remains of Edith Finch looks like the type of game I've been waiting for for a while now. I think it's cool that these games got to share the spotlight with the big dogs. Also, it was cool to see some older games being confirmed for the PS4/PS3/Vita like Yakuza, Shovel Knight, Bastion, and Final Fantasy VII. By the way, I feel a bit sad for Square Enix. No, this isn't the FFVII remake that people have been waiting for, but it does look like a neat remaster. I like that they kept the art style but smoothed the graphics up. It looks cool but all people did was complain about it not being an all-out remake. You just can't please some people, I guess.

Overall, I love the idea PSX had. I seemed like it was a gift from Sony to unite PlayStation fans. With the original PlayStation turning 20 last week (just a few months after I did), there's a lot of history for PlayStation fans to embrace as a culture. This experience just had a feel good vibe to it, which I loved. The event also made a lot of sense marketing wise for Sony as well, don't get me wrong. The Uncharted 4 demo has over 2 million views on YouTube while a small game like The Forest has over 700,000. It definitely raised interest for Sony's upcoming games. I would have loved to be there, but just streaming it was quite the experience. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do next year. Long live PlayStation!

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That was a much longer blog than I thought it would be! There's just so much to talk about from these last few weeks. Thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan

Top 35 PS3 Games - Part VI

Well, I was originally going to postpone the top ten until December because of a busy school schedule for the rest of December, but my small town just outside of Buffalo, NY is currently being sacked by a record snowstorm. There's 48 inches and rapidly counting. Roads are closed and schools are cancelled, so I'm left with some time on my hands. Here's the first half of my top ten favorite PlayStation 3 games. From here on out, there are only games that I love and hold near to my heart. Here's the list so far:

35. LittleBigPlanet

34. Dishonored

33. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

32. Far Cry 3

31. Grand Theft Auto V

30. MLB 13: The Show

29. Call of Duty: World at War

28. Assassin's Creed III

27. LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

26. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood

25. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time

24. Infamous

23. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

22. Deus Ex: Human Revolution

21. Infamous 2

20. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

19. Bioshock Infinite

18. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

17. Bioshock

16. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

15. Battlefield: Bad Company 2

14. Assassin's Creed II

13. Heavy Rain

12. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

11. Fallout: New Vegas

10. Battlefield: Bad Company

2008

Developer/Publisher: EA DICE/EA

Genre: Military FPS

Last blog, I got into why I think Battlefield: Bad Company is an outstanding military FPS series in a marketplace full of them. The teamwork, the large maps with shifting objective areas, the vehicles, the humor, the characters, and the equality among weapon classes. BFBC2 may be the crowing achievement in the Battlefield series, but it's Bad Company 1 that will always be my favorite multiplayer shooter and military FPS. I have so many memories of playing this game online with friends that I truly cherish to this day. Sneaking up behind enemies (and occasionally friendlies) and launching them 45 feet into the air with C4, finally getting a four-man squad into a helicopter, ready to unleash havoc before realizing that not one of us knew how to fly a helicopter and spinning out to our digital deaths, waiting for hours for the new free map pack to release including a map set on a golf course, etc. Through the excellent multiplayer alone, I have so many memories with this game. Then there's the campaign, which is still the funniest that I have played through. Hearing Haggard and Sweetwater joke back and forth during the lengthy sections of the game that had you transport your squad on a number of vehicles was always hilarious. EA DICE dared to be different with this game against the likes of Call of Duty, which had all the buzz back then. Not only did they succeed to be different, in my opinion, they created a more memorable game.

Favorite memory: When I was was a young warthog back in the 7th grade, COD4 was all the rage. I played it at my friends' house when I didn't a have a next gen console of my own and I was hooked on it. It was unlike anything I have ever played. So when my brother and I finally saved up enough money to buy a $500 PS3 at Best Buy, it was time to pick my first PS3 game. I wanted to go with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Since it was rated "M for Mature - 17" and I was only 15 at the time in 2008 (my brother was 12), my parents refused to let me get it. Distraught, I went with Bad Company instead. I loved it. I ended up getting COD4 for Christmas later that year ("I better not see your 12 year old brother playing it"), and while I loved that game too, it didn't quite match Bad Company for me. Thanks, mom and dad.

Favorite map: Oasis

9. Batman: Arkham Asylum

2009

Rocksteady Studios/Eidos Interactive

Action/adventure

Before this game, Batman videogames were mostly garbage fare. Then came this game from a rookie developer with an ambitious vision: a 'metroidvania' Batman game set in an open for exploration Arkham Asylum. I still remember looking at the pre-release screenshots here on Gamespot and just thinking to myself, "this game is too good to be true" just like Batman: Vengeance, which had the style but lacked substance. Then, the game came out and I picked it up on launch day. From that point on, my experience with this game exceeded my high expectations. The 'metroidvania' game design fit right in with Arkham Asylum, which was home to some of Batman's most famous enemies. You unlocked pieces of the Joker-taken-over asylum through gadgets and unlocked doors piece by piece. Like Kingdom Hearts and its Final Fantasy and Disney characters, you did not know which Batman villain you were going to run into next. Victor Zsasz. Killer Croc. Bane. Poison Ivy. SCARECROW! Even when you weren't face to face with a member of Batman's rogues gallery, you were finding well placed easter eggs throughout the corners of Arkham Asylum alluding to almost every Batman villain you could think of from a poster for the Penguin's Ice Berg Lounge to the Ratcatcher's costume stashed away in the vents. Arkham Asylum's open world was creepily realized with such authenticity to Batman's lore. Every corner of this game was deigned with such detail. What glued this game's cool story, great characters with classic voiceovers, and atmosphere together was its combat system. In this game, you were either freestyle brawling with awesome animations and gadgets or stealthily taking down enemies one by one. This game brought Batman to life.

Favorite memory: The Scarecrow encounters were some of the very best moments from last generation. Especially the last one. I remember freaking out, thinking that my game was glitching.

8. Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

2011

Naughty Dog/Sony CE

Action/Adventure

When it comes to action games, Uncharted 3 is currently the gold standard. While it may not be as special to me as Uncharted 2 was at the time that it came out, it is as good, if not better. It had more unexpected turns. Nobody saw the chapter where you played as a young Nathan Drake coming between chapters of the awesome set piece missions that Uncharted has come to be known for. And make no mistake, this game's set pieces are the most insane of any Uncharted game. Unforgettable moments like the ship chapters, the burning down castle escape, and the cargo plane liftoff and fight stand out in particular. It's cinematic, sure, but it's also very interactive, perhaps more so than its predecessors in the series. You're climbing these walls while looking down and up, shooting and jumping your way through levels just like Indiana Jones would. But here, you're playing as Nathan Drake through a movie-like production with the best story of the trilogy.

GOTY Awards to its name: Best PS3 Exclusive 2011

7. L.A. Noire

2011

Team Bondi/Rockstar Games

Action/adventure

Here's a game that probably wouldn't wind up on many people's top ten, but I believe that L.A. Noire is an often neglected masterpiece and it's certainly one of my favorite games. I've plugged in 200+ hours into this game, unlocked the rare platinum trophy, had this game's data corrupt with my old PS3 and replayed the lost progress over again, drove every car in the game, etc. If you could do something on this game, I've probably done it, maybe twice. I only unlocked this game's platinum last year, after three years of first playing it. That said, I am still not sick of this game. I could pick it up right now and have a blast. Don't let this game's publisher and open world setting fool you, L.A. Noire is nothing like Grand Theft Auto, which maybe turns some people off. Instead of pulling off bank heists, listening to crude jokes, shooting 100 people in the face, killing anybody you want with anything you want, you'll be playing as L.A. police detective Cole Phelps. As Cole, you get to play the game in so many different and sometimes unique ways. You'll get assigned a case, drive to the crime scene with one of your partner cops, investigate the crime scene, interview and interrogate witnesses and persons of interest, and from then on, anything could happen. A witness could flee and you'll be in a car chase in pursuit. You could get a location, drive there, and find more clues and interview more people. Or you could get to the location and enter a giant shootout. The diversity of this game's gameplay is unmatched. And in my opinion, it's all great and interesting. The story takes many unexpected turns and is great and all, but the highlight of this game has to be its open world. It's actually unbelievable. I really cannot imagine how people created its massive open world which is PACKED with detail. The random houses that you pass on your way to an objective is just as detailed around its corners as the crime scenes that you investigate. Even more unbelievable is how authentic it is to 1940's L.A. There are well over 100 cars that are detailed after cars that existed in that time period. The outfits that the NPCs wear are just like they would look if you went in a time machine and went back to 1948. There are entire real life buildings that are faithfully recreated. It's an achievement in game design. And the sad thing is, because Bondi didn't give you many side missions that made you experience their high level of detail, many people missed out when playing it. But for people like me who always take their time and explore every inch of a game's map, Team Bondi's controversial work ethics didn't go unnoticed.

Favorite memory: While the story was great and had many cinematic twists and turns, nothing beats just driving around in the 1940s cars, listening to 1940s jams on the car radio, and taking in all the game's sights.

GOTY Awards to its name: Runner-up GOTY 2011, Best Soundtrack 2011, Best Graphics (Technical) 2011, Best Innovation 2011, Best New Character (Cole Phelps) 2011

6. Mass Effect Trilogy

2012/2011/2012

Bioware/EA

Action RPG

So here's the cheat pick that I hinted towards last blog. While I have a clear ranking of which games are my favorite in the trilogy (ME1 is by far my favorite while ME3 is by far my least favorite), splitting these games up feels wrong. Because while the games progressively felt more shooter than RPG which I didn't really like, they are all the same overall Mass Effect experience. Your actions that you make in the first game will carry over to the third game. So essentially, everybody who played this trilogy had a different experience with it. For some people, ME1 characters played a major role in ME3. For others, they didn't even make it past the first game because of the decisions that you made. It's brilliant really. Unprecedented. But for every played of the game, you still experienced the same ME universe. Through both story progression and reading those little codex pages, you learned about the different races, planets, space stations, galaxies, important characters, and historical events that Bioware carefully created. They created their own lore and its all so interesting. As a player in this universe, you know firsthand why the Salarians talk so fast, why there are so few Krogan, why the Quarians where masks, etc. The overall story of the trilogy is great and so are the characters involved, but it's the gameplay options that make Mass Effect 1 my favorite in the series by far. In ME1, a mix of RPG elements and third person shooting made for a perfect one-two punch and both applied to the game's story wonderfully.

Favorite memory: Exploring the Citadel was awesome, first fighting Harbinger on that planet where everybody was frozen was eerie, using the Mako in ME1 is now nostalgic. But the memory of Mass Effect that I love the most is simply just talking to your different allies on the Normandy like Garrus, Tali, and Liara and learning more about them and forming a bond between these characters is what's unforgettable.

GOTY Awards to its name: Best RPG 2012, Runner-up GOTY 2010, Best RPG 2010, Best Sci-fi Game 2010

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It's still snowing hard by the way, probably up to 5 feet now :P. The finale is next! All five of the games are masterpiece 10/10's in my opinion. Thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan