dylan417 Blog

Back from my Hiatus; PS4 Impressions

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It's been a few months since my last blog on here (my GOTY Awards finale), where I hinted that I might be leaving GS for good. I was flustered by the new site design and how it lacked almost everything I liked about GS. But, here I am. I'm pleasantly amazed that blog notifications are finally working and that game collections (or at least a thin shadow of what they used to be) are back. What's mostly not back is a lot the great users that I've met on here over the years. Unlike myself, it appears their exodus was permanent. But, there are still quite a few faces here on GS that I've come to know and respect. I've went over two months without writing about games and gaming just didn't feel quite the same. For me, writing about games (and movies, comics, TV, sports, etc.) is a lot of fun and it adds an element to the hobby of gaming itself, whatever it may be. So as long as I enjoy writing about games (and whatever, really), I'll continue to do so here on GS, even if this site isn't nearly what it used to be.

So, with this blog, I'd just like to write about what I've been playing and what I plan to post in my blogs looking ahead. I may not be able to really get into blogging again until midway through May (I have a crucial end to my college semester coming up with at least two huge papers to write) but right now, I somehow have the time.

PlayStation 4 At Last

Since mid-February, I've finally bought a PS4! I guess I'm rather fortunate because I still have yet to see one on a shelf at a store and as of right now, they are out of stock on Amazon. The story of how I got my console is a pretty neat story actually. First off, I take great pride in saying that I paid for my PS4 and the Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag game that I bought with it almost entirely with my 1st place winnings from my fantasy football league. So, I'm sitting in my car after my classes (very exhausted), just kind of relaxing for a few minutes and checking my Twitter account before I was going to embark on my 45 minute commute back home. Then, I find out via someone on Twitter that Amazon just received a brand new shipment of PlayStation 4s and that they currently had them for sale for a limited time. I originally thought that I wouldn't be able to get my hands on one until June at the earliest because of how hot they were (and still are), so I instantly decided that now would be only opportunity for a long while (I would have been right). I'm part of a rare breed of college teens that decidedly doesn't have a credit/debit card so if I was going to buy this PS4, it needed to be with an Amazon gift card sold over the counter. I safely-but-quickly-as-could-be drove all the way to my home (a lengthy commute I remind you), pick up my fantasy football winnings stash of $500, and drove to the local grocery store knowing that they have Amazon cards. I spotted a $500 Amazon card on a gift card rack and took it up to check out. The cashier lady looked at the card like it was some type of mystical object from outer space and said, "I had no idea they sold these this expensive" and was even more amused when I paid in 50, 20, and 10 dollar bills. Again, I drove home in a combination of speed and safety wondering if the PS4s were still even in stock and how dumb I would look returning the gift card if I even could. Thankfully, they were still in stock and I placed my order with Amazon Student Prime. It arrived two days later.

My impressions of the PS4 after a little less than two months with it are extremely positive. The graphics aren't nearly as improved from PS3 to PS4 as they were from PS2 to PS3 (or PS1 to PS2 for the matter) but the transition is very noticeable to say the least. The frame-rate and texturing details are the most impressive while the overall graphic quality is moderately higher than PS3's best. The DualShock 4 controller is a thing of beauty. It just fits and feels natural in my hands opposed to the uncomfortable DualShock 3 and the Xbox One's triangle controller that feels as it could slip from your grip at any moment. The touchpad is pretty cool for sifting through maps and when used as a gimmick, it actually does feel immersive if utilized the right way by developers. The speaker in the controller is also pretty nifty. I could see it becoming annoying if overused, but again, it does bring you closer to the game your playing. Infamous: Second Son (more on that later) uses the controller's features in some pretty cool ways like when Delsin (the protagonist) receives a call from his phone or sound effects as you absorb powers.

Moving on to the share feature, this is something that I am very excited about looking forward. Capturing a screenshot (whether you share it with friends or just want to keep for browsing) is very cool but clicking the share button to look back at your last 15 or so minutes of gameplay and keeping or sharing it is absolutely awesome. It's something that truly amazes me in a "only next-gen" way. Sony is soon to release an app where you can edit your captures video into bits and combine them to other clips. The end result can be a montage of your greatest moments while playing the game. I already have a few captures ready to be edited and combined as soon as the app hits. Again, it's something that really excites me because you really couldn't do this before without expensive equipment and the know-how. I'm already imagining my Fallout 4 montage!!! *Slow down, Dylan*

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the PS4 is how quick and powerful it is. It literally inspires awe. You can play a game (downloaded or on-disc), press pause, go the PS4 home screen, look at your trophies, talk to Jimmy and Josie, watch an episode of House of Cards (loving that show) on Netflix, instantly connect to the store without any loading whatsoever, see what your friends are playing, and then resume playing your game. All within a snap of your finger. It's like *snap* that. It's actually identical to what was shown in the advertising.

So yes, I am very pleased with my PS4 and can't wait to see what the future holds for it. And that's just it. This console (and presumably the XB1) is built for the future and will certainly be much improved five years from now. Compare the PS3 in 2007 to what it was in 2013 and imagine what the PS4 can turn into. The one thing I'm a bit bummed about is the lack of games for it. I have Assassin's Creed IV, Infamous, and Resogun and that's all that I want. Killzone looks boring, Knack and Battlefield 4 are supposedly broken, etc. The tough thing is, there isn't a whole lot that's on its way (the same can be said for the XB1) in the coming months and even leading into the end of the year. Of course, we do not know about every game yet (E3 is right around the corner), but only Batman: Arkham Knight has me excited for the PS4 in 2014 and we have yet to see it in action. I have serious questions about The Order 1886, Driveclub, The Crew, Watch Dogs, The Evil Within, and Destiny. Of course 2015 and beyond will be incredible (and my PS3 and handy 3DS are still receiving just as much attention), but what's on deck for my PS4 until then? We'll all find out at E3 I guess.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

What an odd game. At one moment, it feels like a greatest hits mission of the AC I've come to love, and only minutes later, it feels nothing like an AC game at all. I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing. Assassin's Creed I like and I've always wanted a pirate game, but together they do not feel right. Again, all the AC stuff you would expect is great, but the pirate stuff (the at-sea stuff in general) can be anywhere from fun and engaging to a major turnoff and a pain-in-the-ass. I'm not saying it's an unwelcome addition to the AC franchise, but I hope that Assassin's Creed: Unity has nothing to do with a damn ship and a lot to do with sneaking among crowds, climbing famous architecture, and assassinating a secret Templar. This series needs to return to its roots.

I will say that Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag looks and plays absolutely beautiful on the PS4. It was the first PS4 game I played and I was initially amazed and I still do just kind of stop in the game, look around and admire how great it looks. The verdict is still out on its score from me. Likely an 8.

Infamous: Second Son

This blog is getting long! :P Here are some bullets:

- The main story I astonishingly short and uneventful. It's mostly fun and shows signs of greatness at its best moments, but the main story felt like a missed opportunity when you compare it to the rest of the game and wonder about what it could have been.

- The superpower gameplay is addicting, empowering, and completely fun. It controls almost perfectly. Each of the powers feel unique and fun. The leveling system is tried but true.

- The game looks extremely sharp. The scenery of Seattle and the resolution of Delsin's powers is jaw-dropping.

- It uses the PS4's features very well. The new Photo Mode feature can't be missed.

- Characters aren't drawn out well at all; mostly forgettable. I felt great chemistry between Delsin and Fetch (the neon chick) but then she disappears until the end, which again, I didn't have to wait very long for. Major missed opportunity, this game's story should have been at least twice as long.

- Thankfully, there's a ton to do in he sandbox world. No, there aren't any cool side missions with stories a la Red Dead Redemption, but battling the DUP and exploring is super fun.

- The game is a bit challenging, which I think is good.

- I still think that Infamous 1 is the best of the series. It was so fresh and cool with an interesting story. Plus, I felt connected to the world of Empire City. SS doesn't have that going for it.

- Overall, I'd probably rate it an 8.0/10, maybe an 8.5 if you catch me in the right mood. I hope Sucker Punch does something completely new next while a different, smaller developer could take the reins of this series and provide a sequel with a lengthy story with a cool plot while maintaining the tech. I'd love to see the same supporting characters back again but used more like Nix and Quo from Infamous 2.

Castle of Illusion

Last year's Castle of Illusion Mickey Mouse remake was free for PS Plus subscribers this week. Played it, liked it. I didn't play the original, but this game reminded me of old-school game design which is really cool. It's 2.5D and quite challenging. At moments, the game design is nothing short of genius. But it has its large share of flaws and is as short as you'd expect from a little downloadable game. Can be beaten in two sittings with nothing intriguing to go back and do. No Platinum trophy neither. It's worth it if you can score it for free. I'd give it a 7.0/10.

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That's all for now. If you read this before or during Easter, I'd highly recommend taking a look at the PSN sale going on right now until Sunday. There are like 30 downloadable games for sale for just $1. I just bought the last Spyro game I needed (recently replayed 1 & 2) and all three Crash Bandicoot games for less than $4. It's a crazy deal, check it out. My Top 35 PlayStation 3 Games mega-list is coming soon! Thanks for reading and please comment :)

- Dylan

2013 GOTY Awards Finale: Game of the Year

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Links to Parts I-IV:

Part I: Tech Awards

Part II: Random Awards

Part III: Genre Awards

Part IV: Platform Awards

The finale to my 2013 Game of the Year Awards consists of three awards including my 2013 Game of the Year selection, the runner-up Game of the Year, and my Most Anticipated Game of 2014. I will also have an Olympic style award count for each game.

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Game of the Year

Winner: The Last of Us

There were four or five 2013 games that I played that are Game of the Year worthy. Pokémon Y, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Bioshock: Infinite, and maybe GTA V could have gave my 2012 GOTY Assassin's Creed III a run for its money. 2013 was a great gaming year for me. And I haven't even played LoZ: A Link Between Worlds yet. But above all of these games for me is The Last of Us, hands down. Over this last generation, we've seen a renaissance for story telling in videogames. But the problem is, some games get too carried away with their story that the gameplay often has to sit in the passenger seat. A perfect, well-treaded example of this is Bioshock Infinite. One moment consists of defeating all sorts of enemies with guns and super powers and the next moment consists of a cinematic moment that advances the plot. They hardly ever overlapped. In The Last of Us however, I never sensed a drop-off between the story and the combat. Both the gameplay and story are unmatched in my opinion. I felt like I was with Joel and Ellie throughout their adventure and that each strangle, gunshot, or step felt like part of the story that I was controlling. And despite the infected, it felt like a true story because of how gripping and emotionally draining it was from start to finish. At times, it showed (through story and gameplay) how dark and miserable our world can be and also how beautiful and hopeful our world can be. I could get into each and every aspect of the game and why they all combine to make The Last of Us my Game of the Year like I did over the past four blogs, but I think the game speaks for itself. It's a rare masterpiece that I feel will leave an impression on video games heading into the PS4/XBO generation.

2012 Winner: Assassin's Creed III

2011 Winner: Batman: Arkham City

2010 Winner: Red Dead Redemption

(The rest are just looking back and deciding what would have been my GOTY)

2009 Winner: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

2008 Winner: Fallout 3

2007 Winner: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

2006 Winner: Kingdom Hearts II

2005 Winner: Star Wars: Battlefront II

2004 Winner: Jak 3

2003 Winner: Jak II

2002 Winner: Kingdom Hearts

2001 Winner: Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

2000 Winner: Spyro: Year of the Dragon

1999 Winner: Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage

1998 Winner: Pokémon Red/Blue

1997 Winner: GoldenEye 007

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Runner-Up Game of the Year

Winner: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni no Kuni is almost the polar opposite of The Last of Us in just about every way. And it happens to be one of my favorite games of this generation and maybe of all-time. That just goes to show how versatile videogames can be. Ni no Kuni is a throwback to the JRPGs I played on the PS1 when I was a little kid like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IX, and Legend of Legaia. Through and through, Ni no Kuni is a JRPG with its exploration, player choice, turn based gameplay, inventory system, and pick-up-whenever-and-play (for hours) mentality. But it's a bit more than that. JRPGs have had a hard time adjusting to the advancements in the videogame industry (just look at how far Final Fantasy has fallen. Ni no Kuni did things right. It has that old school feel to it, but it looks and plays very modern. It tells a touching story with unforgettable characters, has a brilliant art style done by none other than Studio Ghibli, has a wonderful score by the legendary Joe Hisaishi, and it borrows elements from the right games while making them their own. What's scary but true is that not a lot of people (myself included) would have even thought about getting this game if it wasn't for Studio Ghibli. Ghibli sold the game (figuratively) and it felt like a Ghibli experience married to my favorite JRPGs. There isn't more I could ask for.

2012 Winner: Far Cry 3

2011 Winner: L.A. Noire

2010 Winners: Heavy Rain & Mass Effect 2 (tie)

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Most Anticipated Game of 2014

Winner: Infamous: Second Son

It's kind of odd to explain why I am looking forward to Infamous Second Son so much. I really liked both Infamous game on PS3, but I wouldn't put them in the same league as some of my all-time favorite games that have had sequels that had me super-hyped. I think that's because Infamous: Second Son looks like its own game and own fresh experience. It looks like Sucker Punch is moving on from Infamous into something greater. It has more of a realistic but even flashier design, a protagonist who is excited to have his super powers and doesn't have to deal with any burden, and gameplay with different objectives and a new feel. Over all of these aspects is that the game looks like the first true next gen game alongside a select few games that are still far away. It looks like it's taking the powerful PS4 tech on a joyride, set to show off all its bells and whistles. I'm excited to get my super powers and just go explore this dystopian Seattle and interact with everything. I love sandbox games. Infamous: Second Son has a chance to take sandbox games into a bold new place. On top of it all, Sucker Punch hasn't given away too much about it; there is still so much we don't know about unlike some of my past anticipated games that had new information released every week about it. It's a mystery with an almost guaranteed chance of being spectacular.

2012 Winners: Grand Theft Auto V & The Last of Us

2011 Winner: Jak & Daxter Collection

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Final Award Count:

(excludes awards for Most Anticipated, Biggest Disappointment, Best Handheld, & Best Console)

- The Last of Us - 10

- Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - 4

- Bioshock Infinite - 3

- Batman: Arkham Origins - 3

- Super Mario World 3D - 2

- Grand Theft Auto V - 2

- Resogun - 2

- Forza Motorsport 5 - 2

- Pokémon X/Y - 1

- Metro: Last Light - 1

- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - 1

- Injustice: Gods Among Us - 1

- Tearaway - 1

- MLB 13: The Show - 1

- Gears of War: Judgement - 1 (by default)

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That's that. This might actually be my final official blog here on Gamespot after five years. It's just not the same site anymore. It may not be my final blog here, I don't know. If it is, I'll have a farewell blog soon. I've already decided to move to another site for blogging (more on that later), but I might still copy and paste the blogs to here on GS too. But until then, thanks for reading and please comment :)

Videogame Music of the Day: The Last of Us Main Theme

- Dylan

2013 GOTY Awards Part IV: Platform Awards

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The second to last part of my five-part Game of the Year Awards blog series is all about how the different platforms line up against each other. The major platforms anyway; I will award the best exclusive for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, and 3DS. I will also recognize one console and one handheld as the best of the year 2013. One award that sticks out from the bunch would be the Best Re-Release, which accounts fro remakes, re-masters, HD updates, remixes, etc. Here we go (in a Mario voice):

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Best Xbox One Exclusive

Winner: Forza Motorsport 5

Like its PS4 rival, the Xbox One did not launch with a killer exclusive. It's three major exclusives: Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, and Forza Motorsport 5 each gathered divisive reviews from critics and gamers alike. Ryse was scorned for being too repetitive and QTE-heavy. Dead Rising 3 disappointed long-time fans of the series and didn't appeal to a broad audience. Forza 5 didn't bring much to the veteran Xbox series, but few would deny that it is a fun and quite good game overall. Racing games have become a showcase for a console's graphics, and Forza 5 does make the Xbox One look good.

(1st Annual)

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Best Xbox 360 Exclusive

Winner: Gears of War: Judgment

According to my research, this was the only exclusive Xbox 360 game of 2013 besides a few not-so-noteworthy Xbox Live exclusives. The game was received well by critics but poorly by fans of the series. In any case, it was the only retail exclusive. I'm not kidding. So yeah...

2012 Winner: Halo 4

2011 Winner: Gears of War 3

2010 Winner: Alan Wake

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Best PlayStation 4 Exclusive

Winner: Resogun

Like I said with Xbox One's exclusive games at launch, there wasn't much to write home about. Not yet. The big guns for the PS4 and XB1 are yet to be released. But unlike the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 did have a bite-sized exclusive in 2013 that was received very well be critics and is currently giving PS4 owners a modern but old-school arcade experience. Resogun is easy to pick up, challenging to master, and hard to put down.

(1st Annual)

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Best PlayStation 3 Exclusive

Winner: The Last of Us

The PlayStation 3 had a wide variety of exclusive games to choose from in 2013. In almost any other year, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch could have had a good shot but for me, it was The Last of Us that left the biggest impression. It was a game unlike anything I've ever experienced and it was just a modern masterpiece that I think will have a huge effect on gaming. It had an unbelievably strong and personal story with fresh gameplay experiences that fit right into the story from start to finish. It also had a haunting and addictive multiplayer component.

2012 Winner: Journey

2011 Winner: Uncharted 3: Drake's Fortune

2010 Winner: Heavy Rain

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Best Wii U Exclusive

Winner: Super Mario 3D World

Safe? Yes. Revolutionary? No. Innovative? Yes. Fun? Yes. On the heels of 2012, which brought a 2D Mario using and avoiding the same adjectives, 2013 gave Wii U owners Super Mario 3D World, which brought Mario and friends into the realm of HD 3D. While some would be shocked that it has taken this long, SM3DW looks and plays like a next-gen game that could only be put on shelves today. The latest Mario game has an emphasis on four player co-op (four people fighting over the Wii U pad while the others get stuck with the Wiimote, reminds me of giving my friends the MadCatz controllers) and cats, both of which could be constants for the Super Mario series going forward.

2012 Winner: New Super Mario Bros. U

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Best PlayStation Vita Exclusive

Winner: Tearaway

Tearaway isn't a game designed to appeal to a large crowd in the way that Super Mario or Assassin's Creed do, it's something of an experimental game from Media Molecule that showcases everything that makes the PS Vita a great piece of technology that unfortunately isn't getting any love from publishers or consumers in a similar way to the Wii U. Tearaway is everything you could ask for from a small game tailor made for a specific platform; it's creative and has an authentic visual style that makes it charming. I'm among the crowd who doesn't have a Vita, but games like this make we start to think about buying one, hoping that developers and publishers recognize that the PS Vita has potential.

2012 Winner: LittleBigPlanet Vita

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Best 3DS Exclusive

Winner: Pokémon X/Y

Before you mention A Link Between Worlds, which I have yet to play but know exactly what it would offer, I think that Pokémon X/Y did a more impressive job of breathing new life into a long-running franchise to ensure that it has a place in the future. While ALBW plays more on nostalgia of one of the greatest games every made while implementing new gameplay concepts, Pokémon X/Y is a complete refresh button for one of gaming's most notorious franchises. After going about six years without playing a Pokémon game, I picked up Pokémon Black a couple years back and was immediately unimpressed and realizing that the series has gone nowhere except maybe downwards since Ruby/Sapphire. The Pokémon themselves were lame, the gameplay felt rehashed and I found it to be missing that sense of wonder that Pokémon had on my childhood of exploring an extraordinary world and obsessing over your personal Pokedex, "catching them all". I will say that Pokémon Black had a very interesting story that actually kept me playing, but in the end, I thought that I had made a huge mistake by augmenting my Pokémon memories from my childhood and thought that Pokémon was going down the drain the same way most series do after a certain amount of time. Enter Pokémon Y. I was caught off guard with everyone else when Nintendo revealed that Pokémon would be coming to the 3DS and bringing so many interesting changes to the series that I used to dream about when I was a little dylan417. No more grid walking, the game world is in 3D. Each Pokémon has their own set of animations (which are beautifully realized). Pokémon from past generations are all together in one content along with brand new, surprisingly awesome Pokémon (a bunch from this generation are probably among my top twenty all-time favorites). Throw in some more elements like mega-evolution and player customization and I was all in ready to get me Pokémon on again. Unlike Pokémon Black, this return to Pokémon was/is (I'm still playing the buttons off my 3DS) the joy I was hoping for. I can't wait to see where Pokémon goes from here (I'm personally dying for a Ruby/Sapphire remake in 3D).

2012 Winner: Kid Icarus: Uprising

2011 Winner: Super Mario 3D Land

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Best Re-Release

Winner: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

As much as I would love to give it to the awesome Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix that I have actually played, I have to give this award to The Wind Waker remake that I have yet to play fully, seeing as I do not own a Wii U yet (A new LoZ officially announced and shown is all I ask). The hour or so that I did play at a sibling's house was jaw-dropping. I remember Wind Waker looking good back in the GameCube days, but damn. The artistic style of Wind Waker looks glorious in HD and it feels next-gen when you play it. Thanks to the Wii's funky motion controls (I hate motion controls with a passion outside of Wii Sports) and oddness overall, I forgot what it was like to play a legit Legend of Zelda game. Even the simple stuff (which is mostly what I played) like wandering around a village out gold, green, and blue and talking to residents and collecting Rupees is a pure delight. I can't wait to buy a Wii U (2015 most likely) and play the impressive lineup of games it has just two years in, with this game at the top of the queue.

2012 Winner: Jak & Daxter Collection

2011 Winner: ICO Collection

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Console of the Year

Winner: PlayStation 3

While I do like where the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U are headed, PS3 wins by a landslide. There weren't hardly any games that came out last year that the PS3 was lacking. Instead, it was the other consoles that were on the outside looking in. PS3 exclusives included new IPs like The Last of Us, Ni no Kuni, Puppeteer, Dragon's Crown, and Beyond: Two Souls while existing and loved franchises like Sly Cooper, Gran Turismo, God of War, and Kingdom Hearts all got new releases. PlayStation is known to pack the exclusives, and 2013 was one of their greatest years yet in this regard. Also very important as a leg up on their competition was seeing PlayStation Plus blossom into one of the greatest deals in entertainment history. A year subscription for $50 would have bought you great games like Borderlands 2, Hotline Miami, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Hitman: Absolution, OddWorld: Munch's Odyssey, Battlefield 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Saints Row The Third, XCOM Enemy Unknown, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Sleeping Dogs, Spec Ops: The Line, Vanquish, and Mega Man 9 & 10. All for $50 on top of constant discounts, savings, and other features. PS+ is growing strong and puts Xbox Live to shame in a rather embarrassing way. Most importantly, 2013 saw tremendous sales for the PS3, which was at one time as dead as the Wii U is right now. While PS3 still has a lot of life left in it, 2013 will forever be remembered as its swan song year that brought everything the PlayStation 3 stood for.

2012 Winner: PlayStation 3

2011 Winner: Xbox 360

2010 Winner: PlayStation 3

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Handheld of the Year

Winner: Nintendo 3DS

Even though the 3DS again had almost no competition from the PS Vita and would have won this award anyways, the 3DS had a truly amazing year full of great games that could only be experienced on the grandchild the GameBoy would be proud of including The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Pokémon X/Y, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Project X Zone, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and Fire Emblem: Awakening. it's the best lineup of games for a single platform in a single year that I can think of at the moment. And there wasn't even a true Mario game. The outlook for the 3DS in 2014 looks weak at the moment, but don't forget that both LoZ:ALBW and Pokémon X/Y were announced in the same year they released. The 3DS is on a roll, it's keeping Nintendo afloat even with the disastrous start of the Wii U, and I doubt they would abandon it. I've been a Nintendo owner since the age of like 6 when my uncle gave me his old GameBoy (the OG, fat one) with the original Tetris and Super Mario Land. I love Nintendo and all that they stand for. I honestly think that they are going to successful this generation with the combo of the Wii U and the 3DS, they are just going to need to do it all themselves because nobody is willing to make games for a system nobody owns. It just does not make sense from a business perspective. Give the Wii U a Super Mario Galaxy type game of innovation, a brand new modern Legend of Zelda that blows people away, Mario Kart, DKC, and Super Smash Bros. and then tell me that the Wii U is still dead. I see all these games happening before 2016 hits and at the end of the 2016 year, Nintendo will be back where they belong. The monster year that the 3DS had in terms of sales and games is the kickstart that Nintendo needed.

2012 Winner: Nintendo 3DS

2011 Winner: Nintendo 3DS

2010 Winner: PlayStation Portable

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Just to let whoever know, I did not write this all in one sitting :P This kind of explains why it took so long to post, that and I've been super busy with college and a bunch of daily stuff nobody here cares about. The only free time I've had outside of socializing ad whatnot went to playing games and watching movies. I've platinumed my eighth PS3 game and started to replay some favorites, more on that next blog. Thanks for reading and please comment :)

Song of the Day: Legendary Music from Pokémon X/Y

^ Hearing this was one of my favorite 2013 gaming memories! :)

- Dylan

2013 GOTY Awards Part III: Genre Awards

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Let's get right to it. Here is part three (of five) of my fourth annual Game of the Year Awards. This blog is all about the eight different genres.

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Best Sports Game

Winner: MLB 13: The Show

After a bit of bummer installment in 2012, which I thought was too difficult and lacked features outside of PS Move and Vita connectivity, my two-time winner of this award came back strong. It had the perfect balance between realistic and fun while finding the right difficulty range, which is often an issue for sports games. The different game modes like season and playoff are fully realized and quickly become addictive and thrilling, especially for baseball fans. The most impressive feature of MLB 13: The Show is how authentic it is to MLB baseball. The Show's David Ortiz looks, plays, and acts like the real David Ortiz. If you put Big Papi in the outfield for some reason, don't expect a Jim Edmonds-like catch from him. But it's not just that simple. Small details matter in The Show, like how CC Sabathia loosely wears his uniform or how Bryce Harper smears his eye black or exactly how even small players like Jed Lowrie stand in the batter's box. SCE San Diego continually improves upon their series each year and is obsessive when it comes to making their baseball games feel as authentic as possible. Their games are so impressive and so universally praised that it singlehandedly forced the abysmal 2K Baseball series out of business to form a monopoly of sorts.

2012 Winner: SSX

2011 Winner: MLB 11: The Show

2010 Winner: MLB 10: The Show

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Best Racing Game

Winner: Forza Motorsport 5

It was the off year for Need for Speed, where Criterion Games (or what's sadly left of them) did not develop this year's annual installment. We haven't heard from the brilliant Burnout series since Burnout Paradise back in 2008 (also developed by Criterion). No Mario Kart or Sonic Racing either. Sony decided to release Gran Turismo 6 (arguably their biggest franchise) on the PS3 instead of the (at the time) recently released PS4 while failing to set the game apart from GT5 and failing to promote the game successfully. So by default, Forza 5 wins? Because graphics, I guess. Moving on.

*Note: With The Crew and DriveClub coming next year, this should be an exciting genre once again!*

2012 Winner: Need for Speed: Most Wanted

2011 Winner: Forza Motorsport 4

2010 Winner: Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

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Best Horror Game

Winner: Metro: Last Light

I was originally going to give this award to The Last of Us because that game is absolutely terrifying at times, but it felt wrong giving the game two awards in two different genres. Instead, I chose to give this award to another game that creeped me out and made me jump many times and that game is called Metro: Last Light. While I do have a few issues with Metro: LL including how it often lacks direction and how forgettable the characters are, there's no denying that the Ukraine-developed sequel is pretty damn scary. It may not exactly be a horror game, but seeing as how the genre is in the dumpster for now, I decided a few years ago that any game with horror elements is eligible. Without spoiling anything, there are moments in this post-apocalyptic FPS where intimidating beasts pop out of nowhere as well as moments that were designed to instill a sense of fear in you like walking down a dark hall full of hallucinations/ghosts. What I found most frightening was the fear of running out of supplies. In Metro: LL, you have to use ammunition, oxygen, and light sparingly, which is not easy and certainly intense when in a hostile area far from friendlies.

2012 Winner: The Walking Dead

2011 Winner: Dead Space 3

2010 Winner: Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare

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Best Fighting Game

Winner: Injustice: Gods Among Us

From the developers of the acclaimed Mortal Kombat reboot in 2011 came the second attempt to make a fighting game using characters from the DC Comics universe. This time however, the mix between Mortal Kombat and DC Comics was near perfect and everything a DC fanboy could ask for. Injustice had a decent sized roster including Batman, Nightwing, Solomon Grundy, and Wonder Woman. Each character had their strengths and weaknesses and overall did a good job balancing the roster, which of course is always an issue for even the best fighting games. Injustice would have been a success if it only had one on one battles between the best comic book characters of all time, but Injustice surprised all with its original and interesting story, which tied into an original comic book series. My only beef with Injustice is how it held back characters and costumes as paid DLC, which I think is a very cheap sucker punch. But if you look past that, Injustice could be considered with Street Fighter IV, Mortal Kombat, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl as one of the best fighting games of this generation.

2012 Winner: PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale

2011 Winner: Mortal Kombat

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Best Platforming Game

Winner: Super Mario 3D World

Nintendo yet again breathed new life and creativity into its timeless Super Mario 3D series. While it is not as amazing or revolutionary as Super Mario Galaxy, it is certainly a fun game to sit down and play either by yourself or with friends. One thing that impressed me while playing it for a brief time (I won't buy a Wii U until there's a new Legend of Zelda for it) was how the game looked and played. It's the first time Super Mario 3D is in HD and the game looks as fantastic as it plays. As for the platforming, it's as fun as you would expect, if not more.

2012 Winner: New Super Mario Bros. U

2011 Winner: Rayman Origins

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Best Shooter

Winner: Bioshock Infinite

While they do not mix well together, Bioshock Infinite has a mind-blowing story and simple but amazingly fun FPS mechanics. Irrational Games is one of the best FPS developers of all-time and Bioshock Infinite is a testament to that. As with the original Bioshock, the star of the game is the game world that you explore and shoot up. I've already said a few words last blog about how amazing the atmosphere and level design is in this game and the story can't be properly explained with spoilers, so that leaves gameplay, which should always be at the center of FPS games. As I previously said, the combat is fairly simple and does not tie into the story as well as the original Bioshock did, but it is very tight and constantly explosive. The skyhook is a very important part of the combat and exploration, and jumping off a balcony to an air-rail and then jumping off of it onto an enemy is quite the rush. Another key element of the combat that differs from the original Bioshock is Elizabeth. Not only does she scramble around the level and toss over useful ammo, but she can be ordered to open 'tears' that bring in automatic guns and cover. It's a gameplay feature that many often forget, which is a shame because I thought it was key and quite neat. Overall, I had a blast playing through Bioshock Infinite and I honestly think the game receives a lot of unfair criticism.

2012 Winner: Far Cry 3

2011 Winner: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (*facepalm*)

2010 Winner: Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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Best RPG

Winner: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

I could have easily given this award to the awesome Pokémon X/Y, but I think Ni no Kuni deserves more attention. Yes, it has Studio Ghibli visuals, a magnificent score by Joe Hisaishi, and a touching, adventurous story, but its RPG gameplay is perhaps the true star of the game. Ni no Kuni's gameplay is a throwback to the 90's old school JRPGs that I love and miss like Final Fantasy IX, Legend of Legaia, and Chrono Trigger. Roaming the fantasy world and engaging in the command-style gameplay made me feel like a kid in the late 90's/early 00's again, which is special. It requires grinding, yes, but it all adds to the experience of playing an old school JRPG type game. Collecting various key items and completing side quests are JRPG constants that have carried over into many different genres and subgenres, but I feel that Ni no Kuni does this as well if not better than modern games with RPG elements like The Elder Scrolls or Mass Effect for some reason. Perhaps it's the magical world of Ni no Kuni or the classic JRPG gameplay. In any case, everything about Ni no Kuni is near perfect and charming in a nostalgic way while still remaining modern. It's the return of the JRPG that I waited a decade for.

2012 Winner: Mass Effect 3

2011 Winner: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

2010 Winner: Mass Effect 2

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Best Action/Adventure

Winner: The Last of Us

I feel like I've talked about this game so much that I have no idea what to say about it anymore :P I would try to focus solely on its excellent gameplay, but I find that very hard to do because the story of The Last of Us is so important to this game and unlike so many games including Bioshock Infinite, it ties in perfectly to the gameplay throughout the adventure. When you sneak up behind someone and silently strangle them, it's very intense and quite disturbing. The enemy struggles for about 8 seconds before he goes down and this feels like it has repercussions to both your combat plan (the excellent AI might catch you) and Joel (in an emotionally draining way), as crazy as that sounds, perhaps it's just because you feel so connected to the characters throughout their adventure. Another point I want to make is just how brilliant the game is on the fundamental level of level design and enemy AI. Hardly any combat scenario in this game is scripted and can only be done a certain way. Instead, you the player get to decide how you want to take on a group of bandits or infected. You can grab a brick, throw it into a corner, wait for them to investigate, then stealthily attack them with any arrangement of handmade weapons. Or you could pick up a rare assault rifle and engage in a firefight. Or you could just sneakily avoid the enemies altogether. All the while, it feels like its scripted and part of the designed story, but it's not. This makes TLOU a personal game with an amazing story that ties directly into the combat. I can't think of another action/adventure game (besides maybe Red Dead Redemption for different reasons) that amazed me more than The Last of Us.

2012 Winner: Assassin's Creed III

2011 Winner: Batman: Arkham City

2010 Winner: Red Dead Redemption

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That's all for this blog. Be sure to keep an eye out for part four of my GOTY awards which focuses on platform exclusives.

Videogame Music of the Day: Rose of May from Final Fantasy IX

- Dylan

2013 GOTY Awards Part II: Random Awards

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Before I get to the awards, three things:

1. HBO Go is coming to PS3 and PS4! This is personally exciting for me because I love HBO's programming (the old and the new; have yet to watch The Wire, Sopranos, most of Boardwalk Empire) but do not have a 360 or a tablet (would never want either), my phone screen is too small to get the full experience, and my PC does not run the video for some reason. I want to re-watch Game of Thrones to prepare for the upcoming season (April 6!) like I did last year as well as watch a lot of shows that I missed out on. It's also going to be extremely convenient for me, seeing how my family has only have one TV hooked up to DirecTV. So yeah, I'm excited for the HBO Go app!

2. I saw Wolf of Wall Street today. I saw it alone in theaters, which was new for me (it was a noon showing, friends were busy). I actually really enjoyed seeing a movie alone at a theater. While a comedy or an action movie wouldn't be the same without companions, I think the solo experience is better for dramas that maybe you are really excited to see. As for the movie itself, I loved it. I'm a big Scorsese and Leo fan and I can honestly say that Wolf of Wall Street is among their career bests. The movie is crazy. There's a ridiculous amount of drugs, cursing, and nudity throughout the movie. So much so, that a lady walked out of theater midway through it. Personally, I don't mind, but I can easily see why there's so much controversy around it. I'm actually surprised that it wasn't edited more, but I'm glad Scorsese's vision was kept intact. And what a vision it is. Like his movies GoodFellas and Casino, Wolf of Wall Street tells an epic true story about the rise and fall of the main character. Only with Wolf, there's less murder and violence, and more money and partying. Naturally, the movie is very fast in terms of pacing and surprisingly doesn't feel long for its three-hour length. Leonardo DiCaprio truly deserves to finally win an Oscar. It's such an unorthodox and energetic performance, and every line and every expression that he makes is on point. The all-star supporting cast is great too. If you like crime epics, you would love Wolf of Wall Street as I did. Just don't watch it with your family, TRUST ME. 5/5

3. Minutes after seeing Wolf of Wall Street, I was pleased to discover that it had multiple Academy Award nominations as it truly deserves them including noms for Best Picture, Best Director, Adapted Screenplay (I think), Supporting Actor for Jonah Hill (who again surprised me with his acting, it's time to seriously start considering him as a great actor), and Best Actor for Leo, who better finally win! :P Overall, I'm fine with the nominations for what seems like the first time in forever. I wish Prisoners got some more love and I was surprised that the two Tom Hanks flicks didn't receive much love whatsoever (I haven't seen either so I can't argue). I can certainly understand why Monsters U. wasn't nominated (can't see why The Croods was) as some are complaining. I just thought it was very safe, weak, and uncalled for. I'm also very happy that The Butler wasn't nominated at all because of how pretentious it is.

On to part two of my Game of the Year awards. This time, the 'random' awards that are a bit of fun and simply do not fit into the other categories. Here we go:

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Hero of the Year & Badass of the Year

Winner: Batman from Batman: Arkham Origins

Who else? If there's a Batman game, Batman is going to win these categories every year. Even though I don't think very highly of this game outside of its main story and all the elements related to it, the rookie developer truly understands Batman and they get his character down well. Batman is in his early years and has to take down a list of villains whom he is meeting for the very first time. With his fists, intellect, and questionably robust utility belt, players get to control the caped crusader and save Gotham City yet again. Picking off wrongdoers stealthily is still a rush and brawling a crowd of goons is remarkably fun and empowering.

2012 Hero: Lee Everett from The Walking Dead

2011 Hero: Batman from Batman: Arkham City

2012 Badass: Connor from Assassin's Creed III

2011 Badass: Batman from Batman Arkham City

2010 Badass: John Marston from Red Dead Redemption

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Villain of the Year

Winner: The Joker from Batman: Arkham Origins

*Arkham Origins & City SPOILERS ahead*

Going into Arkham Origins, I was a bit surprised and amused that Black Mask was the main villain behind the game. I was also wondering when the Joker would pop up. Then bang. In perhaps the game's best moment, it is revealed that it is The Joker who is indeed the game's top villain and rightfully so. When he robs Sionis and takes over his henchmen, you really get the sense that The Joker is powerful and that you will be in for one hell of ride. And a hell of ride it is from that point on. With a new writer and voice, The Joker is as menacing and spontaneous as ever. The interaction between Batman and his arch nemesis to be is a huge highlight of the game. Kudos to the newcomer talent.

2012 Villain: Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3

2011 Villain: Ra's al Ghul from Batman: Arkham City

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New Character & Character of the Year

Winner: Joel and Ellie from The Last of Us

Maybe I am cheating here, but these characters are so complimentary to one another that I couldn't choose just one. I had a long paragraph here written about them and what they mean to each other and how they compliment each other both in terms of gameplay and story, but I deleted it because if you have played the game, you understand perfectly. If not, I don't want to spoil anything and you should really go out, buy it, and play it.

2012 New Character: Lee Everett from The Walking Dead

2011 New Character: Cole Phelps from L.A. Noire

2012 Character: Lee Everett from The Walking Dead

2011 Character: Altair from Assassin's Creed: Revelations

2010 Character: John Marston from Red Dead Redemption

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Biggest Disappointment

Loser: SimCity

This award could go to a number of games that did not live up to expectations. Beyond: Two Souls, Sonic: The Lost World, Knack, Ryse: Son of Rome, God of War: Ascension, Gear of War: Judgment, Remember Me, Deadpool, or Aliens: Colonial Marines would have been fair game. But perhaps no game was more unfortunately hyped up than the EA disaster that was SimCity. 2013 was supposed to mark the return of one of the most popular simulation/strategy series of all-time. However, the game was met with harsh criticism towards EA. The game could not function properly without internet connection. Players had difficulty downloading the game and connecting to EA servers, both of which caused a network outage for EA's Origin. When the game did launch for players, problems involving crashing, long load times, disconnections that prevented them from playing, lag, and loss of save data. The game was pulled from several retailers for a time being and many people questioned how EA responded to the disaster, which helped them land a back-to-back vote as the worst company in America. Just now has EA supposedly fixed the many issues.

2012 Loser: Resident Evil 6

2011 Loser: Dead Island

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Most Pleasant Surprise

Winner: Resogun

This exclusive PlayStation 4 launch game from the makers of the Super Stardust series received very little attention before its launch, where it was free for PlayStation Plus subscribers. It proved that in an industry filled with cinematic, story driven blockbusters and shooters, arcade games can still rock. It's highly addictive and brings players back to old school gaming days at the arcade, competing for high scores and whatnot. But unlike so many other modern arcade games, Resogun feels fresh, looks beautiful, and could only be made now. I haven't played the game aside from a few runs at a demo kiosk, but I can't wait to play it more and challenge my friends' high scores.

2012 Winner: Assassin Creed III's naval gameplay

2011 Winner: Rayman Origins

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Best Atmosphere

Winner: Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite draws criticism for its gameplay not connecting to its story hardly at all and for its religious themes, both of which have turned off many. I don't think anybody would argue about the game's atmosphere. The city in the sky known as Columbia is an absolute marvel in terms of game design. I took my time with Infinite by exploring every corner of open world (non-sandbox style) and really soaked everything in. Looking at the beautiful architecture when you first step foot outside left me speechless. Listening to the different backstories in the voxophones was interesting. Walking around in the melancholy moments of the game was also oddly fascinating. Bioshock is all about the game world and the atmosphere packed with secrets and history waiting to be revealed, the third installment may not trump the original, but it is unique in this department and kept me playing from start to finish along with its excellent story and simply fun gameplay.

2012 Winner: Assassin's Creed III

2011 Winner: Batman: Arkham City

2010 Winner: Red Dead Redemption

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Best Moment

Winner: The calm before the storm in The Last of Us

*The Last of Us SPOILERS ahead*

Just before you enter the endgame of Joel and Ellie's adventure, something completely unexpected happens. No, it's not a death or somebody being bitten or a stupid M. Night Shlamalame twist, but a brief beautiful moment that takes Joel, Ellie, and the player out of the relentlessly violent and depressing world that they have traveled across. It's a moment of peace, which is rare in the world of The Last of Us but perhaps more importantly, it's a brief moment of hope. How did giraffes survive this apocalypse? I sat that there with Joel and Ellie for about 10 minutes just admiring this bit of beauty and it left me reflecting on not only Joel and Ellie's adventure, but what their adventure says about society and the world we live in. Not one other game or movie or book gave me that feeling other than The Last of Us. On a smaller scale, a tear rolled down my cheek because for the first time, we got to see Ellie actually act like the child she is when she sees something so pure and beautiful as a pack of giraffes just wandering outside of the zoo. After everything they've been through (and all they are about to go through), it's a rare moment that they deserve.

2012 Winner: Burning Hoyt's drugs in Far Cry 3

2011 Winner: Infamous 2's endings

2010 Winner: Crossing into Mexico in Red Dead Redemption

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Best Multiplayer

Winner: The Last of Us

Last year, I decided not to give a game the award for Best Multiplayer and made a big deal about how no game has reinvented anything or tried anything new over the last couple years. Multiplayer was just a copy and paste from the previous year or a half-assed attempt to make a game have replayability. I also promised not to give the award until a developer does something new with multiplayer. Naughty Dog (go figure) did that with The Last of Us. Even though people only bought the game for its single player masterpiece, the developer decided to go the extra mile and give the game a complex multiplayer mode that actually fits into the single player game. There are a few different modes that really do some new, interesting ideas with multiplayer. Every match feels intense and the addiction of playing it is hard to kick. Oh, and the majority of the DLC is free because SCEA is an awesome publisher like that.

2012 Winner: N/A

2011 Winner: Assassin's Creed: Revelations

2010 Winner: Battlefield: Bad Company 2

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Whew. That took a while. Don't forget to check out Wolf of Wall Street if you think that might be your cup of tea. Thanks for reading and please comment :)

Videogame Song of the Day: Will the Circle be Unbroken by Elizabeth and Booker DeWitt from Bioshock Infinite

- Dylan

ICYMI: 2013 GOTY Awards Part I

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With Gamespot's awful feed system, blogs always tend to get lost. This is my way of fighting the system. A day or two after I initially post my blog, I post another blog titled ICYMI (In case you missed it) that is a link to my previous blog for those who might have missed it. If you have already seen it, there's nothing to see here. Happy gaming.

http://www.gamespot.com/profile/dylan417/blog/2013-goty-awards-part-i-tech-awards/26051081/

2013 GOTY Awards Part I: Tech Awards

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It's that time of the year again. Since 2010, I've had an annual series of blogs packed with various awards given to the best (and the worst) games of a given year. This year makes it the fourth annual and probably my last. I have 42 awards to get to over five separate blogs, each with their own theme. Blog one is dedicated to the "behind the scenes" stuff, it's the Tech Awards. Blog two is full of fun awards that simply do not go along with any other blog theme, they are the Random Awards. Blog three is the Platform Awards where each major gaming platform gets a piece of the spotlight. Blog four consists of the Genre Awards (Best Shooter, Best RPG, etc.). Finally, blog five is the grand finale where I name my Game of the Year along with two other fitting awards. Along the way, I will be including past winners of each award as a way to both put the award in perspective as well as maybe recommend some great games that can be found at a cheap price.

Here are my 2014 Tech Awards:

Best Graphics (Technical)

Winner: The Last of Us

While certain PlayStation 4 and Xbox One games might look better, no 2013 game impressed me more than The Last of Us. I could really tell that Naughty Dog found just how far they could push the PS3's graphical limitations with The Last of Us. Throughout Joel and Ellie's adventure, I couldn't help but just stopping and admiring how amazing the game looked. Real life cities like Boston and Pittsburgh were reclaimed by nature with streets flooded and vines spreading across abandoned buildings. The level design and overall atmosphere of The Last of Us was breathtaking and it is partially thanks to the effort Naughty Dog put into their graphical engine. Also very noteworthy are the detailed character models and all the pixels they took to create along with the performance capture technology.

2012 Winner: Assassin's Creed III

2011 Winner: L.A. Noire

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Best Graphics (Artistic)

Winner: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

With animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli co-working on the game with Level-5, it was no wonder that this PS3 exclusive was going to look magnificent. It wasn't until I popped in the disc myself until I realized just how amazing it looked. Throughout the adventure of Ni no Kuni, the levels looked like playable Ghibli animations but in 3D. The entire game looked and felt like a playable modern animated movie. It doesn't get better than that. I absolutely loved the detailed and charming character and level designs as well.

2012 Winner: Journey

2011 Winner: Rayman Origins

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Best Use of Sound

Winner: The Last of Us

The sound direction in The Last of Us is outstanding. In particular, I thought the "clicker" sounds and how they echoed a specific area was perfectly haunting. Nothing in a game (besides maybe Fallout's Deathclaws) had me more terrified than being surrounded by The Last of Us' "clickers". The blind, undead creatures make a distinct, chilling noise that gives them away. Because of their blindness and super-hearing, you have to carefully tiptoe around them or else they viciously attack. It's the clicking sound that make the suspense great, especially when you are in an open area and hear their echoes ahead.

2012 Winner: Need for Speed: Most Wanted

2011 Winner: Battlefield 3

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Best Soundtrack

Winner: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Along with the assistance of Studio Ghibli's talented animation team, Level-5 also called in legendary composer and longtime Ghibli collaborator Joe Hisaishi to score the game with original music. Ni no Kuni's story juggles your emotions and the soundtrack only enhances the experience. It's cheerful, sad, exciting, and adventurous at any given time. It is without a doubt some of Hisaishi's finest work.

2012 Winner: Journey

2011 Winner: L.A. Noire

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Best Voice Performance

Winner: Troy Baker as The Joker in Batman: Arkham Origins, as Joel in The Last of Us, and as Booker DeWitt in Bioshock Infinite

I might be cheating here, but I just have to hand it to Troy Baker who is quickly making himself the go-to-guy for voice performances. Following up Mark Hamill's The Joker performance in Batman: Arkham City is an impossible task yet Baker managed by both mimicking Hamill's characterization as well as adding some personal touches. The Joker is given some great lines in Arkham Origins and Baker delivers them. Do a 360 turn and you have Joel from The Last of Us, a grizzled southern man with a tragic past and a lot of weight on his shoulders. Troy Baker brings the character to life with his performance capture. Just when you think that's it, there's his role as the protagonist of another game with an amazing script and story: Booker from Bioshock Infinite. All three performances are quite different in tone but each is alike in terms of quality. Baker also provided his talent for Injustice: Gods Among us, Skylanders: Swap Force, God of War: Ascension, Saints Row IV, and LEGO Marvel Superheroes. His future is very bright with roles of Liquid Ocelot in MGSV and the protagonist in Infamous: Second Son on the way.

2012 Winner: Noah Watts as Connor in Assassin's Creed III

2011 Winner: Corey Burton as Hugo Strange in Batman: Arkham City

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Best Innovation

Winner: Grand Theft Auto V

It's particularly impressive that a sequel gets such an award but it isn't surprising when you notice that Rockstar developed it. GTA V would have gone over as well if it had one main character, but Rockstar decided to push limits and include three different main characters to play as at any given time. If you are playing tennis as Michael and decide instantly that you would rather beat up bikers as Trevor, all you have to do is press a button and you will almost instantly switch to Trevor, who is probably passed out in a dumpster with only his underwear on. Even more impressive, is how you can literally instantly switch between characters during missions. While robbing a bank, you can switch from Franklin doing crowd control to Trevor across the street keeping lookout with a sniper rifle in an instant. It's a groundbreaking, unexpected feature that is sure to be copied for years to come.

2012 Winner: Dishonored

2011 Winner: L.A. Noire

2010 Winner: Heavy Rain

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Best New IP

Winner: The Last of Us

It was completely unexpected at the 2012 VGAs when Naughty Dog released a teaser for their new game called The Last of Us. Just when you thought that Uncharted 4 was on its way, Naughty Dog decided to roll the dice and try something new. And cheers to Sony for letting them do so. Walking away (whether permanently or briefly) from a huge series is a risk that is unfortunately not common in gaming today with sequels, spin-offs, and prequels coming inevitably every year. It's always nice to play a game that is completely new.

2012 Winner: Dishonored

2011 Winner: L.A. Noire

2010 Winner: Heavy Rain

Note: I find it interesting that each of these winners has yet to receive a sequel. Here's hoping that changes, however contradicting that would be.

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Most Improved Sequel

Winner: Grand Theft Auto V

You don't always need to start a new IP in order to innovate and grow as a developer. If you carefully place sequels and allow time for them to incorporate new ideas, you can have success. If for some reason you hate GTA V (I can see why, I'm not as crazy about it as others are), you should stop and reconsider. GTA V broke Call of Duty's record sales. This is very important when you compare Black Ops II and GTA V. One is almost an exact copy of a game that came out the previous year and took a little over a year to make. The other brings in so many new ideas and completely revamps and masters old ideas and ended up taking over half a decade and a fortune to make. To me, this is very interesting and it gives me a lot of hope for the next generation. Here's hoping some publishers take note that it is okay to give a franchise some time to breathe. My past winners also followed a similar pattern to GTA V and appear to be still following it, which is encouraging.

2012 Winner: Far Cry 3

2011 Winner: Battlefield 3

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That took a while to make! :P But hey, I really enjoy doing this type of thing. As always, please feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments (clashing opinions is one of my favorite and one of the more important things about life) :)

Videogame music of the day: Main Theme from Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch by Joe Hisaishi

- Dylan

Anchorman 2, GTA V, Arkham Origins, More

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It's been a while, 20 days to be exact, since I've blogged here. I must say, I do not know how much longer I will be on the site. I can guarantee that my Top xx PS3 Games and my Game of the Year 2013 Awards blog series will see the light of day on here. So that will take me to the end of Q1 2014. After that, if nothing on this site has improved, it's hard to picture myself sticking around. A lot of friends have vanished from here, the game collections are a mess, the community is disconnected, and there's just not much that's keeping me here. But hey, I'm here now and I do have faith that things on this site will improve. Here are my thoughts on Anchorman 2, Grand Theft Auto V, Batman: Arkham Origins, and more:

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

I went to a late night showing with a group of friends on Friday night and it succeeded in making the entire theater laugh from start to finish. The same witty humor that made the first Anchorman movie funny for a decade is well intact in this sequel. Unlike many comedy sequels, Anchorman 2 is not afraid to try new things while of course staying true to its legacy. It's goofier in the best way and features lines that are sure to be quoted for years to come. The character additions from James Marsden as a rival news anchor to Kristen Wiig's perfect match for Steve Carell's Brick character are welcome while not steering away from the core four characters. Also, expect a lot of awesome cameos, which are completely unexpected and hilarious. While it remains to be seen if Anchorman 2 will have the longevity of its predecessor, it serves its purpose as a deserving and funny sequel to one of the best comedies of all time. 4/5

Grand Theft Auto V

I finished the main story (while doing a lot of what the open world has to offer on the way) about two months ago and have since sold it. I didn't care to even take a crack at the multiplayer because I hear it's an absolute wreck and I didn't even scratch the surface of what the game's massive open world has to offer. The campaign of GTA V is a complete delight. The bank heists, car chases, and massive shootouts are ridiculously fun. The gameplay mechanic of switching between three characters seamlessly works very well. As a sequel, GTA V is everything you could ask for and then more. The graphics are improved, the open world is massive and astonishingly packed with fun stuff to do both scripted and not, the third person shooting aspects are dramatically improved, and best of all, the driving is the star of the game with its swift controls and perfect environment that is ready to be driven on. The three characters as well as the many supporting characters are all memorable and the overall plot is nicely told through the three protagonists. Honestly, I can't possibly imagine somebody saying that the game didn't live up to its massive hype. It's a near masterpiece. However, what you take out of it depends on what you think of GTA V and how much you enjoy it. Personally, I was never a huge GTA fan. III was fun to mess around in, SA more of the same, I hated IV, and that's my experience with GTA. I don't find the series humor to be that funny anymore and I've (dare I say) grown up to a point where going on killing sprees and killing prostitutes (both in the game, of course :P) just doesn't interest me at all any more. With how realistic games are nowadays, I find it hard to do. I'm too empathetic to do horrible things in video games (except Red Dead Redemption, I was an evil SOB in that game). That said, playing GTA V somewhat respectfully just isn't possible and that's honestly a turn off for me. I've grown tired of the open world GTA-ness. Exploring Los Santos doesn't fancy me the way Red Dead Redemption or Deus Ex: HR or even LA Noire did. So much of the game is hidden in its open world. If you don't have the desire, so much of the game is locked. I put about 48 hours into GTA V and I still think that I didn't see enough of the game. It's a great game and fans get exactly what they wanted, but GTA as a series just does not interest me as much as I want it to or thought it would. Regardless of my opinion, GTA V is a damn near masterpiece of a game. 9.5/10

Batman: Arkham Origins

The Arkham prequel not developed by Rocksteady was exactly what I thought it would be through the good and the bad. To make this quick and neat I'll say why in bullets:

The Good:

- Although somewhat short, the main story is great. It doesn't force an origin story down your throat, thankfully. It does however show off Gotham when it first meets some of the city's most notorious characters. When the Joker comes in unexpectedly, it's a blast from then on.

- Both the freeflow brawling and the stealthy combat are present and work as well as you would expect.

- The voice acting is terrific. The replacements for Conroy and Hamill shine.

- The boss fights are incredible and varied. They are perhaps the best I've played from this generation outside of Nintendo (which isn't saying much).

- The crime scene detective work is finally fully realized.

- The game looks and sounds very good.

The Bad:

- Gotham City has never been more empty and dull. I get that civilians are prohibited from the streets, but it still seems remarkably empty. I had little to no desire to explore Gotham City because most of it is a copy and paste job from Arkham City without everything that made it feel alive and fresh.

- There aren't nearly as many cool cameos. Don't expect to say, "Oh cool, look, a Killer Moth reference." Also, do not expect the wickedly cool atmosphere similar to the ones Rocksteady had designed in their games.

- As you progress, the game becomes increasingly glitchy.

- There is not much new gameplay-wise. This could have been a $30 giant DLC for Arkham City.

- The multiplayer is garbage.

- By no means is the game worth $60.

Overall, I'd slap a 7.5/10 rating on it.

Some quick thoughts on older stuff that I finally caught up on:

- Jurassic Park - Don't kill me but I just saw the classic movie for the very first time. I was surprised with how well the movie holds up for such a special effects heavy movie. Great suspense and sense of wonder. I loved its 80s/90s vibe. 4/5

- Sideways - Not since Midnight in Paris back in 2011 have I felt so attached and enchanted to a grounded movie. The characters grew on me, I laughed hard, and I just enjoyed it completely. Alexander Payne is a great director (I loved The Descendants) and the cast led by Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church embodies their characters well. In an industry with so many flashy and loud movies, it's nice to find gems like this every once in a while. 5/5

- Freaks and Geeks - If you've ever been in high school, you need to watch this series that is available on Netflix. It's the only TV show or movie that understands high school life from every perspective while not being so overdramatic about it. The characters in this series grew on me over its criminally short length of one season. I will give nothing away, but I laughed and cried a few times. It's easy to relate to or at least empathize to because of how true it seems. 9.9/10

- Dishonored - I'm not going to ramble on and on with this game like the other two games in this blog, I promise :P. Dishonored has a great story and excellent gameplay that go hand in hand unlike so many other games. Your actions you make in the gameplay have huge implications both right away and at the end. What makes this work is the game's liberating sense of choice. You don't have to do anything a certain way, it's all up to the player. If you want to kill everybody you encounter, go for it. If you want to go through the game without killing anybody, have fun. The atmosphere is also cool once you get past the divisive art style. The star of the game is the gameplay though, which isn't as common in gaming these days. Everything moves exactly the way you envision it and it can be very fun. Some negatives are how much the game favors the stealthy approach and how certain aspects of the game (including entire levels) are just boring. Dishonored isn't a must-play, but it's well worth a look. 8.0/10

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It's great to be blogging again, sorry if I'm rusty. With a month off before my spring semester in college, I plan to play more Ni no Kuni, Pokémon Y, and Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix. JRPGs FTW! What are you planning on playing during the holidays? Thanks for reading, please comment, and have a merry Christmas and a happy new year :)

Videogame music of the day: "Honor for All" by Jon & Daniel Licht from Dishonored

- Dylan

VGX Wishlist

by on

The Video Game Awards are airing on Spike this Saturday (also available on PSN via live stream, apparently) and this year it's called VGX for some reason. Sure, the awards they give out are usually comical but it's not the awards that matter every year, it's the reveals, announcements, and new trailers. It's the VGA's where games like The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Mass Effect 3, Uncharted 3, and Bioshock Infinite were revealed for the first time. Needless to say, the VGX's will reveal big games in just a few days as well as seeing more of intriguing games. It's time to get excited. Here's what I want to see from the VGX as well as what I expect to see:

Tomb Raider 2

It's been hinted very heavily that a follow up to Crystal Dynamic's Tomb Raider will be announced at the VGX's. I still have to play it, but it was a hit earlier this year and it was very well received. In fact, it's up for Game of the Year at the VGX's alongside Super Mario 3D Land, The Last of Us, Bioshock Infinite, and Grand Theft Auto V.

The Division

It's been confirmed that The Division will be shown for the first time since E3. Given that The Division was the game shown at E3, I'm really excited. It looks like a game changer.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

I've read about it in GameInformer, I've seen a trailer from E3, but I haven't seen the gameplay. It's supposed to be a Skyrim killer, so let's see it. I'm hoping for a full game demo to start the show off.

Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

One of the Wii U's biggest games has already been seen in motion at Nintendo's E3-themed Direct but we still haven't seen what make it different from Donkey Kong Country Returns. Retro is a very talented developer, so this game will without a doubt take full advantage of the Wii U's capabilities.

New Metroid Game

It's been confirmed that a new Wii U game will be announced at the VGX's. Just so I don't get too many of my hopes up (see below), I'm guessing that it's not the Legend of Zelda game that will sell me a Wii U. There's a great Mario game on the Wii U now, and we know new games from the series of Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, and Super Smash Bros. on the way. That leaves Metroid. The franchise has been in the dark since the atrocity called Other M in 2010. If there's one Nintendo series that needs HD the most, it's Metroid and I think we will see a reboot soon on the Wii U.

Mass Effect

We know there's a new Mass Effect game on the way from BioWare devoid of Command Shepard. There was a bit of a tease weeks ago, but nothing official has really been said. I'm hoping the VGX's breaks the silence with a reveal trailer. Or a teaser similar to the one for Mass Effect 3. Something!

Fallout 4

My most anticipated game, by far. And it hasn't even been announced or confirmed yet! There isn't a series out there that will benefit more from the jump to next gen. Fallout 3 is one of greatest games ever made (New Vegas is arguably just as good) and it does stand up well, but it does feel like a 2008 game. Movement is stiff, animations are flat, and the graphics aren't impressive. The good thing is, that's not what Fallout is about. It's about the exploration. When you leave Vault 101 for the first time in Fallout 3, you can do anything. Anything. Want to go blow up an entire city? Go for it. Want to go hunting for Deathclaws? Good luck, but you can do it. Want to kill off a main character? Do it and see what the aftermath is. Fallout is a special series to many, myself included. Imagining where the series can go on next gen (now without the 360 and PS3 holding it back) keeps me up at night. When it is announced... I don't even know what I'll do. Hopefully the VGX's features an announcement similar to the two other Fallout announcements or even like the out-of-the-blue Skyrim announcement in 2010 (released the very next year!) at where? The VGA's.

Red Dead 3

Rockstar has said that they are working on a new entry for a non-GTA existing series of theirs. Given Red Dead Redemption's popularity, a follow up to it would make so much sense for Rockstar's first next gen game. Rockstar will be in attendance with a "Music of GTA V" performance featuring A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator, and other artists with music featured in the game. Maybe they have a "Oh, and one more thing..." announcement. This is me getting my hopes up.

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I beat Arkham Origins, it was pretty good. I enjoyed the story thoroughly and the gameplay carried well from Arkham City, but I thought it was missing something. Gotham City feels so dull and empty. Doing the open world challenges and Riddler "puzzles" was so boring that it felt like work and I had to quit. If I were to give it a rating, I'd slap a 7.5/10 on it and kiss it goodbye. I also beat Mass Effect 2 recently and kept my entire team alive and loyal. I was near finishing it in 2011 when my PS3's data corrupted. I picked up the collection last year, played and loved ME1, and started playing through ME2 again earlier this year. Anyways, what a game. The ending mission is epic. I'll be starting ME3 soon. Right now, I'm playing Pokémon Y and Dishonored. Pokémon Y is an absolute delight while Dishonored is on and off. It shows signs of brilliance but it becomes repetitive and very one dimensional gameplay-wise fast. It's like a constant stealth challenge map of from the Batman Arkham series in first person with a heavy Bioshock influence. I am enjoying it though and I hope to wrap it up this weekend. Thanks for reading and please comment with what you hope to see at the VGX's this weekend :)

Videogame Music of the Day: Ezio's Family by Jesper Kyd from Assassin's Creed II

- Dylan