grigjd3 / Member

Forum Posts Following Followers
500 222 151

grigjd3 Blog

Art, protected speech and the Mass Effect 3 Ending.

by on

I am an avid fan of the Mass Effect games. Seriously, I love them. I haven't played the latest one, however. The reason why is the Origin service. I am a PC gamer and I hate the origin service (if you're listening EA, you suck ass and you should drop this crap and realize you are a second rate game raper). So I haven't seen the endings to ME3. Now, i have heard about them from plenty of people I know and trust. Pretty much, I know exactly the ending, spoilers be damned.

Bioware should not change the ending. It won't fix anything let alone everything. They pissed in the well and now the whole thing stinks of rabies. That said, I have a serious issue with the gaming media. Now, when I say the gaming media, I mean gamespot and escapist magazine in particular and the gaming media in general (dambasses). You see, the cahnge the ending movement, which I disagree with, got their momentum from the immature gaming jounralists. However, much worse, this immature gaming journalists were so stupid, they made the change the ending movement sound more justified.

I'd like to go through some quotes. I will start with gamepsot's incredibly stupid commentary on this: "The very idea of allowing any work of art to be changed, edited, reshaped, reworked, deleted, or destroyed because someone, somewhere, didn't like it would render all art meaningless." I guess Charles Dickens wasn't consulted before this incredibly stupid statement was made because when he was writing Great Expectations, he wrote it serialized, and when he had extreme fan backlash, he was more than willing to change it. Now, gamespot has more than often revealed that they are uneducated louts in the past. In fact, I have come to know that commentary from this lazy, half-assed group of childish louts never deserves consideration. However, gamespot decided they would post their ignorance on an openly available forum.

Let's quote: "Kevin VanOrd@fiddlecub

I'm reminded of Beethoven, who made extensive revisions to Fidelio (and its overtures), in part based on audience disapproval."

Actually, read up, you might learn a thing or two about the process of music in that time. Then again, Kevin van Ord, I never suspected you of being that much of a reader. Yes, actually, Fidelio was specially tuned to a certain emperor's tastes, but maybe you don't understand that today art has the luxury of not being under the rule of absolute tyrants. Perhaps you live such a spoiled life that you have no comprehension of what life was actually like for artists when there were kings and emporers who could have your head because they didn't like what you said. However, somehow, Beethoven, who neither of us have anything in common and neither of us can possibly understand, made fantastic art, despite the despotic rule he lived under. Perhaps your sad reference to him suggests how little you respect his accomplishment.

Oh, here's another:Brendan Sinclair@BrendanSinclair

"So if the government comes knocking, games are art. But when we hate the ending, they're products and the customer is always right. Got it."

Actually, we don't need games to be art. We simply need them to be protected speech. I understand that if you are fairly incapable of discussing american government with any level of comprehension that you might not realize the difference. Fortunately for everyone who works at this site, journalists, who have never been acused of producing art, are also considering to have protected speech (in fact, if you read the constitution, that's what the thing starts with in the first place), however, i can see how someone so adle minded could be confused. On the other side of the statement, I am seriously wondering how magically art became something other than a product to be sold. In fact, I know many artists myself who are quite succesful and I know many artists who are not. More so, I have sold many charcoal on paper drawings myself and you know what? Every succesful artists I know lives and dies by what their clients say about their art. The others work at Walmart and KFC. Perhaps its time to get off your high horse and realize that art has no sanctification just like every other industry in the world. Then again, you might consider yourself too important to learn from others.

However, here's my favorite:Patrick Klepek@patrickklepek

"Just spent 30 minutes talking with @EWDocJensen about the ending of Mass Effect 3, the concept of fan entitlement, and, uh, LOST, of course."

Let's talk about fan entitlement. So, you make a game and you take a risk on it. You do a good job and you atract a fanbase. You've done well. You make another game and the fanbase grows. You've done even better. Now you make a third game and while a bunch of stuck up reviewers say it is untouchable, you find it horrible. Evidently, you are a entitled fan. Let's not point out that you have said down sixty dollars every time a game was released. Let's not mention you puttng ten dollars down every time they put some DLC out (even if it's a gun retexture). You clearly haven't contributed anything to the process. No, the third game would have been made without you. In fact, if everyone who had become fans of the first game hadn't bothered, this holy art would still have been made, right? Oh wait, that's a load of BS. The only reason there is a ME3 is because people like you bought ME1 and ME2. But, on the otherhand, you have nothing to do with the art so BERK OFF!

Now, I've been picking on gamespot. However, this is more universal. Let's say we talk about an outlet that doesn't cater to teenagers (no offense towards teenagers but a lot of offense towards those who pretend to understand teenages (and I don't)). Let's see an Escapist Magazine article: "I don't really have a stake in either side of this debate, although I think it's absolutely fantastic that theRetakeMass Effect- Child's Playdonation drive has so far raised over $67,000, but you don't paint a new smile on the Mona Lisa just because the original's a bit flat."

This is stupid on so many levels. Let's start by talking about the Mona Lisa. I have seen it in person. It's a small portrait painted by a single person (albeit famous enough to have a Ninja Turtle named after him) that was widely loved because of the expressionate look on the subjects face. ME3, on the other hand, is a video game made by the biggest third part publisher in the industry, has perhaps one of the hugest advertising budgets in video game history, was play-tested out the wazoo, had a beta release, perhaps even had a focus group and was built on fan feedback from the previous two games. This has got to be the most dombass comparison I have ever heard. Comparing Mass Effect 3 (notable that this game has a big ole '3' tacked on to the title) to the Mona Lisa is like comparing apples to run. That is to say, they aren't even the same part of the sentence structure. So perhaps, that means you should shut up - and I mean before you reveal that you never managed your GED.

I want to repeat, EA(bioware) should not change the ending. EA has clearly killed bioware and any attempt to fool us otherwise is the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. F-off (bioware)EA and die in hell. You are the cancer of the gaming world. I know this and every sane gamer knows this. You don't deserve to exist and that's the end of the story. However, perhaps they should realize that they don't get take backs when they piss in the well. You can't buy up a company like Bioware, kill it's creative talent, and expect us to appreciate you. No, EA, we know you suck and no ammount of BS from your idiot CEO can convince us otherwise.

However, the gaming media has shown how childish they are. Many of the most famous artists of all time have changed some of their art after they had feedback from who purchased it. Out of that group, many never complained. Art is not sacrosanct. We are not talking about artistic integrity. We are simply talking about pride - the gaming journalist's pride. Gaming journalists (and reviewers) feel they are talking about something holy. That's the dumbest idea ever. Get over yourselves you idiots.

Now I'd love to say I am awaiting the BAN-HAMMER, but I'm not. I haven't posted here in a long time and a lot of that has to do with how much I can't stand the reviews and reporting here. So, you can ban me and I will never come back. you may think that doing so frees you from my accusations. If you do think so, you're proving your existence is just so sad. I'm not going to notice whether you ban me or not. YOU, gamespot, SUCK. YOUR EDITORS SUCK. YOUR REVIEWERS SUCK. YOUR "PERSONALITIES" SUCK. You are nothing but another group that provides free advertising to gaming companies. Again, I don't want Bioware to change the ending - in fact, I haven't even seen the ending. What I have seen is that your self-aggrandizing attitude is exactly why the rest of the world views video games as just games and not art. Your childish attitudes are holding us all back.

Seriously gamespot, YOU SUCK. YOU ARE MAKING THINGS WORSE. YOU MAKE IT HARDER FOR ME TO VOCALIZE THE VALUES OF VIDEO GAMES. YOU MAKE IT HARDER FOR ME TO SHOW PEOPLE WHAT THIS CULTURAL PHENOMENON HAS TO OFFER TO THE WORLD. In other words, you are a bunch of money-grubbing pathetic children who refused to ever grow up. You can ban me and I don't care. You've read my words and you're not worth it.

How's about a YO!

by on

There needs to be a category called "Stuff". For one, I still hold that the retards accusing video games of causing violence aren't neccesarily rascist, just stupid. That aside, its been a while and I should discuss some things.

I've started my new job in Neuroscience. I like it. I shouldn't talk too much about it because there are crazy people who like to break into labs and make the lives of our animals worse (when they think they are making it better). I think of such people as possessing intellect less than our subjects and perhaps they would make good subjects for our tests.

Been playing some games. The new Deus Ex was alright until the first boss fight which was meaningless and annoying. Seriously, if this is the best Eidos can come up with, they failed, miserably. The stealth is weak. The gameplay is, well, obtuse. I find myself not caring about a single character in the whole game. Most frustratingly, however, is that the bosses have no story purpose and are ridiculous. Oh, big bad boss that is invulnerable to guns but can be taken down with ten trank darts (or whatever the non-lethal gun fires). Seriously, why are they there? That's a sarcastic question people. Don't be so stupid as to answer it.

On the other hand, gog has had Wing Commander come up recently which is AWESOME!!!! That is, WC1+2 (together), WC3 and Privateer all on their lovely little online service. Now, normally I just recommend. Here, however, I need to explain. If you have any value as a gamer what-so-ever, you will buy and play these games. I have had very good results with a Logitech Attack 3 joystick and you aren't allowed the title of hardcore gamer unless you have played these so there are no excuses. This is the adolesence of the gaming world and ignoring this part of our history is like Turkey refusing to admit that they slaughtered Kurds. If you think yourself knowledgeable, you better know these games. Otherwise, get on it. If you can't manage that, you're a waste of gaming culture, period.

Been playing LA Noire. The game has got some game. I have a hard time picking between LIAR and REVEAL MORE as options but still, there is a lot to what they are doing. I'm not often impressed by modern video games and I was especially surprised to see myself impress by Rockstar. I guess it helped that it wasn't really Rockstar but a bunch of people in the south pacific who are now out of jobs for ridiculous political and lawyer type BS. They made a damn good game. Too bad it wasn't enough to fight off the spectre of big-business-ridiculousness. To be fair, it's not the most action oriented - then again, Rockstar's engine has never been any good at action. However, the story is intriguing. Worth playing and I am glad I finally had the PS3 to do so.

Tried Darkstar One (been on a space fighter kick). Game was kind of lame. They correctly integrated Freespace's mouse controls but the game overall is half-assed. I don't care about the characters. I don't care about the setting. The artwork is terrible. The gameplay is worse than the already out-of-date Freespace. The visuals are lame as all get-out. The voice acting seems to be coming out of my cell phone. Basically, if you are thinking of buying Darkstar One from Steam, just find a copy of Freespace from Amazon. You will be much happier with that solution.

Lastly, tried to start the X series of space fighter games. It's a bit hard to get into. Gonna try it again at some point. It just doesn't start well. Anyhow hope you are doing well. Cheers.

Blaming video games isn't racist but it is wrong.

by on

The moment I heard about the shootings in Oslo, I absolutely knew some crazy people would start saying that video games caused this violence. Now, I am going to be discussing this in depth and so I need a shorthand for this behaviour. That is, instead of writing out "blaming video games for violent acts", I will simply write "being a dumbass". When, in this article, I want to refer to the people who make such accusations, I will simply call them dumbasses. In general, if I mangle the language and say something like dumbassness, I will be saying something along the lines of the trait of blaming video games for major acts of violence. Can I safely assume we can all get behind this convention?

So I recently read an article where a professor at Texas A&M blames dumbassness on racism. Essentially, he argues that people are only being dumbasses in cases of violence against white people. I believe this commentary on dumbassness hasn't been well thought out. Certainly the high profile cases of violence tend to be in white communities and thus when the dumbasses come out and go about showing just to what extent they are dumbasses seems to only happen when white people are shooting white people. However, I don't believe the evidence supports this.

There are roughly ten-thousand gun murders a year in the United States. Now, I don't know what the exact numbers are these days but this was the case when I was in college and studying these kinds of things. I believe this number has actually gone down lately. This all an aside. The point is that there are many thousands of gun murders a year in the US. The vast majority of these don't get much air time and we never hear from the dumbasses about. Now, I find it hard to believe that all these cases are purely against non-whites. So clearly there are plenty of cases of gun violence occuring against white people without any mention of dumbassness.

So I thought about this a bit and realized that this dumbass behaviour isn't showing up because of cases of violence against whites but rather because of something else: media attention. The commonality between every dumbass case is that the murder in question is receiving a great deal of media attention. This leads me to think the motivation isn't about race at all, but rather is about getting attention. That is to say, if you're a professional activist, you make money from donations. So does it pay off for you to make a lot of noise about something people haven't heard about? Well, not really. On the other hand, it's much easier for you to make money when you make a lot of noise about something people are aware of.

So, when I hear the hooplah about video games and violence, what stands out to me is that there are these (dumbass) professional activists who know good and well where their money comes from and are more than capable of making a profit off of the deaths of others. So in short, if you're blaming video games for violence, I do not believe you are being racist. However, I am absolutely certain you are being a dumbass.

Played through Watchmen: The End is Nigh

by on

So both episodes were on sale real cheep on Steam recently and I decided that it might be fun to play a quick fighting game. I don't want to retread on the Watchmen IP too much except to say that these two games have you play as either Nite Owl or Rorscach (co-op optional) as you run through several levels each beating up bad guys.

Seriously, these games are the closest approximation I've seen to playing Double Dragon II with modern technology. The gameplay consists entirely of time your attacks and blocks/dodges. As it is, the gameplay is fairly satisfying. Both episodes have one final boss-fight (though you may consider some encounters to be minibosses). There really isn't much to comment on with the gameplay. Executing combos effectively is quite satisfying and both episodes rightfully keep you in the action the entire time. While the enemies are visually different, they are always merely powered up versions of something you've already seen. The problem with the boss fights is that in an attempt to make the bosses more challenging, they effectively have designed them so that you shouldn't actually use all the combos you spend the game learning. In fact, for the most part, the simple attack and basic dodge are the only two things you should do in either of them.

The graphics are quite good and the game engine runs smoothly - suprising for a move tie-in. The physics and collision detection have some issues which really stand out next to the extremely accurate graphics. To be fair though, in a game where you might leave several hundred people or so in bloody piles, seeing the occasional collision problem isn't that big of an issue.

From an artistic standpoint, they capture the world of Watchmen fairly well. These games are clearly movie tie-ins and so you will recognize the artwork. It's a shame then that the games use some of the very oldest tropes in the book for "team-play" - by having doors that only one character can go through and certain paths clearly designed for one character over the other. It's a bit disappointing to see this in a setting where cheesy is the worst possible result. On the other side of this, the combat is bloody and ultra-violent - particularly when playing as Rorscach (who clearly is psychotic). What's unfortunate about both episodes is the choices made in the latter levels. Enemy goons become almost comedic in their design. The first episode has sections that may well make you think you are playing a TMNT game and the second is like a sad version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The story in both games is extremely weak, though the first is much better than the uninspired second. Basically, they are putting the bare minimum together to justify the combat. The first episode hints at a grander plot that might connect with the movie or have a part to play in the second episode but this connection is never made. The second episode really just is Rorschach obsessing over this one girl who has been "spoiled". Honestly, I never found the movie that interesting and these games fall underneath it's already low bar in storytelling.

It's not at all suprising that the gameplay tends to drag on after a while. From the start, this was designed to be a rather simple beat 'em up game. By modern fighter standards, the variety of combos are lacking and the limited choice of characters to play as don't help the situation. Again, these are to be expected. They were budget titles from the start (I think they were $20 a piece new) and deep gameplay was never in the cards.

I played through both games in a Sunday afternoon. It was really nice to have a game that required so little investment in time and energy. Since I typically play so many rpgs, it's a real change of pace. I don't believe I will ever replay these games though. So, I bought these games for a total of seven euros, which I think is reasonable. I don't know if it would have been worth the current normal price of ten dollars a piece (twenty total) and it certainly wasn't an interesting enough game to justify the original price tag of twenty dollars. Still, if you find them on sale and you just want several hours of extremely violent, high-end graphcs fighting, these would be a good choice.

Conclusion

by on

My friends, it is time to admit defeat. Last night I posted something for a few hours which represented my anger but by which I did not represent myself well. Tonight, I will do my best to reconcile the situation.

I do not know whether gamespot is actiively trying to do away with user blogs but they have either made it clear or have forever fomented their position as glitchspot or they want us gone. They have not actively cut off our ability to blog, but rather, they have actively hindered our ability to see each other's blogs. I will not pretend that I have any special right. Currently, this website belongs to Disney in the sense that it belongs to CBS and CBS belongs to disney. I absolutely cannot deny the right of Disney to make this website whatever they want.

On the other hand, I can absolutely deny that disney has any clue about running a website. I can certainly deny that they hve any clue what a social website means. I can also certainly say that no matter who is in charge, that they depend deeply on their customer base, and that by forgoing us, they will morally be nothing more than fanboys with funding.

Now, there is no economic threat, which means that my voice won't hold. If I leave, they will still have a fanboy following. They will still have the raving pure fanboys going after them. The advertisements will still hit home.

I have come to peace with this. Gamespot does not want independent views. They do not want someone who will be able to translate German even though their news writers misquote interviews that are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever taken a single class in the subject. They do not appreciate the voice of descent.

IGN has long been the emblam of what GS hopes to become. It's almost shocking that they have made themselves so much like IGN. I never had respect for IGN and recently GS has done as much as possible to earn my disrespect.

The articles here are worthless. The reviews are childish. The only orignal content available on this website that has been of any value for the last several years has been user made. Now, in the Disney totalitarian way, they are dismantling that.

It's ironic really. I, for one, am far more liberal than the parent company of GS. I am a total supporter of their business. I have often come to the defense of the staff here, pointing out how they are overworked and underpaid. I don't hold it against them. I believe this comes down from a greater power.

I believe that the current intentional destruction of GS relates directly to corporate fatcats who have no idea what their decisions result in. I believe they are no longer in touch with anything.

Of course, all this might be meaningless. This may be that Lulzsec busted the website and denies us feeds. If so, I have to ask forgiveness, for in that case I am guilty of lack of trust. So, GS, please, prove me wrong. I sincerely hope you do. On the other hand, if you don't, well, honestly, it's about time I outgrow you.

I know the names of who I follow. They know my name. We can find each other again. You are not that important. Please prove to me that this is a mistake. Please show me that I can still trust you. I have faith in your staff. I have faith in your overworked editors and writers. Please show me that my faith is well placed.

Finished Old World Blues

by on

Last night I was able to start playing Old World Blues, the latest DLC for Fallout:New Vegas. To date, Obsidian has had a mixed track record with this game. New Vegas itself was extremely buggy at release and despite their quick response to patch the game, it lost a lot of momentum for this. Also, neither of the earlier two DLCs have shown themselves to be hitting on all cylinders. This one is no different.

Old World Blues is riding the mad-science fad that Portal and Portal 2 created. In this expansion, you are brought to Big MT. The MT is meant to stand for mountain though most people in game just refer to it as the Big Empty. The setting itself resembles many of the scientific research facilities in the US (I've been to several) on steroids. Basically, it's a sprawling region of buildings that is forever stuck in some form of construction and tear down - only, this process which is always ongoing at major research sites around the world was frozen in time after the bombs hit.

Your arrival is something of a rude awakening as you find yourself having undergone surgery and wondering where you are. You quickly find the primary characters are disembodied brains which are stored in robots in the "Think Tank", the central dome in this research center. The five doctors in the "Think Tank" are interesting enough in personality and are visually fascinating contraptions. The theme of the expansion follows the title. Old World Blues refers to those stuck in some part of the past. Well, these characters are stuck in a past that is long gone, discussing things like "American High School" and defeating Communism.

You quickly find out there is a bipolar conflict in the Big Empty as there exists a Dr. Mobius who is harrassing the Think Tank. The Think Tank then recruits you to locate the neccesary tools to defeat the evil Dr. Mobius. The McGuffin story is adequete for the adventure. On the other hand, the enemies you will face are only slight modifications of those in New Vegas itself and the new weapons just seem like more of the same. The level cap was raised again (max level is now 45) but this is hardly a compelling reason to keep playing unless you're the type who obsesses over having perfect stats in an rpg.

By the time I reached level forty, I had already maxed all my skills and so level increases are only buying me new feats and a few more hitpoints. Since there aren't really any challenging encounters left at this point, those aren't really that neccesary either. The game also adds in several "character modifications" which you can purchase to give yourself yet another unneccesary leg up in a world that increasingly seems uninterested in competing with you.

I wouldn't even bring up the uselessness of the higher levels if it weren't for the fact that the add-on isn't making it in the one place it ever stood a chance: story and characters. It seems the team working on this add-on realized people were complaining about the lack of interesting characters in Honest Hearts. Their response was to front-load the player with tons of dialog which, while sometimes entertaining, should have been spread out more through the game. You will hear James Urbaniak basically playing Dr. Venture (called Dr. 0 in this title) and he is entertaining, but it doesn't carry the game.

So, Obsidian, if you're listening, I will spell out what you need to do. Tons of dialog that hold me in place doesn't make for good characterization. Neither do characters that present their morals on a platter for me to pick from. What worked about Dead Money (despite the incredibly annoying gameplay) was the interaction I had with the characters as I went. While accomplishing the mission goals in Dead Money, I got to know the chracters in little bits. I had some dialog with them here and there and moved on. The most telling characters in that game never had a line of dialog aimed at me. They were both long dead. So when you front-load me with a ton of dialog and nothing to actually do, I get bored and wander away from the computer.

These are video games. Show, don't tell. Do, don't show. Make the process one of discovery. I know you believe that the engine being exploration based gives you a pass on this but if the exploration itself isn't interesting, if it's just locating another item in another building, well, that's just lazy. Reveal the plot as I go. Don't give me a ton of dialog to click through up front. Don't make the setting unimportant. Involve me in the setting. Involve the characters in the setting. Make me see a reason to do something other than following the magical arrow of direction on th game's compass.

Alright, I'll step down from my imaginary podium now. I think I've made my point. For all that you can do with the Gamebryo engine, it achieves nothing if it's entirely cerebral.

So that's three down and one to go: Lonesome Road. Trying not to include any spoilers, it's clear as day that Obsidian is planning for a big final confrontation between "the Two Couriers" next. I'm hoping that what we'll get is worth the build up.

Started playing Batman: Arkham Asylum

by on

So yesterday I sat down to play Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PC. It's the game of the year edition but so far I haven't been able to figure out if that's anything special or simply a re-release. Of course, this game comes almost universally applauded and so going in, the question I had in mind was, is this game really that good, or is it a combination of pleasant surprise that a comic-book tie-in doesn't suck and we always give anything with the Squeenix name on it a pass.

I will definitely start by saying, it's a good game. I am going to spend this blog picking on it, but I should be clear, it's a good game. This isn't like with Just Cause 2 where I decided the review industry has their heads stuck up their asses and it was actually a cheap, boring rip off. The game itself is solid and it's that solid because of the way they combined elements.

The character, Batman, is a stealthy hand-to-hand fighter with all kinds of gadgets to get him places, blow things up, pull something down and who knows what else. This is established by the long history of movies and comics and whatever else has already been in the IP for ages. What works well in the game is to what extent they captured this in the gameplay. Unlike that old movie tie-in made for the NES, this isn't a game about timing your wall jumps.

It's a game about hanging up-side-down from gargoyles, swooping down on enemies, and punching the lights out of bad guys in an incredibly satisfying way. They introduce a game mechanic to enable this gameplay where you go into detection vision. In this mode, you can see enemies through walls and you're being fed information about whatever you are focusing on. Also, when an enemy has a gun, they appear red whereas when they are only able to fight in hand-to-hand, they appear as blue. Using this detection vision in combination with all your powers means you'll have a fun time diving on bad guys, leaving them haning upside down from the rafters, or just plain having a fun rumble with a pack of bad guys.There is some really satisfying gameplay in there and it gets better as it goes.

The setting is also quite loyal to the latter-day comics. Many my age would say that it is the "real batman", but they are talking about something invented during my lifetime which is basically silly to compare to the actual original batman comics. That aside, they capture the gloom and terror of Gotham without any apologies. While I respect that they are being true to the source material, it's a difficult game for me to play through. All the dark settings start to run together for me artistically and the puzzles in the game become quite annoying when they are both meaningless and I have to wander through depression land to find the item I am supposed to focus on. It seems this latter day Assassin's Creed style flag collecting will never be entirely removed from the industry though by all rights we should remove it for the cancer it is.

Pacing and boss battles are where this game really fails. Neither happen with a bang so much as a whimper. In an attempt to keep you invested in the game, they decided against having actual levels so much as areas of a map that you go to on foot to accomplish your tasks. You can then return to old areas time and again. Unfortunately, this leads to a problem with pacing. I'll spend as much time trying to track down the location where I am supposed to do the fun stuff as I will spend doing the fun stuff. The attempt at immersion is nice, but that ship long since sailed when it was decided that I should be looking under rocks for every green Riddler question mark in the game.

The boss battles are sometimes creative in what you need to accomplish but they are really rarely anything more than identifying the correct gmmick ala Mega Man and executing that the proper number of times. As such, the boss fight come out more annoying than anything else. One particularly annoying recurring sequence involves Scarecrow sending you into a minigame where you ahve to avoid his gaze. The puzzles aren't hard and the platforming would be straight forward except that the camera and controls are all wonked up and lead to you dieing because the computer is too dumb to realize that you still want to jump when you run off a ledge holding down the A button. Nicely, when you die in a boss battle, the game identifies what you did wrong (fairly accurately as well which is impressive from a coding perspective) and gives you a message on how to do better. This is a smart move because the bosses I have fought so far are fairly dull compared to the swooping between rafters and diving on henchmen.

It should be noted that Arkham Asylum is NOT a movie tie-in and thus does not have access to the characterization and music of the recent movies. I kind of wish they had worked something out, however, because the recent Batman movies definitely have better music and it could make some of the fight scenes more impressive. Also, the characterization used in this game is lousy. Everyone, and I mean everyone, in the game is overly bulky. Seriously, it's Gears of War with crazy people (and there is plenty of crazy in Gears of War to begin with).

I could complain about the usual video game tropes like chracters who talk to themselves all the time in order to inform the player what they should be doing or having subvillians which serve no real purpose for the story other than to provide you with something else to fight. Really though, you've heard these complaints before and they add nothing to the discussion now. The bottom line is that this is a good game for which it is easy to indentify ways to turn it into an awesome game. The IP rights belong to Squeenix, however, which means they will likely only ever make trivial modifications to the game play while they grind their fanbase into the ground by giving them the same gameplay with characters who continue to annoy you more and more. If you're looking to have a few hours of fun playing a video game that will be enjoyable but forgettable, this is a good option. However, the game is a little easy and certainly doesn't seem to provide set-pieces that really stand out to me. I give it a buy cheap recommend. On the other hand, if you had fun finding every flag in Assassin's Creed, well, you should have bought this game the day it came out.

It's worth noting: 4

by on

Whenever you write memory allocation, the very next thing you should always do is write the deallocation for it. This greatly lowers the chance of a memory leak (also known as why software crashes).

Replayability

by on

Before I get into the blog proper, I need to pointthis out. This is a rather amazing feat of software development. I think it would be really fun to work with the people who made this happen.

So I tuned into an episode of Jimquisition on the Escapist recently. I generally don't listen to this guy's ranting as it's often crass and lacking direction. However, when I see certain words out there, I almost compulsively tune in. Even though I knew I wasn't going to care for his presentation, I just feel like I have to read or watch anything that has the word replayability in the title.

It got me thinking about replayability and how I consider it. In game reviews these days, people will often bring up the level of customization and options you can try out in different games to see what else you can do with the game. This is particularly popular in rpgs (the first Mass Effect being a prime example) but I think something is missing in this sort of analysis.

For the purposes of what I am writing here, I will compare Mass Effect 1 (ME1) and Mass Effect 2 (ME2). Both are rpgs that allow you to pick the character type you'll play and in both, each type has their own skills which determine what powers you can apply. However, the end effect of these different options is entirely different.

I'll start with ME1. There are three basic character types with three hybridizations in ME1. There is the soldier who is skilled with all weapons, armor and hand-to-hand (in addition to having first aid. There is the techie type who can hack machines, use powers to shut down shields and cause electrical mayhem and there is the psychic er, biotic, type that is a typical magic in a sci-fi setting character. The differences between the character types fundamentally changes how you play the game.

As a soldier, you will be primarily concerned with taking cover, aiming and shooting enemies. It's straight forward gameplay which really doesn't show off what ME1 is all about. Perhaps one of the biggest complaints ME1 had was that the over-the-shoulder shooter gameplay was weak compared to other games. That aside, it was one clear way to play the game. The techie type puts you into a role of being a bit sneaky and trying to trip up the enemy. You'll spend more time making enemy shields disappear, turning enemies against each other and generally causing mayhem for you and your team to take advantage of. The psychic type often puts you into a role of crowd control. Your team occupies a location and, as enemies flood in, you spend your powers forestalling them long enough for your team to finish them. Playing as a psychic, I often found my battlefields would be a mess of objects and enemy remains strewn everywhere as I used my powers to push, lift, crush and throw them about.

This lead to three distinct ways to see the game with the ability to mix and match to your choice. Taking this chracter choice to ME2, however, had a very different effect. While I like ME2 and I find in replayable, it has nothing to do with the different character options and here is why: the different character types are all pretty much the same. Sure, there are different powers and there effects are minutely different, but no matter what I play, the main gameplay element is taking cover and shooting. That gameplay is fine, because it was well executed in ME2 (much better than the cover and shooting in ME1) but it all still plays the same. This led me to have no desire to try the different character types in ME2. No matter what I choose, I am still going to occasionally throw a power and mostly aim a gun at an enemy's head.

So, if you take everything I have said at face value, you may well conclude that there is no reason to replay ME2 - and that's simply not the case. I really enjoy replaying ME2 and the reason is that it is still a fun game. Yes, every play-through feels exactly the same and yes, it will get old if you only ever play that particular game, but the game is paced well and feels satisfying to play - particularly at the end. The last level is tremendously well designed.

Then one may ask what makes a game not have replay value. The answer simply is that it isn't that good. I am playing through The Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness games again not for any reason of them having added features, but because I like it. Seriously, there is no way a second playthrough of these games will reveal anything new what-so-ever and I am still playing them. On the other hand, I played through mini-ninjas, where you have multiple characters you can play as and once was enough. It was a cute enough game that entertained me once but the game just isn't paced well enough and not entertaining enough to warrant another play through out of me for some time. Pretty much, the game needed a power-saw where it was only applying a butter-knife.

Thus I find that, despite my general distaste for his brand of video, I must agree with Jimquisition. A game's replay value should not simply be measured in terms of it's added features or additional online content. While these things can work, they are meaningless when the game lacks basic enjoyment. The game can have every feature and infinite customizability but if I am not having fun while playing it, I will simply put the controller down.

Started playing King's Bounty: The Legend

by on

So I picked up the King's Bounty series off of Steam's summer sale and I started playing King's Bounty: The Legend today. I always enjoyed Heroes of Might and Magic so I thought this would be a fun throw back. I've been enjoying the game though some parts are frustrating. It's rather hard to figure out an enemy's relative power without actually getting into a fight with them. This leads to vast ammounts of loading and saving which is getting frustrating.

More frustrating, however, is that the game has crashed to desktop twice and blue screened me once now. In fourteen years of using a machine with windows 95 or later, I've only been bluescreened twice before. Both times was on the Windows 95 machine. I'm guessing the game has a memory leak somewhere. There are also some occasional graphical failures which I imagine can be fixed by playing around with the display settings until I get rid of the issues.

It's quite frustrating that these two issues keep coming back because the game does a lot right. It is unabashadly campy fantasy that follows the original King's Bounty gamestyle to a T. While the characters and story are basically hollow and absent, the gameplay is nice if you want to waste some time.

What's so problematic about the crashes and the need to save and load all the time is that these faults result in you repeating the same battles time and time again - with each time you repeat them making the game more tedious. It doesn't help that the game's battles are all pretty much the same in the first place and while you can try out some tactics and strategic thinking, the simplistic method for unit choice doesn't really allow you any flexibility. Thus everytime I have to repeat a battle because the game crashes or because I run into an enemy that is ridiculously more powerful than I am is one more nail being hammered into my skull.

I realize that game development for the PC is quite hard because every PC is, effectively, a unique platform. Still, I'm running into issues more often than I did with Fallout New Vegas (a lot more often actually) and it's pretty well established that New Vegas was glitchy beyond forgiveness. Again, maybe I can play with the setting till I find something that works, but if not, this game is getting uninstalled soon.

EDIT: After havng spent an hour with Armored Princess (hello lunch break), I can tell you it's a far superior game. No crashes, slow-downs or freezes, encounters are more varied and the difficulty scales much better. I don't find myself having to save and load nearly as much. All in all, Armored Princess does King's Bounty right.