Open World Games: A Love/Hate Relationship which turns into an R* rant

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Why is it that every single time an open world game is released, I feel compelled to play it? Not just this year, but almost every year this happens. GTA, Saints Row, RDR, inFamous, Just Cause. All these games had a shiny quality that attracted me towards them. Luring me in with their wonderful tales of destruction and limitless fun, only to utterly dissapoint the crap out of me when I form a relationship with them. Take RDR for the most recent example. I popped that game in on day 1 and was like WOH HOLY CRAP AWESOMESAUCE BBQ!!!! This game is beautiful!!! and the gunplay is awesome!!!! and look at all the stuff to do!!!! and.....hmph. Weeks later I try to play it again and I cant even get through a mission without ripping the disc out. Its almost like I turn bipolar when I have an open world game.

Its not even that I need structure in my games. Some open world RPGs like Fallout 3 I was absolutely in love with. And I loved traversing the world, killing things and finding little hidden areas and weapons. Not to mention theatmosphere and combat kept me coming back. So I think the primary issue I have with these other open world games is that there is no motivation to explore. Whats my motivation to explore the world in RDR? Flowers. Stranded people on the side of a road. A pretty sunset. Theres no real improvement to my character or reward other than some stupid achievements. Oh, I guess Im supposed to play it for the story. Mmmmm k.

Maybe I just hate the Rockstar mission structure? Maybe Im just sick of riding around in a car (horse) while someone bull**** to me for five minutes before I start doing anything? Maybe Im sick of absolutely deplorably boring repeatable missions (infamous)? Maybe Im sick of these games just being destruction simulators (jc2)? Maybe Im just ranting. But maybe, just maybe, Im asking for a little bit of ingenuity and originality in these open world games. I swear if GTA5 comes out and is GTA4 with prettier graphics, Im gonna piss and moan again. So hey Rockstar, since you started this whole open world phenomenon, how about you mix it up a little bit and innovate again? Stop feeding us the same crap for years now witha shinycoat of paint. Or not. Your selling a bagillion copies of Grand Theft Horse so why change anything. Its easier if I just stopbuying your games.

PS this wasnt supposed to be such a rant about R*, but eh whatever. SUBMIT.

Splinter Cell tech problems and...well.... better games

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So I was going to do a comprehensive review of Splinter Cell: Conviction. This came to a grinding hault when the game deleted my save data twice. So since I dont feel like playing through the first half of the game a third time, its going to have to wait. Meh, its not gonna happen. Its a pretty fun game, and in co-op its definitely a lot of fun. That's it. Ive got bigger fish to fry.

Currently, I am going to be tackling Super Mario Galaxy 2and Red Dead Redemption. Since I am getting married on Sunday, and am going on a ten day honeymoon, this is going to take a while. Problem is, both games are so good I dont know which one to focus my time on. I may bounce back and forth between them (something I never do with games) so that both stay fresh. Either way, this is surely a doozy of a half year for gamers. Mass Effect 2, God of War 3, Heavy Rain, the Halo Reach beta and the two games I just mentioned all vying for our time. So much awesomeness in six months. Hopefully it continues.

Splinter Cell impressions and Halo:Reach beta

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So I finally started Splinter Cell Conviction the other day. Im going to start doing full reviews but Im just gonna drop a couple thoughts down for the moment. Keep in mind I am halfway through the campaign.

Pros: The visuals are nicely done, and most of the controls feel very natural, almost Assassins Creed inspired. The "predator" like levels are very well done. So far the M&E doesn't seem to make the game too easy. The storyline is above average I suppose.

Cons: The "WTF" third person shooter level about halfway through the game. Felt like PS2 era gameplay. Thankfully, it wasnt very long. Thefollowing level was pretty lousy too, but it was so short I cant really knock it. Also, the enemies are pretty stupid. The antagonization of Sam during gameplay can be comical, but it blatantly gives away their position, making it almost too easy to flank them.

Just as a side note, I wish developers would agree on a ****ing button for reload. Stop changing it around so much. Does it really matter? Make the damn X button the universal reload. Or right bumper. Or left analog stick push. Just agree on something. Of course, in SCC the X button is the emp grenades so I dont know how many times I went to reload and through a damn EMP.

To be honest, finishing Splinter Cell's two campaigns goes to the back burner this week with the release of the Halo Reach beta. Most full game releases wish upon a star that they had this much hype behind them. I mean Bungie and MGSsought outa high profile actress (meh, debatable)to even make a video with them on how to play the beta. Like Ive said before, Sony takes some damn notes because you should be doing this kind of stuff.

Anyway, beta is top priority this week as I love me some Halo. The new armor abilities and gametypes look to really mix things up this time around. I am more excited for this than any release in May (take that Alan Wake). Of course, its gotta be in May and Im getting married in 27 days. Ill need some Reach to keep my sanity.

Halo Week

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Unfortunately, I have not been able to blog the last couple of weeks due to serious busy-ness at work (see what I did there) and unable to get a minute. But anyway, I have been able to do some gaming these last couple of weeks. Mainly Batman Arkham Asylum (awesome)which I will get to next time. But, it is Halo week.

I am definitely a big Halo fan. I have loved the series since it was first released on Xbox1 all those years ago. The first one was easily the most gripping, with it being probably the best console shooter I had ever played up until that point. But even on PC, there was no single player FPS thatI had really loved as much as the original Halo. The open lush environments of Halo contrasted nicely with the tight corridors on some of the ships and in the bunkers or what have you. Overall, it was just a blast to play. The guns were satisfying, the enemies had some of the best AI at the time, and it looked great. I had never really gotten into the multiplayer, as it was split screen only, and the majority of friends I had only play PS2. Once I hit college, this all changed...

Halo 2 was highly anticipated in 2004, the heart of my college years. I remember being hyped for it, but being a PC gamer as well, I was too busy with CS:S and HL2 in 2004 to really care THAT much. These games did go head to head in November of that year. But, I did end up buying Halo 2 in the nice collectors case (which I still own and love). The single player lacked punch compared to the original, and the ending as everyone knows now was less than stellar. However, Bungie added this HUGE portion to the game which basically had been unseen in the console world up until this point. The online multiplayer was simply outstanding. The competition was fierce and addicting. Not only that, setting up LANs in college was amazingly fun and caused many an all nighter instead of sleeping before class. Once 2006 and 2007 rolled around, the inevitable Halo 3 was being hyped, and turned into a juggernaut.

I was pretty pumped about Halo 3, simply just to see Master Chief in glorious HD and finally see him... ahem, "Finish the Fight". The game didnt dissapoint, although some did bring it down for its less then Gears of War quality graphics. But it was distinctly Halo, and Ipersonally thought the game looked great. Add to this4 player campaign co-op, brand new maps, weapons, deployable items and you've got anotherHalo. But once again, Bungie gave us that charm and polish that keeps us coming back for more. I think its just the abundance of love that is put into their products that really defines them. Only Valve really rivals Bungie in pure polish and quality on such a consistent basis. Anyway, Halo 3 was a megahit, selling a bagillion copies (I believe its just over 10 million now) behind Microsoft's juggernaut of an ad and marketing campaign. The game deserved it though. For $60 dollars, you would still be pretty hard up to find something that offered as much quality content, even today.

So today (well tomorrow morning at 12:01) we see the release of another Halo, and I believe by far the most controversial one, Halo 3:ODST. What the hell is that? Is it a sequel, an expansion, or a side story? Originally titled Halo 3:Recon, Halo 3: ODST is a totally different kind of Halo product. Something old, something new. We get a brand new campaign from the view of the Rookie, an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, who lands on New Mombasa and wakes up 6 hours after the crash. The first time in a Halo game that your not the MC. Add to this a new multiplayer mode, Firefight, which is similar to Gears of War Horde mode, but with a distinct Halo twist. And then, on a seperate disc, the whole Halo 3 multiplayer experience, with every map released so far plus 3 new maps being released alongside ODST's launch. AND access to the Halo Reach beta. I would say Bungie has not skimped on content, although about halfof it is old hat. Now, I can see how some are skeptical. It does seem like Microsoft and Bungie are milking the name and getting a nice little quickieinbefore the eventual release of Reach. However, I doubt Bungie would release a product they weren't proud of. Halo is THEIR baby, whether they own the licensing for the Halo brand or not. I strongly believe they would never put out a title that didnt live up to the standards of the previous Halo's, and I believe, if not forced by the hand of Microsoft's, they would have made a completely new Halo experience, or maybe we would be playing Halo Reach today, instead of ODST.

Either way, I may not be as excited for ODST as I was for Halo 3, or the inevitable Halo Reach, but I still cant wait. The campaign looks gritty and dark, something Bungie really hasnt delved into yet. The Firefight mode, if anything like Gears of War's Horde mode, will keep me occupied for weeks. And not only this, I am looking forward to getting back into Halo 3's multiplayer, as I have put off buying the last two map packs for knowing ODST would contain them. All of this quality content makes me feel confident in a $60 purchase. Not to mention, get to be one of the first to play Reach....

And Bungie, at the very far out chance you may be reading this, remember I trusted you on this. This would not be acceptable with 99%of other developers out there. I know it was experimental, and thats fine. But please, do not dissapoint me with Reach. I know what your capable of, and I have an idea of what your going to try to accomplish with Reach. Honestly, I want to be blown away. ODST is a nice little appetizer, but next year, I want to be seriously chowin down on a great new and refreshing Halo experience. But in the meantime, Ill be playin some Firefight.

H5

My First Blog

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So, this is my first time writing a blog up here. Im a pretty avid poster in SW most of the time, trying to defend consoles, games, or whatever from the utter fanboy muck that seems to plague it. Kind of like a anti-fanboy crime fighter. I dont know what it is that makes me this way. Maybe its simply the fact that I have owned every system since the SNES, or maybe its just my inherent lack of understanding for siding with one console or another. Not to say I dont have my opinions on games and don'tbash some games. I do, butat least it is backed in some kind of logic or reasoning, not because I dont like the console. But this is just the way it is. Maybe I am spoiled to have played and currently playing all the consoles. Well, either way I am sure I will get into this in further detail one day. But for my first blog, I think I will just explain how I am going to set these weekly blogs of mine up. (Yes, weekly, I do work after all)

First, I am just going to comment on the current news. Whats cool and buzzing around the gaming community, release dates, new releases etc. Obviously, all with my opinions in mind. Obviously, anyone who reads them might disagree but hey, thats what blogs are for. Generally, I try to keep a level head.

Next, I will rundown what I have been playing for the week. Probably like little mini reviews if I have played enough of the game, not in full blown detail but enough depending on the community and personal hype for the title.

Last, I am going to comment on what I am looking forward to next, and/or a personal little snippet of why or what gaming is doing right/wrong and what needs to be done. For instance, I have some really strong feelings against retailers and PARENTS who let their kids buy or play rated M games. But, thats beyond the scope of this blog.

All in all, it is literally just me blabbing in words about what I feel about the gaming industry. I do feel it is useful however. I have an unbiased head on my shoulders. I like almost every genre of game (I do have my favorites) but I am generally open to whatever games are releasing on all systems. I cant play everything, but I try to diversify.

Anyway, currently I am playing Batman Arkham Asylum (who isnt) and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. I am playing the latter, simply because I have never played it, it was 10 dollars, and my friend likes co-op games. Anywho, I have not played enough of either of them to give any kind of review. So I will leave that for next week.

Well, hope anyone who tunes in next week will find this info useful or a topic for discussion with me. If you ever want to play on XBL or PSN, my GT and PSN ID's are both H575309, just like my gamespot ID.

Talk to you next week,

H5