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Is there anybody out there?

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Just based on my own personal feed, it seems like people have given up on the blogging aspect of this site. I'm wondering who is still here and still checking out blogs, if anyone.

Time to buy more games I might never actually play!

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That's right, it's time for the Steam Summer Sale!!! :lol:

Never mind that I, like many Steam users and buyers, have a slew of games in their library that I've never played yet. They're on sale for a bunch of % off, so hey we have to buy more.

Anyone buying anything? Anyone have any must-play recommendations?

Right now I'm looking at this list, pondering some of the titles on there. I'm trying not to spend more than $20 combined dollars; we'll see if I can get away with that. I'm thinking of buying Night Sky; I never heard of it, but s**t, it was 99 cents. Other than that, I have a few of those (Bioshock 2, BC Rearmed, Shatter, Defense Grid, Cave Story, Stacking, Machinarium, Psychonauts) but I can't say I've heard of many of the games on that list, so if you see any on there (or are not on there) that you've played that you really liked, let me know.

Let's go grow the backlog some more. :)

My latest shameful addiction (and why games like it are so addicting)

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Yeah I'm not sure I want to admit what I've been doing gaming-wise the past few weeks, but I figure it's time to update this blog, so here goes.

I have found myself addicted to a farming game on my iPad. A friend convinced me to come play the game with her, so I gave it a shot.

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I've spent a pretty pathetic amount of time playing this as of late. This has not been the proudest three or four weeks of my life... But it is what it is.

I recently took a free online course at Coursera called Gamification, which is the process of implementing game design techniques into business -- externally to increase sales, internally to increase employee production. Video games were one subject studied in this course, and we even were instructed to play Plants vs. Zombies during one of the lectures.

From a gaming standpoint, this was an interesting class because you got to learn about the somewhat sinister psychology that goes into a lot of game design and what makes them addicting. There is a chemical in the brain called dopamine, which works as follows (as copy-pasted from my notes) :

Our brains release and reabsorb the neurotransmitter dopamine in response to certain activities. Things that we find rewarding or valuable or surprising tend to result in dopamine release. It works like a shot of a drug that causes pleasure, and there becomes an association with an activity that encourages us to go back.

This is a big reason why seemingly meaningless activities that take place in video games can be made so addicting -- they are given meaning by adding a reward, no matter how big or small, and that reward can trigger a dopamine release in the brain that gives us a momentary shot of pleasure. In other words, whether you realize it or not, you're getting a very momentary high for doing them.

The rewards can be something like achievements or badges, or a piece of gear, or the feel of satisfaction you get when helping other people. The most addicting games are designed to "create rewards that maximize that engagement based on dopamine release" and to keep the activities that result in these rewards on a non-stop loop, meaning that because you enjoyed it the first time, you'll want to do it again and again if the opportunities present themselves.

You can see why some games are addicting over a long-term basis and some really aren't. The ones that aren't don't give you these loops -- instead, they may point you from point A to point B, and once you get to point B (i.e., finish the campaign), you're done. You might have had fun on the way there, and the gameplay and/or story might have been so good that you didn't want to put it down, but once you run out of things to do, it's game over. The ones that are addicting are filled with these loops (called "feedback loops" and "activity loops") and are very effective in continually keeping you wanting to come back for more. They may provide endless loops of these activities, making them very hard to put down because there's constant rewards but no endgame. 

Add someone like me to the mix -- someone who is generally easily seduced, weak-minded, has a very addictive personality, and has a very hard time walking away from tasks if they aren't finished -- and boom, there's your addiction.

Hay Day is particularly devilish because it is nothing but feedback loops that never end, designed to get you hooked early and then keep you sucked in until your only choices (if you want to keep playing) are to sink a gigantic amount of hours into the game in order to keep up with the objectives, or pay money to make it easier. You realize that what you are spending time on is silly, but every activity in the game is meant to give you a reward in the above-described fashion, whether it's helping someone else complete their objectives, getting a rare item drop from doing a simple activity, or selling something for profit on the marketplace. Add in that many things on the game are done on a timer, making you want to check in throughout the day to be there when the timer expires so you can start up the next activity as soon as you can, and it can be pretty hard to walk away from.

(It all works marvelously too, as Supercell Games, the Helsinki-based designers of Hay Day, rake in $2.4 million dollars a day, and that's only on iOS... not bad for "Free Games." I imagine it's all a similar formula to Farmville, which is a game I don't know much about and probably am better off not knowing either)

Anyway, it is all starting to get a little old, so maybe I will walk away soon and get back into other games. No matter how addicting game developers can make an endless grind become, at the end of the day, an endless grind is still an endless grind, and over time it will begin to wear on you. So I'm not sure how many more cows I want to milk or fields of corn I want to harvest.

I will say this though -- the whole thing has really got me thinking about my gaming future, because I haven't missed my consoles. At ALL. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised at that, however, since the amount of games on them that are truly not worth missing seems to be going down consistently.


Before Hay Day though, I did manage to squeeze in a few games between my last blog writing and getting hooked on that game. Here's some thoughts I wrote some time ago on these games but never published. If you care, here they are :)

Assassin's Creed III

621797_198896_thumb.jpgLiked: The feeling of being in the middle of a war. The naval battles could use a little work but at their best felt epic and got me looking forward to Assassin's Creed IV.  After initially being bored with it, exploring the frontier turned out to be fun. Father/son interaction was enjoyable.

Didn't like: A little buggy. Colonial America isn't as interesting as Renaissance Italy. Didn't really take any big steps forward from ACII and in some ways took steps backward. Connor was a schlong.

I was expecting worse honestly, given some of the player feedback this game got. But it's far from a bad game. It's just not Assassin's Creed II.

Dishonored

636040_219340_thumb.jpgLiked: Blink was fun. Impressive voice cast.

Didn't like: There wasn't much really wrong with it, per se, but it just didn't grab me. The story and atmosphere didn't do it for me, and I didn't think either the stealth or the FPS were anything too special. It also falls into the trap of saying you can play the game however you want only to force you to play it a certain way if you want a certain ending. In other words, if you want to play the game as an all-guns blazing FPS where you run in and shoot everyone, you're going to get the evil ending. Dishonored was similar to Deus Ex: Human Revolution in that there are different paths to your goal and you can stealth or FPS, but HR did it right (one of the very very few games to get the "choice" mechanic mostly correct, in my opinion) by only letting your story choices affect the ending and not your playstyle. So I felt that the element of choice here was a little bit of an illusion.

Jet Set Radio (XBLA)

662139_251998_thumb.jpgLiked: Such style. Games with this much life, energy and spirit don't come around much anymore in this day and age of soulless, empty, carbon-copy games. Undeniably cool. Kick-ass music.

Didn't Like: My goodness, this game was so not fun to play. I didn't feel it aged well in terms of gameplay and level design. Teeth-gnashingly frustrating at times. Even the tutorial was tough to handle.

I wanted to wrap my arms around this game and make sweet love to it while stuffing it down the garbage disposal at the same time. I loved it and hated it with equal intensity.

Max Payne 3 (in progress)

958969_122712_thumb.jpgLike: Unique style. Good production values. Some fun shootouts and set pieces. Lots of things to keep you busy. I also like how it is honest and labels the tedious optional extra tasks it gives you as "grinds."

Don't like: Underneath it all, it's a pretty run-of-the-mill shooter that isn't always that stimulating in terms of gameplay. Wish it let me explore Sao Paolo in more detail. Has one of my biggest video game pet peeves (locking the door behind you when you reach a checkpoint, preventing you from going back and looking around).

Max Payne 3 is symbolic of the internal struggle I'm having with lots of games these days. It's shiny, slick, stylish, has high production values, and tries really hard to be cool, but for me, once you dig underneath that stuff it just feels kind of hollow inside and is nothing I haven't played ten times before. These days I need more than that to be satisfied.

X-Com: Enemy Unknown

655783_243869_thumb.jpgLiked: Overall it was pretty awesome, warts aside. Tons of fun most of the time. Base maintenance was very enjoyable and got the imagination going. Loved being able to make decisions on a worldwide scale, like what countries or continents got the most attention. There was always a sense of tension in deciding what moves to make on the field and where to invest your money off it. Loved this game for the most part.

Didn't like: High frustration factor. Your soldiers miss way too much from close range. Game can feel cheap on harder difficulties. Could have used a little more depth. A little buggy. The game's shortcomings really start to stick out after playing through it again.

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Oh yeah, E3 came and went while I was busy milking cows and shearing sheep. I didn't pay too much attention to it. It was actually nice to not get caught up in the console pissing contests. So there's my thoughts on E3 :lol:

Also, I finally got around to seeing Wreck-it-Ralph the other night. Great movie for gaming fans! See it if you haven't yet.

That's all for now, thanks for reading :)

 

iOS game recommendations

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Sorry for not visiting some of your blogs lately -- I am trying to stay as far away from Bioshock spoilers as possible. I can't get the game for a while so hopefully I can stay clear.

Anyway, to my surprise I received an iPad 4 as a gift from moms a short time ago. My mother is retired and I think is spending her retirement funds too quickly. I have never had iPad, iPod, or iPhone, so everything is new to me with it. Not surprisingly, it is on its way to becoming another gaming platform for me. That's not what the gift giver had in mind, I'm sure, but oh well.

Anyone have any game recommendations? Or other recommendations of stuff I should get? There's more stuff than I thought on here, although I imagine much of it isn't too good. I am trying some of the stuff I heard about but never played, like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja, and I downloaded XBox Smart Glass and am still trying to figure out what the point of it is. But other than that I have no idea, so I am looking for suggestions :D

(Edit -- Since writing this I bought my first iPad game: Ridiculous Fishing. When I discovered that there was a game called Ridiculous Fishing where you pulled fish out of the water and then shot them with machine guns, I had to get it. It is very fun and addicting and well worth $2.99 :)  I will have to find more. )

What are your plans for the next generation?

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It'll be the holidays before you know it, which this year means the release of two next generation consoles -- the Playstation 4 and the XBox whatever it will be called.

There doesn't seem to be a great deal of excitement surrounding these releases though, at least not from what I've seen. There could be many reasons for that -- maybe the technological advances aren't big enough to justify the price, maybe more and more people are finally getting sick of the same old thing, maybe more and more people are discovering that PC and/or portable devices are all they need to get a gaming fix, maybe people have grown weary of the gaming industry, or maybe (like in my case) it's some or all of those things along with other things I haven't mentioned.

I was a PS2/GameCube/XBox owner and part-time PC player two generations ago, and I was a PS3/360/Wii and part-time PC player during the most recent generation. When Wii, 360, and PS3 hit, I was still very happy with the PS2/GameCube/XBox combo and wasn't really ready to give it up, but eventually I knew I'd want all three consoles because I was always someone who was afraid to miss out on a good game, wanting to play every good exclusive that came down the pike.

I don't feel that way this time around. I've gone from being a Nintendo-first gamer back in the GameCube days to now not being sure I'll ever own a Wii U at all. I went from XBox being my least-played console to 360 being the most-played to the point where I don't know if I want to own anything else. My PS3 I mostly use for watching blu-rays these days. Meanwhile, I still dabble in PC from time to time although PC gaming isn't nearly as fun for someone with a bad back, bad neck, and bad hands like me, so I don't play it as much as I'd like. As for exclusives, I'm not sure there are as many anymore to justify owning all three consoles, not to mention I'm not I care as much about missing out on them.

But I don't know... maybe three years from now I will find myself once again with all three. I definitely don't plan on being an early adopter, probably waiting at least a year before considering any new console. Maybe that gap will get me hungry for the new ones. But I'm also very much considering going to the PC more as sticking to things like Steam Sales would be good for my increasingly small wallet.

What are your plans? Are you excited about next gen? Don't care? Somewhere in between? Are you going to buy on day one, or are you going to wait a year or two before making the flip?


It's taken until March 1 to start to dig into my 360 backlog that I built up on Black Friday (and added to the other day by buying games I'm not sure I actually wanted from the current 360 sale just because they were cheap, like El Shaddai), but it's finally time. I decided to play Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story on Wii before getting into the 360 stack. I had no idea I would sink over 150 hours into Xenoblade Chronicles though, so it's taken longer to get her than I thought.

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Xenoblade's stunning Eryth Sea zone was worth the price of admission.

Xenoblade Chronicles received lots of love from game reviewers as well as the gaming community, but I can't say I was ever in love with it despite spending that much time with it. It was great in a couple areas -- some of the zones were wonderful, and the soundtrack stood out as well. But I felt that the story, characters and combat system stayed in the range of average-to-above average for most of the game, while a large percentage of the extreme quantity side quests (of which probably took up over half my playtime) too often felt meaningless and grindy. But it did have that classic JRPG feel and did a fine job of filling a JRPG void that has been missing on consoles for much of this generation.

The Last Story was brought to us by the same person who created the Final Fantasy series (Hironobu Sakaguchi), so it's not too much of a surprise that it felt at times more like a traditional Final Fantasy game than any game in the series since Final Fantasy X. It was pretty experimental (and hit-and-miss) in terms of its combat, so that won't remind you at all of Final Fantasy, but some of the game's more romantic and grandiose moments definitely had that epic Final Fantasy feel to them. The game is unfortunately held back by technical issues and lack of polish, among other things, but I think I actually wound up having more fun with this game than Xenoblade even though I scored it a little lower. I liked the setting and characters, and it had a silly sense of humor too. It was pretty short for an RPG; I ended up with about 39 hours played and probably could have cut that by at least 15 if I had stuck to the main story. It did feel a little thin in that area, but not so much that you feel slighted.

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There's a great game somewhere inside The Last Story, but it didn't always find its way out.

I also have to :lol: a bit at the Japanese perv factor at work as each game had a way by design to strip all your characters down to their undergarments while still maintaining armor value. So if you ever want to play a game where you can defeat giant bosses while your characters are in their underwear, this is the place to look.

Anyway, those are probably two of the last games I'll play on Wii. I still will probably play Skyward Sword and maybe Kirby's Epic Yarn, but after that it will probably be time to retire the Wii for good. It was nice to spend some time with it after only having played one game on it (DKC Returns) in like two years. It made me feel like I got more of my money's worth than I originally thought.

Well that's all for now; thanks for reading :)

It's OK to complain

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I'm reading some of the comments in this Dead Space 3 article on GameSpot, and I suppose it was inevitable that eventually I come to something like this:

"So many entitled gamers these days, crying and butthurt because someone made a game that isn't what they wanted it to be... Its easy to tear apart someone elses creation from the anonimity of the internet... People just like to complain these days, nothing is ever good enough for them, or is as good as it once was..."

Complaining about complaining seems to be a common phenomenon in the gaming community from what I've seen. I first really noticed it en masse during the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, and now it seems to be a matter of time before I see it come up whenever there's a complaint about something else.

According to these people, we're apparently not supposed to complain about anything at all. Don't like the ending to Mass Effect 3? Don't like the fact that Skyrim was buggy and didn't work properly for PS3? Don't like Dead Space 3 becoming an action game? If you answered yes to any of these, or complain about anything else pertaining to a game a game, that makes you "entitled" according to these people (their favorite buzzword). I've seen some of them say that complainers just need to shut up and be thankful that these wonderful, wonderful games exist.

I don't really frequent other online communities too much outside of sports, but from a glance it seems like this is unique to the gaming community. Some people didn't like Skyfall or The Hobbit very much, but I never saw anyone respond to those people with "You're entitled." With games though, apparently we're supposed to shut up and accept it if we don't like something. Even if someone paid for a game and it didn't work (as was the case for some with Skyrim), we're supposed to get nothing and like it.

I don't understand that. Complaints come with anything that is released for public consumption and is part of being a customer, and any business worth their salt values constructive complaints and WANTS to hear them because they can use it to make their products better. And for people like the person above who hate it when someone "tears apart someone's creation," criticism is part of the creative process; music gets criticized, movies get criticized, books get criticized, paintings and sculptures get criticized. I'm not sure why video games should be exempt from this.

(Not to mention that a lot of video games aren't exactly the work of an auteur... I'm guessing the creative direction of games like Dead Space 3 is at least partially controlled by guys in suits whose primary concern is maximizing profit rather than making an artistic statement or keeping artistic integrity... the article in question backs that guess up)

Anyway, keep complaining, complainers. Sure, listening to people complain can get annoying at times, but I don't want to live in a world without you. That goes double for video games -- I can't imagine what some games might turn out like if they weren't subject to the wrath of the community and we were just supposed to accept whatever form they were released in. Don't let the people calling you "entitled" or responding to you with "First World Problems" get in your way. Whether you paid for it or not, you aren't wrong in letting your voice be heard, and who knows -- maybe your feedback can help make that game and/or future games better.


That rant was my first entry here in a while, but I haven't had much to say. When I've been playing games it's been Xenoblade Chronicles, which has unexpectedly turned into a 100-hour game for me, and that's strange because I am not sure I really am in love with the game. But the completionist in me has taken over with this game as some unseen force is pushing me to complete every meaningless and tedious side quest (and there are a LOT of them in this game), unlock every hidden door, and level up until I complete all the skill trees and kill every uber optional boss that I find. I'm not sure how much longer I'll go at it with this game, but right now I'm on a mission to kill all the high-level monsters that killed me when I was a low-level.

That's all for now; thanks for reading :)

I can't say much about 2012 I guess

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Sometimes I can't decide whether or not my overall interest in games has declined recently, but I definitely know for sure that my interest in being an early adopter is no longer there.

This has led to me going from being able to confidently do year-end best of lists in 2009 and 2010 to not being able to do one at all because I haven't played hardly any games of note to come out this year.

Below is my small list of games I played that came out in 2012.

  • Choplifter HD - Playstation Plus freebie. Not a great game but I had fun with it. A guilty pleasure.
  • Double Dragon Neon - Playstation Plus freebie. I like the old school flavor but I wound up quitting after about an hour out of lack of interest.
  • Frogger Hyper Arcade Edition - I bought this game on accident a couple days ago when I thought I was downloading the demo but instead clicked purchase. This is the third XBLA game I've bought on accident. Has anyone else had this problem, or am I just a moron? I've played it for about an hour. It's not as good as my other two accidental purchases, Super Meat Boy and ilomilo.
  • Happy Wars -- Free XBLA game. It was ok for a free game but I quit after discovering that it forces you to play multiple rounds of not-that-good online multiplayer in order to advance in the single player.
  • Hotline Miami - Now playing. I don't know if this game is quite as cool as it thinks it is or a lot of critics think it is, but I'm finding it to be kind of fun.
  • Journey - For the first half of this game I felt like I had gotten ripped off, but towards the end I started to understand and found the last half-hour or so to be a profound gaming experience. After that, it was more enjoyable to play through a second time. I didn't come away thinking it was GOTY material, but I haven't played the rest of the contenders, so I can't say for sure.
  • Mass Effect 3 - I agree with many of the criticisms about this game, but at the same time, I probably put over 100 hours in between the single-player and multiplayer and had a lot of fun with the latter. It's very rare for me to spend any extended time with a game's multiplayer, but I did it here.
  • Persona 4 Arena - Now playing. I've managed to fall asleep four times so far during this game's wall of text story mode. I really like the Persona games and was very excited to play this, but not every character's story has kept me awake. As a fighting game though, it's pretty fun.
  • Quantum Conundrum - Playstation Plus freebie. Pretty interesting game but I stopped playing it once my Black Friday games arrived. I'm not sure if I'll pick it up again.
  • Quarrel - Fun but flawed word game. At the time of release, the single-player AI was way too hard, and it was too easy to cheat online. I don't know if those have been fixed since then, but given its low price, it was a good buy.
  • Silent Hill HD Collection - Konami did a pretty lackluster job in putting this collection together, and I hated the controls at first. But I will never forget how bleak and relentlessly oppressive the atmosphere of Silent Hill 2 was once the game got going.
  • Skullgirls - Quit after a while out of a combination of extreme difficulty and being too lazy at the time to learn a new fighting game (and in this game you have no choice but to learn it, otherwise the AI will destroy you).
  • Skyrim Dawnguard - Nothing spectacular but if you like Skyrim, you'll like Dawnguard. I'm not sure what else to say about it. Wait until you can get it on sale though.
  • Walking Dead - I played through the first two a while back and just bought the rest. I really enjoyed the first two and am looking forward to the next three. I have been skeptical in the past as to whether or not episodic games would work, but after this I am excited about the future with this format.

Pretty weak, but maybe by the end of 2013 I will have played enough 2012 games to do a best-of list. :)

Overall though I wasn't excited about much to come out this year. It seemed like a down year for games. Maybe I'll be proven wrong once I play through the big backlog of 2012 games that I have piled up over the last few weeks though -- XCom, Dishonored, Forza Horizon, Assassin's Creed III, FTL Faster Than Light, Max Payne 3, The Last Story, Xenoblade Chronicles (does that count as 2011 or 2012?), and a few other things. I also want to get my hands on Dragon's Dogma and Kingdoms of Amalur, both of which were available for just $9.99 during the short-lived greatest Black Friday sale ever at the Microsoft Store, but I missed it.

I also played some games from previous years though, my favorites being:

1. Dragon Age Origins -- I had already played DA:O on the PC but played through it again more than twice on the 360. I'm a big DA:O fan.
2. Rayman Origins -- So goofy, lovable, and fun. The antidote to being worn out on stuff like too many shooters.
3. Deus Ex: Human Revolution -- I loved the cyberpunk setting and the different ways you can play the game.
4. Gears of War 3 -- Mostly more of the same, which is the case for many shooter sequels... but it's still Gears, and Gears is always a lot of fun.
5. Alice: Madness Returns -- A little lacking in some ways but is an underrated game that is often fun, sometimes beautiful, sometimes disturbing, and sometimes trippy.
6. Donkey Kong Country Returns -- Fun, and very difficult. It's hard enough to beat the main story, but completing everything there is to complete in this game is definitely one of the hardest objectives in any game this generation.
7. Just Cause 2 -- If you are looking for a brainless game where you can just mindlessly blow stuff up, here you go. Pretty fun stuff a lot of the time.
8. The Binding of Isaac -- The definitive "I can't stop playing this and I don't know why" game.
9. Might & Magic Clash of Heroes -- I had this sitting on my 360 hard drive for months. Pretty fun game once I got around to it.
10. Assassin's Creed Revelations -- Not much new here, but more of one of this gen's best games (Assassin's Creed II) isn't a bad thing.
11. Infamous 2 -- Brings a lot of the fun of the first game plus a cool new character, but I felt it really wasn't much of a step forward from the original.
12. Dragon Age II -- I expected the worst coming in given how much hate it got. It really is a major departure from Origins, and not always in a good way... but it's still not a bad game. It's just nowhere near as good as Origins.
13. Shadows of the Damned - A bizarre game with weapons named Hot Boner and Big Boner and dialogue such as "These demon pubes are blocking the door!" If that sounds like your thing, then this game's for you. :lol:
14. To the Moon -- Probably gaming's greatest love story, but it unfortunately isn't much from a gameplay perspective, plus I felt it was very uneven at times in how it flip-flopped back and forth between serious subject matter and comic relief.
15. The First Templar -- Another guilty pleasure... a budget game that isn't that good in some ways but is still surprisingly enjoyable much of the time and actually has a couple parts that are pretty cool.

Hmm, maybe I played more than I thought this year. I didn't even get into the stuff here that I didn't like that much.

Next year, I'm looking forward to Dragon Age 3, Grand Theft Auto V, and... I don't know what else. I think I'll be playing through mostly older games for much of the year. :)

Have a safe and happy new year everyone!

Black Friday Shopping

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First blog in a few months. I haven't been too excited about gaming over the past half year or so, and I could write a long whiny rant about why, but I won't, because Black Friday is here, which means it's time to get excited again and build a backlog.

Bought so far:
Dishonored (X360) ($25)
Sly Cooper Collection (PS3) ($10)

Will buy:
Fallout New Vegas Ultimate Edition ($20)
Saints Row The Third The Full Package ($25)
Persona 4 Arena ($30)
Max Payne 3 ($15)
Forza Horizon ($15)

Probably will buy:
Assassin's Creed III ($35)

Debating:
XCom: Enemy Unknown ($35)
House of the Dead: Overkill (PS3) ($13)
Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition ($20)
Kirby's Epic Yarn ($15)

I will get XCom for sure sometime, but I was kind of hoping it would go lower than $35. I think I might wait a little while longer, although I haven't decided yet. The other three games are games I'm just not sure I want.

With $44 worth of Amazon points to use, my broke self should be able to get all that crap for somewhere around $125-$150.

I think I might be most looking forward to Persona 4 Arena from that list, and Assassin's Creed III as well even though the review scores were lower than I thought (but still not bad). Honestly, some of the others are games I really wasn't too interested in playing (Max Payne 3, Forza, Sly Collection, Fallout NV, Saints Row), but the prices on them changed my mind. Honestly I was only expecting to buy three or four games this year, but I guess I'm buying some more. :)

Hope everyone has been well. I haven't had much to say about games, so I haven't written anything here. I've played some over the past several months, but I'm not really sure I enjoyed too many of them. Off the top of my head, I liked Alice Madness Returns (an imperfect game but I had fun and loved the trippy worlds, and kudos for having the balls to explore messed up subject matter and do it gracefully), Walking Dead 1&2 (Playstation Plus please be nice and put the rest of them out for free like you did the first two), Might & Magic Clash of Heroes, Just Cause 2 (silly game in some ways, but perfect if you are in one of those moods to just mindlessly blow as much stuff up as possible), AC Revelations, and to an extent Infamous 2 and Little Big Planet 2. I hated Dead Space 2, which surprised me, and got bored with Darksiders and quit halfway through. I've messed around with some other things that were freebies from Playstation Plus, but I don't feel like writing about them. Right now I'm playing Quantum Conundrum from PSPlus and it's pretty decent.

I'm hoping I'll love some of these games I'm buying rather than feeling like I'm playing them just to pass the time or just to dig out of a backlog.

Thanks for reading :)

Back to Skyrim (Dawnguard), Mass Effect, and stuff

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Back to Skyrim I go... back to a vast fantasy world where you can lose yourself and stop and stare at the sights while soaking in the near-perfect soundtrack... and back to the bugs and sloppiness, back to loading screen after loading screen, back to occasionally awkward combat, back to unwanted dragon fights interrupting your game :lol:

I do think it's true that the more you play Skyrim, the more problems you find with it, or at least that's been my experience. I keep on playing this game thinking that it should be one of the best games ever made but it too often stands in its own way of becoming that.

It's still fun enough though, so wound up picking up Dawnguard, Skyrim's first expansion, and at first I was excited to be coming back to the game after months. It didn't take long to see the game is still buggy -- my quest log was still filled with bugged-out quests that couldn't previously be finished (some of them were fixed, a couple of them disappointingly are still unable to be completed), my inventory still has items from those bugged quests that can't be removed, and there doesn't seem to be any shortage of random bugs that still happen when you play the game.

There's quite a few people out there who defended the game upon release, frequently citing that the game's size makes it very difficult to troubleshoot and that some bugs should be expected. That's true, although I also think it's true that upon release there were still too many. Seven-plus months have passed since the game's release, and only some things have been fixed. Some haven't. I don't really know what the defense for that would be.

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Louis Letrush hangs out right outside of Whiterun. Sometimes there's one of him, sometimes there's three, sometimes there's more than three, sometimes he's sticking out of the ground, and sometimes you get interesting combinations of those. Poor Louis has had this affliction since November.

Anyway, on to Dawnguard. I've only played some of it so far, and while there's some good things in it (the storyline seems interesting enough, and the new companion you get is likable), it also feels like more of the same -- fetch quests, dungeon quests, etc. So if you're expecting something like Oblivion's Shivering Isles expansion, which introduced you to a strange new land and felt like a separate experience from Oblivion altogether, you'll be a little disappointed in that respect. I haven't really gotten into the new werewolf or vampire powers too much though and still have a ways to go with the questline, but so far it's just more Skyrim.

That's not necessarily a bad thing as warts aside, Skyrim still puts you under its spell, and if you got hooked on it before you'll get hooked on it again, unless you're sick of the game. I do wish they would have come up with a way to lessen the dragon encounter rate for people who don't need or want to fight them though... whenever one attacks I just reload the last save file and warp across the map away from it. Now that I'm done whining though, I should really get back to playing it some more... :lol:

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Mass Effect 3 released its new and improved endings on the same day as Dawnguard, and I was able to put down Skyrim long enough to see how things played out. Some people hate them, some people like them. I thought the endings were better, or at least it felt like a more fitting ending to a trilogy of games and not something that felt a little rushed and uninspired. There's more closure on several fronts now. If you haven't seen them yet, your choice is to either watch them on YouTube or play through the last 2-3 hours of the game again. If you choose the former, there might be a couple scenes that you miss out on that happen during the final mission.


I think I'm going to look at hanging out at Giant Bomb some more. I'm getting a page started here. I'm not going to leave this site but I think I might do some combination of the two, like making some lists over there and writing stuff here, or something like that. But my blog page has felt a little bit like a ghost town lately, and since the other site I like to comment at (Kotaku) implemented an overly complicated new comment system that is driving people away, I'm thinking of getting into a new place more.

Also, if you haven't seen this, check it out for a laugh. Cracked.com ran a thread recently called "If video game titles/covers were honest." Click here.

These were probably the non-obscene ones I liked the most:

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You win PSN, here's my money

by on

I haven't really played my PS3 much over the past couple of years. I watch blu-rays on it all the time, but game-wise I think I've only played Uncharted 3, Journey, and Super Stardust HD in the last year and a half.

It looks like that will change though, thanks to the nice Playstation Plus deal going on right now. In case you missed it (I hadn't seen it up until a few days ago), they made 12 games available for free play to their subscribers:

Little Big Planet 2
Infamous 2
Just Cause 2
Saints Row 2
Warhammer Space Marine
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
Ratchet and Clank All-4-One
Zombie Apocalypse
Sideway New York
Contra Hard Corps
Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
Choplifter HD

I haven't really ever even considered signing up for Playstation Plus, but after seeing that deal and wondering how many future games might be made free to play, I decided to give it a try and give my nerdrage32 account a year's subscription. Maybe there's a catch that I'm missing other than the fact that you don't actually own copies of the games and that they'd take forever to download on PSN and that my hard drive isn't big enough for them all, but I haven't seen it yet if there is.

I'm wondering if part of this move might just be Sony's answer to Onlive. A subscription to Onlive will get you more titles, but it's more expensive, and many of the titles aren't that interesting. When thinking of Sony's library and all the current and older games they could someday make free, I think it's pretty intriguing. I wonder if XBox Live will do something similar someday. Hopefully they will, although I have a feeling they won't.

So I guess I have a bigger backlog now :) I don't know if I'll play all those games in the year's subscription, but I think I'll play through at least half of them.

I also dusted off the Wii a few days back for the first time in about a year and a half to play Donkey Kong Country Returns. It had the reputation coming in for being hard as hell, and after clearing four chapters of the game I can say that the reputation is pretty well deserved in some parts. There have already been a few F-bombs tossed that game's way on my part :lol: It's a little strange actually because on the surface, the game comes off as being targeted at young kids, but I can't think of many young kids who would be good enough and/or patient enough to make it through this game.

I was thinking for a while that over the next few months I might just play through the few Wii games I still want to play (Xenoblade, Last Story, Kirby's Epic Yarn, Zelda Skyward Sword, New SMB Wii, and maybe a couple others) and then box up the Wii for good and close the chapter on it, but I'm wondering if DKC Returns might be my last game on Wii. It's a good game, but I'm just having trouble getting back into the Wii. Plus I've been reminded while playing it how much I don't really care for motion controls. So I don't know.