10 Years

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10 years ago today I signed up for Gamespot. (Sep 5, 2002 - Sep 5, 2012)

5 years ago today my daughter was born. It's also her first day of school.

...and, like, a couple weeks ago I broke a million points contributed to the Gamespot Folding@Home team.

Gamespot@Home

Well, there's a first...

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I bought a PS3.

This is the first time I've ever owned two consoles in the same generation.

I've had:

Atari 2600

NES

Sega Genesis

Sega Saturn

Playstation 2

XBOX 360 AND PS3

According to the research I've done, those systems are in console generations 2 through 7. Apparently there was a generation before the Atari 2600. It included the Coleco Telstar and Atari/Sears Pong.

As you can see, I didn't always end up with the dominant system in the generation. The Sega Saturn in particular was killed by the Playstation. In hindsight, it's very clear what happened, but at the time I didn't think that Sony's newcomer would dominate that generation. It sounds strange to say that now, but back then Sega had more gaming pedigree.

So here in the 7th console generation. I own two consoles. I told my wife it was kind of a big deal.

My objectivity is gone

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...and i don't want it back.

I've spent about 40+ hours on Ghostbusters The Video Game in the last month. My wife and daughter were out of town for one weekend and I really racked up some time. I freakin love this game.

The reviews for this game have been decent. Nothing spectacular. On the whole I agree with what the reviewers have been saying.

-too short

-for Ghostbusters fans

-not for newcomers

-frustrating knockdown mechanic

-not knee slapping funny

-surprisingly enjoyable multiplayer

My objectivity seems to have vanished when I play this game. It's like when I saw Ghostbusters in the theatre when I was seven years old. When you're seven you're not looking for the narrative thread, or character development, or plot cohesion. You just experience the film and are at the mercy of your feelings.

Well, my feelings on this game are clear. It's awesome. I'm kind of an annoying fan boy of this game. However, I'm not going to go around attacking people's opinions of the game. I'm not going to forums of other games and starting threads on Ghostbusters. I've got insight that most fanboys don't have...I'm self aware.

I even managed to stop myself from giving it a 9.0. I gave it an 8.0 trying to be as objective as I could muster, but the truth is I like it more than an 8.0. If anyone remembers the "Reviewer's Tilt" score that Gamespot used to have, mine would be a 10.

Surprisingly, most of my time has been spent on the multiplayer. It's competitive coop multiplayer and it's really fun. Normally, I shy away from multiplayer. I get really anxious, but i was willing to overlook that to play Ghostbusters.

I wouldn't consider this blog a recomendation to buy the game. It's merely an outlet for me to talk about the game.

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So here's the thing. I need to get a few Ghostbusters The Video Game apologist things off my chest. I completely understand if you stop reading here. You can comment on the stuff I wrote above the double line of asterisks if you feel so inclined.

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Point: The game isn't that funny. I smiled, but I didn't really laugh.

Counter: Did the original Ghostbusters really make you laugh? I found the original humor of Ghostbusters to be made up of "dry" comedy. I think the script of the game does an excellent job of capturing the feel of the original movie. Is it as good? No, of course not, it's capitalizing on characters and shtick that was done 25 years ago. Besides, comedy in games is difficult to do. This, to me, is a pretty good stab at it.

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Point: The gameplay is repetitive. The Ghostbusting mechanic is interesting at first, but it gets stale pretty quick. Later in the game you encounter ghosts that don't require the ghost wrangling mechanic at all. At this point, it turns into a pretty generic third person shooter.

Counter: I actually think that the inclusion of different types of play mechanics adds much needed diversity to the gameplay. In a lot of group encounters, you need to use all the mechanics in the same battle. In this regard I think that the short length of the game is an advantage. A longer game would have probably felt too drawn out. I would argue that ALL games are repetitive. It all comes down to how fulfilling the game mechanics are.

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Point: I wanted to play as an original Ghostbusters, not a rookie.

Counter: I didn't expect to play as the rookie when this game was first announced. Having played the game, I think the game is better because of it. Being the rookie allows you, the player, to inhabit the game better. Now you can witness the Ghostbusters in action, and bust ghosts by their side.

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There are a few points that I totally agree with:

Eventually you start to destroy a lot of ghosts, and you trap less ghosts. The Ghost wrangling and trapping mechanic is the most interesting gameplay feature the game has to offer, they should have kept this feature in greater majority.

The game's difficulty is uneven. It's fairly easy with pronounced difficulty spikes.

The game is at its best on casual difficulty. You can experience the game's atmosphere, story, and dialogue while avoiding most of the frustrating game mechanics. At the higher difficulty levels the games knockdown mechanics and cooperative AI becomes an annoyance. Also, the amount of health that the enemies have, especially bosses, makes the combat take too long. Unfortunately, casual is not the default difficulty.

Short and Sweet

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Game Length

When I bought Golden Axe on the Genesis it was $60 USD. I completed it a few hours later. There was no hidden collectibles. There was no achievement points. There was no online pvp. Yet, I still felt pretty good about buying that game. I had sunk quite a bit of quarters into Golden Axe in the arcade. Now I had it at home. I was happy.

When I was looking to purchase a game back then, I didn't ask questions like:
-What's the game length?
-What's the replay value?
-What's the incentive to play the game again?

I played games over and over because I enjoyed the game. I still play Mega Man 2 and Streets of Rage 2 once in awhile. Those games aren't any longer than 2 to 3 hours at maximum.

I realize that at present there are a lot of good games competing for your dollars. If 'game A' will take you 6 hours to blow through, and 'game B' will take you 40 hours, then 'game B's' 40 hour campaign gives you more bang for your buck. I understand that. I played through Phantasy Star 1, 2, 3, and 4. Those are longer games. They kept me occupied longer before I reached the game's conclusion.

Still, it makes me sad that shorter games are often overlooked for purchase, and delegated to rentals. I love a good bite sized game. I like a game that I can blast through in an afternoon. Playing a shorter game is like deciding to watch a good movie. You can just pop it in and finish it. If I decide to play Final Fantasy 8 one day, I'd have to block out weeks or months to experience the whole thing.

I think games can sometimes benefit from a shorter length. It can make a game a tighter, more cohesive package. Would you really want to play a 20 or 30 hour campaign in X-Men Origins: Wolverine? Some games can't and shouldn't take you weeks to finish.

Don't get me wrong, I love RPGs, but couldn't you tell the story of an RPG in a few hours? RPGs just fill up the other 10s of hours with filler gameplay. When reminiscing about an RPG am I really looking back at the hours of grinding? I'm pretty sure I'm thinking about the story, the characters, and maybe some of the weapons.

My game collection has a variety of different game lengths. I've never looked down at my Earthworm Jim cartridge and wished it was a longer game. I think of the numerous times I've played through it, and all of the enjoyment I derived from it.

I just played through Ghostbusters The Video Game and I absolutely loved it. The campaign was a short enjoyable experience. I can guarantee you that this is a game I will continue to revisit long after the multiplayer servers have gone silent.

Blog Blog

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Other considered titles:
-Blogger's blog
-Blog about Blog
-For Bloggings sake

I decided on "Blog Blog" because, in my mind, it was the worst of the options. It seemed easier for me to pick the worst, then to try to decide on the best of what was left.

This is my first blog. Not my first blog entry mind you. I don't have another blog that I keep up with on another site. This is it.

Up until about two weeks ago, this blog wasn't really intended to be read. I just used this blog to sporadically type in some musings about video games and the thoughts and concepts that surround it. I wrote as if I had an audience, but I didn't really intend there to be an audience. I think we're all taught to write as if someone was actually going to read our writing. I don't know how to write strictly for myself.

I've seen some pretty intense blog entries out there. Blogs that are well researched, with pictures, and insight, and purpose. They seem more like articles, then an e-journal entry.

So here I am. I now have e-friends. People who might actually click on my profile and read my gaming ramblings. I'm going to be honest, I don't plan on writing editorials. I'm not going to break the latest gaming news, or try to recruit people under my banner of philosophies. I don't see myself wrangling up hundreds of comments. I'm just going write about my thoughts on gaming. Maybe I'll come to understand some of the similarities and differences between me and other gamers.

To any eyes that come across this, if you know of any outstanding bloggers out there, I would love recommendations.

The Sequel part 2: Electric Boogaloo

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[edit] ...by the way. There is no part 1 to this blog. 2 just rhymes with boogaloo.

Every now and again I like to re-affirm my game purchases, and I start to read reviews on games I already own. I read professional reviews, user reviews, and forum posts.

I was reading some of the reviews on Gears of War 2, and I came across a few statements that piqued my interest.

-Gears 1.5

-just more Gears

-too similar to Gears

I wonder what metric the authors of these comments used to measure Gears 2? Did they actually enjoy the gameplay in Gears 1 and tire of it by Gears 2? Had the third person shooter genre really moved on that much in the gap between Gears 1 and 2. Didn't Gears 1 redefine the rubric by which we gauged all third person shooters? Did they really expect Gears 2 to do it again?

I started to think of some sequels that I've embraced.

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Ninja Gaiden 2 (NES):

Action platformer. A direct sequel to Ninja Gaiden. This had pretty much identical gameplay to the first game. This game merely continues the story of Ryu Hayabusa.

Mega Man 2:

Action platformer. Same game as Mega Man, different bosses, different weapons, and slight graphical update.

Panzer Dragoon 2:

An on rails shooter with the same basic gameplay as Panzer Dragoon with much improved visuals, and sleeker level design.

I loved all these games. I wasn't expecting gameplay revolutions. I was expecting more of the original. All it took was a few smart improvements and I was a happy camper.

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So lets look at a few other games.

Resident Evil 4:

Now this game benefits from an upgrade in platforms, namely, the PS1 to the PS2. It took the ****c survival horror gameplay and introduced the now famous third person over the shoulder aiming mechanic.

Dino Crisis 2:

This game took the "Resident Evil with dinosaurs" formula of the first Dino Crisis, and made it a more action oriented shooter. It added a lot more mobile shooting, and a combo system.

Panzer Dragoon Saga:

This did away with the on rails shooter mechanic of its predecessors, and made it into an RPG.

These games were considered to be marked improvements to their predecessors. They were praised for taking their franchises in bold new directions. They were also a gamble. They took a successful formula and turned it on its ear.

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So when do we want more of the same, and when do we want innovation? When should we expect an iteration and when do we deserve a groundbreaking game mechanic? Not every game is going to move its genre forward. As long as a game can keep pace with its genre, and give me more of a franchise I'm already enamored with, I'm usually satisfied.

I guess it's time: About me

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Well after nearly seven years of being a member of Gamespot I guess it's finally time to fill in the 'about me'.

section.

Why now?

Well, I don't have many people around me that I can talk to about games. In the 80's and 90's I was still in school. I was surrounded by people that played games. My friends and I would get together as often as we could to play games. There were many nights filled with movies, Pepsi, and games.

Now, my friends and I all have college degrees, spouses, childern, and full time jobs. The time we have to devote to games has lessened. Our taste in games have become more divergent. So I decided to see if I can find people in the Gamespot community to enter into discourse about games.

So after 7 years of being an island unto myself, I've started to make e-friends.

Although I've spent more years on this earth then a lot of the community at large. There seem to be a few Gamespotters that are closer to my age and life situation.

So let's raise our chalice...to games.

Metal Gear?

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For some reason I'm back into Metal Gear.

Quick History:

I completed Metal Gear (NES) in the 80's

I completed Metal Gear Solid (PS) in the 90's

I completed Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2) in 2006

Metal Gear Solid 3 is probably in my top 5 favorite games. The story really blew me away. The tragedy of Big Boss, had 10 times the emotional impact for me than the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker. Anakin's story really didn't resonate with me. It was too easy to see through all of his emotional vulnerability. Big Boss, on the other hand really made me feel for him. I really had to think about how I would react to his situation.

***Star Wars spoilers below?********************************************

I don't know...In Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker's distrust of the Jedi Council was so unfounded. The Jedi council really had the Republic's best interests in mind. Anakin's immaturity, insecurity, instability, impetuousness, impulsiveness, and over-ambition telegraphed his fall from grace too much.

When Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader it was so unsatisfying. When Anakin began to turn his back on his loved ones it was unwarranted and his trust of Darth Sidious seemed naive.

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***Metal Gear Sold 3 Spoilers*******************************************

Naked Snake's relationship with The Boss, his mentor, was elaborated on properly. You could sense the bond that he had with her. When the Boss defected to the GRU, it really shook Naked Snake to the core. Naked Snake's internal conflict was clear. The struggle between duty to his country and loyalty to his mentor was central to the narrative of his character. So when you find out that the US government knowingly set up The Boss to take the fall, and used Naked Snake to take her down, the emotional resonance was palpable.

The dilemma is, the US Government did exactly what needed to be done. It was a despicable thing, which averted nuclear war. The Boss died a war criminal, killed by her star pupil, in order to save her country. Snake has every right to feel like a puppet. He has every right to feel despair for The Boss. The US Government, unlike the Jedi Council, was worthy of Naked Snake's distrust. Yet, he knew that the Government made the right decision.

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For some reason I decided that I wanted to play Metal Gear Solid 3 again. I settled for watching the cut scenes in the Demo Theatre. Then I decided I wanted to play through the Metal Gear games that I missed. So I started the original Metal Gear (MSX) on disc 2 of Subsistence. After I'm done with that I'll play Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX). I just received my copy of Metal Gear Solid: The Essential Collection from Amazon so that I can play through Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (PS2).

Unfortunately, I don't have a PS3 or a PSP so I won't be able to play MGS4 (PS3) or MGS: Portable Ops (PSP). I'll try to play them somehow in the future.

Final Fantasy XIII60

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Final Fantasy XIII is coming to the XBOX 360.

This definitely something that I dared not hope for, I just couldn't take the rejection. Yet, now it has come true.

There are a handful of games that made me stare longingly at the PS3, and this is one of them. I can't really put into words how exited that I am about this news. I'm a pretty big Final Fantasy 7 and 8 fan. I can't really call myself a fan of the entire franchise, because the 7th and 8th iterations of the series are the only ones that I've played through to completion. Currently, I own 6, 8, 9, X, and XII.

As time goes on, I become more and more secure in my console choice. When I bought an XBOX360 it was sort of impulsive. I did my research, but I based my decision on the games that were available at the time. MGS4 and God of War seemed so far off.So is this going to be yet another Final Fantasy game that sits uncompleted in my game collection? Only time will tell. The point is, I can buy it for the system I own, and that makes me smile.

Console Envy, in the key of PS3.

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I've got to admit it, I'm jealous.

Metal Gear Solid 4 makes me wish I had a PS3.

The exclusives on the PS3 hadn't really done anything for me. Resistance, Motorstorm, Heavenly Sword, I can pretty much go the rest of my life without playing those games. For a few years everything good about the PS3 seemed to be in the future. Playstation Home, God of War 3, etc.

I love Metal Gear Solid 3. It's one of my top 10 favorite games. MSG 3 is the best 'fall from grace' stories that I've seen. "The Big Boss" is absolutely the legendary soldier that everyone in the Metal Gear universe says he is. He is a man that is worth every word of his myth. Best of all, his fall is understandable. In my opinion, he is better than the sum of his clones.

I knew that MSG4 was going to be a PS3 exclusive, but it seemed like it was never coming out. I went ahead an bought an XBOX 360 so that I could play Gears of War and Rock Band. Although I don't regret my console decision, I definitely wish I had a PS3. I know this is selfish, but I was actually hoping that MSG4 would get a lackluster response. Why? So that I didn't feel the way I do now. I didn't think that at would end up being the critically acclaimed title and technical marvel that it ended up being. Hearing on The Hotspot and the Giantbomb Cast that editors who hated the previous Metal Gear games now love MSG4 was like a dagger in my chest.

Good on you PS3. Good on you Konami. Good on you Hideo.

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