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pandadude01 Blog

What's happening at Gamespot AU?

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For those reading....

You may or may not have noticed my lack of GSAU activity in the last...so many months. In short, I've just been busy and a few other things since I stopped posting.

I guess the main thing that substantially limited the amount of free time I could dispose of on GSAU forums was that during my Uni holidays (when I would traditionally become a lazy, do nothing, game-playing, forum posting, lazy, do nothing drain on the economy) I instead, a much to my disappointment, did rather well at a job interview and worked full time for about 4 months at my local DSE store. Surprisingly, I actually quite enjoyed it. Well, I enjoyed the constant flow of money which was more than enough for me since I live at home. I didn't enjoy some of the less informed questions that sometimes got asked though. Better not go any further than that since it seems nowadays anything you write on the world wide webs can be used against you unfortunately.

And then Uni started again so that's kept me busy, but at least I have a bit more time off.

Gaming wise I've just been playing through GTA4 again. Got KZ2 as well, but was pretty disappointed with it. It looks amazing, but the aiming is just horrible and laggy. I invested in a new laptop as well which is nice as it allows me to play some PC games again, which I've missed since my old PC became underpowered and thus redundant. It's also amazing when hooked up to my Full HD TV. So on that I bought Mass Effect, but am finding it a bit slow to start off with. I also got Empire: Total War which I'm really enjoying now that they've ironed out most of the bugs and glitches.

So what's changed around here? Anything I should know before I consider posting more regularly again? Mutinies? Rebellions? More of those awesome competitions? You get the idea. Let me know!

Why are those in charge so often out of touch with us?

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It annoys me sometimes. This blog isn't meant to be a proper discussion of issues, I just feel like complaining and I'm tired.

At least I read in the SMH that the internet filtering plan is likely to meet a lot of resistance in the Senate, meaning it might not be passed, or might be passed with a lot of changes. The Liberals seem to be saving the day in the Senate, so Labor needs the Greens support plus the Family First support (any bets whether they will support it...) and then the SA guy. The Greens seem to be leaning towards the Liberal POV.

I also read that despite the AG's in Australia having discussions on R18+ ratings for games in Australia, one of them (again, any bets?) has blocked the discussions from being made public, effectively putting an end to it for now. Basically wilst he is in office, we aint gonna be getting that R18+ rating. So anyone in SA, I don't care how good the rest of his policies are, just don't vote for him.

With regard to the internet filtering proposal, I urge anyone who reads this to write to their MP. You may not get anything other than a standard response that they send to anyone who writes to them about the issue, but at least you should get something. I was surprised, but I got a reply (right click, view picture if part of it is cut off - bonus points for anyone who can tell me how to create a thumbnail for future pictures):

Resistance 2 Impressions

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Well thanks to Gamespot AU I have just been to the Resistance 2 Special Event in Sydney where Insomniac Games CEO Ted Price demoed Resistance 2 and talked about the games industry in general.

After this, we had a chance to play two levels from Resistance 2. One of them was the first level, which I think is set immediately after Resistance: FOM (they show the cutscene that was at the end of FOM), and the other was in a wooded area.

The game is very similar to before and feels very familiar. It played pretty well and there were some pretty suspenseful parts in the second level because there are new enemies which are invisible until they are a few metres in front of you, and if they hit you once you're dead.

Overall I'd say it's a pretty good looking game, but nothing over and beyond the first Resistance, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. That said, it didn't really grab me as being REALLY awesome. It's still a potential game to get (for me, anyway), but there are still other games I'd be more interested in getting first (Bioshock PS3 and Fallout 3 if you were wondering).

So thanks again to GSAU for giving me the pass to the event, it was really good (but you guys, except Ramsay, disappeared really soon after the end of the discussion part of the event!).

I am still alive and kicking

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I just haven't been posting lately. But never fear, I am still around and will rejoin the forums in the near future. I guess I've just been taking a break.

I went away for a few days and obviously didn't post then, and then I just didn't get round to starting with posts again yet.

And I also realised I hadn't done a blog in nearly 3 months and thought maybe I should.

And I'm tired now and feel I should finish this blog before I make anymore grammitical errors (yes, the joke in this last sentence is intentional)

Ciao for now.

How long does it take for a Giant Bomb to land?

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Only another day I think.

Anyone who has been following the Giant Bomb website over the last few months and has been listening to their podcast would know that their open beta is supposedly going live Monday American time. I had kinda forgotten, but I just checked out their website, and it's a little different.

Hopefully it'll be good. From what they've said about it on the podcast, it sounds pretty awesome. Anyone else register for the open beta, and anything you're hoping they have on the site?

Michael 'Won't Somebody Pleeeeease Think of the Children' Atkinson

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All the *** are there because you cannot write some words on GS without them being censored, even if they are not offensive. Convenient that this article is about censorship then :)

As you may or may not know, Michael Atkinson is the Attorney-General of South Australia, and is the sole reason why Australia does not have an R18+ rating for video games. This unfortunately, gives Australia the dubious honor of being the only Western country without an R rating for video games. All thanks to Michael Atkinson. In our country, all of the Attorney-Generals must be in favor of changing censorship laws (amongst other things). As it stands, all other Attorney-Generals are in favour of introducing an R18+ rating, but Atkinson keeps stopping the change from going through. I remember reading once that democracy meant that, whilst all people should have rights, if there is an issue, that issue should be resolved by doing what the majority wants. Likewise, democracy is supposed supposed to represent the opinion of a nations citizens. Currently, 88% of Australians support an R18+ rating. Yet, due to one man, we won't see such a rating whilst that man holds office. Democracy?

In the thread about Fallout 3 being banned (due largely to the absence of an R18+ rating in Australia), Darth_Homer provided an interesting link to a letter written by Michael Atkinson on the issue of an R18+ rating. I would like to raise a few issues with this letter.

Mr. Atkinson quotes from the National ****fication Code that:

"a.) adults should be able to read, hear and see what they want;

b.) minors should be protected from material likely to harm or disturb them"

Firstly, I personally don't believe there is much material likely to 'harm or disturb' minors in some video games that have been banned. Take Fallout 3. It was banned for promoting drug use. I don't believe that a child would play Fallout 3, use drugs in the game (to heal themselves) and then go and use drugs in real life as a direct result of having used drugs in a video game. I don't propose that nobody would play Fallout 3 and also use drugs, but I don't believe there would be a direct correlation. Just like not everybody who uses drugs in the real world does so because they once played a game with drugs in it. I grew up watching and playing games and movies which were ****fied higher than my age, and I don't think they 'harmed or disturbed me.' I'm probably not a model citizen, but I go to University and don't use drugs (a feat in itself).

Nonetheless, there are people who believe that playing stuff in games as a minor can affect you. Even so, I fail to see how parts a and b cannot operate together. I suppose that is partly due to my opinion that part a. shouldn't come second to part b., but I also honestly think both can be achieved together. If the powers that be truly believe minors should be protected, increased censorship is not the way to go. The lack of an R18+ rating simply punishes all people of all ages (at least all those above eighteen) indiscriminately. The ironic point here is that the whole point of having ratings is to discriminate - only allowing certain age groups to play certain games is the whole point. So whilst not having an R18+ rating does protect children by limiting what content is available, the problem is that children could still be protected if there was an R18+ rating.

So how should children be protected? In my opinion, instead of maintaining our archaic censorship system, Australia should catch up with the rest of the Western world and then actually enforce the rules. That way, the right people are being protected, rather than limiting what can be sold to all Australians. At the moment, as Mr. Atkinson quite rightly points out, it is far too easy for children under 15 to get MA15+ games and films, usually by getting others to buy them the product. Often, it is parents who are unaware of what many of the ratings really mean. Therefore, educating them would surely be a more sensible course of action to take. Furthermore, maybe enforcing some sort of penalty on those who knowingly buy games for people under the certified age would be better. Not many responsible shopkeepers would sell tobacco or alcohol to children, the reason being that they can suffer heavy fines and loss of their license to sell such items if they are caught doing so. I may be wrong, but I don't think the same can be said for video games. There may well be ramifications for selling games to underage gamers, but are they actually enforced? Instead of restricting the content available to all Australians, it would be far more logical to punish those who try and bypass the system in place to protect children. Having said this, it makes me wonder why there are not bigger sanctions on people who buy games and films for children, and I suspect it is because a large majority do not truly believe it is necessary. Whereas the majority of people understand and recognise that alcohol can be damaging to a minors health, the same cannot be said for video games.

Mr. Atkinson also states, "I cannot see how adding an R18+ ****fication for games will stop parents from making bad choices for their children or stop children getting a game from their friend or sibling." Surely the same can be said for films, which not only have an R18+ rating, but also an X rating? Regardless, this once again shows Mr. Atkinsons ignorance towards the best method of protecting children, which would be to enforce a just ****fication system rather than to maintain our old and overly conservative system which does not meet the wishes of the majority of Australians. M. Atkinson quotes that 62% of Australians with a gaming system in their household say that the ****fication of a game does not influence their decision to buy a game. Firstly, I would be amazed if that entire 62% of households contained children. If not, then I do not see the importance of them not considering the ****fication of games, since everybody in that household would be allowed to play any game available anyway. For those that do contain children, I can see Mr. Atkinson's point, but will still have to disagree with it. By quoting this statistic, Mr. Atkinson acknowledges that a lot of parents do not consider ****fications when buying games. Yet he does not think that alerting parents to the importance of ratings is the best solution. Instead, he proposes that Australia should continue with our current system, because introducing an R18+ rating would allow for more graphic content to be available to children of parents who do not consider the ****fication of a game. To me, this is like fixing a broken window just by covering it up with something else. Sure, it gets rid of the problem for a while, but it ignores the bigger problem.

Mr. Atkinson later admits that restricting what content is available for purchase 'restricts adult liberty to a small degree' and that that is the price society pays to be able to protect children and, I quote, 'in my view, it is worth it.' The problem here is that, whilst Mr. Atkinson is completely entitled to have a view on the matter, he is ultimately supposed to be representing the people of South Australia. What Mr. Atkinson should not forget, is that he is amongst only 12% of Australians NOT in favour of an R18+ rating. Thus, he is only effectively representing a minority of people. Either this indicates his lack of support for effective democracy, or he is doing his job badly. He goes on to say that a 'legal restraint' in what can be bought by Australians is only part of the answer, but he is 'loath to give it up.' I think this goes to show that even if 99% of Australians were not in favour of an R18+ rating, Mr Atkinson has already informed us that he would be too stubborn to care about it.

He later argues that the age of moviegoers can be regulated, yet games cannot be, once they are in the household. This is true, but is only a small part of the truth. As I have already suggested, the sale of games could be restricted in the same way that the sale of tickets to a movie is restricted. It isn't difficult. Once in the home, I admit it is harder to regulate. But then that goes for everything. Films on DVD (which can be pornographic in nature) and music cannot be regulated in households. Neither can cigarettes and alcohol. A child could hypothetically drink alcohol in their household just as easily as they could insert an R18+ game disc into their gaming console. Thus, the way in which some forms of entertainment (a category into which alcohol most certainly falls!) is regulated in Australia is inconsistent. However, one man is alone in his quest to stop Australia's system from falling in line with the fairer system present in other Western countries.

Ultimately, I think Mr. Atkinson is either ignorant to the real issues and the most effective ways to deal with those issues, he is employing a policy of conservatism for the sake of conservatism, or he would solve the inconsistencies present by restricting all types of media in the same way video games are if he could. Personally, I think the answer is somewhere between the first and third possiblities (and by this I don't mean the second option). In his arguments, he does seem somewhat oblivious to more effective and fair means of regulating sales of video games. In a short space of time, I have thought up one or two better ways of enforcing restrictions more effectively. Presumably, if he was dedicated to finding the best solution (rather than just imposing a blanket restriction which affects all gamers of all ages), he could expand upon my ideas and make them even better and even more efficient. Although there is no evidence of it in his letter, I also believe that Mr. Atkinson would be in favour of restricting more content in other forms of media, if he could. If I am correct, this once again shows how his commitment to the people he represents comes second to his commitments to satisfying his own minority views.

So, if you disagree with Mr. Atkinson's point of view, what can you do to influence change? Well, the most obvious solution if you are living in South Australia in the district of Croyden is to not vote for him again. Alternatively, all South Australians can avoid voting for the ALP at the next State election, of which Michael Atkinson is a member. I don't presume I should tell you which party to vote for, but just remember that as long as Michael Atkinson is the Attorney-General of SA, Australia will not get an R18+ rating. If you don't live in SA, then you cannot really express your voice via elections, but you can still let people in power know what you think. The best way of doing this is to write to Michael Atkinson or your MP. The easiest way to do this is via email, but if you can muster up enough enthusiasm to write a letter and send it by snail mail, this usually ellicits a better response.

Email attorney-general@agd.sa.gov.au to send an email to the Attorney-General of SA, Michael Atkinson. If you would rather write a letter, you can send one to...

GPO Box 464
ADELAIDE SA 5001

The other option is to write to your MP. The best way to do this is to go to their website, which will usually include contact details. If you are not sure who your MP is, go here to find out.

Whoever you write to, please remember to be polite. You may not agree with that persons opinion, but it is still their opinion. Instead, emphasise that, at present, the will of the Australian people is not being fulfilled.

MY MGS4 Review

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As promised, I finished my MGS4 review. I don't know how, I was getting sick of writing it by about 70% of the way through and I think that shows, but whatever. Give it a read, give it a thumbs up or down and I'll give you a smiley face sticker to say well done.

I also got Burnout for PS3 the other day in the sale at JB Hi Fi. For all the good reviews it got, I'm not sure I see what's so good about it yet. It gets repetetive VERY quickly. Even Assasins Creed had more variety. The racing is pretty decent though, it's just after playing for about 5 hours, I feel I've done everything at least once already and I don't see anything new or exciting happening.

Community Games Night, Economics and a Review

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First things first: I'm clearly the best person at GTA4 on the PS3 on the GSAU forums, not to mention the most good looking and the most modest.

I was fortunate enough to win, but to be fair, everybody that was playing did well at some point during the night, I just happened to get the most luck when it counted. The whole 90 minutes of GTA style violent online gaming was enjoyable though. Highlights included helicopter races, in which everyone always crashed into each other on the first corner, Cops 'n Crooks, in which, as crooks, my team ended up crashing into some docks and being shot as we jumped out of the burning remains of the car, and Koz piloting a helicopter over a ship whilst we shot bad guys on it's deck, followed by hovering relatively low whilst we jumped out, some of us with more success than others

On the economic front, I'm going over a number of ideas in my head, all of which revolve around getting rich quick, and also with zero effort. So far, I have nothing. Thus, ideas are welcome.

Also, I'm currently writing what I hope is a fair review of MGS4. No doubt by the time I've finished it and put it on Gamspot, nobody will care about the game anymore, having been saturated with MGS4 blogs for the past month. Maybe I can get Foolz3h to put a link to my review in one of his blogs, in amongst his links to his previous blogs. At least one poor soul is bound to end up seeing my review. Actually, if going down this path I may as well get the link to point to a page with nothing but ads on it in an attempt to satisfy the economics part of this blog.

Back on point, I'll let Gamespotters know when my review is put up to serve as a warning for those not interested in any more Metal Gear info for as long as they live.

A new favourite?

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I don't know yet. Is MGS4 my favourite game? Or is it because I just completed it?

Regardless, it's probably got the best story in any game I've ever played. The ending is amazing (if a little long). I won't go into too much detail so as not to spoil it for anybody else, but I can't explain how good it is anyway.

If you've never played MGS before MGS4, you're probably wondering what the fuss is about. I wouldn't blame you. The game really embraces it's own values - if you aren't familiar with them, you will probably still enjoy the game, but not to the same level. If you've been playing since MGS1, it will make more sense, and have a greater impact - after all, the series has spanned about 10 years.

I would still have reservations about giving it 10/10, it really depends on how much you like the MGS universe. If you don't find conspiracy theories interesting, or haven't followed the story thus far, it probably won't seem like a 10/10. For those of us who have played the games over the last 10 years (or longer if you played MG and MG2), the series could not possibly have ended any better. As a person that has played all the games since MGS1, MGS4 deserves a mark higher than 10/10. If not for it's gameplay, then for it's story.

First Impressions of MGS4

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It's good. It isn't great, but it meets my expectations. Nothing more, nothing less.

Then again, I'm only really playing it for the story. It could have had MGS1 gameplay with a new story and I'd pay full price for it. So maybe once the story gets mroe involved (I've only done about 2 hours of play so far), I'll be more engaged with it. That said, the opening wasn't quite as cool as the opening to MGS2. Back then, you hadn't even played the game at all and a Navy Tanker had already been hijacked by terrorists.

But right now, I like the new gameplay of being in a battlefield. It adds a new dynamic to the gameplay. It's also easier to sneak by guards now, as they're focused on killing rebels - unlike old games where theoretically you could sneak past, but guards often blocked your way, meaning you pretty much had to take them out, at least with a tranquilizer to the head.

So yea, I like the new gameplay, but it doesn't make my jaw drop. I'm just looking forward to the ultra-confusing plot twists which surely must be right around the corner.

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