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The Bone Drawer

"Boonies driving! Boonies driving! Driving out in the booni-" "Derek, will you please shut your mouth?!" Tim is more than a little irritated by Derek's unwavering enthusiasm, and how can he be any different, seeing as the two of them, as well as Greg, have been broken down out here in the outlands for the last 14 hours. "Crap, the car has run out of battery, and my phone is still dead," broke Greg. "Christ, we shouldn't have skimped and bought this 99 cent garbage!" Tim said, referring to the budget car charger of questionable quality. "Hey guys, can I take a nap?" asks Derek of Tim. "Go ahead buddy... soon we'll all be taking a nap."

"Well, Greg, having been out here for quite some time, with nary a ration or good tiding in sight, I feel that this is going to be our last day on Earth. Going to take a rest for a while; leave me alone. Also, good night buddy," Tim turns his back. "You don't really think we're going to die, do you?" asks Greg. "Well, it's not so much "think" as-" Tim's mouth stops dead in its tracks, as he stares out through the back window at a mysterious figure, that brought Tim both exceptional cynicism and optimism. Tim and Greg both watch as this sin of nature enters the car and plants himself in the left-hand backseat, pushing aside a sleeping Derek. It was a skeleton, with as much wit as bone marrow. As they stared, he thought well to speak: "So, yeah, I'm God."

"Whaa-?" asked Tim, already struck with confusion and convolution. Greg just stared, jaw dropped. "Don't fret, it gets far worse," claims the skeleton. Tim snaps out of it, "Why is there a skeleton, and which of you untrustworthy snakes drugged me?" "I'm not a skeleton, though- I'm God." "Does it actually look like I care? Because, if I ever gave off that vibe to any of you at anytime, I'd like for someone to let me know." Tim digresses, "Please, skeleton, just leave me here to whither and die."

"Nah, I'm not going to miss out on being a part of that," says "God", "You're so ungrateful for just how complete your life has been. You've had everything you could have ever wanted, Timothy. The poor people of Africa have suffered far worse and for far longer than you ever have in your short life. They aren't privileged enough to waste away their lives; have some fast-and-loose romance, or afford such a luxury car as your own, or any, period. They'll never get to try potstickers, and that isn't my fault. I gave man the tools to live, but I can't interfere or manipulate. You are a spoiled, ungrateful, entitled little brat, and you have nothing coming from me."

"Why did you come here, then?!" cries Timothy. "To offer you redemption," the skeleton pulls a magnum revolver from out of his skull, and places it in Tim's grasp,

"Do the world, and yourself, a favor, and drop dead." The skeleton exits the vehicle, and heads back the way he came, to the beat of three gunshots.

How can one do justice to Portal 2's exuberant gaming pleasures?

Exceptionally well-written gaming narratives are hard to come by, even these days. It takes a truly exceptional group of people to pull of a non-heavyhanded, gripping story in a medium that consists of tearing into aliens with a chainsaw. It takes an act of God to pull it off in a PUZZLE game. Valve is certainly one of God's greatest acts, somehow managing to pull of the impossible and create a gripping, wonderfully-written and legitimately side-splitting story, set inside of an extremely atmospheric world, with challenging, intuitive, and mindbending fun gameplay, with nary an actual flaw in sight. Surpassing their other masterpiece, Half-Life 2, as their magnum opus, and with that creating one of the most brilliant, flawless experiences in all of gaming, and in my opinion the very best.

Puzzles, powered by Valve's extraordinary physics engine, Source, and extraordinary in their design and execution, demand the utmost wit and vigor to accomplish many of the later ones during the lengthy and meaty 12 hour playtime, using your portal gun, and any and all elements and little details at your disposal. The portal gun creates inter-dimensional vortexes, or "portals", which allow to send things, or yourself, through one and out the other. This demands precision and an eye for spotting what isn't easily spottable, and while extremely challenging later on, Valve always makes sure that the portal gun and other puzzle solving elements are well-known and easy to learn to use, meaning the learning curve is absent to any and all who enjoy using their brains.

Lo! The funniest, and all-around best video game character of all-time.

Following the events of the original, whether it be a week or 1,000 years later, you are awoken from your slumber in a containment facility, by a brilliantly moronic personality core named Wheatley (voiced by Stephen Merchant), who enlists your silent and judgemental help escaping from the facility known as Aperture Science, all before "she" wakes up. What follows is one of the very most well-written and intuitively-told stories ever told. Like its parent franchise, Half-Life, Portal 2 is told completely first-person, and without a single cutscene; the way I wish more games would. Valve's writers completely immerse you with some of the funniest and memorable characters, and one of the most charming gamespaces, with its great lore and dark, hidden secrets. And I do mean DARK. Easily the darkest E10+ game I've ever played, though the darkness only adds to its oozing charm.

The graphics are great, proving that the Source engine has outlived its usefulness just yet. The sound, however, is pristine, with Stephan Merchant, J.K. Simmons, and Ellen McLain all lending their profound voices and top-notch acting quality to this game, creating a damn-near unmatched aural experience. The turrets and gel/water sound effects are almost as good as their physics are visually stunning.

After the masterful 12-hour campaign, grab a buddy, online or off, and take to the awe-inspiring co-op campaign, which takes place after the main campaign. Play as either Atlas or P-Body, as the two of you take to some incredibly challenging and mind-bending puzzles, that require complete and utter concentration, compliance, and pitch-perfect teamwork, especially for the timed puzzles. The co-op narrative, while not as large in scope as the single-player's, is still just as hilarious, though some lines are repeated a few times, something that never happened in the main campaign, since the script was about as big as a triceratops' leg, though we can probably chalk this up to the fact that Ellen McLain does ALL of the voice-acting.

Portal 2 is a can't miss game for all who enjoy cerebral challenges, and top-notch storytelling. Its polish is unmatched by all except for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a single thing wrong, content or technical-wise, in this flawless technical masterpiece; the greatest game of all-time.

Games you've awarded perfect scores?

No games are precisely perfect, but sometimes games come along that couldn't possibly be any better, and are the main reasons we play video games. These games are known as masterpieces. Games that we personally feel are the height of their respective genres, and some of the very finest games known to us. Below is my full, disclosed list of games I awarded a perfect score, be it a 5, 10, 40, or a 100.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Portal 2

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

The Last of Us

Journey

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto III

Half-Life 2

Go ahead and share your list of games you've awarded the highest possible score in your book.

Grand Theft Auto V: The Grand Piano of the Sandbox

We all love the moments when we’re driving ATVs out of the back of a cargo jet, or tearing through a small town police force with a mini-gun, but a game’s narrative is truly successful when moments such as driving a truck full of expensive, stolen vehicles down a very-long countryside road is just as powerful, if not more so, due in part to excellent writing, in a very accomplished, highly ambitious, Tarantino-style narrative. At the very least, it does butt heads with the very best of Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, in case you were confused).

I consider Grand Theft Auto IV a watermark on this generation of consoles, and when taken together with its DLC partners, tells one of the best narratives in all of gaming. I had very little hope that V would surpass it, and… I was right, at least in my opinion. I don’t think this game is better than IV, story or atmosphere-wise. It does, however, house much more customization and content than IV. This is a wildly massive game, taking place in a massively detailed world without a single loading screen, and can be truly considered as the most technically-impressive game of this generation. Even the most remote trees have considerable detail put into them, each having their own unique little element that sets them apart from all of the other trees in the area. Los Santos and Blaine County are two very beautifully detailed locales, highlighted by superb lighting and the amazing level of life inhabiting them.

This goes double for AI pedestrians, who actually seem like they have something to do, something going on in their lives. You’ll find them hiking, doing yoga, playing golf, and being chased down by the police, much like yourself. The AI is very good and realistic, without having to be dumbed down (a case of excellent AI having to be dumbed down is The Last of Us). Enemies take cover and flank you, rather than running right out in front of you (as in Bioshock Infinite).

It takes some skill to pull off some of the tougher shots, which, for the first time in the series, is actually possible without luck. The combat has been perfected, and gunplay-heavy missions no longer require insane amounts of luck and auto-aim (first time many people have ever played a GTA without auto-aim). The shooting is ripped straight from Max Payne 3, just without the bullet-time air dodges (we’ll talk more about bullet-time later). You can stock up on much ammunition at the local Ammunations around town. There you may also buy upgrades for your weapons, so they can inflict damage from wherever you may need it, be it in the dark or from far away. If you feel you need some time to perfect your gunplay, you can visit the Ammunation stores that house firing ranges in the back, with many challenges just waiting for you to master (I spent much time here, early on).

I must tell you that I was a very devoted fan to not just GTA IV, but to its wonderfully borderline-simulation driving, so I was at first a little disappointed when I heard V would have a considerably more arcade-y driving system. Those fears were shot down once I got to drive, and found it to be the perfect balance between IV’s realism and the past games’ incredible arcade-iness. The cars just all feel right, in both weight and control, and boy are there many, many wonderful cars. Don’t go expecting it to be an easy task hiking mountains in a mini-van- that’s what dirt bikes and ATVs are for. You can modify your cars to your liking over at Los Santos Customs in town or Beaker’s Garage over in Sandy Shores, both of which feature a vast amount of customization options.

I mentioned before how this game was missing the bullet-time air-dodges of Max Payne. That is true: it is missing the air-dodges, but the bullet-time is technically there. It’s one of Michael’s(one of three main characters) special abilities, that of being able to slow down time to line up the best kill shot possible. Franklin has the ability to focus drive, giving greater control to your driving, and Trevor has a berserker rage that enables him to have the capacity to cause more damage, all while taking very little himself. How long this can be done is indicated by a yellow bar under your GPS, next to your health and armor (or lung capacity) bars. These all come in handy, though I’ve found Franklin’s to be an absolute lifesaver on the road, while Trevor’s has saved me from death by mountain lion quite a few times.

Yes, these three are all the main protagonists of the game. Franklin is a smart young man, being forced to deal with idiotic gangster “friends” while trying to make his way out of that life and into an infinitely more successful one. Michael, a successful bank robber, has everything he could ever have asked for, which makes life quite boring for him, and his terrible family doesn’t quite alleviate that mood. And then there’s Trevor, an absolutely deranged, but brilliant, psychopath, who uses fear, murder, rape, and cannibalism to instill loyalty in his backwater employees, those that make up the great Trevor Phillips Industries (or Enterprises; doesn’t really matter which one you call it).

You’ll be able to control all three of them throughout the game. When not on a mission (and not under the heat of a police force), you can freely switch between the three by holding down on the D-pad, and using the right stick to select a character. Many missions, however, allow you to freely switch between the three, allowing for much variety, tapping down to quick-switch to the currently most relevant character. Don’t feel like shooting as Michael at the moment? Switch over to Franklin driving a getaway vehicle. Don’t wanna fly a helicopter as Trevor? Switch over to Michael, firing a machine-gun out of the side of it, or over to Franklin on a nearby building, where he is equipped with a sniper rifle. When playing as one character, the others continue their life. Switching over to one after not switching for a while will have them out somewhere, living their life; examples include Franklin being stuck in traffic, or Trevor pushing some poor soul off a bridge. They may have also changed their wardrobe since then.

There are many stores in and around Los Santos designated for clothes shopping. You can pick up some bowling shirts at a discount store, or maybe a nice cream suit from Ponsonbys. Many options to dress each part of your body, and make you look the best you want you to look. Same goes for hair salons/barber shops, and tattoo parlors.

As I said before, there is a ton of content, spread throughout the whole of Los Santos and Blaine County, almost to the point where it becomes overwhelming. You can race four different ways; sea, dirt, foot, and street; you can play tennis, golf (both of which are much more than simple minigames, and both of which you can do with buddies in-game), catch a movie (the best being The Loneliest Robot in Great Britain), watch TV (new episode of Republican Space Rangers!) , browse the interwebs on your phone and home computer, go hunting, skydive, find collectibles (murder evidence and spaceship parts), take on rampages and bail jumpers and Strangers and Freaks missions, and a list that goes on, and on, and on. All of it is fun and intuitive, feeding on gamers’ ADHD complex, and providing gamers with a non-hassled good time while reaching 100%.

If you’re money hungry, you’ll be sad to hear that very rarely do missions give you money in this game. That’s why it’s important to invest money that you do earn from various heists and taxi driving, into stocks, via BAWSAQ (powered by Rockstar Social Club). You can access it from your in-game phone by logging on to the internet app, and going to the money section on Eyefind. The cool thing about the stocks are how you can influence them. If you happen to go destroy a rival business’ competitor’s equipment (like, say, destroying a FlyUS airplane), then said business’ stock prices will go up. Being powered by Social Club means that other players can affect the stock prices for your game. If a lot of players buy a lot of things from a clothing store or Ammunation, said stores’ stock prices will go up. Being smart about how you invest can mean the difference between much more money, and losing money. Another business tactic is to invest in properties, but you really shouldn’t bother with those, as they usually end up costing millions, only delivering thousands on every other occasion.

V has managed to improve upon IV’s wonderful physics, allowing for cooler car crashes, as well as being able to slide across the hood of a car. Be careful though, as the improved physics mean that jumping into a ledge will no longer mean you climb it, but instead hit it, and flip over, losing a bit of health. The realistic movement and physics help this game to be drop-dead gorgeous in the graphics department. The scope has also been modified from IV (I won’t say improved, because IV’s scope didn’t call for such things), with former elements from San Andreas making their triumphant return, such as (much improved) swimming underwater, flying airplanes, tanks, mini-guns, and the wilderness.

Out in the wilderness, or in town, you’re bound to see animals. Franklin himself takes care of a dog named Chop, who you can walk, and play fetch with. For smartphone owners, you can download the iFruit app, which also comes with an app that allows you to teach Chop tricks, and a Los Santos Customs app, which lets you design your own license plates.

As usual, the radio is almost-flawless, featuring the likes of Queen, Robyn, Hall and Oates, Pet Shop Boys, and Eddie Murphy, with the only real flaw being that Lazlow doesn’t have his own dedicated talk show radio station. But, the biggest and best audio performer here is the incredible dynamic original score, that highlights moments of intense action and/or subtle moments of drama. Every piece is much better than anything you’ll find on the radio. Another highlight is the phenomenal voice-acting from damn near every participant (sans Michael’s family), but none more so than the three protagonists, Franklin’s right-hand man Lamar, and their chief heist organizer Lester. They all give off hell of performances with the motion capture, with true honest-to-God emotion leaking in all over the place. It’s very hard not to like these characters, and each of them made saying goodbye to all this very, very hard.

It seems that whenever Rockstar makes a new Grand Theft Auto, they take elements from games they made in-between installments, and mix them into a huge stew of awe-inspiring game design. San Andreas had elements of Manhunt, IV had Rockstar Table Tennis and Bully, and this game has GTA IV, San Andreas, Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire, and Max Payne 3, all slumming it in the same delicious stew, to bring us what may very well be Rockstar’s magnum opus, as well this generation’s, on a purely technical level. The wonderful characters, well-written narrative, and biting satire are all just icing.

Dan and Sam Houser have definitely matured since the first game, and that has had a polarizing effect on the series. It went from mindless, senseless violence for the sake of controversy, to a sophisticated, satirical look on modern-day America, told through exuberantly well-written narratives; as well setting the player loose, free to indulge in massively-inhabited game spaces, in both content and atmosphere, and in that regard, this is their masterpiece.

Saints Row IV: The Good Metal Wolf Chaos

I may be in the minority, but I’m one of those people who cared more for Saints Row: The Third than Saints Row 2. Sure, the atmosphere and story in Saints Row 2 were great, but the controls were very bad, and overall, was not very fun to play.

Its inability to deliver a quality open-world sandbox game has been a series curse since the very beginning. The original Saints Row, was dubbed a middling GTA knock-off by almost everyone I knew, obviously clinging tight to the coattails of (the now obsolete, but no less riveting) GTA San Andreas. Saints Row: The Third was the game where the series finally found its footing, relishing in a stew of outlandish set-pieces and stylized ultra-gore, with updated controls and level-up system to boot.

Whatever similarities the series had to Grand Theft Auto were gone by the time Saints Row: The Third was released, so Saints Row IV is a reminder that when Volition sets out to do something (in this case, punch similarities to GTA in the gonads), they aren’t screwing around.

So, unless you’ve been completely blocked-out from the media coverage for this game, then you obviously know about how you’re the president, with superpowers, and set to kick alien teeth in. What’s interesting about this tale is not in the alien and robot mishmash, but the surprisingly deep emotions and collection of continuity porn, there for no special reason other than as a gift for the fans who stuck around since the first game. This time round, your boss is no longer a fully-fledged evil human being, but instead the final hope for the human race; surely the exact opposite of your SR2 boss.

Through audio logs spread throughout the game, you come to learn about fellow pals and antagonists from the series’ past, as well as yourself; the playa, the boss, the President of the United States. These, along with the vastly entertaining Zinyak (the villain of our tale) text adventures, can be found pretty easily once you unlock the “Collectible Finder” ability after you free Matt Miller, and after you complete The Pledge Side Quest.

The gun and vehicle controls (the latter of which is, for the most part, useless) here are, like the gamespace of Steelport itself, carried over from the previous entry, and are precise (more so as you level up your weapons with the enormous payload you’re nothing less than guaranteed).

But, like every sequel ever created, there has to be a gimmick. Here, that involves the use of virtually-granted superpowers, which, for the most part, work quite well; though, it can get overwhelming having so many powers, making it a bit of a hassle switching between them during the heat of battle especially in the late game.

It’s in tight spots (size and scenario) the controls turn into mozzarella; the wonky camera, and imprecise super-jumping coming together to form what can only be described as… well, mozzarella. The camera, in particular, can turn many of the newly-added side-missions (the very few that aren’t held over from The Third), into total nightmares to try and accomplish with any kind of dignity. Worth special mention is Genki’s Mind Over Murder, a nightmare to go through with its many narrow alley ways and fences.

Speaking of Genki’s M.O.M., it houses what is quite possibly the highlight of the game: Zach and Bobby’s commendable commentary. The duo are no strangers to the series, having provided colorful commentary for the previous game’s Super Ethical Reality Climax, and even physically appearing in said game’s crappy Genkibowl DLC. But they have never been such an unadulterated joy to listen to than when Zach pours his heart out to Bobby about how much being Zinyak’s slave sucks, and how lonely he is. Definitely worth a rental, just for the commentary alone.

Back on the subject of powers, while they alone make the premise immensely more absurd than The Third, once the novelty wears off it is just another game mechanic. There is a serious lack of memorable appeal unless you were to dig deep and find something there.

While the story is about as long as The Third’s, most of it is very similar to missions you’ve already done, making a lot of the middle game feel very repetitive. I gold-ed every side-mission before I ever reached Shaundi, making the open-world environment feel useless. This is the kind of game that you won’t really care about after everything has been completed.

While I’m not too sure about the 360 version, the PS3 version is curiously flawed, framerate-wise; a far cry from the flawless performance of The Third on PS3. It also crashed on me 5 times during my 35+ hours of playtime; most likely a side-effect from the short development time and/or the switch from DLC to being a full retail game.

On the subject of the game environment, Steelport is ripped straight from The Third, just without daylight. I can understand why they reused it (players are familiar with it, developer cost, developer laziness), but it still begs the question: is this just DLC padded to justify a $60 price tag? While that isn’t a question I can answer with certainty, I can tell you that Saints Row IV is worth a weekend rental from Gamefly (for the Zach and Bobby commentary alone).

Ranking The Grand Theft Auto Series

Well, damn. Only 14 days to go until the mammoth seventh-gen masterpiece drops from the heavens like an atom bomb, strapped to the T with fire-works, which will spell out "GOTY in a big way!" in big, neon-esque traces of letters. Yes, perhaps the only game that can beat The Last of Us for GOTY, Grand Theft Auto V, is almost here. Ever since I was 4, and for the first few seconds I had it, into my PS2 I popped in the gritty, mafioso masterwork GTA III, I have been an extremely hardcore fan of just about every game in the series short of the original, which is quite terrible, and you have my full recommendation against playing it. I feel, to welcome perhaps the new king of the series, as well as open-world sandboxes, or hell, video gaming, I will rank, from worst to best, the games that encompass the violent, provocative Grand Theft Auto series.

Grand Theft Auto

It's not a stretch when I say this is one of the worst games I've ever played in my life. Terrible controls say it all. Rockstar North (formerly DMA Designs) had not mastered the open-world structure until GTA III, so it's understandable, somewhat, but honestly: why is this game so bad? And argue this in the comments, no, it wasn't good for its time.

GTA 2

Unlike the previous installment, this one is actually decent. Good, you might say. It fixed a lot of the problems of its predecessor, and added in a cool mission structure that would later be used in sub-par GTA IV alternative, Saints Row 2. While not quite a showcase for things to come, it was still a nice little game. Both this and the first one can be downloaded here, legally, for free: http://www.rockstargames.com/classics/

Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned

An internal power struggle between two former brothers in arms, The Lost and Damned was the first of the formally Xbox 360-exclusive GTA IV DLC, and was considered, for a while, to be the single best piece of DLC ever released; basically being its own standalone game. It added 20-something missions to the intertwining GTA IV narrative, sweet new toys, fantastic new multiplayer modes (such as Chopper vs. Chopper) and much, much improved bike handling. Definitely worth the $10 it's selling for.

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony

The second piece of GTA IV DLC, a colossal mood whiplash from the first two chapters of the GTA IV trilogy; this game was good ol' outlandish GTA fun, adding back such things as (hugely nerfed) tanks, and parachutes. Every mission had you doing something wacky and/or outlandish, and gave you many big, fun toys to do so with. This story, running parallel to GTA IV's and TLaD's, being basically the first video game about the recession, brought closure to the overarching story, and was a worthy end to the trilogy.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories

The first (decent) handheld entry in the series, was also definitely the most technically violent and unhinged. It kept its roots established in the PS2 trilogy, but don't mistake this for being a port, as it's anything but. It's a brand-new story, with a mission count that rivaled a console entry, giving off the impression that R* put as much care into it as they usually do; a testament that isn't wrong.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

The incredible soundtrack is more than enough to boost this one pretty high up, but the overall polish and amount of content is staggering for a PSP game. This game marked the beginning of R* telling darker, more personally mature stories, though that's not to say it lost the series past comedic charm, Lance notwithstanding; striking the perfect balance between old and new GTA.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

The unforseen scope, absolutely outlandishly insane, hefty narrative, and unique, lovable characters make San Andreas one of the best games on the PS2. Sure it had its problems, such as the dumb eating system, and traversing the waterworn wilderness on foot, and getting lost, but the good definitely outweighed the negative points. I used to be tremendously hooked on this game when I was a tyke, and years later, I can see exactly why.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

This part used to grind my gears when I was a young'um.

Man, back in the day, nothing beat driving around the highly atmospheric Vice City, listening to Michael Jackson, and just having overall one hell of a time. Then, I discovered the amazing narrative; one jampacked with content, humor, and memorable moments, that while it may fall apart in the last half, with its bullshit property buying mechanic being required to progress (which is made damn near impossible if you don't buy the race track right away), it ends in a phenomenal way, and is just amazing and highly recommended.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

You may attempt to brush this one off, due to its overall art-style, top-down view, and (formally) DS exclusivity. You'd be sorely mistaken, as this game is anything but the DS' masterpiece. A scope, size, hefty mission count, and hot-button trigger never before seen in a DS game, great story, gorgeous art-style, and flawless gameplay, make this the very best DS game ever made, let alone the best handheld GTA.

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV took everything R* had ever done prior, and took it up to 11, delivering a masterpiece of video, audio, and gameplay. The gameplay and mission structure is tight and hefty, but what makes this game is its incredible narrative, with its excellent writing and amazingly acted, likable characters; and the city itself, the single most atmospheric gamespace in all of open-world gaming (and gaming, in general; right up there with Rapture and Aperture). R* buffed up the gunplay (much improved from the past entries; read: actually decent), and driving mechanics (just excellent), and shoved it into a complete and total package; powered by their unstoppably potent RAGE physics engine. Immensely recommended; can be picked up for around $30, in a package complimented by The Lost and Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both of which are imperative to appreciating the entire arc story.

Grand Theft Auto III

Provocative. Groundbreaking. Revolutionary. Earth-shattering. All of these are adjectives that fit Grand Theft Auto III like a hardboiled detective with a pint of whiskey. Its adult themes, unfathomable scope, formerly unseen mission structure, and unbelievable wealth of content totally broke the ratings scale when this baby dropped a little into the PS2's life-span, and (along with Metal Gear Solid 2) made it the money-printing machine we all know it as today. It still impresses me to this day that, yes, this game was ever actually made. Words cannot describe what exactly made it so damn special, so I say just play it for yourself, as it (along with every other installment released on PS2) is available on the PS Store for only $10; a steal. An absolutely unforgettable masterwork of the genre, and the single most important 3D game of all-time.

I have very little hope that V will ever surpass the last two games on this list in terms of quality, but it'll probably end up taking third place away from Chinatown Wars. Thank you for letting me spill my heart out to you about my favorite game series, Grand Theft Auto. Share below your thoughts, favorites, and memories.

Saints Row IV, and other game-related updates (spoiler-free)

Hey, Fuse! Just got up from my 10 hour nap. Before I went to sleep, however, I managed to gold every side-mission in Saints Row IV, and am going to search for the remaining collectibles with my collectible finder I unlocked. Currently at 70%, and I've only finished 22 story missions. 

I really love this game, though I started to realize, as I was trying to gold the speed rifts, Mind Over Murders, and especially the Super-Powered Fight Clubs; that this game's otherwise solid controls can begin to screw you under pressure. My score has dropped from a 9.2 to an 8.3; still a damn good game, and definitely worth the $60.

This was supposed to last me till the midnight release of Grand Theft Auto V at Gamestop, but I managed to to finish damn near everything 16 days ahead of schedule, and it'll only take the remainder of the week for me to do everything else. At least this means I can get some more progress in Final Fantasy XIII, a game I've been sorely neglecting; and maybe some Gran Turismo 5, or Machinarium... or Jet Set Radio, or Oddworld: Munch's Odyssey. 

I have an unopened copy of LittleBigPlanet 2 that I may take in, and put towards Rayman Legends, along with all of my Assassin's Creed games. Might just get Rayman Origins, as well, since I never got to finish that, and I'll just wait until Christmas or my birthday in November to get Legends. Probably get it in November, since Christmas will be my indie game make-up season. At least I'll have Beyond: Two Souls in October, Watch Dogs in November, and, of course, Grand Theft Auto V, to keep me busy till then.

Fantasy: Farewell to Friends and Enemies

Well, I don't want this to go on forever. I hate goodbyes. Come September... oh God. I'm tearing up. Fuse has been a big part of my life, but it wouldn't have been anything had it not been for you guys. You have all provided me with tons of good times and laughs, and memories that will exceed my time here on Earth. 

I know I have pissed some people off, and if you happen to be reading this, I'm very sorry Stig. I'm sorry for acting like a jerk. I hope you have a damn fine rest of your life. 

I'll be posting good feels throughout the week, until the whispery evaporation of Fuse, but this is my final contribution to Gamespot. I'm just lucky I had the chance to socialize with you guys, and become a king of Fuse. When my children hear about the legendary Fuse, I'm gonna tell them about Splatterday, and Fuse Poll, and Question of the Day, and how I got to send it all off. How I was one of the top.

If you want, you can keep in touch with me on my Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/james.flaherty.1420), and you can keep up with my writings and reviews here: http://leetgamers.asia/

I don't care if it's weird, but I truly, sincerely love you guys... *sigh* okay, deep breath. For the final time... this is rigbybot127, signing off.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twICykaRRvY

The Last of Us: Green Apocalypse

Joel (voiced by Troy Baker; perhaps his best performance yet), a hardened survivor, and a 14-year old potty-mouthed girl named Ellie (Ashley Johnson), search for the elusive Firefly militia group through the states ruled by martial law, cannibalistic hunters, and human beings infected with a fungus known as Cordyceps. Simply put, the worlds gone to hell, and the apocalypse is long over. Sounds simple enough? Its a basic zombie story, with many of the tropes associated with those works. Where The Last of Us sets itself apart, however, is its fresh new spin on the genre, with excellently scripted adult storytelling, and a powerful execution to boot, much in the same vein as last years The Walking Dead.

The Last of Us accommodates whatever playstyle you prefer, and will adapt to it rightfully so, with a high level of polish, though it almost always rewards stealth over gunplay. In fact, if youre good, theres maybe a handful of sections where stealth is disallowed, so you can play through most the entire game subtly. You can find unique weapons throughout the game, though (as far as I know), you only have one chance to pick up certain weapons, one of which can only be found if you go out of your way to explore the area its located. You can level up these weapons using workbenches, which cost various amounts of upgrade pieces, while certain upgrades will require you to find wrenches, and go up in level.

Besides weapon modifications, you can also craft an assortment of useful items, with supplies found throughout. These include such necessities as health packs (no regenerating health), shivs (the only way to stealth kill a Clicker), projectile weapons, and modifications to your melee weapon. These supplies quite literally litter the gamespace, and are the most bountiful collectibles available, next to bottles and bricks (projectiles which aid you in stealth, and melee). You have little chance of surviving without utilizing these items, which means its very important that you try and search every inch of the map, and always have a full shiv handy, for opening locked doors, full of supplies and ammo.

Supplements act as a variation on experience points, which can be used to level up abilities of Joels, such as being able to hear farther (and through walls), and being able to use a shiv to ward off a Clicker grab, who would otherwise kill you instantly. These supplements, like everything else, can be found. Almost nothing in this game is handed to you, meaning you would be wise to heed my earlier advice.

Whether it be human or one of 4 types of infected, every faction of enemy is powered with unique, realistic AI, that should never be underestimated. Same goes for your AI partner, Ellie. She isnt simply a useless damsel in distress, but rather as much of a murderous bad-ass as Joel himself. She will flush out, hold up, and even help kill enemies. Naughty Dog has always been the leader in realistic AI, but they have truly outdone themselves this time, delivering humanly-flawed AI, instead of always-the-wiser bullet sponges. These enemies will hunt in packs, and will make mistakes like a human would, such as overlooking an element that they arent looking for or aware of. Sometimes, however, the AI will break immersion in a way thats common courtesy than any kind of flaw. The enemies have been designed to not respond to your AI partner, unless youve already been caught. Example would be when your partner calls out to you, or half of her body is sticking out of cover, it wont register with an enemy. Dont get me wrong, this is NOT a bad thing. The game would be absolute hell if your partner could give you away; damn near impossible. Ill gladly give up that bit of immersion at the cost of sanity.

Naughty Dog, as always, holds the monopoly in the best console graphics of all-time, and they have managed to do something which I long thought was impossible: they out-did Uncharted 3s quality of graphics. The Last of Us is supremely gorgeous, and incredibly, almost otherworldly detailed. Unlike most post-apocalyptic games, brown is merely a side-note to the abundance of green and white, which really benefits the uniqueness of the whole affair. Apparently, its too good. This game is literally maxing out the PS3 in a way that we had once thought Uncharted 3 was. The consequences of that is that the occasional graphical glitch will show up, usually more entertaining than anything, though its still somewhat disappointing, considering the flawlessness of Uncharted 2, though the quality of this game far out-classes every one of Naughty Dogs past affairs.

The expertise and execution in the writing and directing, and powerful adult storytelling is unbelievable, considering that these same guys once made Crash Bandicoot. Like all of us who grew up with Playstation, so did Naughty Dog, almost as if they were developing their games for each stage of maturity for us; the little tykes that once had good ol fun with Crash and Jak.

This game just wouldnt be the same if it wasnt for the chemistry between the two leads, Ellie and Joel, and the relationship they develop throughout. They make this game, much in the same as Lee and Clementine from The Walking Dead, though in a slightly different way. The surprisingly down-to-Earth writing makes Joel and Ellies plight hit home pretty hard, and puts much depth in even the most minor of characters you meet along the way, and helps you to infer why? Why any character does anything, and why they must. Nothing is ever contrived, and everything is for a reason. Thats a fact of life; there is no true good or bad, no morality when the world goes to hell; only surviving, and protecting the ones you love, no matter what.

The multiplayer is a decent time-waster, though nothing special. Basically, youre on one of two teams (Fireflies or hunters), and you go head to head in one of two modes, killing enemies, and earning supplies to feed your clan, which consists of Facebook friends (even the ones that dont own a PS3, or play video games at all, for that matter). So much wasted potential can be inferred here, such as the lack of a co-op campaign, a horde mode, or any other kind of game mode that could have lent some kind of lasting appeal. Instead, unless youre the most hardcore of multiplayers, you may just try this once or twice, or play it whenever you might be bored, or dont have access to better multiplayers. Its not completely horrible, like Tomb Raiders, but its not all that great; its middling from Naughty Dog. Its also cursed with lag, like all of Naughty Dogs online multiplayers before. I can count about almost twenty times where I would be completely frozen due to lag, right as Im about to get some kills in. Everyone else is free to pick my ass off as this is happening.

Simply put, you arent, or should not be, buying this game for the multiplayer, but rather the superb, near-flawless single-player campaign. Even though you dont need the online pass to play this middling mediocrity, you should still buy this game new, simply because Naughty Dog has earned it. Theyve earned every bit of money they make for this game, which is hopefully a large sum amount.

Naughty Dog has, once again, created an unforgettable masterpiece, with every bit of  gameplay and narrative expertly directed to the point of perfection, and it would be remiss of me to mark this game down for flaws that only come from it being developed on aging hardware. It has earned its perfect score.

 

10

Bought a Wii U (and Top 10 Best Games of This Gen)

So, as some of you may know, I am now a proud owner of Nintendo's most technologically superb console yet, the Wii U. Got it just 3 days ago, and am enjoying it, so far. Picked up Assassin's Creed III (barren multiplayer community), New Super Mario Bros. U, Twilight Princess, and Earthbound from the Virtual Console, and got a free copy of Nintendo Land, which is an amazingly fun demo of the Wii U's awesome next-gen tech. Downloaded an amazing demo of Rayman Legends, with fun daily and weekly challenges, testing your platforming skills; as well as one of both Monster Hunter 3 and The Wonderful 101 (haven't tried either one yet).

I like having the convenience of playing the game straight on the Gamepad, and they all look delicious on that screen. Netflix on Wii U is definitely superior to the PS3's; no lag, and perfect 720p video quality, along with controlling the UI with the GP. Miiverse is a pretty nice online community, but I haven't really done much with it yet, as I have no Nintendo friends yet. My Nintendo ID is Burglar_Skullman, in case you want to add me.

On to other business, I have made my definitive list of the best games of this generation. Let's get on with it!

#10. Final Fantasy XIII

#9. Red Dead Redemption

#8. Fallout 3

#7. Uncharted 2

#6. The Last of Us

#5. The Walking Dead

#4. Grand Theft Auto IV

#3. Bioshock

#2. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

#1. Portal 2 :cool:

I'd love to know of your guys' selections. :)