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Playing With Power

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Fantastical power-fantasies aren't anything new, and it's something video games do tremendously well. It's hard not to enjoy playing out a pretend power fuelled crusade, and natural to relish being in control and teeming with power, especially in games. However it is rare a title actively fuels the leading protagonist and players empowerment with raw direction and honestly, without trying to colour and gloss whattheir horrible tendencies and actions entail. All within the confines enacting a 'heroic' role and of course, in the name offun.

Crackdownin all its pastel coloured, comic book glory is a rare example of a game that evokes a great understanding of power fantasy in video game form, which also resonates in the enjoyable (but ultimately disappointing) sequelCrackdown 2.

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The premise is basic and in a sense,RoboCopminus Murphy turned up to 11: You're a super-genetic-soldier-cop made for action, with super powers which entail jumping high, scaling buildings, hurling cars, and of course being an appropriately efficient killer. Both of the games start with the premise of a city wide crisis, be it gangs, or terrorists and zombies, which only the super-cop-player-man can combat.

Thus you're let loose in an entirely free form environment to go about restoring order and control as you please and deliver swift, violent justice, generally resulting in recurring collateral damage in the name of fun. As the games narrator bluntly articulates it:

"You are authorized to use whatever means you feel is necessary to remove the filth from the streets"

So you do.

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Interestingly enough while games tend to try and introduce a sympathetic protagonist, generally a poor tortured soul to empathise with and justify their reasons for doing heinous things,Crackdowndoesn't bother. The Agent protagonist doesn't have any character, they're bluntly a tool for the player to run around blowing **** up and in the context of the game a tool for the enforcing 'Agency' to usher in a totalitarian police state as part of 'restoring order'.

You're a bad guy made for bad things; it's nothing subtle at all which is fine, this is a game where subtlety is delivered with rockets. There's no plot and story arc, it's about action, and that's what makes theCrackdowngames a rare example of honesty, particularly in action games; specifically in the correlation between game play and narrative, as flimsy as any sense of story might be. Protagonist and player are entirely occupied with murdering and causing chaos, everything about the game from the box to the game function evokes it, and making sure itfeels good; all as part of the power fantasy.

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Sure you're inevitably killing innocents, it doesn't matter they're obstructing your goal of killing proper targets which will reward you with more power to enhance your murder antics, and keep that dopamine count high. Why solve problems any less efficient ways then leaping across a city block, delivering explosive justice in the most spectacular way possible; it's encouraged, it feels great and most importantly,pleasurable. Everything in games function and theme actively reinforces the action of the power fantasy, and the game doesn't shy away from the sheer brutality, which in turn becomes satisfying as a form of visual feedback and following that, desensitising.

If you pause and pay attention, watch and listen to the various audio cues and unscripted lines of the various citizens and targeted gang groups (who are are comprised entirelyof un-enhanced, non-super-people); they're generally petrified of you. No one wants to get in your way, and why should they? They know you will casually run them down, walk into their gunfire or outright ignore it in order to find chase down various items scattering the city which will improve your abilities at a faster rate than murder sprees.

Buildings obstructing your path are bigger obstacles than the combatants, scaling one can mean minutes while killing means seconds. It's a cold and quiet way of providing perspective to your bombastic chaos. It's one which the vast majority of players will inevitably ignore, which is perfectly fitting - why pay attention, you're here for the action and that alone, reaching a conclusion to the chaos only exists as loose goal.

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Almost entirely through action and very passive world cuesCrackdowneffectively paints the involved role and actions of the implied heroic figure, as villainous, without presenting moral question or dilemmas in order to establish it, or bothering with a sympathetic character or character growth.

You're not a nice guy, you know that, you don't even question it. The game knows that, and through the games empowering function why even bother with moral quandaries? You can leap over buildings and get cool gadgets and It feels good to be bad; you're being patted on the head and being rewarded for it. There's no reason for plot and understanding here, engagement and participation demands a specific kind of direct, blunt, unsympathetic and uncaring action.

So run about, do what you do and enjoy it; you're the big-boy with the gun made for this kind of trouble, and the cathartic high is just something to die for.

Jockeys of a Machine Age

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It is oddities like this that seem to embody the vibrancy and strange diversity in the bridge between fiction and function in games.Steel Battalionand its colossal controller isalmost an expensive statement of involvement and commitment, not just of the game but to the player.

If the sight of a two joystick, forty button behemoth would immediately drive away most people, then the addition of a manual gear shift and three foot pedals would alienate the rest. Adding this complex variety of inputs to an on screen interface littered numerous dials and displays, which relay feedback of every physical action made by the player and only the slightly mad and possibly masochistic remain.

This obtuse physical connection however is a necessary barrier. The few who decide to endure the process of overcoming such an immense learning curve, experience the rich intentional struggle at the heart ofSteel Battalion.

Protagonist and player are both thrown into control of a giant lumbering mechanical war machine, a crucial weapon amidst an ensuing battle. In this fictional world torn by an era of conflict there's no concept of form following function. These huge machines are built upwards to the size of buildings, crammed with a small armoury of weapons in an aggressive statement of dominance.

Action boils down to a struggle divided between the battlefield on screen and wrestling the controls; readouts must be read, locations must be noted, prompts must be heard, targets must be tracked, pedals must be pushed. It's an immersive exercise which builds a compelling physical connection with a world where complex problems are solved by impractical machines. Here little people have no importance, only a select few with the determination and ability to hold these complicated reigns firm count.

It's rare even for a game to go this far in deliberately building complex barriers, to drive home its meaning and create such a tangible layer of interaction. It can be argued suspension of disbelief may not be worth such an investment; howeverSteel Battalionrepresents an utterly unique bridge between physical function and fiction. One that cannot be replicated and only a select, determined and slightly mad minority have come to appreciate.

Gamescom 2011 From the Exhibition Floor in Pictures

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This year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to Cologne and checkout Gamescom for three days, which is arguably the most overwhelming spectacle in gaming open to the public.

During my time there I also managed to have a chat with a few developers as well as have a look at and give a few unrealeased games a try particularly Firefall, Wildstar and End of Nations. So for you kind folk I'll post some first hand words and impressions soon.

However in the meantime for those curious - behold, a pictorial taken using a dated-cheap Olympus camera. If you would like higher resolution varities of these blurry images, a Flickr gallery link http://www.flickr.com/photos/59268084@N03/

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6081/6109847591_f512003eef_z.jpg

Finally an illusive shadowy Gabe Newell in his ivory DOTA 2 tower.

Games Deserving Your Attention - Stomping and Shooting, Cussing and Booting

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So it's been almost two years since I last posted and in short since graduating and shifting countries, I have some time and head space to devote to my own personal soapbox here on GameSpot. Well, as quite a few of you would know it's more time to set aside from posting on System Wars, a habit that is yet to die hard.

So cutting to the chase, without a doubt many of you have sunk your teeth into the likes of the predictably great Portal 2 and are anticipating the next new title, but what about those games post release that have become quickly neglected or dismissed?

Well hear ye, hear ye, here's why looking back might just be a bit rewarding.

So, Bulletstorm

It's not hard for gamers to complain about how the shooter genre has stagnated into military-masturbatory-themed-power-fantasies, coated in cliche, frowns, greys and browns. Thankfully the nice folks at People Can Fly and Epic Games have embraced the genre of murder-simulators with a dash of creative manslaughter.

http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/594682957672510021/F9433CC1975295FB849C0E4A4CC5733968592E6B/

Bulletstorm in a nutshell features gaming schadenfreude as its core gameplay, then gives it context with additional crass, absurdity and turns it up to eleven. For a game to be about killing people in viciously hilarious ways while taking pride in it, it's quite well done and the functionality is there, but the amazing level design and situational variety turns it into something rather brilliant.

We fondly call games roller coaster rides for delivering a barrage of excitement, and Bulletstorm executes this far better than any shooter or game I've played in a while. Shifting from moment to moment; being chased by giant mining machinery to pissing off a large reoccurring creature and plenty of other surprises not worth spoiling. Something is always happening and it's always one step well over the top and off the other side.

http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/594682957627173999/90DED81F61FF879D7D94110E57A096C6EBFD5C9C/

The excellent vibrant visuals wonderfully capture the variety of changing locations, as you tour about kicking, leashing, stabbing, shooting and exploding a variety of goons in the most creative ways possible amidst the chaos, stopping to admire the scenery. All to the tune of a surprisingly hilarious script that bathes in the apex of low brow humor, penis jokes, which perfectly fits the tone of the game and onscreen action.

It's not a game without its problems (the choice of recharging health damages the flow of the game), and chances are you might just hate it; this isn't Serious Sam nor is it Borderlands in action, and despite having a remarkably well told and involving plot for a shooter involving space marines, it is equally as ridiculous as the more recent Call of Duty games, also lying snugly in the same bunk of glorified target practice.

http://cloud.steampowered.com/ugc/596935194122203617/37AD6B9E5D540D585C35AF20869AD4BC53CE6C0A/

People tend to throw around the term 'fun' to describe a game reliant on the ridiculous and over the top entertainment value. While I think that's a horrible word to use in summary of any game and I can't guarantee you'll find it here, this is a game that delivers on ridiculous and over the top entertainment value, which the shooter genre tends to dissociate with despite the murder of countless men with guns made up of increasing polygon counts.

You might be waiting for the next video game equivalent to a nice round of dependable whiskey, whereas Bulletstorm is a sort of sweet cocktail alternative that's worth a quick, almost shameful order and skulled for all its deliciousness while you wait.

If it doesn't provide a buzz for your selective tastes you can comfortably declare you've tried something different, and isn't this a little something that we gamers who have sunk time into shooter genre crave?

RTS Design and Single Player Woes

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Its been a long, long while since I have updated my blog post, however recently I have both the time on my hands, and some material.

This little rant is from a 'journal' as part of my university subjects - media cultures 2. For the semester it essentially required students to ramble about various things relative to new media or games in a readable fashion. To me, from all the posting on System Wars it was pretty enjoyable to be able to ramble, and be marked on it (hehe HD++ *boast* *boast*).

As its journal standards the writing quality of the entry isn't that good, and as the semester is over, I thought the material might be of interest; personally I think its a pretty relevant problem to many RTS games.

Enjoy.

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Tuesday 5th of May

This week I decided to cover a topic that I had been recently thinking about... although it deviates from the Black Board topics. Once again I have been thinking about Real Time Strategy game design, however in a different context.... That is more about the state of design in the genre, not platform exclusive. (added note - I am referring to an earlier I did on RTS design translation from PC to consoles)


The problem I see is that many real time strategy games share something in common, even though the design per title as a whole for the genre, is incredibly diverse compared to other genres.

http://www.4gamer.net/patch/demo/homeworld2_001.jpg

RTS design diversity... In spaaaaaaaaaaace.

This central issue is how developers tackle the single player portion of their titles.

When you think Real Time Strategy - it's the Strategy and tactics involved that makes the genres qualities truly stand out, however more often than not it conflicts directly with the single player level and mission design of RTS games.


I have frequently found myself simply not playing through the single player, story driven aspect of RTS titles. Its not due to me disliking the genre at all, its one of my favorites, and its not due to my dislike of single player titles - most of my favorite titles are primarily single player driven.

No, as I have recently realized, it's all due to the design.

The major problem is, as I stated earlier is the strategy element of the genre that is the major draw card - the game play; giving strategic choice to the player, and allowing them to problem solve. However many, if not the majority of real time strategy titles force the player to follow their own problem solving 'steps' into completing single player missions.


The design of RTS missions usually boils down to the player complete ling X objective and maybe a couple of sub objectives, however by one single means as the designer has imagined it. The problem is, this eliminates the strategic thinking and creativity. Essentially its basic problem solving, it's more puzzle than strategic in design. There is no strategy involved, you are simply following the orders the developer imagined.

http://www.random-ideas.net/Software/Tiles/screenshots/Logo.png

A representation.


Now for titles like first person shooters, which primarily feed off this type of design; it works fine. Simply because the game play challenge is there - your shooting skills, and perception. There is little strategic thinking; there isn't supposed to be any - its you and your enemies between A and B - the challenge from the actual shooting in the game is the rewarding part.


Now another sty-le of mission design is where the developer gives the player X amount of starting units, and tells them to 'conquer the enemy base, or positions etc.' then allows them to do it as they please. The main problem of this design, is that while it gives creative freedom in terms of strategies, it ultimately seems like a 'gimped' throttled down single player skirmish game against an A.I. player. You are given a smaller range of units, and less strategic possibilities, it lacks the creative freedom of a basic skirmish mode, which puts you in almost a sandbox environment, with a broader range of units and tactics at your disposal.

What makes matters worse, is that most RTS games abide by this design, including the majority of highly acclaimed IPs; be it Company of Heroes, Command and Conquer or Star Craft. What worries me more is that that there has been little development to design in this regard, in the genre. While developers think of new game play designs, the single player mission design boils down to the same template for every title.
Now while there are many titles that follow this design template, there are games that do things quite differently. Here are two opposite examples.


A recent title Men of War, by Ukrainian developer Best Way drops the player in a sand box environment with highly capable units at their disposal, and has the playing field evolve and change as the player progresses. The interaction of units and the environment is also much denser, and the developers have created missions that offer challenges with no simple direct way of completion, while adding objectives and problems for the player to overcome. Ultimately it's a very rewarding experience, which gives you much creative freedom.

http://screenshot.xfire.com/screenshot/natural/c65c93a93aab0336c17cc384cfae7b8b7bea4fb6.png

Such a screen-shot felt... suitable

The other title World in Conflict, I mentioned earlier in my journal. Developer Massive does almost a polar opposite in design to Men of War and most RTS titles. The developers have extremely linear objectives giving you units that don't have diverse abilities - everything you do has little to no creative thinking. There is no strategy, and even the scope of tactics is rather small. However Massive piles on objectives that change on the fly, and keep the pace of the game very fast - almost like a frantic first person shooter. This intense micromanagement feels rewarding and exiting, which completely offsets the lack of strategic depth.


Problem is these two titles are almost two extremes of game design in the RTS genre, whereas the majority falls into an in-between, not delivering an intense micromanagement experience or strategic depth and creativity. It's all a big pity considering how far the genre has advanced in terms of game design, while the single player mission design is stuck in almost a rut of mediocrity, even as production values keep soaring to new heights.


Honestly I really hope developers become more aware of this in the near future, as it's a bit of rut, that with a bit of creative thinking applied can be easily overcome.

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In due time I might post more MC2 journal entries that are relevant to gaming, otherwise thanks again for reading!

15,000 posts later

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I have been meaning to ressurect some sort of blog posting for a (long) while, and I figured this makes a good excuse to do so.

So here's to another fifteen thousand posts!

*WoW the Acid Test: Phase 1* *Game Purchase Verdicts*

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Ok I promised to be more frequent with updates, and i intend to keep my word! Also a mega thanks to all those who read my last blog and commented! Now onto some topics...

WoW THE ACID TEST: PHASE 1

As in my last blog I said that I was jumping into the World of Warcraft, with the intention of making a record of what affect it'll happen to me as a gamer and a person, and 37 hours later its been quite an insightful experience.

P4050072.jpg picture by muscrat_01

As I said last time ive never really got into an MMO before. Ive tried Anarchy Online - which was the first MMO i ever tried (when it went free), and it was like getting dropped into the deep end of a swimming pool. I didnt know what the hell was going on. Ive tried PlanetSide (when it briefly went free) and that was pretty damn fun, though honestly I figured I could simply play a Battlefield game and not pay monthly subscriptions for a similar experience, stat improvements and scope aside. However I really should have elaborated a bit more as actually I did try WoW before... the 10 day trial given to me by a friend - just over two years ago now. With fairly disastrous results. :o

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You see when I first played WoW over a couple of years ago - starting as a Gnome Rouge, I really just did it out of pure curiosity with the ignorant mindset that 'I would never get addicted to an mmo' - coming from my AO and Planetside experiences. Oh boy was I wrong. First I was like 'this is ok, kinda fun', to staying up till 4 in the morning doing menial quests. It was only until after the trial expired I realised it was best not touching the game until welll after VCE studies.
So effectively going back to WoW two years later is partly facing a 'gaming demon' of mine. But...
This time its Personal :P

Another noteworthy thing is the opinion of other gamers - particularly friends of mine, towards WoW. When I told one friend I bought WoW the word got around so damn fast that I got verbally lynched on Xfire and MSN in 24 hours.
Pretty much the general opinion was along the lines of 'lol' and 'dude that is pretty low', as if I decided to start taking heroin. :x
Ironically none of the people who couldn't believe I was going to start playing WoW, play the game.

Its also worth noting that when I was buying the games at EB, the guy behind the counter (who remember me from when I bought my DS Lite) and a bunch of other people in the store, happily informed me of 'the risk I was taking' and I was going to be become an addict ("another WoW addict is born") - jokingly though. I hope :P

http://starcraft2log.googlepages.com/treachery-manifest.jpg

Penny Arcade pic link

So after making an account - with the help of all you chaps on the GS PC forums (thank you all) - and a massive amount of patch downloading I was in. I started on the Frostmourne Oceanic Server, ironically I went back to playing as Gnome Rouge. I put 11 hours into the character over a week, and leveled him to 14 before the **** hit the fan. I only just realised all my friends who play WoW are on Horde. Thus I had to delete my Gnome Rouge, and switched to horde, kind of reluctantly, taking on the role of a Blood Elf Paladin, simply because the other races aside from Undead don't really float my boat, and I was sick of the weakness of being of the rouge.

This is pretty much the result 23 hours of WoW playing (3 being me leaving the game at the login screen while afk).

wow-20080419-014108.png picture by muscrat_01

:o

:|

Not very impressive ey.
(im only level 19, and someone took the name Skrat - Grrrrr)

What the your opinion of the game already?

Well honestly I have to say... WoW.... Its actually pretty good. :shock:

Im sure that many people wont like the game enough to warrant paying a monthly fee, but I could see myself paying for another two months. The quests so far have improved from low level grinding, and its very enjoyable leveling your character, changing attire, and socialising.

I have to say, the world really sucks you in, the dialouge is surprisingly well written, and everything seems cohesive and relevant to the world - which really helps with the immersion. The environment is always interesting, and I simply love exploring, which is why I have wasted so many hours not leveling my character. Its also enjoyable working towards leveling too, it gives you a goal, with the knowlege that your actions are going towards a beneficial goal.

The community is also great... depending on which side you pick. On Alliance It was initially great - someone gave me 70 silver, which to me as a level 5 Gnome was a huge wad of cash, though apart from a few people i bumped into, everyone really just kept to themselves. On Horde its a totally different matter. While i didn't get low level pity cash, everywhere i went people would be sociable, and i was recruited into a guild fairly early on, and spent most of my quests in groups rather going solo. Now that I have met up with friends its gotten even better. I have to say socially, WoW is a surprisingly fun experience - which is why I can see alot of people like the game alot for its social aspect - particularly a few girl gamer friends of mine.

However the game istn without its flaws. Many quests (particularly around the Silvermoon area) are simply terrible. Running between A and B to deliver letters, or getting 8 items by killing 30 monsters is so tedious it can make you want to gouge your eyes out - especially if its solo.:evil: To really get the most out of the game you have to do it with other people, another reason why Raiding is top priority later on.

As for addictiveness.... Well its not that bad really. When I sit down to play the game I usually end up playing for well over an hour in a single session, but I dont stay up into the wee hours playing. It seems I have have conquered that particular MMO demon of mine, and simply treat it like any other game - so far. God knows what happens when I start to do particular dungeons or raids, and are relied on by a group. I shall see.

So so far I can say. I haven't got addicted. It hasn't impacted on my Uni work (just got 20/20 for the last programming assignment :)). I also cant see it being my demise - yet. :twisted:

However this is only the beginning, ill keep updates now and again the WoW related happenings.

GAME PURCHASE VERDICTS

Now oh so long ago I bought two games, and said i'd eventually get back on what they were like. Well finally after plenty of play time ive got results.

ARMY OF TWO

It seems like the vast majority of opinions is that the game blows ass. If you asked me a month before it came out I would have agreed. I really didnt like the game at all and only really gained ANY interest in it after the lukewarm reviews emerged.
Why?
Co-Op.
And thankfully for the most of the game does it - to a degree - well.

P1010078.jpg picture by muscrat_01

Honestly AoT is one of those games you shouldn't take too seriously. Its story is a juvenile take on a real world issue, the characters are two dimensional tools, and the dialouge gets to the point of its so bad its good.
What really matters is the gameplay. And actually its quite good. Playing it with a friend is a real blast, the aggro 'all baddies shoot at me' feature is surprisingly well implement and vital to progression, gunplay is decent, and the a.i is actually solid.
The levels allow a moderate amount of tactical depth, the enemy A.i does a good good of harassing you, your partner a.i is actually decent (more useful than some people :P), and the combat is quite fun - weapons feel good, and i have no problems with the aiming. Weapon upgrading is also very good fun - a major incentive to keep coming back.

The thing is AoT is one of those games where you have to be in the right situation to really appreciate what its trying to achieve. Just lounging on a couch with a mate, brings out the best in the game. Because co-operation is so vital in it, your reliance on a friend gives it that extra layer that other games with co-op lack ala GeoW, in which you can pretty much go Rambo solo - even when playing co-op - your partner a.i or friend just feels like a tag along, same with Halo 3.

Sure its got plenty of flaws - level design gets iffy now and again, story and characters suck, multiplayer is so-so ish - just feels like a runabout - though its is fairly good fun (aiming is terrible in mp however), and the single/co-op-player - is very very short.

Overall AoT is a good co-op game and probably a great retal if you need a game to play with a mate, aside from the co-op aspects there isnt anything that makes it stand out from the overcrowded (console) shooter market.

Verdict: 7/10.

BURNOUT PARADISE

I have been addicted the Burnout series since the Third - and i'd say it takes the crown as my favourite arcade racer, and I daresay favourite racer. I was very worried about Burnout Paradise, and very cynical before and after its release - the absence of split screen was a huge blow, and I hated the idea of an open world in a burnout game.:x

Im happy to say that I was wrong.:o

P1010076-1.jpg picture by muscrat_01

Simply - Burnout Paradise is a great game. Problem is it grows on you. When you first start playing its all a bit overwhelming and alien - especially to a burnout fan. Once you start to get used to it, you begin to truly appreaciate the game.:)

The open world of the game, that I hated so much turns out to be actually good. Its fun exploring, and its great being able to simply stop at a traffic light and start a race - no more loading screen waiting of every other burnout game. In a way the freeroaming reminds me of Midtown Madness (a favourite of mine - 1 and 2 on the PC) which is a great thing.:D

The racing mechanics are fantatic - car categories have been perfected - with elements from Burnout 3, Revenge and Dominator implmented, though for some reason Aftertoch Takedowns seem non existent. The driving in the game is the best in the series. The cars feel like cars, though fun to drive at the same time.

Its also worth mentioning the online integration is one of the BEST in a game yet. Its completely seamless with singleplayer. A few taps of a button and you have real people in the world. To me this is like a landmark achievement in games, as multiplayer and singleplayer being completely and cohesivley connected hasent been done so well in any game ive played.
The downloadable content also looks to be stellar, and its free - thankfully.

The game isnt without its faults though. While the crash damage is phenomenally good - you cant tear your car in two - something that Criterion said would be in 'Burnout 5', the cars are 'ghost cars' without drivers, it can be a pain to navigate in races at first - huge learning curve in this department, the in game advertising is TERRIBLE, and the absence of split screen, and (party) crash mode (even if showtime is fun) is really, really disappointing. Oh the visuals are very nice.:P

So if you want a fun arcade racing game to play on your own AND with buddies over the Internet Burnout Paradise is a perfect choice.

Verdict: 9/10

Phew, that pretty much wraps this blog post! :)
If you have had any WoW experiences, opinions of it or of the games mentioned, hell any game / review recommendations, or if you just want to verbally lynch me for sucumbing to WoW like the others, feel free to bombard the comment box :P

*Tagged* *Future Topics* *Updates*

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First off i'd like to say a big thanks to all the folks who read / commented on my first blog post, and I apologise for the slow update on the blog . Ive been quite busy with uni and family stuff lately so i haven't had much time to put anything interesting together - although I have been planning...... I have quite a few topics lingering in my mind, so here is a quick preview of what to expect in the weeks to come.

But first - I have been *tagged* so i'll bite the bullet and dooeeet.

*5 Things about myself*

1. I drink lots of Tea. Black, White, Green, Lemon - whatever - I just drink lots of it - though mostly white tea. I found the normal team cups inadequate for my tea drinking purposes, so I was given a monstrosity of a tea cup for my habit. Right now im on my 8th for the night. Just to give you an example of how big the (helpfully labeled) cup is.....

P4050061.jpg picture by muscrat_01

2. I always enjoy a debate. I guess thats why im always marauding around system wars.

3. I always enjoy helping people out with anything computer or game related. Ive have been asked by people for years and years on choosing computer parts for them, help assembling computers, how to fix problems, or opinions on games ect. Heck i don't mind helping people out in general; a good deed goes a long way. Feel free to give me a buzz.

4. I like any kind of 'art'. be it Graphic, Sculpture, Music, Film, Stage, Text, Games ect.

5. The Australian Football League team i support is Essendon. Pretty much my entire family - relations and all, have been on the Essendon bandwagon for ages. Ironically, where I reside is right near the club. Im not a footy nut though.

The image

nucrackr's '5 things about me' blog post has some great links to info on Australian Rules in general.

- I'm not sure about this tagging thing so you want to be tagged, just ask!

*Future Updates - Topics to Cover!*

2007 FIRST PERSON SHOOTER RETROSPECTIVE

Im going back to play all of the 'big' FPS titles of 2007 again - and how they shape up against eachother nowadays.

edit* Forgot the Orange Box in my photo - but ill be covering it no doubt.

P4050066.jpg picture by muscrat_01

HANDHELDS THE VERDICT

I love my handheld gaming consoles - just being able to carry a gaming system around with you, and playing anytime anywhere...Which means I love my DS and PSP, but with all these debates of DS vs PSP, my recent purchase of a Lite - ridding myself of the Phat, and lots of travel time lately - meaning lots of handheld time - on the move - im going to come to a conclusion on the two handhelds and end this 'onesandforall'.

P4050068.jpg picture by muscrat_01

WoW THE ACID TEST

I havent ever properly gotten into an MMO before. Ive tried Anarchy online which didn't go down well, and tried planetside, but didn't get into it.... But most of all I havent gotten into an MMO because of cost, time, the addictiveness of them - and they simply just don't appeal to me in general.

I have now bit the bullet and am getting into World of Warcraft - with cash in hand - going to see if the MMO stereotype exists. Will I get addicted and waste my life away, will I go broke in months devoting all my money to it, and will I just give up and quit like every other MMO i have tried to get into?.... Some friends see it as my demise, others are welcoming me to it - its up to this Acid Test to see how it turns out

P4050072.jpg picture by muscrat_01

GAME PURCHASE VERDICT

Remember my last blog post - I was choosing between Army of Two and Burnout Paradise?
Thanks to a flaw in one of EBs '3 for $50 -AUD' and a JB-HiFi game trade in deal I have gotten both.
Does Army of Two suck, and does Burnout offend a Burnout purists senses? My verdict soon.

P4050074.jpg picture by muscrat_01

GAMESCHOOL STUFF

Has Skrat_01 failed or dropped out? He hopes not.:o

I will try and be quicker this time updating!

Thanks for reading!

Now Attending - GameSchool

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Ok I have decided to cave in start a blog. After seeing how many people post interesting experiences and opinions up in their own, I figured that my own opinions or experiences and whatnot might actually make an interesting read - one recent 'thing' of which might be of some interest. Im a bit of a 'noob' at the whole bloging thing so if seems a bit unnatural, just bear with me :P
Think of this as an introduction. Or a *wall of text*

Last year I had finished my final year of school and with the monotony of exams and study grinds behind me, fixed on the prospect of going to University (or College) I had to come to terms what field of interest I wanted to 'get into'. Personally im quite into art and design, and of course games. Five 'pre-selection folios', two tests and six interviews later I had received a bunch of successful applications for a variety of courses at different universities - courses ranging from Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Product Design Multimedia, and of course - Game Design (as you can see I like 'design' orientated things lol). So after allot of procrastinating, pondering, and just sitting around I had to come to a conclusion of what field I would ultimately like get into. As you are obviously aware of - I went for games.

Yep im now studying 'Bachelor of Arts - Games Graphics Design' at RMIT university - which seemed like the best games orientated course I could find (after alot of open day scouring).

Thus I have called it
GAMESCHOOL

So you are most probably thinking well wtf does your course even cover - which isn't that simple. Individually I cover basic programming, art, game design and maths and physics, however as the semesters move on (its a 3 year course mind you), you begin to specialise in a particular field - mainly game designer or artist. The course is also interconnected with Games Programming and Digital art - we all work together for certain team based assignments and tasks.

What am I DOING? Well right now im learning how to use the Neverwinter Nights 2 editor, and am part of a design team of five (2 designers, 2 programmers, 1 artist) people, tasked with creating a 'mini mod' for the game - in semester 1 we work with NWN2, and in semester 2 we will be moving on to learn how to mod with the Unreal 3 Engine - and ultimately create a mod - preferably a small total conversion. Im also doing some art based subjects ('imaging') and an introduction to programming + maths and psychics for 'artists'. Thankfully the programming and maths + physics only lasts a semester.

Whats it LIKE? Its awesome. Seriously. Im only into my second week (not including a weeks orientation) and im loving being lectured on game design (heck I have a Bioshock lecture in the 5th week) and fousing my attention on an area ive always wanted to be involved in. Even the programming is good fun (for the time being), as is the maths and physics stuff.

While I cant say right now how worth doing a 'games graphics design' course will be in the end, I can say if you are going into uni or college, and seem a bit troubled about going for 'games' orientated course, even though you have a passion for getting involved in creating games, rather than just playing them, consider giving it a shot, as regretting it is even worse.

Oh Uni in general? Its awesome. My campus is directly in the middle of 'The City' (which would be Melbourne - Australia - I train it in), and its fantastic having so much freedom (freaking finally), and being in a course where everyone shares a common intrest its fun making new friends. However the amount of organisation is phenomenal.

So ya, if this blog actually 'kicks off' instead of nosediving ill happily post updates of what creations, ideas, designs (already have quite a few) - let alone what stuff is happening, and i'll happily answer any questions, and post my opinions of games in general, quite a few which I feel as-though I should get off my back. Well a blog is supposed to be kinda self indulgent isnt it :)

Oh yea im also in a dilemma of whether to get Army of Two or Burnout Paradise. Its either going for the worse game that has fun - split screen co-op (which im pretty much looking for), or going for a much better scoring game.... That i'll only end up playing on my own (jeez I miss Burnout Split screen - glad I have revenge). Mind you im playing DiRT and PGR4 right now. Its almost as much of a dilemma as picking uni courses :P

Exept I have until tomorrow to work it out. Dun dun dun. :shock:

Anyway thanks for persevering through what I hope is the first 'Skrat Blog' :)