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It's been a while GameSpot Comminity

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Indeed it has, it seems.

My last blog post was January 2011, and now as I write this it's the arse end of 2012. October 2012 to be exact.

While my next update will no doubt be sometime in 2013, or more likely 2014, here's a quick rundown of what's been in my gaming life since January 2011.

- I've finally been converted to the PlayStation world, owning not only a PlayStation 3 but a PlayStation Vita. Both systems, impress me more than I'd had thought originally.

- Wii U. Wow. Haha! Touched a developer's prototype of the GamePad (the one with the circle pads) and finally played one at EBX earlier in October 2012. Just amazing.

- Skyrim happened. That is all.

- Mass Effect 3, and all th bull crap that blew up before/after the game launched. Still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth emotionally, but the way some carried on was pathetic. I will one day soon play all the additional content releases post-launch.

- I'm now what you'd call a video game journalist. From my humble beginning writing user reviews on GameSpot, to actually writing for another gaming web-site that clocks in over 250,000 unique views a month. Pretty awesome feeling when your words and opinons on games get read by that many people.

- Sleeping Dogs is my new favorite IP.

- Assassin's Creed 3 review copy. That is all.

Until next time, peace.

Jayden

2011 in review

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Another year, another 12 months worth of gaming memories.

2011 has been a great year for gaming, with many stellar titles released. Though the two biggest events, in my opinion, to have happened were the Australian Government (finally) opening discussion to usher in a R18+ rating for video games and the unveiling of Nintendo's next console, the Wii U.

While the former merely has repercussions in one Country alone, where finally mature gamers will be able to have the wide range of content to choose from in their video game options, the Wii U was a juggernaut felt across the whole industry. Reactions often confused whether it was a mere controller upgrade for the current model Wii, or simply a table itself, since Nintendo seemed to shed more of the spot light on the controller rather than the system itself. Although seemingly mis-managed and perhaps pre-mature of an annoucemnt, the Wii U did impress.

What we do know about the system is it's primary tablet like controller. I like to play games casually on the iPad, including more hardcore titles like Dead Space, Infinity Blade etc, and not having hold the unit in my hand yet, I could imagine it would be a natural feeling if you've ever held an iPad to play a game. The controller has triggers on the back and grip spots, with classic controller interfaces along the sides of the controller. Obviously we are still waiting to see the true potential of the system (Nintendo advises HD graphics more powerful that of the Xbox 360 and PS3) there is no doubt the Wii U will have a strong push in 2012.

On the games front 2011 really seemed like a golden age, with awesome titles having been released in the past 12 months. In my opinion at least the first six months of the year were rather slow, with publishers holding back the cream of the crop for the later months. I played games like Dead Space 2 and Dragon Age 2 for first few months, as well as getting sucked heavily into the iPhones range of mobile games. 2011 really saw me embrace IOS device games (so much I invested heavily in a new iPad 2 to allow me to fully experience these games in a more tactile and richer way)

Though it was in the last few months that truly shined. Titles such as Batman: Arkham City, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword are some of the most enjoyable gaming experiences I've ever had in my 20 odd years of gaming. Though on a more personal note I have to make special mention of Sonic Generations for allowing me to relive alot of my childhood nostalgia.

Lastly, I'll make a special note of Nintendo's latest, and arguably best, portable system the 3DS. I find the system a massive f*** you to Sony, one of the largest makers of 3D enabled TV's, as Nintendo show the show 3D viewing is possible without the need for the dorky 3D glasses. While the system itself has had a bit of a rocky start in 2011, sales have increased and some awesome games have been released in the last few months, ala Super Mario 3D Land, and with some awesome titles lined up for 2012, the system is poised to take off.

Here's looking towards 2012!

My 2 cents on how Bioware can make a good Mass Effect movie

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After reading an article that popped up on ign.com, which states that details on the Mass Effect movie coming will be unvieled at Comic-Con this year, something that is going to cause some major uproar (no matter how the direction of the movie is handled, a overflow of possibilities in how this movie could be handled in a way that could appease us rabid fan-boys(girls)

So at this point one can assume that Bioware (who are 'taking direct control') is looking at recreating Commander Shepard's story, so we're likely looking at a retelling of the first game (the first of a possible trilogy). The prevailing question is how do you boil a 30+ hour game down to a 2 to 3 hour film?

Firstly, and most obviously, boiling the story down to its most basic form. People who play these games must realize that with any film adaptation of this story the fat needs to be cut loose. Look at it this way. Once can easily beat mass Effect's rather short main story within 8 to 12 hours, by skipping through all side missions and most of the dialogue. What makes up the remaining possible play time is really how much one chooses to insert into exploring this universe and what it has to offer.

This is indeed an important part, and quests such as 'Hades Dog' and to a lesser extent the missions from 'Bring Down the Sky' need to be featured somewhere within the story of the film. These two missions flesh out in a rather quick way the expansive Universe to which Mass Effect is based. Hades Dog introduces us to the Cerberus organization, an important plot point to establish in a 'first film' way due to their much larger role in a possible 'second film'. Whereas any mention to Bring Down the Sky is useful because it introduces us to the Batarians, a race of humanoid aliens who bear no love for humans, something that can easily display and possibly justify Cerebus' actions later. Of course these missions plots doesn't haven to be lifted exactly, however more than just a fleeting mention of either/or is warranted, especially to install some sense of scale to audiences who aren't familiar with the Universe.

What about the main story itself? How can you create a linear narrative from a game that allows you progress at your own pace? I don't believe Bioware and whoever is handling the script will find it difficult to re-tell the story of Saren's apparent betrayal and his attempt to open the Citadel Mass Relay. But how will they fare in handling the Feros, Noveria and the vitally important Virmire?

Each mission on each planet installs it's own need to be in the story. The Rachni being brought back from extinction on Noveria, or the deal Saren struck with the Thorian on Feros, and of course the revelation and tension of the Krogan breeding facility. These plot points would need to be boiled down to standalone set pieces, both highlighting there importance to the story as well as for character development. Regardless of the handling of these missions, the set pieces that would arise from Illos and the final section on the Citadel would make up the last hour of the film.

Secondly, and possibly more importance than how to handle the main story, including what and what not to add in, is player decisions. Obviously Mass Effect is a deeply personal game. No two persons playthroughs would be the same, with a large number of different variations in story. How does Bioware handle these player driven choices? Who dies on Virmire? Does Wrex live or die? What is the fate of the Council? Which side of the morality path does Shepard walk? Whatever decision is made will not equate to, or add up for, every person who has ever played the game.

So how do you get around something that has the potential for fan unrest? One would imagine Bioware has its own Shepard character, one they use for all standard testing and in-house situations, a "Shepard Prime" if you will. Take this Shepard Prime and mix it up by using the player data Bioware have collected (something they have been open about using in creating Mass Effect 2 & 3) and infuse some of the more popular player choices with their own stock standard Shepard. And more importantly, let Wrex live!

Of course I could go on a lot more with what Bioware should and shouldn't do with this film. I think I've covered some of the basics, and hopefully it's food for thought for some of you out there.

However I will close with one more statement; as details about this film are slowly released, please keep an open mind about the direction until we actually see it, no matter what your personal expectations won't be match to the letter.

A case of copying or flattery?

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I know this has been commented upon ever since the release of the game, though as I'm just cutting my teeth on it now I thought I might throw my 2 cents in as well.

Sonic and Sega All-stars racing is great. So great in fact I think if Sega were to continue this concept and improve with a new entry somewhere in the future I would probably buy it day one. It's a mix of what made Mario-Kart so great for the first ten years, yet throws some new features in (I plan on writing a full review, so I won't elaborate too much), keeping the game constantly engaging.

In the case of Nintendo's Mario-Kart games it really does seem as if lack of direct competition has caused the quality of the titles to slip. I remember playing Mario-Kart Double Dash on the Gamecube, a title I was really looking forward to yet was utterly dissapointed by. Needless to say when Nintendo came out with the Wii version I was gave it a fleeting pass, only choosing to play it at a friends house. What my point is Nintendo has allowed this series to reach the point of stagnation due to lack of inspired innovation.

What Sega have done is more or less copy and pasted the Mario-Kart formula, added their own mix of style centric to their own universe and thrown in some interesting additions. It's important to note that this game plays, looks and feels like a Mario-Kart game, yet coming off as fresh and new. It's the inclusion of the extras, such as the 64 unique missions and the in-game currency and store (allowing players to buy new characters, soundtracks and courses), which really goes a long way to provide players with more options than replaying the same old Grand-Prix Cups.

Imitation really is the best form of flattery. I do believe Sega hasn't spared any expense in the fact that this is their answer to Nintendo's long standing kart series. Though where many may see it as a rip-off, I see this as Sega's attempt to honor their once time rival by creating an exciting and fun kart racing game that is built on the remains of the once proud and great Mario-kart console games.

A startling revelation

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So there's whisper's on the interwebs that Pokemon Black & White will only feature new pokemon until you finish the main story (and presumbly get the National Dex). It was announced on the GameFreak website, apparently, and since I don't read Japanese I'm waiting for a little more of a "offical" announcement (in the way of Serebii or Pokebeach since both sources are credible)

Thoughts? Although at first I'm a little annoyed, since a major reason I'm so excited for the next generation of games is to see all my old favorites within the new graphical overhaul. However on the other hand I'm excited for an entirely new reason, being it'll be like playing Red and Blue all over again.. everything is new and fresh and you have no idea how each creature will play out.

Though everything is pointing to Nintendo's obvious 'rebooting' style approach to Black & White... only time will tell if the changes announced will make this series full of life once more

Super Tails vs. Microsoft

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So, roughly 3 weeks ago I went to play my Xbox 360 only to recieve the E74 error message. Well aware of the hardware faults of the console (this is not the first time I've had hardware failure with a 360, this current one being my third), I calmly called up the repair center and issue an order. So off went my console, to be fixed or repaired, and I could once again enjoy gaming funness...or so I thought.

Two weeks later I recieve the console back, replaced with a different console (the lacking of the red mark running up the length of the right hand side giving this stranger away). 'Doesn't matter' I think, believing myself to have a new console. Off I go to connect the console to start playing, only, the power cable doesn't fit. Oh no. I try my backup cable, doesn't fit. I try my room mates cable, doesn't fit. With eyes of fury, I call up MS again and report my frsutration and demand a new cable. Through an up hill battle with their customer service peoples, I get a new cord sent to me.

Now we come to the present, three weeks after the intial problem, I recieve a new cord in the mail. Happy, I go to connect the console up... only to find that its EXCATLY THE SAME as the cord I already had. Obviously the repair center thought there was something wrong with the one I had, so sent me the same one in replacement. With the fury of a fat kid getting the low fat option I call up MS again, this time demanding a new console. After waiting for a supervisor, I'm told that they'll send me out the OTHER type of power cord. I warned them however, that if I am to be made a fool of again, I will be demanding a new console and they should start prepping it in the mail room.

Now, without going into detail, I'm going to list the reasons as to my exhausting battle with the repair process. Clearly somewhere some brain dead person shipped me a console unable to support the standard 240V cable.. but he's not alone. The customer service deadbeat I spoke to about the cable issue didn't bother to inquire about the type of powercord I have. Furthermore on part of the repair center, based on the seriel number of the console, they should have a record of what type of power supply the console requires, rather than having their thumbs up their backside.

All in all I am rather furious at about all of this, up untill now I have praise MS for thier dealings with hardware failures and their attempts at subdueing customer unrest, but now, I seriously doubt the outsourcing the company has done to take control of this issue.

GDC and other assorted things.

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Firstly, let's just get this out of the way. Playstation MOVE. WTF?

For all the promising tech Sony believes their motion system will bring to the table, it's not excatly new is now? I've read extensive coverage for this thing, and the general consesus seems to be the following, for all the promising techinical advancements it could POSSIBLY bring, it'll most likely end up emulating the Wii experience, only in HD. Seriously, did Sony actually look at the thing?

Yes, okay. Natal seems to be an high class knock of of Sony's eye toy, so, why wouldn't Sony themselves want to emulate Nintendo and their mammoth success? Sony did mention during their presentation that they were going after the Wii's market share in terms of casual games, but, did they have to so obviously take ALL of their inspiration from the eye? It seems like they literally took the Wii remote and tweaked it's design and spec. In my opinion, Sony should be making an Eye-Toy based motion sensing controller and Microsoft should be ripping off the Wii remote.

But I digress.

After playing Mass Effect 2 to death, I picked up Bioshock2. I probably wont post a review about it, since, well, one could just read my review for the first game (that's if I even posted one for that O.o). Anyway, the game is good. It hasn't blown me away, but it's a solid blend of RPG elements with intense FPS action. And it's more than a time filler for......POKEMON HEART GOLD/SOUL SILVER!. Haha. Joking. But cerial for a second, I am pumped up for the (...final) release for these two remakes. Gold and Silver are pretty much the essestianal pokemoning experience, so, to play them in an updated fashion is a real treat.

What else? Dragon Age expansion and more Mass Effect 2? Yes please. Alan Wake AND Super Mario Galaxy 2 both on the same? OMG. I just went all up and nerdgasimed in my pants (it is old news, but still, I still get excited as that day approaches and my girlfriend remains unbeknowist that for a solid week after that date she'll go competetly unntoiced)

Giving Out Review Hate

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It's no big shock, but I like to give disaproving ratiings to user reviews on gamespot. Why? Because most of the one's I see are badly written, have poor grammer, and look like something a 12 year old wrote (in their defence they probably are 12.. >.>)

I give the "not helpful" click because I don't find their review helpful. A review is a detailed form of someone's opinion on the features of the game, both GOOD and BAD, in order to allow someone to see where the consensus feeling about the game is.

A review is not however, this, "omgokzoo90ot ITZ LYKE THE BESTERO0OR GAME EVAAAAAAA! I GIVE IT PERFCAVT 10 OUTTA 10 OMHOMOZK9KT9KOZKOGKDNDBJDB!!!!" That's just stupid.

It's also not a gushing over-glorification of the game. In some circumstances, I see review's where a flaw of the game is outlined, but then is mentioned later in the review as a positive. WTF?

Oh, and I also have a problem with people rating my reviews as non helpful. I try to write a good review everytime. I try to form a fair judgement on the game based on it's good's and bad's. I don't however, submit to stupidity to review or score a game. I actually use proper grammer and spelling (though sometimes I don't. But don't say anything =p)

Yeah, K

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So Mass Effect 2.

Pretty damn awesome.

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