Avoiding the hype?
- Jun 12, 2008 7:15 am GMT
- 7 Comments
For the last ten or so years, a strange phenomenon has plagued the gaming industry: HYPE. The anxiety provoked by the constant bombardment of the media given a certain title, gaming console or even a rumor. An effect seen in other types of mediums, existent since practically the beginning of global communications as we experience today. In 1998, Nintendo put out The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and that was truly one of the first big examples of this occurrence. Magazines, websites, even the television had a huge shroud of anxiety over one product, one game. In Zelda's case, the hype proved true, with an incredible game still remembered to this day as one of the best in its own series. Super Mario 64, back in 1996, proved the same, bringing the Nintendo 64 into a lot of households just from the power of one mascot.
But how about games that don't exactly prove the reason for the hype when they are finally released? One name comes to mind. Driv3r. Covered like a poor antelope who stepped on the wrong African ant hill, Driv3r had it all going for it. Extremely positive previews, interviews with developers noting the quality of the graphics and the story, even a Hollywood pair of directors working on a short movie commercial in the form of a DVD! When it did come out, the flop. Practically everything that was praised was brought down as negative factors: the graphics were dated, the story was cheesy, the controls were horrible, in sum, a disappointment. To this day, Driv3r is remembered as one of the biggest disappointments ever. Did the hype make it an even more disappointing failure?
That example happened back in 2004, so let us flash forward to 2008. The internet now shares the attention of the masses with multi millionaire ad campaigns, and the coverage is even more intense than ever. The big expo, E3, is practically dead, giving place to the publishers' own press events. Players that lived to see the examples mentioned above have matured with the industry, and now live the constant, daily grind of video game coverage. We get videos, podcasts, webcasts, streams, live shows, Tv programs, street ads, internet ads, website skins and even online video gamer pictures promoting for highly anticipated games. For those living with these and following their anticipated games, it is hard to hold out, the curiosity is great.
The big questions are: has the media evolved along with the industry? Have they learned from the past? The answer to these and other questions lies in our expectations for coming games. Have they met your ideas while you followed the coverage? This can be answered easily, most of the times, they do, at the moment we get to experience these ourselves. We get to finally get our hands on these products, thus ending the apparent 'hunger' that was kept unfed while we followed every bit of information for this particular game. Sadly, most of the times, this primal hunger is satisfied all too quickly. Even those that create and make the coverage the readers and watchers follow have their craves in dying pace as a given game is out for a particular amount of time.
Holding out is tough. For those who care about their favorite characters and want to keep following their stories from game to game, this can be extremely tough. In most cases, they evolve with the respective technology, and thus getting more and more complex to program. The more complex they get, the longer they take to be created and "perfected", leading to longer cycles of hyping.
How many experience points in patience worth these days? A lot. We have grown to be spoiled by the instant information feed given to us by the various forms of communication. We flip a switch and get the entire planet connected, throwing byte after byte directly to our brains through a computer screen. Gone are the days of the surprise of walking down to a store and finding a game you weren't expecting - we see them miles away now. There is no turning back.
Can you avoid the hype?
Side note: this editorial has been kicking around in my head ever since the Driv3r failure back in 2004. It was featured in a defunct personal website, and now got remodeled to be posted here. Feel free to comment and give feedback.
How NOT To Be a Jerk on Rock Band Online
- Apr 5, 2008 9:12 pm GMT
- 65 Comments
To all current and future pricks who continue to select "Player Match" in Rock Band:
- Do not disconnect just because you're doing poorly and especially if the song is a minute away from ending. You don't like death drains, and neither do your bandmates. Be warned: Rock Band III will have a 'SLAY' button.
- Do not play on a difficulty you can't handle. Just because you have two more chances to fail while in a band, it doesn't mean your bandmates want you to take that for granted. The last thing I want to do is save your sorry ass when you fail once, twice... and then game over. Unless you're in a band that is playing on Expert difficulty and is anal about earning golden stars, there's no crime in playing at a level you're comfortable with. (Now, if you're failing on Easy, then why are you playing online in the first place? Do you really want to be kicked? Are you a bottom?)
- Do not hold the left or right trigger button down while singing unless the other bandmates are (obviously not) okay with hearing you blurt your American Idol-reject voice in Dolby Surround Sound. Even if you sing like Barbara Streisand (well, then please don't), know that there's usually lag online, so whatever you scream at one beat will actually be heard by your bandmates some beats later. Not your fault, of course, but why put your bandmates off-rhythm unintentionally? You've got the mic. Be nice. Ask first.
- Do not be a guitar hog. Be fair. Alternate between guitar and bass with the other guitarist. We all know that the bass is simply the poor man's guitar in Rock Band. No x6 multiplier will ever compensate for a lack of solos and chords and fame and hot fans and exclusive suites and wet... I'm getting ahead of myself. But that's even more reason not to stick the bass onto somebody else unless that person is clearly a bassist or wants to give the other (probably more skilled) guitarist, well, guitar.
- Do not intentionally lower your life meter before the song begins. There's nothing wrong with widdling your life away after the song is done, since there's no repercussion for it and well, who cares? But don't be so brash as to lower your life meter - and thereby everybody else's - at the start of the song, even if you're the best guitarist in the world. Pulling off a stunt like that and then failing on your ass is flat-out embarassing - and I've seen that happen more than a few times. Besides, there are better ways to show your guitar prowess, like nailing the solo in Working Man or Blackened or being pissed off that you only got 98%. Yeah, I know, 98% reeks!
- Finally, do not assemble an online band, only to wait for a player and then proceed to describe the size of that player's dick, analyze the level of that player's homo-tude, and prove your ability to wail, cluck, and spit into an electronic device - and then kick that player out with your oversized idiocy. Not even monkeys do that. You know who you pissants are.
Heroes With Weaknesses: A Mile in Their Shoes
- Mar 22, 2008 10:58 am GMT
- 68 Comments
It may just be me, but there's something interesting about playing as a hero with a gaping character flaw. It doesn't matter whether these negative traits appear from the start up or develop from the player's choices during the game; I can't help but enjoy a game that much more. These days developers are always looking for something new in the gameplay or story departments to set themselves apart from the countless other games. Unfortunately these variances of gameplay and story telling usually originate from an outside source. A quick and easy way to stick out from a crowd of games is to develop a player character with human flaws. Too bad this road is rarely traveled as it usually makes up some of the more original characters to grace this interactive media.
There are a few characters that fall into this category and most of them have appeared recently showing that there maybe hope for the market to stray away from the perfect knight in shining armor and delve into simple, imperfect humanity that the majority of gamers come from.
I'll start off with the earliest memory of a character with a flaw. Not many people may have experienced it but I did just to add a bit of difficulty and to try something different. You see, I never got to experience a game as an addict until Fallout for PC came around. In this game you could becomes addicted to the pain killers that help you out, the drugs that you may use for a boost in stats, even playing a card game and drinking Nuka-Cola could have its disadvantages. It was a nice touch that made role playing a bit more interesting and upped the difficulty a little bit more due to the withdrawal symptoms. Freedom is what Fallout is all about and that freedom not only included the chance to do some things that no game offers but to also make your Vault Dweller a little more like the dregs of society than the majority of games offer.
My next memorable experience stems from 2005's Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Right from the start, it's apparent that not everything is right with investigator Jack Walters. When I was first introduced to my interactive avatar for the upcoming game through an opening cutscene and noticed that the place he called home was Arkham Asylum, I knew I was in for a treat. However, Jack's phobia wasn't that made readily visible at first due to the impact of other outside sources on his sanity so it actually took me a while to pick up on his little nuance. It wasn't until the invigorating chase through Innsmouth that I noticed something strange.
Some of the jumps I had to make from roof top to roof top were a bit difficult due to the screen appearing wobbly or spinning during these leaps. It struck me as odd at first because my character wasn't witnessing anything dramatic to affect his sanity but was still experience some of the side effects. It wasn't until I took my time at one of the jumps and looked before I leapt that I realized that Inspector Walters suffers from acrophobia, or a fear of heights. What made this even better is that no where did it say Jack was afraid of heights and the implementation of this phobia was so subtle yet effective that it cemented this character in my mind probably forever.
My next example requires that you forget Gamespot's Gerstmangate just for a moment and actually look at the characters of Eidos' Kane & Lynch: Dead Men. I played this game cooperatively with my brother at first and a friend the second time around. In both cases I was in control of Kane and my partners would control Lynch. Neither my friend nor my brother are big gamers so they didn't know what to expect from this game, about the only thing they did know is that we play as a couple of foul mouth dirt bags engaging in a bunch of criminal activities. Their assumption turned out to be another hilarious moment in my gaming history when Lynch's condition emerged. My brother and my friend were both taken aback quite a bit when the smooth running bank job all of a sudden turned into a huge disaster and it was all their character's fault. It seems things got a little too hairy for Lynch and all of the civilian hostages started looking like police. Being the kind of person Lynch is, cops and robbers don't mix and all hell broke lose to the surprise of my partners.
My brother and my friend's reactions were just about the same only the expletives were different. They didn't know why they were all of a sudden surrounded by cops and why their character just started killing every person in a uniform. All they knew were that things were going south and if cops are around, they have to die. What Eidos accomplished was on of the biggest switch-a-roos in gaming right under the nose of people and it didn't detract from the moment one bit. It took my brother a little while and a cutscene later to figure out exactly what just happened, my friend that likes to skip cutscenes took a little longer. It wasn't until a battle along a busy street where the screen started getting blurry and people in cop uniforms with pig heads started running around him for him to notice something was seriously wrong. Well honestly it was either that or the fact that I was laughing because he was snapping what appeared to be regular ladies' necks on my side of the screen and evil pig monsters on his. His revelation was simply "This game is seriously $%&*!* up!"
In the Condemned series, Agent Ethan Thomas starred in his first game as a shining example of your typical hero. He's smart, successful and good at what he does. In other words he's like the four hundred other heroes that appear in any given year. It's not until Condemned 2: Bloodshot that Mr. Thomas' character began to appeal to me. You would think after tracking down Serial Killer X, hallucinating, Killing hundreds of bums and beating deformed cultists along the way would affect someone and thankfully it did. Almost 3 years later in actual time, and 11 months in game time, Agent Thomas is a changed man in most respects; he still hallucinates but now he's homeless, unemployed and is a complete alcoholic.
He pretty much gets forced back into his old job only this time he has a little bit of a problem: the rum fits. My man Ethan hit the bottle a little too hard in those 11 months and now suffers from Delirium tremens, better known as the shakes, a nasty side effect of alcohol withdrawal. It may not mean much when you're breaking homeless people's jaws with 2 X 4's, pipes or your bare fists but as soon as you need to aim a gun, you're a bit out of luck. Imagine trying to aim at something with a small child trying to yank the controller out of your hand and you'll have a good idea of how difficult it can be trying to drop a raging homeless maniac.
Now these aren't huge innovative leaps in gameplay that are revolutionizing the medium but they are, at least by me, welcome additions to not only gameplay but narrative and story. Flawless knights in shining armor have been done to death and it's about time we start experiencing life from a different angle. Imagine a game where you're diabetic and have to not only sustain yourself with food but also the right kinds of food. Where too many abrupt falls, tumbles or hits could damage the kit of insulin and needles that you carry to keep you alive. Or how about a game that requires stealth or escape but you have to be careful of how much space you have to hide because you character panics when he or she are in enclosed spaces. When technology gets even better, I would like to see a game done where the hero is hard of hearing and relies on lip reading to complement his/her hearing ability. Where talking to talk to an NPC you have to pay close attention because not everybody is going to repeat themselves and misunderstanding the things the person says could have dramatic effects on the story.
My favorite thing about gaming is that it allows me to experience things I wouldn't normally experience in my every day life. This joy comes from not only the environments I get to see, the accomplishments I get to do and the characters I meet but also the experience of everything life has to offer. There are countless other disabilities that can make gaming and a character more interesting if handled creatively and tastefully. I bet people with disabilities wouldn't mind other gamers gaining a new understanding while walking a mile in their shoes for a change.
My disgust at theTake-Two/EA situation.
- Mar 11, 2008 11:19 pm GMT
- 105 Comments
Who am I disgusted at? A lot of the people here at Gamespot. While I perfectly understand the disdain for EA, it seems that Take Two is getting a "free pass" from many people here, or they're simply ignorant as to what's been going on.
As a result, Oppenheimer Funds and FMR LLC (Fidelity Management and Research LLC) have both slashed their ownership in Take Two. Both companies are involved with insurance, retirement services and benefits, etc.; not the type of companies that want to ever see their investments go downhill (and neither should you!).
Another consequence is Take Two is being sued by their shareholders. Partly because they attempted to hide the purchase offer, but also because the management of Take Two, ZelnickMedia, has had very recent amendments to it that only benefit ZelnickMedia. In the event of a buy-out, ZelnickMedia's pay would go from $3.8 million to $16.5 million. So bought out or not, ZelnickMedia is going to be making out absurdly well. On top of that, they're giving the company's executives an extremely generous severance plan; 1.5 times their salary for 18 months plus bonuses if fired within a year? Compare that with the up to 6-months they're giving non-executives.
All of this is apparently meaningless compared to the fact Electronic Arts is the company desiring to acquire them. We're all familiar with the post-Trip Hawkins EA of recent history. Larry Probst is gone, John Riccitiello is back and is trying to head the company in a new direction. He realizes there's a problem with annual updates, he's restructuring EA internally so studios are more autonomous, and he's even questioning the current revenue model the console game industry has been running on for decades. He's changing things enough that Bioware and Pandemic didn't reject EA's purchasing offer - something Riccitiello himself helped orchestrate. Riccitiello even acknowledged that EA "blew it" when it came to past acquisitions like Bullfrog, Origin and Westwood.
I'm not an EA fan, but looking at things as they are now? I'm far more willing to give EA and John Riccitello a chance than trust Take Two's current management. I realize a lot of you may have more than a few negative feelings about EA, but if you honestly think Take Two is some innocent underdog about to get gobbled up by a big, mean ol' EA, you need to go and read up on what's happening. There here and now is different from "back then"; learn from history, but don't let it blind you.
Sandbox-Style Games and Their Appeal
- Feb 18, 2008 1:50 pm GMT
- 46 Comments
Before we get started, if you don't know, a sandbox game refers to a game where a player is dropped into a virtual sandbox and given the freedom to what he or she wants to do in this virtual sandbox, and open-ended refers to a game with many options or choices, with many paths the player can choose at his or her discretion. Hope that helps!
More and more these days the gaming industry sees certain titles change to a more open-ended theme, where the player has more options and more freedom. One perfect example of this trend is in the Burnout series, with the new title Burnout Paradise released recently. This new version of Burnout strays from the strict map format of games past and allows the player to drive around Paradise City competing in any races they so choose. Love it or hate it, this trend seems to be growing more and more popular, with games such as Oblivion and Mass Effect gaining popularity and praise. I feel there are a few reasons as to why these games are growing in popularity, and why, in many people's opinions, they are so fun.
The open-ended style sandbox game allows for more content than a normal game, without making the game feel drawn out. One perfect example of this is the popular game Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion, a high-quality and content packed game from Bethesda. It offers a main storyline, a Mages Guild Storyline, a Fighters Guild Storyline, among others, none of which truly feel too tacked on. To make things better, each is optional, meaning a player may choose to opt out if they feel so inclined, or even leave to do other quests while others remain active. There are also many side quests the player can gain knowledge of through rumors, which again, are optional. We as gamers love games that can keep us entertained for long periods of time, and through mass amounts of sheer content, sandbox-style games can do just that.
As gamers, we have limited budgets to spend on games. As such, quality games with more "game" to them are more attractive, because we can get "more bang for our buck," as the saying goes. This may be part of the reason why more games have an open-ended feel to them, and what makes them so attractive. Why spend $60 on a game that lasts ten hours when another game can be bought for the same price that contains forty hours of game-play time? A major demerit of Call of Duty 4 was that its single player mode was too short. This is, of course, not taking online multiplayer into account, but even then, it is rare for a game to reach Halo 2 or 3 status of multiplayer time. Games like Burnout Paradise that allow open-ended play along with online multiplayer can be especially effective, as they can offer the best of both worlds. They offer us more freedom and more value, making them a logical purchase.
What about freedom, you may be asking? Sandbox-style games offer great freedom. The Grand Theft Auto Series offers open-ended game-play where a player can choose to rob a bank, take a drive, or even go on a mass murder spree if he felt so inclined. In Oblivion, a player could choose to go wander the countryside, naked, as some crazy Nord murdering any traveler he comes across (like my friend did.) A strict linear game cannot offer this freedom. This situation in a way can be compared to growing up. As a person grows older, they are offered more freedom and more choice. At age five, most things are done for a person, at age twelve, a little less, and by age eighteen, one has great freedom to do as he chooses. Perhaps somewhere deep within us there is some gene or some part of our sub-conscious that desires freedom, that desires less decisions to be forced upon us. Therefore, such games may appeal to this side of us unknowingly, and therefore have higher allure. Sandbox games many times allow for multiple ways of solving problems, something else that may appeal to us as humans. Each person is different, and may desire to deal with each situation differently. In Oblivion, there are often many ways to solve a similar situation, be it stealth, brute force, or cunning. In Mass Effect, the player is given multiple ways to solve each situation. The player is allowed to choose between persuasion, fighting, or at times, just leaving and forgetting about an entire situation. Freedom has great appeal, and may be part of the reason why sandbox games are so popular.
Finally, these games have the opportunity to expand. Oblivion offers many downloads for new areas and quests, along with a full expansion pack. Even though I have not really mentioned them to this point, because they fit into a slightly different category, MMORPG's can expand infinitely, offering the player an unbelievable amount of content, replay value, and freedom. World of Warcraft keeps on growing in size and complexity. Mass Effect offers the entire Milky Way galaxy to explore, and really could allow for near limitless expansions onto it. With the advent of high speed downloads and huge online marketplaces such as the Xbox Live Marketplace, this key element of expansion becomes even more important, as expansions are readily available for quick download, giving the game even more content and value. Unfortunately, such expansions usually come at a price, which is simply a pain to deal with.
Of course, a game does not necessarily need to be open-ended to be successful, because in fact, many are not. However, it does seem that more and more games are gaining open-ended elements to them, even if they are not sandbox-style in and of themselves. And of course, not every gamer likes these games, as they may feel lost, or simply have no desire to figure everything out. But to me and many others out there, open-ended sandbox-style games offer a unique experience, one which is fun, exciting, and altogether memorable.
There are many things I could not touch upon in this editorial, as it would go on forever if I even tried! If you have comments or critiques, please, I welcome them.
Honor Thy Father -- A Tribute to Ralph Baer
- Jan 14, 2008 2:11 pm GMT
- 73 Comments
It can be difficult for many of today's expanding market of gamers to realize just how far we've come. It can also be difficult to know just who the great visionaries were who started the domino effect which led to what we know today as "video gaming".
For many gamers, one name that has stayed in the forefront as belonging to an innovator is that of the founder of Atari, the individual usually credited with first bringing home video games to the masses in the form of a timeless little c1assic called "Pong". That name is Nolan Bushnell.
Bushnell definitely deserves a lot of credit - not for "Pong" per se, but for his ability to market home video games to the masses in a way that actually proliferated it into a viable market of its own - one that couldn't be killed, even with a rather large recession in the industry less than a decade after his initial "Pong" consoles hit the market. He contributed not only some of the more polished versions of the "Pong" game, but also a grand console that blew the market wide-open, a console we knew then as the Atari Video Computer System, but which is remembered now more as the Atari 2600. But for all the credit Bushnell deserves, inventing the first home video game console and the titular masterpiece "Pong" aren't really among them.
In fact, an individual named Ralph Baer first came up with the idea of using the then relatively new device called the "Television Set" for something other than just receiving broadcasts all the way back in 1951. Those ideas eventually blossomed into a proposal in 1955 pitched to the company he then worked for, a manufacturer of television sets called Loral. His proposal, simple but radical for the time, was to include an interactive game built into the television as a way of differentiating the Loral sets from those of their enormous competition.
The management of Loral didn't really grasp the potential of it, gave it a firm rejection, and the idea clearly proposed before its time went into stasis. A long hybernation ensued, but the core never died in Baer's mind. Eventually in the process of dealing with his engineering duties, his ideas and thoughts resurfaced and motivated him to write a proposal on what he called "Television Games" in 1966. He began developing the idea and testing out models, which eventually led to a functioning unit he called the "Brown Box". The idea was pitched and the model demonstrated to several outlets, including cable companies, but it was not taking root in the minds of executives, who likely saw it as a bit far-fetched, and more costly to produce than could be recovered in the proceeds of the service.
It was then that Baer and his colleagues decided to try television companies again. They approached many companies with some interest but limited success. That is until 1971, when Magnavox, an established television producer, took interest. Seeking to set itself apart from the increasing competition it was facing at the time, Magnavox chose to license the "Brown Box" and hired Baer to remodel it against their own specifications. Among the many games that Baer had developed for Magnavox's effort were a simple game modeled after "Table Tennis". Most of us will recognize that game today as a more primitive version of what we know as "Pong".
Thus the first home video game console, and the first real attempt at marketing video games to the masses, was born in 1972 in the form of the Magnavox Odyssey. It was while attending a demonstration of this console that Nolan Bushnell was inspired to design the popular home Pong consoles and ultimately lead his company to develop the mega-popular Atari 2600. And not only did it stimulate the new minds of the burgeoning video game console industry in the West, but also in venerable Japan. In fact, the gaming giant we all know as Nintendo got its start in the important role of home video game console provider by obtaining the rights to distribute the Magnavox Odyssey in Japan in 1975, selling it under the Nintendo name. One can easily see that Ralph's magnum opus not only planted the seed for what eventually became the Atari 2600, but for what eventually became the Nintendo Entertainment System as well.
I won't speak much here on what made the Odyssey so special. You can read about that in my review. What I will say is that despite the fact that it was extremely simple, many concepts we see today are still in use from its meager beginnings, including the light gun and accompanying games that were sold which have been a mainstay to the industry as a whole. This console holds a special place in my heart because it was my first video game experience, and my first home console. I've been a console gamer ever since, and I owe it to Baer's vision. Ideas he hammered out well before I was born are still playing a part in my life thirty-four years later. It may seem primitive today, but as someone who saw it at the time, it generated a lot of enthusiasm from everyone in our household, from my grandparents to my parents and all the way down to me. It was a favorite for many years among my family even after the now-famous "Pong" consoles were released in collaboration between Atari and Sears. It remained active all the way up until the Atari VCS (2600) took hold on the market and happily invaded my home.
The story of Ralph Baer is not just one of technical achievement, but of survival and triumph. As a Jew caught up in the furor of the Nazi Regime's takeover of his homeland, he and his family escaped to the United Statues only a few years before the infamous Kristallnacht. He kept his ideas alive, even without realizing just how popular they would become. Once implemented, his notion of "television games" became one of the most explosive industries in the country in less than a decade, and for all the worry that it was a dying fad at the end of that run, it still lives on today in ways he probably couldn't have fathomed. It's the reason why we're here on a gaming forum in the first place, reading this. He's more than just a gaming personality to me and I am sure many others -- he's a personal hero.
For many years his contributions have been shadowed out in many cases, to the point that many gamers simply don't know who he is. Bushnell's place as a legitimate industry star has in some cases unfairly outshined Baer's more foundational contributions. But lately, the tide has been turning. In the last few years, Baer has received a few awards honoring his place in the history of this industry. In 2005, he received a "Legend Award" at G4's G-Phoria video game awards, and in 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President Bush for his pioneering work in the video game industry. Just a few days ago on January 12, 2008, Baer received the 2008 IEEE Masaru Ibuka Consumer Electronics Award, and on February 20 of this year, he will be awarded the "Pioneer Award" at the GMP 2008 Developer's Choice Awards.
It's nice to see the tide is turning. Congratulations Ralph! You deserve it!
P.S. I am not the only Gamespotter who has written on this industry hero's legacy. Shame-usBlackley wrote about Ralph's contributions in even more detail a few years ago in his blog entry entitled Forgetting the Face of Your Father. It's an interesting read, and for anyone interested in hearing more about this industry veteran, it's well worth checking out.
A Great Year for Shotguns
- Jan 5, 2008 8:05 pm GMT
- 23 Comments
As I have been reflecting upon the games I've played over the last calendar year (and change), I have realized just how much the shotgun has become a staple of great gaming. While the shotgun has been in games since the days of Doom, lately I have been reflecting upon just how much the weapon has become a core feature for modern shooting games. Many of the games I played in the last year came out in differing points in time, but they frequently had Jed Clampett's oil finder incorporated into the arsenal.
The five-games-in-one featured plenty of shotguns in very different ways. When I played Half-Life 2 for the first time in the Orange Box, I was thoroughly impressed by all of the weapons. Besides the pistol (not the magnum) and the gravity gun, the shotgun was my go-to weapon for offing Combine, hunting bugs, or dispatching hunters. The alt-fire, double-barreled blast was a nice touch. The recoil, sound, and general feel of the shotgun was done better in 2004 than some of the games that emerged in 2007. Despite a clear lack of shotguns in Portal, Team Fortress 2 brought the shotgun for both the Engineer and Scout classes. The scattered shot of the Scout's sawed-off carbine fit well with the frenetic, random play style of the class. Similarly, the Engineer's shotgun dealt a satisfying amount of damage, despite seeming a bit too similar to the Scout's aforementioned firearm. Had the turret-builder's main weapon been a bit heartier or offered more oomph, I may have opted for that weapon over the accurate pistol or the hefty wrench during my marathon multiplayer sessions.
Rainbow Six: Vegas
Thanks to the tournament GameSpot had earlier this year, I figured I'd play in the hopes of making it to the finals. When my team was summarily dismissed from competition, I realized I had not only gotten caught up in the satisfying gameplay, but also my personal quest to unlock a seemingly impossible achievement. In the process, I learned to love not only the shield (for all those T-hunt missions), but also the SPAS-12 shotgun.
During my time online I ran into many a player who swore by the shotgun to the point they put a scope on it for sniping. While that may seem a bit excessive, the accuracy, stopping power, and general feel for the weapon was just right. And when something is done right, you want to make it your own.
Say what you will of the Mass Effect's various problems or hurdles, the gameplay is satisfying and the story is immersive. While I admit to getting a bit unnerved with the gameplay toward the beginning, it all picked up once I purchased the Spectre shotgun. If it wasn't for the excellent sniping I was able to do with the pistol, I am pretty sure I would have never switched away from the shotgun during my first two playthroughs. Through the judicious use of AP, Shredder, and Tungsten ammunition, most enemies become nothing more than speed bumps on the road to mission completion. The shotgun had satisfying stopping power. I never tired of watching enemies careen through the air or ricochet off of crates, walls, or other objects after taking a blast from my trusty HMWSG.
After hours of play, I still haven't been able to detect any great differences between the Halo 3 shotgun and the way I remember the Halo 2 shotgun working. Suffice it to say it has that great tinny ring when it fires. In close quarters and short range, it is a very deadly weapon. Recently I played some very cheap games of halo 3 multiplayer in a very expensive home belonging to someone I didn't know. My friend of Button Mashing infamy proved unbeatable, even when facing off against the deadly buckshot shooter. Perhaps if I was using the Halo pistol I would have fared better . . . perhaps.
Some games have not been so kind to the double-barreled, single-barreled, or otherwise automatic dealer of close-range damage. The shotguns in Cabela's Alaskan Adventure were less than stellar. Some of them were viable weapons, but the smaller-caliber weapons were almost completely ineffectual. I remember trying to kill red squirrels at point-blank range with a 12-gauge; impossible. One of my favorite games of 2007, Lost Planet, had a woefully underpowered shotgun. While it was great for detonating loose or stuck grenades, as a killing weapon, Paul Atreides' name could've done a better job in many instances. This was particularly evident since the rifle and rocket launcher were implemented so well in that game. Hopefully the sequel can redeem itself.
For the sports fans out there, I can't really say whether the shotgun plays in Madden 07 were better than Madden 06. I spent the Lion's share of my time with that game simming my way to points. That sounds like a level of detail I will leave to Mister Thomas, Professor Ekbeard, and the fine fellows from SportsGamer to address. Since I have yet to crack open Madden 08 and lack any desire to play either Blitz or All-pro Football, I can't really comment on the shotgun plays in those titles.
The Future is Now
Now that the dust has settled, I am certainly interested to see what comes from this year's hotly anticipated titles. Vegas 2 could very well rest on its laurels and carry over the tried-and-true armory. Hopefully, we will see more innovation besides adding strip clubs to a casino-based franchise. Who knows whether the infected-arm power of Dark Sector will transfer as easily to shotguns as it seems to with pistols. I could go on to name another half dozen 2008 games likely to use shotguns (Army of Two, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Bionic Commando, Grand Theft Auto IV, Madden 09), but we'll just have to take a wait-and-play approach.
10 best games of 2007
- Dec 15, 2007 2:16 pm GMT
- 170 Comments
Well I felt it was time for another blog and since GOTY awards have started to be handed out and since I've pretty much everything this year has to offer I felt like doing a spi-off to my normal top 10 blogs and instead tell you what games that I liked the most in the year of 2007. I'm still not sure even now when I write this if this is the correct order as there have maybe been too many great games that have come out this year. Though I'm pretty certain that these following 10 games are defiantly the ones that made the most impact on me this year. As always this list is based on my personal opinion and only my own. There is simply no other way to do it from what I can see. But now...let's kick it off!
10.) Assassin's Creed (PS3/360, Ubisoft Montreal)
The creators that brought us Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, one of my absolute favorite action/adventure games ever returns to bring us Assassin's Creed for next-gen platforms. So what could go wrong? Well to be honest when I first started to play this game I got a bit worried as the introduction felt kinda wierd and certain thing surrounding the plot felt almost out of place, well at first. Once you learn to look past that and the somewhat repetitive mission design and start to focus and appreciate what good things this game brings to the stage such as great controls, beautiful graphics, interesting story and great animations and music. You may just as I did realize this is probably one of the most unique and rememberable gaming experiences that have come out for quite sometime.
9.) Call of Duty 4 (PC/PS3/360, Infinity Ward)
Infinity Ward returns once again only too once again to truly show how a war game is made with their Call of Duty franchise. Even though the singleplayer campaign was short, surprisingly short even. A lot of heavy stuff goes down during those few hours, some of it even jaw dropping and it's just as fun to play trough again and again just like previous games in the series. It's in the multiplayer this game truly shines though. Witch excellent leveling system, even being able to create your own c l a s s and to battle it out on a variety of different modes and maps, what more can you ask for really? So if you feel the urge for some online fraggin' then this is the game for you.
8.) The Witcher (PC, CD Projekt Red)
Ah, The Witcher. Probably the sleeper hit for me personally this year. It truly caught me by surprise therefor I thank you people who made me open my eyes for this gem. Superb and I mean superb storytelling, interesting combat system, great artistic graphics and the music, ah the music. The guy who composed it is a pure genius...and maybe even a mad man? Anyways if it weren't for the music and all the other aspects that makes this games so superb I would not ever be able to put out with the very, very long loading times that unfortunally have infected this great piece of software, then again maybe that makes me appreciate the music even more as they play trough 'em. The game also sports with a fair dose of racism, sex and alcohol if that might be of interest. Something very few games dares to confront and discuss these days.
7.) God of War II (PS2, SCEA)
2 years after his debut Kratos returns in God of War II. It takes almost everything that made the original so great and makes it all better, especially the boss fights which is probably the most interesting aspect of the entire game. With perhaps the very best graphics on the system, brutal and fast paced combat, some nudity and a superb soundtrack this is the ultimate way to give your PS2 a hell of a bloody goodbye.
6.) The Orange Box (PC/360, Valve Software)
This box is by far the best bang for your buck this year without question. You do not only game one game but 5, yes 5 friggin' games! One of them being one of the best shooters of all time Half-Life 2 and both of its expansions. For your multiplayer needs you get Team Fortress 2, I can already see this as a hit at LAN parties. And lastly as a little bonus you get Portal, my personal favorite in this package. Not only do you go trough some exciting and mind-bending puzzles it also contains a lot of excellent black humor and the ending sequence is just plain awesome not to mention the song that plays once the credits roll. This is a package everyone should pick up, especially those that have only heard of Half-Life 2 and wondering what the buzz is all about.
5.) World in Conflict (PC, Massive Entertainment)
I knew all along this game would be good, but never to be actually this good...man! I was starting to get the feel that the RTS genre was going a bit stale until I downloaded the demo of this game and I was instantly sold and just had to buy it. No need of resource gathering or even to establish a base it's just pure action right from the start and the tides of battle could change at any given moment. "It's not over until it's over" is defiantly true in this game. The setting itself is also very interesting as here the Cold War never ended and the Russians are invading the US and therefor the campaign is worth playing trough for that reason alone. Just a shame you cannot play the campaign as the Russians. This is where the multiplayer of World in Conflict comes in as here you can play as any faction you want and turn your opponents lovely cities to sand and dust with one of those tactical nukes. An amount of up to 16 people can take part of each match and join in at any time just like s shooter, the camera control in this game is also not too far from playing a shooter. Oh and it looks great too especially for a RTS game. This game is defiantly something for the war fanatics out there.
4.) Mass Effect (360, Bioware)
As Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire are some personal favorites this game was pretty much a no brainer for me. And this game delivers on almost all it's promises. The best looking RPG I've ever layed eyes on, deep character customization, great realtime combat system, many tough choices to make, top-notch voice acting from pretty much every character in the whole game, superb music along with superb story telling, perhaps even better than the one found in The Witcher which was mentioned earlier. There are a few annoyances though such as framerate issues which is something Bioware has struggled with in the past, the equipment menus are a bit too complex and features that was seen from the X06 footage like being able to interrupt other characters mid-conversation and direct control your squadmates are nowhere to be found the rest of it though aside from a few minor and not too common technical issues this game is pure perfection I's just annoys when a game comes so close from being prime. Simply put this is a must play for anyone that is into science fiction and roleplaying games or even just like shooting stuff as you can do plenty of that aswell if you want to, the choice is yours.
3.) Halo 3 (360, Bungie Software)
This was my most anticipated game ever since I saw that cliffhanger ending in Halo 2 back in 2004 leaving me wanting so much more. Thankfully that wait was well worth it as Halo 3 was basicly everything I hoped it would be after being fairly disappointed with the second games' singleplayer campaign. Halo 3 did not share the same issues and brought me a campaign almost as entertaining and memorable as the one found in the first game Halo: Combat Evolved which is one of my absolute favorite games ever. And you could play trough that campaign with up to 3 of your friends via System Link or Xbox Live which is something I though I would only experience in my dreams. Halo 2 was all about the multiplayer and Halo 3 takes all that and ad alot more to it such as deeper customization to your characther, the modes and even the maps using the Halo Forge. You could also see clips and take pictures from what you have done both in the campaign and online to share with your friends making for a great social experience. Only thing that bugs me is that the 2 last levels in the campaign didn't feel fleshed out enough and it wasn't the graphical beast I hoped it would be. Other than that though it felt like Bungie had sent me a personal love letter by letting me play and experince their vision of the final fight.
2.) Super Mario Galaxy (Wii, Nintendo)
Platformers was starting to feel like a dying breed but then all the sudden Nintendo switches to top gear and puts out Super Mario Galaxy for their Nintendo Wii. This is without doubt the best 3D platformer to come out since Super Mario 64 that arrived more than 10 years ago. It uses the Wii to it's fullest potential by proving it has some graphical muscle after all, combined with a great art design, catchy music and great use of the Wii-mote. It does not matter how old you are or if you're a boy to girl, most of you out there are bound to find something to absolutely love in this game thanks to it's undeniable charm, hey you don't even need to be a Mario fan to begin with to truly enjoy this game. If I had to complain about something is that the game sometimes feels too easy but also at other times needlessly frustrating due to some camera issues and using the Wii-mote during those water races doesn't feel precise enough. Most of you will probably be able to look past that and fully appreciate this fine piece of art and one the best games or at least one of the very best platformers to ever come out on the market.
1.) Crysis (PC, Crytek)
I had my doubts, I really had my doubts. Sure Far Cry had some really nice graphics when it came out and it was fun walking around shooting people on a nice tropical island but aside from that I didn't really enjoy it too much and I for a long time feared this game would end up feeling like a déjà vu. I was proven wrong right away even when I first tried out the demo as the nanosuit makes the gameplay so incredible dynamic as you can tackle any situations in any way you see fit. You wanna toss all your enemies down a high cliff or into the water? check. Wanna be the sneaky one, turn invisible and hide in bushes and take your targets out one by one, you can do it in Crysis. The list just goes on and on and as you can of course combine all these different powers as long you still have energy left in your suit. The AI was great, not perfect but defiantly good enough and better than most games out there. You can customize any weapon in the game too to fit your personal preferences, yes even put a sniper scope on your shotgun if you feel likeit is needed. The story while not exactly original is very exciting to follow all the way trough out this 15 hour adventure. Many moments in this game just totally blew my mind away, and no not because of it's graphics which is better than any game to date. With the game you also get a map editor that lets you play around with every single map in the game or even to create your own to spawn whatever you like such as aliens, sharks, tanks that shoot tactical nukes you name it. The game also sports an exciting multiplayer mode once you give yourself the time needed to get into it. Only quirks I have about this game is that that singeplayer story ends, and this is a game you defiantly don't want to end, and also the fact it's too hardware demanding for enough people out there to enjoy it. If you happen to sit on a killer rig then do yourself a favor and pick up this game. Super Mario Galaxy might be better as an actual game but it didn't smash me into the ground making it hard for me to even breathe. There is game only one game managed to do this to me this year and that game is no other than Crysis.
Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (PC)
Unreal Tournament III (PC)
Pokémon Diamond/Pearl (DS)
Forza Motorsport 2 (360)
GRAW 2 (PS3/360)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
Colin McRae: DiRT (PC/PS3/360)
Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS3)
Blue Dragon (360)
Well there you have it! It sure wasn't easy, especially this year which is probably the best year in gaming in recent memory (based on the releases). So what do you think...agree? disagree? What do you think about the Time and Spike VGA selections? And what was your favorite games this year? All opinions are welcome. just keep it cool, ok?
Well that's it for me, now I give the word to you. Laterz!
Side Notes: The reason why titles such as Rock Band, Persona 3 and Zack & Wiki are MIA is simply because none of them have been released here in Europe yet. I'm sure they are all great titles but I've just not had the opportunity to play them, and I'm sorry for that.
Hot Topic: Guitar Hero III Competition
- Dec 6, 2007 10:28 pm GMT
- 21 Comments
(Also posted in GameRevolution's manifesto.)
Initially, I didn't want to go.
Last Wednesday, after a long weekend with my visiting mother and stepdad who helped secure furniture and a much appreciated mattress (no more aerobed!), Joe Accorsi (GR Web Developer) handed me a flyer for a Guitar Hero III tournament. But as much as I was psyched about it, I just wasn't in the mood.
More than exhaustion, I'm just not a competitive person by nature. I don't mind a fight, mind you; I just don't look for one. The tournament was also a week away, and my hands were occupied with the holiday gift guide and my review assignments and Rock Band... mostly Rock Band. I almost felt like a traitor if I flip-flopped between this and Guitar Hero (of course, I don't now ever since Activision-Blizzard was announced).
The competition was also being held in Hot Topic. Yeah, I felt old. The last time I was in a Hot Topic, I was trying to act cool doing AP Calculus in eleventh grade while failing every sport that involved balls or legs. Couldn't I just sit at a table and cast Counterspell instead?
To say the least, mastering Guitar Hero III for a competition was not high on my priorities. But by the time it was Tuesday, all of my gripes had fallen by the wayside. I mean, why not? Take a day off and try to claim some fame for GameRevolution, come on! And hey, I had a good shot at getting a $100 Hot Topic gift card for Christmas presents, a trip to LA to compete in front of the Guitar Hero developers (shameless plug: though I've already met them), and a shiny 2008 Pontiac G5. (Note: Intentionally leaving out Jimmy Kimmel Live to represent my thoughts on it.)
Jesse Costantino, a fellow reviewer and expert-level Guitar Hero, was coming along as well. Free car ride! But no, seriously, a very cool dude (image to the right). He likes shmups, retro gaming, and writing - who would've thunk?
I was especially glad he came, since competing is much easier when you've got someone else to talk to - anything other than just waiting around. When Jesse and I arrived at the Hot Topic in the San Francisco Center at 2:30, we had to sign up for the qualifying rounds, which took place from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. There's only so much we could do in the store for more than three hours, aside from admiring the witty, underground T-shirts, walls lined in silver-chain accessories, and a CD rack filled with Dethklok, The Ramones, and Slipknot. We also couldn't take pictures in the store, lame...
Still, the gaming rigs we would be ripping on were awesome. Eckhardt, which Activision hired to oversee the event, did a wonderful job setting it up. A long black rectangular column, which would have been decked out with merchandise, was refitted with two long LCD screens. Both screens were flanked by a set of two Mackie Active speakers and two wireless guitars and had each an Xbox 360 beneath them encased in a locked glass case. Some Hot Topic employees were also kind of enough to share their thoughts on which bands should be in the next Guitar Hero and Rock Band, some of their top picks being ACDC, "old-school" Metallica, Korn, Slipknot, and Grindmetal.
I was only pissed off at the host for the event. From what I could hear, he never introduced himself - dude, you have a name, right? And right after he answered my question on what company he worked for, he turned away and stormed off. I wasn't going to write anything bad about Eckhardt, but now...
While Jesse and I were trying to shoot for the semi-finals, the qualifying song being "3's and 7's" by Queens of the Stone Age, the announcer kept flittering from one LCD screen to the other, blaring out what our scores and note streaks were. "And there is Jesse climbing up to 100,000 points! And there is Nick with a 300 note streak... that he just lost!" Yeah, I lost the note streak, because I didn't whack your head off with the guitar and fling some shurikens up the wide target that is your neck. Sure, I may not really be a ninja, but I am apissed-off photo-journalist in a mall who likes to kill zombies.
Amazingly, I was able to clinch the top spot for the qualifying round with a score of 369,817. I made a couple of mistakes, so I was surprised to be at the top during the 3:00-4:00pm qualifying round. To the left is a photo of my top score, but only of the scoreboard after Jesse and I came back at around 5:35. Monica, a (nice) Eckhardt employee, allowed me one photograph in the store... silly me for not taking a snapshot after the qualifying round was over, so you'll just have to trust that the 369,817 hi-score held up.
By the way, during the two-hour wait between the qualifying round and the semi-finals, Jesse and I decided to head off to the new arcade at the Metreon, TILT. We were disappointed that there were no retro arcade machines (where's Centipede and Ms. Pac-Man?), so I just had to settle with DDR and Pump It Up!. It wasn't a good idea to waste energy playing games I haven't played for years, but again, I haven't playedthem for years. Nostalgia rules!
Back in the mall, I ate a greasy pizza to settle my stomach and regain some energy. I almost barfed. Never eating mall-quality, faux-Italian pizza ever again.
I was also bummed that Jesse didn't make it through to the semi-finals, but he really had an uphill battle. He didn't have a copy of Guitar Hero III, and his only real practice came out of thirty minutes playing in the GR offices before we left. He still gave his best shot, though, and that's all we can ask for.
With that on my mind and my stomach not cooperating, I needed to concentrate during the next series of semi-final rounds. Fortunately, the format was still Pro Face-off hi-score. So while we were playing with another person, elimination was based on our scores compared to the other competitors. The next song was "Number of the Beast", a song I excel at and got third place. The top four from that song then moved on to "Cliffs of Dover", another song I excel at and got first place... barely. I beat Nathan, socolive on ScoreHero, by just a few thousand points.
Finally, the finals began - a face-off between me and Nathan. There I was, surprised to even get this far. And the song announced was... "Knights of Cydonia". Crap. In my vintage pants, crap. I knew my technique for quick-strumming wasn't the best, so I confided to my fate. Nathan was able to maintain an 8x multiplier through the quick-strumming sections, so it wasn't even close. But I learned. Oh, I learned. I now know I must master those blistering passages if I want to win next time. *shakes fist*
So congratulations to Nathan for winning the local San Francisco competition! I must apologize if I annoyed him in any way for singing "Knights of Cydonia" while playing in the final. I wasn't trying to "show off" as the announcer implied. It probably wasn't the best place to do that, but I just wanted to sing and play one of my favorite songs, something I always do at home. And, well, I wanted to have fun, even if I knew I was going to lose.
As the winner, Nathan had to play an undisclosed song using the headphones while the Hot Topic employees kicked all of us out. He even had to sign a contract, so that he couldn't say what song it was. But as Jesse, I, and some of the spectators waited for the outcome, we slowly realized what it was. Hmmm.... a song that's more than seven minutes long, is best played by holding down the green button during the intro, and rhymes with "Boo The Liars And Lames".
Aside from the legal hogwash, if Nathan's score lands in the top two between the eight local winners around the country, he'll earn the ticket to Los Angeles. If so, blow that other guy away for us, dude!... unless I know the other guy, which then I wish for the two of you to destroy the Activision developers with thunder, lightning, and anything else you can conjure with your guitar skills. Oh, and if you win, smash the wireless guitar on stage. Represent, man, represent.
And now: a photo of the peoples. From left to right: a friendly spectator; David (got the second high score on "Number of the Beast" and can crack half-a-mil on "Through The Fire And Flames" - wow!); Chase (who only got cut on "Number of the Beast" because of some person blaring out note streaks); and me (disguised with a jacket designed by Ko's and an oddly messed-up haircut).
In the end, I got second place, far further up the rankings than I thought I would ever get. But most of all, Jesse and I had fun, which is the only thing that counts... aside from winning. *shakes other fist*
Now my only regrets are not having gone back to snap a picture of Nathan and not stealing a copy of Guitar Hero III and a wireless guitar for myself. I mean, at least give the semi-finalists something! We shredded the field from at least sixty entrants to eight. Give us a T-shirt, a CD, something on clearance, a half bottle of Jack Daniels, anything!
But since I didn't go back and I am gladly not in jail, I'm back to what I like doing the most - writing about games and telling the tale like it is.
- Dec 4, 2007 7:06 pm GMT
- 25 Comments
I was at the Kane and Lynch website established by Eidos advertising and marketing departments several days ago, and noticed from their blurbs that both Game Informer and Gamespy had given this game perfect scores as well as at least one truly glowing comment. I also seemed to notice the same thing being said on advertisements for the game on another site which I visit regularly. Now, I simply had no reason to investigate this or question it. Gametrailers, after all, gave the game a reasonably high score though obviously no where near perfect, and not being a regular visitor of Gamespy as well as discontinuing my reading of Game Informer more than two years ago, I just assumed that the ad was reporting accurately.
Then MrCHUP0N pointed me to this article. If you don't want to read it, I'll summarize it for you. Basically, neither Game Informer nor Gamespy gave such scores to Kane and Lynch, and the comments in question were not from reviews but from previews from E3 -- made many many months ago and under a different context.
It's hard not to take information that is so seemingly false personally, especially when you are the one who has been caught by it unawares. Beyond just taking it personally, it is also bewildering that a company with such a strong record would run such ads at such a sensitive time. There's a lot of controversy regarding both that game and at least one review in particular that we at Gamespot are all very familiar with right now, so this just seems to add to the controversy. So what should we make of all of this. There has to be a bigger picture here. So I talked about this on a few other boards, and something very interesting came up on one of them in particular which I hadn't considered. Armed with this newpossibility generated by those discussions, I went back and took a better look at some of these ads to verify it. It was then that the sad truth of it all hit me.
It's a marketing ploy.
That might actually seem like the understatement of the year, since any dishonest reporting of information in an advertisement is a marketing ploy, but this one is particularly pernicious. I actually think what they've done is a little bit of advertising/marketing visual trickery. They aren't using the horizontal star bars as scores per se. They're using them as separators. In other words, the five star bars are being used to separate each "positive" comment.
It's a common thing in advertising to design an ad in such a way thatit is technically true and yet still misleading. By using the horizontal five-star bars as separators, they know that many readers will read that as a score, and yet they can plausibly deny that this was their intention. At the same time, they aren't calling any of their quotes review quotes, so putting in preview quotes can also be plausibly denied as intentionally misleading as well. Of course, they know all too well that using the star bars as separators only reinforces the illusion that they are quoting reviews.
It's a flimsy subterfuge. Anyone who is savvy can easily see their strategy here -- especially when it would have been easy to use more suitable separating bars. To use a four or five star bar as a separator when four and five star rating systems are so common from review sources of any type, not just gaming review sources, just piles intention to mislead on top of intention to mislead, all in the convenient name of visual utility. Unfortunately, and here's the kicker, this is a COMMON PRACTICE among advertisers for movies, games, et. al. Eidos' marketing and advertising departments aren't the first to do this sort of thing and won't be the last.
A lot of my friends both on and off of Gamespot know me as a headstrong Capitalist who unashamedly defends his individualist money-making ideology to its greedy end. That is absolutely true of me. I am guilty as charged! As a result, some of the ones who know me more passively expect me to defend practices like the one we are discussing here as just the acceptable status-quo of doing business. Nothing could be further from the truth, but in order to explain the seeming disparity, I am going to have to wax exceedingly philosophical for a moment.
First it should be obvious that just because it is common to do things like this doesn't mean that it is RIGHT to do things like this. But there's really more to it than that. Here's the problem I have with this sort of thing from the perspective of a staunch Capitalist -- Capitalism isn't just an economic system to me. It is rather metaphysically tied to the issue of self-ownership and freedom. Capitalism is in fact derivitive of those greater principles. It is dictated to by them. It is the only system that allows the individual to create and enjoy the product of his mind, whatever form that may come in, including profits and property which he earns. A man who cannot do that isn't a free man. To take this a little further, in order for self-ownership and individual sovereignty to be regarded in the world, two things must be completely banished from human relationships. Those two things are the initiation of force and the initiation of fraud, including all threats thereof.
Initiatory force and fraud (as opposed to the sadly necessary defensive force and even defensive fraud) are both blatant attempts to circumvent the individual's ability to apply the thoughts and conclusions of his rational mind to his daily life. Force seems more obvious as it is a direct circumvention of the individual's control of his own person and property through overwhelming compulsion, but since it isn't the culprit in this case of mal-advertisements, I don't need to discuss it further here. Instead, I'll discuss the much more subtle fraudulent means by which human beings are denied their right to self-determination. Initiatory fraud is basically an attempt to pollute the filters of your rational faculty with faulty information in order to influence the direction of your decision-making to ends it would not be guided to without such faulty information. It is much more common than acts of violence, but can have consequences which are just as dangerous.
And in my epistemological view, initiatory fraud is just as separated, even opposed, to the metaphysical properties of Capitalism as is any form of forceful compulsion.
I have no real tolerance for the typical argument that this is just "business as usual". As I rationally define "business" as the honest exchange of value for value, it is pretty obviously not business in the first place. It isn't the selling of a product or service through the passing of clean information, but an attempt to mislead to gain more sales from honest men than they would have made otherwise without passing polluted "facts". This isn't persuasion at the expense of the truth, as true persuasion carries truth as a natural co-requisite. It is a clever deception.
No, Eidos isn't the only company to blame for this type of thing. And like every other company that has pulled this advertising ploy, they would have likely gotten away with it unscathed with a few more sales to celebrate had it not been for all the attention they've gotten recently. But I can hardly complain that the present situation has helped expose these dirty practices for what they are, and as Eidos is one of the culprits, it's not really all that unfair to single them out in this case as long as the proper context isn't forgotten.
There isn't much I can do here but just point these things out. My advice? Learn from this experience. "Force" these guys by your own intelligence and through your own sheer will to keep the information they distribute for the purposes of selling their wares clean. Show them that you give meaning to the old adage "Buyer Beware!" Deny them their plausible deniability.
NOTE: It looks like the Destructoid article I pointed you to at the beginning of this now includes an edit which indeed suggests exactly what I have in terms of the use of the marketing ploy by Eidos in these ads.
NOTE 2: Looks like Gamespy insisted that Eidos change their listings. And apparently they have.
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