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10 years of Gamespot

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my Gamespot account, even though it certainly feels like much longer.

In fact, it has been much longer than ten years. Today actually marks, in an unofficial way, the 10th anniversary of my entry into high speed internet. Before that, using dial up, I used to visit this website on a (much as possible) regular basis, even before it was actually called Gamespot, way back when, through AOL, when it was called My actual earliest website memory was looking for a demo of Quake 2 and stumbling into an in depth guide to Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong's Quest, from which point, I turned into a regular visitor. I'm awfully sure I had an user account from when accounts were actually implemented to the site, but that has been lost thanks to the numerous moves and email address/computer changes, from which I was never able to remember or find what it was.

There are many things I'm thankful to Gamespot for for these past ten years. Many, if not all of my best friends abroad have come from visiting this site and interacting with the community. When I previously worked at an union called Community Contributions, I met some of my most cherished buddies that I keep contact 'til now and have even met in person a few times, like Austin (MrCHUPON), Al (The_Antipode), Brian (DrFish62), Pete (Ryvvn), among many, many others. From that union, my interest in writing about games grew into what ultimately brought me to an event like E3, a dream of mine for years, and having the chance to meet many of the people whose work I've followed over the years.

It's unfair to list everyone I've come to know through this site since the beginning. Among the staff, I've had the chance to learn a lot, not only about games, but about the culture as well. Some of my fondest (and also most annoying and frankly depressing) moments have come from being called in to help out as a moderator for the website, in 2007. From then on, I've had the chance to take a casual look at tip of the iceberg that is managing such a gigantic community, a daunting task for the staff, which, for the majority of my time contributing, fell to Jody, who among the editorial staff, has always played an integral part in keeping me going with Gamespot over the years.

I couldn't write about the past ten years and not mention interacting with Gamespot's live video shows in between all the reading, arguing and writing. Those are probably my favorite memories of being around and checking the site out, by watching shows like On the Spot, chatting community members up and even somewhat interacting with the staff through questions. An easy smile comes from remembering all the inane babble that came from chatting with friends during those shows, that like the CCU, have endured through friendships that I still hold dear 'til today (you guys know who you are, I hope you are reading this - if not, bah, Dave, shame on you). Some of them have even moved on to be part of this site's staff thanks to their participation!

In contrast, certainly there were moments when I wanted to leave Gamespot behind. The chaos that was Jeff's firing in 2008 was easily the most likely of moments to have dropped this site forever - but I'm glad I didn't. It's amazing that Gamespot was able to pick up the pieces of an otherwise shattered state and have come back to be once again one of the most referenced websites around. I wouldn't dream of thinking I had a pin of an influence in that revival, even though, in many ways, I'm positively amazed to have been around to see it. And even though I'm hardly as active in the main website community as I've once been, I love to dive in sometimes, to check its pulse.

It's hard to imagine keeping active with something for so long, and even more so to imagine if it'll still be going ten years from now. But instead of worrying about where we'll all be so far ahead, I'll enjoy and cherish the memories of where I've been since then. Even the bad ones are worth keeping around in the corner of my mind, as reminders of how I've come to appreciate the best moments even more. Those moments when you give them more than a chance when you're expected to quit them... and are rewarded so much for doing so.

Thanks, Gamespot!

And thanks to everyone I've met on this cheesy, insane, frustrating and utterly amazing journey!

Welcome back everyone

Seriously, this day has been insane. Insanely weird and distracting. In the middle of a work day, I took a break and checked twitter, only to find a few teasing tweets about an upcoming announcement. And what an announcement it was.

Everyone knows what it's about so it serves no purpose going over it. I've been with the site for years and years now, and I'm extremely happy to see the band somewhat back together (in a way...). The so called "breakup" was pretty bad back in the day. As a mod back then, I was among the group who helped deal with the user whiplash against the site. It was pretty bad. Things were done, people left and it just was never the same anymore. A weird feeling everytime I clicked the Gamespot or GiantBomb button in my browser's favorites list. In the between years, I finally made it to E3, worked for a serious publication, left said publication, met a bunch of heroes in the gaming field and made incredible friends. Long unseen people are flocking back to what one of my buddies called the "motherland". I never really left but part of me has somehow. It's a weird feeling which will go away thanks to today's events. Like Jeff said, baby steps!!

The future has yet to divulge how things will go, but from what I've seen so far today, I can't help but get really excited about things to come.

Welcome back everyone.

The deed is done: Dark Souls is *completely* done

It's a rare thing to post a new blog nowadays, but I thought this one was worth it.

Dark Souls is complete. No, I didn't just finish it for the first time. Nah. I went ahead and did everything there is to be done in the game and achieved 100% completion. I did the same for Demon's Souls earlier last year, a couple of months before starting Dark Souls, while I waited for the latter to arrive, to get my feet wet.

I'm not much for achievements, I just feel different about these games. They're famed as merciless and extremely difficult and even though I'm absolutely terrible at games, I just can't help but love this series to death.

Anyway, I'm just glad to be done with this one. Thanks for stopping by!

E3 - Crazy, Flu-ridden Blog Post

Warning about this blog post: I'm still very dizzy/tired/whatever-you-name-it from the super flu I picked up at E3 and/or L.A, so please excuse me if this blog reads like someone's crazy illicit substance-fueled dream. I didn't want to keep from posting for too long. It might not be the most detailed account trip ever but I hope you enjoy it.

The chance to go to this year's E3 didn't pop up out of nowhere. It might have seemed that way towards the end of the "journey" to get there, but it truly wasn't. I won't go into details about the how's and who's, the why's and the what's, only to say that it wasn't easy. It's never easy to go out of your confort zone with someone you only had a distanced relationship via e-mails and actually work something like this out with them.

Luckily, one day, the e-mail I've been waiting for most of last year and the five quick months of 2011 arrived - I was qualified to go to E3. Going to the show has been something I've wanted to do for a while now, probably since I saw the crowd gathered watching the Metal Gear Solid 2 during that one particular show a while back. Before that, I was content with watching scattered coverage, which I started watching in full after that.

E3 is an amazing thing for someone going there their first time - a bunch of new games being shown, some of the people you look up to are there and it's a "happening" place. I walked a bunch, wrote a ton, talked a lot, saw many many games and enjoyed it immensely. Why would I feel like not coming back immediately after the thing was over? I'm not sure.

Maybe it was my tiredness talking. Heck, I did get there feeling tired already, on the first day. My trip started out where most international flights arrive in California - LAX, Los Angeles airport, on the Friday before E3. Since L.A would be extremely expensive to stay in, I chose, through rushed planning, to stay somewhere in Orange County (O.C), in a cheaper place, where I could easily move around and go to L.A on Monday, so I could meet my website buddies and start going to the show.

Plans are plans. You're never sure what you'll find once you get to the place, unless you're already familiar with it. I was not. And when I got to Buena Park, C.A, I quickly saw how unprepared I was. Let me start this with a statement: transportation in O.C is awful. My thorough Google maps plans proved futile when I started making my way to Buena Park from L.A, in order to get to my hotel and sleep. Trains very rarely leave for that place and once I finally got there, the buses proved to be even awful. I spent the weekend fighting with that transportation system and got extremely spent by Monday.

Monday was an interesting day. I had already discovered a much quicker way to get to L.A by then, but since I already had my train ticket bought out on Friday, I made my way to the train station just in time to catch it and get moving. I arrived at the L.A convention center a few hours later and made my way to get my badge. The day was mostly spent waiting for my website friends to arrive at our communal hotel.

Tuesday rolled out extremely early. Heck. I did have an invite to the Nintendo press conference! And I saw that wonderful Zelda orchestrated intro live. BEAUTIFUL. It was amazing for a Nintendo fan like myself. Seeing Miyamoto stand there and do his antics while I was actually there to watch him was amazing. I really love his energy and personality. After the press conference, we made our way to the convention center for the first day of E3. On the way, I was able to shake hands with the Giantbomb crew and got to meet part of the other half of the site I had not met personally in 2008, Ryan Davis and Alex Navarro. They were busy getting ready for their own thing so I didn't stick around for too long. My GameRevolution friends, Nick (former GameSpot mod Draqq_Zyxorian), Josh and Kevin accompanied me to the convention center, where we got to see the huge lines of people already waiting to get in. We ran to the media room to see the rest of the GameRevolution/Playstation LS crew and made our way to the actual show.

The first E3 day was probably the most hectic. I had a few appointments that were pretty tight in terms of scheduling. I saw Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 and NeverDead, almost back-to-back over at the Konami booth. Actually talking to a developer about NeverDead was pretty cool and I could see his genuine excitement about his game. The rest of the day was spent running around with me trying to get the most of my list of assigned games. I had the chance to play quite a few of them on day one, including Ninja Gaiden 3, Silent Hill: Downpour and of course, Bastion. I had to stop by and talk to Greg Kasavin about his new game, where I also met the other members of SuperGiantGames. Highlights of the day: seeing Ms. Jody Robinson again, meeting Tim Shaefer (I really did!), playing Bastion and some of my assignments.

Wednesday started out pretty well and evolved into awesomeness once we made our way to Sega's Sonic Boom party. Before that, though, I played Batman: Arkham City. Drop dead amazing. I also got to cruise through the Telltale Games showcase and got to see their impressive array of games. I gotta say, The Walking Dead is sounding amazing. Can't wait to actually see that one turned into reality. The aforementioned party. What a crazy little setup they had there. We had a blast there, listening to a bunch of heavy metal themes to Sonic games we never played and seeing the crazy people who adore and worship Sonic by cosplaying the many wacky characters in that franchise. Fun party. Got to hang out with some of the Rocksteady crew that was at E3 and met a very cool guy I had only got to listen to before. Oh, and during E3, I managed to run into an awesome developer and got my copy of Mortal Kombat signed. That developer was of course Mr. Ed Boon! Highlights of the day - meeting Ed Boon, seeing Telltale Games, stopping by the GameSpot booth, the Sonic party.

The last E3 day was the most melancholic of the bunch. I hadn't seen everything I wanted to see and I had a bunch of not so interesting appointments. Sadly, the day ended and I ended up not finishing seeing the rest of the games I wanted to see. That was due to poor planning of mine but I was very happy to just be there at the show. If there's ever a next time, I'll make a comprehensive list before setting foot on a plane. Highlights for the day - seeing Batman Arkham City again, behind closed doors, thanks to my friends Anthony and Bill from GT, meeting old Gamespot pal Doug Buffone and his friend Pascual, hanging around with the legendary Yoshinori Ono, seeing /playing Catherine for the first time and getting a taste of Uncharted 3.

So why would I say that I wouldn't want to do this again? Well, immediately after the show, I was spent. Tired as a dog. The circumstances were against me. I didn't get a lot of sleep during the show and was starting to get sick. That mix got to me. Also, a lot of the stuff that makes E3 so great is sometimes only shown behind closed doors, which means missing out on stuff that a video stream would show in some fashion. So does that mean I'd trade going personally to E3 for an internet stream? Now, almost two weeks later and fairly rested, my answer is a definite no. If I get to go again in the future, I will. I just have to plan things out better - get a list of what I want to see and organize my time better. This was my first time going and was obviously pretty messy. Looking back, I know I saw a lot of cool stuff and met even cooler people. It was an experience I would never get by staying home.

I did miss hanging with my chat friends that always pop up during the streams, though! Hopefully I'll have some way of popping into chat next time, at least for a while!

Overall thoughts about the 'big three' at E3 2011:

Microsoft had one of the weakest E3's in my opinion. I'm not that into Kinect. The few applications I saw of it were laggy and unresponsive. Their showcase of XBLA games was pretty good, though. Their big franchises didn't disappoint, either! Forza 4 looks amazing, for one.

Sony had a mix of good and boring with their conference. Granted, I only watched it after the fact, in a stream, so I got to see what they announced and showed at the show floor before getting the context they were trying to setup with their press conference. I was not able to play Vita during E3, sadly. Uncharted 3 looked as fun as ever and I got to play a bunch of its multiplayer. The PSN section of their booth had some really great games like Papo Yo and Pixeljunk Sidescroller.

Nintendo was pretty exciting for me, being a fan since childhood and probably because it was the only company where I was able to actually attend the press conference. I got to play tons of 3DS at the show floor and that got me interested in owning one in the future. Luigi's Mansion 2 was a highlight for me there. I got to hold the Wii U controller and take a few pictures of it. Not sure what to say about it - it's a safe bet Nintendo will have much more on it next year and frankly, I still got crap tons of games to play on the Wii!

(Some/very few/tired picks) Game highlights:

Dark Souls - I really have to play through Demon's Souls before this one comes out. It kicked my butt and I eventually got to beat one of the stronger enemies before the demo ended. I can see why so many people fell in love with the original game.

Batman: Arkham City - I'm a huge fan of Arkham Asylum and this game is bigger and even badder. Didn't need the demo to know I'd play it... it only made me even more anxious to jump and glide around Gotham. Truly amazing. And the devs behind them are great people, I was happy to meet them.

Bastion - it's so close to come out and even so, I had to see it with my own eyes. Plays great. Got to talk a bit more with Greg and the crew.

Luigi's Mansion 2 - This made me want to get a 3DS. I wasn't interested in one 'til now. I can't wait to bust some ghosts with my pal Luigi. I liked the gyro controls used to wrangle ghosts in.

Super Mario 3DS - I grew up playing Mario and every time a new game comes out, I gotta try it. This new one looks gorgeous and plays pretty well on the 3DS. Didn't play nearly as long as I wanted.

Uncharted 3 - didn't get to play the single player but I had a blast trying out multiplayer. If it's nearly as good as Uncharted 2, it'll be a blast.

Catherine (or is it Katherine?) - Oh my! This one's difficult as heck. Will play it once it's actually out. Very challenging gameplay. That demo level was brutal. I only saw it to the end when the Atlus rep took the controller.
Rock of Ages - C R A Z Y! Katamari turned military. 'nuff said.

- Pics from the show floor -

- Videos from the Nintendo press conference -

I'm a terrible fotographer and cameraman, plus my camera is also not the best, so please keep that in mind. I was not able to upload anything to Gamespot due to a glitch in the video uploader (it just doesn't work, I tried!) and the sheer number of photos.

E3 blog coming soon

Currently finally escaping the clutches of a nasty case of super nerd flu from the show that manifested itself on tuesday. I'll have some stuff up for you guys to check out soon, though, so please keep an eye out. I'll be making an extensive E3 blog soon!

E3! I haz you!

Yesterday was the cultimation of months of anxious spectation - I got the news I'll be going to E3!

Going to E3 has been something of a dream for me, getting to go to the show this year is extremely exciting for me, especially due to the hot state of affairs over at Nintendo and their new console. I've been a huge fan of Nintendo since a kid and getting to see their new system first hand is going to be amazing.

What will I be doing there, you ask? I'll be covering the show for the sister sites and PlaystationLifeSt yle. I've been writing for GameRevolution for just about three years now and I finally got the chance to go there myself and see what it's about. On the other hand, I'll be traveling there on my own dime, so I'm also taking the chance to work in vacation into it, combining fun and work. That should be an explosive combination.

My plan is to get to California on the 3rd of June and later going to L.A for the three days in the convention center.

Will I be updating my blog from the event? Yes. And no. I'll do my best to keep a blog going during the trip, but as you could expect, there will be plenty to do there and keep me busy. Regardless, I'll try to keep this updated, but the best place you could look for my articles and coverage will be the above websites, mainly

I'll also be updating my status via Twitter. My handle is eduardoreb, so if you'd like to see the ramblings of a complete E3 first trip sailor, stop by my Twitter page. If there's something you'd like to see on the show and I'm able to cover it by pictures or text, drop me a line there, it'll be the most direct way of reaching me.

And if you plan to watch GameSpot's coverage, look out for me sometime!

Looking back - Dreamcast

It's hard to believe, but it's been more than ten years since the Dreamcast came out. Boy, I feel old...

I was finally able to nab one of the little plastic white boxes in late 1999, after having a chance to see it on different occasions. The game shown was always some sort of fighting game, but I knew there was much more to it. My new system came with Flag to Flag, the (now deceased) CART Championship Auto Racing Team game, Sonic Adventure and for some odd reason, Monaco Grand Prix. The first two were my choices, and the third, my father's. He thought he'd get into games again, so he got an F1 game for himself. His mistake. What an awful game to get back to - no official license, it pailed in comparison to Flag to Flag in just about every way. On the other hand, Flag to Flag was awesome, even though it was broken to no end in the fact that you could 'bump-win' your way through every race and take out literally the entire competition.

Anyway, before the Playstation 2, the Dreamcast really felt like a "new gen" console, a step above the then current crop of games. Graphics were a huge improvement from past systems, and for a while, it seemed like there wouldn't be a match to Dreamcast games in terms of presentation and feel. Even today, Dreamcast games look very good, specially when hooked up to a VGA monitor using the special adapter, and it's one of the few consoles that emulated almost flawlessly various arcade games.

I won't get into the history and the sad events of the Dreamcast's life, mainly because I'm just lazy to write about it, and since so many people will be doing the same, I'll leave it to all the other write ups about it. I'm here to remember it, hell, be reminded of it, since I still own my original system and it still works perfectly. The Dreamcast is the only video game I consider to collect games and items for. In 2003, after years of procrastination, I started my collection when I bought an original, nationally produced Shenmue game. Shamefully, up to that point, I had owned only a handful of legit games, with a bevy of burned copies I downloaded off the internet. But upon buying that Shenmue copy, something clicked, and since then, I've been building a healthy library of games and accessories. The rarest of the bunch are my Shenmue II European copy, which took lengths and lengths of effort to obtain and Garou: Mark of the Wolves that I bought while visiting New York last year. While both aren't exactly rare on other gaming system options, they are cool games to own on the Dreamcast for sure. Among the paraphernalia of items, I've managed to get one of the awesome arcade sticks from Sega, a Dreamcast keyboard, Seaman and even a mouse. Somehow, to me, the Dreamcast feels like something worth collecting and playing, even if it was killed off too early. I don't consider myself a collector, far from it, since I play every game I ever got for it and hardly keep them in shrines for 'mint condition'. My game collection has spread so far that it practically occupies an entire shelf in my room, among other assorted game crap there.

Link to my shelf - sorry about the flash, it's a rainy day. Sorry for the mess, I'm just a lazy bastard. If you look at the bottom left corner, you can see the box in which my Dreamcast lives nowadays. The left-most column is my extremely slim Sega Saturn library. And yes, that's a James Bond VHS collection in the upper shelf.

It's worth mentioning how well the Dreamcast was supported in Brazil - TecToy, the local distributor, had a great line of games out for it, and to top it off, at reasonable prices. Unlike the current crop of games sold off at ridiculously overcharged prices, Dreamcast games were reasonable purchases, making it a good, current game system to own at the time. Sega had a great history with the Master System and Mega Drive in the past, supporting both way past their life cycle, to this day even, bundling both with built in games still found in stores, but it has been a bit different with the Dreamcast, as it's a rare find in stores, if at all. Either way, I'm thankful for the treatment it's been given, even going as far as owning a few of the nationally released titles like Vigilante 8 and Blue Stinger.

Am I sad about the history of Sega post Dreamcast? To be honest, no, not really. They had an incredible console in their hands, and messed it all up with the consumer. They took their main mascot and trounced it with awful games. But in that wake, they brought out a great little new series of games with Yakuza (Ryu Ga Gotoku), which to me is almost enough to clean their name.

What's important to remember is not the series of mistakes Sega as a company made over the years, even though it's one hell of a laundry list, but how awesome the Dreamcast was and still, in a way, still really is. You doubt it? Look past its ridiculous name, and pop in a game or two, you won't regret it!

Level 50 in Bioshock 2... for about 1 minute.

After a month or so of a break from BioShock 2, I've finally hit level 50 in multiplayer. It was an interesting experience to say the least. I'm not the best of players so it might have taken an extra amount of time for me to hit this milestone.

I was brought back to BioShock 2 thanks to its latest and probably last piece of content, Minerva's Den. That's an incredible add-on that boasts an epic story arch that is concurrent with the story in BioShock 2 and in my opinion, far surpasses it. You'll read my review soon on it and hopefully you'll find it enough of an incentive to go ahead and get it. It's a blast.

Anyway, the reason I'm writing this blog post is to comment on BioShock 2's multiplayer. It's completely broken from a leveling point. There are fifty levels to complete, and every now and then you get little bonuses you can equip your character with. The thing is, at level 40, these rewards disappear, and the amount of experience required to level up takes a huge leap up.

Another problem is related to the map rotation in the various game modes. The maps in the game are very well designed and I like them a lot, but there just isn't enough of them at all. Even with the DLC, you'll hardly get to play on anything new thanks to an idiotic rotation system that is implemented. Unless everyone in your group has the DLC, you'll never get to play them. This is made worse when you're play in random matchmaking and was the bane of my existence when I reviewed the Rapture Metro Pack, which added a few more maps to the mix.

Game modes are an issue as well. There are quite a few that nobody plays. Some of these modes are quite interesting, but thanks to the level grind and the amount of experience they award, people just don't find it worth playing. One mode in particular, Adam Grab, which can be equated to a capture the flag mode from your usual Call of Duty game is basically free grouns for groups "boosting" in order to level up. I'm not going to be the hypocrite and say I never boosted, in fact, it's something that becomes necessary if you are not the sort of person who wants to play BioShock 2 multiplayer 24/7. Boosting is totally worth it since it nets you around four times the amount of experience a normally played match would.

In the mid to end of my leveling run, I stopped trying to find groups to boost levels with in order to enjoy the game in a normal fashion, taking around three days of short sessions in order to reach level 50. The major deal with reaching 50, as you might have guessed, is BioShock 2's version of prestige. Prestiging wipes your level clean and awards you with an achievement. Sure, I've more than once admitted that I like achievements. Not the numerical value of them, mind you, but as a way to see a game I liked as "completed".

Obviously, I don't try to 100% every game I play simply because as a downloadable content reviewer, I tend to get a lot of games in, most of which I wouldn't bother doing so. I liked BioShock 2 so much that I took the time to get this very very difficult achievement (at least for me). That's the reason for the post's title. I was level 50 for about a minute, then I hit the 'Rebirth' button. Would I have played the game online after level 50? Probably not. Now, if you ask me if I'll ever play it an start leveling again... you better like dodging stuff because I'll be throwing a sink at you rather quickly.

Rest in peace Frank Frazetta

One of the all time great fantasy artists died today. Frank Frazetta was a legend. His art shaped the way we see fantasy, from RPGs to Conan. He had such a strong will that even a stroke that paralysed half his body did not stop him from drawing - he just learned to do it with his other hand, just as well (if not better) than with the other.

Rest in piece, Frank, may you live in the awesome worlds you helped create.