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Suskie Susquatch

Title: Help, PC gamers.
Posted: March 28, 2009 (05:56 PM)
If I'm playing a PC game at a lower resolution than my laptop's screen, is it possible to view the game in a window if the game doesn't specifically offer the option to do so?
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Title: Overwhelming news.
Posted: March 24, 2009 (05:41 PM)
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Title: The two greatest movie posters ever.
Posted: March 22, 2009 (08:57 PM)
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Title: I may have inadvertently convinced my one friend to get a Wii by showing him this video.
Posted: March 20, 2009 (08:59 AM)

The more I play Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the more I like it. I guess that makes it the anti-No More Heroes.
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Title: Progress.
Posted: March 16, 2009 (07:01 PM)
3. No More Heroes
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Posted: March 16, 2009 (02:47 AM)
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Title: The big Wii blog post: Questions, recommendations and a list of games.
Posted: March 15, 2009 (01:41 AM)
I did something like this when I got an Xbox 360 at the end of 2007 and came away with some good advice, recommendations, and answers to burning questions. Basically, I just got a Wii and want to make the most of it, and I've got a rough list of games I definitely want versus the ones I'm interested in but won't necessarily buy. I know the Wii doesn't have nearly as big a fanbase as Xbox 360 around here, but it seems that many of you either have one, had one at some point, or have enough experience with it to form a basis for recommendations. Basically, here's my list, in order of preference:

1. Super Mario Galaxy
2. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
3. No More Heroes
4. Okami
5. MadWorld
6. Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
7. Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
8. Boom Blox
9. Super Paper Mario
10. Super Smash Bros. Brawl

It's a start. Okami in particular is a game I've been wanting to play for a while now but have been unable to since I never owned a PS2. Also, I love the Fire Emblem series and definitely want to hit Radiant Dawn at some point, but I've heard it's basically a carbon copy of the GameCube game -- which is a good thing, but it means I'm not in as much of a rush to get it. As for the games I want to check out but won't necessarily buy:

1. Deadly Creatures
2. Mario Kart Wii
3. de Blob
4. Dokapon Kingdom
5. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
6. Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
7. Elebits
8. Wario Land: Shake It!
9. Rayman Raving Rabbids
10. Animal Crossing: City Folk

Again, I'm open to suggestions. If there are games I'm missing, games that should be here, or shifts in priority, let me know.

My major question with the Wii is: How do I hook it up to the internet? I'm told it's a much smoother, easier process than it is with Xbox 360 (thank GOD), but I don't see an ethernet port anywhere on the system, and the online instructions don't do a very good job explaining it. A little help here would be appreciated.

Also: What is WiiWare, and is it worth investing in? Thanks in advance to any responses to this lengthy post.

Title: So I got a Wii.
Posted: March 12, 2009 (09:31 PM)
Super Mario Galaxy: Good lord. I haven't had this much fun playing a game in a long time.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption? Not so much.

Darksiders (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)

This article was designed to honor publishers and developers who actually took a chance on something new, so it's a little weird to start off with a game that's famous for extensively, um, "borrowing" from two of gaming's most popular and critically acclaimed franchises. Let's just get this out of the way: Yes, Darksiders is Zelda with God of War combat. The pairing actually makes so much sense that you've got to wonder why it hasn't been attempted before, and developer Vigil Games worked it into a decent homage that garnered solid reviews and is generally well-respected by nearly everyone who's played it. Unfortunately, its one unique aspect Ė its story, centering on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Ė is the worst thing about it. But hey, at least the requisite Navi clone is played by Mark Hamill doing his Joker voice.

Likelihood of a sequel: Itíll happen. Despite somewhat disappointing sales, THQ considers Darksiders a franchise, and a sequel is already in the works. Don't expect it until at least 2012, however.

Bayonetta (Xbox 360/PS3)

It almost seems unfair to include Bayonetta on a list like this, since it was directed by Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya and is a successor to that popular franchise in all but name and sexual identity. In fact, if Devil May Cry 4 was that seriesí first sign of stagnation, Bayonetta was a breath of fresh air, mixing some the fastest and most flexible combat I've ever experienced in a straightforward action game with a delightful fetish for the over-the-top. The plot was ridiculous and impenetrable, but taken as an excuse to wave gravity-defying set pieces and gargantuan boss fights in our faces, I'm okay with that. And I loved just how deep the combat was right out of the gate. (Compare this to Darksiders, in which the combat was shallow and repetitive until you actually unlocked better combos.) It's also worth noting that the game topped a million sales in only a month, upending a long-running tradition of games with female protagonists being unable to find mainstream audiences.

Likelihood of a sequel: Very high, thanks to strong critical acclaim and a passionate fanbase. Kamiya has expressed interest in a follow-up, but said that the next game may wind up being more of a spin-off than a direct sequel. Devil May Cry is now in the hands of Ninja Theory, so Kamiya can now devote his full attention to his work at Platinum Games.

Dark Void (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)


Danteís Inferno (Xbox 360/PS3/PSP)

I guess you could make the argument that Danteís Inferno, being an adaptation of Dante Alighieriís epic poem, is not an original franchise. Or maybe you could submit that such a shameless rip-off of another game doesnít belong in an article that supposedly honors newness. As if gore, nudity and shrieking choirs were the only reasons God of War was a success, Danteís Inferno is virtually an exact replica of that game (the controls are identical) thatís somehow missing all of the things that made God of War so much fun. Simplistic combat and relentlessly drawn out level design prevails, but what I found most irritating was how developer Visceral used the poemís setting as an excuse to boost the sort of "edgy" content that supposedly put God of War on the map. I know those Kratos sex scenes weren't exactly high art, but just wait and see what this game's Lust level looks like. The game certainly functions as a tour of Alighieri's vision of hell (which was one of the poem's primary objectives), but the final product felt so sleazy that it's impossible to take seriously. The reviews weren't awful, so maybe I'm overreacting, but I get the sense that once God of War III was released a month later and showed everyone how it's really done, audiences more or less forgot about Dante's Inferno. The sales weren't too bad, though it's hard to imagine that EA managed to recovered from their monstrous marketing campaign.

Likelihood of a sequel: The game ends with a "to be continued" title card, and two-thirds of The Divine Comedy has yet to receive EA treatment, so you'd think a sequel is inevitable, right? Well, the joke's on you, as it has been since before Dante's Inferno even launched. Read that interview, though, and you'll see that Jonathan Knight's dream project is a video game adaptation of... Macbeth. Oh god.

Heavy Rain (PS3)

If youíre even vaguely acquainted with me, then you probably know that Iím no fan of Heavy Rain. Iím biased, though, since I consider the idea of an entirely story-driven game to be conceptually flawed to begin with. Whatís surprising and remarkable about Quantic Dreamís adventure game/self-proclaimed interactive drama, however, is that itís one of 2010ís biggest mainstream successes despite fitting squarely into a genre that few associate with mass appeal. (I mean, hell, the only reason Myst was so popular was because they were giving away free copies with PCs in the mid-'90s.) Heavy Rain quite easily topped one million in sales, which is especially impressive when you consider its place as a console exclusive. Gamers were smitten with the idea of bending the narrative to their liking, and non-gamers were attracted by its cinematic presentation and general ease of play. Even though Heavy Rain didnít work for me, the fact that it wound up such a huge commercial success is evidence that original ideas have a place in todayís game industry, given the right marketing, hype and word of mouth. Hopefully weíll see more cases of first-party publishers taking big risks down the road.

Likelihood of a sequel: Quantic Dream has enough respect for a good story to know that Heavy Rain's is self-contained, and as it turns out, David Cage isn't big on sequels, anyway. So don't expect one. You can, however, expect a film adaptation, which I think would work in the story's favor, honestly.

Metro 2033 (Xbox 360/PC)

And now we come to the only game on this list that I havenít played. Seriously, read up on Metro 2033 and it shouldnít be difficult to understand how this game managed to slip past me: Itís a futuristic shooter set in post-apocalyptic Russia that infuses RPG and horror elements and has players battling mutants and Nazis. Now, doesnít that sound like every other game ever made? Surprisingly, Metro 2033 nevertheless averaged solid review scores, turned in quite a profit despite no hype that I can ascertain, and some people still consider it one of the year's most overlooked games. And I guess itís not technically a new franchise, as itís one of two games on this list to be adapted from literature; the first was based on a 14th-centurt epic poem and this one was inspired by a Russian novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Its debut in the video game industry was a success, but THQ couldnít be planning a sequel, could they? What would they even call it? Metro 2034?

Likelihood of a sequel: Um, apparently, yes on both accounts. And itíll be in 3D! Maybe I should check this game out after all, as itís apparently way bigger than I realized.
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Title: I pissed off a hobo last night.
Posted: March 06, 2009 (10:27 AM)
First, a word on hobos. I've been living in Philadelphia since August and have surmised that there are a lot of homeless people wandering the streets, and they would very much like to have my money. Security does a good job of keeping them off the campus (they know that confused, gullible, parent-funded college students are primary begging targets), but I leave the campus on a regular basis, because hey, I'm living in Philly and I want to take advantage of that.

So I encounter a lot of hobos, and it's always an awkward experience. The "camping" hobos will choose a place where they know they'll see a lot of people (particularly a bench on a busy sidewalk), park themselves there all day, and attempt to grab the attention of every single civilian who happens to walk by. The more persistent "scouting" hobos will wander around, examining potential victims and specifically trying to engage in conversations with their targets, establishing some sort of connection before getting down to business. These hobos are more difficult to ward off because you can't simply ignore them; you've literally got to talk your way out of this situation.

Now, I've really got nothing against the homeless. I feel sorry for them for being homeless, and I don't blame them for attempting to bestow pity upon passersby in an effort to gather all of the loose change they can. I, however, do not contribute directly to hobos. For one thing, I almost never actually have any money with me, since I've learned to use a card almost exclusively and be spared the hassle of fumbling with cumbersome cash. But even then, if I really intended to give money to every homeless person who has asked me for spare change, I would be broke by now. In the rare instances that I must speak with one (i.e. when the scouting hobos make their rounds), I've discovered that the best excuse is to simply tell them I've already given my spare change to someone else. It's always a lie, of course, but it's a very believable one, and they couldn't possibly argue with it.

What surprises me is that most hobos are actually very polite, which may just be a business strategy, but whatever. Even if you don't have anything to give them, they'll usually respond by saying something like "Have a good day" or "God bless you" or something like that. As if to make me feel sorry, as I'm walking away, that I have nothing to give. (Or that I'm simply an asshole.) One of the only notable exceptions to the polite hobo rule was a man who approached me on the street and asked me how I was doing, to which I responded, out of instinct, "I don't have any money, man." At which point he said, "Yes you do." That scared the living fuck out of me, and I kept walking.

(The funny thing was that I really didn't have any money with me at the time. So he was both rude and incorrect.)

The other exception, well, let's talk about him. One of the perks of living in the city is that I now have access to a slew of independent and foreign films that I couldn't have easily found in Lancaster County, and I head down to the Ritz theaters quite often to take advantage of this. They're on the east side of the Philly, which, as anyone who's familiar with Philly can tell you, is the nice part of town. It's the cleaner, richer and more historical part, where you'll find such places as Independence Hall and the U.S. Custom House. It's also on the riverfront, with Penn's Landing giving a breathtaking view of Camden across the Delaware. Beautiful area. I've been down there twice in the past week, and both times I took the opportunity to snap some nighttime pictures while snow was still on the ground.

Anyway, there are also far fewer hobos on the east side, because I suppose richer people are less likely to give money (which sounds upside-down but wouldn't surprise me). It's also not as busy as center city, so I guess it makes sense. But a few have made it into the area, presumably because there's less competition down there. Ambitious, these few. And one of their favorite hang-out spots, coincidentally, is right between the busiest Ritz theater (Ritz at the Bourse) and the nearest subway station. The exterior of this particular building is home to several very large, deep windowsills that are perfect for sitting on, and where the hobos can hassle those Philadelphians who at least have enough money to see a couple of non-mainstream movies. Not a bad strategy, and it seems like a different set of hobos every time.

Now, I'm usually wearing my headphones whenever I walk any lengthy distance, and not earbuds: They're very big, obtrusive headphones that are impossible not to see if you're looking directly at me. Which is great, because I can ignore hobos and act like I simply don't hear them. (I am always aware of hobos, and I never listen to music loud enough to drown out the world around me, anyway.) So just last night I headed down there to see Gomorrah while listening to, I don't know, Muse or something. A pair of hobos were perched in the usual spot. One of them was, from what I could tell, silent. The other had a loud, raspy voice. I never looked directly at them; the one thing you learn about camping hobos is that you never make eye contact.

So this guy was trying to get my attention, and yeah, I heard him, but I pretended not to and never even diverted my eyes, giving no indication that I was even aware of his existence. After several attempts, then came the insult: "FUCKING DUMBASS!"

Okay. Now let's examine this for a second. The only reason I'm even living in Philadelphia in the first place is because I'm going to college here. It's also worth noting that I have a job, and I'm making money. And this guy I calling me a dumbass. I wasn't offended by it; quite the contrary, in fact. I found it hilariously ironic. I had a hard time maintaining a straight face as I continued to walk toward the theater at a steady pace.

But, I have a certain sense of justice. I feel that a man who treats people like this has no business asking people for money when they have absolutely no obligation to give him anything in the first place. Plus, my actions were justified: I was listening to music and "didn't hear him" (note the sarcastic quotes). And so it became my intent to fuck with this man in the most subtle way possible.

So, after the movie was over, I knew full well he'd still be there, because camping hobos are called that for a reason. (They usually retire around 10pm or so, but it was only around 8:45.) I put on my headphones again, eager to convey the same persona that I had when I entered. I made it about a block, and sure enough, he was still there. Once again he tried to get my attention by saying, in the same raspy voice, "Hey buddy!" Once again I totally ignored him, until, once I'd passed him by a couple of paces, I came to a stop, turned around, and reach into my pocket. He assumed I was about to grant him a few coins, and he thanked me. Instead, I pulled out my camera, took a picture of him, and then continued walking without saying a word.

And that's all I did. It was the complete indifference I conveyed that made me so proud of what I'd done. I never once looked him in the eye, even when I took a picture of him. (Looked at the screen.) And it was tough: I wanted to be like, "Hey, fuck you, buddy! You called me a fucking dumbass! I think I'm gonna keep the money I worked for!" (This would be followed by me rattling my pocket so he could hear the jingle of the loose change that, yes, I was carrying at the time.) But I didn't. The subtlety was what made this instance so amazing. I doubt he learned his lesson; he probably didn't even remember me from when I'd walked past, two and a half hours beforehand. And I doubt any of you are impressed by this story; if you've managed to read this much, you're likely disappointed by the complete lack of payoff. But for me, Thursday, March 5th was a night to remember.

Like I said, I don't usually treat hobos this way, but this guy was asking for it. As aggressive as they can sometimes be verbally, they're never physically confrontational, which is the great thing about them. This guy did throw something at me after I took his picture (I didn't see what it was, because it landed somewhere behind me), but that's the extent of it.

So there you go: You're all spending your college time working on research papers and I'm out there pissing off hobos. My life rocks.

Title: Statue?
Posted: March 05, 2009 (02:25 PM)
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Title: GameRankings now looks exactly like GameFAQs.
Posted: March 04, 2009 (12:13 AM)
This does not make me like GameRankings more than I used to.

It is The Future Ė the spacefaring kind, to be precise Ė and a burly man with a gruff voice named Grayson Hunt is leading a ragtag group of pirates through the galaxy on a quest for revenge against professional warmonger General Sarrano. Graysonís team used to do black ops work for Sarrano, but called it quits when they realized they were being tricked into killing civilians, and their latest venture through space lands them right at the feet of Sarranoís prized battlecruiser. Grayson, who is perhaps a bit intoxicated, makes the reckless decision to attack head-on and both ships crash land onto the nearest planet. Two of Graysonís mates wind up dead, and the third, Ishi, sustains injuries which leave him at the mercy of robotic implants that are slowly muffling his emotions.

To make matters worse, the planet theyíve landed on, Stygia, is a former resort world thatís now completely overrun with cannibals, mutants, and other very scary things. The displays of mangled corpses and piles of human skulls serve as frequent reminders that everything on Stygia needs to die, painfully and without remorse. Bulletstorm is a game in which you inflict pain upon others in creatively gruesome ways, so itís comforting to know that the victims of your vehemence are entitled to little else.

During the prologue, Grayson stumbles upon a Leash, an energy-based tether device used to interact with objects and (more importantly) grab hold of enemies from a distant. For certain, whipping your attackers around with the Leash is great fun, but itís hardly your only tool of destruction. You also use your guns, your feet, the environment, and any improvised weaponry you can throw together from whatís lying around you. Bulletstorm isnít about killing people in the most efficient ways; itís about killing them in the most enjoyable ways, and your opportunities are endless.

At the center of this mayhem is the skillshot system, which awards points for pulling feats that are showy, gory, complex, or just downright proficient. Some of them are simple. Headshots are honored, and there are the MadWorld-inspired moments of shoving enemies into industrial fans, impaling them to spiky objects, or just smearing them across the walls with a few particularly ferocious kicks. Keep scrolling down and they get a bit more unorthodox. Shoot a guy in the crotch and then knock his head off. Rip a minibossís pants open and kick him in the butt. Ram an enemy to death with a hot dog cart. The list goes on, and itís almost as entertaining to read about them as it is to perform them.
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Title: You know what would be funny?
Posted: March 02, 2009 (12:32 PM)
To hear a guy with a lisp try to pronounce "synthesis."

Until just recently, Ninja Theoryís only game under their current name was Heavenly Sword, a decidedly average God of War clone that benefitted from a heartfelt narrative and expertly crafted cutscenes by motion capture wizard Andy Serkis. Iím not about to suggest that a good story can carry a game all by itself, but Heavenly Sword was evidence that a little heart and soul can make an otherwise unremarkable experience worth delving into.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West isnít an average game at all, but rather a perplexing mix of good and bad. Itís often jaw-droppingly gorgeous and sports one of the most well-implemented escort systems Iíve ever used in a game. On the other hand, itís also incredibly unpolished, and the simplistic combat and cumbersome camera frequently drown out Enslavedís more impressive sequences in recurrent bursts of frustration. The game is regularly entertaining but just as often a chore, and in any other case, Iíd be perfectly content to say that Enslavedís many shining moments arenít worth the trouble.

Thing is, itís not that simple. With cinematic direction once again helmed by Serkis and a script co-written by Alex Garland (whoís penned a couple of movies you like), Enslaved is one of the yearís most emotionally ravaging games, and provides us with two of the most complex, believable protagonists in recent memory. Set in a post-apocalyptic future in which robots have enslaved humanity, the game centers on an acrobatic man named Monkey, who escapes imprisonment but quickly falls into servitude of another kind when a woman named Trip fits him with a slave headband that controls his actions. Trip explains that she needs his help to return home, and refuses to remove the device until she gets there.

To call Enslaved a love story is inaccurate. Itís a classic ďodd coupleĒ scenario, with two very different characters in two very different positions forced to travel with one another, with Monkey having good reason to hate Trip but also being responsible for her life. What makes their interactions so fascinating is how these two people express themselves. Trip is never difficult to read, but the stoic Monkey keeps his emotions to himself. Watching their relationship blossom is engrossing is only because weíre never quite sure where Monkey stands. We know there will come a point in Enslaved when Trip finally removes Monkeyís headband, and we have a good feeling that this moment will arrive before the game is over. What we donít know is how Monkey will react when heís finally released, and that question hangs over the length of the game.

The connection between Monkey and Trip drives the narrative forward, and itís what keeps the rather basic gameplay afloat, as well. At its heart, Enslaved is one of those nebulous do-all action games that combines hand-to-hand combat with Prince of Persia-style platforming and everything in between. Stealth? Weíve got that. Orb-collecting? Come get some. And as is usually the case with a game that tries to do too much at once, very few of Enslavedís individual elements would stand on their own. The platforming, for example, feels way too assisted, since Monkey will never attempt a jump that he wonít land.

The biggest offender, however, is the hand-to-hand combat. Youíre at the mercy of a wildly spastic camera system that frequently renders the action nearly incomprehensible, but even when you can see whatís going on, the combat is clunky, simplistic and boring. I made the mistake of playing Enslaved on its highest difficulty right out of the gate, and I strongly recommend not doing this, as it only exacerbates flaws like unresponsive commands and cheap enemy attacks. (Whatís the point of having a dodge move if enemies will automatically home in on your position?) On the default setting, the combat is tolerable, but still the one gaping flaw that continuously holds Enslaved down.

Where Enslaved makes up for it, again, is in exploring the dynamic between its two leads. Monkey can issue a few simple context-specific orders to Trip, and the resulting cooperative play is a real treat. Trip isnít just a liability, and thatís demonstrated often, such as when the two of you must provide distractions for each other when sneaking through areas rife with gunfire, or during a particularly memorable scene in which you must work together to solve a puzzle-centric security system designed to keep out mechs that donít have the benefit of human intelligence.

And even when itís ďjustĒ an escort system, Ninja Theory works that angle to their advantage by intensifying otherwise unspectacular situations. Climbing a tower as itís falling apart isnít a difficult task for Monkey, who is aptly named, but the complication of having to guide the far less physically capable Trip to the top adds an extra layer to the design. Itís sequences like these, of which there are many, that help Enslaved forge an identity of its own.

It certainly doesnít hurt that the world this adventure transpires in is so richly detailed. I could never get around to finishing Fallout 3 because I found the atmosphere too off-puttingly bleak to endure for long stretches of time, and as such, itís a sigh of relief that Ninja Theoryís post-apocalyptic landscape is bright, colorful, and exuding personality around every turn despite only a handful of speaking roles. Iíll note that Enslaved is plagued with issues like choppy animations, framerate dips and lackluster texture work, and yet despite all of that, itís nevertheless one of the most aesthetically pleasing games Iíve played all year.

And thatís a parable for the game as a whole, really: Its often glaring technical mishaps are eclipsed by sheer artistic majesty. For as easy as the platforming is, the cinematic, almost Uncharted 2-esque set pieces nonetheless manage to create a sense of urgency. Despite the gameís relative simplicity Ė hell, Iíll settle for shallowness Ė I was frequently left in awe of the numerous instances in which the escort mechanic just clicks. And for all of those awful combat segments, the excellent narrative makes it worth the struggle. Even if they arenít master game designers yet, Ninja Theory treats its stories with the importance of a Hollywood production, and thatís something I can get behind.

Enslavedís ending is a bit of a letdown, unfortunately. A last-minute revelation isnít given nearly the weight it deserves, and it bogs the story down with more complications than one short cutscene is equipped to handle. Iím not as bothered by it as you may think, though, if only because Enslaved is one of those adventures thatís less about the destination and more about the journey. Itís a brilliant testament to a certain type of interactive storytelling, where even if we have no say in the outcome, the fact that weíre taking this journey alongside these characters makes it that much easier to watch Ė and understand Ė how their relationship evolves. Enslaved has some major problems, but I hope youíre willing to put up with them, because you need to play this game regardless.
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Title: Awesome view to have while studying and writing a wholly unnecessary paper.
Posted: March 01, 2009 (11:58 PM)

Upon our city the skies shed chilly white. If there is a God, please let him cancel classes tomorrow. I simply cannot go through with this.
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Title: Mass Effect 2?
Posted: February 21, 2009 (01:33 AM)

Title: Reviewing has actually had a rather significant impact on my life.
Posted: February 17, 2009 (06:11 PM)
I shared this information with WolfQueen recently, but I figured the rest of this reviewing community might like to hear about it as well.

I'm not sure how much you folks know about me, so here's a start: I'm currently a freshman at Temple University, which probably makes me the youngest regular user here. (Big surprise.) During orientation last summer, we had placement testing, in which I performed better than expected. I managed to place into Spanish III, effectively eliminating the two years of foreign language my major requires me to take. I also placed into Calculus II, canceling out the major math requirements as well.

But here's the big one: I performed so well on the English placement test that I was granted an exemption from an English course that all freshmen are required to take. According to the woman I work for (who in turn works for the deputy provost), exemption from this class is based largely on the essay that came at the end of said English test... and very few students score that well.

So, my essay earned me a ticket out of this English class that all of my fellow freshmen were forced to take. Do I attribute this to my reviewing career? Absolutely. My backlog on HG includes over 60 reviews, and that's not even counting the 100+ reviews I've penned for GameFAQs. And anyone who's been following my work since the 'FAQs days can surely validate the progress my writing skills have made. I did take a semester-long writing class during my senior year at high school, but 90% of my writing experience comes from reviewing.

So there you go. I review games, and that's one less class I had to take because of it.
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Title: A brief list of everything I've listened to so far this year.
Posted: February 09, 2009 (07:44 PM)
Because I'm cool.

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion - 9/10
Junior Boys - Begone Dull Care - 8/10
Antony and the Johnsons - The Crying Light - 8/10
Gui Boratto - Take My Breath Away - 7/10
Bruce Springsteen - Working on a Dream - 6/10
Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You - 6/10
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - s/t - 5/10
Asobi Seksu - Hush - 5/10
Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand - 3/10
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Title: The 25 best movies I saw in 2008.
Posted: February 05, 2009 (08:09 PM)
I'll elaborate more if I have the time and/or get really bored.

25. Religulous
24. Che
23. Zack and Miri Make a Porno
22. Milk
21. Pineapple Express
20. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
19. Wendy and Lucy
18. Cloverfield
17. Revolutionary Road
16. The Band's Visit
15. Man on Wire
14. Gran Torino
13. The Curious Case of Banjamin Button
12. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
11. Synecdoche, New York
10. Iron Man
9. Tropic Thunder
7. Doubt
6. The Wrestler
5. Waltz with Bashir
4. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Frost/Nixon
2. In Bruges
1. The Dark Knight
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Title: Would you like to hear Christian Bale flipping out on the set of the new Terminator movie?
Posted: February 04, 2009 (05:02 PM)
I thought you might.

FHey, help me out with something. Iíve been meaning to review this one game. Itís a shooter that revolves heavily around a third-person pop-and-shoot cover system. Do you remember what itís called?

Gears of War?

No, Iím talking about a different one that came later.

Dark Sector?




Wanted: Weapons of Fate?


Brothers in Arms: Hellís Highway?


Uncharted: Drakeís Fortune?


Army of Two?


The Bourne Conspiracy?


Kane & Lynch: Dead Men?


Infernal: Hellís Vengeance?


Gears of War 2?

No, not that one, either.



Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard?


50 Cent: Blood on the Sand?


Red Faction: Guerrilla?


Mass Effect 2?


Dark Void?


Army of Two: The 40th Day?


Rogue Warrior?


Dead to Rights: Retribution?


Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days?



Let me help you out. I think the game started with a ďQ.Ē

Quantum of Solace?

YES! Wait, no. But actually, I think the game starts with the word ďquantum.Ē

Quantum Theory?

Yeah yeah, thatís the one.
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Title: You found a purple Rupee!
Posted: February 03, 2009 (10:21 PM)
But it won't fit in your wallet now, so let's put it back.

I hate to bring out the old ďjack of all trades, master of noneĒ clichť, but look at this thing: Nier regularly pulls from at least four different genres, and I have no reason to believe that this approach could work (and probably has before). I guess the mindset behind making a game like Nier is that itís excusable for the combat to be simplistic, the platforming to be clunky, the RPG elements to be shallow and the dungeons to be a bore if all of these individual elements are a fraction of the entire picture. But, as you and I know, it doesnít work that way.

I donít want to insult Cavia by suggesting that theyíre incompetent at everything. Iím willing to bet that they were simply operating under heavy restraints, such as tiny budget. It would explain why so much of Nier feels needlessly padded out with fetch quests and repetition, and it would certainly explain why an entire chunk of the main adventure was obviously tossed and represented by ten or fifteen minutes of white text on black screen, in which the playerís entire contribution is to decipher a handful of riddles that practically solve themselves.

Nier is kind of a mess like that, and when taken out of context, nearly any individual aspect would lead you to believe that the folks at Cavia should get out of the business. First and foremost, the game is bone ass ugly. The character models look decent, I guess, and the enormous boss monsters are rendered with enough detail to make their size feasible, but Iíve seen Wii games that put Nierís textures, particles and animation to shame. Your main enemies, the Shades, are just these featureless yellow blobs that walk on what vaguely resemble legs and attack with what vaguely resemble arms; they look like the product of an artist who didnít want to make the effort of creating a real character design.

Other, more important elements feel similarly lazy. At times, Nier is combat-intensive, yet its swordplay is limited to a single button. Nier even teases us with the possibility of ďcombos,Ē only to reveal a combo can be executed by hitting the one attack button repeatedly. The RPG elements are barely even there, and the possibilities of throwing a variety of magical spells into the heat of battle are hampered by the unintuitive system of editing your two hotkeys, which requires you navigate through several sub-menus. Even then, very few of your abilities are worth the effort, as youíll mostly stick to the simple projectile attacks and engage in uninspired shootouts with enemies who apparently draw from the same spell book.

The gameís central design principle was obviously heavily inspired by the Zelda formula, in which a single overworld is punctuated by towns and (more notably) dungeons. Mixing that sort of thing with RPG elements and intense, bloody combat sounds like a good time Ė Darksiders did something similar earlier this year, and came out relatively successful Ė but Nier falls short on both fronts, delivering a bland, empty overworld that comes off as a half-baked attempt to make the game seem ďbigger,Ē and dungeons that rarely feel like more than succession of rooms in which you cut down enemies one after the other by mashing on the X button.

I could go on like this for ages, listing the multitude of things Nier attempts and picking apart the ways in which Caviaís reach exceeded its grasp. Basically, take nearly any standalone idea in Nierís core design, try to build an entire game around it, and


Certain parts of the game even bewilderingly borrow elements from shmups, with Nier and his enemies exchanging streams of energy-based projectiles. By far Nierís most memorable


Kainť adopts the look of one clichť (the scantily clad leading lady) and the persona of another (the outcast with an attitude), and she needs to be given the opportunity to overcome the relatively low expectations we hold for her. She eventually does, but Cavia asks far too much of its players to get to that point.


Every glimmer of promise suffers from an unfortunate side effect, while every flaw feels at least partially redeemed. You'd think the game's presentation would be appalling what with the visuals being so hideous, for example, but Nier bounces right back with an exceptional soundtrack and some of the best voice work in recent memory. The guy who plays Grimoire Weiss sounds like he's channeling Alan Rickman, and personality of that magnitude is the sort of thing that saves something like Nier from being completely forgettable.


Itís easy to say that Cavia bit off more than they could chew here, but I fully believe that a game like Nier could work given the right level of attention. But while I could speculate all day over the causes of the gameís failure Ė time constraints, budgetary restrictions, lack of motivation or simple incompetence Ė itís a failure nonetheless. Nier attempts more than it can handle and collapses under its own weight, and itís a game I can recommend either at bargain price or not at all.
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