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2011 in Video Games [GO]
Jan 5th, 2012 by Dan

HAY GUSY! ZELDA GAMES ARE 25!

So maybe I wasn't playing video games at birth nor was this blog running 25 years ago, but this is my 25th year too!

2011 was an odd year in games for me. It started out like any other, filled with joy and happiness, and then it was all wrenched away halfway through, thanks to that burglary, until I was able to start replenishing my stores and getting the ball rolling again for the second half.

This list, unlike last year, will cover the games I played most this year, even if they came out several years ago :cough: Team Fortress 2 :cough:. I think it’s better to reflect upon what I put the most game time into, even if it wasn’t new.

Resident Evil 5 – 2011’s 2009 Game of the Year has to go to Capcom’s co-op survival horror epic. I remember the Giant Bomb guys pimping this game super hard, but I ignored them over and over again for nearly two years because I’m not much of a scary games guy. Then the steam sale happened and I wanted something co-op to play with Min and Lee, so I buckled. This game was so good, guys. According to Raptr, I played 57 hours of this guy just cruising through all the levels, S-Ranking each one, finding all the emblems and upgrading all the weapons, and getting every achievement for the first time on a full-sized game. Then I came back and played it all again with David. RE5 may be some of the best bang I got for my buck in 2011.

Batman: Arkham Asylum – I think it’s hilarious that I played both Batman games this year. Make no mistake, Batman: AA is the better game. Tighter story focus, less wandering and rambling around, and that sharp, crunchy combat system that we all love. It almost literally hurts to watch Batman punch people in the face in this game. Lots of fun, even for a guy who doesn’t really like Batman.

Red Dead Redemption – Man, every game that I played in January came out in another year. RDR has a lot of those Rockstar quirks that I hate (incorrigible supporting cast, homicidal ludonarrative dissonance, etc.), but it also has one of the best realized characters in recent video games in its portrayal of John Marston. Horseback riding is fun, lassoing fools is fun, and the story is frustrating (because of the asshole supporting cast), but also solid most of the time. The only thing that really annoyed me was breaking horses every fucking time. Why? It’s not like it was fun to do…

Magicka – 2011’s Game Most Likely to Make You Strangle Your Friends. Ask Min how many times I killed him by striking him with lightning. I never took this game seriously and mostly tried to speed cast lightning. Fun, but the polish wasn’t there. Buggy as all hell. Not to mention that lightning bolt was the only spell worth using…or maybe it was the only spell I knew?

Ghost Trick – I used this game to try and improve/practice my Spanish. It’s lots of fun, quirky, weird, neat, but I never finished it. I thought it wasn’t taken in the burglary, but I’m having trouble finding it now. I want to finish it soon…Pick it up if you have a DS. It’s quirky and fun.

Costume Quest – Picked this up on sale and played it for a few hours. It’s definitely got that Double Fine humor, but it couldn’t hold my interest.

Pixeljunk Shooter 2 – I don’t know why some of the magic was gone with this one. Maybe the new fluids weren’t as innovative or neat? The fluid mechanics remain super awesome and the game is plenty fun on its own, but even more fun with a partner to troll.

Face Raiders – Shooting at Min’s face is the best thing I did with my 3DS before it was stolen.

Pokemon White (Black) – I got David to try a new Pokemon game with this and I’m super proud of that. Gen V brought a lot of really interesting changes to a game that most people feel is flat and unchanging. I had a lot of fun playing it until the momentum was killed with the burglary. When Grey inevitably gets announced I’ll probably buy it.

Game Dev Story – When this finally hit the Android marketplace I was ecstatic. Then I played it and realized it was a competent, but not overwhelming sim. Worth a few bucks.

Borderlands – Another co-op game for Min, Lee, and I to play. Lots of fun even though the story is stupid as hell. Brings out the loot whore in all of us.

Planescape: Torment – Talk about old! Didn’t get anywhere close to finishing this. It seems interesting, but never captures my interest enough to play it for longer than 20 mins.

Portal 2 – This is, bar none, the greatest example of story and comedy narrative laid out in video game form. Portal 2 has just brilliant writing and pacing. Everything from Wheatley to the history of Aperture Science to the origins of GLaDOS is perfectly realized. Then you have the game itself…Portal 2 is not a bad game at all. It’s just not as hard or interesting, with respect to puzzles, as Portal. This was a result of narrowing the possible solution space (story-justified by the decay of the facility, but still) in such a way that it was mostly obvious where portals needed to go, removing that aspect of figuring things out. It’s still probably the best game of this year, but I wish it they hadn’t pared it down as much as they did.

Pro Yakyu Spirits 2011 (Professional Baseball Spirits 2011) – I had a fun, challenging season going with my 2011 Hiroshima Carp before that jerk (those jerks?) came and stole my copy of a Japanese baseball game (in Japanese, mind you!). What were they gonna do with a game in Japanese featuring teams they weren’t even familiar with?! PYS 2011 was a huge step forward from 2010. Home runs may have been a little easier to hit (ok, a LOT easier to hit), but 2011 looked sharper and had enough new, interesting features (the player development was cool) that I was super stoked…until it was all taken away from me. Assholes.

L.A. Noire – I got about 1/5 of the way through the game before someone stole it. I still remember the forensics guy asking me if it was any good. Here’s the thing about L.A. Noire: It’s an adventure game skinned with GTA. Getting anywhere in LA is unsatisfying because driving is a bummer (and property/car damage lowers your rank), the devolution of most cases into shootouts feels a little artificial, and, worst of all, most of the chases (car and foot) let you see how the sausage is made. What I mean is, you can tell that you can’t catch up to a perp before a certain point and you can also see where the game just makes a perp crash or fall intentionally to just let you catch up. The face modeling stuff is super cool (and eerie if you watch Mad Men) and works pretty well minus one or two people. A tremendous achievement, but ultimately a mediocre game.

Call of Duty: Black Ops and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – I’m combining these because I don’t have much I want to say about either. The shooting is good, but the missions are kind of lame. I can see where this might be fun, but it’s also not for me.

inFamous – This was my free mea culpa game from Sony after the big hack fiasco. Decent open world game, but it suffers from being an open world game, in my eyes. The electric powers were fun, but the story was stupid. I don’t regret beating this game or getting it for free. Skating on the rails and then getting hit by a train is awesome.

Shadows of the Damned – I wish I’d taken the time to actually beat this game. It plays exactly like a Resident Evil game, has a super cool aesthetic, kickass soundtrack, and some of the funniest, most Japanese characters I’ve ever seen (come on, Garcia Fucking Hotspur is the greatest character name of the year!). Maybe I’ll beat it in 2012.

Hot Springs Story – From the devs what brought you Game Dev Story we have Hot Springs Story. See the entry above. It’s equally meh to me. I think I just don’t like playing games on my phone.

Torchlight – Gave me my Diablo fix a whole year before I’ll ever see Diablo III (I bet D3 is still not out in 2012). It’s fun and addictive, but it can get a little repetitive after a while. Good for loot whores/junkies.

Jikkyou Powerful Pro Yakyu 2011 – I got this expecting to have as much fun with it as I did back when it was the only Pawapuro/Konami-style baseball game I could play. In a post (Dan Mesa) PYS world, the simplifications of the engine don’t quite work for me. I need the extra systems that PYS layers on top.

Team Fortress 2TF2 has always been good. The addition of large-scale achievements made it even better, but the real tipping point for me was Strange Weapons. Once I learned that there were weapons which tracked the number of kills you had on them…well I couldn’t go back. This year probably saw the most TF2 playing from me since its launch. This game is barely recognizable to what it looked like in 2007. It’s free to play now. It’s got so many new maps and weapons and hats. It’s still the best competitive shooter a person could play right now.

Cahterine – Some people don’t get Catherine. They think the block puzzles are annoying and frustrating and find the whole thing to be stupid, too anime-y, and a waste of time. While Catherine makes a turn right near the end that mucks with its interpretation, it’s still one of the most interesting, adult experiences out there, which isn’t to say that it’s got nudity (none) or sex (none on screen), but, rather, that it deals with a lot of grown-up problems. Vincent’s life is in a rut, he’s being pushed into committing to a woman he’s afraid to commit to, and then he finds an escape in Catherine. I have yet to play a more interesting or convincing game about growing up, taking responsibility, and becoming a man. Catherine forced me to take a hard look at myself, my life, the incidences of cheating that have been in it, and just think about it all. A lot of games don’t do that.

Yakuza 4 – Got maybe two hours in before it was stolen.

Dragon Age II – Man, a lot of people have a lot of beef with Dragon Age 2 and I don’t really get it. Maybe it’s because I came to the game knowing all the complaints that everyone had before I got there, but it’s really not that bad. It “suffers” from the Mass Effect 2-ization of Bioware’s properties, but that’s not all bad. Dragon Age: Origins was bloated, over-long, and caused most people to quit right at the cusp of its climax. The way I see it, there were two things that were glaringly wrong with the game mechanics. First was the way that enemy reinforcements just seemed to pop in out of nowhere, artificially extending every fight and turning them into hyper-frustrating affairs. Keeping things limited to the enemies on-screen would have been vastly preferred. The second big miss was the lack of polish/variety of locations. It was very clear that this game was rushed to market because there were maybe three or four map styles recycled to cover a lot of locations. The minimaps weren’t properly reflecting when doors were shut and it was painfully apparent how much recycling happened. These are not sins worth crucifying the game for. The way that it focuses exclusively on Kirkwall and Hawke’s family is actually a good thing. Rather than be as sprawling as DA:O, it allows for a more personal story. Every relationship in this game is way cooler/most interesting than the ones in DA:O and, arguably, any of the ones in ME2. DA2 gets a lot of shit, but it’s a great game.

Bastion – Considering how much everyone just loves this game I really wish I’d given it a little more time this year. I barely played it, but the narrator was cool and the game seemed neat. I’ve got to beat this in 2012

Deus Ex: Human Revolution – I bought this game to get the pre-order items it came with for TF2. I don’t regret doing so. Played about an hour or two of the game. Haven’t felt compelled to go back yet.

Gears of War 2 – This is the year that Min and I beat GoW1 & 2. It took a long time, but we still managed it. These games are really fun in co-op. Easily among the most fun we had in couch co-op this year.

Gears of War 3 – My GOTY comes down to this or Portal 2. I know I’m way late to the GoW train, but god damn these games are razor sharp. Shooting in this game just feels so right, you know? It’s about as polished and good as a third person shooter can possibly be. Fighting the final boss for two hours because I turned on no ammo drops will be memorable for a long time in a way that I don’t often make memories in video games any more. Thank you, Epic, for this amazing game.

The Binding of Isaac – The second I heard that the dude from Super Meat Boy, Edmund McMillen, was coming out with a new game, I knew that I would be buying it and that it would be tons of fun. You’ll remember from last year that SMB was the best game I played. The Binding of Isaac is not quite the best of this year, but it is a more realized game than it has any right to be. I mean, the game was $5 at launch, for Christ’s sake, and it featured a free content patch at Halloween. Isaac took 55 hours of my time this year, assuming every one was counted by Raptr, and I anticipate it taking more before I’m done with it. This game is the best $5 you can spend this year.

Galaga Legions DX – Coming off the awesomeness that was Pac-Man CE DX I expected big things from this game. It’s nowhere near as fun, but maybe that’s because Pac-Man is a way more fun game than Galaga ever was.

Batman: Arkham City – I’m pretty sure you already know that I think this game was a major step back from Arkham Asylum. I really don’t think the open world aspects did this game any favors. It’s still got that super-crunchy, razor sharp battle system, but it’s also marred by too many poorly dressed women constantly being called b***hes. This is a game that aggressively pushed me away from it and I was more than happy to be done with it when I was despite being the best thing to happen to brawlers in ages.

Dungeon Defenders – Tower defense made even more fun by allowing us to run around in the environments. I didn’t put in anywhere near as many hours as Min did, but it was fun while I played it.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Man, Uncharted 2 was fantastic, wasn’t it? Try this new one! It’s a lot like the old one, but with a little less charisma. A little less je ne sais quoi. Despite featuring my favorite video game characters of the modern era, Uncharted 3 was lacking in weird ways that the appearance of the The Last of Us trailer makes clear. Focus was diverted. Glad that we got three of these, but I wish it was as much a step forward as the second one was.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Remember how I wrote that article where I outlined everything I hated about this game? Since I wrote it I played another hour or two and said, “Nope. I don’t want to play this.” Will I ever go back? God, I hope not. It was worth spending $60 to drive in the point that I don’t like Bethesda open world RPGs. Here’s a note to Future Dan: Don’t buy any more Bethesda games, you moron.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword – This poor game is being victimized by the launch of The Old Republic. Had TOR not come out there’s not a doubt in my mind that I would be playing the most charming Zelda game since Wind Waker non-stop. Skyward Sword plays sharply and is tons of fun.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – My life has been sucked into this game in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. I can’t believe that there was a time where I was actively thinking about avoiding this game and staying away from MMOs altogether. Bioware did something fantastic here by adding story to a genre that typically lacked it. This game has already rocketed up the charts for total time played and I predict that it will never be usurped based on how much I truly love playing it. I haven’t even finished one story and I’ve still got seven more to go.

Status Report: Gears of War 3 [GO]
Sep 21st, 2011 by Dan

Gears of War 3

(Courtesy csullens)

Hey guys, Gears of War 3 is really good.

I’ve only played the first act in Arcade mode and ~20 waves of the new Horde mode, but it’s awesome.

Arcade Mode

I really like the addition of the score/kill tracking in arcade mode. It makes things extra interesting and adds that nice competitive edge to the cooperative proceedings. I fixed my NAT this morning to allow me to host so that I could pick Mutators too. These are modifiers, like the skulls in Halo, that allows you to change the game subtly. There are two ones available right away: one that forces ammo scavenging instead of allowing ammo drops, and one that makes enemies fire like headless chickens when they die.

I can’t wait until I unlock the Laugh Track. I think that would make Gears even more hilarious to play.

Four player campaigns make a huge difference. Having three other dudes around allows them to make things even more chaotic and crazy awesome. I don’t think you can do four player local, but that would be sick. I want to be able to play this game with Ian and Min

Horde Mode

The new Horde mode has you earning money that you use to upgrade defenses and buy weapons. Guess what, guys? It’s awesome. It’s just so much fun to kill these relentless waves of enemies (thank god it’s not all Tickers like it was for me and Min when we tried it in GoW2) and try to survive. The boss waves every ten rounds are pretty brutal. We had to face two Berserkers in the first boss wave that just decimated us. Our second boss wave at 20 had a Lambent Berserker, which is only vulnerable at certain times. He was tough!

It’s been lots of fun and I can’t wait to play some more when I get home today.

EDIT/ADDITION:

At first I thought I’d be playing multiplayer games as Anya all the time…until I realized that the new character, Samantha Byrne, was voiced by Claudia Black (she played Chloe in Uncharted 2) and was super awesome. New multiplayer avatar selected!

What I’ve Been Doing 12 Sept 2011 [FB/IB/F/BT/GO]
Sep 12th, 2011 by Dan

Malin Akerman

I thought about posting a picture of Rob Corddry instead, but I think we'd all much rather see Malin Åkerman. (Image used courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Movies

The Wrong Side of Town – Danielle’s parents were watching the tail end of this terrible wrestler movie. It was pretty awful, so I read a Batman comic instead of paying that much attention.

TV

Top Gear – Two of the guys bought used luxury sports cars for under £10k and they plan to follow up on how long it takes for the cars to break down and die. Funny stuff. I found James’ trip to America where he picked up a transvestite Cher impersonator to be in poor taste (as in they were using it for humor when they shouldn’t)

Top Gear (USA) – I thought I’d check this one out to see what it was like. While it’s not as funny as the original, it’s got a handle on what it’s supposed to be and its cast has a decent rapport with each other. You’d think, given how much they seem to love America in the show, they’d still use “Jessica” as their theme, but they don’t, much to their detriment.

Childrens Hospital – I thought that this show would be too silly for its own good. One of those Adult Swim shows that’s just not as funny as people make it out to be, but this was legitimately hilarious. I’m hooked! It also helps that I find Malin Åkerman (of Watchmen fame), Lake Bell, and Erinn Hayes to be quite good looking (especially Malin Åkerman). I think that I just missed Season 3, so I’ll have to wait for the DVDs on that, but so funny!

Parks and Recreation – Watched the beginning of S3 with Min since he hadn’t seen it. Brilliant show. Absolutely fantastic. Seriously, just skip Season 1 and start watching S2 onward. I find it tough to believe that you could not like it.

Archer – Watched the Zeppelin episode with Eric. All I can say is, “M as in Mancy.” So hilarious.

Music

Neon Indian – Their album was on First Listen this week. I think I only love “Polish Girl,” but the rest of the album is decent.

More WILD FLAG – Can’t wait for the album to drop tomorrow so I can start scrobbling many, many listens.

Books

Collected Stories – Read one where a beautiful woman lost control of her corporeal self, wanted to eat an orange, and decided that the best way to do it would be to inhabit a cat. By the time she decides to do it, 3000 years have passed and she’s screwed. It was kind of weird.

(Comic books from here down. I’ve linked reviews on Comic Vine where appropriate)

Morning Glories – This story is so cool. I really dig this book, just wish it came out more often. Patience is a virtue, right?

X-23 – I liked this book more than Eric, but it remains one of the better books out there. Good writing and solid art plus the FF and I’m there.

Irredeemable – The arc moves in a surprising direction as Kaiden, Gil, and Bette Noir make their return to the strip. The part where The Plutonian traps a bunch of male models in a pool by freezing the surface was chilling mostly because I harbor a fear of drowning.

Batgirl – Barbara Gordon is no longer handicapped! Pretty good book that has a literary depth that many aren’t seeing. I have no prior history with the character, so I dug it.

Action Comics – My first Grant Morrison book and my first Superman book (I’ve ever paid for). I think that (having read a trade of his and this issue) Grant Morrison is overhyped as a genius. His stories are good/solid and well-written compared to a lot of other stuff that’s released, but I’ve yet to be really shocked by anything he does. It all feels so by the book that it’s like he’s the best at writing something conventional. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it feels like he’s being safe. Where’s the iconoclast quality that I felt when I read Alan Moore’s early work? It’s unfair to dock the book for not being overly impressed with the writer’s legend, but it’s inseparable at this point. Good read nonetheless, even if it’s almost needlessly dense.

Swamp Thing – My favorite DC book of the week. Snyder did something neat here and I really dug it. The art was also fantastic.

Batwing – Racial politics of a white man empowering a black man aside, this was a good read. I didn’t care much for the art, but I’m interested to see where it goes. The DRC is a vastly more interesting setting to me than Gotham.

X-Men – Awful book. Bad writing. Bad art. No more X-Men for me, even if the FF are hanging around.

Static Shock – I wanted to like this one more than I did. It was a little confusing because they didn’t treat it as a reintroduction to the character. I’ll give it another issue.

Casanova: Avarita – The weirdest book I read and also the most artistically interesting. I like where this is going.

Animal Man – I’m totally loving the creepy horror of this title. I hope that it ties in with Swamp Thing well, as they’ve said it would. Combining the man who has animals at his fingertips with a man who has plants would be neat.

Spider-Island: The Avengers – A tremendously silly story about Frog Man saving the day from hilariously awful villains. Great jokes and lots of fun. Spider-Island is a great event.

Mystic – Mini-series about magic. It’s nothing I haven’t seen before, but I like the Disney-style art, so I’m game.

Moon Knight – Beautiful art, as always. I really love the way this book looks.

Video Games

Team Fortress 2 – One of these days I will get 10 sentry kills. Mark my words. Until then, at least this game is super fun to play.

Gears of War 2 – Played nine hours with Min. The shooting parts are so much fun, but the vehicle sections and the really weird non-shooty parts that they feel like they have to include are much less so. Still, a stellar game. Can’t wait for part three next week. Min and I still have to beat this one though.

EDIT: David correctly pointed out that I forgot:

Left 4 Dead 2 – Played a few rounds with David, Lee, and Min, including a run of my favorite map, Hard Rain. Love that game! Sad that the last map is next, but excited to play RE5.

Blame my omission on thinking about Malin Åkerman too much.

Keyword Roundup [Uncat]
Jul 4th, 2009 by Dan

Happy Fourth of July!

Recent statistics packages on my blog allowed me to browse search terms that lead to my site. So here’s what you’ve been searching in July along with relevant links and/or answers to your questions.

mlb power pros 2009 – 68 hits

MLB Power Pros continues to be a strong draw for my blog since I’m probably one of the few guys who talks about it. Real shame too, because it’s such a great game. Many come to the blog hoping to find news about the 2009 edition, but, if they’ve hit up my post they know that I’m skeptical that the game will come stateside.

vinny caravella – 21hits

persona 4 endurance run – 14 hits

Embedding the Persona 4 Endurance Runs on this website has had a profound effect on my traffic as Vinny Caravella and the Endurance Run itself seems to draw quite a bit of traffic to me.

server.ericsbinaryworld.com – 14 hits

Not too surprising, the root search for my brother’s server yields my website.

pokemon platinum evolution table – 13 hits

I’m not quite sure what a Pokemon Platinum evolution table is, but you can find good pokedex resources at Marriland and Serebii.net

dwarf fortress stories – 12 hits

Clearly a reference to these two posts: (1, 2), folks looking for Dwarf Fortress stories can also find some great ones at the official forums. Other options include the fantastically hilarious story of BoatMurdered and the more serious, but still fun Nist Akath

claudia black nude – 11 hits

Claudia Black, newest addition to the Uncharted franchise, seems to be a rather popular figure on the blog. According to this VERY NSFW SITE, she has never done any nude roles. Sorry guys, tough luck.

power pros 2009 – 7 hits

See above!

mai shiranui nude – 6

This one shouldn’t really be all that hard to find people, seriously! Here’s are VERY NSFW links. I don’t know if that’s the best stuff out there, but I’m not really willing to look.

fallout 3 vegas – 5 hits

No real news on this.

persona 4 review – 5

No doubt searching for my review.

giant bomb achievements – 5 hits

My achievements. Let me show you them.

i bring nothing to the table – 4 hits

The URL. You can’t miss it, it’s right at the top of the screen.

timon – 4 hits

I’m guessing they mean the meerkat, but just in case, here’s a disambiguation.

gears of war 2 exp table – 4 hits

Are you referring to the new experience system? Google also gets confused cause the word Table is in my URL, despite it having nothing to do with GoW 2.

endurance run persona 4 – 4 hits

See above

metal gear solid 4 proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good – 4 hits

Totally wrong. MGS4 has FANTASTIC gameplay. It’s the story that’s seriously lacking.
mlb power pros 2009 release 4

bubblegum crisis hentai – 3 hits

Kicking it old school, huh? Not sure if this link will ever work, but please don’t make me keep searching for this stuff…

pete mccullough bass – 3 hits

The bassist for Streetlight Manifesto. Their URL can be found here

endurance run persona – 3 hits

See above

tabel van dempster – 3

I have no idea what this is or why it leads to me. Probably because my site contains the word Table and I’ve spoken about Ryan Demptser

youtube mariano rivera major league at bat – 3

Mariano Rivera got himself his first RBI on the same day he got his 500th save. What a milestone! MLB doesn’t allow video of their games on Youtube, but you can try their website. No guarantee how long it will be up.

mlb power pros 2009 wii – 3 hits
“mlb power pros 2009” – 3 hits

See above

nothingtothetable.com – 3

My fantastic URL!

kings quest princess bride clues – 3

One big problem with this search term: It should be King’s Quest VII: The Princeless Bride. Other than that, you can find some FAQs and walkthroughs here.

the gregory brothers – 3 hits

I love Auto-Tune the News. You can find the Gregory Brothers URL here.

best dwarf fortress stories – 3 hits

See above!

pokemon fight table – 2 hits

Again, see above.

streetlight manifesto christian – 2

You know the drill. You’re also confused. There’s never been a member named Christian and this is NOT a Christian band.

super punch out super hard mode – 2 hits

Officially called Title Defense Mode, here are some hints.

dean strelau – 2 hits

A friend of mine mentioned in this post about baseball. I wonder who was google-stalking him?

gustavo sorola – 2 hits

One of the founders of Rooster Teeth. Very funny man.

youtube boston batter shatters bat against washington 2

Pretty dangerous event. The bat almost hit Nick Green and caused him to miss the fielding.

l4d zoey track jacket – 2

Surprising that I get the L4D track jacket (available here) as a hit instead of the nude Zoey mod post I made. No complaints here.

The Pile of Shame [GO]
Jun 23rd, 2009 by Dan

Just about every serious adult (and employed) gamer has one thing in common, regardless of his/her tastes: the pile of shame. It sounds a lot worse than it is, because it’s definitely not a stack of Barbie Horse Adventure games or anything, it’s a stack of games that have all received critical acclaim or come highly recommended, but that the gamer has no time to get around to playing, mainly because of other releases or just being too busy.

The perfect time for burning through this back catalog is usually the summer. Releases have slowed down in anticipation for the upcoming holiday season and developers have only just started getting over E3 preparations, limiting their ability to release in the summer anyway. Plenty of other people are taking this time to burn through their backlog, but I find myself unable to focus on the rather considerable stack of games I have in lieu of achievement hunting or just purchasing new games.

It’s a serious problem when I’m in Best Buy seriously considering buying Resident Evil 5, the latest in a series of games that I never play because I hate horror video games, instead of just going home and playing Dragon Quest V or Suikoden Tierkreis, both games I’ve never played and own, or finishing the remakes that I’d started like the DS Chrono Trigger or GBA Final Fantasy VI. I keep having to resist buying Gears of War 2, even though I’ve yet to finish Fallout 3, play the Uncharted 2 Beta at all, or milk the remaining content out of Left 4 Dead or Mass Effect. Then again, should I really be all that surprised? People love the brand new and the allure of buying a new copy of Ghostbusters, despite its middling reviews, is just a part of human nature.

The main problem with my “problem” is that I don’t really have the cash to throw around to just be buying all sorts of new games. You may have applauded my self-control in resisting RE5 and GoW2, but the real deterrent is that I just couldn’t afford to buy them. I’ve flirted with the notion of starting some kind of retro-gaming feature to motivate me to both clear my backlog and give me new, interesting (video game related) writing topics. Honestly, if I could take easy screenshots or capture video more easily, I might be more likely to try and do something like that, but it loses some of its allure to have it be text-only.

This may or may not still happen. I’m going to do some research into cheap video capture mechanics and if I can manage it, then we might see me start to clear through my backlog with accompanying screens or movies. If not, well then this winding, aimless post is just me whining about having games that I don’t want to play because I want shiny new ones.

More L4D in Response [PC]
Nov 19th, 2008 by Dan

The game they were mentioning in the podcast was Gears of War 2. I agree with that being kind of cool, but at the same time, we were all trying to really push ourselves and play the most challenging version of the game. Even if Simon had more experience, I still don’t think we would have been able to make it through the whole campaign on expert, it’s just too hard.

The game is $60 on xbox, $50 on PC, but it’s not as short as it seems. There may only be four campaigns, but you’d be missing the point if you thought that was all it had to offer.

Valve has gone on and on (and so did 1UP Yours) about the AI Director being an integral part of the game experience. Sure, there are only 4 campaigns (five maps each, so twenty levels), but no two playthroughs are identical. Item locations, zombie placement, even boss zombie placement is all set by the AI Director who analyzes current player healths, ammo levels, difficulty level, and how well you’ve been doing so far, ensuring a dynamic playback experience.

Also worth mentioning is that even just playing the first campaign, No Mercy, I’ve found myself thoroughly enthralled by a game and feel its $50 price tag is well warranted. If this was all that was there, I would play it ad infinitum (not literally, other games will pop up soon), but it’s not. Three more campaigns whose length will be extended by my refusal to play below Advanced and strong desire to conquer each on Expert (achievement points are great motivators) and a mode I haven’t even talked about will extend this.

That mode: Versus Mode. In versus mode you have two teams of four. Four are the survivors, four are the mutated infected. The object is for the survivors to do just what they do in the single-player cmapaign, only this time they’re being dogged by actual players instead of the AI. The players will be respawned on a timer and are able to antagonize the surivors using coordinated attacks. I’ve yet to play it, but it looks promising.

I think it’s more than worth $50, but I’ve heard some complaints from reviewers about it. My guess is that they were playing on Normal or Easy to try and get through as fast as possible for the review, giving a total playtime somewhere near three or four hours. I’d love to see all those editors and reviewers try that on Expert. Without some serious experience, that’s not possible.

PA on GoW 2 Dialogue [You Can Quote Me On That]
Nov 16th, 2008 by Dan

Here’s what Tycho has to say about the dialogue in Gears of War 2:

Still. There is a point at which “the rookie” says there are a shitload of grubs down there. Marcus Fenix corrects him, suggesting that there are, in fact, “Ten Shitloads.” I want to grant that Gears of War takes place on the planet Sera, where Shitload may be a genuine unit of measurement – but that’s dumb, and this line is dumb, and the people speaking are idiots, and they live in a world of dumbshits where stupidity of a form of currency.

I love it. Check out Penny Arcade if you want more webcomic goodness.

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