Your Personal Gaming Achievements
- Apr 21, 2010 5:44 pm GMT
- 282 Comments
It doesn't matter at what age you started gaming. It doesn't matter in what generation you started gaming. Point is, we are all gamers, whether it's just to pass the time, or just to play competitively with you peers. It's what we all enjoy doing.
Gamespot just introduced (or actually enhanced) the achievement section. This got me thinking. During our gaming endeavors there was always a moment during the game or a milestone that you wanted to reach. A milestone that a select few (or everyone) managed to reach but for you it's like the hardest part of the game or you felt hella proud during that time when you completed or reached it.
These are my most memorable gaming achievements:
5. N64: Loz: Majora's Mask: Obtaining the Couple's mask.
During my earlier years when I owned a N64 I borrowed this game from a friend just because I was a big fan of Ocarina of Time. The game was kinda different (a bit darker) but the best of the two IMO. After I beat the game , I wanted to get all the masks to unlock the Fierce Diety mask. I got like an in-game handbook (Bomber's Handbook) that showed when certain events will take place and it also gave hints where you should be in the game in order to complete the quest. The "Couple's Mask" was the hardest for me to get. Why? Because it was filled with in-game events during all 3 days (before the moon hits earth) and you have to be at the precise moment in a certain city in order to proceed to the next event. Miss an event and it's back to day one O_o.
But wait, it got better. The first time was interesting because the last thing I had to do is to wait for Anju and Kafei to reunite right before Doomsday. So there I was, standing inside the Inn while the whole city was shaking and the bells were ringing, all waiting for the end of the world. After they reunited, they combined their masks and Link got the Couples Mask. He held it high in the air while the famous tune played (you know the tune when you get a new item?) and right before the tune ended….…bzzzt…power outage.
4. PS3: Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: Reach Level X (60).
2009 GOTY has definitely taken the rest of my 2009 gaming time and I'm still playing it almost every single day. Like most current shooting games, this one features a leveling system that are numeric until level 50 and change to roman numerals from 51-60. From 51 there's like a big gap between the levels until you reach 60 and the only way to gain more money is to use negative boosters. These are boosters that give you a handicap that goes from lowering your health (Invalid), or you get like a half loaded weapon (Half loaded), or you die from one punch(Glass Jaw), or people can even see you through walls when you're nearby (Come Get Some). Level X can be compared to the Tenth prestige in Call of Duty. The sad truth is that a lot of these gamers glitched their way to this level just so they can wear the black badge, but I wear mine proudly and will own every single noob online (HA!). No camping needed.
I was also featured in two of the Uncharted 2 weekly top ten plays. Feel free to check them out:
Top 10 plays Week 7 (Warning Mature Language)
Top 10 plays Week 8 (Warning: Mature Language)
3. Wii: Super Mario Galaxy: Lava spire DareDevil run + Luigi's Purple coins.
By now, if you own a Wii and haven't played this game yet…what the hell is wrong with you ? But seriously, to beat the game, you only needed 60 stars but like all perfectionists including myself we aimed to get all 120 stars (twice). On my way to that milestone, there were two stages that I was having some trouble with: Lava Spire Dardevil Run from the Melty Molten Galaxy and Luigi's purple coins from the Toy Time Galaxy.
The daredevil run required me to finish the whole stage without taking a single hit, ON A LAVA STAGE. The Purple coins stage featured platforms that only give you like 3 to 4 seconds to stand on them before they disappear for good so you had to watch your step while gathering the coins. I was able to record my gameplay when I wanted to retry these stages.
2. SNES: Beat Battletoads in Battlemania.
If you just started gaming, be afraid. Be very afraid. This Beat-em-up game is known for its extreme difficulty, and is very tough to finish, even for us experienced gamers. Funny thing is that at the time this game was released, we had no idea this game was so hard. The game required a lot of perfectly timed jumps and was packed with cheap deaths. After a lot of trial and (T)error, me and my cousin finally sat down a whole day and try to finish this game once and for all …….and finally succeeded. We jumped around the house like we just won the lottery. Even our parents thought that the game made us crazy. You've been warned O_O.
1. SNES: Super Mario World: Reach Special Zone and beat the Tubular stage.
Lastly, we have one of the first games released on the SNES. This game was filled with secrets and hidden paths to discover. After we spent some time with the game, we discovered the Star World and then the Special world. The Special World is a secret area in Super Mario World and the levels are located in various environments and are designed to be much more difficult to clear than all the other levels in the game. The first one was fairly easy. But in the next stage the developers at Nintendo clearly wanted to make gamers all around the world cry or rage quit xD. The infamous Tubular stage required you to use the balloon power-up to navigate Mario like a balloon while dodging various incoming projectiles from enemies. One hit and it back to square one. This was the first and last time I almost broke something out of rage but it was all worth it in the end.
Other games that also came across my mind were:
Donkey Kong Country 2 SNES (Unlock and finish the Lost World)
Bubsy SNES (Just beat the damn game)
Killer Instinct Gold N64 (Perform my first ULTRAAAA COMBOOOO with Count Sabrewulf)
Pokemon Snap N64 (Unlock the secret stage to take a picture of Mew)
So what do you guys think? Been through the same thing? I would love to hear some great gaming stories from my fellow gamespotters. Which moment almost made you throw you controller across the room but you still had the guts to get past that part (Megaman 9 anyone? X_X). Which moment/achievement makes you proud as a gamer? Sound Off and I will feature them in my next article.
Thanks for reading!
The Gaming Community Celebrity
- Apr 4, 2010 8:57 pm GMT
- 61 Comments
As I sit here listening to my favourite gaming podcast, dreading the coming days before final exams tackle and pound me into submission, I think about something that perhaps many gamers haven't before. Maybe I shouldn't say that, I can't just assume I'm the only one thinking about the oddities of the gaming community. Perhaps many of you who read this will have already thought about it at length. For conversation sake, I hope you have. If you haven't, then hopefully this will make you take a step back and look at things a little differently. Am I getting too deep already? Humor me a little more than usual if you can, it's getting late.
I've been thinking about the celebrity that game reviewers have built up around themselves, as well as blog writers and those who defy classification. Specifically, I've been thinking about how many of them are now getting older, and how the cycle of the next generation of celebrities will come to be.
It probably won't surprise many of you if I bring up Jeff Gerstmann. I've followed him since nearly the dawn of his career here on Gamespot. He has perhaps unintentionally become one of the most famous game reviewers on the internet (yes, even before Gerstmann-gate). His popularity allowed him so much that upon starting up his own website it exploded and has quickly become a hub for a huge community that grows continuously. Of course Ryan Davis, and Brad Shoemaker carry their own celebrity as well, albeit perhaps not on the grandiose scale of Mr. Gerstmann. What gets me thinking is that these guys (and others, don't think I'm forgetting about anyone) are getting older. They've grown up (as much as a gamer can). They aren't grandparents or anything, but they're not youngsters anymore either. I wonder how long they will continue their careers as reviewers. Can we expect to see a Siskel and Ebert-esque band of hyper-popular reviewers 15 years from now? 25 years from now? How will the generation who grew up and followed these guys closely for their whole careers react to a new generation of reviewers coming up? Will those reviewers even be able to reach the celebrity that we see in many today? I've pondered these questions for a long time, and to be honest I'm not sure if there is a real answer to any of them as of yet.
But we're seeing other things crop up in the community now. People who have been part of the out-group are creating their own celebrity. The name that instantly comes to mind is Michael Pachter. If you don't know who he is, he's an analyst for Wedbush Morgan that has been a regular guest on Gametrailer's Bonus Round for a long time now. He's slowly become popular, and now has his own show on Gametrailer's that's become wildly popular. It almost pulls in as many views as Bonus Round itself, which he still appears on regularly. It's great to see things like this happening within the community. We're not exactly known for accepting great change, which is part of why I'm so interested in this topic to begin with.
As much of a jumbled mess this all might seem, it has interested me a great deal for some time. Watching people rise in popularity to almost legend status (Greg Kasavin, anyone?) has been fun to watch. It makes me think about what the hardcore gaming community will sit 10 or 20 years from now. Will the older generation of gamers tell their kids stories about favourite videos, reviewers and podcasts? Will we compare future reviewers and gaming celebrities to the new groups that will inevitably rise in the ranks as the older group moves on or out? It excites me and scares me at the same time. It's hard to imagine not having the mainstays around down the road. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not a fan of change myself. I'll suck it up, but I'll be damned if someone ever replaces Jeff as my most respected reviewer.
What do you think about all of this? Has this stuff ever crossed your mind on a boring, rainy day?
Have a good one,
How to Kill a Shooter in 10 Easy Steps
- Apr 1, 2010 7:31 am GMT
- 207 Comments
Let me get this out in the open first: game design is art. There's a lot of creativity involved, and as with any other form of art, everything is flawed and nothing is perfect. Small flaws can be forgiven when the whole painting is so striking to look at, but some flaws are less easy to forgive: let us not forget the fact that on Metallica's 8th studio album, St. Anger, Lars Ulrich banged his drumsticks against tin cans and Kirk Hammett didn't play a single solo. Same goes for game design – the utter and complete uselessness of Doom 3's chainsaw has absolutely not as large an impact on gameplay as, say, Half-Life's horrible jumping puzzles.
As a huge shooter fan, I take serious flaws, well, very seriously. A well-designed shooter can be a blast and everything could be fine if done well, but in all ways should it avoid those steps which I'm about to delve into on this editorial. I would like to present to you 10 sure-fire ways to kill a shooter.
I'm here! I'm there! I'm everywhere!
Ever felt so naughty and proud of yourself for running around and disappearing on your mom at the local supermarket? Yeah? You have, haven't you?
That's a bad boy!
Play Half-Life 2 and you'll see what I mean. Then go and apologize to your mother and give her a big kiss, and promise to help her with the groceries next time.
Do not by any means get me wrong. I still believe to this day that Half-Life 2 is the most enjoyable shooter I've ever played. That is, of course, until the fearsome proposition of playing with AI teammates circa Anticitizen One. The whole point of having AI teammates is that they help you fight off your enemies, not go randomly running every which way aimlessly, clustering around doors and getting killed. And yes, I know you never got killed on your mommy.
I would have said that Infinity Ward could teach VALVe a lesson, but thankfully the AI guys in the following Episodes were just fine. And oh, they weren't half as bad on "Follow Freeman".
Hey momma, can you please hold my hand?
Imagine this. You're running around, shooting enemies that are fun to shoot. The graphics are great and the guns are satisfyingly loud and devastating. You simply have a blast. You fight through the last fight of the current level and progress to the next, where you're introduced to some sort of lame excuse for a character who's probably going to die anyway. Then you're told it's up to you to keep them alive for your next assignment so they can do X to help you do Y. All is well and dandy.
You barely say Chaser and you and your new talking pet come under attack from such a juggernaut that you want to go cry to your mommy. No need to apologize again. Soon enough, your feeble new friend is all but tombstone-worthy and you're introduced to an encouraging little "game over" screen. Such are poorly designed escort missions.
Some of the greatest shooters I've played included escort missions, among which are Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, Half-Life 2 and BioShock, and they all had those missions nailed to the very last script. But it's when games put you up against ridiculous odds that this problematic assignment becomes more a chore than a fun little variety and degrades a game that is otherwise as fine as a lovely chicka holding a gun.
So what now? Where go I?
If it's Chaser we're talking about, then this good game has another glaring issue that has also appeared in fine games such as Heretic II and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.
Hub-oriented level design is just fine as long as you're informed well on where to go, just like a tourist heading to the nearest supermarket. That was one of the greatest advantages of BioShock – even when it sent you to other levels to complete a mission, you always knew where to go. But that is not an obvious trait, oh no dear sir, it ain't. Now eat your cookie and read on.
When you have a level that's built like a hedge maze and you get absolutely no indication as to where you have to go next, you might find yourself traveling through empty hallways and yards ad nauseum, having already killed all enemies in sight, completed your tasks and collected all the goodies.
Then you find your way, and it's like finding the birthday cake of your dreams. Soon enough you realize that the truly daunting experience isn't the hour+ that Xfire just registered to your gaming profile of you doing absolutely nothing, but realizing it was there all along right in front of your eyes, and that the cake actually is a lie.
At least those spectacularly tedious indoor levels in Halo had arrows on the floors.
If a cat can do it, you probably can. 't.
Cats are sneaky little bastards. I find it hilarious to watch a cat trying to use its fascinating sneakiness on a target as silly as a cockroach. The point is, just because a soft-pawed, omni-alert cat can do it, it doesn't mean that you, a buff, entire arsenal-toting Big Tough Guy can too.
Be honest. Do you think true stealth missions can actually be implemented to a pure run-and-gun shooter? Well, yeah, but it's about as touchy as a lunatic. For the sake of example, why, oh why did the guys in 2015 think they nailed it? What is up with that night raid in Medal of Honor? It is obvious someone is going to see you and sound the alarm. Those missions should not be designed like that. What I find even more amusing is that, should you not run into a game-killing game over screen, the ensuing chaos is more often than not way more fun than trying to sneak around. Think about it. Walking this slowly at a crouched position with 8 weapons on your back must give you one hell of a backache.
Stealth was fun in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, No One Lives Forever 2: A Spy in H.A.R.M.'s Way and Aliens vs. Predator 2. It was also fun in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (with what is probably the single best stealth mission I've ever played in a shooter), Crysis and Far Cry, but if I ever run into another Soldier of Fortune II I'm going to get seriously pissed.
Thanks for reading this far. No need to catch me later, here's your beer:
Right. Now that that's out of the way, let's move on.
Tap tap tap! Tap 'till it's dead!
Let's face it. No one but freaks likes little furry critters. If I hate them in real life, what fun is it to shoot them? I simply loathe spider missions, especially when you might find yourself under attack from multiple angles (Doom 3) and when those little tap-sound-making scumbuckets are too small (Unreal II: The Awakening). Remember the scene in Jurassic Park: The Lost World where the Russian guy is killed by a pack of little dinos? Does that look like fun enemies to fend off? DOES IT?!
Please, game developers, please stop the spider missions. They're not fun. If anything, they're the epitome of tedium and frustration.
Not if I see you first!
Do you enjoy making eye contact with your enemies on your casual kung-fu fights on the street? Yes, so do I.
Do you like it when your Ninja foe throws shurikens at you from the window across the street from you? Me neither.
I guess the guys in 2015 like having their protagonists pierced by magical bullets that appear out of nowhere, because they're really into absolutely ridiculous enemy accuracy from magical Nazis that share the odd knack for invisibility. I think we all remember that mission in Medal of Honor Allied Assault where we're tasked with making it through a town filled with Nazi snipers. But those supernatural Nazis (wait, is this Wolfenstein?) can do the childish task of peeking out, shooting you while. you. are. running, and returning to hiding within less than a second. I'm surprised they didn't win the war.
But they're snipers. With enough being a forgiving rag you can forgive them developers for surprising you with foolish design choices. But it's when it's a darn punk with a .22 gun who hits you three times in a row from fifty yards away (a certain baseball bat Mafia mission springs to mind) that you wish you had a gravity gun.
Running away from snipers can be a blast (see: Half-Life 2, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow), but I have a feeling growing inside me like an evil fetus that developers might not always be too aware of their mistakes.
No, really, baby. I was just waiting for the right moment!
Hack-abusing enemies aside, there's another form of annoyance. I'm talking about those fools who have the ability to be invincible and suddenly (and foolishly of course) relinquish it just because you're around.
I don't think triggered enemies are fun to fight. And if they are, please let them appear after I trigger them so that I don't waste my trusty bullets not killing them.
Here, my pet! Jump. Jump. JUMP, or die trying!
Shooters shouldn't have jumping missions unless they're designed around them. Especially first-person shooters. It's obvious. Why would I want to do athletics when I can do some shooting stuff in the face?
Unfortunately the best example I can give you comes from another favorite of mine, Half-Life. Do you remember those horrible Xen levels? Where you had to jump from platform to platform lest you plummet to your invisible death? That's simply something you want in your shooter as much as a tsunami wave in your hometown. A few jumps here and there aren't harmful if they're done right, but man oh man. Jumping from rotating platform to rotating platform doesn't make Gordon Freeman feel like Lara Croft. It makes him feel like an idiot.
There's an evil monkey in the closet, and he's going to bite you in the butt when you turn around. Cheap scares are cheap for a reason, dear developers. I don't buy enemies hiding in the secret broom closet and treasure chests. They can suddenly appear for a nice scare here and there, but building an entire game whose name I'm not Doom 3 going to give on it shouldn't become your next New Years resolution.
Dead Space actually did a pretty good job with cheap scares because its enemies were actually scary, what with their high speed and remaining human features, but at least they pretty much stuck to vending shafts. They didn't cower in the closet like children. I want to fight brave, heroic creatures! Not children. Killing kids is illegal, you know.
On a lighter note, I'm pretty happy to see that "prize fights" are dying and out and only appear in compatible Painkillers and Serious Sams. No thanks, dear Mr. Carmack, I don't want to grab that armor.
We will now move to THE most annoying annoyance in the annoying history of annoying shooter annoyances. Take a breath, people, and enjoy the drumroll.
Hey there, Sunshine! It's me again!
Don't you just love it when that enemy you just fragged reappears out of nowhere? How does the next proposition sound: if you stay put, you're just going to get swarmed and run out of ammo, so I will now DEMAND that you keep moving. Yeeeep.
Respawning enemies are an epidemic. I simply can't see why any developer would want to do that. They weren't that bad when the occasional zombie reappeared in Ravenholm, but No One Lives Forever 2's Soviet base mission was absolutely horrendous. Same goes for the same game's submarine mission, that spider battle in Doom 3 where you're waiting for that ladder to come down, and what is, in my opinion, the most terrifyingly horrible level in shooter history, Halo's Flood-flooded The Library.
This isn't the tip of the iceberg. It's very bad when there's one or maybe two levels that implement this cheap method of inducing challenge, but it's an absolutely devastatingly critical flaw when certain developers base entire games around them. It doesn't matter how intense the mission can be and how, in the end, you had some fun with the game. Fighting through countless waves of infinitely spawned enemies is just not what I call good game design, and definitely a cheap way of challenging you and keep you going. As cheap as Far Cry's intelligent enemy taunts.
If seeing the same baby is this disturbing, why see the same enemy time and time again?
Everything can be done well. The problem is that most of the things mentioned here tend not to be very well-done in a lot of games. They tend to be tedious, frustrating and at the end of the day - it's all a question of what the shooter is trying to do, or be.
So yes. There are games out there that contain some seriously flawed design that I simply cannot underrstand. For me, a good shooter creates challenge, emotions and good gunplay through good design and a long thourhg process, not something cheap and fast like... respawning enemies, or ways to prolong gametime with bad level design and hair-pulling sniper missions. Here's a toast to a future of well-designed shooters that have no respawning enemies. Please, no more respawning enemies.
Congratulations! You've made it through my new, and admittedly long, editorial. Hope you had some respawning fun reading it. Thank you and see you next time!
One thing I've noticed about Capcom...
- Mar 26, 2010 2:32 pm GMT
- 2 Comments
They sure love to make use of the "virus" plot device, don't they?
In the Resident Evil series, it was the T-Virus,
In the Mega Man X series, it was the Maverick Virus,
In Final Fight: Streetwise, it was "GLOW", which was more of a drug than a virus, but the effect was the same.
Are there other Capcom games that do this that I may be forgetting? I do love Capcom, but I just couldn't help but notice this trend of theirs.
Thoughts on Final Fantasy XIII--Tutorial, Linearity and Bad, Bad Hair
- Mar 22, 2010 12:27 pm GMT
- 35 Comments
I'm about ten hours into Final Fantasy XIII and a few things have struck me about the game so far. Some mild spoilers ahead:
Would You Like to Know More?
Could FFXIII have the longest tutorial in gaming history? Considering I was still getting tutorial menus at around the eight-hour mark, I can't come up with a longer one off the top of my head. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--combat, which starts out as a prettily animated excuse to press the X button--quickly amps things up once you start exploring the paradigm system. Combat came alive for me at around the 10-hour mark, in the boss battle with the Aster Protoflorian--it took me longer to defeat that mutant flower/snail thing than it probably should have but it was the first real glimpse of the power and flexibility of paradigm combat.
The game's unyielding linearity continues to surprise me. That linearity serves the game's mega-extended tutorial well and, from what I understand, it continues well into the game's narrative, only opening up near the end. That's a far cry from the Final Fantasy entries of old; and it precluded me from engaging in the ritual I've engaged in with every FF game up to now: buying the strategy guide along with the game and then proceeding to unlock every item of the game while flipping through the guide page-by-page. Without a guide this time around, there might be the occasional FFXIII nook and cranny I'm missing, but I can't imagine it being that important.
Where There's Hope...
Unlike in previous Final Fantasy games, I don't have strong feelings for any of the characters in XIII. Unlike in FFX, for example, where I liked Yuna and Tidus the moment I saw them; or FFIX, where Vivi's unrelenting cutesiness rubbed me the wrong way from the get-go, I'm not sure I've formed an opinion about anyone in XIII yet. Even Hope and Vanille--two characters who seem to inspire most of the fan ire--haven't gotten on my nerves yet. Vanille can be irritatingly upbeat, of course, but, in the early goings, I think the pairing of her with Sazh makes for some nice moments. And Hope, a character I was sure I would loathe, has had a pretty interesting arc so far, as he tries to cope with his personal loss and what his desire for revenge means to him.
All of that said, I'm still no fan of Hope's haircut, as I've discussed elsewhere. Earlier today I figured out why Hope's 'do is so excruciating to me: it's the exact same cut every woman in the civilized world was wearing circa 2001. Consider:
TLC's Paige Davis
Then again, Hope wasn't the first to rock this style:
Halle Berry, circa 2001:
I will now get on my knees and pray that Final Fantasy's developers never gets wind of Kate Gosselin, else your next Final Fantasy hero might look like this:
But There's No Sense Crying Over Every Mistake...
- Mar 8, 2010 6:30 pm GMT
- 73 Comments
...you just keep on trying 'till you run out of cake. And the science gets done, and you make a neat gun for the people who are still alive."
GLaDOS - "Still Alive"
As we perch on the brink of this year's Game Developers Conference, rumors of some of the biggest gaming establishments of the year are already trickling in. As I have been happily watching the news stream in from various sources, two announced games have particularly grabbed my attention, each one the first sequel to a franchise that altered the face of gaming in ways we never could have predicted. What are these games, you may ask?
With 10,000 new words and 120 new levels, 5th Cell is literally improving on what we thought was impossible in the first place (remember, the first game recognized 22,802 words already). An emphasis is going to be placed on adjectives this time around, which were completely absent in the previous game. I am crossing my fingers that I can give Maxwell a purple bazooka.
While no exact date has been given as of yet, they are planning to release Scribblenauts 2 this fall, only one year after the original. With luck, they may address the control and camera issues present in the first game, and maybe even give the game an actual storyline to help motivate the player, which could make this game...well, how should I put it? REALLY REALLY REALLY COOL. (Calm down, self.)
Well, would you look at that? Three years after the original game was released as a part of The Orange Box, we will be getting Portal 2 this holiday season. I personally find the way they hinted towards this to be a brilliant use of patching - mere days before, the original Portal was updated, adding radios that would play strange messages when positioned correctly, and also adding a slight tweak to the ending scene of the game. The internet community was sent into a tizzy, trying to piece together what all of this meant.
Taking place hundreds of years after the original game, Portal 2 follows Chell, the protagonist from the first game, as she wakes up from stasis (or something like that). GLaDOS, after being nearly destroyed in the first game, has attemped to rebuild the Aperture Science lab, which has not been touched by human hands since the first game, but has instead been overgrown with plants.
And you know what else stinks for Chell?
GLaDOS remembers everything.
The game will be a good sight longer than the original, and will also feature a co-op mode, as well as many new objects to solve puzzles with, like laser-redirecting cubes and paint with strange physical properties. The writing also sounds promising, and they promise not to reuse things like the cake being a lie. I like this fact, because if they did anything more with the cake, we'd all get tired of it, and then I'd be sad! Frankly, I'm extremely excited, even though I still haven't gotten to play the original yet.
Ah, so we have some exciting games coming out towards the end of 2010! Now, I generally like sequels - I like more of a good thing, and if something didn't work the first time, then hopefully it will be fixed the next time around (and the concept of improving on things definitely influnced my title choice, I admit). But, there is something interesting I cannot help but notice: where the general early consensus on Scribblenauts 2 is that it will definetely be better than the first, people are more mixed over Portal 2, a few even going so far as to boycott it already. Why is that?
One word: expectations. Let's talk about sequels and their reception by the denizens of the Internet.
When a game is given a sequel, the opinion can range from joy to sheer hatred, all mostly depending on how the original was received by the public. Let's consider some examples, and hopefully the motivations of the Portal 2 hating minority will become clear.
I suppose I will illustrate some pre-release sequel scenarios to hopefully prove my point. Of course, any of these viewpoints could be wrong once games are released - it's the pre-release hype that is being addressed here.
SITUATION #1: Generally bad game gets sequel. (Slightly edited - now with example!)
So close, so very, very close, and yet so absymally far. I feel your pain, bro - no, actually, I'm lying. I don't.
This isn't hard: if people hate a game, they will automatically assume that anything else related to it will be bad as well (or at least will look upon it with suspicion).
I could not think of a game that followed this pattern, but fellow GameSpot user Just-Adam suggested Tony Hawk's Ride, which is an excellent example - generally panned by the gaming world, it is already recieving a sequel. Hopefully, this quickly-announced Ride 2 means that they have a good idea on how to fix the numerous flaws present in the first game.
SITUATION #2: A game that is generally considered very, very good, but not 'so-good-angels-must-have-descended-to-earth-and-delivered-it-unto-us' gets a sequel.
Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is sometimes considered by fans to be the best game in the series, while others say it's Up Your Arsenal. I prefer Up Your Arsenal myself. I feel like I'm picking one dirty pun over another. >_>
Also pretty straightforward: before release, the sequel will be anticipated with joy that directly correlates to the enjoyment and quality present in the first game. If the sequel improves on what was present in the first game and adds subtle yet fluid improvements, then people will be extremely happy.
MAXWELL I DID NOT TELL YOU TO JUMP IN THE WATER ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL YOURSELF WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.
Alternatively, the original game could have had the potential to be spectacular, but was hindered by inherent flaws, like the character controls in Scribblenauts - how many people here accidentally and repeatedly told Maxwell to jump into a lava pit? *raises hand* While Scribblenauts was amazing in concept and still a very good game, issues like this held it back. Thus, an announced sequel makes fans very, very happy - they know that the developers will almost certainly fix the flaws and improve on the overall experience, and there are not many ways in which they could easily and completely ruin the game.
SITUATION #3: A long-running and popular series, known for being extremely good, plans to release another sequel.
Here's a fun game: Pick any entry in the Final Fantasy series, and count every person who says they hate it. You will get a very large number.
Now, this is where issues begin to pop up among the gaming communities. The more well-known a game is, the more loved it is, and the more hated it is. When any innovation or crazy new thing is announced for an upcoming game, like the voice-acting in Final Fantasy X or the real-time combat of Final Fantasy XII, cries of 'RUINED FOREVER' begin to resound. I think this is mostly driven by fear - if the new game turns out to be bad, all the detractor's joyous memories of the series will be slightly tainted by this new game that failed to live up to expectations.
SITUATION #4: A single game is widely considered to be 'so-good-angels-must-have-descended-to-earth-and-delivered-it-unto-us'. It also is (or seems) self-contained storywise, implying that no further action is necessary in the franchise. The game later gets a sequel.
If you though people complained about Final Fantasy games, then you ain't seen nothing yet. I think the key thing in this type of complaint is that the original game could stand alone. After all, not many people complain about there being three God of War games, because I think the original was set up to have sequels.
Rapture didn't turn out so well at the end of Bioshock. How can there be a game set later in Rapture's timeline? Oh, that's easy - we'll just undo all those plotlines we tied up in the last game! Deus ex machina, baby!
With a game like Bioshock or Portal, most people tend to really like it. It also stands alone, so if you decide to make a sequel, you will probably incur the wrath of said fans, even though they would probably love some more of the game. The problem is, as I have mentioned eariler, expectations. You see, there are sort of only three ways a sequel can go:
#1: It is exactly the same quality as the original game - "Well, this is an okay game, I guess, but it's really the same, so I'm dissapointed."
#2: The game is worse than the original game - "This game SUCKS! HATERAGEHATE YOU HAVE KILLED MY HAPPY MEMORIES OF MY PRECIOUS GAME!"
What is being aimed for is reaction #3: The game is actually better than the original. It takes a very gifted developer to pull this off - keeping the original game intact storywise and fan-reaction-wise while also improving on it and naturally and smoothly adding to the story are not easy feats, especially when a story is pretty much begun and ended in the one game. It takes skill to reopen a plot without breaking down the inherent logic and semblance of reason. The stakes end up extremely high, and this might be why some people don't like the sound of Portal 2. However, I have faith in Valve - The Orange Box looks like a boxfull of joy and happiness, so I think they can pull it off. We shall see...
So, what is the point here? Fans can be silly and fickle, which is sometimes justified. Developers should be careful when they make sequels to wildly sucessful games (unless they have established that they plan to do this sort of thing). And Portal 2 and Scribblenauts 2 are happening, and this makes me a happy person.
Oh, and have a happy Game Developers Conference, everyone!
Polling the masses: Should DRM lower review scores?
- Feb 18, 2010 10:29 am GMT
- 262 Comments
I guess I have to use my Soapbox emblem sometimes, just to keep my massive, muscular ego intact and accounted for. So, my proposition for you all is simple. I will explain the question and present my take. Then we can discuss things in the comments. If we all have a rollocking good time I'll write another soapbox article on any general concensus and/or good quotes.
If you weren't aware, Ubisoft has been testing a new form of Digital Rights Management (aka DRM, a form of software intended to thwart piracy) on their newer PC games, notably Settlers 7 and Assassin's Creed 2.
This new form of DRM Ubisoft is using will periodically check for an internet connection, and if found, will verify the game with remote servers. If a internet connection is not found, or the servers cannot be contacted, the game will refuse to run and will quit automatically without saving.
(I want to interject my own explaination here and say that Ubisoft's last unpopular DRM scheme, StarForce, was eventually abandonded after it failed to stop piracy, much like every other DRM scheme concocted thus far).
A usually mild-mannered PC gaming blog erupts in rage. The comments are filled with bitter consumers who wanted a game that they will now refuse to buy. Some commentors lash back by threatening to pirate the game, which at this point is perhaps the only way to catch Ubisoft's attention these days.
The issue here is that Ubisoft intentionally made the PC edition of the game worse than the console version. This is unsurprising - publishers aren't huge fans of the PC game platform. The box now contains an intentionally worse product.
My initial question is, "How can we tell Ubisoft that this is wrong?" If you do not think that this DRM scheme is wrong, why not?
My second question is, "Should game reviewers, such as Gamespot, IGN, PC Gamer or Rock Paper Shotgun, lower their review scores because of this worse product?"
The main question stems from how you see PC game reviews. Should they stick to the game itself? If we need to discuss a buggy game (such as GTA4 for PC, which was pretty dreadful on launch) shouldn't we discuss a game that has been intentionally created buggy and unappealing?
I feel that because a gamer cannot play this game WITHOUT the DRM without resorting to illegal means, it should be included in review scores and the review itself. The reason I think this will work is because Ubisoft tends not to care about the complaints of people not buying their game who want to, but they'll certainly grab their notebooks when their metacritic score starts to dive. If reviewers react negatively to DRM, then the publisher may have to take action. Remember that it was Ubisoft who decided to stop working with Ziff Davis (Eletronic Gaming Monthly, 1up.com and CGW/GFW) because they scored a game too low.
The polls are open, ladies and gentlemen. Please be respectful of my and everyone else's opinions. What do you have to say on the subject?
Has Forza Left Gran Turismo In The Dust?
- Feb 7, 2010 10:45 pm GMT
- 50 Comments
Recently, we all received the not so surprising news that the long awaited Gran Turismo 5 had been delayed...again. Instead of having the eagerly anticipated racing game in our hands by early spring, now no one is really sure when we will see GT5 grace store shelves. While many of us are disappointed, the boys at Microsoft are giddy as their own stellar Forza motorsport franchise remains unchallenged a while longer. But, it got me thinking. Is Forza now the superior franchise in the racing game genre? Its a topic worthy of some discussion and it is made all the more sexy by the fact that GT is a Sony exclusive and Forza is a Microsoft exclusive. Fanboys on all sides....start your engines.
Let's take a trip down memory lane as history is always useful to gain perspective as to the present and future. As we all know, GT did not invent the racing genre. But, in 2001, it redefined it with a vengeance. This was when Gran Turismo 3 came out. While the original GT and GT2 were fine games (the sheer number of cars available in GT2 were somewhat mind numbing) it was GT3 that was the first driving game on the PS2 that really showed what that platform was capable of. With over 30 meticulously detailed tracks and close to 150 stunningly recreated cars, GT3 blew many of us away. How many of you remember the first time you experienced the glare of sun on asphalt and said, "Wow!" I know I did. GT3 added an amazing amount of realism to the physics behind the cars, but it was the endless tuning options that made things so interesting and genuinely unique each time you played it. With so many racing events to play through, the quest to unlock more cars and better parts never got old. If you weren't a fan of the racing genre, you were after you played GT3.
Fast forward to February of 2005, the last time we all got a true, full version of a GT game. That was when Gran Turismo 4 came out. Before I go on, think about that for a moment. It has been 5 years since a true Gran Turismo game was released. Talk about resting on your laurels! Anyway...GT4 one upped GT3 in almost every way imaginable. It had more than 50 tracks and a still incredible 700 cars to choose from. The graphics were even better this time out, even for the PS2. The physics were improved and tuning your car became more intuitive and seemed to make more sense. The career mode was even larger than before and there were mini-missions, rally events, even drag races to play around with. But, GT4 had its issues. It was delayed several times before finally being released (sound familiar?). And, its biggest flaw? No online play. True, the PS2's online capabilities was rather lame most of the time. But, so many of us had wanted GT4 to have an online component, and we had heard for so long that it would (in fact, that's why many of assumed the delays were necessary) when it released with no online play at all, it was a major disappointment. But, lurking on the horizon, Microsoft was about to launch a new franchise that would challenge GT in more ways than we thought possible.
Three months after GT4 came out, Forza Motorsport debuted on the original Xbox. Forza was not the first driving sim for the Xbox and games such as Project Gotham Racing and PGR2 (both excellent titles in their own right) had demonstrated what the Xbox was capable of as far as driving games went. But, Forza was different. Though not anywhere near as large in scope as GT4 had been (only about 230 cars for example), Forza was more user friendly than GT4 was. The game seemed more forgiving than GT4 for folks learning the ropes (like me). A big plus for the game was the graphics. As good as GT4 looked, the vastly superior power of the Xbox as opposed to the PS2 came to light when one compared Forza to GT4. All of that eye candy, however, was not the biggest advantage Forza had over GT4. The big advantage was the fact that Forza had online play through Xbox Live and GT did not have any online play. Again, please note that Forza was not the first Xbox racer to have online play (PGR 2 had it earlier for instance). But, Forza had been designed with XBL in mind the entire time and in really showed whenever you went online to play. It was never perfect (when is online play ever really perfect) but the online experience was very, very solid. The Xbox 360 was about 5 months away, but as the past generation was about to end, Forza had, arguably, surpassed GT already. Others would say that the online play did not matter much because GT had Forza whipped as far as modes and just the sheer depth of the games. Most of us figured that the issue would likely be decided when the next gen consoles came around.
As things would turn out, we would have to wait about 2.5 years to get our first indications as to how this would play out. About 2 years after the original Forza was released, Forza 2 came out on the 360. It improved on the original in about every way we could have expected. Obviously, the technological advantages of the 360 made forsignificant graphical improvements, but we also saw an improvement in the AI over the original game. Beyond that, the game had a more GT feel to it with more cars, more tracks, and many more modes than the first Forza had. The online play was improved and the online events were unlike anything we had yet seen in a driving game. There were online tournaments and, in a nice touch, your online performance would generate cash that could be used in your offline career mode. So, as of 2007, Forza had taken over as the racing game to beat and many of us wondered if/when Gran Turismo would respond.
In reality, GT5 had been talked about since the PS3 launched. Gran Turismo HD had been a teaser for many of us since the PS3 first hit the market. Thus, we all waited patiently for an official launch date for GT5. What we got instead was GT5 Prologue. Released in April of 2008, Prologue boasted only 6 tracks. But, those 6 tracks were amazing. From a purely graphical standpoint, Prologue was superior to Forza 2 with each track recreated with mesmerizing detail. Little things like store fronts on some of the tracks made the tracks something special. The game looked and felt like a GT game, but with some nice new features. Ferrari made its long awaited debut in a GT game. And, for the first time, a GT game had online play. But, the online modes felt tacked on and somewhat unfinished. Still, it was a nice appetizer for the main course, even though it felt like a glorified demo more than anything else. For GT fans though, it heightened the anticipation for GT5 considerably. But, instead of GT5, Forza stepped back in and went for the knockout.
At the end of October of 2009, Forza 3 was released and as good as Forza 2 was, Forza 3 was even better. Taking virtually everything Forza 2 did well and tweaking it to nearly the point of perfection, Forza 3 set the bar for all driving sim games that hope to supplant it. This is particularly true with the online aspect of the game where modes such as drag and drift have been honed to perfection. Yet, what Forza 3, and for that matter the entire Forza franchise does so well, is it continues to be so accessible to driving fans of all levels. Forza specializes in a customizable experience where you can make the game as hard or as easy as you like. This intangible quality is what, in my opinion, gives Forza a leg up on GT, at least for now.
So, has Forza left GT in its dust? Even the most ardent Gran Turismo fan would be hard pressed to argue otherwise. Forza came out of nowhere on the prior generation of consoles and truly challenged GT's supremacy; with this generation, it has surpassed it.In this current generation of consoles, Forza has delivered with two stunning games while all GT has given us is a demo version of GT5. Yes, Gran Turismo PSP is an awesome game, especially for a handheld. But, it is mostly tracks and cars we have seen before. Until GT5 comes out, I believe the only conclusion one can draw is that Forza is now the racing franchise to beat. GT5 has tons of potential. If it can integrate a full NASCAR season mode into what I am sure will be a fantastic GT career mode, we could see a truly stellar title. And, if the online play is refined a bit over what we got in Prologue, GT5 should be every bit as good, if not better, than Forza 3. With GT5 being delayed again, however, who knows when any of us will get to draw that comparison.
Until then, I'll keep playing Forza 3...and loving every minute of it.
Video Game Addiction
- Jan 28, 2010 11:38 am GMT
- 274 Comments
Last night I watched an episode of MTV's True Life about video game addiction. It followed two college students who were struggling to maintain their video game playing with their work and relationships. Playing hours upon hours of Call of Duty, Halo, and Fallout, the two gamers were escaping into virtual worlds where the pressures of real life couldn't touch them. They both were able to balance their gaming habits and their lives to achieve some success during one of their final semesters of college, but I didn't feel that it adequately portrayed how difficult it is to overcome.
Video game addiction is a taboo subject in the industry. Gamers and developers alike see the debate over whether or not video game addiction exists as an attack on the bourgeoning industry. Accepting that video games have addictive qualities is often perceived as giving ammunition to anti-video game lobbyists who seek to control the creation, sale, and use of video games, especially to children.
As a gamer who worked with the Entertainment Consumer's Association (ECA) trying to protect the rights of gamers from infringements of their rights as consumers, I felt as though I was in a tough position. The truth of the matter is that I knew I was addicted to video games.
During middle school I played video games more than the average person, but no more than an hour a day. I loved video games, but I was able to balance it well with my commitments at school, to my sports teams, and to my family. However, as I moved to high school my love of games developed into an obsession. I began to buy lots of games for a lot of different systems and I also discovered the vastness of the video game community online.
I played video games for a couple hours a day while balancing it with the other parts of my life. This balance was disrupted because of something that happened one day at school. Unfortunately, while at a big public high school I was the victim of a robbery at knife point when I was 15. Oddly enough it was my Game Boy SP which was stolen from me. This experience was quite a traumatic one. Despite the kid getting caught and arrested, I soon found myself suffering from anxiety attacks and depression associated with the incident. My personal way of dealing with these issues was to jump head first into a lot of video games.
Playing tons of games was a way to escape the problems that I was dealing with at the time. My time spent gaming increased exponentially over the next year as well as my time spent on video game websites. Essentially my goal was to ostracize myself from my inner demons-- a goal that I unfortunately sucessfully achieved.
My video game playing consumed my other interests and hobbies. I was no longer playing sports, reading, or doing many of the other activities that made me happy in the past. I relied on video games and soon I found myself addicted, unable to stop playing. Around this time the Xbox 360 launched and I became obsessed with getting achievement points. I played hundreds of (mostly crappy) games in order to get a high gamerscore and to impress my circle of friends. However, about this same time I found that I was using video games primarily as a mood regulator, a way for me to make myself feel better when I was feeling upset or nervous. In the past, I utilized exercise to help me feel better, but excercising was yet another casualty of my video game obbession.
My parents approached me on several occassions wanting to talk about my addiction to video games. They saw it negatively affecting my life and were worried about me. At first, like any addict, I resisted. I didn't have a problem, I could stop playing whenever I wanted to. I just really liked video games, I want to work in the industry! However, it was clear to my parents and friends that my gaming habits had consumed my life and I was unwilling and unable to stop playing.
My parents made the decision to take away my video games to prevent me from playing, hoping that going cold-turkey would help me re-realize my other interests. If you couldn't predict, this strategy didn't work well. Without my games I was unable to deal with my anxieties and low mood state that I had beeen struggling with constantly since my violent encounter a few years before. I reacted badly. I began lying to my parents and played games behind their back. I was able to get money together to buy a Nintendo DS and play it at school or in my locked room while pretending to do homework. In addition, the lack of video games didn't inhibit me from thinking about them all the time. I had the internet!
Realizing that their strategy wasn't working my parents relented and let me have my games back. Playing video games wasn't preventing me from doing well in school but it was preventing me from having a vibrant teenage social life. Over the course of these years I distanced myself from certain friends who didn't have the same kind of commitment to gaming that I did. Needless to say, my circle of friends shrank dramatically.
I finally admitted that I had a problem with video game addiction in my senior year of high school. Instead of just playing games all the time or wasting time on internet forums talking about them, I began to read about the inner workings and history of the industry, as well as starting to do freelance video game journalism. This limitation of game time allowed me to live a more balanced and successful life. In addition, I lost a good amount of weight and was excited to start college.
Freshmen year was going pretty well until I had another life altering moment that rekindled my video game addiction. I was given the news a few months into the semester that I had a horrible illness. Understandably distraught, the news derailed my life and caused me to start playing video games obsessively again. I couldn't and didn't want to deal with my health problems and I filled the void with games.
That summer, I realized that I was once again addicted to video games. I needed to figure out a way to deal with the addiction because it was preventing me from living a fulfilling life. Slowly but surely I began to limit my game playing. Instead of having three systems around me at all times, I had one. Instead of buying a dozen games a month, I bought one. When I yearned to sit around playing games when I was feeling worried or anxious about my health situation, I forced myself to go and excercise.
Over time I realized that I was no longer using video games as a mood regulator. I was buying and playing a lot fewer games, but at the same time I was becoming well-read about the issues surrounding the industry. My passion for other things, particularly sports and reading, came back quickly. Games were no longer an addiction--they were a hobby. More importantly, my increase in knowledge of the video game industry opened up new opportunities to me.
I used to write blogs on Gamespot all the time and I used to play hours of games a day. Video games and the gaming culture had become an addiction. My admitting that there was a problem was the first step to alievating the situation. Obviously my story is an extreme and some will see this as nothing more than a diatribe against video games and the people who play them. However, I still am a gamer and I realize that like so many other things (drugs, alcohol, movies, music, books, sex), video games need to be used in moderation. My experiences shouldn't lend credence to anti-video game lobbyist's arguments about preventing the use or sale of video games but should rather inform peopl that like so many other things video games can be addicting.
Video games don't need warning labels about their addictive qualities, but the games industry shouldn't ignore the fact that they can turn from hobby to obsession to addiction. What we need is more dialogue about the issue. Hopefully this article will spread some awareness around this great gaming community.
Mass Effect 2 DLC
- Jan 25, 2010 1:39 pm GMT
- 80 Comments
(Throughout this I am talking from the perspective of an Xbox 360 owner. I do not know how the topics I discuss differ on the PC, if they even do at all.)
Well, the day is about here. I have been looking forward to the release of Mass Effect 2 since I beat the original back in late 2007/early 2008, and the original stands as one of my favorite games this generation. Sure, it had its problems, like the monotony of planetary exploration, texture pop-ins, etc., but overall the game was absolutely superb, and its sequel promises to be just as if not more superb. But, before we get into Mass Effect 2, let's discuss the past few years.
Initially, Bioware discussed the possibility/likelihood a steady stream of DLC for Mass Effect which would supplement the game while fans waited for the sequel. Early on, this seemed like it might happen, as the Bring Down the Sky DLC was released a few months after the game's release. It wasn't the best DLC I have ever purchased, but it was a nice addition to the game. But, from there, the DLC stopped. There was no word of anything, not until this year, when the Pinnacle station DLC was released. Unfortunately, that addition to Mass Effect was rather poor and exploitative. I think the first sentence of Kevin VanOrd's review of the add-on sums it up spectacularly: "Like a diseased steak thrown to the wolves, so this travesty of a downloadable add-on has been tossed to hungry Mass Effect fans."
This, as a fan of the game, was mightily disappointing. I do not know why Bioware's promise never came to fruition; perhaps the business with EA caused too much ruckus, they wanted to more heavily focus on Mass Effect 2, whatever the reason may be, it was terribly disappointing to me as a fan, and Pinnacle station only worsened the sting. But, with the release of Mass Effect 2 mere months away, I got over the frustration rather quickly. Flash forward to last week: Bioware announces that new copies of Mass Effect 2 would come bundled with a code to download DLC which includes new items and characters, as well as future free DLC (but I personally believe that only small things will be offered for free trough it, the bigger things are likely going to cost us, so I'm tempering my expectations there) downloadable from day one right into the game.
Initially, my reaction was one of excitement. Naturally, after the DLC drought Mass Effect suffered, the addition of DLC to Mass Effect 2 from day one seems to hold great promise for content in the future. But now that I have had time to reflect upon this new announcement, I am not so thrilled.
I, as a college student, do not have very much money. The majority of the money I have goes into books and other expenses that I do not have a great amount of money left over to spend on myself. Therefore, outside of games like the new Call of Duty and Mass Effect 2, games I have been looking forward to with great excitement for some time, I buy used games to save the valuable commodity of money. The way I see it, this move by Bioware is a cheap shot at people like me. Say I were to wait a few months, maybe even a year or so, as I do with most big releases that I have interest in these days, and buy the game used at GameStop (or online, whatever) for say, $40, saving me $20. If I did this with Mass Effect 2, I would then have to spend $15 more in order to get the full experience of the game that someone who bought it new would get, nullifying any savings of buying used, which is what people like me thrive on due to economic limitations.
And what about those people who borrow the game from their friends? They cannot experience the full game unless they want to drop some cash on the DLC which came pre-packaged with new copies of the game. Now, if this was DLC that was released, say, a few months after the game's release, this would not bother me as much, as I see it as addition to the main experience of the game. But the fact that it is pre-packaged says to me that it is part of the main game, as it was meant to be played, and that this had to be planned by Bioware/EA/whoever. This to me means they developed it alongside the game, knowing it would not be put into the main game, instead having it as an add-on downloadable via unique code, which will, I imagine, like most other DLC's, be tied to the Xbox it is downloaded on, meaning it cannot be shared with friends.
On the surface, it may look like a good gesture by Bioware, but deep down there really seems to be no reason for this except for scraping a few bucks out of people who buy the game used or share it with their friends. If it becomes a trend, game developers could keep making more and more of the game come pre-packaged with new copies, further undermining the possibility of buying a game used and expecting to have the full experience without paying a premium. Perhaps the entire idea of DLC could be viewed in this light, but pre-packaging a game with a bunch of content not available from the disk seems to be taking a larger step in that direction than simple add-ons like Bring Down the Sky.
I'm still buying the game of course, it looks amazing, and I'm sure based on what I've read it will be better than the original. But as a fan of the game, I suppose I ask that you see this move for what it is, and pray that it doesn't become a larger trend. I won't ask anyone who buys the game used to avoid downloading it, because I know I would, but I'd hope that sales of it are not strong. I realize Bioware is a company that is trying to make money, but that doesn't make this action on their part bother me any less. I seem to be in the minority here based on comments I have read in the news article, as most see it as a fan service, and perhaps it is to some extent, and for all I know my suspicions could be without merit. But unfortunately, I can't shake the feeling of an ulterior motive behind this, one that bothers me greatly.
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