AK the Twilight has a blog
I mostly post here concerning games and my reviews, which I try to upload thoroughly and/or as frequently as I feel. If you comment on one of my blog posts, I'll return the favor and comment on yours. Hope you like the reviews and the blogs!
Hi, everyone. I have another review ready this week. Should you check out The Darkness II? Read my review here!
(Remember, you can check out brand-new reviews from me on DefaultPrime.com, weeks before you see them on Gamespot!)
In case you didn't know, I didn't update my blog last week. It was a hectic time. I was completing major papers, trudging through projects, and getting one step closer to obtaining my bachelor's degree in journalism. Last Saturday, I sat in a polyester cap and gown in the baking sun, but I reached my goal of being a college graduate. No more classes.
With all of that behind me, I reunited with some of my old high school friends and we played some Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Halo: Reach, and even broke out the Rock Band for a little while. Gaming is better with friends, yeah.
I wanted to see my friends because I would be leaving them for my new home in the Northeast tomorrow. These guys that I grew up with in a suburb of the Midwest, I can't really tell when the next time I'll see them will be. I wanted to offer one last experience with them before it all begins anew. My next step is uncertain, but know that I still love video games and I will continue to write about them here and on DefaultPrime.com.
Hope everyone's doing well. Take care, everyone!
This week's review comes from a budding RPG series. Call it "baby's first Skyrim" if you want, but here's my review of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for the 360!
(Remember, you can check out brand-new reviews from me on DefaultPrime.com, weeks before you see them on Gamespot!)
After finishing up with Street Fighter X Tekken, my Gamefly account has been rather slow. I did receive Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, but I was hoping to get Prototype 2 on release. Sadly, that hasn't happened.
So, it was the first time in a while that I had to rely on games that I already owned for entertainment. It's a good feeling being able to play games that you just plain like instead of games that you hope you like.
I dove back into Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which is just as fun as I remember. The single-player alone still was enormously unfinished, so I got some Achievements, unlocked some new armor, and actually finished the cryptic puzzles of the glyphs. I thought I had gotten all of them; apparently I had yet to, but it's all good now. I want to play Assassin's Creed: Revelations, but with my reviewing duties, I need to stay up to speed on new releases.
My gamer history also notes my return to Banjo-Kazooie on XBLA. Now I have finished this game. Gotten all Jiggies, notes, extra honeycomb, hidden codes, and Achievements. But this remains a game that I love playing. Just replaying a game that you love, even if you've completed it to that level, that's what gaming is about. After I finish it, I plan on replaying Banjo-Tooie as well. Maybe even Nuts and Bolts.
Oh yeah, and I gave up my Vita. Sorry, everyone, but I just didn't have much fun with it. The coming releases aren't enticing me. I might buy a 3DS sometime soon (maybe with graduation gifts), but that's in the slightly distant future. Besides, I wanted to use the funds to pay for a veterinary examination for my pet cat back home.
That's my report for this week! Hope everyone's doing well, and take care!
Hey, everyone! Another week means another review, so check out my verdict on Alan Wake's American Nightmare for XBLA!
(Remember, you can check out brand-new reviews from me on DefaultPrime.com, weeks before you see them on Gamespot!)
I recently got a chance to play the Skullgirls demo on XBLA, only to completely lose the first arcade mode battle. Yeah. I'm not good at fighting games. Still, I want to play as Parasoul in her alternate costume, which references a character from a particular anime that I'm a fan of...*points to avatar picture*
Continuing with the fighting game theme, I finally got around to playing Street Fighter X Tekken, which to my surprise, isn't nearly as difficult to get into as Blazblue or Skullgirls. The moves are responsive, but just deep enough to be worth practicing. With my main from Super Street Fighter IV, Juri, being available, I'm eager to keep playing Street Fighter X Tekken. I am cautious as to how Namco will make Tekken X Street Fighter, what with Hadokens in 3D mostly (sidestep!).
School is nearly done where I am. Graduation approaches and the real world is moving toward me fast. It's exciting, but scary too. I hope to get some better equipment for video productions too. I'm considering getting a new capture device so I can make more videos, along with a lapel mic for easier audio recording. Yeah, I'm going all out. Still, a friend of mine is demanding that I get Battlefield 3 so I can play on Xbox Live with her, so we'll see how that all goes.
Hope everyone's doing well. Take care!
Back for a weekly review delivery! Check out my review of Soul Calibur V here!
After the debacle that was Ninja Gaiden 3, I've shifted my attention to another action game, or should I say three of them. Next on my list is Devil May Cry HD Collection, and let me tell ya, these are old games. Don't get me wrong; I love DMC 3: Dante's Awakening. I could go so far as call it one of my favorite games for the PS2. It's the others that are feeling weak. The first DMC in particular has the Resident-Evil-static-camera condition. I know that Devil May Cry pretty much built the third-person action game genre, but some things just don't hold, especially with games like Ninja Gaiden for Xbox and God of War available. I'm still trudging through DMC: HDC FTW BBQ.
Also, I'm considering revisiting Banjo-Kazooie on my 360. After seeing a ton of videos online about it, I'm thinking about checking the games out once more. Those level themes are so damn catchy! I'm also looking into starting Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts again. I know that there are people who didn't like Nuts and Bolts because it wasn't a proper Banjo-Kazooie platformer, but I'm not afraid to say that it was a fun game FOR WHAT IT WAS. It didn't need Banjo-Kazooie to be good; it was a well-designed and creative game that just seemed to slip the license in under the table.
I'm actually further considering trading in my Vita. I'm just not having too much fun with it; I feel like I jumped the gun when the launch came. The upcoming games for Vita feel forced and unappealing. I really want to play Kid Icarus: Uprising, so I'm debating as to whether or not I should get a 3DS. The game library has opened up considerably for the 3DS, but I don't want to jump the gun on that either. School is winding down, and just having some spare cash would be beneficial. It's all up in the air, though.
Hope everyone's doing well. Take care!
With some bigger reviews behind me and more on the way, I thought I'd upload a review of a quirky little XBLA title called Quarrel. As a fan of Scrabble, I had to pick up this one. Here's the review!
I have been playing...sigh...Ninja Gaiden 3. Now, when I first got Ninja Gaiden for Xbox, I was in over my head from square one. I had seen a number of reviews tell me it was difficult, along with some videos about how to beat the first boss. It was X-Play back when it was on TechTV. You know, when it was good. Yeah. But I digress...
Ninja Gaiden was a bully. It was a thug who stole your lunch money everyday, but each day, when Ninja Gaiden came over and robbed you, you got stronger and stronger until eventually you were able to overcome that challenge and stand up to them. When I finished Ninja Gaiden, I was finally overcoming a bully. Ninja Gaiden didn't steal my lunch money ever again.
Though I skipped over Ninja Gaiden 2, I did begin playing Ninja Gaiden 3 last week. Aside from earning a ton of achievements within the first five minutes of the game, I noticed that something was different about Ninja Gaiden in the third installment. There were quick-time events everywhere. The combat was unresponsive and clunky. The battles weren't fear-inducing, they were tiresome. Oh, and I could clear out a crowd of enemies by pressing the X button over and over. I didn't have to move the analog sticks; I just had to press the X button and let the auto-lock-on do the work.
I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything with Ninja Gaiden 3. I feel like I'M the bully. I feel like I'm picking on something weaker and worse off than me. It's disappointing really, since this is a way for Team Ninja to prove that Itagaki wasn't the bonding agent for the series. Sadly, the more I dive into Ninja Gaiden 3, the more I feel worse about myself.
Hope that sociological inquiry didn't bum anyone out. I am taking breaks with Rocksmith, so it's not all bad. Hope everyone's doing well. Take care!
I've been meaning to write up a review for this one since the end of last year. Here's my Gamespot-exclusive review of Portal 2!
With Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning behind me, I've moved on to The Darkness II, which claims to be a "quad-wielding shooter." Yes, you can equip two guns and use creepy darkness tentacles to attack enemies in gory, gory ways. It's fun so far, but it can feel a bit monotonous at times.
I'm currently working towards Ninja Gaiden 3 as well, but I'm questioning how fun it'll be. I haven't heard the best from the community about it.
Not too much else to report, folks. Take care!
Oh man, I've been waiting to post this here for a good long while. Check out my review of NeverDead!
After becoming an official member of the review community, I have been exploring potential futures for my review crafting. While being a paid reviewer is my ultimate gaming dream, I invested some recent attention into a new book. Actually, my sister got it for me for my birthday, but...yeah.
The book is called Critical Path: How To Review Videogames for a Living. It's written by Dan Amrich, an official reviewer in the gaming community. Essentially, it's a book on how to become a reviewer for videogames, but it does go deeper than that. Amrich tackles all of the important fields of reviewing from proper grammar and spelling to getting your review out in the public eye. Amrich also talks about some funny occurrences in his reviewing life, such as a reader sending in his resume to Amrich's then-employment. The reader purposely condemned a piece of mis-information that Amrich's group had published, while sending in his resume which was filled with gaming accomplishments like finishing Final Fantasy III in two days, but no writing experience. Sad, isn't it?
This book was actually suggested to me by an editor of mine, who also gave me direction to the videogame version of the etiquette as well. For those of you who don't know, writing in a journalistic fashion requires certain writing procedures. Journalists follow the AP book, a sacred text in journalism. Apparently, videogames have a similar book, which shows you how you're supposed to spell Xbox, how to attribute company names, and that proper gaming etiquette requires the term to be spelled "videogame", not "video game."
I'm enjoying this book, since my forte is reviewing games, so if you're looking to get into reviewing, I'd suggest picking up a copy of Critical Path. Amazon has a reasonable price for it, and who knows? Maybe we'll be reading your reviews on some big-name gaming website soon!
I'm still aiming to write up my "I Am Reviewer, And So Can You!" guide, but with my work as a professional reviewer at DefaultPrime.com, it's starting to be a big deal. I write reviews, participate in the podcast, and promote the stories on the news sites. However, I do HIGHLY recommend visiting the League of Reviewers union. Good 'ol @pspitus is bringing it back, so if you're interested in showing off your reviewing chops to the community, visit it and see what happens!
Well, that's my story on reviews this week. Enjoy the text, take care, and read my review of NeverDead. I don't want anyone suffering through what I did...
Brand new review of Saints Row: The Third! This one is wild! Check it out!
I've been pretty busy these days, with school and gaming, but I'm having time to get a PS Vita and Touch My Katamari with it. Before trying that, though, I picked up Motorstorm RC for free yesterday. It's fun...as a diversion. I like the Vita's interface and online functionality. I don't like the low battery life.
On the console side, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is my focus. It's pretty much what would happen if Skyrim and God of War had a kid. I'm pretty hooked on it right now. It has the RPG variety you'd expect from Bethesda, but has a solid action element to keep things accessible. Once again, I'm having trouble following the main quest. I keep getting distracted by side-quests and simply running around fighting enemies. About five hours in and I'm still barely beginning the main quest!
Also, another anniversary from Gamespot. Another year.
Take care everyone!
Looking for a new review? Here's my review of Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. Enjoy!
In the meantime...
In between my sessions of Quarrel and Bastion, while I wait for my copies of NeverDead and Soul Calibur V to arrive, I happily received my beta code for Gotham City Impostors, a quirky multiplayer shooter with more humor than you can shake a Batarang at.
But before I begin, this has been bothering me for a while. Is that really how you spell the title correctly? Ever since I played the Pokemon TCG in elementary school, I came across two ways to spell "imposter." Is it "impostEr" or "impostOr?" Gotham City Impostors spells it with an "O" while I've seen it spelled with an "E." Want some proof of my confusion? Here are visual comparisons of the first Pokemon TCG card to offer this debate:
WHICH ONE IS REAL?
Okay, okay, moving on. After a pretty tedious log-in, I associated myself with the tutorial and dived into my first match. Players take sides of Batman or The Joker while capturing gas machines in a constant tug-o-war. While gunning down opponents, capturing gas machines tips the scale in your team's favor, until one team earns enough energy to bring hell upon their opponents. Earning more gas machine control speeds up the process. Simple.
Of course, this really doesn't have much to do with Batman. In fact, aside from obtainable grapples, gliders, and the occasional Joker chatter over the intercom, Gotham City ImpostORS really doesn't do much with the license. It's more Team Fortress 2 than Arkham City. It's surreal seeing Bat….people running around gunning each other down with machine guns than sneaking up behind them and knocking them out.
By far, Gotham City ImpostORS is a competent shooter that seems to bridge the gap between full-on team play and lone wolf shooterfests. I was very surprised how much I was able to contribute to my team, even in the heat of battle. Though there are customizable loadouts, roles are kept to a solid minimum. Just grab a rifle and defend your side. It's simple enough to be accessible, but cooperative enough to keep friends and rivals on board. While roles are essential in games like Battlefield 3 and individual strength is a must in games like Modern Warfare, Gotham City Whatevers finds a good middle ground.
I found myself getting lost in the game for a solid period of time. Controls work well, especially the grapples, and there's a ton of goofiness in the game. Trampolines and air ducts are scattered across the maps, while occasional boosts in defense, speed, and such will randomly appear on the stage for lucky battlers to claim. I'm tempted to change my motto on Xbox Live to "headshot tater tot," a wacky victory line in the game.
All in all, if you have access to the beta, you'll find a lot to love. It doesn't take itself seriously at all, but it's competent as a shooter, cooperative as a team game, and just open-ended enough to give lone wolves something to work for. If Team Fortress 2 isn't doing it for you, Gotham City Impostors is looking to be a fun downloadable diversion, however you decide to spell it.
Take care, everyone!
Hey, everyone! I finally got around to finishing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for PS3, so I wrote up a review for your enjoyment! Check it out here!
I recently checked out Saints Row: The Third for my 360, and man, what a wacky game. After the first hour, I've battled a group of teleporting cosplayers, free-fell while shooting enemies, and listened to my character sing Sublime's "What I Got." It has the trappings of GTA, but it obviously doesn't take itself seriously. After so much positive feedback from the gaming community, I can easily see why it's so fun. I'm really enjoying it.
Not much else to report at the moment, but look for more reviews soon!
A brand-new review has surfaced! Check out my verdict on Sonic Generations for the 360!
I took a look at the Asura's Wrath demo on Xbox Live earlier this week and was blown away. However, whether being blown away was a good or bad sign is still up in the air. I really like the sheer epic nature of the game. The battles are so enormously scaled; Asura himself actually fights off a planet-sized deity in the first mission of the demo. In my eyes, it was God of War meets Saiyuki meets Gurren Lagann. It's just huge.
However, the game just can't shake off that feeling of being one big quick-time-event. In the first mission of the demo, there were barely any moments where I wasn't on rails or hammering on the B button to fend off an attack. It pushes even God of War's level of "press X to not die" situations. I definitely like Asura's Wrath's aesthetic design, but if the game turns out to rely too much on quick-time-events, the lack of depth will make a negative impact for sure.
In between the demo, I've been playing Rayman Origins and I'm pleasantly surprised both at how great this game looks AND the challenge in the missions. Each level has plenty of ways to play, including speed challenges, hidden areas, and plenty of Lums to seek out. A review is on the way.
Hope everyone is doing well. Take care!
To celebrate 2012, I finally have posted my review for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Enjoy!
There isn't much else to report at the moment, but I'm aiming to post more reviews in the near future. Look for reviews of Sonic Generations, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, and Portal 2 very soon!
With the PS Vita beginning to lose steam in Japan, I wanted to write a new blog on the system (which will be posted either at the end of this week or next week). I'm still incredibly excited for it, but I can't help but remain nervous seeing the sales taking such nosedives so quickly. Who here is hoping to buy the Vita at launch?
Take care, everyone!
It's nearly 2012, everyone. So many things have happened this year, so I thought I offer my views on the year, specifically with the games that stole the most out of my life in 2011. Here's my picks for the year, five games that I thought defined my gaming experience for 2011! Enjoy
5. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile (XBLA)
This intense Devil May Cry-esque action title definitely didn't get the recognition it deserved. While other XBLA games like Ms. Splosion Man and Bastion got a ton of attention and coverage from the gaming community, James Silva's grim and frightening 2D slasher sequel was an immensely satisfying game that refined the thrilling combat that the series built itself upon. The buttery-smooth attacks and macabre visual design were stunning to watch, but even better to play. The game had stellar aesthetics, but possessed a remarkably playful tone behind its bloody space opera theme (take a look at boss "The Invalid" and you'll see what I mean). 2D games have made a mark on downloadable services like the Xbox Live Arcade, and Silva has made his particular mark a bloody and gruesome one. For anyone who passed on this fantastic XBLA exclusive, you're missing out on one of the finest action games released this year, downloadable or otherwise.
4. You Don't Know Jack (360)
One of the most overlooked games this year, You Don't Know Jack was a trivia game with a big…uh…ego. Jellyvision's bizarre and humor-laden party game took the traditional multiple-choice question format and made every single challenge a laugh-out-loud one. Cookie Masterson's hilarious delivery made it a great hit with my trivia loving family, even when the game started asking raunchier questions. Whether you're digging through trash from celebrities trying to identify them or hearing Cookie's nasty chewing noises after devouring his umpteenth fortune cookie, the game had wackiness to burn and always kept me (and my family) coming back for more. It's available on every home console this generation, so there is no reason to miss out on this extremely clever trivia game.
3. Pokemon Black (DS)
I dug dozens of hours into Pokemon Black only to realize that this is much, much bigger than your typical Pokemon game. It just felt good not having to recapture those damn Zubat! But seriously, folks, Pokemon Black and White may feel a bit too familiar for the more experienced RPG fans, but they are addictive pieces of game design that make the entire process of catching 'em all faster and more fluid than ever before. A remarkably captivating narrative and challenging battles combined with some pretty cool monster and character design made Pokemon Black and White immensely gripping. I know many people have been spending time in Arkham City or Skyrim this year, but I can say that without a doubt, I spent the most time this year in Unova. And I'm not leaving. You can't take me back!
2. Portal 2 (360)
Just barely squeaking into my 2011 timeslot, Portal 2 was easily the funniest title I've ever had the privilege to encounter this year. New AI character Wheatley (voiced by Ricky Gervais' hilarious friend, Stephen Merchant) was a remarkable parallel to video game villainess GLaDOS and his mindless stuttering constantly kept me entertained. While I would hardly call Portal 2 a completely different experience than its experimental predecessor, it definitely made the puzzle-solving extremely addictive and rewarding. Many times throughout Portal 2 I found myself stumped, but the puzzle design is all the more enjoyable after completing a lengthy and varied chamber. Valve showed that the Portal series can stand alone without Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress 2 to back it up, and the result is a stellar sequel that offers some of the best puzzle design seen this year.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
I haven't posted my review of Skyward Sword yet, but know this: I love the hell out of this game. No other Zelda game since Ocarina of Time has evolved until now. The 1:1 swordplay is a miraculous idea when combined with Zelda's trademark puzzle design; it just works better. An ascendant storyline featuring a touching relationship between Nintendo's greatest Hylian couple, some great design of environments, and gameplay that actually feels new; these ideas come together to result in a remarkably well-crafted experience. There wasn't a time that I wasn't enjoying playing Zelda: Skyward Sword. From the second you get that sword and start practicing with WiiMotionPlus, you won't go back to a typical controller. It doesn't work that way anymore. Nintendo may have been getting criticism these days with their use of motion controls in games, but Zelda: Skyward Sword puts all other motion games to shame. It's willing to stand alongside Ocarina of Time as one of the finest games Nintendo has ever made, and it's my pick for my favorite game of 2011.
Thanks for reading everyone! Enjoy the new year celebration, and have a happy new year!
With 2011 winding down, I've been consistently writing reviews for some of the year's biggest games. Here's a new one that I hope you enjoy! Check out the steadfast verdict of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 for Playstation 3!
The year had some enormous releases, so (like many bloggers) I plan to write up my selections for my favorite games of the year, including (probably) a special awards blog for 2011. I'll also write up my favorite music albums of 2011. Lists galore!
Some new games I decided to pick up including Metroid: Other M for only $5 at Best Buy (from a Deal of the Day sale) and Sonic CD for PSN for $5 as well. Thank you sales!
My Christmas list has zero games on it this year. Not even a Points card. Instead, I asked for some CD's, books about music, Angel Beats on Blu-ray, and some funds for my brand new HDTV. I'm finally stepping things up into the high-definition era, since my SDTV is on its last legs. Amazon is a winner and offered a brief, but excellent offer on a 32-inch HDTV with 1080p. Yes!
Also, after trading in some textbooks, I hope to make some money on Amazon. I might use that money to buy some games.
I apologize for the brevity of this blog, but not much is going on right now. I'm excited for the Vita as many are and Sony keeps bringing good news for launch, especially with a great lineup of games. It's good that both major handheld gaming systems are getting some great games on the horizon, with Kid Icarus for 3DS on the way and Vita bursting from its cage literally days before my birthday.
Look for new reviews soon and have a happy holiday season! Spend time with your family and friends, and don't forget to play some games (like I need to remind anyone about that! Take care, everyone!
OnLive, when it was revealed, was an idea that really shook up the gaming community. The idea of full cloud gaming was something that opened many people's eyes, but never really shook them to the bone. It was a pipe dream, one that didn't seem like it would take over the world in the same way that the physical medium would. Could you imagine a world without physical gaming cartridges or discs, and having your entire gaming experience streamed to you through an internet connection?
OnLive was something that intrigued me from the start, but I never took it seriously enough to give it a shot. It wasn't until the service was released on tablets and smartphones that I decided to hold my breath and dive into this cloud gaming service. Here are my impressions of this potentially game-changing idea:
Firstly, since I use my laptop as my main computer at school and the thing overheats rather frequently, I was hesitant to try the PC application. However, a forum post I noticed online noted that since the game is streaming through your network connection, it technically isn't messing with your graphics card, so overheating isn't an issue. I was skeptical, but after signing up for the OnLive service, I gave the PC application a shot. Due to college internet, I wasn't able to get the service going at first. Network issues and poor connections riddled my chances of playing OnLive, but once I was back home with a good wireless connection, I booted up my laptop and gave my free LEGO Batman game a try.
Lo and behold, OnLive started and LEGO Batman was running. Though it's a game suited for a controller (the keyboard stuff was something I just couldn't get a handle on), it ran fine. There was an occasional lag, but still, it's functional. I was floored. It actually works…
When playing on my Droid X2 smartphone, on the other hand, the lag is frustratingly present. The tale of my Droid X2 and OnLive was strenuous to say the least. Getting a connection at school literally required me to stand in the middle of my apartment complex's parking lot in the 30 degree weather. Even after the connection worked, I was getting a pink tint over the video in OnLive. This problem was promptly repaired thanks to OnLive releasing a patch for the Android app, but I still had a sluggish gameplay session. Behind the lag were touch controls that felt convoluted and cover the screen. It's just infuriating when you're playing a game and your own thumbs are in the way.
I haven't tried OnLive on another phone model, a tablet, or through the Microconsole, but one thing is very persistently rearing its head in OnLive: the games. Many of these games I've played or can play on an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, so even renting the games for OnLive feels tough. I did find some interesting inclusions that I might consider like World of Goo, Bastion, Darksiders and the horror hit Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but OnLive desperately needs a killer app in its library. The mix of console and PC titles is comprehensive, but there could also be more indie titles as well.
So what's the verdict? If you have a PC and are frustrated with all of that graphics card and RAM upgrading, OnLive definitely solves that problem. Your network connection is what matters. Lag is negligible, there are a variety of control setups, and the performance is linked with a clean interface and feature list. If you want to play on a smartphone, however, expect performance struggles. I'm sure that once smartphones and tablets evolve a bit more, the streaming will be cleaner, but if you want to play Arkham City on your Droid phone, prepare for some obstacles.
Is OnLive the future of gaming? I don't know. From a hardware perspective, OnLive has a strong potential, even with the smartphone connection issues. It's accessible in that you don't need a top-of-the-line PC to play the games, just a good internet connection. However, it's the software that stumbles. OnLive needs a good exclusive to really capture a gaming audience. Otherwise, it's just the same games you've played many times before. Overall, though, I'm impressed and I'm still investing some time with OnLive in between playing Skyward Sword and watching Netflix. OnLive is probably the most pleasant surprise I've had this year and I encourage even the most skeptical gamers to give it a brief try at least.
So what's your opinion on OnLive? You willing to give it a shot?
Hi everyone! More reviews are on the way! In case you haven't already seen it on DefaultPrime, here's my review for El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron for Xbox 360! Prepare for scathing criticism!
On my side of the world, school is winding down. Final papers, final exams, final presentations, it's all starting to stack up, but I'm making progress.
Interestingly enough, the course that I'm taking on Kurt Vonnegut's literature has a unique final project: writing a short story in the aura of Kurt Vonnegut (writer of "Slaughterhouse Five" and "Cat's Cradle"). In case you didn't know already, I love writing, so I am thrilled with this story. I've already begun writing and though I don't want to spoil it (the story might get published in a compilation on Amazon featuring the entire group's works), but I'm tentatively calling it "We've Come a Long Way." The publishing is going to take a while, but I will definitely let everyone know once the compilation is out so you can read it.
In the meantime, games are progressing as well. I haven't been able to play many games lately due to finals, but I revisited some XBLA games briefly, specifically The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Super Meat Boy. I nearly forgot that Super Meat Boy was soooo difficult…just kidding. I knew that.
I'll more than likely post another blog before the holidays, so look for that. In the meantime, take care everyone!
The new Xbox 360 dashboard, while not as anticipated as the New Xbox Experience that was released a while back, did have its share of avid followers. There are plenty of new ideas scattered throughout the new interface, ranging from Kinect functionality to app implementation. As someone who was eagerly waiting to see what Microsoft had in store for the 360 crowd, I sat on my couch in my apartment waiting for the update.
Of course, the waiting had a longer stay than many would've liked. Within the day of the proposed update, Microsoft delayed it. The reason is still up in the air, but it's safe to say that the internet was bursting with frustrated gamers scouring forums asking what was going on. Once Microsoft spokesman and Xbox Live icon Major Nelson posted on his Twitter account that the update was out, gamers rushed to their consoles, only to either be locked out of Xbox Live after the update was downloaded, or even worse, not receiving the update at all.
I was unable to download the update until late Tuesday night due to Microsoft's Xbox Live issue and once I was able to get the update, Xbox Live was moving frustratingly slow. Movies buffered frequently and many of the apps couldn't update due to the connection being so sluggish. Despite the huge fanbase and high amount of gamers anxiously awaiting the update, only one person on my friends list was online, NotaGoddesss, and she was watching Netflix.
But finally, everything seems to be moving forward. Though not as fast as before, Xbox Live feels up to speed, and I can now critique the newest dashboard update. So, here's what I loved and what I didn't in Microsoft's newest 360 interface.
First the good:
App implementation: I feel like I'm the only one who actually uses the last.fm app. Many of my friends call it a "pointless jukebox," but as a musicologist and avid rock fan, I like using these types of applications, even when I'm not playing an actual game. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and the incoming Youtube app are cornerstones in Microsoft's growing interest in making the 360 a "multimedia system" instead of just a "game system." Though these aren't fully applicable to in-game content (at least not yet), having these choices is actually pretty beneficial. If Microsoft can fully integrate them into the games (like instead upload to Youtube or playing last.fm while playing a game), then it'll reach its full potential, but either way, it's still good to have these different options.
Beacons: It's tough organizing gaming sessions over Xbox Live. I can't count how many times I've wanted to voice chat with a friend, only to have schedule conflicts. Beacons are much more organized ways to set up a game session without having to jump through hoops. It's a great inclusion that makes a world of difference.
Cloud storage: As if organizing game sessions isn't tough enough, try having to set up game files with all of the good things unlocked or profiles with experience is a nightmare. Cloud storage is fantastic. Though you don't get an enormous amount of cloud storage space, you can finally bring up your saves at a friend's house without bringing over your hard drive, filling up a flash drive, or at worst, having to start all over. It's too early to say if this is the way of the future, but it sure is convenient and overcomes many of the barriers that have gotten in the way of gaming locally and socially.
Next the bad:
Navigation (Basic): This is the biggest mess that Microsoft has ever made when it comes to the dashboard. Forget the avatars, forget the Kinect functionality; this is a wreck. When I first jumped into the new dashboard, I didn't know where the hell anything was. Microsoft has taken cues from their Windows Phone interface and while that works well enough, this doesn't. The big deal is that Windows Phone was made with touch screen in mind. Using a focus and a control stick to sift through squares after squares is unintuitive and confusing. The friends list in particular just doesn't. One minute I'm in the overarching menu, the next my little avatar guy jumps into the foreground. It's just a mess.
Navigation (Marketplace): I can't find anything in the marketplace now. I wish I could sort the games accordingly, but it's tedious to sift through so many games in this way. It's very much like the old Marketplace was, but Microsoft should've made the store more user-friendly.
Advertisements: I just can't tell what an ad is and what's not. Is this a sports advertisement or the ESPN app? No clue. There's just too much going on.
Bing: This search engine is relatively unneeded on an Xbox 360 console. I haven't a clue why Microsoft is still pushing it against Google, let alone putting it on a system associating primarily with game content.
There are definitely a lot of options that Microsoft has put forward for everyone, and options are good. However, the new dashboard is just so cluttered and confusing that these options are buried under tedious ads and distracting quirks. It's a mediocre first impression, but many will warm up to it over time. I hope that the new applications on the way will add new dimensions to Xbox Live, but as it stands right now, there's a lot of room for improvement.
You might have already seen this review on DefaultPrime, but I thought it's finally time to bring it to my fellow gamers on Gamespot. I have plenty of reviews in the works, including a highly anticipated AK verdict on a certain Wii title, so check back for new reviews along the way. Without further ado,here is AK's review of Rocksmith for 360!
If you're looking for my reviews early, I'll be posting them on DefaultPrime before posting them on Gamespot. If you can't wait, check em out!
Also, I'm working on a blog that illustrates my process of reviewing. I'm out to help any aspiring reviewers, so look for that in the near future too.
Take care everyone!
You knew it was coming: another blog about the dreaded 7.5 score given to Zelda: Skyward Sword. I was originally going to post a guide to how I write my reviews, but this seems much more apropos to the current climate on Gamespot.
I don't give a flying fajita about who wrote the review, but this number has caused an outrage across the internet. I want to share some thoughts on reviews and why the community is approaching this invalidly.
1. It's a 7.5, not a 4.
I hate the current rating scale procedure. It's an unbalanced mess that skews reviews to the already skewed school-wide grading scale, with 90% being excellent, 80% being great, 70% being average, 60% being bad, and 50% and lower being a failure. This should not occur. This means that the average games will clutter up among the high 60's and lower 70's. What should occur is using a typical 1-10 scale with the 5 being average. It's the middle. It should be represented as average. Through the American system of pushing people into the top 30 or 40 percent, we've changed entertainment reviews and it's hurting. If a game is average, give it a 5 or 6 out of 10, not a 7.6 or whatever. The Skyward Sword review verdict is a 7.5 out of 10, which is the equivalent of a 3.5 out of 5 approximately. Last time I checked, it's a good score, above average for sure. I understand that expectations grow for games like Zelda, Uncharted, and Halo. I know that their pedigree and continuously high quality makes people expect high scores, but before we can give them high scores, we need to fix the rating scale. Make it clear, make it fitting, and above all, make it work.
2. It's a single review and not everyone in the review community agrees with it.
I don't want to bring Metacritic into this, but take a look at the other 30+ reviews of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Look at how many people rated it 90 percent or higher. It's a lot, right? Yeah. Even the lower scores never dipped below 80 percent. When looking at reviews, what is more convincing: twenty reviews that love a game or one review that sort of liked a game? Here's the deal: the Gamespot review is one opinion and not just any opinion. It's a dark horse, an outlier among a general consensus that obviously loved the hell out of Skyward Sword. If one review is convincing you to drop that pre-order, you were obviously on the fence in the first place and shouldn't lose all hope on gaming when Zelda gets an unexpectedly low score, therefore having no room to talk. The people who are getting the most upset at this aren't going to cancel their pre-orders at heart. If you're that manipulated at a single review, you need a lesson in statistics, especially the definition of an outlier.
3. You haven't played the game yourself.
This is an argument that plagues the internet. You can't disagree with a review score if you have zero evidence to fall back on. When a game gets a high or low score from a publication before the game's release date, people freak out and will drop pre-orders. It's like the long-tread phrase "experience may vary." Yours might very well vary from someone else's, but you can't criticize someone's argument if you haven't experienced it yourself. Games are such a fascinating medium because they are different, amorphous, and ultimately, can be enjoyed in many ways, either good or bad. Just don't make harsh judgments based on something you haven't experienced. Like that singing pirate crocodile from the Donkey Kong Country cartoon said, "don't knock until you try it."
These three arguments I've made will not be universally accepted. If you're curious, though, I still have a pre-order of Skyward Sword and will more than likely enjoy Link's adventure once I play it. I've loved many Zelda games and I'm very excited to play it. I was surprised at the 7.5 score, but I mostly brushed it off as outlier opinion. It's a valid opinion that shouldn't be ignored in the long run, but with so much praise from so many others, it feels more like a personal point, not a vendetta against Nintendo's game design skill.
So are you going to buy Skyward Sword? That's up to you. I know I will.