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Why Game Developers Should Take Note of Portal’s Success

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I love video games.  I also like critical thinking.  It might sound weird at first, but sometimes I really do just sit and think about stuff.  Why this or that is the way it is, reflecting for far too long on a decision I made that day, etc.  Needless to say I also love subjects like philosophy.  I had a professor (economics, not philosophy) in college that I absolutely hated but he told us one thing I still carry with me that can be summed up like this:  Don’t let your brain get lazy.

He didn’t use those words but he emphasized the importance of challenging yourself mentally on a consistent basis.  It could be reading a book and not only think about what you’re reading but keep a dictionary nearby to look up new words you encountered, doing a crossword puzzle, or even something small like organizing a grocery list.  In other words staying mentally sharp is a valuable commodity that will allow you to “perform” at your best in all types of interactions.  It may even make you smarter.  Lastly, you might even *gasp* start having fun doing it like I do.  That’s why I love Portal and its newly released sequel Portal 2, both by Valve Software.

Valve is a really cool developer and I could spend another entire article making general arguments about why the industry as a whole should begin to mimic them.  They’re not like Electronic Arts or Activision who both publish good games in their own right, but whose objective is mostly to throw as much crap at the wall as possible and hope more of it sticks than not.  They don’t own a bunch of other developers and don’t publish a new game every two weeks with mixed results.  However what they have produced is a nice, tidy list of hit games that are incredibly well thought out, simple but fun, or both.  Everyone loved the Half-Life series when it first broke onto the scene for the PC.  This spawned “expansions” like Team Fortress and the original Portal that were also well received.  All of this, including the Hall of Fame-worthy Half-Life 2, were including in what was named The Orange Box; essentially a collection of all valves accomplishments to that point.  They also developed Left 4 Dead and its sequel.  It was a no brainer “fight tons of zombies with your friends” formula that was a smash hit.  They’ve been using the same graphics engine for over a decade and still manage to churn out quality games that are easy on the eyes.  They created Steam, a system/website that allows games to be downloaded quickly and easily instead of running to the store amongst countless other uses.  Through Steam they also regularly hand out free downloadable content for their games.  In other words, if you’re a video game consumer they’re your kind of company.

All that stuff is great and some of it is arguably more important than what I’m going to focus on here, but I need to make this clear:  Valve’s Portal and Portal 2 represent what should be the future of gaming…….but probably won’t be.

You see Portal really was an expansion, an excuse to play with Half-Life’s engine and create a puzzle game with it.  It took place in a lab from the first person view of a test subject armed with nothing but a portal gun.  Shoot a portal at the wall next to you and another on that ledge 100 feet over your head and jump right through.  There, you’re now 100 feet above your previous location.  Also you can pick up blocks with it.  That’s it.  With such a basic tool Valve managed to create a puzzler that was nifty at first and then slowly but surely gained cult status, the culmination of which only moved slowly because frankly gamers were surprised such a game existed and that they could like it.

And that’s kind of the point I’m making.  Have you ever heard someone proclaim that kids only act the way they do because they’re not treated like adults?  Whether that’s true or not game developers have been treating gamers like kids for the last 5-10 years.  Just because a kid likes throwing food at his brother doesn’t mean he wouldn’t enjoy building a model airplane.  To make it more age appropriate, just because someone likes dumb action flicks or Maxim magazine doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enjoy Schindler’s List or Moby Dick.

These days the best-selling games every year are the latest Madden incarnation or (for now at least) Call of Duty installment.  Not bad games really.  Not at all.  The problem is that when a publisher wants to make money they need look no further than Call of Duty and instantly a clone appears.  Then another, then another.  That’s not to say gaming is completely stale.  There are more games available than ever before and they come in all kinds.  The problem lies in the fact that not too many of them really make you think.  Sure a lot of them make you consider every so often and force you to make decisions, but we need not actively seek out an activity that allows us to do those.  We can simply walk out the front door for that type of thing.  Exercising your brain on the other hand is a very different animal, and that’s where Portal comes in.

Like I said, shoot portals and carry blocks.  That’s all you need to make a brain buster rolled up in a great video game.  The other beautiful thing about Portal is that it takes the ever-present graphics issue out of the equation.  It’s not that they’re good or bad (for the record they’re average or slightly above), they just don’t matter.  Now name me one other quality game that’s come out recently that can say that.  Sound?  Sure it’s there, but who cares about sound?  Your brain should be busy sorting out how to catapult over laser sighted robots to toss a block through a portal and onto a big red button that will allow you to advance to the next stage!

I mentioned crossword puzzles earlier.  Ever done one of those (or a word search) and worried about how pretty the paper was or how the letters looked?  Of course not.  Not everyone likes stuff like that so how about hooking up a surround sound system or building just about anything?  You’re not worried about the aesthetics, you’re busy problem solving.  That’s why Portal and its sequel are amazing.  They are designed around a medium that is still very much about flashy lights, big explosions, and macho trash talk and have managed to give people the same satisfaction by using their minds.

It really is a tribute to Valve and should be a strong message to other developers:  gamers like to think and feel rewarded by their games aside from simply “beating” them.  Using your brain is rapidly becoming an afterthought in our society.  It’s great to see games like Portal 2 become successful.

Did I mention there’s a co-op mode?  Two players, four portals, bigger puzzles?  I don’t know if my brain can handle it, but it’ll be fun as hell to find out.

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Daily Gaming Experience 05/19

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

So it looks like all of a sudden there’s another great game to possibly buy.  I was surprised to say the least that Red Dead Redemption had gotten the incredible praise it’s gotten over the past couple days.  It seems like reviewers and gamers alike are really having a great time with it.  I’ve pretty much seen and heard all there is to see and hear short of actually playing the game.  It’s set in the wild west and being developed by RockStar it has a very Grand Theft Auto-like feel to it.  There’s a vast open world for you to explore and many side quests you can take on that divert you from the main story if you so choose.  The consensus seems to be that the game itself is about 20 hours long if you plow right through and can be twice that if you like to roam like I do.  So far so good.

The multiplayer seems to be average with your standard deathmatch, capture the flag, etc. and the combat is nothing special.  The real draw however is Free Roam mode where you have free reign of the entire campaign world and can do whatever you want with up to 16 players at a time.  Find and shoot each other or join up and take down gangs and perform tasks.  You’ll gain experience points, new guns, and new horses for accomplishing said tasks.  Sounds really cool to me especially when the world seems to be really huge.

My only caveats are little things that personally bug me about these types of games.  In Grand Theft Auto and Mass Effect, while they have their differences, you always start over much too far from where you died during a mission.  I gave up on these games because I simply wasn’t going to go through 5 minutes of gameplay I had already done again or manage a death defying chase I had already gotten past before.  It just killed it for me and I really wanted to like those games.  I’m all for immersing myself in one game.  In fact I prefer it but I don’t want to waste my time replaying parts and going through the motions when there’s a lot more to see and do……and the fact that I just shouldn’t have to do it again!!!

I’m trying to get more feedback on this and so far it’s been favorable (you don’t seem to die that much I guess) but you also can’t sell old guns which seems strange to me.  Oh well.  I guess I’m being too greedy and hoping for a new Borderlands set in the wild west on top of what’s already apparently a great campaign.  That’s a little too unrealistic to ask for I think, however I’ll continue to get more info and hopefully make a decision by next week at the very latest.

Now I’m going to rag on Microsoft Game Room again.  Sorry, but I still don’t think I’ve described aptly the travesty that is this feature.  So what I’m going to do is demo the new group of games that came out today and gives you my thoughts on each.  Below that will be comments from Game Room fans about the same games.

Map Pack 4 (I swear it’s there was 2 at release and this is the 3rd since…..)

……….waiting for it to load.  Why is it at 18% 15 seconds later?  A technical wonder let me tell you………about a minute has gone by now and we’re at 57%.  Why do we have to download game packs in the first place?  Seriously is there is no other place on the dashboard where you have to download a file for the privilege of simply being able to see what you might want to buy.  Honest to god.  Fully downloaded at about the 2 minute mark.  And we’re off:

Asteroids When Asteroids Deluxe was first released in the Game Room, was it just too insane for you to handle?  I mean there was a shield for your spaceship and one new enemy so it’s understandable.  If that’s the case then you’re in luck because the original Asteroids is here!  Sarcasm aside did we seriously need TWO Asteroids games in the first month and a half of Game Room’s existence, or at all for that matter?  What a joke.  Anyways, it’s Asteroids. I don’t think I have to explain the game to you.  It’s not worth $3.  One thing I will admit though is that the cabinet artwork is awesome.  It’s colorful, has an ’80s sci-fi comic book theme, and even the actual screen has artwork around the border.  Very cool and if you have the cash to spend and you’re more concerned with the look of your arcade it might be an impulse buy.  I think the Game Room version looks even better than the one below.  I think the black was replaced with blue or something. FYI Battlezone and Super Breakout fit this description as well if you’re into paying $3 a crack for games you can find on your PC for free any time you want.

Demons to Diamonds This is another Atari 2600 pile of crap that was probably an above average game at the time.  You shoot lasers from the bottom of the screen and can only move left to right.  The blobs….er, demons shuffles from the left and right side of the screen.  Looks like there are also little diamonds you can shoot for points as well.  When you kill a demon it turns into a skull and crossbones and becomes a permanent fixture on the board and doesn’t move.  It’ll also kill you almost instantly if you remain directly under it for more than a millisecond.  The game is too fast for its own good especially with the wonky and somewhat unpredictable controls, and of course it looks like ass.  In true Game Room form, it’s fun for about four seconds.

Grand Prix Another Atari atrocity (say that three times fast), they really can’t be serious with this one.  From a top down view you drive what looks like a pine derby race car from left to right.  The only button accelerates but don’t go too fast!  You might bump into another car slowing you down momentarily or hit an oil slick causing your car to move slight left or right (or from your perspective, up or down)…….and that’s about it.  I played the demo and got first place I guess.  I kept passing cars with no indication as to what place I was in.  There was a “1” at the bottom of the screen but the number never changed throughout the race.  When I reached the finish line the game simply stopped, leaving me to stare at the screen unable to do anything.  Keep in mind when I criticize these games I’m not criticizing the developers at the time or the game’s quality at the time of release.  I’m criticizing the fact that MS could actually think it was worthwhile to port something like this and sell it for an inflated price.

Shark!  Shark! I think we can all agree the title of this one is awesome.  Saying it with the right intonation makes you cool, trust me.  On a related site note, I sorta do mean that about it being a cool title.  The reason is because there’s no way they would name a game in the same way nowadays.  Anyhow, this is an Intellivision game and for reasons I can’t explain I’m a little less hard on these ones than the Atari games.  Maybe it’s just because even with what little Atari had to go by in terms of what makes a good game, Intellivision had even less and probably the inferior technology as well.  This games take place on one single screen in an underwater landscape you play one of a few fish floating around.  All you do is when the shark appears don’t let him touch you.  You have “dart” and “stop” buttons at your disposal but neither seem to really do anything.  I tried to convince myself for a little bit that they were working but to no avail.  It’s nothing more than a pleasant distraction at best but in the early ’80s I could see a child enjoying it.  EDIT:  Now I see from further research you can eat other fish and grow larger.  Kinda like that Feeding Frenzy game (I think).  Meh.

Space Duel Okay I’m really not trying to be a jerk here, but this is Asteroids with colorful graphics and better movement.  That’s it!!!  Seriously why in the world are they subjecting us to all these?  They can’t be waiting this long to drop good arcade games on us.  Maybe they simply don’t have them?  How else can you explain three games that are almost exactly alike and the release of both Millipede and Centipede???  Honestly I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they released the arcade version of Millipede next week, because the Atari version is just not enough!!!  This one also has full cabinet artwork, although I’m not a huge fan of it personally.  Admittedly this is a bad picture.  The graphics actually have clean lines using vector graphics similar to Tempest.

Stampede Yet another Atari game, although I can’t really complain much.  I still wouldn’t be caught dead buying it, but unlike most Game Room releases I don’t feel like my character is moving underwater.  You’re a cowboy on a horse and you press ‘A’ to shoot out your lasso and rope a calf.  The different colored calfs are worth different amounts of points.  For some reason after about 20 seconds of gameplay the game just stops.  Not sure if this is just because it’s a demo, but I think not because I was able to restart.  I would wager it’s a bug simply because based on the short history of Game Room that’s the most likely answer.  I do admit that if the cowboy on horse is the game’s mascot I might have to spend 50 cents to have him riding around my arcade, especially if he uses his lasso intermittently.

Time Pilot This game isn’t really an Asteroids clone per se………….okay it is, but it’s about as far away from Asteroids you can get while still being a clone.  Does that count for anything?  I don’t even know anymore, and I gave up care long ago.  Whatever, it’s got something similar to 8-bit graphics and clouds flying around in the background at least give you the impression you’re soaring in the air.  The gameplay still boils down to spinning around and shooting at things.  I give up.  We’re up to four games that can suitably satisfy your craving for Asteroids.

I seriously thought this entry was going to be redundant, but apparently I’ve found yet another item in the long list of Game Room complaints.  FOUR games that are almost exactly the same?  Come on, we’re past the high price point.  Now MS is directly flipping the bird to anyone that genuinely wants to like Game Room in general.  I mean really you’re not even giving me good variety, and there are THOUSANDS of Atari, Intellivision, and arcade games from the ’80s alone!  I want to like this feature more than life itself and the best you can do is put me on the fence about buying a 50 cent mascot?  So much untapped potential that will probably stay that way, at least until something surprises me in one of the upcoming game packs.

It’s very telling when almost no one on my friend’s list has done anything more than download Game Room, stare at it for a few seconds, and left an empty arcade behind.  I keep my friends list in the family for the most part (i.e., people I’m friends with in real life), but I know more than a few casual and hardcore gamers and a couple guys that plays video games and do little else when they’re not working.  Those guys don’t even have anything in their Game Rooms and they each own hundreds of video games!  Again, what a shame.  This could be so much more but I guess MS just doesn’t care whether or not they squeeze $3 purchases out of a few hundred people instead of $1 or $2 purchases from hundreds of thousands.

Just for fun, I leave you with some of the things real gamers who actually like Game Room are saying about the new games.  Based on what you’ve read above matched against the below comments, decide for yourself who’s crazy.  As always, keep in mind these are 25-30 year old games and the cost of each is $3:

“I’m not sure what I’ll be getting this week but I think Space Duel and Shark! Shark are definites, I’ll check the rest out and see.”

“Shark! Shark! Was my first Intellivision game purchase in Game Room. Now I think I’ll go back and buy some of the others.”

“For now, I’ve only purchased Time Pilot and Space Duel. Never heard of Space Dual, demoed it… loved it”

“Space Duel has honestly impressed me with its concept.”

“i bought asteroids (even though i already had deluxe…just had to have the full collection i guess lol) space duel and time pilot…i may buy 1 or 2 more this week but its no certainty”

“Well I think {the first one I pick up will be} Demons to Diamonds, its freaking awesome so pick it up.”


Daily Gaming Experience 05/18

May 19, 2010 Leave a comment

I apologize in advance because this has been said a million times but here goes:  The great thing about the internet is that you can get information on virtually anything.  Okay, now that that’s out of the way I’ll take it a step further:  It also enables you to be stimulated pretty much any way that’s possible through a screen.  I know you’re all thinking about porn at this point but obviously that’s not where I’m going (although it certainly contributes to the point I made!).  No, I just wanted to say all that because one cool little niche that’s spawned from the internet that has to do with gaming is being able to hearing video game music pretty much whenever you want through YouTube.

Playing classic games or watching videos containing footage of them, I manage to hear a tune I really like every so often.  Some quick research or trial and error on YouTube will usually let me hear the song ad infinitum and further still I can become privy to remixes that every day gaming fans have created.  It definitely falls into the “how do these people have so much time on their hands?” category of YouTube content but it’s nonetheless cool if you’re a gamer.

Here are a handful of the songs from games past that I love as well as a guitar cover of each.  Again you can also find many, many remixes of your favorite songs as well.

Bloody Tears (Castlevania series)

……and here is the updated version that can be found in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Guile’s Theme (Street Fighter series)

………..and here is a guitar version with the rest of the song still in the background.

Metal Man theme (Mega Man 2)

………and another user created guitar cover with a background guitar track.

There are countless remixes and covers of these songs and just about any other video game song that sounds good to you.  It’s just really cool to me how back in the ’80s and early ’90s these game designers spent a lot of time making awesome tunes for their games even though they didn’t have a whole lot to work with, and an extension of what makes it so cool is how people appreciate them enough to create videos like these.  If you’ve heard a song you like and aren’t sure what it’s called you’ll be able to find it so long as you at least know the title of the game it’s from.  Some quick googling and searching on YouTube will yield results in no time and if your phone has a decent microphone or whatever you can simply record the noise from your computer speakers.  I have a BlackBerry and while I admit the quality is a tad like you’re listening in a tunnel you can still make out all the notes clearly.  I’m sure there are other fancier ways of doing it but this is quick and simple for me.  Just don’t choose something with a ton of layers like the Guile theme above.  It probably won’t sound good.

That’s all for today, check back tomorrow!  I’ll have some interesting things to say about my research on the way to possibly buying Red Dead Redemption.

Daily Gaming Experience 05/17

May 18, 2010 Leave a comment

HOW TO NOT BE A HORRIBLE TEAMMATE IN AN ONLINE FIRST PERSON SHOOTER

After a maddening couple of matches in Modern Warfare 2 today, I felt the need to illustrate some very general points that may seem obvious but apparently they elude many gamers.  When you’re playing a Deathmatch/Slayer gametype in an online shooter it’s obvious the first team to a certain number of kills wins, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a number of other things you can do to help your team win besides blasting holes into your opponents.  I’m not perfect or a great player by any means but it’s incredibly frustrating when you’re being totally hung out to dry by your teammates because they simply can’t follow a few very logical rules.  Here’s just a few of them, although I’m sure there are more:

Discretion is the better part of valor To me if you’re going to remember one single thing when playing team deathmatch this is it.  I don’t even care if you forget to hold the controller right side up, I’d rather you remember this:  It’s not the number of kills you register it’s the margin between your kills and how many times you die.  Having 22 kills/20 deaths is not better than 10 kills/5 deaths.  “Duh” you say, but the majority of players don’t understand this.  If they did you wouldn’t see so many scores like the former example.  Hell I regularly see scores such as 21 kills/23 deaths and if that’s your score guess what?  Your team would have been better off if you didn’t play at all!  I could care less what your total kills are at the end of a match.  Anyone can run into a firefight and get a kill before being pulverized.  A good k/d margin shows that you understand the value of discretion.  In other words, when to run head on into the flames and when to pull back and assess the situation.  Notice that’s not the description of “camping” either.  That’s not what I’m saying at all.  What you should be doing is learning the maps and figuring out where you can sneak, where you can dig in, and where you might get holes put through you.  It’s not that hard and a little restraint will go a long way.

You Watch My Back, I’ll Watch Yours Those high traffic areas I just mentioned?  Even if you think one is empty make sure of that before leaving it.  Most of these games are hyper fast and you can’t account for every situation but if a teammate is entering an area that you’re leaving, especially a popular one, don’t leave him hanging by himself unless the last look you take is of the area he’s entering.  Every time a teammate breezes right by me I assume there’s nothing going on in that immediate area and I’m safe to let my guard down by sprinting, switching weapons, etc.  Often times that’s not the case and while I’m fiddling around with my gear or glancing at the score an opponent is squeezing off a few shots right between my eyes.  Thanks a lot.  Your teammates not dying, whether you’re having a good game or not, will increase the probability of your team winning.  If you can see a teammate leaving your area or coming into it you need to be aware of any obstacles or surprises they may encounter.  I’m not asking you to babysit anyone, just saying for the second or two you’re crossing paths make sure they’ll be safe until they’re on their own.

Win, Lose, or….Lose? This one has happened so many times I can’t even begin to guess a number.  Most of the credit goes to my friend Chris for this one since he first brought it up during the highs and lows we experienced in the Halo 2 days.  When the game is tied or very close and one or both teams only need a kill or two to win, don’t run out in the open.  Seriously.  So many times our team would need, say two kills to win and our opponents would need one and like clockwork one of our teammates would die a split second later.  Now obviously this is going to happen by coincidence or bad luck a lot of times, but many times it can be avoided.  If you notice the score get close at what is going to be the very end of a match, STOP.  Take a look at your surroundings.  Where are the entry points?  Can you see any enemies in the distance?  What weapon do you have and is it a rocket launcher or a pea shooter?  All these little things will determine whether you should go for broke and try to end the game or simply stay put and hope the other guys don’t find you first.  Any teammates around?  Great.  Either follow them or if they’re just joining you, dig in so if anyone does happen to come by there’s no possibility of them killing you first.  Like I said most of the time someone on either team is going to get plugged for the final kill no matter what you do but if a few seconds go by and/or things get very quiet, be mindful of your situation and be careful above all else.

Splash Damage and Friendly Fire One of the most frustrating teammate screw-ups that can occur is when someone is using a weapon that they don’t realize can obliterate anyone, including their own teammates.  At the very best you simply respawn back in without having registered a death, at worst the other team just got one free kill closer to victory.  In many games rocket launchers, grenades, possibly mines, etc. either inflict damage on your teammates or kill them outright.  Be mindful of this in narrow corridors or when just entering a firefight.  Sometimes miscommunications will occur.  You can’t always know just as you’re lobbing a grenade that your buddy planned on charging headlong into the fray, but many players have a clear yes or no decision to make when using certain equipment and they disregard it and simply fire away.  Just don’t be stupid.  It’s unproductive in every sense of the word to willingly unload friendly fire on a group if deaths are being calculated because of it.  I don’t care how many enemies you smoke in the process.  Your teammates will be more frustrated and off their game and it usually makes little to no difference in the score anyways.

That’s about all I can think of right now.  I’m sure there are many other smaller tips to give, but this is a good start.  Learn all these things and you’ll do them out of habit sooner than later.  You’ll notice your scores improve and over time you’ll notice you’re not losing quite as much, if not a lot less.

Daily Gaming Experience 05/05

May 6, 2010 Leave a comment

One game of Catan, one loss.  Played Modern Warfare 2 and had varying success.  And I’ve come to accept the fact that I probably won’t get to play the Halo: Reach demo.  Oh well.  In 12 days when the beta has closed I probably won’t be able to care less.  Sure it would be nice to get an early taste of the gameplay, but we’re 4-5 months away from release so no reason to get all excited until then. Let’s talk about some of the games coming up this month, because as I mentioned earlier it’s a surprisingly good month.

As mentioned yesterday Alan Wake is on its way May 18th.  Judging by my last entry it’s probably assumed I have unwarranted bias against this game.  Not true.  My best guess is that the game isn’t anything special, but I would wager that it’s probably solid.  The thing is I haven’t seen anything special from the gameplay I’ve watched.  Anyways I would run out and grab the game if I had nothing else to play and/or if there was nothing else on the horizon.  I’ll pass though unless a few friends give take the plunge and give rave reviews.

I see Alpha Protocol isn’t coming out until June 1st, but that’s close enough.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this one.  The impression I get is it’s a 3rd person spy/action game with RPG elements heavily influencing gameplay.  If it’s pulled off nicely it’ll be a great blend of different genres.  I admit I’m automatically interested in anything with an RPG aspect.  I’ve read that the AI wasn’t very good in the early builds, but we’ll see.  The graphics didn’t really impress me in the commercial I saw a couple of times either, but if there’s a decent story to tie all these elements in I think it’ll be fun.  The RPG elements seem prominent enough that if a few other boxes get checked off on my personal list I’ll be purchasing this game.

Prince of Persia:  The Forgotten Sands comes out May 18th as well.  All I know is they’re getting back to the formula that made The Sands of Time so awesome, and that’s good enough for me.  I’ve heard the time-bending elements have been spun a different way this time around but that’s okay.  I’m very optimistic and pretty sure this is going to be a hit.  That’s just my feeling.  Unless I see something surprisingly lacking in the reviews, I’ll be trading in my dust-covered Splinter Cell: Conviction disc in for this.  Hey like I said I liked that game but I simply don’t have the urge to play it enough.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior is my pick for sleeper hit in May.  It releases on the 25th and I don’t really have any specific reasons why I think it will be good, I’m just HOPING it is.  Sniping is cool.  We all love it.  The environments seem to be sprawling sniper havens so it could be a lot of fun.  I did just read that half the missions are from a normal soldier’s point of view, which is disappointing BUT:  The game has 16 missions adding up to about 8-10 hours of gameplay and it’s only $39.99.  That’s not a terribly large experience but the fact that it only costs 2/3 of what a new title normally costs is worth mentioning.  FYI this game has nothing to do with Call of Duty or any king of Tom Clancy game.  It’s developed by City Interactive and no, I have no idea who the hell that is.

Of course there are other games I’ll be keeping an eye on that don’t release until later on like Dead Rising 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Halo: Reach, and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 but like I said, no need to get excited right now.  Seem like there’s plenty of good stuff on the way very soon.

Daily Gaming Experience 05/02

May 3, 2010 Leave a comment

In case you haven’t noticed weekdays are when I get the biggest chance to sink my teeth into some games. Weekends are usually tight on time. At any rate, I’ll still be on late Monday night for a MW2-fest and more importantly, the Halo: Reach beta.

I’m very excited and pretty optimistic for the beta. It seems like even though they’ve added some “special powers” they’ve scaled the game back to something more similar to the original Halo, which I think is smart. I was infatuated with Halo and Halo 2, however Halo 3 didn’t do it for me. In my opinion the maps weren’t as good as Halo 2 and I thought the bubble shields and other gadgets as well as 100 different types of grenades were too much. Long story short, I liked the old Halos much more so I like the fact that Reach is going more in that direction. What do you think?

Daily Gaming Experience 04/28

April 29, 2010 Leave a comment

If you didn’t catch yesterday’s entry, this is a new series where I simply relay what I did in the world of video games every day and talk about anything unique that may have happened.  I also get into any thoughts, general or otherwise about things going on in the gaming world.

A Short Rant About Microsoft Game Room

In case you haven’t seen any news about Game Room lately, let me catch you up to speed on its evolution so far:  It was released in March with 30 mostly lackluster games from the Atari era costing a questionable $3 a pop.  Then gamers were told they would have to wait a full month for another batch of games.  Many of us remained optimistic, then today (the supposed release date for new games) it happened:  With gamers wondering when the heck Microsoft was going to make the new games available today, out of the blue came an announcement that the new releases will be “delayed until further notice.”  Unbelievable.  Words cannot describe my disappointment and frustration.

To be honest I didn’t plan on making any purchases anyways.  The seven new games to be released were again, a group of Atari fossils, but I thought if I was bored enough I would break down and buy Pitfall for $3 just because of its status in the retro genre.  Other than that I was looking forward to NEXT WEEK’S GAMES.  Will they be on schedule now that Microsoft and/or developer Khrome have screwed everyone who has waited patiently?  No one knows.  There’s no information about new games except for the fact that they’re simply not here.  This brings me to the question of the day:  What has been the most disappointing “big” update Xbox Live has had?  Is it A) Facebook/Twitter, B) Last.FM, or C) Game Room up to this point in time?  Last.FM is quite the heavyweight, but I think we might have a new champion if this continues much longer.

The worst part is out of all the delays, bugs, and generally half-assed ways in which Game Room has been brought about, the games are STILL overpriced and too old to have much appeal if any at all.  If drastic changes don’t take place (yeah right) Game Room will have gone from exciting new feature to distant memory for me.

Indie Games

I’m still on an indie game kick.  Today I purchased Miner Dig Deep, Gerbil Physics, and Abduction Action! These were all pretty highly recommended by the Xbox community and a few “Best Indie Games” type lists that I had read yesterday.  Miner Dig Deep is a fun little game with a Dig Dug sort of vibe.  You mine underground, find precious stones/metals, upgrade your equipment and mine some more.  Truth be told there doesn’t seem to be a real point or end goal, so I was a little disappointed.  Same goes for Abduction Action! You are an alien flying around in a UFO abducting humans and performing tasks that your commander lays out for you such as killing farmers, abducting 10 cheerleaders, etc.  The controls are very slippery and while some light-hearted humor injected for good measure is welcome, the missions are just too simple and the game feels chopped up into little pieces and reassembled.

On the other hand I did enjoy Gerbil Physics. It’s a simple game:  there are a bunch of gerbils piled up in certain shapes and forms and you have to set off bombs to get them to all fall down.  It’s a lot more challenging than it sounds.  I played a similar game on AddictingGames.com so I was able to get through the game’s 24 levels in about 45 minutes max, but it might be a bit more of a challenge if you’re not used to these types of games.  Hey it costs a dollar, what can you say?  45 minutes of fun for 100 pennies isn’t bad considering I’ll probably play it through once more down the road.

Call of Duty:  Modern Warfare 2

I only played a handful of MW2 matches today (I play Team Deathmatch Express almost exclusively FYI), nothing really spectacular to report.  A guy had the gamer tag “Coq Soup”, which I thought was hilarious.  I must admit the slight bit of lag you always get in this game is pretty troublesome at times.  There’s a certain fraction of a second of lag that you just can’t do anything about, but if you put 4 bullets into someone and still end up dying first or duck behind something and still die 3/4 of a second later it’s just a tad more laggy than it should be.  I’m no techie, but maybe dedicated servers would help?  Crazy thought I know.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2

I did end up breaking in MvsC2 once again on my Dreamcast late last night, so it’ll go in today’s entry.

This game is still great.  So many combinations of characters comprising your 3 person team and so much going on on-screen.  It really is a treat and there’s no other fighting game quite like it unless you count other similar but lesser offerings from Capcom.  My team was always Cable/Venom/Ryu.  I have no idea why.  I hear a lot that Cable is a cheap character but to be honest I’m starting to hate him.  He just seems too lanky, slow, and lacking in variety in his moves that I might try to change him up.  I played through the game at about medium difficulty twice and unlocked characters Mega Man, Storm, Jinn and Morrigan.  I also purchased a new colors/costume for Wolverine.  Only about 195 unlockables to go, but it’s a start!

On a side note, I was surprised how “out of shape” my thumbs were when I dove back into this game.  A normal Street Fighter game probably wouldn’t have bothered me but with so much action I think it actually wore on me!  It was kind of like when you take a break from playing Guitar Hero for a week or two.  Takes a few sessions to get used to it again.

Check back tomorrow!