Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Review

 This one took some time. We wanted to give it our full attention and go over every little detail. Normally, one person beats a game and then we go ahead and review it, but we actually wanted to talk this one out. While this is partially due to the ending (which I will address ad nauseum) we really wanted to see how our different choices affected different things. Also, I try never to do this, but seeing as the game has been out for a while there WILL BE SPOILERS. In order to address certain key issues I have to discuss them. They will be held to the ending of the game, though, and nothing leading up to that point will be spoiled. So I guess if you care just don't read the end. I'll warn you when it comes up. Now, there shall be no further delay.

I'm not going to lie, I almost don't know where to start. While the main game does have a few problems, a vast majority of the final chapter in Bioware's epic is nothing short of an amazing achievement. I really felt like my choices from the past two games were making a real impact. All the alliances I had formed were actually paying off. Even if some of the good I did came back to me in a small way, like running into an old acquaintance who did little more than talk, I still felt rewarded. I was glad to see that Bioware didn't forget characters that only had a miniscule role to play.

Except when I ran into this guy. Seriously, he's always been kind of a twat
 The first real, noticeable improvement is the combat. It's not a vast step up from 2, but things feel a bit smoother. Taking cover and shooting is a fluid process which is absolutely necessary as the scale of fire fights has definitely stepped up. It's galactic war now. You're not fighting rouge groups or mercenaries, you're fighting an unstoppable army. The shooting really gets hectic sometimes (especially near the end of the game) and it all comes together quite well. If I had to complain I would say that combat didn't gain any new features or settings. Mass Effect 2 was such a leap above one that it's strange to see no expansion. It's a huge conflict involving tons of different races and giant space battles. Why couldn't we participate in any of that? Why not an opportunity to pilot the Normandy and shoot down some enemy aircraft? That would have been awesome. That's actually one of my major problems with the game. Like 2, it's amazing, but it doesn't do enough new things to make it as special.

Despite no new additions to combat, the script and character development is just as good as ever. I've only played through it once so I don't know how different things can be. I've only heard a few stories of variations based on different decisions, but the dialogue I heard was still top notch. To see all of the relationships you have forged culminate in the end result is incredibly moving. That final moment when you talk to your crew one by one and call everyone who can't be there stands out as one of the best gaming moments of the year so far. Mass Effect has always been fantastic with the writing and storytelling and 3 is no different. However... I do have some beefs with the main game that I feel need to be addressed.

Pictured above: Character development
 First of all, where the hell is the active quest system? Every RPG has one except this series and it gets old pretty fast. Yeah, it's not overly difficult to figure out what you should be doing, but an active quest system is almost an RPG necessity. I hated my galaxy map yelling at me to go all over the damn place. Another issue is the quests don't update with your progress. I spent hours trying to land on a planet to complete a quest not knowing that I had already gotten the item I needed just by scanning it earlier. All I had to do was talk to the quest giver the second I was told to help him and I would have accomplished my goal. I had no idea, though, because the quest never told me I had finished. Knowing where to go can be vague too, and if you make an argument that flat out telling you what system the planet you need to visit is in is too easy, than I would tell you that it's a boring challenge to give someone. There also weren't enough substantial side quests. Too often you completed your goal by merely scanning a planet. Yeah yeah, the galaxy is at stake and there isn't time to do trivial shit, but that illusion is shattered when I'm told a school is about to be attacked by Cerberus and I can do random crap before I go there and I still get there in the nick of time.

Maybe I should just be happy that this never came back.
 My other huge issue is making the multiplayer almost necessary. No, you don't have to play it, but if you want every last unit you've earned throughout the campaign to matter you better play. Don't get me wrong, the multiplayer isn't bad. It's actually quite good. My only real issues with it are that reviving downed teammates can be annoying as you'll sometimes end up dodging or taking cover and that ammo boxes only give you one grenade at a time. If you're a character that uses grenades, which is the only special move that requires ammo, it gets old fast. But my original point is that the multiplayer shouldn't have this big of a role. What if you're one of the few people without Live on the 360? The main campaign of Mass Effect is a single player, personal experience. I don't want other things to affect it.

Despite these issues, Mass Effect 3 is an absolute masterpiece. It's wonderfully told and completely engaging... until you get to the end. Yes, we here at the O and E have discussed it to death and we have plenty of issues with it. Some of these you've probably seen before, but I assure you, every last one of these complaints came out of conversations between the three of us. We didn't need any outside sources to tell us what was wrong. Spoilers exist beyond this point.

I'm going to be frank. The ending is a cop-out. It's almost as if they didn't know how to end the thing so they just nuked the galaxy in a sense. No, I don't mean the whole thing was destroyed, but the universe we fell in love with is essentially ruined. These are the reasons we hate it.


The second I saw this little bastard, my mouth dropped. His appearance and  presence are completely unexplained and come out of nowhere. What is he? Beyond partially being the essence of the citadel (Huh) we have no real idea. Chances are he is in charge of the reapers, which makes him a reaper, but none of the other reapers appear like this. Okay, he leads them so it makes sense he could look different. Then why in the hell does he look like the kid we saw at the beginning and in Shepard's dreams? Can he read Shepard's mind? Reapers have never been known to do this, and if the leader of them can it better be goddamn established ahead of time. And the fact that he just tells Shepard his options and then just stands aside is also ridiculous. Why would the reapers just say, "ahhhh screw it," all of a sudden? They've been pretty determined and malicious before. Just because their logic is supposed to be beyond human comprehension doesn't mean you can just have them do stuff without explanation. It's called lazy writing, something the series has NEVER been known for.

Go play in the street, kid. The space street.


So they want to harvest all of us because we will make synthetics that will eventually kill us and this is their way of saving and preserving us. Huh? Say that... again. But, you're all synthetics... and you're killing us. Shouldn't paradoxes blow up robots? Maybe they are too advanced and self-aware for that. Could have fooled me though, you know, with how stupid their reasoning is.


That final room is reaaaaally stupid. Like... incredibly stupid. If I were going to invade a country, I would not create a control center that, if reached, could destroy all my forces, or worse yet, control them.That's just idiotic. And worse yet, when Shepard reaches it they just let him use the panels because their plans aren't working anymore, or something. Yeah, he got there... it's your room. Have some defenses that stop him. That room should be the most defended place in the galaxy if you're a reaper, and they didn't even put an alarm in it. And the synthesis option? It's science magic. Nothing more. Nothing less. As I said before, explain how things work. If you don't, you're just being lazy and probably including things that don't make sense.


Shepard finds a way. That's what he does. The reapers told him repeatedly that he had no hope, and yet, there he is standing at the foot of their demise. However, when that little bastard child tells him to do one of three things, he just says, "okay," and does one. What? I couldn't even tell him to fuck off? Shepard just accepts one of three fates and that's it? My fellow writer El Jefe tried to just walk away from all of it and the game wouldn't let him. So much for my own personal Shepard.

"...Okay."- Commander Shepard

This one hurt the most (but it's not the last issue). I didn't care if Shepard lived or died. I just wanted to see what the galaxy looked like after all my decisions came in to play at the end (and I'll touch on decisions in a minute), and the galaxy as I knew it is gone no matter what I do. What was the point? This is what I meant by "nuking the galaxy." The incredible universe that Bioware created no longer matters because they didn't feel like telling you what race relations looked like after the fall of the reapers. What a terrible move. Also, there is also the gaping plothole. In the ME2 DLC Arrival we are told that a mass relay explosion would take the system it's in with it. Apparently that's no longer the case. Why? Who knows. Maybe someone was lying, Maybe it was the same person that told us the ME3 day-one DLC wasn't on the disc already.

Little known fact: The energy released by a relay explosion is 99% crushed dreams.


This issue probably presents the most ridiculous leaps in logic. Why is the Normandy running from a relay explosion? That would imply they went through a relay, but why? Joker wouldn't have abandoned the battle or Shepard, so WHY THE HELL ARE THEY DICKING AROUND IN FUCKING SPACE? And when they crash-land on the stupid planet one of the people who gets off the Normandy is always someone who accompanied you on the final mission. You know, one of the people left unconscious at the foot of the beam that takes you to the citadel. That thing the reapers were defending personally. So that means Joker would have had to set the Normandy down nearby or send a shuttle down to pick up his or her limp body and then bolt back into space to run away like an ass. And he would have had to do all of that under fire from the freaking reapers. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?! UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Looks like leaving Earth was the wrong decision, asshole.


The endings having only tiny differences is downright insulting. The only differences that occur are the color of the beam, if the reapers fall over or fly up, and whether or not people have circuits running up and down their arms because you know... synthesis. So much for 16 different endings. Yes, Shepard can live or die, get killed by the Illusive Man, and Earth might get destroyed or saved, but do any of those things (besides being shot obviously, which just ends things there) really affect the overall ending? No. For the most part, the same shit happens.


This is the one. The grandaddy of all bullshit. The relays hurt the worst, but this one pissed me off the most. We were told all of our decisions would matter. That everything we have done would affect the outcome. And for a while it was true, until it mattered the most: the ending. As I've said, you get pretty much the same ending no matter what you do. And there's also the matter of all the relays blowing up. No matter what you've done. No matter who you've helped or hindered. No matter what huge changes you've made to the galactic stage... it's all undone. All the races are cut off from each other. Technology is set back hundreds of years. Forces fighting on other worlds are stranded and we don't even get to see how that pans out. Did you cure the genophage? Did you end the war between the Geth and the Quarians? Good for you. We will never see or know the effects of those decisions. They become pointless. And it's not just those decisions. It's every choice you've made across three different games. The hours you've spent creating the perfect save file to import into the next game feel wasted. Bioware told us those decisions would matter... and they didn't. It wasn't a miscommunication. It couldn't be. That's what they told us. I hate to say it, but based on that... we were kind of lied to. And trust me, I reaaaally hate saying that. I love Bioware. I really do. I respect that company above most others... but we were led to believe something other than the truth. There is one word to describe this: wrong.

That'll teach you to trust anything or anyone ever again!
So where does all this leave us. Well, I'm not going to give an overall score. I can't review the main game without the ending or vice versa and one is great and the other is awful. I honestly don't know where that leaves things. If it wasn't for those last ten minutes this would be a 10 for sure. Will Bioware release new DLC to fix things? Will we find out this was all a hallucination because of indoctrination? Who knows. What I can tell you is that it is a shame that one of the greatest experiences in gaming has been hurt by such an avoidable mistake. Whether things stay this way or Bioware charges us more money for a better ending (which is still kind of awful) doesn't matter at this point. Amazing game. Horrible ending. That's what it boils down to. Good day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coming to a blog page near you.

Sorry about (yet another) delay. Midterms and planning have been in the works. The horrible truth is that we have actually recorded about three podcasts since the last. However, each of them ended up with a horrible static that rendered them unlistanable. Our first return to the realm of audio should occur this Wednesday, and by that I mean the actual recording. I'm going to go ahead and post this plan because then we will actually be held to it. On top of this we will get a Mass Effect 3 review up. It could have been up sooner, but the ending is such a huge factor in formulating our opinions that we are waiting for the whole crew to finish. El Jefe and I have beaten the game and formulated our opinions. Now we are just waiting for the fabled Elitist to conclude his playthrough. He is close. We will then write a joint review, because damn we have a lot to say. Hopefully, a good brainstorming session will bring out a few good feature ideas. Lord knows I have one. Remember, we are in college and have learnin' to do! Hope to be back with you shortly.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just for Fun: Best Games of 2011, A LEGO Short

Today I bring you another piece of stop motion video game based brilliance from those cheeky (patient) devils from Kooberz Studios.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Beta Review

"We are Mass Effect you love our game, we want you to play it longer, so we are gonna jump on the bandwagon and make a multiplayer, meeehhhhh!"

Not really, it's actually really good.

It's impressive to see a game like ME, a game that has been so based in its mission to create a really good single player game, come out with something so balanced like an awesome multiplayer. It's rare to find quality well rounded games now days. Either a game has an awesome multiplayer, but shoddy single player (I'm lookin' at you DICE) or a really good single player but a crap multi, a multi no one plays, or no multi at all.

Intro ME3 Beta. First off, BioWare did an awesome thing by letting all players get a taste of the Beta, even those without a Gold Membership, by granting you restricted and temporary Gold status upon downloading the demo. So even if you don't have XBL, you can still check out the beta.

So, you heard about the Single player, it's awesome and sad, Shepard is a bad ass, the reapers are literally douchteroids, time to save the fuckin' galaxy. Well forget all that, because the beta has nothing to do with any of it.

You're first choice is what class do you want to play?

Adept, Soldier, Engineer, Sentinel, Infiltrator, or Vanguard.
You should know by now what those mean, if not... well whatever. I don't care.
So, each class also has four races, Humans being able to take on any class, and then other classes breaking down from there. Each Race in each class has different abilities. E.G. Human Engineers have Incinerate, Overload, and Combat Drone; where Quarian Engineers have Incinerate, Cryo Blast, and Sentry Turret. Yay choices. (Note, Humans are the only race that can be each class. Check that link, every other race has only 2 class choices)

As you level one class, each race in that class also levels up. Following up on the Engineer example, if you level your Human to level 20(which is the cap, as far as we can tell), whenever you unlock the Quarian, she will also be level 20. All you have to do is decide where to put your points. However, each class levels up separately. So even if you have a level 20 Engineer, all of your other classes will remain un-leveled until you grind 'em up.

Then next choice you have to make (assuming that in choosing your character, you have established what powers you are going to use primarily) is what weapons are you going to run with. This can be changed at any point outside a match, but what weapons to use brings in some interesting things to consider.
This happens. Often. 
Each character has a certain amount of "strength" based on race and skill points. That strength contributes to how carrying weapons affect you. Allow me to explain... because this confused the balls off of all of us when we started this. The heavier the weapon(s) you have equipped, the slower your powers will recharge. in the case of a power hungry Adept, she may want to roll with only one pistol or an SMG. Adding heavier or more weapons is going to slow her recharge time significantly. A Krogan on the other hand, may not care, and have enough strength to dampen the reduction in recharge time. So he can roll with a Shotgun and an Assault Rifle. It adds more decisions for you to make on how you are going to play each and every character.

One last thing. In true EA fashion, the equipment upgrade, and item/character unlocking system is a random pack buying thingy. You play games, get points, and buy these packs. In these packs are usable in-game items (Medi-gels, missiles, quick-heals, ammo packs), item mods (scopes, magazines, stabilizers, etc.) weapons (Sniper, shotgun, assault rifle, SMG, pistol) and characters. You get six cards in each pack, 3 of which are consumables, the other 3 vary in rarity and such depending on the type of pack you buy. So yeah, that's neat. Unless you are as unlucky as I am, and have yet to see but 2 rare cards while your roommates sit on 7 different characters of differing races and you find your self secrelty plotting their death, in hopes their luck will bleed into you... then you remember that it's just the beta, and all this data will not be saved over to the real game (seriously. It won't).. that fact saves their lives

For Now.

So the game itself is very Horde/Firefight/DeadSpace ish. Waves of baddies come to mess you up, and you gotta win. However, sometimes the wave begins, and you and your team of four are given an objective that can range from defending a point, to taking out targeted enemies. The waves get harder, and on wave 11, you have to hold the LZ, and wait for extraction. Tons of fun. Fo Realz.


So that's the  info on the multi-player as of the beta and such. I, personally. and pretty excited to see the full game. See you online, on March 6th!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Single Player Demo Review

We continue the O&E's gradual rise from the ashes of nonproduction (not a real word) with a review of Mass Effect 3's single player mode. "But El Jefe," you might (or might not) say. We're assuming you might, "I bought Battlefield 3 because I am very cool, probably cooler than you. No, definitely cooler. Consequently, I can like play co-op and stuff. Why can't you?????????"

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

When I saw this game at E3, my interest for its existence was low to moderate...
Then people started saying things like "HERP! It's Skyrim with good combat!" or "DERP! It's Fable with quests!" and I thought


Okay, so I still didn't care. It wasn't until I saw this trailer that I decided I was going to start giving this game a little interest. My cup of care is well regulated and precious after all.

Alright... so.. that looks pretty awesome. I decided I'd check it out when it came out. 
So it's out, I've played it, and I'm mildly impressed. It's a very well made game, a lot of love went into this sucker, so let's break it down a bit. 

The character development/leveling is by far my favorite part of this game. Points go into skill trees of your choosing, and into crafting skills, sneak, lockpicking, persuasion etc etc. Wanna beat the snot outa some monsters face? Might is for you. Blah Blah, you saw the video. The point is it's simple. Leveling shouldn't be a chore; I want this, point point here. However, it also shouldn't be devoid of options, an unfortunate habit Fable had. Each tree is surprisingly large, giving you options (weapon spec, skills specializations etc) within each tree, allowing you to really work out how you want to uniquely build your character. Now here is the fun part.

Most games discourage cross skill leveling. Focus in this, and you will be better. KoA:R does the contrary. Should you want to be Might and Sorcery, you damn well can. As you level each tree, you are awarded these fate/destiny card doohickes, that give you added bones. Level up more than one tree, and you are awarded destiny cards specific to that combination of skills. Diversity achieved. This makes combat very special from person to person, as I have yet to see two people play the same way, even when building the same tree or trees. Greater diversity, and flawless simplicity: Leveling done right! 

The story line.. weeeellll.. 
It's cool?

I think?

I keep forgetting what its about...

Oh right.. You are a hero who as come back from the dead, and now you are the only hope for the land. It's your job, as the one who can override Fate's decree to defeat the bad guys because you exist outside destiny. You choose your own story, Hero! 
I think I have heard this story before...
An RPG isn't complete without Scantily-Clad-Hot-Elf-Girl!
Now, all this is not to say it isn't interesting; being the one solitary being who can tell the gods to fuck off, and end all evil in the world (or whatever) is pretty empowering. I just found myself not wanting to care a lot. The (side) questing is a lot of fun, it has that MMO effect on you, making you want to level and level and level. So they pour quests on you like sweet sweet syrup and you can just drink it up. Only.. it becomes apparent that you are paying no heed to the main story. The only times I ever did a main quest is by accidentally stumbling on to it. (Ending stuff excluded). 

I would just be meandering towards little circles on my map, show up to one.. 
Wait a sec... I know you...
Shit! This is main story stuff. 

Isn't it? 

So yeah. It's way fun to play.. but kind of in that "I will never stop until I can one hit this giant like he were a mere bunny" sort of way. 

One big time flaw. This doesn't happen very often. In our accumulated 60+ hours of playtime (my roomie included) we have only seen this bug four times, but it's a pisser... 
Here is a craptastic video of the culprit in action from my phone because I was far to lazy to hook up the capture equipment

  • Fantastic combat that opens itself up to imagination and innovation. 
  • Huge numbers of quests lead to countless hours of game time, but detract from the main story a bit (Primarily, because the main story quests are no more exciting that the side quests.) 
  • A leveling system that encourages creativity, and unique implementation
  • Bastard Bug
So there ya have it. Totally worth the cash, if you're into RPGs, 'cause this game will last you, and is definitely fun to play. 

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    The Darkness II Review

    General George S. Patton once said, "Give me an army of West Point graduates and I'll win a battle. Give me the powers of an ancient, dark force from before time began and two demon heads on my shoulders and I'll win a war." I'm not making that up.* And he would have been right. The Darkness is an incredibly powerful force. History lessons aside, the big question was how it would stack up to the original game. We here at the O and E love the precursor and it sits comfortably in my personal top 10  favorite games list. So how does Darkness Dos fare?

    Two things are obvious pretty early on. The art style and the shooting mechanics. While the original had a very normal look to it, the sequel is designed to look like a comic book, which makes sense... because the Darkness is a comic. In fact, the feel is a little closer to that of the comics, but I'll get to that later. The new style isn't better or worse. It's just a matter of preference. I happen to like it more, but I can see how it would make things a tad too cartoony for some.The shooting is a bit harder to explain. For those of you who played the original Darkness, you might remember the shooting being a bit weird, but not in a bad way. It had an odd, fluent feel and Jackie, our protagonist, would reach his hands around obstacles to shoot if you were trying to take cover. It took some getting used to, but once you did it felt very natural. That has been replaced by a more conventional shooting style. I actually kind of miss the old aiming mechanics, but its loss doesn't take away from the game at all.This too comes down to preference. Don't think there aren't any clear improvements, though. The Darkness powers alone have been expanded on and improved.

    Also, this handsome devil.
     Unlike the first game, your darkness powers and abilities have taken on a bit of an RPG element. Killing people in different ways and eating hearts earns you varying levels of dark essence which you can use to unlock skills in four different skill trees. Most of the original abilities are back, such as hurling black holes and the darkness guns, only this time you have to buy them and they can all be upgraded. Yes, they were given to you at certain points in the original, but now you can get them as soon as you are capable. Being able to upgrade them is an even bigger bonus. You darkness guns, for example, are much better than they were in Darkness 1. Instead of equipping them, you activate them and a dark essence surrounds the guns you are currently wielding, which turns them into infinite ammo spewing death machines. You know, because sometimes guns aren't efficient enough with that. You can eventually upgrade the darkness guns to last longer, auto-aim when you are duel-wielding one handed weapons, and shoot through walls. Combining all of these things usually results in a room full of exploded bodies. And this is only one example. Even using the darkness heads works differently. The right bumper controls the right head, which you use for slashing in a horizontal or vertical fashion, and the left bumper controls the left head, which you use for picking up objects or people. And speaking of grabbing people, you can eventually execute them in four different ways, each of which has a different effect. One gives you more health, another gives you ammo, the third reduces the cooldown of some of your abilities, and the last creates a shield which the left head holds up in front of you. Oh, also, you can spit locusts at people. You get biblical up in this bitch.

    Unfortunately, you can't kill anyone's first born or inflict them with boils, but there is some crucifixion. Too soon?
     Naturally, doing all of this leads to supreme amounts of gore. And I mean SUPREME. While the first one had its moments (you did eat peoples' hearts), this game blows it out of the water. People explode, get ripped apart from having each leg torn in the other direction, have their spines ripped from out of their asses; it's fucking glorious. Of course, the gore isn't the focus. It's merely the icing on the cake of perhaps the most important element. The story.

    Whichever darkness head gets the bigger half gets to make a wish.
    While the story is still strong, it plays out a bit differently. For one, the open-world element of the original is gone, with linear gameplay taking its place. While this is a negative, there are moments when you get to walk around your penthouse and talk to people. One character, Dolpho, let's you play minigames where you shoot bottles and pigeons. I'm still waiting for PETA to get all pissy about the latter. You also get to look at the artifacts you've collected throughout the game in a tidy case while a new character, Johnny, tells you about them. His voice actor is amazing by the way. But what makes a good story doesn't lie in whether or not it's open world. It lies in the writing, characters, and plot, and Darkness II certainly delivers. The story is a bit more comic-booky this time around with more supernatural elements and connections to the actual comics. One example is constant mention of the Angelus. However, the big question on the minds of everyone who played the original was if they could possible pull off something as emotional as the scenes with Jenny from the first game, because you know (spoiler) she's dead. The answer is not quite, but they get damn close. This time around, your interactions with Jenny take place through visions Jackie has, that have more behind them than you would think at first, and seeing her in an asylum. I'm not going to explain the asylum at all because it would give too much away. In any case, your moments with her bring out a sense of emotional loss that I rarely feel in games. Of course, playing the original and actually seeing her die makes up a large part of that. At one point, the game tells you to press X to let go of her. There is no time limit and you can do it when you want, but despite how simplistic that action is, it's way deeper than you would think. The game doesn't let go for you. It makes YOU let go. And by that point, you won't want to. It's little things like this that make the Darkness II one of the most emotionally involving games I've played since the original, and that came out in 2007. Oh, and the game also gives emotional weight to the darkling that follows you around and fights for you. Unlike the first game, there is only one darkling and he is always there with you in the combat sections of the game. He also has a personality and a connection to Jackie. I'm not going to give anything away, but they make you care about that little guy.

    Look at the little scamp.
     This leads us back to the original question. Is it better than the original. The answer is yes. Yeah, the linear gameplay isn't as good, the story is too short, and nothing ever hit me as hard as Jenny's death, but two is an improvement over one in literally every other way. There's also a new game plus mode which is incredibly fun because you start the game out as death incarnate. Unfortunately, I never got around to playing the multiplayer mode, but I hear it's pretty good and has it's own unique story. The main game itself is enough to earn your purchase, however, and I couldn't recommend it more.

    9 out of 10

    *I'm totally making that up.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    We Has New Games!

    Heya, kiddos.

    Sorry we have been silent, we are currently residing in what is known in the industry as a "butt-load-amount of non-creativity, produced by an imagination syphoning brain monkey named Frank." also known as a dry spell, for you who aren't so versed in the journalistic world.

    I'm totally not making this stuff up.

    maybe I am.

    Anyway, new games! Tomorrow(tonight) we get DarknessII and Kingdoms of Amalur! Both of which look to be very good games, and I recommend at least checking them out. If you are wary, DarknessII demo is currently on XBLA, and it should assuage any fears you may hold, while giving you new ones! MUAHAHAHA

    So yeah. reviews. They will be here. Soon.. or something.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    We Won!

    Congratulations, Internet! You guys did an amazing thing this week!

    It was absolutely incredible to see the size of the response Google, Wiki, Reddit and many others pulled from all of us. It really shows a new and intimidating determination our population has. It showed our legislators that we will not simply stand by while our rights are being violated!

    After Wednesday's protest, huge numbers of senators and representatives switched from being either neutral, or for SOPA/PIPA to being openly opposed to it.  After the amount of noise we made this week, Texas Republican in the House Lamar Smith stopped discussion regarding SOPA, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid postponed the voting on PIPA. This is a huge victory for the online community.

    This doesn't mean it's over. We have been heard, we have ruffled feathers, and made some noise, but there is still a very real possibility that SOPA, PIPA or similar bills could be seen in the near future. Keep yourself informed, and when the time comes, we will be ready to strike again.

    Good job everyone!

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Resident Evil 6 Reveal Trailer

     It's no secret that Resident Evil has been going in a more action oriented direction. Some people love it, others hate it. Personally, either one is fine for me, as long as I get to move and shoot at the same time. Well, the trailer for 6 is out and it's pretty obvious that this is an action game. Oh, and Chris and Leon are BOTH in this one. The thing is, if you go into this wanting an action game, be prepared to be excited.

    According to a press release from Capcom, the game takes place ten years after the Racoon City incident. While Leon seemingly has to deal with a zombie president, which is nowhere near as ridiculous as it is in Final Fantasy VIII, Chris Redfield seems to has his hands full in China. Both, however, seem to be dealing with T-Virus shenanigans again, which I'm kind of glad to hear. There also looks to be two new protagonists, one of which seems to have sought-after blood. Co-op will also be coming back.

    While some might groan at the idea of zombies returning, no joke intended, I welcome it. After all, the T-Virus creates more than zombies, and some of the monsters look downright menacing. Especially that huge one and the one that can rip you out of cover. It also seems that you'll be fighting humans as well. And how about those new dodge maneuvers? Like I said, this seems to be pure action with some horror elements thrown in. The most exciting prospect, however, is that it appears to be coming out this year! And did you notice that the blond woman in the trailer looks and sounds like an older Ashley from Resident Evil 4? Here's hoping we'll find out more soon!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    SOPA/PIPA News

    Hey guys, back with some SOPA/PIPA updates. Yesterday was phenomenal. The response from people's protests, messages, phone calls, letters, blackouts, and petitions caused quite a stir and has made a whole lot of noise regarding our dislike for SOPA and PIPA. I wanted to take this time to explain what PIPA/SOPA does, and why it would be so dangerous to the internet economy. Since my last article was mostly just a rabble rousing attempt to get you guys out there and looking around, I wanted to now give you a bit more detail, in hopes it will push you to start doing your own research. I gave you a ton of links, after all!

    SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP) are essentially the same laws. The PIPA being the Senate version of SOPA. Initially, SOPA was becoming way more popular than PIPA, but at this point, PIPA is growing faster and is just as dangerous.

    Essentially what PIPA aims to do:
    The obvious (and honorable) goal of PIPA is to stop online piracy on the web. Right. A worthy goal to be sure, the issue comes in how this is being done. Private corporations and copyright holders want to be able to shut down websites that are allowing illegal downloading of copyrighted content. Unfortunately for them nearly all of the big piracy websites are not based within the US. So a new approach must be taken. ISPs will be required to shut down domain names that infringe upon the rules detailed by PIPA. Furthermore, US based domains could be sued for their lack of compliance. The bill also gives our government the power to tell advertisers for sites breaking the laws to shut off their accounts, crippling the funding for those websites. Recently, the bill has received some massive additions, that place enormous penalties, for minor infringements. An entire website can be wholly removed and shut down for one singular link believed to break PIPA's rules. User based sites are going to be forced to censor each and every user. If a user posts something that isn't legal under PIPA, the website can be shut down. How awful would it be, how crippled would YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, be if every time someone posted something, it had to meet a huge range of ambiguous laws?

    My favorite part.
    Nothing would change. Under PIPA, you can still access websites, just by entering the IP address of the domain. Under certain Judges (perhaps a judge not fluent in the workings of the web) could rule to shut down any website found suspect of breaking PIPA. Start-up sights, with little power, and little money, could do nothing to stop this. Soundwave, early YouTube, etc. would be primary targets for this type of legislation. Sites that could provide new innovations to the online culture have to potential to be squashed out before they can grow. Simple things like a song playing in the background of your video, you yourself singing a popular song in a video, a picture from movie or video game, posted to your blog article (the kinda stuff me and Chris do everyday.), a video reenacting scenes from movies or video games, etc. etc. Any content involving copyrighted content is subject to shut-down under PIPA. Users found violating PIPA have the potential of serving up to 5 years of jail time, for something as harmless as lip syncing to your favorite song.

    So what I want for you guys now, is this. Next week, call your Senator. Google who your Senator is, if you don't know, and call their office. Call them ever single day next week. Tell them to vote "no" on cloture. Go into their office (again, Google the nearest office) and show them, in person, to vote "no" on cloture. The more physical presence we can make, the more tangible our voice becomes. We have already made a huge impact on this process. Last week, 5 Senators openly opposed PIPA, after yesterdays protests, 35 Senators now openly oppose PIPA. However, the entertainment companies have so much money and pull these days, that they still have the ability to make this happen. The Senators realize this is unpopular, but they don't necessarily understand why. It's easy to imagine they're minds being changed by pretty words, and ambiguous re-wording. We can't stop now.

    Post this video to your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Forum, Blog, whatever. Get this message out to your friends, run a "call your Senator" article or post, get the word out. Let's end this!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Say No To SOPA/PIPA, boring ranting (please read!!!)

    Hey kiddos. As I am almost sure you are aware by now, the US is currently sitting on a massive internet regulation bill that could severely hinder progress and growth in the online community.
    Essentially, the bill would give any copyright holder the right to blacklist any domain they believed with reasonable suspicion to be in violation of their copyrights. Super power websites would be able to dominate the web, new and budding businesses could be shut down and killed based on speculation and loopholes, and (this is the best part) piracy and illegal downloading... you know... the things this is supposed to stop... would go nearly untouched.

    Take Pirate Bay. They have been battered for years, even by their own country, and have managed to survive. What a lot of these Politicians fail to realize, is no matter how hard they try, the desire, the concept that creates websites like TPB will always exist. We have seen how well the DMCA works after all...
    As long as crazy nerds who want to steal shit off the internet exist, there is nothing that can be done. Have you heard what those kids and Anonymous will do to you?! (I would typically, at this point, link you to a Wiki article. However, Wikipedia is currently blacked out in order to raise awareness against SOPA. Seems appropriate.) SOPA will make these things more inconvenient but little else. Let's be honest. Do you really see TPB going down? Didn't think so.

    Anywhoooo, I've listed several links so you can learn up on SOPA and PIPA, make your own INFORMED decision and opinion over these topics. If you do decide to reject these, I have also linked convenient ways to contact your leaders, and sign petitions to let them know how you feel. See how easy this is?! I urge you to reject these bills, as they may be veiled with good intentions, these bills will for intense and purposes censor the internet. Which, by the way, feels an awful lot like a violation of my first amendment. This is my rant and my opinion, and I would love to discuss it with you in the comment section below.

    Information regarding the bills.

    1,2,3 easy mode contact your reps.

    Also, this Google run petition.
    Do this ^

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Why Skyrim Didn't Win my Game of the Year: An Excercise in Nitpicking

    A little over a week ago we wrote our game of the year articles. Based on all the awards Skyrim has gotten, it might have stood to reason that all of us would give Skyrim the same honors or at least mention it. I didn't. Not because I don't like the game. I like it. Love it in fact. I've poured about 300 hours into it. I just want to vent about my issues with it, and to give a differing opinion that contrasts the 10/10 we gave it. Also, there might be some spoilers. You have been warned.


    Alduin is a world eater. He will (I guess literally?) eat your world. But, he never really DOES much. Sure, he resurrects the dragons, but they had a presence of their own. This is one of the few, but not only, step downs from Oblivion. The only times you see him early in the main quest are fleeting, and the only other times he shows up you either watch him get his ass kicked or you do it yourself. I know you never see Dagon throughout much of the game, but he still always felt present. And when you saw him at the end of the game it made things feel all the more hopeless. The Oblivion crises was always present and dangerous. Hell, at the beginning of the game the Emperor is murdered and you soon find out that a whole town has been sacked. Right from the start you see what Mehrunes Dagon is capable of. With Alduin you kind of just get told. Sure, he see him resurrect a dragon and eat some souls, I guess, but you also spend most the game devouring souls yourself. You never see him do any real world eating. With the Oblivion crises, almost everyone talks about how worried they are about the Daedra invasion. In Skyrim, some people still talk about the "rumors" of the Dragons returning. It just feels like less is at stake, even though this isn't the case. I'm not defending how tedious it was to go into every city oblivion gate, but you can't deny the coolness of going to what was essentially hell itself and kicking ass.  Killing Alduin in Sovngarde IS cool, but Dagon invades the Imperial City for Christ's sakes. And speaking of cities.

    I'll devour you! Or something... I guess. Meeeeeh.


    This one is, admittedly, a bit of a stretch. Both have their merits. I mean, Solitude sits on a giant natural arch. That's pretty awesome. And as a whole, the cities in Skyrim were better than the one's in Oblivion, but if Solitude was going to be the main Imperial presence I wanted something on par with the Imperial City. I know that the Imperial City, or at least the tower, as there before the current empire so this might not make complete sense, but it had actual districts. It was huge! I wanted another city like that in Skyrim and I didn't get that. I used Solitude for the comparison, because I felt it got the closest and it has the best homes, but it didn't feel as expansive.

    See! There were districts! It was awesome!


    This is kind of a problem with the series in general, but more-so here. My accomplishments don't resonate with anyone. When I became the leader of the Companions, I still had guards laugh at me over how I'm the new member of the Companions and I probably fetch their mead. People who see me destroy a dragon and absorb its soul only acknowledge it immediately and them seem to forget. The best example took place after I joined the Imperial Army and defeated the Stormcloaks. By the end of the quest-line I was promoted to a rather high rank in the army, but it didn't mean squat. Imperial troops still talked down to me and treated me like some common rabble. Being the Dragonborn aside, I outrank them! What's the point of being promoted if no respect comes with it. It irked me to no end.

    And why do these assholes keep asking about fur in my ears? Is this a reference to being a werewolf? I CURED THAT! WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!? WHAT DOES IT MEAN! TELL ME! TELL MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


    I loved my journal in Oblivion. If I forgot the point or progress of my mission I could just go read it. Now you just get a few sentences about the overall mission a mission marker for the current goal.

    RIP Elder Scrolls journal :-(


    This is the big one. The granddaddy of all problems. Yes, all games have glitches. The bigger the game, the more there will be. But some of the ones in Skyrim are absolutely unacceptable. I've seen glitches in big games before. Some of them are odd; some of them are funny. But in a AAA title like this one quest breaking glitches are inexcusable. When millions of gamers can't complete a quest because it doesn't activate correctly you've made a huge mistake. In my case, I can't finish the murder quest in Windhelm. Hell, some of the puzzle pillars in a ruin won't activate and I can't finish the quest to get the drum for the bards college. Then there's just general problems that have since been patched, but even those have no right to exist. Dragons not attacking, souls not absorbing; basic factors of the game didn't work and even AFTER the patch I'm still having those problems. Here's the underlying problem. Game companies, especially Bethesda need to stop releasing buggy shit that they can wave away with a day 1 or week 1 patch. You finish the game and then you release it. Patches are meant to fix smaller problems. In the case of Skyrim, it shipped with major ones and some of them aren't even fixed yet. And hell, PS3 players lost hours of progress when their save game data basically imploded on itself. Skyrim, you are a great game, amazing even, but you just had too many problems to be considered for my game of the year.

    This exploit is kind of awesome, though.

    I could also throw in my issues with the leveling system, but I honestly think I'm wrong on that one. I just miss gaining perks with leveling rather than having to choose them. The new system is a proven one and one I can appreciate it. Anyway, these are my reasons. I stand by them.

    I am alive! Have some drawings as proof.

    [crawls out of hole] Oh, hi! I promise I haven't forgotten about this dear ole blog. I just suck! Now that I've stated the obvious, let me state the even more obvious: Mass Effect 3 is less than two months away (March 6th). Do you know how excited I am? Excited enough that I wanted to type that in all caps but I didn't want to scare anyone off so I contained myself and drew some pictures instead!

    A sketchy Garrus. Not necessarily sketchy as in criminal, although he is a vigilante.

    Took away some lines in this one. Because I can.

    Super rushed this one of Tali. Don't hate me, Talimancers!

    After those sketchy Garruses (Garri?) I  wanted to draw a much cleaner Thane!

    Wrex, why is your mouth so difficult to draw? Don't worry, I still love you. I know you were worried, big guy. DON'T CRY.
    I didn't draw any humans because I basically never took them off the ship. And from the looks of this guy, that tradition will probably continue. But hey, maybe he will be some sort of kitten-saving intellectual with a heart of gold. Or maybe he will give Shepard free ice cream. I could live with that.

    Anyway, I'll try to be more of a person and post here every once in a while. In the meantime, feel free to peruse my art blog. It is mostly geeky fanart because I have no life! And on that cheery note, I bid you good evening. Oh hey, it's morning now!

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    The Outlaw's Game of the Year

    Welp, it's the new year, and for video games it means two thing: Looking forward to a new year's worth of releases, and looking back on the best of the previous year. I'm a day late so let's not dilly-dally!


    Surprise! I picked the Batman game! But it freaking deserved it! It had everything. The best combat, the best story, albeit not the best script (that honor goes to the runner up), and some of the best acting. Everything worked into making the Batman mythos feel incredibly alive. The villains, the allies: GOSH, IT WAS ALL SO GREAT! How they smoothed out the combat to near perfection astonishes even me. The addition of the quick-fire ability to so many of the gadgets makes fighting incredibly varied and still incredibly smooth. Stealth is still great and seeing your victims get more and more terrified is always incredibly satisfying. Mark Hamill gives the most chilling Joker performance Ive ever seen and Kevin Conroy is still the best Batman. Throw in amazing villain cameos, some of which I'm still finding, some actually difficult Riddler challenges, and the absolute best way of getting around an open world map in a video game ever add up to what has to be my game of the year. And as an added bonus, they also went ahead and wrote the best theme of the year, too.

    Seriously... This is amazing.

    Just like the title character, Batman: Arkham City can't be beat. (Don't read the comic Knightfall. It makes this final sentence make less sense)


     Portal 2 is absolutely one of the best games I've ever played. It's even better than it's prequel. The issue, however, is that it doesn't have the same impact. It does everything the first game did, but bigger and with even better writing. In fact, the writing is the best of the year, and Cave Johnson is the best new original character by far. The addition of mutiplayer puzzle solving was also great. Yet, for some reason, it just didn't do for me what the original did. When I played 1 I felt like I was playing something completely new and different. Now I just feel like I'm playing Portal. I know that doesn't make a lot of sense to anyone else, but it does to me, dammit! But I'm not insulting it. I'm giving it runner up!


    That blank page should be the whole book. Also, don't look directly in the eyes of that troll child.
    Oh, Duke. Duke, Duke, Duke. What the hell happened during that development cycle that lasted over a decade. Somewhere along the line, you forgot who were you. You threw old-school and new-school elements together that didn't mix and your jokes... well MOST of them fell flat. Not to mention the incredibly disturbing scene where women were essentially raped in the mouth and impregnated by aliens. It works in the movie Alien because it's a horror movie and the alien attacks members of both sexes. When the situation is pointed to as a joke it's just terrible. Yes, I did defend the game to an extent in an earlier article, but the main argument was that it wasn't as terrible as some where saying it was. It still wasn't great and it definitely didn't live up to Duke Nukem 3D. Of course, what game in the series since then has? Duke, I am disappoint. 


    My face while playing Rayman: Origins
     This game needs some love. ALL OF YOUR LOVE! It was released at a terrible time, and it has sold like crap because of it. It deserves more than that, though. Way more than that. This, my friends, is the best 2-D platformer since Super Nintendo era Mario games. It's smooth, it has tight controls and physics, and gets insanely hard. It doesn't coddle you and you'll love every minute of it. Plus, it's gorgeously animated with beautifully hand drawn art and the level design is phenomenal. These factors make it special because it's a labor of love. It's a perfect throwback to an era of gaming I miss and for that, it deserves my special mention.

    Game of the Year, From The Elitist.

    So game of the year. Wait.. game..? You mean... just one game?

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