Monday, April 30, 2012

May Monster Madness

One of my favorite video game genres is horror. For the May Monster Madness, I think it will be awesome to focus on some true video game monsters.

So for the next week, I'll be posting about my favorite gaming horrors. I intend to mostly focus on one character from each game. However, I think I will also dedicate posts to entire games, perhaps those that just have too many monsters to pick from.

Here are some of the games I want to cover:
Resident Evil
Silent Hill
and one or two surprises

What is your favorite horror video game? Or gaming monster?

Z is for Zant

While there are basic elements and themes that are the foundation of the Legend of Zelda series, each game has its own story. For the letter Z, I decided to highlight Zant, one of the major baddies in Twilight Princess.

According to the official timeline, TP takes place after Majora's Mask. This is what's referred to as the Child Era. As Zelda fans know, after Ocarina the timeline splits three ways. One with the hero defeated, one where the Scared Realm is protected, and one with Ganondorf sealed. Twilight Princess takes place in the Scared Realm split.

So here we have Zant, a member of the Twili race and the self proclaimed king of of the Twilight.  He spreads the Twilight through Hyrule, making Link turn into a wolf when he enters it. He mistakenly believes that the World of Light belongs to him and the rest of the Twili. Although, when he rose to power, he also deformed many of the members of his own race, turning them into Shadow Beasts.

But what happened to Zant that gave him so much power? If he overthrew the rightful leader of the Twilight, who is it supposed to be? Why does he turn from calm to crazed by the end of the game?

 If you don't know the answers, then you should go play Twilight Princess.

And now, some announcements:

*this is the final entry for 2012's A to Z Challenge. Starting May 7, every blogger in the challenge will have the opportunity to write a reflection post. So look for that next week*

* I will also be taking part in May Monster Madness, starting tomorrow. I look forward to posting about gaming's most horrible monsters.*

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for "You think you're some kind of hero?"

BioShock spoilers ahead.

The BioShock quote in this post's title isn't as famous as "Would you kindly? or " A man chooses, a slave obeys."  Fontaine says it to Jack right after he learns the horrible truth about his history. Can you really imagine how it feels to learn you're nothing but a mind controlled back-up plan? Your whole life is a lie. There's no farm house, no mom and dad. Your plane crash was no accident. You're a grown man who's really only three years old. Wrap your head around that, would you kindly?

However, as  Jack, it's hard not to see yourself as something of a hero, especially  if you're saving the Little Sisters. After you swim to the lighthouse, you get your first awe inspiring glimpse of Rapture. Awe turns to horror as you experience what the city is actually like. Crazed, deformed splicers who try to kill you at every turn. Big metal monsters protecting their little girls while she takes ADAM out of an "angel's" corpse. Little do you know at the time that you're one of the grotesque things the city produced.

You're stuck here, in a leaky, dark city sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Just trying to figure out how to escape. Or so you think. One of the best things about BioShock is how it takes everything  you know about your character's situation and discards it. There have been few video game moments like shock you that.

It's while you're being insulted that quote is used, but Jack can be a hero. The" good" ending proves that.  Of course, you could also become a monster. The choice is yours.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-rated Games

I'm not talking about those 20 or so games that got the AO rating. Nope, I'm talking about Unnecessary Censorship in Video Games.  For those who don't know, these videos take dialogue from games and censor it to make it seem naughty. Take this Skyrim one, for example:

There are other games like Mass Effect 3 that are also made X-rated. Might be that I'm easily amused, but I giggle like mad watching these. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wii U

What a polarizing device and it's not even released yet.

What to say about the Wii U? Perhaps there are two sides. First, personally I have always been somewhat of a Nintendo fanatic. But, there's a lot Nintendo does that's worth being fanatical about. Second, while I love my Wii and you couldn't pry it from my cold, dead hands, there's a lot of games it can't handle. It's not HD and it's graphically inferior to the PS3 and 360. I am not such a blinded fangirl that I can't see the Wii's problems concerning the lack of "hardcore" titles.

However, I remain optimistic about the Wii U. It will be HD. There are rumors about just how powerful the graphics will be. But, the consensus points to this gen 360 and PS3 graphics.  Does that bother me? Not really. Yes, great graphics are pretty and shiny. But, they don't make or break a game for me.  Would I love amazing graphics that blow the current gen away? Of course, but it's not going to happen with the Wii U.

It seems you can turn the Wii U on and play games on the controller without needing a TV screen. That's awesome, especially in a house like mine. Say my son wants to use the PS3, I can still play the Wii U on the tablet controller.

Another cool thing about the Wii U is duel support for both its games the games on the 3DS. Right now, the news just hit about this feature for the next Super Smash Bros. If this takes off, I'm sure many more games will have this support.

What about the rumored apps store it's building? Since Nintendo doesn't license its games to iPads and the like, if the Wii U is able to have the very popular games that are on tablets and phones right now, plus an ebook reader feature then great. I'm very interested to see if Nintendo can pull this off.

On the downside, I worry about third party support. It's something Nintendo has been lacking for years. Although, as long as Nintendo continues to make its exclusives, I'll be okay. Another worrying thing is the amount of crappy party games that plague the Wii. I can only hope Nintendo gets rid of this trend for the Wii U. I can only hope they return to releasing more hardcore games. Maybe they can truly be the console for everyone. If any company can pull that off,  Nintendo can.

But of course, the angry hardcore gamer in me still just wants to scream "Fuck everyone else and focus on us."

We will certainly get more info at E3 this June. The Wii U is set to come out this November. I will be waiting in a line at midnight to buy one.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vault Boy Tattoo

If you ever played Fallout New Vegas, perhaps you will recognize this as the Math Wrath perk.  Why did I go with Math Wrath? Even though I'm not a big fan of math, I like what this perk does. It optimizes your Pip Boy, saving AP costs by 10%.

Besides what it does, I just like it. He's wearing glasses. (so do I) It's a pretty clear shot of the Pip Boy, and he's focused so hard, his tongue's sticking out.  When deciding that I wanted a Fallout tattoo, a Vault Boy was the obvious choice, especially because in all the Fallout games, there are so many images to pick from.

There were other Vault Boys I was considering like Science and the Computer Hacking perk. Hacking in Fallout is my specialty. But Math Wrath won out because he just has so much personality in that image.

It's on my arm, just above my wrist.You can see part of my Link tattoo as well. I'm dedicating my lower arms to gaming. Link and Vault Boy are the first two done. Of course, I also have a huge BioShock tattoo, but that's on my leg. I'm getting that one worked on this weekend.

Just as my husband did my Link tattoo, he also did my Vault Boy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U is for Ugh.. My PS3's HDD was Corrupted

It's not exactly the way I pictured spending my Saturday.

But, I'll back this up a bit. The problem started happening late Friday night. My son started the PS3 and it gave a warning that the hard disk might be corrupted. It was going to try and restore it. It did its thing and went back to normal.

Saturday morning it was working okay, but then the electricity in the house shut off for a second. While the PS3 was on. When we turned it back on, the warning came up again, it did its thing and it was fine. Later on that afternoon, when I turned it on again, I got the same warning, except this time it got stuck in an infinite loop of trying to restore. So for all intents and purposes, the PS3 became an expensive paperweight.

Let me take a minute here, I knew what was happening and I knew this 320gb Slim was only a year old. We don't abuse it, randomly turn it off, call it names, or drop it. I also knew sending it back to Sony would do nothing but cause us time and money.

When the infinite loop happened, I started the PS3 in safe mode and went through all the options until the final one of reformatting the HDD was the only one left. Of course, this means everything on the HDD would be erased. But, I'm a weirdo and even though I haven't been backing up my saved games regularly (for shame, I know) I wasn't upset. When the HDD died,  I was on like my 56th play through of BioShock.  I guess I'm lucky that the most recent games I've bought are either on the 360 or the 3DS. So in reality, I didn't lose anything I was playing for the first time.

Reformatting worked.  Now it's Tuesday and everything's back to normal. If I needed to get another HDD in the future, I'm not too concerned. They're not that expensive and we already upgraded our original 20 gb fat to a 250 gb years ago. (It got the YLOD, but it's fixed now)

So here's the moral of my story. If you really care about your saved data, back it up. If your HDD becomes corrupted, don't send it to Sony. Reformat it or buy a PS3 compatible one. Sometimes even if you try to be super careful, shit happens and things break.

More information about PS3 HDD corruption 

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Tingle

"Tingle, Tingle! Kooloo-Limpah! These are magic words that Tingle created himself. Don't steal them!"

When thinking of what to write for "T" day, the first thought I had was of Tingle, so I'm going with it. For those who don't know about Tingle, you haven't played enough Legend of Zelda.

Tingle is a weirdo. In fact, in a gaming series full of weirdos, Tingle's really high up on the weirdo list. The first game he was ever in is Majora's Mask. He sold Link maps. Link could  buy these maps after he shot down Tingle's balloon.  You see, Tingle floats around via balloon. One red balloon that's stored in his backpack. If that's not strange enough, he also wants to be a fairy, dresses up like Link, and he's 35 years old. You also meet Tingle's dad in Majora's Mask. Needless to say, he's not too impressed by his son's behavior.

The game that made Tingle infamous for me is Wind Waker. He's kind of a money-grubbing jerk. After Link springs him from jail, he gives him a poorly drawn map of "Tingle Island."  When Link gets there, Tingle's brothers are doing all the work as he lazes about. Tingle charges him 398 rupees to decipher each of the eight Triforce locations. That's a hell of a lot of cash.

Tingle's also been in Four Swords Adventures were he tries to steal Force Gems from Link. Tingle and his brothers also appear in the Minish Cap. He made an appearance in Oracle of Ages as well.

Even if Tingle isn't in some of the Legend of Zelda games there still might be a mention of him. There's a wanted poster of him in Phantom Hourglass. Statues and a picture of him in Spirit Tracks and a doll in Skyward Sword can be found.

Even though he's somewhat annoying, Tingle has become part of the Legend of Zelda experience for me. He doesn't need to be active in every game, but finding a doll or poster is a cool way to remind Zelda fans of one of the greatest weirdos to ever grace the series.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Skyward Sword

Last November, Legend of Zelda fans rejoiced as Skyward Sword was released. The last home console Zelda game, Twilight Princess,  came out in 2006 . Since there is usually so much time in between releases, when we get a new one it's really some special. And Skyward Sword is no different.

What can I say about Skyward Sword? Well, it's the "first" Zelda game. It takes place in Skyloft, a floating town high above what will become Hyrule. Of course, Link must go to this mysterious land beneath the clouds to rescue Zelda and stop the evil Demise. It's filled with back story about how elements of the previous Zelda games like the Master Sword came to be. There are other plot twists and surprises too.

What's really different about Skyward Sword is the motion control. While Twilight Princess for the Wii used motion control, Skyward Sword uses motion plus, and it's amazing. In the 80+ hours I put into playing the game twice, I think I had to recalibrate  it 5 times. That's not too shabby. Besides, I really got a kick out of having to raise my super awesome, special edition golden Wii remote over my head to charge the sword. It made me a little misty.

Skyward Sword has the great blend of graphic. It's almost like a watercolor painting. It reminds me of a mix between Wind Waker and Ocarina.  What made the graphics for me is how expressive Link's face is. Link doesn't talk, of course, but he really doesn't need to. His face says it all.

If there was anything I could change about the game, it would that different locations should be connected. It felt weird every time I had to go back to Skyloft  just to go from the forest to the desert. But the lands themselves were fun to explore.

Skyward Sword is a must have game for any Legend of Zelda fan. I can't wait to see what new Zelda games are in the works too!

Of course, I wrote quite a few Skyward Sword articles, and they can be found by clicking the YCN link on the top right of the page.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Rebooting Video Games

There are many older video games that I'm still fond of. Some I'm lucky enough to still have, whether it be on disc or downloaded onto a console. But, why did those once great franchises disappear into oblivion? Some of them died a slow and painful death, others just vanished. Whatever the case might be, there are tons of older games that I would love to see rebooted.

Tomb Raider is actually getting a reboot that should be released for the holiday season. This one is sort of a prequel, with a younger Lara becoming shipwrecked on an island. What I've seen of  it looks amazing. It's definitely something I'm going to check out later this year.

Earthworm Jim is a quirky game I played a lot on the SNES. I actually have the first one downloaded to my 3DS and it's just as weird and challenging as I remembered. But, there hasn't been a new Earthworm Jim game in years.

What ever happened to Star Wars Battlefront? I loved those game, especially the second one. Whether it's in development hell or just dead, the series needs another game.

Some game fail miserably at being rebooted, like Duke Nukem. However,  I think many games deserve a second chance, not only for us gamers who fell in love with the titles when they were first released, but for younger gamers who might have never gotten the chance to play them at all.

Check out more video games that should be rebooted.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Questions about Video Games

I realize because of the A to Z challenge, a lot of my recent visitors aren't gamers. I thought it would be neat to use my Q post as an "ask me a question related to video games" sort of thing.  So ask me anything about video games, consoles, etc and I'll answer.

Keeping with this topic, there questions about games I want answered. Unfortunately, I don't think the answers are out there yet.

Here's what I'm dying to know:

What is Super Mario 4? I know there's been rumors, and Nintendo registered the domain name. E3 can't come quick enough. 

Will the extra content BioWare is giving us for Mass Effect 3 make everything better?

Where the hell is Fallout 4? 

How about that Skyrim DLC?

Will Activision kill the Call of Duty franchise by flooding the market, Guitar Hero style? ( It's not that I want this happen, but I have a feeling)

Will the super awesome Legend of Zelda art book that has the official timeline be released in the US?

Will the AO rating ever be more than the dumping ground for crappy porn games? 

Seriously, what the hell is Queen Myrrah? Is she a locust or human or a mix. This drives me nuts. 

There plenty of other unanswered questions I have, these are just a few.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Pre-order Bonuses and Video Games

Ah, pre-order bonuses. They can drive a gamer nuts. Best Buy has X bonus with that game, but Gamestop has Y with the same game. I think I finally had my pre-order bonus nervous breakdown when Fallout New Vegas was about to be released. I wanted all things Fallout, you see, and exclusive bonuses from four different retailers made my head hurt. I finally said screw it and didn't pre-order from anywhere.

Pre-order bonuses for video games are strange. First, it's not like highly anticipated games are hard to come by. If you're getting a standard edition of something, then there are tons of copies. The only time I can remember having a slight bit of difficulty in finding a game was when Twilight Princess was released for the Wii. This was only a short time after the Wii itself was released, so demand was high. But the second store I tried was stocked with Zelda goodness, so no harm done.

What drives me crazy about pre-order bonuses is things that should be unlockable in the game like armor and weapons, are "exclusive" to one store.  If you want all the virtual goodies,  you can buy multiple copies of the game, (yeah right) try to buy the codes from someone online or wait a few months until you're able to buy the bonuses from the PlayStation Store or Xbox Marketplace. It's really not unfair.

But some pre-order can be fun, like Fallout 3's poster and music CD. I'd rather have physical and collectible bonuses than just having a code that unlocks a gun pack that's already on the disc.

Hopefully, they go back to being about cool stuff.  I really don't pay attention to which store has what bonus anymore. Although, every time a game I really want is on the horizon (BioShock Infinite) I can't help but wonder what the bonuses will be.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Old School Games and Gamers

I'm glad that I was a child of the 1980s. I got to witness the success of the home console for myself. Maybe it's that sense of nostalgia that makes me still return to those games today. It also could be that many of those games are amazing and fun to play. Another reason is a few of those early 8-bit franchises are still being made all these generations later. When a new Zelda or Mario game is released, it generally receives high praise.  

Perhaps the fact that I was lucky enough to play those games from the beginning has tainted the way I see them, because I don't understand gamers who "can't" play 2D games. To me, it's like saying you "can't" watch a black and white movie. Just because the technology isn't as advanced as it is today, that doesn't mean those games are bad or not worth your time.

I don't know what it is that turns off some newer gamers to old school games. Perhaps someone could enlighten me. Graphics are the obvious reason, but graphics aren't everything. Or maybe it's because few games had the ability to save data at all. Is it because today's games tend to help gamers with maps, autosaves, and waypoints? Maybe old school games are just too hard?

I don't know, but it saddens me a bit when someone who loves the newer Zelda or Mario games dismiss the originals without giving them a chance.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Nintendo 3DS

I have written a lot about the 3DS since I got one last year. The number of hours I spend playing it are starting to rival those of my home consoles. In other words, I can't seem to put the thing down.

The funniest thing about me own a 3DS is I don't use the 3D  all the time. I do when I'm playing a game that supports it, but I'm sort of in love with the eshop. Here I can download all sort of older titles like Link's Awakening, Super Mario Bros, Earthworm Jim, etc. Games that don't use the 3D feature but are still amazing.

Of course since the release of Ocarina of Time 3D, I also love wondering about which Zelda title will get a 3D remake next. Last I heard, Nintendo said they want to bring a new Zelda game to the 3DS before revamping older ones. (I'm not going to complain about that) However, I would probably weep tears of joy if Majora's Mask 3D or Wind Waker 3D was announced.

So even though the 3DS had a slow start was it was released, I think it is going to a be huge force in the industry this year, and I'm ridiculously excited for its future.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Massive Mass Effect Controversy

Warning ME3 SPOILERS ahead.

So there I was starting a game of Mass Effect 3 when I read an article about how not playing the multiplayer mode will hurt your chances of getting a good ending. To say I was angry is an understatement. I quickly typed out my reply and called the whole business a terrible idea.

If you don't play online, you need to get enough War Assets so Earth and everything else in the galaxy isn't destroyed. I am not an online gamer. I do play XBL with my son, but not all the time. I prefer single player and since Mass Effect 3 is a single player RPG first (ME 3 is the only one with multiplayer) I was livid.

But I played on, scanning every planet, collecting every little thing, doing every mission. It was during my time in the campaign when I noticed a lot of people complaining online about the ending. Not wanting to get spoiled, I didn't investigate and thought people were still mad about the multiplayer stuff.

Holy crap...... was I wrong.....

At the very end of the game, (if you have enough War Assets and I did)  you have three choices. You can destroy the Reapers, control the Reapers, or combine synthetic  and organic  life. Okay.. well since I thought it would be best to destroy them, I limped towards that one. And I get a cutscene.

I was so damn happy I saved Earth, that a few things didn't even register with me at first. As I walked to my computer filled with that post-game glow, I decided to peek at the other endings, because surely, they were vastly different.

But they're really not and that's the problem.  The choices that you made in the three games didn't seem to matter. It didn't hit me at first because my cutscene showed flashes of Liara and Garrus. And while I wondered how they got back on the Normandy since I took them to Earth, I was glad they weren't hurt when the missiles where launched. Those two characters are the ones I spent the most time with.  I also wondered why the Normandy was even flying, but again, I was just so happy everyone was okay.

Unfortunately, everyone gets the same cutscene with a few "red, green or blue" tweaks. This caused an uproar from fans. Petitions and protests started. BioWare was sent 400 red, green and blue cupcakes with different food coloring (so they all taste the same)

Bioware has come out and said they will give free DLC that explains and expands the ending this summer. I still don't know how I feel about that. Yes, after I saw the other endings, I was upset  that nothing seemed to matter. Yes, there are unanswered questions and terrible plot holes. BUT, should BioWare change it?  I do not want a gaming community where we bully developers into changing things. I don't want endings messed with all the time.

I want the ME3 ending "fix" to be a one time deal. Bioware said they'll give us more content, then fine.  I hope in the future, developers keep this mess in mind when they promise fans that the choices they made years ago in the first game will really matter at the end.  Because they should.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Link Tattoo

Deciding on what kind of tattoo to get from the Legend of Zelda was difficult. It seems like I spent years thinking about it. At first, I didn't want to get one that was too recognizable. I wanted something that only Zelda fans would understand. Although with over a dozen games, the choices were endless. So then I decided on Link,  but which one?

I thought 8-bit Link was a cool idea, expect I've seen it done a lot. Same with Ocarina styled Link.  Eventually, I picked Wind Waker Link, then switched to Skyward Sword Link, and back to Wind Waker.

Why did I pick Wind Waker Link? First, I think he's adorable.  Second, he seems to be a dividing factor among Zelda fans. Wind Waker received a lot of complaints when it was released. Not everyone liked the cel-shading or that Link looked very young. Since I love the look of the game, I thought it would be cool to show my support, permanently on my arm.

So here's my tattoo of my favorite video game character ever, looking super tough, but cute.

The original picture:

 And my tattoo:

My awesome husband did my Link tattoo. :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kinect

It's been a year and a half since Kinect was released for the Xbox 360 and I'm still not jazzed about it. In fact, the only Kinect exclusive game that I had interest in, Star Wars, has gotten tons of bad reviews. I'm usually not one to take reviews to heart. However, the game itself seems like a collection of mini-games, and a short single player campaign. Not what I want from a Star Wars game. The only M-rated Kinect game, Rise of Nightmares, also gotten crap reviews.

So what does Kinect hold in the future for the hardcore gaming crowd? I'm not sure. Maybe one day a great  game will come along and get me off my gaming chair. I know a few games are being integrated with Kinect, but if I can use a controller, I will.

For me, I think that's part of the problem. Not having a controller and hoping the sensor scans your body correctly and picks up your every move, it seems like too much trouble.

I'm also concerned about how a action packed game would play out with Kinect. Imagine Gears of War for Kinect? I'll pass, thanks.

I like that motion control is an option. I like how it works on many Wii games. But I also like that I can play Super Smash Bros Brawl or the Legend of Zelda sitting down, with a controller in my hand. Kinect might be a revolutionary idea, but it's still not compatible with the games I want to play. And maybe it never will. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for John Shepard

While I'm planning on making "M" for Mass Effect, there is so much going on with the controversy surrounding the third game (especially the ending) I don't want all that to overshadow the Commander. Besides, it's his/her birthday today! (although he/she isn't even born yet)

Mass Effect's default Shepard is named John.  However, my femShep shares my name, Jenn.  Through BioWare's magic, I created a character that looks so much like me, it's actually sort of eerie. Too bad I can't put glasses on her.

Of course, the difference between everyone's Shepards is more than just appearance. The options in Mass Effect are numerous. You can be a lil' goody-goody or a complete jerk. You can romance your squad mates or ignore them. All the choices makes it sort of hard to talk about Shepard because my Shep might be the opposite of yours.

Mine tries to keep everyone happy and be friendly, but some people (like Miranda) are just jerks.

She loves Liara.

She has a space hamster named "Mr.Fuzzybottoms."

In ME 3, she got the "good red ending."  (but more on that for M day)

But, there are important things about the character of John/Jane/Jenn whatever Shepard that ring true no matter what. From the first time I played Mass Effect, I couldn't believe how much pressure is put on your character. Everyone in the galaxy is counting on you, to stop Saren, to stop the Collectors, to stop the Reapers. And the kicker is, nobody seems to believe anything you say, from "Saren's bad" to "the Reapers are real." Until, you know, they're under attack. Then it's your problem.

So whether your Shep is a John or a Jane, a solider or a vanguard, a jerk or a peace keeper, he/she is the galaxy's only hope. ( or at least one of the very few who don't have their head completely up their ass) Get ready to say "I told you so" a lot.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Identity and Gaming Stereotypes

What does it actually mean to identify yourself as a gamer?  What do the non-gamers of the world think of us? Does it matter?

I identify myself as a hardcore gamer. To me that means "playing a lot of games and keeping up with every bit of gaming news."   But that also means a lot of stereotypes are thrown your way. 

Every December, Spike TV has the Video Game Awards. And even though I watch them, there are always some cringe worthy moments. Moments where I think "oh god, this is how the rest of the world see us."  Prime example this past year, that ranty blogger who they gave way too much time to. I know we gamers can be quite the angry bunch. But, I don't think showcasing a person who acts like they really have a few screws loose is a good idea.  Especially when every few months some pseudo-scientific study tries to warn the world about how video games makes people violent.

Identifying yourself as a hardcore gamer also seems to imply you hate casual games and the people who play them. While I may joke a lot about being a "gaming snob,"  I certainly don't hate quality casual  games or the people who play them more than they play RPGs or FPSs. (But, I will never consider Farmville and its long list of clones "games")

And apparently identifying yourself as a gamer means you have no social life, job, family, or offline friends.

Of course, these gaming stereotypes are all nonsense. But when year after year, the mainstream media decides to parade around the worst, while ignoring the diversity and creativity of the rest of the gaming community, it doesn't help.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Half-Life

The Half-Life series is amazing. As the silent Gordon Freeman, you fight your way through Headcrabs and all other manner of crazy monsters. Even though the first one is on the PS2, I still enjoy playing it. It's challenging, interesting, and you can use a crowbar as a weapon. What's not to like?

The same can be said for Half-Life 2 and its two episodes.Unfortunately, Valve can't count to three. The end of episode two leaves players with so many unanswered questions and plot twists. Then it's over. Of course, Valve is supposed to be working on episode 3 or even Half-Life 3. But, they've been as silent as Mr. Freeman about it. Five years later, we're still waiting.

Which brings us to another H word, Hell. As in development hell, where all talked about and might have been worked on games go. Duke Nukem recently emerged from development hell after over a decade, but perhaps he should have stayed there.

But, I have faith that Valve will do right by good ole Gordon whenever he does appear on our screens again. Half-Life is such a beloved franchise, that all these years later, fans are still protesting and signing petitions to make sure it gets released. That's dedication. And seriously, I want to board the Borealis already.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gamer Girl

I have a love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with the phrase "gamer girl" at this point in my life. Why can't we just be gamers? Look, I know it's a male dominated industry. I know sometimes women get treated like crap and that's wrong. Although, there are some other issues that are a big deal to "gamer girls."  I have never understood these complaints about gaming.

One of the issues is  that games don't have enough strong female characters.

(I think there are many examples of awesome female characters. Here's a few: Alyx from Half-Life 2, Chell from Portal,  Zelda from Legend of Zelda, Jade from Beyond Good and Evil,  Jill and Claire from Resident Evil, Lilith in Borderlands, Anya and Sam in Gears, Samus in Metriod,  Faith from Mirror's Edge, Lara from Tomb Raider and I could go on. )

They can't relate to guy characters or something like that. I have never felt this way, so I don't know what the problem is, exactly. When I read a book or watch a movie, the main characters doesn't need to be anything like me. Am I an 11 year old British boy who found out he's a wizard? Nope.  But, I still love reading about it.

Or the complaint that games are marketed towards guys. I don't care who the target audience is, if I like it, I'll play it.  As for big AAA, hardcore games, I don't feel they target anyone but gamers with their commercials and ads. Gamers who play games not because they're "girl" games "boy" games, but because they're good.

Just because some guys (and women too) are jerks when it comes to who they think should play games, that doesn't mean we have to stoop to their level of idiocy. And when I see a lot of " I'm a girl and play games, I'm special snowflake" type of stuff, it doesn't make sense to me. We know the statistics, almost half of all gamers are female.

I really think constantly throwing gender into other people's faces does us a disservice. Complaining without offering real solutions does us a disservice. We should stop  harassment on XBL on other online games. We should take action if we're denied a job just because of our gender. But that doesn't mean we should get mad if nobody's paying attention to the loud, whiny brat who's a rare, special creature known as the "gamer girl."

If you loves games and you have a daughter, share your love of games with her. Make her a gamer, not a "gamer girl."

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Final Bosses

In video games, final bosses can be anything from super hard to super easy, or even non-existent. The Legend of Zelda has always given gamers a final boss and most of them are awesome.  In fact, many Zelda fanatics agree that Skyward Sword's final boss, Demise, is the hardest in the series. The first Gears of War has RAAM,  who can be very difficult if you're not playing co-op. (Seriously, if I'm Marcus, the AI Dom likes nothing more than running straight up to RAAM and dying. )

But in Gears 2, there really isn't a final showdown. Same with Fallout 3, BioShock 2, and Saint's Row 2. Sure, there might be a wave of enemies, but nothing like a definite "this is it" moment. Even Alduin in Skyrim didn't give me the same challenge that other enemies in the game did.

It seems like more and more recent games lack that big fight at the end. I'm not sure how I feel about it. A part of me is okay with it, but another part wants the feeling of defeating the final and toughest enemy. I guess as long as the game is entertaining and filled with challenges along the way, I'll be happy. But not having that final moment can be a little jarring.

More on final bosses

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E is for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Ah, good ole Skrim. (Yes, that's what we call it in my house, pronounced Sk-rim) Skyrim was released to much fanfare back in November. But I didn't seriously become addicted to it until the beginning of January. (blame Skyward Sword and Ocarina of Time 3D)

Just like when I wrote a review on Skyrim, it's sort of hard to find something to say without going on for 1,000+ words. The game is huge. There's dragons, the Thieve's Guild, the Dark Brotherhood, and my awesome horse, Shadowmere.  And Trolls, magic, Daedric gods, mudcrabs, dragon priests etc etc etc.  Although, there's no Adoring Fan, thankfully.

As a badass Dark Elf who happens to be the Dragonborn, I defeated the main badass dragon, but the game isn't over. I don't even want to know how many hours I've poured into this thing. I do know that I haven't discovered every location or done every mission. In fact, I haven't even touched the whole civil war story line, yet.

Of course, you can't talk about Skyrim without mentioning the glitches. Bethesda games are known for being buggy and Skyrim is no different. My favorite glitch I experienced was near the Whiterun Stables. I walked out of the town and started off  towards the stables. As I got closer, I noticed a person staring at my horse's behind. Upon further inspection, I saw that it just wasn't one guy, but two. These creepy, glitched "twins" were stuck there. If I talked to one, the other's mouth would move. It happened again later on,  only they turned into triplets. At least Bethesda keeps patching the problems. Granted, sometimes the fixes cause more problems, like dragons that fly backwards.

What I'm really waiting for is an announcement about the DLCs. I've heard rumors about going to Morrowind or maybe Cyrodiil. But nothing official has been revealed yet. Hopefully, we will get more information this month.  

For more of my thoughts on this awesome game, check out Annoying things about Skyrim and Creepy missions in Skyrim.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Dom

Back in October while I was playing Gears of War 3, I wrote a post about getting to "that part." It's now April and I'm going to talk about "that part" and the character behind it. There will be major Gears  spoilers ahead.

For those who don't know the Gears of War series, Dominic Santiago is the second player's character.  But, he is more than just a typical re-branding of the first player's character, Marcus. Dom's story through out the games has captivated me in a way Marcus' doesn't.

Before I get to "that part," here's brief history of Dom, one of my favorite video game characters:

On Emergence day,  (the day of the full scale Locust Horde attack on Sera's surface) Dom lost both of his children and his wife.

Years later while still fighting against the Locusts, Dom learns that his wife might be a prisoner of the Horde. He spends most of Gears of War 2 trying to find her. And he does.

But, Maria isn't herself anymore. From the stress and torture inflicted on her, she is in a comatose state. Dom decides to euthanize her. It's clear that this is the most painful decision of his life.  And this is one of the most heartbreaking  things I have ever seen in a video game.

It doesn't end there. Here's "that part".....

In Gears 3, the war isn't going well. In order to find fuel, Dom and the squad go to Mercy, Maria's hometown.  After arriving, he visits her family tomb and leaves his COG tags there. This is when I knew he was going to die. Later in Mercy, the squad is completely surrounded. Dom jumps into the driver's seat of a fuel truck and crashes it, giving Marcus and the others time to escape.

I have played through this scene at least 3 times now. Every time, it gets me. The first time I saw this, my son and I were playing together. As the scene unfolds with Dom getting into that truck and the aftermath, we both cried. I don't think I ever had to stop playing something and walk away before. In fact, I don't think we played Gears 3 for the rest of the day. Of course we did finish the game, and although the ending is bittersweet, it is also hopeful. I just wish Dom was there to see it as well.

more about Dom on the Gears wiki

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Consoles

I've always been a console gamer. I'm always been a Nintendo fangirl, even back when it was just Nintendo and Sega. Of course, that doesn't mean that I hate my PS3 and Xbox 360. I play them more than my Wii. But, I also play the hell out of my 3DS. Out of all of the consoles available now, I'm only missing the Vita.

Now that we are nearing the end of the 7th generation of consoles, speculations and rumors about the next PlayStation and Xbox  are increasing.  So here's a handy little list of what I think about all this:

I think we will able to play used games on the new consoles. If Microsoft and Sony ban used games, it would kill business. Yes, I know game publishers don't get more money from sales of used games, but for a gaming family like mine (with two 360s and two PS3s) this would be terrible. I'm not buying two copies of the same game.

Besides the Wii U, which is releasing later this year, I don't think we'll see a new Xbox or PlayStation until late 2013 or even 2014.

I don't think Sony or Microsoft will say anything about new consoles at E3.

I think the new Xbox and PlayStation will have disc drives. (But Microsoft, please get rid of the tray)

I like backwards capability, so does every other gamer on the planet.

These are just a few of  the concerns and rumors that are floating around out there. As we get closer to the next generation, I'm sure they will get even wilder.

More on  next gen consoles.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for BioShock Infinite

So last year, I used B for BioShock. But, that post was really just a gushy ode to my second favorite gaming series after the Legend of Zelda.  This year, BioShock Infinite will come out on October 16. I have already told my husband to keep a continuous  supply of bottled water and pizza handy for me. What's so special about Inifinite? Well, I'm glad you asked....

It's number three in the BioShock series, but it takes place in 1912, a good 50 or so years before the first one.

It takes place in Colombia, which is the exact opposite of my beloved, almost scary obsession with the underwater city of Rapture. Seriously, I would live in Rapture if I could. The best/worst thing about Columbia floating in the clouds is you can totally just jump off and fall to your death, so sayth Ken Levine.

I do have some reservations about the bright, sunny new city. But the more I see, especially of the "Heavy Hitters" enemies, the more creepy and awesome it gets. Check out G4's coverage of the new enemies. My favorite one is the robotic statue of George Washington who has mini-guns.  Or the Sirens or maybe the Boys of Silence....

Besides the time and place, there will be a new mode for Infinite called 1999 mode. It sounds like a love letter to us BioShock veterans who have beaten the first two on every difficulty offered. Hooray!

So yes, while I do love my Rapture, I'm super excited for Columbia. I trust Irrational to make an experience like no other. What I want is a warm, fuzzy mix of what makes BioShock great, but with new surprises and twists. I don't think I'll be disappointed.  (but it would be cool if there was an old fashioned Circus of Values in an alley, just something to consider... lol)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Art and Video Games

Whether or not video games are Art is a subject that's been debated to death. But, this year the "Games are Art" camp  (which I am a member of) won a "victory" with the opening of the the Art of Video Games exhibit at the Smithsonian. It runs from March to the end of September. Even though I live in Florida, I am going to try my damnest to make it there.

Why do I believe games are Art? It's simple really, and a part of me doesn't understand why there's a debate at all. Art makes you think and feel. It's more than just the technical aspect of how well someone draws or paints. (or how good the graphics are for games.)

So yes, even the 8-bit games of the NES make me feel something, whether it be excitement, frustration, or joy. These days the graphics are way better, but I still get those same feelings when a game moves me. The stories are deeper now, as well. Granted, there's always room for storytelling improvement (mostly in the plot-holes category), but there are many times while playing that I have felt a connection with a character or situation. (More on this in the coming days)

This exhibit isn't without controversy, of course, with most of it surrounding the fact that gamers picked which games would be included.  Hopefully, I'll make it to DC so I can bask in all the gaming goodness for myself and see what all the fuss is about.