Thursday, December 27, 2012
Saturday, December 22, 2012
This is the way the game begins, the mood is set right away with the music and the long camera tracks down tunnels, past people, constantly moving forwards.
As someone who likes to explore broadly while gaming (rather than sticking to the main path of A to B to C) this game might have been frustrating, but it managed to take me along on it's journey. You have a purpose and a reason to keep moving, in the Metro there are dangers and understandably narrow paths, outside the air is toxic and you have limited gas mask filters (time).
The save system is unusual in that there is only 1 autosave slot and no personal save slots. If you stop mid-level the last autosave is the only way you can continue without starting that level again. After you finish levels you can go back to any previous one and begin at the state you reached it though.
This can be troublesome if you have an autosave right before getting shot at, or when you are desperately running out of air filters and can't make it to safety. What that drawback achieves is a sense of really important decisions for everything you do. My instincts have me wanting to check out every room in this house and loot every body, but my air filters have 2 or 3 minutes left so I will skip the upper floor unless I get lucky and find filters on the ground floor.
Being based off a series of novels there is a well formed world to draw from and lots of background that can be added to the people you meet. I am sure I missed out on a lot playing through the first time due to the pressure to keep moving and not being able to explore every fork in the road as it were. That gave me a different kind of gaming experience though, which is itself worthy of trying.
It's all too convenient to just go back and load a save if something goes wrong or you mess up in most games now. Living with the consequences and finding out how you can deal with the outcome can be instrumental to learning new techniques or improving your skills. I know from the early days of Catan that staying the whole game after you think you messed up settlement placement at the start, or you are in a hopeless position, taught me all kinds of ways to deal with situations and win from any kind of scenario.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
You Guys are The Guys. - md galaxy
I owe the readers of my blog an explanation, and an apology. Ive been off Xbox Live and havent blogged in over a month, not because Ive been unable to, just because I needed a break. 2012 has been by far the most important year of my life. I accomplished so many of my goals that it almost seems impossible. I truly touched the sky, and saw how great great life can be. Whatever it is you want in life, it can be yours. You just have to make good decisions, stay true to yourself, believe in yourself, and keep your head up no matter what the outcome is. Aim for the stars, and if you fall a little bit short, you have far exceeded what most people ever accomplish - because they let the expectations or dreams of other people come before their own.
Gaming is in my DNA - I was born to play, and I feel that truth down to the very core of who I am. Gaming - and the many, many friends who I have made through it, has helped me define myself as a person and even provided me with a career as a professional poker player. I will never, ever, until the day I die, cease to be a gamer. Thats who I am. I live to play. You cant change who you are at your core, and this is who I am. As Lady Gaga said, "I was born this way."
But right now, a few other things need my attention, and I need a bit of a break. Im not sure how long it will last, but now that its been over a month and Im still not ready, I think the very least my friends deserve is an explanation and to hear that not only am I fine - Im doing better than ever. In the words of the immortal Yankee Lou Gehrig:
Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you [all]. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known [them]? Sure, I'm lucky.Thats how I feel. Honored, and lucky, to know you all and just be able to associate with you grand men and call you my friends. Never for a moment take life for granted. Those moments of pure happiness, in between the mundane frustrations of our everyday existence, in between the pain and sorrow, in between the what ifs and what should have beens - clasp those moments tightly, and then let them go - but dont let their memory fade. Then breathe. Just breathe - because you are still alive. Life is a strange, marvelous experience in all of its facets, and sometimes, it requires your full attention. But there is one thing I know for sure. I have a lot of unfinished business in gaming. I have some scores to settle. I have some points to drive home.
So rest assured, I will be back.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Sunday, November 4, 2012
Blackness. Its one of the most frightening things to see in the city. You dont even realize how pitch black it is until you go down a street with no cars driving, and you cant see your hand in front of your face. Luckily, my place in Williamsburg Brooklyn was spared any issues other than a 12 hour cable and internet blackout, but NYC was a bizzare and scary place to be this week.
90% of businesses closed, no subways, no lights, no cellphone service, no heat and water in many areas, and no gasoline anywhere. I saw people waiting in gas lines 5 blocks long, and cars that were abandoned when people ran out of gas on line waiting to get gas. Almost every gas station is still closed - not the 50% report I heard on the news. I called my friend who is a cab driver, who was working insane overtime. He said, "Forget it man. Drive to Connecticut, 2 hours there and back its faster than waiting in line and you wont risk the station running out before you get to the pump."
Driving around Brooklyn and Queens looking for gas a couple days ago, I had that surreal feeling you get sometimes when a game mimics life, or in this case, life mimics a game in such an uncanny manner that its unsettling. I had a limited amount of gas, I needed more, but looking consumed gas so I needed to be highly efficient. I had already gone to 5 stations with no luck. Balking at the prospect of running out miles from home and walking in the darkness, I drove home with a 1/4 tank. Im down to about 1/8 tank or less now just running some essential missions.
Is this reality? Or am I playing Fallout NYC?
And my meager problem of simply obtaining supplies and moving around the 5 boroughs was probably the best case scenario. My parents had to evacuate their apartment with no heat, power or water. My friend Dustin Yellin's studio and art spaces in Red Hook had flooded completely - he lost everything he had. A guy in NJ opened his front door to see his entire neighborhood gone, was swept a half mile out into the cold, dark bay, and miraculously swam back to break into a house, wrap himself in blankets to halt the hypothermia, and write a goodbye note (someone on a waverunner picked him up eventually). And far, far worse. I am very lucky to have such small problems.
Check out this time lapse video of Hurrican Sandy hitting NYC from a Brooklyn view.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Austrian sky-diver/base-jumper Felix Baumgartner made history Sunday when he successfully jumped from 24 miles above the earth, hitting speeds of up to 729 miles per hour during his free-fall, breaking Mach 1 and with it the sound barrier at that altitude.
I watched this live today and was absolutely blown away, sitting on the edge of my couch with sweaty palms and an elevated heart-rate. I've jumped from the standard 2 miles up, falling at about 120 mph. I can't even begin to imagine what Felix must have experienced today.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
It only took 10 years to make, but this tribute to 80s and early 90s gaming and culture has finally been released on all the major platforms, and the word on the street is that its pretty rad and actually worth the wait - for those of us who really appreciate classic 8 bit gaming.
The concept of designer Brian Provinciano was to remake GTA III for the NES, but eventually it evolved into something much more ambitious and original. If you have a Wii hooked up to a SDTV, thats the way to play this game (as well as things like Megaman 9/10, Cave Story, and the awesome remakes of Excitebike, Gradius and Contra which are found in the Wii Store) - in the roaring pixelated glory of 480i.
Monday, October 8, 2012
Monday, October 1, 2012
I was having a conversation with my Dad once when I called something "very unique." He interrupted me and said; "Something cant be very unique. It is either unique or it isnt." Its hard not to think back to that error in usage when I see a game like Tokyo Jungle. Its like one of those game ideas you have in your head, that you probably only talk to your friends about when you are really high, that everyone says "yeah that would make for an awesome game!!!" - but you know it has 99.999999999% chance of never getting made.
The "story" is beyond preposterous. The graphics have been referred to as "disgraceful." The gameplay is grindingly addictive and the concept is simply genius: Grand Theft Hippo... Metal Deer Solid... Fallout: Pomeranian. Whether the game is tremendous fun for you or a little too weird depends on what you want out of a videogame.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Ubisoft is trying some pretty ambitious things in Assassins Creed 3. Its the first game which really attempts to pin down the combat of the American Revolutionary War, and apparently naval combat is a huge part of Ubisoft's effort.
Friday, August 31, 2012
Valve finally released their update to Counter Strike, called Global Offensive, this week. As with most things that happen on Valve Time, it took a while but the wait, for the most part, was worth it. Its mostly a new coating of paint for the same old game, the weapons physics and maps and gameplay are all the same, but they did throw in a couple of new modes which are pretty cool.
I played the 45minute XBLA demo and I think they did a pretty good job with porting it overall, but the game is so twitchy that it really benefits from being run at 60+ frames per second on the PC, and of course the ability to aim with the mouse makes a big difference. So it just doesnt quite play the same, and although its good as an Xbox game its not a great one, with the upside being that pretty much everyone playing it on XBL isnt very good, so if you are a newcomer to the series its probably the best way to get your feet wet rather than than face the grizzled veterans playing on Valve's Steam servers.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Well, Im not a huge Resident Evil fan, I think games like Dead Space and Left for Dead have far surpassed it in terms of horror ambience and actual gameplay, but I alway forget that one of the big inspirations for Gears of War was Resident Evil. And when I look at this footage, its Gears that I think of. How awesome is it to be able to dive backwards on the floor and shoot from your back?
Anyway, the footage is from a Gamestop preorder map pack, which I wont be getting, as Im looking at grab this game used sometime down the line in 2012-2013. I will play it, probably gripe about the controls and bizzare inventory like I always do, but its usually a worthwhile experience, even if the RE games now are nothing like the old ones, they are still pretty fun to play and I commend Capcom for extending the series for as long and as far as they have - the fans still love it.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
I have said that life is a series of annoyances punctuated by the ocassional spell of happiness. The hard part of life then, is to dwell on these happy parts and try to let them spill over into the mundane and annoying everyday trials and tribulations.
Today, August 22nd, 2012, Im fairly sure is the greatest day in my life. I met someone over a month ago, and while I was immediately drawn to her, it took a fair bit of time and effort to get her to go out with me. Sometimes the things you want the most are the hardest to get, but usually they are also the most satisfying. I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, or the next day, or a week or a month or a year from now - but I cant dwell on that. You have to live in the present, and try to enjoy the great moments as much as possible.
We have gone out a few times, and today after I dropped her off back at her place in the late afternoon/early evening, I drove home sort of in a dream like daze. Is this really happening? Is it possible that I am actually this lucky? Do I dare contemplate the consequences of this, or how this all turns out given my spotty luck in the past and all the mistakes I have made, and bad beats I have been dealt?
No, I wasnt going to do that, so I drove down by the waterfront here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I sat down in the grass not far from the shoreline. The sun was low in the sky, and there were a lots of people out enjoying a spectacular, dare I say perfect, late summer evening. Kids were running around playing, a guy was snoozing in a lawnchair, couples were laying out on blankets chatting and laughing, there was a small group of people playing music - just an acoustic guitar, some bongos, and two girls singing. The breeze was light, and I could hear the water lapping at the shore. The sun moved closer to the horizon - an epic, skyspanning vista of steel and concrete - Manhattan.
No, I was here just to enjoy the moment. To really let it sink in. I just sat there and tried to think how I got to this point. Part of it was planned, a lot of it was pure luck, and even given the mistakes I made in the past, and know I will make in the future, I dont regret any of it. I cant dwell on those things. If my life at this point in time is what it is, and this is all real, how could I? I could not possibly be any happier right now. Sure there are things I wish were different. Things I wish I could change. But even given all that, it seems silly to dwell on them.
Im about to go out now with some good friends, have a great meal, and then let the night take us where it may. I dont know what the future holds, and Im not worried about it one bit, because right now everything seems to good too be true, I would even dare say perfect, and Im going to try to make this fleeting feeling last for as long as possible.
Monday, August 20, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
So I got Orcs Must Die! 2 over the weekend, and its a total blast to play coop on Steam. Its not out on Xbox Live or PSN, although if it sells well I wont be surprised if it is one day. But if you have a gaming PC and enjoy coop games, this one is extremely satisfying and easily worth the $15 asking price. In a word, its addictive as hell.
There isnt a whole lot to the game, it has no AAA aspirations, and those are its strengths. Its like a restaurant that only serves on thing. Im my experience, these restaurants tend to be of much higher quality than some random place you might pick out of a phonebook. If a place is called Joes Cheeseteaks or Bobbys Lobster Rolls, you can bet that their signature dish is probably going to be pretty solid.
This game serves up orc slaying in the form of a tower defense, action light-RPG recipe without no fluff or filler whatsoever. You get some points, spend them on upgrades like traps, obstacles, and guards, and then trigger a multiwave attack of orcs which you must not only survive, but are graded on for style and efficiency. Dont let any orcs through your defenses while earning huge killstreaks and combo multipliers, and you will earn more skulls which allow you to purchase upgrades to your gear, new items, better traps and guards.
Its a simple, effective recipe and while I never played the first game, I cant imagine it being nearly as good due to the lack of coop. I dont think I would even want to try to play OMD2 by myself, as half the fun is coordinating your defenses and upgrades with a partner for maximium efficiency. Its probably not the type of game which will keep you playing for 100 hours, but I downloaded it Friday and the next thing I knew the sun was rising and Ajax and I had earned our first flawless, 5 skull mission completion. If videogames are the ultimate distraction, this one isnt far off from being perfect.
Friday, August 10, 2012
So I bought Frozen Synapse on Steam, based on the recommendation of a friend that its an insanely good tactical turn based strategy game, with a coop campaign and an active online multiplayer community. Its like a combination of Rainbow Six, Metal Gear, and Tron remade as the classic game Robosport (an ancient Maxis title from 1991 which I played as a kid). I havent tried it yet but it does have an 85 rating on Metacritic. If any of you have any interest, as a bonus they threw in an extra copy which I can gift to you on Steam. I dont think it even requires much of a PC at all to run. If you can handle VGA graphics you should be good to go.
Monday, August 6, 2012
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
In an event which will surely have repercussions for future Olympic games, 8 female badminton players were disqualified for what has been called "match fixing" by attempting to purposefully lose games. The teams doing so were highly skilled, medal contending teams from China, South Korea and Indonesia, who attempted to manipulate the draw of a round robin style tournament by throwing a match so that they would face weaker teams in subsequent rounds.
Im here to tell you that the only thing disgraceful about the entire situation is the structure of this badminton tournament - not the players actions. As the great Jets coach Herman Edwards said, "You play to win the game. You play to win the game. Thats the greatest thing about sports. You play to win." In the Olympics, winning the game means winning a medal for your country, and players should do everything in their power to accomplish that task - as long as it does not violate the rules of The Games.
The badminton players werent accused of breaking any specific rules. They simply "violated the spirit of the Olympics," which couldnt possibly be a bigger load of bullshit. These players all wanted to win a medal, they and their coaches looked at the structure of the tournament, applied basic game theory and deduced an exploit. It just so happened that the people who designed the tournament dont understand game theory, and were appalled at the admittedly "unpretty" results - world class players serving into the net repeatedly.
Blaming the badminton players for playing the tournament metagame perfectly is like criticizing a poker player for lying about the strength of their hand, bemoaning a pool hustler for giving away a shot, or chastising a baseball player for stealing second base. "Hey! That wasnt very nice!" To people who dont really understand how competitive sports and games work, it might seem unsportsmanlike and somehow crude, when in reality, such plays are the epitome of the competitive spirit - the definition of playing to win. You work to get the odds in your favor and you crush the opposition.
It isnt the 8 female players who should be disqualified from the Olympics - its the people who changed the tournament structure from single elimination to a structure which could be gamed for an advantage who should be disqualified from ever overseeing any competitive event ever again. You play to win the game. It is the tournament organizers and the IOC who are a disgrace to the Olympic spirit in disqualifying these players - not the players themselves.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Many Americans including myself got their first real introduction to 20 year old Brazillian soccer phenom Neymar this morning in the Brazil v Belarus match, which Brazil handily won 3-1 after going down 0-1 to start the game. In a stunning display of otherworldly talent Neymar stole the show with a goal and two assists. As I told esteemed soccer fan Umopapisdnpuaq, I think now I really understand why they call it The Beautiful Game. Spain is out now, so I wont be surprised if Neymar carries his country all the way to a gold medal.
Monday, July 23, 2012
***UPDATE 7/24 Cold Stream has been delayed on Xbox 360 till next week!***
A brand new campaign, and 3 of the original L4D maps are coming to L4D2 via a massive DLC pack from Valve this Tuesday. Cold Stream, the new campaign, is joined by old school classics Blood Harvest, Crash Course and Dead Air. No Mercy was already released via previous DLC, so L4D2 players will essentially have the entire original game in their hands with all of the newer games features. Also, the update allows for any mutation (essentially a rules set) to be used at any time, where they were previously available only in a periodic rotation set by Valve. There are 20 mutations currently available to choose from, some which make the game easier, like Gib-Fest - where all survivors get an M60 with unlimited ammo, and some which make it much, much harder - like Nightmare and Deaths Door (you dont want to know).
The pricing for the DLC on XBL hasnt been released yet, but its going to be cheap, Im guessing 400-800 MSP. What, you dont have L4D2? *cough*MD*cough* Well, it costs $5 on ebay and and probably only a little more than that at a games store. Its on the unofficial list of awesome coop games that you officially need to own. Im going to be playing the crap out of the new DLC and various mutations over the next few weeks. Gib-Fest might even let us finally take a crack at Expert difficulty. I mean anything is possible, right guys?
Thursday, July 19, 2012
So, when I logged in, I learned that D2D had been sold to gamefly in August 2011, and that all my games would be over there now. Now, as a former gamefly member, I wondered how it would work in terms of merging my accounts, as I get offers from gamefly to renew all the time. I logged into my GF account, and lo and behhold, there were some games - but, not all of them. I checked around and learned that only a fraction of the games people bought on D2D were ever transferred to GF - the rest would possibly "be added later," had some legal issue which prevented the transfer, or were "older games" which GF had deemed not even worthy of adding to their servers because only a few hundred people would ever download them. The outcry has been phenomenal.
So in the end, the customers got screwed. We paid for games, so we could have them indefinitely, and because D2D sold to a buyer who had no experience in the digital download market and no incentive to provide servers and updates and authorizations for older games, and various DRM issues with some newer ones as well - we now have a fraction of what we paid for. The GF client interface sucks, and from what I can tell its also some sort of evil spyware that wont ever close unless you end the process from the Task Manager.
If the rumor is true, and the next generation of consoles doesnt allow used games to be played without paying for an authorization, Gamefly is going to go out of business. Most of their money comes from renting and selling used games, and if this latest fiasco is any indication, they have no idea what they are doing in the digital download marketplace. Competitors like Steam and EA will eat them alive.
Im concerned about the next generation, between the lack of used games, online games only being active for 2 years, integrated motion controls for every game, and Sony filing a patent for in game advertisements which stop the game and force you to watch a commercial. Talk about breaking the players immersion, something like that would positively shatter it. Im sure they will find ways to get us to buy their next gen consoles, mostly by selling us remakes of games we already played which have since been taken offline or which will be remade in HD, offering features which we had and were taken away, and of course needing to buy one to play Bungie's next gen IP or Half Life 3. The greedy, money-sucking face humping vampire squid that is the gaming industry will find a way to get us to buy one, just like they did with the 360 and the Xbox and PS2 and N64 before it, ad infinitum, but that doesnt mean I wont do so kicking and screaming.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
There are only 2 games that are absolute, day one, must buy Xbox 360 titles for me left in 2012, and Borderlands 2 is one of them. There are a few other games Im interested in, but given my extreme backlog, Im in no rush to shell out for them new. I think the timing of Borderlands 2 is pretty much perfect, as the late September launch will give us about 6 weeks to just play the living hell out of it before Halo 4 takes over our lives. What I love about Gearbox's masterpiece franchise is that its a blast to play coop, has a wonderful art style, and never takes itself too seriously.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Ubisoft showed some Blacklist gameplay at E3, and I have to say Im pretty disappointed. I cant say Im surprised though - this is just what Conviction was like. The game "looks good" - its clear they have designed the gameplay around what they want the game to look like in motion, not what necessarily makes for the most fun or most challenging game. This is what people are referring to when they say that games today "play themselves." Im not trying to be that guy, bent over with a cane and 3 foot long white beard, scratching his head and saying "In my day, Sonny, when you wanted to kill a terrorist in a Splinter Cell game, you actually had to aim at his head," but Ive got some stubble and my knees are starting to feel creaky.
French accent: "Splinter Cell: Better With Kinect!, gameplay handholding, no Michael Ironsides, and a nifty time machine that makes Sam Fischer 35 again!"
Current odds of Spies vs Mercs multiplayer: 5-1 against (a gutshot straight draw).
Friday, July 6, 2012
Stayed up all night playing poker as usual, but tonight was particularly awesome because right as the poker game was breaking, the Wimbledon semi-final between Djokovic and Federer was starting. This wasnt just your average semi-final either - this match had the feeling and importance of a final - the players have a great, historic rivalry, and if Federer wins the tournament he will regain the #1 ranking in mens tennis, something no tennis expert or fan could reasonably expect given how exceptional the current #1 and #2 players are.
The first two sets went by in a flash, with Djokovic regaining his form to draw even and take the second set. In the 3rd set both players raised their game to another level, but it became clear that Federer, on this court, on this surface, just had a higher ceiling. His forehand isnt just a weapon, its the single best shot in the history of the game. Federer won the 3rd set, and in the 4th just dominated Djokovic, aceing him with first and second serves, defending all counter attacks brilliantly, and making the world class shots which have enabled him to win a record 16 grand Slams. By the end of the match, Djokovic looked helpless; the #1 player in the world wasnt even competitive.
The Murray and Tsonga semi-final match has just started, and Im off for a nap, but I will be surprised if either of them are able to upset Roger in the final. Murray would make a great story for the Brits, and Tsonga for the French, but after watching the greatest tennis player of all time at the top of his game this morning, Im expecting nothing less than #17 for him.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
This is the 3rd and final big game that Sony showed at E3 this year. Developed by Naughty Dog, the makers of the Uncharted series, The Last of Us is a post apocalyptic survival action/adventure game where a fungus has infected the human race and driven our species to the brink of extinction - yet its "not a zombie game" - other survivors and the military pose a threat as well. Its a single player game where the protagonist is controlled by the player and the AI controls his companion, a 14 year old girl, who have come to depend on each other for survival in their quest to escape the quarantined zone. Beyond that, we dont know much, other than that if games like this can be produced in 2 years time on current gen consoles, do we really even need a next generation?
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Pretty fun game we had of multi-team oddball last night. The action was super hectic, and the announcer just would not shut up to the point that it was like he was trying to create some Halo Reach rap song. Overall, I just stood around and tried to be a target while Bond and Bender generally just ran shit. Its been fun getting back into Halo. Its definitely one of the very best reasons to own an Xbox.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
So this is one of two big upcoming games Sony showed at E3 this year, and its made by Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain. Like its predecessor, the game is designed specifically for an adult, mature audience and takes players through 15 years of a womans life and explores what possibly happens beyond our passing on into death. Like Heavy Rain, there wont be any way to "fail" in the game or any game over screens - certain actions will result in a different arc along a branching story path which allows for multiple playthroughs. Its another ambitious effort from Quantic and one Im interested in seeing more of.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
So Ive started watching this series on youtube called Videogame High School. Its like 90210 set in some near future where videogames are the dominant cultural feature and e-sports are the most watched thing on TV. I didnt think there was any way it could be good, I just watched an episode to see how bad it was but then I ended up watching the whole thing and a few more.
I find it fairly cheesy but somehow compelling and totally watchable. The writing and acting are surprising good, with "The Law" being consistently hilarious, and if you are an afficianado of videogame and internet culture theres a lot of little details that you will appreciate.
This episode isnt the first one, but its one of the better ones and it features a totally awesome song by the Protomen. If you like this one maybe go back and start from #1. The games are filmed as live action but have some post processing and FX to make them look "digitized." Overall the series wont make you say "wow," but it has some LOL moments and for some reason it all just works.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
How is it possible that Spain, a country of a mere 46 million people, has 6 tennis players among the top 25 in the world, including one with 10 Grand Slam championships, and the United States, a country of 313 million, has two players in the top 25, neither of whom has ever come even close to being a serious contender at a major tennis tournament?
I have thought about this for a while and done some research on the subject, and it seems it mostly comes down to one thing: the Spanish tennis players, to a man, all work on their game 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They are obsessed with tennis to a level that very few people are obsessed with anything - possibly to a level which might be described as a psychological disorder if it were related to an activity which was not so highly regarded. They are sick.
Marcel Granollers, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco, Nicolas Almagro, The Great David Ferrer, and Raphael Nadal, who is not just one of the great players of his era, but one of the top 5 finest tennis players to ever take the court, share this singular obsession. Ferrer tells a story of how his coach felt that he was slacking off once while training as a young player - maybe not even 15 years old - and locked him in a pitch black ball locker for hours to think about his transgression against this obessive mentality. The lesson stuck. At 30 years old, a senior citizen in the tennis world, Ferrer just dispatched world #4 Andy Murray in a couple of hours at Rolland Garros. It took 4 sets, but the 3rd and 4th set (6-3, 6-2) werent even close.
Nadal has an ability to continually surprise and amaze you, even though you know you are watching one of the all time greats. It seems he has to work harder for his achievements than players like Federer and Djokivich, who have a certain effortlessness about their play. They serve faster, they hit the ball harder, and have a grace and beauty to their game which is totally absent in Nadal.
Nadals tennis game - at his very best - is painful to watch. He looks like every point might possibly kill him. His service routine is a 25-30 second advertisement for some not yet invented OCD medication. During matches, he places two water bottles right next to each other in front of his chair, a few centimeters apart, and they have to be set exactly just so before he will take the court. But this insanity, this obsession with details and routines provides him with a positively adamantium level of willpower and legendary focus. He has the ability to bear down on certain key points and just outplay people in big spots.
Djokovic proved he is the best player in the world by beating Nadal in the 2012 Australian Open final 5–7, 6–4, 6–2, 6–7, 7–5, in what I would consider to be the second best tennis match I have seen in the last 10 years behind the epic 2008 Wimbledon final. Down 3-4, Love-40 in the 4th set, it looked like Djokovich would just roll Nadal over as he had so many other opponents. But Nadal would not give up. He beared down and made some adjustments. "Go look at the tape," Tennis Channel analyst Justin Gimelstob said. "Rafa changes it up. He starts serving more to the Djokovic forehand. He starts using the serve as a weapon, not just to start points. He starts going cross court way earlier in points. He's sneaking into the net more, standing closer to the baseline to take the ball earlier." Nadal won the set, and nearly won the match.
This year is a special one for the tennis players of Spain. They are unequalled by the players from any other country, and their performance in the 2012 ATP tournaments has proven it. Nadal has nothing left to prove to his countrymen, his peers, or the rest of the tennis world - his place in history is already certain. But knowing the mentality of The Great Spaniards, look for him to prove he is the all time king of clay in the 2012 French Open final.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
"At this point, it’s safe to assume EA’s given Criterion full control over whatever Burnout game it wants to make, so long as it’s called Need for Speed. Most Wanted, which reimagines the 2005 title of the same name, is the spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise, and it’s anything but shy about it.
Come on. The license plates of two multiplayer cars read "Burnout" and "Paradise," for crying out loud.
You’ll get props for smashing signs and fences. Events occur naturally as you explore the open world. Drifting and drafting around the open world earns you points. Sweet jumps are everywhere.
Bombing down the road at 100mph and leaping over the freeway naturally attracts the law, and giving cops the slip is half the fun of Most Wanted. The other half is, of course, smashing their cars into walls, off bridges, and into oblivion. Vehicles in Most Wanted feel heavy, sound powerful, and hit like wrecking balls. Most Wanted encourages some serious car-on-car violence, even beyond the stuff Hot Pursuit enabled.
The larger spaces and exploration lets you line up devastating takedowns, whether you’re mid-race, sabotaging a jump competition, or just griefing pals rolling around your world. Players can explore the city on their own, group up for events, or smash each other’s Autolog records on the fly. Notoriety is the focus rather than fastest laps, although wins and accomplishments contribute to your Speed Points. As is the modern standard, seemingly everything adds to your total.
This is the logical step for both Criterion and Need for Speed. After all, Most Wanted as a concept was originally a twist on the classic Hot Pursuit formula. Criterion following its Hot Pursuit reimagining with another reinvention The Autolog enables passive competition by presenting others’ achievements all the time, which feeds directly into Most Wanted’s main theme: becoming the most wanted, of course.
No matter what the Need for Speed name means to you, Most Wanted is Burnout Paradise with police. It's about the chase, from police and against friends. It makes you want to break the law by becoming the most notorious driver on your friends' list. It's familiar, looks good, moves fast, and feels fantastic. Basically, Most Wanted is exactly what you want from an arcade racing game, crafted by one of the best developers on the planet, and it's building on one of the best foundations in the franchise's history."-by Mitch Dyer (IGN)
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Nothing too surprsing here - it looks like Halo. But I have to say Im looking forward to the next real Halo installment and interested to see how new develper 343 Industries handles the franchise after the departure of Bungie. Im not exactly what you would call a Halo fan, but Im a fan of the games themselves. Ive played every Halo game released and none of them have disappointed me, its always been a compelling epxerience even if the fun sometimes only lasts a few months after release. Will this be the Halo game that brings back the hardcore multiplayer fans who still hold Halo 3 up as Bungies's crowning achievement?
Friday, June 1, 2012
OK Im a believer now. It sounded too far removed from the MGS universe to be good, but now that I see what Platinum Games has done - eseentially make a game that plays like a cross between Ninja Gaiden and Bayonetta set in the MGS universe, Im sold. This game is going to be awesome for MGS fans who like fast action games. I know a least one gamer who will be buying this.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
If you played a lot of old school 8 and 16 bit games, this video will bring back a lot of great memories and its fun to see how many of the characters you can name. If you dont like old school, pixelated 2D side scrolling platformers, *cough BOND cough*, this video will probably just confuse you and give you a headache.
Does anyone know what game that slow Mecha robot guy is from?
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Something about this aerial footage of London gives me that epic Blade Runner tingling feeling like we really are living in some futuristic dystopia. If this is London now, whats to come 400 years from now? I think it really will be Blade Runner.
Check out the link for some great high resolution photographs as well.
The Atlantic - Views From the Night Sky: London and the U.K.
Monday, May 14, 2012
This is the first in a series of training videos that publisher Rising Star Games has put out for the upcoming (5/15) XBLA* release of Cave's danmaku shooter Akai Katana. There are several parts up on youtube already and they walk you through the attack and defense shots, the hitbox, Phantom Mode, scoring, and most of what you need to make sense of this highly anticipated, insanely intense 2D side scroller.
*edit/correction this is a $40 retail release!
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
This game comes out today as a Steam PC exclusive for $9.99, and for that price it seems almost impossible not to buy. Basically its a Horde style Dinosaur hunting game thats played cooperatively online with up to 5 players. It takes the Turok torch and runs with it. Add me (chronicdog) as a friend on Steam, and lets play.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I never saw it when it aired, probably because I watch very little TV - almost only sports (long live Netflix), but some people are saying this commercial was the inspiration for the just announced Playstation All Stars Battle Royale. The commercial is pretty cool but upon seeing the previews of the game, I have to say I have absolutely no interest in it.
Games like Marvel vs Capcom or Super Smash Bros are fun and all, but aside from Snake, Kratos, and a couple others, I dont think the Playstation has a big enough roster of memorable, unique characters to make for a fun game. Secondly. the game looks to be totally derivative of SSB, which has several iterations and is already established on the competitive pro scene. If I want to play a great fighting game, Super Street Fighter 4 has no peer, and if I want to play something totally crazy, I think SSB Melee (Brawl isnt quite as good), Marvel vs Capcom 2 (Im oldschool), or Power Stone 2 (yes I still have my Dreamcast) will more than sate my desire for insanely unbalanced, unblockable super tag team beatdowns.
Speaking of Kratos, the next God of War game is apparently going to feature multiplayer. I hate to be that guy, but does every game need to have multiplayer these days? I understand developers drool over the profits posted by Call of Duty, but we are talking about a game that features Gods and Immortal humans. Its one thing to have Zues pimpslap you down, but when some random 11 year old kid does it online and screams "suck it bitch!" into my headset, I think it might detract somewhat from the experience of me feeling like a God.
Friday, April 27, 2012
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Its not a MGS game, and its not even being developed by Konami or directed by Hideo Kojima, so why even refer to it as a Metal Gear game? Cant we just call it "Raidens Revenge" or "Slicey Swords!" or something? I thought Bayonetta was a pretty spectacular game, so Im optimistic that developer Platinum Games can do something special with the concept (cyborg-ninja goes apeshit), and I will probably play through it as an avid Metal Gear fan, but part of me feels like this game should have been left for dead when Kojima decided he wasnt happy with the development and would either kill the project or outsource it. And yes, this is a real trailer, not some fake live action fan made nonsense - which is what it looks like.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Ive only played for a few hours, but I got that magical feeling when you know that a game is a true classic and will be the source of hundreds of hours of fun. The single player levels were blowing my mind, but umopapisdnpuaq invited me to a party and we promptly started up some multiplayer matches, and my head exploded when I realized what multiplayer Trials with custom user made tracks entails: endless fun.
I loved the original Trials HD, its one of my very favorite XBLA games and one of the only Xbox games I have every achievement for. Yes, I bitched and whined about the extreme tracks, and while its true the final tracks in a Trials game will push you to the point of insanity, they are passable, the game just has a steep learning curve to truly master the highly nuanced physics of the bikes and obstacles.
Ive posted a few times about complexity and skill in gaming, and also about how games, in my view, are essentially meant to be fun to play. Its a very fine line to create a marketable product which is fun to play, yet has the depth and complexity necessary to entertain you for more than a few minutes, let alone hundreds of hours. Trials is one of the very few games which rides this razor thin line perfectly, and based on what Ive seen in this latest installment, it has cemented itself as one of the greatest gaming franchises, not just of this generation, but of all time.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
UPDATE: Gamespot video review added
I'm in the minority - I love Ridge Racer. This? This is not Ridge Racer as I know it, but it is crossing into Burnout territory. I know, I know... this game is trying HARD to be a Burnout/Need for Speed lovechild. But, who knows, maybe it's worth a shot. It has a track/city creator that looks fairly impressive and seems to play a lot like Revenge. It was also developed by the studio that created the FlatOut series.
Maybe one day a racing game will come along that will partially fill the void left in our hearts by the abandonment of Burnout 3. This might not be it, but it can't hurt to try it out.
Release date: March 27th, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Some early footage of DOA5 shows a minimal GUI and the new power moves, which essentially amount to quick time events. Between these powerful moves and some serious environmental damage, this game looks like it will be a more high variance fighting game rather than the finely tuned precision fighter we saw in DOA4. DOA was never quite as nuanced as something like Street Fighter or Tekken, but Tecmo and the newly revamped Team Ninja appear to be making some serious changes to the formula for both this and the newly released Ninja Gaiden 3, the latter of which has been met with a tepid critical response - at best.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
From The New York Times - Original Article
These days, there are those on the left — Occupiers, say — and also on the right — ammo-hoarding, gold-burying believers in peak oil — who harbor the suspicion that America is more or less an interlocking network of overburdened, unsustainable systems, from energy to transportation, finance to food production. The question is: once they reach that conclusion, then what?
Mr. Hackett has a what. He recently looked over a 1918 arc welding patent filed by a Wisconsin inventor, and determined that all an amateur, stranded by calamity, needs to make his own welding rods are coat hangers, some silica gel, some lye and a newspaper. “If civilization and supply chains collapse,” he wrote in Make magazine about this process, “the anti-zombie fences will still get built.”
“When I read ‘The Road,’ ” he said, referring to Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, “it got me thinking: ‘O.K., so there’s all this stuff lying around. How do you recreate civilization?’ I did some research and figured out the two most important things you’d need are car batteries and Drano.”
Mr. Hackett likes to joke about anti-zombie fences, but the truth is he has thought about how to reassemble modernity in a serious way. Electric power? “Any motor cranked in reverse is a generator.” Tanned hides? “Drano works great.” Weapons? “Primer is the hard part. I’m working on it.”
This makes sense at a moment when most Americans don’t know how to change their spark plugs, let alone tan their own hides. When Mr. Hackett talks earnestly about growing hydroponic crops or mischievously about making explosives with oxygen, acetylene and bong water, he is really speaking of a fabricator’s self-reliant pride.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
This PC only revival of the Mechwarrior franchise will arrive sometime in late 2012. Its free to play and is multiplayer only, and Im hoping it becomes a modern classic.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
What is a game? Ludwig Wittgenstein posed this question nearly 60 years ago to the readers of his Philosophical Investigations, now considered one of the most important works of 20th century. How do we define the meaning of the words we use? It is one of the central problems of philosophy.
It turns out that the meanings of words presuppose how we use them. What is a game? Is it something we do to amuse ourselves? I dont think Bobby Fischer, Kobe Bryant, or Lionel Messi would agree. Is it something we do to compete with each other? Playing catch with a football or peek-a-boo with a baby doesnt seem to be a competitive activity. But doesnt a game have to have rules? Not really - as anyone who has messed around in Halo's Forge World will attest to. Its quite clear that you are playing a game of Forge, but its not nearly as clear what the object of the game is, what the rules are, and even who are the players and who are the spectators. Ive certainly never seen someone win a game of Forge, but I do know that playing it is fantastic fun.
Wittgenstein's point wasnt just that words dont really have concrete meanings, but that they dont need definitions for us to use them successfully. Dear Esther, the game which is reviewed in the above video from Gametrailers, isnt really a game in that there are no objectives, you cant shoot anything, and there isnt much to the game world in terms of interactivity. But you can explore, there is a narrative, and the world is immersive, if short lived. It was originally a mod for Half Life 2 made by a college professor which was then further developed and refabricated into an extended version by one of the artists who worked on Mirrors Edge. So its a mod of a mod - a metagame within a mod.
Journey, a downloadable PS3 exclusive set to release in mid March, also asks this question. Developed by the makers of Flower, the game has no map, no instructions, and no objective other than to walk towards a glowing mountaintop in the distance. You can however, meet another player in the desert - if your PS3 is connected to the internet. What you do then is up to you.
Are these works of art? Are they games? Are they worth buying? I dont think anyone can answer these questions - certainly not me.
Monday, February 27, 2012
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Maybe its just nostalgia, but something about the entirely dated and cheesy presentation and gameplay appeals to me. Its a PS3 exclusive, which is a definitely a huge drawback as almost all my friends are on XBL, but at some point I will probably pick this up - most likely when it hits the $20 and under bargain bin.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Rising Star Games of the UK has announced the release of the previously-Japan-only Cave shooter Akai Katana Shin for North American 360 consoles. You can bet on a $40-ish price tag and some fancy extras, similar to their DDP Resurrection release (which was also playable on US consoles - pictured below). Akai Katana is expected to release sometime in the 2nd quarter of this year.
Cave has stated that Akai Katana Shin and the Xbox live Japan-only release of Mushihimesama HD may very well be the last 360 shmups ever released. The good news is that they are considering releasing their entire library for PC.
In other news, I purchased a copy of Mushi Futari Limited Edition from a strange gentleman on the Shmups forums and, instead of simply marking it as "sold" in the thread, he posted this:
I'm suddenly having the urge to change my username from "Mdsfx" to "Mxpx"...
Friday, January 27, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Ive been waiting years for a new SSX game. Literally since the Xbox 360 was first announced I was expecting them to reveal a new SSX game it at any moment, given how popular the series was on last generation consoles. However, for reasons unknown, it hasnt happened until now. But Im willing to forgive and forget, and reward EA for finally coming through with a day one retail purchase.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Hideo Kojima is a genius. I could just type that one sentence and go back to playing MGS3, which is firmly believe is one of the greatest single player games of all time, and without question the greatest stealth game ever made. Replaying MGS2 and MGS3, and seeing how well they have held up, how much time and care was put into their development, and how ahead of their time they were, so much so that other games still havent surpassed them, just reaffirms my belief that Kojima is an artist, a mastermind of game design who has no equal.
The games are quirky and idiosyncratic, the story is the convoluted dream of a delusional madman, the cutscenes are insanely long, and Snakes voice is, as another writer put it, an almost parodic croak. For these and many other reasons, the games almost defy comparison to anything else, even direct relatives like Splinter Cell and Thief. When it comes to actual gameplay, to use that much maligned word, the last few hours of MGS2 are the highpoint of modern videogames. The fourth wall isnt just broken, you are defenestrated through it. It may be safe to say the Metal Gear Solid 2 is the first, and possibly last and only, truly postmodern videogame.
But like any great work of art, these games are divisive - people react strongly to them, both positively and negatively. Many people thought that MGS2 was a fraud, a betrayal of the fans of MGS1, the creation of a man who had lost touch with what gamers want and possibly reality itself as well. I strongly disagree. What many people wanted in MGS2 was essentially a remake of MGS1. But you cant remake something has already been made perfectly, as any artist, musician, or writer will tell you. Why didnt The Beatles make something like Sgt Peppers ever again? Because they already made Sgt Peppers. They had to move on, and make The White Album. MGS2 is far from perfect, but it certainly raised videogaming to a new level of aesthetic achievement.
MGS3 is a different beast, where a fair amount of the technical gadgetry that defines the series has been thrown out on favor of a more spartan, pure stealth experience. I think it is of significant importance to note that, in this modern age of shooting something digitally being the equivalent of touching something in reality, its possible to play through the entire game of Metal Gear Solid 3 without killing anyone - including the bosses. Its a masterstroke of game design, and while it is of course possible to blast your way through the game as well, doing so doesnt make it any easier, and in fact may make it more difficult.
I havent played Peace Walker yet, but Im greatly anticipating what many people are calling the MGS game with the most replay value. What is Peace Walker? Its Metal Gear Solid 5, which was originally released on the PSP and considered by far the best game on that system. They took the original game assets and converted them to HD, adding new textures and bringing the game visually up to par, while adding dual analog support with a free camera which was obviously not possible on the PSP. The entire campaign is playable in coop, and apparently this becomes a necessity as some of the later bosses are so difficult that trying to defeat them by yourself is nearly impossible. Set in the same 1960s era setting as MGS3, Peace Walker has strategy-RPG elements, an online VS-mode with an active community, and supports transfer of your game saves between the PSP and PS3 versions of the game.
Consider this: Konami thought so much of Peace Walker, that in Japan it was released as its own retail game while they put MGS1, MGS2, and MGS3 as a separate release. In the Western hemisphere, we got MGS2 and 3 on one disc, and Peace Walker on its own disc with its own 1000G of achievements, all in one box that you can buy for $37 on Amazon. Probably one of the best deals you will ever find in gaming. Suffice to say, if you do buy it, you wont have to look far to find someone to play online with.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
So MadCatz has revealed their Voltron-like Street Fighter X Tekken VS. Arcade Stick, which you can buy two of, for the bargain basement price of $200 each, and attach together to form a mighty two player dual stick with the exact dimensions of the Japanese arcade game. Apparently its all Sanwa parts and actually might be fairly decent, but for the cost of an Xbox 360 and a Wii, I would expect it to be!