Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Writing for GR: 10/10-10/16

I came home like some kind of digital-plastic Santa Claus last Friday. I got the assignment for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and a short write-up about the Level Up storage tower. Warriors of Rock came with a guitar too. Frankly, it was difficult walking to the train and then riding home with these two big boxes. I know I got some looks, but such is the life. I guess I can't complain too much. How many people would readily stand up and take my position away from me?

Anyways, needless to say I was exhausted last weekend and it's taken me this long to write a wrap-up post. Better late than never. My Playstation Move reviews are still being processed, but until then, check out my review of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.



Sunday, October 10, 2010

Writing for GR: 10/03-10/09

I wrote up my first paid preview for GR this week, and although I'm not a huge fan of skateboarding games anymore, Shaun White Skateboarding got a positive outlook. I also finished up Front Mission Evolved and wrote my review for that. It'll be posted next week.

More importantly, I'm on the Playstation Move, Sports Champions, Start the Party, and Eye Pet reviews. Altogether that's a hefty bit of writing work, but it's been coming to me easily so far. I'll be sure to include those in the round up as soon as they're published. This coming week? I'm all about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Until then, check out my week of manifestos.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Holy Crap I've Been Gone A Long Time, Here's a GR Manifesto Recap

Just like the title says, here are all the Manifesto posts I've written and have yet to plug on PLAY READ WRITE.

Phew! I think I'll spare any readers I have left of the daily posts that only contain links to the Manifesto in them. Weekly updates will fit much better. If you're out there and you'd like to contribute to PLAY READ WRITE and help keep it up to date, drop me a line and I'll send you an invite to post on this blog!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Starfox 64 Promo Brings Me Back To PLAY READ WRITE

I just HAVE to share this. Love it! So cheesy!

Also, remember "Get N or Get Out!"? I got one of these promotional videos for Pokemone before that franchise came to the states. Wish I had one of these Starfox 64 cassettes, especially considering how much I love that game.

Monday, August 30, 2010

AC: Brotherhood GC Demo Sky Dives Into Some Hay

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was active somewhere in the shadows at Gamescom 2010, but Ubisoft saw fit to show us exactly what they had in store for attendees. Check out the video:

The Assassin's Guild meta game seems so awesome. I have a good feelings I'll be playing around with that after having recruited about 20 different assassin's. Let's just hope a Borgia guard doesn't come around and ax me while I'm sending a team off on a mission.
Honestly, it reminds me a lot of the ability you had in Final Fantasy Tactics to send squads from your clan out into the world. Can't wait!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Does X, Square, Triangle, Circle Mean Anyways?

Coming by way of 1UP via a translation of Famitsu magazine comes some pretty interesting details about the design of the Playstation 1 and it's controller, famous for not having letters represent buttons.  I love this kind of stuff.  Hearing stories from the creator of things still in use years later is always a good thing.  I'm not talking just about video games.  I love hearing straight from the author about anything.

It is a wholly interesting read, and you should really check it out over at 1UP.  Among assorted anecdotes about demo controllers almost being thrown in anger (what?) and how the Playstation console was a box with a circle in it comes the reasoning behind those symbols that make Xbox and Nintendo gamers scratch their heads:
Other game companies at the time assigned alphabet letters or colors to the buttons. We wanted something simple to remember, which is why we went with icons or symbols, and I came up with the triangle-circle-X-square combination immediately afterward. I gave each symbol a meaning and a color. The triangle refers to viewpoint; I had it represent one's head or direction and made it green. Square refers to a piece of paper; I had it represent menus or documents and made it pink. The circle and X represent 'yes' or 'no' decision-making and I made them red and blue respectively. People thought those colors were mixed up, and I had to reinforce to management that that's what I wanted.
While I understand the Japanese see circles to mean "yes" and Xs to mean "no," the western gamer will always want the button under their thumb to mean yes.  We're impatient, you see?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Portal 2 Footage From Gamescom

This Portal 2 footage from the floor at Gamescom is absolutely stunning.  First things first, I'm so happy to see that there are a lot more mechanics being added.  Portal may have been worth the full price of a game, but it was not a full experience.  I can't wait to see the puzzles.

More importantly?  I can't wait to see the narrative!  It's been a while since Episode 2 came out and honestly, I need some Valve story telling.

Lastly, I'm going to need a new computer if I have any hopes of running the PC (or Mac) version of this game.  I'd hate to swallow my pride and buy a console version of any Valve games, but I know I'm not going to let that get in the way of play Portal 2 when it comes out next year in February.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gearbox Picks Up Duke Nukem Forever?

Duke Nukem (character)Kotaku is reporting that Duke Nukem Forever's development is not completely over and that Duke has avoided certain demise yet again by being picked up by Borderlands creators Gearbox Software.

Duke Nukem Forever has been in development hell... well, forever and Gearbox has apparently picked up the reigns with publishing responsibilities still in the hands of Take-Two Interactive.

You didn't think they'd let Duke go the way of the dodo did you?  Who knows how long it'll be until we see discs on shelves.

AC: Brotherhood Comes With a Toy

The Harlequin is exclusive to Gamestop.
This is easily one of the coolest limited editions I've seen.

My interest in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood started at about the lowest possible point.  I thought it was a senseless, needless cash-in on the success of last year's Assassin's Creed II.  While my experience with AC II was of high opinion, I didn't think they could pull it off twice in two years.

All other retailers will have The Doctor in stock.
What I've seen, including the multiplayer trailer for Brotherhood, has really helped to turn that predisposition around.  Honestly, I think I'm pretty excited for the game if everything is balanced well and the multiplayer modes actually give players objectives that fit.

Even more so is the temptation to run up the purchase price for the Limited Edition detailed by Gamestop here.  Preordering at Gamestop will also net you the Harlequin multiplayer skin.

That Jack-in-the-Box accessory looks really cool.  Maybe I'll be able to afford it with a combination of traded review titles and my new paying gig at GR.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AC: Brotherhood Limited Edition Detailed
Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer Teased

Legends and Killers Now Available

Courtesy, Red Dead Redemption's Legends and Killers pack is now available, and my completed achievement statistic is out the window.

Despite that upset, I've realized that these achievements are about as easy as they come.  I've already completed half of them (or more).  Now all I need to get a handle on is where the Microsoft points are going to come from.

I love Red Dead Redemption and this pack seems like it'll really revitalize my desire to get back into multiplayer.  Is anyone else planning on heading back out west?  Leave a comment with your GT if you're out there readers.  My Xbox Live gamertag is coolyfooly88.
Gamestop's 2 for 1 Deal

Someone's got a job at GR

I've been interning at Game Revolution since November of last year.  I've frequently referenced my work over there and linked to my reviews and daily manifesto posts.  It's been a lot of fun and I really enjoy the work, but it remained a labor of love.

Sure, I got games for free and, if I chose to, was able to sell them off for some funding, but I wasn't exactly paid for my writing.  As a result, PLAY READ WRITE saw a fair amount of my original content.  I was never really sure what I should post on the site.  What was worthy?  What wasn't?

My editor Duke e-mailed me the other day and now my work at Game Revolution has turned into a paying gig!  I won't say what I'm getting paid (it isn't much), but it's still nice to hear my writing is worth paying for from someone who would know.

I'll be posting 2 or 3 items a daily to the Daily Manifesto blog on GR's homepage.  You can read my writing there directly, or you can keep it tuned to PLAY READ WRITE.  I'm going to start posting links directly to the Manifesto posts I write, right here on my blog.  Feel free to click on through, or just comment right here on PRW.

Don't worry, original content will still be posted to PLAY READ WRITE, as well as reviews I'm not doing on assignment, or items of interest and thought that make more sense here.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gamestop has a 2 For 1 Deal Right Now...

And I wrote something up on Game Revolution about it.  Click the link here:

I gotta say, this is a small post for a reason.  Tomorrow will see several updates, one significant in terms of my writing career.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sakurai says "Once you go 3D, you don't go back"

"Yes this is indeed my first 3D game but I have a feeling that it's going to be hard to go back [to 2D].

"For example when you watch Avatar in 3D you take notice of the 3D element initially but then as the movie goes on you forget about the 3D novelty as your eyes get used to it and simply enjoy it for what it is.

"That's the nature of the way we get used to things as they become familiar. The problem is that when you go back to 2D after 3D it feel sflat. So in terms of game development I would think that going back to 2D after working on a 3D project may be very difficult for me."
While I know there are plenty of people out there who weren't as thrilled with Brawl as they thought they were going to be, I doubt that Sakurai is to blame.  Honestly, when you play a game as much as some people played Melee, it'll be hard to follow it up, no matter who you are.

If there isn't a Super Smash Bros. game on the 3DS within the first two years, something has got to be wrong over there in Nintendo's ivory tower.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Red Dead Redemption's Legends and Killers Pack Lands August 10th

I make my love of Red Dead Redemption no secret.  I am not reluctant to spend more time in single player or multiplayer.  Frankly, I think its the best game so far this year, the only possible contender being Mass Effect 2.

What good news that more is on the way!  The first of four planned DLC packs, Legends and Killers, has been detailed and readied for release on August 10th.

What does that mean?  For $10 in your console's brand of funny money, you'll get nine new multiplayer map locations, a new weapon (the tomahawk), and eight characters from that other Red Dead game, Red Dead Revolver.

Not too shabby compared to some other DLC pricing schemes, right?  As much as I question whether or not I really need to pick up this DLC, its been confirmed that new achievements will be thrown in as well.  That pretty much has me sold.  God knows I'll do what I need to do to maintain my completed achievement statistic.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I want to play The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

This has got to improve upon Twilight Princess....  At least you'd think it would.

It might not become the next best Zelda game, but it'll certainly match the standards set by previous Zeldas.  With development started and finished on the Wii, there'll have to be some stunning visuals and gameplay.

I want to play Metroid: Other M

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but I'm truly intrigued by what outside, third-party studios do with first-party Nintendo properties.

Metroid: Other M looks great because, while I love the Metroid gameplay, I've always wanted a more cinematic and guided Metroid game.  This is easily one of the biggest reasons to buy a Wii this fall.

I want to play Donkey Kong Country Returns

Donkey Kong Land (for the Game Boy) was another of the first games I owned and played (almost) religiously.  I loved it!  Donkey Kong Country Returns already has that going for it.

In addition, Retro Studios is doing the work, it looks like there's a ton of action on screen, and co-op play for Jenna and I.

Another key contributing factor to my desire to play Donkey Kong Country Returns?  NO MORE WATER LEVELS.

I want to play Kirby's Epic Yarn

I would be remiss if I didn't want to play Kirby's Epic Yarn later this fall.

When I first got my Game Boy back in 1993, Kirby's Dream Land was one of the two games I got with it (Yoshi was the second).  I'll always have a soft spot for Kirby, except for in Super Smash Bros.  I hate the little pink bastard in those games.

I want to play FlingSmash

FlingSmash was completely off my radar until today.  Today?  It looks like a fun game I could probably get several hours out of, several more in co-operative play with Jenna.

Wii want you back...

I sold my Wii.  So long!  I got 200 bucks for it.  Sold the console, a second controller and nunchuck and Super Mario Galaxy.  It broke my heart.  I had to format the drive, effectively wiping the purchasing account with it.  So long virtual console games and points!

Now I want a Wii again!  A black Wii at that.  How far away am I from getting the money together and taking the plunge... AGAIN?!

Apparently Nintendo held a fall preview in New York yesterday.  I wasn't there, but hearing about it from various sources has me viewing trailer after trailer on Youtube.  I'll be posting trailers of games that I would want to play (should I ever buy another Wii) all day today.  Check them out and tell me what you think!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Street Fighter X Tekken Announced

Looks like Capcom knows what gamers want.  More crossovers!  This little number was announced during Comic-con.  Here's the video.  Namco just couldn't turn down that sweet crossover cash either!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Multiplayer Trailer

I originally thought Assassin's Creed Brotherhood would be a host of unmanageable, unnecessary, and unwanted multiplayer modes, strapped to the back of a single player experience that would feel essential before purchase and mundane afterwards.

Unfortunately, that attitude is betraying me as I watch this trailer.  Who knows!  Maybe Assassin's Creed Multiplayer can be done in a way that is both exciting and fun.  What do you think?

Modern Game Marketing: You got Halo: Reach in my controller!

One of the less-noticeable marketing ploys is the special edition controller.  No better way to play Halo than with a Halo T-Shirt, Halo boxer shorts, Halo cereal, and OH!  Don't forget the Halo controller.

This little piece of selling-out will run you $60.

That's the price of a game.

A whole game.  Never mind if you're buying the ultra-special-edition of Halo: Reach.  Shelling out for the controller will probably make your hands feel dirtier than usual, despite the fact that you had to carry the box with the die-cast figures out of Gamestop because they didn't have a bag big enough for you. revealed this little number before quickly pulling it back.  God forbid we spend money on more software this fall.  Instead, we'll need this lightly reskinned controller to make guests feel inferior while we enjoy multiplayer.

Modern Game Marketing is a series on how new games, and the corporations behind them, get you to want them.
To read more in PLAY READ WRITE's Modern Game Marketing series, check out the tag!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Metacritic Gets it Wrong

While I've been thrilled to see my review scores on Metacritic, I can't say the same for their guesswork on my Resonance of Fate review score. I gave the game a D-, but I hardly think that my review actually translated to a numerical score of 25. What do you think?

ME2 DLC To Tackle the Shadow Broker

As a series staple, the Shadow Broker has played a background part to most of Mass Effect and Mass Effect 2.  The mysterious information network even held Commander Shepard's body for a time after his death at the start of Mass Effect 2.

For whatever reason, representatives of the Shadow Broker have been merely side characters.  Management types have been conspicuously absent.  Upcoming DLC will rectify this, as Liara T'soni will be joining Commander Shepard and his team to confront this shady organization in The Lair of the Shadow Broker.

I have to admit, I'm a little behind on the ME2 DLC front.  I have yet to purchase the Overlord DLC, but a second pack would certainly justify a 1600 point card dedicated to adding these experiences to my current Mass Effect 2 playthrough.
Four new characters have been revealed for Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 in honor of Comic-con: Chun-li, Trish (Devil May Cry), Doctor Doom, and Super-Scrull.

Post Script (11:45 PM): So maybe Comic-con means there'll be a MvC3 trickle of reveals; Ametarasu (Okami) and Thor also join the fray.

Post Script ( 07/22/10 12:30 PM): A trickle is right; Dormammu and Viewtiful Joe appear to be on the brink of announcement.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The iPhone Sucks for Gaming

Not reviewing iPhone games for quite some time gave me a sense of clarity today. I wrote up a review for Soccer Sudoku 2010, an app that dresses up the tired Sudoku game in a World Cup, for Game Revolution today. All of my previous writing about iPhone apps can be found at and here at PLAY READ WRITE.

Thinking back about all that criticism, I think I've gone FAR too easy on iPhone apps. In fact, my misaligned mulling of iPhone apps in general falls far below how I actually feel about playing games on my iPhone. Maybe I pity those developers struggling to make a dime off the back of a zeitgeist that only taps the Top 25 button and leaves their expeditions in mobile gaming at what's near the top of that list.

I feel like every gaming experience I've had on the iPhone has been a spectacularly shallow commercial endeavor. I don't pretend to be an expert on this subject, but I think I'd be more involved with my iPhone if there were more games (and apps) of any real value.

Anyways, I'm sick of Twitter and Facebook integration. I'm sick of notifications that never seem to work, and I'm sick of the constant reskinning of the same game by different developers hoping to play off of whatever is buzz worthy in a given month.

Can anyone point me to a decent iPhone game?

What is a "Fallout 3?"

This is really late, but I hope there's some semblance of relevance left in what I wrote in response to an old (very old) Kotaku feature now.

Leigh Alexander has an interesting piece up on Kotaku about trying to explain video games to non-gamers. She certainly sets the bar high for herself in attempting to open the discussion with laymens-terms-Fallout-3, an arduous task that is sure to become a new olympic sport of words.

Anyways, Fallout 3 is obviously (/sarcasm) a First Person Shooter Role Playing Game with a morality and combat systems overlay set in a postapocalyptic Washington DC.

Wow, what mouthful. I'm beginning to think about Luke Plunkett's (also Kotaku) feature on attempting to define video games in more approachable genre terms. That description of Fallout 3 could sure benefit from a simpler label... say, Science Fiction? Perhaps this difficulty is, in fact, generated entirely by gamers themselves. Maybe we try to insulate ourselves in our genres in a weird sort of meta-delusional-escapism.

Despite these subconcious efforts, gamers are also constantly arguing that their medium is art and that it should be taken seriously. So what do you want then? As games mature and male themselves taken seriously through their content and interaction with the audience, they're ultimately going to have to do a good job of explaining themselves too. Until games can do it for themselves, gamers will have to get better at being the ambassadors.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

REVIEW: Limbo for the Xbox 360

Some people just don't get it. Games can certainly hold a quantifiably artistic merit, certainly in some of their more passive aspects of design. Inherently, some people just won't "get" Limbo. Critics, myself included (if I've earned that title), will laude it for its design, visuals, emotional connection, and presentation.

All of those compliments are well deserved. Praise won't go unjustly to Playdead's little platforming, puzzling title. With the lead-off Summer of Arcade responsibilities thrust upon its shoulders, Limbo's review scores will be a blessing. Unfortunately, I don't see the title reaching the well-deserved sales numbers that would define Limbo as the second coming of Braid.

Still, it's deserving of the title, certainly moreso than P.B. Winterbottom. Limbo thrusts the player into its plot, unforgiving in it's puzzles, a complete lack of tutorial, a total vacuous and nightmarish feeling enthralls in soundtrack, visuals, and controls. It's hard not too mention Limbo and without paying regards to its hauntingly sparse atmosphere. Where every game tries to be louder, brighter and give the player a higher score (see Bulletstorm etc.), Limbo relishes its languid and withholding aesthetic.

I could help but feel like the game was chuckling good humoredly at me as I fiddled with puzzles, repeatedly finding the way I was looking at it to be wrong. Instead of taking every chance to mock my ignorance, Limbo would produce a solution almost on its own. At least, that's how effortless it would seem. Not since Tetris has a learning curve been so smooth.

Needless to say, its easy to fall for Limbo's devious simplicity. Successes feel extremely high, while lows never push the player to walk away from the game, much less do any frustration fueled controller tossing. Still, I would ask for a bit more. The ending comes as a surprise, not necessarily in terms of plot, but in that I wanted to solve more puzzles and traverse more land.

That's truthfully the biggest complaint I have about Limbo. Oftentimes, it's best to leave us hanging on, barely satisfied in what we've had, satiating to further the experience. Limbo surely does leave me wanting more.

Kinect has been priced at $150. Check out my post over at GameRevolution here.

Soccer Sudoku 2010 Review on GR

I was assigned an iPhone App review from Game Revolution. I haven't reviewed an iPhone app in quite some time so this was a difficult task to take on. In a straightforward sense, I think I got really tired of the iPhone app market.

In a less straightforward sense, I think it's just too goddamn hard to process these small, insignificant "games" in comparison to the kinds of games I've been working on for Game Revolution. Frankly, I think the App Store is a death trap honestly. It's too bad that so many talented, creative developers have to be turned away from "real" game development (big budget or not). The job market certainly doesn't help this situation.

Anyways, check out my Soccer Sudoku 2010 Review over at Game Revolution, and look for more thoughts on iPhone gaming tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Red Dead Redemption Co-Op Missions available today!

While I might not have reached a 100% statistic, or even level 50 in Red Dead Redemption's online multiplayer, I'm sure the co-op mission pack will help me reach that second goal. I'm aiming to reach a completed achievement listing on RDR, but haven't had the time I'd like to do so. Hopefully, the co-op missions will aid in that while also adding a handful of extra achievements. Did I mention the DLC was free?

I'm Sold.

Honestly, I've been skeptical of the 3DS and the way it'll surely hurt my eyes to no end. 3D without glasses? I guess people are saying that it works, but we all know it'll have to be seen to be believed. Even in a dark theater, with massive IMAX goggles on my face, 3D can make my eyes cross and I get a little fatigued after two hours (maybe that'll keep my time on the portable limited!)

Still, it's hard not to say that I won't be in love after hearing some choice details. The 3DS will be able to turn on and off the effect of its top screen, effectively allowing vision-affected gamers, like me, some relief. Presumably, turning off the 3D will also allow for an extended battery life. Seems like the 3D is certainly a "back-of-the-box" selling point, but it won't exactly be a mandatory effect.

The 3DS will also retain its touch screen and backwards compatibility with DS titles. Nice! Its not that I have a ton of DS games that I'm looking forward to playing on a 3DS, but I'm guessing that a lot of people will find that a neat feature.

Furthermore, I can really appreciate the inclusion of an actual joystick. Honestly, the PSP joy-nub is a little too small for my adult sized hands, and this joystick seems like it'll fit my thumb nicely.

Let's be frank though. I'm not playing my DS all that much. Not a lot has come out that has me digging it out in my spare time instead of the controller to my Xbox 360. Even my commute time is spent on my iPhone doing productive things. Productive endeavors are not GAMING! Why am I not playing my DS? Its the lack of desirable software. 3DS seems to completely lay waste to that factor, with titles like...

STARFOX 64 3D (and others).

What? Yes! StarFox 64, arguably my favorite game EVER, is coming to the 3DS? About a week ago, I was listening to the Joystiq podcast, and Griffin McElroy brought up his yearly play through of Ocarina of Time. At first I balked at this idea. StarFox 64 is that game to me. It is as close to video game perfection as I can remember. Of course, the nostalgia glass if always full, but when I think about it, it's still my favorite game.

What did the 3DS really represent at this year's E3? A massive refocus on software for Nintendo. Did we hear anything about the Vitality Sensor peripheral? Nope. Nobody cares about that stuff. Gamers around the world know Nintendo, not for their motion sensing peripherals, their balance boards. Yes, hardware has always had a special place in the pantheon of Nintendo's successes, but the software is what people carry with them. I'm happy to see the 3DS leading this charge.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 looks awesome!

I was a little disconnected and busy during E3 last week. Thus, I missed out on this Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 gameplay footage.

While I was entirely sure about what the game would look like without the use of 2D sprites, I think my fears have been pretty well pushed aside. Little comic book flashes, background changes, and attack splashes sure do keep the feel around. Honestly, what I like most about this footage is the background design. I love the NYC Spider-man parade and how the level changes as the fight progresses.

Now I'll I have to worry about is the remainder of the character list and whether or not I'll have an arcade stick to play on when this game finally drops... NEXT YEAR?! Jeez, this is going to be a long wait.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Writing for Game Revolution

Today, I'm heading into the Game Revolution office. I hate to say it, but the work I've been doing for them (not too mention the amount of time I've been spending reviewing games), has really monopolized what I do. When I have time to enjoy games, I just want to play Red Dead Redemption, or any number of the amazing games that have been released in the past month or so. My inbox is stuffed to the brim with E3 press releases and trailers, so I'm actually kind of surprised I've managed to snake this amount of time and update PLAY READ WRITE!

While I've done little writing for PLAY READ WRITE in the past month (and a half), I've written several things for Game Revolution. Here's a quick recap of all the work I've done for them:

  • Green Day: Rock Band: This standalone Rock Band title further proves that Guitar Hero has failed where Rock Band excels. Unfortunately, it didn't score any points for the band contained on the disc.
  • Backbreaker: This football game did some interesting things in its attempt at dethroning (or at least making a decent sale's pitch towards) Madden. I was inclined to find some entertainment in Backbreaker, but ultimately, the things it did differently were just kind of wrong.
  • Split/Second: I happily traded a reviewing assignment of Skate 3 for Split/Second. The title received high marks, and I felt that it did new things in racing and a sequel would do those innovations justice. It has found a place in my collection.
  • Samurai Shodown Sen: At first I was excited about Samurai Shodown Sen, but I was unfortunately mistaken when I thought that it would be a 2D rebirth title. While I'm sure the game will find its place among fighting aficionados, there was no room for regular Joes like me.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: I played the hell out of this title, and eventually got 1000/1000 Achievement points. This might have actually been the game's downfall. The threadbare mechanics and plot served to undermine what was actually an interesting turn on the franchise's video game entry. Needless to say, it received low marks.
  • Resonance of Fate: I really wanted to like Resonance of Fate, maybe even love. I was looking for an RPG, but Resonance of Fate was too steeped in the old ways of JRPGs to really hold my attention. Even after finishing my review, I was fairly motivated to play the game and get more achievements, but I never got around to it and quickly sold the title to pay for Red Dead Redemption. I don't really regret that decision these days.
  • Backlog Summers No More: With the release of Red Dead Redemption, Split/Second, and Alan Wake all in the same week in May, I realized I'd have little time for some older games I've still been trying to play through (again).
  • Steam For Mac Off To A Buggy Start: The launch of Steam for the Mac was a little buggy, and the long unabated waiting period certainly made me all the more frustrated for it.
  • That New Game Smell!: My excitement for playing Split/Second and Red Dead Redemption knew no bounds. I pondered about what I would do when I first cracked the cellophane on those titles.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Finishing Red Dead Redemption

First, let me explain that I will not be reviewing Red Dead Redemption for PLAY READ WRITE. I've experienced a ton of the game and I don't need to go over it all again. Let me be frank and say that you should buy and play Red Dead Redemption. I don't need to tell you that it's a terrific game in all aspects and should be experienced first hand. Secondly,


in this post. I don't know how I could avoid SPOILERS in a post titled "Finishing Red Dead Redemption," but I figured someone might come along and still find an excuse to get upset with me for ruining a great ending.

Truthfully, I think RDR's ending works so well because you don't really know when it's going to end. You've been chasing these outlaws for the entire game and them you're left to tend to the farm, drive cattle (ugh!), and ultimately teach Jack how to be a man.

Jack is RDR's legacy, and while Rockstar is plenty sure of connecting you with Marston throughout the campaign, connecting the player with Jack is a little shakier. If spending time with your son, rescuing him, and ultimately sending him to survive a coming storm doesn't prove the "daddening of video games" to be a successful trend, I don't know what will. Whether a player would like to defeat the mob and keep Marston alive is besides the point. How the player feels about taking on the role of Jack is a much more debateable prospect. In its ability to polarize, forcing the player to step into Jack proves its power.

In this way, RDR succeeds in ways a Grand Theft Auto never could. Giving Niko a family outside of Roman would have seemed forced and silly. Part of what made his family so believable was Marston's reluctance to reveal information about them. Perhaps Roman seemed so annoying and forced because the player immediately learns a little too much about him too soon. In a way, Roman works in his vaudevillian antics. While that tactic might work sometimes, a real connection, like that of an immediately family, has to be introduced and built more subtly. The player would reject a constant barrage of "I'm your son!" or "I'm your wife!" and so they would reject caring for these two digital players as well.

Congratulations Rockstar. I've never held your games in higher regard than I have with Red Dead Redemption. The title has trancended any of the immature trappings GTA's history tows along with it in favor of a mature story, marvelous combat, excelled pacing and a breathtaking connection between the player and the world you're involving them in.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Where have I been?

While there may not be too many readers to apologize to, I should at least apologize to PLAY READ WRITE itself. I obviously haven't been around for quite some time. My gamerscore is (a lot) bigger, I've written several reviews for Game Revolution (some high profile, some not), I've effectively ended my involvement with, and I've been playing a ton of games, some of which I'd really like to write a PLAY READ WRITE review of.

Can you blame me for being so busy? I'll admit a slight penchant for excuses, but some, like finishing the semester are completely valid. For a while, I was so focused on posting long diatribes that lasted for half an hour. I think I might have killed it for myself.

Over the next few months, I'd like to build a slight rhythm and post frequently in shorter lengths. Let's see how successful I can be. If only I got achievements for blogging....

Monday, May 17, 2010

I've got Portal back on track!

While my Portal on Mac experience was a little off the on the night of launch, I quickly found a work around on the Steam forums. I guess there's a problem with Portal and my version of the Mac OS X software.

Having squared that away, I thought I'd post this little ditty and remind everyone that Portal is free for Windows and Mac users until the 24th (?) of this month. There's absolutely no reason anyone shouldn't at least download the Steam software and get in on that free-Portal-goodness. Even if I didn't have a system that could run the game, I think I'd still hop on and make sure I got the game for free in case of an impending upgrade to my hardware.

The video embedded above is a great example of why I love Valve. Check it out for yourself and then go download Portal for God's sake! (That means you Jenna!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Getting Split/Second Early?

So sweet. As you can see, I've been playing Split/Second all weekend. A retail copy of the game was in Game Revolution's mail box on Friday while I was leaving the office. Enclosed within was a note stating that reviews were embargoed until Monday. I'm not entirely sure what a review embargo entails.

Can I talk about the game? Can I talk about my impressions short of a full review with a grade? How much about the game can I say?

All of these questions and more will... not be answered in this post. Sorry everyone! That being said, I am trying to finish up and write a review for GR to post tomorrow. I'm going to spend some more time playing the game tonight and then see what I can't do over the next 12 hours or so. I'm sure the editors would like a little time to copy edit and then get the text up on the site before the end of work hours tomorrow.

Is anyone reading PLAY READ WRITE planning on picking up the game on Tuesday, instead of any other big names dropping this week (Red Dead Redemption, Alan Wake anybody)? Let me and the other three of you know in the comments.

New Game Rituals

While I'll have some things to say about the game in the post I wrote over at Game Revolution, instead, I'll simply say, that I wrote a little bit about what I do when I open up a brand new game. For now, I'll simply post a link over to the Daily Manifesto post I wrote for GR. Check it out and leave a comment here or there.

And yes, that is Split/Second! Previously written about here for PLAY READ WRITE.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Steam out today, Portal broken...

As any PLAY READ WRITE reader will know, I've been greatly anticipating the great leap Steam has made from PC to Mac. In fact, I've kind of been on hiatus from PLAY READ WRITE in order to focus on school and my internship (and whatever else life has thrown at me), while waiting for this release.

Even Valve is in on the celebration, declaring Portal free to anyone and everyone, Windows or Mac user, until May 24th. That is awfully generous of them. As on of the few games I actually want to play on Mac, Portal was a welcome substitution for day 1 Team Fortress 2 support on the Apple platform.

Unfortunately, my Portal is completely broken. My screen is awash with white and I can see nothing, much less properly place a portal. I certainly hope this will be fixed soon, but until then, you can see that I've added my thought on the Game Revolution Daily Manifesto blog(y type thing). Here's a link:

If you don't feel like commenting there, please do so here! All quips about my choice of platform are warmly welcomed.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Steam on Mac, May 12

Happy day! Finally a firm(er) release date for Steam's client release for the Mac platform. Upon announcement of Steam for Mac, I promptly uninstalled Windows XP and all of it's components. This cleared up quite a bit of space from my limited hard drive.

Unfortunately, it's made the wait to return to Team Fortress 2 and Counter Strike: Source an unbearably long one. Who knew I could miss two games I thought I wasn't interested in playing anymore this much? Frankly, I can't wait to play several rounds of GunGame and I yearn to return to my roll as the soldier, turning my enemies into a mess of bloody debris.

A short anecdote: I was playing Modern Warfare 2 today with Zach and Nick. We were getting horribly thrashed by a group of youngsters whose foul mouths suggested they were actually a group of older individuals with voice modifiers. Still, the experience begged the question: were we like that when we were their age?

This is all besides the point. My point in bringing up the youths is that they reminded me of chippy and my fierce hatred of the scourge of Bob's Pit. I can't help but miss that old community. Hopefully, upon Steam's Mac launch, I'll regain that sense of community, despite the fact that Bob's Pit has disbanded.

One thing I wondered while I was deleting the windows side of my computer was whether or not my favorite server list would remain in tact. Did that information make it into the Steam cloud and stick to my account?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do I Miss Owning a Wii?

I honestly find myself asking that question once a month, though I doubt there's a Wii title I'd like to buy, or even play, releasing each month. I'd love to play Red Steel 2, mess around with some of the fun multiplayer experiences on the Wii, or ready myself for the next Zelda. But is it really necessary?

I guess there are times I feel like I'm missing out on something, Oops! Prank Party withstanding. There seem to be a handful of great games and experiences on the Wii that are obviously not on the Xbox 360. Being a single console owner certainly had a "grass is always greener" effect.

If I had the money, I'd buy a PS3 straight away. I already know of several game I really want to play on the platform, but the Wii is a bit of an enigma. Sure I'd love to play Super Mario Galaxy 2 or some of the Wii's few core games, but is there enough to justify buying a console I've already give up once?

Resonance of Fate Review Now Live

I won't lie, Resonance of Fate was a difficult game to review. This fact is primarily reliant on the fact that the game was just plain difficult in and of itself. I'm hoping that facet of the the JRPG shines through in my review, which you can now read for yourself over at Game Revolution.

I have a small stack of games I'm ready to trade in to Gamestop in the next week or so, but I wonder if I'm really ready to give up on Resonance of Fate.

A few weeks back while I was in the middle of playing through the game, I hopped on to Modern Warfare 2. I had to get out of the frustrating quest battle I was stuck on and I wanted to play something I was enjoying much more at the time. While playing, I was talking with my friend Nick and lamenting having to return to the game. Someone else on the team said "Well there's your review right there."

Regardless, I've trudged through and written a challenging review. You can read the full body of text at the following address:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How To Train Your Dragon: Post-Review Thoughts

I've finished my review of How To Train Your Dragon for the Xbox 360. In fact, I've nearly completed the entirety of the game. A diminuitive 45 achievement points lie before me and a full 1000/1000. Here's hoping DLC doesn't wretch the perfection from my hands!

I played most of the game over Spring Break the other week, and while I was out, I didn't post impressions, so I thought I'd write a few things after the fact. These thoughts aren't exactly on the gameplay itself, but more on what it's like to have to play a bad game.

You could excuse a lot of Dragon's flaws based on the fact that it's a movie licensed game. Of course that means an extremely tight development schedule, a lot of unnecessary hands in the development process, and a lack of personal involvement by the creative team. Still, movie games don't have to be bad. Licensed games don't have to be bad, so why excuse anything at all?

The real trouble is the fact that everyone knows the game is going to sell no matter what. How much it sells is largely based on the product it's based on. If the reviews and numbers for How To Train Your Dragon are any indication, I'm guess the game will sell well enough to recoup its costs and make the publisher, Activision, a little money.

Why bother reviewing the game if it doesn't matter anyways? Why go through the trouble of decry all of the games negative points if no one is going to listen or take heed? I wouldn't say I was very conscious of this before or during the review process. I tried to be excited about the game. Jenna and I saw the movie, which I actually liked, and Jenna's mom even got me a McDonald's Dragon toy on my half-sarcastic, half-very-real excitement of such a prospect.

In the end, when it came down to the game, it just wasn't there. It's a bad game. I'll be sure to give you reader of PLAY READ WRITE the lead over to GR when my review is published, but until then, why not share your movie game experience in the comments?


For those of you who don't know, I'm currently interning at Game Revolution ( I post news, upload video, and review games for the site. It's repetitive work, but there are certainly some rewards.

Maybe, maybe, one of those rewards is picking up on news items I would otherwise completely bypass. The MLB 2K10 First Perfect Game contest might be one of those news items, although it was pretty well publiscized nearly everywhere. Probably the epitome of a news item I would never have looked at if not for my internship is the announcement of Oops! Prank Party for the Nintendo Wii.

Oops! Prank Party is published by Hudson Software. I couldn't be bothered to see who was developing. In fact, I'm surprised I read enough to see who was publishing Oops! Prank Party. The game's title did enough damage alone.

I cannot believe there exists a game, playable on a Nintendo console, titled "Oops! Prank Party."

Upon release, you'll be able to walk into a store, maybe Gamestop or Target, and purchase a game by the name of Oops! Prank Party. What has this world come to?

Honestly, that sounds like a horrible game. Having reviewed and played How To Train Your Dragon to a full 1000/1000 achievement points, I think I'm qualified to call a game terrible when I see it. Trouble is, I've yet to see Oops! Prank Party. I'm almost intrigued, but I don't know if I could pick up a control and play even one second of such a game.

Do you still think Nintendo cares about the core gamer? What does the Nintendo Seal of Quality mean now? Will you be buying Oops! Prank Party when it's released this fall?

REVIEW: Depict for the iPhone

Depict is an iPhone app from Makeshift Games. In the same vein as Pictionary, Depcit challenges players to draw a representation of a set word in order to get other players to guess the word. While a competent game for on-the-go drawing multiplayer, Depict falls a little short.

This is primarily due to the fact that nearly every single game of Depict I've played has been broken thanks to someone cheating the gameplay. Depict gives te player one word to draw, while it gives the other players five words to guess from. Many users break the game by simply writing out the word they're supposed to be drawing.

Of course, this is near impossible to guard against from a programming stand point. I can't blame the developers for the way users break the game. There's an included "cheating" notification, but I can't tell how those notes are being used to police the game. Is there anything being done at all?

Multiplayer games rely on the other people you play with as much as they do the game, and with the iPhone user base this prone to game breaking playstyles, I can't give Depict a decent recommendation to anyone serious about games. Maybe as a free download I could suggest it to others, but at a cost you might be better spending your iTunes account balance on something else.

The actual game of depict isn't all that bad, no matter how shallow it is. You can easily hop on, score some points, and have fun drawing. Open Feint in Depict works great as well.

Check out Depict, if you don't mind the cheating you can find a lot of fun, especially if you can get a couple of friends on at the same time. Otherwise, avoid the exploiters!


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Top 10 Games of All Time(?): Objectivity Out the Window

[This is kind of an old story, but I still thought I'd publish my write up. From time to time, I'll write on my phone and some stories won't be published right away. This is one of them.]

Kotaku's panel on the top 10 games of all time, as covered by Kotaku's Mike Fahey at PAX East this year got me thinking about what I would deem the top 10 games of all time. Of course, thinking about such a task also had me thinking about the limitations video games place on these kind of hard criticisms. Leaving out any single game might completely demerit the list, but it would be hard to play every single game ever created. Coming up with a list has a lot to do with opening your mind to a wide range of heresay and second hand opinion.

For example, did you know that I've never played and completed a Metal Gear game? Sure I've spent time playing Metal Gear Solid and the next two of its sequels, but I've never beaten any of the games in that series. Does that glaring hole in my game-playing experience disqualify me from creating a Top 10 list? I suppose I would have to argue that it does not especially when I consider the large swath of games I've dedicated long hours to. Even in the case of Metal Gear, I may not have played an entire game through to the end, but I have played a selective handful of hours and taken in the gist of the experience.

What about games people play and don't like? There are great games in genres that some people have absolutely no taste in, right? For me, that detested genre of gaming would have to be the simulation, whether it is sports, racing, or flight. Having the consequences of the real world also means having the limitations, so when I try to throw a bomb downfield in any Madden game, and I fail, I feel as though something fantastic has just been wretched from my hands.

Obviously, what I mean to point out to any readers is that any Top 10 list is going to be imperfect, and will inevitably inspire debate. Kotaku's panel shows this, in front of a live audience. In a way I have to admit the excusatory nature of this post. If you couldn't already guess, I'm starting to put together a Top 10 list for PLAY READ WRITE in my head. Expect further details over the next week and a half.

If you're reading this, leave a comment suggesting a game I should definitely play before finishing my list, or maybe even suggest a format for the list, on this post.

What came on Saturday?

What came in this box? More later....

EDIT: It's now July and I have the answer for you all.  The Beatles Rock Band.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

New 3DS Mock Up is Probably Fake, But Enticing

These (fake) images of a Nintendo 3DS sure do look neat right? When I first saw them the other day on Kotaku, my opinion of the 3DS did a complete 180. Of course, I also thought that the images might be real, but we can be sure that they aren't.

I won't bore you with the little details that give the photos away as fakes, but even just looking for yourself might give you the (correct) impression that these images are in fact, fake. Still, there are a few details I really, really like.

Firstly, I like the big, wide screen. I can just imagine the media you could watch on that thing. It would certainly be a device worthy of all the movies and television shows I'd rather not watch on my iPhone. It's odd to talk about the screen thinking about the possibilities and still know that it's a fake. How could such a beautiful device never come into being?

I also like the coloring and the little notches on around the edges of the screen. I like the idea of going back to basics and channeling the original Game Boy while still modernizing a few key aspects. Doesn't it look a lot like a Game Boy Pocket? My little brother got one of those before a flight to Michigan to visit relatives. It got lost in the rental car. Still, I really liked the metallic aesthetic and the black buttons really made that stand out. Seems like this mock up was slightly inspired by that look.

I also really like the screen's mobility, though a lot of people online have pointed out how ridiculous it would be to hold upright and use a stylus with in the orientation shown in the second picture here. When I really think about it, I'd have to agree, but I still think that this is a great mock up. How is it that an unauthorized imagining of what the 3DS will look like has done more for my interest than any of the already announced details or even the current DS landscape?