Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poll Results - Game of the Year 2008?

I've had a lot going on in my life the last couple of weeks so I'm a little behind on posting the poll results and my opinions. I know you've been dying to know what I think. Right?

Game of the Year 2008?

Grand Theft Auto IV = 0 votes
Gears of War 2 = 3 votes
Call of Duty: World at War = 1 vote
Fable 2 = 1 vote
Fallout 3 = 2 votes
Dead Space = 0 votes
Left 4 Dead = 0 votes

Okay, let's start with the losers. I'm not at all surprised that Grand Theft Auto IV didn't get any votes because the game came out in the first part of the year and it seemed to be a lot of hype but not much game from what I hear from people who've played it. With the news that a large bit of downloadable content coming out I thought there would be more interest in the game. But what does it say about the game when the additional content they put out for it isn't even for the characters or story lines already built in the game? I'm also not surprised that Left 4 Dead didn't get any votes. I hear it's a great game but almost impossible to play all alone. It's much easier to get through when playing with friends. But with all the games out there it might be difficult to get a group of friends together to play through the game.

I am a little surprised about Dead Space. Everyone I've talked to about that game says it's creepier than BioShock and fantastic. They suggest playing it with the lights out and the sound system turned up (if you've got one) and prepare to have nightmares every night. I own this game but I haven't had the chance to play it yet. I'm hoping to spend a weekend getting into this game.

I'm not surprised Fable II got a vote. It's a good game. There are tons of stuff to do in the game. I know. I've been playing it for hours and I haven't even gotten to the main city yet. I worked as a blacksmith for quite a while, then explored a secret cave by a ship, and I've spent a lot of time playing with my dog and letting him dig for things. Or at least point out where *I* need to dig for things. I love playing RPGs that give you lots of things to explore for and around. I can't stand the "let's confine the player to just the story line" type of game play. On the other hand I have a hard time with "sand box" style games like Grand Theft Auto. You know the ones where you can take on any mission or task that you feel like. I need a little bit more direction than that. With "sand box" games I always take on a task that I'm not up to completing for various reasons. Just like I'm better at playing the Domination game type in Call of Duty than the Deathmatch type. I need a goal to work towards. That's just how I play.

I'm surprised Call of Duty: World at War didn't get more votes. It's a good game with some interesting and different new twists thrown in that aren't in previous Call of Duty games. I also think the general gaming public is surprised by how good this game is in the first place. For Call of Duty fans the odd numbered games are created by a different developer and have always been seen as bad games compared to the even numbered COD games. Call of Duty 4 was a phenomenal game and much loved by COD games that everyone thought COD:W@W would be terrible. When it wasn't, people were shock and I think it's lower expectations prior to it's release might have hurt it for end of year honors.

If I had more people voting on the blog I know that Fallout 3 would have received more votes. I'm surprised it didn't win this poll. I have this game and I've played through the first part (my job in the shelter was "marriage counselor", don't ask). From what I've played so far I think this is great and deserving of Game of the Year honors. It's also a very slow plodding game if you do all the side missions and a very fast game if you stick to the main story line. This game has atmosphere and style which I think a lot of games these days are missing.

I'm really not surprised Gears of War 2 got the most votes. That's the game that most of my friends play on a regular basis (and thus most of my voting readers). It's pretty much like the first Gears with new features like vehicles and weapons and new game types. I don't know if that's enough to make it a great enough game for Game of the Year honors because it plays too much like the first one. That doesn't mean I want the developers to completely change the game play, it's just feels like part 2 . . . a sequel. Which it is.

I think it fascinating and a little disturbing that the majority of games being considered for Game of the Year options were sequels. Have we come to a point in the game community where only the tried and true formulas of existing games are the only place where we get our inspiration? I hope not. Hollywood goes through this swing of copying/sequelizing everything every couple of years. Has anyone seen Bewitched? or Stepford Wives? Or all of the Riddick or Underworld moves?

Every now and then a great game comes along that stands up on it's own, has no predecessor and makes the gaming world take notice. BioShock did that. Left 4 Dead is doing that. And maybe Dead Space. Every other item on my list is a sequel or follower of a previous game. A lot of times those second (or third, or fourth) iterations don't quite have the same shine and excitement that the first game did. Does that make them bad games for being sequels? No. None of these games on my list are bad games. That's why they're in contention for my Game of the Year honors.

So What game did I vote for? Well . . . none of them. I couldn't make up my mind which game stood out above the others. And then the poll closed. Depending on the day and how I feel I might change my vote (if I had made one). In years past there's usually been one or two games that are hands down better than anything else out there. They're natural shoo-ins for Game of the Year honors. This year I think the race is a much tougher and closer one than anyone expected. Maybe by next year I will have played enough of them to know which one really is the Game of the Year in 2008. That is if I don't buy and play any more games between now and then.

Monday, January 12, 2009

[insert censored title here]

You know, I'd really love to explain what the last few days have been like when it comes to my online gaming with my friends. In that I'm trying to keep my blog at least at a PG-13 level a full description could only look like this:

Setting: online public Gears of War 2 match

Players: Pengwenn, Genghis Khan, Evil Ric, El Sand Dog, MadMax, c5ride, Fbody, HELL Weasell, El Zaktaz, etc. (some variation of those players)

Pengwenn: I'm out. He got me from behind.

Evil Ric: So where are they now?

Pengwenn (using the kill camera to search for the enemy): Jut a sec.

El Sand Dog: [censored] They got me. [censored] [censored] [censored]

Genghis Khan: Sand Dog where were you? [censored] What the- [censored] Oh yeah [censored] Lookie at what I've got here. [censored]

c5ride: He's coming to your left Ric.

MadMax: You've got one coming up on you Ric.

Pengwenn: You've got one coming on you you from somewhere.

Evil Ric: [censored] Come here you [censored]

Genghis Khan and Evil Ric meet up with their meat shields

Evil Ric: Oh uh, uh uh.

Genghis Khan: Yeah baby!

c5ride: Hey? Am I the last one?

Genghis Khan: Ric and I are still here, but give us a minute.

Evil Ric (dropping the meat shield and getting back in the game): Okay we're done.

El Sand Dog: c5 right behind you [censored] right behind you c5 [censored] look he's right [censored] too late now.

c5ride: [censored] I hate this [censored] game.

El Sand Dog: I told you he's right behind you.

I'm sure I could have shown you more . . . or described the visuals, but like I said I want to keep a PG-13 rating. What I will say is I wonder how much longer some of them are going to have any rep left. I think they're having a contest to see who can get their rep to zero first. I know they were having a "body count" challenge last night. I can't remember who had the higher total. I will say this though, my friends might goof off at the end of the match, or in the middle if we're ahead, but they take offense if anyone on the other teams tries to do to me what they're doing to them. You kind of have to love them for that . . . in their own sick [censored] sort of way.

My friends are full of surpries!

You guys all surprise me. Sometimes it's good. Sometimes, well, I'm surprised you have any rep left on Xbox Live. I'll get into that more in a later post. I want to talk about good surprises here.

I got a message from a friend of mine Nuklear 1 that said he just finished his first draft of a novel. Eh? I didn't know he wrote. Or, if I did I didn't remember. I'm a moderator on a writing website, did I tell him about us? Why is every writing a novel except me? Oh yeah. I've got to stop playing video games so I'll have the time to write a novel.

And then there was G Sneaka. I was playing Chromehounds with some friends when he joins are party and asks to play. Eh? You have this game? I didn't know that. I got really excited but after spending 20 minutes or so we still couldn't get him in our squad. CyberWrat even jumped off line, loaded up an unused profile and got them to join the squad, but we still couldn't get G Sneaka in. But it shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did when I asked one of them to read the directions on the insert of the game case to see if it had any instructions about joining a squad and I got this response: "Oh, come on Pengwenn, I'm a guy." At first I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Why can't guys read instructions? Oh . . . that's it. Guys DON'T read instructions. I laughed. He told me not to blog about it. But hey, just like my motto says "I'm blogging this". Besides I didn't say which one now did I?

I'm constantly getting surprised by the fact that some of my friends know . . . some of my friends. I'm constantly thinking when I see the "[insert name here] is online" pop up shows up whether or not the friends I'm playing with know that person. There's nothing more annoying than inviting in one of your friends that no one else knows and have that person act like a jerk. That's happened to me. And when the friends I'm playing with suggest getting someone in that just came online when I didn't think they knew him I have to wonder, did they meet because of me? These are nice surprised to have.

Some people don't like surprised. Me? I don't feel either way about them. I'm jealous Nuklear 1 has a first draft of a novel written, but I'm excited for him too. And hearing a friend has the same interests as you, whether writing or an odd game to play, is always a good surprise to hear. I wonder what other surprised will come my way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Some of your prayers will be answered

If you haven't heard Epic is working on a patch for Gears of War 2. Yes, I know if they had done the game right before it was released there wouldn't be a need for a patch but people make mistakes. Here's the interesting part:

We’re fixing a whole bunch of online exploits. For example we’ve fixed the ability to wield an invisible shield, melee through some walls, gain infinite Lancer ammo and equip a shield and a two-handed weapon simultaneously plus many more.

We’re also making several small changes to improve the overall online game play experience. A few of the ones that might interest you are; increased penalties for quitting matches early, adding additional spawn protection against planted grenades and chainsaw attacks, and adding the ability to see the Submission flag carrier destination by using Tac/Com.

He didn't say anything about the shield glitch that gets you into the back of the spawn on Pavilion. Maybe that's something in the patch or maybe not. Let's hope this patch works . . . and that it doesn't break something else. So for those of you who are frustrated with online play in Gears of War 2 it might be time to consider getting back in the game once the patch is released. Your prayers might well be answered by then.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Poll - 2008 Game of the Year?

I put a new poll up and forgot to tell you with a new post. Shame on me. Here it is:

Game of the Year 2008?

Grand Theft Auto IV
Gears of War 2
Call of Duty: World at War
Fable II
Fallout 3
Dead Space
Left 4 Dead

I think it's very telling that the majority of them are sequels. What that says is one of several things. 1) People loved the first/previous games so much they clamored for more . . . and developers gave in, 2) the first/previous games were deserving of a sequel to either a) finish the story or b) finish the advances in game play that the first/previous ones established. or 3) it's easier to copy tried and true ideas than to come up with something new on your own. You've got all the basics designed and built all you have to do is make enough changes to call it a different game (I'll talk more on that later).

Yes, I know I haven't included any games that have come out on other systems besides Xbox 360. Why? Because I haven't experienced any of them. This is my blog, my poll, my rules. Deal with it. As much as I would have liked to play Boom Blox or Wii Fit (in the privacy of my own home, of course) I haven't had the chance. So I'm sticking to what I know because I'm going to have to write about it when the results are in.

So what do you think? I forgot to put an "other" option in so if you think something else is worthy enough for a vote post a comment and let me know what you think. That's right, it's my blog but you have a say in the matter. That doesn't mean I'll listen to you especially if you start yapping like a Chihuahua on caffeine, but at least I'll give you a chance to state your peace. Just think of it as my gift to you.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pity the failure that I am

So I didn't make it. I was 234 points away from breaking the 10,000 point barrier with my gamer score. Yet another New Years Resolution I didn't achieve. And to think I was one boss battle from picking up 125 points in Lost Odyssey. So close, and yet so far.

I not only failed at getting the score but I failed at playing Lost Odyssey. I got into an area that I couldn't handle. The regular enemy encounters were killing me . . . literally. I fled like the little coward that I am. I love that game, but it got to a point where all I wanted to do was rip the disk from the drive and chuck it out the window. Maybe this weekend I'll take some time to focus on the game and strategies to help me survive instead of rushing through it to get points. Besides, if I finish the game then I can go back to Blue Dragon.

When my attempt to get gamer points from Lost Odyssey failed I started playing Gears of War on insane. I figured if I could get achievements for finishing chapters on insane I would also get the achievements for hardcore as well. Doubling up is always nice. It didn't work out that way so the clock turned over past midnight and I was at the same gamer score I had the night before.

Now if I had spent some time playing those games earlier in the week instead of playing Gears of War 2 with my friends I might have met my goal and finally cross one resolution off my list. But you see, I like playing with my friends. As crazy and emotional as they sometimes tend to get, they're a bunch of real stand up guys. So I blame my failure on them. Yeah, that's it. It's all their fault. If they would just act like jerks so I wouldn't want to play with them then maybe I'd actually achieve a goal I set for myself. I'd like to try and see them be a jerk . . . without laughing about it either.

There are a lot of other New Year Resolutions that I didn't achieve either. I still haven't finished Final Fantasy VII, Mario Sunshine, Summoner or Jedi Outcast like I've been trying to do as a challenge with my brother dain. I guess those should be on my resolution list this year as well. Oh well. I guess my resolution of world peace didn't quite work out either.

With all the house/moving stuff that's been my life the last couple of months I haven't given it any thought about what my 2009 resolutions should be. When I get a chance I'll review where I came up short with my 2008 ones and see what dreams/goals I want to complete this year. Does anyone have any Prozac they could share?