Tag Archives: Skyrim

Why A 15 Minute Story In Far Cry 4 Might Not Suck

Just before its release earlier this week, a rumor that Far Cry 4‘s main campaign could be completed in just 15 minutes generated a murmur of contempt from a small group of fans who were irked with the notion that Ubisoft might be short-changing their customers. Considering a typical game in this genre features on average a 10 hour story, surely this is hurting the game and it’s worse for the customer…Right? Well, maybe not.

A 15 minute story does not mean the game itself runs out of content in 15 minutes – the Far Cry games are open-world titles that not only allow players to explore the environment outside the mandatory story missions, they actually incentivize it. There are dozens of smaller missions, hunting expeditions and collectibles to find all over their maps, and quite frankly, they’re far more entertaining than the majority of their narratives. The idea that gamers would be up in arms over the length of the main story arc is interesting because, in my experience, the stories in these types of games often end up feeling like expositional set-dressing, or unavoidable obstacles that get in the way of my entertainment, and to be honest, a 15 minute story in a 20 hour game sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Games are interactive, after all, and few of them have manipulative physics and emergent gameplay moments that are as gratifying to experiment with as the Far Cry series.

Take Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, for example. The game’s story is bare and utterly conventional, but players create their own tiny stories by interacting with enemies using the game’s Nemesis system, which allows enemy orcs to remember past run-ins with the player. The effects can be startling. You can kill an enemy only to see him later, sporting a nasty scar or burn from your last encounter. If you’re lucky, he’ll be scared of you this time, and run the second he sees you coming. Or you can fail to kill a captain, and he’ll mock your corpse and earn a nifty promotion for putting you down. When you meet up later for a rematch he’ll remember that you’re supposed to be dead, and he might relish the opportunity to murder you again. Getting revenge on an Uruk that killed you days before is far more rewarding than actually avenging your family at the end of Mordor‘s story, and is actually relevant to your own experience, but the game’s dialogue and cinematics will constantly urge to you to remember how much more you should care about the wife and son that Sauron took from you, despite having only met and lost them in the span of seconds in the game’s opening scene. The emotional gap between what you experience and what the game tells you you’ve experienced is in major conflict, but worse, the game undermines the stories you do create by forcing their own into the forefront.

This is your wife in Shadow of Mordor, who you love very much despite not remembering her name.
This is my wife in Shadow of Mordor, who I’m told I love very much, despite not remembering her name.

The largest offender of this is Skyrim, a game that offers an obscene amount of freedom to the player with regard to the stories they craft for themselves, but never allows you to create your own identities with that freedom. Interspersed throughout the game’s staggeringly large map, you will find opportunities to join and rise the ranks of a number of guilds and factions that each feature their own storyline, culture and relevance to the larger world of Tamriel. You can lead an organization of werewolves, join a legendary band of assassins and run a prestigious college, to name just a few. The problem is that all of these stories are forced to play second fiddle to the game’s “main” story, which focuses on your player being the legendary savior of the province of Skyrim, and any one of them felt more rewarding to me than the campaign because I discovered those factions and chose to be a part of them. Being forced to play the role of the Dovahkiin was the developer constantly reminding me that all those interesting, discoverable moments I decided were important to my character were sideline distractions to the main event. It broke the illusion from both ends: Not only was I pulled away from building the story I wanted for the character I created, the final Skyrim ‘canon’ of my game featured a Viking hero of prophesy, who took up smithing for a week, and put saving the world on hold to see if he could own every style of clothing in the province, just for fun.

Other RPGs succeed where Skyrim fails. Fallout 3 allows you to almost completely forget why you’re out in the wasteland to begin with at times, and it’s more of an asset than a flaw. The premise of Fallout 3 is that you leave your home – a claustrophobic fallout shelter – to find your father, who suddenly disappears from the Vault one day. It’s a simple conceit that provides the player with a clearly defined ‘endgame’ goal. You can find out where your father has gone almost immediately, and the game will put a big fat map marker right on your Pip Boy for you too. The thing is that there’s a whole lot of unexplored Washington D.C. between you and that location, and you’ll spend most of your time just surviving and learning about the world before you can reach the next story thread. What happens is you quickly learn through trial and error that the best way to gain access to your father is by scavenging for supplies (and xp) to make you tough enough to travel all the way to his location. Survival begets narrative in Fallout, and while you’re looking for better weapons and armor to keep yourself alive, you’ll catch yourself interacting with the locals and investigating little mysteries at each point of interest, uncovering the new culture of the post-nuclear United States. It makes sense within the context of the game too, because your character has spent his entire life up until this point living within the oppressive, narrow walls of Vault 101; you and your avatar share the same sense of awe and curiosity about the world around you, but in addition to that, your father’s disappearance is entirely connected to the state of the world you find yourself in. All of your experiences in the wasteland up to that point feel complimentary to the arc of the guiding storyline, rather than interfering or opposing it. It adds context and depth to both the smaller events you uncover while roaming the open world and they in turn reinforce the importance of the main story’s consequences. The story beautifully lends itself to player exploration, and if you were to isolate the specific ‘main narrative’ missions you might be surprised at how short Fallout 3′s skeletal narrative actually is.

It also helps when your dad is Liam Neeson

The point is, a main quest is only as important as the world around it deems it has to be. In Far Cry 3, the predecessor to the game that spawned this whole article, there isn’t really any secondary story option that moves away from the central plot line, but there are dozens of hours of small diversions and emergent gameplay opportunities. Players can avoid the next narrative beat for days collecting hidden items and taking over outposts without undermining the integrity of the main plot, or straying from the game’s underlying theme: No matter how far you stray from the critical path, all your actions in Far Cry 3 will always fit the context of Jason Brody finding himself on foreign land, struggling with the conflict between his own bloodlust and the need to escape the Rook Islands. That is what makes the game such a unified experience, and it’s why it doesn’t face some of the same conflicts that arise when a game forces its story upon a player in an open world.

Considering one of the most common – and justified – critiques about Far Cry 4 is how similar it feels to Far Cry 3, even if the game’s campaign was able to be completed in fifteen minutes, here’s enough reason to hold back your internet rage. By the way, that fifteen minute-long campaign rumor is only half true, and unless you follow a particular method, you’ll have a more traditional RPG storyline at your disposal. It’s almost too bad though, because the 15 minute story is absolutely brilliant (beware, major spoilers).

Images: Ubisoft, Warner Bros., Bethesda

Button Mashing: Max Payne 3, Resident Evil 6 & Mass Effect 3

This is Button Mashing, Grizzly Bomb’s video game news headquarters. Previews, interviews, rumors and all the latest stories relating to the biggest games, all in one place.

I’m The Wozz, and here are the most important things you need to know for the week of January 23rd, 2012:

Max Payne 3 Shows Off Its Targeting/Weapon Systems

Rockstar Games is doing a series of behind-the-scenes featurettes which shed some light on the new mechanics and technology going into the upcoming return to the Max Payne franchise. The second one is out now, and it goes into some of the ways they’ve fine-tuned the shooting mechanics.

Initially I was pretty dismissive of a new Max Payne. I really liked the first two games, they were powerfully story-driven, atmospheric and the gameplay was enjoyable, to boot. But the bullet-time feature that drove the whole franchise, and revolutionized almost every single shooter after it was getting tiresome by Max Payne 2. It’s a very cool thing to see the first 6 or 7 times, but it eventually becomes a pace-breaking crutch, just like the more recent ‘VATS’ mechanic in Fallout.

But these little promos are really starting to work their magic. Rockstar Games are just some of the best storytellers and innovators in the industry, and Max Payne looks like it’s just as wonderfully dark and unique as ever before. Begrudgingly it’s turning me around.

Resident Evil 6 Announcement – (Side Mission)

Resident Evil fans were abuzz last week because promos for RE6 started being reported at retailers. Posters like this one have appeared in stores around the country, point at a November 20th, 2012 release date:

The news comes, as promised, following a viral marketing campaign from NoHopeLeft.com, which posted dozens of mysterious photos and videos pointing to some kind of conspiracy. The blog repeatedly pointed to January 19th, 2012, at which point the official announcement was made.

Following the reveal of Resident Evil 6 came this teaser:

The trailer reveals the return of Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy, and an amazing amount of content for a first teaser.

Skyrim Creation Kit is Almost Here – (Bethesda Blog)

Coming straight from Bethesda themselves, it looks like the biggest game of 2011 is about to give players the opportunity to create their own content in Skyrim. From Bethesda themselves:

For all you PC gamers, you will be happy to know that the Creation Kit and Steam Workshop are nearly ready. Bethesda is currently working with members of Valve and their modding community to do some final testing and are on track for a public release near the end of the month. The current update plan for the PC is to first release updates as “beta” versions through Steam. This is something you’ll be able to opt into through Steam and back-out of if needed.

Meanwhile, the developers are also working on the game’s latest update. Version 1.14 will patch a lot of the game’s hiccups for all 3 platforms, hopefully making it even easier to lose yourself in Tamriel’s Northern-most province. For a list of all the glitches and bugs resolved in the update, they’re all listed on the blog.

Infinity Ward’s Looking Ahead at Next-Gen Call of Duty – (IGN)

IGN shrewdly discovered that a job listing posted on Infinity Ward’s website is requesting a senior animator “with experience in-game development and an interest in working with next-generation technologies.

It’s not a huge surprise that there are plans to make a CoD game for the next iteration of the home consoles, but Sledgehammer Games has reportedly already done the same. IGN speculates as to the possibility of the job offers being connected, but it will be a long time before the full story is announced – Sony and Microsoft have still not made any official statements regarding the release of new hardware.

Mass Effect 3 Will Feature Kinect Voice Control – (IGN)

If there’s one thing hardcore gamers will come together to support, it’s the unanimous disdain for motion controls and extra peripherals like voice commands. The joypad is king to the dedicated player, so fans were kind of disappointed when it was announced that Mass Effect 3 would allow Xbox Kinect users the opportunity to use voice control for certain actions. However, doubters might want to relax because apparently the voice commands work extremely well, and really compliment the gameplay:

Mass Effect 3 uses Kinect only for voice commands – absolutely no motion recognition is supported. Instead, any command that players previously had to pause the action to access, like Biotic powers, ammo swapping or party member management can now be managed by voice. This allows players full access to Shepherd’s suite of combat options without ever pausing the action.

Most important of all is that this Kinect integration just works. When you say sniper rifle, Shepherd switches to his sniper rifle. Saying “Adrenaline Rush” activates the biotic power. Say “James, Move” and your squad mate moves to the location you have pointed out. During the entire demo, I never once had a voice command not register properly.

“Miranda, Disrobe” The one voice command not accepted…

I don’t own an Xbox 360, and while I’m not heartbroken that I’ll be missing out on the voice commands, I’ll admit that bringing up the power menu or designating your squad to move around during combat can be a chore in Mass Effect. If the tech works as accurately and consistently as IGN says, it could resolve one of ME‘s few flaws, and allow for more fluid, better-paced combat.

Mass Effect 3 PC Specs Announced – (Side Mission)

I know all too well the pain of having to scale back a game’s graphics in order to make it work on my rig (Read: mediocre 5 year old laptop). In fact, I had to reduce Mass Effect 2‘s specs to some extent to run it on Steam and still could only play in 45-minute intervals or run the risk of overheating. It sucks to not be well-equipped, is what I’m saying. But thankfully I’ve got the requirements for Mass Effect 3 right here, so you won’t have to worry about whether or not your PC can adequately handle it:

Minimum Spec:

• OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
*Supported chipsets: NVIDIA 7900 or better; ATI X1800 or better. Please note that NVIDIA GeForce 9300, 8500, 8400, and 8300 are below minimum system requirements, as are AMD/ATI Radeon HD3200, HD3300, and HD4350. Updates to your video and sound card drivers may be required.

• CPU – 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
• RAM – 1GB for XP / 2GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
• Disc Drive – 1x speed
• Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
• Video – 256 MB* (with Pixel Shader 3.0 support)
• Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible
• DirectX – DirectX 9.0c August 2009 (included)

Recommended Spec:

• OS – Windows XP SP3/Vista SP1, Win 7
• CPU – 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (equivalent AMD CPU)
• RAM – 2GB for XP / 4GB RAM for Vista/Win 7
• Disc Drive – 1x speed
• Hard Drive – 15 GB of free space
• Video – AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4850 512 MB or greater, NVidia GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB or greater
• Sound – DirectX 9.0c compatible

Side Mission also included the fact that in order to run ME3 PC users will have to register and run Origin, both for online and offline use.

The Best of the Internet: The Funniest ‘Skyrim’ Content

If you’re new to the internet you may not be aware of this, but there was a time when the internet was a simpler place – a place almost entirely made up of cat photos, nutshots and so, so much porn. That is until November 11th came around and Skyrim mounted a devastating invasion on the digital space, nudging the other heavyweights aside to make room for itself atop the internet content hierarchy. It’s become so commonplace for a ‘Fus Ro Dah’ or an ‘arrow to the knee’ to appear on your favorite website that it’s hard to believe both of those phrases were psychobabble as recently as two months ago. Like every other online craze, the Skyrim obsession started off funny and quickly peaked in creativity before it got stale and became the nauseating knee-jerk reaction we know today.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t some hilarious, ingenious or otherwise fantastic things that fans have created about the phenomenal Elder Scrolls title. Here is a list of my favorite Skyrim memes, mods and oddities:

The Mods

PC gamers have at least one advantage over their console peers, in that they have a huge community of people who create and share mods of their favorite games. Skyrim is no exception to this, boasting all kinds of useful tweaks to the standard content like graphical enhancements or health bars for your lockpicks, but it also gives some creative fans way too much freedom. Take for example…

The Zoidberg Mudcrab mod:

Or Macho Man Alduin Savage:

Continue reading The Best of the Internet: The Funniest ‘Skyrim’ Content

Skyrim Shopping In Real Life

No matter how you choose to occupy your time in Skyrim‘s massive province, at one point or another you’ll inevitably find yourself in one of its many shops. The buy/sell menu eventually becomes a familiar thing even for the most battle-hardened Tamrielites, and while stopping in at your local store is a handy way to earn some coin and free up your inventory, it’s not the game’s most memorable feature.

Nonetheless, Grosjean Brothers Productions has made a 4-minute video celebrating the highs and lows of a Nord’s everyday shopping trip. It’s full of flashy effects and packed with references to the critically acclaimed game, right down to the infuriatingly repetitive dialogue from the shopkeep. Take a look:

Ah, makes me want to dive back in to my old save file. And I was finally free of its grasp, too.

A Recap of the 2011 Video Game Awards

Video games have been surging in popularity these last few years, but never has the rise felt more tangible than this year. 2011 saw some of the biggest sales and best-rated titles of all time, leading some to consider this one of the industry’s golden years. With the question of games’ legitimacy as relevant as ever, it’s never been more important than now to look back and credit the best of the business for their achievements.

The 2011 Video Game Awards could have been our opportunity to rally behind our industry leaders, to share our love for interactive storytelling with the talented men and women who create it. Aaaannd as expected, that’s not at all how it went down.

The VGA’s aired this past weekend and just like every year it was insulting, childish, and depressing to watch. I understand that the show is a vehicle for game trailers and commercials. I don’t expect or want the grandeur and extravagance of the Oscars. All I want is for the producers to treat the fans, and more importantly the game creators, with respect and at least pretend to care about our medium. And all they did was project and reinforce the stereotype that all gamers are idiots and imply that our craft is a joke.

Basically, your all n00bs

I didn’t catch the opening number which, admittedly, I hear was pretty well-orchestrated – a montage of the year’s biggest games with the host, Zachary Levi (star of Chuck), caught in the middle of it all. I came in part-way through the opening monologue, which summarized 2011 pretty accurately, and with the right amount of safe humor. I’ve seen Levi on talk shows a couple times and heard him on the Nerdist podcast, and while I know next to nothing about him he always comes across as a likeable, charming guy. The monologue was no different. It’s after the opening that the writing, or Levi, or something crucial fell away and the host gags and jokes became more and more cringe-worthy.

I don’t know if Mr. Levi plays games much, but he certainly came across as completely removed from the whole concept of a video game, and as the minutes rolled by I got the sense from the look in his eye that he and I were thinking the same thing: Just what the hell was he doing there? He shouldn’t have to stoop so low as to appear in a circus like this, and we don’t want to see an actor pretend to share our passion.

The same curse befell nerd-star Felicia Day, who sort of played the role of co-hostess. Day actually holds a place in our gaming world and it’s fitting for her to be on stage, so I wonder if she’d have been better-suited to host the whole thing, but anyway, she was reduced to parading around in a mini-skirt and subjecting herself to bad visual gags (Cutting up fruit is just a reference to Fruit Ninja. It’s not a joke. It also isn’t entertaining, no matter how close the sword comes to flying out of Felicia’s hands and stabbing one of those horrible Workaholics kids). It hurts just so much more to see one of our own being punished like that.

Above: Fruit Ninja. Note the lack of awful comedians.

Next to Levi and Day, the presenters were a parade of low-rate celebrities who came happily and hungrily for their brief minutes of screen-time before running off to whore out their dwindling stardom to some other venue. I have a game for you – I’m going to list some names, and you tell me if they make you think ‘video games’: Kevin Jonas. No? How about Will.I.Am? LL Cool J?


Charlie Sheen came on stage at one point and made the standard “I wasn’t going to be here and then they told me how much they’d pay” gag. And nobody was laughing because it was so plainly the truth. Not one person hired to be on stage made any indication that they respected, were involved in, or cared at all about the industry they were there to honor. I counted three occasions where someone flubbed the title of a game. None of the actors that marched in front of the cameras were talented enough to hide the bewildered look on their face while they read the teleprompter.

Of course the real reason I (and most likely everyone else) tuned in to the awards at all was to watch the announcements and previews, and despite a huge number of reveals and trailers that were dropped throughout the show, the titles that I was most looking forward to seeing were either absent (The Last Guardian) or relatively lackluster (Mass Effect 3, Bioshock Infinite). That’s not to say there weren’t some fantastic ones – Diablo III had an amazing trailer, and surprisingly Transformers: Fall of Cybertron was my favorite one of the night. You can see all the premieres here on GameTrailers.

The trailers as always were the main focus of the show, and thank God they were worth it because it feels like there were deliberate steps taken to keep the actual people who deserved to speak from spending any amount of time on stage. In order to keep the show from going over time, they had a man in an army costume ready to teabag winners if their speech went too long. Then they used that extra time to do dozens of awful skits. Hey Spike, how about cutting out the FarmVille cutaway gag composed entirely of Zach Levi pointing at a cow, or the thing where Kevin Jonas jumped onto a Velcro wall, so we can hear from an actual developer for more than a few seconds?

As Jason Schreier mentions in his open letter to the VGAs, the most frustrating thing about the awards was that there were moments that were truly special and great. Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima both had appearances which were painfully awkward and hard to understand, but charming, endearing and wonderful. These are pillars of the industry we’re a part of and it is a treasure to see them and hear them speak, whether they’re inducting their game into the hall of fame (Miyamoto) or just trying to sell us their next product (Kojima). Even the augmented reality moments were pretty cool and surprisingly well-choreographed, bridging the creative realm of a digital space to the live show on-stage, a feat that appears organic and effortless, yet a few years ago would have been impossible.

Shigeru Miyamoto accepts the Video Game Hall of Fame award

At this point you’re probably wondering where the awards are in this recap of the video game award show, but if that’s the case, you clearly aren’t familiar with the VGAs. A number of awards were announced during the show, but I only actually remember seeing one of them, and that was Game of the Year, which was announced immediately before the show ended. The awards take such a backseat to the rest of the pandering bullshit that I’m seeing the majority of the nominees, winners and categories for the first time as I list them in this article:

[toggle_simple title=”The Winners…” width=”600″]

The winners will be listed in bold. I’ll signify my picks with an arrow (<).

Gametrailers.com Trailer of the Year:

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (E3 trailer)
Batman: Arkham City (Huge Strange reveal trailer)
Dark Souls (‘Ignite’ debut trailer)
Dead Island (GDC cinematic trailer) (<)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (‘Purity First’ infomercial)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (In-game debut trailer)
Hitman: Absolution (E3 trailer)
Prey 2 (E3 trailer)
Tomb Raider (E3 trailer)
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (E3 trailer)

Most Anticipated Game:

Bioshock Infinite
Diablo III
Halo 4
Mass Effect 3
The Last Guardian

Best DLC:

Fallout: New Vegas – Old World Blues
Mass Effect 2 – Arrival
Mortal Kombat – Freddy Krueger
Portal 2 – Peer Review

Best Downloadable Game:

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Iron Brigade

Best Performance by a Human Female:

Claudia Black as Chloe Frazer – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Ellen McLain as GLaDOS – Portal 2 (<)
Emily Rose as Elena Fisher – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Tara Strong as Harley Quinn – Batman: Arkham City

Best Performance by a Human Male:

J.K. Simmons as Cave Johnson – Portal 2
Mark Hamill as The Joker – Batman: Arkham City
Nolan North as Nathan Drake – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Stephen Merchant as Wheatley – Portal 2 (<)

Best Graphics:

Batman: Arkham City
L.A. Noire
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Best Original Score:

Batman: Arkham City (<)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Portal 2

Best Song in a Game:

“Build That Wall (Zia’s Theme)” by Darren Korb, Bastion
“Exile Vilify” by The National, Portal 2
“I’m not Calling You a Liar” by Florence and the Machine, Dragon Age II
“Setting Sail, Coming Home (End Theme)” by Darren Korb, Bastion
“Want You Gone” by Jonathan Coulton, Portal 2 (<)

Best Adapted Game:

Back to the Future: The Game
Batman: Arkham City
Captain America: Super Soldier
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Best Independent Game:

The Binding of Isaac
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP

Best Motion Game:

Child of Eden
Dance Central 2
The Gunstringer
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

Best Fighting Game:

The King of Fighters XIII
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Mortal Kombat
WWE All Stars

Best Driving Game:

DiRT 3
Driver: San Francisco
Forza Motorsport 4
Need for Speed: The Run

Best Team Sports Game:

FIFA Soccer 12 (<)
MLB 11: The Show
NBA: 2K12
NHL 12

Best Individual Sports Game:

Fight Night Champion (<)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
Top Spin 4
Virtua Tennis 4

Best Multiplayer:

Battlefield 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Gears of War 3
Portal 2

Best RPG:

Dark Souls
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dragon Age II
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Best Action Adventure Game:

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Batman: Arkham City
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Best Shooter:

Battlefield 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Gears of War 3

Best Handheld/Mobile Game:

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Infinity Blade
Jetpack Joyride
Super Mario 3D Land

Best PC Game:

Battlefield 3
Portal 2
The Witcher 2

Best Wii Game:

Epic Mickey
Kirby’s Return to Dream Land
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Lost in Shadow

Best PS3 Game:

Killzone 3
LittleBigPlanet 2
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

Best Xbox 360 Game:

Batman: Arkham City (<)
Forza Motorsport 4
Gears of War 3
Portal 2

Gamer God (Honorary Title, I Guess?):

Blizzard Entertainment

Character of the Year:

The Joker, Batman: Arkham City
Marcus Fenix, Gears of War 3
Wheatley, Portal 2
Nathan Drake, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (<)

Studio of the Year:

Rocksteady Studios, Batman: Arkham City
Bethesda Game Studios, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (<)
Naughty Dog, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Valve, Portal 2

Game of the Year:

Batman: Arkham City
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Portal 2
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception


Some of these awards are redundant; the ‘Gamer God’ award was given little explanation, and many of them were just flown across the screen in a short montage. Meanwhile they took great care and attention to dedicate an ongoing segment to which football player would appear on the cover of the next NFL Blitz. I’m neither a football fan, nor a player of sports games but I can tell you if I was I wouldn’t care what person, object or abstract idea they put on the box. Certainly not enough to make it a major focus of an award show. A week or two ago I heard a Game Trailers employee on a podcast talk about how excited he was to finally have a music category added to the awards after years of lobbying and working to make it happen – I can’t even tell you for sure if those awards made it onto the air, but I do know that Ray Rice’s picture is going to be on a plastic box next year.

Thank you, VGAs, for providing the perfect imagery for what you’re doing to our industry.

I guess in the end, despite falling into the same traps they do every year, The VGAs couldn’t completely sink what was a momentous year in gaming. 2011 treated fans with some of the best content we’ve ever seen, and all the blatant commercialism, misogyny and mistreatment of the industry’s talent couldn’t overshadow the quality of their work. We still have a long way before the awards can actually honor our best and brightest, but luckily we can probably still spend the 10 years it’ll take for that to happen playing Skyrim.

PS3’s The 10 Best Video Games of 2011

2011 has been one of the biggest and most memorable years for the video game industry that I can remember. An amazing library of games has come out in the past 11 months, and we were treated a massive fourth quarter that likely took a huge toll on your wallet. As 2012 draws ever-closer and with thanksgiving just passing by, I think it’s time we reflect on the best titles of the year. So here it is, the top 10 games of 2011:

10. Mass Effect 2

I’ll be completely honest; I’m cheating here. Those of you paying attention should know that Mass Effect 2 actually came out in 2010. I’m copping out by using the PS3 port that came out in January as a brand new release because even as a game I’d already played on the more responsive PC, ME2 is one of the most impressive space-sagas I’ve experienced in any medium.

The galaxy you explore as Commander Shepard is as deep and fully realized as those in Star Wars, Star Trek or any other galactic fantasy out there but what really makes Mass Effect 2 an amazing video game is a great story, real choices with actual narrative impact and satisfying, tight combat mechanics.

It’s a good enough package that a year later it would otherwise tie for 2nd place on my list of 2011’s best games, but I can’t quite overlook that it already came out in 2010, so I’ve compromised and put it at #10.

Continue reading PS3’s The 10 Best Video Games of 2011

E3 2011 Preview: What I’m Looking Forward To

It’s June in Los Angeles, and while that means horrible humidity in the gridlock infested ‘City of Angels’, it also means that it’s time for my summer Christmas treat: The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or as it’s affectionately called everywhere, E3!

I have had the pleasure to go to E3 a few times, and I remember it being probably one of the coolest experiences of my life. It’s pretty much an assault on the senses, where strobe lights and booth babes puts stars in your eyes. The subwoofers buried under the exhibit floors, and concerts rattles your ear drums, and your fingers develop blisters from the severe button mashing and controller switching done at the conference. My favorite thing was to try out the Wii the year before it came out, being treated to one of the best experiences in gaming, and getting to brag about it on the intraweb. Although getting kicked out of the bathroom by Vin Diesel’s bodyguards so he could take a piss was a close second…

Regardless, I’m not there this year and this seems to be one of the best years to attend. There’s a lot of excitement in the air from the ‘Big 3’ and storylines are abound: What is Nintendo’s successor and will it appeal to the hardcore? How will Sony recover from the PSN debacle? Can Microsoft carry the Xbox for a few more years as it now enters it’s swan song?

 Like I said, I’m super pumped about this year, and while it may not encompass what everyone else is interested in, there is a comment section so feel free to say what you want to see. And with that, let’s start off with the honorable mentions:

Honorable Mentions:

Final Fantasy XIII-2

Other than the fact that FFX-2 was an absolute debacle, (yes, decent game…until you realize it completely ruins FFX’s story in my opinion) I’m still curious to see this game.

I have yet to beat the original, but I dug the combat system (although XII still has a special place in my heart). The trailer is below, but apparently it ruins the last game, so  SPOILER ALERT in case you don’t want it ruined for you. Also, apparently feathers are to Final Fantasy like doves are to John Woo…

Bioshock Infinite

I like the Bioshock games, I don’t love them. I get that I’m in the minority in that but my reasoning is that System Shock 2 is one of the most fantastic games of all time, so anything that is supposed to be a psuedo-sequel/spin-off has a hard time to capture my heart.

Still, they are considered great games and it’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it. That and I LOVE the trailer.

The New Harmonix Game

I love Harmonix. The creators of Frequency, Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, should I keep going…? They are extremely innovative when it comes to music genre, and more importantly, we are at a crossroads in music gaming. Guitar Hero is basically dead, there’s no Rock Band this year. What does Harmonix have up their sleeves? Guess we’re going to find out this week…

UPDATED> New Harmonix Game will be: Dance Central 2!

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

I’ve been playing through the 2nd one and I dig it. It’s a lot less repetitive than the first, so I assume the third is even less repetitive and this 4th part of the series should be good times. And also my mentioning it gives an excuse for Dr. Kronner to a picture of Kristen Bell

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Now, I like the Elder Scroll games because you can do whatever the hell you want in them. I also hate the Elder Scroll games because they’re so absolutely non-linear that I never remember what the main quest is after I’ve decided to become an assassin, who specializes in real estate and being a traveling merchant.

Daggerfall remains one of my favorite games of all time, if not also the most frustrating because for the life of me, I have no clue what the hell I was supposed to do in that game.


Star Wars Kinect

Yes, I need an excuse to purchase the Kinect. Having my avatar wield a light saber with my movements would be that excuse.

X-Men Destiny

This is kinda a cool concept where you customize your character, decide if you want to go X-Men or Brotherhood and it’s written by X-Men Legacy writer Mike Carey. Obviously, not like Marvel Alliance where you pick up any character but it gives the idea of growing your mutant into a team and making your own storyline. Intriguing of course so I think it’ll be something this site will follow for the months to come.

Now, to the Things I Really Want to See…

In this order: 

Battlefield 3

I love Battlefield all the way back to the 1942 days. There’s something about mass chaos and being able to fly, drive, shoot, or snipe your way to glory. The battle also made me pee my pants a bit. I normally do not play a lot of FPS (I think Halo is overrated to be honest) but sometimes you just need to jump into a game and just go nuts. Plus it honestly looks like the most amazing thing I’ve seen in awhile. Or at least until the end of this conference. It’s a long trailer but considering it’s all gameplay, you better take a look at this.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

It’s freakin’ Zelda. Why the hell should I explain why you should be excited for this game? One more reason? Okay, with the new Wii motion plus, you can actually control where the sword strikes, hits, swings very accurately. Hold the sword to the right, Link will hold it ready to the right. Hold it back to charge, guess what? You just charged your sword. Again, this is stupid why I have to explain, because it’s FRIGGIN’ ZELDA.

Batman: Arkham City

A terrific game gets a sequel, and I know it’s be covered ad nauseam by us, with reveals of Catwoman and trailers and such, and it will only continue to grow as we inch closer to October. The first game was terrific and actually gets me to tell the story of Dr. Kronner’s first attempt with the game. He was on the rafters and was ready to swoop down to take out the bad guy. So he does his Batman glide down and you can see Kronner’s eyes light up as he has taken control of his boyhood hero, and is about to make his first victim feel the wrath of the Dark Knight. About 3/4 of his dive down on top of the victim, I noticed that his line was a bit off and that he was going to miss horribly so my eyes started to widen with glee. Kronner lands in front of the bad guy. Shot in the face. Dead. One of my favorite video game moments ever. Regardless of first try follies, I know he loves this game, I love this game, you love this game, and that most likely means you’re going to love the follow-up.


Contra is possibly one of my favorite games of all time. It’s also one of the most frustrating games ever this side of the first Battletoads (more specifically the speed bike stage, I mean C’MON).

So imagine my excitement that they are bringing it back. I mean, yeah, they brought it back once before for the Playstation and that blew ass, but it’s Contra.

If they go back to what made the originals awesome, we will have zero issues here.

So here’s the Gamespot link, because there’s no big news on it as of yet. I’m sure however, we’ll have good stuff to deliver by the end of this week…

Mass Effect 3

I love the Mass Effect series and it’s been one of the most engrossing games I’ve ever played. Plus, to actually carry your character over from the first game all the way to the last game without having to start new characters and stat distributions is genius. They have had the best storytelling and character development I have seen in games and it’s not surprising considering that Bioware, responsible for the Knights of the Old Republic series, is behind this effort. This is the last game of this trilogy and I cannot wait. Now if the combat system can finally be fixed…


The next first person shooter from ‘id software’, responsible for Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake? Yeah okay, I’m in. They always push the envelope on what to expect from shooters, but let’s be honest, when Half-Lifecame out, we began to look at Valve as the best FPS developer out there. But enough time has passed for id to reclaim the throne. I believe they have a great shot with this game. Check the trailer and judge for yourself.

Gears of War 3

Dear God yes. I love these games and it has the best co-op I ever played in my life (sorry River City Ransom). This game series really put me on edge while playing it, just like seeing the first bezserker in the first game to having bunches of fun on top of the giant riding things (my research is impeccable). Having one of the best single player campaigns ever really works in your favor but like I said, it’s all about the co-op. I think my old roommate and myself played through the first Gears 5 times on different difficulty levels and the second one 4 times just because it was that damn fun. So yeah, I’m pumped for this one and can’t wait to finish this trilogy off.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

We’ve mentioned Bioware before, and how awesome they are right? They did Mass Effect, Dragon Age, even the oldie but goodie Balder’s Gate. Well, they also did Knights of the Old Republic. They basically were in the golden age of Star Wars games with their RPG, and the FPS Jedi Knight series (which was AWESOME for multiplayer) and guess what? They are going back to Star Wars with this online game.

Now, let me get this straight, Galaxies was cool then sucked pretty fast. The outset was great, but the more you played the game, it made you miss being jedi because you had to be “chosen” in order to accomplish that feat. Instead I was a sniper killing farm animals while Kronner’s Wookie charged in with a giant hammer. Try doing that for 2 months straight. Regardless, if anyone was going to revive the series, Bioware was the right pick.

Check it out : HERE

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Yeah, another game I’ve pretty much talked about a lot.

So I’ll just post a new gameplay trailer, reiterate that Infinity Ward is behind it and they are better than Treyarch as a developer, and it’s full of pure awesomeness. That is all.

Wii 2/Project Cafe

Oh yeah. This is coming out. Touchpad controller? More powerful than 360 and PS3? HD? A callback to hardcore gamers instead of soccer moms? Well, I want this system. I’m watching the Nintendo conference as we speak so expect a report and that’s why I made this one last. Because I’m pretty sure that this will change gaming. Again. Like the last time. Sort of. Please don’t let me down Nintendo.


So that’s what I got. And I’ll be doing updates throughout the week. Especially after the Nintendo presser…happy gaming people.