Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hey look, my chair!

Actually, in a moment of great sadness, my gaming chair broke in half a few days ago. It survived me sitting on it for many years, made it through a move from one house to another, only to be snapped in twain as I recoiled in abject horror from the bull shit Castlevania occasionally comes up with. That's right, I blame Gabriel Belmont for breaking my chair, and I will have revenge! Justice! Something!

Or I will go back to complaining about his strange game. Castlevania finally started looking like Castlevania last night: environments have become suitably gothic and well known enemies like skeletons and knights with giant axes have started to show up. It certainly took a long time to get there, though. If I had to kill one more werewolf I was going to give up and wait for the moon to stop being full so I could massacre them in their puny human forms. Vampires have finally made their debut and they appear to be blissfully ignorant of the current styles of their kind. They forgo shiny-ness and coy looks and perfect hair to looking like the monsters they are and kicking you ass. I hope Dracula, at least, is a classy chap, if he even shows up this game.

My biggest remaining complaint revolves around something that has been haunting fast paced 3D action games since the first Devil May Cry: what do you with the controls when the camera view shifts? Castlevania is constantly choosing how you see the world. It knows what its best sides are and is going to make damn sure you see them. This also leads to rapid shifts in point of view that literally reverse up and down or left and right. At some point the choice was made to keep the controls relative to the previous camera angle until you let off the analog stick, then it snaps back to the new one. I don't like it now and I didn't like it when Capcom did it then. There are two possible solutions: give me control of the camera (which would require putting more thought into the level is designed) or not using drastic jumps in point of view. Neither is really a good answer, but I know it is possible to do. I don't remember this being a problem with Bayonetta or the most recent DmC. Bayonetta's camera always made sure her ass was in full view and DmC just had big open areas to fight in.

I suppose I could chalk this up to inexperience on the part of MercurySteam, whose previous games were Scrapland (which no one played) and Jericho (which was shit), but they had the assistance of Kojima Productions on this, so no dice.

Which makes me wonder where the rest of the cut scenes are.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Boo, working for a living, boo

I just spent over fifteen hours working in a casino and never saw the gambling floor. It was torture, things are not done yet, and I am still here. I have to do it again tomorrow.

I meant to spent the evening talking about the best things that I played this year, but it is just not going to happen. Right now everything sucks.

Even more than usual.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho Ho Horse shit

It's the evening of Christmas day and my extended family is gone. Everyone else who lives here has either gone to bed or retired to their rooms. I have a pretty good sized bowl of leftover cranberry sauce and there is deep fried turkey in the fridge. In spite of all of this I am not happy. Why? Because the only game I have to play right now is Castlevania, and I do not want to jump back into it.

I checked the metacritic scores and I have no idea what game these people were playing. It is a linear game and I have no problem with that; it is how to original Castlevania's were and it worked well. What I do not like are items hidden in the linear yet somehow confusingly laid out levels that you cannot get on the first time through. Even if you acquire the appropriate ability or item through the course of the level and inadvertently take one step to far the level ends and the only is to play the entire thing a second time. Of course the second time is not just a replay, it is more difficult and there are additional challenges. This smacks of bull shit, as the only thing is does (besides really piss me off) is pad out what already appears to be a really long game. Going back through a level to retrieve the one missed health upgrade is bad enough, but making it more difficult the second time is just silly.

About the only thing nice I have to say at this point is that Patrick Stewart once again proves that he can do just about anything that he wants to do. This is not the first time he attempted voice acting, and he brief outing as Emperor Septim was also quite good. I do wonder if he actually needs the money or if there just aren't any roles for an ex-captain of the Enterprise.

Oh wait, there are:

Friday, December 24, 2010

New - Old, Old - New

There is something wonderfully satisfying about seeing you gaming setup broken down, put into boxes, then resurrected three days later in a lightly larger basement with a hardwired internet connection. I set up my Xbox as a Windows Media Extender just to see it test the bandwidth to my server and was delighted to find that I can stream whatever I damn well please. My PS3 had a similar experience, yet it still took the thing twenty minutes to apply a system update. It's like the thing doesn't want me to like it.

Enough about my new gaming cave, more about what happens in it. I inaugurated the set up by finally playing Castlevania Lords of Shadow. After the first few hours I have to say that I am disappointed. It didn't feel like a Castlevania, just like yet another God of War clone. It looked good, but there was so much detail and the camera was so far back that I often lost track of the hero and what I was supposed to be doing with him. The last straw came when I was killed for the third time in a row by a colossus directly out of Shadow of Colossus. I will never fault a game for relying on the success of previous titles for ideas; there just aren't many new ideas in the world of gaming to be had. Castlevania, though, has such a history that it would have been better to pull from its own progeny then go rooting around in other genres' graveyards.  There has still not been a high definition sequel to Symphony of the Night, something that the universe at large needs to answer for.

Santa, if you are out there, I have a bottle Chimay Grand Reserve that I will split with you if you can make this happen. We can get nice and toasty before you head out to deliver another sleigh full of Wiis that will get used for a week and then never again.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It is done

I have just pulled Cat 5E cable through two stories of duct work to with the only casualty being a slightly larger than expected hole on in a duct and a bit of drywall dust.

This had better have been worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Boxed expectations

Rock of the Dead lost track of making fun of its own terribleness and just ended up being terrible in the end. Someone realized that that they had put together a five hour game and panicked. Instead of making more game, which there was no time, money or talent for, they just made you do everything twice. Now Neil Patrick Harris is funny, and him voicing the un-named rocker dude is part of what made things bearable, but even he gets old after a while. Which reminds me, why haven't we seen a Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Video Game yet, or at least a track or two end up in Rock Band?

Things are going to be thin for a few days, as all of my shit is in boxes and all I have left is my computer (which means I played Poker Night at the Inventory until I got bored with it and remembered that I hadn't written anything today). I looked at the Steam sale and nothing caught my eye, then I looked at my Steam library and here is one game that I bought during last years sale that I haven't played yet, another that I tried and failed at, and a third that I have started at least twice and never got through. On the third, The Witcher, actually weighs heavy on my mind. It was a good game and I do not know why I have never gotten past the first chapter. PC games always seem to take a back seat to the endless tide of so so console titles, and that just isn't fair.

On that note it is time to start thinking about the best games I played this year. Amnesia is certainly high on the list, but it is difficult to compare a relatively low budget little title to gigantic releases like Red Dead Redemption. I will need to find a way to segregate these things, best big and best little and best that I never got around to playing. Castlevania is on its way and I fear it will arrive while I am between houses, or worse yet after I arrived to find that my new UVerse wireless just won't reach my man cave in the basement.

Pulling cable sucks, but sometimes it is the only option.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's all in the presentation

Just last week I heaped a great deal of scorn upon Power Gig. It was terrible, to be sure, but what made it even worse is that it tried so very hard to pretend it wasn't terrible that I felt like the game was patronizing me. Last night I started Rock of the Dead, another terrible almost music game. Think about the Typing of the Dead, replace a keyboard with a guitar, and that is the whole game. It's awful, but I played it for two hours last night and enjoyed every minute of it. Why? Because it was so self aware that it managed to poke fun an itself with surprisingly good writing.  I laughed out loud several times, which a lot coming from a game.

Is it bad. Of course it is, but it isn't pretending not to be. A Rob Zombie soundtrack never hurts either. Shit, it almost made Way of the Warrior bearable. Almost.



Man. I paid money for that.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The ends never justify

One of the nice things about playing games months after everyone else does is that I can spoil the shit out of the endings and no one cares. Still, be warned, I am going to now going to complain about how a terrible ending can sully the memories of what had been up to that point an excellent game.

Mob stories usually don't have happy endings. Since Vito had already done his stint in the hole fending off butt pirates I was pretty sure he was going to die. He started vouched for a rat, started a gang war, dealt drugs, killed an underboss, then lied about the whole thing to everyone who would listen. Side note: Vito was never a sympathetic character. He was never portrayed as having fallen into the lifestyle or resorting to crime out of desperation. He was a mobster because he wanted to be a mobster, and even he realized that it was about time to pay the piper. To set up the final mission Vito's friend from prison comes back and give him more chance to redeem himself: kill an opposing Don. He's been killing people for worse reasons for years, why stop now?

What follows is a pretty good climactic fight in which many, many men in suits die. Barring one blind stairwell where I fell victim to an out of nowhere grenade (several times) it was a lot of fun. Vito gets to the Don and is about to kill him when his best friend, who he has saved on several occasions, drops out of the shadows and sticks a gun in his back. They talk, make plans, nearly make out, then start killing everyone in the room. Good times. Vito and Joe escape, are escorted into separate limos by the opposing family and ride off into the sunset, or cat house, whichever they come across first.

Except it doesn't end there. Joe's limo splits off and Vito asks what is going on.

'Joe wasn't part of the deal.'

So Joe is going to die. And what does Vito do? Nothing. He is armed to the teeth with no one in his way but a frail old man and some dumb muscle in t e front of the car. He has killed hundreds of made men with relative ease but decides that enough is enough and lets Joe die, probably by being beaten to a bloody pulp with bats and dropped into a hole like Joe Pesci in Casino. Bullshit, I say, bullshit. It would have been better to have killed them both then set up this betrayal. Maye this was more realistic (not being a mobster, I wouldn't know) but it still does not make for a satisfying ending. Now instead of all the good things all I will remember about Mafia II is how the screwed up the ending. And to think I almost downloaded the DLC missions.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Breaking worlds

Allegiances shift quickly in Mafia II. First I am buying drugs from a Chinese gang then they are hacking one of my crew to death in broad daylight. The guy that they sliced up was a good friend, he let someone he was supposed to kill go just because the main character asked him, but he was also an undercover federal agent, or so the Chinese boss said before he died. Suddenly Vito owes a mafia loan shark something like $27,000, so he goes to another boss to earn some money, only to kill him and everyone who works for him after finding out the boss killed his father. Keeping up? You are doing better than I am. It feels like Goodfellas in a blender, but it is still fun. Thing are about to open up, as I still need to come up with a few more thousand dollars, mostly because I want to keep my elbows from being bent the wrong way, and the only way to earn money that quick is to resort to petty burglary. I held up a gun store and the cashier whipped out a shotgun. It did not go so well for him. I held up a diner and some customers pulled out pistols and started shooting. It didn't go so well for them either. The entire city appears to be packing heat, but they all have terrible aim

Mafia II has done such a good job crafting a believable world that these little breakdowns become much more noticeable. I was being chased by the cops at the end of a quest, but instead of escaping them I led them to my house, shot them dead on my lawn, then walked inside and took a nap. I though about adding their car to my growing collection of pilfered classics, but taking it on a drive by just would not work very well. This was a complete failure of the semi-realistic world I had been enjoying and I almost felt guilty doing it. I had bought in to the story and setting so much that I did not want to break it. But it was still just a game and I had to go to bed, so pragmatism won against playing guns and wearing snazzy suits.

The final list of Super Street Fighter IV AE changes is out and everyone's main has been nerfed. There is a lot of bitching going on, some of it warranted and some of it silly, but we still don't even know if this is going to be made available to console users. For all we know it may be twelve months and $40 off. I have a hard time seeing it as DLC, as it would split the user base even more than the relatively quick release of Super did, but putting out even a moderately priced expansion with only two new characters in it doesn't seem right either. If they wait too long it will run into Marvel vs Capcom 3 and start cannibalizing their own market. If only the arcade scene in the US wasn't so terrible. Who am I kidding, going to an arcade means leaving the house and that just doesn't happen very often.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

30 seconds is a long damn time

Sitting at a stop light usually doesn't feel like it takes that long, mostly because there is no alternative to doing so. Sure, it might be possible depending on your vehicle to off road it around or simply go over the person in front of you, but that will most likely result in going to jail. Going to jail in real life sucks and is motivation enough to obey traffic laws. Enter Mafia II, a game that offers almost as much freedom as GTA but will punish you accordingly for abusing it. Example: it is the middle of the night and I have true drunk goodfellas in the car along with a body in the drunk that has been there long enough to start oozing through the floor boards. I obviously need to get rid if this thing and my boss (who happens to be one of the drunk guys) tells me to drive to the other end of town and drop it in a hole that he had already dug. Easy enough, but they are tons of cops around, so I have to obey all the mundane traffic laws that I would normally ignore. Sitting at a light with a cop behind me for thirty seconds was one of the most uncomfortable moments I have ever had in a game.

Almost as uncomfortable as the shower rape scene. Heyo!

I remember Mafia II be derided for its lack of freedom. It really does guide you by the hand from mission to mission, but sacrificing freedom for a better narrative makes it a better game. I am sure there will be time enough after the story is done to wander around town as a made man and extort mooks for protection money. Right now enough random things happen during the story missions to keep me occupied. It reminds me a lot of Oblivion in this way; every gaming session produces a story or two that no one else will have scene. Last night I went to another bar to retrieve another drunk friend. This time he managed to inadvertently shoot the bartender. I shoved him out into a car, dragged the body half way out into the yard, then stopped in my tracks. There was something I was forgetting, something very in character that had to be done.

I forgot to empty his cash register. Someone had to pay to clean the blood off my suit.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Into the booth

'Hey Chamberlain! I know you don't really know how to use this software, or much about IIS, and have only a passing familiarity with Server 2008, but it's super important that you get *insert product name here* working!'

That was my day. Bleh. I wish I was rich. On the other hand this puts me in the perfect mood to complain about Power Gig.

I knew that Power Gig wasn't good. All one has to do to understand this is catch a glimpse of all the unsold boxes of Power Gig bundles collecting dust right next to the Guitar Hero Aerosmith and Green Day Rock Band one. The music game genre has been tapped out; Rock Band 3 is the last hurrah. So I knew full well that Power Gig was not going to be much fun. It was only only my list because of a few songs (ok, I admit it, three Dave Matthews Band songs) that I wanted to play. I was not prepared to be assaulted with some hack designers attempts to do everything different than everything else, regardless of how much sense his decisions made or if they actually worked or not. It was an act of pixelated violence, a rape of my senses, a waste of the very plastic it was printed on. There is only one thing that can be done to atone for such a heinous act: confession.

...

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It has been, well, forever since my last confession.

The Lord forgives, my son, what burdens your conscience?


Well, I put out Power Gig, and there are quite a few things in there that are, shall we say, of questionable worth. Remember how much everyone made fun of the story in Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock? Power Gig is pretty much the same thing, only without the transformations, moderately interesting character design, or animated cut scenes. Plus I became infatuated with the word 'mojo,' so I wrote it into the script as often as possible. Mojination, uniting mojo, aligning mojo, mojo meters, you name it, I crammed the word mojo into it. I seriously though about getting Mike Meyers to do the narration, but his agent told me he was busy washing his hair and counting his money.

Many games have poor stories, my son, but that cannot be all that troubles you.


No, father, that was just the beginning. Music games have pretty much looked the same since the first Guitar Hero: colored things move down one of five lanes and you have to hit them at the right time when they get to the bottom. Why not shake things up a bit, right? So I took away the lanes, allowing my little blobs to float down the track all by themselves. Without the lanes I can highlight my terrible backgrounds and ugly stages! Never mind that it makes it very difficult to keep track of where the notes are, I am not going to give you any visual feedback when you hit then at the right time anyway. Oh, and I put the guitar track in the bottom right hand corner of the screen even when no one else is playing. I guess I just really liked by poorly animated mojified rock stars and wanted to make sure they got plenty of screen real estate.

Go on.


I didn't really put any effort in the the note layouts or sound balancing, either. I actually got a few good tracks somehow, but none of them really sound very good. They are locked behind a ridiculous 'Unite the Clans' quest mode, anyway. The only way to get people to play this for more than a few minutes is to keep the interesting stuff hidden away as long as possible, so I managed to make the career mode feel like a poorly designed RTS tech tree! That actually took time, I had to shorten a few long lunches.

Oh, and my drumless drum simulator's only purpose it to make the player look and feel like an ass.

What you have done is wrong, my son, but if you are truly repentant...


Father, I allowed the use of Rock Band of Guitar Hero guitars, but the only way to activate mojo power is to hit the back button. And if you accidentally hit the start button instead? The pause menu comes up but the track doesn't stop. It just keeps right on going under the pause menu and you miss all the notes until you unpause it.

Father? Father?

Go to hell, my son. Go to hell.

Work, work, work.

I would type more, but am swamped at work.

I would post from home, but Mafia II kicks ass and demands all of my time.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The good and the ugly, no in between

Free offerings on XBLA have had a mixed history. Dash of Destruction was shit. Aegis Wing, on the other hand, was actually pretty good. I like to think of these gratis game-lets as public proof of concept propositions. The developer has confidence that the idea will work, but no one else does, some some larger company foots the bill, slaps their own advertising all over it, and lets the public decide. I have no idea if the Aegis Wings guys every saw any money for their work or if they got jobs in the industry, but they should have. Those responsible for Dash of Destruction (or that damn Yaris game) should never be allowed to touch a video game again. This week two more freebies dropped, both thanks to a contest Doritos put together that I had never heard of. The results? Surprisingly better than quite a few games that actually cost money.

The easiest way to describe Crash Course is Wipeout the game starring your avatar. You move from left to right as quickly as possible, dodge all sorts of stuff, get to the end as fast as you can and then do it again. Simple, yes, but also quite well done. The level design is an excellent balance between twitch reactions and planing due to repeated, embarrassing failure. I am sure there are people who will do the levels over and over trying to get the best time, but I had fun just getting through them once. Controls are responsive and rarely get in the way, an important step that other platformers *cough*Little Big Planet*cough* often miss. I even appreciated the balance mechanic that keeps you from just holding down the run button all the time. If you avatar pick up too much speed he will fall forward and face plant, much like we all did as kids when running down hills that were just a bit to steep to handle safely.

'Hey this is fun! Wait, wait, OH SHIT!'

SPLAT



Good stuff. It could have used a bit more variety in both visuals and obstacles, but whoever laid this thing out has potential. Someone should give him a job.

The same can be said for Harms Way, but for different reasons. Harms Way tries to be two games: a racing game for one member of the team and a turret based shooter for the other. The racing is mediocre at best. It reminded me of everything bad from Motorstorm, so after a race and half I was done with it (which is about as long as I played the second Motorstrorm). Manning the turrets surrounding the track was much more fun that it had any right to be. On the first shot of the first lap I caught a truck right in the windshield and one shot killed the driver. After that I popped tires on his friends vehicles, unlocked mines that fell from the sky and blew the shit out of everyone else. It was a blast, managing to hold my interest through three almost identical courses. I do no know if this could be supported for an entire retail game, but I would pay the usual XBLA price for a this kind of thing spread out across ten or so different tracks with more vehicles, weapons, and fun ways to humiliate opposing driver. Concept proven, now give these guys money to make a real game.

So, free stuff can be quite good. How about a retail release that forces its way into an established, if not fading market by trying to avoid all the coat tails it can, thereby doing absolutely everything wrong?

Power Gig is aggressively bad. I will catalog its multitude of sins tomorrow, suffice now to saw that no one should play it, ever.

Ever.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Old green accomplice

It was good to spend a solid three hours with Street Fighter again last night. I was still outclassed most of the time, but then again I caused a rage quit just by choosing my main. Come on, how can you run away from this?


Yes, I have used that image before, and I will again.

In advance of his final nerfing I have decided to try out Dee Jay again. He is getting quite a few buffs in AE that makes using him a welcome alternative to my middle low tier character who is unfriendly to noobs and was therefore made worse. Again. (You want to see some salty people? Check out the Blanka boards over at SRK. Even the bug guns like Mullah are not exactly pleased with things.) We don't know when it is coming out, or if it is coming out (HA, like Capcom would pass on more free money) but it would be nice to have a actual sub that wasn't just Blanka minus the green plus some fat and with better normals. I think I understand how to zone with him a little better than I used to, as I was able to keep a Bison at bay who normally stomps me without mercy. I didn't win, but he couldn't just lk - lk - lk scissors me over and over either. I still can't do a lot of his fancy links, but Dee Jay doesn't really need them. Crossup into ducking mk is infuriating, and I will abuse it often. Add to that an invulnerable vertical wake up kick and I might have a chance at some success.

And Hat? www.afuckerwhoplaysblankaandtalksaboutgames.com is available, though a bit much to type.




Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Passing the time

Steam is a dangerous place to wander around with any spare money in your pockets. There is almost always something indie and cheap there to take up your time, and this is of course only made worse when they run their year end sales. I have no idea if the GREAT STEAM TREASURE HUNT is actually their sale in disguise. Really, I don't even care, as it has capitalized on the same metagame that achievements works on and created a very compelling reason to visit the site every two days: winning lots of free stuff. Every two days four new objectives will be revealed, most of which require that you actually own the game featured. Bullshit, you say? Hold on, so far the featured games have been ridiculously on sale. Case in point, I was not planning on purchasing Poker Night at the Inventory. It is just another poker game and, big surprise, they play exactly the same way. Then those magnificent bastards put it out there for $2.50, and while that is really not that much less then the original price, it comes in under some subconscious  monetary level, below which I will purchase just about anything.

It doesn't hurt that the game is actually pretty good. Poker is poker, but poker with Strong Bad and Tycho is something more. The only bad thing I have to say is that I do no really approve of Tycho's voice. The other characters have established, bizarre voices; Tycho is downright generic by comparison. This is most likely unavoidable when voicing a character who has never had a voice before; no matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy. As a poker game it is perfectly serviceable. Even if I play it more than once I will have gotten my monies worth, which is much more than I can say for playing real poker with people.

Can you tell than I have nothing big to play right now? I might just wander back into Torchlight tonight, and that is never a good thing for anything else that needs to be done.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nope, still don't like it

Really not a lot to say about Alien Breed 3. Is it exactly like the first two, only with some so-so water effects and this time everyone dies in the end. They scratch a very specific itch, on that almost led me to purchase the new zombie dual stick shooter on PSN: Dead Nation. More on that in a bit. The price is right and they are good for a one or two night stand. Anything past that and you would need more weapons, items, and some sort of character advancement to hold your interest. At that point you might as well play Baldurs Gate Dark Alliance or Torchlight, so Alien Breed is better off being nothing more than it is: you move, you shoot things, they die. On a few occasions it does wander off into different territory, including a very unfortunate over the shoulder section which obscured by aim so much I just shot everything regardless of how much it was or was not moving, but that was over quickly enough to be forgiven.

After Alien Breed it was finally time to give a little time to the elephant in the room, a game that was delayed so many times that I was reluctant to believe it actually existed until I saw a physical disc: Gran Turismo 5. I played the 'demo' almost a year ago, savaging it in a rather nasty review I wrote for a now defunct site. The words 'shiny and hollow' were tossed around. Everything looked so clean that it was sterile and boring with nothing about the way the game worked or played having changed from previous entries. Months and months later, the actual game has come out, and everything is still the same. Gran Turismo really is a 'driving simulator,' not a game, and I do not mean than as a positive. I took a few license tests, went through a few races, failed terribly at NASCAR school, was mildly amused by the open wheel go karts that topped out at almost 100 MPH, but I never had any fun playing it. Once I made a little money I was paralyzed by how many cars there were to choose from. There were simply too many options: do I buy a new car and if so what make? Do I start working on the current car? Do I start playing B spec, the choose your own adventure of racing games?

I probably just don't love cars enough to enjoy Gran Turismo, and when I do want to race I want it to be fast and fun, not laboriously slow. I am sure that it would get there eventually, but I have no confidence that I would actually be able to control the cars at that point. Before shutting it off I gave the Zonda supercar a shot in arcade mode and spent more time in the grass than on the track. It was a pretty good allegory for the whole experience, having spent more time updating my PS3 and installing files than actually playing the damn game. It wouldn't even uninstall without a fight, sitting there at the deleting screen for almost five minutes before giving me my system back. It was then that I wandered into the Playstation Network store and almost bought Dead Nation. I am not really sure why I didn't; perhaps I was questioning the whole owning both major systems thing, as this was the first time I had turned the thing on for months and it was another disappointment. Just as I began to doubt its worth the bluray copy of Blade Runner waved to me from across the room. It's a good thing the system only does everything, I might settle for one that does everything else otherwise.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's alive! Worst of the Year 2010

Mostly. Both URL's will work, and I do plan on freshening things up a bit, but that can wait.

I am not planning on doing a best of the year list, mostly because there are excellent games that came out this year that I have yet to play. Instead, keeping with the new 'less bitchy' theme I have adopted it will be a best games that I actually got around to playing this year. There will also of course be a fair amount of trashing, mostly because I still like to complain, so I am going to do the worst first.

It is quite difficult for me to look back over nearly twelve months of gaming and pick out the worst of the worst, primarily because I play so many terrible games. I am going to add the caveat that it has to be a game I finished, other wise I could name Divinity II and walk away feeling pretty good about my choice, or Last Rebellion which was in my PS3 for all of fifteen minutes before I had to turn it off. Had I played any more of Naughty Bear it might have taken the dishonor, but I really think there was something that went over my head with that game. It felt like there was a joke somewhere in there that I was just no getting, but I was too repulsed to bother trying to figure it out.


I am actually embarrassed to admit that I finished this game. It has precisely zero redeeming features. Fairytale Fights doesn't even get points for effort as it is clear that no one who had anything to do with the game was putting any effort into it whatsoever. As a glorified downloadable title pressed to disc and sold for an exorbitant price it offends me economically. As an action platformer is offends my hands by forcing me to bash the right analog stick in one direction over and over to attack. As someone who appreciates satire and occasional bits of low entertainment it offends my sense of humor by never once being amusing in any way. It was bloody without reason, attempting to ape Happy Tree Friends without all the wonderful awful torturous creativity involved. Difficult to look at, hear, play, or simply be in the presence of there was just no reason for Fairytale Fights to even exist.

And I played it. What does that say about me.

There were of course other disappointments this year. Alpha Protocol sounds awesome on paper (current day espionage RPG? Fuck yeah!) but just didn't work, mostly because I was rooting for the bad guys to kill the douche bag protagonist. 3D Dot Game Heroes proved once and for all that From Software and I disagree on the fundamental meaning of the word 'fun.' Lost Planet 2 missed most of the point of the first game, morphing into some kind of forced squad based shooter that wasn't much fun by yourself or with friends. Samurai Shodown SEN was the worst fighting game of the year, allowing the computer to bring a shotgun to a sword fight is never a good way to make friends.

I played 57 different retail releases this year, plus a ton of downloadable games that I do not want to catalog for fear of certain people realizing how much I spent on them. There are still 17 games from this year in my queue that will get played eventually. That's a lot of shit to troll through. Fairytale Fights, I salute you. You have topped the likes of Darkest of Days and Jurassic: The Hunted on my list of shame. But count yourself lucky, had Rise of the Six String or Rock of the Dead made in into my Xbox you may have gone from worst of the worst to just another bad game in a long series of games that have wasted my time.

...

Of course Rise of the Six String just shipped.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nothing to see here

I think I registered the infinitebacklog.com domain from Google and pointed it here, but DNS can take quite a while to propagate, so I will have no idea if it worked until tomorrow.

In the mean time I will continue to enjoy another guilty pleasure: Alien Breed 3.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An odd moment

My surviving Grandfather fought in World War II. There is not much to be gleaned from the bits and pieces of stories I have gleaned from a proud, private man, but I will say that there is a definite mystique about it, an almost automatic respect that has been ingrained for the greatest generation. This is a large part of why the original Medal of Honors worked so well: in the smallest of ways the player is stepping into the shoes of someone that fought in the last good war, if there can be such a thing. There was pride to be found there, and humility, all of which tempered the natural machismo that accompanies crushing ones enemies. The first few Medal of Honor games, along with the Call of Duty's that eventually surpassed them, were moving experiences. I am not a military man, nor do I come from a military family (my father enlisted to avoid the draft and ended up tending bar in Goose Bay, Canada. Not a bad way to not get shot in Vietnam). I've never even fired a god damn gun, much less killed a man who was intent on killing me. In spite of that the World War II setting just worked; it pulled at my sarcastic heart strings and kept me invested long after I had killed more Nazis than actually existed during the entire conflict.

This brings me to the new Medal of Honor, or CoDBLoPs, for that matter. Medal of Honor, as a game, does not hold a candle to even the last Call of Duty, stumbling on simple things like maintaining a solid frame rate and keeping me pointed in the right direction. I expected a bit more from it on the emotional side, but only because I remember the misplaced swelling in my chest that I felt when the music kicked up and I survived the final onslaught in the early Medal of Honors. It just wasn't there. It just doesn't work, and it certainly isn't for lack of trying. I am quite sure that there are men and women of equal or greater worth and fortitude that gave their lives in Afghanistan or Iraq as made the same sacrifice in France or Germany, but the difference is that I just don't care. Current military service has been so sickeningly glorified that the backlash observation is that it is just a career choice; a career choice that could get you killed, but still something that is done simply for a pay check. This is of course not true, but not nearly enough time has passed for all the bull shit to fade into obscurity and the simply service of men willing to die is left.

I mean no disrespect to people who choose to do this, but as a casual observer it simply doesn't work as fodder for interactive diversions. In this case time does not provide detachment, it provides a clouded perspective. There are probably all sorts of terrible things that soldiers did in WWII that have either been forgotten or just swept under the rug; current wars don't have that luxury. Medal of Honor tries to touch on this, with the blow hard general calling shots and getting people killed from the comfort of his cushioned Washington chair, but it still does not provide anywhere near the impact of liberating an overrun town on the outskirts of Paris.

It is probably very, very wrong to reduce events in when men die to how entertaining they are in simulation, but I make no apologies. This is the world in which we live, and when I can pretend to kill people in ever increasing detail the context in which I kill them becomes more and more important.

Name change?

After nearly a year of this I am thinking about changing the name, once I figure out how to export all the posts and settings that it.

Look for Infinite Backlog in the relatively near future. I may even buy the domain name.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

No farsi

Time to catch up. Things have been busy at work, and on top of that I (that is, we) have managed to purchase a new house and will closing on the 20th, with occupancy that very day. It's a great time to up-size, but a rotten time to sell off the old house, so I am seriously looking into becoming a slum lord and just holding on to it, wringing every drop of rent I can out of various meth heads before calling the cops in and starting over.

The Wanfest did not go well. My initial opponent never showed up. I waited until around 8:30 and then declared myself the winner. Content with things going about as well as they could, I went back to Assassins Creed, only to get an invite from my second round match. He had also won his first game and wanted to get a jump on things. No problem, I joined in and sent him an invite.

...Rufus.

Of course. The guy's gamertag was fLoE, and I think there is a high end player with that name, but I am not totally sure and I have no idea if he actually plays Rufus. Regardless of who he was, after taking the first round because he misjudged his Ultra 2 chip damage I was bodied. The second game saw me attempt to lame it out, but even that didn't help work. Every time I pushed a button I was either nailed with a jesus kick or juggled. It was just not a good time. His 'ggs' message at the end felt rather incredulous, but I will take what I can get before Blanka gets hit with the nerf bat in AE.

My opinion of Assassins Creed Brotherhood peaked a few days ago and fell back down as I played through the final two chapters. Ezio ceased being an assassin and became some sort of Conan character, replete with giant sword and magical item that killed everyone he looked at. With the stealth element gone all that was left was a mediocre hack and slash that took itself far to seriously. By the time I got to end and was back in a present day Tomb Raider rip off I was bored. Yes, the platforming worked well, but it was also very easy. I was reminded of the Price of Persia reboot (Prince of Persia: Easy Mode) and now dread the third game more than ever. If takes place entirely in the present day and stars Desmond the sleep walking assassin I will still play it, but I will complain about it he entire time.

Which is no different than normal, I suppose.

Please note that I never did play any of the multiplayer, so there may be magic on the disc that I will never see. The whole thing feels like overgrown downloadable content. At least this way I was able to play it without actually buying it.

Medal of Honor is about as generic a shooter as you will find. Not good, not bad, but missing any of the punch that made the previous Call of Duty's memorable. Here's a hint EA: calling the bad guys the taliban is not really going to raise that many eyebrows. Killing a terminal full of innocent Russians is the way to go if you are trying to shock someone. I never thought I would utter these words, but I suddenly miss shooting Nazis. Or Russians.