More Audio Commentary in Video Games

PortalI wouldn’t necessarily call myself an audio commentary guy, really, but there have been a few times where listening to audio commentary for movies has greatly enhanced my appreciation of the film. Aliens, for instance, is pretty spectacular to listen to, even though James Cameron can be a douche at times. Likewise, Serenity’s commentary track with Joss Whedon is a must-hear, as well as anything with Bruce Campbell in it.

The concept of audio commentary in video games is a relatively new one, and not something I hear about too often. I know that Valve included audio commentary as part of the Orange Box, specifically Portal, which was a fascinating endeavor to me. I recently saw this list of 5 games we wish had audio commentary on GamesRadar, and it got me thinking about this whole subject.

So what do you guys? Do you want audio commentary for some of your favorite games? What games do you want it for? Personally, I would love to hear audio commentary for the first MGS game, Super Mario 64, and Beyond Good and Evil. Go!

Source- GamesRadar

Today’s WTF: Bungie Joins Forces With Activision?

acti-bungieIf there ever was a sign of the coming apocalypse, I’m sure it would be notoriously evil publisher Activison-Blizzard snapping up Bungie Studios, creators of such renowned franchise as Halo, Marathon and Myth. Well, “snapping up” is technically incorrect, as Bungie has entered into a ten-year publishing agreement with Activision but are retaining their autonomy.

This is different from Infinity Ward’s situation, as they were a wholly owned subsidiary, so conspiracy theorists can lay that one to rest. The fact of the matter is that Bungie is an extremely strong studio, whereas Infinity Ward was a struggling start-up when they were taken over by Activision. Besides, Bungie retains control over any Intellectual Properties they develop under this agreement. While pressure from the publisher can lead to complications, chances are Bungie will invest all their man-power into this new game after they finish development of Halo: Reach.

After Bungie parted ways with Microsoft in 2007, they were contractually obligated to ship one more Halo game before pursuing other interests. This is a big coup for Activision, who just recently lost a lot of talented staff from Call of Duty development house Infinity Ward, and may stand to lose a lot more than that.

What do you guys think of this development? Eager to see what Bungie produces after Reach? Are you PS3 owners excited at the prospect of having Bungie develop for your console? Will the average consumer even notice a difference?

Source: Gamasutra

Analyst Predicts Closure of Infinity Ward

closedI honestly can’t remember the last time that we’ve videogame industry drama on the scale that we have been seeing lately with Activision and Infinity Ward. If you’ve somehow missed out on all the craziness: several weeks ago, studio heads Zampella and West of Infinity Ward were Order 66’d. Some crazy allegations launched out from both Activision and Zampella and West, who went on to start Respawn, which was then bought up by EA.

In the wake of this insanity, many employees of IW have been jumping ship, with some of them going to join Respawn with their former bosses. In addition to that, some employees have filed a lawsuit against Activision, claiming that hundreds of millions in royalties were owed. Add to that the fact that yesterday, Activision Publishing President and CEO Mike Griffith is stepping down from his post, and you have quite the poostorm going on.

Naturally, this has lead to some concerns about the future of Infinity Ward in the hands of Activision, and now industry analyst Mike Hickey is predicting that the studio will close after the next map pack is released. According to big Mike:

We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise.

And there you have it. While this is just an analyst’s prediction, and to be taken with a grain of salt, it definitely rings true with what some have no doubt thought about. So what do you guys think of this whole drama? Even though I’m sure that there is much wrong on both sides of the camp, all of this stuff really makes Activision look pretty bad, and like they squandered their golden goose.

Source- Gamasutra

Great Moments In Video Game Music: Chrono Cross – Dream of the Shore Near Another World

I thought I would do a random post about a song I listen to at least once a week and I will do other posts with other great songs at intermittent intervals.

This is from Chrono Cross, the “sequel” to Chrono Trigger that appeared on the PS 1 back in 2000. A great RPG that got pooped on (even by me) for derailing Chrono Trigger’s story, but one aspect that held up over time was the music, this track in particular. The mournful, melancholy drone can make even the most jaded weep and the most superficial suddenly finding themselves contemplating the complexities of the universe.



Review: Splinter Cell: Conviction

splinter cell
Splinter Cell: Conviction is one of those games that was very close to never seeing the light of day. Originally due back in 2007, the game was put in to numerous holds and has gone through several revisions. Many of you probably remember the earliest demos of the game which depicted a scraggly, bearded Sam Fisher slipping through crowds and knocking out cops. This version of Conviction, affectionately called “Hobo Fights” by some due to Sam’s unkempt appearance, eventually got canceled but had some of its innovations make it into Assassins’ Creed (blending in to crowds, and the like).

Against all odds, the Splinter Cell franchise has returned to the gaming scene, but with a few changes. Gone is Sam’s transient-inspired appearance and the notion of mixing with the public; Conviction now features a Sam Fishers out for revenge, trimmed up and ready to fight. But after so many delays, does the game feel like a finished product, or is it spreading itself too thin?
Continue reading Review: Splinter Cell: Conviction

Today’s WTF: 14 People Still Playing Halo 2

Halo 2 XBLThis is one for the history books, folks. On April 15, Microsoft said bon voyage to the old XBox Live, sending it away into that soft, tranquil night. Or on a boat in a waterfall, like Boromir’s arrow-riddled corpse in Lord of the Rings (spoiler alert). Anyway, they said bye to the old XBL, discontinuing support for original XBox games, including Halo 2.

However, there are some refusing to let this die. You see, there are 14 diligent fans that are continuing to play Halo 2, leaving their consoles up and running, connected to the old XBL. That’s right. 14 people in the entire world, and they say they are not stopping any time soon. There are actually several livestreams broadcasting a few of these last games, flickers of a game that won’t go quietly into that good night.

Here are the gamertags:
Agent Windex
sherlok 1
z0mbie stench
Lord Odysseus11
H2o Shoagie
xxBooker Dxx

While I think the idea of playing a game that old for that long is ridiculous, you have to admire these guys’ commitment to this game. So what do you guys think? Worthy of salute, or mockery? Go!

Source- Bungie Forums

A New GamerSushi Feature Approaches, Send Us Your Questions and Topics!

As you guys know, we here at GamerSushi are all about community, and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good back and forth going. How it’s been working so far, though, is that we pose questions to you guys in the form of posts and features, and then you tell us what you think. We have thought about mixing this up a little, and for an upcoming feature, we’d like you guys to ask us the questions or give us topics you’d like to hear us discuss.

It’s simple enough, just drop your suggestions in the comments, and we’ll pick a few and have the GS staff riff on them for a bit. Any ones we don’t get to this time around, we’ll go over in the next installment. Try to keep it video game related, and fire away!

Supreme Court to Rule on Violent Games

Supreme CourtCalifornia’s law banning the sale of violent video games to minors was thrown out by a court of appeals and now it appears to be heading via warp zone to the final stage: The Supreme Court.

With this comes the usual debate about games and free speech, the responsibilities of parents and so forth. Personally, I think it’s up to parents and game stores to self-regulate, but what do I know?

I also don’t think the Supreme Court, which last week asked, “What’s the difference between an e-mail and a page?” is going to see the gamer side of this issue, but that won’t stop me from asking: where do you stand on this hot-button issue?

Source: Yahoo News

GamerSushi Asks: Most Anticipated Titles?

I know we’ve asked this question a few times before, but that was before the bevy of games that we were blasted with over the last few months. Plus, I like polls, so shutup. They rule.

As we all know, the last few months for our hobby have kind of ruled pretty hard. I’m still in the throes of chugging through Final Fantasy XIII at the moment (50 hours in!), and I think I’m finally getting towards the end. And honestly, I can’t wait either, because then I’m going to hop into Splinter Cell: Conviction and the Halo: Reach beta next week like they stole something from me.

Anyway, I thought I’d take the time to ask what you guys are excited about that’s on the docket for 2010 or early 2011. What games are you still really looking forward to, now that a lot of the big ones are freshly out of the way? Vote and tell us what you think in the comments.

What is your most anticipated unreleased game?

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Games That Withstand Time

Legend of ZeldaYou’re feeling restless. You want to play some video games, but you’re not really in the mood for anything that you’ve been playing recently. Try as you might to entertain yourself, nothing seems to get the job done. Suddenly, you get the idea to put in an old favorite, something you haven’t been back to in quite some time and haven’t had the heart to sell. You put it in, get excited as the old familiar screens pop up. Within a few minutes, though, you notice something. The magic is gone. This game doesn’t feel nearly as great as it did all those years ago. Wtf?

I don’t know if that’s happened to you, but it’s happened to me on more than one occasion. As sad as it is to admit, there are plenty of games that don’t withstand the most inscrutable of all tests: time. Whether it’s because they were overhyped pieces of junk to begin with, or our tastes have matured, or other games have done it better, there are any number of reasons that certain old school titles don’t tickle our fancies they way they used to.
Continue reading Games That Withstand Time

SEGA West Restructures, Focuses on Downloadable Titles

segaTimes are still tough, and the pinch of the economy has been especially hard on the video game industry. Unless a studio’s game has broken sales records world-wide, chances are they’ve had to let at least some part of their work force go (well, except for Infinity Ward, but that’s another story).

SEGA West is the latest company to feel the squeeze, and as such, they’ve chosen to reformat to focus on smaller-scale downloadable titles. Unfortunately, downsizing also means redundancy, so 73 people from SEGA have lost their jobs. Although SEGA West President Mike Hayes is adamant that this move is solely an initiative taken by the high-ups in the Western branches, SEGA’s parent company recently went on record with their concerns over lack-luster North American sales.

At any rate, Hayes’ section of SEGA is now focusing on the downloadable market place. Mr. Hayes mentioned that, with the performance of Super Monkey Ball on the iPhone and the upcoming release of Sonic 4, they’ve seen great feed back with regards to the re-inventing of existing intellectual properties. He goes on to say that, with the resurgence of popular SEGA IPs, the challenge is to do more than just reinvent familiar brands. He does mention that the company expects to make some new IP announcements in the coming months.

With the iPad seeing a global launch in the next few weeks, this is also a brand new market for game companies to spread into, and SEGA West is excited about the opportunities offered by the device. What do you guys think of this new move by SEGA? It sucks that people had to lose their jobs, but SEGA is a business, and they have to stay afloat. With Sonic 4 still in production, do you think they’re putting all their eggs in one basket?

Source: Industry Gamers

Earth Day: Gaming’s Greenest Characters

As you may or may not know, today is Earth Day, the day which we honor the great sacrifices of the Na’vi, who protected us from the metal mechwarriors that came after our hard-to-come-by-rillium. Wait, I think I got confused somewhere in the first sentence.

Joking aside, Earth Day is a day that exists to instill awareness about conservation and appreciation of the Earth’s environment. So I figured, what better way to celebrate this as gamers than to put together a list of the most eco-friendly videogame dudes. These characters range from martyrs to environmental protectors, and cover a broad spectrum of genres to boot.

So, who are gaming’s greenest characters? Find out below.
Continue reading Earth Day: Gaming’s Greenest Characters

Everybody’s Played Halo: Reach But Us

Halo ReachI seriously can’t tell you guys how much I’m anxiously awaiting the beta for Halo: Reach, hitting on May 3rd. When that glorious day rolls around, I’ll be a zombie, doing nothing but thinking, eating, and sleeping in a way that is pleasing to the Master Chief. I would consider it no great secret that something about Halo multiplayer hits a special sweet spot for my competitive gaming tastes, and I can’t wait to jump back into it. Honestly, it’s almost like Christmas for me.

Complete fanboy antics aside, an embargo finally lifted on the preview that lots of major gaming sites got to experience with the game. As a result, everybody and their mom that got to play Halo: Reach is finally able to write about it, shedding some light on the details about the game’s multiplayer and how it is going to feel in our nerdy clammy hands.

I think the most interesting write-up I read about the beta would be from Kotaku, who gave a great run down of some of the multiplayer features. The things I’ve read both excite and concern me. Right now, the pros are: class-based weapon and equipment load-outs, fall damage, no dual wielding. Cons: jetpacks for everyone that chooses the loadout and the new armor lock ability, which seems to combine trip mines, EMPs, and bubble shields into one.

Anyway, if you’re even mildly interested in the Reach beta, I’d highly recommend checking out some of the previews of the multiplayer that are dropping all over the net. So, how do you guys feel about Halo: Reach? Excited or meh? Go!

Source- Kotaku

Marvel vs Capcom 3 Trailer Tears It Up

If there are two demographics that are always open to crossovers, it’s comic book nerds and video game geeks. Honestly, growing up, if I saw that Batman and Spider-Man were appearing in the same book, I would pick that junk up post-haste. Same thing with video games. Super Smash Bros Brawl is probably one of my favorite party-fighters of all time simply because it allows you to play as either Sonic or Solid Snake.

Naturally, I’m a huge fan of Capcom’s crossover fighter series featuring the mighty Marvel heroes. Even though I routinely get my butt handed to me whenever I try to play it, I just can’t deny that having Ryu on the same team as Wolverine is incredibly awesome.

What do you guys think of the trailer? Very stylish, and there’s plenty of tantalizing silhouettes for us to puzzle over. I think I see Deadpool in one of the backgrounds. Anyways, what do you guys think? Excited for this game to drop next Spring? What combatants do you want to see slug it out?

Missing: Good Bad Guys

GladosA hero is only as good as his villain, or at least that’s what they say. But when you think about the old saying, there really is a lot of truth to it. I think when it comes to movies, novels, games, the stories that stick out to me most are the ones with a really great antagonist. It seems like these days, we don’t quite get as many of those in our gaming stories. But why is that?

Greg Kasavin, a producer for 2K Games, offers up a great article looking into the idea of Proper Villainy in gaming. He theorizes that one of the main reasons that we don’t see very many great bad guys (he cites Bioshock, Super Mario Bros, Portal, and Legacy of Kain as prime examples) these days is in large part due to game design. It is hard to develop great antagonists simply because players will have to kill them on their first encounter, and it would be cheap and/or cheesy to have them always escaping in the nick of time. I think the man has a great point to be sure, especially when he points out that the most memorable bad guys this generation tend to be ever-present but unreachable dudes, like Glados, Andrew Ryan or Joker in Batman: Arkham Asylum.

It’s definitely a fascinating read, and an issue I’ve been thinking about more and more. So many games these days don’t have well defined antagonists, and it really is a shame. What do you guys think? Who are some of your favorite bad guys in gaming?

Source- Kasavin

3D Dot Game Heroes Brings The Nostalgia

In case you were not aware, 3D Dot Game Heroes, a PS3 exclusive due to be released in May, brings a love and reverence to 8-bit classics. Indeed, the entire game seems like a homage/rip-off of the the original Legend of Zelda. Despite that, viewed in the proper context, it seems to be really awesome and is garnering some decent reviews.

GamesRadar has an awesome preview of some of the loading screens, which are old NES and SNES box covers, as seen through the lens of 3D Dot Game Heroes. Follow this link and check it out!

Source: GamesRadar

Today’s WTF: StarCraft II Lands an “Adult-Only” Rating in South Korea

leaf graphicI think if we tallied up the amount of “WTF” posts we’ve done on GamerSushi, I would imagine that StaCraft II would probably walk away with the proverbial crown of shame. Whether you’re paying for the game in three easy installments, or losing out on LAN gaming, Blizzard’s “it will get here eventually” game is building up a lot of strange press.

I think that this newest piece of SC2-related news might take the cake, though. If there’s one country in the world that loves themselves some StarCraft, it’s South Korea. Honestly, your country has to love a game for the developer to reveal the trailer for one of the most hotly anticipated titles in recent history there. StarCraft is a national pastime in Korea, but it looks like the sequel might not make it to that status.

The Korean Ratings Board has slapped the sci-fi RTS with an Adults-Only rating, citing violence, foul language and depiction of drug use as the reasons. Honestly, how violent is this game going to get? Typically, Real Time Strategy games are played from a top-down perspective, so I can’t image the gameplay being too over the top. Perhaps the game’s cut-scenes are to blame?

How do you guys feel about this? Is the anyone out there playing the Beta that might be able to comment on the violence issue?

Source: 1up

What’s Your Favorite Release This Year?

Today, Nick and I were chatting during Web Zeroes filming (or rather, after, while I was level grinding in Final Fantasy XIII), and we got to talking about how great of an opening 4 month stretch we’ve had so far in 2010. With some excellent releases, this could be maybe best first quarter I can remember in gaming.

There are any number of titles so far that can be game of the year candidates, and that’s not even mentioning some of the great games that will be coming out later in the year. Since our last poll was so successful, we thought we’d try our hands at another. So far, my favorite game of the year is Mass Effect 2, though Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Final Fantasy XIII are the next two in line. I’ve never quite played another game like ME2, and I think it might stand as my game of the year when the year is said and done.

What is your favorite game of 2010 so far?

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Vote away, and chat about your answer in the comments.

GamerSushi Review: God of War III

The God of War franchise has become the premier beat-em-up in the eyes of many gamers, with its super-tight controls, stunning visuals and excessive brutality. God of War and God of War II on the PS2 were massive successes, both critically and commercially and Sony’s Santa Monica studios has pulled out all the stops to finish the series off in style.

The story of the game is simple and complex, oddly enough. Basically, Kratos has declared war on the pantheon of Greek gods, with his eye on Zeus, in particular. The bulk of the game is Kratos traveling from place to place, wiping out a god here, a demi-god there and acquiring whatever magical item is needed to help him succeed in his quest. The part where things get complex is that much of the game hearkens back to the first two games and even the PSP entry. It’s not a big problem because the game describes what you need to know through gorgeously animated scenes, but I was struggling to figure out opening Pandora’s Box in the first game was affecting events in this one. A minor quibble, however.

The controls, as ever are responsive and you always feel like Kratos is doing exactly what you want him to. The platforming sections are rare, which is good because Kratos’s boots were not made for jumping. The combat, though, is second to none. Each weapon Kratos has (you get four by the end of the game) has its own combo system and feel and upgrading these and then performing the new combos you unlock is extremely satisfying.  Each weapon also comes with a magical ability and in addition to that, you have items that you use, such as the Head of Helios, which lights up dark areas and uncovers secret chambers. In short, Kratos has a ton of options at his disposal.

Which is very handy when dealing with the tons of enemies the game throws at you. It’s difficult to count when you are fighting for your life, but there were over 30 enemies onscreen at one point and the game didn’t even seem to notice, as there was no slowdown at all. There was one battle where I was fighting 6 giant cyclops and literally all hell was breaking loose and the game chugged along perfectly. This is a highly polished and beautiful game.

One thing I want to mention is that there is enough variety in enemies that I never felt like I was getting bored or slogging through it. The game will introduce a new enemy and once you get the hang of it, either throw a ton of them at you or combine them others. Gorgons too easy? Try fighting them with a chimera backing them up. These types of things make the game challenging and fresh.

A lot is said about the Quick Time Events and I feel like I would be remiss if I did not address this: I love them. See, when you beat an enemy down, an option appears to start the QTE. You can ignore this and finish the enemy off with normal attacks or you can watch a brutal kill that will grant you extra experience. Personally, I never get tired of watching them and I often exclaimed out loud how how disgusting many of them were. From ripping out eyeballs to disemboweling Titans, Kratos shows no mercy to anyone during the course of his journey.

The game should last you anywhere from 8-10 hours and there are bonus modes to play once you finish it, in addition to hidden items that grant you bonuses on a second playthrough, such as unlimited health or magic power. These turn the game into God Mode and while I don’t care that sort of thing, it does give you the chance to play the game without fear of dying, so I guess it’s good for trying new things.

Gorgeous graphics, sick gameplay and an epic story that slices its way through Greek mythology? I couldn’t sign up for this fast enough. God of War III showcases what the PS3 is capable of and if you have one, you have to play it.

GamerSushi Score:


GamerSushi Asks: What Are You Playing?

FF13You know the drill, fools. Every now and then we just want to check in, find out what everybody is playing, and maybe even compare notes on some new games. Let’s do it.

Right now, I’ve been totally swamped with writing stuff, but when I’ve had a chance to play some video games, I’m most playing Final Fantasy XIII. I’m about 35 hours into it now, which means I’m only about 5 hours past the point when the real game starts. Sadly, the game has about a 30 hour entrance fee before you are trained up good and proper. That being said, I love it and I’m having a blast with it. Just… dang, 30 hours Square? Oh well. I probably won’t even care now that I’m to the really fun stuff.

Whenever I’m not doing that, I dip my toes into the multiplayer for Battlefield: Bad Company 2, which is still just as much fun as when it came out. Hopefully, I can finish up FF13 in the near future and pick up either Splinter Cell: Conviction (hearing great things) and/or 3D Dot Game Heroes for the PS3.

Has anyone played any of these games mentioned? Thoughts so far? What are you guys playing? Go!