Video games, how I miss thee. Over the last several months, I’ve been swarmed by all kinds of things that have been taking away my gaming time. Some of these distractions fall into the realm of that general nagging living life thing (working, broken down vehicles, etc), and others are chosen (Krav Maga, personal writing).
Needless to say, I’ve been itching to play some games. When I’m not overwhelmed by these non-gaming nuisances, my time is being thrown into the following: Angry Birds and NBA 2K11. A basketball game may seem like an odd choice, but NBA 2K11 has already given me hours of sporty goodness. My brother and I have played countless games against one another, talking trash and throwing down sick jams all the meanwhile. If you’re into sports games at all, I’d suggest picking it up. On my radar are Fallout: New Vegas, Black Ops and Dead Rising 2 in the near future.
What about you guys? What are you playing this weekend and this week? Go!
The user interface is incredibly important to a person’s gaming experience, yet it often seems that this particular facet of design is either over looked or included as a last-minute thought. Even games with amazing visuals elsewhere have generic menus and head’s up displays, marring their otherwise perfect visages.
As a group, I think that gamers have gotten used to average looking UIs and we usually block them out. However, there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Fable 3 is one of those, the few and the proud. This is a game that eschews the idea of traditional menus entirely and replaces the pause screen with your Sanctuary, essentially a magical bat-cave. There’s no long, arduous trek, or even loading, just a simple press of the “start” button brings you back to your John Cleese-staffed retreat. To me, this is a masterful solution to the multitude of clothing, weapon, spell, and quest menus that cluttered up previous games of the series and similar titles in the genre. I spent a good ten to fifteen minutes looking around seeing what it offered, and I’m anticipating the options that will come along to pimp it out as the game progresses.
Continue reading User Interfaces: Which Games do Them Right?
It’s human nature that sometimes we become so stubborn about certain things that nothing can change our opinions. Video games seem to be one of the most divisive topics when it comes to people’s stances on them, second only to movies. Some people are so sure of their perception of a title that, even when the reviews come out one way or another, they turn a blind eye to them.
The most recent example I can think of is The Force Unleashed 2, which comes out today. The game is universally being panned for having repetitive gameplay, a meandering, pointless story and a short length. Should I have shifted my pre-order money onto something else? Possibly, but I’m so sure that I’ll enjoy TFU 2 that I marched resolutely into GameStop and picked that game up with pride. Sure, the clerk may have looked at me like I was crazy, his arched eyebrow saying “have you read the Internet this morning?” but I am willing to look past the reviews and try it for myself, consensus be damned.
That little rant brings us to you guys, and whether this little phenomenon has ever happened to you. Have you ever been so enraptured by a game that, for whatever reason, you choose to clamp down on the part of your brain that regulates common sense and proper spending and just buy that sucker?
Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: Ignoring Reviews
We all knew that Microsoft had deep pockets, but I would have never pegged them as the kind to go hog wild with their limitless font of cash. Apparently I was wrong in that assumption, because the software giant has pledged half a billion dollars to promote Kinect, the controller-free peripheral launching November 4 for the Xbox 360.
According to the New York Post, Microsoft began planning the multifaceted launch of Kinect almost 18 months ago with the help of Stephen Spielberg. With such a large amount of money dedicated to getting Kinect on everyone’s minds, we can expect to see the little black sensor pop everywhere from soda cans and magazines to the TV shows Glee and Dancing with the Stars. All this is going towards getting Kinect in the minds of parents for the upcoming holiday season, where it will be squaring off against the Wii and Sony’s newly launched Move controller.
If you thought the ad campaigns for Halo 3 or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 got annoying leading up to launch, just wait until you can’t round a corner without seeing Kinect. To be fair, we’re not really the target audience for the sensor, but I’m sure there will be some “core” gamers out there picking it up.
I think this makes it more than clear that Microsoft is in love with the technology behind Kinect, and they’re really throwing the whole Xbox division behind it. Now, I don’t consider technically consider myself a Microsoft fanboy, but I’m kind of worried what the possible failure of Kinect will do to the console. While I think that Microsoft can take the hit overall, we may see the end of the Xbox if this doesn’t work. Half a billion is a lot of money, even if it is just a drop in the bucket for Microsoft.
This kind of news is just begging for your comments, so let us know what you think! Can half a billion guarantee a good showing for Kinect this holiday? Will a possible failure spell doom for future versions of the Xbox?
Source: New York Post
Whether we like it or not, Halo is a game that changed the FPS landscape forever. It can be argued that this is for both good and ill, but the fact remains that the epic FPS sci-fi series from Bungie typically constitutes a natural disaster in whatever year it arrives. Halo: Reach has made landfall, gentlemen, and it’s time to sort out the damage.
After a couple weeks of reading other Halo: Reach reviews, there seems to be a general consensus. One, that writers like to use the phrase “swan song”. Two, that Bungie’s final installment into the Halo series culminates in what might be its greatest and most critically acclaimed title yet. Reviewing a Halo game carries with it a tricky balance of managing hype, expectations and fanboy glee, but in Reach, it’s hard to ignore all of the wonderful things that Bungie accomplished, and how they’ve changed the game yet again moving forward.
So, just how good is the game? Read on to find out. Continue reading Review: Halo: Reach
Although I think I’m going to know the answer for the half of the comments on this one, I’m going to roll with it anyway. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve asked what you guys were up to, and now is as good of a time as any.
For me, I’ve been dealing with Mass Effect 2 DLC, which, seriously, Lair of the Shadow Broker is incredible. In addition to that I’ve also been doing a little bit of Lego Harry Potter (yes, really). And most importantly, the title that has sucked away my life for this entire last week: Halo: Reach. Hopefully a review will be coming soon, but I really love the game, and haven’t been this absorbed in one for as long as I can remember. It’s owning my sleep, my interactions with people, everything. Just the way a good gaming binge should.
So what about you guys? What are you playing? And on top of that, who has Reach and would be up for a community play date sometime soon? Go!
Every generation of gaming seems defined by either new pieces of technology or something else that broadens our definition of what a game entails. One of the new advents that’s become more widespread in the last few years would be what is now known as DLC, a bit of an adaptation of the expansion pack from PC’s gaming glory days. It’s yet another example of the transition of gaming as it has moved from the desk to the couch, and it’s taken up its own shape as a result, both on the console and on PC.
Only in the last few years have developers started to show exceptional treatment in the handling of DLC, finding ways to extend the life of the games we love in a variety of ways. In no particular order, here are our top six games with great DLC: Continue reading GamerSushi Top Six: Best DLC
It is with a heavy heart that I write this post, loyal readers. As a huge fan of the Metroid series, beginning with the very first game back during the NES days and continuing through all the sequels, even the Game Boy version, I was looking forward to Other M with no wariness whatsoever. After all, even though I didn’t care for Metroid Prime 2 and 3 all that much, I thought the return to a non-FPS point of view would give Samus the jolt she needed in order to revitalize the franchise. And with Team Ninja adding their power to Nintendo’s, what could go wrong? Continue reading Metroid: Other M Impressions
So, PAX 2010 has come and gone, and I’m glad that I finally took this year to go down and experience it. I saw a lot of games before their release and some cosplay that I could have gone without. Of course, such a big event deserves a bigger write up, so steel yourselves and jump into my PAX 2010 Round-Up Spectacular! In this post I’m going to be covering the games that I saw with the pictures going up in a separate post once I sort out and re-size the photos.
Continue reading PAX 2010 Round Up
So, StarCraft 2 is finally out as of last week. You’ve been playing it, I’ve been playing it, and Eddy wishes he’s been playing it. Now that we’ve had a good amount of time to digest Blizzard’s long-in-the-making sci-fi RTS follow up, I thought I’d start a little topic where we could discuss our thoughts on the single and multiplayer portions and maybe start a little Battle.net group so you can wail on me as often as you like.
Starting with the single player, I have to say that the game is very, very solid in its design. Blizzard has been tweaking and polishing the balance on all of their games for a long time, and it really shows in the tightness of the units and how they counter-act against each other. While you do get access to a wider variety of troops in the single player game, they’ve all been assigned a specific role much like their multiplayer counter-parts. There are no “god-units” here, just one that might happen to do better in a given mission. While so far the designs of the missions themselves haven’t really stood out, I’ve been able to do fairly well and I haven’t become frustrated with impossible goals or cheap AI tactics.
Between missions, you can explore Jim Raynor’s battlecruiser The Hyperion. Along the way, you’ll stock the ship with various characters who will aid you in your quest or provide you with missions and upgrades. Exploring your ship is a cross between Mass Effect and an old-school point and click adventure game in that you can talk to or click on anyone and anything, but it’s all done without ever taking direct control of Jim. I liked this part of the game a lot as it added a lot of personality to characters we’re used to seeing from a top-down view. The ability to augment units with Protoss and Zerg tech is also a welcome addition because of how it changes the dynamic of the units. Again, it won’t make any one unit over-powered but the upgrades do give you a nice edge. Like I’ve mentioned before I’m finding the mission design a little samey, but it is improving the farther I get into the game. Once the story starts rolling, you get hooked pretty easily.
Now, I’m going to let you guys go to town on multiplayer, because StarCraft has always had a steep learning curve. I’m not exactly terrible at the game, but a competent player could wipe the floor with me easily. I’ve been doing a few comp stomps with a buddy, and those have been great fun in addition to letting me practice my build orders and hotkey commands. So what do you guys think of StarCraft 2?
As you’re all probably aware, most of the GamerSushi staff are in the throes of Alien Swarm addiction. The game is really engaging, and it manages to wedge itself nicely into the niche left in my gaming life by Diablo 2. Valve was even kind enough to give it to us for free, and judging by how their servers got the crap beat out of them on its release day, they’re probably kicking themselves for not charging at least five dollars for the thing.
Even though we all love Alien Swarm, it’s not a perfect game. There are a few issues I’ve had with it, but my mind keeps glossing them over because of the price tag (or lack thereof). So I pose this question to you guys: can you even review free games? Price is definitely something that has affected the perception of past titles (ODST comes to mind), so will something that only costs us hard drive space be given an automatic pass in the grading department?
Something else I’d like you to consider is DLC. I’ve played all of the Mass Effect 2 content packs, and, when stacked against ME2 proper, they come up very poorly. Even Overlord, the most recent and best of the DLC, is kind of lack-luster compared to the main game and its selling price. Can DLC be rated on its own merits, or does it have to take the larger picture into account?
My goal this weekend was to play lots of Alan Wake. And until today, I had not achieved it. As I am wont to do, I was distracted by any number of things over the weekend. You know how it goes: wives, martial arts, fantasy books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, bike rides, saving the world… That kind of stuff tends to get in the way of the most well intentioned gaming.
However, today I finally sat down with Alan Wake and managed to knock out 3 and a half chapters (out of six) in one 4 hour sitting. While I’m not going to rave about the game and say it was the greatest thing anyone has ever played ever, there’s certainly something to be said about how engrossed and entertained I was. The fact that I sat there for 4 hours straight is a pretty big deal.
The more I thought about it, I’ve actually done that a handful of times in the last year, thanks to other great single player stories like Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Heavy Rain and of course Red Dead Redemption. It made me curious to ask you guys what some of the most engrossing single player games you’ve played in recent memory? What really captured your attention and kept you glued to your seat? Go!
Normally, I would just ask this as a straight up “What Are You Playing” question, but I decided to do things a little differently this time. You see, lately, nearly 80 percent of my friends list on XBox Live is playing through the newest Rockstar outing, Red Dead Redemption.
If you listened to our awesome podcast, then you would know that a handful of us here at GamerSushi are deeply enthralled in this game’s clutches. I know that for me, personally, the game is head-and-shoulders above its spiritual brethren, the GTA series. It plays more like an Oblivion or Assassin’s Creed 2 in terms of its structure, and allows you to explore a rich open world with gorgeous western vistas and plenty of fun distractions. I’ve written additional thoughts over on my blog, but I wanted to raise this question here as well.
Who’s playing Red Dead Redemption, and what are your thoughts on the game? It’s looking like it could be a front runner for game of the year, and I’m nowhere near being finished. Where do you rank it? Go!
E3 2010 is a mere two weeks away, and the excitement for gaming’s annual gala is building to a fevered pitch. If you listened to our first podcast from a few weeks ago, then you’ll know that we’re all pretty excited about this year’s E3. We offered up a few predictions about what the Big Three are going to be bringing to the table, but we’d love to hear what you guys are thinking about.
Predicting reveals or big surprises is always fun, and once E3 rolls around we’ll collect them in one big post and see who was right on the money and who was way, way off (PS4?). Since you already know what we’ve put our money on, we thought that we’d make a post to let you guys sound off on what you think this year’s big news will be at E3. Gears of War, Move, Natal, a new Zelda? Let us know!
Before you get to speculating, we would just like to mention that the weeks leading up to E3 are usually plagued by rumors, half-truths and damn lies, so don’t expect us to post on every single piece of news that comes out. Most of them are unsubstantiated rumors, but if something huge comes up, we’ll probably let you know about it. Alright, with that out of the way, get to your predicting!
I’ll admit that I didn’t play the original Killzone or Killzone 2 (mostly on account of not owning a PlayStation at the time), but the series has always intrigued me. While it may be describe derisively as “World War 2 in space”, that sort of thematic setting is right up my alley. Sony and Guerrilla Studios dropped a bit of a shocker on us last week, revealing the third entry in the series before E3 even started. What’s more, the game is going to be in 3D! A lot of people say that the third time is the charm, but will that ring true for Killzone? Quite a few websites got to go hands-on with the game this week (our invitation got lost in the mail), and Kotaku has a nice write-up detailing all the new changes.
What stood out to me most, besides the 3D, is how crisp this game looks. Perhaps you don’t remember the infamous E3 2005 trailer for Killzone which painted an image in everyone’s mind that the sequel couldn’t quite match. While it seems quaint now, the lasting impressions of the video have given Killzone a lot to live up to, and the third game seems to come the closest to reaching those lofty heights.
Besides looking like the most tasty of eye candies, Killzone 3 is getting some neat gameplay improvements like a revamped melee system and jet packs. Before you go off claiming that Killzone is ripping off Halo: Reach, let me remind you that someone will bring up Tribes, and we’d all like to avoid that scene. The close-combat promises to be more brutal than your average first-person-shooter, which mostly deals with that via a gun stock to head, or maybe a quick stab. While the build being presented was a little early, it did promise face-kicks, back-stabs, and knives through the Helghast’s iconic eye-piece.
For those of you wondering about the 3D, it appears to be well integrated with the head’s up display smoothing nicely, and aiming down the sight offering a nice differentiation of depth. Unfortunately, the preview does mention that the 3D got nauseating at one point. This will differ for everyone, but I got a little sick during Avatar, so I think I might skip on this option.
What do you guys think? How is Killzone 3 looking to you so far? Sure-fire purchase, rental, or are you passing altogether?
Oh video games, how I miss thee. I’m going on about a week now with no video gaming of any kind to speak of. This is partly from just being busy with regular old life things, but also because my wife and I went to Florida over the weekend for a nice break with some old friends. While the trip was awesome, I didn’t get to play any video games, so that was just a bit bogus.
So, now that I’m going through my withdrawals and the hallucinations are starting to settle in, I’ve been reminding myself how awesome it is to “go into the light” so to speak, and play video games until it’s completely unhealthy to do so. That’s right, I’m craving a mega gaming binge. Really, while I’ve had a few binges in recent months, it’s been a long time since I’ve been truly obsessed with a game. I think the last one for me was sadly, Halo Wars. I played the game every single night for months without stopping. The funny thing is, it wasn’t even that good of a game.
So what about you guys? With Red Dead Redemption, 3D Dot Game Heroes, Alan Wake and Super Mario Galaxy 2 dropping on us this week, it seems like the time is ripe for more gaming obsessions to begin anew. What was your last or most recent one? Go!
Also, I leave you all with a gchat conversation Mitch and I had about Red Dead Redemption today. After the jump. Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: Last Gaming Obsession?
Well, we all had a lot of laughs on Thursday, didn’t we? We fooled a few of you, but it was all in good fun. With that out of the way, I had some time yesterday to really sink my teeth into Just Cause 2. While the demo did give me some pause, I was willing to look past my reservations and give the game a go. It turns out that second guessing myself in this instance was a good call, because so far the game has been excellent. While the story is non-existent and the voice acting borders on offensive, the freedom that the game allows you is nothing short of revolutionary.
For those of you who haven’t picked the game up yet, you’re basically dropped into a massive island playground after a couple of requisite missions and you’re left to your own devices. When I say this island is huge, I’m not exaggerating. I stole a helicopter from a mountain top military base and flew it all the way into the capital city; all told, the trip took me twenty minutes. So, with a sandbox on such a massive scale, how does the game allow you to move around so easily?
Continue reading The Freedom of Movement
One thing I’ve been noticing a lot recently is that it takes fewer and fewer annoyances to make me give up a game in frustration. In my youth, I used to be able to look past repeated cheap deaths or terrible voice acting, but now that I’m older and my time has become increasingly more valuable I’m throwing aside games that rub me the wrong way very quickly.
A couple examples of this have come from two demos I’ve played recently: Splinter Cell: Conviction and Just Cause 2. While they both have the makings of two very fun titles, there are certain aspects of both that make me doubt whether or not I even want to bother with them. I’m going to sound a little petty here, but just hear me out. For Splinter Cell: Conviction, I was having a decent time tagging guys and doing silent take-downs, even if I did find the actions a little repetitious after a while. Once I got detected by the guards, that’s when I started to get agitated. While they’re searching for you, the various henchmen populating the level will spout phrases like: “Target lost, requesting update!”, or, “Continuing search for the target!” over and over until you put several bullets through their skulls. While this may not be enough to set most people off, having to listen to a dozen automatons bark their dialogue while waving their flashlights around really did the game in for me.
Continue reading GamerSushi Asks: Are Games Pissing You Off?
I had a rather unique experience over the last week. Or at least, unique for me. These days, as I’ve lamented quite often and obnoxiously, I’m met with a schedule that doesn’t allow me to play and finish too many video games. However, in this last week, I’ve managed to complete two titles. And not just any two titles, but two fun and individual titles: Brutal Legend and Mass Effect 2.
While for the most part, these just seem like regular old video games on the surface, there’s something special about them. Something that struck me. You see, both of these games are genre busters. Games that come along and buck genre tropes, straddling the line between two or several different styles of play, combining them all in a way that doesn’t play awkwardly. Sure, there are several games that try to shove mechanics of multiple games together (Grand Theft Auto for one), but it’s more like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Very rarely do these games actually succeed at what they set out to do. Which makes it pretty cool when the developers actually pull it off.
Continue reading Gaming Needs More Genre Busters
We don’t always write impressions of games that we’re currently playing, but I figured since 15 people on my friends list last night were playing Mass Effect 2, I’d start a little thread about it.
As you all know, I’m a pretty big Bioware fan. I don’t know what it is, but something about their games just grab me in a way other games don’t. With most games, I have to take a break every couple of hours or so. With Mass Effect 2, I played it for 7 hours straight without a break once I got home from work…
So I guess that means I like the game. A lot. I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface, story wise. Perhaps that’s because I spent over an hour scanning planets for raw materials and looking for sidequests, maybe. I hesitate to gush over the game too much, because admittedly, for the first hour or two I was terribly confused. Gone were many of the RPG elements I loved from the first game. But with them, the awful item management system, confusing menus and cumbersome weapon/armor load-outs. The game is an extremely simplified version of the first, and my worry when I loaded it up and got into the action was that it was much too simple.
Continue reading Impressions: Mass Effect 2