Top Six: Franchises of the Current Generation

Current Gen

Even though this current generation of video game consoles isn’t wrapping up for at least another year, the new generation looms over the horizon. And thus, this warrants a look back at our recent past to honor the best of new franchises we were introduced to this gen. The list is based mainly on what franchises I found to be most compelling over the years. These opinions belong solely to me, but please feel free to list your own in the comments!

First, the games that didn’t make the cut. There are some awesome games here, but they just didn’t move me enough to make the list. All of them are still fantastic, though.

Honorable Mentions: Assassin’s Creed, Demon/Dark Souls, Gears of War, Saint’s Row, LittleBigPlanet, Borderlands Continue reading Top Six: Franchises of the Current Generation

Poll: Best or Worst Generation of Games?

Let’s face it: this generation has been one of a kind. Some of the best quality games we have ever seen. And some of the worst service and disasters we have ever seen. As consoles have become more complex, there is a lot more room for errors and I don’t think any opportunities for screw-ups have been missed. But…the games, man! They are so good! But are they enough to overcome the PSN Hack, the Red Ring of Death, the terrible DLC debacles, the DRM nightmares, constant patches due to broken games on release day and the countless other crap we suddenly have to deal with now?

I mean, Uncharted, Gears of War, Bioshock, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Portal and the Arkham series, just to name a few, are all amazing new franchises that stand with some of the best all time. But is the high quality of the product enough to call this the best generation? Or is the terrible state of things for us consumers too much for these stellar games to overcome? Hit the poll and then hit the comments!

Is this the best or worst generation of video games?

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Poll: Which Type of Shooter Do You Prefer?

Last night, I fired up Halo: Reach for the first time in several weeks. I think it was something of a coping mechanism, since I know I’m going to be holding out on Call of Duty: Black Ops until around Christmas. It was pretty nuts to see everyone on my friends list in the new CoD, and meanwhile I was playing the classic space marine scenario.

The funny thing is, I had a lot more fun than I expected to, even though I’m itching for Black Ops more than I can say. One of the things I’ve always loved about Halo is the ability to have these isolated little firefights, epic stand-offs between you and one other player that feels separated from the rest of the match. The only reason this is possible is because of the way the game’s health system works. I remember Goldeneye playing much the same way back in the old days.

It seems that as time goes on, more shooters go in a different direction. Like Counter-Strike, the health in CoD pretty much works on the “one shot, one kill” method, which is a big part of what makes it so addictive I think. The ability to respawn and immediately jump back into the fray and rack up more kills has a lot of appeal to it, for a totally different reason than a shooter like Gears of War or Halo.

Thinking about these two styles of play, I thought I’d make a poll to see what you guys think. Got a preference?

Which type of multiplayer shooter do you prefer?

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Where You Thought Gaming Would Be

Back to the Future 2Over the last few weeks, I’ve been on something of a Back to the Future kick. I suppose this may have something to do with the classic trilogy’s recent release on Blu-ray, or simply because I am a science fiction nut that loves awesome movies. Regardless, there is something about the movies that always strikes me when I watch them, especially when dealing with Back to the Future II’s projections about the future.

If for some reason you’re not remember correctly, or a large rock fell on your head and deleted megabytes from your brain, Back to the Future II has some fairly outlandish predictions about where humanity’s technology and sense of style was supposed to be in the year 2015. The notable (and laughable) examples would be that of shoes that tie themselves, flying cars, and home fusion reactors.

While this movie is obviously a comedy, it’s still something that I think that people tend to do in general when we talk about the future: in some ways we wildly over project, and in others we are floored by things we never thought of. The same is true for video games. Continue reading Where You Thought Gaming Would Be

Poll: Do You Read Video Game Books?

Besides being a fanatic gamer, one of my other hobbies (other than tearing up the drums) is being an avid reader. I’ve been in and out of it the past few years, but recently I’ve begun to pick up books again. One of my favorite authors at the moment is Karen Traviss, who you might know from her successful Republic Commando novels (which themselves were based off of a video game). Recently, Karen has been doing the writing duties on both the Gears of War novels and the third game, but she’s also announced that she’s taking up the mantel of Halo after Greg Bear is done with his Forerunner trilogy. Novel tie-ins are becoming more and more pronounced in the games industry, so I pose this question to you guys: have you ever read a video game book?

Do You Read Video Game Books?

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GamerSushi Asks: Photorealistic Graphics?

LimboOver the weekend, I’ve been dabbling a bit in a couple of newly release titles. One is, obviously, StarCraft 2, but the other is Limbo, newly up for purchase as part of X-Box LIVE’s Summer of Arcade. I didn’t really follow the story of Limbo that closely, but I knew it was a side-scrolling platformer with a unique look. I tried the demo and immediately bought the full game, mostly because of how much the art style appeal to me. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Limbo, check out the trailer. Among other cliched terms, I’d call it hauntingly beautiful and very atmospheric. In addition to looking as gorgeous as a game that dark can it also features some slick puzzles and grotesque punishments for failure (seriously, you get messed up).

The game’s visual presentation got me thinking, though. The farther into the future we get with game consoles, the closer to life everyone seems to want their graphics. While some big-budget titles stretch the limit of what is acceptable by our real-life standards (Gears of War’s improbably bulky protagonists come to mind), video games are getting closer and closer to emulating what we perceive through our own two eyes. Games like Limbo, Braid and many similar titles show us that we don’t have to constrain everything to an Earth-bound package. Perhaps one of the barriers to the “games as art” argument is that this visual medium doesn’t add anything that movies have already done in this respect. That’s probably why Braid got tossed around a lot when this issue got brought up the first time; it looks like a painting come to life, much like Limbo. So I ask you guys this: do you want more games to stretch the graphical barrier and start using different ways to interpret what we see? Or do you think that sort of experimentation is confined to downloadable titles? Fire away!

Impressions: Mass Effect 2

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