The kinds of features that become commonplace in video games can take on a life of their own over the course of each generation. Things that we couldn’t have imagined a decade ago are now a staple, it seems. Cover-based shooting. RPG elements attached to everything, the list goes on. One of the more recent trends in games would have to be the idea of the New Game Plus.
Granted, this has been around for some time (Chrono Cross had it on the Playstation, for instance), but it’s only been in this generation that we’ve seen it become a fixture. The appeal behind New Game Plus is certainly appealing. Combined with the advent of RPG mechanics, this mode allows players in games like Batman: Arkham City and Mass Effect to take their skills with them into an entirely new adventure, making exciting strides and seeing things from a more powerful perspective than before.
In keeping with this idea, Kotaku writer Lisa Foiles tackles the rather philosophical question of if life had a New Game Plus, how would you replay it? The concept itself is very Groundhog Day, but it’s a fun idea that I’ve thought about from time to time. I know that many of us are still young, but I just thought I’d throw the same question at you guys: how would you handle a New Life Plus feature? Any differently?
Over the years, the advancements in video game technology and the bigger budgets associated with AAA games have helped the games industry compete with movies in terms of their appeal and their business. The experiences are bigger, bolder and more akin to Hollywood blockbusters than ever. We expect more out of games these days – and a lot of that mindset is owed to the cut scenes that were introduced several generations ago. Cut scenes stretched our idea of what games could be. But do games still do cut scenes right?
That’s the question Wired asks in a new piece titled 5 Film-School Violations in Videogame Cut Scenes. In it, writer Jason Schreier takes a look at some of the things that modern cut scenes still get wrong, even after all these years. While I think the list is sort of ill aimed (it’s more about writing and editing than actual direction), Schreier raises some great issues. In terms of writing, many games just can’t seem to cut it compared to the movies they’re trying so desperately to be.
While I’d have to disagree with him on Mass Effect 2 (one of my friends was a cinematic designer on that game and knows his crap), I’ve long maintained that many game cut scenes don’t really know what they’re doing in terms of the actual craft of film – shots are set up all wrong, and are more about flash and spectacle than about the story itself. To me, one of the most grievous recent examples is Final Fantasy XIII. For all the flack that the game takes, I felt like very little of it was directed at its cut scenes, which were often a jumbled mess. During action sequences, I often found it hard to follow what exactly was going on in the scene, to the point where I had to re-watch them several times.
So how do you guys feel about this list? How do you feel about cut scenes in gaming? Which games do it right and which ones do it wrong?
And we’re back, fellow gamers. It’s been a couple of weeks because a certain bearded somebody forgot that Thursdays are our podcast nights, and decided to go out and have a life instead. However, everything is back to normal, and now a brand new podcast is out for your enjoyment.
In this episode of our gaming ramblings, we chat about a few new games in more detail, such as Dragon Age 2 and Crysis 2. We also tackle an awesome game of Over/Under, in which Nick has us guess on Metacritic scores for upcoming games. It’s seriously one of my favorite games we play, and I think the results in this one are pretty awesome.
So, here are the topics for this week’s podcast. Thanks to Nick’s efforts, we thought we’d try something different and list the time stamps for each thing in the podcast. Hopefully that’ll make it easier if there are certain topics you want to hear about.
If you were maybe living under a rock for the past little while, you might not know that Mass Effect 2′s latest and final piece of DLC, ‘Arrival’ is hitting tomorrow with all the force of a biotic punch to the head. To get us prepped for Shepard’s solo adventure to the far reaches of the known galaxy, BioWare has released a trailer that features a little Reaper taunting and a lot of Batarians being blown away. Enjoy.
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to get ‘Arrival’ day and date, so I’ll have to endure a couple of weeks of listening to all the other GamerSushi editors talk about how awesome it is. I know there was some concern expressed about ‘Arrival’ when I posted a few details about it last week, but have any of you changed your mind? Still feel the same way?
Every now and then as gamers we get to bunker down and tackle a game for as long as we want. This doesn’t happen very often due to a number a life circumstances, but sometimes the stars align and clear the way for a gaming marathon session like no other. Needless to say, these always make for awesome days, and if you’re lucky enough, awesome binge gaming weekends.
Yesterday, a few members of the GamerSushi crew got to do just that. For instance, Jeff, finally over-burdened by our constant podcast harassment, took it upon himself to play Mass Effect 2 for about 10 hours. He knocked out the second half of the game and even DLC, including Overlord and Lair of the Shadow Broker. I know that Anthony has also spent some time plowing through Demon’s Souls. As for me, I think I’ve played Dragon Age 2 for about 23 hours this week, including about 9 yesterday in one awesome gaming session.
So what about you guys? When’s the last time you’ve gotten to jump into a marathon gaming session? What game or games did you play? Go!
I’ve never been one to call myself a graphics whore. In fact, over the years, I’ve taken quite a few shots at those friends of mine that I knew only cared about graphics. Oddly enough, the two types of people that seem to really love graphics fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, ranging from hardcore PC gamers that love their real time benchmark demos to frat boys who can not get over how good a game looks, bra.
However, even my elitist mind can get knocked down a few pegs when I see something truly stunning, something that makes my jaw drop until drool leaks out, and I’m left mumbling incoherently while watching awe-inspiring visuals. Over the years, games that have really stood out to me in terms of graphics have been Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Red Dead Redemption, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Crysis. In terms of design, I’d have to say Shadow of the Colossus and any number of the Zelda games.
It seems that CVG has put together a list of what they consider to be the 9 best looking games of all time. That’s a fairly lofty claim, although I don’t know if any of you will be surprised by their list, save for one or two entries. I really do like that they included Team Fortress 2 and Limbo on the list though, because those two games have such unique looks that make them both iconic.
So what do you guys think? What games left you stunned visually when they came out, and what games do you think still rank among the best looking games of all time? Go!
Another year of gaming has gone by, which means it’s time for us to reflect on the games that really made 2010 stand out all its own as one to be remembered. This trip around the sun has produced some clunkers, disappointments, triumphs, wins, fails, works of art and everything in between. We saw quality releases from January through December, and a few surprises that threw us for a major loop in the best way possible.
To create this list, the GamerSushi staff (myself, Nick, Anthony, Mitch and Jeff) all made our own individual top 10 lists. From there, Nick used the powerful science of magicmatics to conjure up a final list, based on some mumbo jumbo he did with a point system. What you see is something like an average of all of our lists together, and one that we’re all happy with, minus a few honorable mentions of course.
So, without further ramblings from myself, I present the Top 10 games of 2010!
Well, 2011 is just getting started and I’m sure many of you are still playing the games you got for Christmas. Sorry to say, there is no rest for the weary, because big blockbuster games are about to drop already. I have barely dipped my toes into Fallout: New Vegas and Black Ops has replaced Gran Turismo 5 as my constant obsession, but I have barely made any headway into any of these massive games. And with new games coming out, I’m pretty stressed.
The following is a list of some of the more notable releases this month. Are there any on there that you plan on getting right away? Or are there some that you are going to wait for a price reduction? Let us know what you think!
Ah, Thanksgiving time. The time of the year where we show our thanks by way of a gluttonous feast, with food fit for a king. Also, there’s that whole Black Friday thing, where we shove our money in our ears and buy everything that’s marked down in price. But that’s almost a different holiday altogether then, isn’t it? Greed Day, or somesuch.
However! We, the kind and wise overlords of GamerSushi, wanted to stop and take a quick look at the gaming year so far. In the spirit of the holidays, we had a hand-to-hand combat battle to determine the things that we are most thankful for in 2010, so that we could benevolently share them with all of you, our loyal fellow gamers and all around awesome dudes.
So, without further ado, here’s our top six gaming things we’re thankful for in 2010.
File this one under “better late than never”, for sure. There has been speculation for some time that EA and Bioware would eventually bring their critically acclaimed Mass Effect series over to the PS3, and it seems that the time has finally come. At Gamescom today, Bioware announced that Mass Effect 2 will hit for Sony’s machine in January 2011.
While there doesn’t seem to be any word about the first Mass Effect and whether or not it will come included as part of an anthology or if it simply won’t be showing up at all, this is still exciting news. Even though the experience will be slightly diminished without your choices carrying over between two games in such an unprecedented way, Mass Effect 2 will still have a lot for newcomers to enjoy. In terms of storytelling, it’s one of the better games of this generation, and it has to be one of the best and most developed original universes we’ve seen in gaming to date.
I know a bunch of you have already played this game, but surely, there are some happy PS3 users among us who will jump on this on release day. My next question is: what about Mass Effect 3?
Mitch recommended this one to me and with a careful listen, it only took about halfway through before I decided I loved it. I’m going to go ahead and assume that this song plays during some sort of mission that might be a tad bit dangerous. The quiet opening leads to a bombastic theme that kind of reminds me of the Saw theme, but in a good, sci-fi sort of way. Thanks for the advice, Mitch and enjoy this one, everybody.
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.
Vote away, and chat about your answer in the comments.
Dang. I always knew that Crysis sported itself some pretty graphics. Gorgeous, even. But I didn’t realize the original Crysis was such a groundbreaking smash of a hit in terms of narrative. Or at least, that’s what its writers and creators seem to think.
Earlier this week, Crysis 2 writer Richard Morgan called out Modern Warfare 2 for its story and its narrative. Then, he proceeded to follow that up with a shot at Halo, calling its archetypal characters “bullshit”. While it’s one thing to nip at the heels of the big dogs, it seems that Crytek isn’t quite done taking shots at other games. A new interview with the company’s CEO, Cevat Yerli, has now added Uncharted 2 to the list of giants that Crysis 2 is trying to fell with its stones of wordy criticisms. Here’s what Yerli had to say about the game.
It’s really great, and that’s an alternative style, but I don’t think they do justice to the medium of game. I think Mass Effect 2 is doing a better job to the game market, although it’s a completely different style to us, rather than Uncharted 2 or Modern Warfare, for that matter.
Say what you will about whether or not Richard Morgan or Yerli is right about any of the stuff they’ve made bold claims about with Crysis 2… but these dudes are dropping some major gonads down on the table. I mean, seriously, this game’s story had better start blowing some mothers out of the water with its brilliance when this game comes out.
Personally, I think their comments about Modern Warfare 2 are totally justified, and the ones about Halo slightly less justified (but not wrong), but calling out Uncharted 2 as not doing videogames justice seems a little out in left field for me. And this is coming from a guy who loved Mass Effect 2 just as much.
What do you guys think? Are these guys biting off more than they can chew? Have they been right about their comments?
As a lifetime gamer, I’ve come to accept certain facts about our pastime. The most difficult one to swallow, though, is the undeniable truth that gaming is very, very strange. Sure, we may not see it that way, but have you ever been playing a game and had your parents or a sibling walk into your room, pull a disgusted face and walk out? It may be because you were covered in Cheetos dust and Mountain Dew stains, but the greater probability is that they saw something on the TV screen that they just couldn’t comprehend. Well, to help you along with your family, I’ve assembled a handy list of games you should never play around non-gamers:
We might sound like a broken record around here, but this first half of this year has been an absolute treasure trove for our hobby. We’ve already had several Game of the Year candidates land on our consoles already, and we’re not even in April yet! Even though we’ve got Splinter Cell: Conviction and Red Dead Redemption on approach, we’re getting ever closer to the dreaded Summer Drought where our consoles remain cold and dark and we’re forced to venture outside in search of amusement.
Before that happens, we have a few more weeks of glorious gaming! Seeing as how we’re inundated with more excellent games than we know what to do with, I thought I’d initiate our little monthly quiz and find out what you’re playing.
Since I know you’re dying to find out what I’m spending my time on, I’ll deign to answer your queries. This time, anyways. I’m currently doing a heck of a lot of PC gaming, mostly on Battlefield: Bad Company 2. This game continues to be fantastic, and I just can’t get enough of it. I’m also smiting the forces of Chaos in Dawn of War II, and that’s a pretty good time, especially in the co-op campaign. On the console, I’m just about done my fourth Mass Effect 2 playthrough, this time with a Shepard carried over from the original. I also got my mits on a PlayStation 3, so I’m looking forward to firing up some of 2010′s big PS titles. Oh, and I’m playing Pokemon HeartGold, but don’t tell anyone.
What about you guys? What have you got on the go, and what are you looking forward to? Anything that we haven’t talked about on GamerSushi that you think we should be checking out?
One phrase that we have been hearing a lot lately from the videogame industry is the idea of making our current gaming stories more engaging in terms of emotion. Doing something like this seems to be one of the last great barriers in the minds of game makers, considering what the technology of their platforms can do.
Specifically, Bioware is the company speaking about this most of all. In a recent interview with Kotaku, company manager Ray Muzyka shared Bioware’s vision statement. Namely, to “create, deliver and evolve the most emotionally engaging gaming experiences in the world”. The article goes on to talk about character development and progression, and how Bioware aims to create these feelings in all of their franchises.
The problem with this? As good as Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age: Origins were, I don’t know if I ever felt “emotionally engaged” at any point of the stories. Sure, there were characters I was crazy attached to, and moments that took my breath away or dropped my jaw- many of those, in fact. But I wouldn’t say that there was any point that hit me like moments of Final Fantasy VII, IX, X, or Shadow of the Colossus, and those are all from previous generations. To me, it’s odd that developers are still trying to hit this, but to me it comes down to the writing.
So what about you guys? Do you find that games are emotionally engaging enough? What games have you played that have done that for you?
While Bad Company 2 was released last week on March 2, another sequel that I was greatly anticipating came out that day as well: Supreme Commander 2, the follow up to 2007′s large-scale strategy title. I’d been hearing mumblings going into its release that it was going to eschew the heavy system requirements necessary to render the huge battlefields of the previous game, but I doubted that Gas Powered Games was going to stray too far from the formula of the original. After all, there’s something unique and cathartic about building up a huge base, stocking it with top tier defense guns and shields, then pummeling the enemy’s fortifications with a gigantic navy. The game had a charm that could only come from a prohibitive resource management system, but I loved it all the same.
Now that I’ve had a chance to play Supreme Commander 2 a bit, I can’t help but notice how severely pared down it is from its original inception. I wonder when I became vogue to start taking formerly complicated games and trimming all of the fat off of them. While this trend has been seeing movement for a while, there is another recent example of a game series that started off as bloated with genre tropes as you can possibly get then got whittled down to the bare essentials: Mass Effect. Like I mentioned in my recent post about the upcoming DLC, I’ve been playing the original and the differences in the inventory and level management system are staggering. The same thing is true with Supreme Commander in that there are no more tech trees and the unit upgrades are managed through a simple interface as opposed to a constant advancement of technology.
I’ve been replaying Mass Effect one recently so I can import a character over to the sequel, something I wasn’t able to do on my three play-throughs (quiet, Eddy). For those of you who may not be familiar with the mechanics of importing versus not importing a legacy Shepard, the game assumes that you made certain decisions, all of which follow the Renegade path, something I don’t usually do in moral choice games.
While Mass Effect one still holds up, one thing that’s really getting to me are the Mako driving sections. That armored personnel carrier handles like a hyper-active child throwing his Hot Wheels around, and I’ve gotten stuck in narrow canyons more times than I care to mention. While I may hate the Mako with a passion, the good folks over at BioWare have decided to give the old wheeled vehicle a make-over and transform it into a hovering tank. Watch the tank in action in the following video:
Pretty slick, if you ask me. Looks like BioWare solved all the complaints with the Mako, which were mostly concerning handling and the occasional problem of not being able to aim properly due to wonky terrain. Most of us have probably finished our ME2 campaigns by now, but who’s going to jump back in and give the “Firewalker” DLC pack a try? It’s coming out late March free for Cerberus members, and those who didn’t buy the game new will have to pay $15USD to join the Network.
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.
Over the weekend, I became the proud owner of a new 46″ Samsung LCD TV. Needless to say, I’m rather excited by this new development. For the past few years, I’ve been gaming on a 32″ Samsung LCD, so this isn’t much of an upgrade in quality (though the last TV was showing some awful image retention issues) as much as it was in size. What was once small is now huge in comparison. I played Mass Effect 2 like crazy today and loved every minute of it.
I know it’s goofy (and maybe more than a little obvious), but I haven’t been this excited about something I’ve purchased in quite some time. The wife and I have said for years that once we bought a house, we’d buy a big TV to match the new living room, so it was time to finally cash in on that deal. Hopefully by the end of the year we’ll pick up a new surround sound system, as ours is old and more than a bit dated.
Anyway, this upgrade got me thinking about you guys, and what you play your games on. So, tell us about your gaming setup. Go!