For today’s GamerSushi Asks Friday, we’re going to take a look at the long, hard farewell. I feel like there’s a “that’s what she said” in there somewhere.
After finishing Far Cry 3 recently, something happened to me that I’ve really only experienced a few times in gaming. After the main game was completed, the pirates were vanquished from the island, outposts liberated, animals hunted and huge portions of secret items located, I realized there was nothing left for me to do in the game. Because of said pirate vanquishment, I couldn’t even run around and kill a few bad guys. I was done with the game, almost completely.
And when it came time to sign off, I found myself coming up with excuses to hop around the world a little longer. I was kind of sad to say goodbye. This has happened before, and will hopefully happen again.
Every generation represents a new set of hurdles for the medium (or art, if you’re feeling fancy) of video gaming. In the current generation — and yes, I do include PC games in this — I think the most obvious hurdles we’ve cleared have to do with graphics, the ease of connectivity and huge, immersive universes. Within the last few years, it’s easier to play with friends than ever before, or even talk to them across games. I can share games with them on Steam or track their progress through PSN or XBL. Games like Skyrim, Borderlands 2 and Arkham City have given us amazing, huge worlds that we can interact with, and feel like we’re a part of. The Uncharted series and Red Dead Redemption have given us high-caliber storytelling and some memorable vocal performances.
But do I think all of these things are perfect? Not by any stretch. The medium still has plenty of growing up to do in terms of what it can achieve, in any number of arenas. Today’s Pixel Count poll is a big one, representing what I think are the biggest hurdles that gaming still has in front of it.
So, if we’re entering the next generation soon, which of these do you think is the most important issue, from a player’s perspective? Vote and tell us what you think in the comments!
One of the inevitable consequences of doing something as a career is that it will eventually worm its way into your personal life as well. I suppose this is all fine and dandy if you do something like play video games or landed a role being professionally awesome somewhere, but that’s not always the case. A good chunk of my job pertains to social media and how to use it. In monitoring online conversations, I’ve found that I tend to treat my own Facebook and Twitter accounts the same way at times, separating things out into their proper places.
Something odd I’ve found is that over time, I’ve come to view Twitter as the place where I post about video games, and Facebook is for most of the other stuff. I realized that the reason I do this is simply because not that many of my real life friends are gamers. Sure, there are those that would classify themselves as gamers, but that means that while they may play games like Red Dead Redemption on a whim because it’s $20 at GameStop, most of the rest of their gaming is tied up in sports games or the occasional bout of Call of Duty.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging their tastes in gaming. But I simply don’t connect with that kind of gamer, as it’s only a fairly casual interest on their part. For as much as gaming has grown over the years, I still find that I’m a closet gamer around many of my real life friends. It’s not so much that there’s a stigma associated with it (although sometimes that is the case with a few individuals), but just that I know it won’t really help us connect. I can really only name a handful of people I see on a regular basis that get why KOTOR changed my life or why I went to GameStop at midnight to go pick up L.A. Noire, or Portal 2, or what have you.
So, I guess I wanted to ask you guys: do your friends game? Are they just as into video games as you are? If not, how does it tend to affect your real life relationships? Go!
We’ve talked about video game endings multiple times on this site, but I just had to bring the issue back up after reading an excellent article about today by Christian Higley over at Digital Hippo about How Video Games Fail to End.
In it, Higley explores the idea that many games fail at a very basic level of storytelling: narrative structure. While stories typically have a first, second and final act, most games end the game right after the second act, before the real conclusion can actually set in. Red Dead Redemption is one of the few games I can think of that actually gives gamers a third act (and does it to great effect), in that Marston is allowed to return home, and the player spends time winding the story down before its sad but powerful conclusion.
While that’s not a new argument, the writer goes a step further by pointing out that most games are even missing the first act, choosing instead to thrust players right into the second act. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true it is: games typically begin at the “inciting incident”. It’s the equivalent of starting A New Hope at the very moment Luke’s aunt and uncle are killed. Or in many cases, even after that.
Have you ever wondered what your favorite game developers considered to be their favorite games? Well it seems that Dengeki Games is looking out for you, as they’ve recently posted a comprehensive survey that they conducted with some of Japan’s top gaming talent. Basically, they asked them what games from 2010 they loved most, and the results are interesting to look at, to say the least.
While there are plenty of developers who loved games with that famed Japanese flavor (such as Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, Pokemon Black and White, Vanquish and Mario Galaxy 2), it seems that there were just as many or more who preferred some largely Western titles. However, the top two games that most Japanese developers gravitated towards were both Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption.
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!
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.
The year is 2001. On a rainy October day, I run from the parking lot into the dorm, covering my head with a Best Buy shopping bag as I try to avoid getting swallowed up by the weather. After a not-so-quick elevator trip, I’m in my dorm room, tearing into the packaging of a Playstation 2 game. I curse once or twice as I pull at those little security labels, the ones that cling to your fingers like plastic mosquitoes and refuse to let go.
As the game spins to life, I am in a city. Just like the world beyond my windows, the world in the looking glass of my TV is consumed by rain. Soon enough, I am pulling motorists out of their vehicles with ease. I’m causing mayhem. I can go anywhere I want. I learn fairly quickly that this world has a name: Liberty City. The game I’m playing is Grand Theft Auto 3, and this is the first time I have ever seen it in motion. The experience waiting for me catches me completely off guard.
There’s nothing more immersive or impacting about a video game than a fully realized world, one that you love to be in and help shape by your actions or general goofing around. One of the reasons Red Dead Redemption enthralled me so fully was that its world was something that totally sucked me in, grabbing me in its noose and refusing to let go. Even after I finished the game, I didn’t want to leave, and kept coming back for more.
CVG recently posted a feature about 9 Game Worlds You’ll Never Want to Leave, and just looking at it makes me want to go through and pick up Assassin’s Creed 2 again, a long with a few others. Interestingly enough, they also include Mirror’s Edge, which, while very linear, still had a cool and bleached look about it. The thought of the sequel being an open world game is more than tantalizing. In addition, Rapture, Azeroth and San Andreas all make an appearance. Honestly, I would throw Mass Effect’s universe in here as well, as it’s one of my favorite gaming creations to date. Sometimes I find myself itching for more space adventuring with the Normandy.
So what do you guys think? What are your favorite gaming worlds?
For some reason, game length has become an issue that people have really started talking about only in the last few years. I’m sure there are a variety of factors for this, so it’s not necessarily an easy thing to dissect. Maybe people have only really started noticing how long games are because they’ve gotten more expensive? Or perhaps people are only more aware of it in this hyper-informational age where we build hype and wait through long development cycles, so we expect more hands-on playtime? Really, it’s hard to be sure.
There was an interesting article about the very topic of game length the other day on GamesRadar, discussing the issue of how long is too long when it comes to video games. The point that the author makes, and one that I think totally hits the nail on the head, is that it all comes down to pacing. If a game is paced well, its shortness or length doesn’t feel as such because the pacing and the experience itself was satisfying.
For instance, Red Dead Redemption, while a fantastic game, has a few pace issues around Mexico (and some would say towards the end of the game). By contrast, Limbo or Portal are only about 3-4 hours long, but don’t feel short because of how well the creators balanced the progression. One of my only complaints about Arkham Asylum is that it’s too short, but I think it might be that the game’s final act wraps up almost too quickly, with pacing that is erratic at best, which didn’t quite hit on all the right cylinders as it winded down.
Anyway, I think it’s an interesting topic, and one that I’m curious to hear your thoughts on. Is there a such thing as a perfect game length, or does it differ from game to game? Can games be too long? What games do you feel have pacing issues? Go!
One of the stand-out things in Red Dead Redemption is, for me, the incredible soundtrack. Invoking the classic feel of Western films and composers, Rockstar’s latest opus had an incredibly nuanced creation process involving the use of several antiquated instruments and a unique method of composition. While “Far Away” by Jose Gonzales is the stand-out track in the game, the rest of the score is no less moving or powerful. Rockstar put out a video detailing the process, and it’s an informative watch.
I found that really cool, especially how the composers layered the “strands” on top of one another depending on what the player was doing. I enjoyed the ambient music in Mexico myself. What about you guys?
If you’ve played Red Dead Redemption, then you are familiar with the song Far Away by Jose Gonzalez, which plays at one of the most iconic moments from the game. This moment is easily one of the best examples of exactly when to play music and let the game sound fade away. I’m also not afraid to say that it instantly made the list of my favorite gaming moments of this generation.
Well, you’ve listened to us yap about what we’re playing on the podcast, so it’s time for you all to jump in with it, too.
Fortunately for me, we seem to be in a very brief gaming drought, while we wait for the fall releases to start dropping on us. I suppose this begins in September with Halo: Reach, so that gives me a good couple of months to catch up with some of the games on my backlog. These include Alpha Protocol, 3D Dot Game Heroes, Starcraft II (when it comes out), Dragon Age: Awakening, and even more Red Dead Redemption.
However, in the immediate future I will be playing both Alien Swarm and Alan Wake, two games that are polar opposites in terms of budget, scale and style, but both equally as engaging, I’m sure. While I haven’t officially started Alan Wake just yet, I watched my brother play about a quarter of the game a couple of weekends ago and I was mesmerized. In addition, Alien Swarm has commanded the last couple of nights, and I still can’t get over just how fun this free game is.
I tend to be a bit of an obsessive gamer. I’ve written about this a few times in the past, so you probably already know that about me, but I seriously get fixated on the most inane parts of games and will sink hours into accomplishing a certain task. Whether it’s hunting for a certain weapon, achievement, trophy or whatever, I’m not above admitting that I turn into kind of a freak about trying to get things done in games.
In the past, this manifested itself as orb hunting in Crackdown. Right now, it’s revealing its ugly head in the form of mining Red Dead Redemption for achievements. I’m actually considering trying to 100 percent the game, which is something I don’t typically do. The last week or so, I’ve been finding myself just hunting, enjoying the world, seeing the sights, and it’s really quite exciting. Currently, I’m trying to find all the locations in the game, and will probably move to co-op or some of the public free roam items next.
What about you guys? Do you often like to mine games for those extra little rewards? What’s the most you’ve done for an achievement/trophy/unlockable? Go!
I’m sure by now we’ve all heard of the Dastardly achievement in Red Dead Redemption, which awards you 5 shiny new gamerscore points for the act of tying a woman to railroad tracks and then watching her get run over by a train. While I’m quite the bastard in terms of video game morality, this scratches even the extents that I’m willing to go, so I have yet to pull this off, but I’ve always got my eye out for the opportunity.
However, it’s never occurred to me to tie 19 folks to the train tracks all at once. This fellow deserves a medal.
I just finished Red Dead Redemption the other night, and now I’m in the process of achievement plundering, myself. Has anyone else nabbed this one?
To be honest with you guys, I totally dug Alan Wake. Like I mentioned in my review, that game was a breath of fresh air, something different in an industry inundated with first person shooters and movie tie-ins. Unfortunately, games don’t move copies on the adoration of one man alone, and Alan Wake has had a disappointing showing in its debut month, shifting only 145,000 copies to date. While there are many reasons that games don’t sell, I’m kind of puzzled by the fact that Wake got left behind. The game reviewed fairly well and was backed up by a decent marketing push, but it still barely managed to crack 100,000 copies.
Of course, one good reason could be Red Dead Redemption, which sold an outstanding 1,513,000 in May alone, more than ten fold what Alan Wake did. That sort of number boggles my mind, especially considering that it’s in the typical video game sales “dry season”. Big name games don’t usually sell that well until the end of the year, so kudos to Rockstar on once again proving that they know how to make damn fine games and sell them well. We can expect that number to go up again once the holiday season hits, so don’t be surprised if Red Dead ends up being one of the best selling titles of the year.
Despite Red Dead’s success over Alan Wake, Microsoft has still maintained that it is interested in ongoing downloadable content for the game, something that could help boost sales and even get us a sequel. One game that isn’t going to be coming back, however, is Alpha Protocol. While the game was by no means terrible (Anthony had a good review for it), it didn’t sell enough for SEGA to justify a second showing. I guess the story that May tells is that new IPs are still a very tough sell in the industry, despite the fact that core gamers clamor for new, original properties. Red Dead is more of a reboot than anything, but it’s still a successor to a previous game with a similar name.
What do you guys think of May’s somber news? Are you thrilled for Red Dead or sad for Alan Wake and Alpha Protocol?
Welcome to our semi-monthly open-forum post where we pose to you the simple question of “What Are You Playing”? It’s summer now, but the games keep on coming, so much so that I can barely keep up with them. I’ve completely skipped Final Fantasy 13, missed half of God of War 3, only just caught up on Heavy Rain, and I still feel like I’m struggling to stay current. It may have something to do with sinking about two days worth of playtime into Red Dead Redemption, but that game is awesome, so I’ll assume that you forgive me.
Other than that, there’s been a couple of co-op DLC releases, a licensed game that’s actually pretty good, and Steam is having a ridiculous sale right now (you can find all of the delicious savings through this link if you don’t follow us on Twitter). I think I’m going to pick up Torchlight since it’s so cheap. I’ve heard good things about it, but has anyone played it?
Also, before we jump in to your posts, I should mention that next week will be bereft of the GamerSushi podcast since Nick and Eddy are “ascending the slopes of Mount Doom” with Web Zeroes, as they put it. We’ll pick up where we left off with our normal format in a couple of weeks though. Hopefully you can wait a while before our dulcet tones, and my nasally voice, caress your ear canals once again. OK, enough blabbing on my part, get cracking!
Rockstar has a well-deserved legacy of making really engaging, if somewhat wacky and ultra-violent, sandbox titles, one where the player assumes the role of a mass-murderer of some note. Ever since the first Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar has been poking fun at various eras of history, but they’ve never strayed further back than the 80s. The most recent game from the studio, GTA IV, took a look at modern America through a very skewed lens, using the viewpoint of immigrant Niko Bellic to make a commentary on our post 9/11 society.
For their most recent title, Rockstar has decided to eschew the modern trappings of GTA IV and travel all the way back to the Old West; 1911 to be precise, an age where the cowboy still roamed the plains, but the government was slowly encroaching on the frontier. Players assume the role of John Marston, gravelly-voiced gun for hire, forced to hunt down his old gang members at the behest of the Bureau of Investigation. Does Rockstar’s traditional formula survive in the Old West, or does the corpse get picked apart by vultures when I’m done with it?
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!
We’ve all seen the phenomenon of people not being able to part with old games. Just take a look at those fine folks that never wanted to give up Halo 2 for some quick and easy proof. But even though we know that people do weird things with their time and their gaming habits, it never ceases to amaze me when I see some new statistic that upends what I thought I knew.
This week’s statistics from XBox Live (taken from Major Nelson’s Blog) are pretty telling when it comes to what people like to play. To me, it’s crazy that Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is getting beaten by so many old games. And on top of that, three Call of Duty titles still manage to battle it out in the top 10, this far removed from their release dates. Move on, people!
Anyway, here’s the list. Craziness.
Xbox 360 Top Live Titles
1. Modern Warfare 2
2. Red Dead Redemption
3. Halo 3
4. Call of Duty: WaW
5. FIFA 10
6. Call of Duty 4
7. Battlefield Bad Co. 2
8. GTA IV
9. Gears of War 2
10. Left 4 Dead 2
11. Halo 3: ODST
12. Forza Motorsport 3
13. UFC Undisputed 2010 Demo
14. NBA 2K10
15. Backbreaker Demo
16. Splinter Cell Conviction
17. NHL 10
19. UFC Undisputed 2010
20. Madden NFL 10