Category Archives: Video Games

The Last of Us – Game of the Generation

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The Last of Us was technically the top PS3 game of the year on the Top Ten PS3 games list – but it is also my game of the generation, as such it deserves some special love. Keep in mind this is not a “best of the year” designation, but literally what I consider to be the best video game of the seventh console generation.

Spoilers ahead!!!

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Top Ten Playstation 3 Games

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I was late to the PS3 – and once I came on board I really only used the system as a Bluray player for about a year straight before I finally dove into the gaming aspects of the gaming machine. Once I did, I ended up spending more time on the PS3 than any of my other systems. I was burnt out on the 360’s ad-laden dashboards and pay-walls, so slowly, the simple elegance of the PS3 UI won me over. I found myself using the system more and more as my 360 began to collect dust. I still used my Wii, but the lack of HD Netflix content, or any media capabilities to speak of, kept it relegated to being a pure game console, something I increasingly found myself having less and less time to devote towards. Media capabilities were the Trojan horse within which Sony delivered their games into my living room.

Beyond all the video crap though, the games here were really good and like Nintendo, Sony kept supporting their platform with AAA content long after the initial excitement and sheen had worn off the machine. The 360 began to peter out and die a quiet death without any notable exclusives late in its cycle, so Sony stepped in to provide me with the big shiny distractions I slowly started to crave. I have to say, that when all is said and done, the PS3 eventually ended up being my favorite, go-to console of the 7th generation, just barely squeezing the Wii out of my top spot.

So, without any further blather –

Here are my top 10 PS3 Games:

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Top Ten Xbox 360 Games

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Oh, 360… you were the first console of the 7th generation and I remember seeing your launch line-up and thinking “next gen, sucks ass!”… you had some up-rezzed ports of old, original Xbox games and then… Fight Night, which admittedly, looked pretty damn good for the time. But otherwise, I remained nonplussed.

Then there was the whole Xbox gold thing… putting Netflix behind a pay-wall is a pretty shitty move, I think we can all agree. Yet, despite it all, you were a great console; you were powerful and more often than not, third party games performed better on you than on the PS3.

It was a love/hate relationship we had for all these years and now that it’s over… well, it’s just over. If I’m being totally honest, the 360 has the weakest exclusives line-up of all three consoles (according to my personal tastes, that is), so I really had to stretch to even fill out this top ten… where the 360 truly shined was through the awesome third-party support. Still though, after all is said and done, thanks for the memories and thanks for the following games:

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Top Ten Wii Games

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Dear Nintendo, how on earth do you do that voodoo you do so well?

The Wii broke sales records like no one’s business and it blindsided the entire industry. The Wii made motion gaming a standard feature in all consoles and it brought the wonderful term “filthy casuals” into the popular gaming vernacular.

Yet people HATE it. The poor Wii was the whipping boy and laughing stock of the first HD console generation, mainly just because it wasn’t an HD console at all. Screw those people though, because I loved the damn thing and history has proven that Nintendo played it pretty smart in keeping the Wii standard def; that price point was just unbeatable… I mean, shit, they did sell OVER 100 MILLION UNITS!     I said God damn! God damn.

I freely admit that I have a soft spot for Nintendo, but the truth of the matter is, I played a lot of really great games on my Wii that I never could have played on any other platform. The Wii did a hell of a lot wrong, but despite everything that was frustratingly archaic about it – it still changed the industry, and when looked at objectively, had a large catalog of truly amazing games.

The Wii did do a lot of things right too though – Gamecube backwards compatibility was fantastic to have and the virtual console was really great (at first anyway), plus, it brought back the notion of a system shipping with an included game (that was actually really goddamned fun!).

For all its under-powered, standard def warts and basically non-functioning online component, I still loved the Wii. Like the ugly, but super-sweet best friend who is now just collecting dust at grandma’s house… wait…

So here then, is my sincere goodbye to you, sweet Wii – may you go softly into the night as I present my top 10 Nintendo Wii games:

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A Rant (okay fine, a MANIFESTO) Concerning Video Game Journalism

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I have no real personal stake involved with the act of writing about video games – My family will not go hungry if no one reads my thoughts on Mega Man 6 – I do this purely for my own edification. I have nothing to lose or gain and I have no horse in this race. With that basic qualifier out of the way, lend me you ear:

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Top Ten Multi-Platform Games of the 7th Console Generation

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It’s all but over – the Wii has stopped being manufactured and the PS4 and XBox One both debut next month, which means we’re making that bittersweet leap into a new generation. Goodbye to your current back-catalog and hello to your drought of no truly compelling games for about 1-2 years!

Due to that always (usually) lean first year or so of a new console cycle, where developers are still attempting to roll out (upscale) their games onto an entirely new platform, I tend to go back and revisit what I missed from the previous gen. As it turns out you can pick up a ton of really great games for super-cheap once everyone is focusing on the new and shiny boxes – whoda thunkit?. So, bully for us – let’s take a look at the best video games from the seventh generation.

We will only be focusing on home consoles here – no PC and no handhelds (I just don’t play either often enough!), so that means we have three little boxes to dive into – The  XBox 360, the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii.

The next parts of this list (coming soon) will focus on the best console exclusive titles, broken down platform by platform. Today, I present to you the best games (to me) which were available across multiple platforms.

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Know Your Enemy – The Xbox One and Your Dwindling Consumer Rights

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UPDATE: Microsoft, did a 180 on most of these policies – so Google that shit for the current standing of these awful sounding features. The people spoke with their pre-order numbers and Microsoft changed tact. But for posterity’s sake, here is the original unaltered article as originally published:

 

Microsoft has shown their hand, finally after weeks of unbridled speculation and misinformation they’ve cleared it all up: They’ve come to fuck us over. They’ve proudly shouted their plans from atop their ivory tower and have allowed their golden nectar of knowledge to trickle down to us, the fortunate, unwashed masses.

This is not an evolution in gaming, this is an evolution in corporate greed; an unmitigated brick to the face of every paying, loyal consumer which Microsoft has cultivated with their last two consoles.

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Next Generation War

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I am a goddamned adult.

I’m in my mid thirties, I have a professional career, two kids, an education, hell, I own a goddamned minivan. Why does this matter? Because I’m an adult and I make decisions based off of intelligent, rational thinking; i.e., I am not a ‘fanboy’. So – keep this in mind as we get into the meat of the following piece. I make decisions based on contemplation; there is no blind fanaticism or brand loyalty shaping the opinions I espouse.

So let the term fanboy die a slow, subtle and idiotic death in your mind before you continue reading.

This is a story of technology, massive global conglomerates and the ethical, social and artistic implications of supporting them. This is “the next generation console war®“- and you gotta serve somebody.

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Bioshock Infinite – Initial Impressions

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These are just some quick, unpremeditated thoughts from my experience with Bioshock Infinite so far.

In a word: wow.

I consider the original Bioshock one of the best games I’ve ever played, mostly because I was so incredibly impressed by how well written, and told, the narrative was. The actual first-person shooting mechanics of the game were cut and paste to me; not offering any innovation that I could ascertain, yet also not feeling archaic or clunky either. It played well and felt competent in comparison to my somewhat limited familiarity with the genre. I hadn’t been keeping up with the then current generation of games, but Bioshock really got me back into modern gaming. It was a bold and deep story, the likes of which I had never witnessed in the medium before. It was a rare beast; I could enumerate on its subtleties and themes as I would a novel or a film, something I had never done with a game before.

So, when (ostensibly) the same team and the head creative director of the original Bioshock announced the “real” spiritual successor to that fabulous experience (the sequel Bioshock 2, was not made by the same people and is not considered true canon for the Ken Levine directed series) I was immediately sold.

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Since the game was first announced I have carefully kept myself in blackout mode, watching only the (really inspiring) official trailers. Otherwise, I’ve purposefully kept myself in the dark in regards to the game’s nature and narrative. I went into the first Bioshock “blind” and it managed to affect me greatly, so I am eager to recreate that sort of feeling afresh with Bioshock Infinite, hence my many year-long blackout mode.

Did it pay off? Well, again: Wow. Holy shit. Fuck, fuck fuckfuckfuckfuck and one thousand more vulgar expletives which are the only recourse for my reeling mind right now.

Already, only a few hours into the game, I’m absolutely blown away by everything on offer. There have been several jaw-dropping moments in terms of aesthetic and narrative – and if it stays the course I can safely say that as much as the original Bioshock impressed me, Infinite is, well… infinitely better in every conceivable way.

The opening sequence was beautiful, deranged and compelling as any I’ve ever experienced in a game. The mysterious and downright frightening way you begin this game is genius; there is obviously something very peculiar about the main character, Booker Dewitt’s circumstance and disposition far beyond the seemingly banal trope you’re first presented with; “Deliver the girl, wipe away the debt”, etc. An existential meditation on reality and existence is at play here, told through the lenses of religious fanaticism and jingoistic bigotry, yet tantalizingly underpinned by an even larger, and more subtle, narrative involving theoretical physics and quantum mechanics (a field of study I’ve always had a deep attraction to).

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At a base level of “set-piece” experiences I have to say, two particular moments really stand out for me so far:

The first was an early scene involving a baptism that struck me as heavily influenced by one of my favorite contemporary films; Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. The buildup to this moment is incredibly intriguing, stirring, and frankly, rather haunting.

The second is the single most emotionally disturbing moment I’ve ever experienced while playing a video game – something which was revealed so unexpectedly that the only way I can adequately catalog it is to say it is probably the only actual portrayal of the banality of evil ever used in a video game. All I will say to those of you who have played the game so far to suitably clue you into the moment I’m speaking of is “#77”.

Not only is this scene wonderfully written from a structural, narrative-based standpoint, but the way it fits into the larger context of the ‘game’ is brilliant too; it heralds the first “fight” in the game and as such, immediately orients you into Booker’s viewpoint and in one glorious instant bonds you with your avatar in a way that most games cannot manage to achieve throughout their entire durations. In a scene which only lasts a few minutes you are cemented into Booker’s character and the game shifts into a completely new experience than what was expected. It is a medium defining experience and I think it is safe to say that it can be used as definitive proof to end the argument that continues to drag on about whether videogames can be considered art or not.

I grieve for Mr. Levine and the rest of the developers if the media decides to cherry pick this moment and hold it up out of context to further marginalize gaming as a dangerous pastime – yet, in a sense, it could be the best thing to happen to the medium in recent memory. I think exploring this game, and perhaps, the moment I’m speaking of in particular, could once and for all shake people out of their apathy and challenge their predetermined associations with the medium.

In any event, as you can tell, I’m greatly enjoying the experience of Bioshock Infinite so far and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Buy this game and do some thinking with your thumb twiddling.

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The State of the Console Union

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Since I’ll now be writing on a variety of topics outside of comic books, such as video games, I figured I’d serve up a bit of a primer; part personal history, part industry assessment and part prediction on the fast approaching next generation of home consoles.

Sony is holding a (not at all) super secretive press conference tomorrow (Feb. 20th), that all signs point to being the reveal of the “PS4”, so I thought now would be a good time to start saying good bye to this current (and longest) console generation.

– Personal history –

I joined this generation a bit late. True, I stood in line on launch day to buy a Wii, but I didn’t really join the HD generation until I picked up a second hand 360 a few years into its launch. All I used that 360 for was to play Symphony of the Night, a game I’ve played through at least 15 times in my life… so there wasn’t really much excitement for me attached to the “HD” experience. The first true HD game I really played through on that console was Bioshock, which Blew. My. Fucking. Mind.

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Holyshit,Ihavehadthisnightmarebefore!

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