More Reviews
REVIEWS NBA LIVE 15 Review
Yes, NBA Live was horrible last year. But this year's entry is a vast improvement. Just give it a try.

Dungeon of the Endless Review
A roguelike that’s equal parts charming and challenging with a turn-based twist.
More Previews
PREVIEWS Resident Evil Revelations 2 Preview
Capcom returns to the episodic format that entertained us in the first game of the sub series published on Nintendo 3DS and followed with a console release. What will Claire and company uncover this time?
Release Dates
NEW RELEASES Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Release date: 11/04/14

Assassin's Creed Rogue
Release date: 11/11/14

Far Cry 4
Release date: 11/18/14

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Release date: 11/18/14


LATEST FEATURES Xbox Downloads October 2014 - Updating Each Week
Microsoft's Xbox One console continues an Xbox Live revolution started over a decade ago. Here's hoping Summer of Arcade makes it to the platform next year.

PlayStation Download October 2014 - Updating Each Week
Sony's PSN platform had new games each week along with free offerings for PlayStation Plus subscribers. Take a look at the weekly additions for October.

LEADERBOARD
Read More Member Blogs
FEATURED VOXPOP LinksOcarina This is another article from Blistered Thumbs I wrote, back from the dead after being buried in the way-back machine. I posted this back in April of 2013, and many of the issues present seem to be prevalent right now in some cases, namely the decrees of sexism and misogony. Considering current...

MEMBER BLOG

LinksOcarina LinksOcarina's Blog
PROFILE
Eight!
Posted on Friday, October 31 2008 @ 14:05:50 Eastern

Eight! I did eight reviews for games in a month! Damn I must either be good at this, bad at this, or I really have a lot more time on my hands than I think I do.

Eight? Seriously, I haven't written this much in a month in a long time, and it makes me feel...well, good. I feel like I have been neglecting something I always enjoyed doing for a while, both at school and when working. I feel so good, so ecstatic that I am back doing something I always loved, writing.

Hell, the reviews are a side thing.It's the other stuff I enjoy. The Vox Pop entries, the fan-fiction story on Pokemon I have had brewing for three years, the short stories I have crafted for the CPPA (if you want the link to that, it's in my profile.) Hell, I am even planning on making a run for NaNoWrimo again, something I haven't done in years. I even have a few story ideas planned out for it, so I hope I can get somewhere with it.

I can also thank the new "From The Well" series, which is forcing me to remember or play old games from the past and giving them a moment to shine for now. I doubt anyone will read it, but it's not about the star-count or the number of views, it's about the fact that it has a review of it, so that the ten people who stumble upon it get a second opinion.



[ 0 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
The Sequel Effect: Part II, Bioshock and the Artform of Gaming.
Posted on Saturday, October 18 2008 @ 00:49:18 Eastern

Today I heard some news that I didn’t find surprising but at the same time was adamantly against. The sequel to the hit game Bioshock was revealed as a cutscene extra on the Playstation 3 version of the game. Yes, a sequel to a game that is the perfect storm of gaming, excellent story, sharp graphical design that really is considered art, and fun gameplay mechanics with few bugs; it is easily one of the greatest games ever made.

But a sequel? I know video games are essentially a commercial art, but I find it odd and somewhat underhanded to craft a sequel to a game that had a definitive end to it. Granted, the bad ending to the game is somewhat interpretational to a continuation of the story, but that is a stretch.

But this article is not about Bioshock; it’s rather what Bioshock represents to most gamers out there; an art form that is trying desperately to reach a plateau of acceptance. Games like Bioshock are a new crop of games that are pushing the boundaries of what can be done with the entire medium, and with some care and time, the medium can rapidly achieve the success that many wish it to, instead of being added onto the crumbling apex that sequels seem to do.

Firstly, Bioshock was a gorgeous game not only in terms of graphical detail, but also in terms of art design. It is rare that a game can feature great artistic measure and diversity for every level in the game. One of the levels in Bioshock has you running through a farmers market, lush with green trees and colorful wooden signs signaling the sale of various produce items, intermixed with a steampunk art deco design that towers throughout the fictional world known as Rapture.

Bioshock is not alone in the visual merits of an art form. Recent games like the downloadable Braid on X-box live, Dead Space, even older games such as Okami and Legend of Zelda, Wind Waker, showcase a degree of artistic measure and detail that can be varied and appreciated by gamers of all temperaments. Each of them has excellent level designs, vibrant environments, and a sense of wow, be it in space, along the ocean, or even under it.

The second ingredient to the tour de force was the story script. Bioshock was a game that had a thoughtful, well planned out storyline that question the very morals of the player himself. The good/evil concept has been used to death, but Bioshock was able to implement it in a way that made it almost invisible, intermixed with clever plot twists and strong dialogue choices. Few games can claim this prize; even the most revered franchises, such as Zelda, Mario, and Halo, have stories that are at best paper thin or painfully obvious. Heck, the games enemies had character, and that is something sorely lacking in most games today.

Lastly, the gameplay mechanics were polished and varied enough to keep the interest of the target audience. Great scare sequences within the game, smart gameplay using both the weapons and plasmid powers in conjunction with your current environment were well placed and thoroughly thought out.

While this ever-glowing praise is almost a rehash of what I felt about the game when I made a user review, the point is that each of these aspects can be seen as a form of art. Most gamers see all three together as a whole package, while a more casual crowd would focus on the main aspect to them, be it gameplay, graphics, or storyline, and make their claims there. What is important is to not lose sight of all three aspects, and any aspects in between, be it the voice over cast, the mini-games, or the graphical prowess. The possibilities for games to explore complex themes like Bioshock did are both endless and somewhat daunting.

Which brings me to my very problem with a sequel for a game like this. While I don’t discourage all sequels made for a game, it is important to first understand that some games don’t need a sequel. A game like Killer 7, for example, needs no second game to elaborate the features or the storyline, whereas a game like Gears of War is perfect ground to make sequels in, because they can continue the adventures of the main characters thanks to the environment created in it. Because of the designs Bioshock went with, a sequel would only mean two things in my mind, the pandering to the fanbase, and the chance to make more profit.

Most game franchises make billions of dollars from sequels after sequels of the same core game design. The EA sports games are the best example, since 2001 the game has been pretty much the same, with minor tweaks in the gameplay such as adding a new mode, updating rosters, or creating some arbitrary feature few people will likely not use. Legend of Zelda as well over the years has had minor changes to the core design, find a quest, go to a dungeon, get a special weapon, and use the weapon to solve puzzles and kill the boss.

While tired and true, sequels sell, and most sequels are designed not for the artistic merits of the franchise established, but for the chance to make more revenue for the corporations and developers of the game. There is a reason that Mario Party has 8 incarnations, or that talks of Halo 4 are abound right now. The games may have been good in their first incarnation, but the experience has slowly eroded into a former shell of itself, and it is self-evident. Halo 3 was one of the most hyped games of last year, and while a decent game, the hype was unjustifiable. The game is good, but not that good, and it’s clear to many gamers that the charm of Halo is losing it’s luster, meaning the game has almost ran it’s course.

Call me selfish, but I don’t want to see Bioshock fall into that category. Maybe a sequel will be a good thing, and this entire rant is all for naught. Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill, a non-issue to a bigger problem. But I do question what the commercial success of Bioshock will do for it’s own future. Firstly, the creators of Bioshock do not want to make a new game, saying that it is a standalone game for them. In fact, the only reason a sequel is in the works or even exists is Take-Two’s doing, with their chairman Strauss Zelnick coaxing 2k Marin, an offshoot of 2k Boston (the original development team for Bioshock) to make the sequel.

The game is a perfect example of what games can do as an art form, and while a sequel may continue this perfect example for the better, it has been a trend in the industry thus far to rehash older material in a shiny wrapper and pass it off for the sole purpose of commercial gain. The jury is obviously still out as to how Bioshock 2: Sea of Dreams will be; a continuation of a great artistic achievement is likely, and if it does happen I will be the first to say I was wrong, but I can't help but feel wary of a sequel to a game that really does not need one to continue, fix or change the gameplay mechanics or the storyline that was penned for it. Be that as it may, the sequel effect takes charge again, and like the Sword of Damocles, hangs upon a threshold that can lead to either the benefit or hindrance of the very argument that is represents.



[ 9 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
2 Jobs and a New Series
Posted on Thursday, October 2 2008 @ 20:37:29 Eastern

Man, having two jobs is killing me.

The first is actually simple sort of. I work at EB Games in New York, one of the few that are left, actually, in the evenings for four hours a day, 2-3 days a week on average. Not too strenuous, even though it's crooked anyway (but thats another story...), but it's simple work, not too many annoying customers and despite the turmoil with the bigwigs who care more for dollars then the souls of the people were trying to help, it's at least bearable.

The newer job, a pernament substitute for at least a month at a school called Annex D, is "fun." Essentially I got the job because two teachers were arrested and cannot work until their court date, a month away. It's a minor charge they will get out of easily, but, it gives me a job.

The problem is the school gives a new meaning to "hard knocks." Since this is a special ed, secluded school, there are maybe 50 kids, but all of them are foul mouthed, loud, and rarely do their work. My kids, the ones I teach the most, actually do their work, there 9th graders who are trying to do the right thing and have matured a lot over the years. The problem is that there not there yet, and when one constantly dances while yelling the words "CRIPPP" all the time...it gets annoying sometimes.

The other problem is all the other kids (who range from 6-9th grade, with the 9th graders being the calmest ones who actually do work.) are pretty much nuts. I had to pull one kid off the back of  a yellow bus. I mean on the outside, because he was hanging on the handle in the back, as the bus was moving. Another student I had to help restrain because she flipped out and tried to run away from the staff members and the CIT room (CIT is crisis intervention, kind of like a detention room where your not supposed to talk to other students and discuss what happened. It works in theory, but since the school gets little funding, the CIT room here is basically a classroom where all the kids have no restrictions, making it more like day camp if it wasn't for the CIT teacher in there who can literally **** up the other kids.)

So it's a rough time, and I do feel uncomfertable there because as a teacher I prefer the laid back approach; meaning tell the kids what I feel they should do, why I think it's a bad idea, and hope they make the right decision. And if things get out of hand, I need to raise my voice a bit.

But I digress. The other thing I wanted to mention was a new idea I had, the "From The Well" series, which is me, every week as faithfully as I can, reviewing a game from the consoles past, (not current gen games unless it's on the virtual console or X-box live, because that is the only place I can get to older games, from the NES and arcades, basically. These reviews are mostly retrospectives unless I own the game still (and therefore play it to make sure it's accurate.) and I think it will be a nice change of pace, a way for me to channel some energy into something besides work and the fighter showdown. So I hope you guys read it, the first one was put up yesterday (the Psychonauts review.) and I will update it again Sunday night, and thereafter every Sunday night.

[ 0 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
College Loans and Deferrment
Posted on Monday, September 15 2008 @ 19:11:16 Eastern

Yeah...im in a rut because I need to begin paying college loans soon and I can't defer them unless I can go to grad school today. And because of the bullshit with my degree conferral, I couldn't register for anything until now, meaning for the Spring...   read more...

[ 0 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
Lucky me?
Posted on Friday, September 12 2008 @ 09:48:22 Eastern

Well I got a call from a local high school here, and they said that they have an opening for a social studies class and were wondering if I was available for an interview tomorrow!

So, damn, excited right now. I just got my certification a...   read more...

[ 0 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
Finally
Posted on Sunday, August 31 2008 @ 12:50:07 Eastern

I got my degree, and my teaching certificate!

It's about damn time too, because I have been waiting for it since JUNE. Now it's late, meaning I can't get a job anywhere unless I get called in by a principal, so all my initial shopping for...   read more...

[ 7 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
Lost my Touch
Posted on Tuesday, August 12 2008 @ 09:59:16 Eastern

After three weeks of barely playing Rock Band, I finally got back on it. Mainly because my guitar is finally in working order again, a month ago the fret button wouldn't work at all, making me fail some easy songs both off and online (so to everyone ...   read more...

[ 0 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
Total Control and Setting Standards
Posted on Monday, July 14 2008 @ 12:24:13 Eastern

Well, like a lot of the fretwork freaks out there (Nick), I think I nearly orgasmed when I saw the new setlist for Rock Band 2 today, over 80 songs strong, and almost every single song alone can be a make or break deal for a game like Guitar Hero in ...   read more...

[ 3 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
Goddamn Mother****ing COLLEGE ARGH!!!!
Posted on Tuesday, July 8 2008 @ 19:00:52 Eastern

Yeah, i'm ****ing pissed off right now if you didn't notice.

I got a letter from my college in the mail two days ago saying I cannot get my degree because my degree conferral has been denied. After four years of working my ass off, receivi...   read more...

[ 5 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
Forum Woes
Posted on Thursday, May 29 2008 @ 19:28:36 Eastern

Until the forums come back, I am not going to be doing much here. I planned on writing two member reviews today, actually. One for GTA IV, and one for Viking, the game that I picked up on Monday and gave up on Wednesday. Good thing it was a rental.read more...

[ 2 Comments ]        [ Post a Comment ]
prev |  1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7 |  8 |  9 |  10 |  next
More On GameRevolution