Category: Video Games


**This was meant to be posted at the launch of Borderlands 2 on the Vita but then some stuff got in the way**

My Vita has been sitting on its own for quite some time now as my attention has been on my 3DS and Dark Souls II.  However, my 3DS may have to be put to the side for the time being, as I picked up Borderlands 2 for my Vita yesterday.  I’m not a huge Borderlands fan but I feel like it’s the perfect type of game to play on a handheld.  The reviews so far have not been great so I was on the fence about getting it, but I went for it.  I’m glad I did, because so far it’s been pretty solid.

Starting it up is the same and you still can’t skip the intro cut scene, which is annoying since I’ve watched it twice already, and a third time is just not necessary, but whatever, it drops you right into the game’s tutorial section, which is actually needed to get acquainted with the Vita controls.  They’re a little difficult to get used to but after playing for a bit it becomes a lot easier and now I’m not thinking about where things are.  Though, the front touch pad took some time to get used to since each side of the screen does something but it’s just kind of in a general area rather than a virtual button.  The back touch pad may be difficult for some people since you can’t rest your fingers on the back, but I didn’t find that to be an issue.  But overall the controls are solid and should not be a problem for anyone.

On to performance.  The first two hours I experienced no major issues.  There was a bit of slowdown when things got a bit crazy and sometimes when reloading a gun the game starts to get sluggish.  These aren’t frequent enough to be game breaking but don’t expect a seamless experience.  What is more noticeable is the frame rate

If nothing else, it's quite the achievement bringing such a large game to the Vita, and for the most part it does rather well

If nothing else, it’s quite the achievement bringing such a large game to the Vita, and for the most part it does rather well

drop in Sanctuary, it’s actually really bad but fortunately it doesn’t seem any fighting goes on there so it won’t have an impact on the core gameplay.  However, it is quite aggravating since it happens all the time.  That aside, there’s of course a graphical downgrade from the console versions and naturally the PC version, but this never stood out to me as an issue and the game looks pretty nice on the Vita.  Character models can be a bit stiff but that’s mainly for NPCs, as the enemies you fight seem to move just fine and have no problem getting in your face as they rush you with shotgun blasts.

Luckily, the gameplay is all there.  The whole shoot and loot system translates really well to the Vita and lends itself to both quick and long term sessions.  I’m assuming this version has all the guns in the other versions but with so many and with so little play time I honestly have no idea, but I can say so far I have come across a lot of weapons.  Enemies now explode to improve performance and I believe there are less enemies on screen at once.  Don’t worry, things still get pretty hectic.

I feel it’s important to note I have only played with the Day 1 patch, which from what I’ve read seems to have fixed a majority of major performance issues many people had to suffer through (it seems the Day 1 patch actually came out a week after the Vita bundle came out, on the day the retail version of Borderlands 2 for Vita was released on its own).  I have yet to play any of the DLC and I believe I may need to download it on my memory card, so some things need to be rearranged before I can comment on any of that.

So far, with just a few hours with the game it is difficult to give a full review, but my initial impressions are very positive.  There are some technical issues but not enough to detract from the fun or ruin the game (I’ve played some games with really awful technical issues and this is not one of them).  If you are looking for a fun game to play on the Vita then I would suggest this.  As it stands, Killzone: Mercenary is my top shooter on the Vita, but considering how much content is with Borderlands 2 it’s hard to say not to get it, especially since it’s rather fun.  I am looking forward to playing for many more hours and if I can convince anyone I know with a Vita to pick this game up I will give my thoughts on the co-op, which is limited to two rather than four players.

Now I must depart and go level up, shoot, and loot my way through Borderlands 2 on Vita.

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The long awaited first episode (of two) of Burial At Sea is now available to everyone with a copy of Infinite.  I’ll avoid spoilers in this review, so when I tell you Booker and Elizabeth are now in Rapture know that is not a spoiler.  Just as with Infinite, actually, if you have yet to play Infinite I suggest avoiding this sentence and this DLC until you get through the story of Infinite since story elements from that game come into play for this DLC.  So, as I was saying, this game follows a similar introduction as the player controls Booker who has  no idea who Elizabeth is.  Sure, it may sound familiar, but I found myself not caring much as it provided a nice prompt to go out and explore Rapture.

This time around you’re in Rapture before its downfall, and if I’m correct, I believe it takes place the day before the New Years bombing that kicked off the city’s downfall (I’m not sure if that’s referenced in any of the Bioshock-Infinite-Burial-At-Sea-Episode-1-Reviewgames, but it is in the book, which is an easy but fun read).  Everyone is lively and incredibly pretentious.  It’s actually kind of disturbing hearing the people of the city talk about how great they are, as if it’s the only thing worth talking about.  The exploration of the city took me about half the time I spent with the DLC, so about an hour and fifteen minutes of listening to every person talk and exploring everywhere.

The detail in the city shows why it took so long to release this DLC.  However, I would almost have preferred if they released both parts at the same time.  Sure, it may have taken a while, but it also would have allowed for the story to have better pacing.  As it currently is, Burial At Sea feels like a single mission in a much longer game, and in part it is.  The second episode will likely pick up where this left off, and to its credit, the ending of the first episode has one big cliffhanger, and I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to see what comes next.

So then, the main issue with this DLC is it feels like a full Bioshock game without being one.  I think after playing three great games, two in Burial At Sea’s Rapture, it’s difficult to not think of their long developing stories.  Of course, already knowing about Booker and Elizabeth helps a lot, and when taking the ending of Infinite into consideration, this short, episodic format makes a good deal of sense.  But this adventure only took me two and a half hours on medium difficulty and full exploration.  Imagine cutting Infinite in half.  It wouldn’t be much fun to stop playing as soon as a big story moment happens, and Bioshock is not afraid to have big story moments.  Nothing is told poorly here, it just needs closure, and right now it is a bit disappointing the DLC just couldn’t have been both episodes combined.

Taken the episodic nature of the DLC into consideration, I still really enjoyed my time with Burial At Sea.  The combat was fun and was implemented into an appropriate setting, allowing it to not feel forced.  However, due to the short length of the DLC there was not enough time to include all the weapons and plasmids (yes, they’re plasmids again, there’s some cool audio logs in reference to them).  There’s a forced boss battle, but it’s not that difficult and isn’t very long.  The little sisters are back and are well written into the story.

Overall, this is DLC is really interesting.  It tries to cram in half a Bioshock game into about two and a half hours, and for the most part succeeds.  It has the cool introduction and city walk through of Infinite as well as its combat, the second half has the tone of the original Bioshock, and the cliffhanger is really cool.  If you’re a fan of the Bioshock series I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Burial At Sea.

The long awaited Bioshock: Infinite DLC, Bioshock: Infinite, Burial at Sea Episode 1 and Episode 2  is now announced and it is a shocker.  It will be a two-part DLC with Elizabeth and Booker not just returning but apparently living in Rapture.  For fans of the games this will instantly set off some “how are they going to manage this” flags.  Why?  Let’s explore, shall we?

MAJOR SPOILERS FOR BIOSHOCK: INFINITE AHEAD!

Starting off with the elephant in the room: if Comstock never existed, as the end of Infinite implies, then how did Elizabeth a) get taken through a tear in time by Comstock which in turn b) allowed her to create tears in time and c) be

Really liking the art style here, kind of like a retro movie poster

Really liking the art style here, kind of like a retro movie poster

called Elizabeth rather than Anna?  Presumably, at the end of Infinite, the universes are at rest and each one has Booker with his daughter, Anna.  This implies that at some point in Infinite something happened, causing them go to Rapture and somehow forget about it, or at least Booker did, as Elizabeth wasn’t overly surprised when she brought them there in the game.

Did Elizabeth tell us about this already?  During the ending scenes of Infinite, Elizabeth explains how “There’s always a lighthouse.  There’s always a man.  There’s always a city.”  Are all these lighthouses echoes of the same people scattered through time?  Have their visions of utopia been slightly altered but still ultimately doomed to fail?  There’s no denying that Rapture and Columbia have been built on very different premises, but they booth breed the same sort of people.  Though, I wold have liked some Comstock back-story DLC, as we don’t really know his view of the city as much as his view of a single enemy, whereas Ryan had a lot more backstory and insight into the world along with his rivals.

The tricky part here is not interfering with existing history of Rapture while not being so distant that Elizabeth and Booker may as well not even be there.  Speaking of being there, I’m almost lead to believe this Booker was never at Columbia or didn’t make it very far at all.  In the trailer, he clicks his fingers and creates a little flame, but I can’t help feeling like it looks more like a plasmid than a vigor.  Are Booker and Elizabeth scattered through time?  We know Elizabeth and the Luteces have the ability to travel through dimensions and remember it, but when Booker does it he has to fill in the missing memories with ones to fit the world he’s in, even if he doesn’t really understand the world he’s in.  Maybe something massive happened, such as Elizabeth escaping to Rapture from her tower and the Luteces having to not only bring Booker through dimensions but through time as well.  This way, Elizabeth could be more grown up and living in Rapture, even before the fall, was not exactly a grand old time (well, the beginning was better but it kept getting worse) and she became hardened and more mature.  Hopefully this maturing doesn’t equal her being cold to the world, but I’m hoping they have better writing than just making her turn into an action hero of sorts.

Okay, I can go on forever with possibilities, but I quite like my last theory.  But I doubt whatever I come up with will be what Ken Levine has come up with, so now the wait begins for the return to Rapture (also note, Rapture looks awesome running on their new engine).

I have not posted in a while, but one must understand I just finished spring break, and no I did not go wild and crazy.  Instead, I played through the new Tomb Raider and Spec Ops: The Line.  Both of these games will be reviewed throughout the week, with Tomb Raider coming first.  Along with that I’d like to give a quick happy birthday to the Vita, which came out roughly a year ago (I’m a bit late, but oh well).  I have a Vita and think it’s pretty awesome, and I’ll probably get into that later in the week.  Playstation Plus has also been great this month with Vita game sales and some pretty cool free games.  Of course, Bioshock: Infinite is next week, but I’ll be waiting a few days after that until I get it since I had to order the Premium Edition, as Best Buy was out of preorders (don’t even get me started on that nonsense) and Gamestop was closed at the time, so I was fed up and ordered it.  God of War: Ascension came out last week, I have yet to play it but I want to talk about it, so let’s go.

Right then, there is or was a trophy in the latest God of War called “Bros Before Hos.”  I say was because apparently the title is offensive.  A few things to point out here, is that I’d be impressed if someone has not heard that saying before (just watch pretty much any college party type movie from a few years ago, you’ll likely hear it) and two, God of War has a far more offensive part to it that is in all the games, can anyone guess it?  That’s right, the sex minigame in every episode and the countless amounts of unexplainable topless women throughout the series.  I think it is a lot easier to construct an argument that Kratos (the main character for those who don’t know) is able to go to areas in the game where women are laying down as nothing more than sex objects waiting for the player to hit something along the lines of triangle, triangle, circle, square, rotate right joystick to the left now the right, and finish it off with a strike of the X button.

Then again, I suppose it is easier to release a little patch to change the title of the trophy to “Bros Before Foes” than actually do something about the actual depiction of women in the games (heck, Kratos at one time had a wife and child, I guess now that they’re gone he has no problem getting it on with every woman he comes by).  For those who are wondering, the trophy is acquired when the player kills a female enemy called Fury, but don’t worry, you still kill her in the game, why take the actual offensive part out (yes, she’s probably a monster of some sort, but for this to raise as an issue she likely somewhat resembles a human female)?

So it begs the question, who was offended by the trophy before the game even came out?  Probably not many people, but it is some easy PR to show the developers care and all that jazz.

Ah well, here’s a cool little video of Bioshock: Infinite, there’s a humming bird around the 1:30 mark, blew my mind, the detail in this game is stunning:

On a different note, right on SimCity, because singleplayer games are always better when plagued by connection problems, EA rocks!

I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember, and there’s a good chance you too play video games of some sort.  Take a quick look at any video game forum and you’ll likely notice something: gamers are not segregated.  Sure, we may make fun of others if they claim Call of Duty to be the best game ever, but it’s really all in good fun.  So if there are no boundaries between gamers when it comes to ethnicity or gender, why then are so many games pushing the same old characters on us?

You all know the ones I’m talking about: steroid man, emotionless man, annoying guy who just wants to blow stuff up, generic hero white guy, obligatory tough leader black guy, female who does nothing but is stuck in there for the sake of saying they put a female in,  and need I say more?

See, I don’t understand how gamers expect anyone to take video games seriously with so many of the mainstream games made up of these characters.  I know there are deeper characters in gaming, but for the major players in the industry, the characters are very far behind.  More often I keep hearing developers say they can never have a female protagonist because it wouldn’t work, and instead they’ll throw in a random female character for no reason other than to say they listened to the complaints and put one in.  This is why I like how Ubisoft has an African American female protagonist in Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation.  There’s so much rich history that has the possibility of being explored by creating a diverse character.

Likewise, if a modern era game had a diverse character that was a real person instead of a shoot-anything-that-moves character then maybe we would be able to play as a character that could show us a new way of thinking.  After all, I don’t think many people are full world travelers, so living in the US, I’d be interested in playing as a character from modern China or Middle-East.  While there are those who don’t want to admit or accept it, video games are a dominant form of media, and it seems logical to allow games to depict people in a real way.  This brings me to another main point: how mature are video games?

Yes, video games have a specific “mature” rating, but that does not mean they are mature in subject matter, at least not when it comes to characters.  Really, it mainly means the game will be violent, but how far does that go towards a mature story?  Not much at all.  Now, I don’t want to get rid of the rating, as I don’t ever want to see a little kid playing Grand Theft Auto or any other ultra-violent game, but obviously the ratings are not doing a great job of stopping that (i.e. just go online with Call of Duty and your ear will bleed with the shrieks of pre-teens cursing you out and saying they have done things to your mom even though they have only just been born a few years ago).  What I would like to see is two mature ratings: one for the ultra-violence and one for story.

This may not seem like a big deal, but I believe it will give gaming a new image.  Yes, a mature story can be told in a teen rated game, but for the sake of this I will focus on mature rated games.  If we look at the upcoming game, The Last of Us, it is obvious the game is violent.  However, there are glimpses of character interaction that look to touch on an emotional level.  The same can be said for Bioshock: Infinite.  I cannot really blame the public for looking down on these games for promoting violence, after all, the previews shown have all included a ton of killing.  Even the boxart of Bioshock: Infinite has the main character holding a gun (I believe The Last of Us has a similar cover).  Why not put a picture of the main character with the main side character?  The story revolves around the side character, but yet she might as well not exist in the majority of recent previews.  I appreciate she will be the focus, but so far they’re trying hard not to focus on her (which is odd since in the beginning they showed her off like there was no tomorrow, and now nothing).

Could this be due to an immature market?  I don’t think so.  Sure there will be those who want to play violent games all the time, and I have to problem with that.  They’re often easily accessible, and to be honest, dominating in Call of Duty or Halo online can be great fun.  But why try to trick these players into buying a game that is not something they would be interested in?  Or even worse, change the direction of a series to appeal to a wider audience, and in turn alienate the original audience.  Resident Evil has done this to no end, Silent Hill is kind of doing this, and Dead Space is making it painfully obvious.  There’s a reason these games made it to where they are, and that is the original fanbase.  Enough people must have originally bought the game for the series to take off, so why ignore them down the line?

See, gamers can come together from all around the world and play games.  The internet has made this substantially easier, but game companies are making it more difficult.  Developers are far too often scared to make a character that isn’t a white macho man.  Well, as a white male, I have grown painfully tired of that character.  Perhaps that is why Mass Effect was so well liked.  The characters were diverse and all served a point.  When a character died I cared about it, and that has a lot to do with how they developed and their back story.  If a fictional character can create a connection with the player, why can’t a fictional character based on modern people from around the world be depicted in a realistic way?

I don’t think video games can be taken seriously until they deliver mature stories with realistic and diverse characters.  This obviously cannot be done in a war game, as we have seen nothing but stereotypes in every modern war game.  Perhaps a survival game with people from around the world having to come together after coming to terms with prior prejudices and ultimately discovering how, when spending time together, we are all just people.  That is the game I want to play.  I think that is the game to change how people look at video games as an entertainment medium as well as a social commentary tool.  One day I hope this game exists, but with the current trend of brainless macho men, I sadly do not see this coming for a long time.

Time for a Best of 2012 list, here we go!

Movie: Les Miserablesles miserables

I wasn’t sure what to expect when going into this movie, but after seeing it twice now I can honestly say it is the most emotionally moving movie I may have ever seen.  I say this because I’ve known the music and have seen it live on stage before but not until the movie have I been as moved.  At first I was disappointed when songs were cut and some were shortened, but once I watched the movie I didn’t feel like anything was missing (though, why was Eponine not in the last song like she’s supposed to be?).  I fear that alone may have given away too much for anyone who has not watched the movie, so I will simply say to see this movie, even if you don’t like musicals you should give this a chance.  Also, Russell Crowe isn’t nearly as bad as people say he is and Hugh Jackman arguably has the lowest point when he has to try to tackle “Bring Him Home” (true, it’s not an easy song to sing, but I find it best just to go with it, which I did the second time and it was less noticeable, which is good advice for anyone who knows Les Miserables, don’t go into this movie trying to compare it with the stage version or you will miss out on some of the emotional impact).  And Samantha Barks as Eponine, simply amazing.

So, brace yourself for one of the most emotional yet brilliant movies of the year.

Trailer, possible spoilers for Eponine and Marius:

Television Show: Doctor Who

Why Doctor Who would be  a good question, after all the first five episodes of the latest series have been average to bad.  However, the Christmas Special overshadowed all the nonsense threads that were never resolved throughout the last two and a half seasons.  I’ll just pretend like the unsolved arcs never happened, and that’s mainly due to Jenna-Louise Coleman as the new companion, Clara _____ _____ (I fear saying her full name will create a good amount of spoilers).  Unlike pretty much every companion since the reboot (except Donna), she has a personality (really, how many more times could show runner Steven Moffat copy and past Amy slapping the Doctor and River saying the same lines over and over?).  She’s fun and a lot flirty, but more importantly she’s smart and not afraid to challenge or be challenged by the Doctor.  Speaking of the Doctor, I hope he continues to be more serious throughout the season, as he started to become far too goofy and was more of a bumbling fool than he should ever be.  I say bring on the rest of series 7, after just one episode the show may as well now be considered a reboot of the reboot.  The show feels alive again, and I’m glad Moffat was able to look past prior mistakes and hopefully start with something fresh and new.

Album: Silverthorn

Bombastic, epic, and emotional, that is Silverthorn.  After the departure of lead singer Roy Khan it was going to be interesting to see how Tommy Karevik would be as Kamelot’s new singer (for those who do not know, Kamelot is a power metal band from Florida).  The album marks the band’s tenth, and first with their third singer, Karevik.  Formerly of progressive metal band Seventh Wonder, it was no secret how diverse his voice is, and with it he brings a new dimension to Kamelot.  With what seems to be common with new singers, the album tends to play it safe with him, but after listening to the ballad, “Song For Jolee” it is clear there is a lot of potential for their next album.  Silverthorn is a concept album that admittedly is a bit difficult to follow, but luckily there is a short story book provided with the special edition that helps clarify the songs. Musically, it is their best album since The Black Halo, which was three albums ago.  Rather than just being another album, Silverthorn feels more like a rebirth of the band.  They have clearly started on a new path and have shown a continuing growth and maturation in their music.  To call it a metal album is unfair, because when one says metal it is easy for people to assume Metallica or Black Sabbath, but this is more, for as the band has grown so has the difficulty of categorizing them, so I’ll leave it by saying if you are a fan of film scores or Tran-Siberian Orchestra then you too should be interested in this album.

Notable guest singers include Elize Ryd (Amaranthe) and Alissa White-Gluz (The Agonist), who have both appeared with Kamelot on tour.

Kamelot Live with Elize Ryd performing “Veritas” from Silverthorn:

Pop Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

While this year had Taylor Swift whining about some boyfriend again, Katy Perry going on and on about being divorced, Rhianna pretending to sing, Nicki Minaj continuing to try and stay in everyone’s mind, and Lady Gaga… well I don’t know what she was doing, which is probably a good thing as it means she was being productive and working on a new album.  However, in the mix of all of this there was Carly Rae Jepsen came out of nowhere with “Call Me Maybe.”  She’s not sparking any controversies, isn’t riding the same old gimmick, she’s just releasing fun singles from an almost solid album, Kiss (the second half falters some, and Justin Bieber should not have been on the album).  Her newest single, “This Kiss” has a stronger dance feel and continues her fun image.  It is refreshing to have a pop star who is not involved in a scandal or some sort or switching boyfriends every other week.  I for one am glad none of her slow songs have yet to become a single, as her upbeat songs are always fun to hear on the radio.  Here’s to hoping she continues to have success in 2013.

Video Game: Far Cry 3

This was a tough choice, as there really weren’t many standout games of 2012.  Sure, there were big titles like Mass Effect 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3, and while I highly enjoyed both of them, neither captured me as much as I had hoped.  Far Cry 3 (FC3) really does feel like the advertisements say, and that is a modern era set Skyrim.  Hear me out, Skyrim is very light on RPG elements and basically just lets you update a few skills here and there, which is essentially the same as FC3.  What really impresses me about FC3 is how much better it is than FC2, not to mention the gorgeous looking tropical island setting (and I’m only playing it on the 360, I can only imagine how nice the PC version looks).  Having hunting serve a purpose is also nice, as Assassin’s Creed 3 has it there for really no reason and so does Red Dead Redemption.  If you want a world with a surprisingly good amount of lore, solid voice acting (well, the main character whines a lot but the rest are very good), a nice collection of guns, and the best sand box since last year’s Skyrim, FC3 is the game for you.  Also, the last battle sequence has the most over-the-top music, you’ll know when you hear it.

Trailer, note there is a good amount of language and gun play involved here, but it is a mature rated game:

 

Well, for the sake of being short I will wrap up my 2012 review here.  Yes, a lot of other things have happened, but chances are they’re somewhere throughout the rest of the blog or aren’t worth mentioning (i.e. why are there three Hobbit movies or the Eagles season which should have been 1-15, but I’ll ignore that).

So here’s to 2013, let’s see what awaits us this year, which having a 2013 should be enough as the world was supposed to end not too long ago.

 

Does EA Hate Their Fans?

Yes, yes they do.  Why do I say this?  Battlefield 3, that’s why!  I don’t know if DICE had a hand in this nonsense I’m about to tell, but if they did then I suppose they too don’t care about fans.  See, it was recently announced that Battlefield 3 Premium Edition will be coming out for $70 in September.  Essentially, it is a bundle including the original game and more importantly, all of the current and future DLC.

What does this mean?  It means anyone who bought the game at launch has to essentially buy the game twice to get the full content (original game was $60 while the access to all DLC with the Battlefield Premium access costing $50).  So while I and many others would have to pay $110, this new bundle cuts $40 from the price tag.  That may not seem like much, but from EA’s perspective they will already be making a ton of money from people who are basically forced to pay the $50 if they want all the DLC compared to new players.  What do they care, after all, Medal of Honor is coming soon and right around the corner is Battlefield 4.

While I do enjoy Battlefield 3, I cannot justify spending $50, especially when new players only have to spend an extra $10 compared to what I and many others originally paid.  It’s really a shame what EA has come to, and I can only hope the rest of the gaming world doesn’t follow down the same path (well, Activision isn’t doing much better and I quite like how Sleeping Dogs currently has an average of 83/100 on Metacritic).

It wouldn’t be as bad if this were the only thing wrong with Battlefield 3, but with EA allowing people to cheat and pay to get all weapons for online play and DICE essentially abandoning the servers by having nearly every single server be rented I just don’t know what they are trying to do with Battlefield 3 other than try their hardest to ruin it.

Also, if you’re wondering where I am getting the facts from here is a link.  The opinions on the other hand, they’re mine.

Think about it, I’m sure you know people who are anti-TV and anti-video games, with the latter being more common.  They’ll argue these things ruin your mind either by having you zone out and ignore the world around you or turn you into some sort of loser or evil person.  What’s the alternative then?  Well, usually they like to refer to the good old days.  I’m assuming this means reading a book.  Reading a book offers nowhere near the amount of creativity needed when playing a video game.  There is no trial and error, which means no learning.  Yes, you can learn through video games (team work, communication skills, and with games like Portal 2 you have to critically think to solve puzzles), and you know what, they also must be doing something right, just look at their popularity.  I’m not saying books are gone, as I like a good read, I’m simply saying there’s no reason to say video games are evil.

As for TV, well I’ll just say it doesn’t destroy your mind as critics like to say.  Granted, I don’t think watching the Kardashians or plastic housewives of whatever will be beneficial, but there is more to TV than that nonsense.  I recently watched all of Battlestar Galactica (I know, I’m late to the party) and the ending was horrible.  However, this allowed me to realize how connected the show had me to the characters that made me appalled by the ending.  Likewise, Doctor Who has story arcs spanning over multiple seasons, allowing viewers to analyze the episodes and communicate through online forums.  See the pattern here?

These new forms of media are connecting people in ways never before possible.  Sure, the new generations may not care about Shakespeare (who I think is overrated) and Great Expectations, but does that matter?  Honestly, I couldn’t care less about Pip and Miss Havisham, there was no connection there.  I don’t care if they’re deemed classics by scholars, that’s all yesterday’s news.  This leads me to my next point, why are some things considered not as good as others because they’re not classics?

Classic Rock, what in the world makes it classic?  What, it’s old, is that it?  Seriously, listening to Robert Plant wail into a microphone and Jimmy Page sloppily play guitar is not my idea of classic.  How many times can they play the same songs over and over on the radio?  Lynyrd Skynyrd are nothing special, but they don’t go away.  The same goes for newer bands such as Metallica.  I’m sorry, but when I walk into a music store I don’t want to hear the same old nonsense over and over.  Somehow I don’t think in the 70s people were listening to music from the 30s and saying it was the best thing ever (though, I’d argue that there’s a good amount of music from the 30s and 40s that’s better than what’s considered Classic Rock).  Don’t say it’s because there isn’t any good new music, because there is.  Just look at Paloma Faith, Imelda May, Sonata Arctica, Within Temptation, Arjen Lucassen, and so many more.  The problem is, the current generation doesn’t listen to the radio, so they pretty much have to fill it with Classic Rock, and as a result older generations don’t think anything has happened since then.  And I will seriously argue that Lady Gaga is a better musician, singer, and songwriter than the majority of the Classic Rock artists, she’s simply doing shock-rock, just as has been done for many years from Alice Cooper to David Bowie and many more.

Since we’re discussing music, why is metal so bad?  I listen to metal a lot, and I have to say, when listening to a song such as A Sailorman’s Hymn by Kamelot, Say My Name by Within Temptation, Swanheart by Nightwish, and Under Your Tree by Sonata Arctica (possibly the most emotional song about the death of a pet dog in all of music) I don’t see how anyone can say metal is just a bunch of people making loud music and screaming into a microphone.  Sure, there is metal like that, but the reason I hate saying I’m a metal fan is because people think that’s all metal is.  Sure, I may have put down Classic Rock, but I also acknowledge the good bands such as Styx, Queen, and Pink Floyd amongst others.  I’m just tired of people saying all new music is horrible and that Classic Rock is the best.  The same kind of applies for metal, as many don’t know symphonic metal and power metal exist.  I just found a new band last year, Amaranthe, and I can almost guarantee if they had more exposure people would become fans.  It’s a shame that metal is still looked at as either the music of evil or still associated with the 80s.

Essentially, what I’m saying is we need to expand our entertainment minds.  Sure, none of these things are pressing issues, but they’re definitely the easiest of issues that people can be open to.  I’m not asking for massive social change, just a bit of open-mindedness to basic forms of new and old entertainment.

 

People become attached to things they invest time into.  People want it to be worth it.  If something goes on for too long people begin to have doubts that the ending may not be worth it.  But what happens when something works out perfectly and people are still disappointed with how it ends?

SPOILER ALERT

Well, just read a discussion board about the ending of Mass Effect 3.  I cannot believe how many people are still complaining about it.  After playing the game, I really don’t see what all the fuss is about.  Sure, the choices made in past games didn’t directly alter the ending of the game, but the had an impact on other events prior to the ending.  As for the ending itself, why was it so bad?  Really, it’s not that complicated, so I don’t see why people are trying to think of alternate theories on why it ended how it did.  Simply put, Shepard runs towards a teleportation beam, then ends up getting shot and nearly dies, then wakes up sees everyone around him dead, still walks towards the beam, and then is teleported.  After being teleported, Shepard walks about until finding and killing The Illusive Man.  No big deal.  So you then go to the top of the ship you’re on and after talking to the synthetic mind (sorry, it’s been a while I forget what it was actually called) you are faced with a choice of which ending you want.  Then the ending is played out in a cutscene and that’s it.

I’m sorry, but where in the world is there any issue with how it ended?  It’s not like the games ever had deep stories, they’re all pretty much standard space-opera affair.  Now, that’ s not a bad thing, but I’m just confused as to what type of ending people would have preferred?

It seems like people are looking way too into a space-opera, where the main focus is on the characters and their relations, which this game (for the most part) does very well.  If anything, I was most annoyed with the addition of online play being tied in with single-player, as I was never able to actually get into any type of match due to nobody ever saying they were ready to start the game, so I’d always just sit in lobbies and wait.

Basically, this is a space-opera, and even if it wasn’t, the ending is still not bad by any means.  Sure, there could have been more cutscene showing a memorial service for Shepard or having a kind of Earth rebuilding scene, but that wouldn’t have really added that much.  Maybe “true” Mass Effect fans will say I’m not a fan so I don’t get it because every “true” fan gets it, but to each their own I suppose.

E3 2012: Sony

After watching Sony’s E3 press conference I’m left with mixed feelings.  I’ll begin with the good.  The Last of Us seems to be an amazing game, and a stage demo was used to finish the press conference.  Some may be disappointed it’s not a survival horror game, but that’s fine by mine.  The game appears to be a survival game based around the relation of the the two main characters.  This is further demonstrated in the demo when the AI partner saves the main character on multiple occasions.  The thing is, it isn’t in the form of cutscenes, and all happens in real time.  Though, that may also be a problem if the final game has issues with the AI, but I trust in Naughty Dog to make the game run very well.  However, this wasn’t the biggest surprise of the night.

No, that goes to Quantic Dream’s newest title, Beyond: Two Souls.  In short, the game follows Jodie Holmes a period of her life filled with highs and lows, and to make it interesting, she is accompanied by a ghost (well I’m not sure if they said ghost, but it’s something from beyond).  Other than that there’s not much to say, as not much was said.  Worth noting, Holmes is played by Ellen Page, which further contributes to Quantic Dream’s cinematic gaming experiences.  Now, I’m not going to lie, I never played their previous game, Heavy Rain, but that’s because it never looked interesting to me (I’m not a fan of crime dramas).  This however, looks to be right up my ally, and knowing it will actually have strong writing makes the story something that may stack up their amongst the best in video games.  My only issue is the developers keep preaching about making a mature game because adults want to do something more than explode stuff, but the second half of the trailer was full of action and explosions.  Oh well, as long as the whole game isn’t like that I’ll be good.

As for the rest of the show there wasn’t anything overly exciting, well apart from Assassin’s Creed 3.  I’ve been looking forward to the game here and there since it’s been announced, as I’m tired of the Ezio stuff.  However, knowing I’ll be able to be a captain of a warship is awesome.  As is not having to wear those annoying robes anymore.  The PS Vita spinoff of the game also looks interesting, and it’ll be interesting to finally have a playable female lead.

That’s it in terms of games that was interesting.  Sure, Far Cry 3 had a spot, but other than the setting nothing much was shown to make it different than any other shooter (I say this because it was a live demo of four player co-op, which is neat, but looked to be very straightforward).  The new God of War was also shown, but at this point you either know if you like it or not, so it wasn’t overly exciting, but does look to be a solid entry to the series that fans will definitely enjoy.  I’m not going to say much about the next game, but Playstation All-Stars: Battle Royale continues to look like a shameless ripoff of Super Smash Brothers.  Yes, there are a few differences, but nearly everything else looks to be so similar that it’s laughable (even the animations when you get hit and go flying in the air look very similar).

Then there’s the very interesting part, the Wonderbook.  It’s used with the Playstation Eye and Move and makes the books made for it turn into interactive story books.  This is targeted to children, and what better way to do it than have the genius herself, J.K. Rowling work with Sony on the first book?  When seen through the Eye, her book, Book of Spells becomes interactive, and the Move turns into a wizard’s wand.  The want is used to cast spells and other wizarding things.  I’m interested to see how the Wonderbook works with reading, as it appeared words were highlighted in red as the user in the demo progressed through the chapters.  Regardless, the product should really be called “Making School Fun,” as it will be perfect for a school setting.  Sure, teachers will protest, but they have to understand children are growing up in the digital age, and can no longer be taught by boring old lectures.  I really do appreciate Sony taking a step in this direction, as it continues to show their innovation.

So, while only two exclusives wowed me, and wow they did, the Wonderbook and Assassin’s Creed 3 helped me forget about the other, not so interesting games.  Now, if we’d be lucky enough to either have GTA V released this year or at least an official release date for next year I’d be set for the future year of gaming (as Bioshock: Infinite and Tomb Raider are already coming out next year).