Sep 27, 2010

Red Dead Redemption Time Lapse

It's unironically beautiful in a strange way, and I never thought I'd say that about a RockStar game.

Sep 26, 2010

Nathan Fillion is the Wrong Ryan

Revisionist LOTR

Revisionist Pulp Fiction

Sep 22, 2010

If 'Zombie Apocalypse' Were Accurate...

...Armageddon would be mind-bendingly tedious.

I don't normally buy games from the Playstation Network, but I am eerily susceptible to media about zombies. Movies, comics, books, games, ringtones (I wanted a Left 4 Dead 'Witch' ringtone for a time). That's why I initially picked up Zombie Apocalypse for 10 bucks on PSN.

It is a standard two stick shooter that has a few similarities with Valve's Left 4 Dead franchise. You can play as one of four characters (just like in L4D). One of them is a grizzled old white guy. Another is a hipsterish African-American. One is a hipsterish ginger...and the woman.

Well, I guess that's really just the most blatant example of lifting from L4D but even that isn't totally egregious and obvious - and not necessarily true - so I'll move on. I mean, I could fill an entire post with the coincidences between the two games (They both have shotguns! They both require you to kill an inordinate number of similar-looking people! They both mostly take place at night! Holy Jeez!)...but I won't.

Suffice it to say that ZA is fun for short stretches, but it's a same-y sort of game, so don't expect much in the way of varied gameplay. You shoot zombies. And more zombies. And even more zombies. Blood literally covers whole stretches of the screen at certain points, and yeah, that's fun, but honestly it gets old.

And this is me saying it! I absolutely love zombies, couldn't get enough of them. That is, until this game.

The problems arose when I decided to try for all of the trophies. There is one little sucker called "Hotter Than Hell," which prompts you to finish a game mode called "7 Days of Hell."

Now, granted, I should not complain that a game mode called "7 Days of Hell" is frustrating. It's like ordering snake whiskey in Thailand and complaining that you got a rattler stuck in your throat.

But it is really frustrating! And really tedious! The game has no sense of pace, even a rudimentary one. It sounds ridiculous that I should point pacing out, because Zombie Apocalypse is not a story-driven game. It's a challenge, much like old NES titles, but there should at least be a suitable crescendo of zombie violence in the final portion of each stage.

Especially the seventh and final one.

Instead, what I got was a mass of zombies midway through the final level and then a gradual tapering off in the numbers, until the very end, where I was forced to snipe the occasional zombie until the DAY 7 SURVIVED accomplishment popped up. Unacceptable. There should have been a frantic battle at the end, or the level itself should have been shorter and more difficult. Overall, I killed about four thousand zombies in that final level, and it took an astonishing forty-five minutes to beat it.

The regular game mode isn't that horrific, but it does get quite repetitive, because there are only a few levels, a few guns, and a few zombie types.

Zombies have been cool long enough for me to get a substantial fix on the undead, but

Sep 19, 2010

My First Thoughts On: Mass Effect

This is going to be a tough one for me. 'Mass Effect' is the first BioWare game I've ever played, and it's so different from most everything I have ever encountered, I have little to compare it to. I never got into 'Knights of the Old Republic' back on the original XBox (save the hissing and spitting until I finish this post). Ditto for the Baldur's Gate series. I'm simply lacking a formal vocabulary that I can use to discuss it.

Like with most of my gaming discussions, I guess you'll have to suffer through another post of me talking about how fun [insert game] is.

So far, and I've only put three or four hours into it, 'Mass Effect' I think? I'm definitely enjoying it, even though I've killed fewer than fifty people so far (and what video game is any good that isn't a complete and utter massacre), and the last few hours have consisted of running around a building and talking to random people. I assume that's going to take up a great chunk of the game, which is actually fine by me.

At one point, an assassin tried to take me out in a hallway leading to the station's closest approximation of a strip club, and I felt that the combat in that particular instance was getting in the way of my aimless conversations with aliens. It took me entirely too long to kill my assailant, and I am a casual gamer, but had I known my destination, I would have fought much harder for the cause. The fact that I was somewhat disappointed in the club itself does not mitigate my point.

Being a sci-fi noob, I am still unsure of the plot, but it seems as though a Predator has turned on the Empire and is causing a human army to go all Starship Troopers on a few of the surrounding planets. That is the reality I've created, so I'll let it stand at that. I spend most of my time thinking about what choices I'm going to make in the dialogue trees, but I am reticent to take any longer than normal in my actual decision-making. I'm playing Shepard as a centrist, a cypher, in all of these proceedings, and I think I'm doing a fairly good job of it, as well.

Commence your hissing and spitting now.

R.E.M / Stevie Wonder MashUp

Even though I know the trend is waning, this is a particularly great mash-up. Not only am I impressed with the way both songs come together, the isolation of Wonder's voice makes me think about the vocal melody in an altogether different way. Me gusta.

Sep 14, 2010

L4D Comic

Jumping into L4D doesn't seem quite so untimely now...since the Left 4 Dead comic is officially out! P.S. Click on the link and you can read it online for free.

Sep 12, 2010

First Impressions: Left 4 Dead

I am continuing my quest to catch up on all of the interesting games of the last few years that I've missed, and that quest includes - DEFINITELY includes - Left 4 Dead. No, not the sequel (I haven't gotten that far yet), but the original, a horrifying, frantic, nerve-wracking, panic attack-inducing game. It is the most claustrophobic experience I have ever had watching something play out on television (except, perhaps, for the Texas Funeral scene in Kill Bill, Vol. 2), and I have loved just about every minute of it.

Except for every minute of it. True, the game is fun, as much as any game that is as hard as Left 4 Dead can be fun, but the real challenge lies not in the game itself but in the engine that runs the whole experience. The AI Director (who I always imagine to look like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget) simply chooses the most inopportune time to send hordes of the undead pouring through doors or down open hallways like cockroaches out of a cadaver that's just been prodded.

It is insanity. I am not one to respond to video games, one way or another, but when my health is depleted, I cannot help but beg the forces inside the XBox to please, please, PLEASE not place a witch in this spot on the map or place a Boomer behind that door.

Forgive the particulars of the language. In Left 4 Dead, you play as one of four survivors during the zombie apocalypse - hence the name - and, in addition to the numerous "normal" zombies in the game, there are special versions of them as well, infinitely more deadly and pants-wetting-scary in nature than their humdrum counterparts. Hunters are stealthy, powerful z-words that can pin you on the ground and rip chunks out of you until a team member saves you. Smokers have long tongues and will drag you long distances...until a team member saves you. Tanks are giant bruisers that require the entire team to kill. Boomers are fatties that vomit zombie juice all over you and attract a horde. And witches, well, witches are weepy little vixens that, if disturbed, will lay a hurtin' on you that will make you flinch every time you hear them in the distance.

All of which hints at the brilliance of Left 4 Dead. The co-op actually works, as opposed to most games, in which the sidekick is most notable for going out of its way to get in yours, or for taking all of your supplies while you singlehandedly take down the enemies (you know, the things your buddy's supposed to be helping you out with).

I've beaten the four major campaigns but haven't played the online co-op yet (alas, I just bought the XBox and must wait for another pay period in which to purchase a year subscription to XBLive). Overall, the game is extremely enjoyable, if frustrating. I do like that, though each campaign has the same basic structure, the number of zombies changes each time. Without that adapting AI, L4D would only be worth a play-through or two.

Oh, and my favorite campaign (and by far one of the best climaxes of any piece of zombie-related media) has to be NO Mercy, where you and your three compadres search for a local hospital and have an epic shootout on the roof while waiting for a chopper. Excellent. Can't wait to play it with actual people.