Best and/or Brightest

The new. It’s something I, and I assume others, struggle with. Always wanting that new thing. The latest and greatest. This mantra seems to apply pretty evenly across a bunch of aspects of the industry. From the latest consoles – which even seems to apply several times across a generation now, to new fads like Virtual Reality and even to updates in games like new characters. And that’s where I want to start.

I exist inside of paradox where I both understand and am baffled by people’s desire for the new. So let’s start with the small stuff.

As I’ve said a lot lately – I’ve been playing Overwatch again. And, in Overwatch, Blizzard has recently release a new character: Sombra. Now, I get that everyone, to an extent, is always going to want the new characters and everyone is going to want to play that character. But come on guys. Like everything – there is a time and a place. This is one of those paradoxes I was talking about. I understand wanting to play as a new character after a year of playing with the same 20. But at the same time, playing it in competitive mode where ranks are decided and team composition is important, is not the time to learn how to play the new character.

VR. That’s a big one for this generation. The proverbial toe in the water. VR is fancy, and it’s new. And, as such, carries a price tag that matches its status. But is it really that exciting? Or, I guess the real question to be asked is: Is it worth 700$ plus the applicable taxes to find out? It’s an interesting foray into an undiscovered medium – I’ll grant it that. And I think in time it will prove to be the next major leap that games take: Total immersion. I mean, we’ve seen it in science fiction in books like Neuromancer and TV shows like Star Trek’s Holodeck. It’s the logical progression.

Lastly – consoles. Now, in the past – and we don’t have to go back that far to see it, the PS3/360 generation had it – we’ve had multiple versions of consoles be delivered throughout the life cycle. PS3 started fat, with a small hard drive and it was backwards compatible. Then we go the slim, which offered a significant improvement on design, HDD size, over all size of the console and better functionality (i.e. less burnout). And the 360 saw several iterations of the same concept. But they were all effectively the same system. More or less, anyway. But this generation is funny. We’re being “treated” to several versions of the console, some with “vast” improvements.

playstation4_g_03-0

Now, how vast that improvement is is definitely based off of what kind of tech you have supporting the console. If you’ve got a 4K TV and you’re fully set up with the next rung of Blu-Ray discs, then consoles like the Xbox One: Scorpio are definitely what you should be aspiring to. Now, that’s to say, if you don’t already have a console from this generation. Because, if you do, and you have all of those supporting pieces of tech, the reviews are pretty underwhelming. Anyone with a good 4K TV will tell you, the upscaling that the TV does, regardless of whether or not you’re running the PS4 Pro, Xbox One: S or (granted this is an impression at this point) the Xbox One: Scorpio, is going to provide a significant improvement in graphical quality. Of course, the rest of the tech specs and in the case of Microsoft, the added 4K Blu-Ray player is something to consider I suppose. At least until things are developed in native 4K.

But I leave you with the question – is newer always better? Does it have to be the latest and greatest to keep you happy, or are you good with what you’ve got?

Sound off below or hit me up on one of the social media platforms that I’ve linked below.

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube.

– The Ego

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Glad tidings

So my faithful readers, Christmas – the gift giving part at least – has come and gone. I hope you all had a great day, ate well, lived life and did what makes you happiest.

The question I have is: What games were underneath of the tree this year? Being that, as I usually do – what with me being an addict and all – I purchased the majority of the games I wanted this year long before the Christmas shopping began. So when it came time to grab that special game – well, I already had it. But there was a game that almost became a throw back and a forgotten game. That game is Sword Art Online: Lost Song. It didn’t review very well. And, for what it cost at release, it seemed a little hard to justify the price tag for something Gametrailers gave a 6. But, it’s Christmas. And, in the spirit of the season, I decided to give it a second chance. So it’s sitting back in my apartment just waiting to be opened. Being a huge mark for the anime, I feel like the game will have to work pretty hard to earn my ire. I just hope it holds up well enough to get some enjoyment out of.

This year saw me buying and trying a lot of games that I had already said no to, or, never considered at all. Along with SAO, I had thrown back Destiny at one point. I gave up on it, having played through the beta twice, I didn’t see myself stepping back into those space shoes. However, I had some people I like peer-pressure me into buying it. Which, normally, wouldn’t work for a second. But, we all have to fold occasionally. I have to say – I don’t regret it. Playing with them is fun, and the game really does have a lot going for it. I reserve the right to pass final judgement on it when I actually hit the level cap, but so far, so good. Only thing I wish Destiny had of kept from its initial run: Dinklage. Don’t get me wrong, Nolan North is great at what he does. That being said:

1. I love Peter Dinklage
2. I would love to play a game where Nolan North doesn’t voice a character

Nothing exceeds like excess. There is such a thing as too much. Right? Destiny boasts an all-star cast of voices from Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion, Lance Reddick and Peter Stormare. Why couldn’t they just keep Tyrion? I’ll admit, there are times having watched the video below that I like what North did better in terms of his take on the dialogue, but the complaints people had about Dinklage (mostly that he was too dry) make more sense than the animated persona done by North.

Anyway, that was a bit of a diatribe, but it was something I’d been thinking about since I bought the game, so I wanted to get it off of my chest.

I think the main reason 2015 was such a great year for the industry was that it really felt like the current gen consoles really hit their stride this year. Which, I think, is the most important thing we should take away with 2015 closing out next week. The reason being: 2016 now is going to be (and really, has to be) the year where the new platforms have to show us what level we should set our expectations on. 2015, along with some extremely good games, showed us a lot of remastered games. It’s definitely an important step. Showing us what we have compared to what we just gave up. But now it’s time to hit the ground running. Bust out those new IPs everyone is waiting for. Show us that our collective faith in Sony and Microsoft (and to a lesser extent, Nintendo) wasn’t misplaced. Not that I think many people feel that way. But it’s time to make the nay-sayers and hold-outs get on board.

Merry Christmas.

– The Ego

Skimming off of the top

So, I’m sure it’s come up at least a handful of times already, but let me put it on the record again: I’m not crazy about DLC. Now that’s not to say that I refuse to buy it. So, I’m certainly a part of the problem. I think the majority of gamers are in the same lot. We hate paying for stuff that should be included in the price of the game, but we simultaneously love that games we enjoy are supported, sometimes, long after their launch. Micro transactions are currently the bane of the industry – on the consumer side. Now my feelings can best be summed up by a good friend of mine: when it comes to micro transactions for things that are cosmetic, and not game breaking I’m fine with them. Especially when the money raised from them fund the developer’s ability to release substantial pieces of content free for the rest of the users.

I think what is both interesting and infuriating is that every game seems to come with a “gold” or “deluxe” version now.

assassins-creed-syndicate-gold-edition

In some cases, like Star Wars: Battlefront, the up-sell is 10$. For your 10$ you get a few weapons, some cosmetic stuff and a DLC map. Not a lot for your money, but you’re not breaking the bank. It’s the sort of stuff the die hard crowd goes for, and I get that. But then there are games like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate or Rainbow Six: Siege. The regular games are already at the whopping price point (in Canada) of 79.99$. To acquire the Gold edition, you’re putting down 119.99$ – before taxes. That 40$ gets you access to the season’s pass. Now, most games don’t even give you a complete list of what you can expect, in most cases it’s a vague blurb. In the case of Assassin’s Creed – you get a bunch of missions and an extra “hour” of associated gameplay. The justification is pretty thin.

If you’ve been reading along with me for some time now, you’ll know that my opinion of Ubisoft has only been climbing this year. This isn’t something they and they alone are guilty of. It’s a systemic problem. Not localised to any one company or sector of the industry. And, my qualm (this time) isn’t even pointed directly at the day one DLC/built in season’s passes. My issue is if you’re going to go the way of making a season pass, and promising expanded content – you really need to make it something specific, something great and something that can give me a reasonable answer to the question: Why should I give you another 40$ for a game I’ve already bought, played through and completed versus me going out and grabbing a new game?

Because the truth is: There is always another game out there. Indies, AAA’s and a bevy of games are at the consumer’s fingertips. Basically all retail stores (with even a modicum of electronics) carry games now (even your local drug stores and grocery stores) and digital media is just a few mouse clicks/taps on the analogue away from adding something else to the library.

For 40$, I personally need to walk away from my purchase saying: That was a great decision. Especially since, unlike physical media, there is no returning software that you’ve purchased. Regrets cannot be an outcome.

Now, again, this isn’t me picking on any group or company specifically, but I will use the Fallout series as a perfect example of money well spent. Every piece of Fallout DLC is virtually deep enough to be as large (or larger) as some indie games. For the price of (approximately) 10$ per installment (the same price that games like Assassin’s Creed’s offer) there is no comparison.

So, to the companies forcing that extra attempt at grabbing those extra consumer dollars – just remember that what you put out there is the reputation you have to stand on. Make sure that when you tell me I should give you that extra 40$, that there are choices abound.

– The Ego

The (figurative) towel

When is enough, enough? I feel like I should be dragged (likely kicking and screaming and swearing) to some sort of gamers anonymous meeting. I just keep buying new stuff. So, here it is:

My name is The Ego, and I have a videogame buying problem.

Phew, now that that’s off my chest – I feel a hell of a lot better. Well, not really, but at least I can feel the acceptance flowing through me. And, I’m sure, since you’re reading this, you’re probably looking over at your wall, your entertainment center, or whatever you keep your mountain of games on – that you’re in the same boat as me.

So I guess the question we have to ask ourselves, is, is there a breaking point? Is there a moment (I ask because if there is, the line is so far away, I can’t see it) where we just say “enough”? I don’t know if that point will ever come for me. It may. It may. But frankly – I’m not sure I really want it to.

I think the problem that I’m starting to see is that getting that new game – whether it’s something that I’ve been anticipating playing, or some new game that just excites me in some way that I wasn’t expecting, I just don’t get that same feeling I used to get. I’m starting to feel a bit like this:

Yup.

That thrill, instead, is the replaced by a feeling of creating a real burden. Am I just adding to my pile of games to play, consuming because I am in fact, just a consumer? Or, am I just fooling myself into thinking “Yea, at some point I will get through all of these games”…I want to play them, I do. I like to think, and I’m sure my wife would agree, that I’m pretty good when it comes to controlling my spending and not wasting my money. I’ll reveal a little of my “personal” life: I don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and I rarely drink. So buying games is really my one vice. When I look at it like that, it’s a lot easier to stomach the concept of spending money on games (especially, like I said in an earlier post, if you shop smart like I do).

But should I throw it in? Should we all? Or, at the very least, is there a line in the sand? And to quote one of my favourite movies “across this line, you do not“. Trust me when I ask this, I do not take the question lightly. Not in these hallowed halls. I just wonder if there will be a day where I stand in front of a rack of games and just say: “Naw, I don’t want any of this”. I highly doubt it’ll happen – it certainly doesn’t seem to be one of those things on the horizon anyway.

Part of me thinks that my compulsion, and inevitable feeling of dread, spans from my being a collector at heart. As a kid, it was things like Marvel trading cards. You would hunt and trade and buy and such and eventually, you’d reach the end. You’d have a complete set. Gaming isn’t like that – but it kind of is. You don’t come to a point (at least, I don’t think so) where you say “Yep, I have them all”. It’s a continual art/consumer project. Which isn’t to say I use that term in a pejorative sense. It’s great that there are people out there who make a living masterly crafting these games. I wish (on a daily basis) that I was one of them.

So to anyone reading out there, don’t think that this is me giving up. It’s not really me calling the cease-fire. I want the games to keep coming – I do – I swear. All I’m asking is, will there be an end to it all? I hope not. This is one addiction I can stand to support indefinitely.

– The Ego

A question of ethics

Let me shake off the dust here. Been a while since I’ve posted. My apologies faithful readers, rest assured that things have gone back to normal in my life – which means more posts.

So here’s the topic du jour:

Consumer morality or, A Tale of Secondary Ethics.

That is: Is it ethical for a business to allow, nay, essentially facilitate a secondary market for their items?

Since the dawn of collecting, there have always been those people – if you can really call them that – I’d say most people on the receiving end would call them scum. I’m talking about the scalpers.

The people – without whom – we might actually be able to buy the concert tickets, action figures, Amiibos – what have you – without having to pay through the nose or compromise our principles to acquire.

So here’s my thought process, and you’re welcome to tell me I’m wrong: Being that I work selling Skylanders, Amiibos, etc – I try to limit people’s purchasing. I have no problem if someone is coming in to buy a whole wave of figures for themselves. But I won’t let someone come into my section and buy up a whole character. I know what they’re doing, and I’m not going to let them profit off of other people’s misery. I’ve been in a position many times where I could have kept or bought and flipped something for double or triple its value. The allure of money is most certainly tempting. That being said – it’s a total breach of my personal ethics.

I do see some retailers, Toy-R-Us for example, who have taken a stance on it at a store (and more likely) a corporate level. They know why people are coming in to buy 20 Meta Knights. But it is a bit of a sticky wicket. A moral quagmire, if you will.

Certainly, they are in it 100% to make money. And to a high extent – to make sure every customer leaves happy to influence future purchasing behaviour. The quandary comes in when you have to decide – at that higher level – which strategy is going to help more, or, burn less. Let’s weigh the pros and cons for both:

Letting the scalper scalp:

Pros

  • Every product sold is revenue earned
  • Selling out basically ensures replenishment
  • More product sold = recognition for the store/management

Cons

  • Allowing scalpers to purchase for re-sale is the tantamount to creating the secondary market first-hand
  • Lack of stock for other customers – which leads to less people coming in looking for specific items
  • Gives the store a bad reputation to the primary customer base
  • Not having accessories like Amiibos means sales drop on the bigger ticket items that incorporate those accessories (read: consoles, software, etc)

Stopping the secondary market on the store level:

Pros

  • Shows the customer that their needs are put ahead of numbers/statistics
  • Equitable distribution of product, creating inherent good will in the customer’s mind
  • Increase in sales of related products due to availability

Cons

  • The possibility of clogging stock due to unsold units
  • Angry scalpers (who, no matter how much you may dislike are still “customers”)

Now I know sometimes there are legitimate stock-shortages due to manufacturing/shipping difficulties. But the truth is that most businesses condone this behaviour because money is money. At the end of the day – all the people who are interested see is X dollar amount gained in X department. They don’t see (and I’m sure in some cases, they don’t care) how those numbers break down – or the ramifications thereof.

Maybe I’m more sensitive because I’ve often found myself having to contemplate giving in to the temptation of buying from scalpers in my various pursuits. Maybe I’m just echoing the thoughts of those I interact with. More likely the latter. Seeing the eyes of customers who are relieved to hear that I stand up for them even without knowing them, makes it all worthwhile. At the end of the day, it’s definitely about integrity. Mine, or the stores, but it should count for something.

– The Ego

Service up

How amazing is Bethesda and Fallout? Right?! They wait and wait to reveal the fact that Fallout 4 is due out within mere months of it’s announcement. Then they start posting all kinds of info and videos, new merch and then things like this:

This is just amazing. It’s so simple too. Anyone who is worth their salt when it comes to videogames, and especially RPGs made by Bethesda, knows how the basic mechanics work. Strength is a given. But here’s a company who says “Let’s do something fun, anyway”. And they have succeeded on a grand scale.

Little promotional videos like this really resonate with me. Not just because they’re fun and funny. And not because it shows it’s a company that actually cares about their IPs. It resonates with me because it’s both of those things, but set in the world of their games, making it something that is actually relevant. And it’s not like today’s movie trailers where every cool plot point, or potential game changers, is run through the trailer – thus eliminating the reason to actually go see it. Seeing this or missing out doesn’t change the impact the game will have. It’s probably not going to bring anyone new to the franchise (this could be one of those rare moments where I’m actually wrong). It’s 100% fan service. Which, in and of itself, is generally not worth the time to watch it. This is one of those cases where the fan service is totally justified. Especially considering that Bethesda is all about their fans. Why else would they just release Fallout 4? Well?

Aside from the obvious, this being another method of delivering game info – without having to craft pages and pages of wikis to monitor and update, it’s the most fun way that the devs can say “check out the way that we’ve improved on something you love” without beating you over the head with it. They also do it in such a way that, even knowing the stat ability and what it usually entails, I still want to watch it. It’s fun and clever and puts a smile on my face.

This style of video is something that Bethesda, and only one other company has managed to do well. The other I’m referring to, of course, is Irrational Games and the Bioshock series. The old-timey commercials for their plasmids and vigors were in the same vein. It’s one of those great ideas that completely sets them apart from the competition. They create these rich and well thought out worlds and they build depth to them with basic concepts with tactical precision. They don’t carpet bomb the fan with media or force-feed concepts, it’s more like a firm handshake from an old and welcome friend.

Like I said a few posts ago – it’s experiential recognition that creates a brand that people are always going to be drawn to. Because, at it’s core, Fallout (mechanics wise) doesn’t do a whole lot than any of the other FPS or post-apocalyptic games don’t do. Yes, VATS is extremely well developed. But beyond that, it’s a shooter. FPS or third person, but it’s a shooter. It’s set in a space that a lot of brands are playing in. But the whole is so good, that no matter who you are, or what types of games you normally play – chances are: you’re getting Fallout 4. Hell, I contemplated buying the Mini-Nuke set for PC just for the box.

So no, the video hasn’t offered anything game-changing or mind-altering. But it has piqued my interest. It’s cool for cool’s sake. It doesn’t offer anything I couldn’t figure out in the HUD menus in a minute or so. But what it does show me is that Bethesda cares enough to put something like this out there, knowing it’s the core audience that is going to really appreciate it. What a great company. In my books, they can do no wrong. And, The Ego is rarely wrong.

– The Ego

Where all roads lead

Sometimes when I’m writing, or thinking about writing, these postings, I think: People are going to start thinking that I’m a Ubisoft fanboy. Well, there were times were I would have said absolutely. That was some time ago. But the quality of the series that put them on the map (Assassin’s Creed) has been seriously slipping down the quality mountain.

But the part of the series no hater can hate on is the Ezio saga.

So, the previously undisclosed area which I have taken off to this year is Italy. Now, I’ve never been here, hell, never been off of the North American content. So coming here has been amazing. We started the trip off in Rome. The sights were mind blowing. Any words I can think of, and this is poignant considering who I am, couldn’t justify the majesty of the history left behind.

Now, I’m sure you’re making the conclusion I’m trying to draw. When I got there, I knew a ton of the history of the area in part because of the Assassin’s Creed series. Now, I’m sure that makes me sound like a bad tourist, etc – but I don’t care.

When I got to my hotel near the Porta Maggorie and I could see the remnants of the outer wall that protected the city, I remembered stalking guards and targets along the wall as Ezio. Running along the Roman aqueducts as I escaped pursuers and kept a watchful eye from above as soldiers harassed innocent citizens. I was able to vividly recall scaling the outside of the Colosseum. Slowly, and not so surely at times, scaling it up to the top and staring down at the base. A sight I (more or less) shared not two days ago.

I was right there…

Now, part of this is my “I’m loving my vacation” rant, and part not. The part that isn’t is wholly grateful and in love with the way that these games are built. The level of detail was (is in some cases) astounding. In that way, Ubisoft has truly created an unparalleled title. Even for the more mediocre offerings – Assassin’s Creed 3 or Unity – there is still a panache to the series that nothing else is able to capture. That panache or je ne said quou is found in the details of history. It’s one thing to take a picture of the Pantheon, digitize it and spiff it up (you know, because it’s supposed to look new then). It’s another thing entirely to take the actual page of history, places, events and give them meaning. Not to mention the ever interesting historical notes on the places involved. With the occasional sprinkling of contextual editorials.

While some may turn their head and scoff at what I’ve set down here today, I hope some take note. Was I already a history buff, specifically on Italy, the Roman Empire and mythology going into the games? Assolutamente! But having it all there, at my finger tips, to consume and not say “I wonder how accurate this wiki is?” is saying something for any source – let alone something meant (at its core) as a diversion. It seems likely to me that the Assassin’s Creed series has probably paved a lot of roads for people who had the bug, the gnawing interest in history, but perhaps lacked the will or drive to pursue it.

I won’t go crazy and say when I stood at the base of the Colosseum that I looked up expectantly, but it would have been pretty cool right? Maybe another time. Maybe another time.

And while nothing, not even the best Ubisoft game, can compare to bearing witness to the real thing, I will certainly give them full marks for the effort. I look forward to moving through the streets of Florence and over the canals of Venice, all with the thought of an amazing character, an amazing game, a great concept and a plethora of great memories to help me through.

– The Ego

Gone Fishin’

This isn’t something I’d say very often, but I feel it warrants it this time:

The gaming industry can kiss my ass. Seriously.

So, I go on vacation, and before I left, nothing going on. Literally nothing. You can tell that it’s a slow news day when you see IGN posting obscene amounts of fluff pieces about their opinions, or rumours that aren’t rumours, rumours about rumours or better still updates on pieces that are rumours about rumours and how no one has gotten back to them. That being the case for the last few weeks, I figured – well, at least while I’m away, I won’t feel bad about not updating my page, because nothing is going on.

And then today happens:

Pokemon Go! is announced, Fallout drops some knowledge on us and there are (possibly) substantial leaks about Kingdom Hearts 3…

Hence, my ass.

What a day?! So, here I am, sitting in a hotel room, 1AM, writing this up because these are seriously big topics. I’m going to regret the hour, but something has to go down on (virtual) paper.

I guess I’ll start with Pokemon Go!. So here I am, what, a month ago saying “Nintendo needs to step up and give us the Pokemon console we’ve all been begging for” *COUGH* self promotion *COUGH*. And then they go and do this.

Pokemon Go! Is as close as Pokemon will ever been to being real (I really hope that I’m wrong). Now, I know it’s kitschy and will likely be infinitely less fun than advertised. At least to the extent that I doubt people in my city will all be rushing into the town square to battle and (hopefully) capture Rayquaza. Though this is definitely, again, one of those places that I’m horribly wrong.

While a Pokemon MMO or something like it is still on my top 5 gaming wishlist, I think that this game will prove to be quite a bit of fun. Nothing fun:

But I think it’ll hold its own.

And I am the last person who is going to talk up a mobile game. Other than as a phone, the only things I use my S4 for are web surfing and listening to music. I’ve tried my hand, pun totally intended, at playing mobile games. I have Fallout Shelter going. Though, I’ll be honest, having a hard time seeing the fuss and this is coming from a total Bethesda mark. So, playing a Pokemon mobile game might prove to be lame or some kind of fad. Time will tell. But the idea of forcing me to get out and do stuff, and perhaps catch a Kingler? Sounds like a day for me. Plus, it gives me an excuse to go out for more walks, which will definitely make my wife happier.

Oh, and did you see what they’re releasing with it?

That’s a good enough excuse for me to dig out the olde’ Pokewalker. I hate watches, don’t do Fitbits, but I will get one of these. I wonder how cool it’ll look when I’m walking around with that, my pokewalker on my belt, and my Pipboy (fully functioning) on my wrist? I bet it’ll be awesome!

I just hope that the quality is there. I also hope this catches on better than I think it will. The biggest problem that the franchise has had so far is that it can’t keep up with the demand for something new, and it won’t go 100% the way fans want it to. My main concern is going to be around how much this game requires people to commune and actually play in the same general area. I can say, with 100% assurance, that I haven’t physically been in the same room to trade pokemon since 2011.

So, is the game there? Is the tech worth it? How long will it be until I turn the notifications off? Only time will tell. Till then, I will be warming a spot on my wrist. Yup.

– The Ego

Still not getting it

Can someone please explain to me the hype around the Gears of War games?

This week past saw (see what I did here? Huh?) the release of the latest in the series of remastered game: Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.

Now, maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there is some element to this series that has managed to evade my understanding. About a year ago, or something like that, I picked up the trilogy on my 360. So, I get home from visiting with my in-laws and I anxiously popped it into my 360. Which, I won’t lie, had been collecting dust for some time. But everyone kept talking about this series. It also kept coming up in basically every “must play” list I saw online. So I sink my teeth into it. I finish the first game, and the question I had to ask, aside from the one I posed at the beginning of this entry, was:

How many times can you chainsaw someone in the face before you’re bored of it? It’s cool, and entertaining, for about the first ten or so times you’re doing it. The Locust’s just keep eating saw – and coming and coming and coming. There came a point where I just kept doing it because – why not? But after a while, everything just kept repeating itself over and over.

What’s the appeal? The story is pretty lackluster, the gameplay is mediocre and I can’t really see why this is one of those “must play” titles.

So here is what I understand:

Horde mode, and the multiplayer is “awesome”. And, frankly, I can totally understand that. I’ve learned to love multiplayer games. Survival mode, in games like Red Dead Redemption, Bioshock: Infinite’s DLC and Borderlands – tons of fun. So, I guess that part of it makes sense to me.

But here’s the game as I see it:

The characters are one-dimensional, roided out jocks. Their proportions are weird, at best. I mean, the fact that this is even a thing…

Makes me wonder how people who love this game could even continue to love it after seeing John Travolta used as a comparison. I think I’d cry a little if Tom Cruise good booked as Booker for a Bioshock movie. Now, I know this isn’t technically a reflection on the game – I saw it and shook my head.

So, character and story aren’t anywhere near the level they’d have to be to be on anyone’s top ten list. Gameplay is okay. Seeing a Locust cut in half is appealing the first 100 times. Not going to beat that horse any more.

Is the online play really that good? I played through the single player campaign for the first one. I think I got a handful of hours into number two and just never went back. From doing some online searching before writing this – apparently I’m not the first to ask. The only answer that people are offering, that I can appreciate, is the concept that they invented the cover system (magnetic cover) that a lot of other titles based their systems off of. Which, I’ll admit, was pretty good. At least in concept.

In general, I think that X Box exclusives live in the light the fanboys cast. It’s almost nostalgia, but in the present tense. Games are held to a standard that I just feel like isn’t high enough to justify the praise.

What’s disappointing, too, is that this is the same studio that developed such an innovative (and highly underrated) game like Bulletstorm.

Now, that’s a game that has basically no story attached to it, but manages to stay exciting/impressive throughout. Do I care why I’m shooting the enemies? Nope. Am I constantly trying to come up with cool combos with new/interesting weapons? Hell yes I am.

If they can make something like that, why a flagship title like Gears would end up being such a polished turd.

Not sure what else to say, if you think I’m wrong: Sound off.

– The Ego

Tell me a tale

How important is story to a game anyway?

I only ask because it seems there are two huge sub-sections of gamers these days. One group is the Call of Duty/Battlefield bunch. If they’re playing those games for some sort of story, then clearly I’ve been horribly, horribly wrong about the “quality” of the content those particular titles offer. I know it’s not something people play for the witty repartee. The other camp, from my experience and recent conversations: story is only worth mentioning if it’s too short or not good enough.

I can understand the concern with gameplay. Good or bad gameplay can make or break a title. That makes sense to me. Since, as the audience, we aren’t passive viewers. Even in games like Heavy Rain or L.A Noire, which are highly cinematic, they still force the player to take an active role. Quick-time events not withstanding, the end-user is a part of the game, part of the story. When thinking about how important gameplay is, it seems like the only time the story has that same effect is when the story is bad or too short.

The title I have in mind, as a good example, is The Order 1886.

Now I can’t go into detail defending the game. I haven’t played it. I want to, and I will, despite the “issues”. That being said, I know the arguments against it:

(She’s hilariously stupid by the way. I couldn’t resist using it once I saw it)

So it’s a five to eight hour campaign. Yes, generally speaking, it’s less than desirable. I like my games to last as long as they can. Getting value for my dollar is very important. However, the statement that duration =/> quality is a far sight from the truth. It’s like the seasons of the BBC Sherlock. I wish they were 20 episodes at an hour a piece, but they’re not. Does that detract from the quality of the story, writing or acting? No, not at all. I think if we all had our way, every piece of media enjoyed would be never ending, because of course, forcing something to stay in the public eye never takes away from the overall quality…

I digress. So it seems like quality and length are directly tied together. With that in mind, though, it seems like even the length camp of fans can’t agree either. It’s a real Goldielocks situation. Some say too short, others complain too long. When the game is just right, no one seems to care. I can’t say I personally have a “perfect” amount of time I want a game to last. I think it is like any story or piece of literature or media. If the ending is satisfying, things are wrapped up into a neat little box – then I’m happy. Even if it isn’t all that tidy, it can still be a good thing.

I definitely know that a game severely lacking story can be a huge issue *cough* Destiny *cough*. Playing that demo and knowing the “story” was going nowhere made it a pass for me. Despite being one of the best mechanical shooters I’ve played. So I can certainly empathize with someone saying the lack of story is a derivation from a quality game.

But what is it that makes people call a good game a good game? I don’t know that there is a single idea, a single specific set of criteria. I know a lot of this stuff is subjective. It’s the appreciation of art, after all. I wish I could point at something and say “Yup, there it is. The secret to a great game”. But we all know that’s not going to happen any time soon. What makes something great usually falls somewhere between the truth and illusion.

Oh, and I know I’m breaking my one pic per post rule again, but I had to throw this one in too.

It’s just so apt, and who doesn’t love this Joker, right?

– The Ego