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I just recently got myself a shiny new Playstation Vita. The machine is a real looker, and I find myself just holding it in my hands and gawking at the device. Sony really got the look of the thing down really well. However, no gaming machine can get away with looking pretty if there are no games to play, and the Vita is no exception; I spent the first two weeks of owning the device just looking at it because there were just no interesting retail games to pick up. I started out with Katamari, and while that was a nice distraction, it seriously did no favors to prove that the Vita was any sort of a capable gaming machine. But then I remembered that they had released the Metal Gear Solid HD collection on the device.

Now, I’m a huge Metal Gear Solid fan. I’ve played through the entirety of the Solid series many times, and find myself completely enamored by how good almost every aspect of the games are. So thinking that I could own Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 to play in the palm of my hand made me very excited, and I picked the games up as soon as I could.

Like any self respecting gamer should, I started with the earlier game, Son’s of Liberty. I was in awe of how much fun I was having, even though I’ve beaten the game probably close to five times before. Maybe it was just the shock of playing this fantastic game on a portable device that had me so excited, but I played through the entire thing in about three nights.

Then it was time to move on to Snake Eater.

Before I start, a bit of back story. I was never a huge fan of Snake Eater. Yes, I did beat it back on my PS2, but I never really liked a lot of things about it. However, I was younger back then, a lot less wise than I am today, so I decided to go into the Vita version with completely blank expectations: I was going to give Snake Eater a completely new opinion.

As it turns out, younger me wasn’t as dumb as I had thought. 

The game, while a perfectly fine game in itself, is easily the worst of the Metal Gear Solid series, and I intend to, as fairly as I can, compare Snake Eater to Son’s of Liberty, Gun’s of the Patriots and the game that started it all, Metal Gear Solid.

Let’s start, shall we?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Last night, the news broke that George “Geohot” Hotz, the man who cracked Sony’s Playstation 3 for the first time, settled in court with Sony after a couple months worth of name calling and trash talking. Hotz settled, but now is barred from “unauthorized access to any Sony product under the law”. If he happens to do so and is caught, he would suffer dire consequences. This, obviously, has angered the diligent hacker, and has recently said that he will never buy another Sony product again.

I’m tempted to agree with him.

The Wii was hacked quite fast from the moment it hit the market. Can you find anyone who can name the person who first hacked the Wii? No, we can’t. He was never remembered (because Nintendo didn’t sue the man) and now it’s super easy to hack the Wii; everyone who wants to do it can easily figure it out.

Sony did a very good job keeping their PS3 un-hackable. Last summer, however, there was finally a hole found in the PS3’s security and Hotz exploited it. It was going to happen eventually, and even after all Sony tried to do, just like the PSP, the PS3’s security fell.

And I’m ok with that. I applaud Hotz for finally allowing the PS3 to run custom firmware. There are huge advantages for a console to run custom firmware, the best being homebrew. The Wii can do some amazing things with homebrew, and the PSP has a GIANT homebrew society. But no-one seems to realize that there are so many good things to come out of custom firmware; everyone instantly cries “PIRATES, PIRATES” and runs the other direction.

Custom firmware does NOT automatically mean that EVERY ONE is going to start to PIRATE games!

Yet this is the mindset that everyone has towards custom firmware.

We need to abandon the mindset that every single hacker wants free games. There are SO many possibilities for custom firmware on the PS3. The PS3 is an amazingly powerful console, and the possibilities are endless for homebrew. I, for one, will install a custom firmware onto my PS3 as soon as I find some sort of homebrew that makes it worth it. If that means Sony is going to shut down by PSN account, so be it.

Screw you, Sony. GeoHotz did something good for the gaming community, and you shut him down. And while I’m not going to protest Sony products, I certainly have a lot less respect for you as a company.

It’s the age old debate: which computer is better, a Macintosh, created by Apple, or a PC running Windows, created by Microsoft. This debate has been waged since the beginning of both of these companies. Fanboys on both sides have and still fight to the death about which computer company makes the best hardware, software and everything in between.

I’ve been a Macintosh fan since I was very little, however, I’ve never once owned a current model of any Macintosh product (current being “released within the past four years”), so obviously, I grew up on Windows 98 and 2000 instead of Mac OS 8, 9 and 10. I’ve always loved how the Macintosh operating system worked much more than Windows and I’ve always loved the look of the products that Apple releases. However, since I was never able to afford a top of the line Macintosh, I have been using Windows Xp and 7 for the past decade with very little complaints. What can I say; Windows is great!

And right there is my point. Yes, I am an Apple fan (not fanboy, mind you). I prefer Apple products (both computers and music players) over any other brand. But when someone mentions how they hate Apple or how they hate Windows, I get sick. What is the point in arguing over who is better? Who cares who is better? The Macintosh and the Windows PC are two completely different beasts. It’d be like comparing apples to oranges and saying “Wow, well, this orange tastes nothing like this apple, therefore, it must be terrible!”. Macintosh can do things that Windows can’t. Windows can do things that Macintosh can’t. There is no need to get our panties in a knot every time that someone says they like Apple over Microsoft.

Yes, Apple costs more money that 99% of the PC’s on the market, but that’s because Apple demands a certain standard for everything they do. You can hate on Apple all you want, but everyone knows that they always produce quality machines, and with quality comes the higher price. Since Microsoft created their OS to run on any PC, there is no quality control; Windows 7 can be installed on any PC. That is the difference between Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft just creates the software and says “go for it”. They don’t care if it doesn’t run well on your computer (Vista, I’m looking at you), they just send the software out there and let people build around it. Apple creates their machines specifically to run their software; you will never find an Apple product that is too underpowered to support the official software for it because Apple makes sure that you DON’T. That is the main difference between Apple and Microsoft and it also explains the price jump; it’s all about quality (NOT of software, of hardware. Apple’s operating system software have ALWAYS been cheaper than Windows operating systems).

So please, can we stop the arguing? I love Macs, but I use Windows every day. I do not bash Windows (well, service pack 1 for Windows 7 bricked my computer, so that pissed me off, but usually I enjoy Windows greatly), so why retaliate to something I haven’t done by bashing what I like? And if you absolutely must hate on Apple all the time, don’t do it around me.

It seems like I’m always ranting about how much I love the Half-Life games. I could talk all day about the certain aspects of the game that I love, and I could turn any non-believer into a fan.

But, more recently, it seems I’m always ranting about how Valve is leaving us out in the snow when it comes to Half-Life 2: Episode 3. In the snow, naked. Yes, naked. We’re all in the snow, naked, Valve. You hear me? NAKED.

Every single day that I don’t hear anything about Episode 3 is another day where I lose faith in my all time favorite game company. It’s been nearly three years since Episode 2 was released and we’ve seen nothing from the final “episode” in the Half-Life 2 series besides a single concept art. That’s outrageous! I can give them the development time; hell, I don’t mind that they are taking this long. In my eyes, three or four years is a perfectly acceptable amount of time for a AAA game to be released (nevermind the fact that Episode 3 is, you know, an episode, not a full game). It’s the LACK OF INFORMATION that is really making me angry. Because Valve is so incredibly secretive about their games, Episode 3 is turning into vapor-ware.

Yes, I said it. In my mind, Episode 3 is vapor-ware. Like, pre-PAX Duke Nukem vapor-ware.  Three years and not so much as a screen shot? Do they have it half completed? Is the story-board written? Have they even started the damn thing!? What kind of developer ends a game on such a cliff hanger as Episode 2 ended and then just drops the game off the freaking radar? You don’t see TV producers ending season 1 on a cliff hanger and then waiting 4 years to revel what happens in season 2 (well, unless it gets canceled).

I have no doubt that Episode 3 will eventually come out, but making us wait with no information is just punishment. What did we do to Valve that they are punishing us like this?

Newel, I love you and your company. You guys do great things and I always look forward to your games. But enough is enough. Give us something, anything, about Episode 3. Please. You’re losing faithful customers every second you continue to neglect Episode 3. Put down Left4Dead and put down Portal and finish what you started.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Will anyone else send a message to Valve that we want something, ANYTHING, about the vapor-ware-Esq Episode 3?

This post, I ain’t going to lie, is directed mostly at a friend of mine. This certain friend has shunned me due to my love for certain first person shooter video games. These games, he thinks, are nothing more than testosterone injected, grey, bland, blood fests, and every time I even say the word “shooter” around him, it’s 20 minutes of how the first person shooter genre is killing video games and how he misses the old days of when games were good.

Then, after the ranting against shooters comes the ranting for JRPG’s, which he swears by and is currently on a very, I will admit, noble fight to get even more brought over to America.

I consider myself very varied in the games I play. Yes, I play the dark, grim Gears of War, and I bought into the Modern Warfare 2 hype. But I also play other games, such as Mursama: Demon Blade, God of War, 3D Dot Game Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy. I don’t confine myself into one genre. Sure, I like shooters a lot, but I also enjoy RPGs, music games, platformers and fighters as well. Hell, my favorite game of all time is a platformer; doesn’t that say something?

Now, I’m not pointing fingers, but it seems my friend here is not pointing out the problem, he’s becoming the problem. Games are games. Can we all agree on that at least? We all play games for different reasons, but 99% of the time, even if there is competition or prizes involved, it’s for fun, correct? So, when I’m playing my shooter and my friend is playing his RPG, why should there be any arguing? Why do people who dislike other genres feel the need to hate against those genres that other people enjoy? When my friend is playing his JRPG, you will never hear me say “Darn-blasted Japanese games are interfering with my shooter genre. Get em’ out o’ my country!”. Even if I thought that, which I don’t, I would still let my friend enjoy his game while I play mine. As gamers, have we divided ourselves into these sub-categories depending on what type of game we like? Used to be, a gamer was a gamer, and we all could relate to that. It seems now that only the shooter fans can hang out with the other shooter fans while the American RPG fans can only hang out with their own kind.

I call bull crap. We’re all gamers. ALL OF US. Sure, the shooter genre has a lot of fans, and with the large population, you’re going to get some douche bags playing the game (which is something a lot of people don’t really understand, and instead of blaming the world we live in, they’re stupid and blame the game… like the game can really control who plays it…); that’s called the world we live in. But must we hate on the popular genre? Can’t we all enjoy our favorites and accept everyone else, even if we may think badly about the certain genre?

Now, I know that most of the time my when my friend talks badly about shooters, he’s being tongue-in-cheek. But I know that he believes what he is saying, even if it’s hidden behind humor. I just hope this wall of text helps him, and maybe others, become a little more open minded.

Wait, wait, please, don’t get angry!

I loved God of War 3. The entire game was incredibly engaging, exciting and very very well made. Everything from the gameplay to the cut scenes to the acting was staggeringly perfect and I don’t really have a single complaint about the game.

Except for one thing, hence, the title; as much as I really did love the game, I think that it was completely unnecessary.

Lets look at God of War 2. The ending was a epic fight with Zeus, the God of Olympus. After the fight, Kratos, along with the Titans, are climbing up Mount Olympus. Awesome, right?

WRONG. THE END! Wait for part three!

This, to many gamers, including myself, was sort of a slap in the face, not to mention unbelievably anticlimactic. They end the game on the fight vs the main bad guy? Who’s stupid idea was that? The same person who made the ending to Halo 2 and Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship, I guess.

And, at the time, it made us all wonder how there was going to be a whole games worth of story in God of War 3.

So, skip ahead a couple of years, and God of War 3 comes out. We begin the game right where we left off all those years ago (but now we’re in HD!). Kratos and the Titans are fighting their way up Mount Olympus. The battle is intense and gripping, but in the back of your mind, you’re thinking “How can this make a whole game? Aren’t I just about to kill Zues!?”

And then it happens. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Kratos falls off the mountain. Falls off the bloody mountain.

And just like that, the developers figured out a way to create a whole ‘nother game. Creative, guys. Very creative.

They could have saved everyone the trouble by just ending the game at God of War 2. Another hour added onto the game would have had Kratos getting to the top of the mountain and squashing Zues into fine powder. Why was there even a need for a sequel? Why did we have to go through and kill all the other gods? As fun as it was, did we really have to cause the end of the world?

It doesn’t make sense.

I really can’t get too angry at God of War 3 because it’s so freaking fun, and the story having problems is very forgivable considering how much I liked it. But it still bugs me that the developers squeezed another game out of the simple fact that Kratos fell off the mountain.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Half-Life fanboy. I played the original Half-Life and it fast because my favorite game of all time. When Half-Life 2 came out, it blew me away in the story, the graphics and especially the character models. I still, to this day, have not played a game more or as often as Half-Life 2 and it stands as my favorite game of all time.

Then Valve started to release the Episodes in the coming years, and I enjoyed them just as much as the original Half-Life 2 game. But then it seemed that Valve got a little distracted; they created the fun, but certainly NOT Episode 3, Left4Dead. And the following year, out came Left4Dead 2.

Meanwhile, Valve worked and worked on their Steam platform, making it one of the largest online distributer of games on the planet.

So let’s get this strait: Valve created one of the most immersible games of all time with Half-Life 2. They ended it on a cliff hanger. The next game Valve made was the follow up to the cliff hanger ending, Episode 1. A bit more than a year later, Episode 2 landed, ending in a larger cliff hanger than the original game. And now what is Valve doing?

Everything but creating Episode 3.

Yes, Valve is doing good things with Left4Dead. No-one can argue about the quality of Valves games; they’ve never made one bad game in their entire existence. But while they were making Left4Dead and making Steam such a popular problem, they forgot one thing: Half-Life.

Now, of course, we have no idea what’s going on inside Valve’s front doors. Gabe Newel could very well be working his arse off to get Episode 3 out the door, trying to create the perfect game. But to us on the outside, with no information save for one simple concept art, which may or may not be Episode 3, we are starting to feel betrayed. To me, it seems he’s focusing all his time on their new franchise and putting Episode 3 on the back burner, which is not somewhere Episode 3 needs to be.

Maybe Valve has a master plan. Maybe they wanted this sort of argument argued. Maybe they wanted us to squirm a little in waiting for Episode 3. Maybe they are planning on showing Episode 3 at E3.

But Valve, please, we just need something, anything, about the bloody game with only one concept art.

E3 couldn’t come faster.

Check out the podcast I'm in, called Disembodied Voices!

Just a caution: I will try to keep it as vague as possible, but there might be some small spoilers. Also, if you want to keep the ending un-spoiled, don’t read the comments. 🙂

I had been playing Red Dead Redemption for about three weeks now in between some other games. I would do a mission or two then put the game away for a while to start back up later. Well, earlier tonight, I could tell the game was getting closer to the end, so I decided to stick it out and finish it in one last play session.

The entire game’s story had been working up to one certain point; the death of certain characters. The entire game focused on Mr. Marston’s plan to find these men and kill them. When I started to run into some of them over and over again, I knew the ending was close. So I kept playing.

And when the event finally happened, I felt very happy for Marston; he had finally completed his task that had taken him so very long and had been haunting him like a ghost. As I rode my horse back to finally get my reward, some nice music played and the atmosphere was perfect. I felt accomplished.

But, after a scene with my reward, I noticed that I suddenly had more missions. Story missions. More bloody story missions. And then I continued to play the game for another HOUR and a HALF before it was over.

And when it finally ended, the real ending was not nearly as fun or climactic as the “1st” ending. Not to mention that the final scene seemed forced and it gave no explanation whatsoever as to why it happened. The game could have ended on the perfect note nearly two hours ago. It seemed to me that Rockstar felt the game was a little too short and decided to throw some other crap ending in just to get some more game play.

“Well,” you ask “why does it matter if there are more missions? It’s all about having more fun, right?”

Wrong. Not only did they ruin a perfect ending, the “extra” missions that you then get to do are incredibly easy and boring. One mission has you shoot crows off of a silo. Crows. I shot ten of them and the mission was over. All the extra missions are worthless filler, only there to get the player from the 1st ending to the 2nd one.

Needless to say, I’m disappointed in Rockstar. They had a perfect ending, one that would have let the player go out and finish all the side quests and continue to explore the land.

Then they ruined it.

UPDATE: Let me be clear; I know about the ending that you play as Jack, so you guys can stop informing me about that. I was so disgusted with the “Marston” ending, I turned the game off right then. Sure, the Jack ending might give the story a bit more of a nicer ending, but for me, it was already ruined.

Republished with permission from Virtual Shackles

I was browsing some Kotaku articles and came across a commenter who posted a rather interesting thought. Here are my thoughts on his thoughts about someone else’s thoughts.

We, as gamers, usually favor a particular game system. We like that game system for its features, its looks, its controller, its games and, in some cases, its price. The Xbox fans have been labeled as the scums of the earth by a lot of people because they tend to be Halo and Madden loving fanboys who only play those two games and can’t even tell you what a Sony is, who Nintendo might be or what an RPG is.

But are they really Xbox fanboys?

People who drool all over the Xbox buy the console mostly for the games. They want to play Halo, Gears of War, Mass Effect and all the other exclusive games that are only available on the Microsoft console. They aren’t console fanboys, they’re just following their favorite games to the console the games live on! If Halo was on the PS3, 99.9% of the Xbox fanboys who love Halo would actually be PS3 fanboys. And it works both ways! If Metal Gear Solid 4 was a 360 exclusive, all those people who love their PS3 (those of which spent over $400 just to play the game) would have bought an Xbox instead.

We don’t have favorite consoles. We have favorite games. Consoles are just there to let us enjoy our favorite exclusive games.

Now, to address the concern that the Xbox crowd is a bunch of horrid jerks who love to curse and say things about everyones mother. It’s not something to complain about. Xbox live is obviously the biggest online service avalible for the home console. The world is full of horrible people, so when ten million people gather to play the Xbox, you have to assume that you’re going to get the scum mixed in with the good ones. If Xbox live had ten million people playing and the PSN only had five million, you’d get a whole lot less jerks on the PSN, not because the people on the PSN are nicer but because there are just less people.

So stop calling us Xbox Live’rs jerks; we’re not all that way and most of us are given a bad name.

Just this past Monday, Microsoft rolled out a rather sizable update to their gaming console, the Xbox 360. The update, which we’ve known about for at least a couple of weeks, enabled users to use any flash drive or USB hard-disk drive on their Xbox 360 to store data, game saves and even installed games. The update basically gives the Xbox 360 the same features the PS3 has had since the beginning of it’s life.

What’s the catch? It only allows up to 16 gigs.

Ok Microsoft, thanks for trying, but you lost me on “hello”.

What the console does is this: you plug in your flash drive or hard drive, sizable anywhere from 1 gig (minimum) to 40 terabytes, if such a thing exists. The console recognizes the drive and tells you that it will erase everything on it and set it up for the console. Well, ok then, go ahead.

After a minute or two, you notice that your 418 terabyte drive is down to a measly 16 gigs. “What the crap!?!?” was the first thing I said.

Yes, Microsoft makes you limit all the drives to a maximum of 16 gigs. You can, however, have two devices (only two) plugged in at the same time for a grande total of 32 gigs!!

In this day and age, what with downloadable content and game installs becoming more and more popular, it makes sense that Microsoft would allow us to use the random flash drive sitting around in our house. But the limit is such an obvious restraint to make it so we still have to buy their overpriced hard drives; it makes me sick! Can’t you, Microsoft, give your users something that benefits them entirely instead of trying to make a pretty penny off ALL of us ALL the time?! They’re even selling a 16 gig “Xbox” flash drive, selling for $50, which is laughable considering I can find a 16 gig flash drive for under $20 easily.

Regardless of my complaints, I am actually using the new system. I have a modded Xbox and sometimes my burned games don’t run exactly perfect unless they’re installed to a hard drive. Trouble is, all I have is a 20 13 gig hard drive. So I’ve plugged in a 40 gig USB hard drive (partitioned to bloody 16 gigs) and another portable 20 gig hard drive into my Xbox and have installed a few games to them. I have to say, the games installed to the USB drives run really fast compared games installed to the 360’s hard-drive. I’ve seen a good five or six seconds of improvement on loading times and almost 100% framerate on most games.

Anyways, I suppose the newest Xbox update wasn’t all terrible. It was a great idea on paper, but as soon as a Microsoft employee said “Hey, if we let them do this, won’t they stop buying Xbox 360 hard-drives?” and they added the limit, the “awesome-ness” factor dropped nearly 24 super points for  me.

Microsoft, come see me when you’re increased the limit to 32 or, heck, no limit at all.

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