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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

Game consoles down through the years have been all different shapes and sizes. We’ve gone from the incredibly big PS3 to the tiny little GameCube, and everywhere in between. We’ve had good features like Xbox Live and horrible add-ons like the Power Glove. But what if we took all the good from the consoles and put them together into one super console? Let’s see what we can create!

Pardon the crudely photo-shopped picture.

We are going to assume that the guts (all the megahertz and gigahertz stuff) of the super console are the current highest tech; we’re not focusing on that part on the consoles.

  • First off, while the Xbox 360 had some hardware failure problems, the case that the Xbox lives in is quite nice looking. I think if we got rid of the power brick, we should use the Xbox 360’s case. Let’s make it a little smaller, but it still needs to be able to stand up or lay down. Also, it should be stackable, without a curved top (the PS3 and the original Xbox’s were impossible to stack, while the PS2 and 360 are easy!).
  • The PS3 has the quietest DVD/Blu-ray drive I’ve ever heard in a console, so we should use the drive from the PS3.
  • Personally, I love the PS3/PS2 controllers, but let’s swap the place of the D-Pad and the analog stick. Also, real triggers like the 360 has, not those mushy buttons the PS3 has. If not that, let’s use the SNES’s controller. It had a perfect feeling to it. We’d just need to add analog sticks and some triggers.
  • Let’s make the console black, but matte, not shiny. It could also be available in other colors like white and a dark red.
  • It needs to have more than two or three USB ports. Let’s take a note from the original PS3 and have six total USB ports, four in the front and two in the back. Also, Bluetooth needs to be standard and should be compatible with all Bluetooth devices.
  • Obviously, like the Wii and PS3, we need built in Wi-Fi.
  • We seriously need the Xbox Live service, but free.
  • Let’s use the PS3’s operating system. The ability to use any USB device up to any size to store anything is also a must.
  • On the 360, you have a nice circle of lights telling you which controller you have plugged it. It’s a brilliant system and one of my biggest complaints about the PS3. We need that feature.
  • We need bigger hard drives, like the PS3, but really easy to remove, like the 360. And it should take any hard drive so we aren’t stuck with paying large amount of money for hard drives that should cost a fraction of the price.
  • HDMI ports are a must. Stupid older 360’s 😡
  • We need a virtual console! All three companies are doing pretty good jobs getting older games from their older consoles on their online service. Let’s keep it up!
  • Headsets need to come packaged with every single console, like most 360’s, but they should be Bluetooth wireless, like the PS3.
  • We need the Xbox’s ability to let most anyone make a game and get it sold, but we want it without the money Microsoft asks for. Along that same note, we don’t want to pay for DLC that the developers don’t want to charge for, like the PC and the PS3.
  • Netflix and Hulu need to be integrated at no extra charge (besides a Netflix subscription fee) with no disk needed.
  • Let’s do away with the avatars. Both Microsoft and Nintendo has tried to integrate them, but honestly, I couldn’t care less about my avatars. See ya!
  • We need to be able to store our gamertag or whatever to our controllers, sort of like what the Wii did with Miis, except it needs to be all our information so we can move our gamertag around much easier.
  • And lastly, we need two tiny things from Sony: we want the symbol for the console to flip around when we change the position of the console and we want the touch activated on and eject button. I am sorely missing having that on my slim PS3.

Any ideas of your own?

Alan Wake is a video game inspired by Stephen King, or at least, that’s how it feels (though I’ve been informed that King had nothing to do with the games story). The story plays out just like one of Mr. Kings novels: fast paced; created just to keep you on the edge of your seat. The game usually gave me the chills and there were times that got me a little jumpy. The most shocking part? The game is rated T for teen, proving that we don’t need blood, guts and sex to make a scary piece of media (not to say blood, guts and sex are scary, but usually gore tries to play itself off as “scary”, ala Saw which was more “ew” than “AHH”). All we really need to scare is good story telling and relatable characters.

Oh, and the sense of helplessness at all times goes a long way in the scariness factor.

Alan Wake uses light and dark as a large factor in its game play mechanic. It basically smears it all over the screen that “DAY TEH GOOD DARK TEH BAD!”. The enemies you fight are completely invulnerable to your guns and fists. How do  you kill them? Your trusty flashlight (Duracell: Smart Power *thumbs up*). After you blast the baddies with some serious lightage for a couple of seconds, they become human again instead of dark monsters, making them stoppable with your firearms. It’s a great gaming mechanic, one that really can send you into a panic when you have to change batteries on your flashlight and someone is already on top of you with an ax or if you’re running towards a light with bad guys behind you and Alan starts to get tired and slows down. The game does a very good job making you nervous.

The environments in the game are bloody brilliant, to put it bluntly. When running through the forest (which you do a lot) the trees swaying in the wind look gorgeous. The darkness power swirls around cars, buildings and trees, forming a sort of black smoke. It all looks very creepy. I found myself awed by most of the environment settings. This is certainly the best looking game I’ve seen in quite a while.

Unfortunately, as has been the case with a lot of recent games, the characters look like they just jumped off into the uncanny valley with an anvil tied to their leg. I’ve seen better face models in much older games. Some other recent games have been having the same problem with their character models; they look terrible but move the way that humans do.   Maybe this is a sign that we’re getting incredibly close to bridging the gap of the valley; we’re getting much worse right before we get perfect.

The voice acting was also taken very seriously in Alan Wake, as is the tradition in Remedy Entertainment’s games. The voice actors do a very good job creating real personalities for Alan, his wife, the dark creatures (which have some distortion on their voice to make them even creepier) and other various people that live in the town. Along side the voice actors is a very well scored soundtrack. The inclusion of some in-house rock added a small but brilliant touch to the game (when you get to that part in the game, you’ll see what I mean).

The only real problem I have with Alan Wake is that by the end of the game, I just wanted to know how the story ended. While I enjoyed the gameplay when it was new and fresh, at the end of eight hours, I had my fill and was ready for it to just be over. The story kept me playing though, because it was just so darn good. There are some collectibles to find, including pages from the book Alan is writing, but I found it easier to go online and look them up because I would always miss a single page or something stupid like that and I didn’t want to bother playing the entire level again to find one missing page.

Alan Wake is a brilliant looking game with a story that will stay with you for a long time, but it’s held back by semi-repetitive game play and some bad facial models. Regardless of it’s low replayability, it’s still worth your time and could possible be seen at the end of the year when voting starts for the “Game of the Year” awards.

As most of you know, Steam, created by Valve with a goal to be the biggest online retailer of PC video games, has made the transition to the Macintosh. Along with the program, many Steam games have made the jump onto the Mac as well. Portal was one of the first, and was being offered for free. Other games such as Plants vs Zombies and Half-Life 2 have followed suite. While it has been proven

that games on Steam don’t run quite as good on the Mac as they do on the PC (1), it’s only a matter of time before Valve managed to work out all the kinks and starts to rebuild the library of games that Windows users have onto the Mac. When that time comes, could this be a revolution for Apple and its computers?

Microsoft and its Windows operating system hold the market in amount of people who use their software. As of December of last year,  92.21% of people were using a Windows operating system, while only 5.11% were using Mac OS X (2). Most of us are already aware of this and have made our decision between a Windows OS or a Mac OS.

One of the biggest complaints from Windows users about the Mac is the lack of video game support on the system. I’ve heard people say countless times, “I’d use a Mac but they just don’t play the games I want. Instead, I bought a Windows computer”. I, myself, have said the same thing and have purchased my Dell running Windows 7 based on that train of thought. Obviously, that statement is a very common occurrence, but it’s one that I think it going to end with the coming of Steam.

When Valve finally gets Steam running 100% on Apple’s computer, we will be looking at hundreds of quality games finally being able to run on the Mac. Steam is the biggest online retail store and having full access to the store on a Mac is something that will draw the attention of gamers. People who at once thought about buying a Mac but decided against it will come back to take another look. And why stop at Steam? Other companies such as Direct2Drive might see the prospect of turning the Macintosh into a gaming device and decide they want in on the action, thus making the Mac play more games and bring in more users.

Steam being on the Macintosh could very well increase the market share to give Windows a run for it’s money.

Now, I’m not saying it’s going to happen over night. Steam has a lot of catching up to do on the Mac and it will take a while for the word to get out that the Mac is now a capable game playing machine. But, in time, I think the pie chart measuring the market share could soon favor Apple more so than Microsoft.

1. Steam for Mac Benchmarks: Windows is Much Faster.

2. World Wide Market OS Market Share December 2009

I was searching in my closet for something unrelated and I stumbled upon some of my old poems that I had written. Some aren’t very good, but there was one or two gems that I love. Well, some are available to read under my “writings” section up at the top of the page. Please enjoy!

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.

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