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I’ve been playing games for a very long time. I’ve seen many different types of games come and go, become popular and lose their popularity. I’ve seen genres die, and genres come alive. Currently, in this day and age of video games, the popular thing to do is make games as cinematic as possible; to try and mimic a movie. Game after game I play I notice that I’m watching more cut scene than I am playing and even when I’m playing, the developers make it seem like I’m still watching a movie by taking the gameplay and adding dynamic camera angles or cinematic quick time events; all of it working towards a more movie like experience. And to me, this couldn’t be farther off from what I expect from a video game.

Not to say that there is anything wrong with video games being cinematic. One of my favorite series of all time is the Metal Gear Solid series, and those games pride themselves in being incredibly cinematic, with hours after hours of movie like cut scenes. So no, there is nothing wrong with a video game trying to imitate older forms of media. But sometimes, I just want to play a game. And that’s when a game like Lollipop Chainsaw becomes my saving grace, because it’s the most video game like video game I’ve played in a long time.

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Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have already given their press conferences at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) this year, and, as any self-respecting gamer should do, I’m going to reflect on all three of them.

Microsoft 

Microsoft was the first to take the stage, early Monday morning. Well, early in California; I had time to hit the snooze button seven times, roll out of bed, make some coffee, browse the internet and leisurely mosey over to the IGN streaming site before noon hit, Eastern time.

Microsoft started out with an epic, ten minute demo of Modern Warfare 3 running on the Xbox 360 console (not without “proving” that it was in game due to a controller connection interruption). It showed some pretty cool cinematic, though it did seem that the game was reusing quite a few assets used in Modern Warfare 2. Regardless, the game is sure to be the same, action packed romp that it always is.

Then came the new Tomb Raider reboot, which had the new, less-but-also-somehow-more sexually attractive Laura Croft getting stabbed, beaten, bruised, punched, and battered all to hell as she made her way out of what looked like a sacrificial cave. It looked quite exciting, and this will be the first Tomb Raider game that I’m actually looking forward to, let alone feel excited for.

Cliff Bleszinski, later, came on stage, and, together with the help of Ice-T, beat a enthralling single player mission on Gears of War 3, taking place on a ship that was actively being eaten by a giant squid-octopus hybrid thing. Looks to be pretty fun and over the top, as is expected out of Gears of War games.

Then Microsoft started shoving Kinect shit games down our throats. 85% of the entire press conference was glitchy, buggy, boring and unintuitive Kinect games that didn’t interest me in the slightest. Come on, Microsoft, Kinect doesn’t work; quit trying to sell it like it does.

Of course, they also announced the Halo 1 remake, which is a completely remade and high-definition of the original game, single player and all. It will have online co-op and online multiplayer with the original maps and some new, updated ones. I didn’t get super excited about that, but hey, Halo is fun, and fun is good.

At the very end of the conference, Microsoft showed us a Halo 4 trailer that left of right where Halo 3 did; with Master Chief floating away in a space ship. It looks like it could be cool, but I worry about the series without Bungie behind the helm.

Overall, Microsoft showed off some cool, multiplatform games that were interesting, but the majority of the gamers were flat, cardboard Kinect games, and that just doesn’t interest me.

Grade: C-

Sony

Sony started off with something they really needed to do: an apology. And while that was a nice enough gesture, they didn’t really phrase it in a way that made much sense. Instead of “Hey, look, we’re sorry about everything”, the phrasing made it seem like “We’re sorry you couldn’t enjoy everything that we know you love and is awesome on the PSN”, which is sorta the same, but it comes off like an advertisement more than an apology.

Then we got to the real stuff. Uncharted 3, duh, looks awesome. And by awesome, I mean FUUUUUUUU insane. This is a series that gets worlds better every iteration, and considering the first one was a very good game, that speaks wonders about the quality of the stuff Naughty Dog puts out.

Resistance 3… is another Resistance, which is to say, “yawn”.

Then Sony went into something that I hold very dear to my heart; HD remakes of older games. I’m oh-so pumped for the Shadow of the Colossus and ICO remakes, but ovbiously I’m going to buy the Metal Gear Solid remakes as well.

The press conference was littered with games that supported the Move controller. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the Move shows so much more promise than Kinect, but so far, I still haven’t seen anything that makes it a must own peripheral (which is why I don’t have one), and E3 didn’t do much to rectify that. Try again, Sony.

The new Sly Cooper game looks very nice. Having never played his games before, I’m tempted to go back and explore the older games to get ready for the new one.

But easily the biggest surprise of all of E3 (surprise, and nothing more) was the Playstation Vita. Weird, new age-y name aside, Sony showed quite a bit of games running on the console, all of which looked like console ports. I guess that’s not a bad thing, but at some point, you have to ask yourself “Wouldn’t I rather be playing this on my actual PS3 and my HDTV?” I think that is the main problem that the Vita is going to come across, but I digress, that is not the exciting news I was referring to. No, the biggest surprise out of E3 2011 was that the PS Vita would retail in America for 250$. 250$!!! People had been guestimating at over 300$ and into the 400$ range, and for Sony to pull a “Yeah, we’re the same price as Nintendo” just blew me away. I’m still having problems believing it. Nintendo has got some work cut out for them.

Overall, Sony was interesting, if not terribly exciting. The PS Vita was easily the best part of the show, but still, it just wasn’t all that fun.

Grade: B-

Nintendo

Nintendo started off their press conference with a real orchestra playing Zelda music at Miyamoto’s request. I mean really, how can anything top that? They can’t… they just can’t.

After some quick footage of Skyward sword and some announcements about more Zelda games coming to the Wii, 3DS and DSi, Nintendo moved right onto their newest console, the Wii U. And this is where things started moving downhill.

They announced the name. Then they showed us a controller with a screen. Then, as the audience scratched their heads, they started showing games using this new controller. There was no announcement of a new console, no pictures of any sort of new hardware. It was just this controller. No one could figure out what exactly it was. Was it an extension of the Wii? Was it a portal gaming console that connected with the Wii? It wasn’t until minutes passed that it finally clicked for a lot of people: There was a new console, but Nintendo wanted to focus on the controller as the new expereince. Well, cool, Nintendo, except you confused everyone watching and I’m sure there are still some people confused as to what the crap was going on.

So yeah. Wii 2. HD graphics. About as powerful as the current generation (2006 technology. Woo) with another gimmicky controller that no one will take full advantage of. Sure sounds like Nintendo!

Then they moved onto 3DS stuff, and as a game deprived 3DS owner, was a good change of pace. The showed us some gameplay of the new Mario game, the new Mario Kart, the remake of Star Fox 64 and some Ocarina of Time 3D footage. The coolest surprise was the return of Luigi’s Mansion, and boy did it look nice! That’s easily become my most anticipated 3DS game (aside from Ocarina, which comes out soon!).

And… that’s about it for Nintendo. Their 3DS showing was all nice and dandy, but I just had a problem with the way they presented the Wii U (WEEEEUUUUU). But still, they put on a much better show than Sony and Microsoft.

Grade: B

I love it, glitches and all.

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.

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?

It’s no secret that, while Nintendo’s Wii is destroying both the 360 and the PS3 in terms of sales, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is the leader in the number of exclusive hit games and is usually getting the popular vote when given a choice between the big three. The Xbox 360 was released in 2005 around the time of the Nintendo DS (which seems like forever ago) and has enjoyed many exclusive titles and numerous updates to it’s firmware, software and hardware. In 2010, with the prospect of Project Natal, it seems like the DVD wielding (and HD-DVD failing) console has at least two or three more strong years left in it.

So what about after that?

It’s no secret that the Xbox 360 chose the wrong video format when they sided with the HD-DVD. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD gave each other some good competition at the beginning of their lifespan, but Blu-ray quickly showed its dominance and the HD-DVD  is now enjoying it’s time next to the beta max and 8-track formats on the “thanks for trying” table. Meanwhile, the PS3 is currently enjoying some serious sales due to the included Blu-ray player inside of the device. It’s currently the #1 reason people buy the console (at around 60% of all total sales) and the most popular Blu-ray player used by consumers. Both Microsoft and Sony gambled on the new format and Sony certainly chose right. So where does that leave Microsoft?

The Blu-ray disks are increasing in size almost monthly. Last I checked, the bloody thing could hold almost 120 gigs, dual layered. Meanwhile, the DVD’s that the Xbox 360 uses hold about 9 gigabytes, but after Microsoft finishes chewing on them, they hold about 7.8 gigabytes. This is a problem, as I’m sure you can see. While it’s not been too big of a concern this generation, soon, as videos get more advanced and CGI takes more and more memory to store, 7.8 gigabytes is not going to cut it. And even though we’re not expecting a new console generation until into 2012 or 2013 (some even guess 2014), now is the time to figure out what to do with those tiny little DVD’s.

Sony’s got it made. With Blu-ray technology increasing all the time, there is no reason for them to switch formats any time soon; Blu-ray could, I suppose, last forever if they continue to find ways for it to hold more data. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a problem; their gamble failed. They certainly can’t work on a new console that uses DVD’s and it would be stupid to try the HD-DVD path again. So, what options does the Xbox 1080 have?

Well, I suppose the obvious thing for them to do would be to license a Blu-ray drive. This, though, would be completely embarrassing  for Microsoft as they have publicly bashed Blu-ray and the PS3 in favor of their over-priced HD-DVD drive add-on for the Xbox 360. This would also allow for Microsoft to be able to tap into the Blu-ray movie market, which is a money printing machine for Sony. But still, they would have to swallow a lot of pride to not only admit defeat but also to kiss the feet of their opponent.

Another possibility is the flash card, or even a solid state mini hard drive. Flash and solid state are both twenty times (usually more) faster than any disk in any format and, by 2014, the price of the technology to have a 50 gigabyte (or more) flash card or a solid state drive could be about equal to that of a Blu-Ray disk now. So not only would the games load incredibly fast (can you say literally no loading screens ala the Nintendo 64?) but they’d be smaller, which could quite possibly lead to a smaller game console, assuming the rest of the technology allows it.

Ironic isn’t it? If we go to flash cards, we’ve gone full circle: cartridges to CDs to DVDs to Blu-Ray and back to cartridges.

I think the last possibility is that Microsoft, being the computer geniuses they are, could come up with an entirely new format for their console. They could create a disk that holds the same amount (or more) than a Blu-Ray that’s exclusive to the Xbox console. It wouldn’t be a good idea for a new format to fight Blu-Ray for control over the movie market again because Blu-Ray is here to stay, but the console certainly could be backwards compatible with regular DVDs, assuming they’re still around by then.

Microsoft's solution to Blu-ray?

No matter what happens, it’s going to be a challenge for Microsoft. I suppose they could switch entirely over to digital distribution, but we all saw how well that worked for Sony and the PSP Go!. I think the most likely option for Microsoft is to just suck it up and put a Blu-ray drive into their console. It would make the most sense and probably bring in the most money for them.

Now, what about Nintendo…? They still haven’t quite figured out the DVD yet…

There comes a point in a gamers life where they manages to get all the games that they wants to play, all at one time; I believe it’s called “Gamers Bliss”. I’ve managed to get about 5/6th of all the games that I actually want to play at this time. Should be heaven, right? It should be the best time in the world for a gamer to be a gamer, correct?

Wrong.

Let me list you my games that I’ve currently started but not finished:

  1. Fallout 3 (finishing a metric ton of side quests)
  2. Borderlands
  3. Bioshock
  4. Metal Gear Solid 4 (replaying)
  5. Assassins Creed 2
  6. Odin Sphere
  7. Ratchet and Clank: Tools of Destruction
  8. Final Fantasy XIII
  9. LittleBigPlanet
  10. Valkyria Chronicles
  11. Resistance: Fall of Man
  12. Pokemon: Heart Gold
  13. Battlefield Bad Company 2 (multiplayer)
  14. Left4Dead 2

Those are just the ones that I can name off the top of my head. So, what’s the problem here?

I can’t bloody decide what to play.

I sit and look at my game collection for hours without a decision on what to play and end up on Facebook for those hours. When I finally sit down to start a game, I play it for about half an hour before having the urge to switch games. This is NOT a good way to play games.

Luckily, I’ve been very into Metal Gear Solid 4, so I’ve gotten myself to play that for hours instead of minutes. But I should NEVER have a problem deciding what to play; it just seems weird.

My solution is to make a schedule and stick to it. I’ve gotten something written up for this summer, which includes a few replays of some games that I’ve been wanting to experience again. I am going to try my hardest to stick to it so I don’t end up playing about two games by the end of the summer; I want to have the list completed by then.

Happy gaming!

I won’t be posting anything else this week due to a very hectic schedule caused by our schools play production. I am the lead role, and we’ve got a lot of work to do to be ready by Thursday; I’ll be lucky if I even get any gaming time or, for that matter, homework time in this week at all. Early mornings, late nights, no gaming time; sounds like not my kind of week. Still, the play should be fun if we can get it together.

But before I go, I’ll let you all know what I’ve been playing over the past week; I’ve got quite a full plate in terms of games. Here goes:

Uncharted (PS3) Brilliant game, dogged down by the 29,236 enemies that attack you all at once.

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3) Another very amazing game, but I’m currently stuck on a very evil boss.

Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3) Fun shooter, though not exactly my cup of tea.

Darksiders (360) *sigh* Better than I originally thought.

Fallout 3 (360) I’ll save what I think about this for a longer post.

LittleBigPlanet (PS3) The create feature is just phenomenal; it’s a great party game!

Well, that’s about it. I have a few others on the back burner, but what you see are the games I’ve been playing most.

Have a good week, and if you think about it, send some prayer my way; I could use it.

*paused FFXIII*

As most of you already know, I purchased Final Fantasy XIII on the PS3 just this past week. And as some of you may not know, the game was also released on the 360. Now, this was a problem for me. I’ve had my 360 a lot longer than my PS3, so I’ve had time to grow addicted to the 360’s Achievement system, which basically rewards me for doing things in games with a number award, which basically boils down to your “bragging rights” number. I’m at over 15,000, which isn’t much considering some people have hit over 100,000.

Anyways, the reason I had a hard time choosing between the 360 or the PS3 version of FFXIII was because even though the PS3 version is better than the 360 version, the 360 version has those bloody achievements. The Playstation 3 does have a system similar to achievements called trophies. You are awarded a bronze, silver, gold or platinum trophy depending on what you do in the game, and, like achievements, they add up and you can brag to all your friends about it. But, that is the main problem; there is no friends on PSN. Well, ok, you can have friends, but there isn’t any sort of contact with them. Unlike the 360, which included a headset with every purchase, the majority of PS3 owners have no headset, therefore, no contact with fellow gamers. So getting a trophy on the PS3 is like getting a new car in the 1700’s; there are no roads to drive on.

Also, the trophies came in a bit too late in the life cycle of the PS3. Most games missed them entirely, though the developers can go back and add them in if they wish. But for me, who is completely addicted to achievements, the trophies are just too little too late.

So you ask, “Why did you buy FFXIII on the PS3 not the 360??! ACHIEVEMNTES?EA ?!?!!?”. Well, for a few reasons. One, no disk changing. Two, better looking cut-scenes. Three, I like the PS3’s controller better for RPG’s. And four, the game started on the PS3, so I’d support it on it’s original platform. I don’t want a port of the biggest game of the year.

*un-pauses FFXIII*

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