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I hadn’t played a Mario game in nearly a year and a half. Super Mario Galaxy 2 came out in the summer of 2010, and that was the last I saw of the Italian plumber until this winter in 2011, with the arrival of Super Mario 3D Land. Yes, you read that right. Not Super Mario 3D. Nintendo decided to get a little more creative with their names this year, opting out of simply adding a 3D to the end of all their games, instead giving them a little more personality, and in the case of Super Mario 3D Land, the title describes the game perfectly. The 3DS iteration of classic Mario combines multiple games, from the amazing 2D platforming of Super Mario World on the SNES, to the more modern 3D worlds of Super Mario GalaxySuper Mario 3D Land has it all. And it was good timing too: Nintendo’s newest handheld console, the 3DS, hasn’t exactly had the brightest history so far. From delayed and canceled games, to a drastic price drop not three months after launch, nothing seemed to be looking good for the newborn handheld. But despite Nintendo pushing remake after remake into our faces, early adopters have been looking forward to the promise of a brand new Mario game since day one. And let me be not the first to say that Super Mario 3D Land was well worth the wait. The game gives life to the console and gives meaning to its existence. Without Super Mario 3D Land, my 3DS would still be sitting under a pile of clothes in the corner. The game is the first “must own” title for the 3DS.

Read the rest of the review here, on Guide2Games. 

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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

Me and some of my friends are trying to start up a podcast and our first episode is up and running! You can check our official blog for the podcast here, where you can also enjoy the first episode as well! If you like what you hear, please, check back bi-weekly as that’s our tentative schedule for recording!

While I don’t agree that shooters back then were better (TWO analog sticks FTW!), there is something to be said about how complicated shooters used to be back in the day compared to the Crash Bandicoot style of maps some shooters have been using.

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?

Both Sony and Microsoft are pushing forward into new waters this holiday season. Sony is trying to improve on the Wii with their Move controllers and Microsoft is going controller-free with Kinect. Both of the new technology has been shown off in many ways, and a large amount of people have had a chance to test them out. And, of course, it’s too early to judge either one, right?

Well, maybe not.

When someone tests out either Move or Kinect, and they find that something doesn’t work, both Sony and Microsoft still have time to work out the bugs and make their controllers work better. But now, even this early in the race, Sony already has an advantage. And it’s not a preference advantage; it’s not a biased advantage. It’s simple fact: Sony already has more games compatible with Move.

Sony has showed off both Heavy Rain, Killzone 3, Resident Evil 5 and many more that are 100% compatible with Move. What has Microsoft showed off with Kinect? Nothing but new, mini-orientated games. Yes, there are some good looking games that are due for release around the time Kinect comes out (albeit, not many), but there hasn’t been any sort of announcement that any previously released games will be compatible with Kinect, or at least, if there has been, they’ve been so under the radar that I certainly can’t think of any.

There has already been many complaints about Kinect. People complain that it doesn’t work with more than just a handful of people. They’ve complained that it’s too hard to control something that doesn’t have any force feedback. But this is all biased preferences. The cold, hard fact is: Kinect doesn’t have nearly the game library set up that Sony has for Move.

Could Kinect go the way of the Gamecube: death by terrible 3rd party support? Could it be dead even before it comes out? All reports look towards: yes.

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.

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is coming very soon; June 15th, 16th and 17th to be exact. The 15th is actually my birthday, but I’m probably going to be having a party on the 14th. For those three days (or two, depending on my schedual) me and none other than TheAllGamer will be putting on not one, but TWO live web-casts of us watching all the fun stuff at E3 on the G4 channel… LIVE! I’ll have one on my blog, he’ll have another, and probably the one we’ll publisize more, on his blog and we will spend all two or three days recording our reactions to the biggest gaming news of the year!

It should be an entire 48 hours of huge geeks, spazing out and drinking way too much soda (and possibly beer. You never know with TheAllGamer).

More information coming within a couple of weeks! Pass the word around; surley we could sneak some actual footage of the show in our web-pod-cast-y things too.

Plans may change between now and June, but the above is the tentative plan!

UPDATE: Clark Bunch, over at My Other Blog, being the funny man he is, has decided to have a webcast of him watching us webcast the E3 event. Sounds incredibly boring, right? That’s just the kind of fun he likes! Sitting and watching someone watch something!

He think’s he’s clever. Ha. I’ve got something else up my sleeve.

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 first picked up Fallout 3 this past summer. Sam, my cousin, had it and insisted that I give it a try. Well, me and Sam, have pretty similar tastes in games, so I figured I’d trust him and I took Fallout 3 for a spin.

Let’s go ahead and get this right out in the open: my playing conditions for Fallout 3 were terrible. I was A) playing on a TV so bad, it made the thought of smashing rocks into your eye sockets sound like a good idea, B) I was playing with a constant glare in my TV due to the fact that the sun loves to annoy us all night throughout the summer in Alaska and C) I was also playing with incredible sleep deprivation due to B).

So yeah, I hated Fallout 3 when I first played it. I found it way too hard to get into. I put it away to never touch it again…

…that is, until I got my modded Xbox. A friend burned me a copy of Fallout 3, and told, nay, COMMANDED that I play it. I figured I should give it a fair chance since I was back home and on my huge TV under optimal gaming conditions.

Once again, the game started off incredibly slow and I found myself bored. TheAllGamer (Zachary Walton) told me to keep playing and threatened me with physical violence unless I played it (or maybe not… I’m sort of fuzzy after that random hit on the head when I stopped playing Fallout 3).

So I kept playing.

And it got better…

…and better…

…and now, at a measly seven hours into the game, I’m finding myself putting Darksiders aside and immersing myself into a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C.! It’s very addicting, and the VATS system (a system that basically freezes time, let’s you aim in on a certain body part and gives you detailed information on how much death you’re about to bring down upon your enemies) is a very intuitive idea, and it’s one of the main reasons I’m playing Fallout right now.

I’m worried that the main story line is going to get a little dry, because, even this early on, it’s already starting to get stale. But, with the purchase of Broken Steel, a downloadable add-on, I can play past the ending of the game and go back and do all my side missions! And, I got it for only 5$; thank your “Deal of the Week” on XBL. W00!

Alright, so basically, Fallout 3: One beast of a game and, while similar to Oblivion, I’m actually enjoying it.

*looks at Final Fantasy XIII*

Frik… I’m so stuck

*sobs*

I would be playing you right now, I really would.

*bashes head against wall*

*bleeds*

By the way, this marks a new Category for Reflection Gamer: Reviews. I’ll be marking all the  games I write substantial information about with this tag.

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