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UPDATE: This topic has been updated after the events of E3. I’ll have more to say on the topic later, but for now, go here to read the slightly updated topic. Hit the jump to read the original article, unedited.

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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.

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…

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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