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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.

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?

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.

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.

*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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