Category Archives: Gaming

How to Combat Bungie-Fever With These Simple Steps

Combat Evolved

Unfortunately this is not an article about combating a disastrous plague involving tall muscular men in green jumpsuits. Alas we do not live in such a world, but if we did, everyone would be teabagged…to death! No, instead this is a timely placed article about the repercussions of accidentally contracting a manufactured disease known as Bungie-Fever. Also since Destiny is super close to release, or is already here, I figure why not talk about Bungie and their relationship with journalists, and major gaming media sites? No?

Let me start out by saying this, even though my anticipation has lessened, I think Destiny is going to be a solid game. Also did you see that live action trailer? Before you read on, you have to check out this live action trailer that’s directed by the same guy who did Oblivion and Tron Legacy. It may be the best live action trailer for a videogame I’ve seen in quite a while.

“Proof that if you merge the Immigrant Song with space, you get something beautiful.”

Ever since the split from Microsoft, Bungie has been working hard on their upcoming MMO-shooter-HaloBorderlands thing. It’s perhaps one of Activision’s biggest titles that is said to have a 10 year lifespan, and maintains a budget of over $500 million. That’s a lot of Destiny themed Mountain Dew bottles they’re going to be selling in the future, and hopefully one of them has a flavor specifically made for the Peter Dinklage bot. I’m striving for a name like ‘moon wizard’ flavor, I think it can sell.
Although there is of course a reason why Activision has put so much faith in Bungie, and that’s because of some asshole named Master Chief (I don’t know the guy personally, but I hear he doesn’t tip at bars and doesn’t put on deodorant). Halo was, and still is, the poster-boy for Microsoft. Sure they have Gears of War, Fable, Forza, and uh…Viva Pinata, but nothing has taken the mantle away from Halo in terms of what Microsoft’s consoles represent. Without a doubt, Halo is perhaps one of the most inspirational, groundbreaking, and monumental successes there is.
See this is where the tables have turned, and I give my piece on why Halo is the most undeservedly praised, clunky as fuck, and ridiculously repetitive games out there. Okay, that’s bit of an extreme path to take. At best I’ll say this, Halo is a pretty entertaining franchise that constantly has made adjustments to keep itself fresh within the gaming world. Mostly its multiplayer is what keeps the game going, but the campaign’s keeps inserting small nods from previous entries and the books to keep hardcore fans happy. They’re fun arcade shooters that keep making small adjustments whenever a new one is released, just so they aren’t all easily identical.

Now that I said all this, let me move on to a, let’s just say, a controversial statement. Maybe not to many, but to some it’s considered ‘sacrilegious or ‘taboo’ apparently to say such a thing. So here it is, the main crux that I’ve been trying to lead up to throughout this entire article is – Bungie is not the greatest studio in the world. Put down your plasma swords, because there’s a reason why I wanted to bring this up.

Right around the time we saw our first glimpses at Destiny, I was stoked to imagine the possibilities of what a game like that can do. An open world game where you get to travel into space, customize your spaceship, collect loot, battle crazy bosses, and do other cool shit involving RPG mechanics. It sounded like something that could be a lot of fun, and perhaps overall word of mouth will say such things once people get their hands on it, but thing is I described the reasons why I felt like it could work. It had nothing to do with the studio, it had more to do with what the game was presenting.
I was noticing something fascinating though, like a common cold, apparently certain major gaming sites started to spread ‘Bungie’ as a buzzword. Like, ‘Bungie can do no wrong’, ‘don’t doubt Bungie’, and ‘how can you not love Bungie?’ In fact I heard less about the game they were promoting, and more about critical acclaim behind Bungie. It’s like a popular boy band that all the girls are into, except it’s a bunch of dudes in green armor on stage, and the girls are replaced with journalists who throw their wet pants on stage. I can only imagine the type of fan mail Cortana must be getting, yeesh!

What is it that makes Bungie this top-tier studio that apparently every other studio should aspire to be? I mean they did make forge mode, and you do not want to fuck around with forge mode, I’ll tell you that. They made Cortana naked-er in 4, I mean I don’t know how you do that to an AI robot lady, but they did it…oh wait that was 343 Studios, damn it! The warthog now has golden rims, oh wait that’s not true, that’s just something I accidentally read from my wish-list for Halo 5. Oh boy, I should stop doing that.

Despite Halo being a thing and the influence it wrought on the industry with the regenerative health/shield bar, I don’t think that constitutes as being one of the greatest studios out there. It does carry weight to the name, in the same way that Sonic once carried weight to Sonic Team and Sega, but that’s it. Halo is a competent shooter, but only got better once it started borrowing mechanics from Unreal Tournament (hey, be glad I didn’t say ‘ripped off’). And then for a long time based their third installment on a catchphrase that would make every greedy marketing manager cry with dollar signs from their eyes (‘Finish the Plate’ I think was the catchphrase). Halo: Combat Evolved, 2, 3, and Reach are all good games, but if we’re basing what makes a great studio judging from a franchise that has made minor to moderate adjustments throughout the years, then Infinity Ward should be on there as well.

Journalists and the gaming world love to put Bungie on this pedestal of greatness that no other studio can ever achieve, despite that their most notable accomplishments involve a franchise where a man in a green suit of armor shoots aliens (not enough love for Marathon Man apparently!)
I’m sure Naughty Dog is sitting on a park bench during the national Bungie ceremony, and saying to someone, “I’ve put out a PS2 platformer trilogy involving a talking ferret and a man with anime hair, and it’s one of the best franchises of all time. And then I put out another PS3 action adventure trilogy that’s influenced by Indiana Jones, that’s considered one of the best trilogies of all time. Then I lastly put out a survival horror game that has one of the most memorable endings of all time that’s so highly acclaimed it even got a PS4 port immediately after. Yet I still am not in league with the studio that’s been working on the same goddamn sci-fi FPS franchise for close to 10 years.”

Then someone says, “What about Crash Bandicoot?”

And then Naughty Dog says, “We don’t talk about that, not since the break-up.”

This is not a question of what makes the best gaming studio in the world, that’s a whole other can of worms to open up. This is a question of why Bungie needs to be looked at through a non-bias magnifying glass, and how they’re not the pinnacle of game development. Maybe Destiny will change that, or maybe not, but remember to contact your local doctor if you contracted Bungie-Fever. Unfortunately there’s no cure at the moment, the only way to treat Bungie-Fever is through Half-Life 2 children’s vitamins. Even more good news, they’re shaped like head crabs!

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Too Serious or Too Goofy? A Look into Current/Future Tonal Shifts in Videogames

Tonal Shift Image

So I was reading up on the interweb gazette today, that’s what I call reading news on the internet, and found out something interesting with the development on Sunset Overdrive. In an interview with Siliconera, the creative director of the game, Marcus Smith, stated that maybe things are a little bit ‘too serious’ in the gaming community. “Games are kind of like uber-serious right now. In a lot of cases, people are trying to make interactive movies more than things you are entertained by. For us, we just wanted to divert and go back to our roots. Insomniac has always done games that were pretty self aware, always had a sense of humor, and are fun for different groups of people.

While I certainly am glad that Insomniac is returning to what made their games great in the first place, this brings up numerous interesting points about the current state of the industry. Have videogames gotten too serious that now we’re returning back to an era of fun and light-hearted titles? Should we absolutely return to this frame of mind after what’s been going within the last ten years? Can we reach over-saturation with having games that are colorful and are just based on mindless entertainment value?

Of course I grew up with colorful platformers when I was a wee dino-lad, so to me I absolutely have no problem with returning to making games be about…fun (I know, it’s hard to imagine that). However this really could be the proper dose of medicine the industry needs right now.

Since the beginning of the PS3/Xbox 360 cycle, major videogame titles were developed with the mentality of ‘we have the tech to make this as realistic as possible, so let’s go for it’. This type of thinking was fed into people’s minds, along with shooters like Gears of War, Halo, and especially Call of Duty making a statement that shooters were here to stay. But most importantly, it started the birth of ‘Realistic-Gritty-Unshaven-Masculine-Men-Games-That-Also-Happen-to-Have-Shooting-Elements’ genre that even greatly influenced other studios to go in that direction with their software (Mass Effect, Uncharted, inFamous, Resistance). However it wasn’t the games themselves that influenced the change in direction, it was the fact that publishers found out that making games realistic and gritty would allow for profitable sales. This is especially apparent after the success of the Call of Duty franchise once Modern Warfare became a huge success (this was the game that transitioned the whole ‘I’m tired of WW2 shooters’ to ‘I’m tired of modern military shooters’ phase), which led to the regenerative health system and the linear level-designs with occasional interactive cinematic moments squashed in between.

 

COD: Advanced Warfare

REALISM MOTHERFUCKER!!! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THIS!

It’s kind of like that moment when Max reached 16, and was like, “Ugh, I’m so tired of wearing shoes with bright blue colors and listening to the Dave Matthews Band! I’m gonna start dressing up in nothing but black clothes and wear Kiss make-up. And every time I turn on the radio I’m gonna make sure that The Smiths are on! Because I’m a reflection of this world  I’m living in, nothing but pain and misery!”

Of course you slap him, because you’re the mother or father, and say, “Son, you stop taking everything seriously and quit reading your crappy poems out loud! Even the cat is tired of listening to them, look at that, he’s curled up into a ball because you can’t stop saying the word ‘bleak’!”

This is what I felt about the past generation of gaming, a lot of developers want to be taken seriously, but just don’t have the writers or knowledge to be taken seriously.

But what makes Max as a child any better? All he was doing was making fart noises, writing inappropriate messages on the bathroom wall, and scribbles all his belongings with various amounts of crayons that just don’t complement each other. Max was an annoying little shit, and so was 16-year old Max, but in both their own unique way.

It reminds me a lot of how Saints Row became super successful after 3. Saints Row 3 features a lot of immature elements such as giant purple dildos, nude para-shooting, doing silly dances in front of public authority, and features a lot of crazy costumes. The third and fourth ones are pretty fun, but they also, and here’s where I’m probably going to receive a lot of angry messages for this, have terrible writing. It’s a colorful GTA mod where the writers and designers work in unison just to throw shit on the wall, and see what sticks.
However it never grounds itself, does it want to be a wacky slap-stick game or does it want to be the videogame equivalent to Airplane? Where everyone is taking things seriously, but they’re put in extremely ridiculous environments? The voice actors do their damnedest to sell their performances, especially Nolan North in Saints Row 4 who just sounds like a slightly different version of Deadpool, but the material they’re given is too minimal, redundant, and has not a whole lot of proper set-ups to the jokes they are telling. “Hey, look its Keith David – he’s Keith David! Hey look, it’s Shaundi, she’s dressed provocatively, but deep down is a tough woman even though people still call her a whore!”
Of course these games are known for their ridiculous missions, and the fact that it’s a sandbox game where you can do whatever the hell you want. But I feel like the franchise’s success is based on when it was released, which was around the time when GTA 4 was being mocked for being ‘too realistic’ and gritty military shooters were becoming popular. To many, it was the shining light of absurdity at the end of a tunnel that also had a lot of military shooters that looked the same. Personally I think there are other games out there that achieve the same sense of madness, but work so much better such as Deadpool and Bulletstorm.

Although that’s besides the point.

Thing is, I don’t think you can over-saturate the market with nothing but games that are made just for entertainment value and nothing else. Like, “Oh my god games these days are made to look colorful and are entertaining, where are the ones that make me shoot stuff and make me feel like shit?” No sane person says that, and if they are out there, they’re what’s holding the industry back. Realistic and gritty shooters will never go away, and no one’s going to take them away. It’s just that the amount of gritty realistic shooters is too damn high!

What we want to achieve as an industry is to have the perfect balance that we had with the era of the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube console cycle. An era where one genre wasn’t overshadowing the rest, and where developers were being experimental with the genre’s they were working in. The result would exhibit a wide spectrum of genre’s ranging from silly action games, to light-hearted adventure games, to realistic yet fun racing games, and of course your super gritty and depressing shooters. Instead of having an emphasis of one specific genre, and having occasional brief appearances of other obscure genre’s.

If Sunset Overdrive does extremely well, we could be seeing a refreshing start to more colorful and entertaining games that don’t have a strong emphasis on just shooting stuff. Or maybe we just can’t get enough of our big-chinned and scruffy white protagonists. Maybe we could reach an agreement by just removing the ‘scruffy’ part, and having them just be big-chinned white protagonists. There we go, yep I finally found a compromise that everyone can get behind!

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Dog Olympics, A Call of Duty: Ghosts Review!

Call of DogFamous Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Holy shit, people still play Call of Duty?”

I replied to him, “Yes Plato, also how are you still alive? Aren’t you suppose to be dead?” He gave a stern look at me, and then ran off. It was very weird.

However he does have a point though, it’s impressive that to this day people still play Call of Duty. I don’t know how those voodoo spiritualists at Activision do it, but I guess they must be doing something right. Within 24 hours, this game had made over a billion in sales and continues to make more money than you and my reptilian ancestors (RIP you remnants of the past) will ever make.

So ultimately, what is there to say anymore about this series? It’s annual releases have made it harder to critique each installment since everything has already been said about it, and not to mention after Modern Warfare 3 there ain’t much more room for gimmicky giant explosions here. So where does this series take off from here with Ghosts? I don’t know what you’ll receive from my answer, but boy did this game frustrate the ever-living hell out of me with trying to find one.

I guess if I were to begin this, it would be with Black Ops 2. The reason why I bring up Black Ops 2 is because that was Treyarch attempting to inject creative energy into a series that desperately needed it after Modern Warfare 3. Despite some hiccups along the way, I felt that it indeed succeeded and felt like the series (in terms of  the story campaign) should have stopped there. Ghosts on the other hand was Activision telling Infinity Ward, “Well don’t stop there, this money train ain’t got no time to stop on its tracks!”

Call of Duty: Ghosts is the corpse of Modern Warfare 3. While on one hand it shouldn’t exist and should be put out of its misery, however on the other hand you’re reminded of how much fun beating up a corpse can be. That’s right kids, if you want an authentic Call of Duty: Ghosts experience just dig up your old folks graves and give them a good ol’ knock to the noggin! Then say, “Why do you still put campaigns into your games?!

And their response will be, “Because fuck if I know!

If you thought you’ve seen some pretty unnecessary campaigns, then man are you in for quite a ride with the campaign for Ghosts. The story here, as loosely as I like to call it, is about this secret US special operations force called Ghosts. Essentially Ghosts are like these legendary heroes that go above and beyond the ‘Call of Duty‘ (Ha! I want to kill myself now) and protect humanity from terrorists. The main villains in this game are an organization known as The Federation, which is just a bunch of South American nations who have a fetish for oil. In the game you play as Logan, who is one of the two sons of retired U.S. Army Captain Elias Walker. You’ll basically be following these two sons, and their doggy which is named Riley.
Also something interesting to note, Logan’s brother (Hesh) is played by Brandon Routh of Superman Returns fame. That’s a shame too, considering I couldn’t tell it was him the entire time I was playing the campaign.

The idea behind the Ghosts sounds interesting, and the game seems portray them as this mystical and unique military force that has a specific code they have to follow. You don’t really see that in a lot of modern military shooters, mostly because they just revolve around some operation in the middle east (including hearing the same military jargon, over and over again). The problem with an idea like this is that it’s in a Call of Duty game. Meaning every chance they have to expand upon it or flesh it out, it gets painfully undercut by pointless spectacle. Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some pointless spectacle, but there’s a limit to how much pointless spectacle I can accept. As a matter a fact, I’ll pretty be saying that about a good majority of the campaign.

However there’s more to it than simply ‘I got tired of looking at pretty colors’. The campaign for this game has begun to show its age, and it does not look good. The linear level designs with false pretenses for alternate pathways, the questionable AI, the same high-tension story beats, the same health regenerative system, all of this and more are what’s wrong with this game. Remember when I brought up Black Ops 2 and how that tried to progress things with the campaign? Well this one takes a huge step backward by not integrating those features, and just keeps chugging along with its sameness. This game is a strong argument as to why annual releases are more harmful than good to a series reputation.
Let me also just say that this game has one of the worst add-on endings I’ve ever seen, to a point where it made me legitimately angry. Because the developers honestly think people give enough of a shit about their campaign that they want to see the continuation of these characters into the sequel! That’s right folks, Call of Duty: Ghosts 2 is on the way!

It’s so frustrating that by the time I played multiplayer I…totally forgot about it. In fact the multiplayer still maintains some of the changes from Black Ops 2, and has enough small changes in it that prevents it from feeling as stale as the campaign. Changes involving your loadout, character classes, and the ability to choose gender – which was pretty cool to inject. While these are the weakest maps here in the entire franchise, personally saying, they’re vast and are brimming with tactical opportunity. Like I said these aren’t major changes, but they added enough to still make it entertaining.
I do have one nitpick, and it’s that while I can understand wanting the make the maps bigger, I think some of them are too big. If you’re the type of person who prefers a close-quarters style of combat then I think you’re going to be disappointed here since it’s much more difficult to take out targets. Great for snipers though, judging by the billions of times I’ve been shot by their camping asses.

For the first time, Infinity Ward decided to integrate their own version of ‘zombie mode’ into the game. The mode is titled Extinction mode, and it’s pretty much almost the same thing except with loadouts and level-up perks. It’s hilarious though, the aliens strike a clear resemblance to the Ridley Scott ‘Aliens‘ and I’m fairly sure the designers had to have been aware of this. Hell, they even pop out from pods and dispense acid! Anyway, it’s a decent mode that I’m sure a group of friends can enjoy, nothing much beyond that.
Then you have this new mode called Squads, which allows you to play either solo or with a group of friends by integrating your customizable characters. You can either do this through sqaud vs. squad, Wargame, and a horde type mode called Safeguard.

If you add the crappy campaign, the fun multiplayer, and the ‘just-okay’ Extinction mode then you get an average game. I had intentions of finishing this with an infuriating attitude, but decisively I couldn’t do that if the rest of the game was just alright. I mean I will say it’s the worst in the series, but that’s not saying it’s a terrible game, just a minor…disappointment? Eh, this is why I mentioned that my answer was going to be frustrating, but point is don’t expect a completely bad game when picking this up.

Man, if only my essays about world starvation were as this complex…and involved less robots.

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Uh, A Batman: Arkham Origins Review?

Arkham Origins

Fellow Brutlounge-ians, all two of you, I kind of have a problem here. About a week or two ago I got my copy of Arkham Origins. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it, but hey it was another installment in the Arkham franchise so at least I was going to have a decent time. Problem was the game stopped working after the two-hour point, and thus I was stuck with a loading screen that soon said afterward ‘downloadable content missing’. Even though I didn’t download a damn thing for this game. I didn’t get the Deathstroke DLC, the exclusive map pack DLC, not even the Batmite Whorehouse DLC!

The result of this was that I was left with a broken game and a broken heart. Since Warner Bros. Interactive apparently doesn’t want me to finish this game and review it, I guess it’s up to me to assume what happened after the game crashed. That’s right, I’m going to not only finish this review, but I’m also going to finish the story! This isn’t amateur over here, when I intend to finish something – I intend to fucking finish it!

Alright, Batman: Arkham Origins! Here we goddamn go!

The game starts with a young Bruce Wayne, Batman, fresh off the ninja school! He arrives at Blackgate Prison after receiving word that something sinister was afoot. Once there, ‘The Batman’ finds the culprit behind all this mayhem and terror…Black Mask. Batman tries to catch up to Black Mask, but is suddenly caught off guard by Killer Croc and easily defeats him. After managing to retrieve a robot computer chip thingamajig, Batman now knows Black Mask’s true scheme which is to gather the worlds deadliest assassins and put a bounty on the Bat’s head!

After a comforting break in the bat cave and a nice chat with Alfred, Batman is back on the case and searches for the Penguin! Once he finds the monocled fiend, he then kindly asks him, “Hey man, what’s up with all this assassins stuff? And who the hell is Shiva?” The conversation leads him nowhere, and Batman winds up punching the Penguin into a Slurpee machine where he shall discover the true meaning of the term ‘brain freeze’.

Bruce hears chatter on his communications device, panic was spreading across Gotham city! Through sheer means of luck he tracks down Deathstroke who was buying a hot dog at a very popular hot dog stand. Batman wanted a hot dog too, but he couldn’t because Deathstroke was in the way! So he sneaks up behind him and throws him to the ground. Batman starts yelling, “Where did you get the ketchup and mustard packets?!”

Deathstroke then laughs in an evil manner, and Batman knocks him out. He buys a hotdog at the stand and saves a buck or too by bringing a coupon, “I didn’t even know I had one!” He says with his gruff voice.

Realizing he was just left with a regular hot dog and was freezing out in the snow, because apparently it’s Christmas Eve every goddamn day in Gotham, he tries to find the condiments for his hotdog. He searches at the local Gotham Burger joint just down the street, and asks for ketchup packets. The cashier says to him, “Sorry, but you’re going to have to order something if you want condiment packages.”

Batman replied, “What the hell kind of restaurant makes Batman have to pay to get ketchup packets?! Fine, I’ll order the ‘Damien Wayne Chest-Impaler Burger’ along with some ‘Leg-Snapping Barbara Gordon Fries’.” After a ten minute wait, Batman finally gets his food only to realize that…there was no salt on his fries. He goes back for a refund, only to realize that it was Copperhead who gave him the salt-less fries and was the cashier the entire time! Batman does the first thing any humane person would do in this situation and reaches for the register to get his money back, but oh no he got his hand caught in the cash drawer!

Copperhead says, “I hope you like my permanent-glue trap Batman!”

Batman rips the cash register from the counter and bashes the register into Copperhead. Throwing her into the fryer. Batman then turns around and then sees Firefly dressed as one of the cooks. “Ready to order Batman?” Said Firefly.

“No thanks Firefly, I’m more into ‘not-evil’ cuisine myself.” Firefly lights up his spatula and starts wailing at Batman with it. He misses each time and destroys more of the kitchen, to a point where he sees nothing but smoke. Suddenly a cape wraps around him and he gets tossed into the water fountain. Batman rings the bell near the counter and menacingly says, “Order up.” With a slight chuckle, Batman grabs a handful of ketchup and mustard packets from the kitchen and escapes through the back door.

Out of nowhere a group of masked men kidnap Batman. An hour later he wakes up in the middle of a shady warehouse, strapped to a chair, being interrogated by none other than Bane himself. Bane sits down in a chair and asks Batman, “Dude, did you really have to throw Copperhead into a fryer?”

“Well, she was kind of doing evil things.”

“But dude, the fryer? Why not just use your knockout gas or your bat-taser?”

“I didn’t have knockout gas or did I even invent the bat-taser…not yet anyway.” Batman and Bane kept going back and forth about how inconsiderate Batman’s actions were. Off on the side Batman noticed that his hotdog was about to get eaten by one of the goons, so he rips the rope off and tosses the chair at Bane. He sprints toward the goon and smacks him down, retrieving his tasty hotdog in the process.

Bane yells, “Get him and his hotdog!”

Batman yells back at Bane while eating his hotdog, “This is my hotdog!” Gun shots start pouring across the warehouse, through the crates. and not a peep was heard afterward. That was until Batman took down every henchman including Bane who he was holding by the neck.

“Hey man, It would be a real bummer if you punched me.” Said Bane.

“I’m gonna have to punch you pal.”

“Don’t do it! Don’t you punch me!” Batman punches Bane and knocks him. Crawling across the floor, Batman noticed a breathing henchman and had to do two things: interrogate him for information and then break his legs.

He walks toward the henchman and asks him, “Hey, so where’s Black Mask at?”

The henchman says, “He’s at the Gotham fair! Please don’t hurt me!”

“Oh I won’t hurt you, I’ll make you do something worse.”

“What?” The henchman gets sent back to Wayne manor to do Bruce’s laundry, while Batman heads to the Gotham City Fair.

Batman became fascinated with the fair and all its neat things. Cotton candy, games, and not-dead parents! It was a wonderland, until Batman saw Deadshot near the hunting range game. The host shouted, “Step right up and play our quail hunting game, you’ll love it just as much as I love wearing pinstripe suits!”

Batman was excited to face off against Deadshot, “So are you ready to play or what ‘Bad….-shot’?”

“Wow, did you really just say that?” The slightly offended Deadshot took the first shot, but Batman easily kept hitting quail after qauil. Finally, Batman won the game and Deadshot started to cry all over the ground.

The game host says to Batman, “Congratulations! You win an exclusive passage to Black Masks secret hideout.”

Batman says, “Sweet.” And goes underground to the Black Masks secret hideout. After going through several dark passages, he winds up at the Black Masks lair which is filled with gold bricks and hookers.

“Hello Batman.” Said Black Mask.

“What’s up.” Said Batman.

“I hear you managed to take out all of my assassins. Quite impressive.”

“I thought I was supposed to fight Shiva at some point?”

“No one cares about Shiva! Gawd, why do you make this difficult?”

“Well I’m not the one who hired obscured assassins, speaking of obscurity how’s it feel being the main villain in a game in which you’re actually a threat?”

“Screw you Bats!” Black Masks starts shooting at Batman with his pistol, but easily gets overtaken by him. “Hehe, you think I’m a threat? Wait till you get a load of Deathstroke!”

“Deathstroke is out dude.”

“Well shit! There goes my plans…uh…how was your day?” The game then cuts to credits and no more further questions were asked. None. As for gameplay, nothing has changed and nothing has been improved.

And there you go, that’s my Batman: Arkham Origins review as told by someone who clearly stopped caring once the game stopped caring as well.

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Avengers Reassemble, It’s The Lego Marvel Super Heroes Review!

Lego Marvel Superheroes

You hit that point with all these Lego games that you’re basically just talking about the same game, over and over again. Not that it’s a terrible thing, I mean it should be considering that these games continue to lack a certain amount of innovation nor branch out into anything that different. But hey, as a series made mostly for children? Perfectly acceptable, and even more fun for parents who happen to be huge Marvel fans with this latest installment. Basically whether you’re a fan of the movies, comics, or the Lego property its a game that the entire family can enjoy!

So review over, get the hell out!

Oh I kid of course. There are some interesting elements to cover with this game, more than you would expect. Not a whole lot to make a 10,000 word review, but just enough.

Being that this is a Lego game, the plot’s going to be very silly. Basically the Silver Surfer has been sent by Galactus to find another planet for him to devour. Once Surfer arrives, he gets blown up and kidnapped by Doctor Doom. Nick Fury investigates and finds out that something has gone wrong, and sends out a wide roster of superheroes to fight Doctor Doom and his cohorts. Very simple premise, but injected with a lot of puns, silly banter, and charm.
If it didn’t have that, I would be questioning why would I be playing this and shout disingenuous things at my Lego playset. As I do regularly from time to time.

The gameplay is as you would expect from a Lego game, but for those who are unaware let me explain. When playing a Lego game you will be smashing a lot of shit, encounter tedious or confusingly difficult puzzles, and constantly would fight the other Lego people on your team for no reason. Like what happens when I go out on a Friday night, except a lot less fun and the limbs don’t re-attach.

The major draw for this game though will be the superheroes you get to play as, and there are a lot here. Ranging from the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and the construction workers who clean up after the superheroes! While most of them do have similar abilities, their playstyles do actually differ from each other. Like the Hulk and The Thing aren’t just tanks, they both have different styles in terms of one’s a wrecking machine and the other is an aggressive brawler. They even have their signature moves from the movies, which is a neat touch. If you’re worried that these superheroes will just be limited to specific levels, don’t worry because this is also a sandbox game.

Funny thing is if you didn’t have a Wii U and wanted to play Lego City Undercover, just wait several more months and you’ll pretty much get the same experience here with Lego Marvel Super Heroes. Yep, along with roaming around New York city, you can also jack cars and mess around with pedestrians. What I found delightfully surprising was that not only were there more secret levels to play, but most of these levels are narrated by Deadpool. In fact, Deadpool has a room on the helicarrier where you can input cheat codes and do other fun stuff. That’s this games ultimate strength, there’s a lot of stuff to do!
Races, sidequests, revisiting levels to collect more superkits, unlocking characters, the fun never stops! Unless you get pulled over by the Lego police, though it’s actually easy to break out of those plastic cuffs, so it’s probably not that big of a deal.

I can’t really criticize the dialogue or writing in general, because while the puns can get annoying there’s nothing really offensive about it. Aside from the million Schwarma and Clobberin’ Time references, there are some pretty funny gags here. Half of them involve the characters in the background, or pointing out the absurdity with villain lairs. This game also has some of the funniest Stan Lee cameos, and use of him I’ve probably ever seen in a Marvel game.
Overall, it’s charm will most likely get to ya rather than the aggravating puns. And if you’re a kid, you couldn’t tell the damn difference. Don’t argue with me!

If you’re debating about picking this game up for your kid or if you’re a huge Marvel fan and want to check this out, I got two answers for ya. First off, I would suggest waiting until the price drops and then buy it for your kid. Second, try renting the game first and see if it’s worth actually buying. Because while this game is fun, it is indeed made for a very young audience and older siblings/parents who are really into this universe. However if you do buy it, you may be left wanting more, but it won’t be a borefest at least.

You know what? I think I realized what my superpower is, to let people know when to buy Lego videogames! Oh man, here I come world!

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Our Treasured Ellen Page, A Beyond: Two Souls Review!

Ellen Page

As I live and heavily breathe because I’m slightly overweight, it’s a Brutlounge review! Hell not only that, it’s one of the first posts I’ve constructed since June. I can’t tell what’s worse, the fact that I haven’t made an update since then or that I’m actually returning with a review for a David Cage game. It’s like coming back home only to see a bunch of weeds sprout in the front yard, and then to top it off your wife is making out with some French dude who watches Amelie or some art shit on repeat. I don’t even want to think about that, I’ve had enough cheap metaphors and artsy pretentiousness with this game already.

Let me explain real quick here for those who aren’t aware, I loathe Heavy Rain and I despise David Cage’s philosophy. And that philosophy being, “Why do games have to be…games? Why not turn my scripts for movies into videogames?!” That’s not just the only problem I have with him though. He calls himself the director for these games, but seems to bestow that title like he’s on the set of some motion picture drama. Furthermore, he seems to be approaching most of his games without a sense of love for the medium.

Now that’s out of the way, what do I think about Beyond: Two Souls? Where exactly does this ‘game’ lie in the middle of this vortex of quick-time event software? As it turns the more I think about it, the more complicated my answer becomes. I don’t have any disdain nor did I consistently facepalm throughout this entire game, but it’s weaknesses seem to originate from my own definition of what I think ‘makes’ a videogame. And I don’t think this fits that definition.

If only Ellen Page could solve this mystery. Quick, use your sass and ironic behavior to get me out of this puzzle! Sadly, she never seems to answer.

Just to actually get into the game itself, I will say this: Ellen Page and William Dafoe do a great job in this game. They do as best as they can with a script that dwells too much on excessive character behavior and sappy lines that can make any tree barf. Ellen Page plays Jodie Holmes, a unique individual who has psychic ties to an entity named Aiden. William Dafoe plays as Jodi’s doctor who looks after her and is named Nathan Dawkins. Along with maybe that one dude who played Ethan in Heavy Rain or the rapist in that game who also played a rapist in this game, I think.

Believe it or not, there are several fascinating story moments in this game. Such as Ellen Page doing an undercover military operation in Africa where she’s sent to assassinate an essential figure and befriends an African child who carries around an AK-47. No I shit you not, that actually happens.

This is one of the games blessings, but also probably one of its biggest weaknesses. There are too many ideas thrown in here, and only a couple manage to mesh well with the story’s theme which is Jodi’s struggle with trying to live a satisfying/normal life. It’s Carrie, no wait its Ellen Page: Psi Ops and now it’s Ellen Page: Spirit Detective. It’s full to the brim with unfulfilled potential, and that’s a damn shame considering David Cage could have had a winner here.

However it would be implied that was the only thing that was wrong with this game. Heh ‘game’.

As I mentioned before, the dialogue is clumsily written and showcases one of Cage’s biggest faults which is his incapability to write villains. Every villain or bully in this game is exaggerated beyond belief and barely have any smooth development. At one point Jodi goes to this birthday party and gets randomly bullied by a group of teenagers, there’s no hint or suggestion that these were the type of teenagers that would abuse an innocent young girl. Even more hysterical is that one point during her childhood years she’s playing snowball with a group of children, and out of nowhere gets smothered by a boy with a snowball. Is everyone out to kill Ellen Page, what the hell?!

If at this point you’re asking yourself, “Why are you talking so much about the story? Get to the game itself.” That’s because there is barely a game here!

There are points where this ‘thing’ thinks it’s a game by allowing us to make choices and go through quick-time events. But here’s the problem with that, you don’t get to make that many choices and the quick-time events are even more annoying here than they were with Heavy Rain. What made Heavy Rain at least fascinating with its quick-time events was the absurd scenes that were happening in the background. Although with here since the writing isn’t as terrible or flimsy, it just makes the game more dull to play. Not to mention since you can’t screw up or start over, the need to actually successfully perform a good majority of these prompts don’t become important at all.

The choices element does come back around at the end, which I was satisfied with since it does make sense within the context of the plot. Okay, this is leading to something I want to get into real quick. It’s just something I want to make my point on, leave, and then wrap up this review.

Sound good? Alright…

Games like Telltale’s The Walking Dead and Wolf Among Us have been classified by some as not technically games but more as interactive stories. I don’t have any strong disagreements with that, however here’s why I say that those are games. They keep the player easily invested with the timed dialogue choice system, and adds a more personal touch to the narrative. Along with moments of adventure style mechanics that while aren’t too deep, add some nice variety to these games. Plus these games have a defining art-style that help separate  them from the overly realistic titles.

You see what I did there? I basically explained not only why those games work, but why games like Beyond: Two Souls don’t. It’s a (barely) interactive movie that feels unnecessarily translated into an interactive format where the goal is for ‘you’ to understand Jodi’s pain through David Cage’s point-of-view rather than your own. That’s ultimately his downfall, he puts too much of his ideals and ego into his stories. Oh and his scripts aren’t that well written either, that doesn’t sound as eloquent as what I said before but there you go.

Heed my warning, if you buy this game at full price you will regret that decision. Because since the game isn’t that interactive to begin with, you can catch most of these scenes on Youtube without feeling any regret of immersing yourself in this story. Trust me, it’s quick-time event Armageddon here, and nobody should endure that much boredom and suffering by waving your PS3 controller like a goddamn monkey. Although that monkey could probably write better characters, just have to pay him in bananas and that’s it.

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Xbox One Removes Controversial Features, How They’re Still Not Off the Hook

Xbox One

Hello fellow console patrons or PC overlords, today is a pretty historical day in terms of what has happened in the gaming industry. Basically half of it is good news for consumers, while the other half may be possibly bad news for Microsoft in terms of adapting toward a new generation. If you may not have heard recently, Microsoft eliminated their used games and always-online DRM policies. Not only would this be a good time to talk about this, but it also seems just as right to discuss their so-called ‘plans’ after E3.

However let’s get into this massively back-pedaled move right here. First off the article by Don Mattrick, begins with what I assume may be the most begrudging ‘thank you’ note to the fans. At least it helps to think that way after hearing this:

Remember that famous quote? “Fortunately we do have a product for people who do want to get some form of content, it’s called Xbox 360.” Now after seeing that interview, does this line up with what has been said here?

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

– Don Mattrick

Ultimately this is an example of proving how past mistakes can affect the outlook of your company. Sure, of course there are the fanboys who will be there day 1, ready to purchase an Xbox One while wearing a ‘Halo‘ t-shirt. And then there are those who act hypocritical and wind up buying an Xbox One because of them mimicking another company’s strategy. Maybe it’s because I been through that before, but for me this just comes down to how the company and the CEO react to the public. In this case, there seems to be a sense of stubbornness coming from Microsoft about this whole shindig.

It can’t be easy to transition to something completely different from what you’ve been embarking on beforehand. In this case, Microsoft going the route of digital distribution, while Sony going the ‘old-school’ route of mainly focusing on software. That was the whole conflict since the Xbox One press conference, the new digital distribution ways against the old physical distribution ways. And now that’s no longer the case.

This reminded me a lot of the reception to the Mass Effect 3 ending(s), and how there were so many people furiously upset after finishing the game. Afterward the game got an ‘Extended Cut’ DLC to rid of the anger out there with those who wanted something more concrete. I feel like this is the same thing, except much less resulting with a mixed reception since it’s basically Microsoft changing their ways on the flip of a dime rather than making more adjustments.

On the other hand, if you are a consumer who was strongly opposed to the idea of always-online DRM and used-games restrictions, then I say today was a victory. We as consumers do get to control, to a certain degree, what we feel like is right or wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but in this case I think this was a huge victory. Though seeing the pre-orders for PS4’s outselling Xbox One’s may have something to do with that as well, just because a company like Microsoft has offered a gift to the consumers, doesn’t mean the greed just goes away in an instance. Especially with Don Mattrick on board, unless he goes through some sort of spiritual journey or gets fired, I’m still going to remain very cautious about all this.

Moving on from a strange image of Don Mattrick wearing a monk robe, what about the software? Where does Microsoft stand in terms of their first party content? As it turns out they do have plenty to show, but will it be enough to tide people over until the inevitable release of Halo 5? Most importantly, will these games be ‘good’ and prove that Microsoft does have a stable line-up of studios to show off?

It’s going to sound like I’m bitching about this, however while I was pleased that Microsoft wasn’t going to be mostly feeding off their big three studios (Microsoft Studios, Lionhead Studios, and 343 Studios), what they did show wasn’t too enticing. For instance, Ryze in concept is actually really neat and shows off the power behind the Xbox One, the problem here is that while it does look neat, the combat sequences looked like button prompts taken from God of War. Spark is a game about creating terrains and forts, it’s a neat idea that feels like something Molyneux would have made, the problem here is that the usage of SmartGlass behind it isn’t selling me. There were some other interesting titles like the one from Insomniac and some other Xbox Live arcade game that I probably overlooked. The only one that I would really love to play is Titanfall, an FPS involving mechs and jetpacks, and that’s it.

I feel like the next five years for Microsoft could go either way. If they do manage to tell Mattrick to get lost or change his ways, then I will feel confident about them as a company. If they do however continue to make irrational/dumb decisions based on how much money they make and completely avoid consumers (you know, the hardcore gamers), then they’re screwed. As I said, if you were to take away anything from this, guess what? No more BS involving always-online DRM and not being able to play pre-used games, despite the fact that the system could already run them.

Does this mean I’m gonna buy an Xbox One on launch or the year after? Hell no.

It would also be great for once if they didn’t have to rely just on Halo for them to sell their console, but then again I just want another Banjo & Kazooie game. I know Rare is no longer the same studio they used to be, but can a big green dinosaur dream? No? Well fuck it, I’ll make my own Rare platformer then, it’s gonna be called ‘Triangle & Rubber Band’, people will love it.

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