Monday, May 10, 2010

Wherein I salute the RedLetterMedia Guy.

I'd like to take a moment and just show my deep admiration and respect for the Redlettermedia guy, the one behind the pizza rolls and youtube reviews.

It's nice to find another guy out there like myself who dislikes First Contact. I keep talking to Trek fans who opine that it's up there with TWOK, and I just get confused and wonder why. Nicholas Meyer's masterpiece, TWOK is one of my favorite films of all time, while First Contact... First Contact isn't even the Borg's finest moment in TNG. He pointed out a bunch of crappy stuff in FC that I didn't even notice.

One I was kinda hoping he would have was the excessive use of red laser pointers. Ya know what I mean, on all the fucking Borg heads. Like, in Best of Both Worlds, it was pretty much just Locutus who had it, so it was actually kinda cool and interesting when he talked into the camera and it shone intermittently. It was a nice cinematic touch, the light of the red laser flickering over the camera image. But then they put em on all the Borg in FC and it just ended up looking cheap and kinda silly. Carried over to the Voyager episodes too.

I'm actually just kinda surprised and pleased to find a voice like his on youtube, which is so full of just... videos that are funny because of their randomness. Ya know, stuff that's funny, but in a retarded sense. Really kinda lazy stuff. But I find kind of a kindred soul in those reviews. It's just like conversations I would have with my intelligent friends, about silly shit in Star Trek or some other scifi thing we're both interested in, but in video form and with really good editing. It's also the first time in a long while I've actually laughed out loud at something online multiple times, instead of a chuckle or a smile. Which is what most people do when they see something and type "lol."

One of the things that he points out in his First Contact review is the uncanny ability of the ship's computer to take a very simple and vague command like "Mid 22nd century attire" and somehow deliver exactly what the cast members need, without any further parameters. This reminded me of the absolute worst example of this phenomenon, which took place in a TNG episode called "Schisms." This episode was about interdimensional muckety mucks entering our universe and abducting Enterprise crewmembers for some weird experiments, like replacing a dude's bodily fluids with polymers or some shit.

Anyways, a few of em all gather together and decide to share their experiences so they can recollect what horrors happened to them. They go into the holodeck and ask the computer to construct stuff they remember from their abductions. This is where the shit goes crazy. They ask for stuff like metal tables or chairs, and the computer somehow knows exactly what size and model to give them. Or, they'll give out vague parameters like "table, medium height." Like... WTF? How the hell does the computer know what the fuck a medium height for a table is? Or if Riker tells it to make a "large table"... what qualifies as large? Four feet by eight? Six by six? It's just so damn silly... I was laughing all throughout this scene.

Just think how easy game development must be in the future, where all you have to do to design a holodeck level is to ask for a vague sort of environment. "Computer, trees... medium height!" "Computer, enemies, large, with guns... big guns, made out of metal of some kind."

I hate DS9: The Defiant

The Defiant is the single worst part of DS9. DS9 is awful, and a big part of it is the Defiant.

Here we've got a ship that's a brick. Seriously, that's basically what it is, a brick in space. You ask me to describe the Defiant to you, that's all I can come up with. It's a turd. It's a little turd brick and that's about all I can do. The thing looks godawful. What is one of the reasons that people like Star Trek? Well, because Star Trek has beautiful ships. There's an aesthetic appeal that drew me in when I was a boy growing up. The Enterprise is probably the most iconic spaceship in pop culture, god bless Matt Jefferies for his innovation and vision. You look at the Enterprise, and while it might seem a bit impractical, the design itself is unlike anything that we had traditionally thought of as a spaceship. It is not a rocket with fins. It is not a lazy ass giant triangle. It is a saucer connected to a cylinder with a neck and long graceful warp nacelles at the back. That's ingenuity. That is something that we don't see everyday and it looked great and endured through the decades. Starfleet ships have proudly carried on that Jefferies visual aesthetic until the Defiant.

The Defiant just looks terrible. It's got this retarded looking snout up front, with the deflector dish. Only it's not even a dish, it's this weird triangular blue thingy that we've never ever seen before. But they say it's a deflector dish, so whatever. Then you've got the inconsequential warp nacelles on the sides. Except they don't look like nacelles, they're stuck on and basically part of the hull. And uh... there's not much else. You've got the weaponry, but they aren't really displayed either. I've never really seen the phaser cannon ports.

So it looks ugly. Visually, it's a disaster. There's nothing redeeming about the design. But now let's discuss the actual ship.

The actual ship itself, as written, is a fucking joke. It is a joke that is not funny. It strikes me as something that a fanfiction writer on usenet would be embarrassed to show people. This ship is tiny, about the size of four or five runabouts, but apparently is the most powerful goddamn ship in the universe. This ship possesses phase cannons that seem to rip apart battleships in one or two volleys. This tiny ship is portrayed as being as powerful as 2 or 3 Galaxy class starships, apparently. This is a fucking retarded idea. This is idiocy. There is nothing as stupid as this in television history. This is a fanfiction ship. This is something that someone would write as being the hero ship in fanfiction. There is no goddamn way that I am gonna sit and watch a show that employs an ubership that is small, fast, and more powerful then much larger battleships. I don't watch anime. I don't like to watch complete garbage. This ship is an insult to Star Trek.

Why even bother making any regular ships at all? Why do anything but make these ultra powerful pocket battleships that have phase cannons that rip through shields and oh yea... it's got ablative armor, so even if you somehow knock the shields down, there's still not much you can do? This is just retarded. The ship is insanely overpowered and completely ridiculous. Whatever happened to the beautiful Trek ships of yore? Can't we just be happy with nice curved saucers and regular phasers? Do we need phase cannons that are tiny but severely overpowered? What is this? I know it's designed to defeat the Borg, but that's no excuse for something this monstrous, this over the top, and this ugly. Plus, the Borg's greatest advantage was their ability to adapt. So even if you have phase cannons and quantum torpedoes, the Borg will just adapt to them and you're still screwed.

The Defiant is everything wrong with DS9. It is a blight on Trekdom, and I am so glad that at least JJ Abrams's reboot will wipe that eyesore from existence.

Which class to play for Mass Effect 2?

The Soldier seems the best to me, because canon Shepard is a soldier. So it seems logical to do what canon Shepard does. Going canonical, so to speak. I really like writing "canon", because you see so many fucktards online spelling it "cannon" while talking about Star Trek or Star Wars, it's really annoying. So it's empowered to spell it "canon" because that's how it's supposed to be spelled. Canon.

Also, the Soldier gets to use the assault rifle, which is probably the best gun in the game. Ya know, it fires really rapidly, has a pretty good range, and looks nice. Good all-rounder.

Lastly, the Soldier from ME1 had Immunity, the best ability ever. It pretty much made you invulnerable. I really enjoyed using Immunity and soaking up tons of damage. Now there doesn't seem to be any Immunity in ME2. But I'm gonna go and find out if that is indeed the case. Maybe we're wrong and Immunity is in ME2. Or maybe it got changed into another ability and actually got an improvement. Or maybe it's gone and I'll find out and get really pissed off and write up my thoughts on its loss. So we'll see. We'll see indeed.

BTW, they showed the first 12 minutes of ME2 on Gamespot. Apparently, you'll be able to collect spaceship models to display on a wall in your ready room. Spaceship models are awesome. Cause in a tense dramatic moment, Shepard could get really pissed off and throw his assault rifle around, knocking the spaceship models to the ground. And then Miranda Lawson will reach down and pick one up and go "You broke your little ships."

DS9 and shields.

Well, the thing is... DS9's big space battles never had any ships with shields. Seriously, you watch them. No shield bubbles on any of em. It's ridiculous.

I didn't see shield bubbles on any ships, at all. No shields in Star Trek? Thank you DS9, you lousy piece of shit. Ugh.

Me, I've always been a stickler for the bubble shields. Conformal shields just look boring by comparison. Mind you, I grew up watching the TNG series, so I'm very very used to the bubble shield look. It's kinda ingrained in my consciousness. When I think of shields, I think of blue bubbles. There's a majesty and a pageantry to them. You get the feeling that the bubble is protecting you from harm. They're more visually impressive. The only time we got to see shields in the original series films, Star Trek The Motion Picture, they also used bubble shields. You could just sense the power of the Enterprise's bubble shields as they held against the destructive green power of V'Ger. It was awesome. The bubble shield, not the movie. God, that movie was boring.

And ya know, while Generations was also a terrible film, I really liked the visual look of the shields. Even when they got penetrated by that Bird of Prey. You could see the blue little shield light up as the disruptor bolts pierced them. You couldn't get that with conformal shields, no siree bob. And remember when the Enterprise actually fired back at them and the phaser fire was sorta streaming in every which direction, as it dissipated against the green bubble shield of the BoP?

I really like bubble shields. Conformal shields just don't do it for me. They don't say Star Trek. There's no visual splendor there. But uh, getting back on topic there... see, the thing is... the DS9 battles don't even show conformal shields. They don't. They just don't show shields period. No shields at all.

The evidence shows that yes, Deep Space 9 itself has shields. Apparently space stations are allowed to have shields, but not the ships. If there are shields, they're invisible. Since I believe shields flare up and are not invisible, well... there aren't any shields. This sort of thing ruins my immersion. When I watch Star Trek, I have certain expectations. I expect ships with saucers and two nacelles, and shields, and some spiffy colored uniforms. I demand them, in fact. DS9 broke two of those cardinal rules.

DS9 did have spiffy colored uniforms, but uh... I thought those jumpsuits looked a bit worse then TNG's Season 3 outfits, honestly. TNG's Season 3 overhaul was one of the best in living memory, though. They kept Riker's awesome beard, gave Worf a better looking metal sash, got rid of Sonja Gomez, painted that technical looking design on the pillar behind Picard's chair, changed his armrests so you didn't have to flip them up, and gave us the second best looking uniforms in the history of Trek. The collar, a stroke of genius. No more need to see all of their exposed necks like that. And the belt added stature and poise. Might also have been responsible for the Picard Maneuver, not sure about that. But god bless Robert Blackman for crafting those new uniforms.

This is a good example of what we should've always seen in DS9:the Defiant vs Lakota battle.

Nice, visible bubble shields in that scene. This is good. This is what we deserve. This is a pretty well done scene. I approve of this.

Also, Susan Gibney is awesome and I wish we'd seen her more often.

In conclusion, I had major issues with DS9. Lack of shields being one of the more obvious ones.

I really hate the internet sometimes.

So, I'm going on Youtube and come across this uh, one lady by the name of NixiePixel. She apparently likes to play video games. Now, she's also this really attractive redhead. And so... she's this attractive redhead who plays video games and uploads videos onto youtube where... she talks about video games?

Now see, this is just unfair. This is just fucking frustrating and unbelievable. Lady, I don't need this in my life. How the hell am I supposed to go on living? Why would I want to view your videos, of you being really hot and attractive and talking about video games? I don't need this distraction in my world. It's fucking painful here. I'm trying to live my life like a somewhat normal human being.

See, I've got a problem. I'm one of those guys who is instantly attracted to a gamer girl. It's really not anything I've ever really tried to hide. I don't want this. I don't need it. But, inevitably... something happens in my head somehow and I can't stop being attracted to a girl who likes to play video games. It's got a hold over me. They're kinda irresistable. So if you're a really attractive girl who plays video games, it's just murder. I can't deal with it. I have to try to avoid the siren call of this lady. Or, this girl maybe. She seems kinda young. But she's hot and she plays video games and has videos about video games. It's just not right.

Why would I want to expose myself to that sort of longing and temptation and frustration? What is in it for me? How could I continue on with that sort of unobtainium? I just can't, it's impossible. I cannot view the videos. I cannot even venture to look at her, it's like staring into the sun. You might go blind from the radiance, the beauty. It's like if you don't, your eyes might just wear out their welcome. It's a terrible situation. I can't believe I had the misfortune of finding this. It's just awful, and uh... I wouldn't wish this on anyone.

I can't do it, maybe someone else could. She apparently has over 13,000 subscribers on youtube, for obvious reasons. Me... I personally cannot fathom how it's possible to watch her videos. It's undoable to me. It'd just lead to pain and misery and a dark feeling of loss and self-loathing. There's no way. It's out of the question. You think you can tolerate anything, but then you run up against something like this. Well, this is my Olympus Mons. She's just too much. I've gotta try and get her, the very idea of her existence, out of my brain, and out of my thoughts. It's just too much to bear, I'm sorry. The world is fucked up, and I'm trying to make my little way in it as best as I can. There's no reason to go out and watch the videos of this attractive redhead gamer girl, it's just inviting a lot of frustration and no good can come of it. It's just hard. It's a hard life to lead. I guess I wanted to warn others about this problem.

It's um, it's a real crying shame.

Hey, David Jaffe looks like Jeremy Renner.

Well, David Jaffe is a cool dude. Very entertaining and open about his world, his life.

And uh, he also resembles Jeremy Renner. I was watching the Hurt Locker again recently and had this odd feeling all throughout. Something peculiar was nagging at the back of my consciousness. And it just occurred to me why. Jeremy Renner, the star of The Hurt Locker, is kinda a younger, slightly thinner version of our Mr. Jaffe. It's really quite uncanny. I hoped to actually post this insight on David Jaffe's blog but he apparently turned off all comments. That's a shame. But I felt like the truth needed to be heard. This is kinda cool actually. If you don't know, Jeremy Renner was also the Marine in 28 Weeks Later, and the star of the tv series The Unusuals. But yea, you go look and David Jaffe could almost be Jeremy Renner's twin brother. That's really nifty, IMO.

Rethinking the Pegasus.

I was recently thinking about the TNG episode The Pegasus again. Looking back on it, I have to say... I really don't think I can buy Picard's decision there.

Admiral Pressman wants to recover a Federation cloaking device from the Pegasus, Riker's old ship. They find it and Riker tells Picard, who knows that it's a blatant violation of the Treaty of Algernon. The cloak also works as a way to phase through matter. So they get trapped inside the asteroid with the Pegasus and have to use the cloak to escape. Picard spills the beans to the Romulans and Pressman and Starfleet Intelligence get into big trouble or something.

Maybe this makes me a bad person, but when I think about the episode now, I can't help but come to the conclusion that the power and usefulness of the cloaking device is probably worth violating the treaty. That's a huge tactical advantage that the Federation just gives up. I feel like, in the greater scheme of things, it would have been better to have reclaimed the device like Pressman wanted, instead of what Picard ended up doing.

It seems like it worked pretty well, since the Enterprise does use it and manages to escape without any disastrous consequences. There's no guarantee that there would be a war with the Romulans. They're just developing it, they aren't outfitting the entire fleet with the things. I think the tactical advantage of having interphasic cloaking devices is worth it. Think how many lives could've been saved in the Dominion War if they had had the technology and used it then.

And ya know, some have speculated that Pressman and Starfleet Intelligence were really working for Section 31. This is kinda weird, cause you'd think that such an important mission would've been handled by a ship crewed entirely by loyal Section 31 agents, instead of given to that ol' softy Picard, who's probably well known for his strict ethical code. It falls apart, doesn't it? Ah well, Section 31 was a shitty idea. Just one of numerous bad ideas from that DS9.

Technically... they were violating the treaty. But in a practical sense, they were working on something that would have been an immense boon to the Federation and its security. I guess I'm just looking at the situation from the perspective of a human in today's world, instead of a Picard with evolved morals in a utopian future.

Ya know, thinking about Starfleet admirals... it's tough to actually find a good one. From the TNG seasons, I think my favorite one is Necheyev. She was really unpleasant, but it seemed plausible that she was at least competent and working for Starfleet's best interests. Everyone else seemed to be really corrupt or under an alien influence or incompetent.

Maybe that's why Janeway got promoted to Admiral.

Army of Two the 40th Day demo impressions

I just played it solo with two controllers plugged in. Kinda annoying that the people behind the demo force you to do that. I mean, they must know that most people aren't going to have a buddy sitting right next to em conveniently. So all it does is force everyone to play it using two controllers. Really retarded, if you think about.

On normal, it seemed really easy. I was just killing all the enemies by myself. Never felt much of a need for a second player. Weapons loadout menu is pretty interesting, there are a fuckton of options available for customization.

Graphics looked really nice. Seems like it'll be a good purchase even without the co-op.

Avatar the MMO

If you think about it, it's pretty funny how the whole movie kinda played out like an MMO of sorts. First Jake has to grind until he can earn his mount, the banshee. Then later, he gets his epic mount, the... big red flying thing.

First Neytiri uses her regular mount, then later she gets to upgrade to an epic mount, the black jungle panther alien thingy.

Stephen Lang was sorta like a raid boss. Phase 1 has him up in his giant gunship lobbing missiles for major long range DPS. Then, once you get his health down enough, he goes into phase 2 and comes out in his AMP walker suit. Phase 3 starts when he loses his gauss cannon and starts meleeing you with his giant combat knife.

Avatar 3D the film review (spoilers)

James Cameron has succeeded where George Lucas failed.

That was the one phrase that went through my head on the drive back from the theater. What I mean is, the promise of the CGI technology that Lucas sought in the prequels and failed to achieve, Cameron has gone and fulfilled it. The visuals are a hair away from being photorealistic. It never felt terrible to look at. The 3D is the best I've ever seen and really added to the experience. Absolutely worthwhile for the extra 5 dollars on the ticket, I thought.

Story and dialogue... there's some issues. It's not quite up to par with the visual technology. I'm not gonna go and say it's my favorite Cameron film, Aliens is still there. But it's not so far from that level of quality. Certainly closer then Titanic ever was. As a pure cinematic experience, it delivers.

That was the general overview. Now for the in depth stuff:

Ya know, what's most impressive might just be how Cameron's subverted his entire legacy. What do I mean by that? Well, let's see... in Aliens, he made us root for the space marines as they desperately fought against getting eaten and horribly mutilated by giant aliens. In Avatar, he's actually made us root for the giant aliens as they desperately fought to eat and horribly mutilate the space marines. A much greater feat, I think. (In case you were wondering, I was referring to the scene of the Banshees biting marines and throwing em out of the helos.)

The delivery of the story is pretty damn close to the Cameron we've all known and love. The final huge battle scene... just beautiful action setpieces and payoff. It all clicks together. We don't quite have to suffer all summer under a bunch of hacks and one guy named Michael Bay. You could call this whole December tale The Return of the King. Cameron's returned and god bless him, he's still the king of action. I know my action, Aliens is one of my 5 favorite films of all time, and he has not let us down.

That was the delivery of the story. The actual story itself... ugh. This is problematic for me. Maybe it would have helped if I'd been some sorta tree hugging hippie liberal, but despite living in San Francisco, I am not. So the story really uh... didn't work that well for me. I've never watched Dances with Wolves, but I can completely understand what they mean when they say this film is Dances with Wolves in Space. It basically is just this tale about the white man moving in and trying to take the land of the poor Indians. And how we have to fight back. Jake's whole speech before the battle there kinda nailed it. Though I found it funny how he said "They will not take our land!" Our land, Jake? Last time I checked, you were a human. You're not a native. It's not quite your land. But uh... yea, this whole story was just so cliched and predictable and the overall themes were so bluntly put... it did begin to nag at me. It was bothersome. The Naavi themselves seem to be a hybrid of Indians and Africans. When it's about taking their land, it's obviously an Indian reference. But they also have dreadlocks and they do the weird chanting and the music gives us these shrieks and moans... those remind me more of African influences. But yea, the story's about the white man being greedy and taking the land of Indian/Africans. And they have to fight back while riding horses and using bows and arrows. It's just so heavy handed and obvious.

And the fucking lame Bush references... oh my god. It's just Cameron hitting us over the fucking head over and over again. It's just not good. Lines like "We will fight terror with terror" and "Jake, they're planning some sort of shock and awe campaign." I mean, jesus christ. What were you thinking? Aliens was clearly about Vietnam in some manner, but it wasn't that obnoxious about it, was it? Those lines just killed the scenes for me. You could hear the snarky laughter in the audience. Just... ugh, cut it out. We get it dude, you didn't like Bush. We also know you don't like destroying the environment. Thanks for the hints. We should probably also save the whales, right? That's what you're about too, right? Subtlety... more subtlety please.

Okay, let's talk about that one scene... ya know, the uh, the iffy scene. I was totally with the story, going with it up to that point quite well... it was working on me, and I was along for the ride but man... that SCENE. You know the one. Where Jake and the blue cat princess finally... bump uglies. Now, I'd been going along with Cameron but that scene made me feel very very uncomfortable. Like I was watching something a furry would be getting off on. And yea, I know the Naavi don't have any fur. But still... it felt very wrong and disturbing. One of those times where you just manage to let out some nervous laughter.

Sigourney Weaver in this film was fantastic. She shows exactly why we loved her as Ripley and why Cameron brought her back. It was like having an old friend back for a new journey and that's exactly why she was brought back and it worked perfectly. Weaver gave just the right tone to her part and really sold me. When her character left us, it was sad. We didn't want to lose her, we didn't want to lose what she brought to the film.

Michelle Rodriguez obviously plays the Vasquez archetype, though I will say, she's much more likable in this film then she usually is. Michelle Rodriguez usually plays a macho bitch who nobody likes. Ya know, Ana Lucia. Much more sympathetic and understandable this time. A pleasant surprise.

Any great film needs a great villain. Stephen Lang delivers on this old movie axiom. He's the bad guy, but you can't help but enjoy how determined and just... fucking badass he is about being evil. You actually believe a guy like him, with military efficiency, could jump out of an airlock and fire off an entire assault rifle and a pistol clip while holding his breath in a poisonous atmosphere. The look of intensity in his eyes sells the character, and when we get to the final battle between him and Jake, we care about the outcome. We want to see Jake triumph over this military hardass. Again, Cameron succeeds where Lucas failed. Nobody cared about Anakin fighting Dooku or Grievous or whatever. But Stephen Lang is up to the task. Cameron's last film had a giant frozen iceberg for an antagonist. This time, we get something much better, a great menacing actor.

HEY, JAKE SULLY RAPED HIS BANSHEE:

You're probably wondering what I'm talking about. Well, it's quite clear. Jake raped his banshee. When he first tamed it. Yes, you heard me right. That was an act of rape. It's all quite clear to me. You see, Jake was on top of the poor creature, trying to assert his dominance over it. He had it bound with that rope or grass strap thingy and it was all gagged. Then he bent its neck so it was almost choking. You could see the fear and pain in its eyes. It was fighting back. It even knocked Jake off its back. It was trying to get away from Jake's domination over its form. But Jake just wouldn't take no for an answer. He got back and again mounted the banshee. Got right back on top and quickly thrust his ponytail appendage tentacles into the banshee's oozing orifice. Immediately, you could see a change as Jake telepathically took over the banshee's mind with his own through that ponytail appendage connection. The struggle ceased, Jake had conquered the weakened winged victim. That was rape right there, ladies and gentlemen. Jake Sully raped his banshee. It was even worse then Spock's mind meld rape of Valeris in Star Trek VI The Undiscovered Country.

Jake didn't rape his horse, because the horse didn't put up a struggle when he tried to stick his ponytail appendage into its quivering orifice. That wasn't rape. But the banshee was different. The banshee didn't want his appendage. That's the difference, people. Jake Sully is a rapist. Does it count as bestiality? Or is it bestiality twice over, since Jake is actually a human acting through his Naavi avatar raping the Banshee? I dunno, but it was terrible. Not a movie for kids.

Now, the ending. The ending is ridiculous. Preposterous. How can anyone buy that ending? I'm not talking about Jake Sully getting transferred into his avatar, that was just expected and whatever. I'm talking about the humans getting forced offworld by the Naavi resistance with their proverbial tails between their legs. That is in no way a believable ending. Because guess what, even though Stephen Lang and his space marines got defeated, there's still the rest of Earth's military industrial complex. And they're just gonna send in a bigger spaceship, or multiple spaceships. And they're gonna be packing nukes. That's right, what's gonna happen is that the Naavi are all gonna get nuked. Think about it... we humans have learned how to travel interstellar distances, you think all we have are armed humanoid walkers with large gauss cannons and napalm missiles? Hell no, we're gonna have much better equipment. (I was about to say power armor but walkers seems more accurate, they were driven more then actually worn) So the happy ending with the humans just leaving and the Naavi living happily ever after, that's not realistic at all. The Naavi and Jake and all the trees are going to get nuked to kingdom come.

PS: Oh yea... unobtainium? WTF? They actually called it that in the film. Cmon, copying from The Core isn't something you should do.

My list of issues with Arkham Asylum

1. Boss Fights Sucked.

2. Gargoyles a bit too convenient, grappling mechanic felt too automatic, no finesse involved.

3. Hollow gameplay sections: Courtyard filled with killing dozens and dozens of plant pods (that shoot plasma balls WTF?) by crouching and pressing a button to initiate the canned animation. And hopefully you enjoy that canned animation of him punching into and then ripping open the pod, splattering the fake camera with plant blood, because it's gonna be the same every single fucking time. Which is really boring after the 3rd time. Nevermind the 20th.

4. Gameplay length seems low, if you compare it to some other games released. If you compare it to Modern Warfare 2's length though, it seems pretty great. So that's really hard to say. Coming off of a run of Dragon Age or Borderlands or AC2, it's undoubtedly going to seem a bit short. You really have to judge if the quality of the experience is enough to make up the difference.

There's no real replayability though. It's not linear in the sense that it's a straight line, there are hub areas involved, so you'll have to backtrack and encounter the same areas but with different conditions. But all in all, the campaign's gonna be exactly the same. The only replayability might be in getting higher scores in the Danger Rooms. Wait, Danger Rooms are the rooms in X-Men. What are they called, hazard rooms? Challenge rooms? The challenge is in getting higher scores, but I just played em once each and had enough. It only served to remind me that these sections were taken from the campaign and that there was a lot more to do because you weren't confined inside a room.

5. Other then that, the one big aesthetic detail that I really disliked was what I had been kvetching about for the longest time... before the game, during the game, and now after the game: Batman's walking animation looks retarded. He's just walking like a stiff robot that's maybe a little bit constipated? It just looks bad, man. Seriously, fix that animation. He looks great when he's moving while crouched, but we're all too damn lazy to hold down the crouch button all the time. And when we aren't running, we have to walk. And Batman looks awful doing it. It was a bad jig to begin with, we never should have started this jig. It was a bad jig, a terrible terrible jig.

Arkham Asylum actually didn't have a lot of faults, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Batman's got issues

What Batman does seems slightly unfeasible.

Think about it. He goes out night after night and fights criminals in Gotham City. But how does he do this? He waits until it's night. Night time will generally be from 7:00 pm to maybe... what, 5:00 am? That's not bad, that's a solid 10 hours of crimefighting. But what happens when the sun comes up? No more Batman. And that's exactly when the criminals and supervillains are going to strike, right? Cause after a while, even the cowardly and superstitious lot are bound to notice that Batman seems to arrive at 7:00 pm every night, like clockwork. They'll just sleep during the night and do their dastardly schemes during the day. Kinda like how normal people operate. Batman isn't able to do anything, he's gotta wait till night. Unless he got some sort of WayneTech device to block out the Sun. That'd be silly, though.

But you might be saying... well, he'll just go out as Bruce Wayne during the day and stop them with his Lamborghini Murcielago. Like in that Chris Nolan film, The Dark Knight. Which sounds good, except that he actually risks blowing his cover. He's not wearing his mask as Bruce Wayne. And Bruce Wayne doesn't have the protection of the Batsuit, or any handy gadgets. That's quite risky. So what he did in TDK seems like a pretty rare occurrence. Generally, he's not gonna risk it.

And of course, he'd probably be sleeping during the day. Like a vampire, which is appropriate. After fighting crime for 10 hours and grappling from building to building, beating thugs, saving hostages... Bruce has got to be beat and in need of some rest. I don't believe any comics have ever had him copying Kramer and trying that DaVinci sleep method where you only sleep for 20 minutes every few hours or something. The man's reserves are down, he'll have to go to sleep during the day. You know what happens when he doesn't get sleep? He gets his fucking back broken, that's what. It's a bad scene.

Now, on to Batman actually fighting crime. His batsuit protects him from bullets. And he'll generally hide in the darkness. But what about his no killing rule? Is that really an actual rule that a guy fighting crime night after night can keep? You'd think that eventually he'd do something like punch a guy, have the guy go unconscious, fall down, hit his head on a toilet bowl or something, and die from inadequate medical attention later on. Or maybe he punches some big dude in the chest, which causes a freak heart attack and death? Ya know, stuff that's a little unlikely, but becomes more and more likely as his crimefighter career continues. Batman doesn't have detailed medical dossiers on every two bit crook and thug in Gotham, right? That seems like a stretch.

In law, we have something called the eggshell skull rule. Basically, if you punch someone in the head and they turn out to have a rare condition which makes their skull as weak and brittle as an eggshell, you'll be punished for the actual outcome, not your intent to merely inflict a punch that would have slightly injured a man with a normal skull. So you're basically screwed if you just happen to punch someone with an eggshell skull. Now, this could happen to Batman. He might not know if a new criminal mastermind has an eggshell skull. So he goes for the one punch knockout and... ends up killing the guy. Gordon and the GCPD suddenly have a warrant out for his ass. He's done for. Or, the criminal supervillains like Joker or Two Face could just hire someone with an eggshell skull to be their thug for a heist. Batman shows up and falls right into their trap. It's terrible, breaking your one rule to never kill because you ran into a thug with an eggshell skull. That would just feel terrible.

Batman often gets wounded in combat. You know, something sharp shreds his costume sometimes. Catwoman's scratched him good in a few encounters. So he gets cut a bit and maybe blood spills out from the wound. Batman doesn't stop to clean up the pavement, he just keeps going with the battle and drives away when it's all over. So you've got Batman's blood on Gotham pavement, or inside a building somewhere. Couldn't someone take that blood and try to find Batman's real identity with it? Just gotta try and match it up with any DNA in a database. Bruce Wayne probably had blood taken from him as a kid for... medical reasons, right? Does a hospital keep really good records of people's blood and DNA? I'm not sure, but even if they don't, the existence of Batman's blood is worrisome evidence. Could you use the DNA in the blood to trace it to the Wayne genealogy? It doesn't seem too far fetched.

It's tough being Batman. I don't know how he does it.

Why I Hate Anime Part 2: The Art

What's up with anime? It's just terrible, terrible art. The same identical fucking appearance, all across anime. Weird shaped head, with giant eyes, small nose, small mouth. Fucking ridiculous. Are they greys? Are they supposed to look like grey aliens? Cause grey aliens also have giant eyes, small nose, and small mouth.

And what's up with them having giant teardrops next to their head sometimes? Why is there a giant teardrop hovering near their head? Why? Is it raining? Is something going on? It looks retarded. Absolutely hideous. Along with the giant eyes. And sometimes the faces turn into cat faces for some fucking reason. Again, stupid shit.

And what about the super deformed appearances? Sometimes they turn super deformed. Have they just been in a fucking transporter malfunction, like that scene in Star Trek The Motion Picture? Where the science officer and that chick from the Lost Years novels gets transmogrified and all screwed up by the transporter? Why are things super deformed? Why does anything have to be deformed for no goddamn reason? Why is it super deformed, and not ultra deformed? Super deformed denotes that it has not quite gotten to the stage where it might be ultra deformed? Cause they look pretty deformed, and squished, and all small and ugly and kinda stout and uh... they don't look quite right. Again, really stupid and ugly art.

But it all comes back to the fact that they all look stupid. Giant eyes, really really giant eyes. Who the hell thought up this shit? With small mouths, that sometimes have a little bit of pointy incisor tooth. Just a little bit of incisor, to make em look kinda like cat people. Other times, you don't even see the nose. The nose disappears completely. Just awful. Ridiculous crap.

And of course, because they do all look the same, with the identical faces, the only logical way to differentiate them... the only way to tell em apart, is with wild and different colored hair. So you've got people with green hair. For no goddamn reason. Or they'll have blonde hair, but they're still supposed to be Asian? Really? Asian people with really blonde hair, that doesn't actually look like it was dyed? Purple hair, blue hair... just the gamut of colors. All because they can't be fucked to draw people differently. Noooooo, always gotta continue with the same identical giant eyed faces with small mouths. Unless they open the mouth, then the nose disappears. The mouth opens, nose disappears, and giant teardrop comes WHAM out of fucking nowhere. People make fun of the crazy ass hair in anime, and the defense is "well they wouldn't be able to tell characters apart without the different colored hair." No fucking shit. No fucking shit we wouldn't be able to tell those idiotic characters apart, they're all the same with those giant eyes and small noses and mouths! The answer isn't to give em all ridiculous hair... it's to actually try and draw em differently sometimes a bit mayhaps! Think, you lazy assholes!

Speaking of lazy... anime is so absolutely lazy. Just look at ALL the fucking speedline sequences in anime. I'm talking about those scenes where a character does something really dramatic, like running. What is the background while he's running? It's some crazy hyperspace field with a lot of lines and maybe purple ass stars flying around and it's like... where the fuck did this guy go off to? Or a robot will do something crazy like fly around. Suddenly, he's in this pinkish background with sparkles or some shit. And he's doing some crazy maneuver, but it's not in a location anymore, he's floating around in this magical ethereal world of white lines and stars and uh... nothingness? It's bullshit.

And of course, you'll have plenty of shots of people making punches or cutting with a sword, and the animation shows them all frozen in place, then a giant slash appears, then the thing getting punched or cut suddenly leaps six feet off of where it was, and the shot freezes once again. This is supposed to be dramatic, but just looks lazy, like the animators didn't want to animate more then a few shots. Lots of frozen scenes, depicting stuff happening. It's retarded.

You look at American animation, and yea, some of it looks like crap, but for God's sake, it doesn't all look alike. The Simpsons doesn't look like Batman TAS. Batman TAS doesn't look like X-Men TAS. Rugrats doesn't look like Ren and Stimpy. Kim Possible doesn't look like South Park. (Yes, I watched Kim Possible. It was embarrassing, but I was bored.) But everything anime is the same. Giant eyes, small nose, small mouth... usually a fucking robot in the background.

Baldur's Gate 2: Not a Fan.

I didn't like Baldur's Gate 2 when I played it. The game practically forces you to pause and micromanage all your party members, and that's just not fun for me. If I want that, I'll go and play a turn-based RTS. That's not what I want from an RPG. I want something like, uh... KOTOR. I'm not gonna say I never paused the game at all in KOTOR, but it was generally in a few key spots, like during a tense boss fight.

The whole pause every two seconds to issue commands to everyone, then unpause to experience one or two seconds of real time combat, then pause again... that shit is just incomprehensible to me. Why would anyone want to do that? That doesn't feel like a game to me. Look, if you like turn based combat like that... then just go all the way and use one of those actual turn-based combat mechanics, like from Persona 4 or the Final Fantasy games. Well, I mean... I've never played a Final Fantasy game, but I figure their turn based combat works like that. Ya know, like Pokemon's combat. It's just all turn based and works fine if that's what you want. But don't give us this bastardized half in, half out schtick. Two seconds of real time combat, followed by a pause and going back to the turn based thing... that's just torture. It doesn't feel good, and if you want real turn based action, it doesn't deliver. Who wants to manually pause every two seconds? It's not what I would consider to be good gameplay, even if it is an old game.

And the isometric view... yuck. Just a terrible choice. Again, something that's fine in an RTS, but feels wrong for an RPG. If I'm some strategic god commanding a hundred different units and mining fucking vespene gas on some outposts... I want that isometric perspective. If I'm role playing as this guy with armor and a sword, talking to people... I don't want that isometric perspective.

Lastly, having a lower armor class is apparently better, which makes no sense.

Dragon Age: The Final Assessment.

So, I finished the campaign last night and uh, it was nice. Very satisfying ending. Overall, I like the game a lot. That should be obvious, I've posted quite a bit in this thread. That's cause it's very good. Not a perfect game though. Not a game I can consider as a candidate for GOTY 2009, let's just say. The BioWare signature is definitely all over it, you can feel that same sort of relationship with characters that you got in KOTOR and ME and all that. It's just a very cozy and enjoyable experience, I'd say.

But ya know, there's a few wrong turns as well and I figured I'd just write up my thoughts on that. Quick summary here and uh, maybe there'll be improvements for Dragon Age 2, which I eagerly look forward to.

The graphics in DA aren't so hot. I can't believe I'm living in a world where people are posting that they can't believe they live in a world where the graphics in Dragon Age are considered bad. Like, really? Honestly, this is the year 2009. Dragon Age's graphics are considered bad, because they are bad. You look at video games, and it's clear we've come pretty far. Uncharted 2, Batman Arkham Asylum, Crysis, Gears of War 2, Dead Space, Infamous, Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2, lots of games with great graphics. But ohohoho, you raise your hand and object... those are all action games, not RPGs! Well, alright... that's true. Let's look at RPGs... we've got games like Oblivion, Fallout 3, Mass Effect, all which look much better then Dragon Age. And some of em came out over two years ago. And I'm not certain, but I'm pretty sure Final Fantasy 13 is going to look much better then DA when it comes out sometime next year. I've never played an FF game in my life, and don't intend to pick up FF13, but it's clear to even a dude like me that it looks so much better then what BioWare delivered to us here. So no, it's not crazy to say that DA has some pretty bad visuals.

It's all fine and dandy if you say you're a hardcore RPG player and story-telling and dialogue come first and you don't care about graphics. That's fine, those are your own preferences. But to simply ignore that they are not that great is deluding yourself. It's like buying a used car with some scratches on the paint. You might value great gas mileage and the roomy interior and so the scratches on the paint don't really bother you at all. That's not why you bought the car, it doesn't affect your enjoyment of it. But don't act as if the paintjob is beautiful and flawless while conversing with your next door neighbor. Don't tell him the paint is great. That's escaping into some sort of bizarro world.

The world is changing, I feel. We no longer have to put up with FPSs with nonexistent stories, or RPGs with horrible visuals. What's Fallout 3? It's a first person shooter, but also an RPG. What's Mass Effect? It's a third person shooter, but also an RPG. It's not an either or proposition. Oblivion was an RPG that actually had decent combat for a change. This is a good thing, new games are taking the best elements of each genre and coming up with a really nice hybrid design. So don't give me the old chestnut that because it's an RPG, you shouldn't expect anything in terms of graphics. That doesn't fly anymore. Well, unless it's an indie game, which I don't think DA is. It's a BioWare game, so you're damn right my expectations are gonna be high. They've set a high standard for consistently great RPGs. KOTOR looked great when it came out in 2003. Mass Effect looked great when it came out in 2007. So to me, expecting BioWare stuff to look good isn't exactly going off and battling windmills.

As far as Morrigan goes... I'm kinda amused by all the discussion about her. It's really interesting how some people hate her a lot. I dunno, she was fine for my tastes. It's uh, it's okay if BioWare didn't just give us a retread of Bastila Shan or Liara. I might actually have found that really boring and lame. Morrigan's just different but still kinda alluring and provides a little discord in the party dynamic. Kinda reminds me of Joanna from the BattleTech novels. Ya know, mostly from Robert Thurston's body of work. Some people don't like Joanna cause she's basically a bitch, but a lot of people, including me, really really like her. Not like as in, I'd really like to be her BFF in real life, but we enjoy her as an intriguing literary character. Some people are just not that happy go lucky and they do have to occupy that realm of anti-hero. So yea, Morrigan's kinda... the best at what she does, but what she does isn't very nice? Heh...

Alright, some issues I've got with the game... starting with a MAJOR one. Terrible invisible walls. Dragon Age Origins is astonishingly awful at making any kind of sense with the edges of the levels. You go travel in the Korcari Wilds or the Dalish forests... little shallow ponds are invisible walls. WTF? These four inch deep puddles are able to prevent you from any further exploration? Is it because the plate armor will somehow rust if you dip your feet in em? Okay, another example... go to Ostagar. There are trees four feet apart that will form an impenetrable barrier. Steps that are only two feet high in Orzammar will block your movement. Head into the Deep Roads, and you'll be stopped by an invisible wall about six feet in front of the rockslide it's supposed to represent.

While doing Shale's special quest, you'll have to venture into this... place that I won't really name, so this won't require spoiler tags. But in the location, there are these hot spring pools on the sides of the level with steps leading down to them. You can actually see that the level designers crafted steps, for humans, leading down into these inviting hot spring pools. Why not go down for a little soak? Well, tough shit, cause the invisible walls again won't let you. This isn't some sort of a major gameplay flaw, but rather just kind of a puzzling choice on the part of the BioWare level designers. Why would it be better to actually limit the player in so many ways? Is freedom really so frowned upon? It kinda makes me wonder if they're somehow totalitarian fascists or something. Well, that's kind of a joke, but seriously... what could be harmed by letting the player walk down into a hot spring pool? Or allowing us to walk over tiny little ponds? Or making the trees more crowded in a location so the invisible wall looks like it'd actually impede movement? This is just really sloppy work. Bottom line, they need to be better at making limits for areas. The really strange thing is, I don't believe this bizarre level design issue reared its head at all when I played through KOTOR or Mass Effect. Maybe I forgot about it but... I don't think so. Just seems to happen in DA.

Moving right along... what is up with the loot lag? Sometimes I'll just loot everything after a battle, move on, and then backtrack a little while later and discover some more shimmering bodies. See, that's how I know that loot lag is present in the game. For a singleplayer game, it shouldn't take forever for loot to show up on bodies. Is it really that hardware intensive to process some loot stats that are probably in a small text file? It's just sad that I've encountered so much more loot lag in DA then in an MMO like WoW which has to deal with lag and all sorts of other complications.

The design of encounters in the game can seem very uh, strange and ass backwards. I'll not explain this in great detail, that might spoil something. In some quest situations, you'll have to answer a riddle. If you get it right, hurray. If you get it wrong, you have to fight a demon. Killing the demon gives experience, but just getting the riddle right doesn't. Why the hell would I want to answer it correctly and get no experience? What sort of incentive is that? It's completely counter-intuitive and ridiculous. People are actually punished for answering correctly. Everyone wants to get more XP, this is an RPG after all. Getting a dialogue answer correct should reward the player just as much as getting it wrong, if not more so.

Lastly, what is up with sustains? Most of the sustains work fine, but some are just janky and for no reason. Or they work differently but it's never explained in the description. For example, Rally seems to turn off automatically whenever I enter a new area. Wynne's Vessel of the Spirit has some unknown duration. This is no good.

Dragon Age: Some complaints of mine.

First of all... let's talk about the love scenes you can trigger with Morrigan/Leliana. You only get to watch them once in the whole campaign. Frankly, it's very disappointing. Why should that love scene only play the first time you trigger it? Every subsequent time you select that dialogue option, the game just skips and you never get to see it again. WTF? I selected it, that means I wanna see it damnit.

I don't wanna press Start whenever I boot up the game, but I'm somehow forced to do it. On the other hand, if I do want to see the love scene again, that's somehow not important enough? Pressing Start at the Start Menu... absolutely required and somehow necessary but respecting the wishes of the player to have sex again... can't be done? Where are the priorities here? What's going on with the developers? Do they know anything about human beings and playing a game? It's ridiculous. This is like, common sense here.

Another issue I have with the game... the itemization for spellcasters seems pretty damn shitty. I had Morrigan in her starting robes until obtaining the Robes of Possession (the best robes in the game for her), which just looked identical to her default costume. So basically, I never actually got to see her appearance change at all. That's just a little fucking lame, right? I spent a ton of time sorting through loot and upgrading my own warrior character, but the spellcasters really don't ever need that kind of attention, cause they never get any upgrades.

Same thing with staffs. I think I upgraded Morrigan's like... about one time in the majority of the game. Then I got to the endgame and decided to actually spend some of my accumulated wealth on a much better staff from the Mage shop in Denerim. So that's two upgrades in the entire run of the game, and only one if you just count loot obtained from enemies.

Bayonetta the Demo: Hey yea, it is awful.

This demo is DUMB. I just played it and yea, the graphics are nice, but there's so much messed up shit here. For one thing, the camera seems to be inverted on the horizontal plane. You'll push the stick to the left and the camera swings right. Push the stick to the right and the camera swings left. Sure, there's probably an option to change it, but why on earth would they think it'd be a good idea to invert it on default? That's just silly. Not to mention the camera's not nearly as responsive as it should be.

And why are my retinas flashing red? Right after you get off the train, there are like red pulsing nerves at the edges of the screen. There's also butterflies popping out of the ground when you land after a jump. Wha... what? What the hell is that about? The angel dudes you fight are called Third Stage Applaud? Am I supposed to be applauding their arrival or something? what does Applaud even mean in the context of giant angel guys with beaks? Should they be applauding? Are we supposed to applaud how good they look?

And of course, there's some bullshit invisible forcefield when you try to run back to the train station. How does that make any sense?

I will say though... Bayonetta really doesn't look like Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin looks really good for a woman in her 40s, but she'll never look as good as a CGI creation. Bayonetta has one really long neck though. Like, almost like a giraffe gave birth to her. It's very off-putting.

Last of all, the music is fucking terrible. Awful, retarded J-pop garbage. I mean... I went and turned it off completely about 10 seconds into the demo. But uhhh, that music... what the fuck man. Just what the fuck.

Time for some praise: Ubisoft Montreal

I've been feeling this way for a while now and thought it should be put down in writing... Ubisoft Montreal makes games with absolutely the best third person cameras. Like, you never hear any complaints about cameras in FPSs, they only ever show up in reviews about third person games. Well, I think Montreal's games really give us the best cameras in gamedom (Yes, I am calling a gaming kingdom a gamedom). Splinter Cell was great, Assassin's Creed and PoP were great, there's simply nothing to note except that the cameras, or perspective, whatever you wanna call it, they work perfectly. You never hear about good third person cameras, only bad third person cameras, so I just thought I'd state that they do an amazing job getting it right. Their games and WoW.

I need more romance options in Dragon Age

What's up with not being able to bed Wynne? What is this BioWare, some sort of ageism? Got something against May-December romances, do ya? What if some of us have a predilection for the MILFs? How are we supposed to get our gray wings if you won't give us that option? Wynne's not even all that bad looking, her rack seems pretty supple and uh, fighting the good fight against gravity. Leliana and Morrigan are okay, but a few gray hairs disqualifies Wynne? It's a crying shame, I tells ya.

Dragon Age Origins: A Lack of Jennifer Hale makes me a sad panda.

Here's something I've been thinking about for a while...

Is anyone else shocked that they didn't get Jennifer Hale to voice anything in this game? She's been their go-to girl for quite a few games now... Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate: Ultimate Alliance, Baldur's Gate II, KOTOR, Mass Effect... it just feels wrong not to hear her again. I'll admit, I've become quite enamored with her performances over the years. Not that the voice actors for Morrigan and Leliana do a bad job, not at all. They've been quite good. But Jennifer Hale and BioWare games, they're just two great tastes that taste great together. Or something like that.

Maybe she was just unavailable because of her duties on Brutal Legend. If so, that's a real shame.

Why I won't play the Dwarf.

Ya know, it's great that Dragon Age Origins has 6 unique player characters you can start with. That means potentially six playthroughs, adding up to a shitload of hours. That's all well and good but uh... I find myself feeling quite bad about this. See, I don't think I'm ever gonna choose to play a dwarf character. Like, maybe just to see his origin at the beginning, but never a full playthrough.

Now, you're probably asking, why would I do a silly thing like that? Why such a dislike for playing the humble dwarf? Well, it pretty much boils down to one issue:

The thought of actually watching my dwarf character kissing and making love to Morrigan/Leliana is frankly horrifying. Absolutely appalling.

See, the funny thing with BioWare games...

Ya know, there's this one thing that's always bothered me about Mass Effect and now DA...

People treated Specters in ME as supermen of a sort. But really, you're visually just another soldier in battlearmor and carrying a gun. Not that remarkable, right? Same issue here in DA. I come up on some wounded soldier and he somehow knows that I'm a Grey Warden. But uh, how would he know that? I look just like any conscripted bum with a suit of armor and a shield and sword. How does my appearance look like a Grey Warden? Not to mention, I wasn't technically a Grey Warden yet. Shouldn't a Grey Warden look like some uber knight with shiny bling or something? I just, I dunno what to think here. There's absolutely nothing to distinguish a Grey Warden from any regular soldier. Why would any NPC talk about Wardens in hushed tones of reverence, when there's no visual indicator that a Warden is among them? I don't get it.

KOTOR was a different matter cause it's obviously easy to tell a Jedi with a lightsaber from any regular soldier wielding some vibroblade.

I've finished it: MW2 is one of the greatest games ever created.

From the moment the intro movie with the Clan Wolf Timber Wolf kicks in, you know you're in for an incredible ride. The loud thumping of the mechanical titans' feet, the blasts of azure PPC fire... it just comes together in a wonderful symphony of destruction. The two different factions, Clan Wolf and Clan Jade Falcon really give weight to the narrative of the Refusal War and let you know that you're getting your money's worth. What sorta game, outside of RTSs, actually has two campaigns these days, one for each faction? All in beautiful 1024x768 resolution for those of us with rigs powerful enough to use it. It's pretty amazing that this was possible for a DOS game when most other games at the time were still using 320xsomethingIcan'tevenrememberanymore!

I gotta be honest here. BattleTech is my favorite fictional universe, bar none. While I am also a huge Star Trek fan, my first love has always been BattleTech. I can still remember walking into a game store in my wee youth and stumbling into the back, where I laid eyes on a 3025 Technical Readout, the one with the Marauder on the front. Sure didn't know it at the time, but I would end up collecting a large part of that universe's books over the years. I actually paid 144 dollars for a vinyl model of a Timber Wolf and have it sitting on my shelf. This universe obviously means a great deal to me. And the closest gaming portrayal of the BattleTech universe is the classic MW2. The Clans are my favorite faction in BattleTech, so to be able to immerse myself in Clan Jade Falcon or Clan Wolf was incredibly enjoyable. Plus, the completely open weapon loadout customization and just well-thought out gameplay mechanics make the actual game a joy to pilot. The fluff of the universe is simply icing on the cake for a simulation which portrays 20-100 ton walking machines of warfare.

And for those of you wondering, the lack of dedicated servers for multiplayer was completely fine with me. Sure, it's expected of most PC games these days, but you gotta remember, MW2 was made way back in the scary DOS days, later ported over to Windows. There was Kali, and NetMech, and that was fine for us old timers. In fact, you might not be aware, but the entire term of "Clans" for online gaming groups came about because of MW2, it was that influential in helping to establish online gaming into what it is today. The More You Know!

Sure there are a few problems. The PPCs are slow moving blue balls instead of beams of lightning. And the darn right arm always seemed to be the first location to be destroyed. But despite those shortcomings, MW2 is fondly remembered by myself, and many other old timers, as the best Mech Sim ever, and undoubtedly one of the greatest games ever created.

Impressions of Red Faction Guerilla

This game has some issues. I just started playing it on Hard cause ya know, I'm pretty good at games and stuff but uh... the mission to liberate Parker is just frustrating. Ya know, that mission where you get in a truck and have to run over 12 sensor towers. It's frustrating for a couple reasons. The vehicle handling isn't particularly good, your truck takes a whole lot of damage once the plasma bolt spamming APCs show up, and you're also getting rammed all over the road by APCs crashing into you. You can get out and try killing em but they just keep respawning so that's pointless.

The other big issue I have is with the ammo capacity for weapons. For some reason, the assault rifle is only able to hold 3 magazines. 120 rounds. Now, that's insanely low for a shooter where you have EDF forces spawning all the time. Especially cause it takes about 10-12 rounds on Hard to drop a soldier. So you run out really quickly. That's just not fun. Why would you only be able to hold 3 magazines? That's not nearly enough. I was expecting an upgrade to increase it to 6 or 8 magazines, but I don't think such an upgrade exists. That's a real shame.

Realistic Wrestling Games? Let's Ponder!

So uh, Jeff's a pretty big wrestling fan. Or, rather, he seems to be, cause he knows stuff about wrestling. Kinda a rarity in this day and age. I think that's fair to say. I mean, cmon... wrestling? Who gives a fuck about wrestling these days? More people care about the World Wildlife Fund then about the silly shenanigans of some grown men in spandex touching each other. Anyways, him talking about wrestling in the recent Quick Look about that wrestling game that's like... WCW Extreme Versus NCAA 12k or something... it got me thinking... about realistic wrestling games. You probably have no idea what I'm talking about. That's cool, we'll walk down this path together.

Wrestling's fake. Well, at least the wrestling that's portrayed in these wrestling games. Everyone knows this.

Video games are also fake. However, their fakeness is vastly different from the kind of fakeness in Wrestling. Video games are fake but can present a realism that's not possible in real life entertainment. Thus, wresting video games... they don't have to be fake in the same way as wrestling in real life. Yet, would people want that, or do they want fake realism in their wrestling games?

Just think about it. In real life, wrestlers don't actually punch each other. They pretend to punch each other, while stomping the ground with their foot to make the impact sound. Or they'll slam chairs into each other, but only hitting their meaty back, where they won't inflict any actual injuries to the other person. Instead of actually punching and drawing blood, the other guy simply hides a small razor until the opportune moment and then cuts himself with it. This is the sort of stuff that real fake wrestlers have to do in order to deliver their unique brand of entertainment.

Well, now let's look at video games. Wrestling video games don't have to worry about any of those limitations. They can actually animate wrestlers' ingame models punching each other and making contact, using chairs on any part of their opponent's body, etc. But then, that wouldn't be an authentic wrestling game, would it? It would be much less of a simulation of the "sport." So should the developers strive for realism in simulating the wrestling? Actually model a tiny razor blade in the character model's hands? Do you want to see the ingame player surreptitiously cut himself on the forehead during a match? Should the wrestler models actually be punching air and stomping with their feet in order to simulate an actual punch inside the game? That's a double fakeness, isn't it? It's the fake sport, actually being protrayed in an realism manner, inside a video game, which is fake. That's kinda mind boggling. I don't play any wrestling games, so I dunno how they deal with this in current games. But it's an intriguing concept.

Anyone else found these delays for PC games a bit... suspicious?

Has anyone else noticed that PC versions of multiplatform games now always seem to have release delays compared to their console versions? We had the delay for Batman Arkham Asylum, which was chocked up to the addition of PhysX effects. That seemed a little bit plausible. Kinda. You could sorta see it as a reason. Fair enough, right? Red Faction Guerrilla also had a substantial delay for the PC version. Street Fighter 4 and Resident Evil 5 obviously had lengthy spans of time between their console and PC releases. Though I suppose in their case, it's more the Japanese developers not giving a hoot about the PC market then actually trying to delay the games in an effort to combat piracy. Two of the biggest hits in recent years, Assassin's Creed and GTA 4 were both released on PC long after their console versions. Borderlands PC is going to be delayed 3 days, ostensibly because they're "optimizing the PC version which takes a few days longer than expected." Which is frankly absurd. Optimizing code takes a bit longer then 3 days, most reasonable people can agree.

Now we've gotten word that COD Modern Warfare 2 is going to have a 2 week delay for the PC version. Mind you, I don't really care, Call of Duty 4 was a pretty big disappointment and I have no plans to get the sequel. I mean... it looks like more linear scripted sequences every ten feet, more infinite respawning enemies, now with unrealistic dual wielding? C'mon, that's a no brainer. But uh, it's just another in a growing trend of delays for PC games compared to consoles. Obviously, I think it's getting pretty clear that this is just the industry as a whole trying to combat piracy and has nothing to do with polishing/optimizing the game, adding weird PhysX effects, yadda yadda yadda. It's just adding a delay to give more incentive to buy the game on consoles. And even if you take out the piracy component, there's just a benefit to selling someone a 60 dollar game as opposed to selling them a 50 dollar game.

I can't help feeling that this grand strategy is going to backfire. These uniform delays are going to just make people bitter and actually convince them that the game companies are turning against them on the PC. One might even say it could serve as an impetus for higher rates of piracy, just to spite them. Seems like an alright idea, if you think about it. They're screwing us by delaying the release on the PC, we'll screw them over by pirating the game. It's a vicious cycle, one might say.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

So there's this Stargate Universe show now

Yea. I'm really happy for you. It looks like a great television serial. Now, it's not just a world. Or a solar system. It's an entire universe of possibilities. Universal appeal. Universal ideals. I mean, Atlantis? Those were just the undersea exploits. That's small potatoes compared to the entire universe.

A universe, that's bigger then a galaxy. Bigger then a nebula, even. Kinda like how the Galaxy class starship was bigger then the Nebula class starship on TNG. Wonder why they never built a Universe class? They seemed to think a Galaxy class was big enough. Didn't wanna get too cocky, too ambitious with the universe.

I didn't actually watch it, but my friend did. Said there was about 30 seconds of... Lou Diamond Phillips. And I said, "Oh...you mean... La Bamba." That's what that guy's gonna be known for, for the rest of his life. Not the guy in Courage Under Fire, not the father figure in that Aquaman pilot... not even as the guy in Stargate Universe. Just La Bamba. They're gonna have to carve that into the guy's tombstone. "The Actor Who Played La Bamba."

I don't see it lasting 7-8 years. The Stargate series are now like Power Rangers series. Have you noticed that? They last a short while before changing. Permutating. Lots of permutations. Remember how Power Rangers would turn into Space Power Rangers, and then Power Rangers Full Auto, and then Power Rangers Galaxy Police, etc? It was insane. I think it's an apt analogy. Well, ya know, those Power Rangers shows changed every season. The Stargate shows last a bit longer. But it's cause kids have shorter attention spans then adults. And a kid nowadays, wouldn't even remember the original Stargate movie. I hardly remember it, heh.

Who knew the Stargate franchise would last so long? At this point, think about it... Stargate's almost got as many tv series as Star Trek. Just think about it. We have a name for Trek fans. Who knows what the name of a Stargate fan is? Gaters? Gators? No, that's some sorta football fan in Florida somewhere. They've got alligators down in Florida, not crocodiles. Maybe a gar or two. Gars are those freaky ones with the really long narrow jaws, right? Has anyone even come up with a name for Stargate fans?

So Robert Carlyle is also in it. Hopefully he can redeem himself for that performance in 28 Weeks later. God, that movie was terrible. Did I tell you how much I hated that film? It was awful. And ya know, I liked the first movie. 28 Days Later was quite good.

What's the deal with the Start button?

I recently bought a 360 and started noticing some peculiar features in the games. They all seem to want you to press Start at the beginning, right after the game loads. Why is this? I really don't get it. It's also showed up in a lot of recent PC games that were ported directly from the 360. There, you have to press a key to start. It's kinda off-putting. Why should I need to press Start to start the game, when I've already signaled my intention to start the game by putting the fucking disc into the tray and closing the aforementioned tray? Or, if Autoplay is turned off, I've already started the game by selecting the Play Game option from the console's Dashboard. Why this extra burden? Is it just to justify the existence of the Start button? That can't be it, cause the Start button's also used to pause the game while in the middle of playing, sending you to a nice options menu.

Frankly, I'm sick of pressing Start to begin. You already know I want to start the game. Do you just want me to look at your pretty game logo, so you force me to press Start to get away from it? That's unnecessary, dude. Just load up the game, show me the logo for a couple seconds, preferably no more then 3, and send me directly to the main game menu. There shouldn't be any prompt for me to press Start. I already started the game from the Dashboard, that should be enough to convince you I wish to play the fucking game. Is it some sort of warning to me, just to see if I'm having any second thoughts about initiating interaction with the game? Do you want to know if I'm really ready to leap in without careful consideration? Should I go back and do some research between the time that I launch the game from the Dashboard and the moment the Press Start screen shows up? What's up with this reluctance to actually launch the game? It's like a multi-tiered decision I'm making here. This isn't like a nuclear submarine, where we both have to turn the keys at the same time. It's just a game. There's no need to force me to press the damn Start button.

You know what I actually would like? A damn "Quit Game" option. All these console games just don't have any way to quit out of the game. As a PC gamer, this is infuriating because I'm used to being able to exit a game. Here, it's like I'm trapped, forever stuck inside this game. Of course, then I remember I can press the Guide button and exit to the Dashboard from there, but it's a hassle. All game developers should really just put a Quit Game option on their main game menu, just like with PC games. Are they really too lazy to do this? What's up with the contradictory signals? First you're programming in this asinine "Press Start to begin" screen that we don't fucking need, then you won't actually give us an "Exit game" option that we could actually use.

How do Japanese keyboards work?

So uh, I know about English keyboards... 26 letters in the alphabet, pretty simple. But what about Japanese keyboards? I was just reminded because of the Quick Look for The Typing of the Dead. Doesn't the Japanese written language have about 50,000 characters? How the hell do you fit 50,000 characters onto a keyboard? It would need over 50,000 keys, right? That seems unfeasible.

What's up with all the Delta Squads? Kinda cliched, right?

I don't get it, why is Delta always used as the squad designation of choice for games? Hear me out here, I don't think I'm being crazy and far out like I usually am. You've got Delta Squad in Star Wars Republic Commando, right? That's one, that's one infantry squad in a game that calls itself Delta. Pretty good squad, nice camaraderie there, shame there's no sequel.

Then you've got the Delta Cog Squad in Gears of War 1 and 2. That's another highly prominent squad that calls itself Delta. Marcus Fenix starts out with Dom but they eventually get to join Delta. Isn't that getting a bit excessive? I'm not saying that Epic ripped off RC here, but it just seems that people are gravitating towards using Delta, instead of something like Mu or Epsilon or Beta or Gamma or anything else...

Ya know, now that I think about it, maybe they're both taking cues from Novalogic's Delta Force. Obviously, that game is based on a real life Army Special Forces unit called Delta Force, also the 1st SFOD or CAG (Combat Applications Group). Basically, they're the elite of the elite. So perhaps both RC and GoW are trying to evoke that sorta sense of military competence. Even though I'm not sure the Cole Train persona would really be representative of a military soldier. Not so sure about that guy. Seems a little iffy.

I really don't like this tipping business

How do you feel about tips? Call me crazy, but I am totally not in favor of the tip system currently in place in our fair nation. It's just such a hassle. I think it'd be so much better all around if we just had a regular wage for waiters and got rid of tipping.

I mean, you've gotta do the math at the end of the meal... figure out what's 15%. And maybe there's some rule about dinner tips being larger then lunch or breakfast tips. You've gotta figure out if you're going to write in the little receipt or pay the tip in cash. If you don't use a credit card, you've gotta get correct change for your tip... it's just an annoyance. And the tip these days ends up being more like a kickback. Instead of paying them extra for great service or something, you're just paying them not to spit in your food the next time you visit.

Ya see, I really screwed the pooch with tips lately. First, there's a visit to this taqueria. They make good tacos. I end up making the wrong calculation and figure out my tip wasn't quite 15%. That's not so great. I feel bad about that. So then, the next time I visit, I figure out ahead of time that I'm gonna pay a bit more on the tip. That'll make up for the first tip. So I give a generous tip and as I'm walking back to the car, it hits me that I actually ordered fewer tacos then the first visit. So the tip ended up being really huge. And now, I'm not sure if I'm gonna be expected to give something like that again the next time I go to that restaurant. Ya know, maybe she'll be pissed off if she sees a decline in the tipping trend. I dunno what to think. It's a crazy system.

And ya know, it just... it seems very hard to actually provide outstanding service as a waiter in the first place. It doesn't seem like something that's actually noticeable. Cause it's a very simple job... you take my order, and then you deliver the food. There's no real room for performance excellence in something that straightforward, ya know? So why would anyone pay more then the usual 15%? Unless they go down on their knees and pleasure me or something, I can't see any way they could go above and beyond the call of duty of waitering. Now, maybe the cook could be commended for cooking the food in an outstanding fashion. I can see that happening, some cooks are better then others. That might deserve a tip. But not so much for waiters.

I will tell you, I absolutely hate it when waiters come around while you're happily eating your meal and ask you if you're ok. Or they ask you how you're doing. Something like that. It just irks me. I know they mean well, but uh... it's just not something I welcome. Cause if I'm eating my food, obviously everything is going ok and there's no reason to ask. And if something were not ok, I wouldn't just wait around for the waiter to come around and ask, I'd probably raise my hand to get their attention and remedy the situation. Them asking me does nothing but interrupt me while I'm eating. It's just bizarre. I dunno why they do it. If they think that's going to get em a bigger tip, it's a poor idea.

What if the restaurant just raises the price on everything on the menu? I'd be all for that. Everything just costs a little more, but no more worries about mathematical calculations or people spitting in your food. Well, less of a worry about people spitting in your food.

I hear Europe doesn't do any tipping.

Star Wars: What a shitty film

Well, you have the film start with that really annoying and ponderous scroll up the screen. Not a fan of that. Then we're introduced to C3P0 and R2D2. Even way back at the tender age of 5 when I first saw the movie, I could sense that there was some sort of homoerotic partnership going on between those two droids. Very uh, very dainty mannerisms. Of course, it was pissing me off that R2D2 just made a bunch of clips and beeps. Didn't find him cute at all, just indecipherable. What's up with that? Who needs a trashcan with some beeping noises?

Then we get the firefight that has a bunch of stormtroopers running in and dying because their armor does absolutely fuck all. Luckily, the Rebel guards have about the same level of marksmanship and no armor. Darth Vader comes in... he's not bad, he's kinda cool looking. But uh, then we get to Princess Leia. And ya know, I just don't find Carrie Fisher attractive. She's not a good looking woman. Not a fan of her. You kinda get the sense she's trying really hard to stay skinny by vomiting after meals or something.

Annnd then we get the two droids walking around this barren desert and bickering at one another. I dunno... it just seemed really... boring and mundane. Not much of a crowd pleaser. It's also a very one sided conversation, since the little shitcan can only make beeps and clicks. Fuck him... I really thought it was good that he got tasered or whatnot.

So yadda yadda yadda and... we finally come to the hero of the entire film... Luke fucking Skywalker. Our protagonist, if you will. A little whiny farm boy. Oh my God I cannot stand Luke. Or maybe it's Mark Hamill. Maybe Mark Hamill was the problem, but I didn't like him. And this was before his face got all mangled up in ESB. Dude really resembled some sort of mongoloid then. But in ANH, he was just really whiny and annoying and hard to stomach. The way he would just stare at those two setting suns like he'd never seen them before in his fucking life. You just didn't see why we should care about this guy, who whines about wanting to go join his friends at some academy. Or he's going to Toshi to get water vapor machines or something... it just doesn't inspire any sort of liking to this guy. Later on, we find out he also has a thing for his sister. What the fuck.

We meet Obi Wan Kenobi. Ridiculous name, of course. I can't see why anyone would think that's a name at all. Just gobbledygook. But whatever. He rescues Luke from those sand people. Which was sad, cause I really wanted them to kill Luke and maybe eat his entrails? But no, we get treated to more of Mark Hamill's hammy ass acting as he acts surprised to learn more about his father. We see the first scene with the lightsaber, which looks awful of course, because this was the original version of the film I saw, back on VHS. No special edition with the CGI yet. So yea, it just looks kinda like a bright snow sword at times.

We go to the town and find Han Solo. Han Solo... really cocky and smarmy. Not as bad a character as Luke, but still not all that likeable. Plus, he hangs around with this walking bigfoot ripoff named Chewie, who again like R2D2 doesn't actually say anything we can understand. That's just annoying, sticking in characters that can't talk. Then again, this is from a guy who gave us great lines like "I don't like sand. It's rough. Not like your skin, it's smooth. Not like sand." Or something to that effect.

The Force. Sooooooo ridiculous. Crazy mumble jumble. What is it, what does it do? I dunno, whatever George Lucas pulls outta his ass, apparently. New Age mysticism turned into a pithy little catchphrase in cinema. And that's the thing with Star Wars, it's not sci-fi, it's just sci-fantasy. A wizard did it, it doesn't have to make sense. Whatever, I hate fantasy.

The Death Star. Oh god, the Death Star. Why would you build a ginormous battle station with this one vulnerability that allows the entire thing to blow up? That doesn't seem like a very good design. The shaft somehow goes straight into the main core. Of course it does. It's the size of a small moon but they couldn't be bothered to have the shaft deviate in some sort of manner. It just goes straight. And no filters in between. Nothing to stop a missile or torpedo.

It fires its super laser, which apparently consists of some five or six lasers converging at a point and forming one big laser that blows up planets good. Though of course, that's really silly. Five lasers firing like that would just pass through each other and you wouldn't be able to hit squat. Well, anyways... the Falcon gets trapped and brought inside a hangar bay. We see some hijinks ensue as they disguise themselves as stormtroopers. They go into the detention center and rescue the princess. And uh... then they get stuck in the garbage disposal unit. Now, this just seems unnecessary. It's a dank, stinky pit and there's not much humor to be had. It seems like there's supposed to be some sort of comedic value in being trapped with garbage but I didn't laugh. I did wish that garbage monster had killed Luke, since he's still as uninspiring and bland as ever. Unfortunately, they don't get crushed by the disposal walls. That's too bad. I would have found that very funny.

Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi meet and duel. Now, I had actually thought that Darth Vader was pretty cool up until this point. I mean, he looked kinda cool, with that armor. But uh... that all went away as soon as they started dueling and we saw that he was even worse at using a lightsaber then this 80 year old arthritic guy played by Alec Guinness. Seriously... what is cool about lightsabers from watching this fight? It's like watching two retards trying to wrestle... they're both awful at it. And of course, the rotoscoping on the lightsabers isn't quite right so sometimes you can see that it's just a slightly glowy stick on the end of their handles.

So yea, Kenobi decides to commit suicide and they manage to escape... But of course, they now know about the Death Star's glaring weakness and figure they should go back and blow it up. How do they do that? Well, they fly into a narrow restrictive trench. It's just this trench along the surface, which is straight and unobstructed, leading to a hole that's straight and unobstructed. And of course, you've gotta wonder... if the trench is just leading to this hole on the surface of the Death Star, why even fly inside the damn trench in the first place? Why not just fly directly for the hole? Then you can maneuver all you want in space... not have TIE Fighters shooting you in the ass while some asshole on the comm tells you to "Stay on target. Stay on target." in this really wooden and robotic voice. Seriously, did anyone else notice how fucking retarded and annoying that lead Rebel guy was on the comm channel? I dunno why, but he chose to deliver the lines "Stay on target" in this hilariously bad inflection. Just repeated them over and over again too. It was so, so awful. Holy crap, I wanted that guy to die.

And so this lame farmer boy blows up the Death Star. They get back and hold this really... shiny glaring ceremony. Lots of light bloom, to borrow a gaming term. I dunno what they were thinking, it's this really hokey scene. They get their shiny gold medals and then turn to the camera and smile smugly at us all. We, who just had to endure this retarded film. Luke and Han, with their big shit-eating grins. Ugh, just awful. Why would anyone think that was a good ending?

Batman's mysterious explosive bat-gel

I was just thinking about the explosive gel, and it occurred to me that there's no real way to trigger it, is there? Cause doesn't Batman just spray the gel onto the wall in the shape of a bat? Then he steps away and triggers the gel with a remote detonator in his hand. But how does that signal from the detonator activate the gel? Is there some sort of receiver stuck inside the gel that receives the signal from the detonator? I didn't see any. The gel itself can't possibly receive remote signals, can it? It's just this gel substance.

Has anyone figured out how Batman triggers the gel to explode?

WoW's Clearly Calamitous Catastrophic Cataclysm! Details ahead

Geez, does it seem like Blizzard's just kinda given up on putting forth any sort of effort? At this point, it just seems like they're desperately trying to keep the money train rolling. Ya know, first there's the Burning Crusade. Which was about Outland, which had some fires and a uh... crusade of some sort. It made some sense. Then the Wrath of the Lich King, which was about Arthas being angry about something. And he was the Lich King. So that also worked. But now, what do they do? They give us a remodeled Azeroth that allows flying mounts, which is nice but seems kinda odd for a full blown expansion. And it's called Cataclysm. Like, really? You couldn't really think up anything better then Cataclysm? Ripping off the name of a Homeworld game? Anyone know what I'm talking about? Cataclysm was the Barking Dog expansion pack for the original Homeworld. Pretty good one too, but it was about warships fighting it out in 3D space. In an RTS. Not much in common with a fantasy RPG game.

That's the best you can come up with, "Cataclysm?" Way to phone it in, Blizzard.

Wouldn't something like "Revenge of Deathwing" be more descriptive? I was gonna say "Wrath of Deathwing" but the Lich King had already wrathed. There's not enough wrath to go around, I guess.

Yea, that was a Star Trek II/ROTS reference

...Oh damn... there's gonna be Heroic Van Cleef? Okay, fuck the lame name... I'm back on board. THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Stupid Video Game Cliches

Oh man, where to start...

Well first off, I just love those games where you can put away your gun, switch to a knife, and somehow... this allows you to run faster. Like, WTF? The gun didn't disappear, you're still carrying it somewhere on your body... why would holding a knife instead reduce your overall weight and allow you to move quicker? It makes absolutely no sense. Wasn't it the case in Counter-Strike? It's been a while, but I think it was. People on your team would immediately pull out their knives at the start of every match so they could leg it a bit quicker to the chokepoints. Absolutely retarded game mechanic. I think I saw the same thing happen in a Quick Look of Fallout 3 DLC. Hey, let's run faster because we put the gun back into our backpack and pulled out our knife. Yea, way to go... that makes a lot of fucking sense.

And what about the super weak flashlights we always get to use in games? Like, the ones that only work for 30 seconds before you have to turn em off to recharge? Let's see, what games have these weakass flashlights... I think Half-Life, FEAR, and AvP 2 just to name a few. Cmon, where do they buy these piece of shit flashlights? Are the batteries really that weak? They seem to work forever, but you just need to let them recharge every 30 seconds? What are you recharging them with? Is there some perpetual motion device you use to crank em up? Is that how those work? Cause I know regular flashlights can work for hours without needing their batteries replaced. How they didn't decide to buy those regular good ones for use in Black Mesa, whereever-the-hell-FEAR-is, and the Colonial Marine Corps, I just don't know. It's mind boggling.

Weapon balance in games is just silly sometimes. In almost every action game, you've got the pistol, then the rifle. Sometimes it's called an SMG. Now, the funny thing is... the pistol's bullet somehow seems a lot stronger then the rifle's. You'll pull out this pistol and it delivers a mighty semi automatic bang. Yet when you switch to this faster rifle or SMG, their bullets seem mighty underpowered. Like, the bullets are individually much weaker then the bullets in the humble pistol. When in reality, a rifle's bullets are actually going to be bigger or at least the same as the pistol's. Yet while you can snap off one or two rounds from a pistol to down an enemy, the rifle might require bucketloads of shots to put down the same enemy. Obviously, this isn't the case in every game, but it's a trend I've noticed in quite a few. It makes absolutely no sense. Why don't the rifle's bullets pack as much of a punch as the pistol's? It seems to be arbitrary balancing bullshit on the part of the developer. Good example of this phenomenon would be the assault rifle from Halo. You can use a few shots from the pistol (which somehow also has a scope) or use up 60 rounds from your rifle. Why does the rifle use plastic bbs instead of real bullets like the pistol? Hey, I'm not Bungie.

Okay, now let's talk about another gun, the shotgun. The shotgun in a lot of games seems to be insanely short ranged. Like, I've seen water hoses with more cohesion at range. Classic example is the shotgun from Doom 3. Now, this thing sprays buckshot so wide that it only has an effective range of about five feet. Seriously, I'm not exaggerating here, you just shouldn't use it beyond five feet. The spread is that bad. It just defies logic, why would anyone make a shotgun that only works out to five feet? An honorary member could also be the assault rifle from Halo. No, it's not a shotgun, but it also has an effective range of about five feet. Why would anyone use a rifle with spray that wide? Who knows.

In every sort of GTA open world game, all you have to do is jump into the car and push out the driver. They all have their doors unlocked for some reason. Is this really how people drive? They leave their doors unlocked? I sure as hell lock my doors when I drive my car. Do you? You should, precisely so you don't get someone kicking you to the curb and driving off in your ride. It's common sense, really. Also, if you grab a vacant car in a game, they'll always have their keys inside. No need to hot wire it or anything.

In RTSs, you'll have battlecruisers the same size as five or six infantry soldiers. How does that make any sense? The goddamn battlecruiser's supposed to be the size of the whole fucking map, right? Why would they make it a buildable unit and then make it look as big as six soldiers? How does that do justice to the battlecruiser? Frankly, it seems a bit insulting. There are probably four or five hundred people on board the battlecruiser. Maybe more. Maybe it's over a thousand, like the Galaxy class Enterprise-D. Yet here it is, floating about five feet over the battlefield and looking comparable to a squad of marines. Why would anyone think this was a good idea?

I recently watched a new gameplay video for AvP 3 and saw a marine being held down by an Alien, completely helpless, his gun nowhere to be seen. This pleased me, because it has always frustrated me how melee has gotten the shaft in first person games. Melee should be insanely scary, just because if the big bad monster actually makes it to you, you're not just going to get to shoot at it with your gun while it futilely claws away bits of your health and armor. If it gets into melee, it's going to knock your fucking gun out of your hands and proceed to rape your face off. That's what a melee enemy in a game should do. Yet it's never been portrayed this way. Both the previous AvP games just had you shooting aliens even at point blank range, negating their effectiveness. I'm glad to see that AvP 3 is gonna be different, giving melee enemies their teeth back. You should be scared of them surviving your ranged fire and getting into melee range. Guns never getting knocked out of your hands in FPSs was simply illogical and way too easy.

The Beatles Rock Band? WTF?

I don't get it, why's this game called The Beatles Rock Band? Shouldn't it be called Rock Band The Beatles? For example, it's not called The Wrath of Khan: Star Trek II, it's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The subtitle goes after the main title, see? Like with Star Wars, it's Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, not The Empire Strikes Back: Star Wars. Or you might say The Empire Strikes Back: Episode V: Star Wars. That's a double subtitled name. That would be really silly. This isn't a game in the franchise series of The Beatles, this is a game about The Beatles in the franchise series of Rock Band. The main attraction for this game is that it's going to be Rock Band, but with Beatles songs. It's not going to be The Beatles, playing their songs with Rock Band instruments. If that was actually what it was about, then maybe you could name it The Beatles Rock Band.

So really, this game should be called Rock Band The Beatles. Title before subtitle. Don't do things ass backwards, there's no call for that kind of nonsense. Does Alex Navarro agree? I bet he would if he read this. Why should Rock Band go on the tail end of The Beatles? This is a band that hasn't been relevant since the 1960s. With their dumb bowl cuts and outrageous Japanese wives who like peaches floating in a bowler hat. That's not really something that should take precedent over the actual game series of Rock Band. And I don't even like rhythm games, for God's sake. Who the hell thinks rhythm games are great and amazing? Did anyone actually think that DDR was some sort of astounding achievement? How is Rock Band any different? It's the same exact sort of thing. Mindless repetitive button pressing according to some streaming lines on a screen. The graphics don't even matter for a rhythm game, all they have to render is that endless flowing chart going down the screen. It's a joke.

Impressions of Batman Arkham Asylum

Mind you, this is still only halfway into the game...

I think Batman might be a killer in this game. Driving an automobile at full speed into people is generally pretty bad and can be fatal, after all. Bane's a strong guy, but I don't think steroids make you invulnerable to death by blunt force trauma from cars. The impact could've done enough internal injuries to kill Bane. Caving in his rib cage, crushing his heart, etc. And even if the internal injuries somehow weren't fatal, the car might be pinning him to the bottom of the seafloor, leading to death by drowning.

...Bane was something else I found rather odd. In the comics, normal Bane without his venom is still a rather large fellow, but in the game normal Bane seemed to be really skinny and emaciated. It creates this somewhat inaccurate picture of Bane as a weakling who requires Venom in order to become super buff and strong, when in the comics Bane is already really buff and strong and uses Venom to get a bit of a temporary boost.

Ya know what, I'm gonna say a bit more. I'm not sure about this, but I hope there's an upgrade for faster knockouts. Right now, the knockouts seem really slow to deliver. By knockout, I'm referring to the ability you get once you punch an opponent to the ground and they're trying to get back up. Batman kneels down next to the thug, seems to check him for a moment, and then delivers the knockout punch. I think an upgrade to just have him quickly deliver the knockout and move on would be nice.

Also, if they ever do a sequel, I hope they'll separate the armor upgrades into two different categories, one for melee protection and one for firearm protection. Because the armor upgrades in this game seem to be way too effective against guns. I saw Batman take 2 shotgun blasts and a few rifle bursts and survive, on normal difficulty and without any armor upgrades. With the added protection of the armor upgrades, Batman almost becomes the Man of Steel against guns. It's pretty silly how much he can take against lead. With that said, I don't have any problem with upgrades against melee attacks, that seems more reasonable. Batman's well known for being able to take a lot of bruises and cuts fighting thugs in hand to hand combat. Maybe it could be called "Added Stamina" or something. But in this game, I would be loathe to apply the armor upgrades because I don't want Batman to feel like a bullet sponge, that's not Batman to me.

And what's with the Gears of War style finger in ear slow walking bullshit? That's pretty strange, seeing as how Batman's cowl doesn't even have any button for his fingers to press. His comm with Oracle should thus be hands free, allowing him to run around unhindered and do plenty of stuff while talking. I mean, think about it. If your fucking Xbox live headset doesn't require you to press a button on the side of it to communicate, why does Batman's high tech cowl? Why are they copying something from Gears of War for absolutely no reason? Copy something if it's good and appropriate, not just because it's trendy or whatever.

Oh yea, there's also really no real reason to ever leave Detective mode. Being able to see through walls and pick up hostile skeletal figures hundreds of feet away... it's just insanely overpowered. The night vision goggles in Splinter Cell were quite nice to use, but you didn't feel like you were basically cheating the game by using them. And that's a real shame, because the game looks gorgeous and quite stunning when you're not in Detective mode.