Archive for October, 2011

How Dead Space saved Survival Horror

Posted: October 31, 2011 by Tim Utley in Editorials
Tags: , , ,

I apologize for the late posting, but here is my Halloween treat to you, enjoy.

For a while games that were being dubbed as “Survival Horror” titles were not really fitting the bill.  Cornerstone franchises of the genre such as Resident Evil were producing quality titles, but I felt as if they were gravitating away from their horror roots and planting them elsewhere.  It felt like big action set pieces were being shoe horned in and delivering scares became less important to the experience.  As I felt the genre slipping away a game by the name of Dead Space entered the forum and it emanated with such great promise of giving survival horror fans just what we needed; a terrifying adventure to partake in.

Visceral’s new IP came on the scene with the intent of righting the wrongs of the survival horror genre and when push came to shove it delivered.  Dead Space’s main concern was to scare the crap out of you and the first 15 minutes of that game were indicative of the rollercoaster ride that awaited players with the fortitude to stick it out.  Everything about Dead Space was terrifying as hell.  From the horribly disfigured Necromorphs you dismembered right down to the trepidatious landscape of the USG Ishimura; Dead Space kept your attention and demanded your concentration.  Dead Space delivered such an intense experience that nothing on the market could rival at the time and still doesn’t to this day.  I mentioned earlier how I thought big action set pieces were ruining survival horror games; I thought that up until Dead Space showed me that they could be integrated tastefully and still exhibit horrifying elements.

Dead Space’s Isaac Clark was the game’s main protagonist and without any spoken dialogue remained a mystery in and of itself.  His rugged exterior gave the player confidence to pursue and explore the horrors that awaited you around every corner of the ship.  When I felt anxious about what lurked in the shadows I took solace in knowing that Mr. Clark was more than capable of dispatching my enemies to the afterlife (or after-after life, they were dead as far as I was concerned).  Isaac’s creative arsenal of repurposed mining tools really added another layer of depth to the game, because it fell in line with what the Ishimura was, which was a mining vessel or a planet cracker to be specific.  Every aspect of Dead Space kept my blood pumping until its gripping conclusion.

So this begs the question what path might have the survival horror genre gone down had Dead Space never existed?  Would the genre have gradually homogenized itself into an entirely different entity (this thriller action blend if you will)?  Dead Space stopped that proverbial bleeding with a fantastic horror game of a bandage.  Fans of survival horror regained their genre, because like it or not people survival horror games are not for everyone and the niche genre should cater to specific people.  If you enjoy a variety of genres like me then you can appreciate the separation of certain elements, because when you play a game like Dead Space you expect something different and unique.   A dichotomy needs to exist between genres, not to say that certain elements can’t be shared or borrowed, but genres need to stand on their own two feet and offer an oppositional experience to that of others.  So I give thanks to Visceral Games for resuscitating the survival horror genre and re-establishing what it means to deliver proper scares.

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PS Vita coming a week early for some

Posted: October 30, 2011 by Tim Utley in News and Updates

The official Playstation Blog announced recently that for those eager to get their hands on a PS Vita would be able to do so a week earlier through what is being called the “First Edition” bundle.  This bundle will release on February 15th of next year exactly one week prior to the official release of the PS Vita in North America.  The bundle will retail for $349.99 and will include the following:

  • PS Vita 3G/WiFi Model
  • 1 4gb proprietary Vita memory stick
  • Little Deviants software
  • Limited edition Vita carrying case

I am pretty sure this package is available at most retailers including Amazon.  So if you were looking to get a PS Vita this could potentially be an option for you.  I’m going to assume that most people will wait the extra week and choose the model they want with the software they want, but this is cool attempt from Sony to try something different with a hardware launch.  Here is a link to the pre-order page on Amazon if you really want to check it out.  As always stay tuned for more news and follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Taking the road of criticism

I want to preface this editorial by saying that I didn’t hate Batman: Arkham City or that I didn’t enjoy certain aspects of the game, but Rocksteady’s sophomore effort with Batman has been receiving much praise and not a whole lot of criticism.  The game’s being touted as Arkham Asylum’s superior whereas I feel very differently.  The game did some things right and others wrong (like most games), but for the sake of this article I will focus on the wrong because most of you have already heard what the game has accomplished oh so well.  So without further introduction I give you 5 Things I didn’t like about Batman: Arkham City.

Background Chatter

All throughout the game you hear this annoying omnipresent chatter that feels like it wasn’t scripted by adults, but rather by a one-dimensional angry group of teenagers.  I don’t care how hungry or how cold the inmates of Arkham City are, you are a prisoner in supposedly the most dangerous prison on the planet, I think having a sweater should be the least of your concerns.

"Should we beat his ass or go get a sweater?" - Decisions of an Arkham City Inmate

I also don’t care about the awful things they would do to Batman if they saw him or which gang is tougher.  It is 99% nonsensical banter that lacks almost any variety in terms of conversational topics.  Since when did not using background music become a preferred design choice (ah, where is Hans Zimmer when you need him).

Everyone is a Dick (not Grayson)

You expect your cast of characters to express some polarity in terms of their personalities.  Nope not in Arkham City, everyone is a dick.  The villains (which is expected), but even Alfred and Batman don’t really care for pleasant dialogue.  In Batman’s case the most gleaming example is when Robin comes to your aid during an attack and all Batman can say is “What are you doing here, go back to Gotham, I could have done that myself, you are a bastard for saving me” somewhat typical of the Dark Knight, but come on already.  He shows zero gratitude for the boy wonder’s saving grace and sends him packing looking like a huge chump.

What's your deal brah?

Alfred Pennyworth in most Batman continuities plays a support role and offers guidance to Batman/Bruce Wayne, but has also been known to express sarcasm on occasion, but in Arkham City Alfred isn’t pleasant at all.  I visualize Alfred sitting in the bat cave with an expensive glass of brandy and smoking a cigar and every attempt that Batman makes to establish contact proves to be an inconvenience to Alfred.  He makes Batman’s dialogue sound like John Madden’s commentary (always stating the obvious) and just doesn’t show very much concern at all.  This portrays Alfred in a very sullen light.

Side Mission Overload

Traversing Arkham City should be an enjoyable experience, but with what I call Side Mission Overload you the player become inundated with so much shit to do it tarnishes the experience.  Some gamers enjoy having a ton of side missions because it fleshes out the experience, gives your more bang for your buck (which I agree to a certain degree), but in what is supposed to be a heavily story driven game, having side missions that don’t supplement the story hurt the game.

Like this, but with side missions, a donkey carriage would've been sweet though

Traveling from point A to point B you would be assaulted with political prisoners to save, ringing telephones, Riddler trophies to ascertain, Riddler Puzzles to solve, bullet fragments to scan, cryptic messages to decipher and so on and so forth.  Do I think these should have been removed from the game, no, do I think they should have been apart from the main story and even been an additional game mode, absolutely.  These side missions took the wind out of Arkham City’s sails whenever the story’s momentum started to build and it was very disappointing.

Catwoman

Ah yes, Ms. Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman, a favorite in the Batman universe.  I would have rather cleaned up cat vomit than played her utterly useless portions of the game.  Her portions were so incredibly frustrating and offered little in the way of progressing the story (she filled a mad lib role if you will).  Do I care about you stealing stuff from within Arkham City?  The answer is not at all.

Didn't steal my heart

Catwoman’s role/involvment in Arkham City was hyped to the utmost degree, but failed short in my eye’s to deliver anything other than another distraction to the story (yes, distraction, not supplement).  My last gripe with Catwoman is in her movements.  From my understanding of Catwoman (correct me if I am wrong) she exhibits the agility, dexterity, fortitude, and the multi-life attributes of a feline.  When did she become Spiderman?  I didn’t know cats could crawl on ceilings, my cats sure didn’t.  It may sound petty, but it bothered the hell out of me so I will rant about it.

Under-whelming Boss Fights

The boss fights (without dishing out spoilers) were not satisfying what so ever and delivered little to no challenge.  Boss fights are supposed to be epic encounters, but almost every boss fight failed to be even remotely epic in design.  Aside from being epic, a certain brand of intensity should accompany a boss fight; the player shouldn’t feel relaxed, but more so overly engaged as to what is happening on screen.  I didn’t get that with Arkham City boss battles, but I did with Arkham Asylum (a la the Killer Croc sewer boss fight).

Silent Takedown in 3...2...1, then repeat

Some might think that I am being too critical of these encounters, but If I’m not who will be.  Boss fights are a cornerstone of gaming and in some cases are compiled to make an entire game (Shadow of the Colossus).  Arkham City fell short of capturing and recreating epic encounters between Bats and his entourage of villainous cast members.

Still play the game, just a few caveats

It is very obvious that I had some gripes with Batman: Arkham City, but like I said at the beginning of this article I didn’t hate Arkham City.  I also don’t want to dissuade you from playing this game; I just want you to know what you are getting when you purchase it.  Batman: Arkham City is a solid experience, I just believe all the hype and anticipation of the game elevated my expectations too high and was not met with like results.  So if you can look past my problems with the game you will find a game worthy of being played (maybe the DLC will pull me back in).  I fully expect to catch heat for this article so please comment on what you thought of Batman: Arkham City and whether or not my problems were problems for you.  As always follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Just in time for Halloween, Amazon serves up a great deal of the day for fans of zombies and the protagonist of the original Dead Rising.  YES, Mr. Frank West himself is on sale starring in Dead Rising 2: Off the Record.  Before you get too excited it is only the PC download version that is on sale (I know, boo!!), but it is 50% off at $19.99 so you save twenty smacks.  As always the deal is only today so here is the link to the page and if you are interested go nab it.  Stay tuned for more deals and follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Another week and another set of weekly deals from Amazon Video Games.  This week Amazon is offering up a buy 2 get 1 free on over 800 titles spread across all major platforms.  There is a L.A. Noire deal but it is either sold out or not working (it says 50% off the Xbox 360 version, but  is only discounted $4 dollars on the page).  So here is the link to the deals page so you can head on over and check out the sale items and below are some notable titles included in the B2G1 free sale.

Xbox 360

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Rage
  • Dark Souls
  • Dance Central 2
  • Gears of War 3
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
  • Dragonball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi

Playstation 3

  • Resistance 3
  • Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One
  • Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection
  • God of War Origins Collection
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Rage
  • Ace Combat: Assault Horizon
  • Socom 4

Wii

  • Kirby’s Return to Dreamland
  • Mario Kart Wii
  • Mario Sports Mix
  • Madden 12

Nintendo 3DS

  • Pokemon Rumble Blast
  • Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
  • Starfox 64 3D
  • Bit.Trip Saga 3DS

Nintendo DS

  • Pokemon Black Version
  • Pokemon White Version
  • Pokemon Soul Silver
  • New Super Mario Brothers DS
  • Super Scribblenauts
  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem

As always stay tuned for more deals and follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.

 

Video Game “Beef”

Posted: October 29, 2011 by Tim Utley in Editorials
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I have always seen video games as an amalgamation of every medium of entertainment.  Borrowing branded elements from music, film, and even writing to forge a new form of entertainment that has blossomed gloriously over the years.  This might seem like a common perspective because where else would video game creators draw inspiration?  But something that has rarely been examined is something that was appropriated from hip-hop music believe it or not, the concept or more so the participation in “Beef”.

“Beef” for those who are unfamiliar with the term is more or less a feud between rival parties (minimum of two, beef with yourself is usually referred to as dinner).  The most contemporary documentation or display of “Beef” in video games has been between rival military shooters Battlefield 3 and the unreleased Modern Warfare 3.  Since both of their conceptions a feud has existed and neither has shied away or tried squashing the beef and why should they right?  Beef is good.  Beef promotes healthy competition.  Beef also creates arguments amongst friends, but that is another story altogether.

Get it?

The beef between BF3 and MW3 has been particularly interesting to me because it has at times reached levels so elementary it has become comical; with fans of each series trading blows in the comment sections of popular gaming websites and forums being erected dedicated to this perpetual feud.  The petty Twitter squabbles between EA CEO John Riccitiello and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick have been nothing short of amusing.  Lastly, the recent sales predictions from research analyst Michael Pachter have only poured more gasoline on a proverbial out of control California wildfire (he has MW3 outselling BF3 2 to 1).  Is there a place for “Beef” in the video game industry?  Absolutely, and I’m going to tell you why.

The beauty about “Beef” is that there are no losers.  Regardless of how many copies both BF3 and MW3 sell they will more than likely exceed sales expectations for both EA and Activision.  This artificial hatred between brands has ignited a sales race that will stimulate and produce excellent numbers in all quantified categories.  If you can remember the rap feud between Kanye West and 50 Cent, they had a similar shoot out (not literally) in terms of a sales race.  Whoever had more sales in the first week would be the victor and 50 Cent sweetened the deal by saying he would retire from creating music if he had lost.  Now I don’t expect such stipulations to be made between video game companies because too many jobs would lie in limbo, but this kind of marketing (because that what “Beef” is if you haven’t noticed) produces exceptional results.  Both Kanye and 50 Cent later came out saying that they didn’t hate each other but the battle was simply implemented to stimulate sales of their respective albums.  “Beef” with video games adds an additional layer of immersion for the gamer and creates a ubiquitous form of free press for video game publishers.  The combination of the two produce amazing results and like I said earlier everyone wins.  The companies will be happy, the gamers will be happy, and each brand will continue to have fortuitous futures.

Other feuds do exist in gaming.  What are some of your favorites?  Share them in the comments section to strike up some debate.  Let us know what you think about the feud between BF3 and MW3 and whether or not you fed into it (I sure as hell did).  As always stay tuned for more and you can follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.


Hello everyone and Happy Friday.  The Video Game deal today on Amazon is for those who are looking to accessorize their Wii (if not enough accessories existed already, but I digress).  The item on sale is the Intec Charging Dock/Turbo Cooler in the color black and also includes 2 rechargeable battery packs (solid package).  If you score it today you can grab it for $17.99 at a savings of $12.  Amazon is also running some lightening deals at 11am, 12pm, 1pm pacific standard time (or 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm respectively on the east coast).  So if another Wii accessory is in your future go ahead and follow this link on over and pick it up.


Steam is going all out for Halloween this year – from now until the 31st, Valve is having a huge sale on Halloween-related titles (some more, ehem, “loosely” related than others.) With more than twenty games to choose from, you’ll be busy slaying zombies long past the end of the month.

“But Ash,” you say, “these are all obviously terrible titles they couldn’t even pay someone to play.” Ah but that, my friends, is where you are wrong. Nestled in amongst “Ghost Master” and “Woody Two-Legs: Attack of the Zombie Pirates” (no really, that’s an actual game), are some of the best games in the genre. FEAR 3 and Dead Island, both released this past summer, are going for $30 and $37.50 respectively. If you’re looking for some good old shotgunning, zombie killing fun, both Left 4 Dead GOTY and Resident Evil 5 are under $10. Even two of my all time favorites, Borderlands and Bioshock are on sale for $5 a piece.

If you’ve been on the hunt for some cheap thrills (not that kind of cheap thrills), Steam has what you’re after. If you’ve not been on such a hunt, you should probably check it out anyway. Seriously, they’re practically giving away Woody Two-Legs.

Amazon Video Game DOTD 10/25

Posted: October 25, 2011 by Tim Utley in Video Game Deals
Tags: , , , , , ,

Today’s deal on Amazon for video games is one of the best selling games of all time.  I will give you a guess, it is not Wii Sports.  Anyways forget my lame jokes, but today’s deal will reward the patient gamer who waited to buy Call of Duty: Black Ops, because it is on sale today and today only.  Both the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are on sale for the amazingly low price of $34.99.  So if you want to catch up on your COD before Modern Warfare 3 hits in a couple weeks this is your [Op]portunity.  Wow, my jokes are really bad today, so here is the link to the deal and happy shopping folks.

 


After many months of speculation and many publications crafting wishlists; Grand Theft Auto V has been announced by Rockstar.  The official GTA website has just a mammoth image of GTA V and a release date for the first trailer which is November 2nd of this year.  Even with only a single image being surfaced speculation continues to run rampant, but this time we here at TGA will partake in said speculation and we request your help too.

What do you make of this?

The classic Grand Theft Auto font remains intact, but the five is what is really driving us up the wall over here at TGA.  What is the significance of the green in the “V”?  Will that signify the location of the next title?  Why is there a roman numeral and the word “five”?  What time period will the game take place in?  So many questions and far fewer answers (none really).  What are your reactions to this announcement?  Are you excited for the release trailer next week?  Let us know in the comments section and as always stay tuned for more and follow us on Twitter @GamersAbstract and like us on Facebook for more content.