Well, PlayStation fans, we are on the eve of big Sony press conference in New York, and there couldn't possibly be more buzz about it. Obviously, as Sony teased that they will show off "The Future," they are going to pull the curtains back on the newest PlayStation gaming console to lead the charge into the next generation of console gaming.
The fact that they are finally announcing it after speculation for years now is a big deal, but what they specific details they will announce are open for speculation. I've heard rumors of prices and launch dates being leaked already, ideas for possibly features it may have, and questions on whether any games will be announced or shown off.
I can't lie, I am very, very excited for all of this. And while I am anxious to know price and launch day, as those will be huge factors on whether or not I get it at launch, there a couple of things I want to know for sure, and they might not even address tomorrow. First, backwards compatibility. Since I jumped on the PS3 bandwagon so late (last March, to be exact), I still have a decent backlog of games to play on it, and if the PS4 doesn't support them, then that could change my decision on how quickly I get one. Also, I want to know about the Vita functionality with it, and just the Vita's future as a whole, as I don't want to have to upgrade that at the same time as well.
So in honor of all this Sony hoopla, I figured the only appropriate game to play tonight was PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Plus, they release some free (for two weeks) DLC characters that I have wanted to try out but haven't had the time thanks to Halo Week consuming all of my play time for the most part.
All last year, I was so excited for this game. It was, in essence, a Smash Bros. game, but with Sony mascots. Sure, it was a different scoring system and had some different and unique Smash Bros. franchise, but they heavily drew influence from them ... which isn't a bad thing at all. When the game finally came out, all my excitement was rewarded with an awesome game - actually, two games, thanks to the cross-buy promotion.
Unfortunately, the studio put in charge of making this game was forced to close its doors recently, and that's a bummer, because that might be the end of future DLC for this game. In this first batch, however, we got Kat from Gravity Rush (PS Vita game) and Emmit from Starhawk. The two characters couldn't be more different if they tried, which is nice to get two completely different play styles. Kat is quick and agile, Emmit is slower and methodical. Both are fun, however, and nice additions to the game. They also released a new level as well, but you have to purchase it in order to select it, even though you could play on it for free online if it is selected. This is a bummer because there is a trophy attached to it, but hey ... c'est la vie.
This game just got more fired up for the press conference, but also, interestingly enough, for some games coming out soon, like the new God of War and BioShock: Infinite. Also, some characters that didn't mean as much as they did to me a few months ago were brought into the spotlight tonight, like Sly Cooper, Dante from DmC and Raiden from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
So yeah, there you have it. Sony + New York + Press Conference + The Future = PS4? We will see. I will try to do a write up or something tomorrow about it and my impressions, but no promises. I do have games to play, after all, and "Wild Internet Speculation" isn't one I am good at.
So my week of Halo is over. It was fun, but I was ready to move on. And in the midst of last week's Halomania, a little game came out that I wanted to play so badly then, but resisted for the sake of my dedication to the Week of Halo. And it's not that I necessarily wanted to play the game because I was excited for it, but rather to see what the hoopla was all about that sent the Internet - literally, the entire Internet - into a negativity firestorm.
Aliens: Colonial Mariners was released, and because of embargoes, no one could talk about it until the morning of the release. Usually, more often than not, when embargoes are pushed all the way to the date of the release, it seems as if publishers have something to hide about the game that they don't want reviewers to harp on, thus effecting sales of the game.
Granted, this isn't always the case, as sometimes they just enjoy being secretive. I'm pretty sure Nintendo embargoed Skyward Sword up until pretty close to the release date, and most sites ended up giving that game a perfect score, if not pretty close.
Other games, however, are fundamentally flawed for whatever reason, and the publisher knows this, so they slap super-late embargoes on the game to keep the negativity beforehand to a minimum. This doesn't mean they are maliciously deceiving consumers, or hiding a bad product, but rather protecting something that isn't perfect from being picked apart by the vultures of the industry before the general public has a chance to experience it for themselves. They do have this right, you know. They don't have to send out early copies of any game, but they choose to for the extra publicity it gets the game. And while having your game reviewed is the cheapest form of advertisement for a company, it's not always the best.
This might have been the case for Aliens: Colonial Marines.
So a little back history for the game. This game has been in development for almost seven years, and while it was a collaboration from SEGA and Gearbox, several other teams got their hands on it during the development cycle. It is a game created to be a prequel to the beloved Alien franchise, which immediately won the hearts of Aliens fanboys the world over.
With the expectations of being a Gearbox game, plus having the dynamic storyline of the Aliens franchise behind it, many people were quick to claim this game had not shot of failing. As we should all know by now, the higher the expectations, the longer the fall is when you jump for the bar and it slips out of your fingers. So when the reviews starting coming in, the floodgates opened up and the negativity poured in. Reviewers PILED on this game, sometimes overly harshly for seemingly just shock value. The scores were ridiculously low, and it was clear from that first moment that this game would have no chance of even mildly succeeding thanks to the reviewers.
When I think of games that got scores as low as this, I think of fundamentally broken games, ones that you can't finish because of flaws or sheer boredom, and games that have no business being released. So I had to play this game to see for myself if it could possibly be that bad, or the internet just overacted.
I finished up my Week of Halo and jumped into Aliens, and finished it today thanks to a roughly six hour campaign (if you skip the cut scenes). By the end of it, I can't say I hated the game. I didn't LOVE the game, but I didn't hate it as much as everyone else seemed to. It was a fun little game, and I went in to it with the mindset of it being a Sci-Fi FPS with elements from a series I was familiar with, but was not a fanboy of. It is a serviceable shooter, for sure.
Complaints were of glitches and bad AI, none of which I experienced, so I can't comment on that. There were complaints of the game looking bad and not living up to the promotional screen shots released a while ago, and I have to agree with that. The game uses lighting effects to cover up some very basic and standard graphical and texture problems in the game. If the game was a PS2 game, it would be the best looking PS2 on the market. But because it's a new-gen game, it doesn't quite live up to the potential. Especially bad are the cut scenes, which is the FIRST thing developers should ensure look good. These flaws are highlighted by the fact that I was just playing Halo 4, one of the most beautiful games I've ever seen.
The game isn't perfect, and misses the mark on a few occasions, but I think the huge problem people had were the expectations they had not only for the game, but the franchise it was inspired by and the studio it came from. If you strip away your preconceived notions of what this game should be, then you can have fun playing this game. And for your trophy/achievement whores out there, it is a gold mine. Just one play through, without even trying for any, netted me TONS of trophies, which was an added bonus for sure.
Long story short, my dear readers, is this: Don't believe everything you read on the internet, and don't let other people tell you which games you should and should not like. Try them out and make up your own mind if you have any interest in a game, don't let others make up your mind before you. Redbox and Gamefly are fantastic alternatives to buying a game outright that you may be cautious of. And lastly, if you like a game that everyone else doesn't ... WHO CARES! Stand up and turn your opinions into noyse, don't be silenced by the general conscientious.
I'm back, baby.
This week, I set out to not only play every Halo game out there, but to experience them all over again (or for the first time for a couple of them), in order to hopefully discover where I stand with the franchise. It started out as love at first sight, but then we became separated for quite some time, and then was roped back in, but for different reasons then the first time around.
I cam to discover, over this week, that Master Chief wore thin on me, lacked depth to keep him and his story interesting, and overall, just didn't have that "it" factor. I liked the first one because it was new and fresh, like the new girl in school that you could only speculate about. But soon, that new girl turned out to be just like all the other pretty cheerleaders - boring, uninteresting and lacking any true soul. Sure, they were still pretty, but looks only get you so far. As far as ODST and Reach, those are the cute girls who the jocks probably aren't trying to score with, only because they lack the ability to hold a conversation with them. They are naturally pretty, not made up pretty, and they are a little off the radar, but once you spend a little time with them, you realize they offer so much more than a good time - like companionship, conversation and true emotion - with some good times wrapping it all up like a sushi roll.
God, I hope that huge, ridiculous analogy made sense to whoever is still reading this, because I think I just confused myself. Here, let me break it down like this. I LOVED the original Halo, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach because they were different, they had a soul. I didn't care for Halo 2 or Halo 3 as much as everyone else, because it seemed dull and repetitive. And we won't even talk about the knock-off Halo Wars game, that only cashed in due to having "Halo" on the box art.
So going in to today, I was still on the fence about the franchise. It didn't leave me drooling to play dozens more Halo games in the future, using the same formulas, but there was enough of a change of pace with the latter games that I felt there was hope of being re-inspired and drawn back into the massive Halo universe. Besides, Bungie let go of the reigns for their baby, and let 343 Studios take over the franchise in an attempt to rejuvenate the series and reinvent the wheel. (Oddly enough, I play this game on the same day that Bungie revealed it's first post-Halo game, Destiny, and boy oh boy, does it look ambitious.)
And boy, did they ever.
The opening cinematic is one of the best I have ever seen in a video game, hands down. I was sitting there blown away by how impossibly amazing it looked. Remember, developers - THIS GAME LOOKS THIS GOOD ON A CURRENT-GEN SYSTEM! YOU HAVE NO EXCUSES TO KEEP PUTTING OUT GAMES THAT LOOK AND RUN LIKE GARBAGE. NONE. Everything in this game is so polished, from the weapons, to the environments to the faces of the enemies, and it would be very easy to just sit back and watch it all as it unfolds - except for that part where you have to actually fight back, of course.
I immediately got roped in to the Cortana dying off storyline, and Master Chief showed more emotion in the first 15 minutes of the game that I actually believed to be legit than he had in his three games before it. Also, once I gained control of him for the first time, he just felt RIGHT. It's literally the first time I remember controlling Chief where I felt like, yeah, this is what this should feel like. He's quick - and not just because he can sprint! - but he doesn't feel clunky and methodical any longer, but like he should. His jumping feels right as well, and him talking and being engaged is so nice. I don't feel like I am controlling a Rock'em Sock'em robot any more. The animations of him climbing or lifting a door up is such a nice touch, as well.
Overall, the game just feels quicker, more intense. Caleb and I really had a blast playing it, and while he has already flown through the campaign, we already agreed to play this one through on co-op campaign. In the second mission tonight, we had a challenge to see who could drive their Ghost farthest into the base. He ended up winning when he made it all the way to the end of the level, a surprising feet considering some of the tight corridors and intense battles going on. Hats off to him, for sure.
Halo 4 has brought me back in to the franchise. I'm excited for what the future holds, as they have already stated that this is the first of a 3-game story arc. While I'm nervous that there is a chance they won't be able to keep the new games as fresh as this game feels, the fact that they are most likely coming out on the next generation of Xbox console means there is plenty of room for growth.
This is has been a fun week, overall. While I'm sad to not have any more Halo games to play this year, it was cool to play them all at once and fully immerse myself in the universe that this franchise has built. I'm glad I did, to, as I realized that even a long lost love can always be rediscovered and that smoldering ember can be reignited into a flame once more, no matter how cold or dark it is.
There is a little piece of me, however, that is excited to get back to my schedule (or lack thereof) of random games, especially as the tidal wave of amazing games is about to hit the coastline.
Hold on, dear readers. It's about to get crazy. But you should expect nothing less at this point.
Aside from Halo 3: ODST, this game we played tonight was easily the game I was most looking forward to playing this week, for many different reasons. All those reasons got pushed aside, however, when an ugly part of my gaming habits unexpectedly reared its ugly head.
Tonight, I played Halo: Reach from Achievements.
Going in to it was excited, because it is easily the most polished, well-developed game of the series. It is the first time we as players have ever seen the Planet Reach, and man, do they make it look awesome. Every level, every mission in the campaign is so gorgeously rendered, its almost a shame you have to run around shooting things and blowing stuff up.
Speaking of running...
That was another reason I was glad to finally get to this game, as every night my partner in crime Caleb has been beating a dead horse over and over, asking for and complaining about the lack of a sprint function in all of the other Halo games. Well tonight, he finally got his wish. Boy, was he happy. He also got other abilities too, but none more important to him than the ability to run really fast.
Halo: Reach has such an amazing storyline, also. I know I raved about ODST, but Reach's storyline following the Nobel Team as you assume the control of the new kid on the block, Noble Six, a new Spartan recruit to the squad whom you never get to know anything about. You do, however, get to know the other five members quite well, as you start to rely on them as if they were real. Unfortunately, this is a story without a happy ending, as each one of your teammates systematically meets an untimely fate while fighting the good fight. The first death is unexpected, the second one you kind of see coming, and from then on out, the writing is on the wall for how it is all going to play out. Each death is admirably recognized in cut scenes, driving home the point that there is emotions in war, even for the elite members of the UNSC.
The story of ODST focused on the human aspects of the soldiers, both as teammates and the loneliness of death. Reach takes that idea and builds a monument out of it, glorifying the art of telling a damn compelling and emotional story of friendship, teamwork and solidarity. It still baffles me that Master Chief was never able to fully convey these feelings, missing the mark several times, always feeling like more machine than soldier. I guess that didn't bother millions of gamers, however.
Another thing I really wanted to go back and do tonight while playing this game was play the final chapter and see the ending of the game. I have to admit, this is top-three all time for me as far as an endgame level/ending of a game, easily. You character, Noble Six, has no team left and has a chance to leave the war-ridden planet, but chooses to stay and fight until the end, only to be slowly and methodically surrounded by the Covenant as your ammo and health slowly run out. The level starts with the objective displayed on screen: "Survive." You immediately think, oh cool, it's going to be like a Firefight type of mission, like the bonus mode they introduced in ODST. Then, reality starts to kick in as no matter where you run to, enemies start to come from angles. There is a health pack and some ammo spread around a destroyed shack, but you quickly realized you probably aren't going to find much more than that afterwards.
The objective, "Survive," is just a cruel hoax, as the only outcome of this level is to parish like your team did before you. A really cool cut scene plays out afterwards, showing you throw your helmet off and try to make one last kill before you are overwhelmed and brutally killed by several energy swords. Afterwards, a eulogy-type narration plays, glorifying everything you and Noble Six did not just for Planet Reach, but the war as well, showing your broken helmet still sitting where it landed, with a healthy looking, restored planet behind it.
Thankfully, I got to experience and enjoy all these aspects of the game I was looking forward to, but under different circumstances than I expected. When I started up the game and signed on, I realized I had some unfinished Achievements that I always meant to go back and get and never did, including a few for not finishing every mission (even though I did, but not in succession as I picked up at save points and it didn't track or whatever), and then a couple co-op ones. So that's how we decided what missions to play, by which ones I needed to complete for Achievements.
It's not like I ever care about Achievements any more anyway, but it bugged me that I never got these. Reach was one of the first games I actually consciously tried to get Achievement points for, so it seemed like the right thing to do.
I do love trophies, however, which are much, much different than dumb ole achievements. But that is a different article for a different time.
Oh, and we did play the last level as well, just because. It was still as powerful as ever, and I haven't felt anything like that at the end of a game since then until I played Spec Ops: The Line.
I'm kind of sad to see this week come to end tomorrow, but actually, I'm excited, because while Caleb has powered through Halo 4 since he got it for Christmas, I haven't touched the game once. I kind of always planned on this blog being the reason to jump into the game, so it's been a long time coming, and hopefully, it can live up to the hype.
I almost forgot one thing, however. SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED OR BEATEN HALO: REACH YET, DON'T READ THIS BLOG, AS IT TALK ALL ABOUT THE STORY AND THE ENDING IN GREAT DETAIL. I'm supposed to do that when I spoil a game like that, right? Wait, I'm supposed to put it at the top of the article? Oh well. It came out in 2010. If you haven't played it by now, you probably won't ever anyway.
But you should, if only just to experience the end. Or just re-read this blog. Either way works for me.
I apologize in advance for what you are about to read. Seriously, take that in to consideration before you decide to continue.
Still here? Ok, brave soldiers, let us press forward into the wild ride known as My Week Of Halo.
We played Halo Wars tonight. And when I say, I am of course talking about my partner in crime in this escapade, my seven year old, Caleb. But when I say we, it means something slightly different than it has in previous nights through the Halo games. We didn't actually play together, in any sort of co-op mode, as that is only available by playing online or system link. I kind of understand why, as a split screen would be difficult with a game like this, but still, I wish I had known that going in to it before I got his hopes up about playing "together." Instead, we just passed the controlled back and forth as we saw fit.
You see, Halo Wars isn't a true Halo game. Sure it is set in the Halo universe, and takes place before all the other Halo games (including Reach I think, but don't quote me on that one). It depicts the raging battle that is taking place well before Master Chief is called upon to kick some ass. It's not a First Person Shooter, but rather a Real Time Action Strategy game, or whatever the hell people call it these days. Think StarCraft, but with the Halo storyline. Of course, I reverted back to Command & Conquer: Red Alert, the only game ever in this genre that I ever really liked. I dug the hell out of that game as a kid, but for some reason, that genre of games didn't stick with me and still doesn't resonate with me today.
I realized this sad truth tonight while trying to play Halo Wars.
Sure, the game looks nice. The cut-scenes are well done and the campaign seems OK. Honestly, though, I was bored to death with this game. I tried to give it my best effort, I truly did. It just did nothing for me.
I knew what kind of game this was, but I hoped for a twist or some thing to make this game different than others on the market, other than just slapping the Halo name on the box. But no, it is what I thought it was. I tried explaining to my little guy that this was a different Halo game than we have played, but he didn't believe me. He was sure it was going to be just like the others. How could Halo be anything but what he is used to? Well, Halo Wars broke down those stereotypes quickly.
When it was all said and done (a lot quicker than previous nights, though), he enjoyed it for the most part, but the difficulty curve, especially for a seven year old, took a drastic climb just a few missions in. That's where it lost him. Hey, at least he lasted longer than I did with it.
I can't wait for this weekend to finish out this Halo week. I want to pretend like this game ever happened, but unfortunately, my bored memories and few achievement points will haunt me forever. Thanks, Halo Wars, for ruining the awesome momentum I had going into the home stretch.
I heart Halo 3: ODST.
There, I said it. It is Valentine's Day, after all ... isn't that what I supposed to do today? The calendar, society and the street peddlers shoving cheap flowers and anything-but heartfelt gifts says I'm supposed to "show my love" today.
My opinion on Valentine's Day may be unpopular to the mass consensus, and that's fine. Funny thing is, my opinion on Halo 3: ODST fits right in to the theme of today. I absolutely LOVE this game. This is far and beyond my favorite Halo game of the series, and I realize that I am in the far minority when it comes to that opinion.
I can't recall ever talking to any Halo fan that has put ODST in the top three of their list, much less perched atop the mountain. I even checked Metacritic, and except for Halo Wars (which isn't a true Halo game, just a spin-off) and the Anniversary Edition of Halo: Combat Evolved (which I don't count because it's a remake, and the original one is the highest rated Halo game), ODST is the lowest rated true Halo game of the bunch. Numbers don't lie, folks.
Aside from the first Halo game, which I stumbled upon by dumb luck, this was the first Halo game I got day one, and easily the first Halo game I was truly excited for and anticipating its release. Granted, all the other factors that kept me away from the previous Halo games could skew this outcome, but it is also a part of why I have such fondness for it. My love for the game, however, goes well beyond the sentimental ties I have with it.
First, it is the first Halo game to not have Master Chief, and I think that is a bonus. Sure, being the tough badass Spartan is cool, but for the first time, there was a human aspect of your character. You didn't have amazing armor protecting you that quickly recharged before you had a chance to sweat it out. There was a sense of urgency with your health, and if you weren't careful, quick, agile and skillful, you would be dispatched quickly, especially on the harder difficulties. You never feel overpowering, but instead vulnerable.
Also, you have a squad that you are fighting with, not just a bunch of soldiers following you around. There is a sense of brotherhood, and while the AI teammates don''t really effect your game play, the cut scenes depict more of a realistic story of why you are doing what you are doing. It's not the standard maverick storyline that Halo used with Master Chief. Again, that human aspect is powerful and gripping.
Another thing I love is the mood and the atmosphere. Playing levels at night time, in the rain is an amazing experience, which is amplified by what I believe is the best Halo soundtrack ever. The music, and sometimes just the lack thereof, adds so much emotion to the game play. There are other times when the darkness, rain and silence, coupled with empty streets and lifeless structures engulfs you into a sense of loneliness, one of which they were never able to create before ODST with Master Chief. That in itself is ironic, as Master Chief is the epitome loneliness, who finds his only true companionship with an AI named Cortana. Talk about a loner!
To piggyback off the mood of the game which I love thoroughly, they added a new feature where with the push of a button, you can turn on a night vision-esque type of view where objects are highlighted in a certain color to depict what they are, even from a distance. Objects are yellow, allies are green and enemies are of course red. With the dark, damp and dreery setting of the game, this is the perfect addition to give the player a slight advantage over the ugly world they are fighting.
I personally think the campaign and storyline is much more engaging, easy to follow and believable than any other Halo storyline. Another favorite part of the game for me was the inclusion of Firefight, which adds so much more depth and replay-ability value to the game. Where Bungie went wrong, I believe, is adding the "3" in the title, as it immediately made the general population assume it was either a spin-off game or an extended DLC type of game. This is a stand alone game, and while I understand Bungie's perspective of it being a prequel to Halo 3 and wanting to make that clear, I think they did the game a disservice by making it a subtitled game. If they had just called it Halo: ODST, I think public perception would have been better from the get-go and it wouldn't be the "forgotten" title it is today.
As all good companies do, however, they learned from their slight misjudgement of marketing and named their next true Halo game, Halo Reach.
Needless to say, Caleb and I had so much fun playing this game tonight. I might have had more fun then he did, for the first time this week. We got back to the sprinting question, which is funny to me still. I realized the hardcore Halo player in him prevents him from liking the outline vision, as he would rather shoot randomly into dark alleys then to see his target.
Also, for the first time this week, we played something other than just the campaign. We played a lengthy match of Firefight, in which I narrowly edged him out thanks in part to an awesome gravity hammer kill streak towards the end. While he ended up being Last Man Standing, he couldn't squeeze out enough points before the dust settled and it was all said and done.
Oh, and one last thing - turning the skull on for confetti grunts, causing them to explode in a burst of confetti with a "YAY!" shouted out every time you terminate one with a well-placed head shot might be the single most rewarding experience in any aspect of the Halo series.
So yeah, I love Halo 3: ODST. Deal with it, haters. Happy Valentine's Day to the rest.
Halo 3 has a special place in my memory and my heart, for many different reasons. I have been anxious to finally play this game, so I can rehash some old memories and experiences. Tonight was the night ... finally.
This game was the first Halo to be released on the Xbox 360, and from what I vaguely remember, the build up to it was phenomenal as gamers were clamoring and drooling to see Master Chief in the HD glory, finally. It was the end of the storyline arc that began in the original Halo, and with the new Xbox 360 system and the quickly growing Xbox Live community, gamers couldn't get enough of the multiplayer mode. In a lot of aspects, Halo 3 set the bar high for many standards in the video game industry.
When the game came out, however, I had no way of playing the game. I had come back to reality and abandoned my gaming hiatus, but naturally, my climb back into the gaming universe got started where it all started in the first place - Nintendo. I had gotten a Wii for Christmas right after it was released, by my amazing better-half, who stood in line for hours outside of Best Buy with our youngest boy, who had just turned one, in the pouring rain to get me the hard-to-find console for Christmas. She knew I used to love video games and wanted to get back into it, so she thought I would enjoy the Nintendo Wii for a Christmas present. Needless to say, it remains one of, if not the best Christmas present I have ever received, not just because of what it was, but also because of the trouble she went through to get it.
ANYWAY... while I was back into video games, the Wii was the only system we had. And that was perfect for me. And while we thought our oldest son would take to it also, he just was never too interested in the system or the games we had. So the Christmas after Halo 3 was released, we got him his own Xbox 360 - but didn't get Halo 3 then. Getting that system opened up the flood gates, as games I had no access to before suddenly became interesting. Later on, when Circuit City went out of business, I swung by their closing store to see what they had left, and somehow, someway managed to walk out with the collectors edition of Halo 3 for like $12. Score! There was one problem, however.
Mom didn't really like her little boy to play violent video games. We had a neighbor kid who was a punk, and he was obsessed with Halo 3, so naturally, she associated this violent game with his poor behavior. I can't blame her for thinking that, but Halo never screamed "VIOLENCE! HIDE YOUR KIDS!" like other games. I tried explaining how you are just shooting aliens, and gore is at a minimum compared to other violent games. Eventually, after showing her Halo 3, she caved and agreed to let him play.
Oddly enough, he was eight years old when she decided it was OK to let him play. My seven year old has been playing Halo games for several years now (and Call of Duty, Battlefield, etc.), without qualm. Either she just became numb to it, or trusted that we are raising our kids to be great people, and that will counter any negative influence "violent" games may have. I prefer to lean towards the latter, of course.
Sitting here tonight, playing Halo 3, brought back all these memories and feelings which I anticipated it would. The game is so pretty, even after all these years, as it is clear that Bungie knew how to squeeze the very best out of the Xbox 360 console like hardly any other developers could.
Tonight, surprisingly, there was no mention of the inability to sprint - I think my son has just given up on that fact. I also rediscovered that I am still horrible at driving Warthogs, as I always was. Instead of driving, I am much more content jumping in the gunner position and lighting up the Covenant, while Caleb on the other hand, insists on driving. Thankfully, Halo 3 was built with co-op campaign in mind, as there are PLENTY of vehicles available for both players. At one point, our game became an all-out demolition derby. That was fun.
Funny side note: His little sister, my four year old, was very confused by the fact that he was an "alien" who looked just like a "bad guy," and she constantly wanted me to shoot him, not knowing or not caring that it was her brother, not an enemy. Unbeknownst to him, I "accidentally" took him out a couple of times with sticky grenades and turrets. Oops! Blame it on the cute, innocent sister!
We just had a lot of fun tonight, and I thoroughly enjoyed not only actually playing the game, but reliving some really good times in my gaming past. And that is what is going to be awesome about this week of Halo - and so far, it is living up to the hype on my end.
Alright, as a co-worker once said (and don't ask, it's a looong story), since today is Tuesday, that means it is Confession Tuesday. I have a confession to make, one I'm not proud of, but feel like it is only right to share with you all, my readers new and old.
I have never played Halo 2 until tonight. Never. Not once, for any reason. In the eight plus years it has been out, I have never touched it in my life. And I call myself a gamer... pshhh!
Like I wrote about last night, I loved the first game immensely. But when the second game out, I unfortunately was on a video game hiatus. It was a weird and challenging time for me in my personal life, for one. Then, on top of that, I had literally burnt myself out on Elder Scrolls Morrowind, which was the downfall of me as a gamer and the reason I turned in my gamer card for a few years. I missed out on many, many games in the time that passed while I took my hiatus, and several of them I have still yet to play. Those couple of years are a total blackout of gaming history in my memory, which is sad to me when I think about it.
Halo 2 fell into the black hole of oblivion for me, and it is one game I never revisited, ever. Oddly enough, I do own the game (I got it used a few years back), but have never had a reason or the desire to go back and play it. I realize it revolutionized online multiplayer for console gaming, and it was one the grandest games to ever be released for the original Xbox. I get it. I understand it. I just didn't care to go back and experience something "revolutionary" so late after it revolutionized gaming.
Well, until tonight.
So my son and I started the co-op campaign. First question out of his mouth? "Can we spring in this game?"
"Nope!", I said, kind of unsure if that was the right answer or not. "But I know we can dual-wield weapons now!" He was very unimpressed, I must say. If he couldn't sprint, he wasn't going to be happy.
We played through several levels anyway, enjoying what the game was throwing down. One complaint I do have, and not just with this game but the franchise as a whole, is that there is usually little indication of where you need to go to advance through the level. Sure, you have a map, but that only shows your partners or the enemies. It doesn't point you in the right direction. And in Halo 2, in some of those levels, you can run (but not sprint!) in circles forever before you find a side hallway or path to take you to the next section. Also, there is a LOT of standing around waiting for drop ships to deploy enemies for you to tackle, or waiting for backup to arrive, and while you're standing there doing nothing, you start to wonder if you should be going somewhere else other than where you are. I understand the concept, I just don't like it.
After making some decent progress in the campaign, there was a disc read error, and we had to restart the game. When going back and trying to get back into it, I discovered something shocking. There was a save file with every chapter unlocked already, meaning someone had already gone through and beat the game. Turns out, my sons had at some point in the past, and Caleb decided not to mention this to me when we started the game the first time. Granted, he probably forgot he had played it, since he is seven and all, but still! So anyway, we played the last level, saw the cliffhanger ending and the awesome Chief line, "finishing this fight, sir."
I can't say I was overwhelmed by it all, but a lot has to do with it being a classic Xbox game, and after playing the original one remade in HD last night, the graphics were quite different in comparison. I also can't argue with why so many people loved this game and what it did for online gaming and the push of enhanced graphics towards the end of that generation of consoles. But after seeing what games look like today, and with no emotional connection or history with this game, I just don't feel like I missed anything by not playing it all these years.
Don't worry, I'm sure many, many people feel completely differently. But remember, I am trying to figure out where this franchise stands with me now, as a gamer, after all these years. I anticipated a roller coaster, but didn't expect the first drop to happen so quickly.
Do you have a Halo 2 story or memory? I would love to hear it! Contact me and let me know your personal experiences, since apparently I am dead on the inside when it comes to this game.
Well, we are almost halfway through February now, and it is pretty safe to say that I have jumped all over the board as far as the games I have selected to play and write about for this blog. Randomness is good, as it keeps things interesting and fresh. Other times, however, strict structure and planning is ideal for the situation. Because of that, I have decided to dedicate an entire week of my blog to one specific franchise that has revolutionized gaming as we know it today.
Don't worry, I wont make you guess what it is, as the graphics splattered about doesn't really allow me to be secretive and mysterious. It's Halo, and it's going to be one hell of a week ... My Week Of Halo.
For this week, I am planning on playing every game in the Halo series - the original, 2, 3, 3:ODST, Reach, 4 and yes, even Halo Wars. This is a franchise that I have had quite the roller coaster of experiences with, and while I would like to say I am in touch with the series, the truth is that Halo and I have gone our separate ways recently, and I wish to rekindle that magic, that fire. Hopefully, this week of TLC and love will bring us closer. Or, I might realize that Halo was the equivalent of hooking up with a stripper - really fun for a short while, but not someone you would make long -term plans with. We shall see, as I only have a week to figure it out.
Accompanying me on this journey is my Halo tag-team partner, my seven year old son Caleb. He has taken to the Halo games since before he had good hand/eye coordination to really be efficient at playing them, so who better than him to play co-op with me as I take a journey through Halo lore?
Obviously, we started with the first Halo game, and thanks to a buddy, we played the Anniversary Edition of the game (I only own the original Xbox version). It was a real treat to be able to see how well the old game looks redesigned in HD, and the ability to switch back and forth between HD and OG was really cool to show my son how far games have come just in two console generations.
Back in the day, when the original Xbox was being ready to be released, I had my reservations about a new system coming on to the scene. I was skeptical of it having any decent games, and it being more technical than necessary (because of it being made by Microsoft, of course). However, something implored me to buy it day one, as am 18th birthday present to myself. \
That morning of its release, I had no idea how popular it would be, as store after store I went to had lines around the block. Defeated by not wanting to wait in a line only to not get one due to limited stock, I made the best decision I could think of: go to the mall. I figured since it was a week day, and the mall opened later than stores, there was a chance of snagging one, especially because there was three different game stores to choose from. I walked in, went to the counter without another customer in sight, and bought my Xbox.
Microsoft was smart with how they marketed this brand new system, as the bundle being sold came with two free games of your choice. My first game I chose was Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, because I love platformers so much and I thought it looked interesting and fun. My next choice was tough. I was stuck between Project Gotham Racing, Fuzion Frenzy, Dead or Alive 3 or this other game called Halo: Combat Evolved. For some reason, Halo sparked my interest the most, despite having little interest in that genre of games at the time. I took it home, set it all up, and decided to give Halo a whirl real quick before I settled down with my platformer.
Unfortunately for Oddworld, though, Halo was an instant classic in my mind. I played that game non-stop for weeks it seemed. Never before had I fallen for a game so quickly without any history with its franchise. I was in love, and it was magnificent.
So tonight, playing through again, brought back all those memories and emotions I had the first time playing it. I decided to play it on normal just so we can play a good chunk of the game, but my son wanted to play on hard, because he always plays Halo games on the hardest difficulty. I have no idea why, but he has always liked the thrill of dying over and over again, eventually making his way through the level that would have taken half as long on a lesser difficulty setting. We settled on normal, because I was Player 1, and Player 1 always makes the rules.
It was fun playing with him, as I found myself getting behind on several occasions, following him through the map. He's played the original one a couple of times, I've played it more times than I can count, yet here I was, relying on my seven year old to guide me to where we needed to go.
Man, I am getting old, and it sucks.
We both settled on a few conclusions as we played. For one, it was more fun to drive Warthogs off of cliffs than it is to drive carefully. Also, it's not a good idea to drive a Warthog off a cliff when you have several miles of terrain to travel. Third, the ability to sprint would have been a very nice addition, especially when you have a long way to run without a vehicle to quickly get you there. In fact, the inability to sprint bugged him the entire time we played.
Kids and their spoiled game mechanics.
Like I said, we both had fun, and when it was time for bed for him, he was satisfied with what we accomplished, and was psyched to move on to Halo 2 tomorrow.
Let's just say it was a good start to rediscovery a lost love.
It's no secret to anyone that knows me that I am completely and utterly enthralled with The Walking Dead universe. Ever since the first pilot episode debuted on AMC on Halloween night a couple of years ago, I have been glued to this franchise. After falling in love with the show, I went on to start reading the comics, and now, a third medium has finally opened up to tell amazing stories from this dark yet humbling world of zombies and little hope: video games.
Let me try to explain this as best as possible. First you have the comic book universe. Then you have the television show universe, which loosely follows storylines from the comics, but has made it quite clear they aren't attempting to recreate the comics, as they have several different characters and plots not seen in one another. Then you have the new gaming coming out soon called "The Walking Dead: Survival Instincts," which takes place in the realm of the TV show, but acts as a prequel to show, showing how Myrle and Darryl managed to survive the the beginning of the infection before they merged with the group we know them to be apart of.
Then there is TellTale's game that came out last year, also called "The Walking Dead," which doesn't necessarily take place in either the comic book world or the show world. It is a brand new, never before seen or read story from The Walking Dead universe, with an all new set of characters facing different trials and tribulations of trying to survive impending doom. Other than a couple guest appearances from well-known characters of the series, this is a complete stand-alone game. Judging from the state of which the player encounters these familiar characters, it's safe to assume this story takes place before, or almost parallel with the Rick Grimes storyline we all know and love.
And boy, what a story it is. This game has one of the best stories in a video game I have ever played, bar none. And I'm apparently not the only one to think that, as it won over 80 awards for Game of the Year from various outlets. It's game play roots make a point-and-click adventure game, but it is far - FAR - from being anywhere in the vicinity as far as other games in that genre. TWD is more about choice, and telling a story, and how your choices effect the story as it is told.
When I played through it the first time last year, it was weird because they released every episode (five in total) every two months or so, and with each one lasting about two hours each, it felt like just as you were getting into one episode, it was over before you knew it, and you would have to wait two months before picking up where you left off. That left remembering the story a little difficult, and maybe not the best way to play it. So now, I am going back and playing through it naturally, as it should be played, while trying to make different choices than I did before, just to see how different the game really can be and feel.
I could write about this game for thousands of words, but instead, I just implore you, good reader, to go check it out for yourself. It's available for Xbox 360, PS3 or PC, downloadable or on disc format. If you have any interest in the The Walking Dead (TV show, comic or "other"), then this game - nay, EXPERIENCE - is worth your time. Grab a box of tissue, too, because you just might need it.
Oh, and the reason I chose this game today? The mid-season premiere of Season 3 was on tonight, finally, and insatiable appetite for all things Walking Dead was rekindle. Now go ... go play the game. I'm just going to sit here and wait for the other Walking Dead to come out, and hope it is even half as good as this one was. Fingers crossed!
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Games played for project : 365