Cool Stuff of PAX East 2012

In case the title didn’t give it away, I attended PAX East this year, and I saw a lot of cool things and met some good people. In fact, at the time of this writing I’ve now met a total of six GameCritics members in person (Brad Gallaway, Tim Spaeth, Chi Kong Lui, Kristin Taylor, Sparky Clarkson, and Trent Fingland) which I think is a record. Anyways, onto the aforementioned things.

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Mass Effect 3: A thing that happened

A copious amount of blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids have already been spilled over Mass Effect 3′s ending. Several of the first few Google results concern the overwhelmingly negative fan reaction in some way, be it in the form of an online petition or a silly FTC complaint. The laser-like focus on the ending is a damn dirty shame, because outside of those five minutes at the very end of the game and a shaky first hour or so, Mass Effect 3 is about as good a series finale as I could have hoped for.


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2011 In Review

2011 was a year of extremes for me, both in games and in life. I’ll stick to the games here, since my personal life isn’t worth wasting valuable internet real estate on. There was very little middle ground as far as my opinions went-I either loved it or hated it. Since everyone comes to me to feel good about themselves, I’m going to focus on things I actually liked.

I’m writing this about a month into 2012, simply because I will have a monopoly on the “best of 2011″ market now that all the others are out of the way, and most certainly not because of general laziness. Nope. Anyways, here are my top 10 for 2011.

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Why I’m not angry about Albert Pujols

As you may or may not have heard, Albert Pujols just signed a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The words “loyalty” and “betrayal” have been thrown about recklessly by many Cardinals fans, many of whom have also taken to throwing Pujols jerseys away, or worse. These people are dumb. Can we be disappointed? Sure. I was disappointed, but I’m not angry. Here’s why.

Albert Pujols had no obligation to stay in St. Louis. We saw this same situation with LeBron James, where he was somehow bound by hometown loyalty to stay in Cleveland in order to “finish the job”. Hogwash. Poppycock, I say. Pujols was a free agent, meaning he can go wherever he pleases. I don’t begrudge him for choosing to leave. That said…..

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Breaking the immersion-Skyrim’s racism lacks authenticity

I really like Skyrim. I’ve put in almost 20 hours in just under three days since the game’s release, and barring some unforeseen catastrophe my eventual review will be mostly positive about it. I want to state this now, since most of what I’m about to write will probably make it seem like I dislike it. However, just because I like something doesn’t mean I can’t criticize it as well. And believe me, there are things to criticize about Skyrim.

Most of the complaints I’ve heard from the various corners of the internet focus on the user interface, insufficient instructions, and good old Bethesda bugginess & instability. These are all legitimate complaints, and rest assured they’ll be addressed in more detail in my review. However, there was one moment in the game that really bothered me, and it actually has to do with the (otherwise wonderful) game world itself.

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If Team Fortress 2 were a baseball team

Larry Granillo over at Baseball Prospectus recently wrote a great piece on the classic Deep Space Nine episode, “Take Me Out To The Holosuite“. As anyone who follows me on Twitter will have the misfortune of knowing, I am both a huge baseball fan and a Star Trek fan. On top of that I can always go for in-depth analysis of a silly topic, so this piece was right up my theoretical alley. Granillo’s excellent piece by piece breakdown of each character’s suitability for each position combined with the fact that I’ve had a great deal of baseball on the brain lately, this is a perfect excuse for me to meld two topics that occupy a large amount of my thoughts.

So what other silly hypothetical situations could I apply this theory too? Those who know me (or those who read the title of this article I guess….) would come up with one conclusion-if the classes from Team Fortress 2 were a baseball team, who would play where? What skills best translate to what position? Read on to find out all these things, and more!

Well……OK. You won’t find out anything more than these things. Those things. The things I mentioned before. Whatever.

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The bosses of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and what might have been

The boss battles in Deus Ex: Human Revolution suck. Hard. The people of the internet appear to agree on this notion. While they aren’t game-breakers, they are clumsy and uninspired bullet sponges whose design runs counter to the nature of the rest of the game, which should not come as a surprise given that the bosses’ development was outsourced by Eidos Montreal to a different company. You see, DXHR is all about the ability to deal with situations in multiple different ways, and while the game is fairly slanted towards stealth play, there are varied and intricate ways through most events. In fact, there’s a good argument to be made that the game should have let me somehow sneak or talk my way out of the fights altogether. However, with the bosses in DXHR the only real choice is to figure out what weapon is the best for exploiting their horrendously simple attack patterns.

The saddest part of these bosses is not that they’re bad, but that they could have been extraordinary if they had gotten some more specific attention. DXHR is often described as a wondrous offspring of Metal Gear Solid and Mass Effect, and by “often described” I mean “described by me”. However, the unfortunate part is that DXHR seems to have taken more after Mass Effect in regards to bosses rather than Metal Gear, which is a damn shame since the Metal Gear series has given us some fantastic bosses over the years.

WARNING: Minor Spoilers

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PAX Day Two

Day 2 was pretty heavy on appointments. I had a ton of scheduled meetings (I.E., I followed @bradgallaway around a lot) and saw some cool stuff, and some stuff I thought wasn’t as cool.

Super Monday Night Combat

First meeting of the day was with Uber Entertainment, the minds behind Monday Night Combat. I enjoyed the original game, but I thought it needed a beefier assortment of environments and classes, and it appears the sequel is addressing that. There was no playable version, but the trailer on display showcased some new environments and classes. I was impressed by what I saw, although the game’s free to play model as described to me was a little confusing. I’m definitely getting the game when it comes out, but I’m not sure how well the business model will work for them.

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PAX Day One

Today was my first real gaming convention. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little overwhelming at first, but after a while I got used to the big crowds and managed to take in some of the sights and sounds. Obviously I didn’t get to see everything I wanted, but I did get to spend quite a bit of time with some of my most anticipated games, and even discovered some gems that I hadn’t heard of.

First off, I finally got to meet fellow GameCritic Brad Gallaway (Twitter @bradgallaway) and his wonderful wife, Gina (@ginagallaway). They graciously escorted me around their domain of Seattle, showering me with lavish gifts like tacos and ice cream. Their young son even took a liking to me, which was terrifying beyond description. Also around was another (soon to be) fellow GameCritic, Kristin Taylor (@gelles22), who demonstrated the appeal of Dance Central 2 with precision skill. Also of note was her wonderful Gnome costume-rocking companion, @invisibleinkie. But enough gushing. To the games!

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Let’s Play Mega Man X

Greetings earthlings. I apologize for the extreme lack of updates here lately, but I’ve been busy with other matters. However, I have discovered the joy of making Let’s Play videos. It’s been a very enjoyable experience thus far, and my plan is to do the entire Mega Man X series before too long, if I can force myself to play X6 and X7 again.

This all started with the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3. I’ve never played any of the Legends games, but the likely death of the Mega Man franchise (for the foreseeable future anyway) made me reflect on what Mega Man has meant to my gaming tastes. I had a long post in the works which may still see the light of day eventually, but ultimately I decided to show people why I’ve been so loyal to the franchise rather than tell them. Thus, my first Let’s Play series was born.

As I said, I’ve really enjoyed doing the videos, but it’s a much bigger challenge than the people that are really good at Let’s Plays make it look. Trying to talk and play at the same time while also keeping an eye on my notes is pretty tough (and I still mess up and stammer far too much), so those who have mastered this deserve a lot of credit for pulling it off and making their commentary insightful. Special thanks go to YouTube user RoahmMythril, whose Mega Man focus and overall style have probably been the biggest influence on me.

Anyway, I figure I should link the videos here, so see below for the full playlist. At this time I’ve still got two Mavericks and the Sigma stages to do, but the list will be updated as I finish them. As always, enjoy!